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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Kumpen to make Daytona Debut

Photo: http://www.bostonglobe.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

Dreams do come true! 2014 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champ, Anthony Kumpen, will make his restrictor plate racing debut on the high banks of Daytona next month in the NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener.

He will drive the Number 46 LeasePlan Chevrolet Camaro for Precision Performance Motorsports. Kumpen’s dream came true thanks to the Nexteer Road to Daytona, which is designed to bring European drivers across the pond to NASCAR in the United States. I love that there is a program in place for foreign drivers who wish to pursue a career in America. In the future, I hope we see more drivers from foreign nations make the move to NASCAR. It appears that Kumpen cannot wait to race at the historic Daytona International Speedway.

“We worked all year to get the approval to do Daytona and it is fantastic to finally be able to race there. To race at Daytona is a dream for every NASCAR driver. It is a very special track, and for a European NASCAR driver, it is even more special. I’m proud and happy that we can be there. It all started thanks to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and I am grateful for this. I want to thank everybody involved from sponsors to NASCAR. I am the first NASCAR Whelen Euro Series driver to go to Daytona and I hope this will be an inspiration for young drivers to join the NWES.”

I wish Anthony Kumpen the best of luck as the Belgian race car driver will have the opportunity to race at one of the most historic race tracks in the world. Also, Kumpen confirmed that there are not plans in place to run the ARCA race at Daytona. However, it could be beneficial to get some more experience in the draft. Well, anything is possible in NASCAR!

For more information on this topic, go to: http://www.ppm646.com

Ray Black Jr. moves up to Xfinity Series

Photo: http://www.foxsports.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

SS Green Light Racing has confirmed that Ray Black Jr. will move up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2016. The move to Xfinity competition comes after an impressive season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He will drive the Number 07 ScubaLife.com Chevrolet Camaro.

Black Jr. said, “I’m very eager for this season to start and take the next step in racing by moving up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series! It’s a much bigger stage with some of the best racing competition in the world. The truck series was a great starting point for me in NASCAR, but it’s always good to keep challenging yourself, and I feel that’s what this move will do for me. It’s a great opportunity for me to show everyone what I can do!”

This is fantastic news as Ray Black Jr. continues to advance through the ranks of NASCAR! He is definitely going to show that he can run with the bright young stars of the Xfinity Series. Last season, I watched Black Jr. do great things for a small team. I knew from his strong showing at Daytona last year that Ray would be successful in NASCAR.

SS Green Light Racing team owner, Bobby Dotter said, “We ran one Xfinity race with Ray last year, and it went much better than everyone expected. Ray really took to the feel of the car! Our goal was always to be in the Xfinity Series with Ray, we’ve just sped up that timeline a little bit. Ray is ready for the step up, and the team is ready to grow with him next year.”

It was amazing to see what Bobby Dotter’s team was able to accomplish last season with Ray Black Jr. I know the pair will be successful as they move up to NASCAR’s second-tier series. SS Green Light Racing is definitely ready to show that they belong in the Xfinity Series. Black Jr. is very talented and will accomplish many goals in NASCAR. Hopefully, both team and driver will learn enough that they will be able to run with the likes of JR Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing over the next few years. What do you think NASCAR fans: should Black Jr. have stayed in trucks one more season or is he ready for the move up?

For more information on this topic, go to: http://www.teamscuba.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 Xfinity Series Silly Season

Photo: http://www.eneos.us

By: Kobe Lambeth

NASCAR fans, are you ready to see who is going where and potential rumors? Let’s see the current lineup for the 2016 Xfinity season.

Confirmed Full Season entries (13 cars)

4 Ross Chastain Chevrolet Camaro- Chastain will return to JD Motorsports full-time in 2016. After a rookie season with ups and downs, Chastain looks to improve.

6 Darrell Wallace Jr. Ford Mustang- Bubba will return to Roush Fenway Racing for another season. It appears that Seth Barbour will remain Wallace’s crew chief. The sponsorship situation is currently unknown. Bubba is expected to improve in 2016 and potentially break through for his first career Xfinity Series victory.

7 Justin Allgaier BRANDT Chevrolet Camaro- Allgaier will return to the Xfinity Series after two full seasons in Sprint Cup. Along with BRANDT, TaxSlayer and Hellman’s will sponsor Allgaier’s car. A crew chief has not been decided for his first season with JR Motorsports.

8 Blake Koch LeafFilter Toyota Camry- Koch will return to TriStar Motorsports in 2016 full-time.

16 Ryan Reed American Diabetes Association Ford Mustang- Reed is returning to Roush Fenway Racing to improve on last season’s successes. Chad Norris is expected to return as crew chief.

18 Daniel Suarez ARRIS Toyota Camry- Suarez will return for a second season with Joe Gibbs Racing. He is looking to build momentum into 2016 following a strong rookie season.

20 Erik Jones Toyota Camry- Jones will move to the Xfinity Series full-time in 2016. Sponsorship and crew chief will be announced at a later date.

22 Team Penske Ford Mustang- Look for Team Penske to continue the tradition of rotating Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney. Greg Erwin will be the crew chief.

25 John Wes Townley Zaxby’s Chevrolet Camaro- Townley will drive select races in addition to his full-time Truck schedule. Dylan Lupton could return for a few races.

44 David Starr Zachry Group Toyota Camry- Starr will return to TriStar Motorsports.

88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro- The “star car” will consist of multiple Sprint Cup drivers: Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, and Alex Bowman. The car will be sponsored by TaxSlayer, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Hellman’s, and other potential sponsors.

Elliott Sadler JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro- Sadler will leave Roush Fenway Racing for JR Motorsports in 2016. His car number is currently unknown, but OneMain Financial is most likely to continue its sponsorship.

Brandon Jones Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro- Jones will run the entire NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule. Car number and sponsorship will be announced at a later date.

Possible Entries (18 cars)

0 Flex Seal Chevrolet Camaro- No word on whether or not Harrison Rhodes will return in 2016. Michael Self could be a candidate for the full-time nod.

01 Landon Cassill G&K Services Chevrolet Camaro- There are no indications that Cassill will return as he is exploring the market. If he does not have luck elsewhere, I would not be surprised to see him return to JD Motorsports.

2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro- Brian Scott has moved to the Sprint Cup Series, which leaves on open seat at Richard Childress Racing. It would not be surprising to see Brandon Jones take this seat. Other candidates could be Regan Smith, David Ragan, Dakoda Armstrong, or wild card Ryan Gifford.

3 Ty Dillon Chevrolet Camaro- Nothing has been announced regarding Dillon’s 2016 plans. While exploring the move to Sprint Cup, Dillon is likely to return for another full season in the Xfinity Series.

5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro- JR Motorsports could field an additional entry for Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott and other young drivers.

12 Team Penske Ford Mustang- Typically runs the Watkins Glen race with Joey Logano. Could expand in 2016 by giving Tyler Reddick a few races.

14 TriStar Motorsports Toyota Camry- It is unclear if this team will return to the series. Cale Conley drove for the team, until sponsorship woes ended his season early.

24 Hefty/Reynolds Wrap Toyota Camry- There has been rumors of Eric McClure’s retirement, but he has not formally confirmed it. No word on whether or not he will return to the Xfinity Series.

28 JJ Yeley JGL Racing Toyota Camry- Although the team had a successful season with Yeley behind the wheel, a 2016 program has not been confirmed.

33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro- Brandon Jones could run this car full-time, but might move to the Number 2 car after Brian Scott’s departure. Moving to the Number 2 car could allow for Richard Childress Racing to run multiple drivers. Dakoda Armstrong is rumored to join the team.

39 Ryan Sieg Racing Chevrolet Camaro- Sieg is likely to return to the Xfinity Series after an amazing 2015 season.

42 Harry Scott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro- The team will most likely continue running select races with Kyle Larson. If sponsorship is found, Brennan Poole could drive the car full-time.

43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Mustang- Dakoda Armstrong has parted ways with the team. There is no word if the Number 43 car will run full-time in 2016. Candidates to drive the car are Brett Moffit, David Ragan, Regan Smith, and Ryan Truex.

51 Jeremy Clements Chevrolet Camaro- Clements will most likely return in 2016.

54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry- It is unclear if we will see the dominating 54 car in 2016. Monster Energy is moving to Sprint Cup to sponsor Kurt Busch, which leaves this car without sponsorship. We should see Kyle Busch and a variety of drivers cycle through the car if sponsorship is found.

60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang- Chris Buescher has moved onto the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This will most likely be a partial season entry. Maybe David Ragan could return to Roush Fenway Racing full-time if sponsorship is found.

62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Resort Chevrolet Camaro- Nothing has been announced, but Gaughan will most likely return to Richard Childress Racing.

98 Biagi-Denbeste Racing Ford Mustang- There has not been an announcement regarding the fate of this team. If the team returns, you could see David Ragan or Ryan Truex behind the wheel.

*There are LOTS of seats available in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. It will be interesting to see where drivers like Regan Smith, David Ragan, and Ryan Truex end up!*

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

Chris Buescher moving to Sprint Cup in 2016

 

Photo: http://www.zimbio.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

Front Row Motorsports has confirmed that Chris Buescher will drive the Number 34 Ford Fusion in 2016. Buescher moves up from the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He won the Xfinity Series Championship in 2015 for Roush Fenway Racing.

Buescher previously won the ARCA Series Championship in 2012. The championship led to his rise onto the stock car racing scene. Moving to Roush Fenway Racing was the possible move Buescher could make. A great team with wonderful equipment led him to much success in NASCAR’s second-tier series.

In 2015, Buescher was able to run the entire NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule and run a few select Sprint Cup races at the beginning of the season. He won two Xfinity races in his breakout season for Roush Fenway Racing. Consistency helped him secure the grand prize ahead of rivals Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon. The previous season, he won at the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course.

Chris Buescher is definitely going to be a contender for the Sprint Cup title in the next five years. He has shown us that he has all-star potential. Although he has three career Xfinity wins, the upside of Chris Buescher is just as high as Kyle Larson’s when he moved to the Number 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing. What do you think of Buescher’s move to Sprint Cup race fans? Is the move to the world’s highest level of stock car racing a good decision or should Buescher have another year in the Xfinity Series? The technical alliance Roush Fenway Racing formed with Front Row Motorsports should help both team and driver develop their skills.

For more information on this topic: http://www.teamfrm.com/34-team-news