Tuesday, February 3, 2015

NASCAR: Week in Review (2/2/2015)

Credit: Bob Leverone/NASCAR via Getty Images
Week In Review continues, recapping all the hot topics from our sport in the past week. We'll keep you informed about what's going on in NASCAR, so if you missed anything, don’t worry – we have you covered. As always, your comments are welcome on our Facebook page. So, ladies and gentlemen, start your opinions!

Is it coming to an end?
In 2015, Danica Patrick begins her final contractual year with Stewart-Haas Racing and GoDaddy. Acknowledging her third year in NASCAR's premiere level is a critical point in her racing endeavors, Patrick said, “Well, I ain’t getting any younger and I don’t know how many times I can change my career.”

With the backing of co-owners Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and her sponsors, she plans to stay with SHR.

Daniel Knost will be Patrick’s new crew chief in 2015. Will this be the change the No. 10 team needs to consistently finish in the top 20? Haas seems to think so. "I think putting Daniel with her is a good change because he is very, very technical and he's the kind of guy that will sit there and explain exactly what the car's doing, and if we do this, this is the result you're going to get. It's really a different way of racing than, say, a Tony Gibson, and a little different perspective gives you different results."

Starting off 2015 fresh
After two disappointing seasons, Tony Stewart is ready to begin 2015 anew as the "Smoke" his fans have come to love.

“When they counted down to the end of 2014, I was never so happy to see that number go off the calendar, I am ready to put the last two years behind me and never look back, not look in the mirror, not talking about it, not thinking about it. I am going back to being me again,” Stewart said.

His fresh start begins next month at Daytona International Speedway, where Stewart will try to win his first 500 in 17 attempts. 

Staying focused in 2015
Kurt Busch showed up to NASCAR’s annual media tour ready to talk about racing, though the topic of conversation focused more on the legal battle with ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll.

“It’s a matter of seeing through things and understanding truth. We are waiting on the investigation to find a conclusion,” Busch said.

The criminal case for Busch is still on-going and a ruling on the no-contact order, requested by Driscoll, is expected any time. Gene Haas, co-owner and primary sponsor for his No. 41 Chevy, believes Busch will be exonerated.

Busch has support from the Stewart-Haas Racing camp and that should play a major factor in his success in 2015. 

Getting over the past
Clint Bowyer admits he harbors ill feelings about Jeff Gordon intentionally wrecking him at Phoenix in 2012, in retaliation for a prior incident at Martinsville.

This issue could affect Gordon in his last full-time season in NASCAR. But to give Bowyer credit, he doesn't want to be known as the driver who took out a respected veteran in his farewell tour.

Bowyer said he will likely continue to have a problem with the four-time champ until Gordon officially walks away from racing.

No apologies
NASCAR’s 2012 champion Brad Keselowski appears to have no regrets about his actions during the 2014 season.

“If you get in a wreck and a fight racing for 20th, that doesn’t make SportsCenter. You get in a wreck and a fight with a previous champion racing for a championship, going for a win then you’re probably doing the right things,” Keselowski said.

This statement backs up his remarks in Texas after a post-race altercation with Jeff Gordon, where Keselowski made it clear he wasn’t going to back down.

Keselowski has been called a “non-conformist” in the NASCAR world. He confirmed he fits into that role at a press conference in Texas last year.  

“I’m not going to get in the spot where I was in 2013, where I tried to be exactly what they all wanted me to be, because what they want me to be is a loser, and I’m not here to lose, I’m here to win."

As for who “they” are, it was never disclosed. One thing is certain: fans will be entertained watching Keselowski race for years to come.

It's official
Hendrick Motorsports announced that XFINITY Series Champion Chase Elliott will be the driver of the iconic No. 24 beginning in 2016.

The team publicized that Elliott has a five-race deal for 2015, making his Sprint Cup debut at Martinsville Speedway in March. Elliott will also compete at Richmond, Charlotte, Indianapolis and Darlington.

Until last week this was nothing more than speculation. Now that it has become official, it will be interesting to see how Gordon’s fans react in 2016 with a new driver.
One thing for sure is that 2015 will have a lot of storylines, which should make for a dramatic season.  


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