Addressing the disappointing first five races of Kasey Kahne’s first season at Hendrick Motorsports, including a series of wrecks that have left him 27th in points. What had been expected to be a top team and Chase contender in this Sprint Cup season may be relegated to second- or third-tier status in the series if its performance doesn’t improve quickly.
Granted, stranger things - and greater comebacks - have happened in NASCAR’s premier series. In this same car, Martin went from 34th place through four races in 2009 to make the Chase and finish second overall. But Kahne has shown an incredible ability this season to beat the one driver that no driver should ever beat - himself.
Experimental piece that profiles the Sprint Cup teams ranked 31st through 40th in series owners’ points, with intent of running a similar countdown prior to each Sprint Cup race weekend. Details each team’s proximity to the 35th place bubble, this week’s driver and sponsor, and a brief outlook for the weekend.
35. #33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Outlook: This team runs on a week-to-week basis, meaning that Sadler’s performance on Sunday may determine whether or not it shows up to the track next weekend. Hermie Sadler ran the last three Martinsville races for Kevin Buckler, scoring finishes of 26th, 28th, and 26th, suggesting that a strong run from a lesser team may knock this team from the top 35 and off of the Sprint Cup circuit next week.
Reviewing the past week in NASCAR, as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series visited Auto Club Speedway. Joey Logano won Saturday’s Nationwide race for the first win of the season taken by a Sprint Cup driver, while Tony Stewart outfoxed former teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch to take Sunday’s rain-shortened Sprint Cup race. Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson climbed to ninth in points after his Daytona 500 penalties were reduced.
Chief appellate officer John Middlebrook overturned the 25-point penalty but allowed the $100,000 fine for Chad Knaus to stand in the team’s final appeal. The decision baffled many around the sport. NASCAR said it felt vindicated by the fine, while owner Rick Hendrick said he felt the same way about getting the points back. But if the penalty wasn’t justified, why would Middlebrook allow the fine to stand?
Breaking down the ten most driver-appropriate nicknames in NASCAR today, including such stars as Tony “Smoke” Stewart, Jeff “The Mayor” Burton, and new addition Mark “Epic Swag” Martin.
Originally the result of his Twitter account getting hacked last week, the name fits Martin well. He lists Gucci Mane as his favorite rapper, frequently works out to “Watch The Throne,” and Roush Fenway Racing even commissioned his own rap anthem for him while he was still driving the No. 6 car.
*This article reached 2,492 views and 10 comments as of 10 AM on Friday, March 30, 2012.
Fifth in a five-part series previewing the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series. Among the entities addressed are Texas Motor Speedway, Rubens Barrichello, Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon, and Dario Franchitti.
Dario’s going to make me look stupid for saying this, but it just seems like it’s time that a new champion is crowned. Dario’s won each of the past four titles he’s chased, as has Chip Ganassi, but bad luck has a way of catching up eventually. He’ll challenge, but this might just be somebody else’s year.
Fourth in a five-part series previewing the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series. Among the entities addressed are the Indianapolis 500, Will Power, Penske Racing, this year’s schedule, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and the Dallara DW12.
With a smaller engine that’s due to produce less horsepower (at least for the moment), don’t expect any new track records to be set at Indianapolis this year. Aerodynamic testing in January showed that the body work is limited to a top speed of 218.4 miles per hour. If the new cars are more challenging to drive and produce more entertaining racing, this may not matter as much, but the lack of new track records at Indianapolis since “The Split” of 1996 have seriously held the sport back.
Third in a five-part series previewing the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series. Among the entities addressed are Mike Conway, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Auto Club Speedway, this year’s rookie candidates, Helio Castroneves, and Lotus.
19 years of Formula 1 experience rendered Rubens Barrichello ineligible for rookie honors in IndyCar according to new race control czar Beaux Barfield, and ovals aside, he’s probably right. That leaves the class open to Simon Pagenaud, Katherine Legge, Josef Newgarden, and Luca Filippi. Smart money goes to Pagenaud, however, as his Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports team has the most full-time experience.
Addressing issues with Fox’s broadcast at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, primarily relating to poorly handled commercial breaks that caused fans to miss multiple race-altering events.
A broadcasting crew has two options to minimize this annoyance — either cutting right back to action after an accident and delaying the commercial break, or utilizing the split-screen format that keeps race action in a minimized corner while still displaying the ads. But, by failing to choose either and, consequently, keep fans current on two different, race-altering occurrences, Fox dropped the ball on Sunday.
*This article reached 2,083 views and seven comments on Bleacher Report as of midnight on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.
Second in a five-part series previewing the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series. Among the entities addressed are the Milwaukee Mile, Michael Andretti, Oriol Servia, the Qingdao Indy Grand Prix, Tony Kanaan, Chip Ganassi Racing, and Penske Racing.
Unlike last year’s promoters, Michael Andretti is doing everything he possibly can to make Milwaukee an attractive race for all sorts of fans. Four tickets for the race go for under $100, which goes a long way towards keeping the event affordable for families. Beyond that, there will be plenty of entertainment to entice fans to make the Milwaukee IndyFest an annual event on their calendar.
First in a five-part series previewing the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series. Among the entities addressed are Ed Carpenter Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, NBC Sports Network, Simona de Silvestro, HVM Racing, Chevrolet, and Honda.
Honda has Chip Ganassi, but Chevrolet has two advantages on its side: a more experienced engine builder and a deeper lineup. Chevrolet has reunited with former partner Ilmor to produce the new turbocharged V6s. And while Honda has secured the always strong Ganassi squad, Chevrolet has under its belt, with Roger Penske, Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, and John Barnes’ teams under its belt.
Recapping the past week in NASCAR, as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series visited Bristol Motor Speedway. Sprint Cup winner Brad Keselowski, Nationwide winner Elliott Sadler, Brian Vickers, Robby Gordon, and Hendrick Motorsports, among others, made this week’s headlines.
Matt Kenseth mirrored Keselowski for much of the late part of the race, but waited too long to make a move; Keselowski led the final 111 laps of the event to take his first win of the year and second consecutive Bristol victory. Behind them, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., and Vickers, all in Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas, filled out the top five. With Keselowski’s victory for Dodge, four different manufacturers have won the first four races of the Cup season for the first time since 1986.
Season preview for Alex Tagliani, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Bryan Herta Autosport.
Tagliani’s experience and Herta’s determination to run his team the right way give them the potential to be the top Lotus program in 2012. But where that ranks them in the standings will depend on how well the late-developed Lotus engine stands against the Hondas and Chevrolets; if it underperforms, this team won’t be in the top 15 at season’s end.
Season preview for Charlie Kimball, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Kimball is a long term project for Ganassi. He’s an excellent brand ambassador, a trait that a big-budget team like Ganassi’s clearly reveres, and it’s not as if he didn’t earn his way into the series. But with Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, and Graham Rahal also on the team, he’s the clear-cut number four driver.
Discussing Brian Vickers’ surprise fifth place finish in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, and how Michael Waltrip Racing’s decision to hire the driver, out of a full-time Sprint Cup ride for the first time since 2003, may have resuscitated a flailing career.
Working with crew chief Rodney Childers, who actually helped Vickers build his first go-kart, he quickly maneuvered to the front and led three times for 125 laps, including a 99-lap stretch early in the race, on the way to a wildly impressive fifth place finish. He spent over 95 percent of the race in the top 15 and scored a 120.4 driver rating in NASCAR’s loop data, second only to eventual winner Brad Keselowski’s 142.8.
Recapping Week Five of 2012 Season One in the inRacingNews Challenge, which took place at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Daniel Schon (Mazda MX-5 Roadster), Mogar DG Filho (Spec Racer Ford), and Marius Golombeck (Pontiac Solstice) topped their respective classes for the week.
Season preview for Simona de Silvestro, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Lotus-HVM Racing.
After a disastrous sophomore season, de Silvestro could have a serious shot at stepping up her game in 2012. Her HVM Racing team is now the flagship effort for the new Lotus-Judd engine program, after the brand shifted its focus away from KV Racing Technology.
Season preview for Simon Pagenaud, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Schmidt/Hamilton Motorsports.
Pagenaud inherits the flagship car at Sam Schmidt Motorsports, which won the pole at Indianapolis with Alex Tagliani behind the wheel and scored plenty of solid road and street course finishes. The 2010 American Le Mans Series champion has raced on most of the series’ road and street circuits, whether in ALMS, Champ Car, or IndyCar, and his overall finishing position at the end of the season should be decent thanks to a road and street-heavy schedule.
Season preview for Josef Newgarden, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.
Fisher’s team, which picked up its first win last season with the departed Ed Carpenter at Kentucky, will rely on the young American (and his $1 million scholarship for winning the Lights title) to make an even bigger dent in 2012. Newgarden hasn’t landed with the biggest team in the paddock, but he’s with an outfit that will be happy to build around him for the long haul.
Season preview for Graham Rahal, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Rahal only led laps in two races all season and was, in the end, a consistently mid-pack driver who benefitted in the standings because so many other drivers had streaky years. We know from his time with Newman/Haas that he can win at the highest level… he just needs to put everything together.
Season preview for Luca Filippi, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Filippi has hung around GP2 for the past six years, alternating good years with bad ones, but he broke out last year by more than doubling his career win total in only an eight-race stretch. His extended GP2 stay also means that he’s been in Dallara equipment for much of his career, which may make his transition to American racing a bit easier.
Assessing both the validity and the intelligence of Hendrick Motorsports’ continued pursuit of a reduced or overturned suspension for crew chief Chad Knaus and points penalty for Jimmie Johnson in the wake of validations from the Daytona 500. Given Knaus’ lengthy history, the piece suggests that leniency is unlikely; given the lack of quality candidates to replace him for six weeks, it suggests that exhausting the appeals process is entirely necessary.
Hendrick claims that the C-posts, which were taken at Daytona before going through tech, had passed through NASCAR inspection 16 times previously (four times in each restrictor plate race last year) without fail. The only problem is, proving something like that makes NASCAR look pretty bad. And if Johnson, Knaus, and Hendrick ran unapproved pieces all year in 2011, it’s pretty unlikely that they’re going to get any sympathy from anyone.
Recapping the past week in NASCAR, including Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series rounds at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Defending series champions took both victories, as Tony Stewart took the Cup race and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took the Nationwide round. The article also addresses Regan Smith and Paul Menard’s auto accident in Colorado and the unveiling of a new Dodge for Sprint Cup competition in 2013.
Stewart led a dominant 127 of 267 laps to take the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway along with a maximum point haul. The win capped a moderately quiet week for NASCAR with limited off-track activity and some intense racing under the Vegas lights.
Using trends derived from the past few years of Sprint Cup results to determine the 12 drivers that will make up this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Assume that all eight perennial Chase contenders will figure it out this year. That leaves a spot for a comeback driver, a member of last year’s top five, one driver who’s in the mix all season but overachieves in August, and one driver with a new team. That’s it. That’s all it takes.
Season preview for Ryan Hunter-Reay, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Andretti Autosport.
One of Hunter-Reay’s biggest issues during his tough times last season was a lack of discipline, both on track and with the media; that will have to fade away in 2012. But he’s posted strong finishes at just about every track on the schedule, and he represents one of Chevrolet’s best hopes to score race victories in 2012.
Season preview for James Hinchcliffe, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Andretti Autosport.
Andretti is a front of the pack team, and Hinchcliffe has as much potential as any young driver in IndyCar. He’ll be looked upon to provide solid and consistent finishes, as the team may have its strongest lineup since 2005.
Season preview for Marco Andretti, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Andretti Autosport.
Within the Andretti Autosport organization, the no-longer-so-young driver will be looked to as a team leader, now that Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick are no longer his teammates. Andretti showed much greater maturity as a driver last season, and with Ryan Hunter-Reay will forge a new leadership path within the once-quarrelsome camp. Now he’ll get a chance to take a step to the next level.
Season preview for Oriol Servia, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
DRR will be one of the top teams running Lotus engines, partially because many of the brand’s customers will be start-up teams in 2012. That being said, there’s almost no way that Servia will match his fourth-place mark from 2011. DRR, as one of IndyCar’s oldest teams (dating back to the IRL days), has always been more of a threat at the (currently minimized on the schedule) ovals.
Season preview for Ed Carpenter, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Ed Carpenter Racing.
The talent of the people working for ECR will be on par with some of the top teams in the sport. That being said, it’s up to Carpenter to make that talent gel, both on the track and off. Kentucky won’t return to the schedule this year, taking away his one guaranteed podium finish, and with a shrinking oval schedule, his strongest traits as a driver will be limited.
Addressing concerns raised by Lotus’ low-speed development of its new IZOD IndyCar Series challenger. Despite being months behind the development tracks of rivals Honda and Chevrolet, Lotus may capitalize as its rivals push each other to the limit, as long as its drivers adopt a strategy of patience.
It really appears that the forces at play have simply established a timeline that runs on the brand’s own terms. They appear to be on pace with where Honda and Chevrolet were two months prior in terms of speed and reliability. Add one of the smartest groups of drivers in the paddock to the mix, and you have a program that shouldn’t be underestimated, no matter the timeline.
Selecting and profiling 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers who are primed to improve in 2012 after subpar 2011 seasons. Among the drivers present are 2011 Chase contenders Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson, 2010 Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray, and 2011 Southern 500 winner Regan Smith.
There are so many good teams these days that rampant fluctuation in the standings from year to year isn’t just common, it’s expected. A top team from the previous season is likely to fall to the edge of the Chase, as Denny Hamlin fell last year; meanwhile, a team that didn’t do much last year could have the goods this year, a feat that Carl Edwards has managed more than once in his career.
Season preview for James Jakes, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Dale Coyne Racing.
The end goal will be to make sure that Jakes can carry over the speed he found at the end of last season into 2012. A late start in testing and cautious Honda reps have rendered him at a bit of a disadvantage to that end, but the hope is that (new engineer John) Dick will be able to squeeze more out of the car than other smaller outfits.
Season preview for Justin Wilson, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Dale Coyne Racing.
With road and street course talent at a premium this season, plus the wide-open field that comes with three different engine suppliers, this may be Wilson’s best chance to run for an IndyCar title. While that projection may be too optimistic, a top 10 finish in points certainly isn’t.
Recapping the past week in NASCAR, including bites about Chad Knaus’ suspension, Penske Racing’s manufacturer switch, Elliott Sadler’s up-and-down weekend, and Denny Hamlin’s first win with new crew chief Darian Grubb.
It was Hamlin’s first win in 22 races after a rough 2011, and (Grubb’s) sixth win in 12 races after an unstoppable Chase run with Stewart last year. Given that Hamlin effectively lost the Chase here in 2010, and Grubb’s release at the end of last season regardless of winning the title, the race was a vindication of sorts for both.
Deliberately misleading headline. Assessing the first two weeks of Danica Patrick’s first full-time NASCAR season and warning people to be patient with her this season, while addressing concerns that come with a media that has her under a microscope at all times.
If you need to take a story out of Patrick’s weekend, take this: she refused extended media comment after Phoenix. That’s something that (Dale) Earnhardt Jr., her Nationwide car owner and the best comparison as far as media reach goes, rarely (if ever) does.
*This article reached 1,497 views and 32 comments on Bleacher Report as of midnight on Thursday, March 8, 2012.
Review of 2012 Season One, Week Three of the inRacingNews Challenge. Ralf Janiak (Pontiac Solstice), Roope Turkkila (Spec Racer Ford), and Elmar Eriekotte (Mazda MX-5 Roadster) put up the best performances of the week.
Season preview for Takuma Sato, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Sato will be looked upon to help the re-established Rahal team, which won the Indianapolis 500 as recently as 2004, regain its form. He isn’t the same driver that had nine DNFs in 17 races in 2010… (he) put together more respectable runs than disappointments in 2011.
Assessing the significance of Rubens Barrichello’s transition from Formula 1 to the IZOD IndyCar Series, particularly as IndyCar attempts to grow in 2012 and beyond:
Barrichello believes that some other Formula 1 drivers have interest in ovals, and that his switch to IndyCar (especially if successful) could open the door for other drivers to make the same choice in the future.
Season preview for Rubens Barrichello, IZOD IndyCar Series driver for KV Racing Technology. In the wake of Barrichello’s announcement today, this is the first full season preview anywhere on the internet for the former Formula 1 driver of 19 seasons.
Assessing Penske Racing’s switch to Ford from Dodge for the 2013 Sprint Cup season and beyond. This post analyzes Penske’s history with both manufacturers, as well as future implications for both brands in NASCAR.
Assessing FOX’s quality of television coverage during the 2012 Daytona 500, run on Monday night. This piece praises the network’s production values and loyalty to the sport in prime time, while assessing broken promises in side-by-side commercial coverage and flaws in Darrell Waltrip’s commentary.