Friday, June 30, 2006

Friday Notes

The YouTube video of the week – this one comes from some fans at MSG during the NBA Draft via Deadspin, some guys heckle Stephen A. Smith relentlessly during the second round of the draft.  DO YOU WANT SOME CHEETOS?

Now time for the Friday tradition: 

- Our own Vice President will be attending the Pepsi 400Saturday night.  Important?  Not really. Just a good thing Ted Kennedy won’t be driving.

- Kentucky Speedway will be installing the SAFER barriersafter studying the results from Jeff Fuller’s nasty crash two weeks ago.  Good move so something like that doesn’thappen again.

- Kevin Hamlin will be filling in for Auggie Vidovich in theBusch race tonight, as Vidovich doesn’t have a superspeedway license. 

- Martin Truex Jr. will be double dipping for an injured MarkMcFarland in the #88 Navy Chevy for JR Motorsports.  I guarantee the best finish for the 88 thisseason will come tonight. 

- I’m not surprised at all Tony Stewart won the IROC race atDaytona.  He’s only run the Rolex 24there what, 3-4 times?  Kudos to IROC bythe way for putting a race back on the road courses.  Its certainly more of a challenge than justthrowing them out on all ovals the way they’ve done it for several years now.

- Speaking of the Rolex 24, Jeffy himself will grace the race with his appearance.  I guess Regis works the month of February.  Anyway, it'll be another chance for Tony to show he is better than Jeff.  I need to make that a T-shirt: Tony Stewart: Kicking Jeff Gordon's Ass Since 1999

- The F1 race at Indy is on SPEED?  WTF?

- The Truck race should be pretty easy to call, Bodine willwin.  Just his kind of track… but whatisn’t his kind of track in that 30 truck?  

- Sunday the IRL takes to Kansas in what is usually fuel mileagerace.  To its credit, the finishes areexciting to see who can make it and who can’t. 

- Busch qualifying wrapped up with J.J. Yeley sitting on thepole.  

----- Daytona Preview ----- 

One of the few impound races this year is this one, wherepractices were held yesterday with qualifying tonight and the race tomorrownight.  This race tends to break up thecars pretty well, I can think of more than a few in which it was the top 5battling for the win and the rest of the field was nowhere to be found.  Obviously the same teams will be a factor,the Gordons and Johnsons and Stewarts and Juniors.  If you’re like me and hoping for someone elseto win, good bets would be Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray or Matt Kenseth.  The nighttime atmosphere makes the racepretty special, as long as it doesn’t start at midnight because of rain the wayit did last year.  With the race onSaturday night I’ll go with my predictions today:

WINNER – Tony Stewart 

Just too good not pick him at this race, even though I’d loveto say Kenseth will win. 

DARKHORSE – Scott Riggs 

Something just tells me he’ll be itching to prove himself ata track he DNQ’d in February. 

WILL CAUSE THE BIG WRECK – Kasey Kahne

To the dismay of ugly women nationwide, Kahne’s the pickhere.  The way he drives plate races justmakes me nervous and has since 2004. Besides, Jimmie Johnson running a Shamu paint scheme is embarrassment enough.

Qualifying goes today at 4:30 for the Cup guys and theWinn-Dixie 250 Busch race starts tonight at 7:30.  I’ll be back tomorrow with the Roundup on theaction.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Oh, great...

As everyone has probably seen by now, Brian France has said that changes will be coming to the Chase starting in 2007.  As of right now I'm less than thrilled by that announcement.  The Chase itself was strange enough getting used to in its first incarnation, now changes are coming... I don't know what to make of it.  On the surface, I hate it.  10 drivers/10 races to settle it works just fine for me.  My position won't waver on adding more drivers, no way in hell do I want more drivers in it.  I don't think a guy that couldn't put himself any higher than 12th or even 15th should be able to win a championship.  The other issue at hand is changing the point system.  This, I'm in favor of.  Giving some more weight for top finishes to the guys in the Chase can do nothing but increase the level of competition on the track.  Maybe even add a few points for the highest qualifyer.  I guess we'll wait and see how it shakes out.  Could be good, could also be very, very stupid.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wednesday News Report

This has perhaps been one of the busiest weeks for news of the year.  Lots of good stuff to be talked about.  An international flair, criminal charges, and more. 

Myspace Top 8 Stories of the Week 

The Euros are coming! The Euros are coming! 

If F1 holds a race and no one watches it, does that mean itreally happened?  I’m interested to seewhat happens this weekend at Indy for the USGP. Will there be more than six cars on the track?  Will Bernie Ecclestone get his head out ofhis ass?  My predictions are probably andhell no.  Seriously Bernie, do you thinkthe USgives a flying fuck about you and your series? Put on a good race and put on a happy face.  That’s all I ask.  Then maybe some people will actually WANT tofollow F1 here. 

So, who will win? Certainly not Scott Speed, who could probably take you on a tour ofEurope but doesn’t know where Indianapolisis on the map.  Fernando Alonso iskicking all kinds of ass from what I see, the guy wins every week.  Michael Schumacher seems to have lost histouch.  Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Montoyaare the only other guy’s names from the series I know. 

Two Open Wheel Races Last Sunday

Your winners were A.J. Allmendinger and Sam Hornish.  The Chump Cars (not a typo) had SebestienBordais nearly die after a nasty collision with Paul Tracy where Tracy’s car actuallyended up on Bordais’ head.  He turned outto be fine and came back to the track to sign autographs.  I personally would have laid up in thehospital and then gotten the hell out of there. Marco Andretti had a good showing at Richmond placing fifth and runningcompetitively in the top five all night. Maybe he isn’t a one trick pony like Danica.  (BURN!) 

Gene Haas Update 

What’s the latest on schemin’ Gene?  Glad you asked.  Haas was released on bond.  $10 million bond!  Holy cow. I’ve never seen a bond that big in my life.  Good lord. He had to turn over his passport as well since he probably wanted toleave the country.  Too bad for the teamshe has, as they’re faced an uncertain future with their owner under federalprosecution.  Although if Gene is takinglessons from Hendrick… 

Bank of AmericaCup? 

I try not to believe what I read in the Winston-Salem Journaland Mike Mulhern, but this intrigued me. I figured Sprint wouldn’t exactly be jumping to continue with NASCARafter pulling out on Petty Enterprises several years ago.  Nextel’s top execs all seem to be leaving,the very same ones that negotiated the deal to sponsor the series to beginwith.  Enter Bank of America.  A company based in Charlotte with lots of local interest, and inthe last year they have entered the sport as sponsor of NBC’s pre-race show, acontingency award, and as a race sponsor this October.  So if Sprint decides that Nextel’s opinionsdon’t matter, please bring in someone like Bank of America.  A brand-new title sponsor that is committed would be muchbetter than a company half-assing it.

Ward Burton Wants Back In For 2007

Ward’s been talking with struggling multi-car teams,eh?  NASCAR.com says those teams areYates and Ganassi.  Yates has the 88 thatneeds a vet and Ganassi’s 42 a new driver as well.  The big thing for Ward is that he has to havea sponsor in tow.  I was never the guy’sbiggest fan, but for whatever reason a lot of people love him.  I never viewed him as a top driver but he issolid and the way he was let go from the 0 was pretty shitty so hopefully hemakes his triumphant return.

Your 2007 Nextel Cup Rookie Class 

The first part in what will probably be an ongoingthing.  Thus far, we know that it willinclude Paul Menard, Todd Kluever, and Jon Wood.  This is timely after Menard’s big win at Milwaukee.  Also, an interesting tidbit popped up.  Roush said he has no issue using a substituteon long travel weekends as Kluever wants to be with the Busch team as much aspossible.  As a Roush fan, WTF?  Does this mean Boris Said will be in the 6 atSears Point next year?  Will Mark? I’ve given Todd a break on his tough rookie season after I saw himpersonally drive to a ninth-place finish at the Busch race in Charlotte. I don’t know… just doesn’t seem like this thing is very well planned for2007.  Jon Wood also doesn’t know whatcar he’ll be in, if it’s the 21 or a new 47. Two other names that may be in the series next year: David Gilliland, asRCR is showing interest; and Bill Lester. I’m not kidding.

TalladegaRepaving 

Just in time for the October race.  The project is expected to be done bySeptember 1.  I can only imagine what itwould be like working on this thing.  Alabama heat plus 2.66miles of asphalt to pave?  According tothe story concrete will also be installed on pit road as it holdsup with spiltfuel better.  Pit road is also beingwidened by 12 feet.  Hell yeah, more roomon pit road the better.

Age Limit Lowered In NASCAR Grand National Division

Lots of cost-saving moves as well were announced: a new specengine for use in either the East or West series along with composite bodiesfor those series.  What I saw though isthe age limit for the competitors has been lowered to 16.  Which means your new NASCAR East serieschampion will be Joey Logano.  Seriouslyfor a minute: NASCAR better hope these new cost-cutting measures work.  After abolishing the Elite division effectiveat the end of the year either you make it as easy as possible to compete withthe new equipment or they’ll be gone. The Hooters Pro Cup circuit could get even bigger next year with theinflux of guys looking for a place to race. 

Intermission 

In honor of Jeffy’s recent engagement to the Belgian modelseeing dollar signs, I have a nice picture someone in relation to Jeff and marriage:


Brooke Sealy Gordon! 


Also, it was announced that Reed Sorenson would run thebadass red Target scheme for the remainder of 2006: 


Yes, I love that car.  You should too.

End of intermission


Chase Breakdown Version 2.0

This handy little chart from FoxSports.com shows each of the last three years points standings at this time.  Drawing on that knowlege plus my first Chase breakdown, I think its safe to say we're down to 14 guys fighting for 10 spots.  The 400 point thing was the most useless part of the Chase. 

Top 10 Points

1. Jimmie Johnson 2434

2. Matt Kenseth -101

3. Kasey Kahne -313

4. Mark Martin -321

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -329

6. Jeff Burton -400

7. Tony Stewart -422

8. Jeff Gordon -448

9. Greg Biffle -467

10. Kevin Harvick -489

The next 4 (Points behind 10th place 1945 in parentheses)

11. Denny Hamlin -498 (-9)

12. Kyle Busch -509 (-20)

13. Carl Edwards -562 (-73)

14. Kurt Busch -654 (-165)


So... who will be in the Chase?

Several ways to split the season up: 13-13-10 is what I used for the first one.  Now we have 16-10-10, with the first nearly half of the year to set yourself up for the "pre-Chase" and if you're good enough, the Chase itself.  At this point, you got 10 races to get yourself in the top 10 in points.  Here is how I see it:


Locks: Johnson, Kenseth, Kahne, Martin, Earnhardt Jr.

These are the top five teams and have proven themselves worthy of a spot in the playoffs. 

The Group of Death: Burton, Stewart, Gordon, Biffle, Harvick, Hamlin, Kyle Busch

Oh yeah... the fight between these guys is gonna get nasty.  This is the group of drivers to watch for the next 10 races.  I guarentee it will be entertaining.

The Final Two Contenders: Edwards, Kurt Busch

In a few more races, these two could possibly join the fray in the group of death.  Edwards needs to keep up what he is doing and Busch is making a balls to the wall effort to try and make it in. 


The action comes from several locales this weekend: Cup and Busch in Daytona for some restrictor plate goodness, Trucks and IRL team up to take on Kansas, and F1 makes their return to scene of the crime at Indy for the US Grand Prix Sunday.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Monday News Report

With everything that happened over the weekend, waiting until Wednesday would miss some pretty big news.


Brian Vickers Signs With Red Bull Racing For 2007 And Beyond

It was only a matter of time before this became official as Toyota has been the rumored home for him since he announced he wanted to leave Hendrick.  The timing of the announcement was pretty dumb as it wasn't even part of some sort of press conference, but the news nonetheless is big.  Toyota now has a driver they're banking their future on along with several veterans.  Bill Elliott could very well end up as Vickers' teammate.  The early returns may mislead the media who loves to play the "what if" game and Casey Mears will likely have more early success than Vickers.  I wouldn't underestimate the Toyota program though.  Considering the way they've got a stranglehold on the Truck Series, they're willing to pay to play with the big boys.  Vickers will compete in the #83 car.

A few images:





IRL, Champ Car Close To Reconciliation?

The rumblings began at the start of 2006.  Tony George and Karl Kalkoven were "talking" but not to get our hopes up.  Later, our hopes were raised after the talks got more and more serious.  The two sides have an ownership agreement and now are in the process of deciding what the new series will consist of.  The races that the series will have also must be decided.  2007 would be the earliest anything would happen, as Champ Car has agreed to let their teams run at the Indy 500 if they choose.

OK... this is where I get to be a preacher:  I do not remember the split in open wheel racing.  I didn't follow any sort of series other than Winston Cup until my middle teenage years.  I don't remember what it was like previously.  However, I'll tell you what I'd like to see.  There is no other way this can be done effectively than having both series under a new name and every team running every race.  I'm sorry, I don't think getting together for a couple races a year counts as reunification.  There has to be one car that runs ovals, road courses, and street courses.  The series should have about 20 races a year.  I think that this new series isn't going to be a significant challenge to NASCAR but in any event, it can be very fun and it can provide some great racing.  As we have seen, the two series separate cannot draw fans and TV ratings to make it worth watching.  I would love to see what happens when Sebestien Bordais, Paul Tracy, Sam Hornish, and Dan Wheldon are in a points battle.  Throw in some other young Americans like A.J. Allmendinger and Marco Andretti and some more competent veteran drivers, that sounds to me like a series that would be fun to watch and would draw fans, sponsors, and most importantly, it would bring respect back to American open-wheel racing.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Gordon Wins Going Away

Jeff Gordon still has it at the road courses, driving away to a win at Sonoma for his first of 2006.



A hot day in California proved to be just to Jeff Gordon's liking as he led 44 of the 110 laps at Infineon to win the Dodge/Save Mart 350.  It looked as if Penske would rule the day as both Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman would lead, but they each would lose the top spot eventually as Gordon took over and led the majority of the race.



Of course pit strategy ruled the day, and no one played the cards better than the 96 Hall of Fame Racing team and Terry Labonte.  Labonte's crew chief Phillipe Lopez made the call to gamble big-time, going the final 50 laps on one tank of fuel.  Several cautions near the end helped their cause and it led to a brilliant third-place finish for the first year team.  Ryan Newman would take second, with Greg Biffle and Busch rounding out the top 5.  It was a rough day for the ringers as Boris Said was the only one to record a solid finish of 9th.  The next highest was Scott Pruett in 30th after being beaten around all day.  The top rookie was Denny Hamlin in 12th.

I was nearly spot-on with my predictions.  Tony Stewart may have been able to challenge Gordon if not for a valve train problem, which dropped him from 2nd to 28th.  Said was the top ringer and Truex delivered a solid effort to finish 15th.

Full results of the Dodge/Save Mart 350.


The action from Saturday night:

Paul Menard Wins First Career Busch Race At Milwaukee



Menard was able to take advantage of Jason Leffler's crash while attempting to pit and held on for the win in his home state.  Joe Gibbs teammates Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley would sweep up the next two spots with Leffler and Stacy Compton rounding out the top 5 in a race marred with crazy cautions and questionable driving.

Sam Hornish Dominates Richmond In SunTrust Indy 300



Hornish is the king of the Virginia track, recording his third win there and back-to-back for Penske.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Saturday Roundup

Johnny Benson Doubles His Pleasure, Goes Back To Back At Milwaukee



Johnny Benson won his second straight race in the Truck Series last night, pulling away from Ron Hornaday after the final restart to win at Milwaukee.

----- Busch Series -----

Busch Series qualifying goes tonight at 6, with the AT&T 250 at 9 on FX.  Johnny Sauter dominated this race last year and looks to repeat at his home track.

----- Nextel Cup -----

Kurt Busch won the pole for the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma.  Surprisingly, the top four spots went to Cup regulars with McMurray on the outside pole with Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman behind.  Boris Said qualified his #60 car 5th in its debut race.  Among the non-regulars in the show are P.J. Jones in the #4 car in 15th, Ron Fellows 17th in the Tide Ride, and Tom Hubert, new supposed goldenboy David Gilliland and Brandon Ash.

Mr. Insignificant was Brian Simo in the Front Row Motorsports POS.  Not even a ringer could put that car in the show.

Full qualifying results here.

HappyHour featured the usual names at the top: Tony Stewart first, Jeff Gordon second.  They were followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch.  Boris Said, Robby Gordon and P.J. Jones all came in with solid top 15 efforts.  One surprise, at least to me was Martin Truex Jr. in 9th.  Its timefor my predictions:

WINNER - Tony Stewart

Bum shoulder?  No matter.  This is a guy that dominated at Watkins Glen a few years ago after his racing seat doubled for his toilet seat.  A bum shoulder won't slow this guy down at a race he won last year.

TOP RINGER - Boris Said

I go back and forth on which ringer I think will do the best.  Usually I pick Scott Pruett, but Roush equipment is the difference this year and Boris has a prime starting spot.  I'd also keep an eye on P.J. Jones

DARKHORSE - Martin Truex Jr.

I mentioned him earlier, so that might have given you an inkling.  He isn't a threat to win by any means but is pretty proficient on road courses.  He was, after all, the inaugural Mexico City winner.  A top 15 effort is very possible.

The Dodge/Save Mart 350 starts at 3 tomorrow on FOX.  Just two more races for the FOX team before NBC takes the reigns for the final time.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday Notes

A new feature I'm toying with putting on here, the YouTube video of the week.  This week its a clip from The Chelsea Handler Show on E!  Watch, and laugh. 

Now time for the Friday tradition:

- Casey Mears is gonna be loyal to Ganassi through the endof the year?  Aww… how sweet.  Wanna bet he won’t sniff a win?  I take that back, he wouldn’t have sniffedone anyway. 

- Scott Eggleston replaced Doug Randolph as crew chief forSterling Marlin on the 14 car.  It’s ashame to see Sterling run as bad as he has andmaybe this will turn things around a bit. 

- Scott Riggs is trying to pull a Denny Hamlin by hurtinghimself at the beach.  Bill Elliott willstandby for him at SSPI (Sonoma Sears Point Infineon) this weekend.  Actually I think Elliott would be a goodchoice to put in the car anyway, but that’s just me. 

- The IRL makes its annual trip to Richmond this week.  This is always one of the more exciting racesof the year, the proverbial “flying jets in a gym” analogy is popular for thisrace.  It is a neat visual to see these IRLmachines speeding around Richmond.  I give Tony George credit, this was a greatidea: Very challenging for the drivers and teams and great entertainment forthe fans.  

- This one made me spit my morning breakfast all over themonitor: James Hylton is competing in the Busch race for Jay RobinsonSaturday.  James Hylton is 70 FREAKINGYEARS OLD!!!!  Yes, he still runs ARCAbut still… his last NASCAR race was in 1982! 

- Updating Jeff Fuller: he has a broken wrist and a brokenfinger fromhis scary crash at Kentuckylast week.  Glad to see that’s all itwas.  Jeff’s had a certain degree ofinfamy back a few years ago when he would start and park the 88 of Joe Nemechekevery week in the Busch Series.  It gotto the point where a message board I was a part of ran a competition called the“Fullerlympics” where contestants would guess the number of laps before Fullerparked the car. 

- Oh yeah… the Canadian Grand Prix is Sunday for F1.  I might actually try to watch it before therace on FOX.

----- SSPI Preview ----- 

The first road race of the year promises to leaves us withsome surprise finishers and maybe even a surprise winner.  The usual suspects head the contender list,they being Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon, and the ringers led byBoris Said and Scott Pruett.  Pitstrategy is everything at this track so the teams with the best planning andthe best luck are the one to look for to win.


Cup qualifying starts at 7 tonight.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Drivers - Where They Come From

I had originally planned to talk a bit about this article that appeared in the News & Record on Wednesday.  It talks about the supposed rise again of short track late model drivers into the upper echelon of NASCAR again.  The back and forth battle between these guys and guys that come from open wheel has been led by the USAC contingent, with a lot of short track guys getting an opportunity here lately with Denny Hamlin as the posterchild for the movement.  The Spotter added to the story today with a list of guys from NC and VA that may or may not make it into the sport in the next few years.

Here is what I think: talent is talent.  It doesn't matter if you find that talent at an NC short track, a USAC event in Indiana, or a Winston West race in California.  Teams are looking for young drivers that can win races.  Preferably they also should be able to sell a product.  Development programs are established for this reason, to find these young guys and groom them to see how far they can go.  Sometimes they make it, and sometimes they won't.  I don't think teams see what happened with Denny Hamlin and think "we have to find a late model driver from the south now" the same way teams didn't immediately look to the open wheel side of racing when Jeff Gordon made it big.  It did, however, open up a new avenue to search for talent and it may have rekindled an interest in drivers right under their nose the whole time.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wednesday News Report

"It's great to win at Michiganfor Toyota.”  - Bill Davis after Johnny Benson’s winSaturday.  Yep, that’s how you endearyourself to fans.

 Top 8 Stories of the Week 

Gene Haas 

We have a car owner whose last name starts with the letter Hin trouble with the law!  Gene better getsome tips from Mr. Hendrick on how to beat the federal system and fast.  All kidding aside, this is serious.  If the allegations are true, Haas is going tojail and who knows what will become of his company, much less the 66 and 00teams.  This guy has a 52-page indictmentagainst him for cheating his tax returns to the tune of $20 million and alsowitness intimidation.  Wow… and he isbeing held without bond because he is a flight risk, according toprosecutors.  What these people do justto make some money when they already have plenty playing by the rules makes mesick. 

Unleaded fuel coming in 2007 

Race tests for the fuel will come first at Gateway for theBusch Series at the end of July.  Afterthat, several others will be done.  Thisis a positive step for the sport as long as performance isn’t affected.  It shouldn’t be though.  The first race with it will be one worthwatching.

Toyota Camry model submitted

The Camry was submitted Monday and taken by NASCAR to thewind tunnel.  We haven’t heard anythingabout it since.  I guess all is goingwell and more will most likely be out later. I believe this is the Car of Today model since it will run in 20 racesnext year.  

24 Hours of LeMans: Audi wins

ZZZZZzzzzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Oh sorry, I fell asleep there.  The biggest sports car race of them all, the24 Hours of LeMans was run over the weekend. The Audi team won their sixth in history and a first for adiesel-powered car.  You can tell that Idon’t really give a crap about it because sports car racing to me is about asfun as watching paint dry.  The onlysports car racing that I enjoy is the Daytona Prototypes that run because theylook cool and are a popular crossover vehicle for NASCAR and open wheeldrivers. 

Sponsorship stuff from the past week 

Michael Waltrip announced that Dominos Pizza and Burger Kingwould be co-sponsors of his #00 Toyotanext year.  The driver is yet to beannounced, as he is still trying to sucker in another sponsor so he can have a3-car team with himself, Jarrett, and a driver to be named later.  For all this big money and big plans, he damnsure better deliver on the track or I’ll be merciless.  UPS now appears to be headed to Greg Biffle andthe 16 team if you believe what you read on Jayski.  Certainly a big announcement will be plannedbut I’m wondering what becomes of the National Guard, Subway, Charter,etc.  I guess we’ll wait and see.  I’m also curious as to what happens with the88 if this is true.  Will it be like 2000when Roush took CITGO from the Wood Brothers and in turn helped them secureMotorcraft? 

Canadian News Report

Formula 1 heads to North Americafor the next two weeks.  Can’t you hearthe excitement in my voice?  The Montreal road coursehosts the series Sunday then everyone’s favorite event next week, the US GrandPrix at Indy.  Everyone remembers thedebacle there last year with six cars on the track and fans swearing to nevershow up again.  I hope to high heaventhey don’t.  

The same Montrealtrack looks to be hosting a Busch race next season on a Cup off weekend.  Yet again, no official word but the Toronto Sun sure seemsconvinced.  The Canadian market will geta chance to prove themselves.  Two races,both on road courses, out of the US.  How soon before NASCAR pulls the trigger and does it for the Nextel Cup Series?

Everyone can resume their normal lives, Dale Jr. has hisname back 

For whatever reason, this was what people were talking aboutFriday.  Sure, it’s strange he didn’t ownhis name.  Now he does and… nothingchanges.  It wasn't like some stranger from Mongolia owned the name, he let his dad and his company handle it when he was coming up through the ranks and even after 2001 it didn't seem to affect him.  I guess we now get to see he is a mature adult and making his own decisions.

Jeffy co-hosted Regis & Kelly Tuesday 

He’ll follow it up with a stint on Martha Stewart Thursdayand CBS’s Early Show on the weekend. Kidding.  It just shows that hedoesn’t believe in giving his life to winning a championship the way he didback in the mid-to-late 90s.

Intermission

mmm... Christina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil, a kickass metal band and one of my favorites.

End of intermission


SonomaSears Point Infineon Special

We're off to the wine country of California for the Dodge/Save Mart 350 this week and as always, there are several ringers and driver changes in store to throw an interesting wrinkle into the race.  Here are the changes:

4 Scott Wimmer ----- P.J. Jones

27 Kirk Shelmerdine ----- Tom Hubert

32 Travis Kvapil ----- Ron Fellows

34 various drivers ----- Johnny Miller

40 David Stremme ----- Scott Pruett

49 Kevin Lepage ----- Chris Cook

61 whoever was here ----- Brian Simo

78 Kenny Wallace ----- Travis Kvapil

96 Tony Raines ----- Terry Labonte

also, a few drivers will compete during their part-time schedule:

02 Brandon Ash

60 Boris Said

72 David Gilliland


Also this week, the Busch and Truck Series go to the historic Milwaukee Mile for a doubleheader Friday and Saturday.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Observations | Michigan

- Kasey Kahne = championship contender

Really?  I think he could sneak up and win it, but I wouldn't call him a favorite at this point.  Contender suffices.

- I can't be the only one who gets severely annoyed whenever the broadcast team (FOX or NBC) does their best to push the Gordon-Jr. non-rivalry.  Get it through your skulls one last time: THESE TWO ARE NOT RIVALS.  THEY WILL NOT BE RIVALS.  EVER. 

These are much more intriguing:

Dale Jr. vs. Matt Kenseth
Friendly rivalry, these two are going to be forever linked in history.  Competing for championships in the Busch Series in the late 90s, moving to Cup in 2000 with Kenseth winning ROTY, and finally in Kenseth's championship year in 2003 Jr. finished in the top 5. 

Tony Stewart vs. Jimmie Johnson
Rival home improvement stores, a somewhat contentious past, and the chance it could flare up again at any time.

Kurt Busch vs. Kevin Harvick
These two don't like each other.  At all.  Raise your hand if you're ready for this one to go to the next level.

- David Gilliland.  Again, this is the stuff of legend as a part-time rookie driver with an unsponsored team with a few good men at the top wins at Kentucky.  Three days later, its still unbelieveable.

- What was up with that start/finish line at Kentucky?  Are we writing all over the frontstretch now?

- I guess Exide is back in NASCAR, 6 years after ripping apart one of my favorite team/driver/sponsor combinations in history.  You couldn't have found a bigger Jeff Burton fan than I was when the #99 black and pink Exide Ford was tearing it up week after week.  CITGO was a horrible sponsor and its a cursed sponsor.  I'm glad they're out of the sport.  Hugo Chavez can kiss my ass.

- Boys, the Biff is back.  10th in points and destined to move higher.  This team is primed to make a run.  Just keep that Subway paint scheme off the track.

So ends my race week, coming tomorrow: road racing, Toyota's next moves, and a team owner gets arrested (and its not Rick Hendrick).

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Kasey Kahne Clicks Off Another Win

A rain-shortened 3M Performance 400 worked just fine for Kasey Kahne, as he won his fourth race of 2006 at Michigan today.



A new dominant driver has emerged at the intermediate tracks in 2006 and it was reaffirmed today as Kahne started on pole and rebounded from an unscheduled pit stop to lead 19 laps and win after the 3M Performance 400 was called at around 5:00 today 71 laps short of the scheduled 200.

Jeff Gordon followed his now customary pattern of leading early then falling back through the field, and even engaged in a tiff with protege Jimmie Johnson at one point.  Also taking turns leading were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Vickers, Carl Edwards, and Greg Biffle.  The race also featured a frustratingly high amount for Michigan, with nine of them in the 129 laps. 

Kahne passed Reed Sorenson, who gambled on pit strategy and managed to hold on for a 5th place finish.  Kahne sped away until the rains came and the race was called soon after.



Edwards stormed ahead for the runner-up spot, along with Earnhardt Jr., Biffle and Sorenson to complete the top 5.  Gordon led the most laps with 50 and the top rookie was Sorenson.

I was disappointed with Mark's effort today.  He is almost always a factor in the races here and I never heard his name today.  Shoulda went with my head, I guess.  Sorenson turned in a great performance aided by the call to take just two tires.  Good for that team.

Full results of the 3M Performance 400.

Speechless

David Gilliland's victory at Kentucky was without question the greatest upset in Busch Series history.  Gilliland is a rookie driver with a new team running part-time with in-house engines.  On paper, they shouldn't have been contending, much less winning a race.  On a night marred with cautions and bonehead driving Gilliland's story was the top one not only of the night, but of the year thus far.  J.J. Yeley was denied once again for an overdue win, but all credit to the 84 team.  On this night, they were the best.  Add an upset win to the list of reasons I love racing.

 


Oh, the thrill of victory.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Saturday Roundup

Johnny Benson Wins Hometown Race At Michigan



The Truck Series has another first-time winner as Johnny Benson finally cashed in and won in his Bill Davis Toyota at Michigan today.  He earned it, holding off Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte and Todd Bodine for the win.

----- Busch Series -----

Denny Hamlin sits on the Busch pole tonight at Kentucky, followed by Carl Edwards, Redd Sorenson, David Gilliland and Danny O'Quinn.

The Meijer 300 starts at 8 tonight on FX.

----- Nextel Cup -----

Kasey Kahne won the pole for the 3M Performance 400 yesterday with a lap of 185.644.  This is Kahne's fourth pole of 2006, and in two of his three wins this year he has started from the pole.  Following Kahne are Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Jimmie Johnson and Bobby Labonte. 

Bill Lester also made the show, which to me wasn't a surprise.  His problem has never been qualifying, its the racing in the race he doesn't do well in.  We'll see how he does at Michigan.

Mr. Insignificant was Jimmy Spencer in Kenny Wallace's #78 shitbox.

Full qualifying results here.

Happy Hour was paced by Greg Biffle, looking to win a race at the track for the third year in a row.  Following the National Guard car were Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Now, time for my predictions:

WINNER - Mark Martin

My head tells me Biffle, my heart says Martin.  Mark's due for a victory this year and I've picked enough to last until 2010.  Hopefully I'm vindicated Sunday.

DARKHORSE - Reed Sorenson

Heading back to the well again, at California he was in the top 10 most the day until a flat tire cost him a lead lap position.

The 3M Performance 400 goes at 1 tomorrow on FOX.  Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there, and especially to mine. 

Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday Notes

One last item about Casey Mears and Brian Vickers: if eitherof them win a race this year, I’ll be shocked. Absolutely shocked. 

- Reed Sorenson will end his double duty driving in bothseries full-time next week, as David Stremme will drive the 41 at Milwaukee as Scott Pruett wins at Sonoma in the 40. 

- One debut last week I didn’t mention: Brad Coleman.  This kid’s only been racing for five yearsbefore making his Busch debut.  Anexcellent article about him on Yahoo! Sports today provided some interestingdetails of his rise through the sport. Check it out here.

- Back a month or two ago, I started analyzing and comparingwho was the best Busch driver of the 2000s. At the time, I have the edge to Greg Biffle over Kevin Harvick.  Now, I have to say Harvick.  On his way most likely to anotherchampionship this year and he had just been dominant this year in that 21. 

- Check out the Fox Sports weekend guide: now look at theChamp Car and IRL sections. Reunification takes place next weekend, baby! 

/fake excitement 

- The Busch Series goes to one of the better tracks on thecircuit I think, Kentucky Speedway for the Meijer 300.  Carl Edwards took this race last year andcould just as easily do it again. 

- The Trucks are in Michiganwith the Cup guys and there will be a bit of a Cup influence in the race, whichmeans that Toyotamay only get two or three in the top five instead of four or five.

----- MichiganPreview -----

Fuel mileage is always a factor at Michigan, a two-mile track that has somegreat racing and is a blast to watch. Guys run all over the place.  Low,middle, high and each line can work depending on how the cars are set up.  It’s been a Roush playground here lately andI for one wouldn’t expect that to change. Last year Greg Biffle easily took the checkered flag and it was thisrace where Tony Stewart began his championship run.  In the August race, Jeremy Mayfield playedthe fuel mileage game and snuck away with a win.  No, I’m not bitter. 

Qualifying goes today at 3 for the Cup guys.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Glimpse Of The Future



Mears is now 100% officially with Hendrick starting in 2007 and Brian Vickers is... not.  Mears will drive a car with well... an ugly paint scheme and an uglier recent history:


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wednesday News Report

The 2007 stuff just starts earlier and earlier.  I hate it.  Anyway, I'll have to get in to it. 

 Top 8 Stories of the Week 

Vickers/Mears Driver Shuffle 2006 

This bomb that dropped last week has been the top storysince.  Everyone seems to be jumping onVickers for wanting to leave Hendrick, but I think that is unwarranted.  It would be one thing if he were runningwell, winning races, then wanting to leave. Obviously that’s not happening. For whatever reason, Vickers hasn’t had near the level of success thathis teammates have.  That’s why a freshstart somewhere else could and should be good for him. 

Casey Mears needs a new place to call home.  I’d like to see what he could do with theHendrick cars because he is sure to be appreciative of the opportunity to drivethe 25.  Everyone makes a big deal over hisquote unquote rivalry with Kyle Busch but he also is very tight with JimmieJohnson and that outweighs any friction with Kyle.  

Gibbs weary over Stewart’s other racing habits 

JGR has bad luck with guys in Busch races, eh?  In 1999 Bobby Labonte broke his shoulderblade in a Busch car and disappeared from the series until a few yearsago.  Now with Stewart suffering the samefate in part because of a Busch car, Gibbs has to be fuming.  The difference though is that Stewart won’tstop running his extracurricular races. If I were an owner that would put me in a tough spot: I want my driversto feel like they have the freedom to race other series but come Chase time Iwant it cut out unless it’s a companion event with the Cup series.  Incidents like this one with Stewart don’thappen every year but when they do happen, they can really screw up a season. 

Marty Smith to be a commentator on ESPN/ABC? 

Umm, wow.  That’sdefinitely not what I expected to see ESPN go after, but honestly I don’tdisagree with it.  Marty’s prettyentertaining as a columnist and from his work with the videos on NASCAR.com heseems to be pretty comfortable with a microphone.  I could see him and Rusty having some fun inthe booth and I think Rusty would provide the nuts and bolts analysis whileSmith is more of the “race fan commentator” and they can play off eachother.  If it happens, I’d be all for it. 

Dan Wheldon might end up in the 42 

Well, yeah.  Isn’tthis why he came to Ganassi to begin with? I would think Ganassi would be smart enough not to put him the 42straight from the IRL.  Any open wheeldrivers needs at least two years of stock-car experience before running NextelCup full-time. 

IRL at Texasrecap 

Unfortunately, I missed this one as well.  The IRL puts on a good show on these tracksyear after year.  Helio Castroneves wonand may be on his way to claiming that elusive championship.  

Double duty drivers this weekend 

On the Busch front, the list from last week’s WNR willsuffice.  Also competing will be MartinTruex and Bobby Labonte in the 51 and 4 trucks, respectively.  David  Stremme will drive for Rusty Wallace inthe ARCA series.  This is David’s secondconsecutive ARCA race.  Also competing inthe ARCA race from the Truck Series are Erin Crocker and Bill Lester.  Lester is actually pulling triple duty this weekend ashe attempts to make his second career Cup start. 

John Force’s record win 

This is one I hadn’t seen until I came across it a dayago.  John Force won a record 120th NHRArace this past weekend at Route 66 Speedway. I don’t follow drag racing but I sure have heard of John Force and hisdominance.  120 wins is amazing. 

Hank Parker Jr. done racing full-time

I can’t help but think what Hank Jr. could have done had hegotten the ride with Roush in 2003.  Nowthat he is hanging it up full-time but still helping out the 60 team, I guessthat’s what he wants to do.  Hank’s agood little driver.

Intermission

Shannon Wiseman, the TrackPass Temptress on NASCAR.com

End of intermission


A new semi-regular feature debuts today, titled:

Everything Else That Needs Covering

- NASCAR debuts a news wire w/ The Sporting News

Umm, ok.  1) what is it for and 2) why the hell should we care?

- Eddie D'Hondt latches on to Petty Enterprises

Another good move from the Petty camp, D'Hondt had the right idea at Yates but was overruled and the slide began to snowball.

- R+L Carriers to be associate sponsor on the 06 for Todd Kluever at Kentucky

Sorry, another one of those "only I care about this" stories.  I'm optimistic a pole last week at Nashville is a sign of things to come.

- Mike Wallace and Cale Gale to share the #1 Phoenix Racing car the rest of the year

Mike and Cale gonna kick some tail.  Hey, it rhymes!  Too bad it won't be true.

- Kevin Grubb finishes 25th in first race back in Busch

Good for Kevin, hopefully he'll stay clean.


Thats a wrap, this week Cup and Trucks are in the irish hills of Michigan while the Busch guys continue their stand alone schedule in Kentucky.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Weekend That Wasn't... In Front Of The TV

Yeah... all told, the only racing I watched this weekend was the last 100 laps of Pocono.  Friday was spent hanging out with some good friends and among other things, me buying a shirt to change into on the spot and having a great time bowling until 2 AM.  Saturday I went to watch a friend race a go-kart at a track I've never been to before.  Racing at its heart is what you find with local tracks.  It was refreshing to go somewhere where the fans didn't care if a driver was hot and the corporate sponsors were non-existant.  Seven bucks gets you in the door and you're free to mingle with anyone at any time.  The disagreements that are such a part of Saturday night racing are there too, and you have to appreciate it and I did.  The track, if you're wondering was Stateline Speedway.  Sunday I had the meal of kings, aka brunch which actually morphed into a brief shopping trip before getting home to watch the last part of the race.  Hamlin was indeed the man this weekend and he'll get a nice momentum boost at Michigan as well.

If you came for a race recap, Backstretch does as good a job in less time than NASCAR.com.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pocono 500 Belongs To Denny Hamlin For First Points Win

A spin from a flat left rear tire couldn't derail the FedEx car and Denny Hamlin, as he led 83 of 200 laps to win the Pocono 500.

Yeah... that's about it.  Tomorrow I'll tell you why this weekend I didn't watch much at all of the races this weekend.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Saturday Roundup

An abbreviated edition so I'll make it short and sweet.

Truck Series: Todd Bodine wins Sam's Town 400.

NASCAR.com

Backstretch Motorsports


IRL: Bombardier Learjet 500 Lineup

BM

Busch Series: Federated Auto Parts 300

Tonight at 7:30 on FX


----- Nextel Cup -----


Jeff Burton led final practice at Pocono but the guy near the top of the charts all week has been Brian Vickers.  Kasey Kahne, Polesitter Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards complete the top 5.  My picks:

WINNER - Brian Vickers

DARKHORSE - Scott Riggs

The starting lineup for the Pocono 500.  The race goes at 1:30 on FOX.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Friday Notes

First, go watch this video.

I wish I knew how to make videos.  Ah well, at least I still have Friday Notes.

- From the Where The Hell Have You Been Department, Kevin Grubb was reinstated by NASCAR after his suspension for substance abuse a few years ago.  Kevin will be in the #56 car in Nashville for the Busch race.  If you'll remember, he drove for the #26 Dr. Pepper car and the #37 Timber Wolf car several years ago.  Here's hoping he is still clean, which is probably the case since his dad doesn't work for DEI.

- Tony's attempting the whole race at Pocono this weekend.  Good for him, but if I were the #20 team I'd have somebody just in case.  Pocono seems like a good track for an injury though.  Drive straight for a while, turn, repeat.

- Over at DSP in the race weekend thread I brought up why this place has two races and I'll do it again.  They don't need two races.  This has to be the lowest-rated race of the year because its so damn hard to watch 500 miles of this.  Vegas (at night), Nashville, Kentucky, or Rockingham (if I was a purist) would be better alternatives for one of these races. 

- Brian Vickers and Casey Mears both will be elsewhere in 2007.  These two are kind of the same person.  Came in with a nice pedigree, haven't won but have had chances, still have a ton of potential.  The only question is will that potential never be reached?  Perhaps we'll see if they get some new scenery.

- The IRL at Texas is always a great show.  Since I missed Watkins Glen last week I think I might try to watch some of this one.  I love how sponsorships dictate race names.  We go from the Neighborhood Excellence 400 in Cup to the Bombardier Learjet 500 in the IRL.  I'm still waiting for the WWE SmackDown! 500 though.

- The Busch Series heads to Nashville which is a track that favors first-time winners.  Who will the next one be?  My money is on J.J. Yeley, Jon Wood, or Burney Lamar if its a first-timer.  The usual suspects will be the usual contenders though.

- The Trucks make their way to Texas as the first part of a weekend doubleheader with the IRL.  Since there's no Mark Martin a Toyota will win.  That race is tonight.

Since I didn't do one Wednesday...

Intermission



Natasha Bedingfield, a fine British import.  I'm a sucker for pretty blonde that can sing.

End of Intermission


----- Pocono Preview -----

- Last year the Roush Fords were on top as Carl Edwards blew every theory about track experience and winning records out the door by winning this race one year ago the first time he ever saw the track.  This was also a race that Brian Vickers may have won.  In July Kurt Busch outdueled veterans Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin to the finish. 

- Edwards has to be considered a favorite here with a win and a fourth-place finish in the two races last year.  Everyone seems to be on the Jimmie Johnson train to win here which he very well could do.  Everyone will also keep an eye on Tony, because he traditionally runs pretty well here.  Kurt Busch will also figure heavily into the equation for the win.

- At Pocono fuel mileage is often a factor in the outcome of a race.  Drivers also must pace themselves because this is a long race and engine trouble could plague some contenders.  It's still a cool shot when you see guys getting five wide on the looooong frontstretch.

On the slate for today we have Cup practice and qualifying along with the Sams Town 400 for the Trucks.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Brian Vickers On The Move

Vickers asked the Hendrick brass if he could seek employment elsewhere today.  Vickers still has several years left on his contract so it would take a team willing to buy out a pretty nice contract for the 22 year-old driver.  I don't blame him for wanting out.  Hendrick is a three-car team and he is number 4.  Gordon and Johnson are untouchable and Kyle Busch came in with arguably a better team and produced much faster than it has taken Vickers.  Even before Vickers the 25 team has been the stepchild of the Hendrick stable.  Joe Nemechek, Jerry Nadeau, Kenny Schrader, the list goes on.  Something just seems wrong with a team that has four wins in 16 years compared to the records of the 5, 24, and 48.

The speculation is already at a frantic pace on where he could be moving.  Robert Yates?  Chip Ganassi?  Toyota?  I would take Ganassi out of the equation.  That leaves the 88 of Robert Yates and the Toyota camp, most likely with Red Bull Racing.  Yates used to be one of the top teams in NASCAR.  As recently as 2002 the team put two drivers in the top 10 in points and were good for at least a few wins a year.  While Elliott Sadler recorded a Chase berth in 2004, it has been few and far between for wins for the operation.  An engine merger with Roush Racing has propelled them to the pinnacle to of the sport and is the measuring stick for a team's success, Yates has slipped and this year resemble a mid-pack team on a good day.  Toyota comes with unknowns of their own.  Will their car be up to the level of the others?  Dodge won four times in their first season but even they had team continuity with three of those by Sterling Marlin and Ward Burton.

Brian could be the new face of either Robert Yates or Toyota.  I guess it'll play out over the coming weeks.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Halfway To 26: Chase Breakdown

As promised, here is my Chase breakdown.  Feel free to keep it and shove it in my face after Richmond as I'm sure something will be off.

Top 10 Points

1. Jimmie Johnson 2011

2. Matt Kenseth -74

3. Mark Martin -216

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -282

5. Tony Stewart -293

6. Kasey Kahne -296

7. Jeff Burton -396

8. Kevin Harvick -420

9. Jeff Gordon -428

10. Kyle Busch -439

The next 11 (Points behind 10th place 1572 in parentheses)

11. Denny Hamlin -519 (-80)

12. Greg Biffle -524 (-85)

13. Casey Mears -537 (-98)

14. Carl Edwards -557 (-118)

15. Jamie McMurray -590 (-151)

16. Clint Bowyer -612 (-173)

17. Dale Jarrett -649 (-210)

18. Kurt Busch -704 (-265)

19. Ryan Newman -709 (-270)

20. Elliott Sadler -709 (-270)

21. Reed Sorenson -718 (-279)


So… who will be in the Chase?

Locks: Johnson, Kenseth, Martin 

These three have been the cream of the crop thus far in2006.  Johnson has led nearly the entireway and Kenseth has been right there behind him.  Martin is in excellent position despite aless than stellar pit crew (which I have blasted repeatedly). 

Barring a catastrophe, these guys will be in: Earnhardt Jr.,Stewart, Kahne 

Just a notch below locks, they will be in the Chase as wellbut don’t match up as well as the first three. 

Don’t look too far behind you: Burton, Harvick, Gordon

Burtonis riding the up elevator and Harvick seems to be on the way down a bit, alongwith Gordon.  My guess is that one ofthese guys falls out of contention at Richmond.

Rut roh: Ky.Busch

I don’t see Kyle making it in to the Chase this year.  One of the guys coming up from behind willtake his spot.  To his credit, if Kyleisn’t in the Chase he’ll have a stranglehold on the $1 million 11th placebonus.

Guys that will most likely end up in the top 10: Hamlin,Biffle, Edwards

I think Biffle will lead this charge because that team isshowing their 2005 form is just about back. Hamlin continues to impress and could become the first yellow-bumperrookie to make the Chase since its inception. Edwards shouldn’t be overlooked either and it would have to be a bit ofa disappointment should he not qualify this season. 

Long shots: McMurray, Bowyer, Ku. Busch

Longshots because they have too much to overcome in 13races.  Last season Kenseth was mired in22 nd place at this time but I don’t think any of these guys will replicatethat run. 

Thanks and try again next year: Jarrett, Newman, Sadler,Sorenson

Jarrett will try it next year with a Camry as he gets offthe Yateseidon.  Newman will make adogged run to get higher and will likely finish in the top 15.  Sadler is stuck on the Yateseidon unless hebolts because his season is really going down the crapper.  I also want to mention the job Sorenson isdoing, as I’ve said before a lot of people overlooked him when the season beganbut he has undeniable talent.

Wednesday News Report

To start things off, go read this article about the Sam Ardbenefit auction.  More and more, I becomeconvinced Rusty has is right with a driver penchant plan.  It’s just too bad the old school driverswon’t benefit from it.

Top 8 Stories of the Week

Bill Elliott will hit for the cycle as he signs on tocompete with Red Bull Racing

Technically he won’t drive a Toyota… yet. You really want to bet against that happening though?  Red Bull Racing finally has a face to put ontheir team, which up until this point has been little news and a lot morespeculation.  Me personally, I’d like tosee the team expand to four cars with Red Bull on two and Absolut on the othertwo.  Red Bull and Vodka!  The marketing writes itself!

DEI, MB2 discuss partnering up in the future 

This was one story that certainly caught my interest.  DEI may buy or merge with MB2 to give themmore teams and more information.  I don’tthink a merger would be sensible with five drivers expected to compete in 2007,unless either Nemechek or Marlin is fired/quits.  MB2 has to be tired of being a show pony forHendrick Motorsports so I can see why they’re talking to DEI.

Why NASCAR’s substitute driver rule works 

Ok I’m going to explain something to everyone who “can’tbelieve” Tony Stewart raced last week and got credit to running the wholerace.  In my analysis, about everyoneclamoring over this rule hasn’t watched NASCAR for more than a couple years.  This is why the rule works: these teams workway too hard to have a driver injury kill their chances to win achampionship.  The rule where a driverstarts a race and runs the first lap then he can get out and have a reliefdriver take over is the best of both worlds. What’s the one word in there that people don’t notice?  R-E-L-I-E-F. Its not like Ricky Rudd was saying “damn, I wish I could get points forrunning these 300 something laps” come on get real.  Relief drivers do their job because A) theywant to help the team and B) it’s a race and they’re race car drivers.  So tell me again why NASCAR should change arule that obviously has worked for decades?  If the injury isn't serious enough where he can't drive a few laps, see Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2004.  If is serious enough, they won't compete: see Sterling Marlin in 2002. 

NASCAR playing tax inspectors? 

This one came in from our favorite “news” paper, the WinstonSalem Journal.  NASCAR is trying to seeexactly who gets what with team alliances and so forth.  What was the team response to this?  I have a quote from one executive from an unnamed team andhe said “HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.” 

Apparently there was an IRL race last week…

And, apparently it was a CF of a race.  I’d have to agree if Ryan Briscoe finishesthird and he sucked so bad Ganassi didn’t want him back.  Scott Dixon won in a special paint scheme, ararity in Indy racing.  Full resultshere.

Double duty drivers ready for the weekend 

Travel arrangements~! 

In chart form I have the list of driver substitutes thatwere announced as the full-time drivers in both series go from Pocono to Nashville:

2 Clint Bowyer ----- BrandonMiller

5 Kyle Busch ----- Justin Labonte

18 J.J. Yeley ----- Casey Atwood

20 Denny Hamlin ----- Kertus Davis

21 Kevin Harvick ----- Randy Lajoie

41 Reed Sorenson ----- Kevin Hamlin

60 Carl Edwards ----- Hank Parker Jr.

66 Greg Biffle ----- Jason Keller

The one thing I’d add to that is how far Jason Keller hasfallen.  The 2002 Busch SeriesChampionship race has become Cup star and replacement driver,respectively.  If Keller is working forBrewco I think he’d be a great choice to drive for them full-time.

But wait… there's more! 

Mike Skinner and David Reutimann will do the same feat, justin different locations.  The Trucks arein Texas with an IRL doubleheader and thesetwo will drive there Friday night and fly to Nashville to drive for two teams that well…maybe aren’t worth flying up for. Skinner will drive the FitzBradshaw #12 and Reutimann will be in the #99for Mikey. 

Finally… continuing in the tradition of Casey Mears andTravis Kvapil, David Stremme will compete in the Saturday ARCA race at Poconoto get some track time before Sunday’s 500 miler. 

My ongoing saga with the Roush Truck program 

How can I not follow upon it?  Anyway, last weeks driver diary for DavidRagan was perhaps the most interesting one well… ever.  He actually got to talk about why he wasbenched at Mansfield unexpectedly and would goon to ride the pine at Doveras well.  It’s worth the click when you’redone here. 

Holy shit, a Champ Car story

Two I’ll touch on, actually. The first, Sebestien Bordais needs to go somewhere else.  Now. He has nothing left to prove in Champ Car/OWRS/whatever the hell it’scalled.  He is close to becoming theFrank Kimmel of open wheel if he doesn’t answer the bell and either A) beg Fordto give him a ride with a Busch team with eyes towards Nextel Cup or B) jointhe IRL.  Although the open wheel seriesare on the way to reunification so maybe it’s a moot point.  The second part of this is KatherineLegge.  Most people haven’t heard of thisfemale racer who is probably twice as talented as Danica Patrick.  Legge’s won (three Toyota Atlantic races in2005), driven an F1 car (Minardi, but still…), and last weekend she led lapsand finished sixth at the race on Milwaukee’soval.  Yet no one will market her likeDanica because she isn’t petite and doesn’t look like a supermodel.  


Coming later on in the day will be my halfway to 26 Chase breakdown.

Monday, June 5, 2006

Observations | Dover

I have to say this about Dover:  I never get to watch the entire race.  Reason being, a big family reunion is always scheduled on the same day of the Dover race.  So after the 600 I've always made it a habit not to follow this race particularly close.  Yet again yesterday I left at around 3 or so and instead of firing up my TrackPass and running back and forth to the TV I went to watch it with a few people.  The race itself was entertaining and being around other people (different than my usual Sunday afternoons) made it even better.  In the end Kenseth won and I had a nice steak dinner afterward.  Next week is... oh crap... Pocono.  Anyone doing anything Sunday?

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Matt Kenseth Is Excellent Out Front In Neighborhood Excellence 400

Matt Kenseth passed teammate Jamie McMurray late in the former MBNA 400 at Dover Sunday in a thrilling finale to an exciting race at Dover.



A sunny afternoon at Dover was the opposite of the day prior and Matt Kenseth found his way from a starting spot of 19th to win at the Delaware track.  Polesitter Ryan Newman and Mark Martin led the early portion of the race until lap 37, when Jeff Gordon led off pit road.  Also on lap 37 Ricky Rudd climbed into the #20 of Tony Stewart and the driver change was completed and the team didn't lose their lap... at that point.  Rudd never seemed to get on track and team ended the day in 25th. 

Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton had a thrilling duel throughout the race not only for the lead, but in every spot in the top 5 at one point.  They may have had the best cars on the day respectively. 

The end featured a gutsy call by Bob Osbourne and the 26 of Jamie McMurray, who decided to stay out for over 100 laps at the end and looked as if they could hold off the rest of the pack.  Kevin Harvick never gained the lead as he was fighting along with McMurray, but Kenseth and Burton made their way into the fray and McMurray couldn't hold off Kenseth and Kenseth took the lead with 3 to go and drove away with the victory.



McMurray managed to hold on to 2nd place and also led the most laps on the day.  Third went to Harvick followed by Burton and Kyle Busch.  The top rookie of the race was Denny Hamlin in 11th.

My picks pretty much went in the crapper.  Mark had the car to win but of course, his pit stops sent him to the back of the field and he managed to get 9th.  Rudd raced horribly, presuming he didn't want to wreck the 20.

Full results of the Neighborhood Excellence 400 presented by Bank of America.


Saturday, June 3, 2006

Saturday Roundup

Jeff Burton Chills With Holiday Inn At Dover's Victory Lane

Burton fought back the efforts of several drivers to win the StonebridgeRacing.com 200.



Another race I didn't see... sorry.  Burton won after starting from the 30's and Carl Edwards was 2nd.

Full results on NASCAR.com.

----- Nextel Cup -----

Cup Series Happy Hour was cut short due to rain that plagued the speedway all day, but while the cars were on the track Brian Vickers led the way followed by Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Elliott Sadler and Denny Hamlin.  On to my predictions:

WINNER - Mark Martin

Mark's always a good pick at Dover.  He runs near the front in just about every race here and looks to be a contender here again.

DARKHORSE - Ricky Rudd

One Stewart is out of the car, it won't be a significant drop off when Rudd gets in the car.  He could surprise a lot of people this weekend as the #20 with him in it has been in the top 10 on the speed charts nearly all weekend.

The Neighborhood Excellence 400 pres. by Bank of America (aka The We Bought MBNA But Decided To Sponsor This Race Anyway 400) starts tomorrow at 1:30 on FX.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Friday Notes

Sorry for the delay folks, I've relocated back home and in the process I was without internet access since Wednesday night.

I'll try to get something worthwhile up here this weekend.

Check in with NASCAR.com and Backstretch Motorsports to stay up on whats up while I catch up.

Night Time Update:

Mark Martin Wins AAA Insurance 200

I hate races that are shown tape delayed and I listened to it on MRN.  Martin was the man all night and took win #3 on the season.




----- Nextel Cup -----

Ryan Newman finally won a pole this year!  Sure took him long enough.  Ricky Rudd showed no ill effects from not competing as he qualified the #20 in 10th place.  The rest of the top 5 goes Jeremy Mayfield, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick.

Mr. Insignificant was Donnie Neuenberger.

Tomorrow we have Cup practices and the Busch Series Stonebridge Insurance 200 on FX.