Friday, June 2, 2017

Roll with It: Five Questions for Dover

(Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ah, Dover International Speedway, how we've missed your monstrous mascot and challenging concrete. After NASCAR’s longest race, it’s nice to return to a track that’s a little more predictable, right?

Ha.

What we’ve seen in the past week shows us that nothing is predictable, especially in a sport that thrives on fast cars and looming unknowns. On the other hand, there are some things in this world of racecars that you can rely on.

I talk about that, new sponsorship opportunities, and more in this week’s edition of your favorite column ever. Let’s roll.

Who in the CWTS rises to the top? The Camping World Truck Series needs some good news after Red Horse Racing suspended operations until further notice. If you look at the list of 2017 winners, even more bad feelings creep into your stomach. Three of the five races this season were won by Cup regulars. Ew. Luckily, Friday night brings a bit of relief; no Cup regulars are entered for Dover. This was also apparent in qualifying, which placed Chase Briscoe and Ryan Truex on the front row. Hot damn. If you look at who’s slated to race on Friday evening, you give an advantage to the Kyle Busch Motorsports youngsters, which includes Christopher Bell, Todd Gilliland, Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton. That’s a talented young crop right there. Bell claimed Atlanta Motor Speedway and has the most experience of the four, so I can see him visiting Victory Lane. However, it looks like Briscoe and Truex will pose a threat as well. Whoever wins will have to battle for the trophy, and it feels like a night that brings a new name to the sport’s forefront.

With one more Dash4Cash, which Xfinity regular gets it done? Hey, remember that Dash4Cash promotion? It’s back this weekend at Dover, giving NXS drivers the opportunity to earn a $100,000 check for being the highest-finishing NXS regular. This is the last chance for this money, with Justin Allgaier and Daniel Hemric claiming the past three checks. Allgaier won at Phoenix International Raceway and finished well at Richmond International Raceway to grab two checks. This makes him the frontrunner when it comes to this challenge. To be honest, he and his No. 7 JR Motorsports crew are miles above the competition—and another Dash4Cash win would only solidify my assumption that the 2017 championship is his for the taking.

Have you noticed Earnhardt’s new sponsor? No, this isn’t about the one who drives for Hendrick Motorsports. This is about Jeffrey Earnhardt, who revealed Friday morning that he picked up Hulu as a sponsor. The streaming service will be on his car for 19 races, a huge get for a small operation such at Circle Sport. It’s not every day you see those organizations nab a big-name company. Maybe this could signal a change in the sponsorship segment of the sport; if a company cannot afford the large price tags associated with larger teams, they could go to teams like Circle Sport and still get the exposure they want. Sponsorship costs are an inflated bubble on the edge of bursting—but that’s a discussion for another time. Earnhardt’s announcement is encouraging and just nice to see.

Why does the NFL ruin everything? Much to his dislike, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (an avid Redskins fan) was slated to run a Philadelphia Eagles paint scheme at Pocono Raceway next weekend. Unfortunately, it was announced on Friday that wouldn’t happen due to some obscure NFL provisions. Good for Junior, bad for everyone else who likes to have fun. This makes me realize the serious disconnect between the NFL and NASCAR, something that might have been (partially?) bridged by this promotion. Not anymore. The fact of the matter is, television viewing is down across all sports. This would’ve created some press for the NFL and possibly drawn in more notice local to the Eagles. Even if you’re not a regular NFL viewer, you know people commonly refer to it as the No Fun League due to their outlandish regulations. This seems to fall in line with their M.O.


Was Busch childish or on-brand? This is something I must comment on due to the high-profile coverage it has received. By now, we all know how Busch acted after the Coca-Cola 600—emphasized with a two-sentence answer and a mic drop. It was peak Kyle Busch behavior, the type of comment we’ve come to know and fans have come to love. Now, as many people have pointed out, the comment came after a prolonged race that ended around midnight. As someone who’s covered the 600 before (for this amazing website!), I completely get that. He also ran up front most of the night and didn’t win. Nobody was expecting him to cheer and ride off on a unicorn. It could’ve been a tad more subtle. If anything, I feel the mic drop/toss was the most unnecessary part. With all of this said, it’s not anything new from Busch. His personality is an enigma, one that’s served him well throughout the years. We just have to roll with it. No matter how you feel about him, it makes him different. 

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