Sunday, September 30, 2007

Kansas: Whattha...?!?

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

We have to say that the Life Lock 400 turned out to be one of the most unique and, well, bizarre races we have ever seen. Even our ruby slippers wore out. And Greg Biffle finally ended up in Victory Lane. One can't help but to think that a mere thirty minutes more of rain would have resulted in a win for Tony Stewart, or even if the NASCAR officials suddenly became rational, Smoke would have won a called race. But, as most of us should know by now, NASCAR is anything but rational.
I will interject here that this isn't a report of the race, but a reaction to the event. If the reader didn't seen the race, I urge them to find somebody who TiVoed it, or at least to read an account of the race.
We wanted to see Da Biff win one. He is, after all one of the top drivers in the sport, and even if we aren't all that fond of him, it seemed frustrating to have to wait so long for him to win one.
The attrition rate among the Chasers was heavy, with seven of the twelve Chase drivers being involved in accidents. The entire Chase for the Championship has brought about moments of intensity that haven't been matched during the short history of the Chase. These guys are racing at a level we have never before seen. Amid all the carnage, we have seen some amazing and superior racing in Dover and Kansas. As dull as Loudon was--excepting Clint Bowyer's first victory--we knew the Chase had to get better, but never would we have expected this.
Who woulda thunk that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would be the first non-chaser to carry the onus of taking out a championship contender? It was a rare misjudgement on the part of Driver #8, who is among the best drivers when it comes to car control. Running into the back of The Schrub's (Kyle Busch's) car changed the playoff picture quite drastically. But then, so did several other incidents during the race. For instance, Greg Zippadeli and the #20 team should not have waited to look at the decision to gamble in retrospect. We knew that the correct strategy should have been to pit and repair, and we could all foresee that the tire would deflate. This is yet another what if--Tony would have been much closer to the points lead if his team had made the rational decision. My question is, after the gamble to stay out just before the rain hit turned out a winner, did Zippy develop a temporary gambling addiction?
At both Dover and Kansas, Matt Kenseth seemed uncharacteristically aggressive. He had every right to be so, because in both races, he had an exceptional car. However, Dover ended in disaster for him, and he narrowly escaped disaster at Kansas. One should wonder, if Kenseth had stuck to his accustomed driving style, would he have won both races? We'll never know.
After Johnny Paul Montoya cut a tire, and shed debris all over the track with four laps to go, the race should have ended with a green-white-checker shootout. However, darkness fell, and the race ended under a bizarre caution. Bizarre because the race leader, Greg Biffle, ran out of fuel in the final turn and had to coast across the finish line. Now, I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the rules in this case are that the car must cross the finish line under its own momentum, which it did. Nobody pushed the car across the line, and the speed was reasonable in that nobody had to stop to avoid passing it. That is the other applicable rule, that the field is frozen at the time of the caution and that there is no passing under the caution. The Hendrick Motorsports drivers, namely The Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, decided to make their own interpretation of the rule, which, if allowed, would have created a paradoxical situation in which fifth place Casey Mears would have been the winner. For once, probably for the first time in the history of the organization, NASCAR made a rational decision and avoided the paradox, giving Greg Biffle the victory.
Something else that had nothing to do with the race seemed just as bizarre as the race itself. ABC/ESPN ran out of commercials to air. They must have. I don't think there were more than one or two of the annoying interruptions for the entire period after the coverage switched from ABC to ESPN2 due to time constraints. How unusual. once again, it would be a good idea to check CawsnJaws for details.
If it had rained for another thirty minutes, think what we would have missed.

My pick for the best quote of the weekend: Saturday, in the closing laps of the Busch Series race, Kyle Busch was running behind Matt Kenseth before a restart. On the back of Kenseth's Arby's sponsored car are the words "Free fries on Monday if I win."
Kyle radioed his Crew Chief, and asked,"Do I want free fries or radio call-in on Monday?" He chose the media hastle of the radio call-in by beating Kenseth to the checkers.
The best interview is a toss-up between the very informative one with Ray Everham, during the rain delay, and Clint Bowyer's post race interview in which he displayed profound sportsmanship.

Other news:
Stewart will not be penalized for expletive Told ya so. It turns out that it was not the same as it would have been had it been an interview. Though the audio was on with the camera, the commentators were talking over it, and it could not be heard clearly. Besides, no one was watching, anyway.

Motorsports icon Wally Parks dies at 94
Parks founded the NHRA in 1950, and is every bit as much a household word among race fans as Bill France. Drag racing as we know it was practically invented by the man. He served on the Board of Directors of the NHRA until his death last Friday.

How quickly things change.

Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson / The Associated Press


What an exciting finish to the Busch Series race at Kansas on Saturday. Matt Kenseth and Kyle "The Schrub" Busch battled it out for six laps to the finish, bringing back memories of "back in the day," when Petty and Pearson, or Pearson and Bobby Allison or (name your favorite rivalry) raced hard for the checkers. It was one great race.
Unfortunately for The Schrub, his team will be penalized for failing post race inspection. His intake manifold was confiscated, and we will likely hear about a penalty sometime next week.
Speaking about penalties, my favorite bad boy Tony Stewart will most likely get one for using inappropriate language on the air. It doesn't matter that it wasn't during an interview, but, rather, during a random, candid shot by the photographer, he will still get penalized, and likely get a heavy one since he is on probation. I think the ESPN director who switched to that camera and had the audio on should be fined as well. I am hoping that the penalty won't hurt Tony's chances for winning the Championship.
And, this has changed since my previous post: Jimmie Johnson will start at the rear of the field after crashing in Happy Hour practice, and going to a back up car. I'm not saying that the Johnson/Knaus team won't find their way toward the front, because they have demonstrated that they can, but it still changes the complexion of the race's early laps. Scott Riggs will be starting from the pole, as the inside line all moves up one row, so it will be a Ford vs Dodge start.
If Saturday is any indication of what we will see Sunday, we are in for a grand time.

Friday, September 28, 2007

So much determination

Ask any driver if he has the determination to win, and the answer will be an emphatic "yes," or at least, "du-uh!"
The determination to win exists not only among the Chase drivers, but also among all the others. It is as important for the driver who is driving a car that is forty-third in owners points to win as it is for the driver who is first in championship points. That is why the same edge that existed at Dover will be there, Sunday at Kansas. The question of who wins Sunday is not answered by who has the most determination--that is impossible to tell, but by who has the correct formula to win.
Once again, we can't expect a Chase driver to win the race, but it could and likely will happen. The non-Chasers best poised to take the checkered flag would be Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Greg Biffle, Scott Riggs, Greg Biffle, and Ryan Newman.
Newman qualified on the outside of the front row, but an infraction at post-qualifying inspection sent him to the back of the field. Still, Penske and Dodge are ready for a win, and Newman can negotiate traffic well. The fact that he is a non-Chaser means that he can take chances. A good setup and a few gutsy calls could bring Flyin' Ryan back to the front by the end of the race.
Scott Riggs has missed races in qualifying four times this year, but once he gets into a race, the former motocross star can show some top racing qualities. Unfortunately, his races have often been cut short with his being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or by one type of mechanical failure or another. These misfortunes are by no means the fault of the driver, and with a third-place starting position, Riggs just may avoid some of the obstacles that have plagued him in the past.
Of course, it doesn't matter where Dale Earnhardt, Jr. starts--he will always make his way toward the front. He starts 6th Sunday, and that should make an exciting race for him. Again, a driver with nothing to lose, Jr. exhibits great car control, so even if his setup is missed, he will make a go of it.
Greg Biffle expects to win. He could smell victory at Dover, only to be accused of following team orders to let Carl Edwards win. The truth is, he just didn't have quite enough car to catch Edwards win. Da Biff is very hungry for a win, and with the top ten and top five finishes he's been having lately, victory is just around the turn. Da Biff starts the race in seventh position.
Of the Chasers, the number 17 team of Matt Kenseth seems to be the strongest. Mighty Matt isn't known to be a great qualifier, yet he qualified third, and will start second due to the disallowance of Newman's time. Now, we know that Kenseth is an exceptional racer, and it seems that he will dominate the field much as he did at Dover, preferably without the engine problems.
Jimmie Johnson starts at the pole, but the #48 team seems to be fading during the races, and Kansas is a track at which he has yet to win, though he has a finishing average of sixth place. Kenseth is the more experienced, and frankly, more skilled of the drivers starting in the front, and, even if they race door to door for 267 laps, Kenseth should prevail.
But then there is Tony Stewart, who starts in 20th position. You don't have to be a Tony Stewart fan--like the author of this blog--to know that he is very capable of improving his position in a race. Smoke is on a hot streak, his finishing average of 6.7 is the best of all the drivers. We can't forget that he won at Chicagoland earlier this year, and that track is very similar to Kansas. We could, however, forget that he is the reigning champion at Kansas, because we know that he and the #20 team will not be using the same strategy they used last year to win.
In the final laps, barring bad luck, etc, the race among the Chasers should come down to Stewart, Kenseth, and Gordon. If these three are physically racing each other nose to tail and side by side, it should make a very interesting event. Throw Earnhardt, Jr. and/or Da Biff into the mix and we could see a downright exciting finish.
Time to quit being a chicken--my picks for the top five finishers in Sunday's race are: Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, and Jeff Gordon.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Early Season Tease is Gone!

The new Cup schedule is out, and the good news is that we won't see that frustrating break between the second and third races next season. The break has always left me feeling like I'm saying, "Alright, new season, let's go r...(dee dee dum dee dum dum)...acing!"
That feeling will be no more next season, as NASCAR has decided to run the first five races consecutively.
There will be a break for Easter, which we expect, and then another break three weeks later, which the teams and drivers deserve.
Chicago will be a night race, and that we like. It will be interesting to see the difference it makes, not only in attendence at that venue, but, because the drivers race differently at night--better--it could actually be a little thing that makes a big difference in the standings.
My question is, will WoO, USAC, and the other dirt track racing series still be able to call their cars "Sprint" cars, or will NASCAR impose a trademark on the name?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wrong

My regular reader knows that I am a Tony Stewart fan. Stewart, who finished third at Loudon, last week failed post race inspection for his car being too low at one fender. Under the watchful eyes of top NASCAR officials John Darby and Jim Hunter, the team was allowed to repair the race damage, and the car was reinspected, passing the inspection and resulting in no penalty.
Something similar went on in post-race inspection at Dover with the 99 team of Carl Edwards. His right rear fender was found to be too low, and, even though NASCAR officials found that the infraction was unintentional and not a CoT violation, Edwards was docked 25 championship points, and the team docked 25 owners points. We must be missing something here.
First of all, a low right rear fender would seriously effect the handling of the car, the wrong way. The car would push, meaning it would be difficult to turn in the corners, and would lose rear bite on the straightaways, making it very difficult to pass or avoid hazards. The penalty makes even less sense when considering this.
Right now, it seems like no biggy. It knocks Edwards from third in points to sixth, but still only 28 points behind championship leader The Gordon. As we have seen in the past, 25 points can be huge in the Championship Chase. In 2004, Jimmie Johnson lost the championship by to Kurt Busch by eight points. In 2005, Smoke won the championship by a mere 35 points over the tied second place of Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle.
I have read some comments claiming that the Edwards penalty shows that NASCAR is becoming more consistant, but how is that so? Where do you draw the line between unavoidable race damage and unintentional spec infractions? It now seems possible that NASCAR could use penalties to keep the points chase close, which would seriously compromise the value of the championship. We can only hope that this penalty is overruled by the appeals board. Otherwise, it is very wrong.

Bye Bye Blogmad

Blogmad has become a parasite, literally. When I tried to view my blog, the url kept getting redirected to adbaaz/blogmad.net. There was no way to view this page. It was easily rectified by removing all the blogmad widgets that were on this page, but I have to assume that Blogmad is no more. I tried to go to Blogmad directly, and got the same adbaaz page.
To my fellow bloggers who have used Blogmad, please remove the blogmad widgets and banners from your layout, so others may read what you have posted, if you haven't already done so.
It would have been nice if the owners of Blogmad had issued some kind of warning before they shut down the site. Now, who knows what kind of spam we will be getting because there was no chance to remove our blogs from their directory.
Both Blogflux and Blog Catalog are decent directories that are going strong, and I recommend these. Blog Catalog has been decent for generating traffic, and Blogflux has some good traffic widgets and other interesting things.
At least now I don't feel compelled to spend hours surfing random blogs.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Our sensors are reading an anomaly

After around forty-five laps in the race, the ESPN on ABC race coverage broke for a commercial. I went to use the facilities, and, when I returned, the pre-race show was on. The drivers were just going to the introductions, and then there was a caution on lap 54. My question is, did this happen on everybody's television, or have I really gone nuts? As one who has spent a lifetime studying and experimenting with the Spiritual side of existence, I understand that, in the realms of Spiritual consciousness, there is no such thing as linear time. I wonder, have I transcended into that reality?
Cawsnjaws, an off-beat NASCAR blog, presents excellent stats on the coverage/advertising ratio of the broadcasts. There may be some sort of explanation there. For now, I will proceed as if I have, indeed, left the physical plane, and there is no such thing as linear time, so this post may be difficult for some to read.
The best interview during the race was the one with Jeff Green, after the "Big One," with fourteen laps to go. Green explained that there were many different races going on, which most fans realize, but don't really pay much attention to. We should appreciate his composure, his sportsmanship, and his reluctance to place blame on any single driver or incident. The Green interview was probably the most rational part of the entire broadcast. A close second was the interview following the Big One, during the red flag period, between Rusty Wallace and Carl Edwards. Rusty asked Carl if he was concerned about the tires, with all the debris on the track, and if he would pit to get new tires. Carl started to answer, then, realizing who he was talking to, asked with genuine curiosity and respect, "What would you do?"
I liked that.
The Monster Mile had claws and teeth, Sunday. There were thirteen or fourteen cautions and over 66 caution laps. During the last half of the race, there were as few as seven cars on the lead lap. The separation between the cars that were running well and the cars that weren't was huge and well-defined. The Monster didn't care who was running well and who wasn't--attrition came indiscriminately. Most notable was Denny Hamlin, who got himself into trouble several times, ultimately destroying his car and moving himself to the tail end of the top twelve in points. Kyle Petty, angry because he was one of Hamlin's victims, suggested that considering Hamlin's illness, he shouldn't have tried to race both the Busch and the Cup series. By putting himself through such a grueling test, Kyle said, he had "lost his focus."
Petty, always rational, was probably right, which makes NASCAR From The Bleachers right, and me wrong. Until somebody tells me that ABC's temporal glitch happened on their TV as well as mine, I will maintain that I am irrational anyway.
Matt Kenseth had a good car that allowed him to race Denny Hamlin for the lead, early in the race. When Denny started having problems, it looked as though Kenseth had the car to beat. Electrical problems threatened, but Kenseth ran well for most of the race. Then, toward the end of the race, the engine expired. Teresa Earnhardt, the one who exists in the fantasies of Junior Fanatics--not you, Antonette, the real "out there" fanatics--apparently thought she could give her favorite driver, Martin Truex, Jr., an edge by sabotaging the other Chasers, because the problem was--all together now--a BENT VALVE. Truex, however, was one of the twelve drivers involved in the Big One, and his car quickly disintegrated after that.
So, Evil--not the real one--Teresa's plot was foiled, much to the delight of the foil-hatted ones.
Jr., himself ran well, and I once again became appreciative of his ability to handle a car that was less than perfect.
Did you know that I've been labeled a "Jr. Basher," in the That's Racin'.com forums? Apparently, you're not supposed to start a sentence with "If he doesn't win," when referring to the move to Hendrick Motorsports.
So, for those who don't believe that I believe in Jr, I will write this:

If the magical power of HMS is great enough to turn less-than-mediocre drivers, like Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, into champions, think what it can do with Dale Earnhardt, Jr, the greatest driver in all the many Universes. In fact, Jr. will be so good that NASCAR will make a new rule that says that once a car is twenty laps ahead of all the others, every lap until the end of the race will be counted as a victory. Therefore, it won't just be thirty-six Cup races Jr. wins next year, he'll be awarded with 112 victories, the most ever in one season. And, he won't ever have to worry about sponsorship again, because he'll be sponsored by God.
That should make up for my version of ABC's commercial interruptions.
I was pleased to hear the comparison of the Busch Series and the Cup Series to the American and National leagues in baseball, rather than the minor and major leagues. I've been implying that comparison for some time now, except I didn't put it that way because I don't watch much baseball. I like the Colorado Rockies, so I'm not a baseball fan.
Anyway, back to the race. It was a thrill to watch Mark Martin racing for the lead--it always is, because his racing style is so unique. It was also interesting to see "Bad Luck" Biffle do so well. Can he finally put that bad luck behind him? A good racing Biff makes for good racing.
After all the smoke cleared, Smoke, who had been running most of the race around p-20 and a lap down, finished in the top ten. That's what patience can do for my favorite driver. Tony Stewart used every bit of his skill to thread through the wreckage of lap 386, and it paid off. Friday, he had stated that his goal in this race would be to close the gap between his points and those of the championship leader. Now, in second place, three points behind Jeff Gordon, we can say he met that goal.
After Carl Edwards scored a 9.8 out of a perfect ten on his Victory Backflip, I must admit that the race was, overall, pretty good. I just wish somebody could figure out a better way to cover it on television.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Debacle at Dover

The Sponsor To Be Announced Series (STBA), also known as the Busch Series held a spectacle at Dover, Saturday afternoon. It would have been a race, except it seemed that there would be a crash and a caution every fifteen to twenty laps, barely enough time to let the tire pressure come up to specs. There were a total of thirteen cautions, all before lap 140, all caused by a spin out or a crash. It got pretty old, after the ninth caution, because most of us wanted to see a race.
Not to say there wasn't any racing going on. We saw some good sprints featuring brilliant flashes of skill, performed by Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex, Jr., and Carl Edwards.
We could see where the mistakes were being made. Dover, or any concrete surface raceway, is especially hard on tires, and the way the drivers were aggressively following the line between the high groove and the low groove used up the tires pretty quickly. Not to mention driver error. One began to wonder, if it weren't for the above mentioned "Buschwhackers," would the race have finished at all?
There were stories, last year, about the existence of a Jeff Gordon Voodoo doll, but if it did exist, it was probably a Greg Biffle Voodoo doll disguised as Jeff Gordon.
I'm not a big fan of Da Biff, but I do think he is one good race car driver, and it is sad to see he just can't seem to shake the bad luck. After starting at the pole, with a darn good car, a series of being in the wrong place at the wrong time set him as far back as two laps down. I want to see the guy have some measure of success, because, like him or not, a good running Biffle makes a good race.
The star of the show was, of course, Denny Hamlin. The Virginian suffered so badly from a head cold, he could be seen leaning against the car for support before the race began. Once there, the car was the cure, and he led for 138 out of 200 laps. Now, imagine this; you have a head cold, feel weak and feverish, and you get into a car in which the temperature rises to above 120 degrees F. You are pulling 3 times the force of gravity going around the turns, and you have to stay constantly active to put the car where it is supposed to be. Show me one professional basketball or football player who could do that, even without a head cold. Then tell me NASCAR isn't an athletic sport. They wouldn't be able to get on the field or court, if they had a cold like that.
Having that little rant out of my system, we can look forward to a good Cup race, Sunday. Let's just hope the driving is a little better.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The real racing starts at Dover


What do Dover and Denver have in common?
1. They both start with D
2. They are both state Capitol Cities
3. They both have sports mascots named "Miles"
"Miles"is the name shared by the fuzzy Bronco mascot of Invesco Field at Mile High,
the home of the Denver Broncos, and by Dover International Speedway's mascot Miles the Monster. Denver is a mile high, DIS is a mile long.
The Monster Mile is a high banked oval, not unlike that of Bristol, except it's twice as long. This is where the real racing of the Chase for the Championship begins, because, unlike the paperclip mile of Loudon, the Dover speedway allows passing and multiple groove racing. We don't often see the long single file line of cars at Dover that we see at Loudon.
There is no doubt that these guys are going to race. We probably won't see a repeat of the top finishing positions being filled by the Chasers--the other teams are desperately running for points positions to get or stay in the coveted top thirty five in points. Though they will try their best to avoid wrecking any of the championship chasers, 31 drivers will be on the wheel giving it all for team and sponsor.
The affable Colombian, whom I like to call Johnny Paul Montoya (no disrespect or comparison meant to Kevin Harvick's beloved and late-lamented Father-in-Law, John Paul Lindeville), wants to prove, in his rookie year, that he can win on an oval track. He likes Dover, he likes the Formula N car, and he has shown his affection by taking a front row starting position. This should make for an exciting start of the race, because Chase points leader Jimmie Johnson lines up to Johnny Paul's left, on the pole. This means, because both drivers are known to be aggressive at the drop of the green flag, we will see plenty of action from the very start of the race. We will be watching the first few laps of the race with a feeling of impending doom, hoping that our favorite drivers can manage to avoid the inevitable wreck between the two not-so-popular drivers.
Provided that half the field isn't taken out by a disastrous wreck in the early stages of the race, we should be in for a thrilling race very much in contrast to last week's.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wants to show the world, especially his fans, that he can win a race in the #8 DEI car. He believes he has the car, and the horsepower, to make that happen at Dover. We know he has the skill, he just needs the luck.
Brian Vickers also made the race. I would like to believe that if Vickers were as aggressive as Kyle "The Schrub" Busch, he would still be driving for Hendrick. But he is aggressive enough, and we know that whenever he makes a race in his Red Bull Toyota, he races hard and well. He will definitely be a factor in Sunday's race.
The speedway at Dover can indeed be a monster, with a treacherous pit lane entry that has taken a toll, including the famous crash by Matt Kenseth a couple of years ago. Green flag pit stops will be a large part of the thrill of the race. That is, if there are green flag pit stops.
As for Kenseth, I will say here and now, that he may be the one to beat for the championship when it all comes down to Homestead at the end of the season. His skill ranks right up there with the skill of Smoke and The Gordon. He will creep up in the points, throughout the Chase.
There are five other Chase drivers who, along with Kenseth, have won at Dover. Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and Martin Truex, Jr have all been to victory lane at DIS. Of these, it seems that Truex, Jr. the winner of the June race at Dover, is being given the best odds to win.
However, we should expect the winner to come from outside the Chase drivers. Why? Because it's Dover, and nobody has ever been consistent at taming the Monster. If a previous winner takes the checkered flag, I expect it to be Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, or Dale Earnhardt, Jr., based upon skill and pure determination. I won't try to guess which one, but I will hazard a guess at the relative running order in which the Chasers finish the race: Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick,Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, and Jimmy Johnson. DNF for Johnson because he and JPM wrecked on lap 5 and the Knaus Krew could not find the right miracle to get the car fixed well enough for it to run among the leaders.
This should be fun to compare to what really happens!
Your Chaser relative finishing order picks are welcome in the comments section. Sorry, no real prizes, just the satisfaction of telling me "I told you so!"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My new BUDdy Kahne


Well, we already knew it, but it's now officially official. Kasey Kahne will be sponsored by Budweiser next year. Some may think that the "Cute Little Guy" doesn't fit the Budweiser image, but Kahne thinks so, Anheiser Busch thinks so, and I think so. In fact, I think so enough that I have written what could be the first Budweiser commercial featuring Kasey Kahne:


Scene: (Interior) A bar from an old western movie. Kasey Kahne is standing at the bar with a Bud in his hand. Three tough looking saddle tramps walk into the scene and order "beer" which is served in clear bottles (the lable isn't showing, of course) They drink their beer while looking at Kasey, snickering. Finally:
Tough Guy 1: Well, look at the cute little guy drinking a Bud!
Tough Guy 2: Whats a matter, cute little guy, did your mama leave you here all alone?
Laughter from TG's 1,2,3
Tough Guy 3: What happened, did they run out of milk for the cute little guy?
More cruel laughter
Not wanting trouble, Kasey Kahne turns his back on the three tough guys and starts to drink his Bud, but Tough Guy 1 grabs Kahne by the shoulder and spins him around.
Tough Guy 1: Hey! We're talking to you!
Without setting down his Bud, Kasey Kahne grabs TG 1's wrist, removing the hand from his shoulder, and, in a spectacular ju-jitsu move, throws him into the other two Tough Guys, sending all three sprawling through the bat-wing doors
Cut to bar exterior.
Kasey Kahne exits the bar, stepping around the three groaning and incapacitated Tough Guys and into the dusty dirt main street. There are four horses tied to the hitching post, but Kasey Kahne puts his fingers in his mouth and whistles.

SFX: Galloping horse's hooves.
A beautiful cowgirl rides up on a white horse and reaches down to help Kasey Kahne onto the horse so he is sitting behind her.
As the two ride off into the sunset:

Caption: Kasey Kahne and Budweiser remind you: Drink Responsibly. If you drink, don't drive.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Surfing the boards

These are a few interesting items I have found while surfing NASCAR fan message boards and forums:
From Smoke20TS at Infield Parking Tony Stewart: Soul Singer Extraordinaire This is a humerous animated cartoon of Smoke singing Barry White's Can't Get Enough You will probably have to log into Infield Parking to see it.
From my Parking Space comments section:
LIFE BEYOND FIFTY: Maybe it's true that life begins at fifty. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out. There are three signs of old age. The first is your loss of memory, the other two I forget. You're getting old when you don't care where your spouse goes, just as long as you don't have to go along. Middle age is when work is a lot less fun and fun a lot more work. Statistics show that at the age of seventy, there are five women to every man. Isn't that the darndest time for a guy to get those odds? You know you're getting on in years when the girls at the office start confiding in you. Middle age is when it takes longer to rest than to get tired. By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere. Middle age is when you have stopped growing at both ends, and have begun to grow in the middle. Of course I'm against sin; I'm against anything that I'm too old to enjoy. Billy Graham has described heaven as a family reunion that never ends. What must hell possibly be like? Home videos of the same reunion? A man has reached middle age when he is cautioned to slow down by his doctor instead of by the police. Middle age is having a choice of two temptations and choosing the one that will get you home earlier. You know you're into middle age when you realize that caution is the only thing you care to exercise. At my age, "getting a little action" means I don't need to take a laxative. Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you. The aging process could be slowed down if it had to work its way through Congress. You're getting old when getting lucky means you find your car in the parking lot. You're getting old when you're sitting in a rocker and you can't get it started. You're getting old when your wife gives up sex for Lent, and you don't know until the 4th of July. You're getting old when you wake up with that morning-after feeling, and you didn't do anything the night before. The cardiologist's diet: if it tastes good, spit it out. Doctor to patient: I have good news and bad news: the good news is that you are not a hypochondriac. It's hard to be nostalgic when you can't remember anything. You know you're getting old when you stop buying green bananas. Last Will and Testament: Being of sound mind, I spent all my money.
Frustration:
I just tried to log in to the "New" forums at NASCAR.com. I am registered for the forums, and the log in results in "Welcome revinjim." but if I actually try to go to my control panel, or reply to a post there, I get redirected to the log in page. I tried this about six times, and got the same thing.
It's all good. NASCAR.com has too much html, and all that's in the Tony Stewart forum is teenage girls talking about how cute he is. It isn't even worth the trouble to troubleshoot. Bye-bye NASCAR.com, from the sites I visit regularly.
This is another posting by SmokeTS20 at Infield Parking, from a fan letter to JGR:

My son, Christopher, was granted his Make-A-Wish this weekend at the Indianapolis Allstate Brickyard 400. His wish was to meet Tony Stewart and see the bricks. Thanks to Tony and a little help from many prayers for Tony to win...Christopher was invited to join Tony in Victory Lane after his win and see the bricks. Tony invited Christopher after his meet and greet on Saturday. I felt it to be important to write you since reading the news about Tony this evening. My son Christopher wants to grow up and be a Chaplain for Motorsports Racing. Unfortuately after this last relapse, we know that wish will not come true. But Christopher's story is one of absolute providential moments in life that I will continue to share with the world. As Christopher sat there with Tony and talked, Christopher was able to share his favorite things...racing, fishing, and the bible. Tony agreed those were three great things. After meeting Tony, I could never say enough thanks for what he did for Christopher.

What I can say is...we all sin. We all mess up, and sometimes when it happens too many people see. I feel the media is the most unforgiving group of people out there. They want to point out everyone else's flaws but not their own. Tony messed up...BUT HE GAVE A CHILD HIS DREAM COME TRUE! I feel the good out weighs the bad. Thank you for taking the time to listen. I will continue to pray for your organization.

Sincerely,
Mrs. Christy N. Armstrong-Lucas
Cedar Hill, MO

This is something that many of us Smoke fans have seen a lot of, and there are many letters similar to this one. When it comes to children and animals, Tony Stewart has a heart of gold.
There have been several comments on the upcoming changes in the Sponsor TBA (Busch) series, particularly the change to Pony Cars (Camero, Mustang, etc) in 2009. I find that prospect very exciting. Those who read my blog know that I have been predicting a major redefinition of the series for over a year now, and it looks as though it is really happening. Will there still be Cup drivers racing in the Sponser TBA series? I think, yes. As long as the Cup team owners allow them to.
No matter what, it will do much for the popularity of the series. The last time NASCAR raced pony cars was in their GT class in 1969. Please feel free to correct me if I am mistaken in that, but that's what I seem to remember.
I'm still busy dealing with issues, but I am getting my chops back, thanks to some very kind and generous NASCAR fans out there. I wanted to give this format (in this post--ie quoting other sources and avoiding original thoughts) a try, but it doesn't work for me. Basicly because there isn't much worth while on any of the forums I checked.
I'll be back.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Tribute to "NASCAR Debbie" (Revised and republished)


I only found out about this Sunday morning--an old friend of mine, and of everyone else who knew her, passed away August 14, suddenly and unexpectedly.
NASCAR Debbie was a petite woman--four foot nine and weighing not more than 90 lbs, but she had a heart as big as the world. Her personality was absolutely magnetic, and she always returned friendship with friendship. In her obituary, she was described as "eccentric," in a positive way, and she certainly was off center--unique as no other person could be. She seemed to see life as performance art, and she was an excellent performance artist.
With an IQ ranging in the top 1 percentile, she loved to mingle with us "slow" folks, and being in her company felt perfectly natural. She was funny, not with the usual jokes or one liners, but with a running commentary on life in general, and NASCAR Debbie could always make us laugh.
NASCAR Debbie was always kind, sweet, and generous. She literally lit up the room when she walked in, adorning the bar with appropriate decorations for every race and every Broncos game. A New York Jets fan, herself, she would hand out tissues to the Broncos fans after Denver lost a game. On the warm and fuzzy side, she would freely give hugs to those friends that needed one.
NASCAR Debbie was special to every one of her friends and family. "To know her is to love her" was a phrase that could be applied to her more than anyone else we knew.
NASCAR Debbie lived and breathed NASCAR. Her home was filled, wall to wall, shelf by shelf with Tony Stewart collectables and NASCAR paraphenelia. With the enthusiasm and excitement she exuded, she made watching the races on TV at the local watering hole a total experience--with her in the crowd, it was almost like being there.
It was NASCAR Debbie who kept me from drifting away from the sport after Dale Earnhardt's death in 2001. She got me interested in Smoke, more than I already was, and was instrumental in making me the fan I am today.
We had a falling out after 9/11/2001. It was my fault, because I suffer from PTSD, the events of that day produced issues that made me unbearable for her to be around. But, I will always cherish the times that Debbie and I had as friends, and she will always be a bright, shining light in my life. I never stopped loving her as a friend, and I never will.

New: I am asking for your help. I have a very limited income, carry no plastic, and have no PayPal account. The on-line guest book memorializing our dear, sweet friend is due to expire this Friday, September 22, unless it is sponsored for a year. If you could find it in your heart to help, please visit this link. It is not at all expensive, I just have no way to do it.
Update: The Guestbook has been sponsored anonymously by a very kind and generous NASCAR fan who saw my plea on Infield Parking. God Bless that person, who is a true Angel. God bless and thank-you to all who have offered their sympathy and understanding.

NASCAR Debbie



1963-2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

One down, nine to go.

The Sylvania 300 at Loudon, New Hampshire was unremarkable, except for four things:
It was the first race of the Chase for the Championship.
Seven of the twelve Chase drivers finished in the top seven positions.
Clint Bowyer won his first NASCAR Cup race, making him the fourth driver this year to celebrate a first victory in the series.
The HMS advantage in the Formula N (CoT) cars seems to have diminished lately.
One more thing: Richard and Kyle Petty, Robin Miller, and Dave Despain all seem to have forgotten that Tony Stewart entered his NASCAR career while holding the IRL championship.
And another: People who think Stewart may defect from Joe Gibbs Racing after his contract expires in 2009 haven't been paying attention to him. He will either get a career contract or retire from NASCAR.
I have been preoccupied by some bad news I received yesterday morning--news that has affected me more profoundly than I would have expected or that it should, so please excuse the brevity and terseness of this post.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Tribute to "NASCAR Debbie"


I only found out about this Sunday morning--an old friend of mine, and of everyone else who knew her, passed away August 14, suddenly and unexpectedly.
NASCAR Debbie was a petite woman--four foot nine and weighing not more than 90 lbs, but she had a heart as big as the world. Her personality was absolutely magnetic, and she always returned friendship with friendship. In her obituary, she was described as "eccentric," in a positive way, and she certainly was off center--unique as no other person could be.
With an IQ ranging in the top 1 percentile, she loved to mingle with us "slow" folks, and being in her company felt perfectly natural. She was funny, not with the usual jokes or one liners, but with a running commentary on life in general, and NASCAR Debbie could always make us laugh.
NASCAR Debbie lived and breathed NASCAR. Her home was filled, wall to wall, shelf by shelf with Tony Stewart collectables and NASCAR paraphenelia. With the enthusiasm and excitement she exuded, she made watching the races on TV at the local watering hole a total experience--with her in the crowd, it was almost like being there.
It was NASCAR Debbie who kept me from drifting away from the sport after Dale Earnhardt's death in 2001. She got me interested in Smoke, more than I already was, and was instrumental in making me the fan I am today.
We had a falling out after 9/11/2001. It was my fault, because I suffer from PTSD, the events of that day produced issues that made me unbearable for her to be around. But, I will always cherish the times that Debbie and I had as friends, and she will always be a bright, shining light in my life. I never stopped loving her as a friend, and I never will.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I Meander

The writing bug has bit me today, and I am faced with a choice of either posting several subject-specific items, or just one that meanders all over the place. The regular reader of this blog expects me to meander, which I do whether it's subject specific or not. I'll just let my fingers figure out how to handle this.
I watched a race Saturday that had me raving and raging as much as any NASCAR Nextel Cup race does. It wasn't the CTS race--which was pretty much an all-Hornaday all the time affair--that had me all excited. It was the final race of the Rolex Grand-Am series, from Salt Lake City, that got me going.
This was a real championship chase, with four drivers all within three points of each other for the season championship in the Daytona Prototype (DP) class.
Scott Pruitt, Alex Gurney (the son of the legendary Dan Gurney), Max "The Ax" Angelelli, and Gurney's co-driver, Jon Fogerty all entered the final race of the season with the knowledge that the one who finished ahead of the others would be the Rolex DP champion. The race was on, for seven and a half hours, or 1000 kilometers, whichever came first.
And race, they did. All four of these drivers are well known for their aggressiveness on the track, and that aggressiveness manifested as they picked their way through the slower GT class traffic, and fought for position among the DP cars the entire time. Their teams performed with excellence, performing the pit stops flawlessly, and the driver changes smoothly. In between the driver changes, their co drivers expertly kept the cars in the running. Deep into the race, with 32 laps to go, the championship was still up for grabs.
Then the proverbial doo-doo hit the proverbial fan. On lap 115, the #99 car of Jon Fogarty hit the back of Pruitt's #01 Chip Ganassi Racing car, spinning Pruitt, and cutting tires on both cars. This literally gave the championship to Max The Ax, but, on lap 117 a fire broke out in Angelelli's car, putting him out of the race and the championship run. Weird, huh? Wait, there's more.
As much as Chip Ganassi wanted there to be a penalty against the #99 car, for avoidable contact, there wasn't. Fogarty and Pruitt both pitted to change tires and fuel up, and Gurney got back behind the wheel of the 99. Pruitt stayed in his car. Ganassi filed a protest, and the race continued.
Then, on lap 132, with only seven laps to go, a reversal of the lap 115 incident happened, and it was almost identical, except nobody left the track, there were no cut tires, and Pruitt was assessed the drive-through penalty. Sheesh! You have probably guessed that this gave Gurney/Fogarty the championship.
There has been no news of the Ganassi protest at this time, so the outcome is probably not yet official. Does it seem like the race was fixed? You bet, but I refuse to believe it. I think the Grand Am officials have the same problem as the NASCAR officials--arguing with their inner voices on when and how to exact a penalty, while having serious problems deciding if there even was a rules infraction.
Even after the DP's finished the race, there was still some incredible racing going on in the GT class. Paul Edwards and his co-driver, somebody named Collins, pretty much controlled the entire race in the GT class, but, as has happened so many times this season in that class, the Wow meter pegged out hard on the last lap. Edwards, in the #07 Pontiac GTO/R, was being hounded by the #85 Porsche, when they came upon the lapped #36 Pontiac GTO. Edwards floundered in the marbles while trying to pass, and the Porsche took the lead--for less than one second. The Porsche also hit the marbles, and ran into the 36, sending both cars spinning. Edwards had contact with the other two cars, but continued forward to finish, and win the GT class race. Now, that was a show!
All of this made me think, which is dangerous, sometimes. I have mentioned before that the broadcast team for the Rolex Grand Am Series should spend some more time covering the GT segment of the race. The same SpeedTV team covers the American LeMans Series (ALMS) and pays equal attention to all four classes in that series, but in the Grand Am broadcasts the GT class is pretty much ignored, except when it causes a hazard to the DP drivers. Perhaps, the reasoning is that, in Grand Am, the GT class is more like a developmental class for the Daytona Prototypes, and therefore not as newsworthy as the well funded DP's. I would like to see that change.
Now that I am in the realm of dangerous thinking, I have a proposal to NASCAR, inspired by the Grand Am series: With the Sponsorship TBA (Busch)Series being reinvented by the surrounding circumstances, why not have a non-points race at a road course, based on what Grand Am has? At VIR, Road Atlanta, or some other place at which NASCAR hasn't officially raced, run a race that is mixed Formula N (COT) car and TBA series car. Qualifying would be similar to that system used for the Mexico City race, and the top twenty-one cars from each division qualify. The Formula N cars race 300 laps, and with 200 laps to go, the TBA cars start.
That should be interesting.
We should turn our backs on Formula 1 racing, just as Echelstone and the FIA turned their backs on the United States. "Formula 1 does not need the United States," says the cantankerous, senile old fart, Bernie Echelstone.
Well we don't need F-1. Grand Am can have controversy every bit as good as Formula One, without costing anybody 100 million dollars. NASCAR has the rivalries that make the F-1 rivalries look like pillow fights, and has real racing to boot, rather than F-1's single file parade of expensive and pretty machinery. Let's make Grand Am and ALMS the new Formula One for America!
Whew! I must be nuts.
Back to the CTS--
I love to watch the truck racing, but Loudon isn't the venue where it runs the best. Ron Hornaday ran away with the race from the start. I like Hornaday, and I like the folks he drives for--Kevin Harvick Incorporated. I really liked him when he was driving the RCR #2 in the NBS. But my favorite in that series is Johnny Benson. Benson is having a great time in the CTS, making up for the hard time in the Cup Series. I love to see him win, but Saturday wasn't his day.
Well, I've come a full circle now, and this didn't meander as badly as I thought it would. We have more racing to come this weekend, so we will stay interested. Right?

Friday, September 14, 2007

My Second Favorite Driver?

I had never really given much thought to the question, "Who is your second favorite driver," but it was asked of me when I signed up for Dale Earnhardt Jr's interactive fan site "Infield Parking." This is a site that is sort of like "MySpace" for NASCAR fans. It has a well categorized Forums section, and is a good place to keep track of your Internet buddies. Please check it out, if you feel like you may enjoy that kind of thing.
So, how to choose my "Second favorite driver?" I have about twelve drivers I could call my second favorite. It first seemed to me that Junior himself would be the best choice, but my meddling inner voice, or one of my meddling inner voices, reminded me that, if I am a Bandwagon rider, I ride with one leg dragging. So I decided to pick someone else. Martin Truex, Jr would have been a good pick. He packs a load of talent, and I like his demeanor, but I rarely get excited about him. Heck, I can't even remember who sponsors him. I started thinking about the drivers I love to not love, because, in a perverse way, The Gordon could actually be considered one of my favorite second favorite drivers. But, since the favorite and second favorite driver picked are automatically added to your "friends" list, I couldn't see having The Gordon's picture on my "parking space" page.
After nearly an hour discussing this subject, and arguing about it with my inner voices, I finally decided to think in linear terms. So using the mundane list called "alphabetical order," I finally decided to pick Clint Bowyer. Welcome to my official list of favorite drivers, Clint.
Anybody who is interested in visiting my Infield Parking Space, may do so here. I am in the process of accepting anybody who asks to my "Friends" list, so don't be shy.

Weekly Guess--NHIS

There really are no sure things, especially when it comes down to the first race of the Chase for the Championship. We could expect the Chase drivers to take it easy and try to avoid wrecks and mechanical problems, but that seems to never happen during the Chase. No, the drivers all go all-out for the win, whether they're Chasers or not.
I think it was the restrictor plate race in 2000, after Kenny Irwin and Adam Petty were killed in practice and testing accidents, that turned me off about the race in New Hampshire. It had gotten steadily better since then, and the race there last Spring was actually pretty good. I may be getting over my Newhampshirephobia.
I don't know what the track surface is like, and I'm not sure what tire compound Goodyear is making them use, but I'm not going to let that affect my picks.
So, because he is having a championship year, because New Hampshire is one of his best tracks, and because he is, to be honest, my favorite driver, I'm picking Tony "Smoke" Stewart to win.
Of course this means Jeff Gordon will win, and Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Burton, and Carl Edwards will fill out the top five.
But I stand by my "Smoke" pick.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Artful Dodger

Followup to The Silliest Silly Season of All Time Invokes Hollywood
The IRL at Chicagoland:
It was quite a race, being the last race of the IRL season, and it was for the championship. Going into the last lap, with Scott Dixon leading and Franchitti in second, Dixon was ahead of Dario by two points in the Championship race as they stood.
Then, going into the final turn, Dixon ran out of fuel, and Franchitti, just making a slingshot move aroune the leader, narrowly missed him and won the race and the championship.
In both the post race interview, and on the Speed TV program, Wind Tunnel, Dario artfully dodged questions about the rumors of his going to race in NASCAR next season.
Though he neither confirmed, nor denied the rumors--including one that Ganassi offered him a five-year contract in NASCAR--he said that he only wanted to celebrate his victory and his Championship.
"I'm not thinking about the future, right now," he told Wind Tunnel's Dave Despain.
"I'll think about it, maybe next week, and, sometime after that, I'll talk about it."
If Franchitti does make the move to NASCAR while being the reigning Champion of the IRL, he won't be the first to do so. Tony Stewart was the 1997 IRL Champion when he moved to NASCAR in 1998.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The emotional drivel of this fan watching the race

Note: That's Racing.com no longer allows users to publish their photos with credit like they used to. Bah to them. Their slideshow does however have some excellent pictures of the race. To view, click here.
After 161 laps at Richmond, I find myself with mixed feelings. The AM radio station that carries MRN/PRN doesn't come in well on Saturday nights--I can't hear it over the interference and squealing--so I'm not getting the full track play-by-play I like to listen to while watching the race.
For me, a Hendrick car leading the race is boring. I like to see The Gordon running back in the pack and racing, not just cruising around the track in the lead. Those who read this blog regularly know that, while I respect The Gordon's talent, I'm a Jeff Gordon Anti-Fan.
Dale Jr. is driving his heart out, and I find myself cheering for him. I don't consider myself a member of the "Junior Nation"--though I was part of the "Earnhardt Nation" until his father died--but I want to see him in the chase. I also want a die cast of the Budweiser Elvis car, and my birthday is in the middle of November, hint, hint.
If Dale Earnhardt was NASCAR's John Wayne, then Junior is definitely NASCAR's Elvis.
I also want to see Harvick make the chase, so I'm rooting for Kurt Busch to have some big problems.
Bad luck for Carl Edwards--just as he's leading the race and looking good, he loses an engine. I'm not an Edwards fan, but I like him. He's locked into the Chase, but he won't be getting any more of those important Chase bonus points.
Clint Bowyer is also locked into the Chase, but he'll be going in with no bonus points. It was his own fault. Great driving in that incident by Denny Hamlin, but we all know that he is a highly skilled driver.
I have mentioned before that the Formula NASCAR cars (eff-en cars, get it?) are hard to spin, but a lot of cars have spun in this race. The cars are top heavy, and have a lot of roll in the turns, so driver error will spin them, but they don't get aero-loose as easily as the conventional NASCARs, so I stand by that statement. The little grudge match between Johnny Paul Montoya and The Other Gordon proves my point, but those are also very talented drivers.
Millions of Junior fans can be heard cheering as Kurt Busch is involved in a wreck and Harvick picks up grass in the grill while avoiding the same wreck, and his engine overheats. Junior has been running in the top five, where he needs to run, and the fans are ecstatic.
I can't imagine Jeff Burton as a Black Sabbath fan at any point in his life, but there he is talking about his first concert at the age of fifteen, in a feature run during the red flag period. But Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett both like hip-hop, so you never can tell.
Fast forward to lap 267--the real race is going on up front between the two greatest active drivers in NASCAR! Smoke (my favorite driver, in case you didn't know) and The Gordon are racing hard for the lead. (Of course, I'm writing this during the red flag period after the Big One in lap 296, because I can't type while I'm on my feet, dancing, yelling, applauding, and scaring the heck out of my cats). DON'T WRECK EACH OTHER, GUYS! They won't, because they are excellent drivers and it's an excellent race. SMOKE TAKES THE LEAD!!! YEEE-AAAAAH!!!! Now I'm nervous, because there are still 131 laps to go, and I'm hoping, nervously, that nothing bad happens to Stewart while he's leading. So I'm still scaring the cats, and I still can't type because of all the pacing and dancing.
At the restart, Jimmy Johnson has taken the lead in the pits, but Smoke is in second, and we have confidence that if it stays that way, Tony will take the lead before the race is over. Still, the nervous factor is high.
Now it's getting bad, almost frustrating, as Robby Gordon blows a tire and brings out another caution, then, just as the green flag is waved, John Andretti blows an engine, spreading oil on the track and there is an immediate yellow flag.
Now, 45 laps to go and Junior is still racing hard, showing that he should, indeed be considered as one of the best, as he races The Gordon for second place. It seems that Smoke is laying back a bit, perhaps giving his good friend Junior a chance to gain the lead and some points. But, if he has to get to Johnson, he has to make his move, soon. With 33 laps to go he joins the fray, making it a three way battle between three of the best of the best. It is a thrill to watch, hitting a 98 out of 100 on the WOW meter. This battle has gone on for nearly twenty laps, and all of these guys are driving the wheels off their cars. The Gordon fades with 20 laps to go, but Junior and Smoke are racing each other at speeds faster than that of the leader. Also, with 20 laps to go, Kevin Harvick has clinched his spot in the Chase, and Junior is out. Then with about 8 laps to go, Junior has used his car up, and the engine gave up. David Regan, of whom I had serious doubts at the beginning of the season, briefly enters a battle with Smoke for second, but experience prevailed and Smoke pulled away through lapped traffic. But Stewart had begun his move to the front too late, and Jimmie Johnson wins the race. I have to admit, Johnson's victory celebration is awesome--with lots of smoke and burning rubber.
Smoke, himself is characteristically disappointed in his second place finish. This is a man who exists to race and win races, and he knows he had a car that could win, and in his words, he "let one get away."
So Johnson enters the Chase with a twenty point advantage over The Gordon, and a thirty point advantage over Smoke.
The storm that was predicted to reach the East Coast this weekend never materialized, and we were treated to one of the best races of the season. We can look forward to ten more great races. This race more than lived up to my high expectations.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Silliest Silly Season of All Time Invokes Hollywood

The hottest news today is that David Stremme, who has been showing a lot of promise this season, will not be driving the #40 car for Ganassi next season. Instead, it looks like we may see the IRL driver, Mr. Ashley Judd (Dario Franchitti) in that seat. For the rest of the year, after the end of the IRL season, Franchitti will be driving Gasassi cars in the ARCA and Busch Series', so it seems as if it is already a done deal. Ashley Judd, the popular Hollywood star, is married to Francinni, and the close association and name recognition means there should be no sponsership problems. From listening to trackside interviews with Judd, one can tell that she is very involved and knowledgeable about racing. She may not be a Delana Harvick, but she is an enthusiastic racing chick.
The scope of this deal goes beyond NASCAR--2003 Champion Sam Hornish, Jr, is also leaving the IRL for NASCAR, which leaves the already thin ranks of Indycar drivers even thinner. That may give Danica Patrick a better chance to make history, but it will be sad when there are only eleven or twelve cars to watch in an Indycar Race.
A quick aside here--I have been watching Danica race this year, and she definitly has what it takes to win a race in the Indycars. She could probably win with Franchitti and Hornish in the race, so I mean nothing derogoatory in my previous statement.
One last word about Dario--his presence in NASCAR means that Carl Edwards won't be the only driver called "Flipper," because, this happened two races in a row:


Click here if you can't see the video


Click here if you can't see the video

Mark Martin will drive part time in the DEI #8 car, which will be the US Army sponsered car. Tony "Stiffy" Eurey, Jr. is joining Dale Earnhardt, Jr., at Hendrick, so where does this leave Alan Gustafson? David Yates will take over the operation of Yates Racing, after his father, Robert retires at the end of this season. Yates Racing says it has a driver for the #88, preumably Travis Kvapil.
To tiredawg In The Pits: No, the world isn't coming to an end, it's only that NASCAR's silly season has managed to last all year, and has opened a wormhole into an alternate reality.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

If It Doesn't Rain...

Saturday night is where it will all come down to the wire--for the regular season, anyway. There will be at least five drivers trying to get one more win, to gain an advantage in the Chase seedings with more bonus points. There are, at least, three drivers trying to get into, or hold on to, a spot in the top twelve so they can get into the Chase. The stakes are high, and so will be the intensity. What could be better than having a race on a short track for all of this? How could anyone say that NASCAR is boring now?
My friend, The Canadian Curmudgeon has an excellent preview and analysis on his blog, and I really have very little to add to that. I am biased, however, and want to add that Smoke will also have a very good run at Richmond, which is also one of his favorite tracks. It doesn't matter if you are first, second or twelth in the standings going into the Chase. Once the Chase begins, the driver with the most wins is in first place. So we will see a lot of drivers going for the win.
There will be those who are out of the Chase, but will still be wanting to get a win, just for the sake of winning. Of these, the cute little guy--Kasey Kahne--should be the best, and he can finish without endangering those who are in the Chase.
It will be wild, and the Schrub--Kyle Busch--will be in his element, driving on the edge of control all the way around the track for the entire race, making things even wilder. I would have been critical of his driving style a year ago, but he listened to Smoke, and has matured enough so that he isn't as much a hazard to the other drivers as he used to be. I think he will be an asset to JGR next year.
I digress. I'm picking Smoke to win, Kasey Kahne to finish second, Denny Hamlin third, Jimmy Johnson fourth, and Kyle Busch, who has done very well in the Formula N car, and on short tracks, fifth.
Kevin Harvick, I predict, will finish high enough to hold on to his spot in the Chase, but Kurt Busch will have bad luck either brought on by himself or mechanical problems, and, much to the delight of 80% of the NASCAR fans, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will barely squeak into the Chase. Wait, this isn't a prediction, it's a fantasy, but it's fun.
This will all change if the expected storm hits the Eastern Seaboard. I think, if the race isn't run by Monday, NASCAR should go ahead and make Richmond the final race of the year, which means, if the Championship points are tight, the season will end with a bang in November. Then, Loudon will be the deciding race going into the Chase.
I would like to ignore the last three paragraphs and just say, if it doesn't rain, Saturday night should be a blast! If it does rain, at least ESPN/ABC has some interesting features they run during the rain delays.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Home Depot Toyota

That's going to be hard to get used to. It really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, but it will take a while to feel right about it. Perhaps, when Smoke wins the 2008 Daytona 500 in a Toyota, we'll be okay with it. Stewart, himself, has taken an optimistic attitude about it, and that's a good thing. He has even asked JGR to extend his contract beyond 2009, which means he's still having fun. Read about it here.
I'm an adaptable traditionalist. I yearn for the old days, but love NASCAR racing enough to accept the changes, albeit with some crankiness and complaining. But Toyota, though it is a foreign label is 100% American in America, and likely employs more American workers than Ford and GM put together. If JGR wasn't getting a fair deal from GM, then it was the Coach's prerogative to make the change to where they get more manufacturer support. And now Toyota is with an experienced team that can make things happen, and things will happen. So I'm talking myself into accepting the idea. As a Smoke fan, I hope it all turns out well.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Catching Up

Getting to my websites has still been pretty difficult for me, but I'm figuring things out. I'll catch up a little here.
Bristol--The CTS race was excellent, and there was some very exciting three wide racing and some good drama--well, good drama is nothing new in the Truck Series. I was pretty impressed by the new configuration.
The Busch Series race also lived up to the anticipation of the new configuration and just the plain old excitement of Bristol. Now, many fans were disappointed in the Formula NASCAR race on Saturday night. Bristol means beatin' and bangin', and we saw very little of that. Compared to the number of cautions we traditionally see, there were hardly any. This was due partly to the new configuration--when you can go three wide you don't have to bump'n'run--and partly to the new cars--when the Formula N cars do make contact, they are harder to spin. Personally speaking, it was thrill enough to see 43 cars averaging over 120 mph on a half-mile track and going three wide at that! I guess I'm pretty adaptable, for as long as I have been a fan, because I find the new configuration at Bristol, and the Formula N car, acceptable, at the very least. Beatin' and bangin' still exists at the other short tracks, and at 'Dega and Daytona. The ol' timer in me misses the Bristol Violence, but the ever earnest race fan in me enjoyed the race no matter what.
The ol' timer in me seriously hates the fact that PPIR is no more--I will never get over it 'cause I don't want to--and I hate that the Labor Day weekend race is at Fontana instead of Darlington. If it isn't boring, the race is anticlimatic after Bristol, no matter what the configuration. Bring back Darlington, or maybe move the Labor day race to IRP (ORP e-i-e-i-o)--that would be interesting, running the NHRA US Nationals and the Formula N Labor Day race simultaneously--or even to Milwaukee or Gateway. Any choice like that would be better than California, wouldn't it? One race at Fontana, and one race at Michigan a year is enough for the 2 mile tracks for one year. There, I said it. There is still a lot of old timer in me.