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.