Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Raceweeks have arrived

Hard to believe, but the month of May is nearly over. I know it's just the 17th, but with two weeks of NASCAR at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the time will zip by, so with that in mind, a primer on what's in store.

The All Star race coming up on Saturday night is the one many fans are watching. Even though Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are on probation for the next 3 weekends for their post-race issues at Darlington, there is always the chance something silly can happen in the non-points race. I am not counting on anything happening, but you just never know. Jenna Fryer from the Associated Press tweeted on Monday that track President Marcus Smith offered to pay fines for the drivers if they happen to get involved in something on Saturday. That's all well and good, but if NASCAR decided to strip points from their regular season totals as a result of violating that probation, well, money can't fix that.

A wonderful story in the All Star race is Regan Smith, winner at Darlington. A one-car team based in Colorado finding its way into the showcase event. Smith has been talented enough to run with the series big guns, and finally found a way to beat them all back to the stripe. Normally, Smith tries to find his way in via the Showdown (formerly the Winston Open), but this year, he's part of the big show. Good for him, as it's nice to see a guy like Smith (down to earth, humble, and honest), get rewarded.

Carl Edwards comes into Charlotte with the points lead, a lead that will not change this weekend, but could next weekend in the Coca Cola 600. Jimmie Johnson is stalking him, just 24 points back, and in 4th, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I maintain that other leagues like MLB, NHL, NBA are all better when "foundation" teams are successful. In MLB, it's teams like Boston, the Yankees, Cardinals, etc. In the NBA, the Knicks, Lakers, Sixers, Celtics, etc. For the NHL, the Original Six teams of Detroit, Chicago, NY Rangers, Boston, Montreal and Toronto. In NASCAR, if Dale Jr. is a factor, people pay attention. Now, we wouldn't know that based on a rough attendance number from Dover, yet, the series is getting noticed this year. Looks like the team swaps made in the off-season at Hendrick Motorsports are paying off nicely, with all four teams in the top 14 in points (Johnson-2nd, Dale Jr-4th, Mark Martin-11th, Jeff Gordon-14th). As it stands now, Martin and Gordon would make the Chase, Martin based on being first outside top-10 in points, Gordon for being first outside top-10 with a win this season.

Loads of NASCAR coverage coming this week, starting with David Reutimann paying an in-studio visit on Tuesday. Check it out on Sports Night at 10, and be sure to peek in on the Sports Night Twitter page (@Sports_Night) for a special Twitter-only treat!

Mike Solarte

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