The Weekly NASCAR Report: 9/20/2016

Turtles &Truex Jr, New Hampshire, Chase Rules Changes & Erik w/a K

Want to get caught up in NASCAR? Well, you picked the right spot. My name is Mike Hedrick and in NASCAR I an known as “The Fan’s Reporter” because I report from the perspective of a fan and not corporate staff writers. Each week I do a Radio spot on the Tom Taylor Sports Show on the Mighty Seven Ninety [790AM Johnson City, TN] and bring the Fans up to date on what is happening in the Sport of NASCAR. This is what we talked about this week.

Chicagoland: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle 400

What greater way to get the attention of young folks than to have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles be the Title Sponsor of the Race? By having about a dozen of the Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series cars wrapped in Turtle themes as well I guess. It worked and Turtles were every where!

The Sprint Cup Race was fast from the start and we saw 6 time Champion Jimmie Johnson take an early lead. He led 118 laps but, had to do a Pass Through for a Pit Road Speeding Penalty and put him a lap down where he finished 12th.

Martin Truex Jr. would take the lead off Pit Road ahead of Chase Elliott #24 and go on to get his 3rd Victory this season and the 6th of his career. The Win also advances him forward to an automatic spot in the Chase elimination round.

In the Xfinity Series we had the “Drive for Safety 300" where Joe Gibbs Racing Driver Erik Jones gets his 4th Victory this season. Kyle Busch had led 154 laps but cut a tire with just 18 laps to go and finished 12th. This sets the Xfinity Chase Field with Erik Jones at the top with Elliot Sadler and Danel Suaerz right behind him.

The Camping World Truck Series held the “American Ethanol 225" and like every time Kyle Busch races trucks he wins. It’s a shame too because there were regulars in that series that needed a win to advance. I think the subject of Cup Drivers in the two lower series’ needs to be addressed but that subject is for another day. The race also set the Camping World Chase Field with William Bell with a 12 point lead over 2nd place Matt Crafton followed by John H. Nemechek, Christopher Bell, Johnny Sauter, Ben Kennedy and so on.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway: New England 300

The second Race in the Chase takes us up to Loudon, New Hampshire for the “New England 300" at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. NHMS is a 1 Mile Superspeedway built in 1990 and they had their first Cup race in 1993. The Track has just 12 degree banking in the turns and a flat 2 degrees in the straightaways and you’ll be sitting with 95,491 great race fans.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenneth not only won this race last year he won it again early this summer where he started in the 18th posisition. The Pole does not mean you will get the win because last year Carl Edwards finished 5th and Jimmie Johnson in July finished 12th from Pole Posisitions.

To make the Chase drivers are going to have to get a win like Truex Jr or be in that Top 12 of points after Dover. That’s make desperate drivers out of a few on the bottom like Austin Dillion, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and Chris Buescher. Those drivers need great finishes if not wins to advance.

The Fords looked better last week with 3 cars in the Top 10 but look for the Toyotas to continue being very strong this week.

Rule Changes for the Chase

Did you notice the Race Cars after the race zig zagging back and forth like they are trying to scuff rubber off their tires? Did you wonder why in the world are they doing that after a race? The answer is they are trying to wiggle their Rear End back in to Specs. NASCAR noticed them doing it as well.

Teams were also risking getting caught doing this because if they Won but, got caught they would still advance to the next round in the Chase. NASCAR addressed this by making the penalty far more costly.

If a Winning Team were to fail either the Post Race Laser Inspection or have 17 or less Lug Nuts on the Car it would be a P4 Level Penalty.

  • Loss of 35 Driver & Owner Points
  • 3 Race Suspension & $65,000 Fine for the Crew Chief
  • Stripped of Automatic Advancement in Chase
  • Loss of any Tie Breaking Implications

Any benefit of a win would be lost with no advancement and the loss of the 35 Driver points let alone not having your Crew Chief for 3 weeks. NASCAR just marked out the “Line in the Sand”.

Learn His Name: Erik with a K

Erik Jones just won the Xfinity race this last week in Chicagoland and we all know him as an up and coming driver in the Joe Gibbs Racing Camp. Erik won the 2015 Camping World Championship and is currently in 1st place in the Xfinity Series driving the JGR #20 to 4 Wins, 13 Top Tens and 3 Poles this season.

In 2017 he is coming to the Sprint Cup Series and will be racing for Furniture Row Racing along side current driver Martin Truex Jr. In the #78. Erik will drive the #77 5 Hour Energy Drink Toyota.

The big news is he is getting veteran Crew Chief Chris Gayle from Joe Gibbs Racing. Chris Gayle has 17 Xfinity wins and spent 2 seasons with Elliott Sadler, 2015 with the #54 with multiple drivers due to the injured Kyle Busch. Nine of his 17 Wins comes this season with the #18 again with multiple drivers such as Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Hornish.

Looks for this Team to be very strong it’s rookie season in 2017 but don’t look for them at Furniture Row very long. They only have 1 year contracts and I hear they are heading to Joe Gibbs Racing. That could be Matt Kennseth’s seat.

Erik Jones in the #77 5 Hour Energy Drink Toyota will be Rookie of the Year in 2017 and make the Chase to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. You heard it hear first!

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