Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Top 3 Surprises after Martinsville Speedway (#nascar)

by Jens Martin

#9 Liberty University Toyota
William Byron
Kyle Busch Motorsports (CWTS) +

William Byron, age 18, hometown of Charlotte, NC, was a NASCAR K&N Pro East Series champion in 2015 (HScott Motorsports). William also started two races in the ARCA Series last year, (Venturini Motorsports) together with his debut race in NASCAR Camping Word Truck Series (CWTS) for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM).

Starting in position five in his CWTS debut race at Phoenix 2015, William ended up in position 31 after an early crash. This season, William will drive full-time in CWTS for KBM.

After three races completed in CWTS, William has already impressed the fans with his position three finish this weekend at Martinsville. At Atlanta, the engine failed and ruined William’s day with a position 32 finish. At Daytona, William finished in position 13. So far the stats gives us an avg. start of 11.7 and avg. finish of 16.0.

I’m confident that the statistics will be even better the next races for young William Byron.

#47 Kroger/Butterfinger/Coffeemate Chevrolet
AJ Allmendinger
JTG Dougherty Racing (Sprint Cup) +

AJ Allmendinger, age 34, hometown of Los Gatos, CA, started his career with driving in the CART Series 2004-2006. AJ started 40 times in the CART Series, collecting 5 wins, 14 podiums and 2 poles.

AJ made his NASCAR debut in 2006 in Camping Word Truck Series (CWTS); driving for Bill Davies Racing. AJ ended up in position 13 after starting in position 32. In 2006-2007, AJ drove part-time in NASCAR CWTS and Xfinity Series. In 2006, AJ also drove a NASAR Sprint Cup car for the first time. AJ failed to qualify his Dodge two times that year (Atlanta and Fort Worth).

In 2007, AJ got his real race debut in the Sprint Cup Series at Bristol (Red Bull Racing). However, it was when AJ moved to Richard Petty Motorsports, in 2009, that something started to happened for AJ. He started all the 36 races and collected one top-5 and six top-10.

Driving full-time in Sprint Cup since 2007, AJ had had his “ups and downs”. AJ’s drug abuse suspension in 2012 was creating an enormous media event. After being suspended by NASCAR, many thought maybe this would ruin his career.

But it didn’t. AJ rebounded, followed NASCAR’s drug abuse program and AJ got a second chance with JTG Daughery Racing in 2013. AJ’s best season was in 2014 when he got his only win at Watkins Glen; but he also managed two top-5 and five top-10 finishes. AJ ended up in position 13 in the overall standings that year.

I think many race fans were excited to see when AJ chased Kyle Busch in those last laps at Martinsville Speedway last weekend. AJ didn’t take the checkered flag before Kyle, but he drove majestically for 500 tough “paper clip” laps. I’m impressed by this performance from the #47 team.

#22 Shell Pennzoil Ford
Joey Logano
Team Penske - (Sprint Cup)

Well, as always, there are a few name that pops up in your mind, when thinking about negative surprise from the last weekend races in NASCAR. I could easily pick Clint Bowyer, who has a very weak series start, or Kasey Kahne, for the second time, but that is really even not a surprise anymore. Their performances on the track is way below standard race after race. Instead I changed my mind and picked Joey Logano instead.

Joey Logano, age 26, hometown of Middletown, VT, is a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion in 2007. Joey did four starts in the ARCA Racing Series in 2008-2009 (2 wins, 4 top-5). Then he did his NASCAR Camping Word Truck Series (CWTS) debut at Phoenix in 2008.

Joey quickly moved up the NASCAR ladder and started racing in the Xfinity Series in 2008 for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). Joey had driven part-time in Xfinity Series and full-time Sprint Cup for JGR 2008-2012 and for Team Penske from 2013 until now.

The stats are impressing from the Xfinity Series with 147 races started; 25 wins, 78 top-5, 118 top 10 and 30 poles. Joey made his Sprint Cup debut in 2008 at Loudon, ended up in position 32 with the #96 Toyota (JGR).

Since joining Team Penske in 2013, Joey’s stats are very impressing. His overall rank in Sprint Cup is 2013: 8, 2014: 4, 2015: 6. Total career stats in Sprint Cup in 261 races; 14 wins, 67 top-5, 113 top-10 and 15 poles so far.

Unfortunately, after the Martinsville Race last weekend, team #22 was a negative surprise in my book. Joey started at the pole position and then everything looked okay in the beginning of the race. But something happened to the #22 Ford, perhaps the “dirty air” did something or the adjustments from crew chief Todd Gordon was not the right ones.

I was expecting a later comeback in the race – as teammate Brad Keselowski did, but nothing happened. Joey managed to drive up to position 11 in the end and led 21 of total 500 laps. I’m not impressed with that. I’m expected a lot more from Joey at a track like Martinsville when starting at the pole. Let’s see if this was a one-time slump from team #22.

Photo Credit: 3 x Headshots Photos from NASCAR Media 

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