Monday, December 27, 2010

New Fans for NASCAR

We have all witnessed NASCAR's declining fan base over the last few years. NASCAR tries to blame it on the economy, but why are their TV ratings free falling also? I believe we can all agree that the racing in 2010 particularly in the Chase, was terrific, but fans still tuned out in droves. So, where, and when, is our sport's summer of recovery?

NASCAR missed the whole internet thing when it blew by them about fifteen years ago. The NFL recognized the net as a valuable commodity from which to gather potential fans. The best part? It required zero effort from the NFL.

How did they gain millions of new fans, and TV viewers? By just sitting back and watching the fans compete against themselves, that's how. Fantasy football has gained more fans for the NFL than its on-field product ever did. Twenty million viewers per game is an almost weekly happening for the NFL thanks to the fantasy geeks. And the NFL has nothing invested in it.

How can NASCAR pop TV ratings through fantasy team play, you ask? Unlike the NFL, NASCAR should start its own fantasy league. Control the players, the stats, and the payouts. That's right, payouts. How does $100,000 to the winning player each week sound? That might even get Aunt Sarah to watch a little NASCAR.

Okay, $100,000 per week to the winner. Another $25,000 split up between 2nd through 20th place players. 20th through 500th would receive sponsor's gift certificates, coupons, souvenirs, memorabilia, etc.

This would all lead to the fantasy season championship worth $1,000,000 to the winner! With another million doled out for the 2nd through 50th place finishers. Additional prizes similar to the weekly ones would go out to the next 500 players.

I see this scenario costing NASCAR around ten million bucks, but a lot less when they get sponsors to foot the bill. Make your TV partners hype this, and give updates, and publicize the winners weekly. Build excitement among non-fans through web ads, and TV spots.

Oh, did I mention.... it's free.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

12 Car Numbers of Christmas

What if the Twelve Days of Christmas were the Twelve Car Numbers of Christmas?

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my true sport gave to me,

Twelve Brads a flipping,

Eleven Dennys choking,

Ten Terrys slumming,

Nine Aussies joining,

Eight Theresas hoarding,

Seven Robbys suing,

Six Ragans wrecking,


Four Kaseys temping,

Three Dale's in waiting,

Two Kurts a leaving,

And a J Mac in a victory lane!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Turn Out The Lights

Turn out the lights the party's over....

They say that all good things must end.

Willie Nelson wrote the song, Dandy Don Meredith made it famous. Now the lights have gone out for Meredith. He's gone on to that big point after in the sky at age 72.

Monday Night Football was the must watch TV back when we were kids. Back before cable, the internet, and the NFL Package. We got two or three games on Sunday, then the highlight of the week... MNF! The first sportscasters I can remember are Dandy Don, Howard Cosell, and Frank Gifford.

Giff played the straight play-by-play man. Cosell was the overbearing, arrogant, know-it-all, and Dandy Don was the fun loving rascal that kept Cosell's ego in check while partying every Monday night. I'm guessing Roone Arledge was the genius that put Meredith and Cosell in the booth together. Try and imagine listening to Howard without Dandy Don there to keep him slightly in check. Ugh.

I wish I had been a little older because I'm sure some of Don's jokes and references were more adult oriented and just went over my head. I don't remember this, but the story goes that Don's first game in the MNF booth (a tryout during a pre-season game) was a Cleveland Browns game. This was 1970, 1971 or so. Cleveland had a WR named Fair Hooker (no joke) one of the other announcers said "Fair Hooker" Don said, "I've never met one." He was hired on the spot, and the rest is history.

Monday, November 29, 2010

NASCAR 2010 in Review

My lighthearted look back at 2010 skips right over January and kicks off in.....

February saw us cranking the season up in Daytona. Having our season begin with our biggest race, our Super Bowl, if you will. Does that make us more progressive than the other sports? The Daytona 500 saw a driver no one wanted, in a car no one wanted to drive, win the big one. Eventual winner, Jamie McMurray drove his swamp buggy over, around, and through the Sippy Hole that was between turns one and two. The, normally three hour, race had more restarts than Uncle Buck's charcoal grill on a rainy day, and went on longer than a Sally Field marathon weekend on Lifetime.

March came in like a lion at Atlanta when Carl Edwards gave Brad Keselowski an aerial view of track. Two bad guys 'having at it'. Meh, what's the worst that could happen? Through our first six races, Jimmie Johnson had three wins. Meh, what's the worst that could happen?

April began with Denny Hamlin refusing a relief driver in Phoenix after his knee surgery, then going on to win the very next race, in Texas. Hamlin had two wins to that point. Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick's win in Talladega solidified his points lead.

JGR began a dominant run in May as Kyle Busch and Hamlin won everything but the races at CMS. Understandable as they were trying to kill each other, instead. Big Bro, Kurt swept the two Cup events at Charlotte.

June looked a lot like May as Hamlin won the first two races of the month. The four-time champ won the last two races in June. Hmmm? Do I detect a pattern here?

Yes, I thought I did, Harvick continues plate track dominance by winning July's first race, at Daytona. Gotta love the TNT broadcast for that, one, virtually commercial-free, race. J Mac continued cherry picking as he won the Brickyard 400 at Indy. Dale Earnhardt Jr did something to get his fans buzzing, I'm sure... just can't remember what it was.

August saw Ford's first win of the year when Greg Biffle came through at Pocono. JPM won at the Glen. Harvick and Kyle each scored their third wins of the season. Kyle's Cup win at Bristol capped a perfect, 3-0 weekend. Kylefecta!

September began the Chase. No, it was actually watchable... although, millions didn't. Tony Stewart got his first W, and almost his second, two weeks later before running out of gas in the first Chase race. That race, at Loudon, was 'won' by Clint Bowyer. Everything, up to, and including his 'participant' trophy for his 4th grade spelling bee, was taken away from Bowyer over "Wreckergate"... except the win. Yeah, you can keep that, CB.

October gets underway with a very familiar name atop the points standings, and.... millions more not watching on TV. Five October races... five different winners.... five exciting finishes. The closest, (insert William Tell Overture here) most exciting Chase, (faint praise, I know) in the history of Chases is in full tilt.

Hamlin wins November's first race, at Texas... and vaults atop the points leader board. This brings on the lamest smack ever talked. Really, that 4th grade spelling bee had better woofing than JJ and Kev's limp attempt at trash talking. Carl Edwards ended a non-scoring streak longer than Mr Furley's as he won the final two races of 2010.

And, the greatest Chase ever? Hamlin staggered into Miami with a 15 point lead. The top three contenders, Hamlin, JJ, and Hap, led ONE lap between them, Hamlin and Harvick had troubles, and Johnson slipped away with his fifth consecutive championship!

thanks to Dave Barry

Monday, November 22, 2010

View From The Flagstand

Our final View of 2010 was slightly anticlimactic, as the four-time champ became the five-time champ. Once again, Jimmie Johnson and his Lowe's crew prove that they are the masters of the Chase universe.


Carl Edwards won the race, his second in a row. This supposedly makes him a championship contender next year. Your 2010 Champion, Jimmie Johnson was second in the race, but walked away with the bigger prize. Kyle Busch clinched owner's championships in the CWTS on Friday, and in the NWS on Saturday with wins on both nights.


Kevin Harvick was third in the race, and third in the final standings. If only he could have led one lap he would have been second in the point's final tally. RPM's top two cars both had top-5s, as Aric Almirola was 4th and AJAllmendinger was 5th. Martin Truex Jr faded to 11th after leading several laps. Bill Elliott qualified 4th and wound up 15th, on the lead lap.


Kevin Harvick used an interesting strategy at Homestead... run over people for track position. While in 2nd place during the NW race, he ran into the back of some rookie, on the straightaway. New line? Sunday he did the same thing to Kyle Busch, parking Busch for the rest of the day with a charred car. Earlier, he cut down across the front of Busch, then Allmendinger on consecutive restarts.


All the hype going into the season finale. I bought into the great shootout we were going to get in Homestead. Three contenders, separated by a handful of points, has to be spectacular, right? Uh, not really. All the smack about those three racing each other to settle it led to a grand total of ONE lap led between them. The race had enough cautions so it wasn't a complete snoozefest, but where was the mano-a-mano-a-mano action we were expecting? We got the usual CYA run from JJ while the other two had some bad luck.


The last black flag of the year goes to.... Brian France. Surprised? This weekend he stated that, according to NASCAR's Fan Council, we love the Chase. I'll admit this year's Chase was the best one ever, but does anyone expect next year's to match it? Release the actual totals from the Fan Council, BZF.

I'm not a member of the Fan Council, but I know some of you are. Did the poll have just 'like' or 'don't like' as the only two options? Doubtful. I'm willing to bet that it had several options with terms such as 'somewhat like', 'like very much', 'like when Earnhardt is in it', etc.


Thanks to all the readers at Spinout, at Sports Review Magazine, at, and the peeps at Facebook. This is the last View of 2010, but I'll have a few reviews and projections during the off-season. Three months until the Daytona 500!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Right Sides Only

Nine months ago, along the central Florida seashore, we began this long journey. Now, we deliver a new champion this Sunday along the edge of the Everglades of south Florida. After thirty-five battles on the asphalt venues, from Pocono to Phoenix, from Sonoma to South Beach, it comes down to the final race. Three men enter, one walks off with the hardware.

Every Rose Has It's Thorns

Since when is 33 points considered a huge points lead in NASCAR? NASCAR would kill to have a points race of only 33 separating first and second all year long. Every headline in the country gloom and doomed Denny Hamlin for coming into Phoenix last week leading by 33 and leaving leading by 18. He's still leading, folks.

Unskinny Bop

Denny Hamlin has one win and three top-5s in his five Homestead starts. Jimmie Johnson has no wins and six top-10s in his nine starts here. Kevin Harvick has seven top-10s in his nine starts and an average finish of 8.4. Reminder: JJ usually has the title locked up when racing at Homestead and hasn't really had to try for the win there

Nothin', But A Good Time

Wow, how many drivers are in their last event for their current teams? Marcos Ambrose says, G'day, to the #47 Toyota. Paul Menard spends his family's last dollar at RPM. Elliott Sadler also jumps ship from RPM. Sam Hornish suddenly leaves Penske, and Kurt Busch plays his last hand with the Blue Deuce. Brad Keselowski of Penske also makes off-season changes there. Scott Speed looks to be in his last Cup race for Red Bull this weekend. Bobby Labonte hopes for happier days next year with a mid-major ride.

Homestead Heat

Homestead is the only track on which Jeff Gordon has not won a race.

Greg Biffle is the all-time winner here with three.

Bobby Labonte led one lap, the last one, here in 2003. It was his last Cup win.

Bret Michaels is the Grand Marshall, the Honorary Starter, and performs the National Anthem at Homestead.

Never in the Chase, and only twice since 1975, has the points leader going into the final race not gone on to win the championship.

Monday, November 15, 2010

View From The Flagstand

Usually by this time of the season, one race to go, the View is crystal clear, and the trophy has been shipped to HMS, NC. This year, not so fast my friend. After the desert shootout in Phoenix, Denny Hamlin still leads, but Jimmie Johnson whittled it down to just 15 points between the two. And, Kevin Harvick is stalking, within reasonable striking distance as we head to Miami.


Carl Edwards, after a 70 race hiatus, finally wins a Cup race again. He, and the next ten finishers, played the fuel mileage card and cashed in. Congrats to Todd Bodine also, as he clinched the Truck Series title. It's the Onion's second Truck championship.


Hamlin kept a slim points lead by leading the most laps and finishing 12th after a late fuel stop. Ryan Newman came home in second place. Nice bookend to his win here earlier this year. Joey Logano stretched his Toyota's MPG, and ended up third. Championship contenders, Johnson and Harvick didn't lead a lap, but were 5th and 6th respectively.


Where were the late race 'debris' flags at PIR? In all three races this weekend there, we didn't see nary a late race mystery caution. Could it be because in all three Phoenix races Kyle Busch could have benefited from a late race reset? NASCAR certainly had no problem throwing a late race 'caution' in all three of his wins in Bristol a few months ago. Just sayin'.


Poor Brendan Gaughn he brought along Daddy's casino sponsorship to land a one-race deal driving the #71, and promptly crashed out on the first lap. He's a great guy, not a great driver, though. Maybe he should consider a management position?


Jimmie Johnson's lame attempt at smack talk after the race on Sunday. I haven't heard so many lame cliches since DW's last race on Fox. Stick to driving, JJ. You have absolutely no future on the mic.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Can Pastrana Save NASCAR?

Travis Pastrana is the biggest Action Sports star of all time. He's the all time gold medal winner at the X-Games with 16, and counting. With his MTV shows, and daredevil stunts, he has millions of young fans. Will that coveted demographic follow him to NASCAR?

I believe they will tune in to check their boy out. But, I wouldn't be surprised if NASCAR blows this great opportunity to gain new fans. Pastrana's fans will not hang around just to watch a bunch of cars turning left for three hours.

Pastrana has a mixture of charisma and talent unseen in NASCAR in the twenty-five years since Tim Richmond was racing. NASCAR has to capitalize on that, but do they have a clue? If their past history is any indication, I would say, no, they don't.

NASCAR must demand that their TV partners change the way they cover racing in order to cash in on Pastrana. And, no, I don't mean announcing where he is back in the pack, like they do with Dale Jr and Danica, every few minutes. They must find a way to have his face and voice on during the race. Perhaps a small, picture-in-picture, pre-taped, blurb from him that goes along with the action on the track at the time.

Sure, the established drivers may not like trying to build the Nationwide Series around Pastrana, but so what. If they haven't noticed, TV ratings are down, live gates are dwindling, and tracks are closing. That's on their watch.

Unlike the open-wheel, side show acts, Pastrana can attract new fans to NASCAR. Will NASCAR open their eyes and let him is the question.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Right Sides Only

Can the Chase get any wilder, any woolier, this week than it was last Sunday in Texas? Points leader, Denny Hamlin seems awfully cool under fire, but Phoenix is Jimmie Johnson's hideout, and Kevin Harvick is looking to bushwhack at least one of them in the desert.

Smile, You're on Sports Center

Kyle Busch's ill thought out use of a middle digit against a NASCAR official cost him $25,000 in fines this week. The charge? "Unsportsmanlike conduct". Busch probably lost another $50,000 in prize money after being penalized two laps during the race at Texas for flying the finger. Most of us had our parents to let us know that the finger was not an acceptable form of communication, perhaps Busch has learned that lesson now.

While Busch was penalized during and after the race, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton went unaccountable after they intentionally wrecked each other under yellow at Texas. Then, on the track, in front of more viewers than saw Busch's finger, they threw down physically on each other with bad intentions. So glad that NASCAR has a firm grasp of what is "unsportsmanlike", and what is not.

Brake Check

How in the hell did a brake pad fly from Sam Hornish's car, over 100 feet in the air, and through the tempered safety glass of the Texas Speedway Club? Hornish scraped the wall several times Sunday, but somehow his red hot brake pad wasn't dislodged until the checkered flag flew.

Two men were injured by the flying part, which then burned a hole in the carpet where it came to rest. Both men's injuries, from flying glass, were minor, although one of them was transported to a hospital. NASCAR was very lucky that the pad hit a safety window instead of the unprotected crowd in the grandstand below.

Do The Dew!

The Diet Mountain Dew #88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr will have a sparkling new paint scheme in Phoenix. Dale Jr picked the winner from almost 10,000 submissions by the fans. The car will be unveiled, on the ice, at the NHL Phoenix Coyotes game on Friday night. Blame the crew chief if you don't like the new paint job.

Wild, Wild West

Bad news for his rivals... Jimmie Johnson owns Phoenix! It may be his best track. He's won the last three races there (four overall), and has an average finishing spot of 4.9 in 14 starts. Harvick has two wins here, and a 15.0 average finish in his 15 races at PIR. Hamlin has no wins and five top-5s in ten races.

This is also a place where Hamlin wants to redeem himself. Last spring, after knee surgery, Hamlin refused to let a relief driver take over for him at PIR. He finished two laps down while trying to show his crew that he'd never give up on them. I said then, that it was a mistake on Hamlin's part to give up points like that. Who's the genius now?

Phoenix Ponderings

Hamlin and AJ Allmendinger won their first career poles at PIR.

1992 Champion, Alan Kulwicki won his first race here in 1988.

Mark Martin's average finish here is 8.7.

Ryan Newman's #39 will feature pictures of US Army veterans in celebration of Veterans Day.

Newman once won three consecutive poles at PIR.

Did you notice that this race is sponsored by Kobalt/Lowes? Sigh!

Monday, November 8, 2010

View From The Flagstand

We have a new points leader with two races to go, as Denny Hamlin wins at Texas and surpasses Jimmie Johnson in the race for the championship. The fantastic racing in this year's Chase has been phenomenal even as TV ratings sag. Could the low ratings be the result of the top three in points all being rather unlikeable?


Hamlin's pit crew got him out up front on the last couple of stops, then he did the rest. That, fellow fans, is how to go for the win at the end. He simply wanted it more than anyone else. Brad Keselowski gave Dodge its first Nationwide championship, and he gave Roger Penske his first NASCAR title in any series.


Matt Kenseth took the lead on the final restart, but he couldn't hold on and ended up second. Mark Martin led some laps and was third at the end. Joey Logano came home fourth after leading 30 laps. Greg Biffle led the most laps before his faulty transmission relegated him to fifth. David Ragan was 8th, and Paul Menard finished 10th.


How about Jeff Burton wrecking Jeff Gordon under caution at Texas? Everyone watching at home (but not the ESPN announcers) could see Burton ram Gordon's car, then keep the accelerator floored. This led to a small schoolyard type fracas between the two. Did Burton just flip, or did Gordon do something earlier?


Are JJ and Kevin Harvick beginning to wilt under the cool pressure from the JGR #11 team? The #11 crew chief, Mike Ford, intentionally chose the pit box directly in front of JJ's at Texas. When you force the other team to change crews in the middle of a race, you are definitely putting the hurt on them.

Harvick whined until he got his crew changed a couple of weeks ago. Sunday he was whining about the new one. The fans also got to hear owner, Richard Childress, second guessing Harvick's crew chief, Gil Martin, live over the in-car radio. While I would never count Chad Knaus out of anything, I have the feeling that the RCR #29 is on the brink of an implosion.


I have defended Kyle Busch's youthful exuberance on many occasions. There is no excuse for what he did while serving a speeding penalty at Texas. Flipping off a NASCAR official? Seriously? That official had nothing to do with Kyle's speeding penalty, anyway.

I love the fire and the will to win, but you're a professional, in the workplace. A professional doesn't disrespect others. I wouldn't have disagreed with him being parked for the rest of the race on Sunday. Keep the temper on the track, not off.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Right Sides Only

After the thrill ride that was Talladega, we gear up for more flat footed acceleration deep in the heart of Texas. The Cup whips will be doing almost the same speeds as they were in 'Dega, but without the dreaded restrictor plates.

King of the Road

Aric Amirolla will be in the RPM #9 this weekend, and Budweiser will remain on the hood and TV panels for the rest of the year. Double A will actually race in all three events at TMS this weekend. Meanwhile, Richard Petty continues to search for OPM to keep this race team afloat. Look for, fellow Ford racer, Jack Roush to eventually step in and 'help'. Soon followed by RPM's sponsors moving to RFR.

Promised Land

Shane Hmiel was scheduled to return home to Charlotte, NC Thursday morning. He was removed from the ICU on Wednesday.

The Gambler

Chip Ganassi listened to Ford's pitch to switch to the Blue Oval next year, and finally decided to stand pat with Chevy. He thinks that he'll win more races with Chevy, even though Ford would give him more cash and resources.

Texas Treats

Last week's tag team partners, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr both won their first Cup race at TMS.

Jeff Gordon has won once at TMS. It was his last win, a year and a half ago.

Carl Edwards leads all drivers with three wins here.

Denny Hamlin (9.6) and Matt Kenseth (9.9) are the only drivers to average a top-10 finish here.

Two trained monkeys (not Mikey and DW) will be selling race programs at selected sites during the weekend at TMS.

Kelly Hansen of Foreigner will sing the national anthem on Sunday. They couldn't afford the whole band after paying for those monkeys?

Willie Nelson will be live on the frontstretch stage for a pre-race concert on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

View From The Flagstand

This week's View from central Alabama was incredible. Would you believe 87 lead changes, in 188 laps, among 26 drivers. Yes, more than half the field of 43 starters led at least one lap. The 87 lead changes, at the start finish line, is the second most ever in a NASCAR Cup race.


Clint Bowyer won his second Chase race this year when he had his nose just ahead of Kevin Harvick's as the yellow flew on the last lap. Bowyer's RCR Chevy was plenty potent all day long as he paced the field on 9 different occasions.


Besides Bowyer, the other two RCR Chevys were very fast as well. Harvick was 2nd, and Jeff Burton may have had the fastest car in the field before being wrecked by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Jr led the most laps, for the first time in two and a half years. The JGR Toyotas were all on point as well. David Reutimann had an awesome car and wound up 4th. Paul Menard led some and was the highest finishing Ford, in 13th.


Two years ago Carl Edwards caused the Big One when he wrecked Greg Biffle with a half assed, bump drafting attempt in the turn at Talladega. Edwards was crucified on TV by several drivers, most notably Harvick. Sunday, Dale Jr did virtually the same bump and wreck technique to Burton. Yet, not a peep from the competitors. In fact, Burton went as far as to take the blame for Jr wrecking him. Hmmmm. What gives? Is Kyle the only one not afraid to poke a stick at Jr Nation?


Why can't "the best drivers in the world" race back to the checkered flag? Unless there is actually a disabled car sitting on the start finish line, why not?

BLACK FLAG @ Halfmast

RIP, Jim Hunter. Jim was a VP for NASCAR in Daytona, but he was much more. He attended Thee U of South Carolina, then went on to be a journalist (he wrote some great racing books like, '21 Forever') and worked in public relations before going to work for NASCAR.

He may be best remembered as the president of Darlington Raceway from 1993-2001. Google some old pictures of Dale Sr with a Darlington straw hat, he got those from Jim.

Jim loved the fans, and it showed. It wasn't just an act. If he said something, you could believe he meant it. He was the type of man that made you feel better for having met him. They are few and far between. Corporate NASCAR has lost its last honest man.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Drivers' Halloween Costumes

It's Halloween, and NASCAR is dressing up. Can you name the five drivers below? They are all in the Chase.


2. and 3.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Right Sides Only

Halloween at Talladega. Are you kidding me? We are knee deep in the most exciting Chase ever, and now we hit the high banks for some 200 MPH trick-or-treating? Who will get the coveted full size Hershey bar, and who goes home with just a box of raisins?

Hendrick Motorsports finally announced Jeff Gordon's new primary sponsor for next year, AARP and it's Drive to end Hunger foundation. The three year deal includes Gordon being the spokesman for this charity to end hunger among the elderly. This is the first time a 'cause' has been on a Cup car for an entire season. Dupont also resigned for three years and will be the primary sponsor for 14 races each year.

While Hendrick had good news, the news at Richard Petty Motorsports is dire. Drivers jumping ship, no new sponsorships, and unpaid bills rule the day at RPM. They expect all four cars to race at Talladega, but that very well could be their last race.

NBC is developing "The Crew", a family drama about a race team. Don't hold your breath waiting on this project to ever see the light of day. Call central casting we need, the smart one, the gay one, the black one, the girl, the (alleged) funny one, the sensitive one, the oldtimer, the hothead, etc. Should we tell NBC to check the ratings, the NASCAR fad is so last decade.

Talladega Talk

Jamie McMurray will be driving the Dale Earnhardt Sr HOF Tribute Special. Didn't he go into the HOF last year?

Dale Earnhardt Jr will be in the Legend of Hallowdega #88. Some kind of Amp infomercial.

Of 82 past winners here, 18 of them qualified second. The most of any starting spot.

The last two qualifying sessions here have both been rained out.

Kyle Busch is back in the M&Ms Halloween Toyota, which means plenty of treats (plain or peanut) in Victory Lane.

Monday, October 25, 2010

View From The Flagstand

What a view from Martinsville! It was like going back in time to the short track shootouts from days gone by. This race had something for everyone, Fifteen cautions, but still a long green flag run at the end.


Denny Hamlin talked the talk before qualifying; then he went out and backed it up. After a slow start, Hamlin got his groove back and was among the fastest cars all day. After his third win in a row at his home state track, Hamlin is just six points behind Jimmie Johnson in the standings.


Along with Hamlin, JGR's Kyle Busch (4) and Joey Logano (6) were strong at the half mile track. Mark Martin came from two laps down to finish 2nd. Dale Earnhardt Jr makes his quarterly appearance here by leading 90 laps and coming home 7th. Brad Keselowski finally got his first Cup top-10 finish with his 10th place run. Ken Schrader led 7 laps and wound up 18th.


There was plenty of rooting and gouging, punting, dumping, and even some one fingered saluting. Some innocent bystanders got a raw deal... sorry Regan Smith, Sam Hornish was trying to wreck someone else. Both Busch brothers were laying on their chrome horns. It was nice to see some drivers saying, "Points be damned."


The RCR organization is not looking very classy right about now. Kevin Harvick threw his crew under the bus last week, so they were traded for Clint Bowyer's over the wall bunch. Bowyer tried to say all the right "team player" type things, but he no-sold it. Sunday, after a solid third place finish, Harvick praised his new crew, effectively throwing one last jab at his old guys.

As if he didn't create enough drama in the pits, Harvick spazzed out on his other teammate, Jeff Burton. Evidently, Kev doesn't like getting passed cleanly. Even though I don't like Burton's holier than thou, self-appointed Mayor, act, his post race comments spoke volumes. He wondered why Happy is always in the middle of the drama, and suggested that maybe everybody else isn't always at fault, Kevin.


The trip back from the engraver. Maybe JJ does not have this one locked up just yet.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Right Sides Only

This week the NASCAR bunch travels back in time to the sleepy little town of Martinsville in southern Virginia. A place that's been racing longer than NASCAR itself. The crisp air, the changing leaves, the shorter days, all reminders that the end grows near.

Three Stars

Tuesday night's airing of the Tim Richmond documentary on ESPN was about as good as could be expected. I would have preferred more old racing clips, and interviews with Richmond's peers. Maybe they tried, and not many wanted to go on record?

The music they chose, with the melancholy piano notes throughout, showed which way the film makers were going here. I kind of expected the movie to be maybe 80%, or more, about his racing career, and 20% on his illness.

It was an interesting look at how far we all have progressed in 25 years. One thing that bothered me was they tried to make it seem like all NASCAR fans were against Richmond when the rumors were going around. Not true. Everybody still loved that guy. As far as his friend's story about a 'fan' calling Richmond a faggot, I'll bet most other drivers heard that a few times about themselves, too. I'm sure DW was called worse every Sunday.

Summer of Recovery?

Recently, the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte announced they were cutting down on the hours of operations, and laying off employees. Mainly due to their original visitor projections being almost twice the actual number of people buying tickets.

Now, after laying off 40 office employees in the last two months, NASCAR is cutting back on some fan attractions at Daytona International Speedway. They are shutting down the Daytona 500 Experience and the IMAX theater. This also leads to more layoffs. Does BZF remind anyone else of BHO?

Red Bull and Bud, Mmmm

With Reed Sorenson in Gateway for the NNS race, Aric Almirola takes over the #83 Red Bull ride at Martinsville. Some were expecting to possibly see Kasey Kahne in that car after bailing on RPM last week. Kahne is none too happy with his cars lately, but that's what happens when you jump ship with eight months left in the season.
Kahne will be in the #83 after being fired by RPM late Wednesday. Almirola will drive the Bud #9 at Martinsville.

Martinsville Musings

Is it weird that a track famous for its hotdogs, has a race sponsored by Tums?

Denny Hamlin has won the last two events here.

Jimmy Johnson and Hamlin have won the last eight races here.

Kyle Busch will be in his M&Ms Halloween car. So, it's okay to Boo?

Monday, October 18, 2010

View From The Flagstand

The View at Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday night was clear and cold. In case you're late getting on board, the cold, hard fact is Jimmie Johnson has the title wrapped up with five races yet to go.


If NASCAR had a come-back driver of the year award, Jamie McMurray would have already clinched it months ago when he won at Indy. He scored his third win of 2010 Saturday night. It's nice to see a good guy winning some races. Would anyone be surprised if he gets another one before season's end?


He led the most laps on Friday and Saturday, in dominating fashion, but second place on Saturday was the best Kyle Busch could finish. Besides Kyle, JGR's other two drivers had top-10 runs, as Denny Hamlin was 4th and Joey Logano was 7th. All four RFR Fords had top-12 finishes, Greg Biffle (5), Matt Kenseth (6), David Ragan (10), and Carl Edwards (12). Regan Smith was was pretty racy, even drawing the #1 sign from Kyle, before bringing it home 13th.


Hendrick Motorsports has a flagship and three rowboats. Jeff Gordon won the pole, and had his fans all atwitter. Electrical problems doomed his Chase hopes. Mark Martin led a few laps but was never a factor. And Dale Jr was, Dale Jr. looks like Farmer Rick has all his eggs in one basket. It seems to be working very well, though. It may be time for some other multi-car teams to find their own Chosen One.


Kasey Kahne claimed to have no brakes (for the 2nd time in three races) when he wrecked coming off turn four. I'm no racecar driver, but do they really use the brakes exiting the turns? Anyhow, Kahne left the track with an upset tummy while his crew repaired his car. JJ Yeley took over and completed the race in Kahne's #9 RPM ride. Kahne was well enough the next morning to complete his 5k run for charity.


The Chase! It ain't working, NASCAR! BZF and the boys in Daytona figure that as long as people are talking about it, it must be good. Wrong! There's good heat, and there's bad heat.... this Chase is bad heat.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Right Sides Only

The boys are back in town. Most of the NASCAR race teams are located within 30 minutes of Charlotte Motor Speedway, so they all consider this their home track. Saturday night's race will get us halfway through the Chase. Hang in there.

Barney? No, Blaney

The Front Row Motorsports' #37, driven by Dave Blaney will celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Andy Griffith Show. The car will sport the black and white Mayberry patrol car colors, and feature some of the show's favorite characters on the hood. Shazam!

Going Mobile

Mobil 1 is coming to Tony Stewart's #14 SHR Chevy next year. The oil company will be a primary and associate sponsor on Smoke's car. This leaves the other SHR car of Ryan Newman still looking for some sponsor help. Wix Filters is being pursued by the #39 team for that open slot. Wix Filters will be on the Petty Blue #43 of AJ Allmendinger this weekend.

Fame Game

The second class of inductees into NASCAR's Hall of Fame was announced on Wednesday. David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett, and Bud Moore became the newest members. While all five are certainly HOF worthy, some are questioning how Allison with only one Cup title, and virtually the same number of wins as three time champions, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip got in, and they didn't.

Maybe Waltrip actively campaigning for a spot turned off some voters. I would hope so, but what of Yarborough? One of the voters wrote of the politics involved in the election process. A process in which 52 voters are in a room for hours debating strengths and weaknesses of all the candidates.

The voter, Dustin Long of the Virginian Pilot, claims that some voters were putting stock into what a candidate did after he left the sport. Ridiculous! That should have no bearing on what you did for the sport! Allison is a great guy, a great storyteller, and has been around at different tracks and events since retiring as an owner back in the 1990s. Yarborough, stayed home and tended to his businesses since retiring as a car owner about the same time.

That is no reason not to vote for the man. His three year record in the mid-1970s, when he won three straight Cups, makes JJ look like Matt Kenseth.

Charlotte Chatter

Bobby Labonte will be in the #10 Stavola Labonte Chevy for their first race this year.

Kurt Busch looks to win his third race of the year at CMS this week. It's never been done before.

David Pearson won 11 straight poles at CMS from 1973 thru 1978.

Bobby Allison has 23 top-5s at CMS. Tied for first with Richard Petty.

Casey Mears got his first win here. He's still looking for number two.

Get Better Wishes

Shane Hmiel is in critical condition after several surgeries this week. Last Saturday, while qualifying his USAC Silver Crown car at Terre Haute, Hmiel flipped the car onto it's right side and hit the concrete wall with the top of his exposed roll cage. He suffered a broken neck and back. He's a tough kid, but he has a long way to go. Courage.

Monday, October 11, 2010

View From The Flagstand

This week's Smokey View shows us just who is racing for that coveted second place points finish this year. Several Chasers fell by the wayside in Fontana, while others rowed merrily along.


Tony Stewart roared back into contention for the CSPPF by coming on strong at the end, and winning the Pepsi Max 400. Smoke only picked up 20 points on The Chosen One, though.


Clint Bowyer was the first loser, and I'm sure his car was torn apart by NASCAR inspectors, again. Kasey Kahne (4), and Ryan Newman (5) were the best finishing non-Chasers. Mark Martin led the most laps before fading (team orders?) to 6th. Regan Smith used some late-race strategy to come home in 12th spot. Elliott Sadler started up front and finished a solid 13th. Birthday boy, Dale Earnhardt Jr, led 3 laps and wound up 16th.


Super team, Roush Fenway Racing had one car, of four entries, finish on the lead lap, Matt Kenseth in 30th. Kenseth led was strong, and led 29 laps before his engine began smoking with a few laps to go. Greg Biffle's Ford blew up early. Carl Edwards had mechanical problems early, and spent 15 laps in the garage. David Ragan either needs to listen to his spotter, or get a new spotter.


The persecution of the #33 team. After being caught cheating at Loudon, the 33 was NASCAR's "random" car chosen for extensive post-race inspection at the next two races! Then, Sunday, with a big lead late in the event, the mystery caution for "debris" flies! I think they got the message NASCAR.


Brian France just became a bigger embarrassment to NASCAR. I know, I didn't either. Jeremy Mayfield has crawled back out into public long enough to accuse Bri of phoning in orders to black flag him at the 2006 Brickyard 400. While that certainly seems far-fetched, how about the following NASCAR rule....

The NASCAR Substance Abuse Policy states that “[o]n the day of any NASCAR Event, a Competitor or Official who is participating in the Event is prohibited from consuming any alcohol prior to or during an Event or being under the influence of alcohol.”

Does anyone have any doubts that NASCAR's highest-ranking Supervisory Official has ever consumed alcohol on the day of a race?

Go to this site for some eye openers.....

Thursday, October 7, 2010

South Park goes NASCAR

Sometimes South Park is laugh out loud funny. Wednesday night's NASCAR episode was not one of those times. It had it moments, for sure. Anytime Cartman is on-screen for 20 of the show's 22 minutes there are bound to be some laughs. Sadly, even Eric couldn't overcome the writers' total lack of NASCAR knowledge.

When the show spoofed the WWE last year they actually goofed on the wrestling fans for watching a "play" in the ring. They equated wrestling with acting, and, in fact, acting was more desirable by the WWE owner, Vince McMahon. You could tell that the writers had some idea about the subject they were satirizing. No such luck with the NASCAR episode.

I will give the show credit for not taking the easy way out and goofing on the redneck fans ("they took our jobs!") again, instead they made Cartman the bad guy. Cartman spent the whole show lamenting over the fact that he was not "poor and stupid" enough to succeed in NASCAR. If he said that line once, he said it a hundred times.

The entire premise was to show that the drivers are not stupid. Indeed, only Cartman was stupid, and they had a press conference with some star drivers to prove it. Cartman became progressively more racists, stupid, and Southern as the show went on, and that was the funniest part.

Dale Jr was wearing a Bud uniform from three years ago. Danica Patrick got the most air time, and the most lines. I'd say it was a very lazily written episode, and not even Danica getting ran over could save it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Right Sides Only

Three down, four to go. A lot of us have already conceded the trophy to Jimmie Johnson, but we'll play this thing out anyway. This week it's the Pepsi Max 400 from Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Which, of course, leads to the obvious question, just what is Pepsi Max?

Family Feud

Speaking of playing the string out, RCR lost their final appeal this week. NASCAR's Chief Appellate Officer (what's that pay?) upheld the penalty against RCR's #33 Chevy. Richard Childress accepted the ruling, but had to take a shot at the three person panel from his first appeal. Childress is now ready to put this all behind him. Are you listening, Jeremy?

Joker's Wild

After a few days to mull over the Kyle Busch vs David Reutimann on-track shenanigans at Kansas I finally realized where I saw this happen before. Go all the way back to Kyle's trifecta at Bristol. In the Nationwide race Busch got loose in front of Brad Keselowski. BK hit Busch causing him to scrape the wall. In no way was it intentional, but Kyle ran him down and dumped him that same lap. Maybe Mr Busch can tell us how that incident was different than the one with the Beak at Kansas?


NASCAR is this close to signing a new marketing partner (cha ching), Growth Energy, an ethanol lobbyist. As of now, there's not a lot of energy saving, but there are plenty of Federal dollars in the Green business. NASCAR may be using a 15% ethanol blend next year. The Indy Car Series (original name, huh) has been using 100% ethanol for the past six years. Ethanol can't be transported via pipeline, as it picks up moisture that way, so it is transported by truck. Ethanol fueled trucks, I suppose?

Wheel of Fortune

Tissot Watches has jumped on the Danica freight train. Tissot will be the primary sponsor on her JRM #7 vroom-vroom car this week in Cali. They will also be an associate sponsor on her other five races this year, and for however many she decides to drive next year. In semi-related news, Justin Allgaier, Brian Scott, and Eric Darnell are still looking for sponsors so they can actually run in the top-5 in the series.

Cali Chatter

Kevin Harvick's entry is the same car that he won with at Michigan in August. He also drove it to 2nd place at Indy and Fontana's first race this year.

Jimmie Johnson has won the past two events here, and he has five here overall. Ruh roh.

Jamie McMurray backed up his Daytona 500 win by winning the pole here the next week, back in February.

Kyle Busch holds the track qualifying record, and won his first pole, and race, here.

Kurt Busch leads the way with three poles at Fontana.

Matt Kenseth has three wins here, and averages a 9.1 finish.

Get Footloose with Kenny Loggins at his pre-race concert here on Sunday.

Monday, October 4, 2010

View From The Flagstand

Familiarity breeds contempt. Yes, I'm talking about you, Chase. In just the third race of this year's Chase, Jimmie Johnson has ascended to the top of the points standings. Seven races to go, and it is over. NFL, I'll be watching your commercials from here on out.


Greg Biffle has become the Wizard of Kansas. In his last seven races here he has two wins, and has finished lower than third once! His Ford was fast when it mattered, at the end of the day. He gained 20 points on Johnson, and now sits eighth, less than 100 points out of first.


JJ and Kevin Harvick both looked mediocre most of the day then poured it on at the end to finish second and third respectively. The first seven finishers are all Chase contestants. Yawn. Paul Menard was out front for 11 laps, looked good, and wound up 8th. Is he the most improved Cup driver this year?


Tony Stewart led the most laps and finished 4th. Matt Kenseth led 26 laps before finishing 7th. They are still 10th and 11th in the 12 car Chase, and if not for Clint Bowyer's 150 point penalty, they would be fighting it out for last. Wins win the Chase.


That NASCAR schedule maker is a real trickster. Kansas and Fontana back-to-freakin'-back!? Nice way to build up enthusiasm for the Chase. Just as JJ starts to stink it up, lets hit two of our most boring tracks. What, Pocono and Michigan were not available?


I have mixed thoughts on the David Reutimann "payback" of Kyle Busch. First, I don't think what Kyle did was worthy of that payback. It looked to me as if he just accelerated off the corner faster than Rooty did. No malice intended. Howevah, it is strange that the top shelf drivers never get punted like that. Hmmmm.

Rooty's post race interview said it all, as he could not look the camera in the eye, and looked none to proud of what he had done. Too late for regrets now, Dave. If you really want to pay him back, after Kyle's next win, give him a slight tap in the back bumper. His car will fail post-race inspection, and he'll lose 150 points. Hey, it could happen.

Of course, NASCAR with their "have at it boys" is really to blame for this mess. Last week, when Harvick drove through Denny Hamlin in practice, and NASCAR smiled, waved, and prayed for ratings, was proof that they have let the inmates overrun the asylum.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Best. Theory. Ever!

Put it in park, turn down the jams, and walk with me for a minute. Just ask yourself, 'Is any theory that far-fetched when NASCAR is involved?'

Let's say Clint Bowyer's car was illegal after the Richmond race. NASCAR didn't want to penalize the #33 by giving his Chase spot to Ryan Newman. Much the same as they won't take the win away from an illegal car. Not to mention, what if they did give the slot to Newman, then RCR appealed and NASCAR's ruling on Bowyer was overturned.... after the Chase had already started with Newman in it?

Then, let's say NASCAR told RCR they were fortunate, and not to bring the same set-up back to the track. So, (hypothetically, of course) what does the #33 do? He smokes the field the very next race. NASCAR was not amused. Then the very public payback to RCR began.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Right Sides Only

We made it through a whole two races before the Chase took a very familiar look, as four-time defending champion, Jimmie Johnson won last week at Dover. Denny Hamlin kept the points lead, while JJ moved up into second place. Tick, tock, Clarice.

Twelve Angry Men

RCR's appeal of the penalties against their #33 team and driver Clint Bowyer was denied on Wednesday. The three person appeals panel wasn't buying what Richard Childress was selling. RCR continues to claim that a wrecker push must have raised the #33 Chevy 1/16". NASCAR had video of the push, but the most telling evidence might have been the in-car, black box, telemetry from Bowyer's car itself. The data from the box showed just how hard, or light, the car was hit by the wrecker.

This should have closed the case, but Richard Childress promises to appeal the appeal. Let it go, Richard. You're not Jeremy Mayfield. NASCAR is not persecuting you, one of its most beloved figures.

Road to Perdition

Denny Hamlin made a public apology to Kevin Harvick and RCR earlier this week. Cool of Hamlin to apologize for Harvick running all over him in practice at Dover. No doubt his bosses at JGR told him to put Dover behind him and concentrate more on keeping his points lead.

Wizard of Odds

Kansas Speedway will have two Cup races next year. With the installation of permanent lights this offseason, one of the events could be a night race. The new 100,000 square foot Hollywood Casino will open overlooking turn two in 2012. Gambling while watching a race? Hmmm, not like all the on-track action is going to interfere with the off-track action.

Nationwide News

Nationwide Series hot shoe, Trevor Bayne has been let go by Diamond Waltrip Racing. Justin Algaier will be out of his Penske NW ride at season's end. Braun Racing has sold its four car NW team to Turner Motorsports. Turner immediately cut Brian Scott and placed their CWTS driver, James Buescher in that car.

Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk

Jeff Gordon has the best average finish at Kansas after scoring 7 top-10s in nine races.

Last year's race had the fewest cautions, and the most leaders. Green flag pit stops tend to do that.

Jimmie Johnson has three poles here.

Would you believe that Roush only has two wins here? Guess who.

Toyota has not won here, and Dodge has one win at Kansas. Who was it?

Monday, September 27, 2010

View From The Flagstand

In week two of the Chase most of the on-track fireworks were viewed during a practice session. Practice? Practice? We talking about practice? Yes, A.I., we are.


Did you miss him? Wishful thinking was not enough to keep Jimmie Johnson out of the winner's circle. JJ took the pole, led the most laps, and won going away on Sunday. The Champ is back! Damn!


AJ Allmendinger started second, led over 100 laps, then had tire troubles mid-race. He kept his composure in route to a 10th place finish. Joey Logano was 2nd on Saturday, 3rd on Sunday. Is Paul Menard the most improved driver this year? He was top-10 all day, and wound up 7th. Nice to see Bobby Labonte lead some laps before finishing 27th.


NASCAR threw a yellow for a loose caution light shroud at Dover. Loose. Not on the track. Just loose. You have two races a year, perhaps a check list would be useful? Make sure the pace car has gas, too.


Kevin Harvick, once again, has to use his 3,700 pound car to do his talking for him. He couldn't walk the ten feet over to Denny Hamlin in the garage, and let the Hampster know that he wasn't Happy about Denny's unforked tongue?

Does Harvick think that he intimidated Hamlin, even a little, by bumping the #11 as they went on the track to practice? Judging by where he finished (15), Harvick should have worried a little more about setting his car up.


Richard Childress, you've done so much for the sport, but keep the loose change in your pocket. If you've said sixty thousandths once, you've said it a hundred times. He keeps harping that the rear of the car was only 1/16" too high. Now, let's measure across the rear spoiler since its 1/16" higher ALL the way across.

I don't have my handy-dandy NASCAR template set close by, so I'll guess the rear spoiler may be 80" wide. 80" x 1/16" = FIVE square inches of extra downforce. How many quarters is that, Richard?

Little help, Tez? I don't have a calculator, either. LOL

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Right Sides Only

After the thriller in Loudon last week all the teams can head "down the shore" to Dover with their heads held high. Well, all but one, that is. Clint Bowyer's bunch falls from second to twelfth in points after being found illegal following the big win at NHMS last week. Life in the fast lane edition......

Take it to the Limit

Has NASCAR finally learned how to make the Chase exciting? Not only was the competition riveting during the first Chase race last Sunday, but they dropped a bombshell Wednesday regarding the winning car.

Upon taking the RCR #33 from the winner's circle in NHMS back to their facilities in NC, NASCAR found three direct violations of the rules. This after the #33 team was warned the prior week at RIR about pushing the boundaries. So, the #33 operation keeps the win, loses 150 points, and its crew chief and car chief are banned for six weeks.

RCR is blustering about appealing the sanctions, telling the public that it's all about the car only being 1/16" too high after the race. Believe this, it's about much more than that. Three different sections of the rules were cited as being compromised by the #33, not just one. NASCAR gave them every opportunity to pass inspections, and NASCAR would never come down this hard on a winning car unless it was deliberately illegal.

Witchy Woman

Danicamania is back! Did you miss it? She doubles down at Dover, as she's entered in the Friday NASCAR's K&N Pro Series East support race as well as the Nationwide race for JR Motorsports on Saturday. Yawn. Danica just picked up a top-5 finish in her Indy racer in Japan last week.

Best of my Love

While the teams are in nearby Dover, several drivers along with NASCAR president, Mike Helton, make the annual visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center today (Thursday) to see the troops. Among those going will be, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, and Greg Biffle. Several show cars will also be on display at the hospital.

All Night Long

Bruton Smith one-ups Jerry Jones. Charlotte Motor Speedway will have a high def video board constructed in time for their May, 2011 events. The gigantic TV will be the world's largest at 200 feet long and 80 feet tall. The screen will be viewable for the fans sitting along the frontstretch from turn four to turn one. I'll bring my universal remote just in case the race gets boring.

Dover Drift

Sam Hornish Jr makes his 100th Cup start here on Sunday. Will he be around for 200?

Jeff Gordon will be in the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial #24. Check it out

Jimmie Johnson swept both races here last year.

Kyle Busch won the last race here, in May.

Martin Truex Jr got his first win here at Dover.

Monday, September 20, 2010

View From The Flagstand

What a View we had this week. The first race of the Chase had it all. Mostly it had great racing. And, surprisingly, not just among the twelve Chasers. Five of the top-10 finishers were non Chase participants.


Clint Bowyer was the last driver to clinch his spot in the Chase. He had zero wins in the 26 race regular season. Sunday, he had the car to beat, and dominated the kickoff Chase race in Loudon.


Jamie McMurray (3), Dale Earnhardt Jr (4), and Sam Hornish Jr (10) all had nice finishes at NHMS. Denny Hamlin kept the points lead with a hard earned second place run after being spun earlier in the race by Carl Edwards.


With less than 100 laps to go, there were several instances of the Chase drivers spinning, and spinning each other. These are the twelve best drivers in the world, yet they were mixing it up like it was the last lap with 85 to go. It was very unexpected, yet highly entertaining.


My blustering about the Chase being anti-climatic. I expected the Loudon race to be follow-the-leader boring, with most of the top-10 finishers being Chase drivers. I couldn't have been more wrong. The race was exciting, with the outcome in doubt right down to the last lap. Here's hoping that the next nine races are this good.


The Black Flag stays sheathed this week. WTH? I'm sure I could go off on ESPN again, but aren't we all tired of that?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Right Sides Only

The Chase is finally here, along with all its inherent excitement. Alleged excitement, that is. Twelve drivers, ten races. Two and a half months that will seem like six, at least. Why don't the NFL playoffs seem like they go on forever? Instead, they leave you wishing the games were still being played. Yeah, we want some of that, NASCAR.


Have you all been following the adventures of Kyle Busch this week on ESPN 2? Except for being pre-empted for tennis on Monday, 'Riding Shotgun: Kyle Busch' has been following Busch each day during his week of appearances before the Chase begins.

The Big Lebowski

Front Row Motorsports has filed suit against their former driver, Kevin Conway, and his sponsor, Extenze. Extenze was to pay FRM $108,000, weekly, for 50 weeks. Out of that total of 5.4 million, FRM would pay Conway's base salary of $540,000 and performance bonuses. In June Extenze began paying only half of their weekly payment. This led to Conway taking Extenze and heading out to RGM.

After subtracting Conway's salary, FRM was looking to stack almost five million?! Plus 85% of race purse winnings (Conway got 15%). For a glorified start and park operation? Now they are trying to collect all kinds of easy money from Extenze. What, only one Extenze joke in these two paragraphs?

Five Easy Pieces

Five drivers who made the Chase last year did not make it this year. Car number 5, Mark Martin is one of those five. Five drivers in the Chase this year have not won a race this year. Chase contenders, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, are gunning for title number five.

Loudon Lowdown

Jimmie Johnson is driving the same car which won when last at Loudon.

Jeff Burton leads all drivers with four wins here. Anyone have him on their fantasy team?

Burton led all 300 laps to win here in 2000. He won the year before while leading only two laps.

Loudon's new start/finish line is a 6" thick, 2' wide, 65' long slab of granite. Will we now see the kissing of the granite by the winning team at New Hampshire?

The Patriot

This Dodge Viper is the Tea Party Pace Car......

Monday, September 13, 2010

View From The Flagstand

Another short track, another Joe Gibbs Racing win. With JGR's Denny Hamlin winning, Kyle Busch placing second, and Joey Logano finishing fourth, this was a statement as to that team's short track program. Too bad there is only one real short track in the Chase, as JGR drivers have won the last six shorties in a row.


Hometown hero, Hamlin won for the fourth time in his last six short track starts. When his car is set-up right, as on Saturday night, he looks unbeatable. This win also gives him six total for the season, and top seeding in the Chase with an extra 60 bonus points.


JGR, with the aforementioned three drivers all with top four finishes. Is Richmond similar to a road course now? This group may think so, Marcos Ambrose (5), Juan Montoya (7), AJ Allmendinger (8), Mattias Ekstrom (31) made his oval track debut, and completed all but four laps. Clint Bowyer raced hard to protect his place in the Chase, winding up sixth.


Bobby and Terry Labonte both melted down tires and had some fireworks going off under their cars. Bobby actually took the last starting position from Terry with his past champion's provisional, leaving Terry's sponsor to buy him a way in by taking over a start and parker's rig. The Labonte's were always two, of the few, classy guys in NASCAR. I hope the reason they're still out there is their love of racing is so strong.


The season. Right now. If NASCAR intends to stick with this Chase business, they need to award a regular season champ. A big, ol' trophy, and a couple million bucks sounds about right. Warning: this could lead to Jimmie Johnson winning the regular season AND the Chase every year.


The Chase! Did you see that parade of drivers locked in the Chase on Saturday night. Much was made, pre-race, about them having nothing to lose, and how they could race hard for the win, and get that whopping, ten bonus points for the Chase. B.S.

Get ready for more of the same over the next ten races. After the second Chase race, three, four at most, drivers will emerge as title contenders. The rest are just happy their sponsors are in the Chase. Hell, five of the 12 drivers did not win a race this season! Don't expect them to start winning in the Chase.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Right Sides Only

With the Chase field all but finalized, the Cupsters parade into Richmond, Virginia this weekend and put the regular season out of its misery. Saturday night, under the lights, short trackin', without having to worry about points could get interesting. Then again, those late season NFL games, when the playoff spots have already been clinched, aren't exactly edge-of-your-seat material either.

This week also will be the next to last night race of the year, as Charlotte has the lone night race in the Chase. It will be interesting to see the ratings for NASCAR's finale from Homestead when it goes up against a full slate of football games on a Sunday afternoon. Of course, Jimmie Johnson not having locked up the title by then will be the biggest ratings boost they could hope for.

Paint Your Wagon

Should one of NASCAR's biggest stars, and a four time champ, have this much trouble finding a new sponsor? HMS and Jeff Gordon have been rocking the Dupont colors since 1992. Now, with Wal-Mart saying no thanks, Hendrick and Gordon have resorted to begging Dupont to come on back for another year, or two. Maybe this 'Summer of Recovery' hoax just needs a little more time to catch on?

The Searchers

Meanwhile, two-time champion , Tony Stewart appears to have snagged Mobile 1 as the replacement for his Old Spice sponsorship, beginning next year. Pennzoil leaves RCR for Penske, which means that Mobile 1 has to leave Penske for somewhere. Quaker State stays with HMS, and Valvoline remains at RPM. It's oil settled then? Good.


Camping World Truck Series driver, Jack Smith has been suspended indefinitely by NASCAR. Smith allegedly tried to obtain controlled substances by fraudulent means three times in July of 2010. He was arrested on July 22, 2010 in Missouri, and NASCAR was informed of the arrest on July 23, 2010. NASCAR knew of the three felony counts against Smith, but waited six weeks or so to suspend him?

Richmond Rap

Dale Earnhardt Jr joins three others to lead active drivers with three wins at RIR. Woot!

Night Ranger throws down a pre-race concert on the fronstretch. Night Ranger? Really? Was Golden Earring booked?

RIR is Gibbs country! Kyle Busch averages a finish of 5.5 here, and Denny Hamlin's is 8.8. The only two current drivers with a top-10 finishing average at Richmond.

Jeff Gordon will be in the Oxymoronmobile as his Chevy is being touted as the National Guard Military Intelligence Special. Salute!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

View From The Flagstand

What a Smoke filled View we had this week on the flagstand. With Tony Stewart's win at Atlanta Sunday night, he continued his streak of at least one win in each year he has competed in the Cup series. He also has scored more driver points than anyone over the last three months.


Of course Stewart gets this one with little competition. Different cars seemed strong at different times, but Stewart's was fast all race long.


Jeff Burton gears up for the Chase with a strong late run to finish 4th. Both Busch brothers overcame adversity to pocket top finishes. Kyle was 5th, Kurt was 6th. Funny talkers, Juan Montoya (9) and Marcos Ambrose (10) had nice results. Reed Sorenson (14), Regan Smith (17), and Bill Elliott (23) all had lead lap finishes.


Kevin Harvick suffered from driver error while Denny Hamlin had an engine malfunction after leading large chunks of the race. With just one race left before the Chase, now is not the time for these gremlins to affect these stout competitors.


This business where a driver gets loose, then because that slowed him down, he gets hit unintentionally from behind. Twice recently the driver getting loose has come back and wrongly taken revenge on the innocent driver who hit him. Kyle Busch did it to Brad Keselowski in a NNS race at Bristol two weeks ago, now Kasey Kahne costs Ryan Newman several positions with his wrongly blamed payback.


Everyone not named Jarrett, Petree, or Bestwick on ESPN's broadcasts. Seriously, Marty Reid is pathetic. Does he even watch the racing, or is another genius telling him what to say via earpiece? It's almost enough to make me miss Bill Weber. Almost.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Right Sides Only

Let's get it started, Labor Day in the Dirty South. College football kicks off this weekend, baseball races are tightening up, and the Chase starts in two weeks. The smell of Fall is in the air... well, maybe not yet, but it's rounding turn four.

National Lampoon's Vacation

The rumors of Wal-Mart coming to NASCAR as a primary sponsor on Jeff Gordon's HMS Chevy just will not go away. Wally World even went so far as to issue a press release last week stating that they were not coming to NASCAR. Of course that did nothing to dispel the rumors.

Used Cars

Fan favorite, Elliott Sadler says that he is close to announcing where and what he'll be driving next year. Apparently he won't be at RPM, and may not even be in a Cup car. Sources have him driving a Camping World Series truck for Kevin... er, Delana Harvick full time next year.

Back to the Future

Some long-time race fans remember back when the second Atlanta race of the year was also the season finale. Labor Day meant the Southern 500 in the stifling heat of Darlington. Both races were a milestone, something to be conquered. Now they have been moved around on some network's dartboard, and are both run at night. Change isn't always a good thing.

Atlanta Assumptions

Dale Earnhardt Jr won the pole at AMS back in March. That is all.

Bobby Labonte's six wins here are the most among active drivers. Define active?

Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon made their first career starts at Atlanta, while Richard Petty and Harry Gant, among others, made their final starts here.

At least eight different bands are performing at AMS over Labor Day weekend. Foreigner and Drivin' and Cryin' are among them, but do yourself a favor and check out Colt Ford, what a show!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

13 Year Old Dies at Indy

At age 13, Peter Lenz became the youngest competitor to die at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, this past Sunday. He fell off his motorcycle during a warmup lap and was ran over by a 12 year old boy.

The outcry from those that would protect us from ourselves has already begun, even though Peter's father has stated that Peter died doing what he loved.

Some are already saying that the parents can't be trusted with insuring their children's safety, that it is society's job.

At first glance, this looks very bad, and, certainly, it is a tragedy. But where do we draw the line? At least 22 high school football players have died in the U.S. in the past ten years. Each one was tragic, no doubt, but where are the calls for society to police the parents and coaches of this sport?

What about the thousands of teens killing themselves on our highways each year? No uproar for them? Yet, one, well experienced racer dies, and the inquisitions begin.

What is the answer? Surely there are parents who knowingly, or unknowingly, force their sons and daughters to partake in dangerous activities. Where does society, or government, step in and say, "Enough." Or, should they ever step in where there is no clear mistreatment towards the youths?

I'm all for less government, but an investigation of the sanctioning body for this motorcycle race may well be warranted.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

View From The Flagstand

The View from Bristol was definitely clouded by towering, smokey, victory donuts. Mmmm, victory donuts. History was finally made as Kyle Busch pulled the hat trick,and won all three races in one weekend. He's been close before, yet never nailed it down until now.


Do you think that, maybe, Kyle Busch has Bristol figured out? He won all three of NASCAR's major touring series' races here this week, and has won three of the last four Cup races here. Winning three in one weekend, The Kylefecta, may never be duplicated, and one day folks will reminisce and tell the kids about the time that jerk did it.


David Reutimann held off Jamie McMurray in a battle for second. A bit of a surprise there, and no doubt aided by several top guns having issues on the night. Cint Bowyer (4), and Kasey Kahne (5) rounded out the top-5. Ryan Newman and Juan Montoya had a dog fight for sixth place, with Newman holding on until the checkered flag flew.


Did these pretty boys forget that Bristol is a short track? Jimmie Johnson pulls up into Montoya's left front fender, and thinks that JPM is just going to back off? Ain't happenin'. In the NNS race, Kyle Busch was hit by Brad Keselowski after getting himself loose right in front of Keselowski. Instead of accepting even partial blame, Busch ran him down and dumped him in the next turn.

Maybe we should give the driver's decisions a pass at Bristol? Things happen in eyeblink quickness when you're making laps in 16 seconds. This claustrophobic environment, where the car is virtually up on its side most of the time, can not be conducive to sound judgments. It brings out the worst in the best. That's why we love it.


The pre-race shows. An hour and half for the Nationwide pre-race show? Really? Who thought the lame blacksmith opening bit on Saturday was worth airing twice, in less than an hour? At least they had a huge talking point before the Cup race, Kyle vs Kez, which they then proceeded to pound into the ground. Lone bright spot was Dale Jarrett saying if he were Keselowski he would punch Busch in the nose and tell him, "Now we're even." Funny stuff, DJ.


NASCAR's points system. Among the 12 drivers now in the Chase, half of them do not have a win this season! While four others who have fought for a win, have their noses pressed against the window looking in. The ten point bonus for winning a race is a joke. They don't get it unless they make the Chase. So, half of them merrily row along, points racing, satisfied to merely make the Chase.

After 24 races here are some of our playoff pretenders....

Clint Bowyer, zero wins, four top-5s.
Matt Kenseth, zero wins, five top-5s.
Jeff Burton, zero wins, four top-5s.
Tony Stewart, zero wins, six top-5s.
Carl Edwards, zero wins, five top-5s.

Jamie McMurray, TWO WINS, SEVEN top-5s. Uh, scratch that, J Mac is not currently in the Chase!

Should NASCAR go to an F-1 type system? Twenty points for first, counting down to one point for 20th place? No points for 21st or lower?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Right Sides Only

Bristol. Night. Race.

Possibly the three most exciting words in NASCAR. Certainly three of the most anticipated. We recently suffered through Michigan and Pocono, now it's time to go racing, and determine who makes the Chase.


There are just three races left until the playoff Chase begins. Bristol, Atlanta, and Richmond. Three of NASCAR's legacy tracks, with each having at least fifty years of hosting Cup races. These last three races of the regular season are all night races. In fact, they are the last races of the year that will actually start in the darkness. Next weekend is the last off weekend of the year for the Sprint Cup boys.

Can't You See

Some of the worst kept secrets in NASCAR were formally announced this week. Marcos Ambrose is going to drive the RPM #9 Stanley Tolls Ford next year and beyond. Budweiser has tapped Kevin Harvick and his RCR #29 Chevy to sell their suds for the near future. Look for Mobile 1 to make the change from Penske to the #14 of Tony Stewart beginning next season.

Got That Right

NASCAR debuted next year's schedule this week. Fontana loses a race, so thousands of empty seats will only be noticed once next year instead of twice. Chicagoland gets the first Chase race. It's the week before the NFL starts, and, of course, the Cubbies will have been mathematically eliminated for months by then, so no major league competition. Bet they still won't sell out. Also, Atlanta gives one of its race dates to Kentucky.

Bristol Bounce

This will be Bristol's 100th Cup race. There have been 38 different winners in those 100 races.

Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Elliott Sadler all will drive in all three major NASCAR series this weekend at Bristol.

Clint Bowyer is sponsored by Hamburger Helper, and Ryan Newman by Wix Filters, at Bristol.

The #4 Chevy of Morgan-McClure Motorsports attempts its first start of 2010 with Kevin Lepage driving. It was 20 years ago this month, here at Bristol when Ernie Irvan gave MMM their first win.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

View From The Flagstand

The View from Michigan was certainly not clouded by excitement. Excitement here is when a car, or two, runs out of gas at the end allowing an uncompetitive car to win that day. And that only happens every few years or so. Rain shortened races are also welcome here, as it may lead to a surprise winner. At the very least we won't have to watch all 200 laps.


It is refreshing to see a points leader actually going for wins so late in the regular season. Kevin Harvick keeps the pedal down, leading 60 laps while winning his first non-plate race in almost four years.


Denny Hamlin led late before ending up second. RFR had the next three finishers, Carl Edwards (3), Greg Biffle (4), and Matt Kenseth (5). Mrtin Truex (8), and Elliott Sadler (9) both had surprising runs and each led a handful of laps.


Once again, HMS had no car in the top-10. Jimmie Johnson. in 12th, was their highest finisher. Bad news when Dale Earnhardt Jr in 19th is their second highest finisher.


Joey Logano giving all his unsolicited advice to the veterans this season. We know, Joe. Ryan Newman is an ass to pass. We know. Every driver out there knows it. He's just a local hazard on the course. Get over it and play on. Everyone else does.

When you rip off five or six wins in a season, then you may speak. Unlike us, Joey will have his outbursts on tape forever. It's rough being a kid in a man's sport, so shut up and quit embarrassing yourself. Thank goodness your dad finally did.


Dale Jr seems to have lost it, and probably will never get it back. His sister and Rick Hendrick should talk with him and put his best interests first, not their meal tickets. Is there an unhappier driver right now?

Monday, August 16, 2010

This Weekend's Most Exciting Race: Darlington

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to the Pee Dee area of South Carolina on Saturday night as the pick ups put on quite a show at Darlington Raceway. Living just outside of Charleston, less than two hours away, Darlington is my home track. Still, it's been four or five years since I saw some live racing here. The trucks did not disappoint. The action was hotter than the weather, and a crowd of 15,000+ didn't want to leave when it was over.

And, when it was over the #30 Germain Racing Toyota of Todd Bodine had stretched his gas mileage enough to stay ahead of second place, Timothy Peters, and Ron Hornaday in third. Only a handful of drivers had raced here before, with the Onion being the only one actually having a previous win at the Lady in Black.

Great racing was to be found all over the track. A lap after this picture was taken, Austin Dillon (3) got loose and caused the 23 of Jason White to wreck. Much later in the going, the 18 of Brian Ickler popped a right front tire and then popped the wall ending his night at lap 100.

Move over Danica! NASCAR has a real lady racing in the Truck Series. Jennifer Jo Cobb finished 14th, one lap down in her first time at Darlington. Everywhere she ventured before the race, the fans were mobbed around her.

Ken Schrader's night in the KHI #2 was not great, as the truck wouldn't fire, and finally joined the rest of the field on the second parade lap. Multiple pit stops, and losing a lap only added to the misery. Dozens of starts here helped Schrader to recover with a top-10 finish, on the lead lap.

Darlington first-timer, Brian Ickler had a wicked Darlington Stripe, from practice, when the race started.

Ryan Keller, pit support with Kyle Busch Motorsports places the tape in the pit box where the #18 will plant the left front tire each stop. Keller uses the jack to measure the correct distance from the pit wall. The KBM team has no set distance from the front line of the pit box back to the tape. The crew chief determines where that mark is by factors such as the length of the pit box itself, and whether, or not they have an opening or empty space ahead or behind them.

Austin Dillon's pit stop board. Cute, but how about a Union Jack themed one for Austin Powers?

Second place finisher, Timothy Peters had the prime pit box at the end of pit road by virtue of setting a new truck track record while winning the pole. This shot, and all the rest, was taken with the trusty BlackBerry. This one from the camera platform at the end of pit road.

Pit prep before the race included checking tire pressure, and placing the tape on tires to align the wheel on the studs for faster tire changes during pit stops. The pile of sheet metal (fiberglass actually) in the Justin Lofton pit was just spare parts. These parts, fenders and half clips, are salvaged from previously wrecked trucks. If the front end is damaged by a wreck, they can be slapped on quickly with an adhesive membrane called Bear Bond.

Aha! The timing and scoring camera at the end of pit road. It's the lavender colored box about halfway down the pole. There is even a NASCAR official sitting at a desk there also. For a point of reference, in the upper right hand corner, you can see the pink tape in Timothy Peters pit for his left front tire.