Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Ryan Newman Signs Contract Extension With RCR

Presented by Frontstretch.com
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Oct. 11, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLXXIX


What to Watch: Tuesday

- Today, we should see entry lists for this weekend's action in Kansas released.  Normally, those are given out on Mondays or during the previous weekend, but the screwy schedule in Charlotte delayed their release.

Tuesday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Today's Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Ryan Newman Re-Signs with Richard Childress Racing

Monday, Richard Childress Racing announced they have reached a multi-year contract extension with Ryan Newman. The veteran will continue in the No. 31 for the foreseeable future; plans for Childress' other grandson, Ty Dillon, were not announced.  Dillon was speculated to move to the No. 31 full-time beginning with the 2017 season.  Read more


Today's Featured Commentary
Why Does the Elimination System Work for Stick & Ball Sports but Not NASCAR?
Sitting in the Stands: A Fan's View
by S.D. Grady

Here we are, the Monday morning after the race and we're looking at the fallout of a wildly unpredictable Charlotte weekend.

In the XFINITY Series, there were some last-second shell games attempted by Austin Dillon to squeeze his little brother above the cutoff. I don't blame Austin, as Ty entered into the Chase seeded fourth after a very strong regular season. But with the Sprint Cup wild card drivers screwing with points and wins, having Ty Dillon knocked out of the Chase feels...wrong. There are factors here completely beyond the points chasing competitor's control.

Over in the Sprint Cup garage, the Bank of America 500 practically sounded the death knell for Kevin Harvick's No. 4 as he suffered an electrical failure and withdrew after completing only 155 laps. Considering that Harvick has never been knocked out of the Chase and has had another sterling season in 2016, once again the potential ramifications of the day felt...wrong.  Harvick is looking at a must win situation to guarantee his movement past the next cutoff after Talladega. Just one bad day at the office and his whole year is messed up.

Every year, we face the same uncertainties and misgivings with this playoff system.  While it has certainly generated TV ratings and interest beyond the living rooms of tried and true NASCAR fans, there are still so many aspects of it that leave a bad taste in the racing fan's mouth.

It made me wonder why the playoff system works so well for sports like baseball.  Yes, there is elimination, but the playing field is whittled down to two teams on each tier.  They have up to seven games to sort out who is the best. There's a sense of fair play in existence. Well then, what about football?  The NFL promotes their sudden death playoffs heavily and America just about goes into fits for most of the winter. Its popularity may have something to do with the immediate physicality of the sport, though. On any given Sunday, a single play can take out a quarterback for the rest of the season.  The regular season already has that do-or-die mentality of the postseason hype, so it works.

Why doesn't it sit well in racing?  Because it is a race -- a test of endurance, commitment, technical wizardry and talent. While the checkered flag provides us a snapshot of excellence on race day, it never tells the entire story.  As such, a championship based on knocking out competitors due to bad luck and singular racing incidents lacks a sense of recognition of the year's work.

There is some talk in the upper ranks of creating an award for the team who "wins" the regular season, before the insanity commences.  Isn't that what we left behind when we ripped up the old points system and instituted the current method of trophy roulette?

NASCAR needs ratings. Heck, they obviously need to figure out how to get fans back into the grandstands. The Chase certainly served to satisfy the bean counters, but it has failed to grab the adoration of the competitors and those who pay for race day tickets. Do we do something about that?  Or are we looking into a future where the TV networks hire a studio audience to fill the seats while the stars are paid to act out the day's scripted drama? What a depressing thought.

Well, off to Kansas where the weird and wild are often on the menu. I can't wait to see what'll happen next.


Hurricane Matthew certainly stole the headlines this past week, wreaking havoc along the coast from Florida up to North Carolina. With the storm fast approaching, it was heartening to see Atlanta Motor Speedway open its campgrounds free of charge to evacuees.  The hospitality included access to the campground restroom and shower facilities.

Numbers Game: Bank of America 500
by Tom Bowles

Laps led by Kasey Kahne all season. Kahne, third at Charlotte is currently the "best of the rest" drivers not to make it in this year's Chase.

Laps led by Martin Truex, Jr. after leading 392 laps in May's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.

Jimmie Johnson's point position after his Charlotte victory. It's the first time this year he's led the standings.

Chase drivers finishing 36th or worse Sunday: Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.

Drivers who failed to finish at Charlotte. Only four DNFs were recorded in the first three Chase races.

Finishing position for Danica Patrick at Charlotte, a season best. Patrick has yet to record a top-10 finish this season.

Finishing position for Michael McDowell at Charlotte, a career best.

Laps led by Chase Elliott this season prior to the Chase.

Laps led by Chase Elliott in the first four Chase races.

Laps Jimmie Johnson led this season prior to the Chase.

Laps Jimmie Johnson has led in the first four Chase races.



by Danny Peters

by Matt McLaughlin

by Jeff Wolfe

by Phil Allaway

Q: This weekend, the FIA World Endurance Championship travels to Fuji Speedway.  Fuji Speedway has always been a well-known venue in Japanese racing dating back to the 1960s but has taken a back seat to Suzuka Circuit for most of the last 30 years.  For younger people here in the United States, where would they have seen Fuji Speedway for the first time?

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

Monday's Answer:

Q:  Here's a somewhat random question.  As you may remember, Michael Waltrip walked away from a horrible crash in the 1990 Budweiser 250 at Bristol where Waltrip slid into an improperly latched crossover gate.  The gate opened on contact, can-opening the car but believe it or not, the chassis still exists 26 years later.  Where is it?

A: Today, Michael Waltrip's crashed Kool-Aid Pontiac is located at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala. in a small crashed car corner.  Two cars that went into the catchfence in Talladega (Neil Bonnett's No. 31 from the 1993 DieHard 500 and Ricky Craven's No. 41 from the 1996 Winston Select 500) are nearby.

Credit: Phil Allaway

As you can see in the background, there's a series of photos showing the wreck in motion as well.  The piece barely even looks like a car.  It's not far off the bucket of junk in that NAPA commercial from years ago that is presented to Waltrip so that he could autograph it.

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 Charlotte when our experts from across the web weigh in for The 10.
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