INTERVIEW

Q&A with NASCAR owner Bob Leavine

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Today, I was lucky enough to talk to the owner of the Leavine Family Racing team, Bob Levaine. We talked about how his team got their start back in 2011 and what kind of expectations Bob and his wife Sharon have after forming a new partnership with Joe Gibbs racing.

Q: So overall, You guys are still a relatively new team, starting back in 2011. Can you give us a little bit of a background about the beginning and what kind of drew you to NASCAR?

Leavaine: Well it has really been an interesting cycle, In the first five years we were just part-time and I got into it to help our first driver David Starr and of course with me being as competitive as I am, I really liked it so we brought in Scott Speed to drive for us our second year and then Michael McDowell for our first full time season and it has just kind of went from there.

Q: There were some new changes this year to NASCAR; one of the changes that many have been critical of has been the new qualifying format. Overall are you guys happy with some of the tweaks we saw NASCAR announced earlier this week?

Leavaine: What they did requires more oversight, but in the end It's still going to come down to the draft and if it comes down to the luck of the draw. I would prefer with what we were doing before with single car runs because a lot of these teams work too hard and spend a lot of money for qualifying and they don't get the lap they deserve.

Q: So there have been some major changes including moving the finale to ISM Raceway and moving Daytona to the final race of the regular season. Overall are there any changes you would like to see NASCAR make when it comes to scheduling?

Leavaine: If I was going to do anything with the schedule why not let them run the road course at Indy? I think that is really cool course and I think that a lot of the fans would come. It would be something different like with what we saw in Charlotte so that would be one of the things I would like to do. Also, I'd like to see them rotate their season finale and maybe make them bid on like they do the Super Bowl.

Q: And Finally I have to ask the question a lot of people have been wondering, with this new alliance with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing, is there a possibility of expansion at LFR in the near future?

Leavine: Yes. Absolutely. We were going to run two cars for this year with Daniel Suarez and a driver we selected but that didn't work out but overall, I am happy with how everything turned out. I am glad we got Matt DiBenedetto because he wanted to come here but yes we are working on expanding for 2020 right now. It's just a matter of sponsorship because we can put the people on it and we have the organization and Toyota Racing Development will support that so yes we are working to expand.

You can hear the whole interview below.

NASCAR heads to Michigan for the FireKeepers 400

FireKeepers Casino 400 preview

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images


This week, NASCAR heads to Michigan for the FireKeepers 400. This is one of the biggest tracks on the circuit as it is exactly two miles in length and has wide 18 degree banking in the corners making it one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. With the track being as wide as it is, we should be able to see a lot of green flag runs that could very well bring for more pit road strategy.

Like last week at Pocono, it will be crucial for these drivers to make no mistakes in pit road if they want any chance at victory.

Of course the main point of intrigue this week is how these cars will respond to NASCAR's new rules package. It seems like every week, there is always a question about how these cars are going to run. Overall, it would appear that no one has any idea what's going to happen this week. We very well could see a big pack of cars that run together in a draft or we could see the field get spread out like we have been seeing at tracks like this. As important as this rules package is, many drivers and fans are growing tired of talking about it. When last week's winner Kyle Busch was asked how he would rate it, he responded by saying "STOP ASKING ME PACKAGE QUESTIONS! I'M DONE ANSWERING THEM!"

While many people didn't appreciate his attitude towards the question, I think that he is right for the most part about how difficult it is to race under these new guidelines on tracks like Pocono. Last week's race was not good as there was no passing. Kyle Busch lead a good majority of the laps and when it was all said and done the whole field was two or three seconds apart. Now in a 36 race season, I understand that there are going to be races like this, it has been like that since the sport began but NASCAR has continued to talk about how much closer the racing would be under these new rules and a lot of the time most people have been disappointed. It will be interesting to see how it works this week at a similar track in Michigan.

The driver that I have winning this week is Kevin Harvick. While it may sound like I am picking a favorite here, This season has been somewhat of a disappointment for these guys. While they are fifth in the standings and are doing a good job of collecting points, he has yet to win a race this season. While they have had the speed and have been able to run around the top five, they just have not been able to seal the deal. In his five years with Stewart-Haas Racing, this is the longest Harvick has gone without a win. By anyone else's standards, they would kill to have a season like this but for Harvick, I know that he is not happy with where they are right now so I look for them to come to Michigan and finally get their first win of 2019.

Another driver I see doing well this week is Austin Dillion. Despite his issues in the past couple of weeks at Charlotte and Pocono, he has shown good speed this season as he has been able to run around the top 15. Now if you look at the stat sheet, it would tell you that Dillion has struggled here but over the last couple of races at the track, he has steadily improved. In last year's Fall race here, he was able to finish fourth in one of his better races of 2018. It should be a bounce back week for Dillion as he looks to get back in the hunt to make the playoffs.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats).

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