The NASCAR Sprint Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck Series completed a triple-header weekend at the Monster Mile, Dover International Speedway for the AAA 400 Drive for Autism, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 200, and the Jacob Companies 200. Here are five takeways from this past weekend in the first state:
- TV: Fox Sports 1 was home to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, while the NASCAR Xfinity Series was on FOX. The Verizon IndyCar Series was on for the same time slot at the NASCAR Xfinity race. Was the plan to try to compete with IndyCar and ABC? What was wrong with the 12 pm Eastern start times for the Xfinity Dash4Cash Heats? These are the questions to be answered. The XFINITY Series, however, did beat out the .8 TV ratings with IndyCar with a 1.1.
- Matt Kenseth: Lady Luck has finally turned her ear of bad luck away from Kenseth, who scored his first win of the season. This win makes for all four Joe Gibbs Racing teams to be in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. It will be interesting to see how many more wins Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing can receive.
- Dover: In general, this was probably one of the best races at Dover in awhile. When I am watching a race, I want to be surprised by who won. I want to be able to not know who will win. As always, you should not change the channel because you should expect the unexpected when it comes to live sports.
- Young Guns: It was amazing to watch Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, and Kyle Larson all have the chance to battle for the lead. It was refreshing to see new names at the top of the leaderboard on Sunday. If they are the future of NASCAR, then the future is bright for NASCAR.
- Restarts: The racing events at Dover in the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series had its fair share of restart issues. In Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race, Cole Custer was penalized for jumping the restart. On Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, Elliott Sadler was penalized because he was being “pushed” on the restart and beat the leader to the line. Restarts seem so 2015, but they still continue to be an issue in 2016 among rookies and veterans. Hopefully, drivers will be able to control the starts/restarts better.
What are your takeaways from this past weekend’s events at Dover International Speedway?
Atlanta Motor Speedway… What comes to mind when you hear those words? A race plagued by weather? Boring? SMI’s next demise? For me, I hear the words abrasive and tire management. That is what happened this weekend for the Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500. It was an exciting race that went 209 laps caution-free at the start. Drivers were on wheel, turning right to go left.
Ed Clark and his team at the Atlanta Motor Speedway did a better job this year marketing the event compared to last season. Clark and his team had more time to market the event to the Atlanta fan base, which struggles to support their own sports teams. The weather was something that plagued last year’s Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500. The “Chamber of Commerce Weather” for the race weekend was a factor for many of the fans in attendance for the weekend. Attendance for the event was better than the year’s prior. Fans loved the new ticket packages being offered by Atlanta.
I was able to attend the double-header on Saturday between the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series and Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race. All three races were filled with great unknown. The first ever use of the new caution clock for the Camping World Truck Series, and the new low-downforce package for the Sprint Cup Series were used for the first time at Atlanta.
On Saturday, fans were treated to the second edition of the NASCAR Double-Header at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Xfinity Series race was considered “boring” to the fans around me in the stands. Kyle Busch won for the first time at the Atlanta Motor Speedway ending the win streak of Kevin Harvick at the 1.54-mile track. Fans were treated to the battle of Kyle Larson trying to close the gap on Kyle Busch in the final laps. After the Heads Up Georgia 250, fans had roughly thirty minutes to reprogram their scanners, reapply sunscreen, and refuel on beverages and food.
The Great Clips 200 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway was a rather eventful race. Trucks that were dominate throughout the whole race crashed allowing John Hunter Nemechek to capture his second career Camping World Truck Series win. The caution clock expired twice during the race. Fans enjoyed the idea of the caution clock because without it Matt Crafton would have continued his dominance at Atlanta. Fans cheered when the caution clock expired for the first time on lap 28. At the beginning of the race, the time remaining on the caution clock was not available on Sprint Vision, but after about 10 minutes, fans could see how much time was remaining. The second caution clock provided for an “amazing restart”, according to some fans. Matt Crafton and Daniel Suarez were turned coming off of the second turn by Suarez’s teammate, Christopher Bell, red-flagging the race. Fans cheered when Crafton and Suarez were able to walk away, and booed when they saw that Christopher Bell caused the accident. When it looked like Bell was on his way to victory, he had a tire go down and he hit the wall coming off the fourth turn. The impact to the wall was loud enough where fans with scanners could hear the impact. Fans were excited when John-Hunter Nemechek held off Cameron Hayley to win.
Atlanta Motor Speedway does a good job of getting fans to renew their tickets for the next season. When a fan renewed their tickets for 2017, fans were able to receive a QuickTrip Gift Card, Spy Sunglasses, and a Brookstone tool. Fans who renewed are placed in the AMS Insider’s Club. This club allows for fans to have preferred parking in the front three rows of the unreserved lots of the speedway, a coupon book up to $40, and over 750 exclusive prizes. I was an AMS Insiders Club Member for this weekend. I was able to go into race control and the Performance Racing Network Booth as one of the prizes. Fans were able to see how a radio broadcast works from the booth perspective, and how race control is run during the event.
The Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 showed a great step in the right direction for the low-downforce package. Tire management was key in the race and drivers were forced to manage their tires with perfection. After about 35 laps, drivers were planning their stops to get four fresh Goodyear tires. Drivers were able to pass throughout the field, no matter where they were on the speedway. The leader was not able to run away with the lead in clean air. Drivers were able to battle for the lead, unlike other 1.5-mile events. NASCAR Overtime also played a role into the race. However, I had to explain to some fans about the new overtime line. The anti-climatic finish allowed for Jimmie Johnson to win. Fans were amazed that the drivers with dirt backgrounds struggled with the new package. Cars that were fast in practices throughout the weekend, struggled during the race.