NASCAR

A change for NASCAR – and how it would be beneficial 


Photo by: Chris Trotman

When it comes to comparing sports, NASCAR may seem like the least comparable to the likings of the NBA, NFL, or MLB. But it isn’t just about how each sport is alike in how they are played. It’s about the dynamics of how they are run and how each one can progress in making themselves better.

That is why it is time for NASCAR to embrace another factor that separates it from others: trades.

When it comes to trades within other sports, each team is given something in return of one of their own. In NASCAR we call it “Silly Season” and rumors fly just like every other sport in the country, but they don’t play out like them. NASCAR teams do not get anything in return when a driver’s contract is up and they and/or the driver choose not to sign an extension.

Prior to the start of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, several top stars were at the end of their current contract: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Chase Elliott are just a few of the drivers this season who have already signed to stay with their current team for 2018 and beyond.

Would trades have impacted their decision? Probably not, but it can impact others.

When it comes to trades teams sometimes take a huge gamble to acquire a player that fits their wants and needs for their team. When they receive a key player it often adds depth to their game and what they can do, but they aren’t always going to receive a key player. Sometimes they receive prospects, or what NASCAR calls developmental drivers.

In today’s NASCAR where the youth movement is gaining a ton of momentum and drive, trades can become a significant element that allows each team to gain something in what they would normally lose.

For teams like Roush Fenway Racing, where they have the youth but lack a veteran driver, trades can become a valuable way to even the scale.

Now is the perfect time to make NASCAR Trades a reality

Chase Elliott signs contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports

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Photo by: Sarah Crabill

Hendrick Motorsports and Chase Elliott have announced that they have reached a contract extension agreement that puts the driver with the team through the 2022 racing season.

Elliott, who earned the 2016 Rookie of the Year honors, has 6 top-5 finishes and 11 top-10 finishes so far this season. He currently sits third in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular point season standings.

“It means the world to me to be a part of this organization, and I couldn’t be happier,” Elliott said in a statement, “I wouldn’t want to drive for anybody else but Hendrick Motorsports. I am very proud to be where I am, and I definitely take it upon myself to work hard and make sure I do my part for the company as we move forward.”

Elliott signed with Hendrick Motorsports in 2011 and took over the iconic No. 24 Chevrolet from Jeff Gordon at the start of 2016. The 21-year old was previously signed through 2018.

“As both a driver and a person, where Chase is today at 21 years old is unbelievable,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “With all the expectations and pressure, he’s stayed focused on being himself and working as hard as he can.”

“The pure driving talent has always been obvious, and he’s doing so many great things off the track. He’ll be a big part of our organization and our sport for many years. I’m looking forward to watching him continue to grow with us.”

The 2014 Xfinity Series champion is still searching for his first Cup Series victory ahead of this weekend’s race at Daytona International Speedway. He finished 14th at the Daytona 500.

Earnhardt’s career more than what meets the eye

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Announces His Retirement After the 2017 NASCAR Season

Photo by: Mike Comer

Hendrick Motorsports announced early Tuesday morning that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will retire after the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, ending a career that spans 18 years.

Earnhardt has been embraced by millions who first began following the career of his late father, known as The Intimidator, but along the way he carved a name for himself and a way to be remembered for who he was.

Dale Jr. didn’t ask for the Earnhardt name, but the Earnhardt name is what he was given. The differences between him and his father could possibly be described as a complete 360 degree difference, but that didn’t stop the 14-time Most Popular Driver from being the driver that he wanted to be.

Earnhardt has earned 26 victories, including two Daytona 500 wins, in 603 starts. He also has two championships in NASCAR’s second tier series now known as the XFINITY Series.

Earnhardt’s career began in the No. 8 driving for Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, or DEI, where he won 17 times. In 2007, Earnhardt announced he would be joining Hendrick Motorsports at the beginning of the 2008 season. Earnhardt began his tenure by winning the 2008 Budweiser Shootout, which is now The Clash.

With a career of about two decades, Earnhardt’s highlight reel is a significant one. He will be remembered for his dominance of NASCAR’s two restrictor plate circuits, Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway, where he has a combined total of 10 wins.

The 2001 Pepsi 400 and 2014 Daytona 500 are two of Earnhardt’s most memorable wins. The 2001 win at Daytona was the first win for the driver since Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s passing. The driver was pushed to victory by teammate Michael Waltrip. Earnhardt’s second win of The Great American Race also brought the addition of Earnhardt to the social media world. He joined Twitter the day after the victory, sharing pictures of him in victory lane with the Harley J. Earl trophy and in front of the statue of his father at the Daytona Experience.

Earnhardt’s career in racing will be remembered for years to come. Diehard fans who coined the name “Junior Nation”, should remember him for being as loyal to them and the sport as they were to him. Those that have gotten the chance to see the transformation of Earnhardt into not only his own driver, but also his own man, should consider themselves lucky.

The rest of the 2017 season should be a time to rejoice and come Homestead know that even though it’s the end of an era, the era was well spent.

Jimmie Johnson captures Texas Victory

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500

Photo by: Sarah Crabill

If there were any doubts about Jimmie Johnson’s winning ways before the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, they were put to rest at Texas Motor Speedway.

Johnson earned his first win of the 2017 season after starting from the back. A spin in qualifying caused the Lowe’s Chevrolet team to change tires before making his 550th career start.

“I guess I remembered how to drive, and I guess this team remembered how to do it,” Johnson said. “I’m just real proud of this team. What a tough track and tough conditions. We were really in our wheelhouse and we were just able to execute all day.”

Johnson led twice for a total of 18 laps toward the 81st victory of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career. Johnson retook the lead on Lap 318 after a debris caution allowed for the No. 22 of Joey Logano to gamble.

Sunday’s race at Texas was the first since the repavement and reconfiguration that lowered the banking of the 1.5-mile track by four degrees.

Ryan Blaney finished 12th after a dominating performance that scored him two stage wins, but a mistake by the Wood Brothers Racing driver on pit road sent him rallying for positions.

“Not a bad day for us,” Blaney said, “It’s nice to win a couple segments, but I want to lead the last lap. That’s the lap I care about, but I thought we made a big gain today as a team.”

Blaney led a career-high of 148 laps before sliding through his pit box on Lap 301.

Kyle Larson extended the standings lead after a second place finish. Logano and Harvick finished third and fourth, respectively, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his first top-5 finish of the year.

NASCAR returns to Bristol on April 23rd on FOX.

 

Ryan Newman snaps winless streak at Phoenix

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 500

Photo by: Jonathan Ferrey

Ryan Newman snapped a 127 race winless streak Sunday after a late caution allowed the team to play with strategy. Luke Lambert, crew chief for Ryan Newman, made the call to stay out despite Newman wanting to pit.

The decision was the race winning move that gave Newman his 18th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, and his first since July 28, 2013 at Indianapolis.

“I’ve lost count—that’s how long it’s been,” Newman said, “What a gutsy call by Luke. I called for two tires, and he called for none.”

Newman wasn’t the only one on old tires, however. He was joined by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. Kyle Larson restarted fourth with two fresh tires, but collided with Stenhouse before he was able to take advantage of it.

“Hindsight is always 20/20, but I should have went a lane up in (Turns) 1 and 2.” Larson said, “I should have known to just stay close to Newman. That’s what I wish I would have done.”

Larson does have one thing to be happy about after the Camping World 500. He gained the series points lead earning his third straight second place finish.

Kyle Busch, who led 114 laps and looked to capture his first win of the season before Joey Logano’s tire blew, finished third, followed by Stenhouse, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick.

“We really needed the outside like Larson had,” Busch said after the race. “Overall, we should be proud of our run today and we will move on.”

It was a sweet victory for all involved at Richard Childress Racing. RCR had yet to win a race since Kevin Harvick won the fall race at Phoenix before joining Stewart-Haas Racing.

“It’s sweet for so many reasons,” Newman said. “This is the longest drought I’ve ever had. A hard-fought battle, a hard-fought race, a hard-fought four years.”

Martin Truex Jr. victorious in Las Vegas

NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Kobalt 400

Photo by: Jared C. Tilton

Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski controlled much of the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The two combined for 239 laps led, but when Keselowski decelerated for a potential problem, the win was Truex’s for the taking.

Truex captured the win, but it was overshadowed by a post-race scuffle on pit road. After exiting his vehicle, 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch went straight to the No. 22 pit stall of Joey Logano.

It is unclear if Logano was struck by the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, but after NASCAR officials broke up the exchange Busch emerged with blood on his forehead.

Logano and Busch made slight contact in the final two laps after dodging an off the pace Keselowski. Nevertheless, the contact sent the No. 18 sliding toward the entrance of pit lane. Busch avoided further damage and finished 22nd because of the incident.

“I got dumped,” Busch said afterward, “Flat-out just drove straight into the corner and wrecked us. That’s how Joey races, so he’s gonna get it.”

Logano didn’t seem phased by Busch’s reaction.

“We were just racing hard there at the end,” Logano said, “I was underneath him on the backstretch and he tried to crash me into the corner getting underneath Brad (Keselowski) there and at that point I was just trying get through the corner. I was sideways all the way through and got into him. Nothing intentional.”

“I’ve never had an issue with Kyle,” Logano continued. “Kyle and I have always raced really well together. We’ve never had an issue, but I guess that’s over.”

If Busch sticks to his word, what happens in Vegas may not stay in Vegas.

There was much to be celebrated for however, as Truex became the first driver to claim all three stages in a single event.

“We definitely had our share of races where we’ve dominated and gave one away, and it looked like today was going to be another one of those,” Truex said, “The runs just didn’t work out the way we needed them. We were struggling on the really long runs.”

The struggles turned into triumphant in the remaining laps for Truex, who earned his eight career Cup Series victory.

Truex may not have received all the glory despite a dominating performance, but he will take it for what it’s worth. After all, he knows all too well what it feels like to come short of reaching Victory Lane.

“It feels good to come out on the good end for once.”

Brad Keselowski prevails at Atlanta

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Photo by: Brian Lawdermilk

Brad Keselowski capitalized on others mistakes Sunday evening after battling his own to win the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

Keselowski was forced to pit late in the race after a team setback left the No. 2 Autotrader Ford restarting 13th, dampening their chances at a victory. But Keselowski was not to be denied.

“Everybody stayed focused and nobody had to say anything,” he said. “We know the deal. We know this isn’t going to be easy. You have to keep your head down and keep fighting at all times and that’s what we did.”

Keselowski maintained the track position he worked for despite pitting for fresh tires after a caution was thrown for Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick was penalized for speeding on pit road.

Keselowski passed Kyle Larson five laps later to score the 22nd victory of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career. Harvick dominated the event, winning both Stage 1 and Stage 2, before a costly miscalculation.

“I thought I was being conservative,” Harvick said, “Apparently, I wasn’t. I was just pushing it too hard.”

Harvick was just one of the 13 speeding violations throughout the event. Chase Elliott, who paid the price on Lap 212, made a comeback for fifth place.

While most drivers were being penalized for speeding on pit road, surprisingly, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin was not. However, he suffered a rear end issue and finished 38th of the 39 car field.

At the end of the day it was Keselowski with all the glory. He sits third in the standings after gaining five playoff points, while Harvick leads after two races.