NASCAR drivers, owners, teams react to enhancements to points system

8 Comments

NASCAR drivers, crew chiefs, team members, owners and officials shined a positive light on the new enhancements to the points structure across all three series that were announced Monday.

The enhancements will impact all three series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Here are some excerpts from those that took part in the announcement from Charlotte, as well as reactions from social media:

NASCAR vice president Steve O’Donnell: “It’s the right time to make enhancements … it’s a great example of the industry coming together for the fans. … Every race matters and winning is more important than ever.”

Denny Hamlin: “There are no off weeks. Every single race matters. Every lap of every race matters. From our standpoint, you always felt a bit relaxed after you got a race win. Now with each accomplishment, getting points, through a stage win, or race win, each makes your road to Homestead a little bit easier. That’s what it’s all about.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “I love the fact the bonus points will carry through the playoffs to the last round. Everything you do will help for the playoffs. The stages are going to help bring excitement for drivers and fans. Last year, I was driver and a fan, I was in a unique position. There will be a lot to watch as these crew chiefs try to figure out the strategies to obtain the most points. Fans should be excited.”

Brad Keselowski: “More chances to win, more chances to perform and more spotlights. … We’re going to race to a new level that we’ve never seen before. … I’m really pumped about this. To me, this is NASCAR. Look at how our races were formatted in the 40s and 50s: it was endurance, long races. Teams now are so smart. If we created motorsports from scratch today, this is how would we do this.”

Jeff Gordon: “I definitely think this is going to enhance experience of competitors and fans at home. … It (discussion of the new enhancements) was a pretty amazing experience and what came out of it is a balance of what fans are asking for and make it more exciting.”

NASCAR ON NBC analyst Jeff Burton: “When a race fan buys a ticket, that fan deserves to see a race that impacts the championship. Win and you’re in is awesome, but it took them off the hook a bit. If you incentivize these guys … it makes them want to race that much harder. This is an enhancement. When races matter, the fans win.

Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing: “Crew chiefs and team members are chomping at the bit to get to the track.”

International Speedway Corporation president Joie Chitwood: “Every race, every lap means something, whether you have a TV viewer or someone in the stands. … We can never sit back and think we’re good enough. I think this group did a great job of coming up with something unique and I think our fans are going to be very excited in this coming season.”

Speedway Motorsports Inc. president Marcus Smith: “This is really for the fans.”

Team owner Jack Roush: “I believe this is part of the natural evolution of our sport as we continue to enhance the product on the race track. The enhancements are a result of unprecedented collaboration between the teams, NASCAR, broadcast partners and drivers, and in direct response to what the fans have expressed a desire for. Stage style racing has a strong history throughout many levels of motorsports, and I’m personally excited to watch as the new strategies play out during the upcoming season.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles: “The new race format will make the Brickyard 400 and the entire Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series more exciting by making every stage of the race important. With every point critical to a driver’s championship chances, the changes will ensure spirited competition during each and every lap. The stages will also offer an opportunity for our fans to hear strategy insights during breaks in action, instead of having to wait until the race has ended. Winning the Brickyard 400 has always been important to the drivers and with more points on the line throughout, it will be an even more thrilling event!”

Team owner Richard Petty:

“Since NASCAR started, there has always been change. The world changes and you have to change with it. This new format just adapts to the current and next generation of fans. It’s something to help create more excitement during the races. You have to put on a good race, a good show where people want to watch at home and enjoy coming to the track. Having two additional winning moments is a good step in that direction to keep the drivers competitive and fans excited throughout the race and season. As an owner, I’m fine with it. I have the same rules as everyone else. That’s fair. We just have to figure out how to be the best under this format.”

Here are some comments from social media (we’ll continue to update):

 

 

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

NASCAR America Scan All: Kyle Busch wants to know if he got a one- or two-fingered salute

Leave a comment

“P17; you’re making really good time,” Kyle Busch’s spotter Adam Stevens told Busch as he blasted through the field on his way to winning a third consecutive race in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.

“Was that a two-fingered or a one-fingered salute,” Busch replied about his experience in traffic.

“The 42 dove-bombed us a little bit, but the 41’s the one that got us,” Jamie McMurray was told by his spotter.

But McMurray was still upset about an earlier incident when the two were racing for the free pass.

“Jamie’s trying to tear up our car now,” Kyle Larson said after getting run into by his teammate. “I got damage on my left side from him.”

Here are some of the other scanner highlights:

• “We got a penalty,” Rodney Childers told Kevin Harvick. “The wedge wrench went over the wall.”
• “Good, we’re coming from the back,” Harvick replied. “That’s what, three or four weeks in a row? I’m used to it.”
• “That 31’s fighting the hell out of the 78,” Childers reported.
• “I’m sorry about all that,” Larson said after missing pit road twice. “I braked later than I did there. Those two times, I just wheel hopped.”
• “That’s pathetic,” Aric Almirola said. “I don’t know how we can be that good for 200 laps and that bad after that.”

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America: Matt DiBenedetto will pay tribute to Jeff Burton in Southern 500

Leave a comment

For several years, the Southern 500 has given drivers an opportunity to pay tribute to the legends of NASCAR and this year, Matt DiBenedetto will pay homage to Jeff Burton’s No. 99 from the 2000 Cup season.

“You have no clue how excited I am about this one,” Matt DiBenedetto said. “I’ve been wanting to do this one for a while.

“This actually has a back story on it. And this is what got me into NASCAR and into racing. And the first car that I liked – I bought the diecast cars for – this is like really close to my heart.”

“It’s really exciting for me,” Jeff Burton said in a taped interview. “That 2000 paint scheme was really popular with Jeff Burton fans and Exide Racing fans back in the day. A lot of good things happened that year. We won several races that year.”

Burton won four races that year and finished second on five other occasions.

Burton didn’t win the Southern 500 that year, but he came close – finishing second to teammate Mark Martin.

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America: A Matt Kenseth return to Roush Fenway Racing would mean …

2 Comments

Roush Fenway Racing will make what it is calling a major partner announcement at 10 a.m. Wednesday, and a report states that it will include details on Matt Kenseth returning to drive for the team.

NASCAR on NBC’s Nate Ryan reported Tuesday that Roush Fenway Racing declined comment on SB Nation’s report that Kenseth would run select races for Trevor Bayne beginning May 12 at Kansas Speedway. Ryan reported that multiple principles, including a former Roush Fenway Racing driver will be at Wednesday’s announcement.

Kenseth, who turned 46 in March, won Cup Rookie of the Year honors with Roush Fenway Racing in 2000 and remained there through the 2012 season.

Kenseth left for Joe Gibbs Racing and raced there from 2013-17. He was replaced after last season in the No. 20 car by Erik Jones, leaving Kenseth without a full-time ride for this season.

NASCAR on NBC’s Kyle Petty said on NASCAR America that should the report of Kenseth’s return to Roush Fenway Racing be true, it would provide a nice homecoming.

“He knows the players,’’ Petty said of Kenseth. “He knows everything about the place. He grew up there. He came of age there. He won (a) championship. He won races there. So from all those pieces, it makes sense for a guy like Matt Kenseth to go back there just as it would if Jeff Gordon said I want to go back to Hendrick. It makes perfect sense. But only Matt can answer that question (of why).’’

Ryan noted it is not unusual for teams to put another driver in a car to benchmark that car’s performance.

Bayne is 26th in the points. The 2011 Daytona 500 winner has not finished better than 12th (Texas) this season. Every driver ahead of him in the points has at least one top-10 finish this season.

“Even in a part-time basis, what could he bring?’’ Petty said of Kenseth. “He brings so much. It’s an intangible. I think we saw it when he went to Joe Gibbs Racing. What did he bring there? That team just, all of a sudden, just took off. Was it all Matt Kenseth? No, but it’s part Matt Kenseth, it’s part that knowledge, it’s part that experience, it’s part that desire to run up front, win races and build something and I think Matt felt he had built something that first go around.’’

Kenseth scored the 39th Cup win of his career in November at Phoenix. A week before that win, Kenseth talked to Ryan on the NASCAR on NBC podcast about realizing the end of his career seemed near.

“But like I said, I feel like the way things have gone that for whatever reason — reasons I don’t understand that I think will become really, really clear in the future — that it’s just not meant for me to race next year,” Kenseth said. “I think it’s that simple. Everything lined up this way because I wasn’t going to make the decision myself, so someone made it for me. It’s just not supposed to happen.”

Car owner Joe Gibbs said Tuesday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he would look forward to a return by Kenseth to Cup.

“I’ve got to tell you I would love it,’’ Gibbs said. “What a great guy, a great person, a great representative for the sport and for sponsors and extremely competitive. I would love that, and I hope that is going to be the case. I hope he can be there on a steady basis.

“It would be a thrill for us to have Matt back. I think he’s a real credit to the NASCAR Series and love the family. I think that would be great for us. I hope that’s going to be the case. I hope he gets to run a bunch of races.’’

For more, watch the video above.

 and on Facebook

Deontay Wilder named Geico 500 honorary pace car driver

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Talladega SuperSpeedway has a reputation for delivering blows to the competition, so it is only fitting that the honorary pace car driver for the Geico 500 will be a man known to deliver knockouts to his opponents. Reigning World Boxing Council (WBC) World Heavyweight Champion and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native Deontay Wilder will pace the field before the initial green flag Sunday.

Wilder, 32, has a record of 40-0 with 39 of his wins by knockout.

Known as the “Bronze Bomber” because of the 2008 Bronze medal he won in the Beijing Olympics, Wilder found boxing as a way to provide for a daughter diagnosed with spina bifida. He immediately found that he was a natural by scoring a technical knockout over Ethan Cox in November, 2008.

Wilder has held the title since January 2015 after defeating Bermane Stiverne in his only bout that was not decided by a knockout. Wilder scored a unanimous decision and has defended his belt seven times since.