Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Who's Attempting Kentucky?

Presented by Frontstretch.com
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Jul. 5, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXIV
What to Watch: Tuesday

- Teams are arriving back at the shops today in the Charlotte area for the swap-out of cars for Kentucky.  If anything of note breaks, we'll have it for you at Frontstretch.


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

Entry List: Quaker State 400

On Monday, the entry list was revealed for Saturday night's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.  40 cars are entered, meaning that no one will fail to qualify.  Read more

Entry List: Buckle Up in Your Truck 225

For Thursday night's Camping World Truck Series race at Kentucky Speedway, only 30 trucks are currently entered.  For now, it's a short field.  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
Officially Confused Over NASCAR's XFINITY Ending At Daytona
Sitting in the Stands: A Fan's View
by S.D. Grady

Aric Almirola finally managed to add a win to his XFINITY Series stats without an asterisk after nine long years. However, the victory did not come without some controversy.  Who is NASCAR Nation mad at this week?  Usually after a superspeedway race, we're throwing darts at drivers, the track itself and the sport's officiating.  This time around, there's only one bad guy on the list: NASCAR.

It is expected that on the final lap of the race at Daytona, especially one ending in overtime there's going to be shenanigans in the pack.  It is a guarantee somebody is going to get out of shape and start the chain reaction that will shuffle the final results while the field wrecks at 180 mph.  Friday night did not disappoint in this aspect.  The carnage on the backstretch while Almirola and Justin Allgaier raced to the checkers was commensurate with most "Big Ones" at the storied track.

It is what happened between the wreck and the finish line that got our goat.  This may be one of those damned if you do/damned if you don't moments, but it really belonged in the no-brainer column.  David Ragan spun his No. 18 into the outer wall, resulting in about a half-dozen cars doing the pinball routine across the track with one actually managing to strike the inside wall. With the field running full speed ahead toward the finish line, it appeared that we had a bona fide caution on our hands at that moment. 

Apparently not.

Race control held off a full nineteen seconds before dropping the yellow flag, permitting the remainder of the field to wade through shredded fenders, smoke, and spinning cars while competing for position.  Due to the extended pause between the detonation of the pack and the officials' call, who was actually in first place became something of a mystery.

From every camera angle presented to the viewing public, it was not clear at all that Almirola was in front of Allgaier.  If you stopped the playback a second before or after the selected "moment of caution," the leader changed.

Unlike Sprint Cup, the XFINITY Series does not rely on transponders and scoring loops to determine the final position of cars during a caution that freezes the field at the finish. They do it old school, using video and timing marks to figure things out. If there are official camera angles, that has yet to be disclosed to the public; officials have a mess on their hands. In the meantime, we are entertained with something akin to a shell game while waiting for the official results.

What is perhaps the most galling about the last lap is the fact NASCAR is holding to the line that they dropped the yellow flag in the best interests of the competitors' safety.  What? With multiple cars pinging off one another and the wall, what psychic powers were employed in race control that declared the drivers in the moving junkyard were just fine?

Then, NASCAR Vice President David Higdon issued a statement declaring it was "pretty clear" who was ahead at the time of caution. Clear to whom?

So, let's get this right.  Throwing the yellow instantly when a car spins midpack on lap 50, but doesn't hit anything, is standard operating procedure... in the best interests of driver safety. If the same wreck happens on the final lap, we just let everyone pile into the dense smoke cloud and pray for the best... in the best interest of competition.

It doesn't seem possible to put a logical spin on this one. Combined with the fuzzy declaration of the race winner, it makes me wonder if that asterisk should remain in Almirola's win column.

It is just another consistent day in the offices at Daytona. What else should we expect?


Matt Tifft did not compete in the XFINITY race on Friday night as he was scheduled to undergo brain surgery Saturday to remove a tumor. It is a testament to his surgical team that he was sitting up and watching the Coke Zero 400 after the procedure.  His Twitter updates are positive, if a little graphic. I wish him a speedy recovery!

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: Coke Zero 400
by Tom Bowles

Wins in 14 previous Sprint Cup starts for Brad Keselowski at Daytona. Before Saturday night's dominating victory, the best the 32-year-old had finished was third in the 2014 Daytona 500.

Lap led for pole sitter Greg Biffle who finished eighth. It was only the seventh lap led for Biffle this season and the second race (Dover).

Of five cautions at Daytona (40%) that were "competition yellows" or thrown for debris.

Victories this season for Brad Keselowski through 17 races. That's tied for the Cup Series lead with Kyle Busch.

Roush Fenway Racing cars that finished inside the top 10 Saturday night: Trevor Bayne (third), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (fifth) and Biffle (eighth). It's the first time all three RFR entries have done that since August 2014, when Carl Edwards was part of the team. For Bayne, third place was his best on the Cup level since winning the 2011 Daytona 500.

Hendrick Motorsports entries that failed to finish inside the top 10 at Daytona. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. posted the best effort of the quartet in 21st.

Average finish of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. through four restrictor plate races at Daytona and Talladega last season.

Average finish of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. through three restrictor plate races at Daytona and Talladega this season.

Cautions in Saturday night's race, the fewest we've seen for this event since 2004.

Straight top-15 finishes for Kyle Larson (sixth at Daytona). That's the longest streak for the Cup driver since he rookie season of 2014.

Finishing position of Michael McDowell at Daytona, the best for his Circle Sport Leavine Family Racing team all season.

Finishing position of Cole Whitt at Daytona, both a season and career best in the Cup Series.

Average finish of David Gilliland in two starts this season. Gilliland, who DNQ'd at Daytona has run 17th and 19th, respectively in the other plate races for Front Row Motorsports.

Finishing position of Michael Annett at Daytona, easily his best of the season (he had zero top-25 results entering the weekend.)

Laps completed by Kurt Busch this season, the most of any driver. Busch is the only one this season to complete every lap of every race through 17 events.

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


by Danny Peters

The Underdog House: Tracking NASCAR's Small Teams From Daytona to Kentucky
by Amy Henderson


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?

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

Monday's Answer:

Q:  Louisville Motor Speedway hosted five races for the now-Camping World Truck Series prior to the opening of Kentucky Speedway.  One of them, the 1996 Ford Credit 200 was marred by a red flag late in the race.  Why was it put out?

A: Randy Renfrow spun on his own in turn 1 and backed hard into the wall.  A couple of seconds later, Joe Gaita spun out as well and smashed into the front end of Renfrow's 1995 Ford F-150.  A fire broke out at the rear of the truck.  The crash can be seen here.

Both drivers were eliminated in the crash.  Renfrow also appeared to hurt his ankle getting out of the truck.
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 future stars of the Sprint Cup Series in The 10.
Talk back to the Frontstretch Newsletter!
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