Monday, July 24, 2017

OPINION: NASCAR Must Make Changes to Avoid Further Controversy

NASCAR continues to shoot itself in the foot with controversial calls that end up costing race fans good racing moments and memorable finishes.

Sunday's race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was not the best Monster Energy Cup Series Race by any means, but it also wasn't the worst.  While Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were the class of the field throughout the first two segments, the race was blown wide open when the two leaders wrecked themselves with 50 laps to go.

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
But that wreck set up a wild chain of events that led to numerous front-runners wrecking, two red flags that threatened to end the race due to the impending sunset (more on that later) and the return of everyone's favorite overtime line.  

When a wreck with two laps to go broke out off of Turn 2, NASCAR seemed to hold the caution flag until the leader passed the overtime line, thus ending the race.  Unfortunately, it didn't seem like NASCAR followed its own rule, as the wreck happened with more than enough time to throw the caution before the leaders passed the line.  To most people, it seemed like NASCAR just wanted to end the race with the overtime line rather than see it end due to darkness at the track.

This is at least the third time this season that a race has been decided by the overtime line, with the June Dover Cup race and the Xfinity Series Daytona race earlier this month being those other two instances.

I understand that the overtime line made sense at the time of it's creation.  It was created in the wake of Kevin Harvick basically causing a wreck during the single overtime at Talladega in 2015 to save himself and move on in the Chase.  Many drivers campaigned for some kind of overtime line to avoid a finish like that, and it made sense at the time.

And it does make sense, but maybe only at Daytona and Talladega.  This would be used to avoid something like Austin Dillon's terrifying accident at Daytona two years ago.  But at any other track, maybe we should go back to three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish before calling the race.

Although, maybe NASCAR wouldn't have even gotten into this situation had they not gone for higher TV ratings (which have still been declining) instead of doing what's best for the fans that attend races.  Like I said, we'd get back to the start times.

The Brickyard 400 on Sunday started at 3 p.m., instead of the former traditional start time of 1 p.m.  At 1 p.m., there wasn't any rain, and the race could have probably made it to the end of Stage 2, making it an official race.  But instead, the race started at 3, and went 12 laps before rain caused a 2.5 hour delay.  

Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Had NASCAR started earlier, it would have never been in a situation where it needed to beat the sunset at a track without lights.  If the race had been postponed because of rain that could have been avoided if the race had started at a more normal time, the stands at Indy would have been much emptier than they had been on Sunday.  And those stands were pretty empty on Sunday.

And I'm not the only person who doesn't like the later starting times.  During the rain delay on Sunday, both Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted about their dislike for 3 p.m. starts.  Those are two pretty high-profile stars speaking out about the way NASCAR is doing things.

NASCAR lucked out on Sunday when they traded one controversy for another.  But eventually, its luck will run out. Next week NASCAR heads to Pocono, a track that is notorious for rain.  In fact, last year all three major races at the track (two Cup Series races and an IndyCar race) were postponed due to rain, causing the track to enact a weather guarantee for all of its tickets.

NASCAR needs to take a hard look at its policies, and possibly make a change that will prevent further controversy down the line.  If it doesn't make a change, it should at least read its own rule book and call races in black and white for the rest of the season, instead of giving itself a ton of leeway and living in the gray area.

Kahne Snaps Winless Streak with Wild Brickyard Win

Originally written for CLNS Media.

Kasey Kahne won his first race of the season in the Brickyard 400 on Sunday afternoon from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
The race was red-flagged for over two hours early in the race due to rain, and then again on two separate occasions over the final 10 laps for accidents.  Kahne had to hold off Brad Keselowski over the final two restarts, with Kahne taking the lead on the final restart.

Kahne said he knew he came close to handing the victory to Keselowski.

“The [restart] before just didn’t work, everything went wrong,” Kahne said.  “On the final one, everything went right.”

“Once I got to Turn 1, I got good power and was able to clear [Keselowski] off 1.”

After being dropped by numerous sponsors, Kahne has been rumored to be on his way out at Hendrick Motorsports at the end of this season.  Kahne snapped a 102-race winless streak on Sunday, and said he was glad his team’s hard work finally paid off.

“It just feels good to win,” Kahne said.  “For all these people that work so hard, it feels good to get them to victory lane.  Shows what we can do when things go our way.”

“With the history here…to win at Indy is unbelievable.”

Keselowski finished second after restarting first on the final restart.  He said he was surprised Kahne was able to hold the lead on the bottom of the track on the final restart.

“I thought we were in the right spot, I’d seen it all day,” Keselowski said.  “You’d get someone on your outside in the corner and they’d get real loose, but he drove in there and he just stuck.”

“Felt we had the car today; everyone was just on edge there and then some.  I guess I just guessed wrong on that last one.”

Unofficial results:
1. Kasey Kahne
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Ryan Newman
4. Joey Logano
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Daniel Suarez
8. Matt DiBenedetto
9. Chris Buescher
10. AJ Allmendinger
11. Danica Patrick
12. Cole Whitt
13. Aric Almirola
14. Timmy Hill
15. Jamie McMurray
16. Paul Menard
17. Denny Hamlin
18. Michael McDowell
19. Ty Dillon
20. Trevor Bayne
21. Austin Dillon
22. Landon Cassill
23. Ryan Blaney
24. Gray Gaulding
25. Joey Gase
26. Jeffrey Earnhardt
27. Jimmie Johnson
28. Kyle Larson
29. Kurt Busch
30. Clint Bowyer
31. Erik Jones
32. BJ McLeod
33. Martin Truex Jr.
34. Kyle Busch
35. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
36. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
37. JJ Yeley
38. David Ragan
39. Chase Elliott
40. Corey LaJoie

Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Weekly Pull List: 7/19/2017

All the comics available this week can be found on ComicList, and any comic book news is on CBR.

BOOM! Studios
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers #17

IDW
Back to the Future #21

Marvel
All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #6
Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows #9
Astonishing X-Men #1
Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again #2
Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #2
Secret Empire #6
Spider-Man 2099 #25
Star Wars Darth Maul #5
Star Wars Poe Dameron #17

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hamlin Wins First Race of the Season in New Hampshire

Originally written for CLNS Media.

Denny Hamlin won the Overton’s 301 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

Hamlin picked up the first victory of the season for Joe Gibbs Racing, which was in the midst of a 20-race winless streak.  Hamlin said he was happy to return to victory lane and lock himself into the Chase.
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

“It’s definitely been tough, but it’s not from a lack of trying,” Hamlin said.  “We’ve been getting better every week…but we definitely needed a win for the organization and for myself to just get some momentum going.”

Kyle Larson ran Hamlin down over the final run, cutting his lead to half a second.  Hamlin said he was concerned with Larson’s faster car coming from behind.

“I was just trying to do everything I could to keep pace,” Hamlin said.  “I really just ran a pace there which I felt comfortable with just in case we restarted; I didn’t want to burn the tires up.”

Larson had to start last after his car failed post-qualifying inspection, and he drove up through the field for the second week in a row.  Larson said he was fighting hard to catch Hamlin in the closing laps.

“Heck of a day for the Target team, can’t thank everybody enough,” Larson said.  “Wish we could have got a win, but a hard-fought effort all day.”

“We’ll keep fighting hard…if we could get to start up front and get some stage wins that would be nice.”

Unofficial results:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Kyle Larson
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Daniel Suarez
7. Clint Bowyer
8. Kurt Busch
9. Brad Keselowski
10. Jimmie Johnson
11. Chase Elliott
12. Kyle Busch
13. Danica Patrick
14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
15. Austin Dillon
16. Ty Dillon
17. Jamie McMurray
18. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
19. Ryan Blaney
20. Trevor Bayne
21. AJ Allmendinger
22. Paul Menard
23. Landon Cassill
24. Aric Almirola
25. Chris Buescher
26. Michael McDowell
27. Ryan Newman
28. Kasey Kahne
29. David Ragan
30. Matt DiBenedetto
31. Corey LaJoie
32. Ryan Sieg
33. Jeffrey Earnhardt
34. Reed Sorenson
35. Gray Gaulding
36. Josh Bilicki
37. Joey Logano
38. Cole Whitt
39. Erik Jones

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Weekly Pull List: 7/12/2017

All the comics available this week can be found on ComicList, and any comic book news is on CBR.

Marvel
Amazing Spider-Man #30
Deadpool #33
Edge of Venomverse #2
Rocket #3
Spider-Men II #1
Star Wars Darth Vader #3
Star Wars Doctor Aphra #9
Venom #152

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Truex Dominates in Kentucky

Originally written for CLNS Media.


Martin Truex Jr. dominated the Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night to pick up his third win of the season.

Truex led a race-high 152 laps and won both stages on his way to victory lane.  Truex was leading when the caution came out with two laps to go, and he said he thought he was going to lose the race when he chose to stay out when the rest of the field pitted.
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

“I thought we were dead,” Truex said.  “Fortunately we were able to hold them off…and a good push from [Kyle] Larson helped us a bunch.”

While Truex was leading over a long green-flag run in the final 50 laps, he said he was waiting for the inevitable caution that would make the end interesting.

“I was worried every lap, just waiting for a caution,” Truex said.  “Especially at the end, you’re just counting them down.”

“It felt like we had a shot last year and it got away from us on fuel mileage.  I wanted to win so bad after that, so this is sweet redemption.”

Kyle Larson was not able to get through pre-qualifying inspection, so he had to start last on Saturday.  Larson rebounded to finish second, but he said an ill-timed speeding penalty on pit road may have had an effect on the final result.

“I felt like I had the second-best car today, and it would have been interesting to get a restart with him earlier,” Larson said.  “My speeding penalty there…I’m mad at myself for making that mistake.  I don’t really know if that affected the outcome, but you never know.”

Unofficial results:
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Kyle Larson
3. Chase Elliott
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Kyle Busch
6. Erik Jones
7. Jamie McMurray
8. Joey Logano
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Ryan Blaney
11. Darrell Wallace Jr.
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
13. Clint Bowyer
14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
15. Danica Patrick
16. Chris Buescher
17. Matt Kenseth
18. Daniel Suarez
19. Austin Dillon
20. AJ Allmendinger
21. Paul Menard
22. Ryan Newman
23. Michael McDowell
24. David Ragan
25. Matt DiBenedetto
26. Landon Cassill
27. Ryan Sieg
28. Reed Sorenson
29. Jeffrey Earnhardt
30. Kurt Busch
31. Timmy Hill
32. BJ McLeod
33. Ty Dillon
34. Cole Whitt
35. Gray Gaulding
36. Joey Gase
37. Trevor Bayne
38. Kasey Kahne
39. Brad Keselowski
40. Jimmie Johnson

Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Weekly Pull List: 7/5/2017

All the comics available this week can be found on ComicList, and any comic book news is on CBR.

Marvel
All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #5
Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again #1
Spider-Man #18
Spider-Man Deadpool #19
Spider-Man Master Plan #1
Star Wars #33

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Stenhouse Wins Wild Coke Zero 400

Originally written for CLNS Media.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the Coke Zero 400 from Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night.

Stenhouse picked up his second victory of the season on Saturday, holding off the field over the final laps.  Stenhouse’s first victory came at Talladega, the other restrictor-plate track on the NASCAR schedule. 
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Stenhouse said his victory proves that his team is a real threat when it comes to the restrictor plate races.

“It validates what we did at Talladega,” Stenhouse said.  “We’ve been working really, really hard at Roush-Fenway, and this just keeps pushing us further and further along.”

“I kept my Talladega car and told them to build a new one, and they built a Ford that was really fast.”

Stenhouse went winless for the first 157 races of his career, but he has now won two races out of the last eight.  Stenhouse said the mindset instilled in him by his father helped him work through the struggles early in his career.

“My dad has taught me for a long time that you’ve just got to keep working hard, even when things aren’t right,” Stenhouse said.  “Been coming down here since 2008; it’s cool to put it in victory lane and get our second win this year.”

Unofficial results:
1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Paul Menard
4. Michael McDowell
5. Ryan Newman
6. David Ragan
7. Brendan Gaughan
8. AJ Allmendinger
9. Erik Jones
10. Chris Buescher
11. Corey LaJoie
12. Jimmie Johnson
13. Matt DiBenedetto
14. Jamie McMurray
15. Darrell Wallace Jr.
16. Ty Dillon
17. Daniel Suarez
18. Kasey Kahne
19. Landon Cassill
20. Kyle Busch
21. Elliott Sadler
22. Chase Elliott
23. Trevor Bayne
24. Denny Hamlin
25. Danica Patrick
26. Ryan Blaney
27. Matt Kenseth
28. Kurt Busch
29. Kyle Larson
30. Reed Sorenson
31. Brad Keselowski
32. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
33. Kevin Harvick
34. Martin Truex Jr.
35. Joey Logano
36. Austin Dillon
37. Jeffrey Earnhardt
38. DJ Kennington
39. Cole Whitt
40. Ryan Sieg

Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images