The Byron Bet

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I wish I had gone to a university that sponsored a NASCAR team.

After Jeff Gordon departed from NASCAR, the number 24 car was left open in the Rick Hendrick stable. While Chase Elliott was chosen to fill that seat immediately, everyone knew Chase would go on to pilot the 9, like his dad, so everyone wondered who would eventually take the wheel of the 24. When the dust settled and the ink dried, William Byron, at the age of 20, was going to be driving the iconic number 24 Chevrolet Camaro.

Now, after 2 years, he has no wins, only 22 top 10 finishes, and 5 poles. Sadly, he has not been all that successful even though he has Chad Knaus as his crew chief. Chad helped another driver at Hendrick, Jimmie Johnson, win seven championships. William has the best racing equipment money can buy with one of the best crew chiefs and yet he can’t seem to put it all together to get the car to victory lane.

William reminds me of the third Cars movie. He is very good at virtual racing and training on simulators. We saw during the hiatus that he is clearly good at iRacing. He won twice during the break for the pandemic. But, he isn’t quite like the Cars movie in regard to the digital talent translating to the real-life track. Maybe he should simply stick to virtual racing? NASCAR might be branching off in that direction someday sooner rather than later, and he could be a star that transitions from real life to virtual.

I don’t want to speak ill of him though. He might simply be in a situation like Joey Lagano was. Even though Joey had top tier equipment at JGR in his first few years, he certainly wasn’t showing the results of having it. Once he moved to Penske, he has won numerous times and even has a championship to his name. Could Byron still be getting his legs in the sport, and need to move to a different team to experience success? Only time will tell with that. but I do think that this might be the case. I think he still needs time and potentially a new team or manufacturer in order to start experiencing success. That is what I am betting on. The real question will be if he will ever leave Hendrick?

Lastly, but more of a side note. Byron attends Liberty University, that also sponsors him. I wonder if he pays tuition? I am also somewhat jealous because I went to Regent University, a rival to Liberty. Regent is not anywhere near Liberty in regard to campus size, student population, sports, or anything else, except maybe the televangelists that founded each of them, and they are both in Virginia. I would have loved to have gone to a school that sponsored a NASCAR team, even if it was a non-winning driver.

Did Kyle Really Wreck Chase?

Last Wednesday we saw towards the end of the race at Darlington, Kyle Busch slide up and bump the left rear of Chase Elliott causing him to slide into the inside wall and take him out of the race. That has since exploded into the headlines and has caused quite a stir among fans and non fans alike.

It is understandable that Chase was not a happy camper. Kyle claimed it was a mistake on his end. Even though he owned up to it, it didn’t make Chase or his crew chief feel much better. Many people believe Kyle intentionally wrecked Chase. While I am a fan of Kyle, and I’m not going to defend him exactly, I want to look at the situation and point out a few things

First, no matter how professional someone is, they are human and can still and do make mistakes.

Second, it has been a while since they have been in the cars. They have been doing iRacing, which is vastly different than real life.

Thirdly, the spotters are not in their normal positions. If you’ve ever stood in the top row at one of the tracks, it’s very hard to see the front stretch when the cars are up against the wall. Considering that is where the incident occurred, it makes sense the spotters might not have been much help there.

Fourth and lastly, really look and watch the footage. If you watch, when Chase and Denny pass Kyle who goes to the inside in/off turn four, they are bumper to bumper and cruising. Since Chase was so close to Denny coming off turn four, then as they went down the front stretch, Chase does not seem to stay connected to Denny. He slows down and begins to put a full car length gap in between them. At that point I think Kyle is mirror driving to make sure Kevin Harvick is not coming up too fast to prevent him from going up and getting in line. The problem really is that it seems that the entire top line slows down at the same pace. Kyle continues the pace he was holding and simply moved up into a gap he thought was there. You might see it differently, but I have simply shared my view and opinion of the situation.

Look closely at the shadow gap between Denny and Chase. It gets much larger as it goes down the front stretch.

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I find it interesting that probably the most controversial drivers, Kyle Busch, has created a huge ripple with the sports most popular driver, Chase Elliott. It makes for great entertainment and a YouTuber that I follow, David Land, sums it up well in his video. I’m so glad NASCAR is back and this situation, regardless of which side you are on, has elevated the sport into everyday conversation. That type of marketing is priceless.

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You can’t quite see Chase’s left headlight.
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Now you can see the left headlight. Kyle is now moving up.
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Look at the gap! That is a whole car length behind Denny.

Let me know below what you think.

Jimmie Johnson’s Freaky Fast Forthcoming

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NASCAR has been a sore subject for many people in the last few years. While I have not been thrilled at every moment, I have not been disappointed. My approach and interest in the sport is far deeper and greater than the product produced on Sundays. For instance, the case of Jimmie Johnson.

Jimmie is a 7-time NASCAR champion that has won in many of the variables of point systems in the sport. His primary sponsorship for the last 18 years, his entire NASCAR career, has been Lowe’s. He has been with Hendrick Motorsports and has driven a Chevrolet his entire career. He has had a steadfast and loyal career for both he and all parties surrounding him.

However, earlier this year, news leaked that shocked the sport. Lowe’s would be ending their sponsorship of the number 48 car driven by Johnson. As if that has not been difficult enough to dwell on, Jimmie has not won a race yet this season and is currently 12th in points. This year has also shown the potential strain of having two rookie team mates to teach as well. His third team mate is only in his second year. There is not much experience to go by and all three might rely heavily on Jimmie’s experience, leaving no one for Jimmie to sharpen against. Lastly, for the 2018 season, Chevrolet introduced the Camaro body to replace the SS body. It is an amazing looking vehicle, but any new body style means new aerodynamics and handling. Jimmie and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, have been re-writing the notebook this year in almost every way, instead of referring to the notebook.

I will admit, I have not always been a fan of Jimmie. I used to think all he did was win and I used to prefer the rival sponsor Home Depot to his sponsor Lowe’s. For me, shopping weighs heavily on “which NASCAR team am I sponsoring when I buy here?” However, time has changed my view. I have grown to respect and appreciate Jimmie. He is a true champion. He is humble and calm and has not let success go to his head.┬áHe has statistics that rival or better drivers such as Richard Petty or Dale Earnhardt. Only this year have I really understood just how much Jimmie has done. I have incredible respect for him. He might not have the public’s or the fans’ true favor as the hall of fame company he has hard fought and rightfully gained status with. That to me is quite baffling.

All of that has me concerned that Jimmie might end up the way Matt Kenseth found himself at the end of the 2017 season. Matt was left with no sponsor, no ride, and not retired. He was simply left, in essence, jobless. While one can speculate as to how and why that happened for Matt, doesn’t it seem at all possible to speculate the same could happen to a 7-time champion? No sponsor at the end of the season, no wins yet currently in the season, 18 years in the sport, the oldest of the team, no experience to draw from, and a newer car that needs time to be dialed in, could be the recipe for a champions swift end in the sport. I am really hoping that is not the case.

Side note. My wife always asks me “Why doesn’t Jimmie Johnson drive the Jimmy John’s car?” There might be hope yet.