Friday, December 29, 2006

Former supermodel Niki Taylor marries unemployed NASCAR driver Burney Lamar



I think we know who the primary breadwinner will be.  Just think, a guy that doesn't even have a ride can marry a former model.  Not many professions can get you to that point.  Although I'm kind of surprised she'd marry a guy that races cars for a living after nearly dying in one.  That's what we call i-r-o-n-y.  Sorry, that might be a bit mean.  Anyway, go Burney.  I'd do the same if the opportunity presented itself.

Here's the rest.  I myself didn't read it but the women that frequent here might.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Question:

Which racing series should I watch on SPEED this January?

Vote on my MySpace page here or in the comments below.  The choices are A1 Grand Prix, Australian V8 Supercars, British Touring Car Championship, German Touring Cars, or Other.

Props

At least one blogger is still pounding out some quality info in December.  Marc from Full Throttle is, for my money, the best racing blogger going right now.  So head over there and check out what he is doing. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I Hope Everyone Had A Good Christmas

I know I did. 

The racing biz is always slow around this time, and for good reason.  December is the month that everyone (tries to) slow down and recharge for the new year.  January has preseason testing in Daytona and various other warmer-weather sites and the knowledge that the Daytona 500 is days, not months away.  Driver and sponsor lineups are almost all set and the cars are ready to go to the wind tunnel.  There is a cold wind in the air now but soon it will be filled with the smell of fuel and rubber.  When football season ends, the wheels NASCAR are ready to spin again.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Working On It...

I've finally had the chance to relax a bit here in the last few days.  Exams are over and I'm getting ready to head up 85 and go home for the holidays.  Merry Christmas everyone, but you'll hear from me again in a few more days.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Jimmie Roethlisberger

Two things about Jimmie's weekend excursion:

1. Was this the cart he was riding?



and...


2.

DAMN.

Who Saw This Coming?

Press release:


DISH Network(TM) Signs up to Sponsor Roush Racing's ''All-Stars''

CONCORD,N.C.-(Business Wire)-December 11, 2006 - Roush Racing announced todaythat DISH Network(TM) has signed on as a primary sponsor in the NASCARBusch Series and the NEXTEL Cup Series, with additional status as anassociate sponsor on all Roush entries.

DISH Networkwill have a team representative in all 35 Busch Races in 2007,alternating between four Roush Busch teams. Greg Biffle will drive theNo. 16 DISH Network Ford Fusion in five NEXTEL Cup races in 2007, thefirst of which will be at Pocono Raceway in June. When DISH Network isnot featured as a primary sponsor, they will appear on each NEXTEL Cup,Busch and Craftsman Truck Series entry as an associate sponsor.

An array of drivers from each Roush team will form the "DISHAll-Stars." Driving for DISH Network in 2007 as part of the "All-Star"team will be Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards,Jamie McMurray, Todd Kluever, Danny O'Quinn, Jr., Erik Darnell andMichel Jourdain, Jr.

Mark Martin will kick off theseason for DISH Network in the February Daytona Busch race. Martin willbe behind the wheel of the DISH Network Ford Fusion twice in 2007, thesecond of which will be the spring Texas race. The remaining "DISHAll-Stars" will split time behind the wheel throughout the season.

"We are proud to have DISH Network on board with us for next year,"said team owner Jack Roush. "Having them involved as a primary sponsorin our Busch Series programs is a real honor and hopefully we will putthem in victory lane several times throughout the season. On behalf ofeveryone at Roush Racing, I'd like to welcome DISH Network to ourteam."

Bobby Billman, senior vice president of Marketing for DISH Network, is excited to be on board with Roush Racing in 2007.

"DISH Network is thrilled to have the unique opportunity to sponsorsuch an elite racing team," said Billman. "NASCAR is one of the mostpopular sports in the country with millions of devoted fans, and webelieve it will be an exciting way for us to communicate theunparalleled value DISH Network offers its customers."

About EchoStar Communications/DISH Network

EchoStar Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH) serves more than12.755 million satellite TV customers through its DISH Network(TM), andis a leading U.S. provider of advanced digital television services.DISH Network's services include hundreds of video and audio channels,Interactive TV, HDTV, sports and international programming, togetherwith professional installation and 24-hour customer service. EchoStarhas been a leader for more than 25 years in satellite TV equipmentsales and support worldwide. EchoStar is included in the Nasdaq-100Index (NDX) and is a Fortune 500 company. Visit EchoStar's Web site atwww.echostar.com or call 1-800-333-DISH (3474).

Roush Racing is a subsidiary of Livonia, Mich.-based Roush Enterprisesthat operates 13 motorsports teams, five in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup withdrivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards andDavid Ragan; five in the Busch Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards,Ragan and Todd Kluever; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series withTravis Kvapil, Erik Darnell and Peter Shepherd. For sponsorshipinquiries, contact Robin Johnson, Roush Racing, 704-720-4645.


A few things... first, when did Dish Network get so much money?  Anyway, I'm ecstatic that Mark will run a Roush car next season, even if it's just two races.  I think this answers the question once and for all that it truly was an amicable breakup between Mark and Roush Racing.  Secondly, having another sponsor in the arsenal can do nothing but help the team return to their place at the very top of the sport and win another championship in 2007.  The Busch program looked dreadful a few weeks ago but now I'm happy to see that wasn't exactly the case.  If you also look at the bottom of the release, Peter Shephard appears to be confirmed to the #50 truck full-time next season.

Later on this week, I have a scathing evaluation of the Car Of Tomorrow... straight from one of the boys at the shop.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Odds & Ends, Part 2

A plethora of Roush Racing announcements today, setting up sponsorship for the 2007 Busch Series:

- Arby's will sponsor the #17 of Matt Kenseth in 13 races next season.  Arby's will also sponsor the car in the spring Bristol Cup race.

- Carl Edwards reunites with Scotts and World Financial Group on the #60 next season.  No word on if Henkel will be back.

- Discount Tire will be the full-time sponsor of David Ragan's #6 Busch car next season, moving over from Chip Ganassi's #41.


In other news:

- Doug Richert has been hired by Red Bull Racing to be the crew chief for Brian Vickers in the #83 next season.

- Kodak is back with Penske Racing in both the IRL and NASCAR as a major associate sponsor.

- Dennis Setzer has been hired to drive the #75 Spears Manufacturing Chevy in 2007.  The move ends a long run with Morgan-Dollar, and I personally think it had something to do with changing numbers this past season.

- Joey Clanton and Zaxby's are the latest combo deal to head to the Craftsman Truck Series as they will run part-time with Wood Brothers/JTG Racing.  I always thought Clanton had the talent and deserved a second year in his Busch career with Brewco.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Odds & Ends

One of the last things I'm doing for the 2006 season is a staple of many racing websites - top 10 paint schemes of the year.  I have my own personal favorite list, so here it goes:

Honorable mentions: Denny Hamlin's #11 regular orange FedEx, Clint Bowyer's #07 regular Jack Daniels, Greg Biffle's #16 regular National Guard scheme

10. Kyle Petty's #45 My Coke Rewards car
I chose to include this one simply because of Coke's award to Victory Junction during the All-Star race.

9. Jamie McMurray's #26 Smirnoff Ice
Unfortunately, this car wasn't on TV much because Jamie drove like a stroker this year.  I'm giving him one more year before I start looking for alternative options in the #26.

8. Robby Gordon's #7 Jim Beam black
Plain and simple this car rules.  As you can probably see, black and red are my two favorite colors on these cars. 

7. Juan Pablo Montoya's #30 Texaco Homestead
The red, blue, and yellow lightning bolts along the front looked great and the yellow on the bottom gave it that classic Texaco look with the star on the hood.  Looked better than the 42 did this season.

6. David Gilliland's #38 M&Ms Halloween
The people at Mars do a great job with their paint schemes.  This one is great because of the Halloween theme.

5. Terry Labonte's #44 Texas finale
Maybe other teams will follow suit and do paint schemes like this for retiring legends.  I thought Roush and AAA could have done a lot better with the Mark's Homestead car.

4. Ryan Newman's #12 Alltel MyCircle
I don't much care for Newman but I thought this scheme looked great and it got a good run of races.  Unlike the 12 team this season.

3. Reed Sorenson's #41 red Target
I probably didn't hide the fact that I loved this car this season.  Ganassi made a good call to make it the regular scheme the last half this season and the scheme for 2007.

2. Bobby Labonte's #43 spring Talladega STP tribute
Call me a sucker for history, but seeing the Petty blue with STP is classy and a great throwback to do each year.

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #8 Budweiser Dale Earnhardt Sr. tribute
The hands-down best scheme of 2006.


- There has been no announcement, but expect to see Matt Kenseth kicking more ass in the Busch Series in 2007.  The twist is, it may or may not be with Roush Racing. 

- Danny O'Quinn continues to look for a sponsor or three to run the full season again in 2007.  Somebody, please step up.  He won ROTY in Busch against Cup veteran John Andretti despite not running in two races.


ESPN.com's Terry Blount has an article up that discusses something I've been saying for months: different cars are needed in the Busch Series.  Fortunately Terry is a professional journalist who has been coverage racing longer than I've been alive, so maybe more people will see the idea and maybe it will really happen.  Click here to read.

NASCAR In New York? Not So Fast...

AP story via Yahoo! Sports:

ISC scraps plans to build NASCAR track on Staten Island

By JENNA FRYER, AP Auto Racing Writer
December 4, 2006

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- International Speedway Corp. scrappedplans Monday to build a track on Staten Island, stalling NASCAR's dreamto bring a race to the New York area.

``While we are disappointed that we could not complete thespeedway development on Staten Island, our enthusiasm for themetropolitan New York market is in no way dampened,'' ISC presidentLesa France Kennedy said. ``We continue to view the region as a primelocation for a major motorsports facility.''

France Kennedy heads ISC, the publicly traded sister company of NASCAR-- which was founded by her grandfather and currently chaired by herbrother, Brian France

Both companies badly want to expand NASCAR into the New Yorkmetropolitan area, and moved toward that goal in 2004 when a subsidiaryof ISC paid about $100 million for a 440-acre former oil tank farm onStaten Island. The company later bought another 236 acres to gain thenecessary land for a race track.

The goal was to build a 0.8-mile state-of-the-art track thatwould have accommodated 80,000 fans and had the New York City skylineas its backdrop.

But the proposal has been met by severe resistance, includinga a hotly contested April public meeting in which tempers reacheddangerous levels -- forcing police to end the meeting over safetyconcerns.

Residents complained of traffic tie-ups and argued that thetwo major roads leading into the property would likely need majorrenovations to handle the increased loads.

Environmental concerns were also cited by opponents of the plan.

ISC's decision to call off the plan was immediately trumpeted asa ``monumental victory for the people of Staten Island,'' by New YorkCity Council Minority Leader James S. Oddo.

``For months, many a Staten Islander thought this project wasa `done deal,' `` Oddo said. ``In the end, the interests of StatenIslanders as expressed in an earnest and unwavering fashion ...prevailed.

``After all was said and done, NASCAR was simply an inappropriate fit for S.I.''

ISC cited an ``inability to secure the critical local politicalsupport that is necessary to secure the required land-use changeapprovals'' in ending the Staten Island project. In all, the companysaid spent about $150 million on the project:

-- $123 million for land and related improvements.

-- $11 million for costs related to the development of the speedway.

-- $16 million for capitalized interest and property taxes.

ISC said it may now sell the land, which it believes will beworth more than $100 million and described as the largest undevelopedacreage in the five boroughs of New York City.

The company said the decision to abandon the effort willresult in a non-cash, pretax charge results of approximately $75 to $85million, or $0.90 to $1.02 per diluted share after-tax.

France Kennedy expressed disappointment over not getting a chance to present the entire proposal to residents.

``We clearly believe that if we had been able to proceed throughthe full public process, the significant benefits this projectrepresents would have generated a more positive reaction,'' she said.

NASCAR and ISC have long targeted both the New York andPacific Northwest as areas it would like to expand into. Initial plansto build a track north of Seattle were thwarted, and ISC has sincechosen a 950-acre site across the Puget Sound in Kitsap County, Wash.

ISC hopes that funding legislation on the Washington project will be submitted sometime in January.

The New York project is now uncertain, with ISC forced to find new land and an accepting public if it plans to continue.

France Kennedy said ISC, which owns 11 major tracks and hosts more than 100 annual events, said the company would move forward.

``Due to the considerable interest and support for NASCAR racingin the region, we remain committed to the pursuit of a motorsportsentertainment facility development in the nation's number one mediamarket,'' she said. ``We believe a facility in this area represents asignificant long-term opportunity for our company, and is one componentof several broader strategic growth opportunities ahead for ISC.''


I personally find this terrific news.  At the least, this will keep Martinsville on the schedule for several more years as I had it on pretty good authority they would lose a date and possibly both.  The fact that the France family has been so adamant about this is troubling; I think the track could have worked but not in the particular Staten Island area.  Now, where does NASCAR go?  At the moment it appears international.  The banquet belongs in NYC and maybe down the road a race will.  The sport could use growth in this area to change the minds of the people and media that still view NASCAR as rednecks racing around in circles.  One day that will happen.  This just wasn't the right project to accomplish it.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Unresloved Questions Heading Into 2007

I'll avoid any mentions of the Banquet, which I'm proud to say I didn't watch.  If anyone did A) I'm sorry and B) for the love of God, WHY?!?

1. Is the Car Of Tomorrow really going to shake things up?

My first instinct says yes.  With a grand total of one car that has been built by a team passing inspection (by Hendrick no less... sign of the apocolypse?) and the first race in March it will be hell on teams to get ready in time.  Luckily Bristol is the first race and it won't be as much of a change as later in the year.  I'm still questioning having 5 of the 10 Chase races as COT races.

2. As The Toyota Turns...

December testing will be the big measuring stick for Toyota to see how the car has come along in the last year.  The Toyota teams will need all the time they can get to shake the car down and see what is there to improve.

3. Who from the 2006 Rookie class will be the next to win?

I think the answer will likely be Clint Bowyer or Martin Truex Jr.  Based on the runs they each had later in the year early wins at California, Vegas, or Atlanta aren't out of the question.  The same could also be said for Reed Sorenson at those tracks. 

4. Will the Roush Racing Crew Chief musical chairs pay off?

Am I the only one who thinks there could be a replica wheel from Wheel Of Fortune in Jack Roush's office with pictures of crew chiefs from the organization on it?  Does he call the drivers in and have them spin the wheel and that is who works with them for the year?  This is the kind of stuff I want to see on ESPN in 2007.

5. Is anything going to be done about Buschwacking?

Right now, probably not.  As I've maintained for the last year and a half, change the cars, change some dates, and the Buschwacking will drop off significantly.  It was perfect in the 90s when the guys that ran in the series were veterans running 8-15 races at the most.

6. The Robert Yates 88 car

With Johnny Sauter apparently staying with Haas and driving the 70 next season (bad move IMO) I think the team is back to square one with their driver search.  I don't even know who is on their radar anymore. 

7. Anyone think Tony Stewart's dieting plan will stick?

Ok, so I had to have one light-hearted question here.  I could ask which team will suck more in '07, but with PPI gone Morgan-McClure could have it sewn up.  To answer the question, let's hope Tony stays with the black firesuit and doesn't go to a white one again.


Lots of Busch/Truck announcements should come within the next week or so.  I'm hoping something for Danny O'Quinn comes along.

Monday, November 27, 2006

What To Do...

Reflection of the 2006 season has quickly given away to speculation for 2007.  Per usual, teams that run well in the Chase and were outside of the top 10 are quickly moved into top 10 contention while drivers in the Chase that may have stumbled or run bad are discounted immediately.  As for myself, I'm not about to pick a top 10 - way too early for that (and if possible, not at all).  Of the drivers outside looking to make it back in, I of course think Tony Stewart is a mortal lock.  After him I think Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, and Casey Mears all stand excellent shots.  I think Mears could have a big year in 2007.  There is guarenteed to be one more open spot with Mark Martin running a part-time deal in the 01 and the promise from Brian France that more drivers will be eligible for the championship.  Even still I think Jeff Burton and Denny Hamlin are kind of iffy.  I know what you're saying: "Hamlin finished 3rd he was a rookie he is a great driver" but everyone said the same thing about Carl Edwards one year ago and look what happened.  It says nothing about Hamlin as a driver or the team itself but I'm borrowing the "luck bank" theory from DW.  I think that the 11 team turned a lot of decent runs into great runs and the opposite could happen in '07.  Just a feeling.

Later on this week my own list - the list of unresolved questions heading into 2007.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone... enjoy the day with your families and loved ones, eat a lot of food, and enjoy the football. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

TCS Paint Scheme

What do you think?  I like the red as the link color.  Any suggestions on what looks good?  In a non-fem way I do like to coordinate and stuff.

Did Someone Mention 2007 Announcements?

All the items I could find listed here with my comments:

Haas Racing opens new shop, will run two teams

Wasn't Gene Haas arrested and stuff?  Anyway, it appears that Johnny Sauter and Bootie Barker will team up for the #70.  I was hoping Johnny would jump to Robert Yates myself.

Robert Yates secures sponsorship for #88

Rumored, of course, to be a Mars brand.  That narrows it down, considering there are about 50 different brands owned by the company.  I would love to see a return of this car to the track:

Although it probably end up being Pedigree or M&Ms deux.  That wouldn't be all bad as long as they switched the scheme up, maybe go with the peanut or peanut butter on the 88.  There are a myriad of possibilites.  The same can be said for potential drivers. 

Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle to share Brewco Busch ride

It isn't a Roush car for Jamie, but it is a Ford.  I'm sure there is Roush technology on the car as well.  Biffle has driven for this team in the past two seasons and they're a solid team.  He'll spend most of his Busch time in the #16 with Todd Kluever since it appears Jamie will drive this car more than Greg.  Interestingly Brewco calls it the #66 but it has already been stated that RWI will get the number back in 2007.  I suspect the team will return to it's old Timber Wolf number of 37 or possibly the 26 or 28 in an upset.

J.J. Yeley to drive the #1 Phoenix Racing Chevy

Interestingly JGR couldn't get a sponsorship deal together for J.J. so he will compete in the #1 with teammate Mike Wallace in the #7.  There is a chance that Yeley could run the full schedule if he is in contention for the championship.  I think that could easily be a possibility.  As for the Gibbs program...

Tony Stewart, Aric Almirola, and Denny Hamlin in the Gibbs Busch program

Almirola will split time in both the #'s 18 and 20 next season with Stewart in the #18 and Hamlin in the #20 in part-time efforts for both.  According to JGR another development driver will be in the #18.  Somehow, I think Almirola will end up driving that car more often than not.  This could be a prequel to a full-time ride in Busch in 2008 along with some Nextel Cupstarts.  It remains to be seen how many races Stewart will drive in the #18.

Travis Kvapil to drive the #6 Truck for Roush Racing

All in all, I like the move.  I'm not a fan of Kvapil after he lucked into the 2003 championship in the series but I take the stance of "when a former champion is available, you sign him."  Reportedly the Canadian from Driver X Pete Shephard will drive the #50 but nothing official.

David Gilliland, Richard Johns team up in #25 freecreditreport.com Busch car

Gilliland, yes.  Richard Johns?  Who?  Could be another Cale Gale (mechanic-turned-driver) but that remains to be seen.  Ford's Busch program is actually looking pretty good with Rensi, Brewco, ppc, and of course Roush.

Biagi-DenBeste announces the greatest sponsor, Kibbles 'N Bits!

I cannot wait to see Kibbles 'N Bits on the track next season with Auggie Vidovich and the #4 team.

Eric McClure to drive for Johnny Davis with Hefty sponsorship

The quintessential underdog team actually has a full-time driver and sponsor.  Will it help?  I think it'll help a bit if they team up with Morgan-McClure which, of course, will happen.


To close, I find it unbelieveable that Danny O'Quinn has no sponsor and may not have a ride in 2007 after defeating John Andretti for the Busch Series Rookie Of The Year title.  I have some hope because his deal this season wasn't put together until December last year but come on... the kid has talent.  He won ROTY even after sitting out two races.  I don't think a part-time deal like Kluever has will work either.  He needs to run full-time and I think if Roush can't make it happen, someone else will.



2007 #6 AAA Fusion?


The car David Ragan will drive next season succeeding Mark Martin?  Possibly.  Surfing the Team Caliber site (when does Motorsports Authentics finally kill them?  Anyway...) I found this along with a few other items.  The die-casts were without pictures and for the other things, this is the best I could find.  A lot of white on the car which I don't mind and it appears that AAA decided to scrap the black and gold that ruined the '06 scheme. 

Monday, November 20, 2006

The 2006 Nextel Cup Champion: Jimmie Johnson



I'll give the devil his due, he earned the championship this season.  My dislike of Johnson, Knaus, and Hendrick as a whole has been well-documented but this team had a great year and they should be celebrating.  Winning the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year as a championship is special and doesn't happen often.  The 48 team showed they had matured after the two previous Chase seasons and made a strong run to take the title. 

I don't look at the 2006 season as a disappointment for Matt Kenseth and the 17 team.  Second place in points with 4 wins is something to be proud of and I don't think anyone would disagree with the statement that they are just as good as the champs.  This season will be remembered for the emergence of Denny Hamlin and the 11 team and the re-emergence of RCR and DEI.  2007 will change a lot of things in NASCAR so I want everyone to soak up the 2006 season for what it was as we go through withdrawals for the next three months until the engines fire for the Daytona 500 in February.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Homestead Update #5

Red flag withdrawn and the field runs under caution.  22 cars are currently on the lead lap and the NBC crew continues to fawn over the 48 team.  Looks like we'll get the green 11 to go.  The running order goes Yeley, Biffle, Kahne, Hamlin, Kenseth, Johnson, Truex, Stremme (!), Edwards, and Bowyer.

10 to go: Biffle shoots past Yeley and Kahne does the same while dealing with the lap traffic.

6 to go: Mears off the pace, blown engine.  Caution is out and this race will not end.

The restart will come with 2 to go.  Single file, no lucky dog, just 2 laps left in the 2006 season.  This restart will constitute a GWC so if the caution comes out again it's over.  Yeley is out of fuel and has stopped on the backstretch. 

Biffle takes the checkered flag, Truex 2nd, Hamlin 3rd, Kahne 4th, and Harvick 5th.  Jimmie Johnson is the 2006 Nextel Cup Champion.

Homestead Update #4

21 to go now and Ryan Newman spins and the caution comes out.  Hmm... pit stops~!  The big question will be who does what on pit road...

Bill Weber makes a big speech about 35 races and how it all comes down to this blah blah blah.

Kenseth takes 2 tires and a wedge adjustment, Hamlin takes 2, Johnson takes 2.

Off of pit road the order is Biffle, Kahne, Hamlin, Kenseth, Johnson, Truex, Stremme, and Edwards.  Couldn't tell if anyone stayed out.  Dale Jr. took 4 tires.  They should go back to green with about 18 or so to go. 

16 to go and holy crap Montoya's car is on fire.  He makes it out as flames erupt out of the back of the car with the fuel cell busting.  He says someone took him out.  J.J. Yeley did stay out and is the current race leader.  NASCAR puts out the red flag and the cars rest on the track for cleanup.  Replays show Montoya and Newman getting together prior to Newman's spin and then Newman with the payback.  No-neck is definitely on the short list of biggest pricks in the series.

Homestead Update #3

As of lap 200 I wanted to say a few things:

- Jimmie's going to win the championship... I'm not expecting anything to happen.  No one else is forcing the issue and the 48 seems to have some steam in reserve in case someone does make a move.  Kenseth and the Killer Bees have been good today but not spectacular.

- The race here is awesome.  Dale Jr. has been running the high line better than almost anyone (Kyle Busch and David Gilliland tried and failed) but his teammate could pull off the win.  Truex has run great today.

- Maybe it's just me, but the top 10 at these races here at the end of the year are peppered by names you wouldn't expect to see.  Gilliland ran great until smacking the wall, he was in the top 5 all day.  Elliott Sadler currently leads the field thanks to nearly everyone in the field playing some sort of pit strategy.  Joe Nemechek is in the top 5 in his final race with the 01. 

- I think DEI has an excellent chance of winning today along with Biffle, Kahne, or Riggs.  Everyone has to make one more stop and I hope that it happens under green.


Well, nevermind... caution out after Mike Bliss' engine expires and the field can make it from here.  Kenseth takes 2 tires, Hamlin with 2 tires, order out is Kahne, Riggs, Kenseth, Biffle, Hamlin, Harvick, Dale Jr. Sadler, Johnson, J. Burton.  Looks like nearly everyone took 2 with a few guys taking 4.  59 to go.

Homestead Update #2

Green flag pit stops for everyone are almost complete here on lap 110.  No gaffes from the contenders or the Chase drivers.  Johnson manages to lead a lap so 13th or better will do the trick now.  Pretty clean race after the first few cautions.  The top cars appear to be the 5, 8, and 9 at the moment with the 10, 17, 38, 16, and 48 not too far behind.

Lap 121: Kyle Busch hits the wall twice a few laps ago and pretty much ends his day, as nearly everyone pitted on the cauton save for the DEI cars.  This restart has looked pretty crazy with the cars going 3 and 4 wide.  Johnson currently in 16th after staying in the pits for a few extra seconds to tighten a lugnut.

Homestead Update #1

Two cautions, both involving Kurt Busch.  On the first stop, Harvick, Kenseth, and several others pit.  Several laps later, Busch spins again and Jimmie hits a small piece of debris from the wreck.  The 48 was held on pit road as the team repaired the damage.  The damage sorta looks like the punch game from The Price Is Right.

Homestead Pre-Race

I'm going to do a modified form of the updates, not as often as the Texas race though.  I love the choice of "Metalingus" for the Kenseth video package.  I'm really hoping that the changes made before happy hour will work for him today.  I have a funny feeling that Jimmie could have an off day and it might leave the door open.  63 points is a lot and a little at the same time.  If Jimmie wrecks, it's a little.  If he does just enough to stay inside the top 15, it's a lot.

This race seems to be the end of an era... Mark Martin leaving the 6 car and Roush, the final full season before the Car Of Tomorrow rolls out to possibly ruin the series, and we have a transition into the era of international drivers as Juan Pablo Montoya runs his first Nextel Cup race.  The green flag is scheduled to drop at 2:55 PM.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ford Championship Weekend - Two Down, One To Go



Friday night Todd Bodine won his first national championship in NASCAR as Mark Martin won his 6th race in the series at Homestead.  As hot as the year started in the series, I have to say I thought the year in general was subpar.  Maybe its because I didn't watch or listen to the races.  I just felt disappointed.



Tonight, Matt Kenseth won the final Busch race of 2006 and goes back-to-back with wins in the 17 Fusion.  I actually enjoyed the race tonight even though the championship was decided about 7 months ago.  Several announcements of 2007 plans were made today in Busch and I'll have the full scoop next week.  A few mild surprises among them.




Tomorrow should be a busy day.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

2006 Nextel Cup Rookie Grades and 2007 First Look

The grades for the 2006 rookie class:

11 Denny Hamlin: A+ = Hamlin's had one of the top rookie seasons ever, up there with the first years of Davey Allison and Tony Stewart.  A rookie championship contender doesn't happen often.

07 Clint Bowyer: B+ = A very solid driver and a solid team that should only get better.

41 Reed Sorenson: B- = Has put up some respectable numbers for the little amount of experience he had in February.

1 Martin Truex Jr.: C = Starting to come around, but honestly I expected more from the two-time Busch Champion and the 1 team.

18 J.J. Yeley: D+ = Yeley is still learning, but he really should learn to finish races and learn to get on pit road correctly.

40 David Stremme: D = To Stremme's credit the 40 is running about where it did last year with Sterling Marlin.

Brent Sherman: Incomplete = HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA


2007 First look:

00 David Reutimann: His season will depend on everything around him - could be top 20, could be out of the top 35.

01 Regan Smith: He'll have a great mentorto learn under... but does he have the talent?

6 David Ragan: Huge shoes to fill in the 6 car but if he has his head on straight and is patient he'll be fine.

11 Paul Menard: The early favorite in my book.  He has the experience, team, and equipment to be a solid top 20 team a la the 07 this season.

42 Juan Pablo Montoya: He'll get the most attention next season but I think everyone should guard against expecting too much too soon.  Obviously the talent is there and win wouldn't be out of the question.

84 A.J. Allmendinger: Could have tough first year but he will definitely succeed at this level.  Like Reutimann, it will depend heavily on how good the Camry is.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

2006 Championship Standings

Going into Ford Championship Weekend, here are the championship standings for each series and my comments on each:

Nextel Cup

1 Jimmie Johnson 6332 (--)
2 Matt Kenseth -63 (--)
3 Kevin Harvick -90 (+2)
4 Denny Hamlin -90 (--)
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. -115 (-2)
6 Jeff Gordon -167 (--)
7 Jeff Burton-225 (--)
8 Mark Martin -273 (+1)
9 Kasey Kahne -319 (+1)

10 Kyle Busch -359 (-2)

Sadly, it appears that Jimmie Johnson will win the 2006 Nextel Cup Championship.  After the past two seasons of "crying wolf" the 48 team will officially become the best team in NASCAR.  Of course, Homestead isn't a given but how often does a championship change hands at the last race of the year?  Not too often.  As bad as the 17 team has been I'm shocked they're still in 2nd place.  Both Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin should be proud of their seasons, not to mention the return of Dale Jr. and the 8 team to the top 5 in points.  This year has been one of the wildest as far as the twists and turns of the standings since New Hampshire in September.

Busch Series

1 Kevin Harvick 5493 (--)
2 Carl Edwards -844 (--)
3 Clint Bowyer -940 (--)
4 Denny Hamlin -986 (--)
5 J.J. Yeley -1166 (--)
6 Paul Menard -1588 (--)
7 Kyle Busch -1612 (--)
8 Greg Biffle -1753 (--)
9 Johnny Sauter -1833 (--)
10 Reed Sorenson -1860 (--)

Yawn.  The top 10 hasn't changed for weeks.  All that happens is Harvick's lead grows and everyone else scores top 5 and top 10 finishes.  No wonder I haven't watched a Busch race in a month.

Craftsman Truck Series

1 Todd Bodine 3566 (--)
2 Johnny Benson -112 (--)
3 David Reutimann -183 (--)
4 Ted Musgrave -316 (--)
5 David Starr -357 (+2)
6 Ron Hornaday -374 (--)
7 Jack Sprague -393 (+1)
8 Mike Skinner -410 (+2)
9 Rick Crawford -432 (-4)
10 Terry Cook -440 (-1)

The battle here is between Todd Bodine and Johnny Benson, if you want to call it that.  Bodine just needs to keep the 30 truck on the track for all 200 miles and he'll take home his first championship. 


Tomorrow, I'll have my rookie of the year analysis for each series -  as well as an early preview of the 2007 classes for each series.

Monday, November 13, 2006

After PHX



Kevin Harvick sweeps, Jimmie's pretty much got the point title locked up, and the 17 team once again has a mystifying bad run.  I didn't watch the last half of the race yesterday but instead was on the road headed back here and was able to enjoy MRN's coverage for the first time in a while.  I think it may have been the best coverage I've heard in two years for a race.  A novel idea would be to put those guys on TV. 

Since I'm ready for 2007 to be here, I found pics of the #16 AmeriQuest Ford Fusion that Biffle will drive next season:





I also can barely see to type what I'm doing since I'm feeling pretty bad so I'm gonna get off here.  I should be feeling better in a few days.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I Beg The New York Times To Stay Out of NASCAR

Or, as they say, Nascar.

This article I found today seemed like about as much drivel as you would expect.  They're all too willing to kill the Drive for Diversity program instituted by NASCAR and the teams that are running drivers under it.  To start off, DfD is affirmative action at it's finest.  Let's look at this article's highlights:

Nascar officials have promoted their diversity efforts for years, hoping toerase a long-held image of stock-car racing as an all-white sport. Butthe Drive for Diversity program, which began in 2004 and was billed asan attempt to integrate drivers, has yet to produce a member of aminority group, or a woman, who has moved into the upper echelons ofthe sport.

Well I'll be damned no one has moved up.  Nevermind talent, we'll promote people for race or gender only.  I guess Aric Almirola in the Trucks and part-time Busch doesn't count.  Ditto for Erin Crocker.  Oh wait, when we talk about minority we're really only talking about one race.  What bugs me about this article is that we're assuming that there are bunches of talented race car drivers that are being kept out of the sport and that simply isn't the case.  There isn't a Negro League the way it was in baseball that was full of talented players so to expect a Jackie Robinson to come in year two of this program is extremely unreasonable. 

And now the father of an African-American stock-car driver oncecalled a top racing prospect said the highly publicizedNascar-supported program was a failure. Joe Henderson Jr. said his son,Joe III, was under contract to MB2 Motorsports from 2005 to 2006 andwas used for publicity but was given poor equipment in 2005 and noteven provided a racecar in 2006.

“It’s a sham,” Joe Henderson Jr.said in a telephone interview Friday. “The program is not designed tobe successful because, No. 1, it’s not properly funded.

“They claim that it’s a pipeline. Well, nobody came out the pipe.”

Again, umm, year two.  People today want to live in a microwave society where everything happens in a matter of minutes.  Life isn't like that.  Racing sure as hell isn't like that.  I'd love to know what "bad cars" were there because I would bet you he had one of the best cars on the track because how many Nextel Cup teams have a vested interest in late model programs?  Joe Henderson Jr., your soon needs EXPERIENCE.  On down in the article:

“MB2 is very committed to the Drive for Diversity program,” Jay Frye,the MB2 chief executive and general manager, said in a telephoneinterview yesterday. “Everything that we did last year was allbrand-new equipment and basically, when the season ended last year, wehad a meeting with the Hendersons. They wanted us to graduate him tothe next level. We didn’t feel he was ready for that. At that point, wesaid, ‘If you can find another deal, find another deal, and we’ll dothe same thing.’ ”

I can't say I'm surprised.  First year teams with brand-new cars don't typically perform well.  Ask Toyota next year what they think.  Again, sounds like the overbearing daddy wanted something before he was ready.  People don't realize how long drivers stay in late models before advancing to the touring and national series.  Go ask guys like Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, etc. about their path to Nextel Cup.  It wasn't an overnight success.  Here is the kicker:

Jesus Hernandez, who replaced Joe Henderson III in the MB2 diversityprogram, had two victories in Late Model competition at Hickory usingwhat Frye said was the same equipment. Hernandez will move up to someCraftsman Truck races next year, Frye said.

Well now, isn't that interesting.

I'm not going to totally kill the article because it raises fair points in the rest.  Some fans of the sport still aren't willing to let others in and that's a shame.  NASCAR like any other business is about who does the best job.  Some guys are just better than others.  I'll all for giving equal opportunity but you need to prove your worth by running well.  Marc Davis has had a field day at Hickory this year because he has the talent.  Some guys do, some guys don't.


I'm out for the weekend.  All three divisions race at Phoenix and I hope you all will be watching.  Jaynelle Ramon will be at the track and she better tell us all about her trip or I'll have to tell more Jeff Gordon jokes.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

So... Phoenix

Once again, I apologize for my lack of blogging during the week.  Yesterday during election day I worked all afternoon at my local precinct and then attended two campaign parties (Hint: if you ever get invited to the Speedway Club at Lowes Motor Speedway, go).  Luckily, the House race I worked on (8th district with Robin Hayes) should end up being a win.  Robin leads by 468 votes but the recount BS and all that will delay it being certified.  Needless to say, it was a long night for the GOP.  I'm trying to look at the bright side.  With Nazi... sorry, Nancy Pelosi as the new Speaker that scares me to no end.  But most of the people that were kicked out should have been (save Rick Santorum) because the majority of the Republican congressmen had forgotten their way as advocates of smaller government and fiscal conservatism and were spending just as much and more than the Democrats in the early 90s.  A lot of the Dems elected were social conservatives which I can deal with as long as they don't run to the left and join Pelosi and her freak squad.  Nothing of consequence will get passed as I believe President Bush will actually (GASP!) use vetoes and he'll exert even more executive authority in much the same manner President Clinton did.  Another positive step was the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.  He needed to be gone a long time ago because he had some good ideas, but the execution has been horrible.  Rumsfeld's plans of battle to include the smallest amount of troops possible was good in theory but we need more troops to fight in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  Jesus, did I just write a political blog?  Yikes.

I hope everyone forgives me if I'm not that interested in the race at Phoenix.  I can think of better tracks that should have this important second-to-last date before Homestead but we'll work with what we got.  I would like to see Kenseth take the point lead back leaving here because I've yet to see a Champion lose a point lead in the last race of the season since the finale has been at Homestead.  It's also my birthday Sunday so I'll be out of commission for obvious reasons :-) .

Monday, November 6, 2006

Oh Snap

Harvick, Riggs' crewman have run-in after wreck

The short version: while Kevin and DeLana were walking through the garage after the race, a crew member from the 10 team confronted them and shoved them with DeLana suffering a twisted ankle.  A NASCAR official was also taken down during the incident.


To me, it's vigilante justice.  I think Riggs was wronged by Harvick because I know I'm not alone in seeing Riggs being spun by Kevin after blocking him as soon as it happened.  Sure enough, Riggs was put into the wall hard by Harvick.  At the same time, you can't go around pushing people down in the garage.  I respect Mike Dillon for restraining Harvick and preventing a total brawl that could have been really messy.  Still, a part of me feels for the 10 team.  They had a very strong run going and ended up with another 30th or worse performance.  What do you think?  Is the crewman in question a bum or do you think he was justified?

Monday update:  Well, interestingly it seems there are several accounts of what happened in the confrontation.  The original story I read on NASCAR.com said that DeLana twisted her ankle and the NASCAR official, John Sacco, was injured but didn't give specifics.  Then today I see that the AP story says the Harvicks were uninjured and the official suffered a sprained ankle.  Yahoo's story says the official suffered a badly sprained ankle and DeLana merely twisted her leg. 

In any event, it still shouldn't have happened.  Kevin, DeLana, and the official Mr. Sacco were on the ground as a result of the Riggs crewman and that shouldn't be tolerated in any sport. 

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Texas Race Update #4

Tony Stewart wins back-to-back races, the second driver in as many years to do the Atlanta-Texas double.

Johnson leads the points by 17 over Kenseth with Dale Jr. 78 behind and Hamlin 80 behind. 

Checkered flag
- Stewart wins, Johnson 2nd, Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Bowyer are the top 5

Here is the running order under caution:


Stewart
Johnson
Harvick
Ky. Busch
Bowyer
Earnhardt Jr.
Mears
Kenseth
Petty
Ku. Busch

NASCAR is adjusting things so right now I haven't a damned clue.  Two to go.

Texas Race Update #3

Lap 332 - Harvick spins Riggs to bring out the caution, Riggs in the wall HARD and Kenseth is involved in the chain reaction behind along with Edwards.  GWC to come.  Riggs had gotten loose and blocked Harvick letting Johnson go and Harvick then spun him.  You could have seen that one coming a mile away.  Still waiting to see where everyone is officially running.

Lap 329
- I got a feeling Stewart won't hold off the 48.  I had the order wrong as Riggs runs in 2nd, Harvick 3rd, and Johnson 4th.  Truex rounds out the top 5.

Lap 327
- Whoa Kahne just blew up.  Pit stops, leaders don't come in. 

Lap 326
- Caution for Greg Biffle hitting the wall.  Well now, this changes things.  Less than 10 to go.  Will the leaders pit?  Stewart leads, Kahne 2nd, Johnson 3rd.

Lap 316
- Pit stops galore as most teams are taking two tires.  The 8 and 48 took 4.

Lap 305
- Kenseth and the 17 team decides to short pit and take 4 tires and see what happens.  Kinda risky if you ask me.  I don't believe anyone will try and make it until the end.

Lap 299
- All green flag racing as the field is separating itself.  Kahne could have something for Stewart as the strategies for the final stop are debated.  Teams need a bit of fuel but the question is who will take tires and who will not.  Top 5 is Stewart, Kahne, Johnson, Harvick, and Riggs. 

Lap 258
- Pit stops for the leaders as Stewart, Kahne, Harvick, and Johnson are the first four off.  Teams still not able to make it from here so a splash-and-go at the end is very likely to happen barring another caution.

Lap 256
- Robby Gordon blows an engine and brings the caution out with 78 to go. 

Lap 235
- Stewart, Bowyer, Kahne, Johnson lead the field off of pit road.  Should be interesting to see what approach teams take for the final 100 laps.

Lap 233
- Caution out right at 100 to go for Reed Sorenson.  He got loose under the 5 and slid down the track, hit the flat part, then slid back up.  The Busch brothers barely miss both spins.  Should be having pit stops as teams can make it from here on one more stop.

Lap 205
- Stewart has this thing locked up barring pit strategy or something else unforseen.  Kenseth runs 19th while Johnson still maintains a top 5 spot.

Texas Race Update #2

5:55 - Caution for Paul Menard blowing an engine.  Hahahaha Tony was bump drafting the pace car.  That's great.  Pit stops for everyone: Kyle Busch with two tires, Stewart, Bowyer, Harvick, Johnson, Kahne lead off of pit road.  The battle between Stewart and Bowyer is razor-thin.

5:45
- Another caution as Robby Gordon gets loose in front of Greg Biffle and spins, Kenseth nearly hit twice but comes through it unscathed.  No other cars involved.

5:36 - Caution out again as Ken Schrader wrecks which in turn leads to an accident involving Mark Martin and Sterling Marlin (second week in a row...).  Mark doesn't have any big damage.  Schrader goes to the garage, didn't see anyone making any stops but I assume that the guys at the back will.

5:30
- Kenseth has sucked today but he stays out and leads a lap for the bonus points, race is at halfway.  Looks like a few new faces will populate the top 5 as Carl Edwards had a great pit stop.

5:27
- Caution as Dale Jr. hits the wall as Clint Bowyer goes by for 2nd.  Leaders make pit stops, can't tell if he is on pit road or in the garage.  Car is on pit road at the moment, damage isn't as bad as Burton's was.

5:23
- Jeff Burton's back on the track and could gain a few spots and get a few more points.  Kenseth has fallen to 28th.  Stewart still leads over Dale Jr. (who is sick) and Clint Bowyer has rose to 3rd. 

5:08
- Caution out for debris on the frontstretch, yes there is actually debris there.  Leaders in for pit stops.  Stewart, Dale Jr., Johnson, Bowyer, Gordon, Truex, Edwards, Harvick, Kurt Busch are the top 10 off pit road.

5:03
- Kenseth says his car feels "weird" but he has picked up 6 more spots to 21st.  Mark Martin's day couldn't get much worse.  Next update will come for pit stops or a caution.

Texas Race Update #1

5:00 - Tony's just killing the field today.  He looks really, really good and I don't think anyone has the car right now to match him.  Johnson and Jr. look pretty good, along with Kahne.  Kenseth reported possibly having a flat tire, but it looks like it wasn't after all.  He had fallen to 30th but at last check he was running 27th. 

4:37
- Well, scratch that.  Jeff Burton blew a right front tire and brings out the caution.  The damage looks pretty substantial.  He might be done for the day.  Pit stops ensue for the leaders.

4:30
- Stewart continues to lead with Kahne, Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., and Scott Riggs in the top 5.  Matt Kenseth runs 22nd with a car that isn't handling to his liking but appears to be getting better.  Next update coming at 5:00.

4:16
- Tony Stewart leads as they go back to green, followed by Brian Vickers, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, and Jeff Gordon.

4:10
- Competition caution and pit stops at lap 40.

3:50
- Green flag!

3: 43
- Field will go under green-yellow situation to start counting laps.  I'll be back when they drop the full green flag.

3:38
- Still haven't gotten the green flag, the cars are helping dry the outside line.  I'll be surprised if this race goes the full distance.

Texas: Pre-Race Updates

3:28 - Cars on the track for their pace laps, Wally's World propaganda, and pre-race updates are done.  I'll chime in with updates when needed or around every 50 laps.  This is still a work in progress :-p .

3:22
- Terry gets a special engine start from daughter Kristen.  Looks like we're ready to go and the field gets the start as well.

3:01
- Safety vehicles on the track, drying it out but it is not raining.  I don't feel like watching 70 thousand interviews so it's back to the NFL.  Maybe they'll start this thing in 20-30 minutes.

2:54
- Terry Labonte interview before the race.  The car has an incredible paint scheme that highlights his career.  I'll give Hendrick credit, this is really cool.  Good luck Terry, we'll miss you.  Thanks for a great career.

2:45
- National anthem just played, looks like the race will get started on time.  Awfully overcast at the track. 

2:25
- The Pit Box breakdown for Texas.  If you're a nerd like me you like seeing where everyone is.

2:15 - Here is today's starting lineup.

2:00
- Rain at the track today.  NASCAR may or may not get the race in.  I'm hoping they do get it in today.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Whitest Guys On The Planet

After rolling in tonight after seeing Independence HS extend their win streak to 103 games after a 2 OT defeat of rival Butler I saw this beauty on the front page of Charlotte.com:


NASCAR official chalks up 'can't dance' query on Speed Channel to poor judgment
By Jim Utter

FORT WORTH, Texas - A top NASCAR official on Friday said that NBC reporter Marty Snider used poor judgement in comments he made during Speed Channel's broadcast of Nextel Cup qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway.

While on the air with Cup driver Carl Edwards about his lack of arecent haircut, Speed's Steve Byrnes chimed in with the following:"Another fan wrote in and said we were the whitest men on Earth."

Snider, who was standing with Edwards in the garage, then said to the driver, "Can you not dance?"

Responded Edwards: "I'm truly as white as we get. The only whitest guy (more) than me is Steve Byrnes."

Snider is not employed by Speed Channel, but the network utilizes NBC talent when it broadcasts qualifying during race weekends.

"That's just one of those things where someone used poor judgement, andthat's all we're really going to say about that," NASCAR vice presidentJim Hunter said.

Speed spokesman Erik Arneson declined to comment when asked about the remark Friday night.

Speed reporter Ray Dunlap was suspended for one Craftsman Truck Seriesrace last month after he made disparaging remarks toward Hispanics onthe Speed show, "Tradin' Paint."


I can't be the only person who thinks that this is a non-story story.  Qualifying coverage is, by nature, boring as hell.  Case in point, how many times has anyone said anything about the coverage?  Two guys talking in an interview and because it just mentions race we're supposed to say something about it.  Notice how Ray Dunlap is brought into this.  Two completely different situations here as the only guys talking were three guys that obviously know each other and kid around.  I can't wait to see the mainstream media make something of it.  Instead of talking about Matt Kenseth's poor qualifying performance or a new track record set by Brian Vickers, outlets are going to talk about the remarks of Marty Snider.  God forbid we accept racing as a true sport and cover it like one.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Texas Weekend

I'll make it quick - go to NASCAR.com for the weekend info and I'll see you here on Sunday for live updates so I can make up for being shotty this week.  Last night I was screaming my head off at the Guns N' Roses concert in Greensboro and I'm pooped.  LONG LIVE GNR!

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

I Apologize For The Lack Of Bloggage

It's that time of year again... the time where schoolwork takes precedence above well... everything.  So if you've been missing your fix of my posts don't worry, I should be good after a few more weeks. 

So, Texas this week for all three series.  I don't mind Texas, despite a rocky start the track is growing into its own with some good racing.  We shall see what happens.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tony Stewart Reels In Another Win In Bass Pro Shops 500

Tony Stewart dominated the Bass Pro Shops 500 as the Chase standings have sorted themselves out a bit with Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson battling for the top spot, they way they have nearly all year.



Tony's sending a message that he won't suffer the same fate in 2007 as he did this year missing the Chase.  A second win in the last five races for him.  Hey, who says guys are left out of all the media attention for not being in the Chase?

As far as the Chase goes, here are the standings:

GREEN is a gain, BLACK is no change, RED is a loss; positions gained (+/-)

1. Kenseth 6008 (--)
2. Johnson -26 (+1)
3. Hamlin -65 (+1)
4. Earnhardt Jr.-84 (+2)

5. Burton -84 (--)
6. Harvick-121 (-4)
7. Gordon -146 (+2)
8. Martin -201 (-1)
9. Kahne -210 (-1)
10. Busch -249 (--)


I have this split three ways: first, the guys that are done.  They are Busch in the Mayfield spot (I bet that SI writer predicting he would win the Chase is feeling awfully silly right now), Kahne, and Martin.  Thanks for playing and good luck next year.  For Mark, he said it himself: winning a title was never in the cards for him and it breaks my heart.  The next group are the ones that need flawless runs and help the next 2 weeks.  They are Gordon, Harvick, Burton, Dale Jr., and Hamlin.  With three races left it will be very, very hard to gain points given that in the previous years, the guys that are at the top stay at the top.  If they want to retain any chance of title hopes they need to win at Texas or Phoenix and record a top 3 at the other.  Then we have the guys at the top.  Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson have been the class of the field the 2006 season and it is fitting that they run 1-2 late in the year.  Johnson has been rolling in the last several weeks but with a 4th place finish at Atlanta Kenseth and the Killer Bees may have stumbled on something to fix their intermediate program.  I was fully expecting a 15th place finish but pulling out a 4th that was almost 3rd shows that they are very resiliant and won't give up without one hell of a fight.  I can't wait for these next three Sundays.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Notes

This hilarious clip is of Cal RB Marshawn Lynch after the Cal/Washington game Saturday.  He drives around on the stretcher cart for the last drive of the game!  I have never seen this before.  Driving the cart around on the field after the game.  I love it.

Now time for the Friday tradition:


- This week has been particularly eventful with the 2007plans and the merry-go-round that a lot of drivers are on.  I think it makes sense for Atlanta after years of this race being theseason finale featuring a lot of rookies attempting the race and a lot of oneoff rides.  Who can forget the 1992 racehere? 

- I think the Hendrick team is the only making a damn bit ofsense with the Busch cars this weekend. Kyle Busch is skipping the race at Memphisand in his place will be Justin Labonte. The other teams will use the stand ins to practice and qualify.  For some odd reason, Kasey Kahne is in theBusch race this weekend.

- Also in the Busch race this weekend are Timothy Peters inthe RCR #29, Peyton Sellers in the #31, Cale Gale in the KHI #33, the debut ofJuan Pablo Montoya in the #42, the return of Jason Keller to competition in the#66, and the debut of Joey Miller in the #99.

- Ryan Smithson has a great article up today about DavidRagan and how unfair NASCAR is for not letting him drive at Atlanta this weekend.  I was going to say something about it but hedoes a great job with it.

- The IROC finale is this weekend as well at Atlanta.  Tony Stewart leads the points so he’ll bestarting in the back.  Within strikingdistance are Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Max Papis, and Martin Truex Jr.  Tony will probably win the title but you knowme, I’ll be hoping for Kenseth.

- You know I really hate unsubstantiated rumors thatoriginate in the US.  When a foreign website does them aboutNASCAR, I really hate it.  MichaelSchumacher is not going to compete in the road races next season.

- Mark Martin should be driving a Ford next year in theTruck Series in a limited schedule. Where have I heard that before?  Iwould assume it’s the 6 Truck.  He couldalso run in the Busch Series for a different Chevy team.  It should be interesting to see who thatcould be.

----- AtlantaPreview -----


The Busch and Truck races should be interesting thisweekend.  On the Busch side, we a shorttrack battle at Memphiswith a lot of young guys in the field. In the Truck Series, Todd Bodine looks to sweep Atlanta in 2006 but with Mark Martin in thefield that is far from a lock.

WINNERS – Clint Bowyer in Busch, Mark Martin in Trucks
 

Weather will on everyone’s mind this weekend with rainlikely to cancel qualifying today.  Ofcourse, back in the spring the race was delayed to Monday and won by KaseyKahne.  I think you have to look at himas the prohibitive favorite at this race considering his wins on every other1.5 mile track this year.  It certainlylooks like he has the right combination figured out with the 9 team to attackthese tracks.  If not Kahne, I’d look toguys that traditionally run well here like Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, DaleEarnhardt Jr., and Tony Stewart.  Theracing itself is awesome at Atlanta.  Guys run anywhere they dang well please fromthe white line (Stewart, Martin) to the middle (Johnson) and the outside (DaleJr., Kahne).  This race is also importantbecause it shapes next week at Texas and to alesser extent Homestead.  Atlantato me is a great Chase track because the best car will usually win.

WINNER – Kasey Kahne

Call me Captain Obvious. I’m picking Kahne because there is too much evidence not to. 

DARKHORSE – Bobby Labonte

I’m pretty much going to guarantee a top 10 finish here forBobby.  It’s funny, since Todd Parrottleft the team they’ve run better.


Here is your channel surfing schedule:

Today
Nextel Cup qualifying at 7:00 on SPEED
A.J. Allmendinger looks to qualify in the #84 for Red BullRacing while Bill Elliott whores himself out to the #37 team.  I feel bad that he isn’t in a better carconsidering Atlantais his home track.

Saturday
Busch: Sam’s Town 250 at 2:00 on NBC
Truck: EasyCare 200 at 4:30 on SPEED

Sunday
Nextel Cup: Bass Pro Shops 500 at 2:30 on NBC

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Meant To Do This Earlier: North Wilkesboro

I'm kind of shocked and sad that no one has made any mention of North Wikesboro this year, the 10-year anniversary of the last race at North Wilkesboro.  Save The Speedway is still working hard to bring racing - of any sort back to the track.  I commend them for it.  They got a lot of good press last year with their efforts and they actually look to have made some headway.  This year?  Nothing.  My memories of the track have faded and it sucks that I don't remember what the racing was like there.  Once or twice a year ESPN Classic will be nice enough to show a race, usually from 1989 or so.  I would love to watch the final race there even though I'm sure it would make me well up.  That had to have been a sad day.  I want to make a road trip and visit the track so I can say I've been there.  I'll be sure to bring a camera.  The before and after when the place is running again will be cool to see.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Early Week News Items

Some things to talk about for a bit:

A.J. Allmendinger coming to Nextel Cup in 2007 - Another open-wheeler joins NASCAR for 2007, but with a twist - he is American!  A.J. obviously has talent and he should make a good addition to the Red Bull team.  He'll pilot the #84 and he will also be running this week in Atlanta in the #83 as well as the rest of the scheduled races this season. 

Dodge, Chevy playing with their cars... again - First, Dodge is changing their model for both the present model Charger and for the Car Of Tomorrow, introducing the Avenger.  Maybe it's just me, but a redesigned Charger would be better than switching nameplates yet again.  The model that is getting more attention is the Chevy announcement that the Monte Carlo will be phased out with the Impala SS.  The Impala will be Chevy's Car Of Tomorrow brand of choice.  Maybe there are secrets in this sport, because both announcements seem to have caught everyone in the media off guard.  I suppose Ford is sticking with the Fusion and Toyota will roll with the Camry for both models.

Busch Series models to change as well - By the 2010 season the Busch Series (if it is even still called the Busch Series by then) will have new models and supposedly the names being tossed around are the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Toyota Solara.  I have been a proponent of this for a while, having the Busch cars more different from the Cup cars.  You know, the way it used to be.  I see this as a very positive step to giving the Busch Series a separate identity again.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Jimmie Johnson Takes Subway 500 Victory; Matt Kenseth Takes Points Lead



Jimmie Johnson held off Denny Hamlin in the final laps of the Subway 500 at Martinsville as the Chase for the Cup is possibly the closest it has ever been at this point in the year, as Jeff Burton suffered engine trouble and finished 42nd.


Martinsville certainly had its share of twists and turns today, and that was just from the drivers spinning out.  The win by Johnson today coupled with the engine problems for the 31 team has NASCAR's dream come true as there is no longer a favorite for the title with the drivers so close together.

Most of the Chase drivers ran in the top 10 for the majority of the day yet only 5 finished there.  Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were among the top 10 until separate spins took each of them out of contention.  Dale Jr.'s came while battling with Kasey Kahne.  Kahne would go on to finish 7th.  Impressive runs today for Hamlin, who nearly won despite running on 7 cylinders and Bobby Labonte, who captured a second-straight top 10 finish with a 3rd place run.  Mark Martin also had a less than stellar effort, finishing 24th with radiator trouble.

6 down, 4 to go Chase standings:
GREEN is a gain, BLACK is no change, RED is a loss; positions gained (+/-)

1. Kenseth 5848 (+1)
2. Harvick -36 (+1)
3. Johnson -41 (+4)
4. Hamlin -47 (+2)

5. Burton -48 (-4)
6. Earnhardt Jr. -94 (-1)
7. Martin -96 (-3)
8. Kahne -99 (--)
9. Gordon -141 (+1)
10. Busch -171 (-1)

Man... these last four races will be tense.

Complete results from the Subway 500.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Bit Of A Rant...

Tell me something, why is baseball still considered a major sport?  I couldn't be less interested in the sport anymore.  Gone are the days of games being exciting to watch and the days of games being destination television.  I'm not alone either.  TV ratings are horrendous for every round of the playoffs.  The talent isn't there.  Need further proof?  TBS is going to be the big cable partner of MLB.  Yeah, TBS.  In between reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond and Friends, you can now watch MLB baseball that isn't always the Braves.  ESPN finally recognized that MLB is a ship that's taking on water.  The execs there realize that NASCAR isn't on the way down the way baseball is.  There is more money in racing than there is in baseball right now.  ESPN doesn't make these decisions lightly and they decided that the NASCAR Chase is bigger than the MLB.  I can't say I disagree.

Friday Notes

My YouTube movie trailer is for Saw 3.  In my opinion, a much better - and more twisted movie than The Grudge is.

Now time for the Friday tradition:
 

- David Ragan’s running 4 races in the 06 to close out thisseason.  Good move and I can’t say I’mthat surprised.  This past week he wasrunning pretty well in the Busch race until one of the 674538 wrecks ended up taking himout.  The races will be Martinsville,Atlanta, Texas,and Homestead.

- Well this was originally going to be about theannouncement for Dale Jarrett’s new number next year, but late browsing ofJayski indicates that 44 is the winner. So, umm, Dale Jarrett’s number next year for the UPS Camry will be 44.

- You’d have thought Jesus himself were coming back if youask some people about Ward Burton driving the 4 at Martinsville thisSunday.  My thought is eh.  Ward’s a nice guy and used to be a gooddriver but I doubt he’ll do anything with anyone anymore.

- Kevin Harvick could skip the Busch race in Memphis next week to focus on the Cup race in Atlanta.  I don’t blame him if he decides to doit.  A little side note here: I havealways someone who has locked up a title to mail it in at the end of theyear.  Hell if it was me, I’d run a lapor two, pull it in, and sip on champagne the rest of the race.  And I’d have a sexy party.

- Sam Hornish will supposedly run the Phoenix Busch racenext month.  Now that should be prettydamn interesting to see.  Unfortunatelysince he drives for Penske, I won’t really be cheering for him.

- Steven Wallace will be taking over the 64 for the rest ofthe year in Busch.  If you didn’t seethis coming, you might be as na├»ve as Jamie McMurray.  Speaking of Steve, why aren’t the conspiracytheorists throwing a fit about him winning the ARCA race at Iowa, the track designed by his dad?  You’re letting me down guys!

- Speaking of ARCA the 2006 season came to a close this pastweek after Iowa.  Frank Kimmel won the championship once again(and once again, it wasn’t close).  BobbyGerhart and Billy Venturini went second and third.  ARCA seems to me that it has fallen off fromit’s past importance.  The attention ofJuan Montoya certainly helped the last few weeks, though.
 

----- MartinsvillePreview -----


I feel like I’ve neglected the Truck Series for severalmonths… and the truth is, I have.  It ishard to follow a series when you can’t watch their races.  Now I don’t even listen to the radiobroadcasts.  All I do now is wait for theresults to be posted and then check to see if Martin won and where the Roushdrivers finish.  I guess I’ve missed afew things, like when did Todd Bodine stop dominating?  When did Bill Davis’ team get good?  This week in Martinsville the Trucks go for 200 laps in afall shootout where the winning team will make just one pit stop and the timingof that pit stoop will most likely determine where they finish.  In this one the old guys will dominate withone exception: Denny Hamlin steps into the 46 Chevy to give Mark Martin a runfor his money.

WINNER – Mark Martin

Any race at Martinsvilleis worth the price of admission.  Since2004 this race has been absolutely pivotal for a champion to establish hisdominance while some of his foes falter and see their championship hopes endedat the tough southern Virginiatrack.  As yall probably know if you’vebeen reading TCS long enough, Martinsvilleis the home track of yours truly, having grown up just across the border just20 minutes away.  The track is the oldestin NASCAR but the number of drivers who have the place figured out is still asmall percentage.  Drivers must bedisciplined enough not to overdrive the corners here or it will bite them bigtime.  You hear the announcers talk aboutgetting a “rhythm” and here it is essential to making it 500 laps.  Your winner Sunday will know this verywell.  Track position here makes thedifference but a good car can overcome a setback.  Man, I can’t wait for this Sunday.

WINNER – Kyle Busch

Hendrick driver? Check.  Not everyone’s pick JeffGordon and not Jimmie Johnson.  Just afeeling about Rowdy here this week.  Hefinished fifth here in the spring and seems to take to difficult tracks well.

DARKHORSE – Sterling Marlin

Don’t look now, but MB2 is showing some signs of life.  Sterlinghad a great run last week and was decent in the spring.


Here is your channel surfing schedule:

Today
Nextel Cup qualifying at 3:30 on SPEED

Saturday
Truck: Kroger 200 at 1:00 on SPEED

Sunday
Nextel Cup: Subway 500 at 12:30 on NBC

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The 25 Best Busch Series Drivers of All-Time

As promised, here are my top 25 Busch Series drivers ofall-time.  For all-time I’m referring tothe Busch Series in its present form, in other words, since 1982.  I must say, it was pretty hard cutting downto 25.  Even more difficult was trying torank them.  Whenever I got into adeadlock, I thought about who would finish higher in a race between them intheir best car.  My very subjectiverankings:

1. Mark Martin (1982-present)
219 starts
47 wins
29 poles
Leads Busch Series all-time wins and poles

 
Really, who else could it be here?  Mark is awesome.  Mark has done so much in the series andperhaps one of the most overlooked items is that he only ran the full scheduleonce.  Imagine what his numbers wouldhave been if he ran more than 15 races a year during the 1990s.

 2. Jack Ingram (1982-1991)
Two-time champion (1982, 1985)
274 starts
31 wins
122 top fives
Holds record for most top 10 points finishes in a row

3. Sam Ard (1982-1984)
Two-time champion (1983, 1984)
22 wins
25 poles
Holds record for most wins in one season with 10

You know, I had to show these guys respect.  Even though I personally never saw them racein the series I admire what they did as the first two champions and the twodominating drivers. 

4. Kevin Harvick (1999-present)
Two-time champion (2001, 2006)
24 wins
84 top fives
117 top 10s

Kevin’s going to move up this list as long as he runs in theseries.  Earlier in the year I had a fewposts that talked about who was better in Busch, Harvick or Biffle.  I think that question has been answered.

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1996-present)
Two-time champion (1998, 1999)
22 wins in less than 100 starts
45 top fives
11 poles

6. Dale Earnhardt (1982-1994)
21 wins
65 top fives
75 top 10s
Won first NASCAR Busch Series event at Daytona in 1982

 The son edges the father in this series.  Dale Jr. has an incredible record in theBusch Series and a lot of people don’t really give him credit for just howdominant he has been.  Big E was noslouch either.

7. Matt Kenseth (1996-present)
19 wins
89 top fives
131 top 10s
11 poles

One of the reasons I started following Matt was his rivalrywith Dale Earnhardt Jr.  I cheered loudlyfor the Lycos car in 1998 and then the DeWalt car in 1999.  I feel lucky having been a fan of his fornearly a decade.

8. Jeff Burton (1988-present)
22 wins
71 top fives
118 top 10s
11 poles

9. Greg Biffle (1996-present)
2002 series champion
18 wins
110 top 10s
Only driver win Truck Series and Busch Series championships

I would put Greg in the 60 Grainger car against nearly anyone.  That’s about it.  He always does well in the series and wasalso the first driver to complete the double duty in Cup and Busch in 2004.

10. Martin Truex Jr. (2001-present)
Two-time series champion (2004, 2005)
13 wins
55 top 10s

I should probably have Martin higher on the list… I’m sureI’ll revisit this at some point.  Youcan’t deny the kid’s talent.

11. Harry Gant (1982-1994)
21 wins
71 top 10s
14 poles
10 wins after the age of 50

Harry Gant is one of my favorite drivers from my early yearsof watching racing.  Interestingly, heran no more than 17 races in any season. Putting those numbers up is impressive for 128 starts.

12. Tommy Houston (1982-1996)
All-time leader in starts with 417
24 wins
198 top 10s
18 poles

13. Tommy Ellis (1982-1995)
1988 series champion
22 wins
70 top fives
28 poles

The Tommy and Tommy show here.  Admittedly I remember Tommy Houston more thanTommy Ellis so he gets the higher spot.

14. Larry Pearson (1982-1999)
Two-time series champion (1986, 1987)
15 wins
129 top 10s

15. Chuck Bown (1986-1999)
1990 series champion
11 wins
73 top 10s

16. Bobby Labonte (1982-present)
1991 series champion
Only Busch champion to win Nextel Cup championship
94 top 10s

17. David Green (1991-present)
1994 series champion
383 career starts
9 wins

To me, David and Bobby are linked together by the Slim Jimcar and the 44.  Both guys have a similardriving style that every aspiring racer should incorporate.  Two classy guys.

18. Randy Lajoie (1986-present)
Two-time series champion (1996, 1997)
15 wins
118 top 10s

Randy probablydeserves to be higher on the list… but Ithink he hurt himself by taking bad rides in the series to stick around.  It was painful seeing him a few years agobecause he just didn’t have it anymore. For me, that affects his ranking.

19. Jeff Green (1990-present)
2000 series champion
16 wins
23 poles

20. Joe Nemechek (1989-present)
1992 series champion
16 wins
18 poles

21. Todd Bodine (1986-present)
15 wins
89 top fives
156 top 10s

22. Darrell Waltrip (1982-present)
13 wins
40 top fives
53 top 10s

23. Kenny Wallace (1988-present)
375 starts
9 wins
156 top 10s

24. Jason Keller (1991-present)
All-time Busch Series money winner
400 starts
10 wins

25. Michael Waltrip (1988-present)
11 wins

So there it is.  Igave high value to championships and race wins because by and large, you haveto be good to win.  Consistency is alsoimportant.  I wonder how NASCAR’s listwill look.  Well probably not goodbecause it’s fan voting, so nevermind.

What do you think?