Friday, January 26, 2007

Another Reason I Love Jack Roush

During the Nextel Cup media tour Jack was asked about Toyota, which he has been a critic of for over a year now.  The AP article here, and some selected quotes:

"preparing myself for siege"

"I expect to hand Toyota their head over the short term"

"Nobody's frightened, we're going to go to war with them, and they should give us their best shot"

"Toyota will not find that the established teams and manufacturerswill wither in their path, as has been the case where they have triedto engage elsewhere"

"Did I say I was scared?  I don't back away from a fight.''



My stance has always been that I don't think Toyota coming in is as big a deal as Jack thinks.  What I admire, though, is that Jack will cut through the politically-correct bullshit and tell people how he feels.  It's kind of refreshing, even if you don't agree with him. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ford Drops Champ Car Like A Bad Habit

The story from Yahoo! Sports:

INDIANAPOLIS, United States (AFP) - Ford Motor Company, a backer ofChamp Car racing since 1992, announced that it will no longer serve asa sponsor of the US-based open wheel series.

"We evaluate all of our racing programs on an annual basis and havedecided that this sponsorship does not align with our current businessobjectives," Ford Racing technology director Dan Davis said.

"Although we are leaving open wheel racing at this time, were proud ofour long relationship with Champ Car, its teams and drivers, and wewish them well as they try to grow the sport."

Champ car and the rival Indy-car Series have struggled for sponsorsand fans since Indy-car officials split their group off in 1996.

"Today's decision was made from a business standpoint on both sides andin no way should tarnish the long legacy of success that the Ford MotorCompany has established in Champ Car," series president Steve Johnsonsaid.

"We thank Ford for what it has done for the series, but we arecontinuing building a bright future for the series and are exploring anumber of other options for a manufacturer partner."


So, what does this mean?  Honestly... I have no clue.  I assume that the series is still going to use the Ford stuff unless they changed and I'm either forgetting or haven't seen it, but ultimately the two series should get back together.  If it takes completely killing one off for that to happen, well... kill it off.


Tags:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Party Marty (not Smith)

This version would be Martin Truex Jr., who is apparently a Seinfeld fan.  My favorite part is the exhange with the officer, who asks if it was worth $100 and Truex proudly says it was and pulls out a Benjamin.  Oh, to be young and worth millions. 

Thems Fightin Words!

Kevin Harvick really let Teresa Earnhardt have it during the Nextel Cup media tour (which I wasn't invited to... maybe next year), saying that she is a "deadbeat owner" that doesn't come to the racetrack every week... or in her case, ever.  Harvick didn't back down either:

"It's not just a money bit, where someone says, 'Well, I can make moneyoff Dale Jr. or off Dale Earnhardt.'  You can't run these race teamsaway from the racetrack.  You have to be at the race track, you have toplay the politics of the sport, you have to be part of your team andyou have to understand what's going on.  Me, from the outside lookingin, it just doesn't look like that's happening."

OUCH!

Dale Jr. had his take on Harvick's comments, which may drive him closer to DEI as a result: 

"Man, you're killing me.  That's ridiculous. I don't really think there's a comment forKevin's remarks."

Ridiculous or not, I certainly think Kevin has a point.  My opinions go back and forth on him (we'll call it tolerate/hate) but one thing I really like about him is that he speaks his mind.  No one seems to want to do that, even when some things need to be said.

Monday, January 22, 2007

New Chase Adjustments

NASCAR officially announced today the changes that will be coming to the Chase system for 2007:

•  400-point cutoff eliminated 
•  Top-12 drivers qualify 
•  Point totals adjusted to 5,000 
•  Drivers "seeded" by wins 
•  10-point bonus for each win 

Personally, I think this is bigger than most had originally thought it would be.  I'm glad the 400-point mess is gone because it wasn't used anyway.  Adding 2 more drivers isn't that big a deal because the 400-point cutoff could have put 15 guys in, so capping it at 12 is fine by me.  The biggest thing I see right now is that points racing during the first 26 races could be nearly non-existant.  The provision put in to reset everyone at 5,000 and a 10-point bonus for each win takes away any advantagethat the points leader has, so leading the points will not mean anything until September... I'm not sure I like that.  This season it would have put Kasey Kahne 1st in the standings.  Personally I would have liked to have seen a wider margin between each spot so it means something to be consistent, but this is what we have to work with.  NASCAR also added 5 more points to each race winner, pushing the total to 185 for a win.  Everything else stays the same, but now if a driver wins a race and leads the post laps it will be a 25-point disparity between 1st and 2nd place.  I'm not head over heels in love with it, but it'll do.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Weekend Notes

Ashley Force to run Funny Car in 2007

Ashley Force will compete in a fourth car for her dad's team with sponsorship from Castrol and the Auto Club of Southern California.  I think I have a new favorite funny car driver.  If you need one too, this should convince you:

I rest my case.

Sebestien Bourdais needs a new job

He could find it with Toro Russo, an F1 team I do not recognize.  Apparently it is the same team that Scott Speed bombed with last season.  Usually I wouldn't care, but the guy has turned Champ Car into his personal playground and he needs a new challenge.

PPC Racing: unabashed whining since 2005

After posting about their alliance with Braun, this beauty just confirms that Greg Pollex liked being the top dog but, when faced with competition, couldn't keep up.  Let's hope he puts up or shuts up because the whining really needs to stop.

Robin Miller just might have a crush on Tony Stewart

In his most recent commentary on SPEED, Miller says that Tony is the most versatile driver in the past 20 years.  I'm inclined to agree with that, even before he won the Chili Bowl last week in Oklahoma.  Still, the commentary is worth the read.  See yall next week.

Kelly Clarkson Will Be Face of NASCAR in 2007

No complaints on this end.  :-)

The NASCAR.COM story here.


Braun teams with Biagi, PPC Racing

I think this deal is a terrific one for all parties involved.  The newly formed three-car team will be getting Toyota's help and all three teams are decent enough in their own right.  The #38 of Leffler, #32 of Blaney, and #10 of Andretti should work well together and maybe win a few.  It seems this is going to be the only way a team that wants to remain unfettered from Nextel Cup will survive in the Busch Series.

Non-story of the week: COT runs 190+ at Daytona

Penske Racing brought their COTs to Daytona to play around with, and the car ran the fastest time of testing.  What gets mentioned in a tiny sentence not easily found in articles churned out about it is the fact that the restrictor plate was much smaller than the ones in the present cars.  Those pesky facts...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Brian Vickers = Badass



Or so his mighty beard would have you believe.  This might be my favorite pic from testing thus far.  Did he grow it to look more mature?  Is this the first time he's had facial hair?  These questions need to be answered.  But if he keeps it, I guarentee he'll win races in 2007.

Other images I came across:



"Screw your beard, Vickers.  I'm going with the serial killer goatee."



"Hmm... did Tony accept my apology?  Hey, wait a minute!  If he breaks my nose, it would match my firesuit!"



Harvick: "You look like an astronaut"
Kahne: "You look like Big Bird"

Juan Pablo Montoya Earns Some New Fans

The quote from Schumacher from the New York Times (go figure):

"Personally, I wouldn't do it.  What do you do in NASCAR? What is exciting there? I can't see that,running around on ovals."

The quotes from Montoya:

"Schumacher in America is nobody."

"People don't understand what a big challenge this style of racing is.  Michael Schumacher, just take him to Homestead (Fla.)and tell him to stay half a second off the pace. He would have a heartattack."

Safe to say that JPM won this exchange.  This is the same thing that people like me have been saying for years, F1 Isn't the be-all-end-all of racing.  Now a guy like Montoya who has had success in everything he has done says the same words while in the process trashing someone most fans despise?  Brilliant.

Later in the week I'll do... something.  The deaths of two people in successive weeks that meant a lot to the sport just take the air out of my blogging.     

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Godspeed, Benny... We'll Miss You



Benny Parsons died today at age 65.  Parsons was the 1973 Winston Cup Champion and upon his retirement after 1988, became perhaps the most legendary and well-loved announcer in the sport. 

I am extremely sad today.  I can't put in to words what it's like when someone that you've practically grown up with dies.  I never personally met Benny Parsons.  But, I think I speak for millions when I say that losing Benny is like losing a family member.  I... I can't really say anything else.

Feel free to leave your memories of Benny in the comments below.


Links:
ThatsRacin
AP
NASCAR.COM

Friday, January 12, 2007

Briefly...

A few brief notes to talk about today:

- Wal-Mart leading Busch Series sponsorship derby

The leader to replace Busch as the title sponsor of the aptly named Busch Series is none other than Wal-Mart.  It was reported earlier that Wal-Mart was among the top 3, but they're the leader in the clubhouse as of right now.  Obviously, though, things could change.  Any form of NASCAR, Wal-Mart, and Series just seems weird right now.

- NASCAR open to change in many areas

The sanctioning body of NASCAR is all about change right now.  The Chase system, the points given to a winner, and now even the qualifying system could be overhauled, possibly even this season.  A proposed system has including having multiple cars on the track at the same time.  Keep yours eyes open for more on this in the coming months.

- Benny Parsons in worse condition than most are letting on

In some more sad news, Benny Parsons' condition has been worse than press releases would have you believe.  In a move that was kept quiet to almost everyone, he may not in fact be under contract to TNT to announce their 6 races in the summer.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s "Back In The Day"

I was approached and accepted an offer to review the DVD set for season one of "Back In The Day," the show on SPEED that ran a year or so ago.  Through A&E home video the show is now for sale.  Since I've been busy I haven't had a chance to talk about it any.  I'd like to a bit now.

I randomly selected the 1974 Winston 500 at Talladega to watch.  Since I haven't had SPEED until a month ago, I haven't seen a second of this show.  I'm a young buck by most accounts (not of legal drinking age until November) but I like to say that I have a good background and appreciation for the history of NASCAR.  My forte has been from the late 80s to today because that's about all that was on.  Like any young Southern race fan, I've heard stories about the dominance Richard Petty and David Pearson and Bobby Allison but rarely have seen the actual races.  Being from North Carolina it is a point of pride that two of the best drivers ever (most would argue they are the best ever) are from my home state.  I certainly respect that; but I have an affinity for Pearson and for the Alabama Gang.  I still remember hearing about Davey Allison's death from a TV inside a hotel my family was staying at during vacation.  Pearson was a guy that I admire because of his perception and the slyness he had.  The Silver Fox races the way I do when I pretend I'm a driver.  Lay back for a while, then strike when the timing is right.  I have expectations to see that kind of quality racing from the DVD.  So far, it's half and half.

I like the opening and the idea of the show.  I've read that Dale Jr. himself is a huge fan of the history of the sport so he is one of the best guys to narrate the show.  I immediately do not like the frequency of the pop culture-related items.  I feel like I'm watching Pop Up Video on VH1 circa 1996.  I can overlook that because the actual on-track action is great.  I can tell you right now that I already have greater respect for the television broadcasts today compared to what it used to be like.  I couldn't imagine not being able to see the entire race from flag-to-flag.  Jr. doesn't get in the way of what the primary focus of the show is and that is a plus.  I've had my tiffs with his fans but as a man, I have no problems with him at all.  His good nature shows through on the show.  Hey Teresa, he does a damn good job on the track and in his other endeavors.  Give him a break. 

Watching the racing from this era (I've watched a few more now) is very cool, despite the lack of focus that today's broadcasts have.  It comes down to this: if you're a race fan with a sense of history for the sport, this DVD satisfies that craving for old-school action.  Tell me this: where else will you get to see Petty, Pearson, Allison, Yarborough, Baker, Isaac, etc. in their primes?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Racing Series Poll Update

My question back at the end of 2006 resulted in, well, not much.  The overwhelming choice was "other/who cares" with other votes going to A1, Aussie V8, and German Touring.  I need someone who follows sports cars to tell me if the German cars is the DTM series that several former F1 drivers currently compete in.  Overall, I think the majority of people that visit here/live in the US are by and large NASCAR-only fans.  There is passing interest in others but NASCAR or bust is the opinion I'm getting.  I myself used to care less about the others.  I could still do without people telling why watching F1 is so great, but if good racing is on I'm not opposed to watching it.  After stock car racing in its various forms, I do watch nearly every IRL event on the calendar.  Last year I even tuned in to parts of Champ Car.  Since my cable company finally put SPEED on my TV I've been wetting my feet with the selection.  While it is still January, I'm more than willing to entertain racing that holds my attention.  After all, I've been told there is more out there than just NASCAR.

The Darkhorse Team of the Craftsman Truck Series in 2007

That would be the Circle Bar Racing entries.  Rick Crawford will have a teammate next season in the series, and a very good one.  David Starr will join the team and International Truck and Engine will join the team to sponsor both entries.  In addition, Cowboy Starland will be back with Crawford and Starr's crew chief will be veteran and three-time champion Dennis Connor.  Toyota's fight next season for the Manufacturer's title will be with the Ford camp.  Crawford, Starr, Travis Kvapil, Erik Darnell, Stacy Compton and a part-time effort by Mark Martin will be formidable.

Daytona Testing Part I

Did I miss anything?  Usually, the answer is no.  Nothing important (to me) happens at these things.  The individual teams are working and experimenting with different things so basing some predictions based off of testing times at Daytona is about as smart as building a whole new fleet of cars for the hell of it to be phased into Nextel Cup competition by 2009.  Oh wait...

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Bobby Hamilton, R.I.P.

NASCAR driver and owner Bobby Hamilton died today at the age of 49.  Hamilton was a four-time winner in Nextel Cup and the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion.  He drove in three races in 2006 before having to quit due to neck cancer.  He fought the disease throughout the year and looked to possibly return in the 2007 season.  This is very sad news, prayers go out to the Hamilton family.

Links:
The Tennessean
NASCAR.com

Friday, January 5, 2007

Car of Tomorrow Still Stinks

Despite the propaganda piece by David Newton (I thought they were confined to NASCAR.COM, but anyway) the Car of Tomorrow is not, I repeat, is not the greatest thing to ever happen to Nextel Cup.  I have talked to a few sources that actually know what they are talking about - and they don't like it.

"It's bullshit," says a member of a Nextel Cup team I talked to.  "Someone is going to get killed."

Yes, I had the same reaction when I heard that.  Killed?  Are you serious?  Why?  He said that there is no bracing going down the driver's side of the car and that will do more harm to the chassis of the car instead of the body and give an increased chance that a driver will be hurt.  A crash will total the body of the car instead of having the sheet metal, bars, and the general dispersion that the cars today have.  He added that the foam and kevlar that are mandated to be in the car is nearly impossible to put there and quite frankly, doesn't provide enough protection to be worth it.  Needless to say, I was quite stunned by hearing this.

The crew member even said to me that he wants to return to the Busch or Truck series due to the stress of maintaining the cars of today and building up the Cars of Tomorrow.  He even told me that NASCAR still has no idea of what to do with the inspection process because a car will fail four times, then, pass a fifth while no adjustments are made.  There wasn't much elaboration about the hideous wing on the car, it was "just stupid."  One more thing interested me: he mentioned that the bumper bars that were supposed to be smaller for the restrictor plate tracks to reduce bump drafting were actually stronger than the ones used previously.  Yeah, NASCAR's going to have a helluva time with this thing at Bristol.  Add to that reports I've heard that the Car of Tomorrow is more of a sports car than a stock car, as fans, we may not recognize the sport we love in three years.  I am starting to barely recognize it now.

Yeah David Newton, this thing isn't so bad after all is it?

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Interesting Thought

Reading the return of Jerry Bonkowski's Trading Paint column on Ya-hooooo! just now, one of his emails intrigued me.  The column is here and this is the email I'm referring to:

"Jerry, why doesn't the Busch Series start later in spring and runthrough December and January for the Nextel-starving race fans?Wouldn't more fans of the big-name drivers, who might not take the timeto watch both leagues during the regular season, be more inclined towatch the up-and-comers during the winter, therefore giving thesponsors more incentive and boosting the Busch Series' image? Save thecold-weather tracks for spring and fall and show us some sunny racingduring the icy onslaught of college basketball. Or how about the truckseries, or mini-vans? Anything that goes in a circle!"



Honestly, I think that's the first time I've thought about something like that.  I think it warrants a bit of attention.  Running a series starting in May or June then concluding in December or January would be intriguing for fans and for prospective sponsors.  The end of your season will be given priority attention without the competition from NASCAR.  I'm sure SPEED would jump at the chance to show the series, along with FSN or even ESPN2.  I'm not saying it should be Busch, at least not yet.  But it could work for the Trucks or could be given a trial run by the ARCA series (I think they're gonna need it).  When you talk about giving the Busch Series its own identity, any suggestions are helpful.