NASCAR will be hosting its first events as the new owner of Iowa Speedway on the weekend of May 17-18, when the Casey’s General Store 150, NASCAR K&N Pro Series, and NASCAR Nationwide Get To Know Newton 250 presented by Sherwin Williams will take place. In addition to the action on the track, fans can expect loads of entertainment with a special feature being fan photo opportunities with winning drivers. Moreover, instead of being held inside the media center, drivers’ meetings will be held on the opposite side of the front stretch, giving fans more opportunities to see the competitors before the race starts.
New president of Iowa Speedway, 28-year-old Jimmy Small is reportedly determined to make a success of this new venture, and to include fans and the State of Iowa in the process. Small concedes that he’s aware that many people think he is a bit young for the position he is in, but notes that he is professional in his approach and passionate about the sport.
Born and raised in Detroit, historically the automotive capital of the United States, Small is a graduate of Notre Dame University in Indiana, not far from the renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway. During his senior year he applied for a position at NASCAR’s headquarters in Daytona, and was hired soon after his graduation. Starting off in series operations, Small went on to gain experience in other areas of NASCAR’s operation, and when offered the position of president of Iowa Speedway, he readily accepted.
NASCAR’s announcement last year that it was buying Iowa Speedway generated a lot of speculation, and a lot of excitement among fans and teams alike. Top notch drivers, including Brad Keselowski and Trevor Bayne, tested the track last week and gave it the thumbs-up. Certainly autoracing fans in this region have some thrilling racing to look forward to at Iowa Speedway this season.
Kevin Harvick earned his first victory with Stewart-Haas Racing on Sunday in The Profit on CNBC 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took second place followed by Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Jeff Gordon in third, fourth and fifth places respectively. Starting the race in 13th position, Harvick moved his #4 Chevrolet into 5th position for a time before moving into second place just before the caution flag was given on lap 35. After taking the lead, it became evident that the victory would be Harvick’s and the other drivers were competing for 2nd place.
Harvick dominated both practice sessions on Saturday and was considered to be the favorite for Sunday’s race – and he didn’t disappoint. This was Harvick’s fifth win at Phoenix International Raceway, and his 24th in 468 career starts. Having moved to Stewart-Haas after 13 seasons with Richard Childress Racing, Harvick noted after the race that his victory “solidifies so many things and so many decisions”. He went on to say that the Stewart-Haas crew had put so much work, time and effort into the car, giving it his stamp of approval with an enthusiastic “What a race car”.
Kyle Busch dominated the NASCAR Nationwide Blue Jeans Go Green 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, leading for 155 laps in a race that was cut short by 32 laps due to persistent rain. Commenting that he would have loved to have gone back out on the track to complete the race, Busch commended crew chief Adam Stevens and the rest of the crew for the work they do and the prime condition the #54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Kevin Harvick took second place, followed by Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth.
Meanwhile, NASCAR is reportedly still mulling over the issue of whether or not to limit participation by Sprint Cup Series drivers in the Nationwide and Truck Series. With the second race of the season over, it appears that no decision has been taken as yet. Some fans are of the opinion that Sprint Cup drivers should leave the so-called “developmental series” to drivers who are developing their skills. Kyle Busch is a case in point. As the owner of his own truck team, he competes in Nationwide and Truck series, and reportedly says he will continue to do so until the rules are changed.
Following the ARCA race Saturday in which Chase Elliott and Dylan Kwasniewski were given the opportunity to prove themselves, the two 18-year-old drivers have been approved by NASCAR to compete in speedway racing. Kwasniewski started in pole position at Daytona International Speedway and finished the race in fourteenth position, while Elliott crossed the finish line in ninth place. Grant Enfinger took the checkered flag, being his first victory at Daytona, and the third of his career. Frank Kimmel and Clay Campbell took second and third places respectively.
Born on November 28, 1995, Chase Elliott is the son of 1988 Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott. He has been a development driver for Hendrick Motorsports and will reportedly be driving the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In 2010, Elliott 12 of the 40 races he competed in, and finished in the top ten no less than 38 times. He was selected as the Georgia Asphalt Pro Late Model Series Rookie of the Year in 2010, finishing the season with a victory at the Winchester 400.
In February 2011, Elliott entered into a driver development contract with Hendrick Motorsports. Highlights in 2011 included finishing ninth in series points in the K&N Pro Series East and competing in the CRA where he won the National Super Late Model Championship. Elliott became the Snowball Derby’s youngest winner just after his sixteenth birthday in 2011.
In 2012 Elliott returned to the K&N Pro Series East claiming his first career victory at Iowa Speedway in May of that year and finished fourth in series points. Driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Elliott became the youngest winner at Pocono Raceway in ARCA history in June 2013. Also in 2013, he became the youngest driver to earn pole-position in the NASCAR Truck Series, and at the age of 17 years, 9 months and 4 days, became the youngest winner in Truck Series history. With his victory at the All American 400 in November 2013, Elliot became the first driver to win the largest four short-track races, being the Snowball Derby, the Winchester 400, the World Crown 300 and the All American 400.
With the jury still out on the role Elliott played in the multiple car crash during the ARCA race, it is unclear as to whether he will compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year. The NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at Daytona International Speedway on February 22 with the DRIVE4COPD 300.
The official announcement by NASCAR regarding the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup’s new format put an end to weeks of speculation and sparked debates among NASCAR fans on the pros and cons of the upcoming changes, which are reportedly designed to put the emphasis on winning races, rather than accumulating points. It is anticipated that the new format will generate a lot more excitement among fans, which may result in grandstands packed to capacity with spectators, a scenario which should make sponsors happy and motivate them to keep teams running.
The new NASCAR Sprint Cup scoring format increases the number of Chase competitors from 12 to 16 and drivers must win at least one of the first 26 races of the season to earn one of 15 spots in the championship. The 16th position will go to the season’s points leader, irrespective of a win. Also, in order to qualify for the Chase, drivers must be in the Top 30 in points at the end of the 26 races and tried to qualify in these races.
A series of qualifier races after the 29th, 32nd and 35th races will eliminate drivers each time, until four drivers remain for the final race to be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Starting from a leveled playing field, the four drivers will compete for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship title.
While there are obviously pros and cons for both the old and new format of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, it’s generally agreed that the 2014 season is likely to see an uptick in competitiveness as drivers go all out for a win, knowing that collecting points may just not be good enough. Strategies for on the track and in the pits may have to be revised, and team-work will take on a whole new dimension – all of which should add up to a whole lot of action for 2014.
The action of drifting, when the rear slip angle of a car is greater that the front slip angle and a loss of traction occurs between tires and track, can occur in different types of auto racing. This may be unintentional, with drivers either spinning off the track or being able to rectify the over-steering that caused the drift, or intentionally, with drivers using the technique to gain an advantage. In recent years, drifting has developed into a recognized motorsport in its own right, with drivers intentionally over-steering to get their cars to slide sideways while still being in control. Drifting competitions are held in many countries around the world, where competitors are judged by a set of criteria which may include speed and angle, as well as adherence to the line through corners which is set for each competition and amount of smoke created. In some competitions audience response and driver showmanship are taken into account when selecting a winner.
Drifting as a sport is believed to have originated in Japan, with motorcycle and car racing champion Kunimitsu Takahashi being considered to be the “father of drifting” as, in the 1970s, he created many of the original drifting techniques still used today. Takahashi’s drift techniques were picked up by Keiichi Tsuchiya who took to practicing his moves on mountainous passes. He was given the nickname of “Drift King” for the part he played in establishing drifting as a motorsport, and for his use of drifting in standard racing events. The video (Pluspy) focusing on Tsuchiya’s drifting skills continues to inspire today’s drivers.
Sponsored by the Japanese drifting magazine Option, one of the first drifting events in the United States took place at the Willow Springs Raceway in California. The sport has gone from strength to strength since then with the premier series in the United States being Formula D. This exciting championship series consists of seven events that take place at race tracks across the country. Judges take into account execution and style and so the winner will not necessarily be the competitor who finishes the course in the quickest time.
Tracks in the US that currently host drifting events include the Long Beach GP street circuit; Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA; Palm Beach International Raceway; Wall Speedway, NJ; Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA; Las Vegas Motor Speedway; and the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, CA. Described as the merging of extreme sports with traditional racing, drift racing offers plenty of action and excitement – for both drivers and spectators.