Monday, November 2, 2009

Talla-do-over? Ah let's just move on

The race? Fuhgetaboutit. Everyone else has covered it better and much more quickly than me, so I'll throw out another random list of what's on my mind.

Staying out late not a "best buy" for A.J.Allmendinger

The fallout from A.J. Ibeendrinkin's DUI arrest last week was surprisingly pretty minimal. The King is apparently standing behind him as is Best Buy (for 2010) and his multiple sponsors for rest of this year. Yet, it isn't good. You simply can't have race drivers getting arrested for DUI in 2009 - even if the sport's roots are grounded in 'shine runners back in 1949.

The relevance of Twitter

#1 - One of the funniest tweets I read about predictions for Halloween in the Talladega infield:

I haven't seen any pictures from the weekend to prove/disprove the prediction. Banktruck, however, said he saw someone dressed in a Wonder Bread driver uni. Close enough I think!

#2 - Denny Hamlin gave a shout-out to his supporters on Twitter in last week's Martinsville victory lane. He also uploaded a picture of a congratulatory sign left outside his Mooresville house to Twitpic.

#3 - Kyle Busch exclaimed "That. Just. Happened" ala Ricky Bobby after he won Saturday's truck race at Talladega. He was baited to do so by Jeff Gluck of Gluck told us on Twitter about the challenge. KyBu has so far said he has no plans to sign-up for Twitter, but he did get a big kick out of folks responding to Gluck's dropped gautlet. Sure nuff, when he won on Saturday - at Talladega no less - he paid up by saying it.

Now if only the 88 driver can McGrow a pair again

So Lance McGrew finally gets named as the full-time, unenviable job of crew chief for Dale Jr. in 2010. What was his status before? Crew Chief Intern? When will they start calling Lance "Jim Dandy"?

A bit perplexing are some of the comments from Ol' Junebug and McGrew about attitude, mental outlook, performance issues between the ears vs. under the hood, etc. Its also interesting about "changes" McGrew hopes to make in tandem with Alan Gustafson on Mark Martin's team. Think the Ageless Arkansan might raise a question or two about any planned restructuring?

One particular quote from Dale Jr. really made me laugh though.
“I can’t speak for everybody on the team, but my confidence was pretty down earlier,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It’s gotten better."
When I read that quip, I was immediately reminded of one of the funniest scenes of Monty Python's The Search for the Holy Grail (most relevant part starting at 1:20 mark).

Maybe Rodney Dangerfield was right

Just want to make sure I understand. Joe Gibbs Racing started the 18 team with Dale Jarrett and had a lot of success. When DJ moved to Yates Racing, JGR hired Bobby Labonte who helped take the team to the next level with many wins and a championship. When Bobby left for Petty Enterprises, JGR hired...J.J. Yeley? Remember that? (And don't forget JGR hired Jason Leffler as the initial driver of the FedEx #11 team before Hamlin.)

Steve Addington was faced with the almost impossible challenge of keeping a championship-caliber team together with a driver having even less talent than Paul Menard after a bender. After surviving that period of time, JGR woke up and wisely signed an angry Kyle Busch. KyBu wanted to win early and often. More important to him, he wanted to beat the Hendrick cars into submission.

So what happened? Well, we know what took place. Its only been the last two years, right? They smoked 'em. Addington put a team under Shrub that allowed him and the 18 team to return to its DJ and Bobby days -maybe even higher.

But with the good came the bad. KyBu is not a stroker - we know that. But he is a sore loser, bad mouths his team on national TV, and often gives up if he's not on the point. As a result, he didn't win the Cup in 2008 and failed to make the top 12 cut at all in 2009. Rather than work through the challenges of what needs to happen in 2010, what does JGR do? Knock Addington off the box. I think this move is nonsensical.

You can hear the hurt and frustration in Steve's quotes about the change, his future plans, and the definition of "success" in today's Cup racing:
"I've got a lot of respect for this organization and the people in it," he said. "But you sit back and you wonder, what do you got to do because you beat a lot of great guys in this garage in the past 18 months. And you start questioning what do you got to do to be successful in this business?

I've been with the No. 18 car for five years and the past two years have been awesome, and I think it's just, you just question what you have to do to make it over here."

Dave Rogers is a great crew chief on the Nationwide series, and I'm surprised its taken him this long to get promoted to a Sunday gig. But to get the bump at the expense of Addington, man oh man I'm just not sure that's good for all involved.

Cue Queen's Another One Bites The Dust

Nashville Speedway (the half-mile fairgrounds track - not the under-attended Dover-owned speedway) used to be one of THE places in the south to cut your teeth in late models with the hopes of movin' on up. Darrell Waltrip, CooCoo and Sterling Marlin, Mike Alexander, Casey Atwood, Jeff Green, etc. all ran here regularly over the years. From 1959 to 1984, NASCAR brought its top Grand National/Winston Cup drivers to town - many seasons twice a year. But no more. The backasswards Metro Council gubmunt and Mayor have finally pulled the plug on what has been a colossal screw-up by those organizations over the last 25-30 years. The city will be shutting down all of the fairgrounds including the speedway in 2010.

To add insult to injury, Dover announced its shuttering Memphis Motorsports Park and moving its dates to Nashville Superspeedway and Gateway Raceway near St. Louis.

OK East Tennessee, its all up to you. Bristol is about all we have left - and that track is almost in Virginia. We even lost Atomic Speedway dirt track just outside of Knoxville a year or so ago. Tennessee went from a vibrant motorsports date to having almost nothing other than a few bullrings in just a few short years. Sadly, this reality is not limited to the Volunteer State. I just feel it more acutely because its the state I call home.


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