Category: MENCS

whipplefilter: Food City 500 | Bristol Motor S…


Food City 500 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (15-16 April, 2018)

#42 Kyle Larson spins at Bristol, doesn’t hit the inside wall, doesn’t hit the outside wall, doesn’t get hit by oncoming traffic, straightens out, and keeps racing–without ever coming to a complete stop.

Because he’s Kyle freaking Larson.

Hey, look! The Kyle I actually like!





Exciting Race, Unsettling Finish

I get more jacked for the start of NASCAR season every year. Like, I literally count down the days on the calendar once the checkered flag flies at Homestead. And this year’s Daytona 500 was thrilling. But… man, I dunno about that finish…

From my perspective, Austin Dillon dumped Aric Almirola for the win. Sure, it was the last lap. Yeah, it was the Daytona 500. I get all that. I get that when a win is on the line, especially in that race, you do what you gotta do. I get that the No. 3 car winning the Daytona 500 20 years after Dale Earnhardt won the race is a great story.

I also get that Almirola blocked. You know my stance on blocking.

But still… I mean, it’s not like my memories of the No. 3 car bumping people out of the way for wins are especially fond (I could not stand Dale Earnhardt when he was still alive), so the image of that car pulling that stunt yet again… let’s just say the optics were jarring.

I wanted Chase Elliott or Brad Keselowski or Ryan Blaney to win. They didn’t, and it stinks, but hey, they were all really fast and they put on a great show. Sometimes, in racing, shit happens.

And sometimes, shit is done to you.

Look, Dillon’s never been a fan favorite. He’s not the uber-marketable rising star Elliott, Blaney, even Bubba Wallace, are. A lot of that is simple heritage; as Richard Childress’ grandson, Dillon has the reputation of being a silver-spoon driver. Had everything handed to him, never earned it like other drivers, simply because of who he’s related to.

And come on… the guy dabbed after he won. Seriously?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had to deal with the same mentality – even as in the latter part of his career, people wondered why he didn’t just put his nephew, Jeffrey Earnhardt, in one of his Xfinity Series cars.

So I think some of the reaction to today’s finish is simple anti-Dillon bias. Had Almirola done that to Dillon, I don’t think the blowback would be quite as loud.

From one replay, it looked as if Dillon gave Almirola a shot down the backstretch when Almirola blocked. Fine, happens all the time. But then Dillon appeared to give Almirola another shot as they went into Turn 3, which was when Almirola spun and wrecked.

That just looks bad.

I’m not a fan of wrecking for the win. I hated it every time Dale Sr. did it. I hated it when Denny Hamlin did it to Elliott at Martinsville last year (though it helped a little that Hamlin wound up not winning anyway). I don’t like it when drivers I root for do it.

But for me, it’s even worse at Daytona. Dumping a guy at Martinsville or Bristol or Richmond is one thing. But at a plate track? At those speeds? That move could have easily wiped out half the field under different circumstances.

I dunno… like I said, I loved the race, and I love that NASCAR’s back. I can’t wait for Atlanta next week, and every race on the schedule after that. I’m just not sure I loved what Dillon did on the last lap.

NASCAR Just Made Its New Road Course-Oval Trac…

NASCAR Just Made Its New Road Course-Oval Track Layout A Lot Less Cool:

Boo. They took out the only potentially exciting part of the Roval. That little red rocket of a twist was a great transition coming down over the hump and going back over where the dump (and a sinkhole that swallowed a tow truck during the first ever NASCAR event held at CMS) is buried. That elevation change was the only thing that set this Roval apart from the club day infield courses at other cookie-cutter tracks. If I had my way (and probably the way of many fans), NASCAR would just run at Road Atlanta- a fantastic and storied, high speed road course with awesome elevation changes, and plenty of room for Cup level accommodations. I mean, they host SCCA, Trans-Am, and LeMans for crying out loud. It’d be a win-win for both organizations (plus it’s like 30 minutes from my house).

1. I’m happy there’s a new “road course” on the schedule, but- 

2. This layout was dubious from the get-go. Like, where are these guys going to be able to pass? Unless they re-gear, they’re going to be on the gearbox nearly all the way around the track.

I can’t even with this Silly Season anymore.

Wake me up in February.

nascarphotograph:→ Kyle Larson, twenty-sixth Monster Energy…


→ Kyle Larson, twenty-sixth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Winner – Richmond (september/2017)

Calling it now: Larson’s your 2017 champion.

Decision day nearing for Monster Energy sponsorship deals

Decision day nearing for Monster Energy sponsorship deals:

I’ve been discussing this in other circles this week and now the news is being reported- in watered down fashion. If NASCAR lost its title sponsor, things could go up or down, but it would hurt either way. In an effort to shore up losses, they (Frances, ISC, etc.) could consolidate and effectively kill the sport. OR, they could ease their grip and let things settle naturally. 

NASCAR faces a real identity crisis over the next two years with the retirement of Earnhardt. I predicted and predict to see more of a latching to Chase Elliott as the next generation of NASCAR’s legacy hero. Alex Bowman, William Byron, Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, and Ryan Blaney will have something to say about that. 

So too will the title sponsor. Monster came in hoping to cross market their other, more extreme endeavors, and while their sales are reportedly up 10%, they’re not seeing the return they hoped for. They could pump more “activation” into the sport and try to change it more to their liking (reportedly the reason for their frustration with NASCAR brass), and this would hasten NASCAR’s transition into being more relevant to the youth market (I hear y’all Baby Boomer fans out there clanging sabers), but this could really backfire. Without a money man to push NASCAR around, all progress might be dead in the water. I’m talking optional tire compounds and composite bodies. Perhaps, if there’s less money in the sport, teams will stop burning down their cars after a victory.

I am excited about younger, unproven drivers finally being an asset for teams and sponsors, since they are willing to work for much smaller contracts than the current flock of veterans. I feel like the NASCAR bubble is bursting at a slowly increasing pace. Corporate team sponsorships, attendance, TV packages, and now, driver contracts are feeling the pains of ebb and flow.

Jimmie Johnson is signed for three more years; Lowe’s for two. Harvick is around for the foreseeable future and I figure he’ll go on to become the league’s old curmudgeon who races well into his fifties. Our own A.J. Foyt. Truex, Bowyer, Keselowski, Logano, Hamlin and Kyle Busch will soon be the league’s veterans. Their winning ways are slowing, as many drivers do after proving their mettle in their first decade of Cup racing (See: Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte, Kasey Kahne). MacMurray, Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Kahne, Johnson, and Newman are in the twilight of their careers. All these drivers came along during the boom and I doubt they’ll see newer, smaller driver contracts worth their time as they age and want to do other things with their lives.

I wonder what will come of the also-ran careers of Austin & Ty Dillon, Paul Menard, Trevor Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, David Ragan, Aric Almirola, A.J. Allmendinger, and Michael McDowell. For the Dillons, it is too soon to tell. Perhaps Stenhouse will continue to improve or maybe 2017 was a flash in the pan.

What do I think 2018-2020 could bring? 

More follow the leader races. More controversial official calls. Elimination of the jackman position. Composite bodies in Cup. Lack of title sponsor, or a reversion to “Coca-Cola Cup,” to appease the base. Truex dominance. The rise of Bubba Wallace. Childress & RPM consolidating, becoming the Dodge factory team. I pray Wood Brothers survives Paul Menard. If title sponsor is an issue, a consolidation of race dates and tracks. Perhaps one race apiece at most tracks, a reduction to 400 mile events, save for Coke 600, Southern 500, Daytona 500. With a reduction in race distance, more same-day events: Quals, Grand National and Cup races on same day to eliminate drivers cross-pollinating. 

Leave it to Kyle Busch to attempt a pass on the high side going into a corner where NO ONE passes…

Leave it to Kyle Busch to attempt a pass on the high side going into a corner where NO ONE passes on the high side… and then blame the other guy when said pass predictably backfires…