Monday, March 28, 2011

View From The Flagstand

Auto Club Speedway proves, yet again, that it is the most boring racetrack in NASCAR. Cutting the race by 100 miles, and moving the date back a month did not help at all. After braving the cold, dark, damp, weather all weekend, the fans in attendance had to suffer through a 180 lap parade to get to the 20 lap shootout. Certainly not the best return on investment in NASCAR.


Kevin Harvick led one lap on Sunday, and it was the right one as he became the fifth different winner in the five races this year. Harvick made a daring pass on the high side coming through turn four to beat Jimmie Johnson to the finish line. Of Harvick's last five wins, three have come about through last lap passes for the lead.


Leading three quarters of the laps, in a backup car, was not enough as Kyle Busch coughed up the lead to Johnson with just three laps to go, and eventually ended up third. Busch won Saturday's NW race to run his string of NASCAR victories to four in a row. Matt Kenseth earned his second consecutive fourth place finish. Ryan Newman finished fifth for the third time this year. Three of the four RFR cars finished in the top 11, while all four RCR cars were in the top 16.


After just five races this year, all three of the Joe Gibbs Racing entries have experienced engine woes during at least one race. They have been very strong, but they better get a handle on this issue soon. Every point counts and Denny Hamlin now sits 21st in the standings after engine problems on Sunday. In the five races this season, JGR has had five engine malfunctions.


NASCAR's arbitrary judgement calls. There is a rule that a driver can not pass on a restart before he gets to the start/finish line. On Sunday Dale Earnhardt Jr missed a shift (or something that kept him from going) Joey Logano pulled around him.... instead of ramming his bumper. NASCAR penalized Logano with a drive through which regulated him to being the last car on the lead lap, late in the race. This judgement is as bad as when a car is forced below the line at a plate track... and is penalized.... for NOT causing the big one.


Jennifer Jo Cobb threw a fit last week at Bristol. Something about being a racer, not a start and parker. So, after somehow getting another ride in the NWS, what did she do on Saturday at ACS? She had an early spin, and got the free pass soon thereafter. Immediately after receiving the lucky dog, she parked her car. The official reason for her parking, after 38 laps, was "handling".

Sunday, March 20, 2011

View From The Flagstand

This season keeps cruising along, one great race after another. But... why were there tens of thousands of ass free seats at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend? Once known as the toughest ticket in NASCAR, Bristol had more empty seats on Sunday than this year's three previous Cup races did... combined!


Oh well, all those missing fans have probably already seen Kyle Busch win at BMS anyway. Sunday he won his fifth consecutive race, two Cup, two Nationwide, one truck, at Bristol. It was also his fifth Cup win, of his twenty total, at the world's fastest half mile track.


Somehow, Matt Kenseth was never on my TV screen, yet finished fourth? Paul Menard is RCR's top dog so far this year. He was up front all day, led 35 laps, and had a fine fifth place finish. Kurt Busch continued his string of top-10's with a seventh place run. A special green flag to BMS for honoring long-time Bristol exec, Jeff Byrd, by naming Sunday's race after him.


It seemed as if cars slowing due to flat tires caused a few wrecks, but Fox didn't bother investigating, or following up on it.


Nationwide driver, Jennifer Jo Cobb refused to start and park in Saturday's race, five minutes before starting time. She says her car owner, Rick Russell, told her 10 minutes before the scheduled starting time. Russell says he told her on Friday that, after wrecking two cars in two races, they had to start and park at BMS. 99% of the fans are buying her side of the story.


Danica's attitude. It's bad enough in the Indy series (where she has done next to nothing), but it's unbearable in the Nationwide series, where she has done nothing, period. I would say no one likes a whiner, but, apparently, lots of people do.

Build a Sign

I recently was introduced to Look over in the right margin. Below my followers there is a twin checkered flag logo. This is actually a 4"x4", vinyl sticker that Build a Sign did for me. Megan Edgeller designed the stickers for me, no charge!

Check their site out for all kinds of marketing/souvenir type things that they will customize for you. The stickers are badass! They would look sweet on the side of your race car, or street car. If you want one of Spinout's, send me an address and I'll send you one.

Contact Megan at....

Monday, March 14, 2011

Darlington Digital Diorama

Kasey Kahne's winning ride at the Darlington Too Tough To Tame 200.

There were probably 2,500 fans on pit road before the race, many of them kids. All drivers were stationed to sign autographs for an hour. That turned into an hour and a half, or longer, for some drivers. Austin Dillon was the last to leave.

Parker Kliggerman had a decent 14th place run in Brad Keselowski's #29 truck.

Elliott Sadler was up front all night. I took several pics of the trucks as they rolled out of inspection, like this one. E Sad was sponsored by Vienna Sausages. They were handing out free samples.... I was NOT that hungry!

Sadler's teammate, fellow KHI driver, Ron Hornaday scored a second place finish in this sweet Tide Ride.

By far, the most popular full time driver in the Truck Series is the pilot of this black #3, Ausin Dillon.

Rookie, Jeffery Earnhardt, crashed in practice. Here we have his crew working hard to prep the backup truck. They were at it for several hours and still missed qualifying. Earnhardt started on the last row, yet finished on the lead lap.

The #20 of rookie, Johanna Long rolls towards the pre-race inspectors. Long was involved in the night's biggest wreck, along the front stretch, and caused the action to be red flagged.

The G.O.A.T., Ricky Carmichael, was a sitting duck, across the start finish line when he was drilled by Long.

The pole winning Red Bull truck of rookie, Cole Whitt. Whitt set a track record, and impressed the hell out of me. When he was out front, no one could touch him. It was his first visit to Darlington, and he was a lot better than some 10 year vets I've seen there.

The winning truck from KBM rolls through pre-race inspection. This inspector, and one on the other side, is checking the clearance between the under carriage and the asphalt. This is the last of three pre-race inspection stations.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Right Sides Only

We are three races into the season, and NASCAR takes a vacation. They'll make up for it in the heat of summer and into the Chase... when they have about 20 straight races with no breaks. But, the week off gives me a chance to bring RSO out for a spin. Instead of doing this column every week, as I have for the past three years, I'll just run it out every now and then. Your welcome.

First the good news... TV ratings are up for the first three races this year. Last week's race at Las Vegas saw ratings up almost 30%. See what NASCAR can do when they're not going up against USA vs Canada Olympic hockey, like Vegas did last year?

The bad TV news is that Fox signed DW to a three year extension. Thanks, Fox .... the dumbing down of America continues.

Fox also airs a Daytona 500 special this Sunday, 'The Daytona 500: The American Dream'. A documentary with new, behind the scenes looks at Trevor Bayne's popular win. DW will tell us that he had a feeling about Bayne after the kid qualified 3rd for the 500. Sure you did, champ.

The media is falling over themselves to claim that Danica Patrick's 4th place finish in the NW race last week at Vegas was the best ever for a woman in NASCAR. Maybe they should run tell dat to Shawna Robinson. Robinson won a Goodys' Dash race at North Wilkesboro in 1988. The Dash series was a national touring series, one rung lower than the Busch (NW) series back in the day.

Ken Schrader returns to the Cup series next week at Bristol. Schrader will be in the #32 VA Mortgage Ford.

Kurt Busch has top-10s in all three races this year.

2007 was the last time, until now, that we had three different winners in the first three races of a season.

The best part of the Robby Gordon, Kevin Conway garage area spat? The Extenze sponsored, Conway's first line of his police report..."I don't mind stiff competition, but I want to make sure the hard facts are told." Har-de-har-har.

Monday, March 7, 2011

View From The Flagstand

With three races down, the contenders for the Sprint Cup championship are stepping forward, a little. The next scheduled race, in Bristol, will shake them out a bit more. Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch are tied for the points lead, with, Sunday's winner, Carl Edwards close behind.


Edwards has looked like a contender so far this year, and he finally cashed in at Vegas on Sunday. He was strong in Daytona, had the fastest car in Phoenix, yet was winless until hitting the jackpot in Vegas.


Juan Montoya placed third in the race, and is tied for third in points right now. Ryan Newman had his second 5th place run in a row, and is 5th in points. Marcos Ambrose qualified 2nd and finished 4th. Martin Truex Jr (6th), Dale Earnhardt Jr (8th), and Brian Vickers (10th) all had good finishes.


Where was the late race caution for debris? The only exciting racing we saw in Vegas was during the restarts.


The Danica Patrick has arrived talk after a 4th place finish in Saturday's Nationwide race. I know ABC/ESPN and NASCAR think she is ratings gold, but can we hold off on engraving her series' championship trophy until she earns another top-5 finish?


Robby Gordon beats up Kevin Conway in the garage area on Friday night at Vegas, and gets put on probation. There is a difference between 'boys have at it' and a hostile work environment. Maybe another lawsuit will get NASCAR's attention.