Thursday, December 23, 2010

A NASCAR Christmas list

Christmas is upon us and I'm sure you've all got you're shopping done right? Welcome to the club. We are less than two months away from the 2011 season officially starting at Daytona, here's a look at a NASCAR Christmas wish list. Some of these are reasonable, some should happen but won't, others are just, well, out there.

The winning points: There's not a lot wrong with the Chase as it's set up now, but a little tweaking would help. Let's give the winner of each race all season an extra 100 points. That would eliminate some of this so called points racing, which isn't really racing at all. And if it gets late in the pre-chase season, it would force some drivers to take a chance with strategy in order to get a win. NASCAR needs more of a go-for-it atmosphere, not a play it safe style, if it wants to regain some popularity.

Chase variety: NASCAR should start a system of alternating which tracks will be in the Chase for the Championship. If you really want to see who the champion is, make those last 10 races be on different tracks each year. Yes, we know the last three or four will be limited to warm-climate places, but shouldn't places like Daytona and Bristol be a part of the Chase at least on some years. We know the No. 48 team has those last 10 races mastered, and it might win the title no matter where the final 10 races are, but at least make them hit a curveball.

Pit rewards: The job of the pit crew is essential for a good team. Just ask Johnson after he switched with Jeff Gordon during the Chase this year. But since these guys play a vital role in winning and losing, take the total pit time of each car on the lead lap and give the winning team 10 points. We've known for years that these guys really matter, let's measure it in a positive way. With today's technology, it would be very easy to have this updated throughout the race.

Starting times: NASCAR made a positive move this year, giving us consistent starting times in each time zone. They would do better if they said the green flag was dropping at say, 1 p.m., not 1:20. Between SpeedChannel, ESPN and Fox, we've got plenty of pre-race coverage.

Pole points: Qualifying should mean at least a little something. We know some guys are no good at it, and then move right to the front during the race (see Kevin Harvick as exhibit A). So to make it at least a little more interesting, give the pole position winner 10 points. Right now, every one knows that the final practice the day before the race is usually more indicative of who's going to compete for the win rather than the qualifying times.

Team scoring: Take teams that have three or four cars, and at the end of the race, the team with the lowest total score, say, Childress cars finish 2, 3 and 4, then they get nine points, each driver on that team gets 10 points. Last season the Childress, Hendrick, Gibbs, Penske, Petty, Roush and Michael Waltrip teams regularly had three cars or more cars in the field. That's enough to make this a legitimate category.

Less Chad Knaus: OK, we know the guy is good, probably the best, even though he has the best technology to help him. We don't need to witness an attitude, more so then the actual words, that tells us he is the best.

Level technology: If NASCAR wants to really level the playing field, it should make top technology available to all teams. That means if the one-car operation of Robby Gordon wants to test his engine during the week, he should be able to rent at a reasonable price, the best machine for one day so he could get the latest info. That's where the top teams have the real advantage.

That might be the best Christmas present of all.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Daytona practice Associated Press story


AP Sports Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Daytona 500 could have higher speeds, wilder races and closer finishes.
Drivers testing Daytona International Speedway for the first time since it was completely repaved agreed Thursday that NASCAR’s premier event will feature tighter packs — cars running three wide at nearly 200 mph — and increase the possibility for breathtaking wrecks.
“It’s going to be a lot tighter packs than I’ve ever seen,” defending Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray said. “It’s certainly going to be more Talladega-type, really close, restrictor-plate racing. ... You’ve got to hope that you’re going to make it to the end because the odds (of big wrecks) are going to be really good I’d say.”
The sport’s most famous track recently completed its second repaving project, the first since 1979, and drivers turned laps on the 21/2-mile superspeedway Wednesday and Thursday as part of Goodyear’s tire test.
The notorious bumps in turns two and four are gone, so is the pesky pothole that plagued the race last February, and pit road is wider for increased safety. The result is a smoother track that causes less tire wear, creates faster laps and more tight-knit racing.
“It’s going to be more like Talladega,” veteran driver Bobby Labonte said. “It’s going to lend to more pushing, more shoving, more drafting like that. Obviously, that’s going to lend to more things that could happen. Nobody knows that. If you sat here on a Monday and ran a 500-mile race with 43 cars and you did it again Wednesday and again Friday, you’d have three different races probably.
“It’s not a recipe. It just kind of folds out the way it folds out. You don’t really know, but it definitely lends to that.”
Eighteen drivers from six teams, including Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya, took part in the test. Some teams brought cars and engines from last season. Others tested their latest and greatest technology, including ethanol-blended fuel.
All the teams used a slightly smaller restrictor plate than the one bolted on engines at Daytona last season. The top speed was 197.5 mph, and NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said officials will evaluate testing results before deciding whether to reduce the plate even further.
“We may need to come down a little bit off of that, which would be like a 64th of an inch or something,” Pemberton said. “We’ll have to go back and talk to the teams and we’ll look at the speeds from the last two days of testing.”
Teams will return to Daytona for a three-day test in late January.
Not much is expected to change before then. Goodyear seemingly nailed the tire in the Daytona test. Although analysts had limited access to the new pavement, they used Talladega’s recently repaved surface as a starting point and tweaked a few things from there. They ended up with the same left-side tire used at Talladega and a right-side tire more like ones used at Las Vegas and Charlotte.
The combination resulted in the least tire wear drivers could remember.
“Tires, from what we’ve seen so far, are not going to be an issue,” McMurray said. “You’ll see two tires, four tires and you might see fuel only.”
Since tires haven’t shown the kind of wear typically seen at Daytona, speeds have remained fast and handling has been relatively tame. McMurray said he turned the steering wheel half as much as he used to. That kind of smooth driving should allow drivers to stay tightly packed for 500 miles.
That kind of racing usually makes for big wrecks.
“Three wide is not going to be an issue,” McMurray said. “It’s just running really close together. It’s going to be not running over the guy. It sounds really easy, but it’s really hard to do.”
The old surface proved challenging for drivers. Between the treacherous bumps to the slippery seams, cars often were a handful to keep straight.
They won’t be nearly as difficult now.
“This is more of chess game, ’When do I get aggressive, when do I not get aggressive?”’ Burton said. “A lot of times on the old surface, your car dictated when you could and when you couldn’t (take a chance). What’s going to dictate this time is how many laps are left. The workload’s actually going to be less. I think your brain will be tired, but I don’t think anything else will be tired.”
Aside from the smooth surface, pit road was the other notable difference. The repaving project included widening pit road considerably, creating more room for everyone.
“This pit road was the most treacherous of all the pit roads that we raced on,” Kurt Busch said. “It looks like green acres out there. It’s really a safer place on pit road. The environment for the crew guys will be much better and you won’t necessarily have to worry as much about getting the fender dings. I’m excited about it.”
Little else changed, drawing praise from drivers.
“They just put pavement on it, and I’m glad that’s what they did,” Burton said. “Daytona has its own history, has its own heritage, it’s entrenched in what our sport’s all about, so keeping Daytona Daytona was 100 percent the right thing to do.
“But it has a whole lot more grip. It’s going to keep that grip for a long time. ... You’re going to see the kind of racing you see in February for several years.”

They're racing at Daytona ... sort of

The first tests on the newly paved Daytona International Speedway have be going on during the last two days. The reports about the track have been good from all of the drivers.
It had to help make the track smoother. I did the Richard Petty Experience as a rider (not a driver) a few years ago at Daytona, and was a bit alarmed at how much we were bouncing coming out of Turn 2. Afterward, the driver told me you can't really adjust to the bumps there at those speeds (we were going about 150 mph, as opposed to the Sprint Cup guys who go a little under 200 mph). He said you just have to keep the steering wheel straight and ride them out.
Then there were the delays during this year's Daytona 500 with the pothole. To have that happen in your biggest event of the year was embarrassing.
It's important to note that this repaving wasn't simply putting asphalt over the old asphalt. They dug up the old pavement first, then put four layers of new asphalt down to make this a really smooth track.
The smoother surface is bound to lead to more aggressive racing and hopefully better racing there as the drivers have said they can go three-wide there all the way around. We'll find out for sure how it works during Speedweeks leading up to the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NASCAR Quotes of the Year

Here are at least some of the top quotes of the year in NASCAR. My favorite was probably Joey Logano, who never gets upset, being mad at Kevin Harvick. It was also entertaining when Jeff Gordon vented some frustration toward Jimmie Johnson.

1/21/10 NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., setting the tone for the season.
“As it relates to the Sprint Cup Series, there's been a lot of debate and talk over the winter time, as everyone knows. The bump drafting as we’ve known it at Daytona and Talladega over the past few years will be totally eliminated. We’re gonna put it back in the hands of the drivers and ‘Boys, have at it and have a good time,’ that's all I can say.”

1/31/10 Hurley Haywood, five-time GRAND-AM Rolex 24 winner, on his final lap as a pro racer in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
“The guys at Brumos are all big stock car fans and one of them said, 'If you get close to Jimmie Johnson, I want you to run with him and see if you can pass him,' so I got on his tail and we were having a pretty good time and that's where the (1:42.2) lap came from so it was fun and Jimmie's a class act. He's not only a great stock car driver, but he's also a very good sports car driver so it was a pleasure to be able to race with him on my final lap (as a professional sports car driver.)”

2/14/10 Jamie McMurray after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
"It's unbelievable. I can't really put it into words the way it feels. I talked to Christy my wife this morning. She was like: 'You know, what would it mean to you if you won this race today?' I told her it would be like a dream come true. I'm trying to be genuine and as sincere as I can and not sound cliché. As a kid growing up, this is what you dream of, of being able to win the Daytona 500."

2/21/10 Kevin Harvick on the No. 48 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team after losing to Jimmie Johnson in the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
“They're really good, but they're really, really lucky, too. I mean, Jimmie is a good friend of mine, but there's no way of getting around how lucky they are. You don't win four championships and do all the things they've done. They did a good job today in winning the race, but they have a golden horseshoe stuck up their ass. I mean, there's no way to get around that.”

3/21/10 Kurt Busch after losing to Jimmie Johnson, who claimed his 50th career victory and first at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn. in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500.
"I'd rather lose to any of the (42) cars out there than this No. 48 car. I thought we had them beat. I gave it my heart, but to come up short ... it's a shame we didn't bring it home for a victory.”

4/25/10 Jeff Gordon after Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson made contact with the No. 24, for the second consecutive week at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala.
“The ‘48’ (Jimmie Johnson) is testing my patience. I’m hard to get mad, and I’m pissed off.”

5/8/10 Denny Hamlin as he crossed the finish line first in the Showtime Southern 500, one of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-best eight wins, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C.
“All we do is win!”
5/11/10 NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France at the opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
“I see a lot of our fans are out here, right in this corner in particular. They're the big benefactor from all over the country and all over the world to come into Charlotte, stay in the community, go to the events in May and October and, most importantly, walk through and take in the history of this sport. Get to know it. Get to know their drivers a little bit better through the things you’re going to see. And so for that, I want to tell our fans, you have the best Hall of Fame in the world right here in Charlotte.”
5/14/10 Jeff Gordon on NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing in 2010 at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del.
“The think right now the sport’s selling itself because the racing has been phenomenal. We’ve seen some of the closest finishes, most action, not only at the end of the race, but throughout the race everywhere we’ve been. The double-file restarts, the green-white-checkers, the spoiler – there’s just a lot of reasons right now why I think we’re putting the best show in sports out there each and every weekend.”
5/14/10 Former NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Carl Edwards on the new NASCAR Nationwide Series car that made its debut with four races in 2010
“Those Mustangs look great. I think that’s one of the neatest things that NASCAR’s done for a while, for us to run those cars. That’ll be cool. I’d love to be the first guy to win in a Mustang in a NASCAR race. That’d be really neat.”
5/23/10 Richard Petty inducted into NASCAR Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in Charlotte, N.C.
“The fans then is what it's all about, guys. We wouldn't be here without the fans. There wouldn't be a Richard Petty. There wouldn't be a NASCAR. But the press was telling the fans about NASCAR. The fans came. So the fans developed a love, a real love, for it...”
6/6/10 Joey Logano after an on-track incident with Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 presented by Target at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.
“Racing the 29, and he let me go in the middle of the straightaway and decided to dump me in the next turn. I don't know what his deal is with me. It's probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do, so it's probably not his fault.”

7/3/10 Dale Earnhardt Jr. after winning the first NASCAR Nationwide Series new car race in his final run in a No. 3 car at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach. Fla.
“I'm really happy with what NASCAR did the first time out with this car. They will work on it, improve it, learn a lot from it. But the first go-round I think was a great success.”
9/9/10 Carl Edwards about the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va.
“I can’t pick a favorite as a fan looking at it and I can’t say who’s gonna be the favorite and I don’t think you can say what rivalries are going to build. I think this is going to be the best Chase we’ve ever had.”
10/24/10 Denny Hamlin after starting the second half of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a win in the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va.
“Who said it was over? Told you it wasn't over.”
10/31/10 Kevin Harvick on Jimmie Johnson after the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala.
“No offense to him, but somebody else needs to win. Everybody but them wants somebody else to win. I like Jimmie as good as anybody. But for the sake of the sport, one of the two of us needs to make something happen.”

11/7/10 Mike Ford on the No. 48 team after the No. 11 team’s eighth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.
“You've watched them play mind games with people in the past, and I'm completely immune to that. I could care less. I'll be right in their face saying, ‘It doesn't matter.’ I think our race team is better than their race team, and I'm not going to tiptoe around them because of where they're at. I'm going to do what it's going to require for us to win a championship and beat them. Not that I'm playing dirty by any means, but take what's ours, and I'm not afraid to go toe-to-toe with them.”
11/21/10 Jimmie Johnson after winning a fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.
“People tell me they hate me, but they respect me, and that's always cool. A guy that had an "I hate 48" t-shirt on when I was on the SPEED stage, but was giving me a thumbs-up and said congratulations. So in the moment, it's tough I think for fans to maybe look at what we have accomplished, because they want their guy to win and I understand that. But I know what we’ve done today is respected sports-wide, not just in our little bubble we live in, but sports-wide…”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Junior get a win, sort of

Dale Earnhardt Jr. did get a victory this season, even if it wasn't on the track. It came as no surprise that Junior won NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award for the eighth straight season. Junior is as likeable as any driver out there, but a win or two next season would surely help his reputation.
Which leads to the next point. When team owner Rick Hendrick announced changes for three of his four teams, one of those included putting Junior in the same building with Johnson. The crews exchange information and set those cars up exactly the same way. So, if a set up is good for Johnson it should be for Junior right? While Hendrick is trying to help his non-Johnson teams become stronger, it also puts more pressure on Junior to win. He's really got no excuses now.
And, while you may or may not like Hendrick, the fact that he made changes shows that he's not just basking in the glow of Johnson winning a fifth straight title. It would have been easy for Hendrick to wait until after next season, when Kasey Kahne joins the team to make those changes. But Hendrick is not one who waits around when changes need to be made. Sure, this team's got the best financial resources to compete for titles, but it also has an owner who doesn't accept mediocrity.
Finally, the paving is almost complete at Daytona. It will be interesting to see how the new pavement affects tire wear, with better grip in the corners and the overall speeds. It could also make for some better racing as it will eliminate the bumps that made Daytona a sometimes hazardous place to race.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Heat is on in Homestead

No, we're not going to talk about the Miami Heat, we're talking about some guys who really want to win. Here are some random thoughts on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship as it comes down to Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson just 15 points back and Kevin Harvick, 46 points back.

The leader
In any sport, with the possible exception of golf, it's always better to be ahead than behind. So, Hamlin does have 15 points to play with here. Johnson and Harvick are chasing him, it's not the other way around. Hamlin will start 37th today in Homestead, but he won from 38th last year. He just has to avoid early trouble, and it shouldn't be a big deal because the non-contending drivers don't want to be the ones to decide the championship, so they'll be extra careful around Hamlin, Johnson and Harvick.

The defender
Johnson has won the title four years in a row. The big thing here is that if he wants to eventually get to the all-time mark of seven titles, he doesn't want to let one get away. Johnson has had just one top-five finish at Homestead since 2005, but that's an overrated stat. That's because in the past four seasons, he's gone into that race protecting a sizable lead with the lone goal of just staying out of trouble, not getting a high finish. He knows he has to go for the win today.

The neighborhood bully
It was no surprise that Harvick said he would do whatever it takes to win the title. That's translated as if you're in his way and not faster than him, he'll bump you right out of the way. He's done it all year to different drivers, so there's no reason to think he'd not do it with everything on the line. However, at least he's honest about it, so there's that.

So, how's this going to play out?
Johnson has the sixth starting spot, easily the best of the three, and he won't be afraid to be safely aggressive. He's been trying to say the pressure's on Hamlin all week, but really the pressure's on him. And that's why I'm picking him to come out of Miami the winner. Chad Knaus may be the best crew chief (whether you like his pompous attitude or not) and Johnson has Jeff Gordon's crew again this week. There were a couple of other Chase races where Johnson was well back in the pack and had a top five and a top 10 finish anyway. That's when he really won this thing and the track position today will get him the start he needs.

Here's a look at my top five for today:
Carl Edwards
Kasey Kahne
I actually like Edwards to win this race. He's the kind of driver that can get hot, but this time it's coming too late in the season.
Enjoy the race

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Five questions five picks

Here's a quick take on some NASCAR happenings this week, along with picks for Phoenix

1. Does Jeff Gordon need to take boxing lessons? Yes, but it was good to see him stand up for himself, even if was against Jeff Burton.
2. Has Jeff Burton replace Mark Martin as the classiest act in NASCAR? Probably. He admitted he made the mistake in the Gordon wreck and didn't blame Gordon for being fightin' mad.
3. Will the close Chase race save the current points system? Probably not. But lets hope the NASCAR bosses use a system that rewards some type of consistency, not some attention getting quick-fix scheme.
4. Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. ever win another race? Yes, certainly, but probably not either of these last two. Let's go with the early race at Talladega in 2011.
5. Can Denny Hamlin become the next NASCAR Sprint Cup champion? Yes, he can, but he'll need to hold off Johnson at Phoenix this week, one of Johnson's best track. The Phoenix race may be even more key than the finale at Homestead, just because Johnson has been dominant at Phoenix.

OK, here's the picks:
1. Jimmie Johnson. Thought I'd surprise with this one.
2. Kevin Harvick. The neighborhood bully just keeps hanging around.
3. Tony Stewart. Due for a late-season win.
4. Carl Edwards. Can't believe he is winless this year.
5. Denny Hamlin. Too much at stake for him not to try and win this.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Some Talladega drafting

The Sprint Cup hits its final superspeedway of the season at Talladega and it may be the final chance for the Chasers on the fringe to get back into the mix for the title. Four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson has a six-point lead over Denny Hamlin. Kevin Harvick is 62 points back and then there's Kyle Busch at 172 back. Really, anyone after that needs a miracle to get back in it, and Busch needs a minor one. He needs to win at least twice to get back into the mix.
The unpredictability of a restrictor plate track and the close racing means the Chase leaders could get knocked out early and have a 30-plus finish. Or if one of them survives and wins, while the others do not, he could make a big gain.
At any rate, here's a look at my top five for this week:

Jimmie Johnson. He's still the leader and has a knack for missing the big wrecks.
Jeff Gordon. He's had some bad luck, but the Chevys are always strong in the superspeedways.
Tony Stewart. He's pretty much out of the Chase picture at 236 back, but he's become very good at restrictor plate tracks.
Kurt Busch. He's figured out the restrictor game in the last couple of years.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Probably a reach to pick him here, but if he's going to win one this year, this is the place.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Martinsville picks

The Sprint Cup guys are back at a short track with Martinsville and sometimes that can be a little tricky for the Chase contenders. They won't want to get a lap down and really, if there are any scores to settle here, it could happen in a very innocent looking way as "just one of them racing deals."

Here we go with this week's Five Guys:
Denny Hamlin - If he wants to challenge Jimmie Johnson, now is the time. He's just 41 points back, but he needs a win and this is a good chance for him as he starts on the pole.
Jimmie Johnson - He dropped to 37th at one point last week, then finished third. That's what championship teams do. All of the contenders know Johnson needs a 30th or worse finish to let them back in. They also know it's not likely to happen.
Tony Stewart - He's a short track guy, and even though he's pretty much out of contention for the Chase at 171 points back, he'd love to win at this place.
Greg Biffle - He qualified at third and has shown the ability to win this year, even though he hasn't been consistent.
Juan Pablo Montoya - He's my non-Chaser pick of the week. He doesn't mind being aggressive on the short tracks, so if he can keep his cool, and pick the right time to bump guys out of the way, he could be there at the end.

Kahne puts the brakes on RPM and Jimmie the good guy

Kasey Kahne's comments after last week's race about his situation at RPM racing pretty much expedited his exit from the team. Kahne has had brake issues this season and he was suspecting it might have to do with the type of brake fluid the team uses, which was apparently a little cheaper than what most other teams use.
Just speculating here, but one has to wonder if the fact that Kahne was signed to join Red Bull Racing next year made working on his car a little less of priority. Not that anyone would do anything intentional to his car, but maybe when a final check was done on the car before going on the hauler, maybe his car wasn't being checked quite as good. It just seems odd that his car was the only one on the team to have brake issues when date showed he did not use his brakes out of a normal range.
At any rate, Kahne, starting with this week's race in Virginia, will be with Red Bull Racing. That's no surprise after he questioned openly questioned the team after the brake failure last week.
And one other thing, Kahne, even though he became during Saturday night's race, still got up Sunday morning and ran a 5K for his foundation. And Jimmie Johnson, yes that Jimmie Johnson, was one of the drivers who showed up and ran as well. So, like him or not, it's not something Johnson had to do, but did anyway.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Some real shocking picks here

NASCAR is on its home track in Charlotte this week, amounting to a week at home for the on-track crew and drivers. It's a week without a lot of travel that they all appreciate.
One driver who probably appreciates Charlotte as much as anyone is Jimmie Johnson. He's in the lead for the Chase for the Championship and is the favorite to win a fifth straight title. So with that in mind, here's the picks for this week.

Jimmie Johnson. Knew you'd be surprised.
Jeff Gordon. He's on the pole and if anybody needs a win, it's him.
Tony Stewart. If not for running out of gas at New Hampshire, he'd be right on Johnson's bumper.
Denny Hamlin. If he wants to truly challenge Johnson for the title, he needs to win this week on a track that Johnson has been traditionally strong at.
Kasey Kahne. He seems to run well at Charlotte, and I'm not picking all Chasers this week.

Who's the real champion?

NASCAR named its latest class of five Hall of Famers this week. The organization limits it to five per year, and this is the second class that was named. There was one driver named this year, who should have made it last year, and one driver who could have made it this year, but didn't that helps us yet again define class.

Last year, the first class was named and in what was a definite error, David Pearson was left off. He won 105 races, second only to Richard Petty's 200. Pearson without question should have been in that first class. The fact that he was overlooked put a serious dent into the credentials of the voters. His rivalry with Petty when the sport was first hitting the television airwaves in the late 1960s and early 1970s helped draw fans to the sport. Just five guys or not, he deserved to be on the first ballot.
However, Pearson was an easy pick to make it in this year, and he did, being named on 94 percent of the ballots (what those other six percent were thinking, who knows?). When Pearson was asked if he was bitter about not making the first ballot, he said he certainly was not. That's a champion-like reaction to what could have been a not-so-pretty situation.
One former driver, and current announcer, who didn't make it this year was Darrell Waltrip. He's going to make it eventually, probably next year. He deserves it at some point, with over 80 victories. However, all Waltrip could was go to Twitter and tweet about how disappointed he was and how unfair the process was for not letting him in.
Not the reaction of champion. So, if I was on the voting panel (which I'm not), I'd have to think about it before I vote for him next year. If someone wants into the Hall of Fame, having a Hall of Fame attitude when things don't go your way when you want them to should be requirement.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Yellow Brick Road

The NASCAR boys are in Kansas this weekend and this, the third race in the Chase, is when we start to get more separation between the haves and have nots in the Chase.
So, with my five picks for this week (yes, I had Jimmie Johnson last week at Dover), maybe we can get a little more clarity in the Chase.

Jimmie Johnson: Yes, he's second to Denny Hamlin in the points, but he's the guy to beat.
Denny Hamlin: Probably the only driver who has the combination of consistency and win-ability to challenge Johnson.
Carl Edwards: He says he would rather win in Kansas, about 90 minutes from his hometown of Columbia, Mo., than anywhere including Daytona or Indy. Really? Well, he could use a win right now and has been pretty consistent for a while, so it might be about time for a visit to Victory Lane.
Clint Bowyer: Cheatin' Clint (I know, he has no idea what exactly the crew does to the car, but he's guilty by association here), would love to win in his home state and get a legal victory.
Kasey Kahne: He's starting up front, and as you may well know, clean air is everything with these cars

The guy I probably should have picked but didn't ... Jeff Burton. Just a hunch.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cheatin' Cllint and Dover picks

First some thoughts on the 150 points that NASCAR penalized Clint Bowyer for last week's race at New Hampshire for a rear end infraction.
Yes, it's true, Bowyer really has nothing to do with this, other than he is the driver and main spokesperson for the No. 33. He's out doing P.R. most of the week, keeping sponsors happy, that kind of stuff. But yes again, he's guilty by association.
No, the Childress team shouldn't act so surprised about the penalty. They were warned about it before, which is basically NASCAR saying, "we probably could have penalized you this time, but don't get caught again." But they were. The Childress team may have listened a little, but not a lot. Even if the team was riding the fence on the rules, it basically had nothing to lose because it was starting last in the Chase, so why not gamble a bit?
The No. 33 team gambled and lost and the penalty sent a strong message to other teams who might try something similar. So, while harsh, Bowyer's penalty is deserved.

Now on to the Dover top five picks.
1. Jimmie Johnson. He's on the pole and has been dominant there in the past.
2. Tony Stewart. He was about a mile short on fuel last week, but showed he has the equipment to run up front.
3. Kyle Busch. He had a good run at Dover in the spring, and is feeling pretty good about himself now.
4. Kevin Harvick. The neighborhood bully seems to hang around for good a finish.
5. Carl Edwards. A bit of an upset pick here, not because he's been terrible, he in the Chase afterall, but the Fords have run well here in the past, so I'm going with Edwards here.
Hopefully there is good weather all weekend.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Chasees and the Chasers ... and New Hampshire

Here's a quick breakdown of the Chase drivers, the final 12 who are eligible to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup title in these final 10 races, starting today at New Hampshire.

1. Jimmie Johnson: He's the king until he's unkinged, and has to be the favorite, even though he's struggled a bit lately.
2. Denny Hamlin: He's getting on a roll at the right time and starts with the lead due to his six wins.
3. Kevin Harvick: He won the regular season points and has been consistent this year. However, top 10s just won't getting it done when it comes to winning the Chase. He needs top five and at least two victories.
4. Tony Stewart: He had the victory in Atlanta, but hasn't had his normal hot streak, so he's got a real chance.
5. Carl Edwards: Whether you like him or not, the combination of the driver and team are too good to not win a race. They've been getting closer lately, too.
6. Kyle Busch: He's capable of winning two or three in a row at any point. Also capable of a finishing 30th or worse in a couple of races. Talladega could be key race for him.
7. Jeff Gordon: If he wants to break his winless streak, now would be a good time. He's actually a bit of an underdog here.
8. Kurt Busch: Has a bit of chip on his shoulder after getting penalized 15 minutes of practice time for having a set of extra tires. That chip just might be what he needs.
9. Clint Bowyer: A good qualifying run at New Hampshire helps him. Clean air means a lot in these cars and he needs to get off to a good start to have a chance.
10. Greg Biffle: Did get an elusive win at Pocono and also capable of getting hot at any time.
11. Matt Kenseth: Maybe the quietest Chase entry. He needs to show that he can win to have a chance.
12. JefF Burton: An underrated driver who has a knack for showing up in the top five at end of races. So, don't count him out.
My pick to win the whole thing ... Denny Hamlin, to unseat Johnson.

My top five for New Hampshire:
1. Tony Stewart: Has always been fast there.
2. Denny Hamlin: Can't ignore a guy on a hot streak.
3. Jimmie Johnson: Yes, they were off in qualifying, starting 25th, but he'll be there in the end.
4. Carl Edwards: First win this year will come soon.
5. Juan Pablo Montoya: Just because you're not in the chase, doesn't mean you can't win a race.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Getting richer in Richmond and picks

In past seasons, the race in Richmond has been one of the more riveting as the final positions to get into the Chase for the Championship are close, giving us some kind of suspense. But that's not the case this year, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing. Clint Bowyer enters the race in the 12th and final spot, 113 points ahead of Ryan Newman. The first 10 places are already guaranteed, so no reason to play it safe for those guys. And that's what might make this race a little interesting. These guys are going to be gambling for the win, to get the 10 extra points for a better position in the Chase. No playing it safe, on the so-called boring points racing, which isn't really racing at all. So, hopefully, we'll see some of the top teams going just for the win. The way it should be.
Here are this week's picks:
Carl Edwards: Second last week at Atlanta, on pole this week, he's got to win one soon.
Jeff Gordon: Solid all year, will be aggressive in trying to get first victory of season.
Denny Hamlin: Always a favorite at Richmond. He runs well there, but only has one win. He could make it two Saturday night.
Jimmie Johnson: It's about time for the four-time defending champion to heat up.
Kevin Harvick: The neighbor bully won the Nationwide racing Friday night, and the points leader would love to get 10 more bonus points for a better Chase position.

Friday, September 3, 2010


It's a holiday weekend, so the Sprint Cups guys aren't going until Sunday night in Atlanta. They moved it to a night race to try and get more fans to come to the race in Atlanta, but for some reason, Atlanta fans just aren't into attending live events. Even in years where the Braves and Hawks are good, they have trouble getting fans to come and it probably won't be any different for the race.

Here's this week's picks:
Carl Edwards: He's been inching closer to winning lately, and Atlanta has been good to him in the past.
Tony Stewart: Really needs a win, even though he has been pretty consistent lately.
Jeff Gordon: Seeking of guys who need a win this season ...
Kevin Harvick: The Neighborhood Bully loves the fast track at HotAtlanta.
Juan Pablo Montoya: Have to pick one of those Ganassi guys to win

Friday, August 20, 2010


The big question going into tonight's Sprint Cup race at Dover is if Kyle Busch can win in NASCAR's three major series on the same weekend. And yes, he certainly can. Busch is physically and mentally capable of enduring 500 more laps on the half-mile oval. Also, just as important at Bristol is the winning driver needs to hae an aggressive mind-set. You have to think you are the one who is going be giving the bumps, not the ones taking them. Busch always thinks that way and that's why he could get that elusive trifecta.

Here's a look at this week's picks:
Kyle Busch: See above.
Tony Stewart: Loves the short track and would love to get first win this season.
Kevin Harvick: A perfect track for the Neighborhood Bully, who's been on a roll lately.
Jimmie Johnson: He won in the spring here and is due for a win.
Carl Edwards: Also has been coming close and is due for a win.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Michigan pickers and last week

Here's the picks for this week's race at Michigan:

Kasey Kahne: He's on the pole and may be a little more relaxed after knowing he has a ride with Red Bull Racing for next year.
Tony Stewart: Always does well at Michigan and maybe wants to prove something after a disappointing (for him) seventh-place finish on a road course.
Greg Biffle: The Fords are coming on at the right time of the year and they particularly like to do well at Michigan.
Carl Edwards: He's been coming close lately, so don't be surprised to see him in Victory Lane.
Jeff Gordon: Well, the dude's got to win sometime right?

Here's a quick review of how I did last week:
Juan Pablo Montoya: We got a winner in town.
Marcos Ambrose: Third, not bad.
A.J. Allmendinger: Fourth, pretty good.
Carl Edwards: Fifth, hey a good run.
Tony Stewart: Seventh, not quite up to his road-course standards.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

late picks again

Sorry for lateness again this week, but here we go with picks.

Carl Edwards: Starting on pole, a big advantage at a road course and could make it two in a row for Ford.
Tony Stewart: He's great on this track and team is peaking at the right time, and he really, really wants a victory.
Marcos Ambrose: You know he wants to make for the Sonoma gaffe, when he stalled his car while leading on a yellow flag lap costing him an almost certain victory.
Juan Pablo Montoya: Always a must pick on a road course.
Scott Speed: Another safe pick on a road course, especially since he's starting in the top 10 today.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

late picks ... or maybe not

Apologies for the late picks this week, but they may not be they may not be that late if today's race is postponed by rain, which is the talk in the media room this morning.
Here goes:
Denny Hamlin: Have to pick him here.
Tony Stewart: Usually races better than he qualifies, so the fact that he's on the pole is a good sign for him.
Kurt Busch: He's always liked it here.
Carl Edwards: If Ford gets first win this year, it would be no surprise if it was at Pocono with Edwards.
Kevin Harvick: Neighborhood bully always seems to be around at the end of these 500-milers.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Brad, Carl and the Brickyard

There were no fireworks between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski in Saturday night's Nationwide race. While Edwards was penalized 60 points in the Nationwide Series and they were both put on probation, that doesn't mean something couldn't happen in the Sprint Cup Series. So, you know, you might want to keep an eye on the 12 and 99 today in Indy.

As for Indy, here are my picks, sorry for being a bit late with this:

Juan Pablo Montoya: On the pole, should've won last year, loves Indy.
Jeff Gordon: A good place for him to get his first win of the year.
Tony Stewart: A good place for him to get his first win of the year, really.
Denny Hamlin: It's not uncommon for success at Pocono to translate into success at Indy.
Kyle Busch: He won the Nationwide race Saturday night at O'Reilly Raceway Park just outside Indy, so it would be a no surprise to see him get an Indy double.
Probably will regret not picking Jimmie Johnson, but can't pick the dude every week.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Unscheduled pit stops and change

Sorry, it's been a bit since I've been on here, just a lot of unscheduled pit stops this past week.

It was good to see David Reutimann find victory lane last week in Chicagoland. Reutimann and Michael Waltrip have been together since Waltrip started his team the first year Toyota competed in the Sprint Cup series. They each had no record of any great accomplishments, and in an era where patience is not a common theme among sports, it was good to see that team reach victory lane. They had won one other time, but it was a rain-shortened race. This one was completely legit, so good for them.

No Sprint Cup race this weekend, they go to Indy next week.

It was impressive to see so many fans in St. Louis stay to try and watch the truck race Friday night, but it was eventually postponed due to a power outage. They'll run Saturday at 1:30.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Let's hope the track stays together for one more night at Daytona, as they have had to make some repairs to the track already this weekend. The track is scheduled to be resurfaced by the Daytona 500 in February, so problems with the track should be fixed by then.

Last week's picks
Kyle Busch - Finished 18th, led 46 laps but not around at the end due to some late race bumping.
Denny Hamlin - Finished 14th. One of the few recent times where he was not a threat to win the race.
Tony Stewart - Finished 2nd. He had a strong finish and wasn't far from pulling off his first win of the year.
Juan Pablo Montoya - Finished 34th. He started on the pole and led the majority of his 36 laps early on. Was not surpsinginly involved in some heavy bumping, so that sabotaged any chance of a good finish.
Kevin Harvick - Finished fifth to keep a solid hold on the top spot in the standings.

The picks
It's always tricky making picks for a restrictor race, so here goes.
Tony Stewart - He's had plenty of success in the July Daytona race and he's been very good in restrictor plate races. He has to go to the back in a backup car tonight, but it won't take long for him to get to the front.
Kevin Harvick - Starting the pole and the Neighborhood Bully has a knack for being around at the end of the race at Daytona
Kurt Busch - The Penske cars have been good at Daytona for the past couple of years. It would be no surprise to see him in Victory Lane.
Jeff Gordon - He's going to win a race sometime this year. Really.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - If I'm going to pick this guy to win a race this year it's got to be here. The win in the Nationwide can't hurt his confidence.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bumper cars and picks

Did Jeff Gordon show us his version of bumper cars last Sunday at Sonoma? I think so. It was a combination of Gordon having a good car and knowing how to drive it on the road course, and his frustration of having a winning-type of car in several races this year and not winning. So, it was a if-I-can-get-to-your-back-bumper-I'm-going-to-test-it kind of day for Gordon. If another driver saw him moving up in the rear-view mirror, then it was best to make sure you stayed far enough ahead of him so he couldn't tap you out of the way, or just let him go or risk losing several positions.
The question is was Gordon too aggressive? Gordon might have well been testing NASCAR's hands-off policy for this season and well, when you're trying to win a race, much like the late Dale Earnhardt did more than a few times, it's certainly worth testing.

Here's a look at how last week's picks finished

Kasey Kahne: Finished fourth had a nice run that this team needed.
Jeff Gordon: Took fifth. Couldn't get to Kahne's bumper or would have been higher.
Tony Stewart: 9th. Pit strategy put him a hole late or would have been a top-five finisher.
Marcus Ambrose: 6th. Should have won this thing, put messed up big time trying to save fuel on a yellow flag lap.
Boris Said: 8th. The Said Man ran a good race and might have finished a little higher only to get bumped out of line late in the race.

This week's pick for New Hampster ... make that Hampshire

Kyle Busch - Not the only Gibbs car I'm picking this week
Denny Hamlin - Can't do these picks for an oval and not pick him.
Tony Stewart - Always runs well at this track.
Juan Pablo Montoya - Sort of taking a shot here, but looked good in early practice ... that's right, we're talking about ... practice.
Kevin Harvick: The Neighborhood Bully and points leader is due for a win.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Debris and picks On the Road ... in California

Denny Hamlin told his story and he's sticking to it. It's long been suspected that NASCAR will find debris on the track when a driver seems to be running away with the race. And that might, or might not, have been the case with Denny Hamlin at Michigan last week. He was dominating when a yellow came out for debris. Hamlin said NASCAR used that as an excuse to bunch the field back up for the finish. Hamlin's car was too fast and he went on to win anyway.
But does Hamlin have a point?
Of course he does. With NASCAR races, especially in the late going, it's not hard to find some debris on the track. NASCAR will tell us the caution comes out for safety reasons, and often that is the case. But sometimes, the powers that be can use debris as a reason to bring the field back together. It's not entirely a bad thing, as unless it's your favorite guy leading, it's not fun watching someone run away the race.

OK, a look the picks from last week:
Kyle Busch: Not a good day and he finished 20th.
Jeff Gordon: Solid as usual with a fourth.
Jamie McMurray: 32nd. I should know better than to pick soap opera guy.
Jimmie Johnson: A solid sixth.
Carl Edwards: Did double-duty for weekend and hung in there for a 12th
Shame on me for not picking the red-hot Hamlin.

So on to this week, for the first of the two road races this year, this one at Infineon Raceway in California.

Kasey Kahne: Won this race last year, on the pole, which is big for road courses.
Jeff Gordon: Traditionally great on road courses.
Tony Stewart: Same as Gordon
Marcus Ambrose: He understands the road courses quite well.
Boris Said: I'm a closet Said Head, and this is one of two times I can legitimately pick him.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Harvick vs. Logano and picks

Sorry for not getting on here this week, I've been unusally busy, but you don't want to hear about the labor pains, you just want to see the baby, so here goes.

The Harvick-Logano feud
There's no question Harvick turned around Logano on what would have been the final lap at Pocono last week. It's as if Harvick is playing the role of neighborhood bully when he sees Logano, and is almost daring Logano to hit back. Well, Logano did want to hit back after the race, Harvick says his biggest problem is with Logano's dad, Tom, whom Harvick thinks is micromanaging his son's career. Logano just turned 20 in May, so it's not too far-fetched to think his father should be involved at least on some level. But if Harvick's problem is with Tom Logano, he should take that up with Tom Logano, not Joey.
It was also good that Logano showed some emotion afterward, showing he cared and wasn't afraid of Harvick. In hindsight, he should have maybe said a his peace a little calmer, and just repay Harvick on the track when he gets a chance ... but that still might happen. As for the DeLana Harvick "wearing the fire suit comments'', you have to give her some credit for making a T-shirt out of that and selling it with the profits going to the Kevin Harvick Foundation.
And really, what was A.J. Allmendinger doing on that last lap at Pocono? Going for a top 10 with about eight other guys, but he shouldn't have run Kasey Kahne into the grass, especially with Kahne being a teammate the rest of this year.
First a look at last week's results:
Denny Hamlin: The winner, not a surprise, you're welcome.
Kyle Busch: Finished second, also not surprise, you're welcome again.
Tony Stewart: Took third, did it playing the fuel game, you're welcome one more time.
Joey Logano: Took 13th, was battling for fourth when he overdrove his car, allowing Harvick to close in during battle for fifth, before the dramatic bump in the third turn.
Jeff Gordon: Finished 32nd, OK, you got me on that one.

This week's picks for Michigan:

Carl Edwards: A Ford's got to win sometime this year and Michigan has been a great place for the Roush cars.
Kyle Busch: Well, he's just been too good to not pick lately.
Jeff Gordon: Come on dude, you gotta win one.
Jamie McMurray: He's run good at Michigan, and has looked on the fast tracks, where aerodynamics is so important.
Jimmie Johnson: He's sort of due for a win, too, but nothing like teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 71-race winless streak going into today.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Gibbs show

Out of the pits onlap 168 it was the Gibbs show with Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin coming out first. Busch will restart 14th. Let's see if he and his teammates have enough time to catch the fuel-gamers, who had pitted between laps 160-165.

Denny or Kyle

We've got teammates Busch and Hamlin together here on the restart. Will Kyle block Denny if needs to keep the lead. Of course, and he should, just like Denny did at the All-Star race where Kyle got mad.
Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon get a splash and dash of fuel. With one more caution, could they make it to the end? We might find out.

A fight to the finish

We've got a caution at lap 154, let's see who can make the best adjustments. Johnson's crew chief Chad Knauss is one of the best at this. Hamlin has looked good lately as well. Hamlin wins the race off pit road.

Bowyer town

We're coming up on 75 laps and Bowyer is the class of the field. He's stretched his lead to almost two seconds over Kyle Busch. Harvick is up to 5th and Johnson 8th. Only Busch and Hamlin are less than 10 seconds behind. We need a yellow soon to bunch this field back up and allow crews to make major adjustments.

Movin on up ...

Here a look at some early movers after the first 35 laps:
Jeff is up, to fourth, Kevin Harvick is 7th and Jimmie Johnson is up to eighth. Bowyer takes the lead, running really well.

the first 15 laps

A lot of loose cars right now. they are set up for a cloudy day but it's sunny now. there will be some changes when they pit.

Dallenbach needs to stop talking when we see a change for the lead.

back to action

The track is dry and the cars are back out there. Should go green soon. Competition caution on lap 15.

Hard rain

Hard rain here. Back in about two hours

Live at Pocono Somehow it's not raining

There are clouds all over the place, but no rain yet. Taking their time getting the started. Oops rain drops now

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thunder on the Mountain ... and picks

It will be a real endurance test at Pocono. The race is long at 500 miles, it's likely to be hot and humid and the track has three distinctly different turns. The one break the drivers do get is the long straightaway at Pocono, so they do get a chance to catch their breaths for a few seconds before going into turn one.
First a look at how my picks fared last week at the 600-miler:

Kyle Busch: Finished third, so OK there, whether Jeff Burton likes it or not.
Jimmie Johnson: Got caught in an accident, but came back out and ran some laps to finish 37th.
Jeff Gordon: Was solid all day and took sixth, continuing a very good season.
Kurt Busch: The winner. You're welcome.
Kasey Kahne: A respectable 12th. Debated on whether to pick Kahne or Logano in that last spot, and Logano was 13th, so not much difference.

OK, for this week at Pocono ... remember when a deer ran onto the track there? You never know what kind of critters you might see up in Long Pond.

Denny Hamlin - He runs well at Pocono and the team is pretty hot, so hard not to pick him.
Tony Stewart - He needs a win and he won here last year. Has traditonally run better in warmer weather, so maybe it's his time to step up.
Kyle Busch - He drives for Gibbs. He's been leading and winning in everything, so got to pick him here.
Jeff Gordon - The dude's gonna win soon ... really.
Joey Logano - I wrote about why I liked him earlier this week, so it wouldn't look good if I didn't pick him right?

P.S. - Wanted to pick Junior, but not a believer on one good qualifying run.
Don't forget the race is on TNT, Sunday, 1 p.m. start.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Logano a Kountry Gentleman

Often in this society, it's the loudest sports personalities that get the most attention. You've got your T.O.s, Ochocincos and various others who like to tell us how great they are.
In NASCAR, there are plenty of brash personalities, such as Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart. But if you're looking for a driver who's going to be around, and someone you don't have to do any apologizing for, take a look at the young Joey Logano.
He's not a regular contender for wins yet, but at 19, he's showing more maturity than many of the veteran drivers. He won't be baited into debates about what's going with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Busch and Hamlin. He's quietly gone about his business.
He doesn't go out and try to intimdate other drivers on the track and when he gets a chance to run behind a veteran at a track, he does for as long as he can so he can learn more.
"Sliced bread" as he's called for his skinny frame, is humble and he's on a good enough team and has a great crew chief in Greg Zipadelli, that eventually it will all click. He's 18th in points heading into Pocono and may not make the Chase this year, but his time will come.
So, if you've got a young NASCAR fan in your house, maybe you should guide him or her to Logano.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Best Day of the Year and picks

For auto racing fans, today is the best day of the year. If you can handle watching the Formula One cars play follow the leader after they get into the first turn, there's the Turkish Grand Prix this morning. Actually, I liked it better when this race was the Grand Prix of Monaco, a top event for the Formula One guys and actually a race worth watching for that circuit.
Then at 1 p.m. today there is the Indianapolis 500. The Indy Car leaders did all they could to ruin their series in the 1990s and early 2000s by having split series, but the Indy 500 is still the Indy 500 and the winner gets over a $1 million, so you know, that's nothing to sneeze at. And Danica is in the race, so when she gets mad at somebody for cutting her off, that's always entertaining, whether it's her radio chatter or confronting them in the pits during or after the race.
Look for a Penske or Ganassi car to win there. Ganassi is trying to win the Indy 500 and Daytona 500 in the same year, which would be quite an accomplishment. And Penske and Ganassi also have an outside chance to win the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day, which would also be quite a feat.
And speaking of the Coca-Cola 600, here's a look at my picks for tonight's endurance test.
Kyle Busch - Probably not patient enough, but he's just too good not to pick.
Jimmie Johnson - He's been so good at this place, it's stupid not to pick him.
Jeff Gordon - Got his first career win in this race and it would be sort of appropriate for him to win here as he is undergoing a bit of renaissance.
Kurt Busch - Looked good in the All-Star race and if Penske wins at Indy, this would give him the Daily Double.
Kasey Kahne - A Ford has got to win a race sometime this year.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Word of Mouth

There have been plenty words written about Dale Earnhardt Jr. and there plenty of matching theories on his struggles in recent years. Of course, Junior is frustrated with his recent results and the feedback he at times gets from crew chief Lance McGrew. For instance, at Dover, Earnhardt thought something might be broke on the car, but when the crew looked at it during the race, they found nothing.
Later that week, McGrew said he wasn't looking for a change at Hendrick Motorsports and that was an important message to send to Junior.
Just because he's had a some tough results (running 30th or worse is no fun), it doesn't mean instant changes are needed. Junior and McGrew have been together for just over a year. It's important for Junior to learn some patience here and to build some trust in his crew chief. Sometimes it takes more than a year. And if they do endure and good finishesm, including a victory every now and then do come, then it will be all the more rewarding.

More later on auto racing's best day of the year

Saturday, May 22, 2010

NASCAR All-Star Race 2010

Kurt Busch won the million, but the biggest news out this event is Kyle Busch saying on his radio that "Somebody better keep me away from Denny Hamlin. I swear to God, I am going to kill (him). All his ... fault. I had this race won! It was won!” Busch was upset at Hamlin for blocking him on the high side during the late stages of Saturday night's all-star race in Charlotte. It's generally a fun event to watch because there is none of the so-called points racing, it's just about getting the win and isn't that how it should be anyway.
But there could be another reason that Kyle Busch was upset, besides simply not getting a chance to win the race. Maybe Kyle was feeling a little pressure to win the $1 million prize so he could gain some cash to help fund his trucks teams. Even though Busch regularly dominates when he runs in that series, he's had sponsorship issues and is basically running the team out of his own pocket. Even the deep pockets of star NASCAR drivers aren't bottomless.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Some quick impressions on Dover race

It looked like it was Jimmie Johnson's day, but Kyle Busch didn't assume the No. 48 was going to Victory Lane like it has so many times here. He kept the pressure on and it at least contributed to Johnson making a mistake by speeding out of pit lane.

Still no wins for Ford this, but a third today. If you count Johnson, it was really the fourth best car though.
Speaking of Fords, a nice run by Biffle who started 24th and finished sixth.

The official attendance estimate was 88,000. That seems a little high going by the empty seats.

Just 13 cars finished on the lead lap, a testament to how dominating Busch and Johnson were throughout the day.

Johnson has been a little snakebit the last few weeks, but he's still a major contender to win the Chase. He's been one of the fastest cars each week, so he'll get it together in time for the last 10, you can count on that.

Live at Dover, the finish

Here's the unofficial rundown
1. Kyle Busch
2. Jeff Burton
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Denny Hamlin
5. David Reutimann
6. Greg Biffle
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Carl Edwards
9. Tony Stewart
10. Joey Logano

Live at Dover through 375 laps

On green flag stops, Johns too fast off pit road. That's a drive through penalty and no win for Johnson. Too bad, it would have been a great dual at the finish between Busch and Johnson. Now it's Busch's race to win. Everything's got to go perfect to win one of these things and Johnson's speeding penalty was a big mistake.

Live at Dover through 350 laps

Kyle Busch still hanging on to the lead. Johnson still right there. I would be surprised if Johnson doesn't have a little something left at the end if he needs it.

Live at Dover through 325 laps

Kyle Busch stll leading with Johnson rght there and Kenseth and jeff Burton also not far off. Maybe we could have a good battle at the finish afterall. We still have one more pit stop to go. A good to see somebody give Johnson some competition.

Live at Dover through 300 laps

On restart after a yellow and Kyle Busch takes the lead, but some different news. This time Johnson hasn't passed him, even though Kyle B. can't pull away either. Matt Kenseth also hanging close in third. Still think Johnson's the guy to beat though.

Live at Dover through 275 laps

While Johnson is leading, it took 10 laps, sorry three laps off on that prediction, Allmendinger is on the move now and is 13th. Let's just get this out of the way here, unless he has an accident or engine failure, the only way Johnson has a chance to be beaten today is if there is a re-start with two laps to go and Kyle Busch gets a jump on him. But even that's certainly no guarantee.

Live at Dover through 250 laps

Hornish in the wall again at lap 245. If not for Hornish and Ambrose causing four yellows, who knows how far Johnson might be ahead. Kenseth and Kurt Busch stay out so ther 1-2, followed by Kyle Busch and Johnson.
Here's the question: How many laps before Johnson takes the lead again? I'll say 7 laps after the green flag drops.
Junior in 32nd just in case you're wondering.

Live at Dover through 225 laps

Johnson still comfortably out front. Reutimann has a nice run going in third. A yellow as Ambrose hits the wall up in the third turn. Right front all tore up.
A chance for Stewart to fix his woes. Allmendinger gets back on lead lap.

Live at Dover through 200 laps

Johnson still leading, with Jeff Burton trying to gain, but not makng any big in roads. Stewart must either have a bad set of tires or missed a chassis adjustment. He's back to 14th.

Live at Dover through 175 laps

We had a yellow and Allmendinger got caught in the pits, so he's a lap down. Kyle Busch fast on the restart again, so he has the lead for nhow, but Johnons is right there and ready to make the pass. Stewart got off slow on the restart and lost six places, back to 11th, but seems OK now.

Live at Dover through 150 laps

We had green flag pit stops around lap 135. Logano came out a big winner here and is fourth and is challenging Allmendinger for third. Johnson still out front. Pit road speed limit here is 35 mph. The cars look turtle-like coming off pit road on green flag stops. Kasey Kahne has a good car, but shifter is a problem and if they don't get that fixed somehow, pit stops will continue to be a big issue.

Live at Dover through 125 laps

Johnson stretching the lead out against Allmendinger, who is comfortably ahead of Kyle Busch, who is third. Stewart gaining a little on Busch, too. What's Dale Jr. doing out there? He's among those who have already been lapped.

Live at Dover through 100 laps

Johnson is still in control, but Allmendinger is not going away. Biffle has a nice run going, up to 12th after starting 24th. Stewart up to fifth, maybe gaining a little on McMurray in fourth.

Live at Dover through 75 laps

Kyle Busch running away with it. Allmendinger has a good car today and just moved up to third. ALways good to see the No. 43 run well. Stewart stuck in 7th and not really gaining on anybody right now. Johnson starting to gain a little on Busch, now, too.

Live at Dover through 50 laps

Johnson could make this a not exciting race if he keeps running like this. Tony Stewart is having a good day and he really needs it. He's up to eighth after starting 16th. But way too early to tell if he will be able to challenge Johnson. Kahne is haning in there too in second, so maybe there is some hope.

Sam Hornish in wall in first turn.

Live at Dover through 25 laps

Kasey Kahne starts out fast and has led the whole way. Is this Ford's day. But Johnson is coming fast. Johnson takes lead on 24th lap on pass in bottom of third turn.

Live at Dover

We've got a good day here. Mostly sunny and a little bit of a breeze. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards were top three in final practice Saturday. We'll how that plays out today as the weather conditions are very similar. Smallest crowd I've seen here. It's too bad because it's a great place to watch a race, but these things aren't free either.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

They're bad and Nationwide

Some impressions from Saturday's Nationwide race at Dover.

When Kyle Busch has it all going like he did Saturday, he's a treat to watch. A couple of things you can't help but notice is that when he's going around and lapping the field, he's a bit of a stalker. There's no waiting a lap and then passing a guy, or catching up to someone and then laying back and waiting for the right opportunity to go around. It's more like here I am, I know I'm faster than you, you know I'm faster than you, so get out of the way. The other thing is that when Busch has a two- or three-second lead, he doesn't just coast around there and maintain what he has. He's looking to stretch that lead to say five or six seconds. He's just doing his job, driving that car as fast as he can.

As for the Bowyer-Hamlin incident. Bowyer doesn't easily lose his cool, so it was a surprising to see him head back out and take out Hamlin. It makes you wonder if there's been some history there over the last year or two and Bowyer finally had enough. I do believe Hamlin when he says he didn't clip Bowyer intentionally on that restart that caused a major accident. So, it will be interesting to see if there's any carryover into today's Sprint Cup race. My guess is probably not.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What I like about Kyle Busch and picks

With Kyle Busch driving in the Trucks, Nationwide and Sprint Cup series this weekend, I was hoping we might see a first with a triple-weekend winner. And even though he dominated for much of the Trucks race, he was short on gas and had to pit causing a 16th place finish. But don't be surprised to see him win in the Nationwide race today, where he's been dominant.
While there are many fans who don't like Busch, you've have to respect that he's a race car driver first. He was asked by a national publication to do a weekly blog for them, but Busch refused, not to be rude, but simply because he felt it wouldn't be interesting. He's not into popular TV shows, or the hottest movie, or the latest big musical group or fashion trend. I doubt we'll ever see him on a soap opera or filling as a TV talk show host. Also, when he talks to the media, you know you're going to get a truly honest answer. What a concept. But above all, he's just really into racing, pure and simple and what's not to like about that?

Time for this week's picks
First, a look at last week, and the not so good results for me

Jeff Gordon, fourth. He led the most laps at 110 and very well could have won if not for missing the entrance to pit road late in the race.
Kevin Harvick, sixth. He's leading the points and has found the necessary consistency to be a champion.
Carl Edwards, 15th. Started poorly, but got back into the top 10, only to fade a little at the end.
Joey Logano, 27th. Was caught up in an accident, but was only running OK before that.
Jimmie Johnson, 36th. He had a top-five car at least, but another accident ruined his day.

The five picks for Dover
Jeff Gordon: He just needs to relax a little. He's had too many chances to win and he's going to run into one soon.
Jimmie Johnson: Too dominant on the concrete not to pick here.
Kasey Kahne: He's my Ford pick for this week. Maybe a good qualifying run is sign of good things to come.
Tony Stewart: He needs a good finish and nearly won at Dover last year.
Kyle Busch: I just wrote about why I liked the guy, so, yeah, he's gotta be one of my five this week.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dover and Dover and Dover again

Some thoughts on this week's upcoming race at Dover, Del., the closest NASCAR's major series comes to Delaware County.

First, Dover, being just a one-mile track is a great place to watch a race. You can see the entire track from almost any seat, but just remember, as is the case with most races, the higher the seat the better. The only questionable seating area at Dover, by that I mean the only place you can't see the entire track, is in the third turn due to the bridge seating at the end of the backstretch.

Second, I like Dover because it's loud. You can't be an auto racing fan without liking loud engines can you? The sound echoes around the concrete track and while it's advisable to have some kind of earplugs, and essential if you're taking smaller children, even with that protection it's still plenty loud. The loudest places are the seats coming off the second and fourth turns, when the cars are accelerating.

Third, if you don't have the money to spend on Sunday tickets, Saturday is a lot less crowded and the tickets are cheaper for the Nationwide race which starts at 2 p.m. Some key guys in the Nationwide race this week are Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray. There are also special ticket deals for children for Saturday and that's always helpful.

And last for this post, the grand marshal this weekend is The King, a seven-time winner in his driving days at Dover, back when the races were 500 miles. You've got to love The King.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Good news out of Darlington and predictions

Apologies for not getting on here this week. Too much life happening.
But finally ...
Some good news out of Darlington. Car owner Richard Childress announced that he is close to signing driver Kevin Harvick to an extension. Harvick, the points leader going into tonight's race at Darlington, was rumored to be looking at other teams, specifically those who run Chevrolets. So, there had been speculation that he could become the third Stewart-Haas driver joining team owner Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, who drive Chevys. Stewart-Haas essentially uses the Hendrick team's engine and chassis information. So, there had been some speculation that eventually Hendrick would be controlling as many as eight cars. And you know Ford wouldn't stand by and just let that happen, so it wouldn't be out of the question to see Jack Roush do the same thing and you would have two teams controlling 40 percent of the field.
At any rate, it's good to see that Childress and Harvick are likely to stay together. Monopoly would be a bad thing for this sport.

The picks for tonight's race at the track many call too tough tame.
First last week's results: I gave you five guys and three finished in the top five, including the winner.
Denny Hamlin: Ran well for a while, but settled for 11th
Jeff Burton: Was strong all night and finished fourth
Tony Stewart: Was 23rd and needed to stay out an extra lap on a yellow to pick up the five bonus points for leading a race. Not a good sign.
Jeff Gordon: Was second, and really, he's been good all year.
Kyle Busch: The winner. My comment was: He's too good not to contend for the win at Richmond.

This week's picks:
Jeff Gordon: Yes, I'm picking him until he gets a win. The team has been strong all year.
Kevin Harvick: The points leader, has been very consistent and liked that winning feeling two weeks ago.
Carl Edwards: A Ford has got to win a race sometime soon and Edwards loves Darlington.
Joey Logano: A bit of a different pick, but he's a rare young guy who actually likes Darlington.
Jimmie Johnson: I try to avoid picking him every week, but on a difficult and physically demanding track like Darlington, it's impossible not to pick him.

And by the way, don't forget Mother's Day Sunday.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I'm not gonna take it anymore

The fact that Fox 29 in Philadelphia is showing a political debate instead of the NASCAR race is outrageous. Would they do this for a Phillies game? No. A Flyers game? No. A Sixers game ... well maybe. An Eagles game? Never even a thought.
Since this was done locally, there is no other channel to watch the race at Richmond.
This is a disaster.
No Boogity, Boogity, Boogity!
The late Dale Earnhardt would have rattled these guys cages by now.
I'd rather listen to Larry and DW during a rain delay than this.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Jimmie's visit and Richmond predictions

Timing is everything, and so it was with Jimmie Johnson's visit to Philly Thursday. Coming on the heels of a two-week-in-a-row run-in with teammate Jeff Gordon on the track, Johnson had no problem admitting he made a mistake, trying to pick up Gordon in the draft, but changing lanes too soon.
Turn signals? Not on these cars.
Here are some notes from Johnson's session with the media Thursday:
Johnson explained that one of the issues for drivers with these newer cars, combined with the HANS devices the drivers where for safety, is that it is difficult for drivers to see where they are in relation to others cars. The driver sits a little more in the middle of the car, which makes seeing how close you are to other cars more difficult. That means a driver is depending almost solely on the spotter, who stands high above the track. So, if the spotter is just a second off, or if the driver misinterprets what the spotter is saying, that's a formula for an accident.
Johnson had a question and answer session with fans before meeting with the media. One question was, "who is your favorite driver." Being no dummy, Johnson answered, "Jeff Gordon."
Johnson says Mark Martin has had a big positive influence on the Hendrick team. Martin shows up early for meetings, knows what to say and when to say it, and is legendary for keeping in excellent physical condition, an area Johnson says he has improved on greatly since Martin came on board last season.
Johnson, the four-time defending champion, says one challenger is Denny Hamlin. He noted the Gibbs Racing team has an excellent driver-crew chief combination with Mike Ford and Hamlin, with good equipment and enough experience to know how to win, and improve if they are not winning.

OK, on to my top 5 predictions for Richmond:

Last week's picks and finishes:

Jimmie Johnson: 31st after getting caught in accident
Kurt Busch: Solid finish in 8th
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Ended at 13th
Carl Edwards: Hung in there for an 11th
Kevin Harvick: 1st: The exact words were, "has a knack for being there at the end on these tracks.'' So, of course, he wins by about foot on a pass in the final quarter-mile.

Richmond picks
1. Denny Hamlin: He always runs well at home and knows how to finish
2. Jeff Burton: Another Virginia guy who wants to do well at home
3. Tony Stewart: Due for a win and he's good on short tracks
4. Jeff Gordon: He's going to win one soon. His car has been too good.
5. Kyle Busch: He's too good not to contend for a win at Richmond.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Some humble pie for Jimmie

So, Jimmie Johnson admits that he is sorry for wrecking teammate Jeff Gordon during Sunday's race at Talladega. Johnson said it was a mistake on his part, that he didn't judge Gordon's closing speed correctly when trying to join Gordon as a draft partner.
Johnson's words were significant because it was in October of 2006 when he was near victory at Talladega when then-teammate Brian Vickers bumped him out of the way and went on to victory.
Vickers admitted that day in Victory Lane that it wasn't intentional. Of course, any driver who is leading and has a win in sight is going to be frustrated by that kind of accident.
But the telling words that October day from from Johnson's long-time crew chief Chad Knaus, who said of Vickers, "I just don't think he has the talent to understand what he has underneath him."
You can bet Knaus didn't utter those words to Johnson.
What the accident does tell us, is that the cars with bigger restrictor plates can go faster and along with the improved aerodymanics, it's impossible for a car to instantly slow its momentum. So, if Johnson, who does have plenty of talent, can have this kind of wreck, it can happen easily.
But hopefully the four-time defending Sprint Cup champion has learned a lesson that accidents happen. Johnson may very well win that fifth straight title, but maybe this time, he'll be a little more of a humble champion.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Talladega time

Random thoughts on Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Talladega:

You never know what's going to happen in restrictor plate races at the end, other than a lot of wrecks and that was the case Sunday.

It's great to see that a driver can actually make a pass on the last lap to win, even if it has to be timed perfectly like Kevin Harvick's was Sunday. So, the bigger restrictor plates along with the changed aerodynamic package made it possible to have a close finish. I also love the fact that two cars running together are faster than the rest of the pack on plate tracks. Watching follow-the-leader racing is no fun, even if it did seem like that a couple of occasions Sunday.

In the draft: Michael Waltrip may only be able to drive on restrictor plate tracks with any effectivness, but he's always a great interview. He wasn't afraid to say that one of the mid-race accidents that took him out was due to a mistake made by Kyle Busch. Waltrip is down to racing just a couple of times a year, so he doesn't have to worry about any on-track retribution the Shrub, the younger.

Hendrick feud: What's this, Jeff Gordon says he is mad at Jimmie Johnson? Do we actually have a feud brewing in-house at Hendrick Motorsports? Well, maybe for an hour or so after the race, but you can believe that Hendrick will sit these guys down and let them each tell their side of the story. Hendrick, like him or not, is too smart to let something like this hurt his team.
On the plus side though, it's good to see Jeff Gordon get upset about being taken out. Because this means he really believes his team can compete for victories and win races. They've got the competing part down, but not the victory part yet. But that may well be coming.

Worst timing for commercial: NASCAR announced before the race there would be a competition yellow at 20 laps to check tires as qualifying and final practice was rained out Saturday. So, when it's time for for those first pit stops, FOX is out on commercial. Bad timing. They've been doing this too long to make that kind of mistake.

Best driver comment picked up by TV: When Dale Earnhardt Jr. was asked by his crew chief if he wanted to 4, 2, or no tires, Junior responded: "Tires don't mean nothin' to me.''

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Talladega restriction predictions

Restrictor plate races are the toughest to predict. You've got pretty much the whole field running together and you never know when the Big One will happen. We know this for sure, when the Big One does happen, Jimmie Johnson will sneak through unscatched. It's just one of those things that happens when your on a four-plus year roll like Johnson.
The weather looks good for today, so if it's raining here as expected, we've got some good TV viewing at least around 1 p.m. on FOX.
So here goes my top five predictions for today:
1. Jimmie Johnson, one lap short of winning last week.
2. Kurt Busch, Penske cars have been good on restrictor tracks the last couple of years.
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., hard to predict him to win just because it's been so long, but you can't not pick an Earnhardt at a restrictor track.
4. Carl Edwards, you know he was leading when Kesolowski vaulted him into the air last year.
5. Kevin Harvick, has a knack for being there at the end on these tracks.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The difference between Jimmie and Jeffy

The end of Monday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas showed us the difference between Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. In the final laps, Gordon, who without question had the fastest car, came out of the pits in eighth. The four-time NASCAR champion didn't feel like he could wait a lap or two for traffic to loosen up with 19 to go and he forced the issue that resulted in a multi-car crash, in which Tony Stewart took the blame for. And Stewart was partially to blame, but if Gordon had shown just a little patience, he wouldn't have been in a difficult position, being the center car in a three-wide situation. At most tracks, that just leads to trouble and it was no different Monday.
Meanwhile, Johnson snuck through the accident on the inside and then almost rallied to beat eventual winner Denny Hamlin. If the race had been one more lap, Johnson would have won. The difference was that clear. However, before the big accident, Johnson was not forcing the issue. He knew if waited two or three laps to make a move, he would have more room and that it would still be enough time to contend for the lead. That's why he's the four-time defending champion. He knows when to push the issue and when to be patient.
That quality is not easily learned and one that Gordon may need to relearn if he has any chance of adding another championship.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Big One at Texas

It was some bad luck for Gordon and Stewart. Gordon took four tires on the last pit stop, but came out eighth on the restart. He had the best car and knew it, but with only 19 laps to go, he couldn't be patient. So, he was pretty aggressive there, combined with Stewart's car being a little loose caused this one. Not really any one driver's fault, but it ended in a big mess for sure. We get the Big One one week early as Talladega is next week.
Will Junior finally get a win?

Gordon's turn

Jeff Gordon is on a strong run right now after latest pit stops, passing Junior on lape 143. Gordon's been close the last couple of races and he's already got a two-second lead over Junior. It might be Gordon's day.

Junior takes the lead for a minute

Dale Earnhardt Jr. found himself in a rare place for a few las in Monday's race ... the lead. Junior's first career win came at Texas in 2000 and if he win's there today, it would be a similar type of celebration.
Stewart is quickest out of the pits, as the pole sitter always has that slight advantage being closest to the start-finish line and having no one pit in front of them. So he's first on the restart on lap 83 or 84 after yellow for Vickers hitting the wall, but he's back out now.

Finally racing at Texas

Boogity, Boogity, Boogity!
They've finally got enough dry weather to get things started in Texas today. Stewart on the pole and looks strong leading the first 12 laps, however, that No. 48 has seemed to settle in and it wouldn't surprise me to see him up front in 10-15 laps. Biffle looks good today too as well as Kyle Shrub, and Brian Vickers, who is moving up after starting in the back.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Hello to all,

Sorry to see it's raining in Texas today. The weather wasn't good there Saturday and forecast is not good for today. There may be some Monday racing tomorrow.

A little bit about this blog:
I do love NASCAR and follow it quite closely. Sometimes I think they could do a better job at times with various issues that arise on and off the track.
I like the fact that NASCAR sometimes will change the rules in midseason. A little unusual compared to other sports, but if the competitors are telling you something's broke, then fix it.
I can't take complete credit for the name of this blog. It's from a song called "Ignition" by a freaky dude named TobyMac. It was used on some of the NASCAR TV promos a couple of years ago.
I like drivers who are honest and make an effort to speak their minds. So, Yes, Kyle Shrub, Tony Stewart, those are the dudes I like. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also speaks his mind on occasion, and I've always liked him. He just needs to win a race. It's not that these guys don't have their faults, especially Busch and Stewart, but real fans stick by their drivers unless they do something completely off the wall.
I'll be commenting regularly, and look for my race favorites and a sleeper pick or two on Fridays.
Until next time ... drive smart.