NASCAR Media Day: Roundup

Photo: http://www.jayski.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

*One of the biggest announcements today was the introduction of a chase format to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series format will feature eight drivers and three rounds that consist of seven races. Round one tracks will be Loudon, Las Vegas, and Talladega, while Round two tracks will be Martinsville, Texas, and Phoenix. Homestead will be the finale of course and the only race in Round three where four drivers will battle for the championship. We will go from eight drivers to six, down to the Final Four. Also, 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers will be ineligible to run the finale at Homestead. Honestly, I do not know what to think of this format. There are pros and cons to this “experiment.” How cool would it be to see a guy like Norm Benning win at Daytona and become eligible for The Chase? It would be great to see drivers who do not have equipment like Kyle Busch Motorsports or ThorSport Racing compete for a championship. Also, I am a bit disappointed that we will no longer see young drivers learn the value of maintaining a points lead over the course of a season. Oh well, maybe it is a time for a change! “Win and you’re in” is definitely something special. Finally, I want to commend NASCAR for banning Sprint Cup stars from entering the season finale. The finale is all about the season regulars and it will be fantastic to see them battle for the championship among themselves.*

*The NASCAR Xfinity Series chase format will feature twelve drivers and three rounds that consist of seven races. Round one tracks will be Kentucky, Dover, and Charlotte, while Round two tracks will be Kansas, Texas, and Phoenix, with Homestead as the season finale in Round three. Two Dash 4 Cash wins will also lead to a chase berth other than simply winning races. Also, 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers will be ineligible to run the finale at Homestead. It will definitely be an interesting year in the NASCAR Xfinity Series as we see if this format will work for years to come. My first impression is not too cheery, but I will give this new idea a chance before making any more negative comments.*

*The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will use the new “Caution Clock” concept this upcoming season. When the green flag drops, there will be twenty minutes of green flag racing, then a mandatory competition caution. If a caution waves before the twenty minutes expire, then the clock will be reset. This new “experiment” will be used at all races except for Eldora, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, and Pocono Raceway. To be honest, I think that this is a foolish concept, but it has the potential to make restrictor plate racing more exciting than it already is. Hard twenty minutes of pack racing is definitely going to be a sight to see! Other than that, I do not see how it will be beneficial to the sport. I do not know who came up with that rule, but they probably had plenty to drink!*

*The Dash 4 Cash in the NASCAR Xfinity Series will have a new look this year. Bristol Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, Dover International Speedway, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host the four events that make up the Dash 4 Cash. Drivers must be Xfinity regulars to be eligible. Qualifying for these events will set the forty car grid and also lineups for two heat races (something exciting). The odd-numbered qualifiers will race in the first heat while the even-numbered qualifiers will race in the second heat. I love this idea as it has the feel of a Saturday night dirt track!*

*Martin Truex Jr. will see a familiar sponsor return (Bass Pro Shops) for nine Sprint Cup races this season. Furniture Row will also be supported by Joe Gibbs Racing. Could we possibly see Erik Jones run a few races as a teammate to the Number 78 team?*

*Richard Petty Motorsports released Brian Scott’s Number 44 Ford Fusion to the public. I am so happy to see this number return to the track.*

*The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will use “crate engines” as a way to help underfunded teams reduce the costs of an engine. They will lease an engine from NASCAR, which will save them tons of money. I applaud this move as it will definitely help underfunded teams and it could potentially bring more teams to the sport.*

*Blake Koch will join forces with new Xfinity Series team, Kaulig Racing, which has formed a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing. Koch will pilot the Number 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet Camaro. I am interested to see how Koch will fare with equipment from Richard Childress Racing. He could be this season’s “David Ragan.”*

*Front Row Motorsports has confirmed that Landon Cassill will drive the Number 38 Ford Fusion as a teammate to rookie Chris Buescher. I am so happy that Cassill is going to a team on the rise. Could this possibly be the “big break” Cassill needed to prove that he belongs with the heavyweights of NASCAR?*

*Did you really think that Matt Kenseth could avoid questions about his feud with Joey Logano? It appears that Kenseth is ready to move on from the incident, but he will never forget it if Logano fails to give him enough space on the track.*

*Tommy Baldwin Racing has announced that Alex Bowman will not return to the team, and Regan Smith will replace him in the Number 7 Chevrolet SS. First, I am happy that Smith was able to find a full-time ride, but I really feel awful for Alex Bowman. A couple of days ago, he was excited for the beginning of the season, but it does not look like that he will be a part of the Sprint Cup field. However, he will run a few races for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. This could possibly be a chance to show that he belongs in a top notch ride, so he can have something put together for 2017. On Friday morning, rumors came out that Bowman found out that he was fired via twitter and did not have a face to face discussion with team owner, Tommy Baldwin. If this is true, I would be so shocked and surprised by the mishandling of this situation. What do you think NASCAR fans?*

*Leavine Family Racing has formed an alliance with Circle Sport Racing to form “Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. After spending the last few seasons with Ford, Leavine switches to Chevrolet horsepower. They will be supported by Richard Childress Racing, which is a great move for these two merging teams. Ty Dillon will also drive for the team in the Daytona 500 and a few more races. Michael McDowell will continue his partnership from Leavine Family Racing and drive for the team in a second Chevrolet SS. Great to see two teams merge and form an alliance with Richard Childress Racing. Hopefully, their performance on the track will start to improve.*

*Tommy Joe Martins will race full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with his newly formed team, Martins Motorsports. He will drive the Number 44 Chevrolet Silverado. Diamond Gusset Jeans will sponsor Martins for the first four races of the season. I remember watching Martins in a Xfinity race at Talladega a few years ago. He was very impressive as he was able to have a nice run in the draft. I wish him a successful first season as an owner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.*

*As NASCAR Media Day comes to a close, there are a few things to get excited for and a few head scratchers. From a chase format in the Trucks and Xfinity Series to the “Caution Clock” concept, there are many things to think about for the upcoming NASCAR season. What do you think of the announcements NASCAR fans? Is the sport headed in the right direction or will they lose even more fans than last season?*

For more details on NASCAR Media Day, go to: http://www.nascar.com

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