By David G. Firestone
Gonna be a bit of a long entry today, but I have a few things that I really need to discuss, that I haven’t been able to get to until today. I typically write a DSB article a few weeks in advance, and work on it over the weeks before it runs, but given the circumstances, I needed to write a fresh article for this week. Now while the site focuses mainly on NASCAR, I watch other forms of racing, including F1. The F1 race at Bahrain on Sunday was one of the best F1 races I have ever seen. That said, F1 is dealing with a controversy this season, that I need to address
F1 implemented in 2014, a series of regulations designed at making the sport more eco-friendly, or so they say. Engines are also now supercharged, and a redesign of the bodywork has that regulates that the nose of the car is much lower. Since during the off season teams were not able to observe each other, each team showed up to the Australian Grand Prix with a different nose design. These new regulations also had the effect of making the engine sound somewhat quieter. This change in engine noise did not go unnoticed, and many fans complained. There was even discussion of a lawsuit for failing to deliver what was promised by the promoters.
I’m a racing fan, and I understand that the sound of the engines is a huge part of the ambiance of the event. I get it. But at the same time, engine changes are going to happen. Engines will evolve. In fact, if you were to take an F1 engine from 2004, and put it in a current chassis, the car would not be competitive. I get what engine noise means, but sometimes you have to take the bad with the good. The racing has been better this season, and I personally will take the lower engine volume for the better racing.
One other rule new to the 2014 F1 season is a new mandate that the last race of the F1 season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will have double points, to keep the championship points battle alive. What I’d like to see, is for the last TWO races, The Brazillian Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to have double points. I think that the last two races having double points would have a major impact on the championship, and would bring more spectators, both live and on television to the event.
A few more things from F1, first the United States Grand Prix in Austin Texas has been moved from November 9 to November 2 to accommodate a Texas A&M football game. What this does also is to move the race away from the season finale of the Sprint Cup Series season. This will give it more visibility in the United States, since it does not have to compete as much with NASCAR for attention. My favorite change in 2014 is that Williams F1 switched to Mercedes engines, and got Martini as a sponsor. They have utilized a very attractive vintage scheme. God that is a beautiful scheme!
The next topic here is something that has been bugging me for a while this year. I watch NASCAR at every given opportunity, I love the broadcast team on Fox, I love Darrell and Michael Waltrip, but I really, REALLY wish they would just shut up about this rookie class. I really do. I get rookies, I get rookie phenoms, but I do not want to hear anymore about this “amazing rookie class.”
I get that in recent years that rookie classes have been lackluster. I get that. Rookie classes can be legendary, like 1979 with Dale Earnhardt Sr., Terry Labonte and Harry Gant, or embarrassing, like 1990, with, Rob Moroso, Jack Pennington, Jerry O’Neil, and Jeff Purvis. I also get that there hasn’t been a decent rookie class since 2006. That said, this rookie class, is not as good as the broadcasters like to talk about.
Darrel said on numerous occasions that this is the largest rookie class since 1994. Ok, I get that, but let’s look at who was in that class, Steve Grissom, Joe Nemechek, Loy Allen, Jr., John Andretti, Jeremy Mayfield, Mike Wallace, Ward Burton, Rich Bickle, Billy Standridge, Rodney Orr, and Jeff Burton who won the Rookie of the Year. Loy Allen Jr. Mike Wallace, Steve Grissom, Rich and Billy Standridge were all busts. Orr was tragically killed before the Daytona 500. Andretti has two wins, Ward Burton has 5 wins, including the 2002 Daytona 500, ONLY BECAUSE STERLING MARLIN ILLEGALLY REPAIRED HIS CAR UNDER A RED FLAG, Joe Nemechek has 4 wins. Jeff Burton was the best of the lot with 21 wins. But the fact is that what it had in driver numbers, it lacked in talent. I’m seeing this same thing with this rookie class
Let’s look at each driver individually, and try to understand why they are in the Sprint Cup Series. Gonna do this in no particualr order, and we will start with Parker Kligerman. He was decent in the Truck Series, with 25 top 10’s in 50 races, with 1 win. He finished in the top 10 in HALF of the races he started in! Ok, so he moves to the Nationwide Series, and falls to 18 top 10’s in 51 races. Ok, still not bad, but he does not have a win. He has raced since 2009, so he raced in 51 races in 4 years. Um…you think he needs some more padding? He has some talent, but it needs to be developed. Unlike some of the other drivers he has some potential.
Cole Whitt is next. Not one win in any of the Big 3 Series. Like Kligerman, he has 18 top 10’s in 51 races. Unlike Kligerman, he was bland in the Truck Series. He’s an underwhelming driver in an overwhelming series. To top that off, he signs with Swan Racing! Swan Racing is to NASCAR as the New York Mets are to baseball…a total embarrassment. No top 10’s, and they have led 5 LAPS IN 3 YEARS! 5 LAPS IN 56 RACES! THEY AVERAGE A LEAD LAP EVERY 11 RACES! They are a total embarrassment to auto racing!
Michael Annett is one of the more underrated drivers, in my mind, in this rookie class. He has a lot of potential, and I think that with the right team, he might win a few races, but I don’t think he will do much more than that. Again, no races won in any of the big series.
BK Racing made the perplexing decision to fire two veteran drivers and replace them with rookies. I don’t disagree with hiring rookies, but Alex Bowman, and Ryan Truex don’t have the results to warrant the move. Again, why do teams insist on moving inexperienced rookies with minimal exposure to the schedule to the Sprint Cup?
Now Kyle Larson on the other hand, is a contender. He has a Truck Series win, and a Nationwide Series win, and in 10 Sprint Cup starts, he has two top 10’s, including a 2nd place finish. He was one bad restart away from winning the race. I think this kid is a contender for the championship. Even when he doesn’t win, he is strong behind the wheel, and I think he is one of two contenders for the Rookie of the Year.
The other contender is Austin Dillon. In 55 races, he has 5 wins, 34 top 10’s and won the Truck Series Championship in 2011. When he moved to the Nationwide Series, he had, in 77 races he has two wins, 53 top 10’s, and won the championship in 2013, without winning a race. In 19 Sprint Cup races, he has a top 10, and I think he is the front runner for the Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year.
So of the 7 contenders for Rookie of the Year, we really only have two contenders. I get it. I really do not want to hear any more about the rookies, so guys, please, stop talking about them!
Now on a positive note…
Paint Scheme Reviews!
Jamie McMurray #1 Beechcraft Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design, great scheme A+
Austin Dillon #3 Bass Pro Shop Chevy SS Camo and orange never work, and this is the worst example I have seen yet. Why can’t the #3 Bass Pro Shop car look like this? This is an F scheme, and I’m being polite!
Denny Hamlin #11 SportClips Toyota Camry Good color scheme, but much too overdesigned. D-
Alex Bowman #23 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry Like the silver, and the design scheme is very good. A
David Gilliland #38 A&W Ford Fusion Front Row Racing uses a really good template and the color scheme works very well. A
Aric Almirola #43 Fresh From Florida Ford Fusion(try saying that 3 times fast!) Aric has had some great schemes this year, but this is awful. Bad color scheme, much too overdesigned, and it just looks awful. F
Justin Allgaier #51 AWX Performance Plus Chevy SS Great color scheme and a great design scheme earn an A grade.
Brian Vickers # 55 Aaron’s/Florida State Toyota Camry Good design, great color scheme, an A scheme all around
Carl Edwards #99 Ford EcoBoost Ford Fusion It looks like the designer had a stroke while designing the car. The color scheme is good, and that is the only good thing I can say about this scheme. It has earned an F