Right now is about the time every year when free agency talks in NASCAR start getting interesting. This year is very different. Mainly due to the fact there is a strong lacking of quality rides in the Sprint Cup series. Perhaps the best opening is the 29 car for Richard Childress Racing, which Kevin Harvick will vacate at season’s end.
To be honest, the free agency market isn’t really all that impressive either. The two headliners seem to be Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman. And they may not even be a certainty for that spot! As a matter of fact in 2014 the 29 may not even be the 29, as we could see the return of the 3.
Austin Dillon, grandson of Richard Childress, has made a helluva run up through the NASCAR ranks and has earned his spot. His ascension to the Sprint Cup series is one you’d want to see. He has won Rookie of the Year honors in the K&N Pro East (2008), Camping World Truck Series (2010), and Nationwide Series (2012). He also won the 2011 Camping World Truck Series Championship. Currently he’s leading the Nationwide points, and has become the mark of consistency an owner wants to see out of a young driver.
If Dillon wins the Nationwide title this year, then he deserves consideration for a move up. Another thing going in his favor is Austin has been making Sprint Cup starts. Having made nine thus far, he wouldn’t be starting cold like some rookies have for a first full season. But say RCR leaves Dillon in the Nationwide series one more year. They could leave him to gain more experience. Joey Logano is a prime of example of why you’d do this, a talented young driver being given too much pressure, too fast then faltering.
This leaves us with Busch and Newman. Even that can be narrowed down. Rumors speculate satellite team for RCR, Furniture Row Racing, have a gentlemen’s agreement to try and resign Kurt Busch. This is to be done without inference from the team they current lease engines and chassis from. It only leaves an unstipulated signing of Ryan Newman.
So if I’m sitting at the big desk in RCR who do I sign? I throw myself at Kevin Harvick’s feet and beg him to back out of his SHR deal! But since that’s not an option, I sign Ryan Newman. The biggest reason, the one I haven’t discussed is current sponsors Quicken Loans and possibly Outback Steakhouse could come with Ryan to his new home. And what’s the name of the game? Sponsorship dollars! Ryan potentially has them and that could be the big leg up for him in this race.
While he has the potential sponsor backing this whole ordeal could also leave Ryan to be the big potential loser. Kurt has a team that wants him while also showing promise. Austin’s ascent to the 3 is inevitable. This leaves Ryan to quote a great announcer, “Like a bird flyin’ in the sky when the earth’s on fire! He’s got no place to land!” Perhaps the real move for Newman is following Elliot Sadler and Regan (It rhymes with Vegan) Smith to the Nationwide Series to rejuvenate his career.
Hendrick’s dominance of Pocono continues
The Sprint Cup Series returned to Pocono for the GoBowling.com 400. Pole winner was Jimmie Johnson, who would lead the first 34 laps. Jimmie would lead 43 laps total before hitting the wall and blowing a right front tire. He’d fight back to salvage a 13th place finish. The first caution of the race was when the 17 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the 42 of Juan Pablo Montoya, and the 20 of Matt Kenseth came together and went into the wall.
Johnson’s Hendrick teammate Kasey Kahne would take over as the dominate car leading race high 66 laps. That was until on the eighth of nine caution flags when Jeff Gordon made a magnificent move to gain the lead. When the ninth and final caution flag flew, Kasey proved the dominance of his car to reclaim the lead and take his second win of the season.
The top five of the GoBowling.com 400 were 1st Kasey Khane, 2nd Jeff Gordon, 3rd Kurt Busch, 4th Ryan Newman, and 5th Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The top ten in the Sprint Cup for the Chase points are 1st Jimmie Johnson holding a seventy-seven point lead over 2nd place Clint Bowyer. They are followed by 3rd Carl Edwards, 4th Kevin Harvick, 5th Dale Earnhardt Jr., 6th Kyle Busch, 7th Matt Kenseth, 8th Kasey Kahne, 9th Jeff Gordon, and 10th Greg Biffle. If the chase started today the two drivers in the Wild Card Spots are Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr.
They visit Watkins Glen next week; whose previous race winner is Marcos Ambrose.
Dillon has another Iowa race slip through his fingers
The Nationwide series made its second stop in Iowa for the U.S. Cellular 250. Drew Herring drove the Monster Energy 54 to the pole position leading 27 laps before he relinquished the lead. Regan Smith then led for 59 laps. Our first caution was the pole sitter spinning out.
The race was mostly green except for four cautions accumulating 21 of the 250 laps. Those green flag laps were dominated by Austin Dillon who led race high 116 laps. On the third caution Brad Keselowski and a host of others took only two tires, while Dillon took four and would later question his crew chief’s four tire call that put him so far back. On the restart Keselowski took the lead at lap 215, and checked out on the field to take the checkered flag.
The top five of the U.S. Cellular 250 were 1st Brad Keselowski, 2nd Sam Hornish Jr., 3rd Brian Vickers, 4th Austin Dillon, and 5th Kyle Larson. Austin Dillon extended his points lead to 14 over a 2nd place tie in points between Sam Hornish Jr and Regan Smith tied.
On a somewhat related side note, I hate stand alone races when ESPN has the Sprint Cup and Nationwide coverage. We get stuck with Ricky Craven and Marty Reid. And it….it is just bad.
They visit Watkins Glen next; whose previous race winner is Carl Edwards.
The young guns dominate the old horses’ series.
The Camping World Truck Series visited Pocono for the Pocono Mountains 125. After rain (every freaking year Pocono!) washed out qualifying it gave the pole position to Miguel Paludo. The two dominating drivers were Ryan Blaney and Todd Bodine as Blaney took over the lead at lap 10. Bodine took the lead after the first and only pit stop.
However, a late caution would change things up. On the restart with four to go, Blaney took Bodine, German Quiroga Jr., and Paludo four wide for the lead. After a spin by Bodine, it brought out the first Green-White-Checkered with Quiroga Jr., leading. The caution again flew as Ty Dillon and Johnny Sauter got together bringing out the second G-W-C. Blaney took the lead from Quiroga Jr., on the restart and went onto his second career Camping World Truck Series Win.
The top five of the Pocono 125 were 1st Ryan Blaney, 2nd Miguel Paludo, 3rd German Quiroga Jr., 4th Joey Coulter, and 5th Ross Chastain. Matt Crafton maintained his points lead and is now 52 points over second place Jeb Burton.
The Camping World Truck series is off next weekend.
Kimball dominates Mid-Ohio for first IndyCar win.
The IZOD IndyCar series returned to Mid-Ohio for the Indy 200. Ryan Hunter Raey won the pole for the event and led the first thirty laps before giving to Charlie Kimball. The race from then on was a pure show of dominance by Charlie who led for except at only brief moments to the checkered.
Charlie after missing last year’s race due to injury, and crashing his primary car on Friday, coasted to his first career win in forty-five starts by a margin of 5.53 seconds over second place Simon Pagenaud. This is Team Ganassi’s third straight race weekend victory.
The top five of the IndyCar 200 at Mid-Ohio were 1st Charlie Kimball, 2nd Simon Pagenaud, 3rd Dario Franchitii, 4th Will Power and 5th Ryan Hunter-Reay. Helio Castroneves extends his points lead over Scott Dixon to 31 points.
The IZOD IndyCar series is off the next two weekends.
F-1 had the weekend off along with the next two. Yet, Sebastian Vettel and Team Red Bull somehow still managed to win this and the next two. Figure that one out.
The NHRA Mellow Yellow Drag Racing Series made their way into Seattle for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals. Shawn Langdon won the first qualifier position in Top Fuel. Meanwhile Jack Beckman led the way for Funny Car as Mike Edwards earned first for Pro Stock.
In Top Fuel Shawn Langdon would win the first and second round races, only to lose in the third to Morgan Lucas. Morgan would defeat second place qualifier David Grubnic to win the Top Fuel Series.
In Funny Car Jack Beckman would lose in the first round to Johnny Gray. Gray wouldn’t make it far, as he fell to Courtney Force in round two. Round three would not fare well for Courtney as she lost to Morgan Hagan who met Bob Tasca III in the finals. Hagan would win the final round to claim the Funny Car Series victory.
Mike Edwards claimed the first qualifier in Pro Stock, however would fall the way of Shawn Langdon and Jack Beckman to lose before reaching the finals. He lost in round three to Jeg Coughlin. The winner of the Pro Stock was sixth place qualifier Vincent Nobile, defeating Coughlin.
The Pro Stock Motorcycles did not race this weekend.
Shawn Langdon, Matt Hagan, and Mike Edwards maintain the respective points leads.
The entire NHRA Mellow Yellow Drag Racing Series has next week off.
In random news:
Denny Hamlin called Kyle Petty a “moron.” I agree completely and will explain more next week.
Kurt Busch is coincidently enough looking for a sponsor to run the IZOD-IndyCar race at Auto Club Speedway in October. He’s hoping this materializes into a sponsored ride for the Indy 500 in May of 2014. The goal is the never accomplished double Memorial Day Sweep of Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600.
Do yourself a favor. Go out to the web and find Courtney Force’s photo shoot from ESPN “The Body” Magazine. That’s if you are into hot blondes being tastefully covered by just their hands or tiny objects, but otherwise totally naked. No pressure, but they are totally worth it!
Random Sports/Non Sports Thought:
I could have sworn I said these articles would be shorter…..
Have a question, suggestion or potentially witty comment? Feel free to leave one below! I can also be reached the quickest, easiest and best with twitter @tpierc07. It still has that somewhat new twitter smell. But I’m still so very, very lonely! Please follow me! I also have Facebook (find me yet?) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for those of you who don’t do social media.
So until we meet again just know, I’ll be waiting for you at the next right turn at Watkins Glenn!....Round 2 of 2 for right turns gets underway in New York!