Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sprint Cup 2012: Progress Report after Two Races

What can be learned heading into race #3 of the 2012 Sprint Cup Season as teams unpack to race in Las Vegas? With two races on almost opposite ends of the continent on very different tracks – there’s not a lot to discern but let’s look at what story lines are emerging as the season gets in full swing.

First: No one is sitting higher on the hog than the #11 crew chief, Darien Grubb, last year’s championship chief now heading the #11 FedEx Toyota team with driver, Denny Hamlin, a championship contender in 2010 who fell apart last year. The Joe Gibbs entry has been the class of the field in the first two races.

Second: It’s way too early to read anything into the following. Here’s how the four Hendricks teams are doing so far ranked by points position.
5 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
22 – Jeff Gordon
32 – Kasey Kahne
37 – Jimmie Johnson

Check back around Coke 600 time and see where they are!

Third: Has Michael Waltrip racing finally joined the big boys? So far his teams are all in the top 20 with two in the top 10.
6 – Martin Truex, Jr.
7 – Mark Martin & friends
17 – Clint Bowyer

Fourth: There’s definitely a learning curve to be mastered with the new EFI (fuel injection) technology. Tony Stewart’s efforts by using old school techniques cost him dearly at Phoenix. Other teams have had a variety of issues in the first two races.

The #48’s day of reckoning will be Tuesday when NASCAR will conduct its appeals hearing for crew chief, Chad Knaus, and car chief, Ron Malic. The prospects for winning appeals in NASCAR are slim and none even for a penalty reduction.

The NASCAR teams participating in this weekend’s action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will face a somber environment recognizing the last major race at the track was the finale to the 2011 IRL season where an early race accident killed Indy 500 winner, Dan Wheldon in a horrific fifteen car wreck on the 11th lap October, 16, 2011. Former Indy 500 winner, Juan Pablo Montoya, who races for Chip Ganassi, also an Indy Car owner will have art in his paint scheme to honor his former IRL colleague.

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