Joey Logano wins the Duck Commander 500

Texas Motor SpeedwayFor only the third time at Texas Motor Speedway has the Sprint Cup race had to be moved to a Monday. But this year, the race was forced to move because of persistent rains on Sunday and the inability to get the track race ready. While the race was moved and a lot of fans were not able to still show up, there was still excitement for the race. Continue reading

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Samsung Mobile 500; A record breaking race

On a cloudy and incredibly windy Saturday night, Race fans in Texas were treated to a show. It was a 501 mile race that was run with very few cautions and a lot of single file racing. But within any good race on the NASCAR circuit, this would hopefully change near the end of the race as things tighten up.

The usual suspects were seen running at the front of the pack. But the surprise lap led of the day came from Marcos Ambrose. The strong southerly winds throughout the evening seemed to have little effect on the cars visually. But each pit stop, crews were picking trash and other debris off the front grill.

But the excitement was not to be, because the two early cautions were the only two that would be for the night. Greg Biffle was a dominant driver throughout the race, and won his 16th career race and became the 6th different winner of the 2012 season. This year’s Samsung mobile 500 will go down as the race with the fewest cautions at Texas Motor Speedway, also the most consecutive green flag laps at 234 and race speed at 160.575.

While the race wasn’t quite a full sell out, the crowd that did show up was treating to a driving clinic tonight. And once again Eddie Gossage can flash his million dollar smile because the fans, and everyone associated with NASCAR will leave Texas happy. The circuit will now move on to the next venue and the staff at Texas will now focus their attention to the next event.

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Where were the Fans?

On Sunday afternoon the NASCAR Nation was treated to an exciting race in Bristol,TN. As I watched the race unfold I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful stadium was only half full…This track, commonly referred to as “The Bull Ring”, consistently offers some of the most exciting racing on the NASCAR circuit. The drivers all love the track.  The stadium is normally full to the brim.  The racing is bump and grind and all of this held true on Sunday.  We were treated again to an exciting and typicalBristolrace with another down to the wire finish.  The only thing missing were the fans.  Where were the fans?

Being the grandstands looked half empty made me wonder; is NASCAR losing fans? I don’t think so.  It may be the economic downturn is affecting people’s lives in a bigger fashion than NASCAR and the fans realize. While tickets to a race are some of the most affordable of all sporting events, there is a lot more involved with a NASCAR race weekend than with most sports. There is travel cost, camping or lodging costs and then there are always the souvenir and food costs. For the average family of 4, this could turn into a tough financial proposition.  For the diehard fans who travel to multiple races, the cost involved could be something that may change the way they travel. Especially with gas prices headed to $5 a gallon.

Hopefully this isn’t a permanent trend with fans. We will see as the numerous races left throughout the season come to pass. There are too many tracks which have lost races because of poor attendance over the last few years. My hope would be the promoters, NASCAR and track owners won’t start looking at attendance and start taking races away from other quality tracks.  In today’s economy some adjustments are going to have to be made.  It is getting to a point where it is hard for a family to attend a race weekend due to rising costs.

I don’t have a solution, but I can sure recognize there is a serious problem brewing when you see all those empty seats.  What a shame.

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Monday Night Racing

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This week we were treated to a first in the history of NASCAR. To begin with, we had the first ever rain out of the Daytona 500. This event pushed the race into Monday; but Mother Nature didn’t want the race to be run in the early portion of the day as again rain threatened. Taking the high road, NASCAR postponed the start time until 7pm Monday night. This astute move became the 2nd first of the weekend.

NASCAR in prime time on Monday night.  The upside of this was a lot of people who worked Monday were able to see the race, not to mention the impact on TV ratings.
While I am positive somebody, somewhere has had this idea before, and they were probably laughed out of the room, it took place.  It suddenly became apparent the Idea of Monday Night racing was seen as a logistic nightmare for the teams and drivers…but for the fans the product on the track was amazing. This was one of the more exciting Daytona 500 races in recent memory, and having it under the lights in prime time just made it that much more spectacular.

Maybe it was the Monday night mojo, or it may have been just a product of the extra day and a half of waiting around, but the on track excitement went through the roof this year. Yes, there were all the normal wrecks every race has, but then fate (or whatever) took over and Juan Pablo Montoya took the cake with his sideways slide into a jet dryer during a caution.  This stunt was another first for Daytona. Luckily he and the safety driver in the jet dryer truck were both ok and suffered no major injury. Well, Montoya suffered a major injury called “embarrassment”.  He knew his car was having mechanical problems. What do you think he was thinking going so fast under a yellow flag with a crippled car?

After the incredible fire and two hour clean up and delay, the final laps were what you have come to expect of NASCAR restrictor plate racing. Even with the delay many stayed glued to their seats.  It came down to the final laps and just cemented the legacy of this year’s race.  All in all it made a lot of people see the idea of “Monday Night Racing” may not be a bad thing. In the barren wasteland that is the sporting landscape during February and March an occasional prime time race on Monday night would be good for the sport and give the fans some added excitement. I know I sure enjoyed it.  The NFL does it – why not NASCAR?

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Finally! A new champion

For the first time in 5 years, NASCAR is crowning a new (old) champion. Tony Stewart held off Carl Edwards to win his 3rd overall NASCAR championship. As it worked out, this was his first as a car owner and driver. Tony “Smoke” Stewart was the last champion before Jimmie Johnson won his historic 5 consecutive championships.

While it is a great feeling to see a new champion, Tony Stewart wasn’t in position to win this championship at the beginning of the Chase. He had to win 5 races during the course of the “Playoff” to be able to hoist the trophy. This is the first year NASCAR put more emphasis on winning as opposed to consistency and Tony Stewart was the one who reaped the benefit. He always races to win. In the final race at Homestead he had to make over 100 risky passes to get back into first place as he had car problems all day and was pushed to the back of the pack several times. Obviously he and his crew got it right toward the end of the race.

Tony is one of the most “complete” drivers in the NASCAR circuit. He has won championships in midgets, open wheel and of course NASCAR. His savvy behind the wheel and in the shop is hard to match. Obviously he has tamed his famous temper somewhat, grown as an individual and of course honed his driving skills to be the best on the circuit this year. Tony is always competitive. Without a single win in the regular season, he took the checkered flag in five of the eight “chase” races and took home the trophy. Guess you could say he did it when it counted. He is old school with his driving and can tussle with the best of them. He reminds me a lot of Dale Earnhardt, Sr.

You know NASCAR has to be thrilled. You have to congratulate Carl Edwards also. What a finish as the two finished the chase actually tied in points. Tony was declared champion as a result of his timely wins in the chase itself. Carl and Tony raced clean and it went down to the last race and the last lap for a champion to be crowned. Doesn’t get much better than that folks! Tony. Congratulations. You made a historic championship run and you bookended the phenomenal championship run of Jimmie Johnson with wins of your own. If this chase is a glimpse of the future of the sport, then the real winners will be the fans…and of course NASCAR.

Love him or hate him, he is absolutely one of the best and most competitive drivers on the circuit. He also has shown a lot of business acumen the way he pulled his team new together after what appeared to be a mediocre season run prior to the “Chase”.

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