Sunday, August 19, 2012

The state of NASCAR racing as Keselowski sees it

   Brad Keselowski has been vocal about the perceived advantage Hendrick Motorsports cars have this season, but on Sunday he took it a step further offering a big-picture look at how the quality of the racing has been affected this season.

   Keselowski's answers to some questions following Sunday's race were quite interesting.

   Is this a new era here at Michigan? All of kind of things happened in today's race.
   Keselowski: Well, I just think there’s big discrepancies in the cars right now. I think there are certain parts and pieces that are on the cars that are making them quite a bit different to where we’re seeing different paces throughout the field. I think there’s probably a half-dozen to a dozen cars that are drastically faster than the rest of the field and that’s disruptive the parity and created a lot of side-by-side action that, you know, is maybe good, maybe bad; depends on who you are. But I think right now in the sport the cars are perhaps the most separated than what we’ve ever seen. 
   I think if you look at qualifying, the difference between the pole and 20th was over a second. We haven’t seen that in over 10 years in this sport. I think there’s a major pace discrepancy now. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing but that’s just an observation to note and that creates more side-by-side racing which opens up the possibilities and potential for issues like you described.
   What were you saying about the cars having an advantage? What is the trick?
   Keselowski: There are parts and pieces on the car that are moving after inspection that make the car more competitive. Some guys have it, some don't. There's a question to the interpretation of the rule. Penske Racing errs on the safe side because we don't want to be the guys that get the big penalty.
   Obviously, there's a question to the interpretation; that as of right now, it's legal. But I'm sure that Roger doesn't want to be the one caught red handed. As a group at Penske Racing, we have not felt comfortable enough to risk that name and reputation that Roger has over those parts and pieces. Others have, which is their prerogative. I'm not going to slam them for it.
   But it's living in a gray area. Roger doesn't do that. There's certainly some performance there that we've lost. I shouldn't say lost, but haven't gained, because we choose not to do that. That's something that we have to continue to evaluate every week that goes by, that those components are permitted to be run. We have to make a re-evaluation of that internally to decide if that's the right way to go.
   But as it stands now, certainly that's part of the speed discrepancy through the field. Some of the teams haven't figured out how to make it work, some of them just don't feel comfortable risking the piggybank on it. It's part of how this sport works behind closed doors. We're still working our way through it. I'm not saying I have all the answers to it, but it's certainly part of that discrepancy that we were speaking to earlier.

Kyle Busch and Doug Herbert to kick off Summer Shootout finale

    The annual Summer Shootout Series will go out with a bang Tuesday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway with fireworks and appearances by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and former Legend Car racer Kyle Busch, as well as NHRA driver and B.R.A.K.E.S. founder Doug Herbert.

   As part of Champion’s Night, Busch will serve as Grand Marshal and Herbert will be the Honorary Starter. Both racers will participate in an autograph session on the concourse beginning at 6 p.m. for the first 150 kids to get wristbands from the main ticket office in Smith Tower. Children can pick up their wristband starting at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

   The autograph session will take place at the special B.R.A.K.E.S. display featuring a Top Fuel dragster. B.R.A.K.E.S., which stands for Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe, is a nonprofit organization that teaches teens and their parents about the importance of safe driving. Herbert founded the organization after he tragically lost his two sons in a car accident in 2008.
   On Tuesday night, champions will be crowned in six Legend Car and Bandolero divisions during Round 10. At the end of the night, there will be a fireworks display saluting the new Summer Shootout champions. In addition to Legend Car and Bandolero racing, four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive Stadium Stocks, which run weekly at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., will take to the frontstretch 1/4-mile oval for a special race.

   Gates open at 5 p.m. with opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. Tickets for the Summer Shootout Series are $7 for adults and are available in advance at the speedway ticket office or at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Kids 13 and under get in free. For tickets to the Summer Shootout Series, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at (800) 455-FANS (3267); or visit