Friday, September 02, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Out for 2016

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Sep. 2, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLII


What to Watch: Friday

- Today will be quiet in Darlington (see below) in terms of on-track.  However, everyone is onsite and ready to go.  Saturday will be a busy day with practice for both Cup and XFINITY teams along with the XFINITY race.


Zach Catanzareti (@ZachRacing)
Amy Henderson (@Writer_Amy)
Yvonne Leonard (@yzwild)
Mike Neff (@MNeffShortTrack)

Also, don't forget to follow our Twitter page, @Frontstretch as well for updates!

This weekend's TV Schedule can be found

Top News
by The Frontstretch Staff

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to Miss Remainder of 2016 Season

On Friday morning, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will miss the remaining 12 races on the Sprint Cup Series schedule as he continues his recovery from a concussion in June at Michigan.  Alex Bowman and Jeff Gordon will continue to share the No. 88.  Read more

Tropical Storm Hermine Cancels First Day of Throwback Weekend at Darlington

NASCAR officially cancelled all on-track activity scheduled for Friday at Darlington Raceway due to Hermine, which made landfall early this morning in Northwest Florida.  The XFINITY Series will have a one-day show on Saturday (practice, then the race), while Sprint Cup will practice Saturday and race Sunday.  Read more

Josh Wise and The Motorsports Group Pick up Darlington Sponsor, Plan Throwback

The Motorsports Group has announced the acquisition of a sponsor, Incredible Bank for both Darlington and Chicagoland.  In addition, the team has decided to run a Dale Earnhardt throwback, recalling the time that Earnhardt raced for Walter Ballard in an ARMY-sponsored Chevrolet back in 1976.  Read more


Frontstretch Folio: Bojangles' Southern 500
by Phil Allaway

This weekend, the Sprint Cup Series returns to the oldest superspeedway on the schedule, Darlington Raceway.  The Bojangles' Southern 500 can be seen starting on NBCSN with NASCAR America Sunday at 5 p.m., followed by Countdown to Green.  Coverage moves to NBC at 6 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to drop around 6:16 p.m.  The race can also be heard on MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

Records and facts

Last year's Bojangles' Southern 500 was dominated by Brad Keselowski.  The Team Penske driver led 196 laps.  However, the race came down to a final round of stops under yellow with a few laps to go.  Carl Edwards was able to beat Keselowski off pit road, then held him up to take the victory.  Keselowski was second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.

All-time, David Pearson has the most wins at the "Track Too Tough to Tame" with 10, the most recent of the wins coming in the CRC Chemicals Rebel 500 in 1980.  Dale Earnhardt has nine wins, including season sweeps in 1987 and 1990.  Jeff Gordon is third with seven career wins.

Among active drivers, Gordon is on top with seven has the most victories.  Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson has three wins, while Greg Biffle has two.

Track Facts
Track / Race Length: 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval, 367 laps (501.322 miles)
Banking: 25 degrees in Turns 1-2, 23 degrees in Turns 3-4

Frontstretch: 1,229 ft., banked 3 degrees

Backstretch: 1,229 ft., banked 3 degrees

Grandstand Seating: 58,000
Pit Road Speed: 45 mph
Pace Car Speed: 50 mph
Opened: 1950




Pre-Race Schedule:

Practice No. 1: Saturday, September 3, 11 a.m. - 12:25 p.m. on CNBC

Happy Hour: Saturday, September 3, 1:30 - 2:50 p.m. on CNBC

Say What?!

"The respect Darlington commands is incredible. Competing there is no easy feat. To qualify well requires a lot of bravery, to win there requires a lot of smarts. It's a tough track -- hence the name it's given -- and she requires a lot of respect. I'm pumped to run the throwback scheme. This is the second year and it's so cool to walk through the garage and see the creativity that all the teams and sponsors have put into the weekend. Every year I see it getting better and better." - Jimmie Johnson

"It's a challenging track. It's probably one of the toughest that we have on our schedule. There are four completely different corners and you're typically entering them at high speed and usually right up against the wall. There is very minimal room for error, which is how you end up with the famous 'Darlington Stripe.' You have to definitely be aggressive and get the most out of it, but you don't want to hit the wall because that's a pretty big setback. It helps to have a good setup to start out with and from there you do your best to keep your bumpers clean so you don't have tire rubs, accidents and things like that. In the Southern 500, there are usually a lot of cautions and a lot of things happen, so there's a lot of opportunity for things to change and for you to try something different. It's definitely our longest race of the year, so you have to be patient and not make mistakes so that you're still in it at the end." - Danica Patrick

"Races at Darlington have been pretty tough for me. We've had some decent runs there, but it just seems like you really have to put everything together the whole day. If you can say you won a race at Darlington, that's a feather in your cap because you conquered something that's very difficult to obtain. That's something to be proud of, knowing that you're in a group of drivers with names like Allison and Pearson and Petty, the pioneers of our sport." - Tony Stewart

"It's my favorite race track we go to. I love Darlington Raceway. It's got so much history behind it. It's completely unique compared to anyplace else we go. It's just an absolute blast. I love racing there. I haven't been there in a Cup car, and I am curious as to how it's going to differ from the XFINITY side. But I think it's going to be a great race and probably the most anticipated track for me since coming to the Cup side.

"We've got a cool throwback paint scheme from Love's Travel Stops. It's the same colors and branding that they used on the fuel canopies of the first travel stop they opened in 1981 in Amarillo, Texas. Now they've got almost 400 locations across the country. We'll try to keep it clean. It's already got stripes on it, so we don't need to add a Darlington stripe." - Chris Buescher

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at


by Michael Finley

Tech Talk: Matt McCall Talks Spring Rates, Pit Selection and Sway Bars
as told to Mike Neff


Q: Darlington Raceway has had more than its share of unusual crashes over the years.  Steve Park being injured because the steering wheel came off in his hands in 2001 is just one example.  Tommy Houston was the victim of a strange crash after the Gatorade 200 Busch Grand National race in 1988.  What happened?

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

Thursday's Answer:
Q: While it is rarely used, NASCAR does have the power to park drivers whenever they feel like and for whatever reason they like.  In practice, it's usually because of intentional crashing or failing to meet the minimum speed.  In the 1991 TranSouth Financial 500, Bill Meacham was parked for a slightly different reason.  What was it?

A: Meacham managed to cause two crashes in the first 35 laps of the race.  First, he got into Alan Kulwicki and spun him into the inside wall.  Note that Meacham was already a lap down at the time of the wreck.

Less than a lap after the restart from that wreck, Meacham got into Harry Gant, sparking a crashing involving Gant, Dale Jarrett and Dave Mader, III.  Afterwards, NASCAR parked Meacham.  The wrecks were not intentionally by any means.  Instead, it appeared that Meacham was having trouble holding his line.  As a result, he was a menace to anyone around him.

In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have recaps of the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races from Darlington, in addition to any other news that breaks.

We'll have a series of post-race commentaries analyzing this weekend's action at Darlington Raceway.
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