Friday, June 20, 2014

The Perfect Storm: Five Questions for Sonoma/Road America

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Road courses are gems that are only unearthed twice a year. They shine brilliantly, only to be thrown back in the ground and covered up again. This weekend brings a double dose of left and right turns; the Cup crew claims Sonoma Raceway, while NNS dominates Road America. Fans will love the change.

Another aspect fans like about these layouts? The drivers get frustrated. Radio chatter is full of swear words and promises of paybacks. That drives us wild.

Emotions play a huge role in sports, life and self-health. It’s something we experience each day from the moment we wake up. Does the bird singing outside your window make you roll over and smile, or do you wish for noise-cancelling headphones? This decision can affect your whole day. Sometimes, one incident sets you off, and the entire day is ruined.

Is that why drivers get angry at road courses? No. I’ll talk about that later, after I answer four other questions in this week's twisted column (See what I did there? Ha.).

Is Hendrick Motorsports peaking too early? To some, this might be a stupid question, but let me explain. Three-fourths of that team is competitive each weekend, and they’re currently on a five-race winning streak. If there’s any team that can withstand the pressure of being consistent, it’s HMS. However, I believe it’s too much too soon. Things will change once it comes down to the wire, down to the championship. The reality of Steve Letarte’s departure will set in and make or break the No. 88 team. Trends also show that organizations who get on hot streaks don’t ride them for long. It’s hard to say how things will shake out, but I’m not holding my breath on the Hendrick dominance.

What going on with Dillon? The year began with the return of the No. 3, Austin Dillon wheeling the iconic number to the Daytona 500 pole. People chose Dillon to rise above fellow rookie Kyle Larson. Stats prove otherwise; Larson is eighth in the standings and remains competitive every week, while Dillon has fallen into the shadows. What’s his issue? It might be the organization he runs for, Richard Childress Racing. There hasn’t been one peep out of RCR before this weekend, where Paul Menard claimed a top five at Michigan International Speedway. It seems like a page is finally turning, and we might see more out of Dillon before the end of the year.

Should Gateway’s fantastic Truck performance equal a Cup date? If you didn’t see the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ event at Gateway Motorsports Park, you thoroughly missed out on some racing action. Not only did Darrell Wallace Jr. grab his second win of his career, but the night was full of action and controversy. As soon as it ended, fans wondered, “How would Cup cars fare there?” Well, we all know the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule needs a revamp. A wild 1.25-miles, the track has the age and wear needed to spice up the top-tier series. Does that mean it will work? Maybe. Part of what made the NCWTS event so magical was the ease with the youngsters got frustrated. If that can translate, hey, it’s worth a shot.

The State of  NNS: hopeful or hopeless? With the Trucks putting on a show, and the Cup guys always doing well, left in the gray area is the NASCAR Nationwide Series. With a new title sponsor in the works, you’d think there would be a lot to say, but its fallen in between the cracks. The cause? There aren’t any storylines. You can tell me that all the young guns coming up are newsworthy, or that the debate about Cup drivers’ involvement is hot, but you’d be wrong. Both of those highlights have dimmed, leaving us with nothing. I’m not saying it’s a boring series, however, something new needs to happen. Something jazzy.

Why do road courses bring out rage? NASCAR drivers know that they’re good at their job; if they weren’t good, they wouldn’t have made it here. Their living is made by driving … but they can’t figure out road courses. Every racer has a layout or a track that bites them in the butt every time they arrive, and some don’t know why. Sonoma and Watkins Glen are those annoyances for many. While some pick up the left and right turns on their first try, others struggle. Wouldn’t that make YOU mad? That, along with the tight twists and almost-guaranteed bumping, creates a perfect storm for a driver to just snap.

0 comments :

Post a Comment