Friday, February 26, 2010

Right Sides Only

After a surprisingly watchable race at Fontana, the stars and cars are in Las Vegas this weekend. Maybe even more amazing than the racing in Cali is that it looks like no one has started points racing....yet. I'm sure that will soon change.

Victories in Vegas

Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing have won 10 of the 12 Cup events in Las Vegas. Sterling Marlin in 2002 for Chip Ganassi Racing, and Kyle Busch last year for Joe Gibbs Racing are the only streak busters, so far. Busch is the only winner here to start on the pole.

Have a Seat

Vegas, with just one Cup race a year, seats 142,000, and at least 100,000 will be filled on Sunday. Fontana, with two races per year, seats 92,000, and, even though NASCAR estimated last week's crowd at 72,000, other, unbiased, estimates were as low as 45,000. Oh, yeah, one of NASCAR's spin offs owns Fontana.

The Suitcase is Packed

"Suitcase" Jake Elder passed away this week at the age of 73. Elder started in NASCAR in 1959, and was a garage fixture for the next 40 years. He led David Pearson to back-to-back titles in the late 1960s, and also was chief for Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip among many others. Elder was a no-nonsense type man, and "Suitcase" would leave a team in a huff if anyone questioned his methods on anything. Winners like Elder would never get a chance in today's politically correct, sponsor approved, media driven, NASCAR.

Parking a Start and Parker?

NASCAR seized Dave Blaney's Prism Motorsports racer after last week's race in Fontana. Blaney started 5th, led a few laps, then (as usual) parked it when it was time for his first pit stop. Blaney's car was, allegedly, the random car to be inspected after the race. Then NASCAR decided to tear it down, effectively leaving Blaney with just his backup car to drive in Vegas.

The real reason is that Prism got greedy. After "earning" FIVE MILLION dollars last year, they decided to field two start and park teams this season. Last week three cars failed to qualify while Prism had their two cars solidly in the field. This tear down is NASCAR's way of telling Prism that they'll let them know when they can bring more than one S&P car to the track.

Stat Rat

Eighteen drivers have completed every lap in the two races this year. However, only four have top-10s in both.... RFR's Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth, and RCR's Clint Bowyer, and Kevin Harvick. It would be no surprise to see those four in the top-10 in Vegas.

Turn on the Telly

Our friends in the United Kingdom can now get their NASCAR fix on TV again. Jamie, check out the action on Open Access Three.

Turn Off the Telly

Kim Kardashian will give the starting command on Sunday. Tell me again, what is she famous for? In other 'never was' news, former race announcer Bill Weber is now performing a magic act (true, even I couldn't make this up). I'm thinking retirement homes for his Nana, and such. Talk about a tough job market. I did like the way NBC made him disappear, though.

Monday, February 22, 2010

View From The Flagstand

This week's View comes from warm, sunny, Southern California. What? Neither? Oh well, better luck with that great weather during your second race later this year. As, that, very well could be your last race in the fall if your ticket sales don't double by then.

CHECKERED FLAGS..... Jimmie Johnson owns Auto Club Speedway. He just lets the other drivers make laps as they race for second place. JJ may have a golden horseshoe located somewhere (where the sun doesn't shine, per Kevin Harvick) but he probably didn't need any luck to win Sunday. Saturday's NNS race didn't suck either, as Kyle Busch won a close one.

GREEN FLAGS.... RCR is back, baby! Kevin Harvick (2), Jeff Burton (3), and Clint Bowyer (8) had their Childress Chevys in the mix all afternoon. Scott Speed led three laps, as he prayed for a red flag, and finished 11th. Sam Hornish (16), Paul Menard (18), and Regan Smith (19) all finished on the lead lap.

YELLOW FLAGS.... Joey Logano finished 5th, but he wrecked himself in the NNS race on Saturday. He came close to wrecking himself a couple of times on Sunday as well when he was 'racing' Greg Biffle. This looks like the next big feud in NASCAR.

RED FLAG.....Two races a year in Fontana? Seriously? While the racing was much better than usual, that many empty seats for the season's second race can't look good. Face it, NASCAR, the peeps in L.A. are way too cool for your 43 cars, each turning left 500 times on a Sunday afternoon. Hell, they've already buried two NASCAR tracks in SoCal. What's one more?

BLACK FLAG.... Junior Nation's high hopes. After Dale Jr's second place finish in the Daytona 500, his millions of fans were proclaiming this to be his year. It took just seven days for his year to turn into the same old, same old. Take a look at some of the drivers who finished on the lead lap Sunday in Cali. Menard, Speed, Bliss, etc. Mike Bliss?! If Jr didn't break his axle, he still would have finished behind all those drivers because he couldn't stay on the lead lap even before he broke the car. So, Nation, how about holding it down, the rest of us are trying to watch what's going on up front.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

All TV Sports Free on This Site

I discovered this site last year when the NFL games were on the NFL Network, which Comcast in Charleston doesn't carry. They have all kinds of sports from around the world. Football, Soccer, Cricket, Basketball, even Darts! They also show regular TV programing and premium cable channel movies.

Today they have all practices and NNS qualifying from Fontana on their schedule. Don't see the NNS race listed, but if it's on an ESPN network it should be televised on this site.

No, it's not hi-def, but, full screen on your computer, it doesn't look too bad, and they use the network feed, so you hear the same announcers. Check it out....


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Right Sides Only

After a splendid season opener, that even a crazy crater couldn't ruin, the boys go West. Is there anyone out there that's fonda Fontana? Why does NASCAR schedule it's most boring race track for the second week of their season? Afraid they might build too much momentum?

New Rules

It is so hard to believe that after years of denial, NASCAR listened to their remaining fan(s) and actually changed some rules to make the racing more exciting. They cashed in immediately, as the unlimited bump drafting in Daytona certainly made for better racing. But, the biggie was the do-overs for the green-white-checker restarts. I slam NASCAR all the time. Mostly for being lazy, and not brilliant (them, not me damnit). So, I will admit, it looks like they got this one right.

Blue Streak

Does winning the Daytona 500 make a driver's year? The latest winner, Jamie McMurray might want to hope so. Kevin Harvick won the 500 in 2007, and hasn't won a Cup race since. Ryan Newman won the Great American Race in 2008, he hasn't won since. Matt Kenseth won it last year, but he did manage to win one more race (the next week in California). That's a lot of losing after winning the big one.

Good Riddance to the Rodent?

Not that I was looking for him, but I don't recall seeing Digger during Fox's broadcast of last week's Daytona 500. I'm just glad that we didn't have to go to Congress to remove him from our children's eyes... ala Joe Camel.

Won't Make it Two Straight

Also missing during the Daytona 500 was NASCAR's reset, the caution for debris. Fontana, coming up this Sunday, better have two or three. Did I mention that this is NASCAR's most boring race track?


You may have heard, Danica Patrick was in preliminary races at Daytona for the last two Saturdays. The ARCA race on February 6 drew the highest ratings ever for that series. Then the NNS had their best ratings ever the following week as Danica piled into a non-moving wreck and finished 35th. The 1979 Daytona 500 was the first one ever televised in it's entirety. We've all seen the Cale Yarborough/Donnie Allison slam bang finish. The ratings were off the hook. We have also heard about the East Coast blizzard that had everyone indoors watching that race. Guess what the weather was like on both of the past two Saturdays? I'm not saying that she didn't drive the ratings, I'm just saying...

Baby It's You

A lot is being made about Jeff Gordon allegedly losing the drive to be the best after having a baby. Now, some misguided fans are saying that Jimmie Johnson, who's wife is due this summer, will lose his edge too. Why would anyone even think having a kid would squelch the fire? Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt won 14 titles after having children. Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett, and the Labontes were all proud Papas when they won Cup championships. It is insulting that people think that a person, male or female, can't do their job once they become a parent.

Sure Thing

Carl Edwards

Dark Horse

Brian Vickers

February 18, 2001

I was in Daytona that fateful day, nine years ago. Sitting along the front stretch, watching the drama unfold as the afternoon went on. That year's Daytona 500 was a great race with 14 different lap leaders. This was also Dodge's first race back in the Cup series in quite awhile.

The Dodge boys were strong that day as Bill Elliott started from the pole, Ward Burton led the most laps, and Sterling Marlin looked to have the car to beat for most of the day.

The 'big one' came on lap 174 that year. I wouldn't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure that it was Robby Gordon that turned Tony Stewart on the back stretch. Stewart went sailing through the air, directly over his JGR teammate, Bobby Labonte's, car. Probably the most cars I've ever seen wreck in person. The race box score lists 19 cars involved in that melee.

When the green flag flew on lap 180, Dale Earnhardt Jr was leading, and the fans were in for a 20 lap shootout. Marlin took the lead for a lap, then Dale Sr powered to the front, for one lap, on lap 183. Mike Waltrip got by Sr on the very next lap, and never was headed off. Winning the race on lap 200, as all hell broke loose in NASCAR's world behind him.

With his two, self-owned, DEI cars running first and second, Dale Sr was determined to hold off the pack of hungry drivers nipping at their wheels. Earnhardt was the master at Daytona, but he was mortal after all. He tried to block two different lines of cars going into turn three. First, he pulled low to stall out Marlin. Sr's car was a little loose after that, but he still went high to block Ken Schrader.

He didn't quite pull it off, as his car was out of control, and heading straight for the wall as Schrader's car also hit him. At this time Waltrip and Jr were crossing the finish line, still one, two. I doubt anyone in attendance then, would have suspected that Sr was even hurt, let alone much worse.

I know I didn't, as I was giving Sr and his fans a few choice words about him wrecking Schrader. Looking back, I'm embarassed to admit I did that, but no one knew his condition at that time.

A few hours later, driving up I-95, through the dark woods of Georgia, we heard the announcement on the radio..."We've lost Dale Earnhardt." My head was spinning. How? Why?

We were stunned. I called my brother, a big Dale fan, he was crying when he answered the phone. There wasn't much to say, he just relayed to us what was happening on TV.

We spent the rest of the trip home holding back tears, and sharing Dale Sr stories. How he amazed us. How he enraged us.

Dale Earnhardt Sr.....The Best Driver I ever saw!

First posted 2-18-09 at Foxsports.

Monday, February 15, 2010

View From The Flagstand

Did NASCAR finally get something right? All the races during Speed Weeks at Daytona were entertaining and exciting. Sure, the track was all jacked up from a giant, recurring, pot hole during the Daytona 500, but the action was unbelievable. We saw 52 lead changes between 21 drivers over the 208 laps of hard racing. It was a fantastic way to start the season, and leave the fans craving for more. Of course, the excitement will be short lived, as Fontana is next on the schedule. Not brilliant, NASCAR.

CHECKERED FLAG......Jamie McMurray has now won the last two restrictor plate races after nailing the Daytona 500 on Sunday. It was sweet vindication for J Mac after he was dumped by RFR last season. After finally getting sponsor approval, he returned to his first Cup team owner, Chip Ganassi. Since McMurray's original stint, Ganassi has merged and morphed his team into Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. So, this is how to get the Earnhardt name back in Victory Lane?

GREEN FLAGS.......Dale Earnhardt Jr charged to his best finish in years as he trailed McMurray across the finish line in second place. MWR drivers David Reutimann (5) and Martin Truex Jr (6) showed the boss how it was done. Clint Bowyer (4), Kevin Harvick (7), and Jeff Burton (11) had RCR in the mix all day. RFR's Greg Biffle (3), Matt Kenseth (8), and Carl Edwards (9) had their Fords up front all race long.

YELLOW FLAGS......Super team, HMS, had one car in the top 10. Jeff Gordon was 26th and Jimmie Johnson was 35th. Brad Keselowski brought out the first caution of 2010. It won't be his last.

RED FLAG.....A pot hole? NASCAR's season opener, and biggest event, was delayed twice for over an hour due to a pot hole in the racing groove. Lots of fans are blaming NASCAR, which owns the track. I have to defend them by saying, this was a fluke. There was really no maintenance or inspection which would have prevented this occurrence. Unseasonably frigid temps this winter, and heavy rains two days before the 500, led up to the break up. I mean, how many winters has it actually snowed in Daytona, Al Gore? This year, twice.

BLACK FLAG......Every single announcer on ESPN and SPEED TV this weekend. I know you think that Danica will raise the ratings and get you more money, but DO NOT even pretend that she has the slightest clue of how to drive a stock car. I can see self promoters like DW and Rusty Wallace trying to sell us on her skills, but Dale Jarrett, Mike Joy, and the rest should know better. Don't pee on my shoes and tell me it's raining.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Right Sides Only

And so it begins. The NASCAR season roars into the new year and rumbles along the asphalt high banks of the World Center of Speed.

Season Opener

No one drags out a season opener like the crew in Daytona does. NASCAR parcels out a handful of races over a two week period from the end of January until the middle of February. Speed Weeks is the official end of winter for a race fan. The days are getting longer, and the sun is much warmer in Daytona than you would expect. Hold off on that last one, going to be in the 30s at night down there this weekend.

Buyer's Market

NASCAR has finally determined that the economy may be affecting the live attendance at their events, but being broke should not keep fans away from their TV sets. So, the powers that be have brainstormed a bunch of new rules to enhance the competition. Some of the new twists are promising, and I bet that we will see more changes during the year if the ratings stay down. NASCAR has never minded changing rules as they go along.

New Blood

Where are the next generation of drivers coming from? So far this year there are two drivers signed on as Rookie of the Year candidates. Terry Cook and Kevin Conway. Both are with underfunded teams and neither will be in the Daytona 500. I'll also predict neither one is around when the series returns to Daytona in July.

Must See

Two new TV series this off season have stoked interest in auto racing. 'Madhouse' is a recap of last year's wild modified series at Bowman-Gray Stadium. By far, the best racing show ever. The other show is not bad either. 'Jimmie Johnson 24/7' on HBO follows JJ and Chad Knaus for the month leading up to the Daytona 500. This show gave a great behind the scenes look at the champ and his team.

Must See?

Fox TV airs the first half of the season, and just like Groundhog Day, nothing's changed. After wincing through their Bud Shootout coverage last week, I can see that they think the way to deal with falling ratings is to play the same cards over and over. Is no one else insulted that they think so little of the NASCAR audience that they foist the same fourth rate announcers and directors off on us year after year? One bright spot.... Digger was mighty scarce during the Shootout.

She's Sparkly

You may have heard, Danica Patrick was in the ARCA race last weekend. Much like her Indy starts, she led no laps, and finished sixth, in one of the best cars. She now will appear in the NNS race on Saturday. She is not ready for that level of competition, on that track, right now. But, there is no such thing as bad publicity. What are a few broken bones and torn up race cars anyway?

The Sure Thing

Daytona 500 winner.........Tony Stewart

Dark Horse.........................Matt Kenseth

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dateline: Daytona

Here we are smack dab in the middle of Speed Weeks. I have a few thoughts on what's cracking down the shore, in Daytona.

Shootout Shoutout

Greg Biffle admitted after the Bud Shootout that he knew his tire was flat before the final restart Saturday night. Why did he stay out then? He was on the outside of the front row! Caused the big one, and had to have known that he could not win the race. A NON-POINTS race, Biff!

Several drivers, fans, and TV Foxheads were confused about the ending of the Shootout. They seemed to think that the race couldn't end under caution.... like last year's rules stated. This year's entry form specified that there would be only one attempt at a green, white, checkered finish. It seemed as if the Foxheads also thought that the last caution laps would not count either.

Dale Jr and team have been preparing since about July of last year. For that?

More than a few pundits seem to think that the other Hendrick Motorsports drivers didn't look too good in the Shootout either. I could have sworn that Jeff Gordon came from the back to the front a couple of times. And, JimmieJohnson was in the top-5 a lot of laps. Tony Stewart's HMS Chevy was the car to beat until that brain fade of a pit call at the end. Four tires? Restart 16th with two to go? Not brilliant.

But is he Qualified?

Mark Martin on the pole and Little E alongside. There goes Jr, getting his fans' expectations off to a quick start. It's almost cruel.


Six women raced in the ARCA event on Saturday. Your welcome. I know you didn't know that if you watched the SPEED TV coverage of the race.

I'll give Danica a little credit. After all she did finish 6th with the best car in the race. I'm sure there are other drivers who would not have had that good of a finish, or maybe even wrecked that car. She still has a lot to learn, and the NNS race Saturday at Daytona is not the place to continue her education. Unlike ARCA, these drivers will be experienced, fast, and talented. She will only be in the way of drivers that deserve to be in that race.