After my deadline last week, NASCAR decided to add Jeff Gordon to the playoffs. They simply added him to the playoffs, bringing the total to 13 cars. So, for the second time in five days, the drivers who made the playoffs changed.
I’m guessing NASCAR came to their senses after saying Gordon was part of a “ripple effect”, so they weren’t going to bother with him. But after listening to Joey Logano’s team asking David Gilliland to slow down so Logano could pass him, in yet another attempt to boot Gordon out of 10th in points, I guess NASCAR figured out getting Gordon out of the top 10 was in fact the objective of both the Penske and Waltrip teams.
You can debate all you want about putting Gordon in (if you love or hate Gordon your vote doesn’t count) the playoffs, but leaving Martin Truex out at that point just doesn’t seem fair.
Sure, his teammates on team orders conspired to knock Gordon out of the top 10, but truth be told Truex was simply driving his race car and really didn’t do anything wrong. Twelve, 13 or 14 at this point what does it matter?
Plus, the more cars they start with the better the chance there’ll be more cars in the hunt for the title come Homestead. Heck, next year why not put 25 cars in the playoffs? As it is now, Logano is 52 points behind, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. out 53 points, both will need a small miracle to get back into the hunt.
I totally agree with my good friend and lifetime race chaser, Al from South Carolina, who wrote, “Clearly, the problem is ‘the Chase concept’”.
Restart Procedure Changed
The rule used to be the leader had to be the first car to cross the line after a restart. This led to some games being played by some drivers, so last Sunday NASCAR announced during the drivers’ meeting a change. The restart zone will remain and the leader still controls the pace. But, once the leader steps on the gas (within that restart zone) the flagman will throw the green. If the leader gets to the end of the said zone, and has not accelerated, the green will fly. Once the leader goes, or the green flies, the leader can be passed before the line and he does not have to be the first to cross the line. Drivers will still not be allowed to change lanes before getting to the line.
More Rule Changes
After the Richmond fiasco, NASCAR has unveiled a “100-percent solution” to the issue of collusion and some specific practical changes to the conduct of races. In a mandatory 17-minute meeting with drivers and crew chiefs at Chicagoland Speedway, NASCAR addressed the concerns that have caused what sanctioning body President Mike Helton earlier termed “a shift in the paradigm”.
“At the center of that meeting was what our expectations were going forward,” NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France told reporters. “And those expectations are that a driver and a team give 100 percent effort, their best effort, to complete a race and race as hard as they possibly can.
“NASCAR requires its competitors to race at 100 percent of their ability with the goal of achieving their best possible finishing position in an event. Any competitor who takes action with the intent to artificially alter the finishing positions of the event or encourages, persuades or induces others to artificially alter the finishing position of the event shall be subject to a penalty from NASCAR.”
• They’ll have fun policing that. The one thing you will see change is the chatter over the radio. There will not be any talk about slowing down so that so-and-so can pass you because they need the point.
It’ll be tough to prove the tire changer knocked a lug nut off the wheel in order to slow down a pit stop so a teammate can pass them and gain a point that will put them in next year’s playoff or maybe at the final race this year which would be enough to win the championship.
Proving intent will be tough in dozens of situations. I’m telling ya, teammates will help teammates.
• They also outlawed the use of those special radios that can’t be heard with a regular scanner. The crews can use them to talk to each other in the pits but the spotters and drivers can no longer use them.
• Also, only spotters are allowed in the spotters stand (one per team). No more owners and team managers.
There will now be a video camera up there so NASCAR can monitor who’s talking to whom.
Thinking Out Loud and NHMS Facts
Was anyone else surprised to see the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson running up front most of the day. Remember, he was coming off one of, if not the, worst streaks of his career. A bad call by an official and a broken jack couldn’t keep him out of the top 5.
• Mark Martin won the inaugural pole at New Hampshire in 1993 with a speed of 126.871 mph.
• 18 drivers have poles, led by Ryan Newman with six.
• 22 different drivers have won at NHMS, led by Jeff Burton with four.
• Only five of the 37 (13.5 percent) races have been won from the pole.
• 19 (51.3 percent) races have been won from a Top 10 starting position.
• Nine of the 37 (24.3 percent) races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
• Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are tied for the series lead in runner-up finishes with five each.
• Gordon leads the series in Top 5 finishes with 16. Stewart has 14.
NHMS Weekend Schedule:
Friday, Sept. 20
12-1:30 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series Practice
2 p.m. – K&N Pro Series East Qualifying
3:40 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series Qualifying
5 p.m. – Whelen Modified Tour Qualifying
Saturday, Sept. 21
9:15-10:15 a.m. – Sprint Cup Series Practice
11-11:50 a.m. – NSCS Final Practice
12:15 p.m. – Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100
2:30 p.m. – K&N Pro Series East North American Power 100
4:30 p.m. – American-Canadian Tour Bond Auto Parts ACT Invitational
Sunday, Sept. 22
1:30 p.m. – Driver Introductions
2 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series SYLVANIA 300
From the Mailbag
Dan from Vermont wrote, “I enjoy watching the Cup races, and will continue to watch, but SOB!!!! NA$CAR has got to pull their heads out of their [behinds].
“Out of all the BS going on in the last week and a half, Dr. Dick Berggren is the only credible person who has outwardly spoken up, had the same opinion as I do, and said NA$CAR screwed up.
“They should have stayed out of everything in Richmond and just let the teams work it out. There’s been crap like that going on for as long as there have been teams. The only difference now is social media, and the fact that EVERYONE can now hear EVERYTHING in real time.”
ACT Late Model Tour
A 40-plus car field for the Fifth Annual Bond Auto ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway has been announced. The race will be run Saturday, Sept. 21 at 4:30 p.m.
The field will be led by 12 drivers who have won an Invitational qualifier event. A strong contingent from New Hampshire includes Wayne Helliwell Jr. and Joey Polewarczyk Jr. Vermont drivers Brian Hoar, Jimmy Hebert, Bobby Therrien and Cody Blake claimed qualifier wins. From north of the border, Quebecers Jean-François Déry, Alex Labbe, Donald Theetge (Theetge can’t make it and will be replaced by Nick Sweet), Dany Trepanier have all won qualifying events. Travis Stearns of Maine and Eddie MacDonald of Massachusetts complete the 12 Invitational Qualifier winners.
• The 42 (at the time of my deadline) are 3VT Ricky Roberts, 4NY Brandon Atkins, 5VT Bobby Therrien, 6VT TJ Brackett (withdrew), 7NC Ben Lynch, 7ME Glen Luce, 8NH Guy Caron, 9ME Emily Packard, 9NH Kyle Welch, 10MA John Falconi, 11VT Josh Masterson, 14ON Sean Kennedy, 15VT Joey Laquerre, 16ME Travis Stearns, 17MA Eddie MacDonald, 17RI Ray Parent, 18VT Jamie Fisher, 19QC Dany Trepanier, 20NH Taylor Martin, 20MA John Lowinski-Loh, 21QC Jean-Francois Dery, 23ME Dave Farrington Jr., 27NH Wayne Helliwell Jr., 28ME Rowland Robinson Jr., 29NH Aaron Fellows, 31NH Luke Hinkley, 34NH Todd Davis, 37VT Brian Hoar, 41QC Jonathan Bouvrette, 41VT Jamie Aube, 42VT Matt White, 48QC Alex Labbe, 49NH Matt Anderson, 51VT Joey M. Laquerre, 58VT Jimmy Hebert, 77MA Jimmy Linardy, 78NH Quinny Welch, 81ON Bryan Mercer, 88VT Nick Sweet, 94ME Shawn Martin, 97NH Joey Polewarczyk Jr., 99VT Cody Blake, 07MA Tom Carey Jr.
• Some notable drivers missing are Jean-Paul Cyr, Brent Dragon, Patrick Laperle, Dan McHattie, Phil Scott, and Ricky Rolfe. At this time I’m not sure if Brackett will be replaced.
• The winner will bank $7,500 before bonuses. Second pays $3,000, third $2,000, fourth $1,900, and fifth $1,850. Tenth is $1,600, 15th $1,450, 20th $1,300 25th $1,175, 30th $1,115, 35th $ and 43rd $1,035.
• This is a non-point-counting event. POINTS with one race to go – 1. Helliwell 1,180, 2. Polewarczyk Jr. 1,139, 3. Hebert 1,118, 4. Therrien 966, 5. Lynch 932, 6. Stearns 888, 7. Parent 838, 8. Robinson Jr. 835, 9. Dragon 768, 10. Luce 745.
• The Tour will decide the 2013 ACT Champion at the Fall Foliage 200 finale at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., Sept. 28.
• Thunder Road will open their gates one last time for the 51st running of the Milk Bowl. There are no points for the Late Models but the Tiger Sportsmen and Street Stocks will decide their champions October 6. Qualifying is scheduled for October 5.
Austin Theriault led 192 of the 300 laps that made up the PASS Southern Maine Chrysler Dodge Jeep 300 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Sept. 15. It was his fourth career PASS-sanctioned victory and the second PASS North Series win of his career.
Theriault won the pole but seemed content to just log laps early. On a lap 90 restart his team got him out first and he led until he pitted on lap 169. It wasn’t long and he was leading again. He lost the lead briefly after being trapped in the low groove. He later held off DJ Shaw on a restart with 12 laps to go and cruised off to a five car-length victory. Theriault is a Brad Keselowski Racing development driver.
• Joey Doiron entered the race with a 21-point lead over Cassius Clark. Clark finished seventh while Doiron was 15th. The difference now is 14 points.
• Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Sept. 15: RESULTS – 1. Austin Theriault, 2. DJ Shaw, 3. Derek Ramstrom 4. Corey Bubar, 5. Cassius Clark, 6. Kelly Moore, 7. Mike Rowe, 8. David Oliver, 9. Scott Mulkern, 10. Tony Ricci, 11. Trey Mitchell, 12. Aaron Ricker, 13. Johnny Clark, 14. Bryan Kruczek, 15. Joey Doiron, 16. Ben Rowe, 17. Ricky Rolfe, 18. Dylan Gosbee, 19. Alan Wilson, 20. Ron Moon, 21. Scott Dragon, 22. Bradley Babb, 23. Tyler King, 24. Michael Landry, 25. David Farrington Jr., 26. Kyle Desouza, 27. Travis Benjamin, 28. Bill Rogers, 29. Curtis Gerry, 30. Steve Berry, 31. Jimmy Russell.
• The PASS championship will be decided at Oxford Plains (ME) Speedway, Sept. 28. Post time is 1 p.m.
• POINTS – 1. Doiron 2,162, 2. C. Clark 2,148, 3. Shaw 2,130, 4. Benjamin 2,103, 5. B. Rowe 2,042, 6. J. Clark 2,015, 7. Curtis Gerry 1,940. For whatever reason, the following three guys points weren’t updated – 8. A. Ricker 1,518, 9. Michael Landry 1,442, 10. Kruczek 1,442.
POINTS with two races to go:
Late Models – 1. Travis Fadden 847, 2. Oren Remick 813, 3. Stacy Cahoon 786, 4. Tyler Cahoon 751, 5. Bernie Lantagne 718, 6. Michael Jurkowski 712, 7. Todd Aldrich 692, 8. Tim Churchill 679, 9. Ryan Olsen 621, 10. Quinney Welch 542.
Tigers – 1. Scott Coburn 849, 2. George May 786, 3. David Baron Sr. 767, 4. Richie LaFond 765, 5. Jason Fallman 698.
Strictly Stocks – 1. Elwin Sidney 817, 2. Tom Keith 811, 3. Chandler Potter and Lucas Wheeler 760, 5. Amanda Wheeler 757. 6. Shane Sicard 749, 7. Cody LeBlanc 739, 8. Michael Lloyd 696, 9. Gordon Day 616, 10. Logan Oliver 561.
Strictly Stock Minis – 1. Ben Belanger 830, 2. Jeremy Wyman 787, 3. Brett Rowell 776, 4. Scott Corey 767, 5. Michael Richards Jr. 749, 6. Desirae Sicard 748, 7. Colby Bourgeois 703, 8. Cody Smith 668, 9. Dave Driscoll 503, 10. Nick Pillotte 345.
Dwarf Cars (only one left) – 1. Toby Merchant 552, 2. Jason Wyman 542, 3. Eric Boucher and Andy Hill 541, 5. Bobby Brown 538, 6. Jeff Ainsworth 532, 7. Paul Marsan 519, 8. Dennis O’Brien 504, 9. Tyler Jones 447, 10. Kevin Hockman 427.
Jordan Fornwalt scored his second career win Sept. 15 in the DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds at Bear Ridge. He bested a 23-car field. He worked his way from mid-pack to snag the lead from Tim Tucker in the later stages of the 40-lap event.
Tucker held on to finish in the runner-up spot while Mike Gendron crossed under the checkered flag in third. Chris Donnelly rebounded after two uncharacteristic finishes one week ago to finish fourth, which allowed him to tighten the championship standings with rival Kevin Chaffee. Dan Eastman of Thetford Center completed the Top 5 finishers.
Louie Cadwell scored his second Sportsman Coupe feature win of the season in the 30-lap feature event. Josh Constantine, Teddy Salomaa, Martin Mastic, and Billy Simmons completed the Top 5.
Brandon Gray picked up his fourth win of the season in the Limited Late Model feature. Point leader Jason Giguere finished second while Brian Chaffee, Matt Ellsworth, and Travis King made up the Top 5.
Tim Martin won the 20-lap Fast Four feature over Kevin Harran and Rob Gioia. Bobby Bell scored his second straight Hornet feature.
• The Ridge will host the fourth annual 99ROCK New England Dirt Track Championships on Sept. 21. The five weekly divisions will be in competition as well as the USAC Dirt Midget Association and the Sprint Cars of New England. Post time is at 6 p.m.
FINAL POINTS – Late Models – 1. Bryan Mason 686, 2. Corey Mason 684, 3. Brandon Lambert 669, 4. Steve Patnaude 612, 5. Matt Carbone 576.
Limited Late Models – 1. Doug Laleme 624, 2. Chandler Davis 619, 3. Jourdan Davis 595, 4. Mike Paquette 581, 5. Aaron Smith 542.
Street Stocks – 1. Jamie Heath 693, 2. Nick Gilcris 638, 3. Cole Kilby 626, 4. Josh Barney 605, 5. William Good 596, 6. Jenna Randall 563, 7. Anthony LaCoss 559, 8. Tina Leveille 544, 9. Jason Kenison 534, 10. Jared Plumley 533.
Angels – 1. Vanessa Brown 618, 2. Jenna Randall 616, 3. Tina Leveille 612, 4. Jaime Carbone 583, 5. Nicole Ouellette 573.
• Riverside will host the O’Donnell Racing Fall Brawl, October 19. The second annual event will include a $10,000-to-win late model race, a Limited Late Model/Tiger Open, a Street Stock Open, and it will also be championship night for the Northeast Mini Stock Tour.
Also, two enduros are scheduled for the end of the season. The Frostbite 400 will be November 2 and the return of the winter enduro – the Snowball Derby – will be on December 29.
VT State Championship
The four-race, two-track – Devil’s Bowl and Thunder Road – Vermont State Late Model Championship Series finished up at Devil’s Bowl, Sept. 15. Nick Sweet put on a clinic in the first 86 laps, lapping everyone except the top six. Three late cautions bunched the field up and gave Travis Stearns a shot at the win. Sweet and Stearns ran the final five laps side-by-side with Sweet winning by less than two feet.
Sweet easily won the championship by 33 points over Chip Grenier. Sweet was nearly untouchable, winning both events at The Bowl and finishing second in both races at The Road.
RESULTS – 1. Nick Sweet, 2. Travis Stearns, 3. Chris Bergeron, 4. Brandon Atkins, 5. Boomer Morris, 6. Josh Masterson, 7. Bucko Branham, 8. Chip Grenier, 9. Dallas Trombley, 10. Joey Becker, 11. Jamie Fisher, 12. Robert Bryant Jr., 13. Chris Lacey, 14. Seth Bridge, 15. Chad White, 16. Tommy Eriksen Jr., 17. Emily Packard, 18. Trampas Demers, 19. Hunter Bates.
Until Next Week
Get out and enjoy some short-track racing this weekend. But remember: “If you’re not having fun, stay home and don’t bother those of us who are.”