It's Halloween, and NASCAR is dressing up. Can you name the five drivers below? They are all in the Chase.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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
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?
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?
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.
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
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.