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April 21, 2014

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Observations from Sunday’s LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway

That sound you heard Sunday afternoon was the collective sigh of relief from ecstatic track operators who insist that when Dale Earnhardt Jr. is winning races, they sell more tickets to their Sprint Cup events. Who knows, if Earnhardt can collect another victory or two in the next two months, they might even sell out the Labor Day Weekend race at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. …

OK, OK … so Junior probably would have to be on a 10-race winning streak before they sell out the Labor Day Weekend race in Fontana. …

NASCAR President Mike Helton was right to tell the Sprint Cup Series drivers, in essence, “Shut up and drive” during a closed-door meeting Friday afternoon. Nothing turns off sports fans faster than a bunch of whining millionaire athletes. …

The last thing the Sprint Cup Series needs is another 1.5-mile speedway on the schedule, but Kentucky Speedway and its fans once again made a strong case for why it is deserving of a Cup race. Saturday night’s Nationwide Series race attracted a track-record crowd of 73,195 and was the eighth consecutive sellout at the track, which Bruton Smith’s Speedway Motorsports Inc. recently agreed to purchase. …

I’d rather see the Sprint Cup Series race once a year at Kentucky Speedway than twice a year at Michigan. Or Pocono. Or New Hampshire. Or Fontana. …

The future of NASCAR was on display in Saturday’s race at Kentucky Speedway and the youngsters acquitted themselves quite well. The much-heralded Joey Logano (18 years old) notched his first Nationwide Series victory in only his third start, 24-year-old Brad Keselowski was fourth and teenagers Bryan Clauson, Landon Cassill and James Buescher all finished in the top 14. …

Speaking of Bruton Smith, there are rumblings that he will try to revive his plan to build a condominium tower at Las Vegas Motor Speedway following the resignation of two top Air Force officials earlier this month. Smith’s bid to build the condo tower was scuttled last year by Air Force officials in Washington, D.C., and nearby Nellis Air Force Base.

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