Cleat Geeks

Pole Position Prophecies: The How & What Is Drafting

If you’ve ever watched a NASCAR race on television then the odds are that phrase “drafting” in one form or another has been talked about by the announcers. But what exactly is Drafting, and how important is it to the race? Well, like most things in NASCAR, it’s not quite as simple as it appears.

 

The basic Idea behind drafting has everything to do with aerodynamics. Essentially, Drafting is a technique where two or more vehicles align in a close group reducing the overall effect of drag by exploiting the lead vehicle’s slipstream. Drag is is a force acting opposite to the relative motion of any object and the slipstream is a region behind a moving object in which a wake of fluid (typically air or water) is moving at velocities comparable to the moving object.

 

To put it in simpler terms when a driver gets close enough to the car in front of it, it reduces the aerodynamic resistance on the front of the trailing car allowing the second car to pull closer. This can also help the lead car by pushing high-pressure air forward so less fast-moving air hits the lead car’s spoiler as the second car nears the first.

 

There are a number of different types of drafting techniques that drivers can use. One of the more common techniques is the “sling shot” pass. the “sling shot” pass happens when a trailing car uses the lead car’s wake to pull up with maximum momentum at the end of a straightaway, enters a turn high, and turns down across the lead car’s wake allowing the the trailing car to carry extra speed and pass on the inside of the leader.

 

The other common draft used by NASCAR drivers is the bump draft. Bump drafting begins as normal drafting, but the following car pulls up behind the lead car and bumps into the rear of it, pushing the lead car ahead, to maintain momentum. Bump drafting can get tricky however, If done roughly or in the wrong position it can destabilize the lead car causing either a wreck or for the lead car to spin out.

 

Drafting is a bigger part of racing then most people realize. Everything from the type of track being raced on (drafting will play a bigger part at Talledega and Daytona then at Watkins Glenn and Sanoma) to your position on the track changes the strategy you choose to use. But with the information above, now you can have a better understanding and appreciation of what goes into proper drafting.

Pole Position Prophecies: NASCAR’s Greatest Villains

The biggest story to come from NASCAR this week is easily the Chase Elliott/ Denny Hamlin incident. With 3 laps to go Denny Hamlin rear ended leader Chase Elliott and sent him spinning. With no cars immediately behind him and no sign that Elliott was slowing down with out warning many have labeled it a dirty move on Hamlin’s part. Elliott would end up finishing 27th and after the race would exchange heated words with Hamlin after bumping numerous times on the way to pit road. Despite Hamlin’s claims that the move was not intentional few believe him and some are starting to ask if Hamlin is NASCAR’s next villain? Whether Denny Hamlin falls into the category of villain or not is still up for debate, but until then, let’s take a look at some of NASCAR’s greatest villains and the antic that earned them that title.

Robby Gordon: What gets Robby Gordon mentioned in this group is the fact that no other driver in recent history has been docked more points than Gordon. Not only has he made a habit of racing with cars that fail post race inspection, but he’s had numerous outrageous on track incidents. Gordon’s most notable moment came in 2007 Nationwide Series race in Montreal. After being spun out under a yellow flag by Marcos Ambrose, Gordon was asked to move back to 13th. Not only did Gordon refuse to drop in the field, but he returned the favor and deliberately spun out Ambrose once the race started again. Even after NASCAR officially disqualified Gordon from the race he remained on the track and even did burnouts alongside the actual winner as if he had won.

Tony Stewart: Tony Stewart has had more than his fair share of altercations throughout his career. Stewart has exchanged words (and paint) with the likes of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie, Johnson, Jeff Burton, and numerous other drivers. Stewart has shown that he has no problem wrecking someone that he feels wronged him. After the number of altercations dropped as his career advanced the thought was that Stewart was becoming a more mature driver, but those thoughts were proven wrong in his final season when he wrecked former teammate Ryan Newman at Richmond with 5 laps to go after he felt Newman had bumped him one too many times effectively ending Newman’s playoff hopes. After the Race not only did Stewart blatantly admit that he wrecked him on purpose, but also showed no remorse and stated “I’m not really sure that I’m going to lose a whole lot of sleep of his opinion tonight” when asked about the incident.

Kyle Busch: It’s probably easier to list the driver that Kyle Busch Hasn’t had a problem with rather the the drivers he has had a problem with. Armed with a cocky attitude, a short temper, and a hard-driving style Busch had all the makings of a villain. Busch has also been very public with which drivers he is not a fan of; most recently Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have had the biggest problems with Busch. Logano and Busch even traded punches earlier this season after an on track incident. If the opinion of other drivers wasn’t enough Kyle Busch is also one of the most hated from a fan stand point which is evident with the amount of boos that can be heard during driver intros and every time he wins.

Dale Earnhardt Sr: No NASCAR villain list is complete without Dale Sr. being mentioned. Earnhardt Sr. earned the nickname “The Intimidator” due to his rather rough driving style. But the most memorable thing about Dale Sr. was the fact that he could’ve cared less about peoples opinions of him even going as far as saying that it didn’t matter whether people were cheering or booing him as long as they were making noise. Dale Sr. would wreck people just for passing him. The most notable example of this was during the 1999 Bristol race where after Terry Labonte passed Sr. to take the white flag  Earnhardt would get to his back bumper and spin Labonte out in turn one. When asked about it in victory lane Sr. said: “I didn’t mean to spin him, I just wanted to rattle his cage a little.”

So, who do you think is NASCAR’s biggest villain? Is it someone we mentioned above or another driver not on our list? Do you have a story that you remember from watching this great sport that you would like to share? We encourage it! Feel free to do so below.

Pole Position Prophecies: The Final Four

With the round of 8 starting that means this is the last round before the final race of the season at Homestead. The races for the round of 8 start off at Martinsville, followed by Texas Motor Speedway and ends with Phoenix. With so few drivers left the margin for error is smaller than ever and anything less than even a top-10 finish might be devastating to a drivers playoff chances. So which 4 drivers are in the best position to reach the final 4 and which drivers have an uphill climb ahead of them?

Martin Truex Jr.- Martin Truex Jr. is easily the favorite to make it to Homestead. No driver has anywhere close to the amount of wins and stage wins he has so far this season. Truex’s season success has carried over to the playoffs as he has 3 wins so far and has a 27 point lead over second place and a 52 point lead over the final playoff spot. The only thing that really goes against Truex this round is this is probably his weakest round thus far. He’s only finished in the top-5 twice in the last 5 years at Phoenix and his performances at Martinsville are unpredictable with everything from top 10 to bottom 5 finishes in the last couple of seasons and he hasn’t cracked the top 5 there since 2012. Truex’s best track will easily be Texas Motor Speedway, A. because it’s a 1.5 mile track which Truex has an average finish of around 2.8 at this season, and B. Because he’s finished in the top-10 there 5 straight times.

Kyle Busch- Kyle Busch may have been on the cusp of elimination last week, but it honestly looked worse than the situation really was due to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time when accidents have occurred. The bottom line is this: Busch is entering his strongest stretch of races. In both of the past 2 seasons he has finished in the top-5 at all of the fall races at Martinsville, Texas, and Phoenix. Plus he has a 25 point lead over the last playoff spot. So all things considered, it’ll take the right combination of circumstances to keep Kyle Busch out of the final round.

Brad Keselowski- Brad Keselowski has been quietly good this season and this post season. He’s third in points, has 3 wins this season, and is one of only 3 drivers to win a race this post season. he has a 9 point lead over both Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick neither of which have been overly impressive yet this post season. Keselowski’s best chance to lock up a playoff spot will be Martinsville which he won the spring race at earlier this season. He’s also finished in the top-10 in 4 of the last 5 fall Texas races so even with out the win he looks to be in decent shape to make it to the final 4.

Jimmie Johnson- Jimmie Johnson is currently tied with Kevin Harvick for the last playoff spot and based on the tie breakers he would lose that battle if they somehow remain tied after the next 3 races. Johnson’s season started off on a strong note as he won 3 of the first 13 races of the season, but has fallen off since then only managing 1 top-5 since his win at Dover in June. But Johnson’s biggest advantage is that one of the races for this round takes place at one of, if not his best track. Johnson leads all active drivers in wins at Texas Motor Speedway and also has the track record for most wins (7 wins). That’s not just because he’s one of the older drivers in NASCAR either, he won the spring race at Texas earlier in the season and has won 4 of the last 5 fall Texas races. Winning to advance may be a long shot, but betting against Johnson finishing well at Texas (only 3 career Texas Motor Speedway finishes outside the top-15) might be even longer odds.

Pole Position Prophecies: Explaining Charters

Charters, they’re something we hear about only sporadically throughout the NASCAR season. They only get mentioned when a team is adding another car next season and is looking to secure a charter, when a team can find sponsorship for one of their cars and is selling a charter along with other parts from the now defunct car, and when qualifying for races and which teams don’t have the benefits of a charter. But what exactly do they do, and are they really that valuable or important?

Charters were granted to full-time Sprint Cup Series teams that have been active in a full-time capacity since at least the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and guarantee full-time license holders automatic entrance into every race of the season for nine years. The agreement was made between NASCAR and the RTA. The RTA or Race Team Alliance is a coalition of 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams with the purpose of increasing revenues and budget efficiency for Sprint Cup organizations and works as sort of an unofficial “union” for race teams much like the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) works for NFL players. There are a total of 36 Charter teams

The charter system was put in place before the start of the 2016 season with the purpose of giving owners an increased business certainty and allow them to work more closely with NASCAR. Charters can be sold to another organization on the open market and Charters can be transferred to another team within the organization by the owner, but only after the first 5 years of the charter agreement. This is not to say that every team with a charter is safe for the next 9 years automatically, however. If a Charter team finishes in the bottom three of the owner standings among all 36 Charter teams for three consecutive years, NASCAR has a right to remove the charter. Where the RTA, the charter system, and NASCAR’s interaction with race teams progresses from hear is still anyone’s guess, charters are still new and the effects compared to the old “provisional” system have yet to be fully determined or understood. But if the goal is really to increase business and competition, i don’t think you’ll hear many complaints from the fans.

Pole Position Prophecies: Next Four Out

The first round of the playoffs is officially in the books and the field has been reduced to 12 drivers. The next three races of the round of 12 take place at Charlotte, Talladega, and Kansas. But with only 10 points separating 7th-12th place, the fun is only just beginning.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.- Stenhouse may be the defending Talladega winner and has two super speedway wins this season but gambling on a win to make the next round is always risky. Though he has finished in the top-10 in all but one fall Talladega race so far in his career, he has yet to finish in the top-10 at either Charlotte OR Kansas in his career. Currently Stenhouse holds the last safe spot by only 2 points, which won’t be enough top hold off drivers with better histories at these tracks.

Matt Kenseth- Matt Kenseth is 11th out of 12 which means he has to play catch-up again this round like he did last round. Kenseth has had decent success at the spring Charlotte race finishing in the top-10 5 of the last 6 times and in the top-5 3 of the last 4 times, but the fall Charlotte races have been a bit more erratic with everything from a 2nd place finish to 42nd place in the last 4 years. Where Kenseth gets into trouble is Talladega. In his past 8 Talladega races Kenseth has only finish higher than 20th once, and in a playoff race this close, one bad finish might be all it takes to end someone’s championship hopes.

Jamie McMurray- McMurray has the toughest climb ahead of him as he is currently 12th out of the 12 remaining drivers. For starters McMurray hasn’t had overwhelming success at any of the tracks in question (he has no more than 2 top-10s in each of his past 8 races at each track). On top of that he hasn’t finished higher than 9th in his last 11 races and hasn’t had back-to-back top-10s since mid June.

Chase Elliott- Elliott might be a shocking name on this list to some based on his recent performance, but a deeper look reveals the reasons why his chances of advancing are slim. While it is true that Elliott has finished 2nd in 2 of the 3 post season races this season, he also did almost the exact same thing last year finishing 3rd at both Chicagoland and Dover before having back-to-back finishes below 30th and not advancing. Elliott has also finished 30th or worse in 5 his last 6 combined races at these tracks including bad finishes at the spring races for all track for the round of 12.

Pole Position Prophecies: Elimination Race Landscape

This week NASCAR heads to Dover International Speedway for the last race of the round of 16. The first 2 races of the playoffs have certainly been kinder to some drivers than to others and as a result some drivers have an much easier path to the next round while it’s next to impossible for others. For this we will only talk about drivers that have not locked a spot in the next round (so Both Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will not be mentioned).

Great: Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, and Matt Kenseth are all as good as locked into the next round. Larson has continued his season-long dominance and sits 20 points ahead of the next driver (Brad Keselowski) who sits another 20 points ahead of the next driver. Essentially, as long as someone from the bottom 4 doesn’t win while they ALSO finish last there’s no real way none of these drivers don’t make the cut.

Decent: Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, and Ryan Blaney have all put together solid playoff performances. All 3 drivers sit between 20-30 points above the current cut-off line. Basically as long as they stay out of trouble and finish the race, all 4 of these drivers should make it to the next round.

Bubble: Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse, Austin Dillon, and Ryan Newman should all be start sweating a little as they prepare for Dover. Jamie McMurray is only 10 points above the cut-off line and Stenhouse beats out Dillon for the last spot purely by tie-breaker since both have the exact same points. and Newman is only a single point behind  them. which 2 stay and which 2 go is a complete coin flip, as it currently sits McMurray is the closest to safe, the other 3 must either win the race, or beat each other.

Bad: Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne are the the only drivers this far off the mark. Neither have finished in the top-15 yet in the playoffs and are coming off of dismal New Hampshire finishes (35th and 37th respectively). At 20 points under the cut-off line the only way either Busch or Kahne continue to the next round is by winning Dover, but since neither of them has really shown consistent speed or finishes throughout this season I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Pole Position Prophecies: What Makes NASCAR’s Penalty System Confusing

This season has had more than it’s share of penalties, and the drivers involved have each dealt with punishments that differed greatly in severity. This past Sunday Chase Elliott was punished for an unspecified illegal modification resulting in a being docked 15 points and both his crew chief and car chief receiving a one race suspension. 2 races prior to the playoffs at the Southern 500 Denny Hamlin’s win was ruled encumbered due to rear suspension violations and was docked 25 points, received no benefits of the win (no bonus or playoff points but the win still counts) and his crew chief was suspended for 2 races and fined $50,000. Early in the season at Richmond Joey Logano’s win was ruled encumbered with an illegal suspension and just like Denny Hamlin Joey was docked 25 points and his crew chief was suspended 2 races and fined $50,000, but it was also ruled that the win would not count meaning he received no playoff or bonus points and the win did not qualify him for the post season. With such a wide range of punishments it’s not hard to see why some would be confused at how the penalty system works.

Basically, penalties are broken up into 2 different categories; L1 and L2. L1 penalties concern areas of minimum heights and weights, the Laser Inspection Station (LIS), gear ratios, and flagrant lug nut violations where 17 or fewer are properly secured. L2 penalties involve more egregious infractions concerning tampering with the areas of tires, engine and fuel. Major safety violations, the use of telemetry or traction control, plus breaches of the testing policy also fall under the L2 designation. L1 violations come with a punishment of a deduction of 10 to 40 points, crew chief or pit crew suspensions of between 1-3 races, and fines ranging from 25,000-75,000. L2 penalties deduct 75 points, result in 6 race suspensions, and carry fines of 100,000-200,000. “Encumbered” finishes allow a victory to stand but the winner is stripped of any and all benefits.

One point of discussion that continues to arise from NASCAR’s punishments is a lack of driver suspensions. There are many that feel if a driver is racing in an illegal race car then he should be suspended just like his crew chief and pit crew members are, NBC TV commentator for the sport has flat out said: “I think it’s time to start disqualifying people. I think it’s time. In today’s world where Denny Hamlin won that race, and by him winning that race, that kept someone else from winning the race. No one got those five points moving into the playoffs. It’s time to disqualify people.” when asked about the subject.There’s only one problem with that statement though, and that’s  the fact that there is no real way to determine or keep track of how involved the driver is changes and modifications to their cars or if they are even away of the “changes” the crew makes to begin with. It is much easier and straight forward to punch those that NASCAR officials are POSITIVE are involved with the mechanical side of the car. Unfortunately when you have a sport that revolves around such intricate and finely-tuned machines there is no simple way to regulate what illegal changes are worth what without all of it getting lost in a clutter of words and technical phrasing. One positive to take away from all of this is that this years “L1, L2” system is a lot easier to follow then the “warning/P1-P5” system implemented in 2014 was, and has NASCAR has shown in the recent past they are wiling to make changes to the sport when necessary.

Pole Position Prophecies: Round of 16 Predictions

With Richmond now behind us, the field of 16 is set and it’s finally time for the NASCAR playoffs to begin. The drivers that have qualified are (in order from 1st to 16th): Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Matt Kenseth, and Jamie McMurray.

The playoffs are split into 4 rounds, the first 3 rounds have 3 races each and at the end of each round the 4 drivers with the lowest points are eliminated. Once the playoff field has been hammered down to only 4 drivers, the last round is simply a winner-take-all race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The races in the first round starts at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend with New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway as the others. Unfortunately for 4 drivers their championship hopes will come to an end at the end of those races. So the big question is: which drivers will be the first ones out?

Kasey Kahne: Kasey Kahne may have won his way into the playoffs, but outside of his Brickyard 400 win (off of what was essentially a lucky caution while he was on a different pit cycle than the leaders) his season has been disappointing overall. Kasey sits 13th in the playoff bracket in a 5-way tie for 11th and is tied for the lowest top-tens in the playoffs. Kasey is also one of only 2 drivers to win there way into the playoffs while sitting below 20th in the standings. And seeing as since his win Kasey hasn’t finished in the top-ten since, it doesn’t look like he’s found the speed or consistency necessary to make it to the next round.

Austin Dillon: Austin Dillon’s situation is almost identical to Kasey Kahne’s. Dillon is the other driver tied for fewest top-tens, is the other of the 2 driver mentioned before who won their way into the playoffs while sitting below 20th off of a border line lucky strategy (a gamble on fuel that paid off in the Coca-Cola 600), and is part of that 5-way tie for 11th. Additionally Dillon only has 2 career top-ten at the 3 tracks of this round (Chicagoland, New Hampshire, & Dover) combined. All of this adds up to slim chances of advancing to the next round.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Ricky Stenhouse Jr appears to have finally had the breakout season Roush Fenway Racing has been waiting for. Not only did Ricky make the playoffs for the first time in his career, but also managed to claim both his 1st and 2nd career victories making him one of only 7 multi-win drivers this season. That being said he hasn’t finished in the top-ten since his win at Daytona in July and he hasn’t finished in the top-ten at Chicagoland since his rookie year. Now Ricky does have a pair of top-tens at New Hampshire, but none of them have come during the fall race and he has struggled at Dover in recent years. Making the playoffs was a step in the right direction, but Stenhouse lacks the consistency and experience to advance any further.

Ryan Blaney: Young Ryan Blaney has raced on a fairly consistent basis so far this season. He’s improved off of last year’s strong rookie campaign adding a win and an additional top-ten and hasn’t gone more than 5 races this season between top-tens. In his only Chicagoland start he walked away with a 4th place finish, but the success at the round 1 tracks stops there. Blaney has finished below 30th in his last 2 Dover starts and has never finished higher than 11th at New Hampshire, and with only 10 points between 7th place and 16th place there just isn’t the room for the learning curve a young driver needs.

Pole Positon Prophecies: Securing The Final Spots

With only 2 races (Darlington and Richmond) remaining before the end of NASCAR’s regular season and the start of the playoffs the standings and seedings are basically set. Only 3 spots remain up for grabs and even though any number of drivers could end up making it into the playoffs, there are certain drivers that are in better positions then others.

Chase Elliott: Of the remaining drivers still winless this season Chase Elliot is in the best position. At 69 points above the cut-off line Elliott leads all drivers not qualified for the post-season in points and has the most top-tens of that same group, plus avoiding poor finishes has helped his standing. If he can stay out of any major trouble over the last 2 races Elliott should have no trouble securing one of the remaining 3 spots.

Matt Kenseth: Matt Kenseth should be in a better position then he currently sits. Kenseth leads all the not qualified drivers in top-fives with 7, also leads in stage victories with 3, and has lead a total of 234 laps this season. But starting off the season finishing in the bottom 3 of the first 5 races forced Kenseth to play catch-up. However, a recent hot streak with 4 top-fives in the last 6 races and 5 top-tens in the last 6 races, puts Kenseth in a solid position to make the post season.

Jamie McMurray: Jamie McMurray has the least amount of cushion in the standings. McMurray currently holds the last available playoff spot (16th), is 58 points ahead of Clint Bowyer, and is the only person in the top 16 without either a victory or a stage win. If no other drivers outside the top 16 win then it isn’t likely that any driver will catch him in points, but the easiest way to guarantee a playoff spot is to get a win and with only 14 total laps led and no stage or race wins, that’s something McMurray has not shown he can do yet this season.

Clint Bowyer: Clint Bowyer is the first driver outside of the playoff picture as he sits 58 points behind Jamie McMurray. On one hand Bowyer does have the highest average finish of drivers not yet qualified for the playoffs at 13.4, but on the other hand his 10 top-tens and only 22 laps lead this season are among the lowest of this group. Unfortunately for Bowyer there is no longer enough races left for him to get in on points alone barring a melt down from one of the other three, the only real logical way for him to make the playoffs is to win a race and Bowyer’s car just hasn’t shown the speed to do that yet this season.

Joey Logano: Joey Logano’s stay is an interesting one. Logano has won a race this season but was forced to vacate the win after failing a post race inspection. Logano does lead all the non playoff qualified driver in top-fives at 8, but all except 2 of those came within the first 10 races of the season. Since then Logano has struggled to put together decent finishes finishing outside the top 20 in 4 of the last 6 races. Logano has led in 257 laps this season which leads this group and shows that his team does indeed have the speed to compete for wins. Momentum (and mathematics) are definitely not in Logano’s favor, but he’s one of the few drivers on this list that has shown the speed to compete for the win which does help his chances.

Pole Position Prophecies: Why Kevin Harvick is Wrong

By now everyone who either follows or is involved with NASCAR has heard Kevin Harvick’s comments about NASCAR’s growth (or lack there of) and Dale Earnhardt Jr’s role in that growth. On his radio show Harivick essentially said that since Jr is NASCAR’s most popular driver but isn’t finishing up front each week that his lack of success has “stunted” NASCAR’s growth. Of course Jr nation didn’t take those comments to well, but Jr himself took the high road saying that while the comments were “hurtful” he still respected Harvick and his role in the sport. Regardless of whether the comments were out of line or not the question has been raised: does Harvick have a point, or are they as wrong as they are controversial?

Overall Harvick’s point isn’t necessarily wrong, it is probably true that had Dale Jr won 7 championships like his father did there would likely be more fans in NASCAR than there currently are. The problem is, to attribute one person’s lack of success with the entire sports short fallings and stagnant growth is incredible flawed for a number of reasons. 1) Though Jr has far and away the most fans in the sport, he does not hold the majority of the the sport’s total fan numbers. Jr’s merchandise numbers and fan numbers are still well under 50% of the sports total fan numbers and merchandise sales. This means that while Jr. does hold significant sway with fans in isn’t nearly enough to dictate how the sports operates or grows. 2) Jr’s popularity hasn’t stopped other drivers from growing their fanbase. Chase Elliott quadrupled his merchandise sales numbers from his rookie year to his second year a rate of which so it’s obvious that other drivers still have the ability to attract fans if they are likable enough. Dale Jr . doesn’t even have the most twitter followers of any driver as Jimmie Johnson has 2.53 million followers to Jr’s 2.23 million.

3) It’s unfair and flawed to pin the entire hopes and the entire future of the sport on a single driver as Harvick has done. Football’s fans did not leave when Peyton retired and they won’t when Brady retires. Hockey didn’t fold when Gretzky retired, and Baseball did not fold when Ken Griffey Jr., Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, or Barry Bonds retired because those sports are bigger than just the success of the individuals involved. If NASCAR’s future really does live by one single driver than NASCAR would be doomed anyways as the Jr’s fans would leave NASCAR whether he’s a champion or not and that is a failure on NASCAR itself to not do a better job growing and diversifying it’s fanbase and not Jr. 4) NASCAR’s shrinking fanbase problems have been discussed before. USA today on July 1st of last season asked 200 fans who reduced the number of races they’ve attended the reason why and the three most common reasons given were the overall cost of the trip, constant rule changes have alienated the more traditional fans, and the fan experience at the tracks have changed, and not for the better. All of these are reasons that would still be present regardless of Jr’s success. And 5)  Jr’s numbers are looked at from a skewed point of view. 26 wins, 256 top tens, and 2 Daytona 500 wins to any normal driver is a perfectly fine career, not mind-blowing, but respectable enough. But since Jr. inherited his father’s fanbase, the fanbase of a driver that had 76 career wins and 7 championships, Jr. was and is unfairly expected to match is father’s success which dwarfs Jr’s accomplishments. As the driver that got his Cup start BECAUSE of dale Sr’s unfortunate death, If Harvick was compared to Dale Sr. in the same light his 36 career wins and single championship would also pale in comparison.

The bottom line is that Harvick’s statement is not only wrong but also revealed some truth behind the reason for the statement, and that’s jealousy. To blatantly call out a fellow driver that has rarely, if ever, said a negative thing about any of his fellow drivers for something he has had no control over makes it look like Harvick sees his numbers, sees Jr’s numbers, and believes he should be more popular and tried to find a not so obvious way to say as much. NASCAR’s shrinking fanbase comes from too many ineffective rules changes, the retiring of the drivers that made the sport as popular as it was, and the replacement of those drivers with drivers like Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and yes, Kevin Harvick who’s attitudes have also alienated NASCAR’s more traditional fans. Whether you believe Jr. has lived up to expectations or not, Whether you believe Jr. is really all that talented or not makes no difference, Harvick’s statements are out of line, untrue, won’t increase his fan following no matter how much he wishes it so.

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