After last week's wild and wooly finish in the All-Star race, we're looking forward to twice as much action in the Coke 600. Yes, twice as much, or about 20 laps. From daylight until dark that race stretches longer than any on the schedule. The running order tends to stretch out also, as many drivers just try to hang on until the end.
Head Coach, or Referee?
Kyle Busch wrecked in the All-Star event last week, and blamed, JGR teammate, Denny Hamlin for it. Busch drove to Hamlin's car carrier, stormed inside, and waited for Hamlin. Team owner, and former NFL head coach, Joe Gibbs came in to calm Busch down. When Hamlin was finally allowed in his hauler Gibbs had cued up their incident on the TV monitor. Afterwards Hamlin said all the right things, while Busch said nothing after sneaking out the side door. This is not over.
Salute From HMS
In honor of our service people all four HMS cars will carry special patriotic paint schemes featuring different organizations. Dale Earnhardt Jr's #88 sports an "Honoring Our Soldiers" lay out. Jimmie Johnson and his #48 supports the USO. Mark Martin is partnered up with "The Chilkdren of fallen soldiers Relief Fund".
Harvick Happy at RCR
Kevin Harvick signed a "multi-year" contract extension with RCR last week. A new sponsor to replace outgoing Shell-Pennzoil was not named however. It stands to reason that Harvick would not have re-signed at this time unless a new sponsor (Budweiser, UPS?) was on the hook.
Other cars carrying patriotic paint jobs at Charlotte include, the #19 Air Force Ford of Elliott Sadler. The Camo/Bud/ USO Ford with Kasey Kahne, and David Reutimann's Armed Forces Foundation #00.
Saturday's Nationwide race will start at 2:30 in the afternoon instead of at night as it's been doing for several years. Supposedly due to 'fan requests'. Here's how I see that played out...Question one, "Would you be more, or less, likely to buy tickets to our NW race if it started in the afternoon?"
Kasey Kahne won the All-Star event and the 600 in 2008.
There is also some kind of open wheel race going on up in Indy this weekend. You haven't heard much about it because, apparently, the fans are upset with Princess Danica. Can't imagine why, as shes acting the exact same as she always has. Spoiled, entitled, etc.
To all of our servicemen, and women, past, and present, who have defended our rights to do things like writing snarky blogs. Thank you!
Monday, May 24, 2010
This week's View from All-Star night in Charlotte was three quarters cruise, and one quarter bruise. The All-Star event's ever changing format makes no difference, it still comes down to those last ten, money laps.
The Bruised Deuce of Kurt Busch may have looked like it was ready for the recycling bin, but late Saturday night they were both in Victory Lane. Busch won the first, 50 lap, format, scraped the wall a couple of times in the next two segments, then charged to the front when the opportunity presented itself.
Martin Truex Jr won the transfer race, and dodged enough spinning cars to finish second in the main event. JGR had some fast race cars all night, Joey Logano was third and Denny Hamlin was fourth. Special shoutout to Bobby Labonte who was 10th of the 13 cars running at the end.
Jimmie Johnson looked to have the car to beat until he spun late in the race after Denny Hamlin pinched his car off down low coming off turn four. Hamlin also blocked teammate, Kyle Busch, earlier when Busch had a run to the outside, resulting in Busch hitting the wall instead of Hamlin. Two more drivers, along with Keselowski and Bowyer, for the Hampster to give a wide berth to in the foreseeable future. Joe may need to hire additional spotters for Denny's next few races.
The current All-Star race format. We all know that it's all about the last ten laps. All the money, all the racing, all the wrecks! But, do we need three, boring, follow the leader segments to get there? Fifty laps for the first leg? Way too long.
How about a 25 lap first segment. Yellow comes out, pitting is optional. Second leg, 20 laps, starting order will be finishing order of first leg. Ten minute break for car adjustments. Then the 10 lap finale. Oh, did I mention that the first two legs pay $250,000 to win!
I'm glad I'm not one of those folks who thought there was a 'new' Kyle Busch out there. I'm also glad that he still has that fire and will to win. When he loses that, he will be a loser. However, Busch's actions after wrecking himself Saturday night were outlandish even by his standards. How can he blame someone for wrecking him, and they never touched? Not even close! Busch went into the turn too hard, Hamlin came up, Busch had two choices... hit Hamlin, or hit the wall. Sure bet: Denny will give Kyle half an acre of room for the next three or four months.
Busch parking at, and storming into, Hamlin's hauler was way over the line. Would he do that to a non-teammate? Only if he wanted his ass kicked by one of their crewmen. Instead of getting him out of there, Joe Gibbs waited with him. Would anyone else's boss do that? Kyle knows he's too talented for Gibbs to discipline him..... maybe it's time for Gibbs to prove him wrong?
Monday, May 17, 2010
The View from Dover was a Deja View, as Kyle Busch won both the NNS and Cup races over the weekend. With two weekend sweeps in a row, JGR seems to be the chosen team to rise up and face off with HMS's Jimmie Johnson for series supremacy. Hey, we're almost halfway through the regular season, the hype starts.... now!
Kyle Busch came within a questionable late race yellow in Friday's Truck race of winning all three races at Dover on successive days. He won the pole and dominated that race before mechanical issues foiled him again. He won the NNS pole and race on Saturday as he had his way with the competition. In Sunday's Cup race, his car got better as the race went on, setting up a late race throwdown with Jimmie Johnson. That wasn't to be as JJ had a pit road penalty allowing the Rowdy one to sail to an uncontested victory.
Jeff Burton (2), Matt Kenseth (3), Denny Hamlin (4), and David Reutimann (5) rounded out the top-five. Martin Truex won the pole, and came in 12th. The last minute sub for Brian Vickers, Casey Mears, was 22nd, and kept the car in one piece.
Sam Hornish and Marcos Ambrose had very tiring days. They both had multiple blowouts and visits into the retaining walls. Dale Earnhardt Jr finished 10 laps down....is it really finishing when you're ten laps down?
Darrell Waltrip gushing over Kyle Busch. Is he comparing Busch to Dale Earnhardt Sr because he knows Fox will be swamped with emails which will prove to them how controversial, and needed, ol' D Dub is? Or, is Fox making him say it because they're trying to build a must watch star? Either way it's jacked up!
Jimmie Johnson dominated the first three quarters of the race, only to see his chance at victory disappear due to his speeding penalty on the last pit stop of the race. There is no one to blame but himself on that one. Busch's pit crew had their usual fast stop, and JJ came out of his pit just a front bumper behind the M&Ms Toyota. The Champ fudged it just a goose feather too much and was busted by the pit road police. Props to Johnson for not whining, or swearing on his kids' lives, that he wasn't speeding. He owned it like a man.
It has now been one year since Dale Earnhardt Jr got that new crew chief who was going to turn the HMS 88 team around. The results have been pitiful. With Lance McGrew, Jr has two top-5 finishes in the past year. He led 50 laps with McGrew last year and 58 this year. That's total, Nation.
Is it time to face the fact that Little E is not a Chase caliber driver? That maybe he isn't one of the twelve best drivers out there? Hell, is he one of the 20 best anymore? I know his millions of fans will disagree, but drivers such as David Reutimann, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano all have won a Cup race (in inferior, to HMS, equipment) since Jr last did.
The excuses started over five years ago when Dale Jr still drove for DEI. At that point, it was somehow team owner, and Jr's stepmother, Theresa Earnhardt's fault that he couldn't win. Yes, all her fault... despite the fact that she has nothing to do with the day to day operations of the team. Her total involvement is having a check direct deposited regularly for her.
DEI switched teams and crew chiefs around a few times in attempt to help Jr. Didn't work. Which led to Junior buying his way out of DEI, and going to super power, HMS. The number one team in NASCAR. HMS also brought in Jr's hand picked crew chief, Tony Eury Jr.
Now in his third season at HMS Jr has one win, and a handful of top-10s. We all know how well his three HMS teammates are doing. Some fans like to believe that HMS is giving him inferior cars, or using his team for R&D purposes.
Hmmm, the most popular driver in the world being set up to fail? He is HMS's top souvenir seller, and cash cow. Wouldn't he sell even more t-shirts if he were winning? I would say that instead of inferior equipment, he is being supplied with HMS's best pieces.
Dale Jr is a very likable guy and has won races in the past, and maybe he will again. I just don't think he'll win a lot at Hendrick. He's a follower, not a leader. He needs to go to a team where he is the number one guy. There just aren't many teams where he would be the top dog. Maybe Mike Waltrip's?
The best scenario for him would be to drive for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. Even though Theresa has nothing to do with that team, I think he would try harder and feel he had to prove something. I submit that when he drove for DEI, he had a chip on his shoulder, and wanted to prove that he was an Earnhardt.
It's time for the prodigal son to go back home.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
This weekend the pros are back in Dover with a NASCAR tripleheader. All three national series will have at it on the concrete banking. The Monster Mile will quickly rear it's ugly head at the young and careless. Recently it seems that we always have a small wreck that, thanks to the narrow track, turns into the big one.
Too Much Red Bull?
Brian Vickers has been hospitalized with an undisclosed illness and is reportedly undergoing testing at this time. Casey Mears has been tapped to drive the #83 Red Bull Toyota for Vickers this Sunday in Dover. Vickers has been a great spokesman for the sport, even if you don't agree with him, you have to respect him. Here's hoping that this is nothing serious, and that he's back in the pits soon.
Hall of Fame
NASCAR's official Hall of Fame opened earlier this week in Charlotte. The inaugural class of Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Bill France Sr, and Bill France Jr will be inducted on May 23. The HOF is expecting 800,000 visitors this year. Maybe.... if the same math is used that counts attendance at Fontana.
Kevin Harvick just won a big one at Talladega, and he's sitting atop the point's standings. Running up front heals all wounds apparently, as Richard Childress says that he expects Harvick to resign with RCR by the end of May. Childress also says, that with Shell-Pennzoil leaving,they are talking to plenty of potential sponsors for Harvick's #29 Chevy.
This Space For Rent
Also looking for new sponsors is the #14 of Tony Stewart at SHR. Old Spice is gone after this season, leaving Office Depot and Burger King on board for about half the races next year. SHR is already scrambling to find full sponsorship for Ryan Newman's #39 Chevy this year.
File under: Bad News....Jimmie Johnson won both races at Dover last year.
Kyle Petty and Ken Schrader both had their last career win at Dover. Back in 90s!
Richard Petty will be the Grand Marshall, and AJ Allmendinger's #43 will sport a retro paint scheme in honor of the King's induction into the HOF.
Go ahead and hit the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino overlooking the track on Saturday. Bet the rent money on Super Saver in the Preakness in neighboring Maryland.
Three current drivers, all past champions, had their first Cup start at Dover. Guess who!
Monday, May 10, 2010
Denny Does Darlington....twice. Denny Hamlin looks to be a legitimate contender to Jimmie Johnson's title reign, as the Hampster doubled up at Darlington last weekend. Hamlin tamed the track too tough to tame on successive nights in his JGR Toyotas.
Hamlin won the pole and the NNS race on Friday night, then covered the field the next night in the Cup event. Just a month after knee surgery, Hamlin has surged upward in the points standings, and seems to have his swag on for the Race to the Chase.
Jamie McMurray was 3rd on Friday, and 2nd on Saturday after starting P-1. J Mac led 71 laps and was never out of the top-10. Jeff Gordon once again led over 100 laps without winning, as he rode to a 4th place finish. After starting dead last, in a backup car, Kyle Busch went to 1st a little past halfway before settling for 7th. Jeff Burton was solid all night until a late race penalty left him to finish 8th.
Jimmie Johnson suffered his third DNF of the season. Over the last four seasons, all championships, JJ had seven DNFs total. Martin Truex Jr was involved in some questionable driving tactics all night long. He somehow managed to hang around the top-10 most of the race before finishing 19th, the first car one lap down.
Former series champion, Bobby Labonte did not look good out there Saturday night. He was involved in at least three caution flags. Everybody likes Labonte, but it hurts to watch a champion playing out the string like this.
I love to learn about the history of NASCAR's legacy tracks....but, if I hear the words 'minnow pond' one more time I'll blow a head gasket. We've all heard the story of why Darlington has the weird egg shape....100 times! Did we really need to hear it again ten more times on Saturday?
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Is there any other track in NASCAR that screams, "Old School", like Darlington does? This track was scraped from the sandy cotton fields of northeastern South Carolina about 60 years ago. It was built on a tilt, and it's still that quirky, egg-shaped oval of asphalt. This Saturday night they'll race there, and it will be called the Southern 500....but the longtime fans know that the Southern 500 can really only be held on Labor Day weekend.
Make it Stop
Jimmie Johnson was named the first quarter Driver of the Year for 2010 by a group of motorsports journalists. Open wheeler, Will Power was second. John Force and Denny Hamlin tied for third.
Help is on the Way
Maybe Denny Hamlin or Kyle Busch will stand up to seriously challenge Johnson for his Sprint Cup title this year. Hamlin and Busch have scored the most points over the last five races, and won three of them. Hamlin's sponsor, Fed Ex, announced that it was not sponsoring the Orange Bowl game anymore. They have assured JGR that they will stay on Hamlin's #11 Toyota even though their contract is up this year.
Doublemint Gum makes it's debut on the #18 of Kyle Busch this week at Darlington.
The four hosts of Showtime's Inside NASCAR will serve as Grand Marshalls for the Showtime Southern 500. With two of the four being Mike Waltrip and Chris Meyers, Showtime should not be expecting a flood of new subscribers from this brilliant stunt.
Ricky Craven won NASCAR's closest race in 2003, when he beat Kurt Busch by 0.002 seconds at Darlington.
Jeff Gordon's Chevy will feature the National Guard Facebook page on the hood this week. Click the like button.
NNS rookie, James Buescher will have his #1 car wrapped in an Andre Bauer for SC Governor theme during Friday night's race at Darlington. Bauer is the Lt Gov now, and has been stopped numerous times for speeding, at speeds over 100 mph.... on public roads, not the track. He should already have the coveted NASCAR vote locked up.
Happy Mother's Day!
A big thanks to all the wonderful women who love us unconditionally!
Stewie: Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Momma! Momma! Momma! Momma! Momma! Ma! Ma! Ma! Ma! Ma! Ma! Mom! Mom! Mom!
Stewie: ...Hi! [runs out of room] Teeheeheeheehee
Monday, May 3, 2010
This week's view looks back at Richmond's 400 lapper from Saturday night. 375 uneventful laps, followed by the standard two or three cautions in the last 25 laps. Was I the only one shocked that there wasn't a Green, White, Checkered finish?
With all the moaning and groaning over Jeff Gordon coming up just short of victory this season, Kyle Busch's near misses were somehow overlooked. Kyle finally made a dominating performance pay off with his first Cup win this year. Busch's Richmond weekend: Two races, two poles, one win, and a fourth place run in the NNS.
Jeff Gordon finished second for the eighth time since his last win. Kevin Harvick backed up last week's win with a strong third place run. Carl Edwards (5th) led two laps.... his first laps led all year! Kudos to Martin Truex (7th) and Marcos Ambrose (9th) for battling adversity in route to solid top-10 finishes.
Joey Logano seemed to think that he's paid enough dues, and that he's salty enough to run people over. Logano already has Greg Biffle cuffing him around every chance he gets, he certainly doesn't need to make more enemies as we head into Darlington, Dover, and Charlotte.
Dale Earnhardt Jr's career at HMS? After another woeful outing Saturday night, would anyone be surprised if he leaves on the first thing smoking, just to get a fresh start? If he fails to make the Chase again this year will he even stick around to ride out those last ten races?
About two hours before the race even started the analysts on Speed TV were yacking about the inevitable 'overtime' period for the race that night. Then, all through the Fox broadcast, those analysts kept spouting the same story....GWC...GWC....on and on. Yes, it does make the races more exciting with the new multiple attempts at a GWC, but they were virtually guaranteeing one before and during the race. How legit would the NFL or MLB seem if their Fox analysts 'guaranteed' overtime or extra innings every game?