Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Taking a break for a moment from racing, I wrote an entry about the traditional Christian period of Lent at my other blog. Rather than repeat here, how about if I just link it? Will appreciate your reading and thoughts.
God Don't Need Yo' Chocolate
We now return you to your regularly scheduled race blogging.

That is all.




Monday, February 23, 2009

That's What She Said

From Mike Harris' AP story about the Cali race attendance.
"Despite the economic crunch that has hit California particularly hard and predictions of a disastrously small turnout Sunday, it appeared the grandstand that holds 105,000 spectators was more than half full." (emphasis is mine)
More than half full? What kind of reporting is that? 51%? 76%? 105%? Ahh, me thinks this is double-speak for closer to 51%.

Harris' odd percentage estimate was then trumped by this rose-colored-glasses whopper by track president Gillian Zucker.
"But the doom and gloom about the fact that California can't support NASCAR is dead wrong."
Wasn't Darlington and Rockingham each drawing more than 50 thou for their races? With less than state-of-the-art facilities? Without the backing of the incestuous relationship between the sanctioning body and the track owner? In cold February weather of the North Carolina sandhills or hot and humid Labor Day weekends at Darlington? Yet we were told by NASCAR and ISC the statement that Rockingham and Darlington couldn't support NASCAR was dead right? Whatever.

Gillian dear. I'm sure you mean well and are trying to do a yeoman's job at pimping your events. But face it. Your market does not support one race - much less two. With ISC as the owner, you will continue to be fortunate and keep both dates despite of travesty of it all.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dr. Dick Berggren

banktruck has done a great job - and a very timely one - on his commentary the last 2 weeks. Last weekend, I was out of town with my son on a Boy Scouts trip & had only limited time to keep up with the race - much less blog about it.

This week, well... I really didn't care. Let's just be honest. I did see the final 30 laps, and Matt Kenseth put on a clinic. Not one mistake. A true Iceman. But I wasn't going to waste 3 to 4 hours of my life watching follow the leader at a track more boring than Nancy Pelosi's reading the bailout legislation word for word.

But one thing I have noticed the last 2 weeks in the limited coverage I have been able to watch is the increasingly darkening, purplish, bulbous schnoz upon Dr. Dick Berggren's face. What did this guy do in the off-season - vote in a free Iraqi election?

On to Viva Las Vegas!


California, Here We Come

Congrats to the 17 on back to back wins. What is not to like about this guy? They laugh about him being a robot, or clocking in with his lunchpail. I think of him as a surgeon, quietly methodically going about his business. If his new crew chief isn't from Wisconsin, he'll need language lessons. A native Michigander myself, I could hardly understand Kenseth and Reiser on the radio. A good battle at the end between 2 fallen champions in a long drought for wins. I expected some scoffing about my optimistic predictions for the 24 after last year's mediocre performance. No scoffing but that team seems to have it together again, like it or not. I just have this sense...

Not a bad race, at least for California. We've seen the show stunk up so many times out there. As the race began late as the sun was setting in the eastern time zone and then 3 rapidfire cautions for rain, I thought I would have to miss Desperate Housewives, but alas, another award show of some kind was on, so no complaints as long as we finished by my bedtime. Only 1 caution for an on-track incident was amazing, too bad it had to be Harvick. How about the beautiful snowcapped mountains off the backstretch. Evened out the empty seats on the frontstretch. They should change the seat colors from yellow and red so its not so obvious.

I'm glad the Fox pit reporters don't wear those stupid firesuits that ESPN makes them wear. Are reporters susceptible to spontaneous combustion? Bergren might look OK in one, with his hat. Speaking of firesuits, how cool is Delana Harvick in her firesuit? Beats the heck outta the usual fashion parade among the driver wives and chickadees. That chick is into it.

How about Angie Harmon on the flagstand going crazy? That was awesome. She is admittedly gorgeous, married to a cool former NFL player, and was part of my favorite cast among the many iterations of Law & Order. But lap after lap going nuts on the flagstand as the field came by--excellent.

Jr had an honest interview with DW in the pre-race. He mostly copped to last week's mayhem and DW pressed him but not too hard. OK we can all move on from that nonsense.

Shout out to the mentions of some of our favorite racing movies. Last week Days of Thunder with Tom Cruise driving the pace car. This week to Stroker Ace in an ask.com trivia question and even Clyde Torkle's Chicken Pit mentioned on air!

Finally, what are the odds 2, count em, 2 Hendrick motors give up in the same race, let alone on the same lap. Incredible. And it was the wrong 2 Hendrick motors too... Members of Jr Nation must be shaking their head with dread. Is the season shot after 2 races? Is this team made of what it takes to come back from such a deficit? Our local paper's Nascar columnist suggested a certain former car owner, former HMS Cup champ crew chief (currently unemployed) might be available and fit the bill for what that team needs. Um I don't see that happening. But one of the Jr / Jr combo needs to go, unless they suddenly figure out this isn't shorttrack Saturday night. And I'm guessing it won't be the one who sells the merchandise.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bristol Bound Baby!

Daytona is not even a week in our rear-view mirror. I'm not looking forward to another yawner at California. And the sport is still in troubled times with the number and stability of its teams. Yet, a bright and shiny glimmer of hope awaits. Bristol!

Got an invitation to go in a few weeks from a friend/co-worker. Ran it by the wife for budgetary and travel approval. She rubber-stamped it (a rarity). So off we'll go!

My first trip to Bristol was March 1986. We waited out a lengthy rain delay to see Rusty Wallace win his first career Cup race in the #27 Alugard/Blue Max Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2. Since then, I've been to about a half-dozen additional races at Thunder Valley.

This year will be the second consecutive year to go to the spring race. Last year's race featured a ton of activity in the last 5 laps. The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas dominated the race. But when the chips were on the table, the JGR Toyos were out of the picture and Richard Childress Racing Chevys finished 1-2-3.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

The D500

Well, the 2009 Daytona 500 is history.

You hate to see any race end with rain. Worse yet in person (my only trip to the Southern 500) so I will not complain.

Congrats to Matt Kenseth, one of the good guys. The kind of guy I could see myself being friends with if we went to church together or he was a working stiff living next door. He put himself in a position to win. He narrowly missed disaster and snuck thru the big one. But I do not understand why the 19 rolled over and let him pass for the lead. Sounded on the radio like the 19 was not mentally tough which might have had something to do with it.

Congrats also on the excellent debut of Richard Petty Motorsports.

Well the topic du jour has to be the 88 wrecking the field. He had about an hour to cook up an explanation and it was actually pretty good, convinced the Fox booth at least. Clearly he wrecked the 83 and a bunch of leaders along with him. Unexcuseable. I wish he would own up to his little temper fit, but again, he can't admit to everyone he did it. They all know it anyways. While I disagree with the Fox pre-race statement that Jr is running out of time to win a Championship and the talent pool is not exactly deep right now, this is not the way to launch a run for the Championship.

I think the Bass Pro Shops Chevy needs to head on down to BPS and buy a big sharp knife to cut the rope holding the boat anchor they dragged around all day.

On to California, er Fontana, er Auto Club Speedway.

Commercials, Pit Stops & Cautions

In most sports, TV goes to commercial during time-outs--you know, so you don't miss any action.

No no, not Nascar. Besides cautions, the closest thing we have to time-outs are pit stops. Yet we will leave live green flag racing for commercial to make sure we can see time-out pitstops live!??! Like going to commercial before 3rd down to make sure we can see the punt team run on the field.

I don't understand this. Granted every now and again something cool happens during a pit stop, guys get forced to the grass on exit, car falls off a jack, or a tire gets away and leaves a giant dent in someone's nose. Or even something not so cool like a pit crew member gets nailed. But most pit stops are routine and there's nothing to see except who took fuel only, 4 tires, 2 tires etc. Why do we leave green flag racing for this? Those details can be recapped later, besides during the live pit stop we only get to see or hear about a couple cars anyways, unless you're following the leader you won't know what your car did.

I propose we take long commercials during yellows (unless the flashing lights on the pace car do something for you) and come back from commercial and show who changed position and who took 2 vs 4. If something interesting happened, show a quick replay.

And I further propose we don't leave green flag racing just to cover pit stops. If pit stops fall during the live window, fine. Otherwise, show the racing, not 3 cars getting jacked up on a split screen.

1976 Daytona 500

Today, February 15, 2009, is the 33rd anniversary of the 1976 Daytona 500. Many view the 1976 edition as the 2nd most memorable of all time - second only to the 1979 500 where Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison wrecked and fought while Richard Petty went on to win his 6th Daytona 500 victory.

The 1976 Daytona 500 was shown nationwide; however, it wasn't shown flag-to-flag like the 1979 edition. ABC's Wide World of Sports joined it off-and-on during the race and then carried the last handful of laps.

Richard was coming off a spectacular 1975 season - 13 wins and his 6th championship. Pearson, who ran a limited schedule for the Wood Brothers for much of the 70s, had a moderately successful 1975 but was not poised to rip off an incredible 1976 season.

The finish came down to two long-time competitive but respectful drivers - The King and The Silver Fox, David Pearson. In an era of aero-dirty cars with unrestricted engines, drivers had the ability to pass using the sling-shot. Pearson and Petty battled back and forth the entire last lap before settling it in turn four. The King misjudged the rear of his Dodge and the front of Pearson's Mercury. When he clipped him...well just watch for yourself. Let's put it this way. The King COULD have been the only driver to win 8 Daytona 500s vs. the 7 he's got.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Are you kidding me

Like something out of Talladega Nights... (not a compliment). Presenting the Hellman's Mayo Chevrolet?!?! come on.

Pre Daytona 500 - I'm tiring of this issue

From a barstool at Sugar Mountain Resort in Boone, NC...

Tires? Already? First race of the year? We saw early-run blistering and blowouts in the twins. And today, Ryan Newman loses one (and a 2nd race car this week) and collected himself and car-owner/bossman Smoke in the process. Wiped out both cars, and the two drivers will turn to backup cars for the 500.

Man oh man, I hope we aren't going to see a repeat of the too-often-seen tire failing scenario from 2008. And what I REALLY hope we don't see is a repeat of last year's Brickyard 400 where tires were failing every 8-10 laps.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

TMC's 2009 Prognostications

My esteemed colleague of the financial services sector has put me on the clock. His predictions are locked and loaded in the blogosphere. Archiving strategies here are certainly going to be more effective than what I've used before with scraps of paper or an e-mail buried deep in my inbox.

So without further ado, here are my 2009 NASCAR predictions. Drum roll please.

Daytona 500 champ.........The Shrub

[Not My Wireless Carrier] Cup champ.........Jimmie Johnson - can't believe I just typed that. First choice was Cuzzin. But in the interest of having something to debate in November, I'll pick someone else. And who better to pick than the 3x champ, who drives for a crook - I mean the most dominating car owner, and who had little signifcant change to his team in the off-season.

Rookie of the Year.........Scott Speed. Not because I believe he can. Its just that I'm already tired of Joey No-more-o.

First driver to be fired.........David Stremme in the [My wireless carrier yet not seen on the 12 car] Dodge.

Underachiever.........07 Casey Mears. Rick Hendrick was pretty sure he let the wrong guy go at the end of the 2007 season when he saw Kyle Busch win 8x in 2008 and Casey Mears drown in the milk of his soggy Corn Flakes. He'll be truly convinced when he sees Mark Martin run like a scalded dog in his new ride as Casey's replacement. Meanwhile, Richard Childress is now faced with the challenge of "coaching up" Mears. Its taking him longer to mature as a driver than a barrel of Lem Motlow's recipe.

Overachiever.........Aric Amarillobymorning - Despite what my partner in crime has stated, I think this guy actually has some game. The X factor is what kind of steed Chip-N-Dale Racing can put under him. He clearly got marginalized last year as Mark Martin played the role of Brett Favre last year. If, if, if CND can get sponsors for him to run a full schedule, I think he has a chance of exceeding the low expectations most folks seem to have for the 8 team.

Number of races without 43 starters.........5

Lamest rendition of the National Anthem at a race.........Taylor Swift

Will Nancy Pelosi be the Grand Marshall at the Sears Point race.........Uhhh no.

Will one of the 4 manufacturers announce their withdrawal from NASCAR by the end of the season?.........Yes

Will the following win a race?
  • Kyle Busch.........yes (engine started)
  • Jimmie Johnson.........yes (revving her up)
  • Carl Edwards.........yes (burn out)
Now, let's proceed
  • 00 - David Rutabaga.........Are you kidding me? No
  • 07 - Casey I Ain't My Uncle Mears......... Nope
  • 1 -T-Rex.........Hmmm. Yes
  • 2 - Kurt Busch.........No
  • 6 - David Gipper.........Yes
  • 20 - Sliced Bread.........No
  • 29 - Happy Harvick......... Yes
  • 33 - Hamburger Helper Bowyer......... Yes
  • 42 - Juan Big Red Montoya.........Yes
  • 43 - Reed Coldsorespot.........No
  • 82 - Scott Speed......... No
  • 83 - Kris Kringle......... Yes
  • 96 - Bobby Labonte.........No
  • 98 - Paul Mentard.........Yes. Wait. What I meant was "will he wreck? = yes" not "will he win? = yes" Sorry.
Final 12 Chasers but not necessarily in finishing order:
  • 99 - Cuzzin
  • 48 - JJ
  • 24 - Jeffy
  • 16 - Possum
  • 18 - Shrub
  • 11 - Opie
  • 5 - Brett Favre
  • 29 - Happy
  • 31 - Burton
  • 33 - Bowyer
  • 9 - Krispy Kreme
  • 42 - Montoya

It's Prediction Time

It is time for the annual ritual of engaging in futile picks & predictions. For a couple years this has gone on in the privacy of and under cover of email but now we are exposed for all the world to see. Let's just dive in, shall we:

Daytona 500 champion 24 (pains me to admit it)
Rookie of the year 20

First to be fired Eric Almirola by Morning, replaced by Rochester Hills, MI's own Brad Keselowski.

Biggest overachiever 14. how do you vote for Tony to be the biggest overachiever when he is a legit contender every season? I guess what I'm saying is he is going to shock us with his performance in year 1 of ownership of a formerly 3rd tier team. But there will be some interesting moments along the way without Dr. Zippy the pharmacist to dispense the zanex. Honorable mention to the 5. I wish he would retire already but the cat can still drive and will be in the best equipment in the series.

Biggest underachiever 07. Anyone ever been a loyal productive employee and been leapfrogged by the new guy in the company org chart... put Clint back. After this season the rumor mill will be suggesting the same. Runner up for this award is 26 who will make Roush's little game of Survivor (CBS Thursday 8 pm) a little easier. "Jamie, the tribe has spoken."

Good driver who cant seem to get a decent ride: Dave Blaney. Somebody give this guy a shot please.

Bad driver who seems to hang around like a bad penny in good equipment: David Stremme.

Will the following 2nd tier (or lower) win a race in 2009:
AJ Almondjoy nope
Sam Sideburns Hornish nope
Kasey Kahne't yep
Brad Keselowski nope
Bobby Labonte nope
Sliced Bread Lagano nope
Mark Martin yep
Casey Mears nope
Paul Soulpatch Menard nope
JPM nope
Flyin Ryan yep
Gipper 6 nope
Ewwiot Sadwer nope
Gipper 78 nope
Reed Sorespot nope
Scott NoSpeed nope
Martin T-Rex yep
Brian FullofBull Vickers nope
Mikey Waltrip nope

Cool new paint scheme award 31. runner up to 44.
Awful new paint scheme award 6.

Drum roll please:
Cup champ 99 (he is so due)
2nd 24
3rd 5
4th 11
5th 48
6th 88
7th 18
8th 31
9th 29
10th 17
11th 14
12th 1

Gentlemen start your engines!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

T-Rex !

A hat similar to this one will be worn every evening this week (except during Red Wings / Predators) and during the 500, in honor of the polesitter.

Good luck T-Rex !

Kyle Petty at Daytona...30 years ago

Has it really been 30 years? February 11, 1979. Kyle Petty made his first ever stock car racing start in the Daytona ARCA 200. He drove one of King Richard's discarded Dodge Magnums, painted it up all purty and such with white and a shade of blue lighter than traditional Petty blue, got himself Valvoline as a sponsor, and off he went. He raced like a seasoned pro and impressed his dad, his grandfather Lee, and other veterans of the sport.

I remember the anticipation of Kyle's beginning his racing career. Richard had ended a forgettable 1978 season with zero wins, a mid-season change in manufacturers from Dodge to General Motors, and off-season stomach ulcer surgery. The only bright spot was a win in the Winston Western race at Phoenix after the Cup season ended a week earlier at Ontario. I was ready for some optimism from the Petty camp, and the start of a third-generation Petty career was what I needed.

Of course, this was pre-dot com, pre-ESPN, pre-Speed, pre-boogity-boogity-boogity. The ARCA race wasn't televised, and it wasn't even on the radio - at least not in my area. I remember squirming a lot waiting for the local 6:20 sports report that evening to see if Kyle got a mention. I couldn't believe it when they said he had won.

Kyle's on-track success that weekend, however, was short-lived. He attempted his first Winston Cup race in May 1979 at the World 600 in Charlotte. A practice crash ended that attempt. Next up? Daytona's Firecracker 400. He won the ARCA race in February on the same track. Surely he could qualify for a Cup race, right? Wrong. Another attempt, another wreck. His Cup debut would have to wait until that season's 2nd Talladega race.

Even though Petty Enterprises is no more and Kyle is no longer associated with a Petty team, I did think it was extremely cool when Richard Petty Motorsports wheeled out the Valvoline / KP trib scheme for A.J. Allmendinger to run in the Bud Shootout and Daytona 500.

The win by the 18-year old in the hand-me-down Magnum was a harbinger of great things to come for Petty Enterprises in 1979. A week after Kyle's win, Richard won the Daytona 500 for the 6th time (take THAT you Earnhardt fans) after Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough wrecked on the last lap and got into a scrap with each other and Bobby Allison in that nationally-televised, historic race. Richard's win ended his long drought dating back to 1977 and set him up to win his 7th Cup championship in November 1979.

For more memories about the races near the beach in 1979, check out Tom Higgins' blog entry from February 5.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Bud Shootout: What if...

What would have happened if Joey Logano had won the Bud Shootout? Would he have been allowed in victory lane since he's under 21? Would he have been required to spray a can of Busch NA instead? (I wonder if A-B even still makes that crap.)

What if a race was held where Mikey, Paul Menard, AND Robby Gordon didn't all wreck? Would the world stop spinning on its axis right then and there?

What if Greg Biffle was the only car on the track at Daytona or Dega? Would he still get collected in 3 wrecks not of his own doing?

What if the Miller Lite car won the Bud Shootout? Wait...that's actually been done. Rusty Wallace did it. And Bill Elliott won a Busch Clash in a Coors Ford. Never mind.

What if A.J. Allmendinger's #44 retro Valvoline car had won? Would Kyle Petty have been found in victory lane?

What if the NASCAR brass allowed members of the media to do their job and cover the sport openly, objectively, candidly, and yes sometimes critically?

What if Jeff Hammond just shut up and quit pretending he is someone he isn't?

What if DW and Larry Mc quit stroking Hollywood's ego and realize they just encourage him to pretend he is someone he isn't?

What if Neil Bonnett were still with us doing race/color analysis?

What if one or more of these single-car teams who purchased blue-light special COTs from a Cup team yard sale actually finishes well?

What if Hall of Fame's Ask.com sponsorship check clears? Would it be the first dot com tech sponsor to actually pay for its NASCAR marketing?


Sunday, February 8, 2009

It's Baaaack

Our country continues its descent into socialism. The economic news keeps getting worse before it gets better. I didn't get my trophy buck. My knee hurts with 3 weeks left until the half-marathon. Football's over.


In spite of the innane way of picking the Shootout this year, almost the full cast of characters appeared (minus Newman, which Fox appropriately mentioned and showed), almost like it had been scripted. Plenty of new faces, new colors, and new rides. I think Fox did a good job summarizing them in the pre-race.

This year's Shootout had an All-Star Winston flavor about it (yes I will continue to refer to it as The Winston and the Cup as the Winston Cup thank you very much), complete with the wreckfests. Which brings me to my major observation, if our "all stars" performed like that last night, what on earth is the 500 going to look like Sunday? I'm terrible at predictions, and have been a supporter of Nascar's continued attempts to preserve safe and competitive plate racing, regularly observing we don't have The Big One every plate race, but Sunday has a good chance of ending up a 5-hour wreckfest. The cars on the bottom pushed big time, the most obvious example was the 88's near disaster with the 24 for the lead. The cars in the middle glided like the log flume ride down at the amusement park, the 17 being the best example, and well shown and well described by Fox. So 2 lanes will be sucker grooves. Add 43 cars instead of what, 26, add desperation, the purse, and the bunch of clowns that end up in this race, and you have the formula for disaster. I would not be shocked to see 10 500 cars torn up in the qualifiers.

Guys could get runs. Sometimes on their own. Big pushes on the straights, passing thru corners, push car cant keep up, other line coming. This is good stuff.

I do love plate racing. More on that at a later time perhaps. And I like Daytona better than Dega because the cars have to handle. But they didn't. And they won't. Worse yet if the temps are up (I haven't checked the weather), the sun is out (it should be), and it doesn't rain in the mean time.

What is the little safety net under the flagstand? How many flags have we dropped on the track and had to throw the yellow? (Wonder what would happen if they dropped the yellow...). Or could something more sinister be afoot--discouraging fence climbing ??? Anyone remember the cheesy little PVC pipe fence to keep drivers off the roof a few years back?

Seeing a red 43 was terrible. Seeing it blow up almost worse. The 44 paint scheme was cool, too bad it wasnt on the 43.

Scott Speed. Oh boy. Credit my friend Paul for a pre-race prediction of Speed's early demise. Fault my naivitee for thinking he might ride around and get some experience (have I mentioned my penchant for bad predictions). Somebody buy this guy some stock car sunglasses.

Congrats to Harvick, never sorry to see him or Childress win. Wish the car was still Goodwrench. But honestly he needed a wreck to do it. The banzii move to McMurray's outside throwing up dust was almost Days of Thunder material. But the 48 with the 14 pushing like a maniac on the inside would have won, absent the last lap mahem.

There are 2 guys who seem like good plate racers, but it's because they are out of control. 26 & 18. And they wonder why no one works with them except teammates. If you have any doubt listen to a little scanner chatter at a plate race. Nobody wants those cats on their bumper when it's go time.

I'd like to see a 20 car field and I'd like to not see a Winston-style time-out pitstop. Just run the thing like a Saturday night sprint, and we'd all be fine with it.

Nascar's back. Even with all the changes, downsizings, and sponsorship issues, I'm glad.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

2009 Daytona 500 ... an uh-oh moment for me

Just realized that I'll be somewhere other than in front of my Samsung DLP on February 15th when the green flag drops on the Daytona 500. I agreed to go with my son's boy scout troop on a ski trip to Sugar Mountain, NC that weekend. I'll also miss the Busch...ummm...Nationwide race on Saturday. Crap.

I don't ski. I'm simply going to assist with driving, supervision, and discipline. Perhaps I can find a place to hang out and watch the race while the boys and other adults ski. We're going to North Carolina for Pete's sake. Surely I'll be able to find the race on TV somewhere.

If I can find a place to watch it, that only solves half my dilemma. How am I going to spend 3 hours on Saturday or 4 hours on Sunday watching the races alone or with other racing fans that I'll meet those days and not be able to drink beer?

These challenges are on top of the fact my son and I will be gone on Valentine's Day weekend and away from our wife/mother.

What to do. Oh what to do.