Ladies, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is off the market
I have some bad news for all you single ladies who are Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans. As of last Saturday, he’s off the market. Yes, Dale and long-time girlfriend Amy Reimann tied the knot on New Year’s Eve, with many NASCAR friends in attendance including Danica Patrick, who caught the bouquet. So Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will probably be out of play soon too. Sorry about that, girls.
Junior will be back in a race car as a married man at the Daytona 500, although he won¹t be driving his No. 88 Hendrick Chevy in the Clash coming up on Feb. 18. That honor will go to young Alex Bowman, who scored the pole at Phoenix while sitting in for Earnhardt last season. Earnhardt also is eligible for the non-points Clash as a former winner (2008), but chose to give the spot to Bowman. That¹s a class move in my opinion. Sadly, despite a stellar performance in his substitute role, Bowman hasn’t secured a ride for 2017. Although he’s had offers, he has so far elected to wait for the right opportunity. For now, he drives the simulator at Hendrick Racing.
For all you traditionalists who hate the NASCAR Chase format, here are the Sprint Cup point standings as they would have been at the end of the season with the current point system but without the Chase. Kevin Harvick (1159); Joey Logano (1133); Kyle Busch (1105); Brad Keselowski (1089); Denny Hamlin (1084); Kurt Busch (1055) and Jimmie Johnson (1007). Johnson, by the way, is the only driver to have competed in all 13 Chases since the format began. Matt Kenseth has been in 12 of the 13, and Hamlin, Harvick, and Kurt Busch have each competed in 10 of them.
If you’re planning to attend the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup round at Las Vegas on March 11 but don’t want to fight the race traffic, here’s a deal for you. For a mere $549 per day, you can take a Maverick Helicopter’s Airbus to and from the track. Book it before Jan. 27 and you save $50 for the bargain price of just $499.
Kevin Harvick will be a busy boy in the upcoming season. In addition to his regular NASCAR Monster Energy Cup driving duties in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, he will race a second SHR Xfinity Mustang in four races and take on announcing booth duties for another eight Xfinity rounds.
For the 2017 Formula One season, the key words are faster, wider, and lower. The cars will be faster, tires and bodywork wider for more grip and downforce, and the lap times are expected to be three to five seconds lower than 2016 times. The increased performance is expected to make the cars somewhat more difficult to drive. Here are the particulars. Rear tire width will increase from 12.8 inches to 15.9 inches, nearly a 25 percent addition. Front tires will be 12 inches wide, versus 9.6 for the previous year. The width of the front wing will go from 65 inches to 70.9 inches, and the rear wing height will be reduced from 37.4 to 31.5 inches for reduced drag. Bodywork will be nearly 8 inches wider, going from 70.9 to 78.7 inches. And the rear diffuser will provide more downforce due to a two inch increase in both height (from 4.9 to 6.9 inches) and width (39.4 to 41.3 inches). The minimum weight of the car less wheels and tires has also increased by 44 pounds, from 1548 to 1592. Engine specifications will remain the same as 2016, but penalties and circumstances for premature powertrain component replacement have been tightened to reduce costs.
Success in the upcoming season depends on which teams will best take advantage of the changes. Mercedes is still considered the favorite, but if Ferrari, Williams, Red Bull, or McLaren gets it right, we could see some new faces on the podium in 2017.