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.
Kyle Busch isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and he certainly did so after Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
NASCAR implemented a number of changes to make the racing closer, tighter and more exciting — including restrictor plates, a larger rear spoiler, aero ducts, and a smaller splitter — and achieved all that on many fronts.
But not for the younger Busch brother, who wasn’t pleased with the rules package. Was it actually designed to specifically slow him down rather than to even out things for the entire field?
Or was he just simply upset because he didn’t win a third Xfinity race in a row at IMS?
Check out how our NASCAR America analysts gauged the Xfinity changes in the above video.
TriStar Motorsports team owner Mark Smith passes away
Mark Smith, owner of TriStar Motorsports, died Saturday at his home, after a long battle with cancer, the team announced Monday. He was 63.
He began his racing career building engines for his brother Jack’s drag car in the 1970s. He moved his family from the West Coast in the early 1990s to pursue a career in NASCAR. He was the owner of TriStar Motorsports and Pro Motor Engines.
TriStar Motorsports fields the No. 14 in the Xfinty Series with JJ Yeley and the No. 72 in the Cup Series with Cole Whitt. The team stated the team will continue operations under the management of Bryan Smith, son of Mark Smith.
“It was dad’s dream to own and operate a NASCAR team,” Bryan Smith said. “He devoted his life to that dream and his family plans to honor his wishes by continuing our efforts in his memory.”
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Victory Junction Gang victoryjunction.org or NOVA (National Organization for Vehicle Access, part of the BraunAbility) novafunding.org.
The family will receive friends from 5-8 p.m. ET, Aug. 1 at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville, North Carolina. They have created a Facebook page where you are encouraged to leave a story for the family to enjoy. (facebook.com/Remembering-Mark-Smith-301261653675224)