NASCAR may levy stiffer fines this year
Hello, everyone! Week number two of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series is in the books.
All three touring series raced this week in Hampton, Georgia, at the mile-and-a-half Atlanta Motor Speedway. I feel after watching the race that the new changes with stage racing and crash clocks and all have made very little difference in the racing.
The one thing I really have a problem with is that even though Cup series drivers are limited in the number of races they can compete in the lesser series, they still take up points paying positions in the run downs. These drivers are not running for points themselves but are gaining car owner points.
It appears that there will be stiffer fines and suspensions for rule violations this season. Kyle Busch’s car was found to be too low in the front after post-race inspection. Kyle had won the event and the fines will be announced later this week. There is speculation that the win may be taken away.
I think this is a move in the right direction. Fines mean very little to these millionaire cup drivers.
The stage racing didn’t create much excitement either. Several cars were dominating and swept all the stages. Overall, it was pretty much a ho- hum mile-and-a-half race event. Let’s break them down and see what happened.
Saturday was a doubleheader event with both the Camping World Trucks and the Xfinity series competing. The trucks took to the track first. The Active Pest Control 200 was dominated by young racer Christopher Bell. Bell swept all the stages and won the event in his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra.
Matt Crafton challenged after a late race restart but Bell drove away to victory. Veteran Johnny Sauter finished third. Ben Rhodes and Cup star Chase Elliott rounded out the top five.
Next up was the Rinnai 250 for the Xfinity series. Nine Cup drivers were in the field. There were different stage winners in this race. Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick won those stages and kept any regular Xfinity driver from receiving the 10 regular season points or the one valuable Playoff point.
Kyle Busch fought back from a few setbacks and took the lead after his pit crew got him out ahead of everyone late in the race. He held on to win over Brad Keselowski. Kyle Larson finished third. Kevin Harvick ran fourth after having a very strong car most of the event.
Xfinity regular Elliott Sadler was the first driver that was not a Cup driver finishing fifth. Darrell (Bubba) Wallace Jr. finished sixth. William Byron ran well, finishing with a seventh-place run. Austin Dillon, Daniel Hemric and Cole Custer rounded out the top 10. Five out of 10 were Cup stars.
On Sunday, the Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500 took place for the Cup series teams. Kevin Harvick once again showed that the move of SHM to Fords seems to be a good one. Kevin led the largest portion of the event and appeared to be headed to victory.
He swept the first two stages and led more than 300 laps of the event. In the closing stages Austin Dillon had electrical problems with his RCR Chevrolet and slowed on the track. He could have easily pulled his car to pit road but was told by his crew to stay on the track. This brought out a late caution and closed the field up. The cars made their way to the pits for fresh tires and Harvick was caught speeding on pit road. This caused him to restart 32nd with only a few laps remaining.
Harvick admitted his mistake but was interested in the reasoning of leaving the RCR car on the track to cause the caution. Harvick drove his heart out in those last laps and finished in ninth place. Kyle Larson inherited the lead but was quickly passed by Brad Keselowski, who drove on to victory. Larson held on to second over Matt Kenseth. Kasey Kahne grabbed another top five, finishing fourth. Chase Elliott had a very strong car but slipped back and finished up in fifth.
This week the Camping World truck series begins a short break until April, when they take to the track at Martinsville, Virginia. The top two divisions head west to race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This is another high-speed mile-and-a-half track.
Some of our local guys made their way over to the Legendary Hilltop Speedway in Marietta, Ohio, for an open test-and-tune session on Sunday afternoon.
Local racing is only a few months away, with our first race set for the first Friday in May at Elkins Raceway.
I’ll bring you all the news from Vegas as they head into those turns at 200 mph because at the end of the straight there’s Another Left Turn.