October 4, 2022

Noah Gragson’s penalty: too harsh, too lenient or just right?

NASCAR announced this week that Noah Gragson was fined $35,000 and 30 grounded points for intentionally destroying Sage Karam and causing a 13-car scrum at Road America in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

But the penalty was not announced until July 6, four days after the end of the race. Gragson was cleared to continue for an eighth-place finish.

It would have been a bad look for NASCAR to do nothing. And that’s what it looked like until the penalty was awarded.

Gragson’s attempted sinking of Karam is far from the only such incident to occur this year; at Darlington Raceway, Joey Logano destroyed William Byron for the win and received no penalty. But the incident at Gragson received considerable attention as it happened right away in a blind section of the racecourse, and the resulting crash destroyed a dozen race cars. With hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and risk of injury for an intentional accident, it was the right call to make.

However, the penalty seems too small. The $35,000 fine is tiny compared to the damage the teams will have to repair. And after the 30-point penalty, Gragson went from fourth in regular-season points to…fourth. Since he’s already locked into the playoffs, the point penalty will cost him a handful of playoff points at most.

The penalty also appears lenient compared to penalties imposed by NASCAR for traffic safety violations. A runaway tire suspends a team’s crew chief and tire changer for four races. In the same race, Riley Herbst received an immediate penalty for a pit road safety violation. There are also passing penalties for removing equipment from the box, going through too many pits, and going over the wall too soon.

Gragson’s points penalty effectively scored him the same number of points as the drivers eliminated in the accident scored, but there was a surprising delay in awarding the penalty; especially when Gragson admitted the contact was intentional in his post-race interview.

However, however small or delayed a penalty may be, it will still do its job of deterring future intentional accidents like this. There has been no shortage of overly aggressive driving and post-race incidents in 2022, and this penalty is precisely what is needed to send a message.

With Voyager Bankrupt, Are Cryptocurrency Sponsors Banned From Teams Going Forward?

It was announced this week that Landon Cassill’s lead sponsor, Voyager, has suspended all transactions and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy will not affect Cassill’s drive at Kaulig Racing for the time being, as he will remain in the #10 car for the foreseeable future. But Voyager’s financial troubles in the ongoing cryptocurrency financial city center are another blow to cryptocurrency sponsors in NASCAR.

In the months leading up to the 2022 season, Parker Kligerman was rumored to be driving full-time in the Xfinity Series for Richard Childress Racing. However, he was replaced by Austin Hill when, it seems, a cryptocurrency sponsorship deal fell through at the last minute. It was never officially announced what the partnership was, but Kligerman had previously partnered with a company called Fast during the 2021 season. One could assume that it was a deal with them that fell through, especially that the company closed its doors in April 2022.

In another example, Brandon Brown struggled to find sponsors after the audio fallout of his winning interview on the front stretch of Talladega Superspeedway. He then resorted to full-time sponsorship in 2022 by Let’s Go Brandon Coin, another cryptocurrency. This deal also fell through and the coin was rendered worthless in February 2022.

Of course, not all cryptocurrency referrals have failed. In the NTT IndyCar Series, Rinus Veekay’s car has featured Bitcoin livery in three races this season. So far, the pairing has gone smoothly. But because Bitcoin is the oldest and most popular form of cryptocurrency, it can be inferred that partnerships like these may be an exception to the rule.

With the current downturn, teams and drivers need to think twice about signing up for cryptocurrency sponsorships. With current bankruptcies and agreements, this is not a reliable form of sponsorship at this time.

Halfway through the Camping World SRX Series season, who is the favorite to win the championship?

Half of the SRX season is in the books, and the battle for the championship has turned into a four-horse race between points leader Ryan Newman, defending champion Tony Stewart and returning drivers Bobby Labonte and Marco Andretti. The drivers have a points gap with the rest of the field, and the four are only 12 points apart at the top of the standings.

Newman won last weekend’s race at Stafford Motor Speedway and finished in the top four in all three main events. Stewart dominated and took the win at South Boston Speedway, while Labonte finished in the top five in all three main events and Andretti finished second to Newman at Stafford.

At the moment, Newman has the advantage as he has an 11-point cushion over second-placed Stewart. But it’s far from a comfortable margin, and the championship will be played on dirt roads. Following this weekend’s race at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, the final two events will take place on dirt at I-55 Raceway and Sharon Speedway.

And if last season’s results are any indication, it looks like Stewart will be the favorite.

In the two dirt races at Eldora Speedway and Knoxville Raceway last season, Stewart won half the stages and won both main events. He was virtually untouchable on clay last season, and anyone competing with him for the title will need as wide a points margin as possible heading into the final two weeks.

However, the big wild card is Newman. Since this is his first SRX season, we haven’t seen Newman racing on the dirt tracks. Newman comes from the same dirt racing background as Stewart, and all signs point to him being a contender in the final weeks of the season. He also has the dot cushion to help him.

It will most likely be a battle between Stewart and Newman, as Labonte and Andretti didn’t set the world on fire on dirt tracks last season; the combined pair for a single top five. Therefore, the best hope for Labonte and Andretti is to win and score as many points as possible in Nashville this weekend to put themselves in a strong position for the final two weeks.

Justin Marks returns as a driver for the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Will he fight for victory?

Justin Marks has had quite the year. His co-owned cup team, Trackhouse Racing Team, has won three races this season, and he made his SRX debut at Stafford last weekend. This weekend he will race for Niece Motorsports in the truck race at Mid-Ohio, Marks’ first national touring series start since 2018.

It’s been a long time since Marks has been behind the wheel of NASCAR, but if there’s one thing he’s proven as a driver, it’s that he can do it on road courses. He won his first and only Xfinity Series race in 2016 at Mid-Ohio in dominant fashion. And in 15 Xfinity Series road races, Marks has finished in the top 10 in seven of them.

However, despite being a former winner on the track, this weekend will present new challenges for Marks. Although he made 38 Truck Series starts, none of them came on a road course. He will have to adapt to the challenges of road racing in a vehicle he has only raced on ovals.

But Marks also has something in his favor that most players lack: experience. As this is the Truck Series’ first time at Mid-Ohio, Marks will be one of the few drivers with significant track racing experience. And with Niece’s strong performance at Sonoma Raceway earlier this summer, he certainly has a truck that can fight for the win.

Marks will also have the advantage of not racing against Kyle Busch this weekend. Busch dominated at Circuit of the Americas and won at Sonoma this year, but he’s already exhausted his truck racing load for the season. Mid-Ohio will be the first (and only) road course of the season without Busch on the field.

With so many questions surrounding Marks’ return, he could end up being dominant or a complete non-factor this weekend. Practice and qualifying sessions on Friday (July 8) will give a better idea of ​​how Marks compares to the rest of the field.

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