News and Views – Volume 2

For the week of November 21, 2011 – volume 2

With this volume of News and Views, the 2011 racing season is coming to a close with the final race at Homestead. As we cheer for our new Sprint Cup Champion, there is also a bit of sadness for fans as we now must wait out the next three months without any racing action on the track.  But before we get into a lull, let’s discuss your views of the hot news of this past weekend and some other thoughts to ponder going into the off season.

Brian France Homestead press conference
At a press conference in Homestead on Friday, Brian France outlined some potential changes coming to NASCAR after the season ends.  One of the changes includes ending the tandem style racing at Daytona and Talladega super-speedways for 2012. Jeff Burton explained in his UStream to fans, some of the reasons he believes tandem racing is better at these tracks, while some fans and drivers alike hate this style of racing.

Are you sad or glad to see tandem style racing coming to an end for the 2012 season?

France also addressed the ‘secret fine’ to drivers concern by media and fans, saying he doesn’t see any benefit to making these fines public.  He did go on to say they will review their stance on this and other policies in the off-season. Apparently, the ‘secret fine’ is implemented when a driver says anything that denigrates the sport of NASCAR.

What is your stance on NASCAR’s ‘secret fines’ to drivers? Yea? or Nay?

Austin Dillon is the New Camping World Truck Series Champion
At 21 years, 6 months, and 22 days, Austin Dillon becomes the youngest driver to become Champion in NASCAR’s truck series. The close of the race on Friday night was somewhat controversial as mother nature delivered a dose of rain to end the competition with fifteen laps remaining. Johnny Sauter, won the race, while Austin Dillon finished in tenth place, and won the Championship. NASCAR officials said with rain delays throughout the day, it was best for fans to call the race, rather than run the track dryers for two hours to finish the remaining laps of the race.

Was this the best decision for fans, to call the race avoiding the two hour delay? Yea? or Nay?

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. thoughts about Dillon driving the #3
Richard Childress plans to bring the #3 Chevy into the Nationwide series in 2012 for his grandson, Austin Dillon, with the potential to one day race the famed number in the Sprint Cup Series, as well. Dale Jr’s comments over the weekend indicate, he has ‘no problem‘ with the Childress’ decision. Earnhardt said, “if the next evolution was to follow Dillon into the Sprint cup Series, he would support the idea.” He went on to say, “It doesn’t really belong to any individual. Austin’s ran that number and you can’t really deny him the opportunity to continue to run it. It just wouldn’t be fair.”

What are your thoughts about Austin Dillon bringing a new history to the famed #3 car?  Yea? or Nay?

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wins the Nationwide Championship
What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, the new Rookie of the Year was wondering if he would be able to retain his job at Roush Fenway Racing. One year later, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is in Victory Lane celebrating his first Nationwide championship. With the help and support of his family and faith of his owner, Jack Roush, Stenhouse addressed his exposed weaknesses and returned this season with a new attitude bringing him straight to Victory Lane at Homestead. 

Will fans see Ricky Stenhouse Jr. competing for another championship in the 2012 season?

Why Jeff Gordon is running out of time for a 5th title/Stephen 
Jeff Gordon has had a great year this season with three wins and some in dominating fashion. Going back to the battle he and five-time champion Jimmie Johnson had earlier in the season, it was amazing! At that point, it seemed Jeff would be a major threat for this year’s championship, but it was not meant to be for 2011. Gordon, who is now 40 years old still shows he’s got fuel left in his tank, but can his body endure what it is typically required to win the top honor in the Sprint Cup series today? Plus his performance has not been doing so well with winning not more than one race per year until this season. So that in itself has me worried for Jeff.

So is Jeff Gordon’s drive for five still alive or fading with his age?

Fan4Racing: Actually, fans saw a new fire in Gordon’s belly this year, that hasn’t been seen for a while. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gordon contending for the Championship in 2012. Although Jeff has four non-chase Championships, he has expressed his desire to win another Sprint Cup trophy, as he sees the chase format as a much more competitive trophy to win. Tony Stewart’s drive and determination will serve as an inspiration to many drivers and especially those veteran drivers seeking to win a Sprint Cup chase championship.

Notables for the Chase season – Kasey Kahne and Jeff Burton
Closing out the year with momentum is important for every team. Kasey Kahne has a win at Phoenix to his credit with a total five top-5 finishes in the Chase and one, sixth place finish. Kasey’s Chase performance is far from being a lame duck team with Red Bull Racing, who’s future is in question. Without sponsorship for the 2012 season, this team has performed well in the chase. Kahne will be racing next season with Hendrick Motorsports.  After going without a top-10 finish in a less than stellar regular season, Jeff Burton  has two top-5 and two top-10 finishes in his final five races of the season. This team made a Crew Chief change in July of the regular season with Todd Berrier leaving RCR and Luke Lambert taking on the interim position. The change produced results in improved performance, giving the team much needed momentum going into the 2012 season. 

How well will these drivers perform next season, with momentum coming off this Chase season?  Kasey Kahne?  Jeff Burton?

And the 2011 Sprint Cup Champion is…Tony Stewart
Fans were treated to what will be remembered as one of the best races of the year, and perhaps of the past two decades!  The championship came down to a tie in points between contenders Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart. The tie-breaker being Stewart’s five wins in the Chase. Carl Edwards was a tough competitor throughout the season and performed with consistency. Tony Stewart struggled during the regular season, to the point of saying he “didn’t deserve to be a contender in the Chase.” The turn around for Stewart happened during the chase by winning half of the ten chase races. Wins were the determining factor for this 2011 Championship. 

What are your thoughts about the final Chase Race in Homestead?  

Darian Grubb Championship Crew Chief says, his future is unknown
During championship celebrations for the Office Depot team, Darian Grubb shared with members of the media, he was told this would be his last race as crew chief for Tony Stewart.  A bit shocking when you consider his five wins in the past ten races, leading his team to winning the 2011 championship.  Grubb did say, he’s not sure if the championship will have an impact on the decision to move him away from the crew chief responsibilities. And he’s not sure if there are other plans for him within the Stewart Haas Racing organization. More on this will be announced by Stewart Haas Racing in the coming weeks.

Will Darian Grubb keep his Crew Chief job, another position within Stewart Haas Racing, or be looking elsewhere for the 2012 season?

Fans will want to keep checking this blog throughout the week as our contributing bloggers continue to add their views.  But for now…it’s your turn to share your views of this weeks’ news…

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