Archive | April, 2012

Race Recap: Capital City 400

29 Apr

[Note: I was at the race yesterday, but I’ll recap my first NASCAR experience separately]…

After running in the top 10 for most of the day, Kyle Busch overtook race leader Tony Stewart during a pit stop on lap 388 of 400 and never looked back on his way to grabbing the checkered flag under the lights at Richmond International Raceway.

Incredibly, it was Ky. Busch’s fourth-straight victory(!) in the Richmond spring race. (The guy dominates short tracks).

Earlier this week, when I wrote my race preview, the race was still without a sponsor. Well, at some point this week since then, the Richmond race was sponsored and given a name: “The Capital City 400 Presented by Virginia Is For Lovers.” What a mouthful.

I’m not entirely sure about this, but I think the last-minute sponsorship helps explain why the trophy above is so hideous. It looks like it was designed by a five-year-old.

Anyway, congrats to Kyle Busch on his first win of the season. I’m sure he doesn’t mind the hideous trophy and was just happy to add it to his trophy case.

I’ll post a full recap of my first NASCAR race experience soon. (Spoiler: drunk college girls dancing on top of pickup trucks are involved).

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If you’re already looking ahead, the Sprint Cup Series will stop in Alabama next weekend for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The NASCAR Points System

26 Apr

Before going to my first NASCAR race on Saturday, I figured I should finally learn the NASCAR points system… (I say “finally” because I’ve watched 7 or 8 Sprint Cup Series races so far without having a clue about how points are awarded).

Anyways… I Googled “NASCAR points system,” and what I discovered seems pretty straightforward (really).

Scroll down to learn how it works.

Contrary to popular belief, drivers are NOT awarded points for "wrecking."

Drivers are awarded points based on the order in which they finish:

  • First-place is awarded 43 points;
  • Second-place is awarded 42 points;
  • Third-place is awarded 41 points, and so on.

In addition to these points…

  • The race winner receives 3 bonus points for the victory.
  • Any driver who leads at least one lap during the race is awarded 1 point.
  • The driver who leads the most laps during the race earns 1 bonus point in the standings.

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This means that the maximum number of points a driver can earn in a race is 48:

43 points for finishing first

+ 3 bonus points for the win

+ 1 bonus point for leading at least one lap

+ 1 bonus point for leading the most laps

= 48 possible points

Source: http://www.nascar.com/news/110128/points-system/index.html

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Of course, I have a few questions about the points system:

  1. If 40 drivers enter the race (instead of 43), does the winner still get 43 points and does the 40th-place finisher still get 4? (It sounds to me like “yes“).
  2. I didn’t follow NASCAR when it used the previous points system… Is the new point system easier for long-time fans to understand? (That was the point, right?).

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Now that I understand the points system, it makes sense to me why some drivers will stay out for an extra lap when the majority of the field heads to pit road. (It’s because a first-time leader in the race gets that extra bonus point in the standings).

Slowly but surely, I’m becoming less and less of a NASCAR noob.

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As always, if you can answer my questions, help me out in the comments section below, or on Twitter at @NASCARneophyte.

What I Expect At My First NASCAR Race (a.k.a. “NASCAR Stereotypes”)

26 Apr

Let me start off by saying that I have no idea if the NASCAR stereotypes in popular culture are true. Part of the reason I wanted to go to a NASCAR race in the first place was to see if any (or all) of the stereotypes about the sport and its fans are justified.

To give you an idea of where I’m coming from, I’ve seen Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and I absolutely loved it.

In a nutshell, I expect this weekend to be like I’m living the movie.

In other words, I expect it to be awesome.

Below is what I expect of the crowd at my first NASCAR race on Saturday, and why I expect that (a lot of these are stereotypes demonstrated in the movie):

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I expect that a majority of NASCAR fans I encounter will be…

  • Caucasian… based off the fans I’ve seen on race telecasts so far, and the fact that I have yet to see an African-American driver in the Sprint Cup Series this year;
  • big beer drinkers… based off all the beer commercials during races and some anecdotes I’ve heard;
  • religious and love Jesus Christ… based off the religious invocation before each race and the numerous Bible quotations tweeted by drivers;
  • southerners with sweet accents… based off the announcers on FOX and the track-side reporters I’ve heard;
  • huge country music fans… based off the musical acts I’ve heard sing the national anthem before each race;
  • overweight… because of all the beer, KFC, and Golden Corral consumed (see picture above);
  • sunburned… because of all the time spent outdoors fishing, hunting, etc.; and…
  • crazy… because WHO in their right mind gets a tattoo of Ricky Bobby’s face?

I’ll re-visit these stereotypes after the race and report which ones I found to be largely true, and which ones I found to be largely untrue.

One thing is certain: this is sure to be a real cultural experience.

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If I missed any NASCAR stereotypes, let me know at @NASCARneophyte or add them in the comments section below!

Race Preview: Richmond 400 (Spring Edition)

23 Apr

[In case you missed it, I’m going to my first NASCAR race this Saturday in Richmond, which is why my race preview is up so early this week…]

I Wikipedia-edRichmond 400,” and learned that this is one of the few races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule without a title sponsor (hence the boring logo below).

I also learned that Kyle Busch has won the last three spring races at Richmond, which is incredible to me. Can he make it four straight on Saturday?

They’ll run this one under the lights, with television coverage on FOX starting at 7:00 PM EDT, and the race itself starting at 7:44 PM EDT.

Below the logo, find everything you need to know to prepare for the race.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Richmond 400 (spring race)

  • Location: Richmond, Virginia
  • Track name: Richmond International Raceway
  • Track shape: Oval
  • Banking: 14 degrees
  • Lap length: 0.75 miles
  • Race distance: 400 laps / 300 miles
  • Pole sitter: TBD
  • Starting order: TBD

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I plan to be at the track pretty early on Saturday so I can take in the full NASCAR experience.

If you have any suggestions for me on how to make the most of this cultural experience, tweet me at @NASCARneophyte or shoot me an email at NASCARneophyte@gmail.com.

I’ll try to tweet as much as possible while I’m at the race, and I’ll be posting a full recap with pictures afterward, so be on the lookout for that.

Enjoy the race everyone. I’m sure I will!

Race Recap: STP 400

22 Apr

After 267 laps and ~400 miles of racing today, Denny Hamlin came away with his second victory of the season, helping him move from sixth place to fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.

I was at this game earlier, so I wasn’t able to watch today’s STP 400 at Kansas. Since I’m one of the last people on Earth without DVR, I wasn’t able to record it either.

With all that said, I was able to follow the race on Twitter, which of course had its pros and cons (see below).

 

"I love Coke. Coke is the best. I drink Coke, and you should too!"

Here are a few notes about the race:

  • It is immensely difficult to decipher @NASCAR‘s tweets during a race if you don’t know each driver’s number (which, for the most part, I don’t). Here is an example:

(Of those listed above, the only one I knew off the top of my head was #48 – Jimmie Johnson).

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  • The trophy awarded at Kansas (below) is nowhere near as cool as the trophy awarded at Texas.

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  • After the race, Brad Keselowski jumped in a tank and helped blow up the Kansas Speedway ahead of the track re-paving… or something:

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  • I caught some of the pre-race show on FOX today, during which Michael Waltrip and D.W. were talking about the lack of controversy so far this year:

There haven’t been any fights between drivers yet (which I’ve been hoping for each week, to no avail), so to this point you’d have to say that the most “controversial” moment of the season was the finish at Martinsville.

D.W. quoted one driver who said that he didn’t want to cause any bad publicity for his team. I completely understand that mentality, but it’s been all puppy dogs and rainbows lately, and it’s getting a little boring.

Come on guys, step up the entertainment! If you don’t want to get into a shoving match with another driver after the race, blow up some more jet dryers or something. Please!

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By the way, next weekend I’ll be going to my first live NASCAR race. Actually, it will be my first live racing event of any kind, at any level.

After the race (in Richmond), I will blog about my experience here, complete with pictures and all.

Five days to go until race day… I can’t wait!

Race Preview: STP 400

21 Apr

NASCAR lands in Kansas this weekend (there’s a Wizard of Oz joke in there somewhere), where points leader Greg Biffle looks to continue his early season success in the Sprint Cup Series.

The STP 400 is race #8 (out of 36) on the Sprint Cup circuit. Race coverage on Sunday starts at 12:30 PM EDT on FOX, and the race itself begins at 1:16 PM EDT.

Below the logo, find everything you need to prepare for the race.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – STP 400

  • Location: Kansas City, KS
  • Track name: Kansas Speedway
  • Track shape: Tri-oval
  • Banking: 15 degrees
  • Lap length: 1.5 miles
  • Race distance: 267 laps / 401 miles

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Here are a few storylines for the race:

  • Hendrick Motorsports drivers (#5, #24, #48, and #88) continue to look for their first win of the season (and Mr. Hendrick’s 200th career victory as an owner).

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I’ll be following the race on Twitter tomorrow and will check in whenever possible with my questions and comments. Look for my tweets at @NASCARneophyte and if you can answer my questions, please do.

Enjoy the race everyone.

Race Recap: Samsung Mobile 500

15 Apr

During the NASCAR pre-race show on FOX yesterday, the hosts talked about Greg Biffle (@gbiffle) seemingly flying under the radar this year even though he led the Sprint Cup Series in points.

They also suggested that maybe he was hadn’t earned the respect he deserved since he hadn’t won a race yet this year.

Well, Biffle changed all that yesterday, earning his first win of the season at Texas Motor Speedway. He earned this sweet trophy in the process:

I caught most of the race last night, but I fell asleep (again… whoops) during the last half hour and woke up just as Biffle was doing his celebratory donuts on the track.

Of the racing that I did see, I noticed that there were very few cautions in yesterday’s race, which I think led to more cars falling a lap (or more) behind the leader. Fair assessment?

Interestingly, I don’t remember hearing the announcers say the actual name of the race (Samsung Mobile 500) once. Admittedly, I left the room a few times and fell asleep at the end, but I definitely think it’s strange to have a company sponsor a race and not hear their name stated even one time while I was watching.

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As always, I picked up some new NASCAR knowledge this week thanks to Twitter, and the announcers on FOX during the race. Here’s a summary:

  • Race qualifying order determines the order in which teams are allowed to select their pit road location. (Makes sense to me).
  • Apparently, drivers can return to a race in another car than they started in (see below). This blows my mind.

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As always, some questions came up yesterday as I was watching. If you can answer them, help me out in the comments section below or tweet @NASCARneophyte.

1. At one point in the race, a car in pit road had to be pushed out of the pit box by the pit crew (I didn’t catch the car number). Why did this happen, and does it happen a lot?

2. I know that the “pole-sitter” is the driver who starts in first place, but where did the term come from? Is the “pole” the stand where they wave the flags from?

3. Was that a hotel overlooking the Texas Motor Speedway? (If so, I wonder if people watched from there).

4. How often do NASCAR tracks get re-paved?

5. Serious question: Has there ever been an African American driver in NASCAR?

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Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series will move to Kansas for the STP 400. The week after that, on April 28th, I’ll be going to my first live NASCAR race in Richmond. I can’t wait!