NASCAR Track Talk

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After what happened in last week’s Xfinity Series race and the embarrassing wreckfest we saw in last night’s Truck Series championship race, I’m grateful to see tonight’s Xfinity Series championship race ran much more cleanly, despite a good handful of cautions due to some random car in the back getting wrecked. All four of the champion finalists managed to run up in the top ten for much of the race and even managed to run 1-2-3-4 in the last few laps. After an overtime finish (thankfully just one attempt), Cole Custer was able to pull ahead to win the race and the championship. After the lack of success he had in the Cup Series the last few seasons, it was definitely nice to see him win this championship.
And now, just the Cup Series championship left to go tomorrow. After watching qualifying for that race earlier this afternoon, it seems William Byron might be the favorite to win it all.
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Honestly, I don’t care who wins the Cup title. All of those guys are good guys in my eyes. I would like to see Blaney win but anybody will do
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It’s actually quite nice to see how virtually everyone in the Cup Series races much more cleanly than in the lower series, especially during championship weekend. There were only two minor incidents during the race, the first was Christopher Bell (one of the four championship contenders) blew out a brake rotor and crashed out near the middle of the race, while the second was Kyle Busch spinning out near the end of the race (though thankfully nowhere close to late enough for an overtime finish). Even more remarkable is that after William Byron lost the lead early in Stage 2, none of the championship four drivers ever led the race, and for the first time since the playoff format was introduced back in 2014, the winner of the championship did not win the final race. The race winner was Ross Chastain, and finishing in second was the Championship winner Ryan Blaney. (According to some other stats I heard while watching the race, this is the first time that team owner Roger Penske has won back-to-back NASCAR championships (with how much he has already achieved in motorsports, it’s impressive that something new could be added to his list of accomplishments). This is also the first time a driver from North Carolina (essentially the home state for NASCAR) has won the Cup Series championship since Dale Jarret back in 1999.)
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It’s gonna be weird not seeing Jarvis anymore I’ve been watching him hence he was a rookie in what was then the Busch series back in 2000 in the ACDelco car
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Ken Squire, one of the most iconic voices ever in NASCAR broadcasting, passed away just a few days ago at the age of 88. He will be missed…
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I’m over a week late with saying this, but Cale Yarborough, among the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time with 83 wins and three championships, passed away on New Year’s Eve at the age of 84.
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There will be a Netflix series that focuses on the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, specifically the 16 drivers who made it into the playoffs and the final ten races leading up to the championship. The five-episode series will be available to watch on January 30, and the trailer for it was released just a few days ago:
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“NASCAR: Full Speed” is now available on Netflix, and I’ve already watched all five episodes. I enjoyed watching it, and I can see how such a series can appeal to those who might not have watched much NASCAR in recent years, so I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is capable of watching it.
Also, don’t forget that the Clash at the Coliseum season-opening exhibition race will be on this weekend. The qualifying heat races will be on Saturday, with the last chance qualifying race before the main event on Sunday.
Posted Report
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So, apparently due to the immense rainfall that’s expected throughout California for almost a week starting on Sunday, NASCAR decided to abruptly change their schedule for the Clash race by doing everything on Saturday night. (Rescheduling a race to a day earlier on short notice has supposedly never been done before in the history of this sport.) All the heat races were cancelled and qualifying was set by the fastest times over several laps in groups of six at the end of practice. There were quite a few surprises on who made the 23-car field, who didn’t make it, and who almost made it.
The race itself had a few cautions, but was thankfully not such a wreckfest like it was last year. Some drivers were able to run from the back to the front, while others took enough damage in wrecks to drop out of the race. Ty Gibbs was very fast when he was in the lead, but it was Denny Hamlin who get the win (his fourth Clash win, which now puts him in second of all-time Clash wins behind only Dale Earnhardt).
With the Clash already done, now we have the Dayton 500 as the next race to look forward to.
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While tomorrow’s duel races will set most of the starting positions for the Daytona 500, the front row has been set by the regular qualifying that was done earlier today. Pole position went to Joey Logano, with the other driver on the front row being Michael McDowell. Not only does the all-time record of consecutive front row starts by a specific driver end at 6 for Alex Bowman, but also the active streak of any Hendrick cars starting on the front row now comes to an end at 9 (2015-2023). This also ends the streak of Chevrolet starting on the front row that has endured since 2013. The last time Ford won the pole (as well as swept the front row) was back in 2012.
Also, in addition to the 36 chartered cars, there are six non-chartered cars trying to qualify for only four available spots. Two of those drivers were able to lock themselves into the race by qualifying speed, while the other two openings will be filled based on the finishing positions of the four remaining drivers in tomorrow’s duel races.
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Those duel races sure were exciting to watch. Especially seeing as both of them finished with the difference of a fraction of a second between the open car that made it into the big race and the other failing to qualify. The first race had a miscommunication by some drivers on who was going to pit when, which spread out the field and almost caused Jimmie Johnson to fail to qualify. The second race had a rather big wreck near the end, where among the drivers involved was Ryan Blaney once again getting turned head-on into the outside wall with a hard impact.
Things this week are only going to get more exciting from here. Truck Series race on Friday, Xfinity Series race on Saturday, and finally the Daytona 500 for the Cup Series on Sunday.
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William Byron wins the Daytona 500!
With this win, Hendrick Motorsports is now tied with Petty Enterprises for the team with the most Daytona 500 wins at a total of nine. And since he’s the sixth different driver to win the Daytona 500 for his team, that also breaks the tie previously held with Wood Brothers Racing. And to top it all off, this win came on the exact day of the 40th anniversary of the very first NASCAR race that Hendrick Motorsports had ever competed in.
Since I happen to consider William Byron as my favorite NASCAR driver after the success he had last season, I can definitely say this was a very exciting win.
As for the race itself, it managed to stay relatively clean for the majority of the race (which certainly can’t be said for the other series races throughout the weekend, especially the demolition trucks which saw a track record of twelve cautions). The was a rather minor crash just a few laps after the start, then it stayed green (except for stage breaks) until ten laps to go when the big wreck took out a lot of good cars, and then one more large wreak just as the leaders took the white flag, so the race just barely avoided going into overtime (which as we saw last year is usually a recipe for even more destruction).
Next weekend, we get to see the short superspeedway of Atlanta, and seeing some of the unexpected drivers who managed to get a good finish at Daytona, I would not be surprised if we end up seeing an underdog driver win at that track.
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That was easily one of the most epic finishes I’ve ever seen in a NASCAR race! A three way photo finish! With a difference of 0.003 seconds, it’s the third closest finish ever in the Cup series. Between Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, and Daniel Suarez, who was declared the winner in Atlanta? Daniel Suarez!
The start of the race was also pretty crazy as well. Joey Logano had to serve a pass-through penalty on the first lap because he used an illegal glove during qualifying, but he was lucky to gain back the lap he would’ve lost because of a huge crash right on lap 2, the biggest crash ever in that track’s history with 16 cars involved. Throughout the race, there were so many cautions for both large crashes and single cars spinning out that, by the end of the race, the list of cars not involved in any incidents was much shorter than those that were involved in cautions. At one point, the leaders managed to race four-wide for at least an entire lap! Another track record set during this race was the number of lead changes at a total of 48. Also notable was Todd Gilliland who not only led more laps in this race than in all of his previous Cup series races combined (including last week’s Daytona 500 where he accomplished the exact same statistic), but also ended up leading the most laps in this race.
Some other crazy things happened in the other two series races in Atlanta as well. In the Truck series race, not only did Kyle Busch win (his first since selling his truck team to Spire Motorsports, for whom he will race with in his limited starts in the Truck series), but also there was a rather funny incident when one truck suddenly had its roof fly off at racing speed (essentially becoming a convertible, as some people joked). In the Xfinity series race, while Jesse Love led almost every lap, he and several others ran out of gas in the final few laps, allowing a lot of other drivers to have much higher finishes than they normally get (though it was Austin Hill once again taking the win on a superspeedway, making him the first driver since Tony Stewart in 2008 to win both of the season’s first two races in the Xfinity series).
Next week’s race will be in Las Vegas, the first true intermediate track on the schedule, so we’ll get to see which drivers and teams are really doing well, despite whatever luck they may have had in the first two races.
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