Monday, June 20, 2011

Red Bull puts red flag on NASCAR teams

Associated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —The owner of energy drink Red Bull plans to leave NASCAR at the end of this season, The Associated Press has learned.
Multiple people familiar with the decision say a team official traveled to Michigan Speedway and told industry leaders Sunday of the impending move. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement has not been made to team employees.
Red Bull is both the owner and sponsor of the two-car NASCAR team. The team has struggled since its 2007 entry into NASCAR and consistently has been plagued by rumors and speculation that the Austrian ownership group will leave the auto racing series.
No reason for Red Bull’s leaving has been given, but the energy drink markets to the 18-to-34 age group — the demographic NASCAR has consistently lost in its current ratings slide.
The team had a horrendous debut season in 2007, when Brian Vickers failed to qualify for 13 of 36 races. He finished 38th in the final Sprint Cup standings.
AJ Allmendinger missed 19 races that year and was 43rd in the final points.
Jay Frye, a respected team manager in NASCAR, was brought on the next season as general manager, and the team slowly improved. But Allmendinger was let go late in 2008 for Scott Speed, who had been let go from Red Bull’s Formula One team.
Like Allmendinger, Speed was not ready for NASCAR’s top level, and the lack of experience in Red Bull’s second driver hindered Vickers’ development. Speed was let go at the end of last year and is currently suing Red Bull.
Vickers won a race in 2009 and made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, only to be sidelined most of last year with blood clots. He’s back this season, and the team has Kasey Kahne on loan from Hendrick Motorsports, but still isn’t among the top NASCAR organizations.
Kahne has five top-10 finishes and is 19th in points; Vickers has five top-10 finishes and is 24th in points.
Kahne moves to Hendrick Motorsports at the end of this year, and Vickers is in the final year of his contract. It’s not clear what will happen to development driver Cole Whitt, who is ranked second in the Trucks Series standings, or to the Red Bull employees.
It’s possible Frye could line up investors to buy the race team from Red Bull. He’s twice before run race teams that way with varying success.
Red Bull, meanwhile, also owns a pair of two-car Formula One teams. Current points leader Sebastian Vettel is the reigning world champion and has won five of seven Grand Prix races this season.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Edwards rumor and Michigan picks.

The big rumor from NASCAR land, courtesy of, is that Joe Gibbs Racing is courting potential free agent Carl Edwards to leave Roush Racing to come and drive the No. 20 Home Depot car. That would not put Joey Logano out of a ride, but make Edwards the fourth driver for Gibbs. That Gibbs may be trying to go to a fourth team is not a surprise. It's something the team had planned to do with Tony Stewart driving the No. 20 and then bringing the young Logano into the Sprint Cup mix when he was ready.
The fact that it could be Edwards is quite interesting. He's leading this year's points and has been on a roll since winning the final two races of the 2010 season for Roush Racing. He'd also be teammates with Kyle Busch, and they haven't exactly been best friends on the track.
Here's some video as a reminder.

This may all be speculation, but nonetheless it has to make Edwards happy, simply because it will drive his salary up, no matter which team he ends up driving for.

Michigan picks
Carl Edwards - The Roush cars do well here and you can't help but pick Edwards.
Matt Kenseth - He continues to show that qualifying is not a big deal, so no matter where he starts Sunday he'll be a threat.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - The script is set. Junior's last win was at this track on Father's Day three years ago. He's come close lately.
Kevin Harvick - No probation now, so they'll be looking in their rearview mirror if the spotter warns him he's coming ... especially if your name is ...
Kyle Busch - No probation either. This is a fast track and the No. 18 loves to lead at these types of places. He may well be leading at the end of the day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Feel Like A Number with Dale Jr. video

Any sports has its numbers and NASCAR is no different.
Here's a look at some interesting ones as the Sprint Cup heads into Michigan on Father's Day.

0 - The number of days Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick have left on probation for their fighting actions earlier this season. Could we be in store for more this weekend?
2 - Number of wins Jeff Gordon has this season. If he finishes inside the top 10 in the season points, he'll get 10 points per win toward the Chase for the Championship. If he needs those wins to earn one of the two wild-card spots he won't get those bonus points.
8 - Number of drivers whose families have grown by adding children since last year's Father Day's race. The most recent was Casey Mears, whose wife Trish had Hayden James on May 24.
10 - That's the number of points Junior is out of first place in the Sprint Cup standings this week. He's sits in third place behind Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson who is six points out.
11 - The number of Sprint Cup victories at Michigan for Jack Roush-owned cars. It would certainly not be a surprise to see one of them there again after Sunday's race.
30 - The minimum number of bonus points Jimmie Johnson has earned in his current run of five straight titles.
107 - That's right, it's the number of races since Dale Earnhardt Jr's last victory. That happened to come at Michigan on June 15, 2008. Yes it did actually happen. Here's the video to prove it.

And yes, this blog's title is honor of one of Michigan's best, Bob Seeger.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ten reasons not to hate Jeff Gordon with fashion disaster video

Back in the day, well, mostly from the mid-1990s until the early 2000s, Jeff Gordon was one of NASCAR's most popular drivers. But a lot of that popularity wasn't necessarily positive, as Gordon came off with the persona of having the perfect life. It seemed everything he did was right. There were times where he was seemingly out of races, only to comeback and win. He won four Sprint Cup titles, but his last one came in 2001.
So, really, why hate him now?
Here's 10 reasons we don't have to anymore.

10. He's been through a divorce.
9. Sometimes gets mad at teammate Jimmie Johnson
8. He's a teammate with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
7. Gave up trying to grow mustache.
6. Spun while leading race at Watkins Glen in 2007
5. Struggled to find primary sponsorship this season
4. No longer attempts to wear clothes like you see in this 1993 video

3. He's not Kyle Busch
2. He's not Kevin Harvick
1. He's got a two children and says being a dad is special to him.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Fight Stuff with video

NASCAR has a history of drivers and crews taking out their anger on each other. They all want to win. They've been out in the 90-degree weather for a few hours, so when they feel they are bumped intentionally, it sometimes turns into a physical altercation.
Now there's great irony in this, in that when you're driving to or from work, and somebody cuts you off without using a turn signal, there's probably at least a small part of you that would like to give him or her a bump into a guardrail. But we know that would just lead to more problems ... police, insurance, car repairs we can't afford, etc. So, we mumble a few choice words then move on. However, NASCAR guys, the ones who make their living working on and driving cars, well, when they get mad they can go seek immediate revenge. We want to do that, but can't, so maybe that's why we enjoy it when they do.
It was surprising to hear that car owner Richard Childress actually punch Kyle Busch after last week's truck race. Busch isn't afraid to show his emotion, sometimes to his detriment. But Childress, age 65, is a team owner. He tried to take things into his own hands by punching Busch, only to get fined $150,000. That's what happens when you take the low road ... the fine gets lowered on you.
Strictly for entertainment purposes, here's some NASCAR fight highlights, including a few featuring Childress driver Kevin Harvick, from over the years. The last one might not be what you're expecting, but is well worth watching.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Heart, Courage and Brains

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Kansas this week as this will be the first season for the track to have two Sprint Cup races. So, for some that's good news, other not so good news. This week's winner just may be the driver who has the best combination of heart, courage and brains. If you're not sure what this is in reference too, cut and paste this video link into your web browser:

So, here's a look at this week's predictions:
1. Carl Edwards - You have to pick at least one Roush driver these days. The Roushers have been very good lately.
2. Clint Bowyer - He's the only Kansas native in the field and does have a top five and two top 10s in five starts at this track.
3. Matt Kenseth - He continues to prove that qualifying doesn't really matter. He might start 30-something, but it would be no surprise to see him in the top five at the end.
4. Tony Stewart - He's got two wins here, even though one was a fuel gamble on the year he wasn't in the Chase. He needs a win to help his cause for this year's Chase as he's ninth in points and has yet to visit Victory Lane.
5. Greg Biffle - He's also got two wins, and yes, he's the third Roush guy on this list, but could be first guy to cross the line.

And finally, here's a look at my picks from last week and how they fared
1. Jimmie Johnson, finished 28th - where was that Charlotte dominance?
2. Jeff Gordon, finished 20th, a tough day for Hendrick guys
3. Kevin Harvick, First place, Hey, we got a winner in town
4. Carl Edwards, finished 16h, Led 61 laps, but got caught in last lap craziness
5. Kyle Busch, 32nd, led 55 laps, only to have night foiled by a spin and an accident.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Video for NASCAR top 10 closest finishes

Since we seem to be on the theme of close finishes this week, I went and found this on youtube of the 10 closest finishes in NASCAR history. The 2003 Darlington one of Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch was quite good. One question: Who do you think announcer Darrell Waltrip was wanting to win that race? Just askin'

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Here's a look at the Indy 500 and NASCAR finishes Sunday. And yes, couldn't help but notice all of the mess that was happening on the final lap at Charlotte, and no yellow was thrown. Was that because Junior was leading? I don't know one way or another. Just saying.