Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Post-Race NASCAR Traffic Must Be Addressed

Presented by Frontstretch.com
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Nov. 1, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXCIV
What to Watch: Tuesday

- Today is a work day for the teams ahead of Texas.  If anything of note breaks, we'll have it for you at Frontstretch.
Tuesday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Today's Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Entry List: AAA Texas 500 Puts Alex Bowman Back In No. 88

The entry list for Sunday's AAA Texas 500 is out.  41 cars are entered for 40 spots; one of the five "open" teams will fail to qualify at 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway.  The biggest change sees Alex Bowman back in the No. 88 for the remainder of the season, replacing Jeff Gordon while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finishes healing up from his concussion-related symptoms.  There are a few adjustments among the smaller teams, too.  Joey Gase is back in the No. 32 in place of Jeffrey Earnhardt and Ryan Ellis is back in the ScienceLogic No. 93 for BK Racing.  Read more

Entry List: Tifft Headlines XFINITY Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge

The XFINITY Series entry list for Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge sees 40 teams entered at the moment at TMS.  There's no Kyle Busch this weekend although one Cup Chaser will participate; Kevin Harvick is driving the No. 88 for JR Motorsports.  In Busch's spot, Matt Tifft will drive the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.  Read more

Entry List: Camping World Truck Series Longhorn 350 Features Austin Dillon

The Camping World Truck Series has 35 trucks currently entered in Friday night's Striping Technology 350 at Texas Motor Speedway.  In that group is Austin Dillon, returning to the series to drive the No. 71 Chevrolet for Contreras Motorsports.  Read more


Today's Featured Commentary
The Post-Race Panic: Something That Needs Attention
Sitting in the Stands: A Fan's View
by S.D. Grady

Driving your car into a crowd of people seems completely unbelievable, doesn't it? Especially when the police department quickly determined that the driver was not under the influence of alcohol.  It simply stymies the imagination.

Well, the unthinkable happened at Martinsville Sunday evening about an hour after the end of the race. It looks like a person trying to depart from the parking lot situated behind turns 1 and 2 got so frustrated, perturbed they couldn't get by a Jeep sitting in traffic that they decided plowing their car through a crowd of fans waiting for autographs by the helicopter pad was the only way out. Nine people were sent to the hospital while 13 were treated at the scene for minor scrapes, cuts, and bruises. 

How could this happen?

Let's look at the stress that you and I undergo while attending a Sprint Cup event at any track on the circuit. If we're driving in for the race, we get up early and load up the car with backpacks, beverages and a bunch of family and friends. By 9 a.m. at the latest, we've hit the highway.  By 11 a.m., we are either happily munching away on BBQ and nachos or sitting in an endless traffic jam while the radio talks about the giant crowds descending on our target event. If we made it to the track, it's all gravy.  Still, there's two hours or more to while away buying T-shirts, junk food and whacking a mole at a promotional tent.

If we're in the traffic jam, our blood pressure is already simmering.  There's plenty of time.  It'll be fine.

Once we find a parking space, there is the lengthy hike to the gates where a massive mob is waiting for their coolers to be checked by the local cheerleading squad.  We smile and take it.  There's still time.

Inside, we decide to get that hot dog or signature burger that is part of our racing Sunday tradition.  It's OK that the line for the kettle corn or a giant frozen drink in a coconut is a mile long; we have committed ourselves to waiting it out.  By now, it's about 1 p.m. and we've spent six hours struggling to achieve a hard seat thirty rows up a gleaming aluminum grandstand.

Then, there's the race.  It could be a barn burner, but usually we have four hours of studying the trajectory of 40 cars attempting the same corner a couple hundred times. That is 10 hours committed to hopefully a day of revelry.  

But now it is time to go -- reverse the process.

We're not Superman.  There is not a bottomless well of energy and smiles within our stalwart NASCAR hearts.  We now face 30 minutes of shuffle-stepping to our cars, rubbing elbows with 80,000 other fans equally eager to reach their vehicle. Right! We made it! Insert the key in the ignition, turn it over and...wait.

There's no doubt the person responsible for the incident on Sunday had enough waiting. They had reached the boiling point and tipped into that dark place most of us avoid.  Actually, I find it surprising we don't see more of these incidents at the track.  I don't know how many times I have physically been moved out of the way by a golf cart, tram, track worker or fan's car while trying to escape after the race.  While some tracks have pedestrian walkways and bridges, it's never quite enough to keep the motorized cavalcade separate from the infantry.

Many locations hold vehicular traffic for an hour or two to help ease the conflict between man and machine. However, it does little to reduce the amount of frustration we can encounter on a long, hot day.

The clash between driver and pedestrian at Martinsville was a result of a century of racing tradition mingling with our lightspeed daily lives. As fans, we understand that part of the price for watching our heroes up close and live is having to wait for everything on that special day.  It's the job of the venue to manage traffic flow to reduce those roadblocks in a way that keeps us smiling, even after 12 long hours.

We're still waiting to hear all the details regarding this specific accident.  However, it did put a spotlight on a situation that NASCAR faces every week, one they must continue to strive to help avoid in the future.


A single Cup driver entered the Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday afternoon.  Chase Elliott, naught but a rookie in the Cup series, was the only one who threatened to steal a win from a Chaser in the Trucks this week.  How refreshing!  This race gave us a taste of what NASCAR hopes to achieve next year with the reduction of Cup driver eligibility in the lower series.  Imagine, drivers actually being able to win a race in their own division...it's about bloody time!

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: Goody's Fast Relief 500
by Tom Bowles

Career wins for Brad Keselowski at Martinsville. Keselowski, who failed to lead a lap Sunday finished a career high second at the half-mile paperclip.

Championship 4 appearance for Jimmie Johnson in three attempts; he earned it after winning at Martinsville Sunday.

Of seven Chase races this season where there were ten or fewer cars on the lead lap.

Joe Gibbs Racing cars currently positioned to advance to the Championship 4: Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Matt Kenseth. That's despite none of the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas winning a race so far during the Chase.

Straight finishes of 22nd or better for Michael McDowell and the Leavine Family Racing/Circle Sport No. 95. McDowell, who was 18th at Martinsville hasn't run that well in Cup since debuting in the series back in 2008.

Cautions Sunday at Martinsville. That's the fewest for any Cup race at the track since the spring of 1989.

Finishing position for Jeff Gordon at Martinsville in what was likely the final Cup race of his career.

Top-15 finishes in the last 11 races for Kasey Kahne (11th at Martinsville). The only exception was a 35th-place finish after wrecking at Talladega last week.

Lead changes Sunday at Martinsville, most of which occurred in the first half of the race. Six of the last seven Cup races this season have had fewer than 20 lead changes.

Average finish for Tony Stewart since the start of the Chase. Stewart, 26th at Martinsville is retiring at the end of the season.

Caution laps Sunday at Martinsville, including one for 29 laps to sort out the scoring after Carl Edwards' wreck in turn 3. That was also the only yellow flag in the entire second half of the race (250 laps).

Laps led by Matt Kenseth at Martinsville since joining Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013. Kenseth led 176 laps on Sunday, a race high before ultimately finishing fourth.

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: Greg Biffle may have avoided elimination in the first crash of the night back in 1998 at Texas (see below) but he ultimately could not make it the distance before being taken off on a wrecker.  What happened?

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

Monday's Answer:

Q:  In the 1998 Pronto Auto Parts 400k, Mike Bliss had a pretty good setup at the start of the race. He'd qualified fifth and the engine in his truck was pumping out 718 horsepower, one of the highest numbers in the series at the time.  However, his night did not last long.  What happened?

A: Bliss was running in fifth early in the race when Scot Walters got loose exiting turn 2 directly in front of him.  Both trucks went hard into the outside wall.  Bliss then crossed the track and hit the inside wall; Boris Said, trying to avoid it all then spun and hit Bliss.  Greg Biffle was also involved in the multi-truck crash that can be seen here.

Bliss got out of his truck under his own power, but clutched his right wrist in significant pain.  Bliss, Walters and Said were all out of the race on the spot.

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 Martinsville when our experts from across the web weigh in for The 10.
Talk back to the Frontstretch Newsletter!
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