Tag Archives: Eric Jones

Kyle Busch is the Tiger Woods of the NASCAR XFINITY Series

This week Brian Costa wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal titled “How Golf Got Out of the Woods”. It hit me like a brick. The gist of the article was that in 2006 Woods was so dominating and was the only draw to the sport. There were no other stars. Tiger Woods was the one and only draw. Golf has many stars in the tour that can win and compete against one another since Tiger no longer is the show. The NASCAR XFINITY Series is where the PGA Tour was in the mid 2000’s. Read the article here.

To be clear this story isn’t just about Kyle Busch. It’s about a second tier series whose stars or future stars are in the shadow of the Sprint Cup Series stars. This past race at Texas Motor Speedway the race winner was the reigning Sprint Cup Champion, Kyle Busch. Busch has won four of the six XFINITY races this season. Third place went to previous Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski. Dale Earnhardt Jr. came in fifth and had some air time.

Sprint Cup driver Kyle Larson, though still a young driver, led the second highest of 38 laps. Austin Dillon was also in the race and finished eighth. The only bright spot is Eric Jones, a series rookie in the same equipment as Busch, seemed to have something for Busch and came in second.

Every time this subject comes up fans of those drivers say that they need to be there so people will watch the race. The need to be there so people will go to the race. Those thoughts seam valid except it’s not working. Viewership is down year in and out.

The point is that the XFINITY Series does not have its own stars, its own rivalries. Case in point; Ask yourself who is the current points leader of the Series? Were they even on TV for any significant time? I bet many don’t know without looking it up.

Daniel Suarez is the current point’s leader. Elliott Sadler is just behind him one point back. Justin Allgaier is third nine points back. They were shown a few times on TV but does anyone want to watch the series championship while they are battling for a top ten.

Back to the article; the quote that hit me was from Geoff Ogilvy who was paired with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at Medinah in 2006. Ogilvy said. “I don’t think golf is better without Tiger, from a fan’s perspective. But no Tiger has shown people that there are other golfers worth watching.”

That quote substituting “Tiger” for “Cup Driver” is and of itself what it is all about. The future of all the NASCAR Series may just depend on it especially as our stars retire.

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

Feature Photo Credit: 318383 Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway

 

John Hunter Nemechek gets his First Win at Chicagoland Speedway

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series had an eventful weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. John Hunter Nemechek and his whole Chevrolet team persevered, bringing home their first win in the series.

On Friday it was expected that it may rain out qualifying so the first and only practice took on an even more significance as it may end up setting the starting positions for the race. Nemechek driving the Number 8 Chevrolet was only the eleventh fastest. When rain did in fact end qualifying, he started eleventh. The race was originally scheduled to run on Friday night but the race was canceled by a torrential downpour.

When the race was finally run on Saturday morning, Nemechek hung around the top ten the entire day getting as high as fourth. It didn’t look like he would be a factor to challenge Kyle Larson or Johnny Sauter, who collectively lead 101 laps of 150, for the lead.

There was a long caution flag from lap 83 to 95 after Mason Mingus got into the wet grass, went airborne and littered the track and pit road with debris. Just before the field went to green, Gere Kennon, the Crew Chief, called Nemechek to pit road to top off with fuel. Many of the other leaders did the same except while they were racing; he was saving fuel like he was told to by his Crew Chief.

With 22 laps to go the strategy that Gere Kennon had for John Hunter Nemechek started to play out. The No. 8 was in the seventh position, then each and every driver ahead of him pulled to pit road to put in fuel until finally on the second to last lap Kyle Larson ran out of fuel. Nemechek led only the most important lap of the race, the last one, to win his first race of his career.

Yea it’s definitely an amazing feeling. I was a little bit frustrated with our Crew Chief Gere Kennon on that last stop he told me to pit. We had to fix the left side Romeo window.” Nemechek added, “I really didn’t want to go to the back because track position was key and everything but we got to top off there coming to one to go. He kept telling me to save fuel, save fuel that last run and that’s what we ended up doing. I ran out coming out of turn four so that was definitely great strategy that he had worked out in his mind I should know never to doubt him.

It is hard to believe that John Hunter Nemechek, who is 18 years, 3 months and 8 days old is not the youngest winner ever. He is the fourth youngest winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series History. Cole Custer, Erik Jones and Chase Elliott were younger when they won.

Erik Jones leads the point standings by ten points over Tyler Reddick. Matt Crafton is third one point behind Reddick. John Hunter Nemechek was the highest finishing rookie.

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

Feature Photo Credit: 312761 Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Kyle Larson will Lead the Trucks to Green at Chicagoland Speedway

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series comes to Chicagoland Speedway for what is typical for that series a one day event. The teams have one practice to get their trucks right, then qualifying and a short break before the American Ethanol E15 225 at night.

Rain was expected to come through the speedway about the time qualifying was to start. According to the NASCAR rule book if qualifying should happen to be rained out then the field would be started by first practice speeds. All of the top truck teams started the practice session by running one or more qualifying laps to be prepared for that event.

Kyle Larson laid down a lap 15/100 faster than Matt Crafton. He was the only driver to break into the 175 MPH level. Crafton’s teammate Johnny Sauter was third, Tyler Reddick fourth and Timothy Peters fifth. Eric Jones, the current series point’s leader, was eighth in practice.

As luck would have it, Mother Nature arrived a little late such that only four trucks did not take time in the first qualifying session. The fast trucks of Tyler Reddick, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and Kyle Larson were not able to show what they had. That doesn’t matter the field has been set by the rule book and they will start up front.

#16 Chad Boat and # 18 Ross Chastain will miss the race due to lack of owner points although they were fast enough to have made the race if qualifying was completed.

This is Kyle Larson’s first start in the Camping World Truck Series since last year and his first start for JR Motorsports in the #00 Haas Automation Chevy.

UPDATE: The race was canceled due to rain. The American Ethanol E15 225 it will be broadcast on Fox Sports 2 on Saturday September 19th starting at 10:30 AM ET.

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

Feature Photo Credit: 304798 NASCAR Media