Friday, July 14, 2017

A Simple Request: Five Questions for New Hampshire

Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images
I’m breaking the rules a bit. Whoops.

Rule breaking is frowned upon in racing, especially NASCAR—but this is necessary for what I want to say. I’ll touch on it more at the end of this column.

Hopefully, teams won’t break any rules this weekend, or they’ll face some harsh penalties (*cough* Larson *cough*). Both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a track that measures 1.058 miles. It will be thrilling to see who can maneuver the short oval and succeed as the second half of the year gets underway.

This week, I’m talking babies, new manufacturers, and a simple request. Here are your five questions for New Hampshire.

What’s in the NASCAR water? We dedicate a lot of time to Silly Season, but NASCAR’s also in the middle of Baby Season. Kevin and DeLana Harvick announced this week they’re expecting baby number two, revealing the news a few days after their son Keelan’s fifth birthday. A few days before that was when Joey and Brittany Logano said they’re having a boy via burnouts. Also on the baby watch list: Ty and Haley Dillon, as well as Denny Hamlin and Jordan Fish. Cute kids galore, yes—but I’m staying away from that water fountain.

Should car changes be the next move? The latest rumblings in the NASCAR world include the sport looking at new manufacturers. They even posed their question to members of the NASCAR Fan Council, according to Reddit. Of course, the earliest a new manufacturer could join the sport would be 2019, so there’s a tiny bit of time for NASCAR’s efforts to come to fruition. Is this a good idea? Sure, I guess; I’m not certain it would alleviate the parity, but new manufacturers would be fun. My main thought regarding this is that the sport’s in such a state where they have to reach out to new manufacturers rather than the other way around. Things have definitely changed, that's for sure. NASCAR should press hard for new manufacturers and stick their neck out a bit. Why not take the risk?

Have Cup guys stopped infiltrating the Xfinity win column? No. Twelve of the 16 NXS races were won by full-time MENCS drivers. That sucks. William Byron’s back-to-back victories broke up the monotony, but…it still sucks. Byron is quickly becoming the go-to Xfinity guy, making it difficult for other regulars to catch up. Even if they could, they would be met with a sea of Cup competitors. I’m bringing this up because something needs to happen with this series, whether it be a new car or what have you. It’s hard to watch. When Cup regulars are winning 75-percent of the races, it goes from NXS to Cup Light. I’ll ponder on this more and come back with a few solutions in two weeks.

Can team No. 22 right the ship? When I compare this year to last season, one thing strikes me as odd—the lack of noise from Logano. Sure, he has a win under his belt, along with seven top-fives and 10 top-10s. Some drivers would kill to have those stats. However, the recent numbers are less than stellar. Out of the last 10 races, the No. 22 finished outside of the top 20 six times; three of those finishes were worse than 30th. Now, Kentucky Speedway was a bright spot, with him bringing his Ford home in eighth. Is the rough patch over? New Hampshire could provide a springboard for the second half of the season; Logano has two wins, six top-fives, and eight top-10s in Loudon, with four of those top-10s coming in the last five races there. It could be a great weekend for the No. 22 crew.

This isn’t really a question—but it’s my column, right? As I said before, I’m breaking the rules a bit with this column. Well, this “question” does, but I do what I want. All I want to say is that we need to send Sherry Pollex and Martin Truex, Jr. positive vibes. As many people know, Sherry battled ovarian cancer a few years ago and built a charity/awareness network on her experience. After Truex’s win on Saturday, it was revealed she went in for another surgery due to a recurrence. There’s no word on what this means for them (and it’s a personal matter that they aren’t required to share with the masses), but it’s important to keep them in your thoughts. As Truex made it to victory lane, I saw many tweets complaining about the announcers discussing Truex finding his speed a few seasons ago and that coinciding with Sherry’s diagnosis. Given, those tweeters didn’t see her hospital selfie until afterward—but that doesn’t mean their posts are forgiven. You can be tired of the “underdog” trope, one that Truex and the No. 78 have seemingly shaken. I mean this in the nicest way possible—it’s not about you. None of this is about you, or the win, or even racing in general. So please, as much as your fingers are itching to type out how much you hate hearing about Truex overcoming a rough start to his career and watching the love of his life go through one of life’s hardest battles, just shut up. Spread positivity instead.

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