Certainly after a lot of controversy throughout the last week regarding penalties and appeals, NASCAR was looking to get back to their bread-and-butter: the racetrack.
Little did they know that things would go off the rails rather quickly as on Friday, Xfinity and Truck Series practice and qualifying sessions all got rained out. Things were looking up, however, as nothing but clear skies were reported for Saturday and Sunday respectively.
It did not take long into the day, however, for things to turn really, really sour.
You Need To Know:
- There were a lot of questions for NASCAR heading into this weekend. Not only was the weekend’s race at the newly reconfigured Atlanta Superspeedway (which is still relatively new, and just as big of a question mark as last year) but there were also steep penalties and fines handed down by the governing body on Wednesday.
The NASCAR teams affected did not hesitate to voice their displeasure as both Hendrick Motorsports and Kaulig Racing decided to appeal their steep penalties, citing questionable parts distributed by the single-source supplier. Add in Denny Hamlin adding his name to the list of those seeking appeal and things for the Atlanta race weekend were already off to a rocky start.
- Saturday afternoon after qualifying, several Cup Series drivers chose to speak out on NASCAR’s inability to control their drivers and step in for what they view as “disrespectful racing.” The most notable one of these drivers was the aforementioned Denny Hamlin who gave somewhat of a protest interview as he dodged questions from the media, advising them to “get their shingles vaccination.”
He wasn’t the only protester of the day, though. Through an uneventful Truck race this afternoon and a laughably bad Xfinity race this evening, all anyone could talk about was the ridiculous number of cautions early in the race. The race even broke the previous record of cautions at Atlanta in an Xfinity race which now sits at a dumbfounding ELEVEN. It seemed that the caution controversy was going to be the talk of this very dull Xfinity Series race, but that would be proven false after Josh Williams broke NASCAR Twitter by parking his car on the start/finish line, got out, and walked away in protest of being told to “park it” after some debris from his car caused yet another caution.
- Fans were almost universally displeased with today’s events. They were already irritated (and that’s putting it mildly) with NASCAR’s inspection and penalty procedures from earlier in the week – and the back-to-back snoozers didn’t do anything to help NASCAR in their current position. Following the Josh Williams stunt, he became a legendary hero on NASCAR Twitter as he had the guts to stick it to the governing body that has peeved so many people, fans and drivers alike.
Drivers in general are also very upset with this sequence of events. NASCAR Cup Series driver, Denny Hamlin, even offered to pay Josh Williams’ fine when NASCAR inevitably dishes it out. If that doesn’t say that NASCAR has a morale problem in the garage, I don’t know what does.
The Main Characters
NASCAR is turning into a regular villain these days with the way they’ve been governing their sport. The current fan consensus is that they have been consistently inconsistent time and time again when it comes to penalties and the vagueness of the NASCAR rule book regarding NextGen car parts – and their defiant lack of transparency doesn’t help their case.
In the clip below, as provided by Noah Lewis, we can hear Josh Williams virtually dare NASCAR to fine him, stating that he can’t afford to pay it.
Which, of course, brings us to our next big player of this story, that being Josh Williams. Williams’ protest during the Atlanta Xfinity race broke NASCAR internet, with a lot of fans giddy over it, as they are very displeased with NASCAR at the moment.
But perhaps the biggest story coming out of this weekend (and we’re not even through the Cup Race yet!) is just how livid the fandom at large seems to be at not only the governing body but also the racing product, at least when it comes to the Xfinity and Truck Series at Hotlanta. Here, our own Daily Downforce social media guru pokes fun at the boring racing.
Around The Garage
The news day for NASCAR started off with this rather odd interview response from Denny Hamlin..
Kaz Grala, who was caught up in an early incident with Jeffery Earnhardt and Garrett Smithley, tweets that he is having fun. WE. ARE. HAVING. FUN. Yeah, that’s convincing!
NASCAR legend and Hall of Famer, Mark “The Kid” Martin” sure wasn’t having fun, as per his Twitter page…
Clearly Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t like what he was seeing.
In The Stands
Noah of @lefty_designs on Twitter commented on the overly yellow progression par at the top of the screen. He then responds wishing for A LITTLE MORE GREEN! It is a common complaint.
Dustin Albino states that the longest stretch of green flag laps was a measly little 9-laps…
Without all the crashing, maybe they did need just a little bit of practice. Chris Gabehart certainly thinks so.
Tyler makes the point that when they weren’t crashing and they got a little calmed down, the racing wasn’t that bad. Too bad those moments were few and far between.
Keith begs to go back to a typical intermediate package rather than a superspeedway package.
Kimberly clicked off to watch Team USA. That’s a huge problem.
Terry Maines echoes Keith’s point. No more SS package at Hotlanta?
On Your Screen
OOTG host, Eric Estepp, has a list of things he can do with how many caution laps he suffered through tonight.
Darian Gilliam of Black Flags Matter reports that Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 for JR Motorsports, feels embarrassed following today’s showing.
From The Pressbox
Jeff Gluck reported with 100 laps to go that we were closing in hard on the track record for most cautions.
What else can go wrong? Anything and everything! That’s how PRN feels about this race.
At the halfway point, Jeff Gluck reports there had actually been more caution laps than green flag laps. Oof!
Matthew Burroughs fears his bed time as it quickly approaches while Saturday’s race just drug.
Toby Christie makes a similar argument, seeing the Cup race quickly approaching over the horizon.
With today’s awfulness in the books, all we can do is look forward to tomorrow. We know NASCAR has to look forward to moving on from this hideous day and, probably, getting out of Atlanta and heading back to the Hub in Charlotte.