By admin | December 28, 2013
By Richard Allen
As we reach the end of another year, I realize that this blog has not often harped on the positive regarding NASCAR during the 2013 season. But the fact of the matter is, I am indeed a fan of racing in general and NASCAR in particular. So with that in mind, I have assembled a list of things I enjoyed about the 2013 NASCAR season.
Trucks on dirt at Eldora- I am a huge fan of dirt racing, so it should come as little surprise that my favorite NASCAR sanctioned event of the year was easily the Camping World Truck Series race at the Eldora Speedway. The racing was great and the capacity crowd was highly entertained. The television ratings were among the highest in history of the series for this stand alone, mid-week event that had only limited involvement from Sprint Cup regulars.
Austin Dillon got to write his name in the record books as the first NASCAR winner on dirt in four decades, but the sport was the real winner in this event.
The Sprint Cup race at the Auto Club Speedway- Surprisingly, a track not typically known for great racing hosted what was perhaps the most exciting and entertaining race of the 2013 Sprint Cup season. A late race battle between newly formed rivals and former teammates Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano on the Fontana, Calif. facility ended with those two knocking each other out of the way and allowing Kyle Busch to make the race winning pass just yards from the finish line.
Unfortunately, Hamlin was seriously injured in the crash that resulted from contact with Logano. But that negative aside, this was a great race which also featured its share of post-race controversy when Tony Stewart accused Logano of blocking during a late race restart and engaged in a pushing and shouting match with the offending driver.
The Auto Club Speedway may not always be known for great racing, but on this particular day it was, and it provided some additional fireworks as well.
Matt Kenseth’s resurgence- After recent years of experiencing moderate, although stagnated, success and jokes made about his somewhat robotic nature during his time spent with Roush Fenway Racing, Matt Kenseth experienced a resurgence of both personality and racing success in 2013.
The 2003 champion’s move to Joe Gibbs Racing seemed to re-energize his career. Seven wins and contention in the title fight right to the very end was the result of that new found energy. At 41 years of age, Kenseth showed that he’s still got it.
NASCAR’s willingness to test its car- NASCAR hasn’t always been the best at admitting its mistakes, and when it decided to test the Gen6 race car after the end of 2013 season it claimed that it was “making a great thing better”. But in reality, it does appear that the powers that be have finally come to the realization that the racing needs to be improved, especially on the so-called ‘cookie cutter’ tracks of 1.5 to 2 miles in length.
In early December, NASCAR called for several of its teams to report to the Charlotte Motor Speedway to work on the racing product. A number of “fixes” were put to the test with NASCAR and its teams then charged with deciding what changes need to be made to create better on track racing and fewer parade formations.
Hopefully something beneficial will come from that session. But at least NASCAR was willing to try some new things on the track rather than just spinning a new story to try and convince us everything is great.
The look of the Gen6- And speaking of the Gen6, it may not have raced very well at times during its first season in the Sprint Cup ranks, but it did look good. One of the biggest issues many fans, including myself, had with the old Car of Tomorrow was the fact that it bore no brand distinction whatsoever. Each brand of car had exactly the same body with only stickers used for headlights and other features to set the manufacturers apart.
While NASCAR did simply re-skin the chassis of the CoT to create the Gen6, the car does get high marks for its appearance and brand distinctions. Now to get it racing better.
Notable feuds- What’s racing without some feuding? A sport that has evolved into a very antiseptic, politically correct show finally had some seemingly unscripted emotion this past season. Fussing, finger pointing, name calling, pushing, and even a thrown water bottle were all seen and heard in 2013.
Richard Childress Racing drivers Kevin Harvick and Ty Dillon got into a bumping match on the track during a Martinsville truck race that turned into a very entertaining verbal sparring match in the garage area afterwards. And that wasn’t all for Ty Dillon. At a truck race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, he and fellow legacy driver Chase Elliott banged on the last lap which led to more verbal jabbing.
On the Sprint Cup side, the above mentioned dust ups between Logano and Hamlin, which began in Bristol and ended in California, combined with the pit road tussle between Logano and Stewart to make for some decent entertainment as well.
Rivalries are good for the sport, and NASCAR has been somewhat lacking of them during the era of Jimmie Johnson domination.
See there, I can be positive. Well, some of it may have been in a backhanded way, but still, there were a number of things I liked about the 2013 NASCAR season and the above mentioned events were a few of them.
How about you? What were the biggest positives from the past year of racing?
The Worst of NASCAR 2013 was … —> http://racingwithrich.com/?p=2453
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