In the weekly newsflash, we look at the developments in the NASCAR world – In focus: Ryan Newman, the races in Daytona and Las Vegas, and a very special hommage for a sports legend
NASCAR Cup Series
Right up to the last moment, NASCAR fans had to wait for a decision. Will NASCAR be seen in Germany, if so, how and where? Shortly before the Daytona 500, the relieving news was published: Sport1+ and MotorvisionTV will show NASCAR up to and including 2022. Sport1 owns the rights, but MotorvisionTV will show twelve races per season – including the Daytona 500.
It was this very race that turned out to be a real spectacle. The starting command was given by none other than US President Donald Trump. But after only 20 laps the race was already over: it was raining in Daytona. So much so that the race could only be continued on Monday.
The stage wins were secured by Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin, who also won the race. But in the end this was only a marginal note of a wild final phase in a race with two Big Ones and red phases each. But the worst crash was Ryan Newman’s, who rolled over after a bump from Ryan Blaney. As if by a miracle, the Ford driver survived the accident almost unharmed.
Although Newman was able to leave the hospital before the race in Las Vegas, his team will miss him indefinitely due to a head injury. Speaking of Las Vegas, the second race of the 2020 season was also a tough one. Once again the spectators got to see many duels and a bearishly strong Ford team. Chevrolet driver Chase Elliott nevertheless secured the two stage wins.
But it was only in the final phase that things got really interesting. After both Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. – who had fought a duel with Elliott at the front for a long time – were out of the race, it was Joey Logano who marched away in front. But shortly before the end of the race there was another caution and the drivers relied on different strategies. It was the scenario that Kevin Harvick in particular had backed with his short-run car, but even new tyres did not help the Californian. Logano sped to victory ahead of a strong Matt DiBenedetto.
Between the two races, NASCAR also announced, according to ‘Motorsport.com’, that the charter system had been extended until 2024. The championship trophy, however, was given a new name and will in future be dedicated to series founder Bill France and his son Bill France Jr. Visually, however, the Bill France Trophy does not differ from the cup of previous years.
In Fontana a very special athlete will be in the focus: A few weeks ago, basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter were killed in a tragic helicopter crash. Numerous NASCAR pilots expressed their sympathy to the family.
In Fontana, the life of Bryant will be remembered. Bryant’s jersey number is to be displayed in the infield of the track. Daniel Suarez rides with shoes and gloves in the colours of the Los Angeles Lakers, the former NBA team of the US-American. On it you can see his jersey numbers, the 8 and the 24, and a picture of him. They will be auctioned off after the race for a good cause.
Ryan Blaney’s car is in a yellow and purple mamba design. On the rear you can also see the numbers 8 and 24 in an infinity sign and the homepage of the Mamba On Three Fund, which supports the families of the other crash victims. These will also be mentioned in prayer before the race.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
The season opener of the NASCAR Xfinity Series showed some parallels to the first Cup race of the new season. The first race at the Superspeedway was, as in the Cup, decided by a crash on the last lap.
Shortly before the end of the race Noah Gragson was bumped into the lead by Harrison Burton, before Brendon Brown and Michael Annett got too close to each other and collided on the last lap. Gragson defended his lead and secured his first win in the Xfinity Series due to the caution which ended the race.
In Las Vegas the race of the second NASCAR league was postponed because of rain in the Nevada desert. So instead of Saturday, the race continued on Sunday after the Cup Series on the Oval of Sin City.
The dominator of the race was Chase Briscoe, who led most of the remaining 150 laps on Sunday. The Ford driver prevailed over Austin Cindric and Ryan and celebrated his third victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
While there is no driver named Earnhardt in the field in the Cup Series this year for the first time in a long time, the family will be represented in many races of the Xfinity Series. Jeffrey Earnhardt will make a part-time program in the second NASCAR league.
The 30-year-old returns to his former team JD Motorsports for twelve races, for which he competed in 2014. “I am very grateful to Johnny Davis and JD Motorsport and Gary Keller for having me on board this season,” said Earnhardt. “These guys work hard every week and they have shown the ability and desire to prove themselves. I look forward to racing again this season!” It is not yet known in what races the 30-year-old will be racing for the team.
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series
A close Daytona race was also seen in the third national series of NASCAR. In a overtime-finish, Grant Enfinger won the race race with a photo finish against Jordan Anderson. In the end Enfinger was only 0.100 seconds ahead of his competitor. Both of them fought a door-to-door duel in the last two laps.
In addition to the close final phase, two Big Ones also provided excitement at the Trucks Series season opener. No fewer than eleven drivers were involved in the first crash on lap 67, in which Tate Fogleman’s truck caught fire. The second Big One occurred on lap 98, in which Steward Friesen, Ben Rhodes, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Tanner Gray, Gus Dean, Riley Herbst and Jesse Little were involved.
In Las Vegas it was once again Kyle Busch who won the race at his first start of the season in the Trucks. At his home race the NASCAR racer was strong from the very beginning: He ultimately led 108 of 134 laps in a dominant manner. The current Cup Series champion won all of his last seven starts in the Truck Series.
This is reason enough for Kevin Harvick to put a bounty on the head. On Twitter Harvick promised the Cup driver, who beats Bush fairly in a Truck Series, a prize money of 50,000 US dollars. The managing director of Camping World, Marcus Lemonis, joined the Stewart-Haas pilot’s bounty and doubled the prize money to 100,000 US dollars.
It didn’t take long and the first challengers appeared on Twitter. Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson will work together with GMS Racing to do the impossible and beat the Busch. While Elliott will try to do beat him in Atlanta, Larson will go hunting for “Rowdy” in Homestead-Miami.