KERCHNER: Friday Morning Heat Race


We hope you will join us here every Friday, where we will reveal our thoughts about the week’s events in motorsports while previewing the coming weekend’s major events.

For the purpose of this blog, our heat race will be 10 laps in length.

1. There’s been a lot of talk about the Hendrick Motorsports crew swap. We don’t understand why it is even legal to do in the middle of race such as last week’s event at Texas Motor Speedway. Can you imagine a team in the baseball or football playoffs subbing in a player from another team in the middle of a game? It’s not permitted. Rosters are set and a team has to play the players it brought. I know the rules are different in NASCAR, especially with multi-car teams complicating things, but to me you win with the team you brought, or you don’t win.

2. There was a lot made of the fight between Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton during the Texas AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, but that fight was nothing compared to the tussle between jockeys during the opening day of last weekend’s Breeders Cup horse racing event.

3. Difficult to believe that Steve Kinser has never competed in an American Sprint Car Series event. That changes this weekend as his Tony Stewart Racing No. 11 team journeys to Las Cruces, N.M., for the ASCS Lucas Sprint Car Series event at Southern New Mexico Speedway. Kinser’s old rival, Sammy Swindell, is also among the outsiders expected to take on the ASCS regulars.

4. The race for the USAC National Drivers Championship couldn’t be much closer. Bryan Clauson leads Levi Jones by a mere nine points heading into this weekend’s midget and sprint-car doubleheader at Tulare, Calif. It appears the battle will go down to the season finale on Turkey Night at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. However, Saturday’s sprint-car race at Tulare is the final sprint-car race. Clauson has performed better in a midget this season and should have the advantage for the final two events of the year. Clauson has won five midget races this season while Jones is winless in the division.

5. Good gamble by Susquehanna Speedway Park promoter Todd Fisher, who scheduled a 410 and 358 sprint-car doubleheader at the Pennsylvania track Saturday. The event will close the Eastern sprint-car season and forecast is for temperatures in the low 60s which is a good bit warmer than what sprint-car teams endured at last weekend’s World Finals here in North Carolina.

6. The World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte featuring World Racing Group’s three top divisions, continues to gain momentum. The crowd and car counts were spectacular for the fourth annual event last weekend. However, weather played a significant role in the event. Naturally, weather in Charlotte this weekend is dry and almost 20 degrees warmer than last. Still, it’s a lot of racing to fit into one card. Format changes should be considered. Maybe three nights of features with alternating nights. Modifieds and late models the first night. Modifieds and sprint cars the second night. And finally, late models and sprint cars for the finale. Just a thought.

7. Popular World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series public relations man Tony Veneziano and the WoO have gone their separate ways.

8. No wonder Kurt Busch has basically mailed it in during NASCAR’s Chase, he’s been busy testing an NHRA Pro Stock and making plans to compete in the Thanksgiving Friday street stock race at North Carolina’s Rockingham Speedway.

9. I can’t understand the outrage over Kyle Busch’s use of his middle finger at Texas Motor Speedway. Some fans have written NSSN wanting to know where the justice is that he was only fined $25,000 for flipping off an official. We wonder why he was fined at all. He was penalized two laps during the race, which likely cost him a heck of a lot more than $25,000 when you consider the TMS purse and the loss of a position or two in the final standings. In a season when drivers have not been fined for intentionally wrecking their competitors — a clear safety situation — why do you fine a guy for a gesture?

10. I don’t know about you, but if there were an award for auto racing executive of the year, my vote would go to IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. This guy sure seems to get it.

Later today the IndyCar Series will announce General Motors will return to the series in 2012. Thus, manufacturer competition will be part of Indy car racing again.

The views expressed by NSSN columnists and readers in the opinion or community sections of this website do not necessarily reflect those of the management and staff of National Speed Sport News, Kay Publishing or Media1934 LLC.

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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.