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 12 laps in length.

1. The addition of Lotus as an engine supplier for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season brings one of the most historic names in racing back to prominence in the sport. It should be fun having Lotus, Chevrolet and Honda square off in the first legitimate competition among engine makers in Indy-car racing in nearly a decade.

2. We wonder if the ineptitude of the Carolina Panthers this season has improved television ratings for NASCAR events in the Charlotte market.

3. Longtime racing mechanic Chris Paulsen is among the many entrants in this weekend’s Baja 1,000 desert race. Paulsen has his best ride in the prestigious off-road event, co-driving one of the Herzog Racing truck entries.

4. The All-Star race for the Super DIRTcar big-block modifieds will move from Cayuga County Speedway to Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in 2011 and is expected to be held on Memorial Day weekend.

5. Based on his reaction after finishing 12th at Phoenix Int’l Raceway, someone had better be on suicide watch for Denny Hamlin if he somehow blows his 15-point lead in the Sprint Cup standings Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

6. Saturday night’s ARP Fall Classic USAC National Midget Series race at California’s Ventura Raceway is one of the highest paying midget races the entire season.

7. Look for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series to have an extensive West Coast tour in late February and early March, including visits to Perris Auto Speedway and Merced Speedway among other tracks.

8. Was anyone surprised that it took Steve Kinser two nights to win his first ASCS sprint-car event last week at Southern New Mexico Speedway? I would have thought he’d win the first night.

9. With Thursday’s announcement that Carl Edwards will race full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series again next season, there will be little change to the series to place emphasis on drivers that do not have rides in the Sprint Cup Series. Whether or not Cup drivers are eligible to win the championship, if they are still winning the majority of the races, it will have little impact on the viewership for the series.

10. Levi Jones may be the most underrated racing driver in the country right now. In the midst of a tight battle for the USAC National Drivers Championship with Bryan Clauson, Jones clinched his first USAC Silver Crown title in October and last week wrapped up his fourth USAC Sprint Car crown. He’s quiet and unassuming. All he does is win races and championships.

11. The end of the year is approaching and the NSSN staff is beginning to consider candidates for the annual Economaki Champion of Champions award. Remember the award goes to someone who won a championship in North America. Among this year’s top contenders are Tim Shaffer, Scott Pruett, Matt Sheppard, John Force, Larry Dixon, Dario Franchitti, the Sprint Cup title winner and Levi Jones. Look for the chance to vote for your candidate for the award at in the coming weeks.

12. Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson appear to be winning their pre-race head games with Sprint Cup point-leader Denny Hamlin.

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.