Sunday, October 28, 2007

Facing the facts

After losing hope that my favorite driver would win the Pep Boys 500 at AMS, I remained hopeful that one of my next favorites, Matt Kenseth might take the checkers. When hope faded for that possibility, I had to accept that a driver whom I have no feelings for or against, Jimmie Johnson, would win the race. And, I have to admit, I found that I was happy that he won.
Johnson had pledged, along with the other Hendrick drivers, he would donate his winnings to the Red Cross, in relief of the wildfire victims in California. Not only that, but AMS track owner Bruton Smith pledged to match the donation of the winner, making a contribution totalling over one million dollars to the relief effort.
With that in mind I celebrate Johnson's victory, and praise him for his generosity. That still doesn't mean he has become one of my second favorite drivers, but I do respect him for making the pledge.
That being said, I have to concede that Tony Stewart probably won't be the 2007 Nextel Cup Champion. Though is is mathematically still in the Chase, it seems that Fate has decided that this wouldn't be his year. That's okay, because that means he can have fun now, which means he can probably win a race or two before the season is up. At any rate, it would be safe to say that the pressure is off, for this season, at least.
With three races to go, it is now a three way contest for the championship. Only four points separate Johnson from the Chase leader, Jeff Gordon. Clint Bowyer is still in contention, though his chances of winning the championship Chase are contingent on the two leaders having some bad luck, which, in turn, seems less likely to happen with every race.
When I watch a race, I watch it as a fan of racing. Being a Tony Stewart fan is secondary to being a racing fan. We can expect some stiff competition between the three viable Championship contenders, while seeing some excellent competitiveness among all the other drivers. And now, I don't have to worry about who is going to be the champion. Racing is good.

Rubbin' is wreckin'

Two of my favorite venues for Busch/Nationwide series racing are the O'Reilly (Indianapolis) Raceway Park, and Memphis Motor Speedway. Usually, we can expect plenty of great short track racing at those two tracks, and they are always something to look forward to.
I say "usually."
The Sam's Town 250, a must watch for me every year, was somewhat of a let down Saturday. If a race is to go 250 laps, 18 or 19 laps of green between cautions is not really a race. We can expect a lot of rubbing and bumping and banging in short track races, which is why we like to watch them, but the wreckage was just a bit too much this time around.
In my opinion, it seems that there are crew chiefs and spotters in the series who want to urge their young developmental drivers to prove that they are not to be messed with. They want to instill aggression in their drivers, and give them instructions to retaliate.
The Busch Series is not the place to be entering into this kind of training. If a driver is going to be in a mood to retaliate, he or she should already be aware of the options and consequences, and even the technique of retaliation, by the time that driver reaches the Busch level.
With the redefining of the Busch/Nationwide series that has taken place over the past few years, it has become more of a "Cup Lite" series than a developmental series. Perhaps, with this in mind, we should expect more of the drivers who race in the series. I would suggest that the team owners give their developmental drivers more time in the ARCA/Remax series, or even the NASCAR Grand National Division--where they can learn more of racing etiquette and protocols--before moving them up. We have seen, too often, promising young drivers attempt to be successful in the Busch series only to meet with failure and the resulting obsucurity. In other words, in the upper levels of "Stock Car" racing, races such as the Sam's Town 250 should be the final exam, not the entrance exam.

Friday, October 26, 2007

If accused of being a troll, write like a troll.

Contrary to popular belief, Atlanta Motor Speedway is not a "cookie cutter" track. Though similar in layout to Texas and Lowe's Motor Speedways, the transitions between the straightaways and turns in all three are different. The surface and track conditions also make a difference, as does the fact that AMS is slightly longer--by .4 tenths of a mile--than the other two. That slight difference makes the straightaways slightly longer and the turns slightly wider, making the track slightly faster. In addition, the surface at AMS is well seasoned, and there is plenty of room for passing and choosing alternate lines of travel.
Now, before I go into my picks, I have to ask some questions; If I suggest that Jeff Gordon may not win a race, is that considered bashing? If I say that Jeff Gordon is one of the best drivers of our time, rather than saying that he is the best driver of all time, does that mean I'm a Gordon hater?
Apparently, there are a large number of posters on the Auto Racing Forum, at That's Racin'.Com who believe that I am a Jeff Gordon hater and basher. I don't recall ever writing anything about Jeff Gordon as derogatory as some of the posts I've seen there about Tony Stewart.
I apologize if I have ever offended any Jeff Gordon fans, and to prove that I highly respect not only Jeff Gordon, but his protoge Jimmie Johnson, I will post one of my favorite photos of the two great racers from Hendrick Motorsports here:

As you can see, they are very good, kind, and friendly looking, and children love them.
Notice: To those who think this is meant to be derogatory, this is just a picture of two puppets who remind me of Jeff and Jimmie. This is not meant to insinuate that Jeff and Jimmie are puppets, cartoon characters, or gay, nor is it meant to insinuate that Hendrick Motorsports fans are children, just that some of them sometimes act like children.
As for my picks this week, I think the winner will be the Sam's Town 250 at Memphis. There will be fewer Cup drivers than usual in that race, in fact I believe JJ Yeley, Jamie McMurray, David Regan, and Carl Edwards will be the only Cup regulars entered.
This will give the Busch regulars, like Jason Leffler, Marcus Ambrose, and Stanton Barret a chance to show what they can do without the higher level competition in the race. I like the Memphis race track, and the Sam's Town 250 is always good for thrills and good short track racing. Besides Leffler and Ambrose, other drivers to watch should be future superstars Brad Coleman and Brad Keselowski. As far as I know, Lauren Wallace will not be in the race. (Oh man, now they are going to get me for bashing Lauren Wallace.)
Back to Atlanta--I do not think this will be the race that Kyle Busch gets fed up with being treated like the proverbial "red headed step child" at HMS. Johnson and Gordon will probably play it safe this race, and not try to win unless it looks like it could be done without much risk. Busch should finish ahead of his team mates, and will wait for his revenge until his final race with the Hendrick team.
It should be one of the better, and saner races of the Chase, so far, and, once again we say, "Anything Can Happen."

Nascar will rock you

I am not a race fan because of crashes--I would rather see good racing and close finishes--but jrfan07, the screen name of a YouTube contributer, puts together some interesting compilations. This is his latest:

I like the soundtrack.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Those Darn Hendrick Drivers

I'm going to forego writing a comment on this, while referring the reader to an interesting and informative post on the Trackbunny Films blog.
All I can say is, isn't Kyle allowed to race for the championship as well? Geez, what an attitude Jeff and his clone have regarding their team mate.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Short Track Ecstasy

This past weekend was a short track lover's delight, with the NASCAR Toyota All-Stars Showdown, and the NASCAR CTS and Cup series races at Martinsville. There was plenty of beatin' and bangin' to satisfy every fan who is passionate about short track racing.
The NCTS (Craftsman Truck Series) has developed a habit of having close championship points competition, and this year is no different. The lead changes between Hornaday and Skinner every race. Isn't it great to see two of the original members of the series competimg so fiercely?
Talk about fierce competition, how 'bout Sunday's Cup race? Although I haven't given up on my favorite driver, yet, I am beginning to realize that this just may not be Smoke's year, but that thought did not dampen my enthusiasm for the race. There may have been a tad too many cautions for my liking, but overall, it was exciting, even with The Gordon leading. The thought never left my mind that something could happen even if it never did.
No, Jeff the Almighty didn't get taken out of the race, but he didn't win, either, which keeps my picks percentage embarrassingly low. Nonetheless, the race had everything one could expect from a short track Cup race.
Super secret insider conspiracy report: Lauren Wallace made his long awaited NASCAR Cup Series debut, Sunday, in the DEI #1 car. The driver of the Bass Pro Shops #1 car was thought to be Martin Truex, Jr, but a crew member who had returned to the hauler to get more parts for the crash cart, halfway through the found Truex bound and gagged behind the big trailer. Meanwhile, the #1 car was doing everything its driver could to put every car on the track into the wall. Young Wallace's true identity wasn't discovered until after the race was over.
When asked why he highjacked Truex's car, the young television star replied that he wanted everybody to say, "There goes Lauren Wallace, the greatest driver ever to get behind a wheel."
When asked why he didn't try to take out the points leader, Jeff Gordon, when he had the chance, Wallace implied that the time would come when Gordon least expected it.
"Poor fellow, he has no idea," said Wallace, "He'll be looking around saying, 'where's Lauren Wallace?' I'm a hundred miles away, son, ready to strike."
As of the time of this writing, no team has announced security measures to prevent Wallace from getting into another car.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Star of the future.

Joey Lagano has been having the time of his life this year. At the young age of seventeen, he has won Rookie of the Year, in the NASCAR Busch East series, the Busch East Series Championship, and now, the NASCAR Grand National Toyota All Stars race.
The Toyota All-Star race, which takes place at the much revered Irwindale Raceway, in Irwindale, California, is to the minor leagues of NASCAR what the Knoxville Nationals is to the winged sprint car leagues. It is a celebration of those drivers who race at your local short tracks across the country, as well as a spotlight on those who would otherwise have no national recognition.
Joey Lagano was discovered by none other than Mark Martin, who mentioned his name and reputation to several NASCAR Nextel Cup teams. It was Joe Gibbs Racing who picked the youngster up for their developmental driver program and the rest is history in the making.
Winning the short track All Stars event at Irwindale doesn't automatically gain a young driver a spot on a Cup team. Lagano will still have to prove himself on the speedways, dirt tracks, and superspeedways of the ARCA/Remax Series. According to his peers, many of them seasoned drivers in the various short track venues, Lagano has enough talent that this should be no problem.
Lagano isn't the only driver from the Toyota All Stars who has caught attention. Peyton Sellers, finished second after a long, hard fought battle with Lagano, and an intensly exciting Green/white/checkered finish. No doubt his talent won't be overlooked by the manufacturers and/or major NASCAR teams and sponsors.

Photo credit: Michelle Theriault official website.

Meanwhile, my new favorite lady driver, Michelle Theriault, has garnered enough attention through her sponsorship from Glock Firearms, to make us watch. She has had some impressive finishes in the Busch East Series and in a young ARCA/Remax career. Unfortunately, though she entered the feature race by qualifying on time, she was caught up in the "pretty big one" by just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and finished fourtieth. Still, I can't resist a girl with a Glock, and have joined her fan club.
Overall, the season ending event at Irwindale is an extended race for the best of the short track drivers nation-wide, and gives us all the thrill of seeing our local heros on national TV. A surprise guest commentater, Darrell Waltrip, added to the fun of watching the event on Speed TV. We should be thankful to Speed, Toyota, and NASCAR for bringing us this important annual event.

Picking on Martinsville

I am terrible at fantasy games. Even if I had been able to participate--I had no web access for several months--for the full season, my points would probably still be in the backmarker section. I have often wondered why, and that wondering has led me to believe that by picking drivers to win I have jinxed them.
Last year, I quit mentioning Matt Kenseth in my picks, because every time I picked him he ran into terrible luck. I didn't learn my lesson. At the beginning of the Chase this year, I picked him to be a possible Dark Horse winner, and look what has happened to him. I won't even mention the name of my favorite driver in this post.
I will base my picks on the assumption that I do jinx the drivers I pick, and on posts such as this one I found while surfing the forums (From Yahoo Answers, posted by "chritopher1"

Jeff Gordon is the best nascar racer of all time bar none.?
Petty no way his wins don’t matter cause they are inflated and had no competition...Dale sr. was born poor and made it to racing...that don’t make him the greatest driver. His 7 championship either...let him try and win one of the new cup championship...Dale is lucky the 24 wasn’t racing in 86 as well cause then he would never had one championship. beside Jeff Gordon has past Dale in wins in some 300 less races...the 24 would be capturing his 6th title this year if they didn’t try this stupid chase thing.. he would have a 500 pt lead over second even with his 100 pt penalty this year....I know you old heads want to kiss Dale’s feet but please let the man 3rd place all time...the 24 is the tiger woods of Nascar...and has just as big of a heart as Dale and his brat of a son ever had....24 to the front got another pole today...i know I’m right and i doubt that the uneducated non enunciating Dale SR and JR fan can read this. The 24 could win in any of years past championship the old timers are the ones who couldn’t win today

Now, you can't get any better information than that on who is going to win the race. Jeff Gordon is obviously the Best Racer Ever. Jeff Gordon is so good, that he will win even if his brakes fail and he wrecks his car. Jeff Gordon will be the only car on the track at the finish line, because everybody else will have wrecked trying to beat him. Jeff Gordon is so good, he shouldn't even have to run the race to win. There is no way that anybody is going to beat him, so they should all quit racing now, and go on from the "Drive for Five" to "Six for the Pricks" As the greatest racer ever, and forever more, nobody can come close to beating Jeff Gordon at Martinsville or any other track.
There, you heard it, I'm picking The Gordon to win everything.
Now, let's see how this jinx thing works.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Anything's possible.

It might be as cold in Hell as it is in Colorado today.
After years of disappointment, I still consider myself a Colorado Rockies fan, though watching baseball on television isn't one of my favorite passtimes.
After the first two seasons of their existance, the Rockies story seemed to be the same every year--start the season strong, then slump, then fade into nothing. I got to telling people that "I like the Rockies, so I'm not much of a baseball fan."
Somebody read that exact phrase as I wrote it in one of the forums in which I participate, and sent me a message telling me about the amazing winning streak the Rockies were experiencing. This was before the playoffs, and, dutifully amazed, I watched the Rockies easily take the National League Championship.
So, after seven years of being less than optimistic about my home town baseball team, I find that the Rockies are a very real World Series contender.
With that in mind, I have to consider that there are still five races to go in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Chase for the Championship, there is no way we can give up on Tony Stewart. Jeff Gordon has said, after the last two races, that nobody should give up on Stewart, that he can still come back and win the chase, and that he could do it without the HMS teams running into trouble. Jeff Gordon is saying this to keep himself motivated to excell, but he is also the most experienced active driver in the Cup Series when it comes to competing for the championship, so we have to assume that he knows what he is talking about.
I would rather see Gordon and Johnson take each other out at Martinsville--they are entirely capable of doing that, as competitive as they are--but to think that Stewart can come from behind without help from other peoples misfortune takes a lot of faith.

Still, knowing Tony's talent and abilities, having that faith is not, at this point, overly optimistic. A lot can happen in five races, and getting top two's in each of those five races is not that far fetched for the #20 team. Most of the journalists in the Media have given up on Smoke, but Jeff Gordon hasn't, his team hasn't, and I'm not ready to do that either.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Great for Indianapolis Motor Speedway history buffs

While surfing, recently, I came across a wonderful website called The First Superspeedway.
Here is an excerpt from the site's overview:

Auto racing historians and journalists will find this Web site a gold mine. This is the best collection of pre-World War I American oval track auto racing research in the world. This site is chock full of volumes of material about the earliest oval horse track races, and, of course, the seminal races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As a bonus, there's some great road racing content as well, such as original articles about the brutally hot first French Grand Prix in 1906. Here's a quick overview of what you'll find:

Hundreds of 90 to 100+ year-old first-hand account articles.
Entire books written by people from the era scanned in PDF format.
Compelling scanned images lifted from the articles – some examples are on this page.
Pen and ink artwork you can use as free clip art
Original articles by me, Mark Dill

The site is, indeed, a treasure for racing history buffs, and the old photographs are fantastic. The books and articles are linked to pdf format, so it is necessary to have Adobe Reader downloaded to your computer, but the time it takes to download is well worth it for this site alone.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Practical Optimism

When it gets to the point in a race where it looks like my favorite driver isn't going to win, it really doesn't matter to me which driver goes to Victory Lane. I just want to see a good race.
So, when the #20 team tried a quicky fuel stop and ended up playing bumper pool trying to get out of the pits, this Tony Stewart fan felt very disappointed and frustrated, but thinking, "it could be worse."
Kevin Harvick was one of the drivers I picked to watch toward the end of the race, but a huge mistake involving a tire going flat and a misdiagnosis in the pit, put him three laps down early in the race. But Harvick still finished the race, and we know that it could be worse.
Early in the Chase, I wondered in print if Matt Kenseth wouldn't be the surprise contender. Since then, he has had some very bad luck. I fear that I may have jinxed the Cool One, but it seems that he was destined for bad luck no matter what anybody wrote. So far in the Chase, Kenseth has started each race with a top notch car. But, that has caused him to be uncharacteristically aggressive at the beginning of the race. Not that he can't handle that, for he is one of the best drivers in the sport, but, to date, it hasn't worked out for him. Bad luck seems to find him very easily when he is running at the front of the pack early in the race. Twice, since the Chase began, his car has developed electrical problems early. This has resulted in putting him deep in traffic, where his car has often become a pinball. That is how his night turned out. Maybe Jack and Robby should think about giving him a car that can be improved during the race, rather than being so good right off the hauler.
It could be worse. There is not one Dodge in the Chase for the Championship this year. The Dodges, however did look very good during the race at Charlotte. Ryan Newman got the pole position in qualifying, and for a large portion of the race, Dodge pilots Bobby Labonte and Scott Riggs were racing very well, with Riggs even leading a lap. Near the very end of the race, with eleven laps to go, Ryan Newman took a very exciting lead after the restart and got everybody up on their feet as he sped around the track--and cut a tire, running into the wall. That was after Scott Riggs got caught up in a wreck with Johnny Paul Montoya, who was also in a Dodge. This was not Dodge's year. It seemed that nearly every Dodge on the track wrecked at one point or another during Saturday's race.
Jeff Gordon's restart tactics at the green flag of the green/white/checkered finish were brilliant, which is what is to be expected of a great driver. He waited until his car was almost on the start/finish line before he began accelerating, robbing second place Clint Bowyer of the chance to get a run on him. I'm not a fan of The Gordon, but I do believe that a Jeff Gordon who races well means a good race. I am happy that the Drive for Five is alive, and I'm looking forward to seeing it stay alive for the remainder of the season, and next season, and every season until The Gordon decides to retire. Mostly because there is nothing that rhymes with "six" that is appropriate.
It could be worse--you could be the rear axle guy in Rusty Wallace's shop.
Or, worse, you could be David Stremme.

"It could be worse," Stremme said. "I could be out digging ditches or doing something else. You can always say, 'This could be better' or 'that could be better' but it could be a lot worse, too. At least I'm able to walk around. I'm healthy. And I feel that I have enough talent to be at this level."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lowe's preview--my "Do-over"

Those of us who watched the Busch series race at Lowe's, Friday night witnessed impending doom. ESPN color commentantor Rusty Wallace watched with dismay as the rear axle fell out of his #66 car, driven by Reed Sorenson.
"These things don't happen by themselves," declared a dissappointed Wallace, "Somebody left something loose on that car."
What we really heard was, "Some heads are going to roll."
Lauren (I swear he says his name is "Warren") Wallace was nowhere to be seen, nor was Teresa Earnhardt.
But that wasn't all the doom Rusty foretold. He found his catchphrase during Cup qualifying and dubbed turn 3-4, "Calamity Corner."
Of course, it being ESPN, who thrives on catchphrases, we heard "Calamity Corner" several times, during the Busch Series race, not only referring to the race itself, but in anticipation to Saturday night's Cup race.
So, in anticipation of Saturday's Cup race, I bring you part two of my race preview.
The tires are a slightly softer compound than we have seen in the last two races at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but we still heard drivers who were having trouble place the blame on "hard tires." It actually still has a lot to do with the new pavement, coupled with a refusal on the part of the drivers to "go slow to go fast (another catchphrase)." As much as the drivers want there to be two grooves, they aren't really there. It should be noted that Tony Stewart, who has been notorious for complaining about the tires at Lowe's, has said nothing about the tires. In fact he's said very little about anything. Hmmm.
Still, it is hard not to pick Jimmie Johnson to win. He is on a roll, and this time last year was the peak of the season for him, a peak that he maintained all the way to the last race. Any problem he had with the tires or the track during the Busch race will be rectified by Saturday night. That is just the way the #48 team operates. It pains me to be rational, but I have to be that way sometimes.
Still, there are no sure things in the Chase for the Championship at this point. We still have to believe that anything can happen. Otherwise, there would be no point in watching.
We should watch the RCR cars. Clint Bowyer is the only driver on that team who isn't yet under the "must win" pressure. That may work out good for him, and his participation in the Busch race gave him plenty of information about the track. Not being pressured may help him in getting a good finish. By the same token, Kevin Harvick has been known to work well under pressure. He is by no means out of the Chase--with six races to go, 202 points is not insurmountable odds. We will see him being careful during most of the race, but he will definitely want to lead some laps. Hunger for a win helps in some drivers, and, in the past, when "Happy" is hungry for a win, he can devour it.
The major prediction I would like to make, concerning Saturday night's Cup race, is that we will see some good racing. Whether that prediction comes true or not depends on smart racing. Green flag pit stops will be very important, as will over all pit strategy. Racing smart also means that the driver uses the right tactics in taking the treacherous turns Lowe's offers. We can't keep hoping that the strangeness that has characterized the Chase thus far will continue, but we can hope that smart racing will keep the Chase close.
Update: Jeff Gordon picks Tony Stewart to win the Chase. Not really, but he had some very flattering words to say about Smoke here.

Back to normal? I hope not!

So far, the Chase for the Championship this year has been full of unusual events and twists of fate. With Ryan Newman taking the pole at Lowe's, and Jimmie Johnson has been, for all practical purposes, already been credited with the win at his "home" track Saturday night. Yes, NASCAR may be going back to "normal."
Do we really want normal? Normal is for Formula 1, where, normally the race is over after the first or second lap, and the rest of the event is only to see if the leader can stay on the track. Normal, in racing, is the Open Wheel Champ Car World Series (Champcar) shooting itself in the foot.
We are NASCAR fans because we don't want normal. We want the surprise endings we get to the races. We are not ready to give Jimmie Johnson the Championship.
We're not ready to give up on our drivers who do not drive for HMS.
Normal would mean that, with its typical military-like precision, Hendrick Motorsports would make no mistakes, that the race at Lowe's will go perfectly for the #48 team even if they get in a wreck early in the race. Normal would be boring for most of us.
Nobody is mathematically out of the Chase, yet. Kevin Harvick, 202 points out of the lead with six races left, is still a very viable candidate to win the Championship. And, we know, Tony Stewart isn't about to give up.
If I were to make my picks for Saturday's race, they would be based on my emotional feelings, not on facts or statistics. I would pick Tony Stewart to win and Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon to take each other out of the race. That is not likely to happen, and is rather fantasimal thinking. It is not normal, and I like it that way.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Talladega pictures you didn't see

Jr. loses yet another engine. The Chevy RO7 engine is the best reason for Joe Gibbs Racing to switch to Toyota.

Tony Stewart's erratic driving during the race alarmed and puzzled many fans. Here he can be seen leading the field while driving in reverse gear.

Darth Gordon celebrates his surprise victory.
Jimmieeeee, I am your Father

ABC breaks new ground in race broadcasting.

ABC/ESPN departed from race broadcasting as usual, Sunday, by foregoing post-race interviews. Not even the winner, Jeff Gordon, was interviewed in Victory Lane, which has been, in the past, the traditional conclusion to NASCAR broadcasts. Most NASCAR fans enjoy listening to the post-race interviews, but ABC,a long-time leader in sports broadcasting should know what it is doing in attempting to set a new precedent to reduce their viewership, which they obviously feel is too high.
Tony Stewart was disappointed and frustrated again. He clearly had the best car in the field, having posted the best qualifying time of the cars that qualified in race trim, and the fastest times in both practices, Friday. On the last lap of the race, he was moving up the outside lane, with the help of Kasey Kahne, when The Gordon made his move to get around teammate and race leader Jimmie Johnson. After being blocked by Johnson, Gordon moved up in front of Stewart. Stewart gave him the push he needed to take the lead, but, after that, Tony was left hanging without a drafting partner and was shuffled back in the field. He finished eighth, which dropped him back to 155 points out of the lead.
It seems that nobody, not even his team mate Denny Hamlin, wanted to risk helping our Smoke get back to the front, and maybe bettering their finishing position for themselves.
Still, with six races left, Tony Stewart is still well within striking distance to take the lead in points, and the Cup championship. Frustration only adds to his edge, and he will use that edge to drive himself to excellence.
Meanwhile, The Gordon, on SpeedTV's Windtunnel with Dave Despain, criticised Stewart for helping him win the race. It seems that nobody really wanted to win at Talladega, anyway.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The 'Dega Factor

Notice: The author of this blog is undergoing a fit of snarkiness. Please take everything written here with a grain of salt.

We all love mysteries. The best kind of mystery is the one that has so many twists, subplots, and surprises that it keeps us guessing until the very last page.
We'll set this mystery at the site of an old Indian burial ground in Alabama. Strong forces are at work. But are they physical forces, or a Spiritual force that defies all physical explanation?
The main characters number forty-three, with another forty-three supporting characters. At least seven of these eighty-six are villains, with more evil lurking in the background. There are over a hundred thousand minor characters who all figure into this mystery.
The name of the place is Talladega, a 2.66 mile D-shaped oval. Twelve out of the forty-three heros all quest for one object--the coveted Nextel Cup, the last one in the future history of mankind. Only one may capture it.
But that moment of capture is far off, for first an icon called the Checkered Flag must be collected. If it isn't, it is important to each of the Chasers, as those on the quest are known, to finish in front of the other eleven. And, there are thirty-one additional heros questing for the Checkered Flag.
The most popular, by far, of the thirty-one non-Chasers, is The Golden Child, Dale Earnhardt Jr. His following is multitudnous--fanatical worshippers who would throw a beer can through the windshield of a competitor, possibly causing serious injury or death at 190+ miles per hour, rather than seeing their hero lose. Dale, Jr. himself is a humble man, and a very talented driver, warranting much of the accolades heaped upon him by the rowdy multitudes. He can do no wrong in their eyes, even when he admits it and apologizes for it. If he runs into mishap, his fans say, it is because those close to him are out to stab him in the back. There have been claims that Junior's second cousin, Tony Eurey, Jr, is not really related to him, and that he is only going to Hendrick so he can sabotage Jr.'s car and spy on HMS for the Evil Teresa. So Talladega will be Tony Eurey, Jr's last chance to destroy Jr's car before he leaves DEI. Meanwhile, the Evil Teresa may not be done yet. She has been known to put miniature explosive devices in Jr's engines to make them fail with six laps to go in a race. But none of that should matter, because rookie Jaques Villeneuve is going to wreck the entire field by lap 182. Or will he?
With all the positive Spiritual energy emitted by the Jr Nation, as The Golden Child's following is called, Dale Earnhardt, Jr may prevail, escaping all the traps and pit falls being laid for him. This is the type of quest at which he is best.
There will be others who want to achieve that goal. The mean and nasty Tony Stewart--who has been known to take out the entire field just to be mean and nasty--posted the top speed at both practices. He is determined to win, even if it means taking out his best friend.
The evil Kyle Busch will be out for revenge, because The Golden Child accidently took him out of the running for the Cup, or so it seems. He may be driven to take out Junior, especially if he goes down a lap, for he will have nothing to lose.
Then there is the greatest Villain of all, The Gordon, and his non-identical clone JJ (Jeff Junior, aka Jimmie "Unibrow" Johnson.) They make up their own rules as they go through a race, with the blessings of the Gods, Mike Helton and John Darby, and the Devil Hinself, Brian France. One of the two is favored to win, not just the Checkered Flag, but the Holy Cup itself. We don't know which one, but since they are clones, it doesn't matter.
We honestly don't know what will happen. We will just have to wait for the last page on Sunday.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Look out! I have some more random thoughts.

With all the worry by Kyle Busch and The Gordon, about Jaques Villeneuve at Talledega for his first stock car race, we seem to be forgetting one thing:
This is the first race for everybody in the CoT car at Talledega.
The Gordon and Jaques are on equal footing as far as experience in the car goes.
The Canadian Curmudgeon points out how difficult it is to pick a winner at Talledega, and also reminds us that the track is built on an Indian Burial ground, which should tell us that no matter what kind of car is being used, strange things will happen.
I will forego making any kind of predictions for Sunday until after qualifying. And even then, I may not.
Except for this: I predict the Big One will happen with eighteen laps to go.
Just a gut feeling.
Will the Cup drivers shun the Nationwide Racing Series (my suggestion for the series name) next year? I don't think so. The drivers will still be there for the competition and the love of what they do. Even with Yates dropping out, there are still a few Cup owners with cars in the series, along with JMS and KHI, and these owners will still be interested in seeing how their developmental drivers stack up against the top drivers in the NNCS. Besides, there will still be plenty of openings in the field, and not even the NRS owners Like Braun and Brewer will want to see their cars get wrecked by an over abundance of unproven drivers. But we won't be able to call them "Buschwhackers" any more. Any suggestions for a new name?
Scott Riggs won't be driving for GEM next year, but he will be racing in the #66 car, which means he won't have to qualify for the first five races. Will this change his luck?
Question--Will Ashley Judd make a name for herself in NASCAR by complaining about the other drivers? An interesting poll question would be Which Driver Do You Predict will be Ashley's favorite target? Please answer in the Comments section.
And, what about David Stremme? Will he be in Cup next year? For whom will he be driving if he is in Cup? Stay tuned for the next episode of As The Left Turns