Another year is over. Another chance to go through the photos I took this year on the circuit and look back upon my favorite ones. Here’s just a few of those that stand out from the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
I like this one a lot because it shows the joy Matt DiBenedetto and his family experienced after his career-high sixth-place finish at Bristol. The family moved from California to North Carolina years ago, in part, to help further their son’s racing career. They’ve been through ups and downs and DiBenedetto has had his share of start-and-park rides. But at Bristol, he took advantage of being in the right lane on some late restarts and climbed to a top-10 finish. Afterward, his family, including his brother who was on leave from the military, celebrated as if Matt had won the race.
When people look back on 2016, many will look back on what was missed – Dale Earnhardt Jr. His last race of the year turned out to be July 9 at Kentucky. Earnhardt missed the rest of the season as he recovered from a concussion. Fans missed him throughout the year. I saw this note written on the pit wall for the No. 88 team at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It kind of summed up how many fans felt this year.
I like the below photo of Matt Kenseth because it’s just Matt being Matt.
Got to love the pants the crew for Tony Stewart wore at Darlington Raceway for the Southern 500 throwback uniform. One of the best outfits of the weekend.
Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart after NASCAR told them to play nice after their Richmond incident.
One of my favorite pictures of the year. Jimmie Johnson in a quiet moment with his daughter before a race.
Another photo I really liked. William Byron had just suffered a heart-wrenching defeat at Phoenix in the Camping World Truck Series race. Byron was leading when his engine failed in the final laps and he failed to advance to the title race in Miami. As he walked down pit road toward an area to do interviews after the race, I caught this scene of a competitor offering his condolences to Byron on his tough break.
Kurt and Kyle Busch are in Miami this weekend to take part in the international auto racing competition, Race of Champions. The exhibition event is two days and pits drivers from every major auto racing league against each other.
The Busch brothers are the only NASCAR representatives in the competition. They are joined multiple Formula One drivers, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Alexander Rossi, Ryan-Hunter Reay, James Hinchciffe and Tony Kanaan and action sports star Travis Pastrana. Prior to the start of the races, all of the drivers got psyched up together.
But when it came time to race Kurt Busch’s had a tough day. He and former Formula One driver David Coulthard competed in the vehicles used in the NASCAR Euro Series and Coulthard crossed the finish line with a healthy lead over the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.
Kyle Busch was marginally better in his first race against F1 driver Jenson Button, who won but with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver right at Button’s rear wheel.
But Kyle Busch bounced back in his second race and defeated Hinchcliffe, which advanced him out of the first round. But he was eliminated from the competition when he was swept by Coulthard in the next round.
In Kurt Busch’s second race, he faced Hunter-Reay, who was one of his teammates when he competed in the 2014 Indianapolis 500. Busch won, but he wasn’t able to advance to the next round.
The competition was eventually won by Montoya, who is taking part in the Race of Champions for the first time.
Both Busch brothers will be back on Sunday to compete for the Nations Cup.
Busch and his competitors will be trying to claim the $30,000 prize for winning the race. Kyle Busch Motorsports had a presence in last year’s Showdown when Todd Gilliland competed for the team.
“They have a pretty strong field lined up again this year with Bubba Pollard coming back and trying to make it three-in-a-row. And then you add in some of the West Coast guys like Derek Thorn, David Mayhew and Noah Gragson, who will be running one of my trucks full-time this season, and it has a lot of great drivers,” Busch told Speed51.com. “One of the things that is going to be really cool is that this will be the first time that Erik Jones and I get to race against each other in the supers since he beat me in the Snowball Derby back in 2013.”
Busch is quite successful in his Super Late Model career, having won the Snowball Derby, CRA SpeedFest, the Oxford 250, the Winchester 400 and the Battle at Berlin in recent years.
CHARLOTTE — Richard Childress traced his Dickensian rise from humble beginnings to six championships in NASCAR’s premier series during his Hall of Fame induction speech Friday.
Childress, who grew up in poverty in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, won six championships in NASCAR’s premier series with fellow high school dropout Dale Earnhardt. After starting as an independent driver-owner who never won in a dogged career from 1968-81, Childress switched to focusing solely on running a team.
His grandson, Austin Dillon, now drives the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing that Earnhardt made famous.
“Only in America could a kid selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman Gray Stadium have a dream of becoming a race driver some day,” Childress said. “And then he goes out and buys him an old ’47 Plymouth (and) pays $20 for it — that was the best investment I ever made — and have a dream of being a NASCAR driver some day, be standing up here tonight to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Only in America. What a great country we live in.”
During his speech, Childress made several references to a wall he’d like to put in the stock-car museum to signify all those who paved the way for his success.
“I’d like to put a 10‑foot by 20‑foot granite wall with thousands of names etched in it that’s helped me all along the way to get here tonight,” he said. “I can’t thank you all, but I want to put you on a great granite wall to where I can thank you for getting us up here.
“But on that granite wall, the first thing would be my family. My wife Judy, my daughter Tina, my son‑in‑law, Mike Dillon, grandson Ty and his wife Haley, she’s here tonight. Grandson Austin and his fiancé, Whitney Ward. I couldn’t have done it without you all’s support. We are a NASCAR racing family.”