Category Archives: NASCAR

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Retires, This too Shall Pass

This week Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced that this year will be his last year driving in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. NASCARs most popular driver would no longer be driving next year.

I just wanted the opportunity to go out on my own terms.”, said Earnhardt.

Social Media and Sirius/XM NASCAR lit up with fans saying that NASCAR is over; it will never survive. Some claim that as much as 65% of all fans are Dale Jr. fans and most will not continue watching because he will not be there. We have been there before.

When Dale Earnhardt died, similar claims were made by fans. Afterword’s, I remember going to races and seeing Dale Earnhardt fans wearing the No. 3 Goodwrench gear at the track or in the campgrounds. I really enjoyed hearing the stories of what they saw him do on the track, how he put the bumper to someone. I enjoyed hearing how they met him one time, got to shake his hand, and get his autograph.

When the race was over these same fans would say; wow did you see what Harvick did. (Kevin Harvick was the driver of the No. 3 now renumbered 29 Goodwrench Chevy.)  Regardless, NASCAR went on. The years after were some of the most popular years of the sport.

Photo Credit: 348791 Jamie Squire/ALLSPORT
Photo Credit: 348791 Jamie Squire/ALLSPORT

I am certain that next year there will still be many members of “Junior Nation” in the campground and in the stands. They will also be recalling to all who will listen what Dale Earnhardt Jr. did on the track. They will also tell all who ask and some who don’t about when they got to meet him. I am certain that after the race they will say; did you see what Chase Elliott did in turn four? Kyle Larson was really tearing out the outside groove or “Insert new hot shoe driver here” in the 88 really took it to them this week.

One thing that’s made this career the incredible ride that it’s been is Junior Nation.” Earnhardt Jr. added, “The fan support that I received straight out of the gate was in large part because of my famous last name.  But throughout the ups and downs it occurred to me that the fans that stuck it out and the new ones that joined us, they were there because of the person I was and not who they wanted me to be.

If you are a member of “Junior Nation” you will still be one but you are in a position to broaden your experience. This is why we love NASCAR.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: 348787 ISC Archives via Getty Images

NASCAR Racing Begins with ARCA Racing in More Ways Than One

The seemingly long off season for Stock Car racing is almost over. The season actually begins with the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards opening at Daytona International Speedway. The  Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with open with their exhibition race The Clash at Daytona several hours later. But in some ways NASCAR Cup racing begins with ARCA racing.

In years past many future Monster Energy NASCAR Cup stars got their start in the ARCA Racing Series. Ryan Newman won this race in 2001, Kyle Busch in 2004 and James Buescher in 2009 but many others got important experience by racing this race and in this series.

In 2014, Cup driver Chase Elliott started fifth and finished ninth in this race. Daniel Suarez was also in this race started third and finished fifth. Suarez was also in the race in 2015 starting sixth and finishing second.

Last year we had some future NASCAR stars in this race; NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers Cole Custer (10th) and William Byron (2nd), also NASCAR Camping World Truck driver Chase Briscoe (4th). Camping World Truck driver Grant Enfinger won this race in 2014 and 2015.

This year we have Xfinity Driver Matt Tifft in this race.  20 year old Tifft was a NASCAR Next driver in 2016.  17 year old Riley Herbst driving full time in the ARCA series for Joe Gibbs Racing will also be a rising star to watch.

John Wes Townley won this race last year and retired from all racing at the end of the season.

As always though these big money NASCAR teams will have to contend with the ARCA regulars like eight time winner of this race Bobby Gerhart in his legendary No. 5 Lucas Oil Machine.

If you cannot get to Daytona International Speedway for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards; Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 Driven by General Tire it will be shown on Fox Sports 1 on February 18th at 4 PM ET.

Feature Photo Credit ARCA Racing

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

In NASCAR it is all about Rules, Embrace them!

As we enter the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series there are a lot of rules changes. Many will think that this series is totally different than it was in 2016. The biggest change is how points are awarded and carried into the Chase for the Cup. The other change is the running of races in segments and awarding points for leading those segments. Gone are points for leading a lap. If you are not up to speed with these changes read these from Dustin Long at NBC.

If you have watched NASCAR for a while you know that Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus are the gold standard to using the NASCAR rule book to their advantage. They have embraced the Chase format and taken advantage of it like no other team.

In football there is a reason there are 4 downs, a two minute warning, half time and each team has a limited amount of time outs. It is all about controlling TV time and the commercials that pay for it and keeping the fans attention. Whether you like it or not, Brian France has made these changes to balance the whole viewing experience.

People for years have argued that too many green flag laps were lost during commercials. Many have also criticized the sometimes monotonous green flag laps of single file racing that occurs at the larger tracks. Another criticism is that since some races are very long it appears that many drivers are just biding their time waiting for “Go Time” to actually race. Whether that is true or not only they know but some people think that.

Last year’s big change was the addition of a Caution Clock in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Yes it impacted racing but did it kill it. I think because it was apparent they were on the clock it made the racing better and didn’t detract from it. All in all it made the experience better.

Two years ago I was at Daytona for the 500. Approximately 1/3 of the way in I had to use the facilities and couldn’t wait for a caution flag. While I was behind the stands in the relative quiet I talked with some people and had a cocktail for ten minutes. If you know Daytona I missed perhaps 10 laps. It was refreshing to take a break, take the head phones off and chill. Why I never did that in 16 years of going to races I don’t know.

I’m looking at these segments as just that. A time to reflect on what’s happened, perhaps chat with friends you are with about it; charge back up and enjoy the race. Embrace the Change, you may just like it!

Feature Photo Credit: 305378 Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Loves Travel Stops Continues Sponsoring the No. 34 with Landon Cassill

Landon Cassill was spotted getting his new 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford Fusion serviced at a Loves in Salisbury North Carolina today.

Front Row Motorsports announced in December that Landon Cassill would be back driving for them this coming season but would switch from their number 38 Ford to the number 34. Cassill, in his first season driving for Front Row had seven top-20 finishes but more importantly finished 98% of the total laps.

Cassill posted an emotional farewell on his Facebook page saying his goodbye to the No. 38 and hello to change. Set to Toto’s song Africa he held up flash cards talking about this change.

It was my choice. A choice for my family, my team, my sponsors and my car owner. The original FRM legacy. The number that signifies a small team going to the big leagues. The number that has seen victory lane. Twice. It’s ok to cry. But remember were here to evolve and inspire. I can’t wait for 2017, and I know we will find a fun, new campaign even better than the 2016.” Landon Cassill via flash cards.

Front Row Motorsports is continuing their relationship with Roush Fenway and Roush Yates Engines. They are bringing David Ragan, who got their first win in the No. 34, back to drive the No. 38.

Loves Travel Stops sponsored the number 34 last year for 18 races with Chris Buescher. It appears from the picture that they are continuing their sponsorship for 2017. We will know how many races sometime in the coming weeks.

Feature Photo Credit: John Vass

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Put an Offense Mentality in the Chase – Revisited

In the first round of the Chase Martin Truex Jr. won two of the three races in the Round of 16 of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. It begged the question. What if you can eliminate drivers from the Chase by winning multiple races?  So what would have happened?

In the round of 16, Martin Truex Jr. won two races and Kevin Harvick one. Both drivers were Chase Contenders. Because Truex won two races then one driver would be eliminated from the Round of 12 in the addition to the four originally planned. Martin Truex Jr. would have then eliminated a potential contender. In this case that driver was Austin Dillon the lowest in points of the 12 Chase drivers who did not win a race.

In the round of 12 (only 11 drivers), Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano won races. All were Chase Contenders. Kevin Harvick, because this was his second Chase win would eliminate a driver from the Round of 8. This is where it potentially gets confusing. Since there was only 11 drivers the bottom four are eliminated. They are Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin. Carl Edwards the next lowest in points of the Chase drivers who did not win a race would be eliminated due to Harvick’s win. This would leave Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick. Only six drivers because of the two multiple wins.

In the round of 8 (only 6 drivers), Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano won races.  In this case Johnson and Logano had already won races so they would have eliminated two drivers from the final race (Race of four). Because a driver who wins in a round automatically moves on to the next round this would leave only Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano to fight it out at Homestead Miami for the Championship.

Although this format didn’t appear to eliminate the Champion from winning, it did change who was a contender for the Championship. It would have also changed the complexity and strategy of the last race. It puts an even greater emphasis on winning which is what NASCAR intended with this format.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 322798 Chris Trotman/Getty Images