Tuesday, March 30, 2010

View From The Flagstand

Another watery view this weekend from Martinsville. The race was finally completed on Monday after being postponed on Sunday. It was well worth the wait, with plenty of hard short track racing action.


Virginian, Denny Hamlin won for the third time at the half miler in Martinsville, Virginia. Hamlin also led the most laps, and was dominate during the second half of the race. The #11 Toyota was leading when a caution came out with 8 laps to go. After getting four tires, Hamlin restarted 9th with just 4 laps to go. His JGR teammate Kyle Busch, who was in 2nd before that last caution, tried to make it three wide on a two wide track. Result: the final caution and a GWC finish which allowed Hamlin the extra laps he needed to wrest the win away from sore loser, Jeff Gordon.


Somehow, Joey Logano, another JGR teammate with Hamlin, wound up 2nd. Ryan Newman (4th), Martin Truex Jr (5th), and Brian Vickers (6th) all had much needed good finishes. Jeff Burton led 140 laps and was in 2nd when a flat tire with 20 laps to go ruined his good time.


Paul Menard wrecked a few people and somehow finished on the lead lap in 14th. He's still in the top-12 in points after 6 races. Has he finally decided he's tired of getting pushed around, and he's pushing back? There were also some tire problems at Martinsville, but these were just normal failures at the tight double horseshoe.


I was thrilled when Dave Rodgers replaced Steve Addington as Kyle Busch's crew chief this season. I guess I misjudged Addington's quiet, smiling, happy-go-lucky demeanor as weakness, and was glad to see the hyper, Rodgers come in. So, what happened? Addington's new team (#2 Penske Dodge) is 6th in points, and has a win and 3 top-10s in 6 races. Rodgers has led the #18 to one top-10 in 6 races, and has made terrible pit calls.... including pitting Monday when there were only 4 laps left on a half mile track!


The Fox weather guy. I don't know his name, but I've already seen WAY too much of that piece of work this year.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Right Sides Only

Springtime in the foothills of southern Virginia means the Azaleas are blooming, the cars are zooming, and tempers will soon be fuming. And, all of it will be happening at the flat, half-mile paperclip in Martinsville. So, step back in time and enjoy the action and a world famous Martinsville hotdog.

Oh no, not Again

Jimmie Johnson has 15 straight top-10 finishes at Martinsville, including six wins! JJ has already won three of the first five races this year. While none of these wins have been runaways, nobody likes to see the same robot win over and over.

Spoiled Rotten

Forty Sprint Cup teams participated in a two day test at Charlotte Motor Speedway earlier this week. This was the final shakedown for the transition from rear wings to rear spoilers which begins this Sunday. Many of the drivers said that there wasn't that much difference in the speeds or the handling between the wings and the spoilers. Juan Montoya ran virtually the same speeds with the wing and the spoiler on the same car.

All Green, no Checkers

For the second straight year Dale Earnhardt Jr made the most bank among NASCAR drivers. According to Forbes.com Junebug made $30 million last year including salary, endorsements, licensing income, and track purses. Thirty million! Not bad for zero wins and a 25th place points run. Jeff Gordon was next at $27 million. The champ, JJ was third on the list at 23 mil.

Hot Dog

Martinsville Speedway was built in 1947, two years before NASCAR cranked up. The first World Famous Martinsville Hot Dog probably dates back that far also. For $2 you get a Jesse Jones frank with slaw (not coleslaw, just slaw), onions, and chili. If you've never seen a Jesse Jones frank, be warned, they are RED! FDA #1 food dye RED! I much preferred the dipped in batter, then deep fried, corn dogs at the old Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway.


Monday, March 22, 2010

View From The Flagstand

This week's View saw some great racing at NASCAR's greatest track. Bristol is back, baby! After two or three years of somewhat boring, follow the leader, pace for the Chase, type racing, the boys brought the noise to the venerable half-mile track.


For the third time in the first five races this year, Jimmie Johnson wheeled home a winner. There is really nothing left to say about this team. They are, that, damn, good! The only way to beat them may involve Kryptonite.

I have to include, first time NNS winner, Justin Algaier in this category. In fact, Penske Racing was en fuego at Bristol. Algaier and Brad Keselowski were first and second in the NNS race, while Kurt Busch led the most laps in the Cup race and finished third. The Situation also led 26 laps and was 13th on Sunday.


Tony Stewart waved JJ by for the win, then held Busch up long enough to finish second. Dale Earnhardt Jr got his fans overexcited by racing into the top-10, speeding on pit road (I thought he had a speedometer now?), and earning his 7th place finish. Jamie McMurray was 8th, and Martin Truex Jr dodged enough wrecks to end up 12th.


Greg Biffle caused the Big One as he tried to connect his radio. Buckle up, eyes straight ahead, hands at ten and two, check your mirrors, and pull over to tune your radio! Back to Driver's Ed for you, Biff.

Kevin Harvick dumped Joey Logano on the last lap of the NNS race, and gained a position. NASCAR used to frown on that, not anymore, I guess. Logano gave Harvick the outside lane for over 20 laps. Harvick couldn't pass him cleanly, so he wrecked the kid. Then Harvick gave some lame ass excuse on TV. We know, that he knew, that NASCAR wouldn't punish him after the Carl Edwards' stunt at Atlanta.


The oldtimers race on Saturday, in which two drivers went to the hospital. I grew up watching and worshiping these guys on Sunday afternoons. It's bad enough that Rick Wilson and Phil Parsons were even in a "Legends" race, let alone that they finished one, two!

The real crime was turning these 70-something year olds loose in cars that are not up to NASCAR's safety standards. These drivers were allowed to race at 120 MPH without full face helmets, without proper fire resistant protection, and without HANS devices! Un-friggin-believable! This should be the end of this nonsense.


For the second race in a row, Goodyear tires were not up to big league standards. Last time out, at Atlanta, one team, in particular, seemed to have brought on the majority of the tire problems by disregarding Goodyear's recommendations.

Bristol appeared to be more Goodyear's fault. There were several blowouts during the race, but problems began on Friday. The tires beaded up during practice, instead of adhering to the racing groove. They have brought tires in the past that did this same thing at various tracks. Shouldn't you throw that batch design away after the first time? When I heard that these were the same tires that they used in Indy, I asked myself, "Are these the rest of those 10 lap tires from two years ago?"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Right Sides Only

Welcome to all you millions of new NASCAR fans. We know you are all tuning in after seeing that one driver flip that other driver's car through the air. And then, we just flipped the script and gave the bad guy a 'warning'. So, after viewing the wreck scores of times on Sports Center, welcome to Extreme Auto X, live from Bristol!

Yes, the boys in marketing have come up with another brilliant idea to improve NASCAR's flat TV ratings. We're going after that WWE, X Games, Grand Theft Auto, unemployed, audience. This is a can't miss, a home run. After all, these are the same geniuses that came up with Digger.

Not so Hot Wings

Good riddance. This week will be the end of the rear wing. For reasons unknown (boys in marketing) NASCAR bolted a wing on the trunk lid of the COT when it debuted a few years back. The drivers and fans never accepted the European look on our red-blooded stock cars. Finally, NASCAR listened to the fans ($), clipped the wings, and went back to the all-American spoiler on the rear deck.

Thunder and Lightning

This one's for all the haters. Kurt and Kyle, the Busch brothers, have combined to win eight of the past 16 races at Thunder Valley. Kurt just won at Atlanta two weeks ago. Kyle won here at BMS, three years ago in the COT--- with rear wing--- debut. And....this is the wing's final race.

Bouncing Off the Walls

Bristol Motor Speedway has added SAFER barriers exiting turns 2 and 4. The new soft walls have removed 3 feet from the already tight track. After resurfacing the track in 2007, cars were able to race side by side around the high banked half miler. Since the drivers usually exited turns 2 and 4 right up against the old wall, it should be exciting to see how losing that real estate will effect the racing. Will it revert back to a single groove, move or be moved, circuit? Or, will there still be room for two wide racing?

Talladega Test

Earlier this week 24 drivers tested various aerodynamic and restrictor plate combinations for NASCAR in preparation for next month's Aaron's 499 at Talladega. Speeds climbed way above 200 MPH before NASCAR adjusted the spoilers, fender skirting, and plates to get the speeds down in the mid-190 MPH range. Dale Earnhardt Jr claimed to have hit 213 down the superstretch. So, now Jr has a speedometer to avoid all those pesky speeding tickets on pit road?


Monday, March 8, 2010

View From The Flagstand

This week we had an unobstructed view of Carl Edwards cutting to the right as he turned into Brad Keselowski right below the flagstand. Which led to The Kes getting airborne on the frontstretch at Atlanta. This, after neither requesting, nor receiving permission for a flyby. That's a negative, Ghostrider.


The Blue Deuce is back, baby! Kurt Busch won this race for the second year in a row. Thanks to Edwards' selfish behavior, Busch had to drive an extra 16 laps beyond the scheduled distance with the cautions and green, white, checkered finishes. I'm thinking that has to be some kind of record.


Kevin Harvick dominated the Truck series race on Saturday, then, somehow, on Sunday, lucked into a 9th place run. The RPM trio of Kasey Kahne (4th), Paul Menard (5th), and AJ Allmendinger (6th) had great finishes. Brian Vickers (7th) and Scott Speed (10) gave Red Bull Racing some wings. Juan Pablo Montoya stalked the leaders all day and came home 3rd.


Every one of the Hendrick (and associates) cars suffered from recurring tire problems all day long. Thanks to Edwards' jackassery we never learned after the race who was to blame... Goodyear, or the team's setups.


Plenty of empty seats at the track. Sure it was cold the night before, but the weather wasn't that bad on Sunday. Official estimates of attendance were 85,000. Other, non-biased guesses were closer to 65,000. Or, about the same figure that would be in Rockingham for a Cup race in March.


Carl Edwards! For starters, Keselowski did NOT cause the first wreck with him. BK held his line, Carl came down, and wrecked himself. They were entering turn one on a restart! He should know that The Kes doesn't back off for anyone.

So, after having over an hour to think it over, and check the replays, Carlsbad reenters the fray with one objective....take out The Kes! Keselowski is not just an innocent victim here, though. No doubt if he did not have a history of contact and controversy with Edwards (among dozens of others) there probably wouldn't have been any retaliation for the earlier incident.

I'm writing this before any sanctions are handed down, but I'll give a prediction on what Edwards' punishment will be. NASCAR stated a few weeks ago that they will let the drivers police themselves, so I don't see Edwards getting a huge penalty for the intentional wrecking of a competitor. However, when NASCAR ordered him to park his car during the caution, he drove across the infield grass, and went the wrong way down pit road. NASCAR frowns on that kind of insubordination.

I look for Edwards to be placed on probation for the rest of the year, and lose some points, and cash. No suspension, even though plenty of fans are overreacting and calling for one. Although, if Edwards had upended any other driver--- except for Kyle Busch --- NASCAR may have pulled the trigger on a one race suspension.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Right Sides Only

After two straight races at, relatively new, cookie cutter tracks, the boys are finally back on one of the Southern legacy tracks. Atlanta has been the scene of some great finishes over the last fifty years. It is now NASCAR's fastest track, and points racers don't just luck into wins here.

From Gas Pedal to Gold Medal

Past Daytona 500 winner, Geoff Bodine jumped in to help rescue the USA bobsled program back in 1992. He helped design a new sled, the Bo-Dyn Bobsled. He even used his NASCAR connections to get wind tunnel time for the designers. All the hard work finally paid off as the US men's team won the Olympic gold medal last week in Canada.

Bodine will attempt to make the Truck Series race this week in Atlanta while driving the #95 Bo-Dyn Bobsled entry. The truck will honor this year's bobsled medalists with their names incorporated into the paint scheme. A Bo-Dyn Bobsled is also on display at AMS.

Last Place Gets Even Worse

NASCAR has introduced a new rule in which the lowest finishing, non-wrecked car will be torn down and inspected after each race. They were tired of the start and park teams not spending money on tires, gas, and pit crews, while they took starting positions from other teams that wanted to race the entire event. Now, the start and parkers will have to wait each other out before parking. In some instances, I could see the race not to finish last outshining the race for first.

Nice Guy

Dale Earnhardt Jr donated one million dollars to the Victory Junction. Later this month the Pettys and Dale Jr will break ground on the Dale Jr Corral and Amphitheatre at the camp in Randleman, NC.

What Happens in Vegas

RCR driver, John Wes Townley was cited for underage alcohol possession last week in Las Vegas. The 20 year old Townley went on to record a career best finish of 15th in Saturday's NNS race. Alcohol? Career best? You're preaching to the choir, kid.


Greg Biffle's RFR #16 Ford will be sponsored by the US Census for the next three races. What is the deal with all the Census advertising we're seeing this year? I've been around for a few of them, but I don't remember this level of publicity for a census.

Down the Straightaway

Kurt Busch will make his NHRA debut next weekend at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, FL. Busch will be steering his own 1970 Dodge Chalenger in the Super Gas class. I can only think of one word....Why?

Sticky Pedals (Magnets?)

Toyota is undergoing a massive recall due to allegedly sticky accelerator mechanisms. Congress was quick to get in on the act. Making Toyota jump through hoops in some hastily called hearings. I'm sure all that bad pub for Toyota has nothing to do with them being in direct competition with the bailed out Chrysler and General Motors, or that Toyota uses non-union labor. This is what happens when the government takes over private businesses.... they unfairly gut the competition.

Monday, March 1, 2010

View From The Flagstand

Considering the neon, the thick smoke, the caution lights that would not stop blinking, the Vegas View was hard to bring into focus. The Western swing is over, and the boys are homeward bound. Atlanta, hear me calling.


Jimmie Johnson made it two in a row in Vegas. After stalking Jeff Gordon all day, JJ finally took the lead late, as Gordon took two tires while Johnson went with four. Kevin Harvick is leading the points, finished 2nd to JJ, and also won the NNS race on Saturday.


Matt Kenseth (5th) , Clint Bowyer (8th), and Greg Biffle (10th), along with Harvick, are the only drivers with top-10 finishes in all three races this year.


EGR drivers, Jamie McMurray and Juan Montoya had a run in, and ran into the wall. JPM fumed as J Mac took the blame. JGR teammates, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin are both being outran weekly by JGR sophomore, Joey Logano. Hamlin has yet to finish in the top-20.

RED FLAG......

Danicamania. At least for the next four months, anyway. Would someone tell NASCAR that the Indy Car Series (where Danica races full time) TV ratings are as low as Keith Olbermann's, and their live crowds are not too lively either.

The USA Today had this about Danica's stock car prowess... "...Patrick progressed in her third...start....surging from 37th....to run as high as third...". No mention that it was due to her being out of sync during green flag pit stops. The networks are just as bad, fawning all over someone who wouldn't give NASCAR the time of day unless it was making her some bank.


HMS. NASCAR better hurry up with some more new rule changes. We ended a boring season a few months ago with three HMS cars at the top, now, already, we are right back to the same old, same old.