Category Archives: NASCAR

NASCAR mid-season grades and Chase predictions.

With only a handful of races until the Chase for the Sprint Cup, we thought we’d give you our thoughts on drivers’ performances so far.

By Cody Broder TRST Senior NASCAR Analyst and Brian8556utube

Follow Cody on Twitter @Cody_TRST and Brian @brian8556utube

Check out Brian on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/brian8556

1 Matt Kenseth

Brian: A+, 1 pole, 1win, 9 top 5’s and 13 top 10’s.

Cody: A+, a worst finish of  22nd, and has completed all but one lap the entire season. That’s big time.

2 Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Brian: A+, 0 poles, 1win, 7 top 5’s and 13 top 10’s.

Cody: A+, Could be even more of a threat now that he has that win under his belt. One of Junior’s bestseasons.

For the first time in a few years NASCAR’s most popular driver, has reason to smile.

3 Greg Biffle

Brian: A, 2 poles, 1win, 8 top 5’s and 10 top 10’s.

Cody: B+, Started offstrong, but looks to be losing some consistency as we move toward the Chase.

4 Jimmie Johnson

Brian: A+, 1 pole, 2wins, 9 top 5’s and 13 top 10’s

Cody: A+, The 48 team looks to be back in championship form after last season’s defeat.

5 Denny Hamlin

Brian: A, 1 pole, 2wins, 8 top 5’s and 9 top 10’s.

Cody: B+, A very streaky season for Hamlin. Has done well to position himself for the Chase.

6 Kevin Harvick

Brian: B+, 0 poles, 0wins, 3 top 5’s and 8 top 10’s.

Cody: B, For whatever reason, I feel like Harvick is just lurking, ready to rail off a few wins at some point. Very quiet to this point though.

7 Tony Stewart

Brian: A+, 0 poles, 3wins, 8 top 5’s and 9 top 10’s.

Cody: A, Stewart is more of a second half driver. It leaves me to wonder whether roles have reversed this year or he will continue his winning ways throughout the second half. Could be scary for the competition if that’s the case.

8 Martin Truex Jr.

Brian: B, 1 pole, 0wins, 4 top 5’s and 9 top 10’s.

Cody: B-, Hasn’t been able to make the most of his chances. Could have a win or two by now. Good season for Truex, but has to take advantage of opportunities if he wants to winthe grand prize.

9 Clint Bowyer

Brian: A-, 0 poles, 1win, 3 top 5’s and 9 top 10’s.

Cody: A, Considering it’s his first year with this team, very impressive. If he can find that swagger and consistency he had before his win, he could be a threat.

10 Brad Keselowski

Brian: A, 0 poles, 3wins, 5 top 5’s and 8 top 10’s.

Cody: A-, Has finished 8th or worse 13 times this season. Needs to run better more consistently. I expected more from him this season, but he could flourish in the second half.

11 Carl Edwards

Brian: C+, 1 spot aheadof Wild Card, 1 pole, 0 wins, 2 top 5’s and 9 top 10’s.

Cody: C, At least he’sin position to possibly still make the Chase… but wow. Who would have thought Edwards would only have two top 5’s? If he wins a race, that could get things moving.

12 Kasey Kahne

Brian: A-, Has 1st WildCard Spot, 2 poles, 2 wins, 5 top 5’s and 10 top 10’s.

Cody: A, Has had fastcars all season, but overdrove them early, shown by his 4 finishes of 29th orworse in the first 6 races. Now that he’s comfortable with the organization, huge threat moving forward.

13 Kyle Busch

Brian: B, Has 2nd WildCard Spot, 1 pole, 1 win, 5 top 5’s and 8 top 10’s.

Cody: B, Not a great season for Kyle, but his phenomenal driving in the races he has not had issues has saved him a wildcard spot to this point.

14 Ryan Newman

Brian: B-, 1 spotoutside of Wild Card, 0 poles, 1 win, 3 top 5’s and 5 top 10’s.

Cody: B, In a contract year, Newman has done alright. I think this is about what everyone expected out of him. He’s a serviceable driver. I don’t think a championship driver though.

15 Paul Menard

Cody: B, A very quiet season for Menard, but he has stayed out of trouble for the most part. Better than what I was expecting from him. 13 finishes from the 10-20 range, with 4 top 10’s sprinkled in.

16 Joey Logano

Brian: C, 3 spotsoutside of Wild Card, 1 pole, 1 win, 2 top 5’s and 7 top 10’s.

Cody: B, For being a third-car in a team other than Hendrick Motorsports, a 16th position is very good. Significantly improved from last year, Logano is showing consistency, while continuing to showcase his talent in the Nationwide series.

After a disappointing start to his career, Joey Logano has had a breakout season in 2012.

17 Jeff Gordon

Cody: D-, In second year with crew chief Alan Gustafson, Gordon was expected to be a title contender.Has had top 10 cars every week, just not the finishes to back them up, and that’s what is required. A lost season for Gordon.

24  AJ Allmendinger

Cody: D, With the latest scandal, Allmendinger puts a damper on an already-dreadful season. The disappointment can be seen by looking at stats. 3 top 10’s. Considering this car was in victory lane multiple times last year, that’s embarrassing.

25 Kurt Busch

Cody: B+, Highest in points of all lower-tier teams, and missed a race due to suspension. Also note that this is a team that had one (1) top 15 finish all of last season. Well done Kurt Busch.

Brian’s prediction for Sprint Cup Chase:

1. Tony Stewart

2. Jimmie Johnson

3. Denny Hamlin

4. Brad Keselowski

5. Clint Bowyer

6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

7. Matt Kenseth

8. Kasey Kahne

9. Greg Biffle

10. Kyle Busch

11. Kevin Harvick

12. Martin Truex Jr.

Yes, I think Tony Stewart will edge Jimmie Johnson for back-to-back Sprint Cup Titles and to keep Jimmie Johnson away from his 7th Sprint Cup Title.

Brian believes that Tony Stewart will repeat as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.

Cody’s prediction:

1. Kasey Kahne

2. Jimmie Johnson

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr

4. Matt Kenseth

5. Tony Stewart

6. Denny Hamlin

7. Clint Bowyer

8. Kyle Busch

9. Brad Keselowski

10. Kevin Harvick

11. Greg Biffle

12. Martin Truex Jr.

How’s that for a bold prediction:  A Hendrick showdown. 3 drivers battle for another championship for Mr. H. The longtime combination of Kenny Francis and Kasey Kahne pays off in their first year at HMS, as they become more lethal as the season progresses, overcoming the gap left by being a wildcard entering the Chase, and starting the new reign of Kasey Kahne.

If Cody’s prediction is correct, Kasey Kahne may be having a much bigger celebration at the end of this season

Tony Stewart takes the win in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, AJ Allmendinger suspended

By Cody Broder-TRST Senior NASCAR Analyst  Twitter:@Cody_TRST

Cody talks about the eventful day at Daytona and Allmendinger’s suspension.

Coke Zero 400 at Daytona preview

Cody talks about Kurt Busch’s win in the Nationwide race and previews tomorrow’s race. His pick: Carl Edwards
Cody’s twitter: @Cody_TRST

Clint Bowyer wins NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Sonoma: Lap-By-Lap Recap

By Cody Broder Senior NASCAR Analyst for The Real Sports Talk Network- @Cody_TRST on Twitter

By Brian8556utube TRST NASCAR Reporter- @brian8556utube on Twitter

Pre-race:

1: Marcos Ambrose of the 9 car

2: Jeff Gordon of the 24 car

3: Jimmie Johnson of the 48 car

4: Greg Biffle of the 16 car

5: Martin Truex Jr. of the 56 car

6: Clint Bowyer of the 15 car

7: Kyle Busch of the 18 car

8: Kurt Busch of the 51 car

9: Matt Kenseth of the 17 car

10: Ryan Newman of the 39 car

11: Carl Edwards of the 99 car

12: Juan Montoya of the 42 car

13: Brad Keselowski of the 2 car

14: Joey Logano of the 20 car

15: Kasey Kahne of the 5 car

16: Denny Hamlin of the 11 car

17: AJ Allmendinger of the 22 car

18: Bobby Labonte of the 47 car

19: Dale Earnhardt Jr. of the 88 car

20: Casey Mears of the 13 car

21: Brian Vickers of the 55 car

22: Scott Speed of the 195 car

23: Paul Menard of the 27 car

24: Tony Stewart of the 14 car

25: Jamie McMurray of the 1 car

26: Kevin Harvick of the 29 car

27: David Gilliland of the 38 car

28: Boris Said of the 32 car

29: David Regan of the 34 car

30: Aric Almirola of the 43 car

31: Regan Smith of the 78 car

32: Dave Blaney of the 36 car

33: David Meyhew of the 98 car

34: Robby Gordon of the 7 car

35: Jeff Burton of the 31 car

36: Joe Nemechek of the 87 car

37: Chris Cook of the 119 car

38: JJ Veley of the 249 car

39: Travis Kvapil of the 93 car

40: Josh Wise of the 26 car

41: Tomy Drissi of the 10 car

42: Landon Cassill of the 83 car

43: Stephen Leicht of the 33 car

Laps led:

1: Clint Bowyer: 71 laps

2: Martin Truex Jr.: 15 laps

3: Jeff Gordon: 13 laps

4: Marcos Ambrose: 11 laps

5: Kurt Busch: 2 laps

6: 38 drivers: 0 laps

Final results:

1: Clint Bowyer

2: Tony Stewart

3: Kurt Busch

4: Brian Vickers

5: Jimmie Johnson

6: Jeff Gordon

7: Greg Biffle

8: Marcos Ambrose

9: A.J. Allmendinger

10: Joey Logano

11: Jeff Burton

12: Brad Keselowski

13: Matt Kenseth

14: Kasey Kahne

15: Casey Mears

16: Kevin Harvick

17: Kyle Busch

18: Ryan Newman

19: Jamie McMurray

20: Paul Menard

21: Carl Edwards

22: Martin Truex Jr.

23: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

24: Bobby Labonte

25: Scott Speed

26: David Gilliland

27: David Regan

28: Aric Almirola

29: Boris Said

30: Josh Wise

31: Landon Cassill

32: Regan Smith

33: J.J. Veley

34: Juan Montoya

35: Denny Hamlin

36: Travis Kvapil

37: Dave Blaney

38: Tomy Drissi (crash)

39: Robby Gordon

40: David Mayhew

41: Stephen Leicht

42: Chris Cook

43: Joe Nemechek

Top 5 Biggest Movers:

1: Jeff Burton: 24

2: Tony Stewart: 22

3: Brian Vickers: 17

4: Landon Cassill: 11

5: Kevin Harvick: 10

Lap by Lap:

Start of the Race: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IIADniXVCQ

Lap 1: Travis Kvapil has one of tires blown out while Marcos Ambrose keeps the lead

Lap 2: Kurt Busch extending his lead for 8th on Matt Kenseth, Marcos Ambrose keeps the lead

Lap 3: Juan Montoya catching up to Matt Kenseth for 9th, Marcos Ambrose keeps the lead

Lap 4: Kurt Busch hitting walls, Matt Kenseth catching back up for 8th, Marcos Ambrose keeps the lead

Lap 5: Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets passed by Casey Mears for 22nd, Marcos Ambrose keeps the lead

Lap 6: Tony Stewart’s car bouncing up and down, Marcos Ambrose

*Commercials, including Clint Bowyer 5 Hour Energy Commercial*

Lap 9: Ryan Truex Jr. passes Greg Biffle for 5th, Marcos Ambrose extending lead on Jeff Gordon

Lap 10: Kyle Busch passes Greg Biffle for 6th, Marcos Ambrose keeps the lead

Lap 11: Kurt Busch passes Greg Biffle for 7th, Marcos Ambrose keeps the lead

Lap 12: Matt Kenseth passes Greg Biffle for 8th, Marcos Ambrose gets flat tire but stays out, Jeff Gordon takes lead from Marcos Ambrose

Lap 13: Clint Bowyer catching up to Jimmie Johnson for 3rd, Jeff Gordon keeps the lead

*Commercials, including Road Runner/Coyote Geico commercial*

Lap 16: Clint Bowyer and Ryan Truex Jr. pass Marcos Ambrose for 3rd and 4th, Jeff Gordon keeps the lead

Lap 17: Jeff Gordon extends lead on Jimmie Johnson, Jimmie Johnson extends lead on Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon keeps the lead

Lap 18: Kurt Busch passes Marcos Ambrose for 6th, Jeff Gordon keeps the lead

*Commercials, plus NASCAR Unites commercial*

Lap 21: Back from commercials, shows Clint Bowyer has passed Jimmie Johnson for 2nd, Jeff Gordon still has the lead.

Lap 22: Kasey Kahne extends lead on Greg Biffle for 13th, Jeff Gordon keeps the lead

Lap 23: Kurt Busch passes Martin Truex Jr. due to Truex going to the pits, Jeff Gordon keeps the lead

Lap 24: Martin Truex Jr. gets out of pits in 14.3 seconds (4 tires and fuel), Truex now at 25th, Jeff Gordon keeps the lead

Lap 25: Clint Bowyer takes the lead from Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer extends the lead on Jeff Gordon

Lap 26: Replay of Clint Bowyer taking the lead, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

*Commercials, The Great Escape (New TV Show on TNT) Commercial with NASCAR clips*

Lap 28: Back from commercials, shows Jimmie Johnson has passed Jeff Gordon for 2nd, Clint Bowyer extends and keeps the lead

Lap 29: Kurt Busch passes Jeff Gordon for 3rd, Greg Biffle extends lead on Carl Edwards for 14th, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 30: Carl Edwards goes to the pits, Kyle Busch gets closer to Jeff Gordon for 4th, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 31: Kyle Busch passes Jeff Gordon for 4th, extends lead on Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards get penalized for entering the pits too fast, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

*Commercials*

Lap 34: Back from commercials, Juan Montoya, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and more go to the pits, Kurt Busch takes the lead.

Lap 35: Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and more go to the pits, Brian Vickers gets penalty for entire pit road too fast, Martin Truex Jr. takes the lead.

Lap 36: Martin Truex Jr. keeps the lead.

*Commercials*

Lap 38: Back from the commercial, it shows Martin Truex Jr. still has the lead.

Lap 39: Martin Truex Jr. extends his lead for 1st on Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. keeps the lead.

Lap 40: Kurt Busch takes 6th from AJ Allmendinger, Martin Truex Jr. keeps the lead

Lap 41: Martin Truex Jr. keeps the lead.

Lap 42: Martin Truex Jr. keeps the lead

*Commercials*

Lap 44: Back from the commercial, it shows Martin Truex Jr. still has the lead

Lap 45: Kurt Busch catching up to his brother, Kyle Busch, for 3rd, Martin Truex Jr. keeps the lead

Lap 46: Jeff Gordon catching up to Kurt Busch for 4th, Martin Truex Jr. keeps the lead

Lap 47: Kasey Kahne catching up to Mat Kenseth for 9th, Martin Truex Jr. keeps the lead

*Commercials*

Lap 50: Back from commercials, Clint Bowyer has the lead due to Martin Truex Jr. pitting in lap 48, AJ Allmendinger pits, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 51: Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 52: TNT goes into Inside Trax for Martin Truex Jr. for entire lap, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 53: Clint Bowyer extends the lead for 1st on Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

*Commercials*

Lap 56: Back from commercials, Clint Bowyer still has the lead, has a 4 and a half second lead on 2nd place Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 57: Kyle Busch catching up to Jeff Gordon at 4th, Juan Montoya catching up to Kasey Kahne at 6th, Martin Truex Jr. catching up to Matt Kenseth at 9th, Clint Bower keeps the lead

Lap 58: Kevin Harvick catching up to Marcos Ambrose at 11th, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

*Commercials*

Lap 61: Back from commercials, Clint Bowyer still has the lead, Jamie McMurray catches up to Greg Biffle at 17th, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 62: Greg Biffle pulling away from Jamie McMurray at 17th, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 63: Greg Biffle passes Juan Montoya for 16th due to Montoya pitting (4 tires and fuel), Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 64: Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

*Commercials*

Lap 67: Back from commercials, Clint Bowyer still has the lead, Jeff Gordon catches up to Jimmie Johnson for 3rd, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 68: Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

*Commercials*

Lap 70: Back from commercials, Clint Bowyer still has the lead

Lap 71: TNT Inside Trax and showing Matt Kenseth pit for the entire lap, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 72: AJ Allmendinger, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and more pit, Martin Truex Jr. takes the lead

Lap 73: Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray and more pit, Martin Truex Jr. keeps the lead

Lap 74: Martin Truex Jr. and more pit, Clint Bowyer takes the lead

Lap 75: Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

*Commercials*

Lap 77: Back from the commercials, Clint Bowyer still has the lead

Lap 78: Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

*Commercials*

Lap 81: Back from the commercials, Clint Bowyer still has the lead, Kurt Busch is catching up to Clint Bowyer, caution comes out as Tomy Drissi’s (NASCAR debut) 10 car is seen after crashing into a wall (1st caution), the front of the car is pushed towards the car, showing it was a very hard hit (crash: )

*Commercials*

Lap 83: Back from the commercials, Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch are in the front row during the caution, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose, AJ Allmendinger, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and more pit, Clint Bowyer still has the lead

*Commercials*

Lap 86: Restart #1, Clint Bowyer takes a quick lead on Kurt Busch, Bowyer and Ku.Busch escapes from the rest of the pack (Jimmie Johnson at 3rd, etc.), Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 87: Clint Bowyer takes a 1 second lead on Kurt Busch and then Ku.Busch quickly put it back to half a second, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 88: Jamie McMurray gets spun out, no caution out, Replay shows there should’ve been a caution (1st should-be caution), Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 89: Clint Bowyer pulls away from Kurt Busch at 1st, Kurt Busch pulls away from Jimmie Johnson at 2nd, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 90: Another replay of Jamie McMurray’s spin out, then shows Clint Bowyer pulling away from Kurt Busch again, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 91: Brad Keselowski pulls away from Casey Mears at 16th, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

*Commercials*

Lap 93: Back from commercials, Clint Bowyer still pulling away from Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch nearly crashed by Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 94: Denny Hamlin gets spun out, no caution (2nd should-be caution), Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 95: Kurt Busch now catching back up to Clint Bowyer, being only 8/10ths of a second behind Bowyer, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 96: AJ Allmendinger catches up to Jeff Gordon at 10th, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 97: Kurt Busch catches back up to Clint Bowyer but Bowyer extends his lead on Kurt Busch again, at this point, it’s back and forth, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 98: At this point, it’s only between Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer, Bowyer takes another half a second lead but Ku.Busch shortens it to 2/10ths of a second, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 99: Clint Bowyer still taking it up to a half a second lead but then Ku.Busch shortens it back to 3/10ths of a second and then back to a big lead for Bowyer, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 100: (10 TO GO): Clint Bowyer makes the lead back up to 4/10ths of a second and keeps it that way for the rest of the lap, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 101: (9 TO GO): Kurt Busch shorts the lead to 2/10ths of a second and then Ku.Busch makes it 1/1000th of a second lead for Bowyer but then Bowyer makes it back to 4/10ths of a second lead, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 102: (8 TO GO): Clint Bowyer then takes a 7/10ths of a second lead and Ku.Busch doesnt shorten it until the end of the lap, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 103: (7 TO GO): Then finally they show Tony Stewart pass Jimmie Johnson for 3rd and take a huge lead on Jimmie Johnson for 3rd, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 104: (6 TO GO): Then they show Clint Bowyer again and it shows Bowyer with a 1 and a half second lead, Kurt Busch not really even close anymore, Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

Lap 105: (5 TO GO): Bowyer then extends his lead to 2 seconds, it then becomes clear that Bowyer has less than a 1% chance of losing this race

Lap 106: (4 TO GO): Then TNT shows Martin Truex Jr. takes a huge lead on Jeff Gordon but then CAUTION: Paul Menard and Kyle Busch crash, Menard keeps his car put, Clint Bowyer still has the lead (Conspiracy Theory: Kyle did it to help his brother, Kurt, beat Bowyer) This crash forced a Green/White/Checked (Caution, then restart, then white to show the last lap and then checker for the finish)

*Final commercials of the race*

CAUTION: Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers are the top 5, No one pitted

GREEN (RESTART): Clint Bowyer takes the lead on Kurt Busch, Bowyer then takes a 1 second lead but then Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on the TV and there is a big bump in the side of his car, no caution given (3rd should-be caution), Clint Bowyer keeps the lead

WHITE (LAST LAP): Clint Bowyer has a 1 second lead on Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. gets spun out but no caution called (4th should-be caution) and Clint Bowyer already had the race in hand

CHECKERED (END OF THE RACE): Bowyer then takes a giant lead and suddenly, Tony Stewart passes Kurt Busch but it isnt enough! CLINT BOWYER OF THE 15 CAR, SPONSORED BY 5-HOUR ENERGY, WINS AT SONOMA RACEWAY IN SONOMA, CALIFORNIA!

TRST

Image via NASCAR.com

Do Road Course Ringers Still Have a Place in NASCAR?

By Cody Broder TRST Senior NASCAR Analyst Twitter: @Cody_TRST

The competition in NASCAR’s top series is at a higher level than ever before. Sure, there may have been drivers that could match up against today’s Sprint Cup Series drivers. But let’s say a Richard Petty was in the sport today. He definitely would not have won 200 races.

With Wisconsin’s Road America and California’s Sonoma (also known as Infineon) chalked up on the schedule this weekend, road course ringers will add another piece to the complex puzzle that is road course racing.

In the Nationwide Series, road course ringers stand a chance to win the races because the level of competition is lower than that in the Cup Series. Ringers have advantages over Nationwide Series regulars because road course racing is all they do for the most part. They know how to feel out the car, breaking points, and where passing points on the track are. Also, ringers do not need to points race, allowing them to be as aggressive as they want to be.

They may be going for the win, but ringers also suffer from overconfidence some of the time. Viewers have seen wrecked cars multiple times off the bumper of Jacques Villeneuve in the 2011 Nationwide Series races at both Road America and Montreal. They have also seen Boris said take out David Ragan and David Reutimann in the nasty wreck at Watkins Glen.

Ringers need to think of other drivers, especially the ones that are racing for the points title, but in the mind of a racer, the goal is always to finish in front of as many opponents as possible. This applies more toward the wreck involving Said because he was running around the back of the pack when it happened. In the case of Villeneuve, he was going for the win.

Robby Gordon is the last driver classified today as a “road course specialist” to have won in the cup series. At the time he swept both Sonoma and Watkins Glen in 2003, he was racing full time at RCR. This brings me to my next point about the large difference between ringers in the different series.

Ringers are able to be more competitive in the Nationwide Series than the Cup Series because they have better quality rides. In the top series, owners cannot afford to substitute a ringer into their car because it would put a huge damper on that driver’s points performance on the season. The rides the ringers get, normally start-and-park cars and ones that run toward the back of the pack, are not to the standard of the top teams in the sport.

In the Nationwide Series, it is different. Some of the top series’ top cars, such as Penske’s No. 22 and JGR’s No. 18 and 20, are not manned by the same drivers every week on ovals. Therefore, the owners can afford to stick a ringer in the driver’s seat because they are only going for owner’s points in the series. In that case, only the car number matters, not the person who is driving it.

With better equipment available, combined with less driver skill and less experience, we generally see ringers be more competitive on the road courses in the Nationwide Series. Compared with Gordon, who was not even a ringer at the time he won, the last time a ringer won in the highest-tier developmental series was Said at Montreal in 2010.

As we can see in the first practice session’s speeds, Villeneuve, Nelson Piquet Jr., Max Papis, Michael McDowell and Ron Fellows, all with road course racing backgrounds, were the top 5 drivers. Each of those drivers does not regularly race in the series.

Conversely, in the first Cup qualifying session, the first ringer we see on the chart who has not competed full-time in recent years is Said in 32nd position.
The Real Sports Talk
Road course races used to be something some teams just threw by the wayside. Now that the sport’s competition level is higher than ever, every team is forced to put their all in and dedicate themselves to get better at these race tracks, putting even more of a damper on the ringers’ chances of victory. The familiarity of the car is more important than the feel of the course some of the ringers, who must make the transition to lightweight sports cars to bulky, heavy, over-powered stock car, may have.

Ringers may be a solution for underfunded teams to bring home a decent finish with the car in one piece, but young, inexperienced drivers are not going to get any better at road course racing unless they get the experience.

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