Parks Pit Report: It’s Summertime, and It’s Break Time

After filling out some testing obligations, all the Sprint Cup drivers now got to enjoy Father's Day away from the track.

After filling out some testing obligations, all the Sprint Cup drivers now got to enjoy Father’s Day away from the track.

Although the NASCAR Camping World Trucks and the Xfinity Series were in competition this weekend, the big boys were getting the chance to enjoy their second of three weekends away from the track.  Next season those off-weekends get reduced down to only two, so every chance a driver and team has to get away from the speedway, they take it.

It also gives another chance to look both back and forward in what has been a rather interesting season.

This time, there isn’t as much to look back on.  As things stand, the dominant team in the sport isn’t just one car, but rather an entire organization.  The Joe Gibbs teams have all been locked into the Chase, with Kyle Busch being the leader of everyone with three wins.

Normally, it’s the Hendrick foursome that is leading the pack, but this year Toyota has put their efforts first and have shown to be ahead of the competition.  Even the satellite team from Gibbs, Furniture Row Racing and Martin Truex Jr, has been extremely strong.  His victory at Charlotte was the biggest rout in the history of the sport when it comes to laps and miles led in one race.

But, with success comes troubles, and for Busch and Denny Hamlin, they have found it.

Busch does have three wins on the season, but over the last month has struggled immensely, with a pair of DNF’s and sub-par performances.  He is locked into the Chase, hands down, but the problem is keeping the momentum he did have at the beginning of the season.  This is the defending champion, and he’s struggling mightily to run as the champion should.

Looking ahead, the stretch of summer is going to see a few new tracks that have yet to be run, but at the same time it will get into the time of the season where returning to previous tracks will take place.

In fact, the next two weeks will be just that.  NASCAR is heading to California next weekend, into “wine country” in the Sonoma Valley.  It will be road racing for the drivers, and this will also be another time when some new rules could be introduced.  When I say could, it all depends on the skies.

NASCAR, beginning with the 2014 season, implemented new rules for the Cup series for the first time at just the road courses.  If necessary, NASCAR will make changes to the cars to get the race in should weather play a factor.  Teams will need to place a brake light in the rear window, and install wipers on the windshield.  Plus, Goodyear will bring their grooved Eagle race tires.

NASCAR…in the rain?  It’s not unheard of because the Xfinity Series has done so on a few occasions, and it went over rather surprisingly well.

But, on the Cup side, excluding some minor testing in the mid-1990’s, plus a qualifying session that was used during an exhibition event in Japan, this series has never been on a road course competing in the rain.  It’s not like when an open-wheel car hits the streets in the rain, because these cars weigh so much more, and handle so much different.  Trying to make this work would be unreal, but usually when it comes to Sonoma, the weather has been on their side, so it likely will not be tested this time.

After that, NASCAR in a sense it’s it’s own mid-way point in the season, at least in theory because it is back to Daytona for the annual Fourth of July weekend that finishes with a 400-mile Saturday night delight that will certainly have all eyes on the speedway.

Hopefully that race will be run at a better time, as last year the race ran well into the night, and by well into the night I mean it got done past 3 a.m.  Mother Nature hated NASCAR that weekend, but they wanted to race at night, and in the end had a finish that was both spectacular, and spooky.

The off-weekend was welcomed, but it’s time for the summer stretch of action, so get ready, because the heat is on.

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