Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: U.S. Marine to Attempt Truck Debut at Martinsville

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Oct. 5, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLXXV

What to Watch: Wednesday

- Today is penalty day in NASCAR.  Look for the typical assortment of warnings to be assessed but nothing serious.  Unlike the last couple of weeks, no notable infractions were found during post-race inspection in Dover.


Wednesday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

U.S. Marine Josh White to Attempt Truck Series Debut at Martinsville

Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing announced Tuesday that ARCA racer and U.S. Marine Josh White will attempt to make his Camping World Truck Series debut at Martinsville.  White will drive Cobb's No. 10 that has been a start-and-park entry for much of the summer.  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
Exceeding Expectations
Professor of Speed
by Mark Howell
Just as expectations stay the same, they also tend to change. As we begin Round 2 of this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, anticipated storylines continue to develop alongside narratives that once lingered off our collective radar.

Here's the biggest one I see so far: What's with Martin Truex, Jr. and the folks at Furniture Row Racing?

It's not that we expected Truex, crew chief Cole Pearn and company to wither and fade away. The race team has been consistently fast, aggressive, and consistent since the Daytona 500. Erase a few midseason run-ins with bad luck and FRR's current four-win total might be more like six or seven. Despite a few hiccups along the schedule, it's no surprise we're seeing the No. 78 Toyota sitting in Victory Lane as much as we are right now.

It's that "right now" comment that has NASCAR Nation sitting up and paying full attention.

Much ink and even more bytes of data have been spilled regarding Truex, Jr.'s career renaissance. At the ripe-old age of 36(!) the New Jersey native has become the 21st Century's version of Harry Gant. While youth so often gets all the attention, it's experience that tends to turn effort into excellence.

The numbers surrounding Truex, Jr. and his FRR 
team are nothing short of astounding. For the 29 Cup races run thus far, the No. 78 Toyota has finished almost one-quarter of those events inside the top 5. Truex, Jr. has finished more than half of those 29 races within the top 10. Of the total laps the team has completed, the veteran has led nearly twenty percent of them. FRR has scored three Sprint Cup wins in the last five events run; now, the team heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the next race in the Chase.

Do you remember what Truex, Jr., Pearn, and company did the last time they raced at Charlotte? They led 392 of the 400 laps that made up the Coca-Cola 600. Memorial Day weekend in North Carolina was pretty similar to what we saw during Labor Day weekend in South Carolina…. another great win for this single-car program.

Truex, Jr. may not have dominated the race at Darlington quite so much, but he still hoisted the big trophy at the end of the night. And that's all that counts in today's "win-and-in" edition of NASCAR.

So do we expect Truex to dominate the postseason and win nearly every week? Are we gearing up for a Chase run like the one we saw from Tony Stewart back in 2011, the year Smoke cranked up the aggression meter to score five victories en route to his third (and final) Sprint Cup championship? It's not like older drivers are incapable of scoring big, late-season wins. Harken back to 1991 and you'll recall that "Handsome" Harry Gant notched five of them at the ripe old age of 51. That total included four in a row beginning with the Southern 500 at Darlington in September.

One of Gant's end-of-the-year wins in 1991 came at Dover, too, just like Truex, Jr.'s most recent success (Gant's win was far more dominant than Truex's; he won by a lap and 19 additional seconds). That year, Gant also won the fall race at Martinsville (I'm not predicting; I'm just reporting).

It's odd that we're considering Martin Truex, Jr. "old" at the age of 36. Maybe his success stems from more than the experience provided by Father Time – maybe it's been fueled by more than a decade with NASCAR teams running at various levels of staffing, sponsorship, and overall ability? The woes of Michael Waltrip Racing and the "Spingate" debacle at Richmond several years ago come to mind. This veteran seems to have rebounded nicely after that mess.

And now, here we are, paying close attention to a 36-year-old NASCAR racer from New Jersey who drives for a team based in Denver, Colorado. As we watch the rest of the Chase for the 2016 Sprint Cup Championship unfold, we should remember that expectations are fickle things. What we see is not always what we get.

Sometimes, we get even more….

Dr. Mark Howell is a Senior Writer for Frontstretch.  He can be reached via e-mail at
Numbers Game: Citizen Soldier 400
by Tom Bowles

Incidents during the first three rounds of the Chase have involved more than one car. So far, we have 14 total cautions in the first three races of the Chase, an average of 4.7 and roughly one-third of them have been for debris.

Track where Martin Truex, Jr. has won twice in his Sprint Cup career; Dover made the list after his victory Sunday. The track also served as Truex's first ever Sprint Cup victory back in the spring of 2007.

Driver left in the Chase who isn't running a chassis built by Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing or Team Penske (the top teams for Chevrolet, Toyota, and Ford, respectively). Austin Dillon remains in the field, still winless this season piloting a car whose chassis is built by Richard Childress Racing.

Chase driver who recorded a DNF in the first round of the Chase. Jamie McMurray blew an engine at Dover and finished dead last (40th). Overall, during the first three Chase races there have been a total of four cars who failed to finish, three of them with mechanical problems. 

Times in three races Jimmie Johnson and his crew have suffered a penalty on pit road during the Chase. Both of those times, he was leading the event.
Chicagoland - pit road speeding
Dover - too many men over the wall

Straight races in which Johnson has failed to win a Cup race at Dover. That's the longest drought for him since failing to win there between the fall of 2005 and the spring of 2009.

Average start for Denny Hamlin so far this season, easily a career best and a number that leads the Cup Series. Hamlin, seventh at Dover ran ninth in Sunday's race.

Average finish for rookie Chase Elliott competing in his first ever Chase for the championship. That easily beat the other three first timers competing (Dillon, Kyle Larson, and Chris Buescher).

Average finish for Buescher this season for Front Row Motorsports. For comparison's sake, David Ragan had a 26.9 average finish for the season the last year FRM's No. 34 car won a race (2013). 

Laps of green-flag racing to finish the event at Dover Sunday. That was the longest stretch we've seen at the track since Mark Martin won a race there that had just one caution in the fall of 1997. That race went over 300 laps caution free and finished with just four cars on the lead lap.

The number of cars to finish on the lead lap Sunday. That's the fewest in the era of NASCAR's "free pass," freezing the field under caution and letting at least one car get a lap back every yellow flag (adopted in 2003).  

Laps led by Truex so far during this Chase. Jimmie Johnson is second in that category with 208; no one else is even close.

Tom Bowles is the Editor-in-Chief of Frontstretch.  He can be reached via e-mail at

compiled by Aaron Bearden

by Dustin Albino

by Phil Allaway


Q: If you look at the results of the 1989 All Pro Auto Parts 500 on Racing-Reference, you'll see David Pearson's name show in the DNQ/Withdrawn box with DC next to his name.  What happened there?

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

Tuesday's Answer:

Q:  In 2003, Tony Stewart won the UAW-GM Quality 500 at then-Lowe's Motor Speedway.  However, viewers watching the race didn't get to see a Victory Lane interview.  Why?

A: Quite simply, the race ran up against the 11 o'clock news on the East Coast.  NASCAR had contacted Stewart on the one-way radio and made him aware of that.  They basically told him that if he wanted to be interviewed on TV, he'd need to go straight to Victory Lane.  Stewart wouldn't let NASCAR rain on his parade, so NBC was forced to wrap their coverage without a Victory Lane interview.  Allen Bestwick was forced to deliver viewers a very awkward sorry on-air because of it.

In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have any news that breaks in the world of NASCAR, plus a look at the XFINITY and Camping World Truck series broadcasts from Dover and Las Vegas 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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