Friday, June 8, 2012

Truex's Crew Chief to Miss Pocono Race

Per SportingNews, Chad Johnston planned to fly to the track Thursday night, having missed the two-day test session at Pocono to be with his wife, who is expecting to give birth to a baby boy in the next few days.

She is due Saturday, and Johnston plans to fly back home to North Carolina after qualifying Saturday. Michael Waltrip Racing competition director Scott Miller will call the race Sunday.

Those plans, Johnston said Thursday morning, are all tentative as he tries to do the right thing for both work and home.

“Family comes first, but your race team is a pretty important part,” Johnston said. “You don’t want to sacrifice the finish or the performance on something that is personal.

“It’s a hard choice to make. … It kind of doesn’t make sense to go but then again you feel like you should because if something happens and you don’t go, I (could) be home again next week and it would be two weeks in a row. It just seems odd not going.”

NASCAR Won't Use Restrictor Plates at Pocono

Per FOXSports.com, Lap times are wicked fast at Pocono Raceway since the 2.5-mile track was repaved last year. However, Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, doesn’t anticipate the need for restrictor plates this weekend.

On Thursday, drivers flirted with a total lap speed of 180 mph and cars topped 212 mph entering Turn 1 at Pocono Raceway during the second day of testing.

“No, absolutely not,” Pemberton said of the prospect of implementing restrictor plates. “We’re well within reason here. Average speed is going pretty good, so we’re happy. There’s a lot of grip here, so there’s no reason for that.”

The best average speed in the morning practice was Kevin Harvick's 173.618 mph, but teams are carrying extra weight during the test with the telemetry equipment — it transfers car data back to engineers — and had not run laps in qualifying trim.

Four-time Pocono winner Denny Hamlin was fifth fastest in the morning practice (176.218 mph) but fell to to eighth on the chart in the afternoon, despite a faster lap (178.589 mph). But he said there’s not a discernible difference behind the wheel.

“You can tell a little bit just because the engine is louder, the vibrations are a little bit more," Hamlin said. "Does it scare you? Not really. I’m not saying that I want to go any faster, but it’s definitely very quick. Really I was surprised about the level of grip that the track has and obviously it continues to get faster and faster the more we run.”

NASCAR Viewership Slighty Down Compared to Last Year

Per Journal Sentinel, Fox ended its NASCAR Sprint Cup racing coverage with the FedEx 400 race on Sunday in Dover, Del.

All of the races on Fox averaged a 4.8 rating, down 4% from last year's average of 5.0 on the network. On average, an estimated 7.9 million viewers tuned in for a Sprint Cup telecast this year on Fox, compared with 8.6 million last year.

Fox points out that NASCAR Sprint Cup racing is the top-rated sport in season, beating (by 41%) the NBA playoffs on ABC, which averaged 5.6 million viewers a telecast.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

NASCAR Hall of Famer Dies

Per Fayetteville Observer, NASCAR pioneer "Cotton" Owens died Thursday morning. The Hall of Famer who made his mark as a driver and owner was 88.

Owens, who lived in Spartanburg, was part of the Hall's class of 2013 that was announced two weeks ago. He will be inducted in February along with Rusty Wallace, Leonard Wood and the late Buck Baker and Herb Thomas.

Owens, whose given name was Everett, won nine times on NASCAR's top circuit including the Daytona Beach, Fla., road course that marked Pontiac's first win in NASCAR. He was perhaps better known as an owner, fielding cars for Hall of Fame drivers such as Junior Johnson and David Pearson. Owens won nine times as a driver and 38 as an owner.

Owens finished second in the 1959 series championship chase to Lee Petty and was named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers in 1998.