While the weather outside starts to cool down, the action on the track keeps heating up.
With three races completed in the NASCAR Playoffs, only 12 drivers remain in contention to win the 2017 Championship. After Kyle Busch took home the checked flag on Sunday at Dover, Newman, Dillon, Kahne, and Kurt Busch were eliminated on points.
This weekend, the drivers will head to Charlotte where they will be fighting for a win to clinch a spot in the Round of 8. Kyle Busch will not only be looking for his third consecutive victory, but he will attempt to be the first driver in history to snatch a win at every active NASCAR track. He will be battling it out against the current points leader Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson who has a record eight career victories at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Chase Elliott will be racing for his first career victory after he got passed late by Busch on Sunday to finish second.
After the action in Charlotte on Sunday, the drivers will head off to Talladega next week, followed by Kansas, where four more drivers will be eliminated after the race.
With 12 drivers left, it is still anyone’s Championship and one bad mistake can cost a sure favorite like Harvick or Johnson who is on the prowl for his record 8th career championship, a spot in the next round.
Each race matters more and more as the drivers get closer to a showdown in Homestead. As the playoffs heat up, we can sit back and count on one thing; some excellent racing from the best drivers in the world.
It’s Playoff season in NASCAR! As the weather cools, each race brings us closer and closer to finding the new NASCAR Champion who will be crowned at Homestead in November. Sixteen hungry drivers entered the playoffs but only one will do the honors of lifting the Championship trophy.
So who is most likely to win the Championship? A safe bet would be last year’s winner Jimmie Johnson who has his eyes set on a record eighth title in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series. The 48 car always seems to get the job done when it matters most and is one of the favorites to repeat as NASCAR Champion.
Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson are two drivers still looking for their first title who have been dominating this year. The pair have combined for 9 wins so far and lead the standings, showing no signs of letting up their dominance anytime soon. Fan-favorite Chase Elliott while still looking for his first win, currently sits in ninth and is another popular choice to win it all at the end. Other drivers racing for the title include Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Matt Kenseth, all of whom have been NASCAR champions in the past.
This weekend, the drivers head to Dover where four drivers will see their Championship dreams come to an end. Dover has seen Jimmie Johnson win eleven times in his career and it would certainly be no surprise to anyone if his Chevrolet was back in Victory Lane on Sunday afternoon.
Currently below the cut-off line are Dillon, Newman, Kurt Busch, and Kahne. Former champion Kurt Busch had some bad luck at New Hampshire last weekend after his teammate Kevin Harvick spun out in front of him causing Busch to crash and finish 37th. Kahne who currently sits last in the standings brought out a caution on lap 262 and ended up in the garage on Sunday with a mechanical issue after running inside the top 15. Busch and Kahne almost certainly will need a win at Dover in order to advance them into the next round of the playoffs.
After the field narrows to twelve drivers, the following three races will be at Charlotte, Talladega, and Kansas. Talladega is a track that can drastically shake up the standings as one big crash can ruin many drivers day and cost them a chance at the Championship.
With the season starting to come to an end, each race becomes more and more important towards crowning a Champion. Will this be the year where Johnson sets the record, or will fans see one of the young stars of the sport win their first championship? With sixteen drivers still remaining, we must watch until November to find out who the next NASCAR champ will be.
Kyle Busch used a bump-and-run on Kevin Harvick to take the lead and held on to snap a 36-race losing streak and win the NASCAR Cup race at Pocono Raceway on Sunday.
Busch won for the first time this season in the No. 18 Toyota and won for the first time ever at Pocono. Busch led more than 1,000 laps this season entering the race. He was racing for the lead last weekend in the Brickyard 400 when he wrecked with Martin Truex Jr., which led to a pit road altercation between members of both teams.
Busch won from the pole and gave Toyota its 100th Cup win since its 2007 debut.
Busch, the 2015 Cup champion, had never gone a full season without winning a race. Charlotte Motor Speedway is now the only track where he’s failed to win.
“I never thought this day would happen,” Busch said.
He also won his 176th career NASCAR race over the Cup, Xfinity and Truck series.
“We’ve all been fighting all year long and just wasn’t sure why,” Busch said. “This is something I’ve been waiting for for a long, long time. It’s been a frustrating year but an awesome day today.”
Harvick finished second, followed by Truex, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski. Harvick, who hasn’t won in 34 career races at Pocono, said he had nothing for Busch down the stretch.
“There was no battle. He was way faster than we were,” Harvick said.
Busch had seven top-five finishes and was runner-up to Austin Dillon in the Coca-Cola 600. All the near misses have gnawed at Busch, who won the All-Star race. He won for the first time since the 2016 Brickyard 400.
Many people often think that driving a car is easy, and to some extent it is. However, most people will see a NASCAR race on TV and think that it is the same thing as our everyday driving, just a lot faster. That is not the case.
In NASCAR, the drivers are usually driving at a speed between 160-200 mph. As fun as we think this may be, there is actually much more responsibility to it than you would think. Now, obviously if you’re driving a car going 200 mph you have to be pretty responsible, but there is so much more that goes into the art of being a NASCAR driver.
First of all, let me just say that training to become a NASCAR driver is usually a lifelong commitment. Therefore, the younger you are when you start training, the better off you’ll be when you finally get to put your skills to the test. Some of the best drivers that have come out of NASCAR have been training since they were toddlers.
Training to become a NASCAR driver is much more than just learning how to drive a fast car. It is training yourself to have incredibly quick reflexes, allowing you to drive at 200 mph while being only inches away from your opponent. It is learning to have patience with your car and with the way things go. When you’re used to going that fast, it is hard not to expect everything to be that way, however, patience is a really good attribute for a racer to have. It is important for the driver to learn the way the car works and the best move to make next. It is expecting the best, but being prepared for the worst. When you’re driving for hours on end, at speeds that fast and with multiple people driving around you, it is common to have a wreck. In these situations, the driver needs to be able to stay calm, cool and collected in order to have less damage to themselves, their cars and their opponents.
If you’re thinking that all of these skills are acquired over night, think again! These skills take years of practice and can be achieved in many different ways.
To start, most racers will race go-karts competitively. No, I’m not talking about the little go-karts that you see at amusement parks. I’m talking about high end go-karts that can reach up to speeds around 100 mph. Although practicing this can be fun, the racers are mainly participating in this because many of the skills they learn during these races will be used later on in their professional careers.
For the racers who choose not to race go-karts, they’ll usually partake in what is called “midget racing”. This form of racing is just like go-karts, but with larger and more powerful vehicles. By practicing driving with more powerful vehicles, the racers get a better grip on how to handle not only a larger vehicle that is moving that fast, but also an average sized vehicle traveling at those speeds.
Another form of training that drivers may use, although a little less realistic, are training simulations. Many racers or racing trainees will use a handful of different NASCAR driving games on their personal computers or other gaming devices to keep their minds moving and their thought process on track. Most of these games come with a steering device and pedal to use which gives the players a more realistic experience, mimicking the sounds and sights that are close to what they would see at a real race. However, there are schools and simulations specific for the practice of NASCAR driving.
One of the most realistic simulation machines is called the CXC Motion Pro II. This is the only professional-level simulator that is practical for home use. It is the most advanced racing simulator that is on the market. The simulation is built to make the person using it feel as if they are truly in the driver’s seat. By using this simulation, it reinforces all of the skills that a NASCAR driver needs to have. The simulator covers every aspect of driving on a real track. It uses a low-mass motion system, multiple vibration replicators, adjustable tension in the seat belts integrated with a panoramic screen and powerful sound systems to allow the driver to feel everything in a “breathtaking, hair-raisingly realistic way”. The use of this simulator would help either a future or current driver to feel the strain that driving can have on your body and also remind the driver of the necessary skills they need to have and be practicing constantly in order to keep their minds and bodies in shape.
As you can see, driving is only a small part of actually being a NASCAR driver. There are so many things that are added to the equation. Being at the track can be overwhelming, so it is important for drivers to get acclimated with the sights, sounds and smells. To do this, drivers can just throw themselves into all things racing. If their lives weren’t already devoted to the sport enough, just add this to the list! Future drivers should spend a lot of time at the track, even if it is just their local one down the street, it is important for them to get used to the entire atmosphere of that lifestyle. They should watch races on T.V, read books, magazines, and websites devoted to racing and keep up with the sport. By this, I mean they should read stats and listen to the interviews that drivers give after the races. Someone who is an aspiring NASCAR driver should immerse themselves in the sport. By doing this, the normal processes will become second nature.
With practicing these techniques to become more affiliated with the sport, drivers are strengthening the mental skills that are necessary to become a NASCAR driver. However, it is not enough for them to just practice the mental skills. Driving a race car is a lot more taxing on the body than you would expect. It is important for future and current drivers to make sure that they are physically strong as well. Now, I’m not saying that they need to spend four hours a day in the gym trying to get the perfect physique. What I am saying is that driving for NASCAR is very straining on the body. Think about it, as a driver, you are driving hundreds of miles for hours at a time at speeds between 160 and 200 mph. Not to mention that you are surrounded by other drivers who want nothing more than to see you in their rear view. For hours you’re battling with not only the drivers next to you, but also your own car. A driver needs good stamina and upper body strength to be able to wrestle with their steering wheel for hours on end. Also, at any point in the race the drivers car can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit with the only form of air conditioning being a “fresh air vent” tube that blows cool air on the driver.
While watching the races, on T.V. or at an actual race, none of these characteristics are really shown. Granted, if you’re studying racing or have grown up watching it, you may know what a driver has to go through. However, for those of us who aren’t extremely educated on the art of being a NASCAR driver, all of these skills can be easily overlooked.
Getting run into by teammate Jimmie Johnson wasn’t how Dale Earnhardt Jr. envisioned beginning his retirement tour, but that’s the situation Earnhardt found himself in during Sunday’s NASCAR race at Richmond International Raceway.
Earnhardt was running the upper groove around the three-quarter mile track with 43 laps remaining in the Toyota Owners 400, when Johnson’s No. 48 car abruptly body-slammed the No. 88 car as Earnhardt sped off Turn 2. The contact was significant and pushed Earnhardt into the wall, causing further damage.
Johnson was on newer tires and attempting to pass Earnhardt, who was on much older tires due to an aggressive pit strategy employed by crew chief Greg Ives. Earnhardt said spotter T.J. Majors had alerted him that Johnson was passing.
“(Johnson) said he didn’t see us,” Earnhardt said. “He had pitted and got tires and we were out there running around the top and weren’t ready to pit yet. He said he didn’t get any notice that he had a car outside.
“It was an explosion.”
Johnson took full responsibility for the accident, immediately radioing to his No. 48 team that he didn’t know Earnhardt was to his outside and then apologizing post-race. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates spoke on pit road after the race concluded to review the collision and there were no hard feelings between the two.
Earnhardt announced Tuesday he would retire from full time racing at the end of the current year. He hoped the news would spark a turnaround for what has been a lackluster start to the season.
Instead, Richmond represented a continuation of what has been frustrating season where the No. 88 Chevrolet has regularly lacked competitiveness, and Earnhardt often inflicted by bad luck when he’s had a car possessing speed. On Sunday, Earnhardt spent much of the race outside the top 15, prompting Ives’ pit strategy gamble.
Earnhardt now has finished 30th or worse in five of nine races this season, and ranks 24th in the points standings. He trails Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by 60 points for the final provisional playoff berth.
“Just terrible luck,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t know what to do. But, we were probably going to finish anywhere around 10th to 15th today — not all that awesome — but we just had such terrible luck.”
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Hendrick Motorsports made the huge announcement today that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has made the decision to retire from NASCAR after the 2017 season is over. ESPN shared that Dale has decided to move on, but he will finish out the season and hopefully going out with a bang. His contract expires at the end of this season, and so far, Hendrick Motorsports has not shared who will replace him on the track. This announcement should be coming soon as well.
Just one month ago, Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed that he had plans to talk to team owner Rick Hendrick about extending his contract, but for some reason, that plan changed. Carl Edwards made a decision not long ago to move on, and at the time, Dale Earnhardt Jr. shared his thoughts about leaving the racing world.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. also owns a team in the Xfinity Series. Racing is in his blood, and he will likely continue to be part of the racing world in some way, even if he isn’t going to be on the track each week. Earnhardt was voted the most popular driver 14 times by NASCAR fans since his racing career began in 1999. He is a third-generation driver, and he made his mark on the XFINITY tour before joining NASCAR. The start of his career was hard with the death of his father in a last-lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. After leaving his father’s racing team that his stepmother runs, Dale Earnhardt Jr. started driving for team owner Rick Hendrick and is now in his tenth season driving for them.
Hendrick Motorsports announced the news on Tuesday in a press release, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn’t given his own statements and explained his decision. Everyone is waiting to hear what he has to say about this life changing choice. Earnhardt should be giving a statement to fans at some point.
Hendrick Motorsports founder and owner Rick Hendrick said Tuesday he’s talking with his sponsors about who will replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car for 2018 and beyond.
“We’ve got a lot of people to consider, meaning partners, like our sponsors, and we’ve just been talking to them,” Hendrick said. “Priority one is to get everything prepared, get the day over with, and then we’ll take the time to decide what we do there.”
Hendrick Motorsports has a couple of talented young drivers under contract already.
Jimmie Johnson still knows how to get to Victory Lane at Texas, even from the back of the field on a track that had changed significantly since his first six wins there.
And while heating up in the cockpit because of an issue with getting fluids during the race.
“I’m not feeling the best, but we got into Victory Lane,” Johnson said before going to the infield care center to get three bags of IV fluids after his 81st career victory.
“I feel much better now,” he said after the treatment.
Crew chief Chad Knaus said there was some kind of malfunction with the system in the car, but wasn’t sure what the problem was.
“Jimmie felt like it was an isolated situation,” Knaus said. “We got him cooled off and he’s looking good. He’s ready to go have a weekend off like the rest of us.”
Johnson, who last year won his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series season championship, charged under Joey Logano with 16 laps to go to take the lead. The Hendrick Motorsports driver kept his No. 48 Chevrolet in front.
“I guess I remembered how to drive; and I guess this team remembered how to do it,” Johnson said. “I’m just real proud of this team. What a tough track and tough conditions. We were really in our wheelhouse and we were just able to execute all day.”
This was the first Cup race in Texas since the 1 1/2-mile facility was completely repaved and changes made to Turns 1 and 2 earlier this year. It was Johnson’s seventh victory at Texas, six in the last 10 races there.
Kyle Larson, the season points leader, finished second for the fourth time this year, but also won at California. Logano, polesitter Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top five.
Johnson had to start at the back of the 40-car field because of a tire change after a spin in qualifying. He had qualified 24th.
“Oh, probably on the second or third run I knew we were in good shape. From there, off we went,” he said. “It was so tough those first 23 laps in traffic. The air was very turbulent, the track wasn’t very clean.”
Johnson’s only top-10 finish in the first six races this season had been ninth at Phoenix. Earnhardt, his Hendrick teammate, had his first top-five finish since a runner-up at Pocono last June, not long before he missed the last half of the season because of lingering concussions symptoms.
Ryan Blaney won the first two stages and gave Wood Brothers Racing, the oldest active team in NASCAR, its longest front-running car in a race in 35 years. The 23-year-old Blaney finished 12th after leading 148 of 334 laps, the first time the team led more than 100 laps in a race since 1982.
Blaney first got the lead on the second early restart on lap 16, with a somewhat bold move around the outside of Harvick going through the reconfigured Turns 1 and 2, where the banking was reduced and the track widened.
During a caution on a few laps before the end of the second stage on lap 170, Blaney stayed on the track for a shot to win the stage while other cars pitted. Blaney restarted 20th after that stage and his stop, but after working back into the top 10, he overslid his pit on the last caution.
“That last pit stop was pretty discouraging,” Blaney said. “I don’t know what it was there at the end of segment two and that made everybody have split strategies, and we got in the back and couldn’t pass anybody. It was terrible to try to pass people.”
A blistering first in qualifying. A surprising first in the Xfinity Series race.
And a steady, tenacious first when it really mattered on Sunday.
Kyle Larson was second to nobody in his home state.
Larson persevered through four late restarts to win at Fontana, adding his second career victory to his overall Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series points lead.
“Lots of fun to be Kyle Larson right now,” Larson said with a grin. “Our race cars are really fast in Xfinity and Cup, so it’s a blast to show up to the race track every week.”
Larson finished second in each of the past three races, but the Sacramento-area native’s Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was the class of the field at Auto Club Speedway all weekend long.
He claimed the second pole of his career Friday, and he also won the Xfinity race Saturday in a result that surprised him much more than his Cup triumph. The 24-year-old prodigy became just the fourth driver to sweep a race weekend at Fontana.
Fontana’s bumpy 2-mile track particularly suits Larson’s skills, and he was unshakable during the late drama and jockeying typical to the five-wide asphalt one hour east of Los Angeles.
After surging up from fourth to first with four new tires before the final caution, he made one last outstanding restart and cruised through two overtime laps to win.
“This is just amazing,” Larson said. “We have been so good all year long, three seconds in a row. I’ve been watching all the TV, like, ‘He doesn’t know how to win.’ But we knew how to win today, so that was good.”
Brad Keselowski was second, and Clint Bowyer came in third for his best finish since June 2015 and his first top-five finish in 52 races. Martin Truex Jr. was fourth after challenging Larson aggressively, and Joey Logano roared up to fifth.
Larson added to his other career victory, which came on NASCAR’s other 2-mile oval at Michigan.
A skirmish between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano left Busch with a cut on his forehead following Sunday’s NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Busch and Logano made contact racing to the finish of the Kobalt 400, resulting in Busch spinning off Turn 4 and down pit road. Unhappy with what transpired, Busch waited for Logano to circle around and park on pit road where he then sought him out and threw a punch at Logano before being wrestled down by crew members for Logano’s No. 22 team. It was inclusive whether Busch connected with the punch.
NASCAR officials quickly intervened to break the fracas up, with one official forcefully lifting Busch up and removing him from the scene.
Despite this, neither Kyle Busch nor Joey Logano is likely to face discipline over their roles in the fight following Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said Monday on SirusXM NASCAR Radio.
“We’ve always said that we’ve got to take everything and make sure we look at all the video,” O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I would say from our initial assessment last night in looking at what happened, as far as on track, I don’t think we saw anything that was intentional by any means. We’ll continue to review that. We’ve got to have discussions with both drivers. We talked to some folks postrace as well.”
NASCAR’s stance on drivers fighting has softened in recent years.
NASCAR’s preference is that if two drivers have issue with one another, their teams allow them to resolve it how they best see fit and crew members do not interject or escalate the proceedings. But if an altercation does become physical between drivers, it is acceptable for crew members to intercede and break up the fracas.
“What our position has been, we want to leave it in the drivers’ hands,” O’Donnell said. “What we don’t want to see, and the drivers have asked for this, which is very fair, is a crew member initially approaching a driver or initiating some type of altercation with a driver.
“Just early review of this (incident). This was two drivers with crew members kind of stepping back, and once something happens, a crew is taught, which I think is right, that if someone comes up in your pit box and attacks your guy, you have the right to try to break that up or bring it to a stop. That was the initial review that we saw from the crew members. Again, there is still other video out there that we’ve got to look at. When we talked postrace to the race team, that kind of confirmed what we had seen.”
If after its review is concluded and NASCAR determines those involved deserve punishment, any penalties would be announced on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Not only can we enjoy the thrill of watching the amazing Nascar Races, but now we can bring it into our homes. There are countless ways where we can virtually interact with our favorite drivers and take part in the amazing sport. The entertainment industry is better than ever that it will feel like we’re right on the race track. Whichever game system that you have, there will definitely be a Nascar version so that you can be part of the games too. Bring out your Playstation 1, 2, or 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Nintendo, Gameboy, Wii, IPhone, IPad, Android, because whichever device you have there will be a Nascar game readily available so you can take part in the action. These games allow you to pick your favorite cars and drivers so that you can ride on your favorite track. The options are endless and you don’t have to play the same race twice! Don’t have any of these electronics? No problem, head to your local arcade and find an even more thrilling experience. You will be able to find a Nascar stimulation system allowing you to sit in a char that is virtually connected to your race, which allows you to feel every sharp curve or turn. Not only would you be able be the driver, but now you can feel like the driver as well. Every year these games are constantly being updates so that you can have the best experience possible. Whats on the market now? Keep a look out for Nascar Heat Evolution and Forza Motorsport 6 as the newest, best possible Nascar experience you are able to have.