Archive | April, 2012

Race Preview: Samsung Mobile 500

14 Apr

So far this season, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has made stops in Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, California, and Virginia. Tonight, the Sprint Cup Series moves to Texas.

Most of the race will be run under the lights, which I’m excited for because it looks awesome on TV.

Speaking of lights… the lights went out last night during the Nationwide Series race at the same track (which reminds me of this). Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again tonight.

The Samsung Mobile 500 is race #7 (out of 36) on the Sprint Cup circuit. Race coverage tonight starts at 7:00 PM EDT on FOX. (The race itself starts at 7:46 PM EDT).

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

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Samsung Mobile 500

  • Location: Fort Worth, TX
  • Track name: Texas Motor Speedway
  • Track shape: Quad-oval
  • Banking: 24 degrees
  • Lap length: 1.5 miles
  • Race distance: 334 laps / 501 miles

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As always, I’ll be tweeting my comments and questions about NASCAR during the race from my Twitter account: @NASCARneophyte. If you can answer my questions, please do.

Enjoy the race everyone.

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May The Luck Be With You

10 Apr

It took me about seven races, but I think I’ve finally figured out my main issue with NASCAR, and it comes down to this:

The fastest car and the best pit crew on race day generally does not win the race.

NASCAR, more often than not, I’ve learned, comes down to luck.

Here are just a few examples of the role luck (both good and bad) has played so far this season:

  • A few weeks ago at Bristol, Jeff Gordon ran in the top 5 for much of the day until a freak encounter with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. resulted in Gordon’s left rear tire exploding, leading to a 35th place finish.
  • The next weekend at Fontana, Tony Stewart won the race because he happened to be leading when the race was called (because of rain). That’s not to say that Stewart didn’t have a good car that day, but I think it’s a good illustration of the role that luck plays in certain victories. Had Stewart chosen to pit with the rest of the field, someone else likely would have been leading when the race was called.
  • On April 1st at Martinsville, Gordon and Jimmie Johnson ran 1-2 for almost the whole race (they led a combined 440 laps on the day). Then, a caution flag with less than 5 laps remaining caused a green-white-checkered finish. During the first overtime restart, Gordon and Johnson were both involved in a wreck that led to a second restart, and the race was eventually won by Ryan Newman (pictured above).

After dominating the race, Gordon and Johnson each finished outside the top 10 at Martinsville, which led to this comment from Gordon on their team radio:

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As a Sprint Cup viewer, I find it frustrating that the driver with the fastest average lap time (ignoring caution laps) and the quickest pit stops isn’t necessarily going to win the race.

I think of it like this. Have you ever been go-karting before? In go-karting, there are no pit stops, so that confounding variable is removed. If you grant that all go-karts are the same (same top speed), that means that the driver with the quickest average lap time during the race always ends up being the winner.

In NASCAR, that isn’t the case.

You don’t have to be the fastest driver out there on race day, you just have to have the best luck.

At Martinsville, the luck belonged to Newman. Next weekend, it will probably belong to someone else. And that person likely will not have dominated the race for most of the day.

Race Recap: Goody’s Fast Relief 500

2 Apr

Once again yesterday, we saw the importance of luck in NASCAR.

After watching Jeff Gordon (#24) and Jimmie Johnson (#48) run in first or second place for much of the day, a wild overtime restart led to a wreck that pushed both the 24 and 48 cars outside the top 10 on the day, and helped Ryan Newman (#39) win his first race of the year in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville.

The 39 car of Ryan Newman takes the checkered flag at Martinsville.

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Here is the video of the first overtime restart and subsequent wreck.

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The most amazing thing about this video – to me, at least – is the incredible difference it made having fresh tires for the restart.

Watch the video again, paying close attention to the 15 car of Clint Bowyer and the 39 car of Newman. Those teams chose to pit during the previous caution, while the 24 and 48 teams decided to stay out.  The 15 and the 39 zoom forward at the restart, bumping into the 24 and 48 cars and helping to cause the wreck in Turn 1, which led to another caution.

At the next restart, Newman took the checkered flag, and won this awesome prize:

The grandfather clock: a timeless gift.

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A lot of the talk on Twitter after the race conveyed some anger or frustration with Bowyer (#15) and David Reutimann (#10), whose stalled car on the track at the end of regulation led to the caution flag which caused the green-white-checkered finish.

(Note: the #Team24 hashtag means Gordon’s crew composed that tweet, not Gordon himself).

But the tweet of the night (in terms of humor) has to go to Matt Kenseth, who was clearly content with his 4th place finish:

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Some drivers were more upset than others, as you can tell, but luckily they all have two weeks to cool off before the next race.

NASCAR being the Christian sport that it is, it should come as no surprise that there is no race scheduled on Easter weekend. (It’s the only weekend off all season, in fact).

See you in two weeks!

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New NASCAR knowledge picked up this weekend:

  • The Martinsville Speedway is nicknamed “The Paperclip” because of its symmetrical, oval shape.
  • The brakes on the cars at Martinsville ran each team roughly $40,000. Woof!