It has been nearly three months since I last posted, but it is great to be back! I needed to take a brief hiatus due to some moderate travel for work and to sort out some odds and ends at home, plus a couple blog ideas never really panned out.
With one third of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season complete, I would personally rate it as slightly above average overall. There have been some promising aspects about 2012, but at the same time some things have been a little discouraging. I think the decrease in number of cautions has benefited the sport despite the fields getting strung out a little more. That's the way racing should be. Drivers and crews should have to work to get towards the front more often than being set up with late race cautions that bunch the field and change the strategy. At the same time, the statistics from this season seem to be showing a trend where the gap between the "powerhouse" teams and the teams trying to rise up in the series tends to be a growing a bit. Last year we saw five first time winners. This year those drivers have combined for zero top fives and seven top tens in the first twelve races. The most discouraging example has probably been Tommy Baldwin Racing. The year started off fairly smoothly for them, gathering sponsorship after some favorable finishes as well as their alignment with Stewart-Haas Racing in order for Danica Patrick to have a guaranteed spot in the races she competes in. In recent weeks though it seems like the team has been struggling to even finish a race, and leaves us wondering what is going on with this "collaborative partnership." It has been a bit alarming to see the lack of driver/team progression for the most part so far this season.
On the other hand, arguably the most competitive and promising of the top NASCAR divisions has been the Camping World Truck Series. At a glance, the top five in the current standings looks like a collection of recent ARCA seasons. It has been great to see some new faces challenging for victories, while some of the veterans have been adjusting to new teams and equipment. What would be promising to see is that some of these top drivers get recognized and receive the proper funding to further their racing careers towards the top of the sport. We all know that the Dillon brothers are set with a positive future, but it would be nice to see names like Buescher, Kligerman, Lofton and Peters challenging in the near future for Sprint Cup rookie of the year as well. It would be a huge step up compared to the dismal contests for that award recently.
After that brief analysis, it is time to move on for the remainder of this post and look ahead to the month of June. This particular month is probably going to be my most ambitious travel schedule to date. The second weekend of the month I will be traveling down to Virginia to see the PASS South Super Late Model Series compete at South Boston Speedway. Some notable names have won in the series and currently lead the standings. Kyle Grissom won last time out at Concord for the second time in 2012 and him as well as Ross Kenseth will be tough to beat in the 150 green flag lap race. A host of other competitors should be there as well as the "Bad Boys with the Bad Fast Toys" invade the 4/10 mile oval. In addition, the Late Model Stock Cars will be on hand for twin races. Up and comers Lee Pulliam, Peyton Sellers and current track point leader Matthew Bowling should be among those on hand to race. The MAD modifieds will also be competing, which is a fairly new regional series racing in IMCA-style open wheel modifieds. While I am down for the weekend I plan on doing a little bit of sightseeing, perhaps at Occoneechee State Park and nearby lakeside town Clarksville, Virginia.
The following Friday, I will be taking the day off work to make the four hour drive west to Motordrome Speedway. The track plans to have their five division weekly program as well as the Super Cup Stock Car Series. When the stock car touring series visited there last year, Todd Peck's team and hauler did not arrive until the local features began for the evening. Luckily for him, qualifying was rained out due to a passing shower and lined up for the feature on the outside front row as the team suited up. Without a lap of practice, Peck won the race. If they return this year they will definitely be the car to beat, although it is not certain if they will be there to defend as they prepare for their first Truck Series start of the season at Iowa Speedway in July. Whether they show up or not there will be some other forces to reckon with, such as two-time defending series champion Jody Harrison and teammates JJ Pack and television personality Stephen Cox. The series has gained some steam recently with Cox's production company producing nationally televised broadcasts promoting its grassroots form of racing. I will be heading back Saturday and possibly even stopping off at Lincoln Speedway to see some dirt track sprint car racing on the way home.
The last week of the month will perhaps be my biggest trip so far, as I will be flying out to Las Vegas for the first time ever! I plan on using the first few days to play in a couple poker tournaments and most likely see a show one night. Then on the weekend, I will be detouring out to California (also a first) and seeing a SRL Southwest Tour Series race at Madera Speedway. These are super late models very similar to the PASS Series cars. I am very anxious to see the competitors in this series compete, many of which competed back in the NASCAR Southwest Tour days when those races were televised. When I head back to Nevada for a couple last days I also plan on doing some more sightseeing, which of course has to include the Las Vegas Motor Speedway complex. Should be extremely fun and I am really looking forward to it.
So that is the month of June in a nutshell. I'll be sharing photos and videos from much of the action throughout the month. Should be quite the experience. Hopefully the weather cooperates!