Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas Race Fans

Enjoy the holidays with your friends and family everyone.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Roush Releases Danny O'Quinn

Well, I can't say I didn't see this coming...

“We enjoyed having Danny as part of our Roush Fenway Racing team,” said team owner Jack Roush. “He is a very talented driver. We will always consider him part of the family. We wish him well on his future endeavors.”

“I want to thank Jack Roush, and everyone at Roush Fenway Racing for believing in me and giving me an opportunity to show what I could do in 2006,” said O’Quinn. “I wish we could have put a program together this past year, but I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue my career. I hope to find a full-time ride in the Craftsman Truck or Nationwide Series in 2008.”


Yeah, yeah... I find it disappointing they couldn't put Danny in a quality ride. The guy was the ROTY in Busch in 2006, and goes on to what can't even be called part-time effort in the #56 while running 3 races for Roush. The guy is talented, folks. I've been pushing him for months because the actions speak for themselves. He improved every time he got in a car and turned laps on the track. Look at the Bristol truck race this year, he ran in the top 10 the whole freaking race! Here's hoping that Danny finds a ride for 2008 so he can show everyone what he can do. The link to his personal website is here.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

So, Umm... How Ya Been?

Hello, and greetings to my fellow bloggers and readers. My name is Matt, aka Catfish, and I write a blog about NASCAR...

Sorry, felt the need for a re-introduction. I guess it's been a while.

I realize my absence has been long, and I do apologize. Life gets in the way, school gets in the way, and trying to participate in multiple activities along a full courseload forces some things to be given up, and TCS went on a break. Alas, I am here today to re-affirm my commitment to blogging here, even in the off-season. I will make the effort to post something every week from now until February, when the schedule begins again with the running of the 50th annual Daytona 500. There are some newsworthy items I would like to mention:

Craftsman leaving after 2008 season
I must say, this is tough news. On the one hand, Craftsman has been a loyal sponsor that stuck around through the years of halftimes in the series up until now. Although on the other hand, it would be nice to find a sponsor that actually pays a good race purse. Ever take a look at the purses for these events? They're pathetic. No wonder we have teams shutting down...

- I may start a body count of teams closing for 2008 in the Trucks: of the top 36 teams from lst year, only 21 are confirmed to be returning and the rest are either closed or in danger of closing. The notable changes are just a handful, with Sprague joining Hornaday at KHI, Colin Braun and Joey Clanton replacing Travis Kvapil and T.J. Bell, David Starr back to Red Horse, and the merger of Wyler-Gaughan fallling through and now Gaughan sits on the sidelines. Jeez.

Yates Racing resurrecting #28 for 2008
Yours truly said this would happen months ago, but still cool to see it made official. I think Kvapil will end up running better than Rudd did in '07, and the close alliance with Roush will improve the team as well.

Petty donates 'twisted sisters' to engineering schools
I guess if you can't sell one of the old model cars, might as well give them away, get some good publicity, and build connections to possible future employees.

NASCAR, Kentucky Speedway in litigation that will never end
I don't even know what to say...

Aaron Fike is "clean" and wants to race again
Here we go again with the dog-and-pony show. Didn't we hear the same things from Shane Hmiel and Kevin Grubb? I believe they're both in a trailer right now wearing wifebeaters, drinking beer and making drug deals in the Wal-Mart parking lot.


I guess I missed champion's week, thanks to ESPN I didn't even know when it was.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Know I Like To Criticize Mikey

Well, maybe like doesn't cover it. I have fun criticizing Michael Waltrip, the driver. Michael Waltrip, the owner has definite potential. This Saturday night, Michael Waltrip the owner earned a bunch more praise as I was able to visit Raceworld USA. Man, that is a terrific place. I was there for another engagement so I got to experience the entire layout of the place. I even got to kick a COT (haha!) and take a look at one very up close and personal. Heck, I crawled up under one to take a look. For fans of any age and interest level, I highly recommend a day trip to Cornelius to check the place out. It feels like the good old days when you could pretty much do anything you wanted in a shop and weren't so cut off from the work being done.

I also tried to sweet talk some of the employees into revealing what was happening with A.) the #00 next season and B.) how much longer Mikey would continue to drive. To answer the first, it's either gonna be Wise, McDowell (my choice, kid has talent) or a veteran if neither are ready. I just hope McDowell isn't pushed in over his head and the team brings in a veteran. Running McDowell on a partial schedule seems to be the best idea. I also found out that Dominos and Burger King will indeed be back next season in some form. To answer the other question, it seems as though I'll have at least a few more years to make fun of Mikey the driver.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Lesser Of Two Evils

That's been the question of the Chase. Is it worse to see Jeff win his 5th, or Jimmie win his 2nd? I came down on the latter a few weeks ago. Neither is a nice situation. But Jeff Gordon is still Jeff Gordon. At least Jimmie is somewhat of a normal guy. Watching him win for the 4th time in a row today was insane, but he earned it. When Jeff would do things like that, it just seemed that it was more car than driver. Even if it wasn't, it just felt that way. To me, it's a little different with Jimmie. Sure, he has Cheating Chad but he isn't going out and dominating every race. Jimmie bides his time and strikes when it matters. Adding it all up, Jimmie is more deserving and a better alternative than watching the dog-and=pony show with Jeff Gordon.

Now watch Jimmie blow up at Homestead and Jeff steals the championship.

Friday, November 9, 2007

M-I-S-T-A-K-E

That would be the announcement yesterday that Sam Hornish Jr. will be running the entire 2008 Sprint Cup schedule in the #77. The guy's 0-for in attempted Cup races this year and can't even finish a Busch race... yet he'll be running both series next year. As if I or anyone else needed a reason to dislike Roger Penske, the rumor is that he'll move Kurt Busch's owners points to Hornish so he'll be guaranteed a spot in the field. Hornish said he had nothing left to accomplish in the IRL. That may be true, but he'll be running back to the open-wheel cars with his tail between his legs in about 2 years.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The First Champions Of 2007 Are Crowned

They are the #60 team with driver Carl Edwards. Although the team has trailed off from their earlier winning ways, a championship is a championship.


What I find interesting is that for the second time, a Roush driver running away with a points title the year before the series changes its name will change the way points are counted. In 2003, Matt Kenseth won the final Winston Cup title and the next year, we had the Nextel Cup and the Chase For The Cup. Here in 2007, Carl Edwards ran away with the final Busch Series title before it becomes the Nationwide Series and Cup drivers may not have their points counted after 2008. Just something to think about.....

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gordon, Johnson... Gordon, Johnson

Johnson.

Johnson.

Johnson.

Gordon.

Gordon.

Johnson.

Gordon.

Gordon.

Johnson.

Johnson.

Gordon.

Gordon.

Johnson.

Johnson.


That, in a nutshell, has been the 2007 NEXTEL Cup season. What makes those totals so unbelievable is the fact that in a bunch of those races (including Sunday) neither of them had the best cars. Sure, the fastest car doesn't always win - but what they've done this year has gone beyond luck. Still, I'm not bitter. Earlier in the year, I was bitter... but I'm not now. Enough time has passed that these other teams should be on Hendrick's level in these races. That's something that should change next year. Don't forget, Roush won 15 races back in 2005 along with putting all 5 cars in the 10-man Chase. Since? Results have been mixed. Dominant teams don't stay on top forever. This has been an extraordinary year for Hendrick, but don't be surprised to see the Gibbs trio, a Roush contingent, the Childress trio, and some new faces take at least half of those wins away and possibly more. With 3 races remaining, it's Gordon vs. Johnson for the championship. May they destroy each other in the process!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

DirecTV NASCAR Hot Pass

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Setting another new benchmark in TV sports programming, DIRECTV will produce a world’s first for NASCAR fans by taking them deep inside America’s fastest-growing spectator sport, alongside their favorite drivers, through an exclusive new television service - NASCAR HOTPASS™ only on DIRECTV.

Each week during the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR HOTPASS™, only on DIRECTV, will put race fans behind the wheel, in the pits and around the track with their favorite NASCAR drivers and teams, by offering a variety of features allowing fans to follow five different drivers during every race. Each of the five dedicated driver channels will offer multiple camera angles, real-time statistics, in-car audio communication and a dedicated announcer team. The new HOTPASS service, combined with race day telecasts and nascar.com coverage, will give fans the most comprehensive and powerful NASCAR experience possible.

While the NASCAR viewing experience to date has focused predominately on the race and the ongoing battles taking place on the track between teams, the new DIRECTV service will bring to life the drama that exists within each racing team as they execute the decisions that make or break success. Much like in football where the play-by-play decisions of coaches provide drama for the millions of “armchair” quarterbacks as they predict and analyze what the team will do next, such is the case with NASCAR HOTPASS only on DIRECTV™ as fans are privy to the dialogue and strategy involved in every critical move.

“NASCAR fans are the most passionate and committed fans in all sports,” said David Hill, president, DIRECTV Entertainment. “Their depth of knowledge of what it takes to win the Cup is matched only by their commitment to their favorite driver. So we’re giving the fans of five drivers a race, the chance to live the entire race sitting next to their favorite driver. They’ll hear driver conversations with the spotter and crew chief, they’ll hear and experience every decision, and watch every move they make—right or wrong. For NASCAR fans this is the ultimate thrill ride as they, like the crew chief, will know where the driver stands in the field because both the network broadcast and the driver cameras will be on the same screen, giving fans a chance to fully experience the drama of the race.”

"NASCAR is always breaking ground in presenting new ways for our fans to become fully immersed in the NASCAR experience. DIRECTV is a company consistently on the leading edge of sports television innovations, so this was a perfect fit,” said Dick Glover, vice president of Broadcasting and New Media, NASCAR. “We’re thrilled to have DIRECTV as the exclusive distributor of this exciting new programming service and are confident that together we will make NASCAR HOTPASS™ a must-have for every race fan."

In 1994, DIRECTV broke new ground in televised sports by partnering with the NFL to launch the exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ service. NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ and subsequent sports programming packages with Major League Baseball, the NHL, NBA and NCAA among other leagues have firmly established DIRECTV as the leader in specialized sports programming. DIRECTV has continued to utilize sports to drive the evolution of advanced television services, most recently with the exclusive 2006 US OPEN INTERACTIVE service and the NFL SUNDAY TICKET SUPERFAN service, an optional interactive tier for NFL SUNDAY TICKET customers that launched in 2005. It’s fitting that this year DIRECTV continues its leadership in specialized and interactive sports programming bringing it to NASCAR, the number-two ranked sport in terms of national television ratings, trailing only the NFL.

DIRECTV is an official sponsor of NASCAR and an official sponsor of Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and the # 07 car.


OK, so normally I don't do this stuff... but I've always been a fan of DireTV's Hot Pass feature and envy those that have it. For more information, visit DirecTV.com for more information.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What Really Happened Here? You Be The Judge

Admittedly, I didn't see this last night on Victory Lane, but apparently Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth are having serious problems. This video from post-race leaves me wondering what occurred yesterday. I'm withholding my judgment for now, but let me know what you think:

Friday, October 19, 2007

Martinsville Weekend

So, the final short track race of the 2007 season is upon us. In the previous 5 this year, we have 3 wins by Jimmie Johnson and 1 each from Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. The race in the spring was entertaining, with Jeff Gordon hitting Johnson more than once but not having it be enough for him to get the win. This week, I at least hope someone gives them a challenge... possibly from Stewart or Hamlin, or a darkhorse pick of Jeff Burton. I won't be around this weekend, but I want to leave a few things to arm yourself with:

Cup entry list
Truck entry list
Toyota All Star Showdown entry list

I mention the last one, as the members of the Whelen late-models and Grand National divisions take to Irwindale for the All Star showdown. I can't wait to see it replayed on SPEED when I get back. Enjoy the races this week.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Brace Yourselves Everyone

You're looking at the 2007 Nextel Cup Champion.

I don't see anyone beating Gordon or the #24 team this year. If not Dale Jr., this has to be NASCAR's second-favorite driver to win the championship. He'll be up to 5 titles now, 2 behind The King and The Intimidator. Prepare yourself for lots of picture and stories featuring Jeff, the Cup, the wife, and the baby. The question now is where Jeff ranks in terms of all-time drivers. Some already place him 3rd, I still defer to the guys in front of him on the all-time wins list. Still, there are 5 races left and as they say, anything can happen...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Yes Yes, I Know

So it only took me a week to come back to my blogging duties. Actually, I was on fall break at the end of last week and the beginning of this week and took the opportunity to sit back and enjoy racing the way I used to - just on TV, no internet. Did everyone enjoy the UAW-Single File Racing 500? NASCAR needs to find a way to get the cars racing at Talladega again, because this single file running the high line for 3/4ths of the race is about as fun as watching an F1 race, complete with seeing Jacques Villeneuve running at the back with damage. I'll even give Jeff Gordon his due, I thought it was a gutsy move jumping out in front of a charging Tony Stewart to pass Jimmie there on the last lap. Tony really knocked the hell out of Jeff and that was the difference. The open wheel drivers made solid debuts, some better than others. I'll tell you something - it's gonna fun watching Dario racing a truck at Martinsville in two weeks. This week though, the series returns to a bit of normalcy as the traditional cars head out to Lowes Motor Speedway Saturday night.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Busy Week? I Think So

After my post yesterday, the hum of the news grew to a collective roar. Consider:
  • NASCAR and Nationwide are having an announcement today to formally introduce the insurer as the new sponsor of the #2 series. I'm going to be the smartass and point out the irony of calling it the "Nationwide Series" when it is a nationwide series. I'll be here all week...
  • Dario Franchitti gets out of his AGR contract and officially signs on to drive the #40 for Ganassi next year in the Sprint Cup Series. AGR has chosen Vitor Meira to drive for Franchitti in the ALMS race at Road Atlanta, perhaps hinting who will drive the #27 in the IRL next year.
  • M&Ms made their formal announcement today that they would be moving to Gibbs and the #18 of Kyle Busch. I couldn't think of a worse spokesman, but that's just me.
  • Doug Yates made his first bad decision of the newly-named Yates Racing by releasing talented driver Stephen Leicht at the end of the year. Nevermind that Leicht sits in the top 10 in Busch points and has a win at Kentucky on his resume. I fully expect a bidding war for his services.
  • Scott Riggs signs with Haas CNC Racing for 2008. I think this pretty much assures us that Patrick Carpentier will drive the #10 next year and if the Haas team is smart, they'll put Riggs in the #66 and keep Johnny Sauter in the #70.

More will surely come on some of these stories. I'll try to be around to give the real story on them.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Way To Go, Andy!

Former NASCAR driver Andy Hillenburg bought the North Carolina Motor Speedway, better known as The Rock today for $4.4 million. Hillenburg plans to move his driving school to the track and also plans to host a USAR or ARCA race at the facility in 2008. I'm happy to see the track go to someone who wants to use it for racing, not to tear it up. I wish Andy and everyone involved the best of luck and if a race is there next year, I personally would help promote the hell out of it.

Other stuff has happened this week too:

Subway, Nationwide battling to sponsor the Busch Series in 2008
I personally give the edge right now to Nationwide, as Subway had been rumored for months but nothing official ever happened between the company and NASCAR. Still, the whole Busch Series to something else could prove to be just as hard to remember as Winston Cup to Nextel Cup (and, next year, Sprint Cup).

Bruton Smith, City of Concord at odds over dragstrip
OK, so there's some pretty rough language on both ends of this: Smith wants to expand the Lowes Motor Speedway compound and add a dragstrip, which started being graded this past week. However, the Concord city council is not allowing a dragstrip to be built because of "noise concerns." The huge cannon shot came from Smith, who said he would be looking to MOVE LOWES MOTOR SPEEDWAY somewhere else if he didn't get the dragstrip. Stay tuned on this one, folks. It could get pretty nasty.


Yeah, I didn't post anything following Kansas. I was in shock the rest of the night Sunday and into Monday. I'll be honest - I fell asleep during the rain delay. I flipped over to see the Panthers playing like a division 3 college football team and I got really, really depressed. So I took a nap. I woke up when the game was over and I realized the race might still be on. I turn it to ESPN2 and what do I see? Greg Biffle's sitting in Victory Lane! And Clint Bowyer's crying about something! I didn't know what had happened until I watched Victory Lane on SPEED. Better bookmark this one, because I don't say it often... I agree with NASCAR's ruling (gasp!). When the caution's out, the field is frozen, and in my opinion, as long as the leader is moving, he's still the leader. The car made it to the start/finish line and he deserved the win. On the downside, the Chase standings have been completely turned upside down and we now have about 8 or 9 guys over 100 points behind the leader. Talladega's looming though... funny things always happen there in October.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Is A.J. Allmendinger Trying To Tell Us Something?

Hmm... I think I'll go with no comment on that one.

The Kansas Busch race was actually pretty entertaining, if for nothing other than the difficulty a lot of drivers had in keeping their cars off the wall. I've been kind of down on Kansas, but I don't know, maybe they're trying to earn their keep in the Chase. Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth put on a good little show at the end with Busch edging Kenseth at the line. The back-and-forth battle between Denny Hamlin and Paul Menard was amusing to watch as well. Menard's more talented than his finishes would indicate and I think next year he might be able to show some marked improvement. I did pick him to win ROTY and pretty clearly ain't gonna happen. After the "pony car" trial balloon a few weeks ago we're getting more information about the future of The Series Soon to be Formerly Known as the Busch Series. Instead of wings the cars will continue to use spoilers. I think if NASCAR were truly serious about cost containment and trying to help the teams, they should put their money where their mouth is and buy the current cars from the teams as a trade off to building the new cars. If NASCAR were willing to do that, I could buy them looking out for the teams.

Tomorrow, the big news is that Jimmie Johnson will start at the back of the field after claiming the pole in qualifying. He'll make it up, though. The #48 team has a habit (to my chagrin) of doing that. Gordon, Kenseth, and the Busch bros. should also be stout. I'm still keeping the faith that the Biff can get a win this year and this is as good a place as any for that to happen. You also will hear plenty about Bowyer and Edwards, each calling Kansas their home track and the duo have won the first two races of the Chase. It might come down to them tomorrow. My pick, though, is Tony Stewart. He's getting ornery again, and no one performs better under scrutiny than Smoke.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

2008 Sprint Cup Schedule

The 2008 Cup schedule was announced today, and here are the dates. No changes from 2007.

Feb 9 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona – Daytona International Speedway*
Feb 17 Daytona International Speedway
Feb 24 California Speedway
Mar 2 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Mar 9 Atlanta Motor Speedway
Mar 16 Bristol Motor Speedway
Mar 30 Martinsville Speedway
Apr 6 Texas Motor Speedway
Apr 12 Phoenix International Raceway
Apr 27 Talladega Superspeedway
May 3 Richmond International Raceway
May 10 Darlington Raceway
May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge – Lowe’s Motor Speedway*
May 25 Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Jun 1 Dover International Speedway
Jun 8 Pocono Raceway
Jun 15 Michigan International Speedway
Jun 22 Infineon Raceway
Jun 29 New Hampshire International Speedway
Jul 5 Daytona International Speedway
Jul 12 Chicagoland Speedway
Jul 27 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Aug 3 Pocono Raceway
Aug 10 Watkins Glen International
Aug 17 Michigan International Speedway
Aug 23 Bristol Motor Speedway
Aug 31 California Speedway
Sep 6 Richmond International Raceway
Sep 14 New Hampshire International Speedway
Sep 21 Dover International Speedway
Sep 28 Kansas Speedway
Oct 5 Talladega Superspeedway
Oct 11 Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Oct 19 Martinsville Speedway
Oct 26 Atlanta Motor Speedway
Nov 2 Texas Motor Speedway
Nov 9 Phoenix International Raceway
Nov 16 Homestead-Miami Speedway

Monday, September 24, 2007

Other Weekend Action

A collection of some stories I thought were interesting from the weekend:

Joey Logano wins Busch East Series title
17 year-old phenom Joey Logano, hailed by many (including me) to be a certain star in NASCAR sooner rather than later capped an impressive season in the Busch East Series by claiming the title. Perhaps even more impressive was Logano's 5 wins, including outdueling Kevin Harvick at Iowa and sweeping the Magic Mile in New Hampshire. This kid will move up to the Grand National Series when he turns 18 next year and don't be surprised to see him reel off some top 10's and possibly even a win.

Travis Kvapil claims 4th win of 2007
Short race recap here. Kvapil's on quite a roll and if Hornaday and Skinner have a little more trouble, he could find himself close to that second championship. Skinner for his part took back the points lead by 3. It was also good to see some old faces back in the top 5. Jon Wood appears to be recovering from his bizarre break from competition nicely, with a 3rd-place effort at Vegas. It was also good to see Terry Cook back in the top 5. Many long-time Truck fans remember when Terry Cook would win races with the Keselowski camp.

John Force injured, hospitalized after Funny Car crash
This ESPN.com column is excellent. Go read (after you're done here, of course). John Force is one lucky man. They also have video of what happened.

Dario Franchitti to run ARCA race at Talladega
Following the plan used for Montoya last year, Franchitti will step into a Ganassi ARCA car at Talladega to acclimate himself to stock cars to prepare for 2008. Franchitti's Fred Thompson-like "will he, won't he" non-decision has already made me slightly annoyed, nonetheless I welcome him to the world of stock cars.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Edwards Win At Dover; Fails Post-Race Inspection

Carl Edwards earned his name of the Concrete King today, outrunning Greg Biffle and Mark Martin to win the Dodge Dealers 400. Edwards led most of the second half of the race, and it didn't hurt with Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth both bowing out early. This Dover race seemed to me like the one back in 2004 with the multiple cautions and surprisingly huge wrecks, with only 5 cars on the lead lap at the end. I thought Biffle might have had a shot with the tires, but Edwards was fast - bad fast. The car was, however, found too low after the race. NASCAR's mouthpiece on this stuff, Ramsey Poston, said the penalty wasn't related to the COT. I think we can expect the 25 point/$10,000+ fine coming Tuesday or Wednesday. Still, I think you have to still consider Edwards a threat because he ran well today when others were mediocre. Gordon, Johnson, Stewart, and Harvick were all off their game.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Thoughts...

OK, so I know I slacked this week. But I've been battling sinuses all week and I've been coughing more than a 70 year-old chain smoker. My general feeling is this: Loudon and Dover don't belong in the Chase. Neither does Kansas, honestly. To me, the Chase won't really start until the cars roll out onto the pavement at Talladega (I'm working on a little project for the blog to fix the schedule, stay tuned for that) and from there on. The Busch Series will also return to the track after an off week, but it seems like it was longer for some reason. The Trucks will head to Vegas for a night race Saturday. Jacques Villeneuve will make his debut there in the #22.

Who do I like Sunday? I'm making my official pick Carl Edwards. Just have a good feeling about him. I also have good feelings from Gibbs, and I'm not crazy about Truex doing the double. Then again, what do I know... hahaha.

I'm departing for the weekend and will return Monday hopefully. Enjoy the races and see yall then.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Clint Bowyer Claims First Nextel Cup Win @ Loudon

More on the race tomorrow, tonight it's jubilation in Loudon.

Colin McRae Dies In Helicopter Crash

Link

LONDON (AFP) — Former world rally champion Colin McRae and his five-year-old son were among four people killed in a helicopter crash this weekend in southern Scotland, police said Sunday.

Scotsman McRae, his son Johnny and two family friends including a six-year-old boy were killed when the 39-year-old driver's Squirrel Two aircraft crashed in the grounds of his Lanark home on Saturday.

Tributes poured in from the sporting and political arenas in honour of McRae, who in 1995 was the first Briton to win the world rally championship.

"We believe that the group were just returning from a visit to the nearby village of Quarter around 1605 (1505 GMT) hours yesterday, when it appears that the helicopter got into difficulty and crashed within the grounds of Mr McRae's family home," Chief Superintendent Tim Love said in a statement issued by Strathclyde Police.

"Our officers are working closely with the Air Accident Investigation Team who are presently at the scene.

"Family liaison officers have been appointed and are with the families to help them through this distressing and difficult time."

The two others were named as six-year-old Ben Porcelli, of Lanark, and Graeme Duncan, 37, who lived in France.

A police spokeswoman stressed that the bodies had not yet been formally identified.

The crash wreckage, which was in thick woods, was so bad it was initially difficult to determine how many people were involved.

Colin Steele McRae, a licensed pilot, was born in Lanark on August 5, 1968.

He had two children, Hollie and Johnny, with his wife Alison.

Nicky Grist, McRae's co-driver since 1997, expressed his sorrow.

"He was such a great character and will be sorely missed," he told Sky News, adding that the death of Johnny and the two friends made it an even greater tragedy.

"Johnny adored his father and loved everything about cars," Grist said.

"I am sure he was the new rally driver for the McRae family."

David Richards, McRae's former boss at Subaru -- where he enjoyed much of his rallying success -- described his death as "a terrible loss."

"He had a competitive spirit like I've never seen," Richards tod the BBC.

"He was one of those people who had an extraordinary spirit that you just can't define."

Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, said McRae's death was a "great tragedy."

"Colin McRae was an outstanding Scottish sportsman of international stature and achievement," he said.

McRae competed in his first rally on the World Rally Championship circuit in Sweden in 1987, earning his first win in New Zealand in 1993.

Driving a Subaru Impreza 555, the Scot won the 1995 World Rally Championship in a nail-biting finish on home soil and was the runner-up in 1996, 1997 and 2001.

He was made a MBE by Queen Elizabeth II in 1996.

The driving legend is also known for "Colin McRae Rally" -- a series of racing video games, played on many platforms, which have sold more than eight million copies worldwide.

The rally driver's official website, www.colinmcrae.com, was changed to a black screen on Sunday morning, prior to police confirmation of his death.

"I'm not really a fan of computers," McRae was quoted as saying on his website before it went offline.

He added: "When it comes to computers and electronics, give me 300 brake horsepower, a winding road -- and no brakes, and then you've got my attention!"


Thoughts are with the McRae family. RIP.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Next Time Chad Knaus Is Penalized, Why Can't It Be This Severe?

The "this" I'm referring to is McLaren's $100 million fine for espionage. Excuse for a minute while I say holy shit! To make matters worse, McLaren is also excluded from the constructor's championship, which is about equivalent to the manufacturer's championship I guess.

I'm watching qualifying right now and I must say, their qualifying coverage is much better than their race coverage. Not having to deal with ESPN personalities and instead using NASCAR people (novel concept~) makes a much better broadcast.

A few other odds and ends while I'm on a roll:

- Ken Schrader is back in the #21 this week now that the car is back into the top 35 somewhat safely, and the fact that Bill Elliott probably doesn't feel like running Loudon. I think it's tough watching Bill still competing for overmatched teams when in 2002-2003 he showed he could still get the job done and recorded 3 wins, including the Brickyard.

- The Busch Series will be working with several off weekends coming down to the end of the year. The series has only 7 races left, coming at Dover, Kansas, Charlotte, Memphis, Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead.

- The Trucks are doubling up with Cup for 7 of their final 8 races, including this weekend at Loudon. The battle for the championship should be getting awfully good, with former champions currently first, second, and third in the standings. The momentum is with Hornaday at the moment, but Skinner is always dangerous and Kvapil is driving with a ton of confidence in lieu of his impending move back to the big show with Yates.

- I find the open wheel fad interesting to see. I'm old enough that I still remember when the majority of those drivers looked down on the good ol' boys driving full-bodied cars around ovals. Now, the 2008 Daytona 500 will feature more Indy 500 winners than the actual Indy 500 will.

I'm afraid the IRL is in real trouble in 2008. It started with the rumored defections of Franchitti and Hornish. I really don't like the "revenue sharing" proposal that looks to go into effect. Maybe I'm wrong and we'll see some talented drivers come to the series and possibly compete. I've seen rumors that A.J. Allmendinger would come to series because he is unhappy in Cup and burned all his bridges in Champ Car. I've also seen that Dan Wheldon would like to leave Ganassi after being told he couldn't come to Cup, then watching Ganassi take Canadian Club and Franchitti to the #40. One rumor I've even seen is Marco Andretti moving to Champ Car? I don't know. If his goal is F1 running ovals isn't the quickest way to get there. I'm an IRL fan and I can admit that. At any rate, with less and less competition Danica pretty much has to get a win next year.

28? 38? 81? Now, 88

Rumor has it now that Robert Yates Racing will relinquish one of their numbers - the 88, not the 38 as rumored a few weeks ago. An article from Jim Utter confirms that the announcement - to take place in Dallas this Wednesday - will introduce PepsiCo, the number, and the paint scheme. Interestingly, the 88 is already trademarked by Earnhardt for his Busch team. We should have put this together before now... the Busch team is the #88, the number includes an 8, and recently Yates 2008 driver Travis Kvapil said he didn't know if he would be in the #88 next season or not. In addition, Utter mentions that PepsiCo has a relationship with the 88 in the past, as it was the number Darrell Waltrip used with Gatorade (owned by PepsiCo) as his sponsor. With this, I'm assuming that Travis Kvapil will move back to the #28 for Yates in 2008. To add a bit to that, on EA Sports' NASCAR Chase for the Cup 2005 Travis Kvapil is driving a Ford Taurus for the short-lived BANG! Motorsports. The number, you ask? 28.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Driving Lessons From Danica Patrick


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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Franchitti Does It!



Your 2007 IRL Champion: Dario Franchitti

A terrific points battle ended in breathtaking fashion today as Franchitti persevered and claimed an unexpected win at Chicagoland to finish off a dream year in which he won the Indy 500 and the IRL Championship. The record books will show that Scott Dixon finished second in the championship, but his run in the final half of the year was remarkable. But believe you me, Dixon is feeling karma - taking out Franchitti at Belle Isle, then losing the championship in turn 3 of the final lap of the final race of the year. I love this quote by Dixon:

"It's just a shame that it came down to a fuel race,'' he said, shrugging his shoulders in disappointment. "Our car was clearly quicker all day. It wasn't our day. The 27 (Franchitti) was getting better fuel mileage all day, and that's what it came down to. It's tough, man."

Umm... didn't Dixon get 2 or 3 of his wins this year by fuel mileage? Moving on...

The big news coming from Franchitti will be the official announcement of his move to Nextel Cup in 2008 with Ganassi, the team he beat for the championship. It should be quite interesting to see Dario in Cup, I never really pegged him as a jump-to-Cup kind of guy. Regardless, he will have these accomplishments listed next to his name for the rest of his life, and he should be proud of them.

ESPN SUCKS

Good lord, I don't know where to begin with ESPN's "coverage" last night. Us race fans aren't that hard to please when it comes to race broadcasts. First of all, actually show the race. That means don't miss restarts, don't go to commercial during a battle for the lead, and don't clutter the screen with unnecessary graphics. In the booth, we like to know what's happening for the whole field, not certain marketable drivers. We expect this information from the play-by-play man with the assistance of the pit reporters. As a general rule, throwing the coverage down to a studio in the pits should be kept to a minimum, unless your name is Larry McReynolds.

This goes out to ESPN: EVERYTHING IS NOT ABOUT AERO. The aero coming off the car when he makes a pit stop does not make or break a race. If I see this thing on another track less than and mile and a half I'll punch the closest wall to my right fist. For backup on this, read the column in The Daly Planet that pretty much sums up how I and many other fans feel.

Friday, September 7, 2007

2008 Announcements Abound

Let's recap the highlights of the week:

Casey Mears to the #5 in 2008, Tony Eury Jr. leaving DEI and joining Dale Jr. at Hendrick - I like this on both counts from an unbiased perspective. The #5 team is good, Mears is capable, and the continuation of the #5 - a historic number for Hendrick - is fine by me.

J.J. Yeley to drive the #96 for Hall of Fame Racing; HOF gets new owners - This was a bit of a surprise, but it makes sense now given the new owners have west coast connections and Yeley is a west coast guy. I thought he was set to drive for RCR next year, but with the sponsorship problems there this is a safer move.

Joe Gibbs Racing moves to Toyota - SPEED Channel gave this one the live coverage treatment. Some people are upset at the evil Toyota stealing a good Chevy team, but it's a good move for both sides. Gibbs won't be competing with Hendrick, RCR, DEI, etc. for the top knowledge and Toyota has a crown jewel team.

Mark Martin and Aric Almirola move to the #8 - When Mark Martin's final biography is written, imagine how this will look: intended to retire after 2005. Deferred for another season in 2006, planned to enter Truck Series full-time. Left Roush Racing to join Ginn Racing in 2007, nearly won Daytona 500. In mid-2007 Ginn bought by DEI, Martin moved to #8 car for 2008. Oh, and Almirola isn't a bad driver either.

David Stremme not renewed by Ganassi - This is mainly because Coors will not return to the #40, so Stremme as of right now has no ride because the car has no sponsor. If I'm Ganassi, I'm looking for a new sponsor and a new driver.

AT&T returned to it's rightful place on the #31 - The lawsuit of 2007 is over. A settlement was reached with the parties involved so that AT&T will be the primary sponsor of the #31 through the end of 2008. While not perfect, it beats a dragged out court proceeding any day. I'll have more on this one next week sometime.

Robert Yates Racing going through massive transition for 2008 - Instead of the law firm name, I'll just stick with Yates. The big part is that Robert Yates is retiring and putting his son in charge of the whole shebang. Robert has been in the sport for a long, long time and if this is what he wants to do, good luck to him. This piece also states that Roush Fenway will be taking a more active role to help the team (isn't this why the merged with the open wheel team?) in as many ways as possible, and to boot the #88 will be driven by Travis Kvapil. I think Kvapil to the #88 is good as long as the cars perform better than they have this year.

This one's a rumor, but I'll include it anyway, Gillett Evernham is wasting no time making moves. The target? Petty Enterprises. Supposedly the Petty name would remain intact, but I don't think that makes much sense. It's like buying a sports team and calling the offense one name and the defense another. Anyway, Evernham already gives support to the team so I don't think it would that much of a change.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Will Richmond Be Better Than The Last Few Weeks?

I kid. Kind of. Not really.

After California though, I think it has to be somewhat better. I'm sure Brad Keselowski feels that way. The COT will take front stage for the next three weeks in Nextel Cup, with Richmond, Loudon, and Dover in succession. If ESPN hasn't hammered the fact that Dale Jr. just quite possibly may not make it in the Chase (and ruin their next 3 months of advertising) you'll certainly know about it Saturday night (and probably Friday night). I don't know if Fox or NBC were ever this blatantly pro-Jr. in their broadcasts. Has everyone already forgot he missed the Chase back in 2005? Along with Jeff Gordon? Hello? NASCAR proved then and will prove again the world will continue tuning if a big name is left out of the championship hunt. Tony Stewart last year proved that as well.

The most interesting NASCAR points battle has been waged in the Busch Series owners battle this year, but Ron Hornaday and Mike Skinner are trying to upstage them now. The #29 has overtaken the #60 once again in Busch while Hornaday surpassed Skinner in the Trucks this past weekend in Gateway. Not that you'll hear about it from the television broadcasts with the Chase. The annual "let's update the standings every 2 minutes to show where the current points are" will dominate the broadcasts from now until November. I'm still looking for the old ESPN... but I think it's dead.

Monday, September 3, 2007

I Lost All Respect For Scott Dixon Sunday...

No amount of replays, press releases, or interviews will change what I saw with my own two eyes at the IRL's penultimate race of the 2007 season at Belle Isle. Scott Dixon backed into Dario Franchitti on the last lap after his collision with Buddy Rice, trying his best to take out Franchitti and trying to keep him from gaining what would should have been a runner-up finish. I'm not the only one who saw it that way, and I hope the IRL does something about Dixon's actions. I used to like Dixon. Now, I'm pulling harder than ever for Franchitti to win the race at Chicagoland next week and win the IRL championship over Dixon.

On one side note, doesn't real drama beat manufactured drama any day of the week?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I'm Not The Only One Who Thought Bristol Sucked...

From David Poole: "Maybe Saturday night’s race was so disappointing because of just how good Friday night’s Busch race was.

The tires for the Cup race were hard, but they were the same tires the Busch cars used. How do you explain that away? Could it be that it was the car of tomorrow’s fault?

If the new car makes clean air a trump card at Bristol, how can it possibly help anything at tracks where aero was already everything?

Somebody at NASCAR needs to be worried about what happened in the Sharpie 500."

His full article details almost exactly how I feel, check it out here.

Next, we have Matt Crossman: This was the second boresville night race at Bristol in a row. Last year, it was because too many drivers were worried about screwing up and losing their spot in the points race. This year, it was because Kasey Kahne (seriously!) thoroughly dominated the first three-quarters of the event, then Carl Edwards took over from there. Frankly, it was so boring I am taking back all the great things I've ever said about the night race at Bristol and will only start saying them again when the race is good again...

Finally, David Newton weighs in: The new and improved Bristol received rave reviews after the Truck and Busch Series events offered none of the typical pushing and banging that sends tempers flaring and keeps fans on the edge of their seats as the old one-groove track did. Sure there was more passing as two and sometimes three grooves opened up. But Carl Edwards' victory, which he called the "coolest win of my life," was anything but exciting. Some might call it boring...

Any other thoughts?

Scott Dixon Takes Infineon Win, Points Lead

Scott Dixon won at Infineon today in a race that Dario Franchitti arguably gave away in contact with Marco Andretti, although he was probably saved by Tony Kanaan's selfless driving.

Dario's a guy you just want to root for on the track, but I'm starting to see some similarities between his season and the 2002 season of Sterling Marlin. In 2002, if you remember, Sterling led the points for about 9 months of the season, with great consistency and a few wins. But, Sterling began fading. His top 5 finishes became top 10's and top 15's, and coupled with some early demises in races his point lead evaporated and eventually, he didn't even finish the year because of a neck injury at Kansas. This season, Franchitti has been on fire of that proportion with multiple wins, including the Indy 500. But his efforts at Michigan and Kentucky, coupled with a white-hot run by Scott Dixon, have turned the championship battle around from favoring Franchitti to favoring Dixon. Even the flips two weeks a row seem to just have brought Franchitti down to the rest of the field. Time will tell if Franchitti can retake the lead over Dixon, but with two events left I think that it will take misfortune on Dixon's part for him to not claim his second IRL championship.

Edwards Wins Sharpie 500; But The Chase Has Ruined This Race

I was as happy as any fan of Edwards after his impressive win last night, but I was sad to see the official demise of the August race at Bristol. Since 2004, when have we seen an exciting race in August at Bristol? Dale Earnhardt/Terry Labonte these races are not. The drivers are too concerned with not screwing up that the excitement, I believe, is gone. Sure, the new track was good. But the old Bristol was special, the new Bristol is not. I hope I'm wrong.

We're down to 2 races left before the Chase starts and I think there will be little drama left before it starts. Kurt Busch has jumped out to a 158-point lead over Dale Jr. and I don't think the #8 team or driver is good enough to make up that amount on the #2 team and driver. These races are going to provide an opportunity for a driver to gain some bonus points heading in to Loudon.

The IRL race today is in Sonoma, the battle between Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon should be a good one.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Martin/Almirola To The #8 In 2008?

Looks like the next driver(s) of the #8 will come from with TEI after all, with Max Siegel floating the rumor that Mark Martin and Aric Almirola will split the car next season with the Army sponsorship. I personally like the move, since I don't think Martin will be retiring for another three years. That leaves the future of the #01 in the hands of a new driver and a new sponsor. I think that if TEI can't get Yeley, they'll kind of "stick" Regan Smith in the car for a year and see what happens. If he turns out to be ok, great... and if not, they'll look to sign a proven driver after 2008. In any event, I expect the team to be alright after all. It looked pretty bleak when Dale Jr. announced he was leaving and Teresa seemed to not really care, but the deal with Ginn was a great move and the alliance with RCR's engines should pay off next season.

Other stuff:

- My advice to RCR for a future paint scheme? How about a plain orange scheme with Sprint/Nextel logos on the hood and quarterpanels. Oh, and those logos will have huge red X's on them.

- Any catch the truck race at Bristol last night? Pretty cool stuff with the new track. Not so cool was Kyle Busch costing Travis Kvapil a shot at a win. Looks like tires will be playing a bigger role than they have, as Benson proved. One bright spot was the 10th-place run of Danny O'Quinn in the #50. Someone GET THIS GUY A RIDE!

Man, I'm ready for the Busch and Cup races this weekend. I'll be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Roush Trimming Down Driver Lineup?

Methinks Todd Kluever is on the way out at Roush Fenway. On the entry list at Bristol, Travis Kvapil is listed as the driver of the #16. Usually when Biffle drives the #37, Kluever will be in the #16. Maybe this has something to do with Kvapil racing in the Trucks tomorrow night and getting experience on the track, but it could also be lack of performance from Kluever. Certainly Kvapil is on fire right now, having won his 3 truck races in the last 2 months or so. He seems to be working his way back up the ladder and could end up in a full-time Busch effort next season, or at least a part-time job while continuing in the Trucks. I've thought for some time that if Biffle is gone after this season, Erik Darnell would take over his Cup ride. Given that Roush is selling off one team by 2009/2010 to a new time and providing them with help, Roush could also be looking to get a maximum investment by providing more than one Cup-level driver in the deal by giving Darnell or Kvapil the extra time. Also, Roush still has more than enough talent signed up if he holds on to who I think is his best driver outside of Darnell in Danny O'Quinn, along with Canadian Peter Shephard and sports car driver Colin Braun. Since I like the "what if" scenarios, here is one off the top of my head:

Roush lineup:
6 Ragan (Roush has too much invested in the number and driver to sell this team off)
16 Darnell (He'll compete for ROTY in '08 at the earliest, '09 at the latest)
17 Kenseth (I'd like to think the team's most successful driver would stay with the flagship)
99 Edwards (Also has much invested with Edwards, and given a choice between him and McMurray, I'd take Edwards)

Investors X lineup:
26 McMurray (I still see him as the odd man out in any scenario in which Roush must sell a team)
## Kvapil (Returns to the Cup Series as a teammate to McMurray)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rain In Michigan

The 3M Performance 400 might be run tomorrow at noon, but the chances are iffy at best. The scenario of moving the race to November certainly throws a wrench into the championship, should that happen.

Monday, August 13, 2007

NASCAR Wins Appeal Vs. AT&T; Race Teams Suffer

I was going to talk about the fantastic race at Watkins Glen today, but I saw this and it made my blood boil:

Appeals court sides with NASCAR in Burton car dispute
By HARRY R. WEBER, AP Business Writer

August 13, 2007

ATLANTA (AP) -- A ruling by a federal appeals court cleared the way for NASCAR to prevent AT&T Inc. from featuring its logo on Jeff Burton's No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday in its order that San Antonio-based AT&T lacks standing to challenge NASCAR's decision.


The court, therefore, threw out a lower court's ruling that prevented NASCAR from stopping AT&T's plans. The appeals court remanded the case to the U.S. District Court in Atlanta for dismissal.

At issue is AT&T's desire to change the Cingular logo on Burton's car to the AT&T logo. AT&T bought Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp. last year, gaining full control of Cingular and has since rebranded the cell phone provider under the AT&T name.

NASCAR has tried to prevent the Cingular logo from being changed to the AT&T logo on Burton's car because AT&T rival Sprint Nextel Corp. sponsors NASCAR's premier series, the Nextel Cup, and has exclusive rights as the telecommunications company for the series.

Attorneys for NASCAR and Sprint Nextel have argued the only exceptions are companies, including Cingular, that already sponsored cars when Nextel reached its agreement with NASCAR.

``Because Cingular (now AT&T Mobility) was neither a party to nor an intended beneficiary of the (grandfather clause), it has not itself suffered a legally cognizable injury as a result of NASCAR's interpretation,'' the three-judge panel wrote in its unanimous decision to overturn the May 18 decision of U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob.

Cingular's parent has argued that its rights included changing its brand name to AT&T.

In May, Shoob issued a preliminary injunction barring NASCAR and any entity affiliated with it from interfering with AT&T's rights as primary sponsor of the Burton car in NASCAR Cup Series races.

In his ruling regarding Burton's car, Shoob said, ``The court concludes that the continued appearance of the Cingular brand on the No. 31 car, unaccompanied by any indication that Cingular now does business as AT&T, is likely to confuse NASCAR fans.''

Shoob also concluded that AT&T has shown it will suffer irreparable harm in the form of loss of goodwill and loss of exclusive rights to renew its sponsorship agreement unless the court issues the injunction.

But the federal appeals court lifted the injunction Monday, saying in part that under Georgia law AT&T was not a third-party beneficiary of an agreement between NASCAR and Richard Childress racing and, as a result, it lacks standing to challenge NASCAR's interpretation of that agreement.

The case, which includes a $100 million countersuit by NASCAR against AT&T, is still scheduled to go to trial.


What a sham. What a complete sham from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. I'm hoping AT&T can appeal this ruling and get this entire situation rectified. What does it say about an organization like NASCAR when they're shutting sponsors out of the sport? Everyone wants to talk about how difficult it is to get sponsors, and on top of getting a company to commit millions of dollars to a race team, now NASCAR wants to shut out entire fields of potential sponsors at a time when the money in racing is as important as ever? Shame on the 11th Circuit, shame on NASCAR, shame on Sprint/Nextel, and shame on Sunoco. Unbelievable.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Kyle Busch and Toyota, Come On Down

For Joe Gibbs Racing the price is apparently right for Kyle Busch to take over the #18 and for the Chevrolet Monte Carlos and Impalas to be replaced by Toyota Camrys. This comes from Dave Moody's Motorsports Soapbox, who I believe led everyone with where Dale Jr. was headed next season. J.J. Yeley will drive for the Wood Brothers in the #21 now? That one puzzles me... more on this later today...

What A Weekend!

From Montreal to Michigan to the X Games, the racing this weekend was quite a show. I feel bad for anyone that missed the Busch Series race at Montreal, first of all. I didn't post anything afterward because I was speechless. I had no idea what to say after those final laps at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. My opinion? I think Robby Gordon was robbed of a chance of victory. Obviously he took it not just over the edge, but completely beyond the edge, but his rightful place in line should have been first or second. On a side note, I think if it were Jeff Gordon he would have been put at the front of the line, but that's just me. Watching it unfold, with Robby doing burnouts next to Harvick, then honestly claiming he won, we were witnessing a Daytona 1979 moment - the Canadian fans in the stands were absolutely eating it up. That race will be packed to the hill and then some next year.

On Sunday, the X Games and the IRL stole the show from Pocono. If you didn't watch the Rally cars... shame on you. The new course and the dueling laps made for a great competition and Colin McRae flipped - again. Even though Travis Pastrana was disqualified in the semifinals it was still a great final that ended with the cars slamming into each other. The IRL race was a demolition derby of enormous proportions with 7 cars of 20 running at the end. Tony Kanaan held off Marco Andretti in a race dominated by Dario Franchitti, who flipped in a scary crash on lap 144. It then looked as if Danica Patrick could win her first race until a flat tire ended her chances. It was a replay of a few races ago at Iowa for Marco, who tried and tried to make the pass on the outside but just couldn't get it done. Still, they're both better than watching Kurt Busch lead 867 laps at Pocono.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The X Games

When I mentioned the action this weekend, I left out an event. I'm talking about the Rally competition at the X Games. Last year, I stumbled upon watching the rally cars and I couldn't stop watching... it was fascinating. Travis Pastrana and Colin McRae both put on a show on the dirt/pavement course, and I think everyone remembers McRae's flip and still nearly beating Pastrana. The games are upon us this year and both drivers return to their cars, and there is one more very interesting addition - Boris Said. Boris will compete in the event on Sunday, despite missing practice Saturday. The X Games site was extremely hard to navigate, but I'm pretty sure the finals will take place Sunday at some point between 3 PM and 6 PM on ABC.

The Action This Weekend...

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm just not hyped for the race in Pocono. Is anyone? I think NASCAR kind of feels the same way, which is my this weekend the most-anticipated race will the one held in Montreal. For the first time, NASCAR ventures to Canada with the Busch Series to run the 2.71 mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course. I think you get the feeling that a lot of guys would like to not lose any ground this weekend at Pocono and go on to Watkins Glen next week. That brings me back to Montreal - I'll give NASCAR credit, having this race followed next week with a Busch race at the Glen is pretty cool. Two straight road races on the schedule is a nice departure and it forces the teams to really concentrate on the nuances of road racing since they won't be able to just use a mulligan and go on the the next oval. In addition to the Busch cars, the GrandAm Rolex Series will also tackle the track for the first time. Also in action this weekend is the IRL at Michigan in what damn sure better not be a farewell to the track. Scott Dixon's been on fire and has methodically cut Dario Franchitti's points lead down to a manageable margin. For the first time in a long time, the Cup Series ranks probably third in order of races I'm looking forward to watching.

Posted are the first practice times at Montreal. Patrick Carpentier leads in the #22, with Scott Pruett, Boris Said, Ron Fellows, and Robby Gordon making up the top 5.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tony Kisses The Bricks At Indy For A Second Time

Tony Stewart came across the start/finish line first at the Allstate 400 for the second time in three years, giving him his second win at his personal holy grail of racing. The win also gives him back-to-back wins (2 weeks ago at Chicagoland) and some serious momentum heading into the final handful of races before the Chase begins. As was the case in 2005, the best car won. I don't see how anyone can't not like Tony after his victory lane interview. You don't get that sort of raw emotion from guys that have won as much as he has.

Juan Pablo Montoya finished 2nd at the Brickyard, his best on an oval. That first oval win might come this year yet. Polesitter and Montoya teammate Reed Sorenson ran a good race as well, finishing the day in 5th. Maybe he has the confidence back to go and compete in the top 10 on a weekly basis. Has the DEI/Ginn merger gotten off to a good start? Possibly, as Mark Martin scored his best finish in a while with a 6th-place effort and Paul Menard finished the day in 20th. Menard should look to finish the season with improving results now that his team will be able to work on their car for 500 miles, not 2 laps of qualifying.

Weekend winners were Ron Hornaday in the Trucks, trying to close in on the championship chase with Mike Skinner and Jason Leffler, who scored Toyota's first ever win in the Busch Series over Greg Biffle and a pissed off David Reutimann.

One final note... this is my favorite pic from the celebration...
I believe after kissing some dirty bricks, I'd want to wipe it on someone too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Newman-Haas Buying Yates? What's Next?


Lee Spencer (not always the most accurate, but read on) is reporting that the Newman-Haas team that has dominated Champ Car since all the other good teams went to the IRL has offered to buy Robert Yates Racing. This isn't new territory for Haas, who partnered with Travis Carter for many years in the series with the #26 and currently is a part-owner of Kyle Krisiloff's Busch team. Spencer reports the deal could be announced Friday.

11:15 Update: Now Angelique Chengelis is reporting that Newman-Haas and Yates are merging in a deal that focuses on both teams' long-time allegiance to Ford. Maybe if Bourdais doesn't get that F1 ride, he could end up driving for Yates in the Cup Series. For Yates, they need to step their game up given how pathetic they've been the last 2 years.

One Of The Biggest Stories Of The Year: Dale Earnhardt Inc. & Ginn Racing Merge

PR from DEI:

Dale Earnhardt Inc., already one of the world’s premier racing organizations, has become even stronger through a merger with Ginn Racing.

Effective immediately, the team will feature the Chevrolets of Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin and Aric Almirola. Martin and Almirola will combine to drive the No. 01 Army Chevrolet for the remainder of the 2007 season as well as the entire 2008 season. Menard drives the Menards Chevrolet, Truex drives the Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet and Earnhardt handles driving duties of the Budweiser Chevrolet. All four entries are inside the coveted top 35 in Nextel Cup points heading into this weekend’s Brickyard 400.

Regan Smith, who was originally slated to drive the Ginn Clubs and Resorts Chevrolet in the Brickyard 400, will instead compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Indianapolis Raceway Park Friday night in the Ginn Resorts Chevy Silverado. Specific schedules for Martin, Smith and Almirola will be announced later.

In addition to NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competition, the company will continue to field entries in the NASCAR Busch Series, the NASCAR Busch East Series and will analyze its future involvement in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

“This merger is great for both companies,” said Max Siegel, president of global operations for DEI. “Our stated goals included an expansion to four cars as quickly as possible and, in order to do that, we had to acquire more shop space. This relationship with Bobby Ginn and his company allows us to accomplish both which makes this a perfect transaction.”

The numerous teams of Dale Earnhardt Inc. will operate from both the original facility built by Dale and Teresa Earnhardt as well as the nearly 180,000-square-foot facility currently housing Ginn Racing’s teams. The buildings are less than five miles apart in Mooresville, N.C.

“When I purchased Ginn Racing last year it was done with a goal of fielding a multi-car effort capable of winning races and championships,” said Bobby Ginn. “We came very close to winning the season’s biggest race earlier this year with Mark (Martin) and today we feel as if we have done one better by partnering with a company with the legacy of Dale Earnhardt Inc.

“Our performance has been strong, as evidenced by our top-10 position in owner’s points with the 01 car, but we know that having the opportunity to be part of a four-car effort provides significant benefits.”

Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s current management team will be responsible for all day-to-day activities and transition plans have already begun to develop.

John Story, vice president of motorsports operations for DEI will oversee the expansion of the company’s racing efforts.

“The combined resources of the companies are tremendous,” Story said. “Ginn Racing just completed the installation of a seven-post rig. With our recently formed R&D team, as well as the combined efforts of two strong engineering programs, we will be able to stay on the cutting edge. Both companies have many talented people. All of our teams will undoubtedly become stronger.”

In completing this merger, points on Ginn Racing’s No. 13 car, which was 34th in NASCAR Nextel Cup owner’s points, have been eliminated.

"NASCAR's cap of four teams per company meant we had to give something up," said Ginn. "We felt so strongly about this merger that we surrendered the intangible value of the 13 car. We all were completely comfortable that the benefits of working together far outweighed the value of points."

“There are three huge benefits to us – the real estate, Mark Martin and an ability to work with Bobby Ginn on strategic development projects that Teresa has been planning for years,” Siegel said. “The value of additional square footage is easy to see, but the value that Mark will bring to our company is harder to measure and may be even more impactful. Mark has pledged his complete support to our young drivers and our entire company in an effort to make us all better. Given his stature in the sport, this type of benefit cannot be quantified.

“Teresa and Bobby have discussed some very high level strategies concerning her development objectives and who would be better to partner with than Bobby? This is a win-win relationship in its truest form.”


So we have the 01, 1, 8, and 15 as one team now. In effect, though, 2 teams were put out of commission with the 13 being dissolved and the 14's points shifting to the 15. I really would have thought that the details would be better organized when the announcement was made. This puts a lot of people in limbo that worked for Ginn Racing, perhaps they will shift to Busch or Trucks in some capacity. Also left in limbo is Regan Smith, who was to take over the 14 starting at Indy. He has to be disappointed with this, and if I were him I'd start looking for other opportunities. I doubt very seriously he will take over the 8.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Introducing Hendrick's Newest Driver (Whiner), Landon Cassill

18 year-old driver Landon Cassill made debut in the Busch Series last night at Gateway, and actually ran pretty well for a while. However, all was not sunshine and buttercups after he sent Mike Bliss into the wall and just a few laps later met his own premature exit from the race after a collison with Travis Kittleson. In his post-crash interview, though, he showed the viewers watching that he has completed a crash course in Hendrick University's "Blame Everyone But Yourself" program. After taking no responsibility for sending Bliss into the wall when Bliss was running in 2nd, Cassill then went on to blame Kittleson for passing him in what should have been a clean move. With more experience, Cassill should know that he needed to give the spot to Kittleson, who wasn't really a threat to him. Cassill could have earned a top 5 finish last night. Instead, he showed great promise and an attitude problem. Are we looking at the next Kyle Busch?

Reed Sorenson got back to victory lane in the series for the first time since 2005, also at Gateway if I'm not mistaken. Kudos go out to Jason Leffler and David Ragan, both scoring top 5 finishes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Changes At Ginn Racing

Ginn Racing has completely restructured their team as of today. The team signed driver Aric Almirola to co-drive the #01 with Mark Martin for the remainder of 2007, with Regan Smith moving to a full-time effort in the #14 replacing Sterling Marlin. This leaves Marlin without a ride heading into Indy in 2 weeks. The #13 team will also not run unless the team manages to find sponsorship for driver Joe Nemechek.

Pretty major news if you ask me, given that first Almirola was the Gibbs golden boy for several years as they paid his way through late models until now. Quite frankly, I'm shocked that the Milwaukee ordeal impacted the landscape of racing this much. The second part of the deal is not that surprising. Marlin's best days are far over and the team needs to run Smith in as many Cup races at possible with the Busch team (which was a pretty good team) being shut down. I think the DEI rumors have proven to be a false alarm and Ginn may still wish to make it with the 01 and 14 teams. I think we may see Sterling Marlin driving for BAM Racing or a team of their ilk in the next few weeks as he winds down his career. I personally still think he could be a factor in the Trucks if he chose to race there.

Monday, July 16, 2007

DEI/Ginn Merger?

The company of the day has to be DEI, who is burning up Jayski's front page with rumors that may have legs. First, the company is the odds on favorite to land Kyle Busch, along with more rumblings of the company buying/merging with cash-strapped Ginn Racing. The Busch deal is well-documented; yet it is very interesting to see what happens if this thing with actually goes through. Among the first questions is how to divide 6 teams with 7 drivers down to a 4 car/4 driver operation. You know all three DEI cars will remain, those being the #1, #8 (or 5, or whatever) and the #15 with Truex, Busch, and Menard driving. The Ginn team, however, uses the #01 with Martin and Regan Smith, the #13 of Nemechek, and the #14 of Sterling Marlin. You know Sterling will be gone and most likely Nemechek, which leaves the question of what to do with Mark Martin and Regan Smith. Smith is supposed to be the future, while Martin I believe will want to return next season. I sincerely doubt that Martin and Smith will share the #01 for another year. My opinion is that Martin will lose out in this hypothetical deal. Your DEgInn lineup for the next year will be:

01 Army - Regan Smith
1 Bass Pro Shops - Martin Truex Jr.
8 Budweiser? - Kyle Busch
15 Menards (w/ 13 or 14's owners points) - Paul Menard

So in this circumstance, what of Mark Martin? Any team looking for a part-time driver to help develop a young talent?

Terry Blount, I Had So Much Respect For You...

Among the writers on ESPN.com I thought Terry was one of the best, given that he didn't come from NASCAR.com (cough David Newton and Marty Smith) but he always seemed to be more truthful than the others. That said, his latest piece, titled After brutal Chicago race, bring on the COT is just the latest example of NASCAR's heavy hand pushing this monstrosity and calling it the savior of the sport. For real NASCAR journalism these days, you're going to have to find a place that isn't a part of a NASCAR TV deal.

You see, everyone, these "writers" want you to never be satisfied because they make their money reporting "controversy." There isn't enough side-by-side racing. Go to a restrictor plate race, the cars need to be more spread out. It's impossible to ever be happy with the current state of racing, something always needs to be done. Even though the cars we've seen race week-to-week are favored by every driver out on the track, not to mention just about every crew chief sitting atop the pit boxes, we had to re-design everything. Change everything about the cars. We needed to "level the playing field." Nevermind that the essence of racing is about competition and having the best piece on any given week. I've grown tired of these gimmicks to sell the soul of the sport. Everyone, I think we need a reminder of what racing is all about. This weekend, go out to your local short track and show them some support. Maybe they'll also show us why we love the smell of the tires and the roar of the engines. For those guys, that's what it's still about.

Friday, July 13, 2007

14 Years... Has It Really Been That Long?

14 years ago today, the racing world lost someone who would have undoubtedly become one of the sport's greatest drivers, that being Davey Allison.

I was still a rather young boy at the time, but I do remember Davey Allison. He was a young boy's favorite driver in the #28 because he was so good on the track and always appeared so nice off of it. As I've grown older, I've only come to realize more just how good he was and how good he would have been. I always argue that Dale Earnhardt would not have 7 championships, and Jeff Gordon would not have 4 championships had he not been taken that day. I guess, though, it adds to the legend of someone when they're taken before we would want them to be. When I read the book by Larry Mac a few years ago I skipped ahead to the chapters about Davey. The death of Davey marked the end of the Alabama Gang in NASCAR racing, with his dad and uncle long retired and no one else to carry the mantle. RIP, Davey. You're still missed.

If anyone wishes to learn more about Davey, visit http://www.daveyallison.net/

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Looking Back - Preseason Predictions

Since we're at the halfway point of the 2007 season, I thought I'd take a look at my predictions for the season and how well... or not so well they have held up. The original post is here.

Good calls: I mentioned Martin Truex Jr. winning in the series this year, and he has done that and more with his run in the last 2 months. My disappointment also is turning into fruition, as Ginn Racing is not the powerhouse in 2007 some kool-aid drinkers thought they'd be.

Undecided: Matt Kenseth as my championship pick can still very well happen, but his team just lacks any sort of momentum at this point in the year. Although, they are one of the few teams that could turn it on by September. I also really thought Ganassi would be doing better than they are. The cars looked great in the first several races of the season, but they've dropped like a rock since. At one point, David Stremme was 11th in the standings and now I don't even know if he is in the top 25. I'd look for a driver shakeup in that organization in 2008. Also on the first-time winners, I have Bowyer, Sorenson, and Gilliland among those I think could win. Right now, cross Gilliland and Sorenson off. Clint, you need to win one this year buddy and I can elevate this into the good calls section.

Bad calls: Obviously, my picking Paul Menard as ROTY is turning out to be a dud. I thought he'd at least make every race and have a chance to run solidly, but that isn't the case as he sits in 3rd in the ROTY standings 69 points behind Montoya.

As far as the Busch and Truck predictions, I think I nailed it in Busch and completely blew it in the Trucks. Edwards is on pace to clinch the title before the Chase starts and Ragan leads the ROTY standings, while Montoya has won and Blaney has had a great year for Braun.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

If Pictures Are Worth A 1,000 Words...

This is quite a story:




Jamie McMurray wins the Pepsi 400 to claim his second career win.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Lots Of News This Week...

Several stories to get to this week:

- The big one I guess is the impending name change of Nextel Cup to presumably Sprint Cup. I've disliked that name for a while since it sounds like "spit cup" but I'm not Brian France, who may like that sort of thing. The Sprint Championship Series sounds better but I'd rather keep the Cup name. Maybe the new Busch sponsor will sound better.

- The whole deal with crew chiefs being suspended has become such a farce. Even back last year Cheater Knaus took advantage of NASCAR making things up as they go along. It's past time to make sure these guys are not able to have any contact whatsoever with their team during the week or during the race weekend.

- TNT will use a new "wide open" coverage for the Pepsi 400 this weekend. My guess is that "wide open" coverage means, in TNT terms, wide open advertising.

- Kyle Busch is close to deciding a new team and the choices are among the following: Gibbs, Childress, DEI, Evernham, and Ganassi. My guess is that Ganassi is there just to be there, and I don't know why anyone would want to be Kasey Kahne's teammate since you know that if you run better than him, your team and cars will become his by the next season. That leaves the trio of Chevy teams. Any of them look good, especially since DEI's resurgence of late. I still think there will be a new driver of the #18 next season with J.J. Yeley being pawned off to HOF.

- I really couldn't believe what I read yesterday, that NASCAR is considering moving the Daytona 500 to the end of the year. It would be unconscionable to take this event and overshadow it by making the championship decided there. I'm not in favor of a plate race deciding the champion, plus, this is the freakin' Daytona 500! Why screw with the greatest event in racing? Oh that's right, we are talking about NASCAR here...

- Man, it must be tough to drive for Dale Jr. Shane Huffman, your fade into obscurity will take place in 3.... 2.... 1.....

- Much to my chagrin, I missed Travis Kvapil punt Brad Kesolowski out of the way at Memphis to pick up his second win of the season. Kesolowski put on a hell of a show, driving the suspended Ted Musgrave's #9 almost to a win. But, Kvapil was faster and he would have gotten around him one way or another. Brad may parlay this into bigger things, and soon. Color me surprised.

- Anyone heard from Jon Wood lately? Supposedly he'll be back soon in a truck for the family team. Since his illness and recovery, Kelly Bires has driven the #47 Busch car admirably and admittedly better than Wood himself. I think everyone may be realizing that Jon Wood just may not have what it takes to be a Nextel Cup-level driver.

- The Cup and Busch Series' are both in Daytona for some restrictor plate racing. Odds are, you won't know the difference by looking at the finishing order of both races since the same drivers will be in the top 10 in both races.

- Who was it that used to drive for Dale Jr. in Busch?

I'm Back

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Vacation


Yes, I know it seems like I've been on a vacation of sorts. I apologize for that. But, I won't be back until next week for a real vacation, with beaches and the ocean and everything. So while the Cup and Busch Series are in Loudon, the Trucks are in Memphis, and the IRL is in Richmond (I'd still love to catch that one - fantastic race at Iowa Sunday) I have a few links for you to check out in my absence.

Another terrific piece from Bram at BM, focusing on the Cup guys in Loudon.

I like this take from the Ranting and Raving Blog on Aric Almirola, who scored his first "win" Saturday night at a race in Milwaukee that was surprisingly watchable.

Get caught up on some news and notes at Full Throttle.

2 more, check out Vroom! and this feature from Ken Roberts, odds of making the Chase.

See yall sometime next week.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Montoya Wins!!!

Juan Pablo Montoya takes the checkers at Infineon today in the Toyota/Save Mart 350, becoming just the second foreign-born driver to win in the Nextel Cup Series.

Friday, June 22, 2007

CHEATERS

Link

Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson parked and will not participate in qualifying today at Sonoma. I fully expect 100-point penalties at the minimum. Probably will hear more later...

Somebody Give Me A Loan...

...I've got a racetrack to buy.


In other news, Sprint/Nextel continues acting like the kid whose ice cream dropped off the cone and then in return tries to take someone else's. The act is getting old, really old. The series heads to Sonoma this week while the other series are at what I think could be called without a doubt the most boring 1-mile track in the nation, Milwaukee. I know, I know, the track has history but watching those cars race on it is.... BORING.

One race I really look forward to seeing this week is the IRL race at Rusty's Iowa Speedway. As good as the Richmond shows are, I expect to see the same sort of action on this track.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Waiting

I decided to sit back and wait while the Dale Jr./Hendrick love story played out seemingly everywhere else. The most common question I think now will be "how will Dale do at Hendrick?" To that, I think he will be very good, but I still have a hard time picturing him as being great. He'll probably win next year multiple times and down the road he could get a championship, but if you ask me there are still a lot of obstacles that will prevent him from ever being the best driver in the sport. His fans, I think, will be perpetually disappointed as long as they expect him to be just like his dad. As for me, I just expect him to be a good driver that wins a few times a year, runs near the front, and may get lucky and get 1 title. Nothing wrong with that. On to the racing this weekend:

The Cup series makes its first visit to the Irish Hills of Michigan this week. I've always liked Michigan. Sure, Roush seemingly owning the place has been nice, but I'm a fan of big tracks where you can drive your preferred line and still be fast, and also have the threat of fuel mileage come into play. Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth took victories there last year and one of them will contend again, the one not named Kahne. With Hendrick winning everything in sight it (unfortunately) wouldn't be a stretch to see the 24 or 48 in victory lane to the chagrin of millions. Greg Biffle owned this place in 2004 and 2005 so it will be interesting to see if he can recapture that magic with Greg Erwin and contend for the win here. One guy I expect as a darkhorse could be Reed Sorenson if the equipment holds up, as he scored top 10 finishes in both races here last year. For a winner though, I'm going to go with a 1A and 1B: Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards. One is a no-neck jerk and the other is making a mockery of the Busch Series. Both, however, are overdue for wins and both have been running well enough to grab those wins.

Kentucky Speedway hosts the Busch Series for their annual event in Sparta, which one year ago propelled David Gilliland from unknown driver to Nextel Cup driver in a few short months following his victory. I always enjoy watching this race since this is a track that sees a lot of action from Nextel Cup teams in testing sessions, so I would expect those guys would have an advantage over many of the Busch regulars. To me, you're an idiot if you don't pick Carl Edwards to win this one handily... then again I'm usually an idiot, so my pick will be David Reutimann to surprise some people and pick up the first win for Toyota in the Busch Series.

Finally, the Trucks pair up with the Cup Series at Michigan this week. I had high hopes for the combo of Kvapil and Darnell to contend for wins every week and even the championship, however bad luck has thus far prevented that. Mike Skinner and Todd Bodine are the top two drivers in the series with Hornaday right behind. Mark Martin and Kyle Busch pose threats as they will run their respective trucks here, along with Bobby Labonte driving the #4. I like to think that Martin would get a win here since he was barely beaten by Johnny Benson last year and the Wood/JTG team hasn't recorded a win as of yet.

One side note, the USGP will be at Indy this year. Lewis Hamilton has been the story of the year and has been extremely impressive (or so I've read) so it will be interesting to see if he continues his run after winning in Montreal. I won't watch the race but may actually be interested to see the result.