'For a win. At all costs' NASCAR RACE HUB'S Radioactive from New Hampshire

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NASCAR 20 July, 2021 - 07:16pm 4 views

Does New Hampshire Speedway have lights?

The other concern with the amount of drying time is that New Hampshire Motor Speedway is one of the NASCAR tracks that does not have lights. Heavy.comRain Brings Out Red Flag at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

NASCAR officials issued a pair of $10,000 fines to two Cup Series teams for lug-nut infractions after Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The violations of Section 10.9.10.4 (tires and wheels) in the NASCAR Rule Book for a single unsecured lug nut on each car were found after Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at the 1.058-mile track. That meant a fine for each team’s crew chief.

The two teams found with lug-nut violations (and their respective crew chiefs/drivers):

No penalties were issued for Cup Series driver Kyle Busch, who bumped the pace car during the race’s first caution period with his damaged No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

No post-race penalties stemmed from Saturday’s Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Read full article at NASCAR

NASCAR Crash Course: Aric Almirola's upset shakes up playoff race

CBS Sports 21 July, 2021 - 08:01pm

As Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race played out, you could tell New Hampshire Motor Speedway was setting up for something weird. There was a nearly two-hour rain delay after Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jr. and others wiped out on a wet surface entering turn 1.

With no lights at the track, officials were forced to call the race eight laps early. 

But Aric Almirola winning. Aric Almirola? Even the driver himself admitted the magnitude of the upset. 

"Nobody should have thought that we were going to win," Almirola said. "Coming into this race we never really gave anybody a reason to pick us, to be completely honest." 

In 373 career NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola had never won outside the big pack racing tracks of Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway. He'd suffered through a miserable year, posting just two top-10 finishes and entering New Hampshire 27th in the standings. 

Some 232 points behind the playoff cutline, Almirola's future with Stewart-Haas Racing looked shaky. He had five DNFs for crashes in the first 13 races, as many as the past two years combined. 

But the 37-year-old veteran never stopped believing, circling New Hampshire on the calendar for months. He had this race won three years ago only to spin his tires on a late restart, winding up third. 

He wouldn't make the same mistake twice, marching forward quietly from 22nd as opportunity knocked. Those early wrecks by Busch and Truex knocked out two favorites while Hendrick Motorsports struggled at a track they haven't won at since 2012. Fords had won three straight races at NHMS and the manufacturer went straight to the front. It looked like Almirola's teammate Kevin Harvick was in position to make it four. 

But Almirola just kept creeping up the leaderboard. Fifth at the end of stage two, a great long-run car worked perfect for the final 101 laps that ran caution free. One by one, he picked off Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney -- some of the best in the business. 

"I knew if we could get far enough up front to where I could just hold my own for 10 laps," he said. "We would have a shot to go drive to the front and take the lead." 

It's exactly what happened, leaving the only shaky moments down the stretch when NASCAR would call the race with darkness approaching. Matt DiBenedetto stretched his fuel to try and catch a break, but the sun just didn't go down fast enough. 

"Until the 21 pitted, I could see perfectly," Almirola joked. "As soon as the 21 pitted, it got really dark really quick." 

Nothing could darken Almirola's mood after the most surprising win of the year (William Hill Sportsbook had him at 75/1 odds). The first SHR driver to clinch a playoff spot might have earned another contract extension with sponsor Smithfield backing him every step of the way. 

"Unfortunately, I can't give them the world," he said. "But I can give them a race win every once in a while, and today, we were able to do that." 

Green: Christopher Bell -- The Joe Gibbs Racing skies parted to give Bell a runner-up finish, his second in the past three weeks. February's Daytona road course winner is building playoff momentum at the right time with equipment good enough to challenge the Hendrick quartet. 

Yellow: Kevin Harvick/Denny Hamlin -- It was quite a turn of events for Harvick, who led a season-high 66 laps and put himself in position to win. Instead, he watched teammate Almirola secure the playoff spot while a sixth-place finish did him little good. Hamlin spun out early in the rain and had another underwhelming performance, coming home 10th. 

Harvick and Hamlin combined to win a NASCAR-best 16 of 36 races last year. This time around? They're a combined 0-for-44 and are two of only three winless drivers left with a postseason spot. A wacky slate of first-time winners in the final four races could TKO them both. 

Red: Austin Dillon -- Dillon started Sunday 104 points above the playoff cutline. He ended it five points below, forced to chase teammate Tyler Reddick for the final spot in the family-owned Richard Childress Racing program. How's that to up internal tension?  

Seven straight races outside the top 10 haven't helped and a late move to block Almirola while getting lapped, sensing a postseason spot was slipping away made him look desperate. 

Speeding Ticket: Joey Logano -- While the race was stopped for rain, Logano's crew noticed a piece of rubber stuck in the throttle linkage. Driver and team claimed they chose to take a picture with a camera phone in order to fix it once the race got underway.  

This clip seems to tell a different story. Judge for yourself. 

NASCAR officials came down hard, imposing a two-lap penalty for the crew working under red-flag conditions. It killed Logano's afternoon with what arguably was the fastest car in the race-- though he eventually made up both laps and charged up to fourth by the finish. 

"I understand the rules are the rules," Logano said after the race. "But it's also a safety factor and the last thing you want is a throttle to stick and get hurt." 

To be fair, Sterling Marlin was once caught working on his car at the end of the 2002 Daytona 500. The penalty? Going to the tail end of the field. And that was just to pull the fender out from a tire, not as pressing a safety concern as a stuck throttle.  

The moment that will leave everyone talking through a two-week Olympic break is Kyle Busch's slide into the outside wall while leading early. Others followed suit due to a wet racetrack drivers said they'd been complaining about for multiple laps. 

"We got caught out by kind of a quick sort of pop-up [shower] there in turn 1," said NASCAR Vice President of Competition Scott Miller. "The corner got wet really quick." 

It was small consolation for Busch, who was conservative in post-race comments but had already made his feelings known on track by hitting the pace car. Penalties on that should be forthcoming. 

Busch and others had a right to be upset. It's the third time in the past eight months NASCAR officials have botched the weather, costing Kevin Harvick a Championship 4 spot at Texas last October before failing to stop Circuit of the Americas during a Noah's Ark-style series of downpours. They're lucky no one got hurt. 

I think that was the one time @KyleBusch could have gone off in an interview and almost all of #nascar nation would have agreed with him.

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NASCAR Power Rankings: Kyle Busch keeps No. 1 spot

NASCAR on NBC Sports 21 July, 2021 - 08:01pm

Even with the last-place finish Sunday, Busch has been strong lately. The New Hampshire finish snapped a string of four consecutive top-three finishes. He’s led in nine consecutive races. Busch averaged 45.3 points per race in the seven events before New Hampshire.

While the top stays the same with Busch first and Kyle Larson second, there are three drivers in the rankings who were not in it last week: Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Brad Keselowski. They replace William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Martin Truex Jr.

Kyle Busch could see a penalty for hitting NASCAR pace car at NHMS

Racing News 21 July, 2021 - 08:01pm

There's no Racing News down here.

The blue dot on the GPS won't help you here.

It's probably too late to turn back now anyway.

Baby Jessica, it appears you've fallen into the well.

Like a mummy at night fightin' with bright lightnin'.

I'm not here to save you. I'm just here for the ride. So, let me entertain you and everything will be fine.

Kyle Busch jumped out to the early lead. But, on lap four, rain drops began to fall. Drivers skated through turn one but none spun.

Driver jumped on the radio and began calling for a caution.

On lap 6, the rain was too heavy and the track was now a lake. Race leader Kyle Busch lifted early as he expected trouble. But, as he got to the corner, the rear of the car stepped out and he slapped the wall.

2nd place runner Martin Truex Jr did the same thing. Denny Hamlin spun and Alex Bowman made light contact with the wall. The rest of the field was able to avoid incident.

The race was red flagged after the crash. The race resumed a little over an hour later.

Related: NASCAR tests oval rain tire at Richmond Raceway

“We were battling weather, throughout the region there” Elton Sawyer stated via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.

“We were in contact with our folks at the Weather Channel and looking at the radar. The race track was ready to go.”

“We have turn spotters around the facility and we also have our flag person. They’re not only flagging but also looking at what’s going on, on the race track as far as weather. Then, we have our pit in and pit out official.”

“As well as two NASCAR officials in the spotters stand who communicate with the team spotters who are communicating with the drivers.”

“On top of that, we have the instant messaging system in place. Were from the tower, we can communicate with all the crew chiefs on pit road. All systems were go,the race track was ready to race.”

“We’re an outdoor sporting event. Things happen, weather related, that can pop up on us pretty quick. And, that’s exactly what happened.”

“It’s unfortunate, but those thing do happen from time to time.”

“About the time our race director was going around the horn, checking with turn spotters… We were getting just a mist on the shield of the flagman.”

“At that point, our race director was getting ready to put it out [the yellow flag]. At the same time, the No. 18 and 19 were having the spin in turn one.”

“We’ll re-visit that tomorrow in our weekly comp meeting to see if there’s anything we missed.”

Related: Rain falls during dirt race at Eldora Speedway; They all crash (VIDEO)

After the incident, Kyle Busch drove away from the crash. He found the pace car and pushed on it’s rear bumper to show frustration with NASCAR.

“With everything that went on this weekend, that was something that had put on the back burner at that point in time of the race,” Elton Sawyer stated via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.

“We’ll discuss that through our debriefing tomorrow. And see what the next steps were there. Again, haven’t really dug into that. Very heat of the moment.”

“But, we will. It’s not like the first time someone has went up and kinda bumped the pace car. It’s a little bit different but we’ll discuss it tomorrow, if anything needs to be done.”

NASCAR typically released a weekly penalty report on Tuesday afternoon.

Related: NASCAR drivers crash as rain falls; Kyle Busch crashes into pace car (Video)

Couch Potato Tuesday: NBC Breaks Out The Racing Team Broadcast For Moist New Hampshire

Frontstretch.com 21 July, 2021 - 08:01pm

Races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway have been panned for what seems like the majority of the time that the NASCAR Cup Series has raced there. It’s a place that’s naturally hard to pass at since the groove isn’t very wide.

In recent years, the track’s staff has made a bunch of moves to try to promote better racing. They’ve tried using sealer on the track. They created a lower section with only two degrees of banking, in addition to the regular seven degrees. Most recently, the track has used PJ1 TrackBite in the first and third lanes in order to convince drivers to run outside of the normal groove in the second lane.

Sunday was different as NASCAR chose not to lay down any PJ1 TrackBite prior to the Cup race. The reasoning here is that the Modified teams hate it and there wasn’t enough time after the Whelen 100 to put it down prior to the Xfinity Series Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200 (note: Ambetter is a health insurance provider that is a division of the Centene Corporation). Afterwards, NASCAR decided that it didn’t want to put it down just for the Cup race.

Was that a bad move? Not really. However, that decision is not what Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 will be remembered for.

Sunday’s race will be best remembered for starting on time, but in misty conditions. Given the technology in NBC Sports’ cameras, you couldn’t really see the mist, but within the first couple of laps, you could see raindrops on the camera lenses. This moisture was not noted by the booth commentators, but Marty Snider did note that it had been raining for a lap and a half before anything happened.

As a result, when the precipitation increased on lap 5, they were caught by surprise. Kyle Busch wiped out of the lead and hit the wall in turn 1, while Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin also lost control. It’s like it took a little for the situation to truly set in.  You have to be cognizant of your surroundings. Steve Letarte said that being in the booth means that you’re somewhat numb to the conditions, but you do have windows at your disposal. Sometimes, there are shields on the windows to lower glare, but that wasn’t an issue in Loudon Sunday.

During the red flag, there were a couple of notable interviews. One was with Busch, who was quite angry. However, he channeled Sergeant Yates from the “Cartman’s Incredible Gift” episode of South Park and “used that one thing that starts with a ‘R’ that we never use.” The “R” word here is restraint.

You could see Busch bursting with vitriol the whole time during his interview with Snider (I think that was him cussing on pit road after getting out of the car prior to the interview). He did outright state that the race shouldn’t have started in the conditions that they did, but he held back from truly putting everyone on blast.

Later on, Steve O’Donnell entered the booth to explain the situation further. He described the communications between the booth and pace car driver Kip Childress. They had communicated with Childress and asked him if he was seeing drops on his windshield at the entrance to turn 1. He had responded in the affirmative, but they couldn’t make the call to put the yellow out before Busch crashed.

Letarte did ask about exceptions to the Damaged Vehicle Policy (which I still don’t like), and O’Donnell stated that they were looking into it, but he didn’t have an answer at the time. It sounds like they decided against it.

These interviews were not only good content for NBCSN, but did provide a decent amount of information for the viewers. The booth was not afraid to ask O’Donnell the tough questions. Were they satisfied with the answers that they received? I don’t know. They got something out of O’Donnell, at least. It seems like the issue here started before the race went green, though. O’Donnell noted that the series has raced in mist before without issues. There are quite a few examples of this. It just kicked it up a notch quicker than expected, resulting in people wrecking.

That said, the whole situation really stinks. NASCAR probably should have taken extra pace laps and done the whole thumbs up or down with the drivers before starting. Then again, had they done that, it wouldn’t have started because the rain may have started before the green flag would have been thrown.

Later on, you had NASCAR informing the teams during the break between stage two and the final stage that they would race until they thought it was too dark, then give the 10 laps to go signal. It also stipulated no GWCs. This is a rarity in NASCAR. I can only remember this happening about seven or eight times since 1987, but the rule is no different now than it was then. Back then, NASCAR cut the Winston 500 by 10 laps when it ran up against darkness. That race is actually the exception to the rule since it didn’t involve rain (if you’re reading this, then you probably know what caused it).

As a result, viewers watched the final stage of the race without any idea of how long it was going to go. As close to the finish as lap 265, Letarte seemed convinced that it was going to go the full 301 laps. Had it not been cloudy, it probably would have gone the distance. Then, NASCAR made the announcement on lap 283 that it would be 10 laps to go at the line. Cutting the race short probably did rob viewers of an excellent finish. Christopher Bell likely would have gotten to Aric Almirola in those final eight laps. Also, those eight laps would have taken less than five minutes. It’s debatable how much darker it would have gotten in that time. It was stated numerous times on the broadcast that it was nowhere near as dark as it was at Martinsville for the 2015 Goody’s Headache Powder Relief Shot 500.

As you probably remember, NASCAR ran that race to completion. The result was Jeff Gordon’s 93rd and final victory.

To be fair, I have been at a race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that got called due to darkness before. In 2017, there was an ACT Invitational race held after the Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday evening. It was scheduled for 50 green-flag laps. It turned into a complete travesty with wreck after wreck after wreck. Someone ploughed into the Fitch barriers and caused a long red flag for cleanup. In the end, they only completed 17 laps before it was called for darkness and Woody Pitkat was declared the winner. You know things are bad when the crowd starts booing the drivers.

Going into the weekend in Loudon, NBC Sports promoted their broadcasts as using the “Racing Team” broadcast booth. Rick Allen took a scheduled weekend off from the track, leaving Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte in the booth together. Earnhardt Jr. served as the play-by-play commentator.

Without Allen in the booth, the broadcast had a different feel. Earnhardt Jr. is definitely not trained as a play-by-play commentator (he’s an analyst by nature), but I thought he did OK. Earnhardt Jr. is going to notice different things than Allen would. Also, having three booth voices instead of four means that things are less crowded. Everyone can actually be in the same room for a change.

I didn’t find the broadcast to be more inclusive than normal, at least not on Sunday. What I did find is that NBCSN did a good job to bring a lot of racing for position to viewers. As a result, one of the big takeaways from the race is that New Hampshire Motor Speedway really doesn’t need the PJ1 TrackBite (or at least less of it) to put on a good race. The booth did note that some of the viscous fluid could still be there from last year.

Since the race was overtime by nearly two hours by the time it ended, post-race coverage was relatively brief. Viewers got interviews with Almirola and Bell, along with a check of the substantially shaken up point standings before leaving Loudon for the Premier Lacrosse League All Star Game from San Jose.

The race was frustrating because of issues that had nothing to do with NBCSN. Had they scheduled an earlier start, it might have been pushed back to when they actually started due to rain earlier in the day. Rain is never a good thing at the track, although it’s definitely better than lightning. I sat through two lightning delays at Lime Rock last weekend, and that’s no fun in a media center the size of a decently-sized living room with no bathroom (the bathroom is in a separate building at the bottom of a hill).

Earnhardt Jr., Burton and Letarte do work well together as a threesome. They also stayed on-topic very well. There weren’t too many tangents during the broadcast (although we did learn that Burton played in a lacrosse league after he retired from driving). There was a good amount of action to be had, and the booth was clearly there for that. Can’t do much about the weather, though. It’s been rather putrid in the Northeast for the past couple of weeks.

That’s all for this week. We are now into the Olympic break, a two-week hiatus of major motorsports since NBC Sports has rights to NASCAR, INDYCAR and IMSA at this time of year. It’s not a good move since everyone needs eyeballs. By the time the break is over, you’ll have preseason football to deal with.

Having said that, there is still action to be had this weekend. The ARCA Menards Series will be at Iowa Speedway for the Shore Lunch 150, the only event that will be held at the seven-eighths of a mile track this year. Formula E will be in London for a doubleheader weekend. The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will be at Washougal in Southern Washington, not too far away from Portland, Ore. There’s also plenty of dirt racing to be had, topped off by the World of Outlaws NoS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series at Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway for the Champion Racing Oil Summer Nationals. TV listings can be found here.

Admittedly, I should write a little about Formula E for next week because I really haven’t evaluated how CBS Sports has done with its coverage this year yet. However, I don’t believe that Frontstretch has a way to get Formula E pictures for the site. The current plan is to combine a look at Saturday night’s ARCA race on MAVTV and NBC Sports Gold with Formula E coverage, but that could change. For the Annex, I’ll cover Saturday’s Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200, which took place during the lightning-shortened Northeast Grand Prix.

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the only thing about the booth from sunday is that the voices sound the same to me, so at times it was difficult to figure out who was speaking.

-Entire NBC booth crew, roughly 350-400 times during event coverage.

If your cars are so lousy that you have to put “traction compound” on the track in order for them to race, then fix the car, don’t gunk up the track so that actual race cars can’t race on it.

The fact that the cars are a different color and have different sponsors every week has made it impossible for me to find my favorite drivers on the track, so add the endless nattering about “traction compound” and I’m out of here.

I’ll still read about it to see how my favorite drivers did, but the races are unwatchable.

The PJ1 traction compound probably isn’t necessary at any track. NHMS was one oval that seemed to be enhanced by the sticky stuff as the track had a run of memorable races in recent years. When it was announced that PJ1 wouldn’t be applied, there was apprehension about Sunday. Those concerns were quieted early and often as there was constant action throughout the event. If New Hampshire, which was relegated to one race after years of complaints about the on-track product, doesn’t need PJ1, I can’t see a purpose for it anywhere. Drivers seem to dislike it and it never significantly improves the racing. Let’s end the PJ1 era.”

So if you heard them talking about traction compound they must have been discussing that it WAS NOT being used.

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