Blogs > Nascar: Beyond the Track

Find out what's really going on in NASCAR. Look here to find out why your driver really lost his ride, or the real reason those two drivers can't stand each other. Learn about the hidden motives and reasons for the things that happen in NASCAR, from the drivers to the team owners.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Travis Pastrana impresses in NASCAR debut

Now that was a fun way to start the stock car racing season.

The Toyota All-Star Showdown was held Saturday night at Irwindale, California, and the action was intense throughout the 225-lap event at the half-mile track.

In typical short-track form, there was great battling up front all night, and Jason Bowles ended up taking the checkered flag just ahead of Canadian champion D.J. Kennington in a race that featured a lot of young talent that will no doubt be in the upper ranks of NASCAR soon. Others who ran up front in the race included Paulie Harraka and Derek Thorn.

Most notable, though was the 6th-place run of Travis Pastrana, a guy who had never been in a stock car race until Saturday night. The extreme sports star is staring 7 Nationwide races this season, and if Saturday was any indication, he's going to translate quite well to NASCAR. He ran tough all race, dodging wrecks in front of him and getting everything he could out of the car, and engaging in an exciting three-wide race to the checkered flag to claim that 6th position. Not too shabby for a first stock car race.

If he brings that kind of attitude to the Nationwide series, he's sure to spice it up later this season, and bring some of his extreme sports fans with him in the process.

Wendell Scott film offers important history lesson
NASCAR was not always a sport that had a 'Drive for Diversity,' and that disturbing past will be explored in the ESPN film "Wendell Scott: A Race Story," which will share the difficult story of Scott, who fought against racism and made history by winning in NASCAR during a very difficult time for race relations in this country.
I'm pretty excited to see this show, which will air on Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. (same day as the Daytona 500),

“Wendell Scott’s legacy will live on forever as the man who broke NASCAR’s color barrier and whose courage and bravery paved the way for minorities to pursue careers in the world of motorsports,” said Paul Brooks, senior vice president of NASCAR and president of NASCAR Media Group. “This film will help preserve that legacy by telling the story of his historic ride and the positive impact his contributions are still having on the sport today.”

I'm curious to see how the film handles Scott's lone NASCAR win, at Jacksonville Speedway in 1963, which was so controversial that NASCAR didn't even announce him as the winner that day -- both for fear of what the white crowd might do and to avoid the uncomfortable image of him in Victory Lane with white trophy girls.

I'm also curious if the film will mention what Scott's family has previously said in interviews --- that major stars in the sport like Richard Petty and Bobby Allison were openly racist against Scott and did they best to keep him out of the sport.

Current minority drivers still look at Scott as a source of inspiration, including young Darrell Wallace Jr.

“Wendell Scott opened doors for me and so many others just like me,” said Wallace, who is part of the Drive for Diversity program. “He’s been a hero of mine for a long time and I’m thrilled he’s being honored and remembered in such a significant manner.”

For those unfamiliar with Scott's place in NASCAR history, I recommend seeing this film, which I hope will not gloss over a rather unpleasant part of the sport's history.

Jimmie begins his year early
Jimmie Johnson is not waiting for Cup series action to get in his first 2011 race, as he is currently competing in the 24 Hours of Daytona sports car race.
He said it's a whole different bag than his usual ride, due to the inability to just knock someone out of the way if they're blocking you.

“It’s tough in these cars for a couple of reasons. One, you’re not really sure who’s in the car in front of you. After you yell and scream a few times on the radio, they say, ‘Well, that’s so-and-so,’ and I don’t really know these guys well enough to understand what that means, but I can tell in the inflection in my crew chief’s voice a few times that I should be expecting that from a few guys. And the other thing, it is so hard to not just turn someone around and get rid of them. With the Cup car, you can do that easily. These cars, it will end your day. So, I had to stop myself a few times. And after two or three times of being there and getting chopped – I’m like, ‘Man, if you were in a Cup car you’d be sitting there backed in right now.’ I miss that aspect of Cup cars. If Kevin Harvick was in one of these, I think he would just run ’em over.”

Still, he said he's happy to get back to racing, whatever the vehicle.
“The race is such a challenge mentally and physically. The cars are a lot of fun. Being able to see friends and guys I have respected and watched over the years race, shoot the breeze with them some and then be out on the track with them wheel-to-wheel is a lot of fun as well. It is a great event. I love competing in it.

Kenseth hopes consistency will help
Matt Kenseth has seen more than his share of crew chiefs, but this year he is returning with the same one, and that should be a boost to his competitiveness. Kenseth said he hopes the momentum that he began to see during the Chase last season.

“I think it is important to get consistency within the team and with the personnel and car builds and everything. I think that always helps. Last year we finished the year pretty strong. We didn’t get the win we were looking for but we still finished pretty strong in the points and got some good finishes toward the end of the year. Hopefully we can roll that into this year and keep it going.”

As far as the Daytona 500, he said it will be all about one thing.
“I think it will be just like Talladega since they paved that. Handling isn’t going to matter. I think it is going to be all about drafting.”

Become a fan of the Facebook page NASCARBeyond


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home