Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Brett Moffitt Returns to the Driver's Seat

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Jul. 6, 2016
Volume X, Edition CX
What to Watch: Wednesday

- Today, the race weekend begins at Kentucky Speedway (Note: Already? Jeepers).  Camping World Truck Series teams have three practice sessions scheduled at Kentucky Speedway ahead of tomorrow night's Buckle Up in Your Truck 225.  No TV coverage is scheduled, but we will recap the sessions at Frontstretch.

- Today is the day that NASCAR releases the weekly Penalty Report.  If anyone gets the hammer dropped on them, we'll report on it at Frontstretch.


Wednesday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Brett Moffitt Substituting for Matt Tifft in Kentucky Truck Race

Red Horse Racing announced Tuesday that Brett Moffitt, the 2015 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year will drive the No. 11 in place of Matt Tifft in Thursday night's Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway.  It is Moffitt's first race of any kind since Homestead last November.  Read more

Coke Zero 400 Scores Race's Highest TV Rating Since 2011

Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 earned a 3.4 overnight rating, a 26 percent increase over last year, in which the race started roughly 45 minutes later than this year's race ended.  It is the highest rated Coke Zero 400 since 2011.  Read more

Entry List: Alsco 300

The entry list has been released for Friday's night XFINITY Series race at Kentucky Speedway.  As of right now, 39 cars are entered.  However, one that is not listed, Obaika Racing's No. 97, is planning on making the trip with T.J. Bell as the driver.  Read more

Have news for The Frontstretch? Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at with a promising lead or tip.
Editor's Note: As he noted in last week's edition of Professor of Speed, Mark Howell is off this week.  In his place, we have Clayton Caldwell with a commentary of his own.

Today's Featured Commentary
Trouble Brewing for NASCAR's Most Popular Driver
by Clayton Caldwell
It was a year ago that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was on top of the restrictor plate world, as he has been many times. Fresh off his second win in a row on superspeedways, it looked as if Earnhardt had found his niche once again on tracks that he had commanded earlier in his Cup Series career.

I say "again" because from 2003-2005 Earnhardt was the most successful driver on plate tracks. He won a record four consecutive times at Talladega, six points races and nine altogether at these giant speedways. After a lull from 2006-2013, the tides turned again when Earnhardt won the 2014 Daytona 500, a second career victory in the sport's Super Bowl. By the 2015 season, Earnhardt Jr.'s dominance in the draft had returned. With help from a Steve Letarte-built car named "Amelia" he won two of the four plate races and finished second and third in the other two.

With "Amelia" still in their arsenal, many thought 2016 would produce more of the same for the No. 88 team. However, that hasn't happened. Earnhardt Jr. crashed in the first two points races, totaling the car at Talladega in April. That produced a brand new chassis at Hendrick Motorsports, designed specifically for Earnhardt as the team approached last weekend's race at Daytona. The driver remained a favorite to contend for victory.

Instead? It was a night all of Junior Nation would like to forget. The car was so ill-handling that it was difficult to maneuver within the big pack. Earnhardt constantly felt like it was going to wreck; quickly, a prediction of a promising weekend turned into a disastrous reality. Earnhardt Jr.'s radio chatter indicated the 41-year-old was very displeased with the handling of his racecar (see: swearing, multiple times) and frustration had begun to set in for the team. Someone else's mess, the "Big One" gave them further misery and the end result was a struggle simply to end the race within the lead draft.

Earnhardt Jr.'s disappointing 21st-place finish, his third outside the top 20 at plate races has placed him 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings; he's now just 28 points ahead of the Chase cutoff. It's made the final nine races of the season a lot harder for the team. When most are preparing for the Chase, Earnhardt Jr. and company now have to race hard just to get in. A crash or a DNF, the type of cushion his rivals have with victories in hand could turn out to be a dealbreaker in comparison for Earnhardt.

Daytona, looking back was a microcosm of a disappointing 2016 season. Qualifying for the race on Friday ended with Earnhardt starting 16th; by comparison, he started within the top 5 for all four plate races last season.   Earnhardt Jr.'s average starting position is down significantly overall, dropping to 16.5 from 13.8. His average finishing position is down as well, falling a full four spots from 11.7 to 15.7 through 17 races.

While Earnhardt Jr. has sprinkled in some fantastic finishes in 2016 - he's got a series-best four runner-up efforts - recently, the team has struggled to perform. In the driver's last nine starts, he has just one top-10 finish and is faced with tracks up ahead like Loudon and Indianapolis that are some of his weakest.

At the age of 41 (42 in October), Earnhardt's time to win a championship in the Cup Series is running short. Publicly, the son of a legend has commented he doesn't envision himself running as long as his father, who was 49 years old and planning to run into his 50s before tragedy struck. The next contract with Hendrick Motorsports (Earnhardt's current deal runs out after 2017) could be his last on the Cup level.

That could mean drastic changes are coming soon to the No. 88 team if the situation doesn't improve. After the team's performance at Daytona, I'm not sure there would be much objection.

Clayton Caldwell is a Contributor for Frontstretch.  He can be reached via e-mail at

by Tom Bowles

compiled by Aaron Bearden
by Dustin Albino

by Amy Henderson

as told to Beth Lunkenheimer


Q: In 1997, Mike Wallace brought an unusual package to Louisville Motor Speedway and used it to earn a top-10 finish.  What was it?

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

Tuesday's Answer:

Q:  Louisville Motor Speedway was a 7/16ths of a mile (.437-mile) oval shaped like a gumdrop.  What was used as pit road there?

A: Inside of the 7/16ths of a mile oval was another measuring .354 of a mile that predated the 7/16ths of a mile oval.  That was used as pit road with teams set up on both sides of the shorter oval's backstretch.  This shorter track actually hosted two races in the late 1980's for what is now the XFINITY Series.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have any news that breaks in the world of NASCAR, plus a look at Friday's Subway Firecracker 250 in the Critic's Annex.

Toni Montgomery returns with her weekly look at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Nitro Shots.
Talk back to the Frontstretch Newsletter!
Got something to say about an article you've seen in the newsletter? It's as easy as replying directly to this message or sending an email to We'll take the best comments and publish them here!

Feel free to forward this newsletter if you have any friends who loves
NASCAR and great NASCAR commentary. They can subscribe to the Frontstetch by visiting
If you want to stop your Frontstretch Newsletter subscription, we're sorry
to see you go. Just send an email to from the address that you
recieve the Frontstretch Newsletter.

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "The Frontstretch" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to
For more options, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment