Quarrels, Second Chances and the Metaverse

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1. ROVAL’s win was perhaps the most impressive to date for Kyle Larson

If you picked Kyle Larson to win the Bank of America ROVAL 400 before the weekend, you weren’t really in danger. The currently brightest star of Hendrick Motorsports (yes, sorry Chase Elliott) not only has the best season of his career in the NASCAR Cup Series, he has also been shown to be very good at road racing, scoring victories. at Sonoma and Watkins Glen to accompany a final result at the Circuit of the Americas in the 2021 regular season. Before Sunday, he was among the favorites.

Halfway through? Not really. Larson was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop on Stage 2 due to electrical issues in his No.5 Chevrolet. It left him far from the lead and even made some wonder if he stood at risk of advancing to the next round of the playoffs.

As it turns out, all of the criticism of Larson’s early exit after so much regular season success has turned out to be in vain. Larson’s team were able to make all the right choices the rest of the way, and their driver made all the restarts when it counted. Instead of ending up outside the Round of 8, Larson will instead lead the pack with 65 bonus points.

Larson has literally led thousands of laps this season, so we’ve all gotten used to seeing his Chevrolet out front. The ROVAL was different – Larson only led eight circuits, but again one of them was the last lap.

Not all wins can be dominant, and often the sign of a champion in any sport is being able to achieve a victory on a day when all is not well. It was a great example for Larson and his crew, and arguably the biggest sign yet that he has what it takes to win his first Cup Series championship.

2. Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott test NASCAR’s patience

It’s always as if, when it comes to track runs between drivers, half of the NASCAR nation would prefer “boys, do it” to be the default mentality while the other half would just like it to be. the governing body has defined concrete means of controlling dust. In truth, the reality is something like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous quote “I know it when I see it” (which was about pornography, and actually imagined by his coroner, but hey), with NASCAR intervening when he believes someone has gone too far.

It could be that time for Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott. NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller suggested Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “we don’t need this to continue and we’ll do what we think is necessary to kind of calm this one down.”

Interestingly, Miller also noted that the two contestants are tied at 1-1 in the grievance department, with Elliott accidentally holding Harvick in Bristol and Harvick sending Elliott into the wall at ROVAL. The problem now is that only one is still alive in the championship hunt (that would be Elliott), so a continuation of the feud wouldn’t take turns.

That’s not even counting the impact they could have on other drivers still alive in the playoffs if, say, one destroys the other and catches innocent cars in their wake. Like it or not, this is the exact situation that makes NASCAR feel the need to step in – and it probably should.

3. Fewer horses for 2022

If there was one constant in the discourse of recent years within the NASCAR community, it has been dissatisfaction with the low power and high downforce used on intermediate tracks. While it’s way more complicated than just a power number, the mere thought of lower numbers is enough to make some racing enthusiasts start popping in the hives.

These people are unlikely to be thrilled by Bob Pockrass reporting that NASCAR has decided on its 2022 rule set, which includes the same combo of reduced horsepower and large spoilers at mids, and a newer set with 670 hp for larger tracks. – down from 750 in 2021.

This is a far cry from what some had hoped for, namely that the arrival of the Next Gen car would mean the end of this split. Instead, even sites 1.5 miles and above will get a little less horsepower under the hood.

But before the inevitable panic, it’s important to keep one thing in mind: Shit, everything will be different next year. If you remember the scientific method from your high school science lessons, you’ll remember that the best way to determine the impact of a change is to tinker with only one variable at a time. Next Gen is changing everything at the same time, so if the run is below average next year it could be a forfeit affair, but it might not be. Only time will tell.

4. Ty Dillon gets his second chance

GMS Racing has had Cup Series ambitions for some time, so it wasn’t a big surprise when the team announced they would field a full-time entry into NASCAR’s Top Series in 2022. His driver selection, however, may have elicited at least a slight raised eyebrow in some corners, as GMS revealed on October 10 that Ty Dillon would be occupying the seat of his No. 94 Chevrolet.

Younger brother Dillon is no stranger to driving a team to a Cup Series car, having done exactly that for Germain Racing from 2017 to 2020. Dillon’s experience could not have been very funny, because it led to zero. wins, only a handful of top 10s, and no end of year finishes higher than 24th in the standings.

Still, it could certainly be argued that with GMS ‘success in the lower heats, Dillon will have better resources behind him this time around. The team will have an alliance with Richard Childress Racing, just as Germain did in the past, and ECR Engines. On top of that, the Next Gen car means everyone will be starting from scratch at the same time, although it would be foolish to expect bigger teams not to have a head start.

Either way, it should be an intriguing story under the radar to see how Dillon fares with his second shot, as he will certainly do his best not to throw it away. And to all Hamilton fans, I sincerely apologize.

5. Metaverse and NFT and blockchain, oh my god!

Here’s a NASCAR deal you might not have read this week: NASCAR signed a deal with a company called Subnation to create “an advanced digital ecosystem and world of branded stories for racing fans.” What does that mean exactly? This isn’t immediately clear, as the rest of the press release is full of pseudo-technical marketing talk:

Subnation will use NASCAR’s new digital ecosystem to amplify collaborations between teams and drivers, expand brand partnerships, accelerate e-commerce efforts, and distribute original content and archival programming. Additionally, Subnation will work with NASCAR to develop virtual experiences and products such as exclusive NFTs, digital collectibles, and limited edition apparel.

What I can tell you is that the metaverse is a hot topic right now in the tech space, with a number of rich and smart companies fighting to define it. There are a few warning signs here – NFTs and blockchain technology have environmental concerns, for example – but it shows that NASCAR is thinking about the future.

If NASCAR can get it on the relative ground floor, creating a continuous virtual space that offers as much steak as it does sizzle, that would be a positive step in ensuring its presence in whatever the future of digital entertainment is. It’s a concept you might automatically associate with stock car racing, and it’s great to see.

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