Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Jeffrey Earnhardt Snags Starter Sponsorship, BK Racing Ride

Presented by Frontstretch.com
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Oct. 18, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLXXXIV


What to Watch: Tuesday

- Today is the start of a two-day open test at Homestead-Miami Speedway ahead of Ford Championship Weekend next month.  Furniture Row Racing has already announced they won't be there but a number of other Sprint Cup squads will be turning in laps on the 1.5-mile oval to prepare for the season finale.

Tuesday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Today's Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Jeffrey Earnhardt Joins BK Racing at Talladega and Homestead

Monday, BK Racing announced Jeffrey Earnhardt will drive their No. 83 Toyota at Talladega and Homestead with sponsorship from Starter.  Matt DiBenedetto moves to the No. 93 for those events, locking the rookie Earnhardt into the starting field.  Read more

Entry List: Ryan Reed Attempting Sprint Cup Series Debut in Alabama 500

The entry list for this weekend's Alabama 500 is out at Talladega Superspeedway.  In addition to the aforementioned changes for BK Racing, Ryan Reed is attempting to make his Sprint Cup debut in a fourth Roush Fenway Racing entry.  Front Row Motorsports also has an extra car entered for David Gilliland, the No. 35.  Read more

Entry List: Austin Cindric, Matt Tifft & Parker Kligerman Among Those Entered for fred's 250

In the Camping World Truck Series, 38 trucks are entered for 32 spots in Saturday's fred's 250, meaning that qualifying will be crucial.  Parker Kligerman teased he would be driving for a new team in last week's Frontstretch Podcast.  Turns out that organization is the No. 75 of Henderson Motorsports.  Read more


Today's Featured Commentary
What's Right & What's Wrong in NASCAR Today?
Sitting in the Stands: A Fan's View
by S.D. Grady

Ah, the Monday morning 20/20 couch coaching of your favorite sport.  We love to meet at the proverbial water cooler and rip apart the weekend's competition, clearly dissecting what should have happened on the track and who is to blame for the mishap. Such is the state of the NFL or NASCAR; take your pick.

In Kansas, while Kevin Harvick righted the wrong of his detonating No. 4 in Charlotte last week by taking the checkered flag on Sunday, a few other issues have been announced in and around our sport.  Are things getting on the right track, or are we still veering off course? Let's see....

Monday, Steve O'Donnell, the Executive Vice President of NASCAR mentioned on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the governing body may have an announcement regarding the participation of Cup drivers in the XFINITY and Camping World Truck series later this week. Apparently, NASCAR fans and competitors have been voicing their dissatisfaction with the current weekly tradition of handing the AAA-ball trophy to a Sprint Cup Series regular.  If NASCAR bans the senior competitors from this second-tier garage, it will have only taken several decades for that to happen. However, this decision seems to be something that might go right.

Meanwhile, as Stewart-Haas Racing prepares to leave the sanctified heavens of Chevrolet behind for promised power fueled by Roush Yates engines and Ford, it appears the Hendrick stable might not be too happy about the whole situation. On Friday, Jimmie Johnson grumbled how SHR got all the Hendrick data this year but were not capitulating.  Is that what happened inside the Hendrick garage? Apparently, after the announcement to sever ties earlier this year, SHR stopped sending data to the Hendrick shop. 

Hmm. Teams keeping secrets from one another? Seems to me that is how this sport is supposed to be run.  Once again, we're on the right track with parity hopefully returning between the two Detroit powerhouses.

Over the past week, the 2017 rules package was sent out to teams. The changes include a reduction to the spoiler and splitter, bringing the standard aero package in line with the one run at Michigan and Kentucky earlier this year.  This low-downforce combination reduced grip and gave NASCAR fans a decent amount of excitement as drivers had to work a little harder to keep their cars off the wall and pointed in the right direction. While engineers will work furiously over the winter to replace some of the lost downforce, ultimately more control over the car will be placed in the pilots' hands. That can only be a good thing when we wish to avoid single-file parades.

Finally, Greg Biffle was making some noises like he might be heading toward retirement. Biffle's contract at Roush Fenway Racing expires at the end of this season, and after fighting to finish inside the top 5, he has accomplished that only once this year. The 46-year-old Ford driver has enjoyed a long career, setting records that still stand in the budding Camping World Truck Series from 1998 to 2000. However, he failed to garner the Cup he has always hoped for. 

If Biffle declines to negotiate a new contract, he'll likely vanish into the mists of time. Somehow, after 15 years of showing up for every Cup race, that feels a bit wrong.


Taxi! How many times have you been at the track and paused to consider the mile or more long hike back to the car or camper? Talladega Superspeedway is ready to help with their new TallaTaxi service. For just $5, text or call the service and a checkered golf cart will pick you up and take you where you need to go. While my feet have wished for a lift many times, I do wonder where the extra golf cart traffic will be diverted.

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: Hollywood Casino 400
by Tom Bowles

Laps led by Kyle Busch Sunday at Kansas. It's the first race inside the Chase where Busch hasn't led a lap.

Top-5 finish for Greg Biffle all season in 31 starts. Biffle, rumored to retire after the season was a distant 25th at Kansas, one lap off the pace.

Of Sunday's eight cautions that was caused for debris (lap 27). That's only 12.5 percent of the total.

Wins for Kevin Harvick in the first five Chase races, including Sunday's triumph at Kansas. Harvick has now successfully advanced through every round of the Chase format since the current system came into place in 2014.

Straight top-10 finishes by Jimmie Johnson for the first time all season. Johnson, already guaranteed a spot inside the Chase Round of 8 was fourth Sunday at Kansas.

Average finishing position for Matt Kenseth this Chase. Kenseth, who has yet to win led 116 laps at Kansas Sunday and has led 226 laps overall during the Chase.

Average finishing position for Austin Dillon at Kansas this season. Dillon was sixth on Sunday and now sits tied for the eighth and final Chase spot.

Finishing position for AJ Allmendinger Sunday, the best for the single-car JTG Daugherty Racing team since Watkins Glen.

Lead changes Sunday at Kansas, the most so far this Chase.

Average finishing position for Jamie McMurray during this Chase, the worst of all 16 drivers who qualified.

Finishing position for Brad Keselowski at Kansas, his first DNF and worst performance of the season (coming at the worst possible time). The last time Keselowski ran that badly was a 41st in the 2015 Daytona 500.

Tom Bowles is the Editor-In-Chief of Frontstretch.com. He can be reached at tom.bowles@frontstretch.com and found on Twitter @NASCARBowles.


by Danny Peters

by Matt McLaughlin

by Jeff Wolfe

by Phil Allaway

Q: In 1986, Bobby Hillin, Jr. earned his one and only career Winston Cup victory in the oppressive Talladega 500.  His car (as seen below) from that race can be found in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Credit: Phil Allaway
However, Hillin's run to victory was a bit controversial.  What happened on a late restart to somewhat cloud the performance?

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

Monday's Answer:

Q:  The 1996 DieHard 500 was delayed for hours due to rain (the race ended up being tape-delayed because the race didn't start until after CBS' timeslot ended).  Once it did start, Rick Mast managed to end his chances at contention in an unusual way.  What happened?

A: Early in the race, Mast was running inside the top 15 when contact was made on the backstretch.  Mast spun into the extremely moist grass and slid toward the inside wall.  Normally, this hit would have been a big one that could have ended his day.  Instead, he hit standing water that effectively stopped his car and kept sheet metal damage from the inside wall to a minimum.  The spin can be seen here.

Mast ended up finishing the race 44 laps down, but that was mainly because the Richard Jackson-owned team had to dry out the Hooters Pontiac before Mast could continue.

In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have the latest NASCAR news along with a weekly commentary from our Professor of Speed on the state of the sport.

On Frontstretch.com:
Find out where your favorite driver ranks after Kansas when our experts from across the web weigh in for The 10.
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