KERCHNER: Friday Morning Heat Race


The racing season gets a kick start this weekend with Rolex 24 At Daytona, Toyota All-Star Showdown in California, traditional TQ midget racing in Atlantic City and IHRA drag racing in Florida.

Here’s this week’s heat race — 10 laps in length:

1. NASCAR Chairman Brian France said Wednesday night that as a result of listening to the fans and making changes last January, “we (NASCAR) got the best racing that we have ever had.” Time for a reality check Brian. While I don’t dispute the racing was improved last season and the finish to the Chase was entertaining, there is no possible way that it was the best racing NASCAR has ever had.

2. NASCAR President Mike Helton saved France from drowning — by stepping in and providing a more in depth answer — on more than one occasion during the question and answer period that followed Wednesday’s press conference.

3. Does anyone find it at least a little bit ironic that in NASCAR’s new point system the maximum number of points a winning driver can earn is 48? That’s the car number of five-time-in-a-row Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson — the reason many skeptics believe NASCAR changed the points structure.

4. Am I the only one who whispered to himself, “Oh, Good grief,” upon learning of the creation of John Force Entertainment.

5. The news that Ashley Force Hood is pregnant and will not race this year was not shocking. Last fall, IndyCar driver Sarah Fisher retired from driving in part to start a family. While Force Hood says she plans to return to the cockpit, The Heat Race wonders if she’ll change her mind after confronted with the daily chores of motherhood.

6. Travis Pastrana hasn’t run his first NASCAR race, and I’m already tired of hearing about him.

7. Spun out entering the third turn when Steve Wallace loomed in the rear view mirror.

7a. Wonder how many extra tickets Toyota Speedway at Irwindale sold this week when it was announced that Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year Kevin Conway would be competing in this weekend’s Toyota All-Star Showdown?

8. With so many auto racing traditions lost through the years, it’s great to know that TQ midgets still race in Atlantic City every January. Lenny Sammons has kept the tradition alive and this year’s event is this weekend at Boardwalk Hall.

9. The 49th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona is this weekend. We’ll be among the many watching the live coverage on Speed.

10. Don’t forget dear readers that while National Speed Sport News is published only weekly, up to the minute racing news is available 24/7 at

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Mike Kerchner
Mike Kerchner is a veteran racing journalist and has been a member of the SPEED SPORT family since joining Chris Economaki at National Speed Sport News in 1991. He is now the Editor-in-Chief of SPEED SPORT Magazine.