Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Qualifying becomes even more important

This upcoming season features many situations we haven't seen in NASCAR for a long time. Foremost is the number of teams that will be attempting to qualify for each race. With the introduction of Toyota and the accompaning new teams, Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull Racing, as well as the "regular" multi-car teams, we are going to see qualifying become a very important matter for more full-time teams than the forty-three allowed in each race. We have already seen, from last year, instances in which fans' favorites such as Robby Gordon, Scott Riggs, and Michael Waltrip have failed to qualify. This effect will be more pronounced in 2007. The all important thirty-fifth position provisional cutoff will become even more important.
I don't think we will see as many drivers going for that second qualifying lap to try to better their position, unless they are on the bubble. Even with a guaranteed starting position, it would be disasterous for anybody to wreck a car during qualifying, because starting in the back would jeapardize any provisional start in future races. Fans of such drivers as Robby Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Joe Nemecheck, Brian Vickers, Ward Burton, or Michael Waltrip may be disappointed that their driver may not be able to start every race he in which he is entered. This is not only because of the added teams, but the qualifying capability of such limited-shot drivers as Kirk Shelmerdine and Carl Long.
All this means that there will probably be more tickets sold for qualifying day, and television ratings for qualification will rise. Remember that NASCAR was founded as a money making enterprise, and the number of teams trying to qualify for each race will advance that enterprise.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I get to post something about Smoke

AP photo by Terry Renna
Well, they had the big media day in Charlotte, NC, Wednesday, and Tony Stewart seems to be the star of the show. Of course we want to hear what he has to say--he has probably become the most articulate of all the drivers. At least he is never boring. I like this quote from him, speaking about his new fitness:
"I almost feel like I'm getting asked out on a date, I look so good now."
Typical Stewart humor.

More about the number 24

I forgot to mention that number 24, Jeff Gordon will be among the NASCAR drivers racing in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. This is the first time I remember him paticipating in the race, and it should be good getting to see him doing something besides NASCAR for a change. I have been a critic of The Gordon in that he does not like to have a lot of public outside interests, apart from supermodels, so, even though I am not a big fan of his, I will enjoy watching him race this weekend.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Just so you know...

The polls I run on the sidebar of this blog do not trigger a pop-up add, generate spam or take you to a different page. Feel free to participate. Please.

The Number 24

The number "24" means a lot this time of the year. One of my all-time favorite television series 24 has started with a bang, literally, and even in its sixth season, it still has the edge that made it popular in its first season. The plot always contains tribute to Murphy's law, and we who watch it are always wondering "what else can go wrong."
Indeed, we should, because the show is notorious for killing off those we have come to think of as main characters, characters we have come to know and like, and we are justly shocked when they get killed. Every hour of the show represents an hour of "real time," which makes it unique among action programs. Each episode ends in a cliffhanger, ensuring that you will go back for more.
This coming weekend is another event in which the number 24 is significant:
Saturday and Sunday is the 24 Hours at Daytona race, which has marked, for me at least, the official start of the racing season. Actually, the Chili Bowl would be that marker, but for the fact that there is no television coverage for that event.
The 24 hours, though, will be covered by Fox Broadcasting Network as well as Speed TV. The Fox coverage is the first by a major television network for this event.
If you think, because it is an endurance race, that the drivers will avoid racing in order to save their cars for the long run, you haven't seen this race lately. With drivers like Tony Stewart, Max Angelelli, Jimmy Johnson, and Casey Mears, the race is really a race--for twenty-four hours. The teams are made up of three or four drivers who take turns in two to three hour stints. The trick is to travel the longest distance in twenty four hours. In order to do that, you have to race, and that means passing other cars, which, to the NASCAR fans, is a big part of racing. Fox coverage will begin at 1:00pm Eastern Time, and will last until Speed TV's coverage starts at 2:30 PM ET, Saturday.
There are a total of seventy one entries for the race, so I will not post the entry list here, but it is available at Racing One.com.
There is also another 24, that of Jeff Gordon, who, in a little more than 24 days will begin his fifth "Drive for Five" (Championships). I just mention this because it fits in with the theme of this post.
I'm ready to watch some racing.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I will go along with the changes NASCAR announced Monday. The additional points for the winner of each race is a points tweak that has been needed for a long time. The following chart showing the potential difference in the points standings is copyright of the Washington Post.

2006 Pre-Chase Standings

Pos. Driver Points
1. M. Kenseth 5,050
2. J. Johnson 5,045
3. K. Harvick 5,040
4. Ky. Busch 5,035
5. D. Hamlin 5,030
6. D. Earnhardt Jr. 5,025
7. M. Martin 5,020
8. J. Burton 5,015
9. J. Gordon 5,010
10. K. Kahne 5,005
11. T. Stewart --
12. G. Biffle --

2006 Pre-Chase Standings Under 2007 Points System*

Pos. Driver Points Wins Adj. Points
1. Kahne 5,000 5 5,050
2. Kenseth 5,000 4 5,040
3. Johnson 5,000 4 5,040
4. Harvick 5,000 3 5,030
5. Stewart 5,000 2 5,020
6. Gordon 5,000 2 5,020
7. Hamlin 5,000 2 5,020
8. Busch 5,000 1 5,010
9. Earnhardt 5,000 1 5,010
10. Biffle 5,000 1 5,010
11. Martin 5,000 0 5,000
12. Burton 5,000 0 5,000

*If the 2007 rules had been in effect, here's how the pre-chase standings would have looked last season

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Benny Parsons

Benny Parsons, the 1973 NASCAR Cup champion, passed away yesterday, due to complications from lung cancer.
Parsons was a huge asset to racing, best known now as the commentator on the NBC/TNT NASCAR broadcasts. He was seen as authoritative on racing, being the only commentator to recognize the difference to veteran drivers the change in design of the NASCAR cars has made. He has helped fledging drivers, most notably Greg Biffle, gain rides in the top series of NASCAR.
Parsons was a true professional, who, even while undergoing treatment, did everything he could to make it to his job in the broadcast booth. His love of racing was evident in everything he said and did. He was never critical of any driver on the track as a racing commentator.
He made a mark, both as a racecar driver and as a commentator, and will be remembered with great respect, if not all out love. We honor his career, and our prayers are with him and his family.
More news and information about BP can be accessed through Sports Excitement.com, which has many links to Benny Parsons stories. The Benny Parsons drawing in this post is credited to that site.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Useless Stuff

I must be missing something, but I can't figure out how to use these things. These earphones are usually included with mp3 players, personal stereos, and the like. They don't go in the ear, apparently, unless you have nothing else to do except hold them there with your hands. I have never seen anybody use them, so I can't get a clue by example. I mean I can get them to stay put for a little while, but they usually fall out while I’m breathing and walking at the same time. There is nothing worse than having the earphone fall off in the middle of a good song while you’re crossing the street. It’s dangerous because it’s distracting.
Perhaps something should be included with the instructions like this:

Earphones: To use, discard and purchase some real headphones

Thursday, January 11, 2007

NASCAR may have a good idea

It isn't official, yet, but several news sources have reported that Brian France, Jim Hunter, and the ruling elite of NASCAR are bringing some changes to the Chase for the Championship. While any official announcement is still two weeks away, the changes aim toward allowing more drivers and teams in the playoffs by changing the 400 point cutoff currently in use. Rumors have been saying that the Championship field would be increased from ten to twelve, but according to what I have read, that is only a possibility if the cutoff numbers are increased enough to allow that.
My feelings come from the point of view of a racing traditionalist, and are still lukewarm when it comes to the Chase for the Championship. I am all for increasing the bonus in points for the winning driver of each race, but other than that, changes don't sit well with me. However, the Chase and NASCAR are continuing the recently discovered practice of staying in the news during the off season and giving us plenty to write and think about.
IROC fans who have read the article linked to above may be frustrated to see that the series opener has been postponed due to no sponser as yet. Sad news after an exceptional IROC season in '06.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Both Ends of the Spectrum

They keep getting younger. HMS has recruited a seventeen-year-old high school senior, Landon Cassill, who has been impressive in ASA racing. Granted, he won't be racing in a Cup car--or, for that matter a Busch car or a CTS truck, anytime soon, although he has been testing for Hendrick, and will be driving a COT in testing. Still, it is always interesting to note the potential "up and comers" and see if they live up to the early publicity when they do get to drive in a race.
Now, to the other end of the age spectrum, seventy-two year old James Hylton will attempt to start his first Cup race since 1993 by qualifying for the Daytona 500. I hope, in a sport where 48 years is considered "old," that he does at least get to start the race. Hopefully his synapses and instincts are still sharp and he can get around the track without too
much trouble. At the same time, we should remember that, though Hylton might be the oldest to race a NASCAR race, while last year, Paul Newman ran in the American LeMans Series race at Lime Rock, at the age of eighty-two. It would be fun to see the old guy race.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hamilton loses battle

Perhaps one of the most inspiring stories in NASCAR is that of Bobby Hamilton. He came from very humble beginnings through a life that was always a struggle. But he was a winner, and he continued to win until the very end. Rest in Peace, Bobby.