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┬áchange! “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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Rico Abreu joins ThorSport for full Truck Series season

Photo: http://www.foxsports.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

ThorSport Racing has confirmed that dirt track racing star, Rico Abreu, will drive the Number 98 Curb Records Toyota Tundra full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Abreu said, “This is one of the best opportunities I have been given. I appreciate the support and the hard work that everyone at ThorSport Racing and Curb Records has put into all of this for me to live my dream. I’m thankful to be a part of Duke’s (Thorson) team and am excited to race with all my ThorSport Racing teammates and crewmembers.”

Hearing that Rico Abreu is going to race full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is extremely exciting. Abreu was very impressive last season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Hopefully, the successful season in the lower tier series will translate to the trucks. I cannot wait to see Rico compete for Rookie of the Year honors as he is a very talented young racer. It appears that team owner, Duke Thorson, feels the same way.

“We look forward to Rico joining our race team in 2016. Rico has proven himself at every level in racing to date, and is a winner and true racer in every sense of the word. He brings a style and attitude that reflects who we are, and what we are all about. We are prepared to give him every single opportunity to win, and look forward to seeing what he can do in his first full-time season in the Truck Series.”

It is going to be an exciting year for Rico Abreu as he will compete against the likes of Matt Crafton and Timothy Peters. I wish Abreu the best of luck this season as he proves that he can hang with the world’s toughest truckers! How do you think Abreu will perform in his first season in Truck Series competition NASCAR fans?

For more information on this topic, go to: http://www.thorsport.com

Kevin “Bono” Manion joins KBM

 

Photo: http://www.frontstretch.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

Kyle Busch Motorsports has announced that Kevin “Bono” Manion will join the team in 2016 as a crew chief.

He will join crew chiefs Rudy Fugle and Jerry Baxter in a strong lineup. Manion will work with drivers Daniel Suarez and Cody Coughlin. It is great to see an experienced crew chief like Manion work with two young drivers who have so much potential.

Rudy Fugle, the man who guided Erik Jones to the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship, will be prepared to lead William Byron in his rookie season. Meanwhile, veteran crew chief, Jerry Baxter will work with dirt track racing sensation Christopher Bell.

“The goal at KBM is to have all three of our teams competing for wins and top fives every race and consistently be among the battle for the Owner’s Championship,” said team owner, Kyle Busch.

Look for Kyle Busch Motorsports to have another dominant season as they have three talented crew chiefs leading the way. Adding Kevin “Bono” Manion was a smart idea as he has years of experience. I believe that he will help Suarez and Coughlin grow as drivers to help them thrive through the highest levels of NASCAR competition. What do you think race fans? Did Busch hit the jackpot by hiring “Bono?” How will Byron, Bell, Suarez, and Coughlin fare this upcoming season?

For more information on this topic, go to: http://www.kylebuschmotorsports.com

Big Changes to Kentucky Speedway

Photo: http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

Kentucky Speedway will have an entirely different look when NASCAR returns to the track in July. There are major plans in place to renovate the track.

“Modifying Turns 1 and 2 will present an exciting challenge to the drivers while addressing issues of the track surface, SAFER barrier and drainage will improve safety, which is always our paramount concern,” said General Manager of Kentucky Speedway, Mark Simendinger.

I really love this idea of increasing the banking in Turns 1 and 2. It will be interesting to see how this idea works. Most race fans are probably going to be disappointed that the entire 1.5 mile track will be repaved. The track is known for its “former” old school racing surface. It was exciting to watch the cars “slip and slide” when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ran the new low downforce package last season. Going into the 2016 season, I was looking forward to watching the Sprint Cup cars with lower downforce race on a track with an older surface. Unfortunately, that will not happen as the speedway is getting a “facelift.” I do not know if the racing will look like a dirt track event, but I am looking forward to Kentucky race weekend!

Vice President of Operations and Development for Speedway Motorsports Inc., Steve Swift said, “We have assembled an excellent team, all of whom are familiar with the demands of speedway construction. I am excited about the finished product as we wanted to present a unique challenge to the drivers. This design, with Turns 1 and 2 completely different than 3 and 4 accomplishes that goal. The big winner will be the race fan.”

Those are pretty encouraging words from Steve Swift. It will be interesting to see how the changes affect the racing. What do you think of the changes to Kentucky Speedway race fans? Miss the old surface already? Excited about the possibilities of a new challenge for the drivers? Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions!

For more information on this topic, go to: http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com

2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Silly Season

Photo: http://www.gettyimages.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

Hello NASCAR fans! The new season is right around the corner and I will provide you with some updates, based on what has been confirmed.

Confirmed Full Season Entries (13 trucks)

00 Cole Custer Haas Automation Chevrolet Silverado- Custer will run the entire NASCAR Camping World Truck series schedule driving for JR Motorsports. Joe Shear will be his crew chief.

05 John Wes Townley Zaxby’s Chevrolet Silverado- Townley returns to the series full-time for his father’s team; also will run select Xfinity races. He looks to grow on a successful 2015 season as he scored his first career victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

4 William Byron Liberty University Toyota Tundra- After dominating the NASCAR K&N Pro East Series in 2015, Byron will run full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He replaces 2015 champion Erik Jones who moves up to the Xfinity Series.

17 Timothy Peters Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra- Peters will return to Red Horse Racing in 2016. He will have a new crew chief (Shane Huffman.)

19 Daniel Hemric Brad Keselowski Racing Ford F150- Hemric will move to Brad Keselowski Racing in 2016. This is the perfect opportunity for him to shine in top notch equipment. Doug Randolph will be his crew chief.

22 Austin Wayne Self Toyota Tundra- After a successful season in the ARCA Series, he will move up to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series full-time. He will drive for a team owned by his father Tim.

21 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Silverado- Sauter will move to GMS from ThorSport Racing. Sponsorship has not been confirmed but an announcement is expected in the immediate future.

23 Spencer Gallagher Allegiant Travel Chevrolet Silverado- Gallagher will return to GMS in 2016. He looks to build on a very consistent season.

29 Tyler Reddick Cooper Standard Ford F150- Reddick will move to the Number 29 truck in 2016 for Brad Keselowski Racing. Chad Kendrick will be his crew chief.

41 Ben Rhodes Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota Tundra- Rhodes will run the entire NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule in 2016 for ThorSport Racing. He will be eligible for Rookie of the Year honors.

88 Matt Crafton Menards Toyota Tundra- It appears that everything will remain the same for Crafton.

Grant Enfinger Chevrolet Silverado- Enfinger will move up from the ARCA Series and race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series full-time. His crew chief will be Jeff Stankiewicz. The truck’s number has not been confirmed.

Christopher Bell Toyota Tundra- Bell will run the entire NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He will run for Rookie of the Year honors. A number will be decided at a later date.

Possible Entries (15 trucks)

02 Tyler Young Chevrolet Silverado- No annoucement has been made, but Young is expected to complete another season in the Truck Series after a successful season for a small team.

07 Ray Black Jr. ScubaLife Chevrolet Silverado- No announcement has been made and it is uncertain if Black Jr. will return. It would not be surprising if he returned for a second full season in the Truck Series.

08 Korbin Forrister Chevrolet Silverado- Same as Ray Black Jr’s situation.

6 Norm Benning Chevrolet Silverado- Benning will more than likely return to the series for another season.

8 John Hunter Nemecheck NEMCO Chevrolet Silverado- It is unknown if Nemecheck will return in 2016. He is actively seeking opportunities elsewhere to further progress his career.

10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Drive2Honor.org- No plans have been announced from Jennifer Jo Cobb’s camp.

11 Ben Kennedy Local Motors Toyota Tundra- Kennedy’s future with Red Horse Racing is unclear.

13 Cameron Hayley Cabinets by Hayley Toyota Tundra- Hayley currently does not have anything confirmed for 2016. He is looking to move up to the Xfinity Series but could return to trucks.

14 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado- Hemric moves to Brad Keselowski Racing in 2016. It is unknown if the team will run this truck.

15 Mason Mingus Chevrolet Silverado- It is unknown if Mingus will return. He ran select races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Part-time Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra- It would not be surprising if KBM fields a partial season entry for team owner Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez and Cody Coughlin.

74 Jordan Anderson Chevrolet Silverado- Anderson’s future plans are unknown. Had troubles making it to the race track in 2015, but should improve if he returns in 2016.

92 David Gilliland Ford F150- Gilliland raced for this team in select races. Maybe this could turn into a full-time deal if sponsorship is found. As the chance of finding a Sprint Cup ride is slim, a season in the Truck Series is possible.

97 Jesse Little Carolina Nut Company Toyota Tundra- The son of Chad Little could run full-time if sponsorship is found.

98 ThorSport Racing Toyota Tundra- It is unknown if this team will race in 2016 as Johnny Sauter left for GMS.

*Regan Smith and David Ragan are two free agents currently looking for rides in any of the three national series. Keep an eye out for more silly season updates.*

Ben Rhodes to NASCAR full-time in 2016

Photo: http://www.nascar.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

Ben Rhodes will drive the Number 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota Tundra for ThorSport Racing. Rhodes moves from a part-time role with JR Motorsports to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series full-time.

Rhodes is the 2014 champion of the NASCAR K&N Pro East Series, so he definitely knows how to finish the job. I am sure that Ben Rhodes will certainly be contending with William Byron for Rookie of the Year honors.

In my opinion, I believe that Ben Rhodes will get up to speed quickly in 2016. ThorSport Racing has a great team and they will make sure that Rhodes is able to maximize his true potential. Is this a good choice to move to ThorSport Racing? Race fans, what do you think of Ben Rhodes’ decision to pursue a full-time ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series?

For more information on this topic go to: http://www.thorsport.com

Austin Wayne Self to Camping World Truck Series in 2016

Photo: http://www.arcaracing.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

Rising stock car driver Austin Wayne Self will be trading in his ARCA stock car for a powerful truck! He will run the full 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule for the newly formed AM Racing. The team is owned by Self’s dad. After two seasons in the ARCA Series, Austin will run for Rookie of the Year Honors in 2016.

Maybe Self will win Rookie of Year just like his 2014 season in ARCA. The short stint with Cunningham Motorsports that year really put him on the map. It led to a full-time ride with Mason Mitchell Motorsports in 2015.

2015 was a breakout season for Austin Wayne Self as he brought his Number 98 Ford Fusion home to finish second in points. That is very impressive for someone in their second year!

The past two seasons, I have been following Self’s career. Trust me, he is going to do great things in NASCAR. It might take some time to develop chemistry between team and driver, but Austin Wayne Self and AM Racing should have a great rookie year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Forming an alliance with Toyota was a smart idea as they also work with the dominant Kyle Busch Motorsports! I predict that Self will have multiple top 15 finishes and has the potential to steal a few victories. It is great to see so many young drivers bursting onto the scene!

For more information on this topic go to: http://www.awsracing.com