Party's Over

Kevin Harvick

With the celebration of Kevin Harvick's championship over, the focus turns to 2015 in NASCAR. (Photo: Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS - The parties are over. And so are the hangovers. A week of appearances, parties and meetings have ended for NASCAR. While champion Kevin Harvick garnered most of the attention the past week, there was much to take in these last few days.

A driver talked of paying back a competitor, another called for a schedule change and another said how the sport should grow. Those were among the things you might have missed during this busy week for the sport. 

Payback coming?

There was plenty of talk this past week about the contact between Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon at Texas last month and the fight on pit road afterward. 

With the drivers often at events together, Gordon was asked what it was like spending time with Keselowski this week.

“I’m not staying away from him,’’ Gordon said. “I can’t say that we’ve had any deep conversations. It doesn’t do you any good to make any enemies trying to win a championship. 

“My philosophy has always been I race people the way that they race me. I understand how to race Brad in the future. You always hope with an incident like that that is so important, you hope that you get a chance to pay back somebody for that one day. I don’t know if that will happen or not.’’

Schedule change?

Kyle Larson was asked during the Sports Business Journal’s Motorsports Marketing Forum this week what he would do if he ran NASCAR. His idea could present some challenges but there could be some merit and shouldn’t be routinely discounted.

Larson’s idea?

“We have all these tracks kind of close together and maybe we could do a Speedweek where you start in Martinsville and run on Sunday and then you race Charlotte on Wednesday and then you finish it at Darlington later in the weekend,’’ Larson said, harkening back to his open-wheel days on dirt.

“We had a lots of Speedweeks and Sprint Week was one in Indiana where they raced seven nights in nine days. The fans have a blast traveling from each track to the next one. I think those three tracks would be great to have NASCAR do a Speedweek.’’

Interesting concept. 

More Manufacturers

Brad Keselowski said during the Sports Business Journal’s Motorsports Marketing Forum that NASCAR needs more manufacturers to join Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota. 

“When I was first getting started - I remember this very vividly - when Toyota entered the sport how they really upped the ante for all the manufactures and increased the spend from Ford Chevrolet and Dodge,’’ Keselowski said. “Looking forward ... I think one of our keys is bringing in a fourth manufacturer or more.’’

Keselowski notes the how the manufacturers have ties to tracks, how they could provide more advertising and promotion for the sport and help the teams.

“Gosh, we need all the help we can get there,’’ said Keselowski, who noted that his Camping World Truck team lost $1 million this past season despite the organization winning twice and Ryan Blaney finishing second in the points.

Brent Dewar, chief operating officer for NASCAR said that there’s “nothing imminent” with a new manufacturer coming to Sprint Cup.

Danica’s crew chief

The late-season crew chief swap among Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick seems to have worked well for Busch but not Patrick.

Busch got Patrick’s crew chief, Tony Gibson, for the final three races and finished no worse than 11th in those events. 

“It was great to get back to an old-school crew chief,’’ Busch said. “Real refreshing. (Gibson) understands the car and is able to finesse it in a way to where you’re not relying so much on simulation as well as the engineering side of things.’’

Patrick got Busch’s crew chief, Daniel Knost, who has an engineering background. Patrick finished no better than 18th in her three races with Knost.

So who will be Patrick’s crew chief in 2015?

“We honestly thought that Daniel is a good choice for Danica, he’s very technical, he’s very smart, he’s been an engineer for a number of years,’’ car owner Gene Haas said. “Now that he has one year as a crew chief, we believe that he has the potential to help her improve. Now what Danica feels is really what Danica wants. We’re here to give Danica what she feels comfortable with. We’ll see how that all plays out. We have a few months to work on that.’’

A title that almost wasn’t

Crew chief Rodney Childers has talked about how tough it was to decide to leave  Michael Waltrip Racing to join Kevin Harvick at Stewart-Haas Racing before this season. Friday night, Childers shed a bit more light into how often he wavered on where he would be this season.

After a meeting at Harvick’s house in July 2013, Childers sent his wife a message  that he would take the job. Then that weekend, Childers helped Brian Vickers win at New Hampshire. 

“So I’m standing in Victory Lane and I send her a message I can’t do that (leave for Harvick’s team),’’ Childers said. “I can’t turn around and leave this. I’ve worked so hard for this for three years to get this team to where it is and get these cars to where they are. 

“(Deciding what to do) was a struggle every week. I would wake up one day and feel one way, and I would wake up another day and feel another way. It comes down to what is your best chance to win a championship. That’s why you do this. If you can’t do that there’s no point in spending the time away from your kids and your family.’’

 

 

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