THREE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM KANSAS
1. Glowing rotors
Super-hot brake rotors are nothing new to racing. Having one explode at 200 mph is something we haven’t seen. One of Joey Logano’s front rotors shattered at Kansas, causing his car to veer into Danica Patrick, and they collected Aric Almirola in the mess. Almirola suffered a back injury.
2. Rotor rattles
The three-car crash caused by Logano’s ripped-up rotor sent a shiver through the Kansas Speedway garage. Several drivers had complained to their crew chiefs about brake issues. After seeing what happened, there may be a line of cars at your neighborhood brake shop this week.
3. Shaken up
Logano was visibly shaken by the wreck when he talked to Fox Sports after being released from the infield care center. “The right-front popped,” he said. “I just hope everyone is OK. That's the last thing you want to see, a big hit like that for anyone. It's unfortunate for everyone.”
THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. All-Star racing
This weekend, NASCAR teams are racing for big money and bragging rights, not championship points. The Monster Energy All-Star Race will be staged Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. NASCAR will use a format first introduced in 1992, which produced one of the event’s most fantastic finishes. The field will be trimmed to 10 cars for a 10-lap shootout. The winner gets $1 million.
2. No breaks
Danica Patrick is having a tough season, which started when her team sued her primary sponsor Nature’s Bakery before the first lap was turned at Daytona. She has suffered five DNFs in 11 starts, including the fiery wallop she endured Saturday at Kansas. Maybe this weekend's exhibition festivities will bring the desired tonic of luck and speed.
3. Home track?
While most teams are located near Charlotte, Furniture Row Racing is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. In NASCAR terms, it’s out in the middle of nowhere. It’s so far from every track that the team considers Kansas Speedway, which is located a little over 600 miles east of the shop, its “home track.” Going to Charlotte? That’s about 1,600 miles.
A couple questions we had to ask- ourselves
We all feel for Almirola, but a little pity for Danica?
GODSPEAK: During the Fox Sports interview, she looked like she was gonna crack. Yes, I feel bad for her.
KEN’S CALL: Of course. She needs something positive, and was on her way at Kansas before the dreaded “circumstances” bit her.
When does Gibbs Racing finally get its first win?
GODSPEAK: Kyle Busch at Dover on June 4. Just remember, I went all-in on Patch in the Kentucky Derby.
KEN’S CALL: June 18, Matt Kenseth at Michigan. Heard it here first.
Best chance for underdog win at All Star Race?
GODSPEAK: He probably won’t like being labeled an underdog, but I will go with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Come out and play, Junior!
KEN’S CALL: Assuming Ryan Newman has worked his way to underdog status, I take Ryan Newman. Just kidding. I take Kasey Kahne.
QUESTIONS & ATTITUDE
Compelling questions... and maybe a few actual answers
Any further review of the Almirola crash?
The important reviews, I trust, will come at NASCAR’s Research and Development headquarters near Charlotte. Amazing and overdue strides have been made in cockpit safety, and for now the attention will likely be refocused on what, if anything, can be done to better protect the spine. Given the speed and the sudden impact, it’s initially hard to imagine what can be done to protect against a compression fracture to a vertebra. But remember, not all that long ago we'd have said the same thing about head and neck injuries.
Is Danica jinxed?
Nope. No more than any other racer who occasionally gets caught up in happenstance (or what the old-timers still call “one of them deals”). The difference is, when you only have a top-10 run going once every blue moon, these things hurt more. If she and the No. 10 team can get things rolling more often like they were at Kansas, those types of breaks won’t be as devastating, since there’s always “next week.” Maybe they can build on the positives. Maybe.
FEUD OF THE WEEK
CHASE ELLIOTT VS. MICHAEL MCDOWELL: McDowell’s No. 95 Chevy clipped Elliott’s No. 24 Chevy during an early round of pit stops. Elliott never recovered and finished 29th. McDowell wound up 13th.
GODWIN KELLY’S TAKE: These pit mishaps are hard to avoid because there is little elbow room on the service alley. “It definitely wasn’t anything that I felt like I could have prevented,” McDowell said.
WHAT'S ON TAP
CUP SERIES: Monster Energy All-Star Race/Open Race
SITE: Charlotte Motor Speedway (1.5-mile quad-oval)
TV SCHEDULE: Friday, All-Star practice (Fox Sports 1, 1 p.m.), Open practice (Fox Sports 1, 3 p.m.), Open qualifying (Fox Sports 1, 4:30 p.m.). Saturday, Open Race (Fox Sports 1, 6 p.m.), All-Star Race (Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m.)
CAMPING WORLD TRUCKS: N.C. Education Lottery 200
SITE: Charlotte Motor Speedway
TV SCHEDULE: Friday, qualifying (Fox Sports 1, 4:30 p.m.), race (Fox Sports 1, 8:30 p.m.)
GODWIN'S PICKS FOR ALL-STAR RACE
WINNER: Kyle Larson
REST OF TOP 5: Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr.
FIRST ONE OUT: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
DARK HORSE: Jamie McMurray
DON’T BE SURPRISED IF: This isn’t a normal NASCAR race, and super-aggressive driving is rewarded — with a million bucks this time.
1. Kyle Larson 475
2. Martin Truex Jr. 431
3. Brad Keselowski 408
4. Chase Elliott 361
5. Jamie McMurray 354
6. Kevin Harvick 347
7. Kyle Busch 325
8. Jimmie Johnson 323
9. Joey Logano 320
10. Clint Bowyer 317
11. Ryan Blaney 291
12. Denny Hamlin 289
13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 276
14. Trevor Bayne 250
15. Kurt Busch 246
16. Kasey Kahne 242
17. Ryan Newman 238
18. Matt Kenseth 233
19. Daniel Suarez 217
19. Erik Jones 217