Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: The Mexico Series Returns

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Oct. 19, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLXXXV

What to Watch: Wednesday

- Today is penalty day in NASCAR.  Look for the typical assortment of warnings to be assessed but nothing serious.  Meanwhile, testing in Homestead wraps up.


Wednesday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Mexico Series to Return in 2017 with Peak as Title Sponsor

Tuesday, NASCAR announced in Mexico City that the Mexico Series will return in 2017 after taking a sabbatical this season.  It will now be known as the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series as the sport looks to continue its diversification beyond the continental United States.  Read more

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
Change Can Do You Good
Professor of Speed
by Mark Howell
Such is the timing of my life. Now that the racing season is drawing to a close, I'm off to Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Sure, it'll be nice to see all the fall foliage and the burst of colors that surround the Finger Lakes at this time of year, but it'd be a lot nicer to enjoy the colors of race cars at speed as they navigate the legendary road course.

I'm scheduled to give a lecture as part of the 2016 Jean S. Argetsinger Symposium on International Motor Racing History on Nov. 12 at the Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen. The symposium is a collaborative effort between the Society of Automotive Historians and the International Motor Racing Research Center, which is a division of the SAH solely devoted to the study and preservation of motorsports culture.

Long story short:  I'm going to talk about automobile racing in front of an audience of motorsports experts.

And I'm beginning to feel a bit nervous….

Giving a lecture in front of an audience doesn't bo
ther me. As a college professor and author, that's pretty much how I earn my bread-and-butter. What has me concerned is the topic of my speech.

I'm speaking about NASCAR's struggle to improve its television ratings and overall event attendance. In case you haven't noticed, both of these numbers have dropped dramatically since Dale Earnhardt's fatal accident at Daytona back in 2001. No amount of design changes, competition adjustments, nor championship formats have been able to fully upright the USS Brian France.

Not that NASCAR, as an organization, hasn't been trying to grow the sport. As you might guess, I'll be talking about such positives as this season's low-downforce rules package and new Goodyear tires that fade from grip to glass in only a handful of laps. I'll also mention the sanctioning body's ongoing embrace of emerging social media platforms and the youthful (new?) audience such mediums tend to attract. Tweeting with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Snapchatting with Landon Cassill is a novel way for fans to stay connected with NASCAR.

But it still isn't enough.

Maybe the problem stems from the notion that just when things in-and-around NASCAR Nation seem to be settling into a growth phase, the sanctioning body (or Brian France) go ahead and introduce some kind of change.

The recently-leaked Sprint Cup rules package for 2017 serves as a prime example, along the forthcoming possibility that Cup drivers will be deemed ineligible to compete in XFINITY or Camping World Truck series events. There's even tire restrictions for next year being discussed, ones which require teams to start races on the set of rubber with which they qualified.

And did I mention that we're going to see a new Cup Series sponsor that will, most likely, bring less cash to the sport? Similar to terrorists, we know a new title sponsor is out there and about to sign a deal, but we don't know who they are nor when they'll pick up their pen.

Through all that, NASCAR's television ratings continue to slump, with race attendance hovering at the lowest numbers we've seen in the past two decades.  We can't say for sure on the latter point; the sanctioning body stopped releasing attendance statistics several years ago. We can only go by the amount of empty seats we see each week.

Is change the problem?

But then I'm speaking at Watkins Glen, the home of a challenging race track that consistently sells out its annual NASCAR events. While other facilities like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Daytona remove grandstands The Glen is currently building new ones for 2017. The desire to see stock cars beat-and-bang around a road course appears stronger than ever.

So here's yet another change NASCAR should consider:  adding more road courses to the This-Space-For-Rent Cup schedule. Swapping out an intermediate track for a road course like Watkins Glen just might be an addition that boosts both TV ratings and event attendance. 

After all, as we've been seeing, NASCAR is all about change….

Dr. Mark Howell is a Senior Writer for Frontstretch.  He can be reached via e-mail at


by Amy Henderson

compiled by Aaron Bearden


Q: Dale Earnhardt won the 1983 Talladega 500 for his first of what turned out to be ten career victories at the Alabama speed palace.  But what happened immediately after the race?

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

Tuesday's Answer:

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?

A: On lap 160, Hillin was running second to Harry Gant on a restart.  Phil Parsons was alongside in the No. 66 Skoal Oldsmobile.  Hillin wanted past Parsons and decided to push Gant to accomplish that goal.  However, he miscalculated his bumping and ended up turning Gant in front of the whole field.  Parsons, Geoff Bodine, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip and Buddy Baker were caught up in the wreck.  The crash can be seen here.

Gant, Waltrip, Yarborough and Bodine were all out on the spot.  Baker dropped out shortly afterwards while Parsons was able to finish 13th, one lap down.  Davey Allison, driving in place of the injured Neil Bonnett, slipped past as the wreck was breaking out to take the lead.

In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have any news that breaks in the world of NASCAR, plus we'll take a look at FOX Sports' new Facebook Live show, Off Track.

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