Friday, August 15, 2014

Raise Your Voice: Five Questions for Michigan/Mid-Ohio

Michigan International Speedway. Credit: Sean Gardner / NASCAR via Getty Images
NASCAR is one of the most fan-friendly sports around, and who are we to suppress their voices? This week’s Five Questions includes four fan questions via Twitter, and I tacked one of my own on at the end.

The past seven days have been a whirlwind with the Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward Jr. incident fresh in everyone’s minds. Though we don’t know what the long-term repercussions are yet, it’s obvious that Stewart is hurting. If you are a believer in prayer, I strongly urge you to pray for not only the Ward family, but for Stewart as well.

With that said, let’s answer some inquires ahead of the races at Michigan International Speedway and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (my home track!).

Has the Race for the Chase been what you thought it would be like when it was announced last winter? Is it better or worse? - @Briancullather My first reaction to the new Chase format was pretty blunt: “This can’t end well.” However, I quickly came around once I thought about it for a bit and realized the endless possibilities. Underdogs screaming from the top of mountains, while alpha males whimper longingly from the unimpressive ground. It’s been even better that what I imagined; two unexpected players –Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger — are in the thick of it. Though the front-runner is still someone associated with a big team (hint: his name rhymes with ‘Kale Jr.’), it’s exciting to think a huge upset could occur. By bounds, it’s better than I expected it to be.

Do “mainstream” journalists know anything about racing? - @ccrms99 The events of this week have shown the ugly side of media, as the likes of CNN and Fox News have exploited the Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward Jr. incident to the third degree. I praise the news stations that tapped into the heart of it all, contacting knowledgeable people and NASCAR journalists. However, the ones who threw Stewart under the bus are the lowest of the low. Not only did they destroy his name, they also got the facts wrong. It’s a crucial line that’s been in place for the media; it separates those who want to wrongfully gain views and those who want to report the truth. That line has been obliterated over the past few days, and I highly doubt it will stop soon.

Who is your pick to win at Michigan on Sunday? – @bt2012abt2012 Michigan is a difficult track to read because it’s both simple and complicated at the same time. Due to it being a 1.5-mile track, many teams have notes that’ll aid them. These types of tracks aren’t known for the most competitive racing, either. Despite this, our saving grace will be … FUEL MILEAGE. Whoever has the best fuel plan will take the checkered, and strategy is abundant in the No. 88 camp. Am I crazy for thinking Dale Earnhardt Jr. could win his fourth race of the season? Maybe, but I’m going with it.

Do you think [Parker] Kligerman should have waited for a “better” ride before jumping into Cup with Swan [Racing] given his situation now? - @babbzabbz What happened with Swan Racing was absolutely heartbreaking; watching a team disband is never a good thing, especially with their focus on young drivers. Kligerman is surely talented, which was apparent while he ran the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Though it was a risky choice that ended too quickly, he made a great decision; he learned a lot about what he wanted in a team and how racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is compared to what he’s accustomed. Everything happens for a reason, and this is no exception.

Why has this week sucked so badly? – @KristenGoRawr (AKA me) This has to be one of the worst weeks in history. Not only has the Stewart/Ward accident filled a needed silence, but two beloved actors in Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall passed away. I hope those two rest in peace. It took another wrong turn when Sherry Pollex, Martin Truex Jr.’s longtime girlfriend, revealed that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Because of this, she requires surgery today, and Truex will be by her side. Pollex’s devotion to pediatric cancer makes this news truly saddening, and I wish them the best as they begin this experience. If there’s anything I’ve learned from dealing with my own mother’s battle with cancer, it’s that tough times don’t last. Tough people do. Pollex is a strong woman who can’t be brought down by this. We are thinking of her. Go Sherry!


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