2013 NASCAR Stories Continuing into 2014 – SHR

To say that the last two years the NASCAR Sprint Cup team of Stewart Haas Racing has been in transition is an understatement. At the end of 2011 Tony Stewart won the Sprint Cup but prior to that he already parted ways with his crew chief. At the end of 2012, it came out that Kevin Harvick would leave Richard Childress Racing for Stewart Haas Racing (SHR) in 2014.

There is no doubt that SHR is undergoing changes for the 2014 season. Tony Stewart was hurt last year in a Sprint Car race. It is expected that he will return for the Daytona 500 but he will not test with the team prior to then. When he does get back he will have yet another new crew chief, Chad Johnston. This one SHR team will be starting over.

Kevin Harvick will bring his sponsor Budweiser over to SHR and will take over for the No. 39 team of Ryan Newman renumbered to 4. In reality it will be a mostly new team.

Kurt Busch was hired by Gene Haas to drive a fourth car. He will drive the No. 41 Haas CNC Chevrolet. He will essentially have a brand new team.

Danica Patrick, who had a lackluster first year in Sprint Cup, is the only driver at Stewart Haas Racing who will essentially have the same team. By all rights she has the most opportunity to capitalize on that stability.  In reality, she has a long way to go.

Of the four drivers at SHR, Kevin Harvick will probably be the best right out of the gate. He has had two years to think about the change, has a stable sponsor and probably the confidence to get it done.

Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick still have something to prove. This will make it difficult right away to make things happen. It is still questionable if Tony Stewart will be 100% come Daytona. Throw in the fact that Stewart doesn’t normally ramp it up until summer, it could be one tough spring for his team.

The story of 2013 for SHR was the coming changes to the drivers and teams and this will continue well into the next season.

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, or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

2013 NASCAR Stories Continuing into 2014 – Cars

The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season was the first season with the new cars.  NASCAR worked closely with the car manufacturers in order to make the cars look like cars that one could buy. This is supposed to connect with the fans better. It is also a throwback to the times when NASCAR actually raced cars that were on the show room floor.  Those days are gone due to safety but that doesn’t mean the cars can’t represent those same cars that can be purchased by the fans.

The new cars looked great. The 2013 Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusion, and Toyota Camry look good. The fans have connected to the new cars and have welcomed them. They are very happy to get rid of the nondescript Car of Tomorrow. The only question was how they would race on the track.

Right off the bat the cars worked great at Daytona. There did not appear to be an advantage over any manufacturer. Two car tandem racing was all but gone and pack racing was back. Racing at the intermediate tracks (1.5 and 2 mile) was a different story.

NASCAR and Goodyear worked hard providing additional testing and tires in order to increase competitive racing at the 1.5 mile tracks. The only mistake NASCAR made is early in the season finning Denny Hamlin for criticizing the new cars. It was a mistake because Hamlin’s comments were not really that critical and more factual. That fine put the spotlight on the racing at 1.5 mile speedways for the rest of the season.

In the end NASCAR, Goodyear and the team’s efforts started paying off and there was much better racing on those tracks. NASCAR continued this effort with a rare if not unprecedented test session at Charlotte Motor Speedway before Christmas to improve racing further.

Make no mistake about it. NASCAR, Goodyear, and the Manufactures intend to continue improving these cars and the racing. This story will continue throughout 2014.

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, or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

2014 NASCAR Daytona International Speedway Preseason Testing Schedule

The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is just around the corner. A clear sign of this is the start of preseason testing at Daytona International Speedway. Starting Thursday, January 9th through the 14th all three of NASCAR’s top series will be testing at Daytona. At the same time Daytona International Speedway is hosting their Preseason Thunder Fan Fest.

Sprint Cup Series: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be testing on two days. They start the preseason testing on Thursday January 9th and finish on Friday January 10th. The afternoon practice from 1-5 PM ET will be televised on Fox Sports 1 on both days.

Nationwide Series: The NASCAR Nationwide Series will also be testing on two days. They hit the track the next two days after the Cup Series, January, 11th and 12th. The afternoon practice on January 11th will be televised on Fox Sports 1 from 3-7 PM ET. This will be delayed coverage of practice earlier in the day.

Camping World Truck Series: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series takes the track for two days after the Nationwide Series. They will test Monday, January 13th and Tuesday January 14th.

If you are missing NASCAR and itching to see some cars on the track make plans to be at Daytona International Speedway January 9th through the 12th. If you can’t get to Daytona you can watch on Fox Sports 1. For more information about the Preseason Thunder event at Daytona visit the event page.

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, or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

Thursday, January 9TH

7:00 AM NSCS HAULERS ENTER
7:30 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS
9:00 AM 12:00 PM NSCS PRACTICE-DRAFTING
1:00 PM 5:00 PM NSCS PRACTICE-DRAFTING
5:30 PM 9:30 PM NSCS FAN FEST
6:00 PM NSCS GARAGE CLOSES

Friday, January 10TH

7:30 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS
9:00 AM 12:00 PM NSCS PRACTICE-DRAFTING
1:00 PM 5:00 PM NSCS PRACTICE-DRAFTING
6:00 PM NSCS GARAGE CLOSES

Saturday, January 11TH

7:00 AM NNS HAULERS ENTER
7:30 AM NNS GARAGE OPENS
9:00 AM 12:00 PM NNS PRACTICE-DRAFTING
1:00 PM 5:00 PM NNS PRACTICE-DRAFTING
5:30 PM 9:30 PM NNS FAN FEST
6:00 PM NNS GARAGE CLOSES

Sunday, January 12TH

7:30 AM NNS GARAGE OPENS
9:00 AM 12:00 PM NNS PRACTICE-DRAFTING
1:00 PM 5:00 PM NNS PRACTICE-DRAFTING
6:00 PM NNS GARAGE CLOSES

Monday, January 13TH

7:00 AM NCWTS HAULERS ENTER
7:30 AM NCWTS GARAGE OPENS
9:00 AM 12:00 PM NCWTS PRACTICE
1:00 PM 5:00 PM NCWTS PRACTICE-DRAFTING
6:00 PM NCWTS GARAGE CLOSES

Tuesday, January 14TH
7:30 AM NCWTS GARAGE OPENS
9:00 AM 12:00 PM NCWTS PRACTICE-DRAFTING
1:00 PM 5:00 PM NCWTS PRACTICE-DRAFTING
6:00 PM NCWTS GARAGE CLOSES

2013 NASCAR Stories Continuing into 2014 – Injury

The 2013 NASCAR season was an unusual one. Three of the top series drivers were sidelined at one point during the season due to injury or illness. Fortunately this is a rare occurrence.

Denny Hamlin was the first NASCAR driver to get sidelined after a bad crash at the Auto Club Speedway with a fractured L1 vertebra. Denny ended up sitting out of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Fed Ex Toyota for four points paying races. He also missed the All Star Race.

Hamlin has had back trouble in the past. It was expected that the addition of the veteran Matt Kenseth to the Joe Gibbs Racing teams was going to help Denny Hamlin contend for the championship. In the end it was Hamlin that contributed to Kenseth’s second place run. Expect to hear talk of Hamlin’s back next season and perhaps the rest of his career.

The next driver to get sidelined was Tony Stewart. Stewart received a compound fracture in his right leg in a Sprint Car race in August at a short track in Iowa. His injury was severe and required multiple surgeries.

Tony Stewart missed the rest of the 2013 season due to his injury. Stewart says he will be well enough to start the 2014 NASCAR season at Daytona but he will miss all preseason practice and testing. Anyone who has broken a bone can attest that being able to walk on it is one thing, but competing athletically is another. Expect to see much discussion on whether or not Stewart can drive a racecar without pain from the centrifugal forces.

Brian Vickers was sidelined for the last 25 races in 2010 due to blood clots and surgery to correct a heart condition.  He had a blood clot come back due to a tight boot he wore for his ankle and was sidelined for the last 5 races of the season. This was after being named the fulltime driver of the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Arrons Dream Machine.

Just like Denny Hamlin and his recurring back problems, Brian Vickers recurring blood clot will be cause for discussion every time he gets in a crash.

We wish them all well and hope to have our NASCAR stars back on the track for the Daytona 500.

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, or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

NASCAR Fans Make Your 2014 Plans Now

Happy New Year! The holidays are over and the NASCAR teams will be working hard getting ready for the 2014 NASCAR season. They are making new cars. Some are getting to know new teams.

If you are a new NASCAR fan or an old one, now is the time to make your own plans for next season. To start I would recommend setting a budget. These are the considerations for your budget.

The first and obvious thing to consider is the cost of the tickets. Sprint Cup Series tickets cost as much as $110 each for the best seats but some tracks have packages for less than $40.

The second cost that might be as much as the tickets is the cost of travel. In my part of the country this also includes tolls. Many NASCAR tracks are very far away from cities and require travel of several hours.

In the times I have gone to a NASCAR race, I have come to the conclusion that travel over 3 hours will require a stay overnight. You might think you can make the long trip one year but it ends up being one long day and not very relaxing or enjoyable.

The cost of where you are going to stay needs to be figured in. Some tracks do not have hotel or motel lodging available. If you can I would highly recommend camping near the track. Camping near the speedway makes for the most enjoyable time, since there is no traffic getting to and from the speedway. Enjoy tailgating with your family and friends. Don’t worry if none of them are attending because you will have friends by the time the race is over.

Now that you are staying at the track, you need to plan if you need to take some days off work. This is why you plan early. One doesn’t want to buy tickets and lodging only to find out they can’t get off work.

Unless you’re going to make a vacation out of a race weekend, I would recommend taking simply a long weekend. Pick a track within a four or six hour drive. Pick the one you want to visit or one that fits within your busy schedule. Make a long weekend of it by taking one or two days off work. Put all the costs together to see if you can make it happen.

One last thing: you will find that the housing, travel and time off far exceed the cost of the tickets to the Sprint Cup race. I highly recommend that you also consider tickets to whatever companion race is also going on at the track. Once you have invested all this money, and more importantly your time, you won’t regret the additional races. This is where you will see the stars of tomorrow.

I hope to see you at the races this year!

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, or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

 

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