Whisler Weekly Recap: Michigan/Gateway
BK facing turmoil?
Will BK Racing be around when it comes to the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season? In recent weeks, the future of the organization is up in the air. Ryan Sieg was in the car at Michigan that was driven by Gray Gaulding. Alon Day, the first Israeli driver to compete in Cup, will replace Gaulding at Sonoma this weekend. Gaulding and Sieg went to social media last week before Michigan to discuss what is going on. At Dover, Sieg was in the car for Corey LaJoie
I wanted to be the one to share the news with my fans and partners but I will not be racing the 23 this weekend at @MISpeedway pic.twitter.com/sTytMTQF3c— Gray Gaulding (@graygaulding) June 13, 2017
Just an FYI for everyone.The only thing BK wanted me to bring to the table was my driving shoes. Hate it for Gray. Great kid and driver. https://t.co/bcescv3woW— Ryan Sieg Racing (@RyanSiegRacing) June 13, 2017
Over the past couple of weeks, the organization has also reorganized their crew chiefs. Randy Cox moved from the No. 83 team and take over duties as the No. 23 crew chief. Doug George has been named as crew chief for the No. 83 Toyota. Patrick Donahue was relieved from his duties as crew chief for Gaulding after Pocono.
BK Racing has been the joke of many fans and drivers alike because the organization tends to bring out a caution each week.
Ron Devine told "The Pit Stop" on the Speedway Digest Radio Network earlier in the year that they would remain consistent with two drivers throughout the season no matter what and use a third car, if needed, for a rotisserie of drivers.
BK Racing only has one charter in 2017. In 2016, they had two, but over the offseason sold the charter to Front Row Motorsports then leased out to TriStar Motorsports. Because of the charter setup, Front Row will either have to start a third team or sell the charter they acquired.
On the preliminary entry list, BK Racing only has the entry for Alon Day at Sonoma.
Truck count at Gateway
Only 30 trucks in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series made their way to Gateway Motorsports Park this past weekend. At Texas Motor Speedway, the truck count was 28.
When the Truck field is paired with the Cup Series, the field is at capacity or teams are being sent home from the event.
Many fans and media were worried about the truck count. However, it is going to be ok. Many standalone events do not have a high enough purse for many teams to even consider showing up. It would usually be cheaper for a team to sit out of an event that doesn't pay well, than to show up and wrecking the vehicle.
GMS Moves to Cup?
News broke early Saturday evening that GMS Racing could potentially field a team in the Cup Series. According to a report by Motorsport.com, that decision couple come within the next month.
This move would be welcomes as the Cup field has struggled to have 40 or more cars arrive at every single race. Although NASCAR deems a full field as 36, it is concerning that only a couple of "open" teams show up on a given weekend.
Last week, GMS Racing hired on Mike Ford to help run the Xfinity Series program. Ford was a Cup crew chief for Denny Hamlin and Bill Elliott resulting in 21 Cup wins.
With the lose of Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports lost a key player in the Cup series. The addition of GMS Racing would allow more information to be shared among teams at Chevrolet.
Because sponsorship and charters are crucial in Cup today, GMS and Maurice Gallagher are looking at running one car. However, if the move to Cup happens, the organization will use Spencer Gallagher for a test run.
It is also interesting to note that just a few short years ago, GMS Racing was a team that would be sent home for failing to qualify in Truck competition. Now, they are a power house in that series as well as a strong dark horse in the Xfinity series.
It is a love hate relationship when it comes to standalone events in NASCAR’s top-three national divisions. In 2017, the Truck series will have a stand alone event at Texas, Gateway, Eldora, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Xfinity Series has standalone events at Kentucky, Iowa, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and Road America.
In 2018, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway standalone for Trucks and the Xfinity standalone at Kentucky will be no more.
Standalone events have become more cost consuming for many teams. The Xfintiy Series has been called “Cup Lite” because of how many races they run with Cup. The viability of these series is contingent on the performance and presence of drivers in the Cup series.
The slogan for the Xfinity Series is “Names are Made Here”. That slogan is true in the fact that when an Xfinity regular is able to run alongside and compete against a Cup regular it shows that they can beat and compete against the “best of the best”.
The crowd at Gateway was one of the best that has been seen at a standalone event in quiet some time. However, not many Trucks arrived at Gateway.
NASCAR should look at potentially moving the Trucks away from contingent weekends with Cup and Xfinity, but look at ways to help promote the K&N Series at some of their own tracks. This could help NASCAR get reconnected with the grassroots of the sport, something that has been lost as NASCAR has become more corporate.
Debris cautions have been a hot topic after the FireKeepers Casino 400 from Michigan International Speedway. The third to last caution was thrown for debris within the final 20 laps of the event. After that caution, the caution flag flew a total of two more times to do incidents on the restartL Tony Stewart went to Twitter to explain his frustrations:
It's a shame that so many drivers and teams day was ruined by the results of another "debris" caution towards the end of the race today.— Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) June 18, 2017
NASCAR threw the caution for a trash bag on the racing surface, but did not throw the caution for debris due to a straw hat on the racing surface.
Scott Miller, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Racing Competition, went on SiriusXM’s “The Morning Drive” to discuss this situation.
"We use all the resources that we have to try to identity what it is that is out there - that being camera, turn spotters and the communication that we've got around the race track to different people who may be able to see it," Miller said.
"If we are actually able to identify what it is and feel like it's something that is OK to leave out there, then we'll do so. But if we can't identify what it is exactly and it could pose something dangerous, then we'll usually, or almost always, error on the side of caution and safety and put the caution out in those circumstances. Sometimes it's untimely and a little bit unfortunate, but we do have to do our job and make sure that everybody is safe."
NASCAR needs to work with its TV partners to show why the caution was flown for debris. This will help clear the air of the black helicopters that encompass debris cautions.
Since instituting the “crash damaged vehicle” policy in 2017, the number of cautions for debris is at 12, while the number of debris cautions in 2016 were at 21.
Give Me Five: Sonoma Edition
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wraps up a weekend at Sonoma Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park for the Toyota Save Mart 350 and the Drivin’ For Lineman 200. Here are my five weekend takeaways:
o Conspiracy Theories: Can we please stop with the conspiracy theories of Denny Hamlin allowing Tony Stewart to pass him on the final corner? If Hamlin were to truly let Stewart win, he would not have passed him on the last lap. We all want drama and excitement, but the “black-helicopters” have to stop.
o Extra-Curricular Activity: I am fine with driver’s participating in extra-curricular activities like fighting, but I am glad that it does not happen often. However, the issue comes when this activity is taken on a “hot” track. I understand that the red flag was displayed Saturday, but what if it wern't displayed? I understand that drivers are heated in the moment, but judgment should not be deferred.
o Road Course Racing: I am thoroughly enjoying the resurgence of racing on a road course. Just a few years ago, we dreaded going to a road course, but now they are one of the most looked forward to events on the schedule. Should a road course race be added to the Chase? I wouldn’t mind seeing one, but only time will tell.
o Townley/Gallagher: Your “fight” was an embarrassment on the sport. Instead of other media outlets talking about a great race, they were talking more about your tango. Is any publicity good publicity? In my opinion, no, especially with the “fighting” moves demonstrated.
o Gateway Motorsports Park: I am glad to see that Gateway was brought on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule. Despite the past two years being delayed by weather, the racing action was one of the best. I hope to see more events take place at Gateway in the future of NASCAR.
What are your takeaways from this past weekend at Sonoma and Gateway?