It’s Bristol, Baby

FOX is unwatchable for any sports.  Best way to follow NASCAR online?  View NASCAR Live Leader board while streaming radio from Performance Racing Network (PRN) at

…or Motor Racing Network.  They alternate free streaming broadcasts

Top 5 starting @ Bristol:

Carl Edwards #19, Matt Kenseth #20, Joey Logano #22, Denny Hamlin #11 & Kyle Busch #5– all but Logano are with JGR Toyota.  Martin Truex Jr. #78 (Toyota & working with JGR) starts 8th.

JGR clearly have the fastest cars, their problem is there’s precious little room for drivers to maneuver & pass with 40 cars on this short (half-mile) track.  Bristol really tests a driver’s patience.


Denny Hamlin ends Danica Patrick's practice run at Bristol

Photo above: More #11 Denny Hamlin messing with #10 Danica Patrick, this time during practice. Hamlin already had a fast car, so it didn’t matter that it ended his set-up run too.  Patrick & her #10 SHR team never got anything close to a decent car at Bristol.  Hamlin had one of the fastest cars, but kept running into things and finished 20th.

Danica Patrick @ Bristol 4-17-16

Update 4-20-16: Photo above from NASCAR America site. ‘Scan All’ is their best weekly piece, and most popular with hardcore fans. On the right, Danica Patrick is brilliantly holding off the four fastest cars for 15 laps or so, at the start of the race.  #19 Carl Edwards (the eventual race winner), # 20 Matt Kenseth, #22 Joey Logano & #5 Kyle Busch take turns– and lose the lead trying every time, until Kyle Busch (defending Cup champion) hits the wall with a blown front tire a few seconds later, bringing out a caution flag.  Patrick demonstrates how to hang in a race (for as long as possible), with basically nothing under the hood. The only speed for SHR is in Kevin Harvick’s #4, and Kurt Bush’s #41 car.

BTW:  “NASCAR America” (the 70-minute TV show) seems to have suddenly disappeared from it’s 5 PM ((ET) slot on NBCSN.  It wasn’t on Monday or Tuesday this week.  Wasn’t re-run in the morning either.  Premier League Football instead.

SHR: Kurt Busch & Kevin Harvick

Awhile later on PRN, Miss Sprint Cup take the microphone and encourages NASCAR fans to, “vote for their favorite driver for the All-Star race in Charlotte.” Then adding, “double up your vote on social media– last year, of course, Danica Patrick was top vote getter.”  NASCAR hates that, so it’s quickly back to racing action.

Danica Patrick: Nature's Bakery

Serious discussion on the Performance Racing Network concerning the ‘risk/reward ratio’ of tightening all the lug nuts.   Dale Earnhardt, Jr #88 says it “freaks him out.” [1]   I’d have to agree with him, as it’s pretty stupid to drive on 3 lug nuts/wheel; no one would willingly do it in their own vehicle. This rule was changed by NASCAR this year because pit crews were putting 5 (or only 4) lug nuts on each tire, but not tightening them– and there’s no way for an official to check if they’re tightened correctly.

Good Idea: 5 Tightened Lug Nuts per Wheel

According to NASCAR America, lug nuts are often glued on– instead of tightened (which is useless), to save time in the pits. Another few seconds on pit road to make sure the drivers’ cars is safe and will handle well, seems like a good strategy for a 3-hour race.  It’s hard to believe this is an issue, but then again this is NASCAR.  [2]


Lap 265: Caution flag; Kyle Busch wrecks. Danica Patrick, Greg Biffle #16 & Landon Cassill #38 stay out on old tires and move up dramatically.  Patrick moves up from running mid-twenties to 4th!  NASCAR announcers proceed to lose their heads, as the broadcast completely changes tone.  When Danica Patrick is in the top 10 (top 5–gasp!!), hysterics ensue among the NASCAR faithful.
Lap 303: Jimmie Johnson #48 loose wheel (lug nuts).
Lap 330:  Danica Patrick falls back to 14th on older tires, then the caution comes out again. Patrick comes out of the pits with fresh tires, and is 16th at the restart.  She picked up 8-10 spots on that decision to stay out on old tires.  Meanwhile, Matt Kenseth & Jimmie Johnson are behind the wall for repairs. The PRN announcer points out that Kenseth has had a fast-enough car to win half the races this year, and has only one top 10 finish to show for it.  He’d finish 36th today– 40 laps down.
Another caution flag– just after the restart.   Idiots!!
Lap 349: 10th caution flag.  While running 30th, Brian Scott slams into the wall.
Lap 427: Running 6th, Martin Truex Jr into the pits with a loose wheel; now running a lap down in 26th.  More loose lug nuts.  Danica Patrick falls to 27th (where she would finish), as NASCAR breathes a collective sigh-of-relief.
Lap 432: Running way back, Aric Almirola #43 wrecks– 12th caution of the day. He insists he can still race, as his car sits jacked up on a barrier. NASCAR finally insists Almirola vacate his vehicle to clear the track, and orders him to visit their trailer after the race.  He later re-enters the race 20 laps down.
Lap 485: 14th caution flag as Kevin Harvick (running top 5) spins Michael Annette #46, who was running 8 laps down.
Lap 491:  Regan Smith #7 (already 41 laps down) hits the wall– 15th caution.

Dale Earnhardt Jr

Wrap-up: Dale Earnhardt Jr started the race with a dead battery, putting him 2 laps down before his first lap.  He finished 2nd.  He says he had “a top-ten car at best” and he’s right.   He’s just a great driver, on a superb team (Hendricks).  All the fastest cars were once again JGR Toyota, with pole sitter Carl Edwards cruising to the win at Bristol.  [3]


Only about 10-12 cars in the field really even had a chance to win.  There were way too many idiots trying stupid stuff on the track, made this a not-very-interesting race to follow. When drivers are more than 5 laps down (on a track like this), they need to be taken out of the race to clear some room for the front-runners.  Otherwise it’s too much useless congestion, making it impossible to race under green for very long.  Fifteen cautions is WAY too many.

If any of this makes any sense to you, then tune in next week when this NASCAR madness continues in Richmond, VA.    [4]

Update 4-20-16:  Plenty of empty seats at Bristol, again this year. This was traditionally one of NASCAR’s best-attended events. Fans now can’t afford to go, and/or are turned-off by what NASCAR has become. Check the comments on this piece.  [5]

Bristol 2013

Update 4-24-16: Richmond International Raceway: tight in, loose off.  ‘Tight in’ means the car is pushed up the track into the turn, and ‘loose off’ means the backend slides up coming off the turn. Tires ‘fall-off’ after 15 laps, necessitating using mostly the outside lane for the rest of the run. This race has traditionally been run at night, but not today.

Typical pit-stop call on MRN Live, “Sunoco fuel, windshield tear-off, pump-and-a-half on the jack, 4 Goodyear tires, 4 lug nuts on, and he’s off!”

JGR (Toyota) dominated again, just look at the laps led in this 400 lap race: Carl Edwards (151), Kyle Busch (78), Matt Kenseth (2), Denny Hamlin (1). Only four other drivers led the race: Kurt Busch (55), Jimmie Johnson (44), Kevin Harvick (63) & Brad Keselowski (6). JGR finished 1st (Carl Edwards) 2nd (Kyle Busch), 6th (Hamlin) & 7th (Kenseth). Four wins in a row for JGR.

Martin Truex, Jr #78 (Furniture Row/JGR) finished 9th, despite more lug nut issues.

Other notables: Jimmie Johnson (3rd), Kasey Kahne (4th), Kevin Harvick (5th), Joey Logano (8th), Kurt Busch (10th), and Dale Earnhardt Jr (13th).

Tony Stewart: Smoke

With 30 laps to go Danica Patrick #10 & Tony Stewart #14 get ‘waved around’ onto the lead lap. They had both fallen off the lead lap within the first 100 laps. Patrick finished 24th, and Smoke 19th in his return to the track. Only 10-12 cars had a chance to win at Richmond. There were 8 caution flags over 49 laps, and it was a safe race as every car finished.  Pretty much the same story every week, and fans are tuning out.  Only 26 cars finished on the led lap, and for much of the race it was <20 cars on the lead lap. What’s the point in have 40 cars on the track if <1/3 even have a chance win?

Update 4-28-16: NASCAR fines Tony Stewart $35K for speaking up on the lug nut issue, and being correct.  NASCAR doesn’t like it when drivers make them look bad, so the fine still stands.  NASCAR America (NBCSN) was back on the air Tuesday evening. This was the statement they issued on their new lug nut policy:

NASCAR lug Nut poilicy revision 4-26-16

I’m actually a big fan of NASCAR America, when Dale Jarret (not Kyle Petty) is their main spokesman.  Kyle has good knowledge of racing, but too often gets caught up in his petty prejudices.  NASCAR America takes fans inside the sport every week, including great features including #MyHomeTrack.  My advice to NACSAR: keep this show on the air a few nights/week, while recognizing that Danica Patrick is a great driver as well as a pioneer in motorsports.

In just about every other sport, women don’t compete against men.  Patrick has inspired millions of young girls with her skills & toughness, something no other driver can claim. In many ways, Danica Patrick is bigger than NASCAR.  It would be nice if she (or anyone else) were allowed to speak their mind once in awhile.  [6]

Next Sunday is Talladega Superspeedway, the fastest & longest (2.66 mile tri-oval) track in NASCAR.  Talladega (along w/ Daytona) is a restrictor plate race.  A restrictor plate is a device installed at the intake of the engine, to limit its power. This lowers the top speed, to level the competition and ensure better driver safety.  FYI: hardcore NASCAR fanatics mostly hate the restrictor plate rule.