Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Decker Sisters Making XFINITY Debut

Presented by Frontstretch.com
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Jun. 24, 2016
Volume X, Edition XCIV

What to Watch: Tuesday

- Goodyear tire testing wraps up today at Kentucky Speedway ahead of next month's Quaker State 400.  So far, the track has been described as slick.  We'll see how the final day goes.  We will have news pieces for you at Frontstretch whenever news breaks today.


Tuesday's TV Schedule can be found here.
Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Decker Sisters to Attempt XFINITY Series Race at Iowa

Obaika Racing announced Monday that Paige and Claire Decker will both attempt to make their XFINITY Series debuts for the team this weekend at Iowa Speedway.  Paige will drive the full-time No. 97 car while Claire will be in the No. 77, which she will have to qualify on speed.  Read more

Have news for The Frontstretch?  Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at phil.allaway@frontstretch.com with a promising lead or tip.

Today's Featured Commentary
7th Place Finish Great For Stewart... But Not Good Enough For NASCAR's Chase
Sitting in the Stands: A Fan's View
by S.D. Grady

It took too long.  Tony Stewart kept his No. 14 Chevrolet within camera shot of the leader for the vast majority of Sunday's FireKeepers Casino 400.  About five years ago, a seventh-place finish would have had the often dour Stewart shrugging off a standard but ultimately mediocre race.  Yesterday, the veteran climbed from his car and declared the afternoon's effort good enough to make him "tickled to death."  Ah, how times have changed.

However, since his return from a severe back injury and resultant surgery in the off-season, NASCAR Nation has been waiting for his retirement tour to take off.  Instead, it has simply sputtered along, much as the No. 14 has been doing for the past three years.

It really wasn't until we reached Pocono that we saw the Mobil-1 team come back to life--back to life, as in jetting around the track like the car had somewhere to be.  Stewart qualified a very healthy sixth at the Tricky Triangle and was running well when he collected Danica Patrick in a lap 92 incident, which basically ended his day.

He arrived at Michigan with a smile on his face and insisted he suffered no ill effects from the previous week's incident.  His strong third-place qualification run had the fans wondering if this might be something of a fluke, but the No. 14 machine remained firmly in that spot for the majority of the race.

We can't say we're disappointed with his finish.  Tony finally had a good day.  However, there is a wistful note to water cooler conversations when discussing the champion's last year on the Sprint Cup Tour.  Wouldn't it be nice if he could go out with his head held high?  Let's have the No. 14 win.  Let's have Tony make the Chase.

Look, not every retiring veteran is going to have a Jeff Gordon kind of final year, where the team that has been entertaining the crowds for twenty years starts up front with the kids every week and makes a serious run for the championship.  It just doesn't happen.  Normally by the time a driver is ready to hang up the steering wheel, it is because they just don't have it happening for them any longer.

Stewart's fire fizzled somewhere around 2012, after a well-documented serious injury and personal challenges outside of NASCAR.  He has continued to remain a respected member of the garage and a supporter of small-track competition throughout the states, but finding the rhythm for the consistency required of a Sprint Cup Chase team has eluded them.

Call it adjustments to the car designs, loss of horsepower, loss of downforce...none of that is mattering to the teams that have a place saved for them in the 2016 Chase.  The lack of performance while citing the annual changes are simply excuses for the teams that don't have the magical equation for a winning car on their pit box.

All in all, the No. 14's performance at Michigan was really nice to see. However, it lacked the conviction of Kyle Busch's shot straight to the top of the standings in 2015.  Stewart may see a win before his final year is over, but we should not expect to see him Chasing the stars come September.

It might be nice, but I don't think it will be real.


The young guns are here!  With the Sprint Cup podium supporting Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson this week at Michigan, the future of the sport is present for everyone to see. The average age of the trio is a mere 23 years.  Yep, we are looking at men younger than most of our children leaving home for the first time. When were we so concerned that we had no one able to take over the reigns of our sport?

S.D. Grady is a Senior Writer for Frontstretch and runs a NASCAR blog called the S-Curves. She can be reached via email at sonya.grady@frontstretch.com. Follow her on Twitter at @laregna and on her Facebook page (she's an author, too!) at https://www.facebook.com/Author.SDGrady.
Numbers Game: FireKeepers Casino 400
by Tom Bowles

Toyotas over the last two races that have finished inside the top 5. Toyotas had won eight of the first 13 races while going 13-for-13 on earning at least one top-5 finish. At Michigan Carl Edwards was the top Toyota performer, coming home sixth.

Sprint Cup victory in five straight seasons for Team Penske's Joey Logano. Logano, Sunday's winner at Michigan has visited Victory Lane 14 times during that stretch. 

Finishing position for rookie Chase Elliott Sunday at Michigan, a career best.

Drivers that have won from the pole this season. Joey Logano was the latest to do so at Michigan, joining Carl Edwards (Bristol) and Martin Truex, Jr. (Charlotte).

Laps led by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the last 11 races. Earnhardt, who crashed out at Michigan has four runner-up finishes this season but remains winless on the year.

Straight finishes of 30th or worse by defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch. Busch, who had an engine failure Sunday has also failed to finish three of the last four Cup races.

Winners in the first 15 Sprint Cup races.

The lowest position of any of those winners in the Sprint Cup standings (Denny Hamlin). Hamlin won the 2016 Daytona 500 but has been the worst-performing Toyota out of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable since.

The highest points position of anyone who has yet to lead a lap this season (Jamie McMurray). Ryan Blaney (16th) would be the only other Chaser with zero laps led if the season ended now.

Caution laps run at Michigan Sunday, the most for the Cup Series since 2003.

Tom Bowles is the Editor-in-Chief of Frontstretch.  He can be reached via e-mail at tbowles81@yahoo.com.

by Aaron Bearden and Matt Stallknecht

by Jeff Wolfe


Q: Traditionally, the Circuit de la Sarthe had a long, 3.4 mile all-out sprint.  However, that sprint was interrupted after 1989 by two chicanes. Why?

Check back Tuesday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Monday's Answer:

Q:  With Sprint Cup off and the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend we figured that we'll bring you some Le Mans trivia.  Back in 2000, Eutechnyx and Infogrames released Test Drive Le Mans for the Sony PlayStation and SEGA Dreamcast.  One of the fictional tracks in the game was called "Maison Blanche."  What is Maison Blanche, and how does it relate to Le Mans?

A: Maison Blanche translates to "White House."  For years, this was the name of a turn on the Circuit de la Sarthe that, like much of the course, was considered extremely dangerous.  Cars would approach at nearly 200 mph and brake for a quick left-hander before charging back toward the pits.  After a series of terrible crashes, Maison Blanche was officially bypassed in 1972 with the construction of the Porsche Curves.  Yes, one of the Porsche Curves was given the name Maison Blanche, but it is not the "original" Maison Blanche.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have more NASCAR news to report.  Meanwhile, Mark Howell returns with the Professor of Speed column.

On Frontstretch.com:
NASCAR experts from around the country weigh in on the best drivers in the series right now as our weekly power rankings feature, The 10 takes center stage.
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