NASCAR announced today that there will be 13 drivers in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Jeff Gordon has been added to the field of Chase contenders. The news came from the top of NASCAR with its CEO Brian France and President Mike Helton holding a press conference at Chicagoland Speedway this afternoon.
But the pair of NASCAR honchos seemed less than confident in the decision they were announcing. Like they weren’t totally sold on the idea themselves. And for good reason.
Gordon was added because he had been placed at a disadvantage during Saturday night’s Chase deciding race at Richmond, according to NASCAR.
Penske Racing made a deal with Front Row Motorsports, 2 Ford teams, in the closing laps to allow Joey Logano to pass David Gilliland. That pass put Logano ahead of Gordon for the final spot in the Chase.
NASCAR decided that was Chase manipulation, and good enough reason to add the unprecedented 13th spot.
Isn’t that the same thing the Michael Waltrip Racing crew was docked 50 points apiece for – Chase manipulation? Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr were each docked 50 points each after it was determined that Bowyer intentionally spun in the closing laps in order to help Truex’s Chase chances.
How is a deal for one driver to take a dive and allow another to pass any different? Both incidents were with the intention of manipulating the outcome of the Chase standings.
If NASCAR were to be consistent they would give the Logano team the same penalty that Truex and Bowyer received. 50 points. But NASCAR has never won an award for consistency.
Should Jeff Gordon continue running the way he has been he will be an “also ran” in the Chase. But if Gordon is the 2013 Sprint Cup Champion it will be a dark day for NASCAR.
What do you think?
On Wednesday NASCAR, the private company which runs the world’s most popular and largest stock racing series was brought into the bitter world of divorce. A court order prompted the release of more than 1500 documents form NASCAR CEO Brian France’s divorce case.
But what is not in the documents is even more interesting. Brian France does not own any part of NASCAR.
In his prenuptial agreement written before their marriage in October 2005, and his December 2007 separation agreement, he lists no ownership in NASCAR. Jim France and Lesa France Kennedy are the sole owners of the NASCAR. They are brother and granddaughter, respectively, of NASCAR founder “Big Bill” France.
This was confirmed in the April 2007 lawsuit between Kentucky Speedway and NASCAR. Therefore Brian, who is the nephew and brother of Jim and Lesa and, who has always refused to discuss ownership details, has no stake NASCAR. This is also backed up by the newly released documents.
NASCAR spokesman, Brett Jewkes, confirmed on Thursday that NASCAR is owned by the France family. However, neither NASCAR nor Brian France has any comment on the divorce case or the newly released documents.
However, even though he has no ownership of NASCAR, the documents show how massively wealthy Brian was in 2005 and 2007. According to the documents, Brian’s assets were $554 million with liabilities of $26 million. In 2004, his earnings as NASCAR chairman and CEO grossed $9.05 million. These assets include three California condos worth $4.4 million, a $10.6 million Central Park condo with an additional $780,000 maid condo, three Daytona condos worth $1.8 million, and a $950,000 home in Charlotte. Along with his property ownership, he also owned a yacht $5.2 million, three private planes worth $54.6 million and five cars worth $234,000. Along with this, he lists partial ownership of the Grand-Am sports-car series company, but it had insignificant value in 2007. He also has $120 million worth of stock in the France family owned International Speedway Corp, along with other investments worth $259 million. ISC owns 12 tracks hosting NASCAR Sprint Cup races.
In the divorce, his ex-wife Megan France gained ownership of a $2 million vacant lot, as well as a $3.2 million home in Charlotte.
The case documents were originally sealed, however, Charlotte-area media challenged the sealing, and has the details released. These details show that Brian didn’t pay $6 million of a $9 million payment to his ex-wife Megan. Along with this payment, Brian is paying $510,000 yearly for 10 years in alimony and childcare. The alimony and childcare payment are for their twin children, born in September 2006. Meanwhile, the $6 million, plus any interest is being held pending the outcome of the case.
Details on why Brian defaulted on this $6 million payment come from the documents, which come from a September 2008 lawsuit (the divorce was finalized prior to this). In this lawsuit, Brian states that Megan broke the original terms of the divorce, by not adhering to visitation rights, agreements on the employment of nannies, and confidentiality clauses.
However, Megan France counters saying that Brian was not involved enough in the life of their children, refusing to pay prep school fees for her daughter from a previous marriage.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Note to Brad: Sometimes it’s best to temper your words
May 6, 2013
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Memo to Brad Keselowski:
Regardless of the circumstances, sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and your Twitter feed shut down.
Don’t get me wrong. Your honesty and your willingness to say what’s on your mind are admirable. From a journalist’s standpoint, you’re excellent copy. When you won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship last season, we shared your joy.
You’ve become the poster child for social media in the NASCAR community, starting with your wildly popular tweets during the Daytona 500, after Juan Pablo Montoya lost his argument with the jet dryer.
Nevertheless, there are times when hair-trigger tweets don’t serve you well, and Sunday night was such a time.
I can understand why you were upset. You believed, and may still believe, that David Ragan usurped your rightful position on the outside of the fifth row for the green-white-checkered restart that decided the race.
The facts suggest otherwise. You are absolutely right that Ragan took the green flag from the outside row, in 10th place. He did so because NASCAR instructed him to line up there.
As the Cup cars circled under caution before the restart, those of us in the press box had Ragan scored eighth, on the outside of the fourth row, because that’s what the scoring monitors showed. Scott Speed was ninth, and you were 10th.
But before the green, NASCAR reordered the field after reviewing scoring following the Lap 183 accident that caused the caution and demoted Ragan two positions. That moved Speed up to eighth and you to ninth — on the inside row where you didn’t want to be.
I’m sure you caught Ragan’s explanation after the race.
“We were running eighth when the one-to-go around the caution (came), and NASCAR — I guess it’s standard procedure — they always go back through the running order and adjust any cars that need to be adjusted, I guess with film maybe, when the caution came out on that back straightaway wreck,” Ragan said.
“I knew that we were probably a little higher than what we should be, because we were running 20th or so when that wreck happened and we made it through, so they adjusted the lineup.”
Questioned about the race procedure, NASCAR issued a statement indicating that Ragan had lined up properly.
I’m sure, Brad, that you thought you had a legitimate beef, but that’s not the only issue here. There are times when you should simply hold your tongue to avoid appearing small-minded and petulant.
Front Row Motorsports got its first win and fourth top five in 406 starts. This is the moment in the sun for owner Bob Jenkins and the drivers who finished 1-2, Ragan and David Gilliland. Coming from your blue-collar racing family background, you ought to be able to identify with the enormity of what happened on Sunday.
Realistically, this may be the last win ever for Front Row. You, on the other hand, almost certainly will continue to win races and challenge for championships. The bottom line is that it’s unseemly to spit in Cinderella’s glass slipper on her one big night at the ball.
It’s also unwise to accuse another driver of “cheating the game” two days before your Penske Racing organization faces its final appeal hearing for using what NASCAR has deemed unapproved parts in your rear end housings last month at Texas.
You’re an elite driver and an outspoken, charismatic champion, but there are times when tact and magnanimity should temper your words.
Sunday night is a case in point.
Joey Logano knew what he was doing when he refused to lift his foot off the gas pedal on the final turn of the final lap in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 At California Speedway. Logano knew that contact with Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota was inevitable.
However, Logano did not intentionally wreck Hamlin. Logano simply knew what any smart racer knows. 8 wheels turn better than 4. Logano knew that if he could make the turn he had a shot at winning the race. It was just hard racing, pure and simple.
Denny Hamlin knew what he was doing, too. With 2 laps to go Hamlin, then running 2nd to Logano, knew that if he could get Logano’s car a little sideways he could get past. And that is exactly what Hamlin did, giving Logano a shot to the rear bumper and making a pass for the lead.
Logano also knew what he was doing on the final re-start when he took Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet to the apron to prevent Stewart and the rest of the field from passing. Again, that was just hard racing. No one did anything wrong.
Sure, Stewart was upset about it. But it’s not like he has never blocked anyone. Just look at Talladega last year when Tony Stewart’s late race attempt to block took out half the field. When it comes to blocking Stewart is the best in the business according to Logano’s team owner Roger Penske.
Logano didn’t intend for Hamlin to wind up in the hospital with a broken back. But he might have backed off a little if he didn’t feel like Hamlin had one coming after last week’s dust-up at Bristol.
In the heat of the battle both drivers forgot about 3rd place driver Kyle Busch who passed both drivers for the win. With Hamlin and Logano slowing each other down Busch would have made the pass even if the wreck had not occurred.
What is your take on all this? Did Logano cross the line, or was it just racing?
My friend Sandy just doesn’t get NASCAR. She thinks it is just a redneck pastime. Not even a real sport. She asks me questions like “how can you just sit there and watch people drive around in circles?” Sandy even told me that the only reason to watch a race was to see the wrecks.
She just doesn’t see the personalities behind the sport like the speak your mind frankness of Tony Stewart or Kevin Harvick. Or the intensity of Kyle Busch or Dale Earnhardt Jr. Or the usually unspoken inter-team rivalry between Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.
Sandy thinks that anyone could drive a race car. “How hard is it to make a left turn, after all” she asks me. When those left turns are coming up every 15 seconds at 190 miles per hour. I wonder how she would do coming off turn 4 with Kurt Busch on her rear bumper and Danica Patrick to the inside.
The strategy of the race totally escapes her. Sandy doesn’t realize that races are won and lost on pit road. The decision to pit. 2 tires or 4? Gas only. These decisions can make or break a race team’s day. To Sandy they just stop when they run out of gas.
How about you? Do you have a friend like Sandy who is totally clueless when it comes to NASCAR? I’ll bet you have some funny stories. I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
It was Kevin Harvick in Victory Lane at Phoenix after passing Kyle Busch with just a few laps remaining to take the win. But no one is talking about that.
The two big stories of the day were Jimmie Johnson losing the points lead to Brad Keselowski after a late race wreck, and Jeff Gordon waiting on Clint Bowyer in order to intentionally wreck him and the fight that followed.
Jimmie Johnson came to Phoenix the Sprint Cup points leader, and a sixth championship seemed to be in sight. But a blown tire sent Johnson hard into the wall and then to the garage for repairs. Johnson left Phoenix with a 20 point deficit to Brad Keselowski. A 15th place finish next week at Homestead will give the title to Keselowski no matter how well Johnson finishes.
Fights, Wrecks and Championship Hopes Gone
Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer were involved in a minor racing incident that escalated to a major melee late in the race. The two were racing for position and made contact which resulted in Gordon brushing the wall and cutting a tire.
An angry Jeff Gordon slowed on the racetrack and waited for Bowyer to come around. Gordon then crashed Bowyer hard into the wall in retaliation taking out Joey Logano and very nearly Brad Keselowski in the process.
After Gordon climbed from the No. 24 Chevrolet on pit road he was mobbed by Bowyer’s crew and a huge fight broke out between the two race teams.
But it did not end there. When Clint Bowyer heard about all that he made a run for Jeff Gordon’s hauler, and made it to the front door before being stopped. Bowyer was looking to even the score.
Jeff Gordon was wrong to crash Bowyer like that. Plain and simple. That wreck and its aftermath resulted in a lot of wrecked race cars, and nearly took out the championship leader.
Gordon and Bowyer were both summoned to the NASCAR hauler after the race, along with several members of both teams. NASCAR should do the right thing and park Gordon for one race as they have done Kyle Busch for a similar incident in the past.
What would you do if you were NASCAR?
After 200 wins in the Sprint Cup series Rick Hendrick called for a celebration at the Fillmore in Charlotte. Brad Paisley performed while current and past winners for Hendrick Motorsports celebrated. Here are the photos.
Saturday night’s Sprint All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway is set to be one wild ride. With no points on the line drivers will be racing only for the gory of winning, a nice trophy, and oh, by the way a $1 million payday for the driver who brings home the checkered flag.
To put it simply, it is 90 laps for $1 million.
This is one race when it really is “checkers or wreckers,” and “I’ll bring back the trophy or the steering wheel!”
“It’s win or nothing” says Jeff Gordon, a three-time All Star winner.
But not just an All Star event, the race is also a tune-up for the following week’s 600 mile race on the same track. Drivers who find the right set-up for the All Star duel will have an advantage when the 600 rolls around. In 2010 Kurt Busch won the All Star and went on to win the 600.
5 segments will make up Saturday night’s All Star race. 4 20 lappers, and a 10 lap finale for $1 million.
So far Dale Earnhardt Jr is not qualified for the race, but he still has a chance to race his way in during the Sprint All Star Challenge before the main event. Should he not make it in there is still a chance he would get in with a fan vote.
Who do you think has the best shot to win?
NASCAR’s reigning champion Tony Stewart felt the pressure from Jimmie Johnson as the final handful of laps wound down. Stewart was so concerned with Johnson that he asked his team to ask NASCAR to make sure that Johnson did not lay back to get an extra bit of momentum on the final re-start.
When the green flag fell for the last time Johnson and Stewart rocketed ahead of the field and it was Stewart getting to the checkered flag first for the win.
It was the first Vegas victory for Stewart, leaving only Kentucky and Darlington as tracks Smoke has not won at.
Ironically the move Stewart warned about was the same one he himself had used with about 3o laps to go to grab the lead from Brad Keselowski on another re-start.
Dale Earnhardt Jr was fastest at the start of the race leading 73 laps early on, including the first 43. But Earnhardt’s shot at victory faded when he took 4 tires on a pit stop, while most other teams only took 2.
What were your thoughts on the race? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
President Obama needs your vote.
That is the message First Lady Michelle Obama will be sending when she serves as the Grand Marshall in NASCAR’s season finale Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Mrs. Obama will be joined by Dr. Jill Biden to lead the pre-race ceremonies and give the command to start engines for the Ford 400, the last race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. It is a part of their Joining Forces Initiative honoring the Military and their families.
Neither of the Obamas bothered to attend any NASCAR race during the last campaign. In fact, no Democrat acknowledged NASCAR fans as several Republican candidates were making the rounds at NASCAR races.
So why the change of heart? It’s because Obama needs your vote. NASCAR fans make up a huge block of voters, and If President Obama can sway the NASCAR vote he just may have a shot at 4 more years.
So how’s the hope and change thing working out now for the President. Now it’s “I hope I can change their minds before the election.”
Will you be more likely to re-elect Barack Obama now that he is a NASCAR supporter?