Category Archives: Exclusives

Fantasy Five – 2014 The Profit on CNBC 500

Daytona 500 - Practice

The Fantasy Five is our look at the top 5 fantasy picks for the Fantasy Live game on NASCAR.com

Fantasy Live on NASCAR.com assigns a money value to each driver, with each team consisting of 5 drivers with a total value of $100 or less. Once you “hire” a driver, their value is locked in for the season. However, since a drivers value can fluctuate, it becomes very hard to add and/or drop drivers each week as values seem to increase faster than they decrease.

Last weeks team was Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Cole Whitt and Michael Waltrip.

This week, due to value increases and decent historical statistical value, we are pretty locked into keeping Kenseth, Hamlin and Earnhardt Jr.

Obviously we need to drop Michael Waltrip since he isn’t even racing this week, and we need to look at limited data and evaluate Cole Whitt versus some other options in the same price range.

Cole Whitt’s value on NASCAR.com is $12.00. Similar drivers in his range are Danica Patrick ($16.00 – up $4.50), Justin Allgaier ($15.00 – up $9.25), David Gilliland ($14.00 – up $5), Ryan Truex ($13.00 – up $8), Joe Nemechek ($11.00 – up $6.25) and Swan Racing teammate Parker Kligerman ($11.00 – up $6.25).

If you look at historical data, and unfortunately you need to compare using some Nationwide data for Kligerman and Whitt, but you come up with about an equal rating for Kligerman, Whitt and Patrick.

However, if you look at Sprint Cup results for Patrick, you see some terrible finishes, so I eliminated her until I see some better consistency. I’d rather take a shot on a newer driver, trying to find a bargain.

Allgaier was a great buy if you got him last week at Daytona, but his increase this week ruled him out for me. Gilliland is consistent, but not worth $14.00. Ryan Truex at $13.00 with that team is insane. The same for Nemechek. That left we between Kligerman and Whitt so I stayed with Whitt.

To replace Waltrip, I had $12 left over, so I went and got David Ragan. Another consistent finisher, with a team that is always going to run the full race distance. I’ll gladly take a 25-30 place finish with my two weakest drivers, I just can afford a 4oth. I feel I get that with Ragan and Whitt.

So, while individually Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano or Brad Keselowski are probably the top drivers to select this week, their increase in value is too much for me to withstand so I’ll go with Kenseth, Hamlin, Earnhardt Jr., Whitt and Ragan.

Last week I finished 7th in our league out of 30 so I think I am on the right path.

For my manufactuer, I selected Ford to cover in case Logano or Keselowski win. I took Denny Hamlin’s crew for my pit crew as they were one of the best last year and were top 5 last week as well.

An Interview with Camping World Truck Series Spotter Charli Brown

(Left to Right) Charli Brown, Joshua Guiher and Ryan Blaney at Eldora Speedway before the start of the CarCash Mudsummer Classic Presented by CNBC Prime’s 'The Profit' on July 24, 2013 [Charli Brown]

(Left to Right) Charli Brown, Joshua Guiher and Ryan Blaney at Eldora Speedway before the start of the CarCash Mudsummer Classic Presented by CNBC Prime’s ‘The Profit’ on July 24, 2013 [Charli Brown]

An interview with vetern spotter Charli Brown, who currently works with Ryan Blaney and Andy Seuss.

Q: Charli, I’ve known you for years through similar online interests, and finally got to meet you this past summer at Eldora. For as long as I have known you, you have been spotting and working for race teams in the Charlotte area. Can you explain some of the different types of events you have spotted at?

A: Good Question. I started right off the bat with Chad Little when he drove his own Tyson Farms #19 Ford in the then Winston Cup Series at Charlotte. I honestly had no clue what I was doing at the time but went back and started again with NASCAR Modifieds, NASCAR K&N Pro Series, various NASCAR, CRA and PASS Late Models as well as the ARCA Racing Series and now the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Q: NASCAR has announced some new rules for spotters, and more specifically, the equipment used. Can you explain some of the changes and how this might affect you?

A: Honestly, it doesn’t effect me at all. I still use whatever radios the teams supply me with. The full time spotters in the Sprint Cup Series have had it a little tougher. Mostly with the digital radios they used to communicate with the team. That was basically a closed channel between spotter and crew chief. NASCAR has eliminated that and written the rule to read “Analog Radios Only.” Most Sprint Cup Series spotters were using four radios on the roof. One for Channel One to communicate directly with the driver, One for Channel Two to communicate with the team and crew chief (as to not disturb the driver with unnecessary information – digital radio) One to specifically scan NASCAR’s Race Control as required by NASCAR and a fourth radio to scan themselves as a safety check to make sure all the radios they were using to communicate with the team and driver were broadcasting properly.

Q: Most of the time racetracks are built more in the suburbs and rural areas rather than cities like a football or baseball stadium might be. What are some of the logistical issues that you must deal with and what are some of your favorite tracks to travel to for the food and entertainment outside the track?

A: Well, this answer is a double edged sword. As much as I disliked spotting at Las Vegas, I enjoy playing Blackjack at the South Point Casino. It’s a new hobby I picked up while working the K&N Pro Series at Dover Downs two years ago. As for logistics, it’s pretty much the same every week. Most of the teams charter a plane and most of the teams are all on that very same plane. We’ll fly out of Concord and land at the closest airport that has a private (or seperate) terminal for private planes. Most teams have a rental van waiting for them and we’ll pile in that van with our luggage and either head straight to the track for tech day, or to the hotel we’re booked at and check in. As far as favorite tracks for food, nothing beats heading to New Hampshire and stopping at my favorite pizza place, Papa Gino’s Pizza. Daytona is always good for outside entertainment as well as Talladega and Charlotte. Texas is a new favorite because of Bone Daddy’s BBQ and Grill.

Q: Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Bowman Gray Stadium is one of your most hated places to spot at. Why is that and what other tracks present a real challenge.

A: As a spotter, Bowman Gray Stadium is a great place to learn to spot. Things happen so fast there that it’s a lot like spotting at a flat Bristol. What frustrates me about the place is the way the rules are so loosely adhered to and it’s ran more like a WWF wrestling show on wheels than an actual NASCAR race track.

Q: What about a favorite place to visit or spot at?

A: Martinsville. Iowa. New Hampshire and Gresham Motorsports Park. Least favorite? Right now, it’s Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I’ve heard the sight lines at Phoenix are a nightmare, too. South Boston is also a challenge because of where the spotter’s stand is located at the top of turn one. My favorite place to visit is my home track, Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut.

Q: What is it about Las Vegas that makes you say it is your least favorite track to spot at right now?

A: Again, this is purely my personal opinion. To me, Las Vegas is spread out a little more than say Charlotte, or Texas. It’s basically like comparing it to a small Michigan or California. The sight lines for picking up your car on corner exit off of turn four and heading into turn one are a little tricky especially with the sun setting right into your driver’s eyes in turn four at the beginning of the race. Then later in the evening, you’ll see guys trying to go three wide into turn one and not have enough momentum to complete a pass since they’re stuck under two cars (or trucks) racing for position. With the aero deal the way it is right now, that’s a risky move that often doesn’t work.

Q: Having been a spotter from local ranks all the way to Sprint Cup, can you relay a pinnacle moment or a fond memory?

A: There’s been a few. Getting a personal phone call from Ryan Blaney to spot his non-companion NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races last year is the best one, right now. Spotting for Tommy Baldwin Racing and J.J. Yeley in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover a couple years ago also is one of them. That was a “right place at the right time” kind of deal. In my heart, I know I helped Dillon Bassett win the Martinsville 300 last fall which is the biggest NASCAR Late Model Stock Car race of the year. I truly enjoyed working with Dillon and our pre-race plans worked out perfectly until the final restart.

Q: Part of racing is controversial decisions by sanctioning bodies. I know you wound up on the wrong end of a decision at Martinsville last fall. Can you explain that situation and what NASCAR ruled?

A: As I just mentioned, that race played out perfectly to the way we had planned it earlier in the day. Dillon drove his heart out and followed my directions perfectly. We “lost” the race when the outside pole sitter clearly jumped the final restart before the designated restart point and the race director let it go. They said Dillon spun his tires but I hadn’t even clicked my button to tell him to go because he wasn’t at the designated restart point, yet.

Q: Can you reveal any plans you have for 2014 or are you still working out the schedule?

A: As of right now, I’m heading to New Smyrna Speedweek with my NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver, Andy Seuss. I will probably spot the majority of his races this year and hopefully win my third NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Championship with him. I’m hoping to continue to work with Dillon Bassett again this year in some big NASCAR Late Model Stock Car races and go back and win the Martinsville 300 race this year. I’m also still committed to Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski Racing for another non-companion schedule in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Daily Door Rub 2-14-14

The Daily Door Rub is a quick look around the web, linking to other good racing stories not written by the Trackside Times staff.

Photo of the day:

No clue who thought this would be idea, but someone over at Richard Childress Racing posted this Valentine's Day photo on their twitter account for Austin Dillon [RCR3ADillon]

No clue who thought this would be idea, but someone over at Richard Childress Racing posted this Valentine’s Day photo on their twitter account for Austin Dillon [RCR3ADillon]

A few good links:

Darrell Waltrip may miss Saturday’s broadcast of the Sprint Unlimited after having gall bladder surgery on Thursday [The Charlotte Observer]

Joseph Wolkin compares Jeff Gordon to Derek Jeter [Motor Racing Scene]

Thanks to Bob Pockrass for this link, fans can buy a pieces of, or who seats, from the Daytona grandstands [Bob Pockrass twitter]

Help pick if Danica Patrick will wear a white or a blue Aspen Dental suit at Las Vegas and you can win the race worn suit [Aspen Dental]

 

Video of the day:

Kevin Harvick in this Goodyear commercial I’m sure you will see 439 times during Speedweeks.

Daily Door Rub 2-13-14

The Daily Door Rub is a quick look around the web, linking to other good racing stories not written by the Trackside Times staff.

Photo of the day:

Brandt Chevrolet to be run by Justin Allgaier in the Daytona 500 on February 23, 2014 [HScott Motorsports]

Brandt Chevrolet to be run by Justin Allgaier in the Daytona 500 on February 23, 2014 [HScott Motorsports]

A few good links:
Jenna Fryer tells us that Brad Keselowski may be quiet toward the media, but is speaking up behind closed doors [AP]Jerry Bonkowski with a look at if 2014 will finally be Paul Menard’s year [NBC Sports Motorsports Talk]

Jerry Bonkowski again with a story on how Jeb Burton went from unemployed to having a ride at Daytona in the Camping World Truck Series race [NBC Sports Motorsports Talk]

Parker Kligerman wrote an incredible “how-to” story on how to become a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver [Jalopnik]

 

Video of the Day:

A “bold” look at Kyle Larson’s new Target ride.

Daily Door Rub 2-12-14

The Daily Door Rub is a quick look around the web, linking to other good racing stories not written by the Trackside Times staff.

Photo of the day:

Michael McDowell tweeted this photo of his No. 95 K Love Ford for the Daytona 500 on February 23, 2014 [Michael McDowell]

Michael McDowell tweeted this photo of his No. 95 K Love Ford for the Daytona 500 on February 23, 2014 [Michael McDowell]

A few good links:

Bob Pockrass reports that Tony Stewart will not have a backup driver on standby for the Daytona 500 [Sporting News]

Kevin Harvick has joined the Cal Ripken, Sr. foundation board of directors [Kevin Harvick Foundation]

Dustin Long has a great indepth look at the 2014 NASCAR rulebook, which is 16-pages longer than last year and spells out more specifics for the penalty structure [MRN]

Why The King was right on Danica [The Shakedown Session]

Why The King was wrong on Danica [Sledgehammer Blog]

 

Time-lapse video of the Ragu Car being painted and wrapped for Daytona:

New Chase Grid Format Gives NASCAR Their Answer To March Madness

New Chase Grid Format is NASCAR's Answer to NCAA's March Madness

New Chase Grid Format is NASCAR’s Answer to NCAA’s March Madness [NASCAR]

HICKORY, N.C. - Beginning with the implementation of the NASCAR Chase format in 2004, the sanctioning body sought to appease a long-time wish of the core fan: making winning matter more. Many fans had become disenchanted by the “winning is not as important as consistency” mentality that accompanied a points system that, for all intent and purposes, had been in place since the mid-70’s.

Nevermind you that this point system was the one that made Cale, Darrell, and Dale household names or that those drivers, among others who would win championships in ensuing years such as “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville”, would win their championships not so much by laying back and being consistent but by trying to place their machines in victory lane at each available opportunity.

Yes, each of those drivers would find themselves points racing from time to time, taking a sub-par car back to the garage in one piece and a solid 8th place finish rather than back to the garage on the hook after trying to make something out of something that wasn’t there on any given Sunday.

But by the mid-2000’s it felt like something had changed within the driver’s mindset, even if the points system had seen very little alteration in three decades of successful growth and rising national prominence. For some reason, and a potentially statistically invalid reason, it felt as if drivers were no longer going for broke but rather racing to not go broke.

Enter the Chase. NASCAR’s answer to the detractors who said the racing had become stale and that motivation was lacking. For a decade the Chase has worked fairly well for the purpose intended, with the only real change being the expansion from 10 initial Chase contenders in 2004 to 12 in 2007.

Ask a fan about the Chase and you will inevitably hear a large percentage of them echo the sentiment that since installation of the new system one major flaw in the chase ointment has emerged. This one major flaw has not been so much a loophole to winning a championship but rather a name, the name being that of Jimmie Johnson.

It has never been so much that Johnson does not race hard, or race to win, as the numbers from his impressive string of five championships in a row from 2006 to 2010 will attest, but that Johnson always seemed to be able to “turn it on” at just the right time to win yet again. People, as is human nature, tire of the same old, same old, everyone that is but Rick Hendrick, Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock, Johnson and his wife Chandra, the crew of the #48 and its vast reaching fan base.

With Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski winning the respective 2011 and 2012 championships fans thought that maybe the Chase had turned a corner and the Johnson dominance had ended. Then along came the 2013 Sprint Cup season, a season in which Chad Knaus and the #48 crew again sprinted all the way to the Chase championship.

This past season was one in which it felt as if Matt Kenseth was reaching the winner’s podium every other weekend, though in actuality he finished the season with seven wins, only one more than Johnson’s six. Many long-time fans disdain for another Johnson championship would quickly escalate into cries for change, with passionate fans taking to internet message boards and fan forums near and far, pleading NASCAR to do something to make winning the end all be all of a championship.

Luckily for the fans, Brian France and Co. had been paying attention all along. Departing from the gleaming tower of steel and power situated alongside International Speedway Blvd in Daytona Beach, France would find himself in Charlotte on Thursday for the annual “State of the Sport” speech, a speech in which France would announce sweeping changes to the Chase formula, changes which will send the sport into the 2014 season with more possibility than ever before.

Granted, not all possibility is ultimately good possibility and NASCAR Nation could very well find itself heading to the world center of speed one year from now celebrating Johnson’s tying of Petty and Earnhardt with seven championships, and about to embark on a journey to seek a solo spot atop the sport’s championship pinnacle.

The new Chase was not designed with the over-riding intention of dethroning Johnson, rather the Chase was in many ways designed to create more opportunity for Johnson to simply dethrone himself. For if Johnson is to win a record-tying seventh championship in 2014 it will come after dancing with the dynamite spread about the minefield that is the Chase grid.

No longer will the #48 team simply face implosion after 26 and 36 races but rather season-ending implosion looms after the 26th, 29th, 32nd, 35th, and 36th races. The genius that is NASCAR marketing has even devised battle-hardened names to accompany these possible championship-ending implosion points, names like Challenger, Contender, and Eliminator. These names were designed to invoke images of one needing to go all out to win, of needing to push it to the max each weekend to simply survive and advance, and rightly so.

If these names also happen to send a fan’s mind wandering to their own glorious victories on tracks of the same name at the various NASCAR Speedparks that have existed in tourist markets around the country, then so be it. And let’s face it, beating Uncle Roger or your Sister Sue on the high banks of Myrtle Beach or the Smoky Mountains must surely evoke a similar euphoria to that of which any anti-JJ fan will experience if the series reaches Homestead in November with the #48 aiming for a best-case scenario chase finish of 5th, or even worse.

If the redesigned Chase can evoke euphoric feelings such as those in the 95% of fans who do not consider themselves Johnson fans then the NCAA-inspired bracket has done more than create yet another workplace pool-style wagering opportunity.

If the redesigned Chase again finds the Jimmie Johnson show heading to Las Vegas and the head table then even the #48 haters will have to once again tip their hat to the driving mastery that befits a living legend.

Either way, NASCAR’s willingness to gamble and play loose and fast with the long-standing concept of consistency will undoubtedly breed many more march-madness moments than currently exist on the exhaustive 36-race trek across America. Thus, no matter how the Chase ultimately turns out under the new system, Mondays in the fall will find the potential for the #NASCAR hashtag to trend much more frequently.

This means that whether you love or hate the new Chase grid you must admit that an upward trending NASCAR is good for all who live, breathe, and love the sport. The sport has evolved and in the process made major strides in not only remaining relevant but projecting relevance on the ever-expanding sports landscape and that bodes well for a future that finds NASCAR firmly entrenched as America’s home for motorsports.