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.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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