Fallout from the GEICO 500

Photo: Talladega Superspeedway

By: Kobe Lambeth

The race was fierce at Talladega from start to finish. With a threat of rain throughout the day, the drivers had to race like every lap would be the last. The intensity of this race was remarkable and truly unbelievable. This was one of those restrictor plate races where I did not see the long single file line near the wall at any point during the race which was pretty shocking.

I must admit that the GEICO 500 was the best race that I have witnessed all season long. We had three and four wide action throughout the race. Today’s racing reminded me of spectacular pack racing from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

However, it appears that spectacular crashes will overshadow the great racing we witnessed. The first scary incident of the day occurred when Chris Buescher rolled down the Alabama Gang Superstretch. There was nothing Buescher could do as he was a passenger along for the ride.

Next, The “Big One” struck as Kurt Busch got into the right rear of Jimmie Johnson, which took out more than half of the field. Luckily, every single driver walked away. The next accident was only of the scariest yet.

Michael McDowell was giving Danica Patrick a heck of a push, but everything went wrong when she got into Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth as his Toyota Camry was sent sailing into the air, before sliding on his roof and coming to rest on all fours.

For me, Kenseth’s crash was one of the most frightening incidents in recent memory at Talladega Superspeedway. However, it was nothing compared to Austin Dillon’s spectacular crash last July. First, I want to applaud NASCAR for everything they do to keep our drivers safe. It was hard to believe that Kenseth walked away from such a scary crash.

Unfortunately, crashes are a part of racing and they are more than likely going to happen at places like Daytona and Talladega. There is nothing we can do to prevent it. I must admit that I turned my television off on the final lap because I was sick to my stomach. After watching Buescher and Kenseth have frightening accidents, I was afraid of witnessing another spectacular crash coming to the checkered flag.

Naturally, there was a crash and everyone survived thankfully. NASCAR has done so much to make the sport safer, but you are never going to stop cars from flipping over. It is basic science.

I absolutely love restrictor plate racing and hope that it stays around for many years to come. Today, it was almost a little too much for me to watch. However, today’s mayhem will not stop me from watching these events in the future.

Racing is a dangerous sport. Of course, some of the accidents were difficult to watch, but we must move onto a brighter future. The best drivers in the world risk their lives each and every week behind the wheel. Some fans love this form of racing while others believe that it is equivalent to playing with fire.

We might not agree about restrictor plate racing, but we should all be thankful that everyone survived the chaos. Thanks to NASCAR’s improvements, the drivers involved were able to walk away and go home to their families. I am positive that they will continue to search for answers to improve SAFER barriers and better ways to keep cars from going airborne.

I never thought I would say this, but I am so happy that Talladega Superspeedway is behind us and am looking forward to Kansas. The threat of rain caused the sense of urgency today and it produced some amazing pack racing, but the crashes will stick with me from this event. There are better days ahead for the sport and I will be ready when NASCAR returns to the superspeedway in October. Safety is once again the hot topic.

What did you think of the GEICO 500?

 

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Talladega: Where Dreams Come True and Chaos Occurs

Photo: Talladega Superspeedway

By: Kobe Lambeth

When some people hear the name, “Talladega,” they think of complete chaos, edge-of-your-seat racing, and destruction. Look at this beautiful photo above and tell me this gorgeous scene is a place where you often see the carnage. If you follow NASCAR often, then you know that “looks can deceiving.”

Many years ago, one of NASCAR’s founding fathers, Bill France Sr, wanted to build a track bigger and faster track than Daytona International Speedway. His dream finally came true as “Alabama International Motor Speedway” was built. As time passed, the track name changed to Talladega Superspeedway.

However, one thing has not changed about this historic superspeedway. This is a place where dreams can come true and chaos is also lurking in the shadows.

Sprint Cup drivers, Brad Keselowski, and David Ragan will tell you about the true beauty of Talladega as both drivers scored unbelievable wins in recent years.

In 2009, Brad Keselowski was battling Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Carl Edwards for the victory when contact between Edwards and Keselowski ended with a spectacular crash as Edwards car went airborne, crashing into the catchfence upside down.

Certainly not the way to win your first career Cup race, but this victory showed the world that Brad Keselowski had the potential to hang with the best in the business. Look where he is today as a champion in NASCAR’s top series.

BK Racing’s, David Ragan, also had a remarkable victory in the 2013 Spring race when he and teammate, David Gilliland, led a Front Row Motorsports 1-2 finish. A great day at Talladega can be huge for smaller teams in the field.

Restrictor plate racing is definitely a unique form of racing, which gives every single driver the chance to pull into victory lane. Drafting is the “great equalizer” and gives underfunded teams an opportunity to have a dream day in the tight, pack racing environment.

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Although Talladega Superspeedway is a unique track that can change your life forever, it can also break your heart. Whenever NASCAR goes to the “superspeedways” Daytona and Talladega, there is always a chance for the “Big One,” which is a multi-car crash that happens almost every single restrictor plate event.

The reason for these spectacular crashes is due to the intensity of the tight pack racing. Drivers try to make the move to the front and things happen. Unfortunately, they are unlucky at times. You could ride along in the pack almost the entire race, but get caught up in someone else’s mistake to end your day. It is safe to say that it might take a little luck to be successful at Talladega Superspeedway. There is nowhere to hide.

Restrictor plate racing is risk versus reward.  The best stock car drivers in the world will take the green flag in the Geico 500 as 40 drivers will battle for glory at one of NASCAR’s fastest tracks. The event should provide great edge-of-your-seat racing from start to finish. Will someone battling for the win on the final lap make a mistake and send the field into flames? Is it worth taking that kind of risk just to get the reward?

Some drivers go into Talladega race weekend with the goal of surviving and others see it as an opportunity to make or break their career. When the checkered flag falls on the Geico 500, will we see the usual suspects from Joe Gibbs Racing or Hendrick Motorsports in victory lane? Can an underdog pull off an upset?

Whoever pulls into victory lane will definitely have earned a hard fought victory. The ingredients to success on restrictor plate tracks: stay out of trouble, be confident, make bold moves, hope that lady luck is on your side, and make smart decisions.

No matter what a driver does, it is extremely difficult to put together a “clean” race at Talladega. 188 laps of intense three and sometimes four wide racing in a tight pack is a recipe for disaster. We have 40 soldiers ready to go to battle. Every soldier has a shot to be victorious and make their dreams come true. On the other hand, others might not survive to see the checkered flag as the “Big One” is lurking in the shadows.

This is Talladega.

 

A New Beginning For Ryan Ellis

Photo: NASCAR

By: Kobe Lambeth

On April 24, 2016, Ryan Ellis will fulfill a long-time dream driving for Ron Devine’s BK Racing team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Richmond International Raceway.

“The deal with BK is something we’ve been working on for several years,” said Ellis.

“Ron Devine and I have been friends for quite a while because we’ve grown up in the same area – Northern Virginia. I knew it would always help to have a bit of sponsorship coming in, and ScienceLogic and I have meshed very well. I am very excited to have brought them together and I really hope we get to run some more races this season and can works towards a full schedule in 2017.”

Ellis made his Sprint Cup debut last season at Phoenix International Raceway where he finished 40th driving for Circle Sport Racing. Despite the finish, there is plenty for Ellis to look forward to as the Trucks and Xfinity Series veteran is ready to take on the best stock car drivers in the world.

“I think my experience in Xfinity and Truck benefits me in many ways,” said Ellis.

Obviously, it helps to have driven similar cars in the past and learning the way they react to certain inputs is beneficial when getting in the Cup car. As different as they are with suspension-travel, power, aero-wise, and overall handling, they are still very close in nature. It helps to have driven these tracks before so I can focus on learning the Cup car and all of the new features they have. I’ve never driven a Cup car with adjustable track-bar and never used the new dash system.”

Despite new features on his No. 93 ScienceLogic BK Racing Toyota Camry, Ellis is ready for the challenge of competing on Sundays and proving that he belongs in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“I think I’m in a great position with BK Racing with their new equipment and the people they already had, and the people they’ve brought in,” said Ellis.

“Ron has made some great changes to put everyone in a phenomenal position this year and the results have shown that. I want to soak up as much as I can from Matt Dibenedetto and David Ragan. They’re two very different people and two very different racecar drivers. David is a veteran who is very calm and reserved and been everywhere in the NASCAR garage. Matt is a hungry second-year driver who drives on the ragged-edge every lap. I think I can learn off of their contrasting personalities and driving styles and work my butt off to prove that I belong in the Sprint Cup garage.”

Ryan Ellis has a tight bond with his BK Racing teammate, Matt DiBenedetto.

“We’re both very racing-oriented and career-focused so we definitely find that 90% or more of our conversation is racing-based, but can definitely disconnect from that as well,” said Ellis.

“We live about an hour away from each other but the two of us, Tanner Berryhill, and Alex Bowman tend to find time to hang out. I’ll be moving closer to Tanner Berryhill soon so I have a feeling we’ll be spending a ton more time getting into trouble. It’s great to have close friends in this sport because I knew absolutely no one when I moved to NC a few years ago.”

If Ellis has a spectacular season for BK Racing, could he possibly move to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2017?

“It’s hard to say,” said Ellis

“The charter-deal has changed the landscape in Cup so much. I would like to think we could do it, but I’m not involved much on the financial side. It’s definitely something in the back of my mind for sure.”

36 full-time Sprint Cup teams were awarded prestigious Charters, which allow these teams to race every week without the fear of having to qualify on time. However, the third BK Racing entry does not have a charter, so they are not guaranteed a spot in the race if there are more than 40 cars on the entry list. Ryan Ellis had plenty to say about the new Charter System.

“The charter system has changed the landscape in Cup quite a bit,” said Ellis.

“Not as much in the front of the pack, but more-so for the lower-funded or up and coming teams. A year or two ago, our ScienceLogic deal could’ve led to more of a full-season deal or much more, but it isn’t a financially sustainable business model (for most people) to run a non-chartered car without a substantial budget or massive amounts of sponsorship.”

It appears that the Charter System is hurting the smaller teams in NASCAR. Despite the challenge, Ryan Ellis definitely has the potential to overcome every obstacle in his way. Previously, on “The Troubles of Making It as a Race Car Driver Part Two,”  Ryan Ellis told me about his struggles making it to the top levels of stock car racing. It is absolutely exceptional that Ellis has come a long way and not let his financial struggles stop him from achieving his dreams. According to Ellis, it is extremely difficult to survive in NASCAR if you do not have significant financial support.

” It makes everything hard,” said Ellis

You want to focus harder on your career but there are many times when you’re not making enough from the NASCAR-side to even pay rent and food. If you take away focus and work side-jobs like I have over the last three or four years, it can affect your ability to work on sponsorships and get more races. I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong way to stay in the sport, but I’ve been very fortunate to get the opportunities I’ve had. A lot of these drivers are very lucky in that they have the family support to buy a top ride for a few million dollars, but I see my situation as a blessing. I think my position creates a situation where I’m never comfortable, and by never being comfortable, I’m forced to out-work them by a ton to counter their money and/or huge connections. I have great friends and family who help me and have helped me financially from time to time to stay afloat, and without them, I would’ve been forced to give up on this goal a few years ago.”

“The Troubles of Making It as a Race Car Driver Part Two” Starring: Ryan Ellis

https://thescoopwordpresscom.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/kobes-daily-scoop-the-troubles-of-making-it-as-a-race-car-driver-part-two/

 

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

Where does Tony Stewart go from here?

Photo: http://www.snopes.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

http://m.youtube.com/results?q=tony%20stewart%20chili%20bowl&sm=1

Last night, NASCAR driver, Tony Stewart found himself making the headlines, but for the wrong reasons. In the video above, you can see “Smoke” getting into an altercation with a man who is apparently a Sheriff’s deputy in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I admit, when I saw the video I was thrilled to see Stewart living up to his nickname “Smoke.” It never gets boring for you Tony Stewart fans. However, this is not good for Stewart’s reputation going forward.

In the past few years, Tony Stewart’s name has been dragged into the dirt as many controversies surrounded him. First, he suffered a broken leg during an event at a dirt track event and this caused lots of uproar about Stewart’s personal life. Should he race at dirt tracks considering his NASCAR commitments? Yes, we all remember the criticism he received after this awful injury. However, the worst was yet to come.

On the eve of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International, tragedy struck at an Upstate New York dirt track. Young dirt racer, Kevin Ward Jr. was killed after he was hit by Stewart’s car. After this news was made public, I saw many headlines such as “Tony Stewart: Cold-Blooded Killer.” Deep down, I know that Smoke is not a killer. You can disagree with me, but I #StandWithSmoke.

After breaking his leg, the Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy, and now this, it is very sad to see Stewart’s reputation falling apart. Last night’s incident could have been avoidable. Someone needs to teach Stewart that you should not care what others say about you. He should have let the man talk his trash and laugh at him for being so ignorant. By confronting this “sheriff’s deputy,” it is feeding into the “trolls” who want to see Stewart fail. It is sad that we have those kinds of people in the world, but it is what it is.

I wish that Tony Stewart could have simply ignored this man’s words who obviously made him mad enough to confront him. This upcoming season is Smoke’s final year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. I do not want Tony Stewart to be remembered for his off the track troubles, but for his amazing career. From an IndyCar driver to multiple NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships, it is safe to say that Stewart has had a successful career as a race car driver. I admit that is has been fun watching Smoke when he is mad, but he deserves to be remembered as a man who brought great things to NASCAR. We can only hope that Tony Stewart’s final season as a Sprint Cup driver will be special, instead of drama filled for all the wrong reasons.

Where does Tony Stewart go from here NASCAR fans?

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

The Final Lap

Photo: http://www.athlonsports.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

As the year is winding down, I want to share the scariest moment of 2015. It was the final lap of the 2015 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

I remember this day like it was yesterday. Anxiously awaiting the start of a race at the track where we typically see great racing. The race was supposed to start in the early evening, but rain delayed the start until after 11 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Although the race started much later than expected, I was ready to see some exciting racing. I snuggled under the covers of my bed as the green flag waved. Throughout the race, fatigue was a major factor. I constantly sipped on a bottle of water to stay awake. This was the first time that I have ever watched a NASCAR race until 3 o’clock in the morning.

After a long night of trying to stay awake, it was almost time for a Green-White-Checkered finish. At the end of restrictor plate races, I tend to get nervous as the drivers get extremely aggressive. One wrong move and you create a multi-car accident. As the green flag waved for the final time, I began to shake as I wanted every driver to make it back to the checkered flag safe and sound.

Teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson led the way. Drivers started jockeying for position going down the backstretch. I did not think that we would make it to the white flag as aggression rose to an all-time high. However, I was shocked to see the Hendrick drivers lead the pack to the white flag. One lap to make it back in one piece or hooked up to the tow truck. This was truly “checkers or wreckers.”

I was so excited watching the tight pack go down the backstretch for the final time as the drivers were trying to make something happen. The pack entered turn four as Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulled away from the field. At this point, I knew it would be a great night for Junior Nation. I was not prepared for what happened next.

As Dale Earnhardt Jr. crossed the finish line, I saw Denny Hamlin get turned by Kevin Harvick. I screamed, “Oh my gosh, Denny just flew into the fence!!!” As I said this, I remember the words of announcer Rick Allen, “And the Big One happens behind them!” At this time, I was terrified as I did not know what exactly happened. Was Denny going to be okay?

When the television cameras showed the scene of the accident, I was shocked to find out that it was actually Austin Dillon. The Number 3 car was upside down and was absolutely destroyed (understatement). Going through my mind, “Is he alive? Please, no! We cannot lose another driver of the 3 car.”

It was absolutely amazing to see people from multiple teams race onto the track to assist Austin Dillon. Honestly, I was fearing the worst at this point. Dillon’s car hit the fence hard, landed upside down, then one final blow by Brad Keselowski. There was no way that Austin Dillon survived that one.

All of a sudden, crew members pulled Dillon out of the wrecked race car! I was in complete disbelief but happy. He was so lucky to make it out of that terrifying accident alive.

Next, NBC started to show multiple replays. The accident started when Denny Hamlin spun in front of the pack, clipped the front of Dillon’s car, which sent him airborne above rows of cars into the catchfence.

This accident triggered a lot of controversy surrounding safety at the race track. Is there a way to improve the catchfence? What if another car goes airborne after the first car left a giant hole in the fence? I have no idea how you would solve those issues. Danger is a part of racing and there can be severe consequences. You cannot change the fact that motorsports is dangerous.

Austin Dillon’s spectacular crash was the scariest moment of 2015. As we end this year, I hope that we will not see ANY accidents like that in 2016. What did you think of this accident race fans? Is there any way to improve safety at restrictor plate races? Please share other scary moments from the 2015 racing season!

 

 

Driver of the Year: Kyle Busch

Photo: http://www.sbnation.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

There are so many drivers who showcased their full potential in 2015. Ranging from stock cars, open wheel, and sportscars, picking someone to be Driver of the Year has been a tough task. Before we get to the person who deserves to be Driver of the Year, I will start with the honorable mentions.

Although Juan Pablo Montoya put on a show at the Indianapolis 500 and Scott Dixon won the title, I believe that Graham Rahal was the best IndyCar driver of 2015. Nobody expected a Honda powered team to take the fight to Chevrolet, but Team RLL defeated all of the odds. They came up short of the title, but look for Rahal to be a contender in 2016.

Lewis Hamilton was the best Formula One driver once again. He was able to defeat his Mercedes teammate and rival Nico Rosberg for the world championship. Can anyone challenge the two Mercedes drivers in 2016?

Nelson Piquet Jr. had a spectacular year in the inaugural season of the FIA Formula E Championship. After a close battle with Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi, Piquet Jr. secured the title at the London ePrix.

Sportscar driver Nick Tandy had a “dream season” for Porsche at Le Mans and in IMSA WeatherTech Championship races. His amazing season started off when he won the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans with Earl Bamber and Formula One driver Nico Hulkenberg. Later on, he helped lead Porsche North America to an overall victory at the 2015 Petit Le Mans. The Porsche 911 RSR GTE machine shocked the sportscar racing world as they defeated the mighty prototypes in the wet.

All of those drivers had fantastic seasons, but my pick for Driver of the Year goes to a man who had an unbelievable comeback: Kyle Busch.

I remember sitting on the couch watching the NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway. It was crunch time and the pack was getting tighter. All of a sudden, I saw one car get turned and the Big One had begun! Multi-car crashes are common at restrictor plate races. Cars were slamming into one another, but one car specifically caught my attention. The Number 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry slammed the inside wall in a spot where a SAFER barrier did not exist. I have no idea how Kyle Busch got out of the car on his own power.

The road to recovery proved to be extremely challenging as Busch suffered a broken leg and ankle. I must admit, I was scared when I saw the paramedics place Busch in the ambulance. By looking at his face, it was obvious that he was in a lot of pain. At this point, we did not know the severity of Busch’s injuries. Following surgery, Kyle Busch began intense rehab as he had the desire to get back behind the wheel.

During Busch’s absence, Matt Crafton, David Ragan, and Erik Jones drove the Number 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry. The trio did a fantastic job subbing for the injured Busch. Huge compliments to Kyle Busch’s crew chief Adam Stevens for adjusting to having different drivers in the car. I know that he did not expect to work with a total of four drivers in 2015.

After a few months of rehab, Busch returned to the race car sooner than expected. As I heard the news, I wondered if he was making the right decision. This proved to be an amazing choice as Busch won at Sonoma Raceway, which is a road course! How does a driver break his leg and ankle, then come back to win at a road course? For anyone who says that race car drivers are not athletes, please reconsider that thought because you are wrong.

There are many race fans who do not like “Rowdy” because he wins constantly in NASCAR’s second tier series. You might not like him but you have to admit that his story is truly inspiring. There are not many drivers who can recover from severe injuries in months and compete at a high level. Kyle Busch’s first Sprint Cup championship was a feel-good story. Overcoming painful days and nights, becoming a father, and never giving up is the reason why he deserves to be Driver of the Year.

I understand that there is plenty of controversies on whether or not Busch is the rightful champion. He ran less races than any other Chase contender and still beat them in the end. In my opinion, I believe that Busch is definitely a true champion as he demonstrated that becoming a champion is more than just winning races. He did the unthinkable and returned from gruesome injuries, then raced his way to the grand prize. Try to tell me that someone else deserved the championship and I will have a good laugh. Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. ran every single race of the season and each could have easily been champion. Harvick wanted to defend his title, Gordon wanted to go out on top, and a championship from Truex Jr would have been an emotional story. All four contenders had great stories but Kyle Busch’s story is the Comeback of the Year. It would have been nice to see Jeff Gordon go out after a wonderful career, Harvick win back to back championships, or Truex Jr. win after an emotional year. However, Kyle Busch is the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. How could you not love an inspirational comeback story?

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Silly Season

Photo: http://www.usatoday.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

The 2016 Sprint Cup season is looking to be a memorable one! With Jeff Gordon retiring, we have Chase Elliott moving up to replace him. There are a few changes and new Sprint Cup drivers. Time to find out what the Sprint Cup Series is looking like in 2016!

Confirmed Full Season entries (34 cars)

1 Jamie McMurray McDonald’s Chevrolet SS- McMurray will return to Chip Ganassi Racing. The typical sponsors will also return, along with Matt McCall as crew chief. The Number 1 team looks to improve on a very successful season in 2015.

2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford Fusion- Keselowski will return to Team Penske in 2016. Paul Wolfe will remain crew chief.

3 Austin Dillon Dow Chemical Chevrolet SS- Dillon will return to his grandfather’s team in 2016. The same sponsors will return, along with crew chief Slugger Labbe.

4 Kevin Harvick Busch Beer/Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS- This team will remain mostly unchanged in 2016. Budweiser is gone and Busch Beer has arrived. You will see other familiar sponsors on the Number 4 car. Rodney Childers will remain crew chief.

5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS- Kahne returns to Hendrick Motorsports in 2016. The car will see a few new sponsors, along with the familiar ones. Keith Rodden will remain crew chief.

6 Trevor Bayne Advocare Ford Fusion- Bayne returns to Roush Fenway Racing in 2016 after a disappointing rookie season. The entire team looks to improve in 2016. Bob Osborne will remain crew chief.

7 Alex Bowman Toy State Chevrolet SS- Bowman will return to Tommy Baldwin Racing. He will have new sponsors along with Golden Corral for the restrictor plate races.

9 Brian Scott Ford Fusion- Brian Scott moves to the Sprint Cup Series full-time. Shore Lodge will most likely continue to sponsor Scott as he moves to the world’s highest level of stock car racing. He will run for Rookie of the Year honors. There should be a sponsorship announcement in the immediate future. Chris Heroy will be Scott’s crew chief.

10 Danica Patrick Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS- Patrick returns to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2016. GoDaddy departs NASCAR and Patrick welcomes Nature’s Bakery as her new primary sponsor. Additional sponsors from 2015 will return. Billy Scott will be Patrick’s crew chief.

11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Toyota Camry- Hamlin returns to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2016. Mike Wheeler will be his crew chief.

13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet SS- Mears will return Germain Racing in 2016. It has not been confirmed if Bootie Barker will return.

14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet SS- In his final season, all of Stewart’s sponsors will return. After a dismal 2015 season, Stewart will have a new crew chief. Mike Bugarewicz will replace Chad Johnston as crew chief.

16 Greg Biffle Ford Fusion- There are rumors that 2016 will be Biffle’s final season in Sprint Cup. No sponsorship has been announced, but we should know by the end of January. Brian Pattie will be his crew chief.

17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford Fusion- Stenhouse Jr. will return to Roush Fenway Racing in 2016. We should see a sponsorship announcement very soon. Nick Sandler will be his crew chief.

18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Toyota Camry- Rowdy will return as the defending Sprint Cup champion. All of Busch’s sponsors from 2015 should return. Adam Stevens will remain crew chief.

19 Carl Edwards ARRIS Toyota Camry- Edwards will return to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2016. All sponsors are expected to return. Dave Rogers will be Edwards’ crew chief.

20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General/Dewalt Toyota Camry- Kenseth will return to Joe Gibbs Racing after a controversial ending to the 2015 season. Jason Ratcliff will remain crew chief.

21 Ryan Blaney Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion- After running select Trucks, Xfinity, and Cup races in 2015, Blaney will finally move to Sprint Cup full-time with the Wood Brothers. He will run for Rookie of the Year honors. This is the first full season for this team in forever. Jeremy Bullins will be Blaney’s crew chief.

22 Joey Logano Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion- Logano will return to Team Penske in 2016.  Todd Gordon will remain crew chief.

24 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS- Chase Elliott will replace Jeff Gordon in 2016. He will run for Rookie of the Year honors. 3M will sponsor the car in a few races. Other sponsors will be announced at a later date. Alan Gustafson will be Elliott’s crew chief.

27 Paul Menard Menard’s Chevrolet SS- Everything will remain the same in 2016. Same driver, same sponsor, and same crew chief Justin Alexander.

31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet SS- Newman will return to Richard Childress Racing in 2016. Luke Lambert will remain crew chief.

32 GO FAS Racing Ford Fusion- The team will run Jeffrey Earnhardt the majority of the season(depending on sponsorship). Bobby Labonte will return for the restrictor plate races. Official announcements about the 2016 program should come next month.

34 Chris Buescher Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion- The 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion will move to the Sprint Cup series in 2016. He will run for Rookie of the Year honors. Roush Fenway Racing formed a technical alliance with Front Row Motorsports, which should help improve their entire program. Sponsorship announcements will come in the immediate future. Scott Graves will continue his partnership with Buescher as crew chief.

41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS- Busch will return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2016. Monster Energy will be his new sponsor, which moves up from his brother Kyle’s Xfinity car. Tony Gibson will remain crew chief.

42 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet SS- Larson will return to Chip Ganassi Racing in 2016. All sponsors will return, and Chad Johnston will be his crew chief.

43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Foods Ford Fusion- Almirola will return to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2016. Additional sponsors will be announced in the immediate future. Trent Owens will remain crew chief.

46 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J Chevrolet SS- Annett will return to Harry Scott Motorsports in 2016. Having Clint Bowyer as a teammate should help him grow as a driver. Jay Guy will remain crew chief.

47 AJ Allmendinger JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet SS- Allmendinger will return to the team in 2016. Most of his sponsors from 2015 will return. Randall Burnett will be his crew chief.

48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS- Johnson will return to Hendrick Motorsports in 2016. Chad Knaus will remain crew chief.

78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry- Truex Jr. will return to the team in 2016. However, the team is switching to Toyota from Chevrolet. Cole Pearn will remain crew chief.

83 BK Racing Toyota Camry- No word on the current state of this team. If they return, expect Matt DiBenedetto to drive the car.

88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet SS- Earnhardt Jr, will return to the Sprint Cup Series in 2016. He will have new and old sponsors joining the Number 88 car. Greg Ives will remain the crew chief.

Clint Bowyer 5 Hour Energy Chevrolet SS- Bowyer will race for Harry Scott Motorsports in 2016. He is moving on from Michael Waltrip Racing, which closed its doors following the 2015 season finale. Sponsorship and crew chief announcements should come by the end of January.

Possible Entries (9 cars)

Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry- We could see Furniture Row field a second team in select races for Erik Jones. Now that the team has a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, this might be a potential home for Erik Jones in 2017.

Ty Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet SS- It is unknown whether or not Dillon will contest the full Sprint Cup or Xfinity Series schedules(depending on sponsorship).

12 Team Penske Ford Fusion- This is pure speculation, but the team could field a third entry for Juan Pablo Montoya at the Brickyard 400.

23 BK Racing Toyota Camry- Jeb Burton will most likely not return as he is pursuing other opportunities. This could be potential landing spots for Regan Smith, David Ragan, and Brett Moffit.

26 BK Racing Toyota Camry- Like Burton, Yeley is also not expected to return in 2016. Opens up another seat for drivers looking for a ride.

35 Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion- Cole Whitt is unlikely to return to the team, but anything is possible.

38 Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion- David Gilliand will most likely be searching for a new ride. No word on his potential replacement or the future of this team.

40 Hillman-Smith Motorsports Chevrolet SS- Landon Cassill could return in 2016, but he is exploring other options.

95 Leavine Family Racing Ford Fusion- Michael McDowell might return if the team continues. There has not been any announcements concerning this team’s future.

*Sprint Cup silly season is winding down and we pretty much know most of the field. However, there are a few rides available so drivers start calling!*

Brian Scott moving to Sprint Cup in 2016

Photo: http://www.racingnews.co

By: Kobe Lambeth

Richard Petty Motorsports has confirmed that Brian Scott will replace Sam Hornish Jr. in the Number 9 Ford Fusion in 2016. Scott will join Aric Almirola as a teammate in the two car Sprint Cup program.

The past three seasons, Brian Scott drove the Number 2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet with Richard Childress Racing. His best career finish is second place numerous times. Based on Scott’s performance in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, he is definitely ready to take the next step.

I have been following Brian Scott’s career for quite some time. Many people criticise him because he only has two career victories in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. However, it does not reflect on Scott’s driving talent. He has run brilliant races, but bad luck is preventing him from reaching his true potential. If Brian Scott did not get caught up in wrecks (some not of his doing), then he potentially could have a few Xfinity victories.

In 2015, Scott ran select Sprint Cup races and did a fantastic job! I saw him racing alongside the likes of Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick. If you can keep up with those guys, then you can be successful in the Sprint Cup Series. Brian Scott may have faced a lot of criticism in the past, but he is a driver to watch out for in 2016. Some drivers do not find much success in the Xfinity Series but look what Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson did. They were not really successful in the Xfinity Series but thrived at the top level of stock car racing. If they can do that, then Brian Scott has the potential to be a Sprint Cup superstar someday. What do you think of Brian Scott’s move to Sprint Cup race fans? Should he have stayed with Richard Childress Racing another season? I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions!

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