Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Blaney Gets Warned Twice at Watkins Glen

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Aug. 10, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXXXV
What to Watch: Wednesday

- With the penalty report already released, it should be a quiet afternoon.  We do have some news breaking, so keep Frontstretch open in one of your tabs and we'll keep you updated.


Wednesday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Blaney Loses Pit Selection at Bristol due to Watkins Glen Warnings

Earlier this morning, NASCAR released the weekly penalty report from Watkins Glen.  It's relatively lean, but Ryan Blaney earned enough warnings to lose pit selection in Bristol.

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

Today's Featured Commentary
The Dog Days of NASCAR
Professor of Speed
by Mark Howell
The rush of late summer is upon us. Back-to-school sales are everywhere, summer camps and activities are winding down, and there's an ever-so-slight chill in the air. I know folks often refer to this time of year as the "dog days" of summer, but for those of us in education, it's more accurately known as "the beginning of the end". Vacation will step aside and make way for the sometimes mind-numbing consistent routine of classes, assignments, meetings, projects, and deadlines.

And the same might be said for life in NASCAR Nation, too. The month of August means the calm-before-the-storm that is September and the last "regular season" Cup race at Richmond. Come Chicagoland, the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship will be underway for 2016, complete with all of its many twists and turns, its weeks of drama and anxiety.

For many teams, these final few weeks leading up to The Battle of Richmond will be a period of make-or-break events. A rookie driver like Front Row Motorsport's Chris Buescher, despite his foggy mountain victory in the rain at Pocono a couple of weeks ago, needs to stockpile points in order to punch his ticket into the Chase. After last weekend's race at Watkins Glen, Buescher is still just three points behind David Ragan and the top-30 cut-off he needs to reach if he hopes to put the No. 34 Ford in the post-season.

Not to overstate the obvious, but time is running out….

Other drivers who lurk amidst the fringes of the top-16 in points, yet are winless on the year thus far, are hurriedly paddling the same canoe. Kyle Larson and Trevor Bayne currently sit 15th and 16th in points respectively, separated by only eight after Bayne's top-ten performance at the Glen.

The folks at Roush Fenway Racing have to be feeling good about the direction of Bayne's 2016 Cup effort, but good feelings will only go so far if the 2011 Daytona 500 wunderkind cannot seal the deal and either snag a win with four races to go, or drive his way into Chase through consistency near the front of the field.

And what about Kyle "This-is-his-week-to-finally-get-a-win" Larson? Let's just say that these next four events will be his month to finally get a win. Another 29th-place finish like we saw from the No. 42 Chevrolet last weekend at Watkins Glen, and suddenly making the Chase in 2016 becomes looking ahead to the potential for 2017.

From where I sit, it appears as though neither Larson nor Bayne can rest on their laurels. Trevor might currently be 16th in Sprint Cup points, but Kasey Kahne – according to my calculations – is only three points away from making the Chase. Rookie Ryan Blaney, not to be overlooked, is presently 18th in the point standings, a mere ten markers shy of Bayne and the post-season cut-off line. Granted, Blaney had a less-than-remarkable weekend in Upstate New York, finishing 19th, but Dave's boy has shown greatness at times behind the wheel of a revitalized Wood Brother's Ford.

If Ryan and friends are going to show their respective greatness, it needs to be now, as in the next four races leading up to Richmond. The upcoming (and much deserved) weekend off before heading to Bristol will provide time to rest, reenergize, and reflect on what lies ahead.

That said:  it's probably not the time to think about what comes after Richmond. The "dog days" of summer are all about taking advantage of what little free time remains. It's also a time to gear up for what looms on the horizon. Once we get to Bristol in two weeks, it'll be time to hunker down and set a course for Chicagoland.

You don't want to start the fall without having a seat at the front of the class….

Dr. Mark Howell is a Senior Writer for Frontstretch.  He can be reached via e-mail at
Editor's Note: Numbers Game will run Thursday.

as told to Zach Catanzareti

by Joseph Wolkin

by Matt Stallknecht and Aaron Bearden

by Amy Henderson

compiled by Aaron Bearden


Q: 1994 was the first year for Honda in CART.  Rahal Hogan Racing was the launch customer for the powerplant and struggled through the season.  What was the most distinctive part of the Honda engine that first year?

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

Tuesday's Answer:

Q:  While the track is quite twisty, Mid-Ohio is known for some spectacular wrecks.  Michael Andretti had one during the 1998 Miller Lite 200.  What happened?

A: Andretti was attempting to make a move on Patrick Carpentier (who interestingly enough, we have an interview with on the website today) when the two drivers approached the slower P.J. Jones in the Toyota-powered Eagle chassis.  Andretti tried to split the two cars and clipped Jones.  Andretti spun, bounded over the track at the end of the backstretch and rolled over in the sand trap.  The crash can be seen here.

Andretti got out of the car and walked away, uninjured, but quite dusty.  Naturally, he was out on the spot.  So was Jones, who ended up in the trap after the contact.  Mark Blundell was forced into the trap as well, but resumed.

In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have any news that breaks in the world of NASCAR, plus a look at some more broadcasts in the Critic's Annex.

Toni Montgomery returns with her weekly look at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Nitro Shots.
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