Controversy in Las Vegas

The NASCAR season is off and running. Las Vegas brought lots of controversy.

Chase Elliott noticed as he was chasing Kevin Harvick that the back window on Kevin’s car was sinking in, then popping back out as the air flowed over the back of the car. Pictures surfaced on Facebook and the “fans” were outraged. Those armchair couch potato engineers thought they had found the reason the Jimmy Johns Ford was so “freaky fast”!

On Tuesday of last week NASCAR officials checked the car over at the technical center in Concord, North Carolina. The crew chief stated that a support brace had failed and this allowed the movement of the rear window. It should be noted that the number 4 car also had the wrong material used for the side skirts.

NASCAR mandates the thickness and types of materials to be used in certain areas of the cars. The team admitted that the wrong material was used but claimed it was an honest mistake by the fab shop. NASCAR handed out a very strong penalty for the problems, a $50,000 dollar fine, the loss of 20 driver points and owner points and six playoff points were stripped from Harvick. The car chief was also suspended.

Over all, this would be pretty much business as usual, however by week’s end photos surfaced of at least five more cars with the back windows flexing! The cars of Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, William Byron and others were shown with funny things happening in the rear windows. How could this help?

I’m glad you asked. If the top of the rear window sinks down that would allow more air on the rear spoiler, which in turn would add down force and increase corner speeds. It appears several teams found a place to play by loosening support brackets, etc. Kevin’s was definitely moving the most but do you just penalize one team when clearly others were messing around too? Apparently NASCAR says you do.

This week the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and the Xfinity series continued their western swing and took on the newly renamed IMS Raceway in Phoenix.

First up the Xfinity teams took to the track on Saturday afternoon. There was rain in the area. The DC Solar 200 rolled off with Justin Allgaier on the pole. Rains came but Allgaier was able to take stage one after a brief delay. Stage two saw rain hit again just before the end of the stage. Kyle Busch won stage two.

Brad Keselowski had been having an up and down day but when it counted he powered his Penske Racing Mustang to the lead and the race win. Allgaier was able to hang on to second with Kyle Busch finishing third. Christopher Bell and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top five. Phoenix offers some of the most unique racing with several fast ways around the track. Handling becomes premium.

On Sunday the Cup series ran the Ticket Guardian 500 around the “roval” at Phoenix. It is an oval track but it races like a road course, hence the “roval” description.

Martin Truex Jr. grabbed the pole with his Toyota Camry. Kyle Busch flexed the muscles on his JGR Toyota and won stage one. Harvick was in the mix but seemed to just be a touch off on his setup.

Stage two saw Kyle’s older brother Kurt put his Stewart- Haas Racing Ford in front for the win.

When the money was on the line, Kevin Harvick became “freaky fast” again and delivered the victory. No one could touch him in the closing laps. Kevin climbed on top of the car and banged on the window to show it was not moving!

Kyle Bush finished second and was very disappointed. I feel he was made to think he was fastest and then Harvick just drove away from him.

Chase Elliott had a very strong run, finishing third. Denny Hamlin led some but a bad pit stop late ruined his chances. He finished fourth. Pole sitter Martin Truex Jr finished fifth. Sixth through 10th were Clint Bowyer S-HR, Aric Almorola S-HR, Daniel Suarez, Eric Jones and Kurt Bush S-HR.

All four Stewart- Haas Racing cars finished inside the top 10; this could mean trouble for all the other teams. This week they move to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and Kevin Harvick is always strong there. Harvick will be trying to win for the fourth week in a row, which hasn’t been done in many years but I wouldn’t bet against that “freaky fast” Jimmy John’s Ford and Kevin Harvick.

I’ll be watching to bring you all the inside stories and remember, at the end of the straightaway there’s Another Left Turn.