Monday, June 29, 2009

The Kid's Alright

One of our fellow writers here is having an important celebration this week. He's a great writer, a great person, and a great friend to all who know him.

Most of us look forward to his insights, wisdom, and fairness that stretch well beyond his years. His 'Speeding Bullets' column has become must reading for all discerning NASCAR fans at

As his profile says, Just call him Gonger. He's been writing his blogs here for a year now, and I'm proud of how far he's advanced with his writing. He's already surpassed most of us, including yours truly.

The big day? Oh yeah, Gonger is turning 16. That's a big one for anyone, especially a race fan.

This is one of the first big steps down the road of life, Gonger. There will be several more that are more important. Enjoy life as it comes to you. One day you'll look back and these carefree times will be the good old days. You have your whole life in front of you....don't grow up too fast.

Happy Birthday, brother!

View From The Flagstand

This week's View was misty for some, as, hometown boy, Joey Logano won the rain shortened event at his home track in Loudon, N.H. Logano's team used some brilliant strategy to come back from a lap down to victory lane.

If the race had gone the scheduled distance Logano would have had to stop for gas, or run out of fuel. His team went for broke, stayed out, and prayed for rain. And, for the second time in a month, it payed off.

Checkered Flag......Goes to Logano who grabbed his first Cup win at the age of 19, breaking JGR teammate Kyle Busch's record for youngest winner. Logano also finished second in the NNS race on Saturday, just missing the N.H. perfecta.

Green Flags......Jeff Gordon (2nd), and Kurt Busch (3rd) looked to be setting up for a late race shootout, but instead were foiled by a late race rainout. Other nice runs were had by David Reutimann (4th), Brad Keselowski (6th), and Sam Hornish (8th).

Yellow Flag.....Double File restarts. Exciting? Yes. But, the shorter the track the harder it is for the best drivers in the world to execute them cleanly. Bristol and Richmond are coming up---- right before the Chase----- which car owner will be crying over these restarts when he misses the Chase because of a 'big one' during a restart?

Red Flag......Martin Truex Jr. Hey, Marty Mart, just because you think it's fine and dandy to STOP at the front of the field during a restart doesn't mean that everyone else feels the same way. Why were you 20 car lengths behind Dale Jr when Kyle Busch finally hit you? He had nowhere to go, as you STOPPED in front of him. Evidently, you think he should have STOPPED also so he would have been run over by 30 cars. Brilliant!

Simple advice for my least favorite Martin.....the next time you want to STOP at the front of the field, at least pull down out of the line of traffic behind you. You'll be the only one down there, as no one can pass on the inside, so you won't get hit in the ass when you STOP. I know your car is a POS, and you're not used to starting up front, but watch the tapes and think before you look like a jackass next time.

Black Flag.....TNT still gets the black flag. This time more for their pre-race show than their race coverage. Oh, the race coverage is still not great, but their pre-race show actually makes me want to watch that televised root canal on Speed TV with Kenny Wallace and Jimmy Spencer.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Right Sides Only

This weekend NASCAR finds itself in the racing hotbed of Loudon, New Hampshire. Loudon? Hot bed of racing? Uh, yes. Just look at all the thousands of race starved fans who pack that place out twice a year....just to watch some of the most boring races that side of Pocono.

I feel for you guys (not really). Must be just like living in the central states and having to go to Kansas Speedway just to attend some live NASCAR Cup racing. Poor guys.

Richard Petty Motorsports ----actually 100% owned by the Gillettes---- is trying to pry itself away from Dodge ----actually 100% owned by U.S.S.A. and UAW---- so they can get on board with Toyota, as soon as possible.

Some of Richard's thoughts on the matter, "Can Dodge be loyal to us now that the government owns Chrysler.....are they race fans?"

I bet they aren't, but Citgo is government owned and they're still big in racing. But, then again the Venezuelan government probably isn't as socialistic as ours.

Richard Childress Racing dropped papers on GM as a means of collecting over 2.5 million that GM did not pay them on June 15. Good luck with that, Richard.

RCR is probably also losing two of their four primary sponsors at the end of the year, as Kevin Harvick's Shell, and Casey Mears' Jack Daniels sponsors are not likely to re-up with RCR. Team officials say they won't run any cars without sponsorship.

Toyota will be joining the Big Three, and also pull all monetary support from its Nationwide and Truck series teams at the end of the year.

Paul Menard will be running hot and cold this week with Moen Faucets on his #98 Ford. Martin Truex Jr will have to "make a left turn here" with TomTom on board his #1. Race sponsor, LENOX Tools, will be cutting it close on Jeff Burton's #31 Chevy. AJ Allmendinger's Dodge will have no trade-in value with Berlin City Auto Group this week.

Brian Vickers has nine starts here and one top-10 to show for it. Mike Waltrip has 26 starts and one top-5. Dave Blaney has 18 starts and one top-10 finish. Don't look for much improvement on that this week. Carl Edwards has nine starts with two top-10s.

Is that enough gloom and doom for this week, kids?

Okay, I'll leave you with a funny punchline, you'll have to guess the set up for the joke.....

"Hey, I rang the doorbell, didn't I?"

Monday, June 22, 2009

View From The Flagstand

This week's 'View'----no, not that lame ass, estrogen deprived, dried up, hagfest onTV--- was kind of hazy out there in NoCal. The roadcourse with the grass disguised as brown dirt, kicked up huge clouds of dust each time one of the best drivers in the world left the asphalt.

After being bored into a coma by the Nationwide and Truck series races from Millwaukee on Saturday, at least the Sonoma race on Sunday wasn't pull the plug terrible. I used to hate the road races in NASCAR. But now they have taken the place of the short tracks as places where skill, finese, and a loud chrome horn are all required if you plan on winning at one.

Drop the flags.....

Checkered Flag....Kasey Kahne won his first Cup race in over a year, and held off some champion drivers to do it. The gang at Richard Petty Motorsports not only had the winner with Kahne, but also had AJ Allmendinger, and Elliott Sadler in the final top-ten.

Green Flags....Tony Stewart continues to amaze, and prove me wwwrrrrong, every week. This week, Smoke was strong all day and finished second to future teammate, Kahne. The Wonder from Down Under, Marcose Ambrose came from the back to the front, and came home third.

Yellow Flags.....None of the 'ringers' those road race aces, who were hired for just this race, finished higher than Patrick Carpentier's 11th. And for those who think that was something....Elliott Sadler finished 10th!

Red Flags.....Well less than a month into TNT's part of the TV schedule, and I'm sick of them already. Forget waterboarding, force POWs to listen to Bill Weber. Shudder. I know, that is just too inhumane. Kyle Petty also seems to have regressed this year. Him continuously telling us what he doesn't know has grown tiresome. Lary Mac, take a vacation! Please.

Up next week.... a truly forgetable and regretable event from New Hampshire.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Right Sides Only

This week's race finds us in Northern California at Infineon Speedway, also known as Sonoma, or Sears Point. So all you Japanese tourists at Alcratraz, all you wine snobs in Napa, and all you rednecks along the Russian River...look out, NASCAR fans are amongst you. Actually, you guys at the Russian River will probably be okay.

Several so-called ringers annually show up at the road courses to show the roundy-rounders how it's done. Has one ever won a race here? Uh, no. Scott Pruett finished third a few years back. That's the ringers best finish so far.

Yet every year desperate car owners keep putting these driving school employees in a stock car. This year finds P.J. Jones in the #04, a second entry for Robby Gordon. The #09 Dodge, usually started and parked by Bliss or Marlin, has Ron Fellows making the lefts...and rights this time. Afroman, Boris Said also makes his annual start in the #08.

In 2007 Juan Montoya won as a rookie from the 32nd starting spot. Last year Kyle Busch became the youngest winner (23) here after starting 30th. With all kinds of crazy pit strategy going on here, starting position doesn't seem as critical as some other tracks. This is also one of the few tracks where a car can make a green flag pit stop and not lose a lap.

Here a few drivers who you wouldn't normaly think of as road race aces, but their finishes aren't too bad. Ryan Newman has 5 top-10s in seven starts here. Clint Bowyer has two top-5s in his three races. Kurt Busch has 3 top-5s in 8 starts. Elliott Sadler has 10 starts and four top-10s. Greg Biffle has two top-5s in six starts.

81 year old Hershel McGriff will be coming out of retirement to race in Saturday's CWWS companion event at Infineon. McGriff has been racing longer than NASCAR has. He was the then Winston West Most Popular Driver for 12 years running from 1981-1992.

The old lefthander, Kenny Stabler will be the Grand Marshall and give the starting command for Sunday's Cup race. The Snake is beloved in the Bay Area as the greatest Raider QB ever. He now can be heard doing football games for Alabama along with ex-NASCAR announcer Eli Gold.

Look for Stabler in the hospitality areas, probably hanging out by the refreshments in Robby Gordon's or Casey Mears' tents. If not there, check Kasey Kahne's or Kurt Busch's.

On Monday, radio shock jock, Bubba the Love Sponge, ingested the same meds as Jeremy Mayfield claimed to have taken before failing his drug test. Bubba's test showed positive for Meth, same as Mayfield's. Friday June 19, Bubba will do it again live on the radio. Catch Bubba on Sirius.

Only in Cali....3,000 sheep live on site, and 'mow' the grass at Infineon. They must be doing a hell of a job, because all I see around the track is dirt.

KL Valus' Nob Hill Mob will be at the track this weekend. In honor of their presence, Infineon has a free 'track walk' for fans after the race. Lug nuts will be placed around the track for fans to keep, included are specialy marked ones which can be redeemed for prizes, including a big screen TV. We can expect our gang of ringers to win, place, and show in that event.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mike Hanner: Private Eye V

As I turned onto my street I checked under the dash and pulled out my throwdown piece. I saw the Buick up ahead and I pulled up so that my passenger door was two inches away from its driver side door, leaving no room for the driver to exit the silver sedan.

I powered down the window about a third of the way and recognized the surprised face in the Buick. Biggun! Now I’m wondering if the .38 I had in my hand would even faze that big guy.

I yelled over, “You lookin’ for me, Tiny?”

“Yeah, I got something for you.”

“Just hand it through the window.”

He tossed a familiar looking manila envelope onto my front seat. Damn! I snatched it up and rifled through it. Nine thousand, nine hundred bucks. All there!

Then Biggun told me, “I followed you out last night, just to make sure everything was okay…”

“Great job,” I interrupted.

“Hey, I never saw the dude pop you until you were falling down. I stopped to check on you and he got away. That envelope fell out of your pocket. I figured that the cops didn’t need to see it,” he continued.

“Well, thanks for returning it.”

“Don’t thank me, thank the boss.”

I had to ask, “Dale Jr?”

“The boss,” was all he would say.


After leaving the bouncer I went inside my place to throw some stuff in a bag for my flight to Michigan. I called Victoria Lane while packing to give her an update. She seemed more concerned about Jr than my head injury. Nice!

I then returned the call from the unknown female. It was the waitress from Whisky River. Found out her name is Jennifer. She also followed me out of the bar last night to make sure I was okay. Damn, for all those people to be looking out for me, my head sure hurts.

Finally, I called Cam Shaft and told him if he wanted his five Gs he better be at my place in the next three hours. He wasn’t too thrilled when I told him I also needed a ride to the airport.
Shaft got to my place in record time. As I opened the door he laughed, “You gettin’ on a plane with that on your head, Ahmed?”


“You, gettin’ on a plane, with that turban on your head. That’s what.”

“Oh. Maybe I’ll take it off then.”

Ten minutes later, after replacing the bandages with an Amp Racing cap, I was climbing into Shaft’s Escalade for the trip to the airport through Friday afternoon rush hour traffic. The five thousand dollars made him a little happier.


After a rough flight through some thunder storms up to Michigan all I wanted was to lay my busted gourd down on a nice, clean pillow. Well, at the Shamrock Motel---- yeah, it’s as classy as it sounds ---you get a not so nice, not so clean pillow. So, I decided I needed a drink, or seven, to soothe my head and hopefully, make me a little less picky about my room’s linens.

I sauntered into Frothy’s--- yeah, it's as classy as it sounds --- and decided to stick with beer tonight. I lucked into a barstool right beside the waitress station and ordered a Blue Moon. The bartender seemed like a friendly chap, said his name was CK and asked if I was in town for the races.

“Yeah, sort of,” I let him know.

“Any driver in particular you’re pulling for?” He asked.

“Not really. Dale Jr, kinda.”

He chuckled, “Save your breath, Mister. He won’t be visiting Vicky Lane anytime soon.”

“How’s that? I thought he had a decent shot here?”

He leaned over the bar and whispered, “It’s all rigged, man. Just like the WWE. NASCAR doesn’t want Jr to see Miss Lane until later in the season, to raise interest in the race for the chase.”

“Okay, Sparky, I think you’ve forgotten the number one rule of bartending….don’t over use the product.”

“Oh, I’m soberer than you, flatfoot. Want some proof?”

“What I really wanted was an orange slice in my Blue Moon Ale, not a lemon wedge, bro”

He continued on, “Sorry about that. Here’s your proof. NASCAR has set up an unbelievable finish for Sunday’s race. The top two cars run out of gas on the last lap. Two! And the old geezer Martin gets with Victoria Lane --- again. Still think that ain’t rigged?”

“Okay buddy, there is no way NASCAR would think that people would buy that ridiculous ending.”

CK leaned in again and said, “I have connections, just wait and see.”


I was at the track on Saturday doing a little snooping when I saw Victoria Lane. What a classic American beauty. I finally caught her alone for a minute and told her about the wild conspiracy theory of NASCAR keeping her and Dale Jr apart. The way she just smiled and nodded her head seemed strange to me.

The next time I saw Victoria Lane was late Sunday afternoon. Martin was with her after the top two guys ran out of gas on the last lap, just like CK said would happen. The NASCAR guys were all over her so I couldn't get a word in. She finally turned and gave me a helpless look.
Why do dames think they can play Hanner with a pretty smile and a kind word?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Right Sides Only

The stars and cars of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series invade the rolling Irish Hills of Michigan this week for the Life Lock 400 at MIS. The track held its first race 40 years ago, on June, 15, 1969.

The new double-file restart rule helped make watching last week's race at Pocono tolerable. Hopefully, it will help this week also. MIS doesn't have as many cautions as Pocono, though. The record at MIS is 10 cautions, and that was a fluke. Five or six is more like it, with at least half being for 'debris'.

This weekend's race also marks the one year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Jr's last win. A race won by ex-crew chief, Tony Eury Jr's stratedgy. These days, Eury Jr is harder to find than the #88's pit sign board.

Sunday is the 234th birthday of the U.S. Army, and the #39 of Ryan Newman will have a special paint theme in their honor. Newman has two wins at MIS.

Robby Gordon's #7 will be rocking with Jim Beam and Kid Rock on board. Kid is also the Grand Marshall and will give the command to start the engines. Gordon has no wins at MIS.

Reed Sorenson will not be foiled with Reynold's Wrap on his #43. The #1 of Martin Truex Jr will light it up with GE Reveal Light Bulbs. Matt Kenseth will be wearing Carhartt again on Sunday. Kenseth has two wins and 13 top-tens in 19 starts here.

Jimmie Johnson has never won at MIS and has only two top-5s in 14 races here. Kyle Busch has just one top-5 to show for his 8 MIS starts. Mike Waltrip has two 47 starts.

Brian Vickers signed a long-term contract extension with Red Bull Racing earlier this week. Which may, or may not, squash rumors that Petty may merge with RBR, or take over Red Bull sponsorship.

Speculation is that RPM will switch to Toyota next year after Dodge cuts funding this summer. Change begins next month with RPM partnering with Toyota team, Braun Racing, for a handful of NNS races. This may be the final straw for some of our fellow bloggers. It was nice knowing you guys.

Chip Ganassi is rumored to be trying to sign Danica Patrick to drive a third car for his IRL team. Danica. Never, has someone, made so much, by doing, so little.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mike Hanner: Private Eye IV

Oh, my head. How much did I drink last night? Wait. I recognize that smell. Definitely a hospital. What happened? How did I get here?

I remember leaving Whiskey River, and walking through the parking lot. That’s all, though. Now I’m lying on a paper sheeted gurney with a couple of rolls of gauze wrapped around my melon.

I remember meeting Victoria Lane earlier… wait! Where in the hell are the ten Gs!? In my coat.

Where’s my coat?


Considering that it was 4 a.m., in an E.R., the nurse looked pretty decent. Not as hot as the chick that wears the nurse’s outfit at Southern Belles, but pretty nice anyway.

“What is it, sir,” she asked?

“My coat, where is it?”

“It’s right here on this chair, sir.”

I tried to get up but I fell back on the gurney as it felt like a truck load of rocks had just been dumped on my head.

“Could you get it for me, please?”

She brought the coat to me. Looked at my bandages, and swiveled on out. I looked in the inside pockets, and suddenly my head didn’t hurt at all. Now the truck load of rocks was on my chest.

The envelope full of Benjis was gone!

I heard the heels clicking down the hallway, and even in my condition, I recognized that quick stride.

“Well, if it isn’t Mike Hanner. I was wondering if you were still alive. I mean, I’m used to you not calling me for weeks at a time, but it’s been a few months now, Mike,” she started right in.

“Hello, Chloe, “ I moaned.

“You can’t be bothered long enough to even leave me a message to let me know that you’re okay. No, I get a call, from a cop, in the middle of the night, saying that you’re in the emergency room,” she continued. “What in the hell is wrong with you, Mike? Hell, what is wrong with me for putting up with your drinking, your cheating, your generally just being an asshole?”

“It’s nice to see you too. Think you might be able to give me a ride home? Come on, Chloe, I miss you. Don’t you miss me?”

“Oh, I’ll give you a ride home, Hanner, but that’s all I’ll give you,” she hissed.

I grabbed my coat, and tried to keep up with Chloe as she clicked down the hallway. It was a long, dark, silent ride until I noticed that she wasn’t taking me to my place.

“We’re going to your house,” I asked?

“Of course, who else is going to take care of your sorry ass? One of your strippers? Those hoes don’t want anything to do with you if you’re not waving a fistful of money.”

“Just because they’re dancers doesn’t mean they’re hoes,” I corrected her.

That earned me a look that could have melted more ice glaciers than any of Al Gore’s wild theories.

I woke up the next day, in Chloe’s guest bedroom. How nice, I thought as I got up and headed for the kitchen. Thirsty.

She heard Jenna barking at me and came in to see if I needed anything.

“I’m okay. I could use a ride back to Whiskey River to get my truck,” I told her.

We piled in her Jag, with the dog, and started out. I knew she was thinking about how to give me the same talk I’ve heard from her five or six times before. The one where she’s not getting any younger, I need to settle down, and get a real job. Yeah, that one.

So, I beat her to the draw, “I’m sorry, Babe. I’m involved with a case right now that’s taking all my time. I promise when I get back from the race in Michigan, we’ll sit down and discuss the future.”

“Now you’re running off to Michigan?”

“I have to. That’s gonna be my best chance to crack this case. If it doesn’t happen there, it may not happen for a long while,” I told her.

She pulled up behind the El Camino, grabbed my hand and said, “Be careful, Mike.”

I laughed and pointed at the turban of bandages on my head and said, “I always am.”

Chloe was not amused.

I checked my messages on the drive home.

Message one… 10:20 a.m., Victoria Lane, “Mike, this is Victoria. I couldn’t wait any longer, did you see Dale Jr last night? Is he okay? Please call me as soon as possible. Bye.”

Message two… 11:48 a.m., unknown female, “Hey…you. Are you okay? I saw them carting you off last night, and I have some info for you. Call me, 867-5309.”

Message three…12:33 p.m., Cam Shaft, “Yo, Hanner, where the hell are you? I just rode by your place, there’s a dude in a Buick sitting out front like he’s watching the place. Knowing you, it’s probably just a jealous husband. I need those five biggies, dude. Those two cats I contracted that job out to ain’t as patient as I am, and they wanted to get theirs about a minute ago. Ya hurr?”

Damn, my head is killing me.

Exclusive Kelly Bires Interview

Kelly Bires is a young, up and coming driver trying to get a foothold in the world of NASCAR. Only 25, Bires started out in Late Models in his home state of Wisconsin. He was an ASA Rookie of the Year and series champ. He also has top 5 finishes in NNS and ARCA races.

In 2008, Bires ran every NNS race, and was 13th in the final point standings. The team changed manufacturers and underwent a major overhaul, leaving Bires without a full time ride this year.

Bires will drive the #33 Chevy for KHI in the NNS race this weekend in Kentucky. He came home in fourth place in the KHI Chevy earlier this year in Nashville.

Bires recently took some time out to answer a few questions regarding his career.

You're from Wisconsin, home of some great racers. Who was your racing hero growing up?

"Have to say Jeff Gordon. He was one I rooted for, until Matt Kenseth started making progress in the NASCAR world. Always have to root for your homestate drivers then."

You've driven for the Wood Bros, JTG, and now Kevin Harvick...who has done the most to advance your career?

"They all have been an important part and all have given me great opportunities to race and show my ablility in a car. I would have to say Wood Brothers and JTG, just because they gave me a shot as an unknown driver."

Which drivers do you seek out at the track, for advice?

"Mark Martin has always been a great help to me. He's the one I go to if I have a question or need advice for any siuation I may come across."

You have a couple of races scheduled for later this year with KHI, at Kentucky and Memphis. How about the rest of your schedule? Are you looking for more rides, or are you pretty much booked up for the rest of the year?

"I do have two more races for KHI, this weekend in KY and Memphis later in the year. I will also be running Iowa for Braun Racing. As of now, thats all I got. Working hard to fill the blank spots in. It's tough right now."

You finished fourth in an ARCA race at Talladega in 2006, driving a Ken Schrader-Wood Bros car. Was that your best race so far? And how do you like those huge superspeedways?

"It was my best finish in the couple ARCA races i've done. Nashville's 4th place finish was my best in the Nationwide Series. I do enjoy speedway racing because it really rewards the patient and smart drivers."

I have to ask this one for the ladies. You are still single, right? Steady girlfriend, or just taking it easy?

"Very single right now. It's important at this time to get everything with my career right. Then, there will be time for the ladies."

I know you're a big Packer fan. Can they win their division this year? Has Favre tarnished his image any by going to the Jets, and not staying retired?

"Absolutely they can win their division. I hate that Brett Favre didn't retire as a Packer. I believe he hurt his image, but he still gave us a lot of good years, so I will for forgive him. I still will watch him play, no matter what team its for."

Do you have any charities or organizations you work with that you would like to mention? We have some very generous and caring readers.

"I work directly with Speedway Children's Charity and The Samaritians Feet Organization. Both excellent Charities that serve great purposes."

Thanks, Kelly, and good luck in the

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pile on Kyle

Tony Stewart wins his first race as an owner/driver. Reports say that Jeremy Mayfield had Meth in his system. Kyle Busch smashed a guitar.

All NASCAR news items from the past week. Guess which one is getting the most gloss on the web, on the radio, on TV? That's right, the earthshattering event of Kyle smashing a trophy guitar.

Most of the time the clueless bash Kyle for demanding that his crew be the best. Now, he smashes a guitar...specifically to give the crew a 'piece' of the trophy...and, that is wrong too!

He smashed that guitar, while cameras were rolling, for the shock value. And, Rube Nation ate it up. Free advice for the clueless, if you want to hurt Kyle....IGNORE him. No booing, just total silence. That would really eat away at him.

He thrives on your booing, and all the overblown attention for any meaningless thing he does, like the guitar smash. He takes his bow after each victory just to get the boo birds fired up, and they play right into his hands.

He works you guys just like a piece of Play-Doh. It really is a joy just to sit back and watch NASCAR's version of Pavlov's act.

This puppet master is only 24 years old, and has his 'puppets' saying that he is the one who needs to 'grow up' or .mature'. Really? One more McMurray, Sorenson, Sadler...just what we need. Albeit, one with talent, though.

So, keep up the booing, rubes. He loves it, and a lot of us love a good puppet show.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mike Hanner: Private Eye III

It was after nine by the time I made it to Whiskey River, the bar where my informants told me that Dale Jr sometimes hung out. Damn, this place is packed. I finally parked the El Camino around back next to a dumpster, and headed for the front door.

As I made my way closer to the entrance, I couldn’t help but notice that the dress of choice for these patrons was Levis, NASCAR sponsor logoed golf shirts, running shoes, and the ubiquitous ball caps. I felt a little overdressed in my slacks and sport coat.

Once at the door, I nodded at the three slabs of beef, all wearing the standard two sizes too small, black, staff, tee shirts.

I asked them, “Which way to the gun show, boys?” No one smiled. Tough crowd.

I tried again, “Dale Jr been around tonight?”

The smallest one of the three, who I’ll call Biggun snorted, “Haven’t seen him, mister.”

“If you do, could you tell him that Mike Hanner is looking for him?” I asked.

“Will do, Chief,” Biggun replied with a sneer somewhere south of contempt.

I moseyed on inside and beelined for the bar. I elbowed my way up the rail, waved an AJ, and told the biggest bartender, who I’ll call Chesty, “Jose Gold, straight up, please.”

Chesty made it back with my shot, and I told her, “Keep the change. You been working here long?”

“Too long, Sweetie.”

“Yeah, I've heard that before. You know Dale Jr?”

She smiled, “Oh, yes, he’s a sweetheart.”

“Is he here tonight?”

“Haven’t seen him, Hon.”

“Okay, thanks,” I tossed back as I walked away from the bar, and out into the club.

My eyes were now adjusted to the dim lights, and I was scanning the room for a friendly face. I noticed the long, black hair cascading down the bareback of a cocktail waitress, and knew that I recognized her from somewhere. When she finally turned around I was right behind her.

Her eyes lit up like a cash register as she recognized me and said, “Hey… you.”

“Well, hey yourself, babe. I haven’t seen you since you were at the Gold Club. How long have you been here?”

“A couple of months now,” she smiled with that fake, buy me a new car, stripper smile.

I looked over her shoulder and saw Chesty and one of the bouncers having a conversation at the bar while looking at me and the ex-stripper. They didn’t seem too happy.

I continued on with, what the hell is her name, “So, babe, you know Dale Jr?”

“Oh yes,” she purred as that cash register smile lit up again.

“Seen him lately?”

“Yes, he's in the VIP section, and that bitch, Roxxi, is working his table tonight.”

“Can you get me in there to see him?”

“Sure thing, babe,” she said as I could tell by the look in her eyes that this would require some grease. So I peeled a Benj off of the stack I’d picked up from Victoria Lane earlier.

Cash register eyes took me by the hand and led me into the VIP room, right by another security guy that looked like the Incredible Hulk. That is if the Hulk was smaller and had that same strange spray-on orange tint as this dude.

The waitress led me right up to Dale’s table. He was sipping a Bud, and holding court with two other guys and three girls.

I introduced myself, “Dale, I’m Mike Hanner, and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions?”

“Sure, man,” Dale smiled, and nodded for the others to clear out. “There you go, sit down, dude. I heard you was tryin’ to find me. What’s up?”

I sat down, and could feel the Orange Hulk’s stare on the back of my neck. Jr nodded towards the Hulk to let him know that everything was okay.

I led off, “Dale do you remember Victoria Lane?”

He grimaced, “Well, it has been a while, but who could forget her?”

“Yes, I’ve met her, she is unforgettable,” I continued, “She misses you, Dale, and she wants to see you.”

Dale raised his voice, “You think I don’t miss her, and want to see her? Damn, If it was up to me, I’d be living with her. Just tell her I do want to see her, but it’s gotta be on my terms.”

I felt the clamp of the Hulk’s paw on my shoulder and I started to rise so he wouldn’t break anything.

Dale put his head down as Hulk said, “That’s it, let’s go.”

I saw the ex-stripper by the bar, looking the other way, as Hulk escorted me to the front door. I noticed that only one of the three meatheads was there now.

I was almost to my truck when I heard someone behind me. As I turned, I never saw the large silhouette step out from behind the dumpster. I did hear the thwack of Louisville Slugger on the side of my head, though. Then, nothing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Right Sides Only

After last week's shootout at the Monster Mile in Delaware, the boys take a short northward trek to the western wilderness of Pennsylvania. They'll give the tri-cornered roval of Pocono their best shot this week.

And they'll do it with double file restarts after each (debris) caution. NASCAR practiced last week with six debris cautions. NASCAR claims to have been studying this switch on restarts for over a year now.

Riiiight. Why didn't they make the change before the first event of the season then? You know like other professional sports leagues do. Imagine the NFL changing a major mid-season!

TNT takes a break from airing 'Law and Order' reruns long enough to bring us the next six Sprint Cup races, as we say AMF to Digger. If you miss the Mole in the Hole, check out TNT's 'Race Buddy' on

Kyle Petty makes his return to NASCAR, in the TNT booth, along with the underutilized, Wally Dallenbach, and the overutilized, Bill Weber. And, no, we didn't get rid of Larry McReynolds yet...he's on TNT also. Rackem frackem!

Tony Stewart's charity race at Eldora Speedway, Prelude to a Dream, was postponed this week due to rain. The new scheduled date is September 9th. Won't that interfere with the 'Chase'?

Smoke took over the points lead last week at Dover. It's the first time he's led the points since the season finale in 2005...he won the title. Unbelievable stat of the week: 2002 and 2005 are the only seasons in which Stewart led the points, he went on to win the championship both years.

Good news, Kevin Harvick makes his 300th Cup start this Sunday. Bad news, he's never led a lap at Pocono. Good news, he has finished in the top 15 in the last eight races here.

Mark Martin has five 2nd place runs here in 44 starts. Greg Biffle has one top-five in his 12 starts. Kyle Busch has led just two laps here in 8 starts.

Kasey Kahne holds the Pocono track record with a run of 172.533 in 2004. Denny Hamlin swept both Pocono poles and wins in his rookie year, and has an average finishing position of 6.2.

Some think that Pocono's unique flat, three turn course would favor the road racers. How about these road ace's average Pocono finishes...Robby Gordon 27.7, John Andretti 28.2, Juan Pablo Montoya 28.8.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mike Hanner: Private Eye II

Bam. Bam. Bam.

My eyes tried to open, made it about halfway, then closed again. Damn, those four or five tequilas from last night were still lingering. Okay, who am I kidding, it was more like four or five hours of tequila.

Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam.

‘Who in the hell can that be,’ I thought. I noticed the redhead as I struggled out of bed. ‘Not bad, Hanner, almost a dime. I hope this isn’t some jealous boyfriend beating on my front door.’
I looked out the peep hole, and lowered my gat, as I recognized that familiar scowl.

“C’mon in, Shaft,” I slurred, while I was unlocking the door.

“What’s up, Jim?” he started.

“Why are you beating down my door at the crack of noon?”

“I got some good news for you, cuz.”

“All right, let’s hear it, Cam.”

“You know that female’s case, the one where she wanted dude’s cousin to disappear?”

“Yeah, Victoria Lane,” I smiled, as I remembered her leaving my office three weeks ago. “Yeah, Dale Jr’s cousin.”

“It’s done, man. Dude is buried,” Shaft whispered.

“What? No, no, no. He wasn’t supposed to get clipped,” I nervously hissed back.

“Be cool, man. He’s alive. He’s buried in something called R&D.”

I asked, “What the hell is R&D?”

“Let’s just say that she won’t be seeing the cousin around anymore,” Shaft replied.

“All right, dude. How much is it gonna cost her,” I queried.

“Five thousand.”
“ Okay Shaft, I’ll call her and set up a meet to get the money for you.”

Shaft made sure to tell me, “Cash is King, Homes. Ya feel me?”

“Yeah, yeah, I got it, man.”

I let Shaft out, and grabbed some Gatorade and Motrin for my headache. Damn, I might have to upgrade this thing from hangover, to hangaround. Meanwhile, I might as well put that Private Investigations degree from the Devrie Institute to use, and go see how that redhead got tangled up in my sheets.


I finally made it to my office around two, and looked up Victoria Lane’s digits. I felt like a high school kid rehearsing what I was going to say before I called her. What is wrong with me?
I could feel me face flushing as I heard her phone ringing through the receiver. “Hello,” she said.

“Hi, Miss Lane, this is Mike Hanner with some good news.”

“Please call me Victoria.”

“Okay. I have good news on the Dale Jr missing person case.”

“That’s wonderful,” she purred.

And now, for some reason, my heart is pumping warm, melted butter through my veins. Great. Get a hold of yourself, man.

I composed myself and told her, “My friends have taken care of Dale Jr’s cousin. He won’t be the one keeping you two apart anymore.”

“That is great news, Mr Hanner.”

“Please, call me Mike. Can I meet you somewhere later to pick up the payment for my friends,” I asked?

“Sure, just tell me when and where,” she replied.

I started, “Well, a few of my informants in Foxtown have told me that Jr sometimes hangs out at a place called Whiskey River. So, I’m checking it out later tonight. We could meet there about...”

She interrupted me, “That’s not a good idea. If Jr is there, I’d rather not see him on his turf. I’d rather him come see me. I really don’t want him to know that I’m looking for him. I am a lady.”

“Okay then. How about the west parking lot at South Park Mall at eight-thirty tonight?”

“Alright, I’ll be there,” she let me know.

“Good. The cousin disappearing is going to cost you ten thousand dollars, cash. Bring it in a manila envelope, and I’ll have a detailed expense report for my first two weeks on the case. You
can mail me a check for that,” I told her.


I saw her Mercedes as I rounded the back corner of the mall at 8:15. I pulled up beside her and rolled down the window of my El Camino.

“Sorry I’m late,” I began.

“It’s alright, I just got here myself.”

“Look these parking lots have mobile guards and video cameras everywhere, let’s make this handoff quick,” I told her. “Here are my daily updates on the case and my expense reports.”
She took them through the window, and handed me a 5x7 manila envelope that was stuffed like a small piece of carryon luggage.

I told her, “Thanks. I’m heading to Whiskey River to see if I can get a word with Dale. Sure you don’t want to be my escort? Uh, not that I think you’re an escort, or anything. Sorry, I meant, are you sure you don’t want to go just to, maybe get a look at him.”

“No, no I better not. I might get all emotional and start crying or something.”

I left her with, “That’s cool. I’ll let you know what I find out at Whiskey River.”

I flipped through the cache of hundred dollar bills in the envelope as I idled the Chevy through the parking lot towards Independence Boulevard. I turned left on Indy, and gunned the cherry bomb El Camino towards the Charlotte skyline.