Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Goodbye For Now, & A Goodbye For Later

First, Wednesday morning yours truly will be headed off to Washington, D.C. - our nation's capital - to take in the best of the conservative movement. March 1-3 I'll be at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. I've been looking forward to going for a while and it should be great. I'll be driving up so if you hear about a case of road rage somewhere in Virginia... it just might be me, heh heh.

Secondly, I'm taking advantage of the off weekend to finally leave AOL's network and setting up shop on Blogger. You can find the page here, but it is pretty much bare for right now. Still, for Vegas and the foreseeable feature that will be my new home.

The Busch Series is in Mexico City this weekend for some road course action. I've yet to see an entry list but I believe JPM is on it. He will more than likely be treated as a rock star along with Adrian Fernandez. Hopefully it won't be as boring as last year's.

I'll see everyone sometime next week.

Goodbye For Now, & A Goodbye For Later

First, Wednesday morning yours truly will be headed off to Washington, D.C. - our nation's capital - to take in the best of the conservative movement. March 1-3 I'll be at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. I've been looking forward to going for a while and it should be great. I'll be driving up so if you hear about a case of road rage somewhere in Virginia... it just might be me, heh heh.

Secondly, I'm taking advantage of the off weekend to finally leave AOL's network and setting up shop on Blogger. You can find the page here, but it is pretty much bare for right now. Still, for Vegas and the foreseeable feature that will be my new home.

The Busch Series is in Mexico City this weekend for some road course action. I've yet to see an entry list but I believe JPM is on it. He will more than likely be treated as a rock star along with Adrian Fernandez. Hopefully it won't be as boring as last year's.

I'll see everyone sometime next week.

Goodbye For Now, & A Goodbye For Later

First, Wednesday morning yours truly will be headed off to Washington, D.C. - our nation's capital - to take in the best of the conservative movement. March 1-3 I'll be at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. I've been looking forward to going for a while and it should be great. I'll be driving up so if you hear about a case of road rage somewhere in Virginia... it just might be me, heh heh.

Secondly, I'm taking advantage of the off weekend to finally leave AOL's network and setting up shop on Blogger. You can find the page here, but it is pretty much bare for right now. Still, for Vegas and the foreseeable feature that will be my new home.

The Busch Series is in Mexico City this weekend for some road course action. I've yet to see an entry list but I believe JPM is on it. He will more than likely be treated as a rock star along with Adrian Fernandez. Hopefully it won't be as boring as last year's.

I'll see everyone sometime next week.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Matt Kenseth Sweeps The Weekend In California

The Busch race Saturday: and the Auto Club 500 Sunday: Hell yeah.

Matt Kenseth Sweeps The Weekend In California

The Busch race Saturday: and the Auto Club 500 Sunday: Hell yeah.

Matt Kenseth Sweeps The Weekend In California

The Busch race Saturday: and the Auto Club 500 Sunday: Hell yeah.

Screw you, AOL

AOL's pissed me off for the last time. Over the next two weeks, I'm going to migrate to Blogger and leave the AOL "family." Anyone who can help is more than welcome to do so.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Quick California Preview

So as most of you can tell, I haven't exactly been around.  I've been sick with the flu all week and haven't started to feel better until today.  That said, there is still racing to discuss.

California - big, fast, and what is called "the real start of the season."  If you want something to look for tomorrow, look for the drivers that either are with new teams or have new crew members.  I'm singling Greg Biffle, Casey Mears, and Mark Martin out.  These three were previously strong here and how they run tomorrow will say a lot about their chances for the rest of the season.

WINNER - Greg Biffle

The race coverage starts at 3 tomorrow on FOX.  I promise to try and post more until my big trip Wednesday.  Big trip, you ask?  Yes... but I'm gonna make you wait on the details.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Most Ridiculous Item Today

Story here:

Harvick's helmet fuels backlash
Jim Utter

It appears there was something that failed NASCAR's post-raceinspection after Sunday's Daytona 500 -- the uniform and helmet worn byrace winner Kevin Harvick.

Responding to complaints from Sunoco, the official fuel supplier ofNASCAR, the sanctioning body has been in discussions with Harvick'sRichard Childress Racing team the past several days to address Sunoco'sconcerns over the branding of Shell-Pennzoil's sponsorship on Harvick'suniform and helmet.

In response to those complaints, Harvick can no longer wear thedriver's helmet used in Sunday's race -- which featured a prominentShell logo -- and his uniform had to be redone to include lessprominent Shell logos, multiple sources confirmed.

Before Sunday's Daytona 500, team officials confirmed Harvick wasasked by NASCAR if he would wear a jacket over his uniform duringDaytona 500 introductions, which he agreed to do.

During Speedweeks, officials with Sunoco logged several complaintswith NASCAR regarding the Shell logos on Harvick's helmet and uniform.They peaked when Harvick's victories in Saturday's Busch race andSunday's Daytona 500 produced several newspaper headlines utilizing theShell name and many photographs of the Shell logos.

Sunoco signed a 10-year deal in 2003 to become the official fuelsupplier for all three of NASCAR's national series -- Nextel Cup, Buschand Trucks.

As part of the deal, no new fuel suppliers are allowed to sponsorNASCAR teams, NASCAR officials said. Shell-Pennzoil was allowed to joinRCR and Harvick's No. 29 Chevrolet this season because the sponsorshipwas of its automotive lubricants.

Sunoco's complaints are based on the extent Shell-Pennzoil'sbranding is seen as promoting its gas product over its automobilelubricants.

"In exchange for providing a quality product for all three series,Sunoco was granted exclusivity in the fuel category at the track,"NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said.

"We're always trying to work with our sponsors and teams to navigatethrough any challenges, especially the automotive lubricant categorywhich is closely aligned with fuel."

A message seeking comment from Sunoco's media contact, Jerry Davis, remained unreturned late Wednesday.

Until a new helmet can be designed, Harvick is expected to wear thehelmet he uses in Busch Series races, sponsored by another company.Harvick's new uniform should be ready for this weekend's race atCalifornia, team officials said.


My thoughts:

ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?  Sometimes, I think NASCAR hates money.  This is nothing except Sunoco having a hissy fit about a more successful company sponsoring an elite team.  My opinion on sponsorships is well-known by now - the more, the better, no matter if it is "competition" or not.  This is why I hate what Nextel is trying to do to AT&T with the Cingular name.  Seriously, it's the same money coming in with a different name.  Why not let what the company wishes to put on the car be allowed?  With as much money as these companies are spending to have their names on these cars they need some more free reign instead of NASCAR playing dictator with what is allowed and what isn't. 

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Kevin Harvick Edges Mark Martin To Win 49th Daytona 500

Daytona folklore will have a new chapter to add following the 2007 Daytona 500 as Kevin Harvick drives to the outside of everyone and breaks Mark Martin's heart once again as he drove to the win at Daytona. 

The two drivers that should have been battling for the win - Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch - crashed out in the second half of the race.  That left the battle for win open for anyone, perhaps Kyle Busch, perhaps Mark Martin, or someone else waiting to show what they had.

Mark Martin took the lead following the final pit stop of the day and appeared to have enough help and enough car to hold on for the win.  A steady stream of accidents would bring out cautions, taking out defending winner Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Martin Truex Jr.

With four laps to go, the race was red flagged for the last caution of the day as the competitors got to think about what they wanted to do to try and win.  For Mark Martin, it was time to think about what it would mean to win this race in his 23rd try.  For Kyle Busch, he had a chance to become of, if not the youngest winners in Daytona 500 history.  For everyone on back, it was time to think about what they could possibly do to move through the field for the win.

Kevin Harvick immediately jumped to the outside of the field from 7th place and received huge boosts from Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton.  Still, it appeared the winner would be Mark Martin or Kyle Busch.  Busch didn't have the car to make a move, though he sufficiently slowed the front cars down and allowed Harvick's line to advance up the outside.  Going into turn 3, Harvick and the momentum.  Busch tried to block, but it was no use.  Martin got loose and Harvick slid to the front.  Coming through the turns, Martin edged back out front... when all hell broke loose.

Busch slid into Matt Kenseth, who both came down and massacred the rest of the field.  In front, though, Harvick and Martin battled side-by-side, door-to-door all the way to the finish line.



Harvick wins by a nose.

Behind them, no fewer than 11 cars sustained damage, some more badly than others.  An image we'll see for years to come is the sight of Clint Bowyer in his #07 sliding on his roof, on fire, across the start/finish line. 

What a race.


My thoughts:

>>> Mark Martin's luck follows him to Ginn Racing and the #01.  To ensure the most heartbreak possible, he held the lead for three-fourths of the last lap before losing the lead and his help and falling just short.  It just wasn't meant to be for him.

>>> Raise your hand if you knew Kyle Busch was going to be involved in the big crash.  He has already learned a lot, but still has a long ways to go before he can really be considered a threat to win - not a threat to tear your car up.

>>> Look at the top 5 finishers in this race: Harvick, Martin, Burton, Wallace?, Ragan?  Every year someone you never, never, never expected to finish in the top 5 always does.

>>> I'm going to jump out in front of everyone and say that I agree with the decision not to throw the caution at the end.  It would have been a nightmare trying to analyze where everyone finished and it wasn't certain if Harvick or Martin would have been considered the leader.  Let them battle it to the line and see who wins.  Imagine the controversy if NASCAR would have threw the caution there. 

>>> I really thought it was Tony Stewart's destiny to win the Daytona 500.  The comparisons to Dale Earnhardt growing between those two.

>>> On the anniversary of the death of Dale Earnhardt, someone with an intimate connection wins it again. 



Full results of the 49th Daytona 500.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Daytona 500 Preview

This is, as they say, the Super Bowl of NASCAR.  The Daytona 500.  You win here, you're set for life.  Derrike Cope would not be Derrike Cope if not for his Daytona 500 win.  It took 20 years for Dale Earnhardt to win this race and it was so special because he knew how important this race is.  Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett will tell you how much it means to them to have won this race multiple times.  The history of this race is unparalleled in NASCAR.  Lee Petty.  Richard Petty.  David Pearson.  "The Fight."  Last lap passes and so much more.  Tomorrow, the season begins with the most prestigious race.  It doesn't get any better than that.

To me, this will be last Daytona 500 of its kind.  The Car of Tomorow is set to run here starting in 2008.  This could be the last restrictor plate race of its kind with a smaller car.  On a more somber note, tomorrow will also be the 6th year since Dale Earnhardt died here.  It's impossible not to think of him at this place. 

The 2007 Daytona 500 just seems to be Tony Stewart's time.  His destiny in 2005 was to win the Brickyard 400 and the Championship and he accomplished both.  He won the Bud Shootout and a qualifying race so far this week and could add a Busch race before the day is done.  I (and many others) just feel like this race will be Tony's to lose.  However, I am keeping my eye on the #2 Dodge of Kurt Busch.  He looks like he could be a real threat.  For sentimental reasons I'd like to see the #01 of Mark Martin find a way to take the checkers.  Two more guys I'd keep my eye on are the #42 of Juan Pablo Montoya and the #17 of Matt Kenseth.  Montoya impressed the hell out of me by leading the 2nd duel until a suspension piece broke on his car.  No rookie has won this race, yet two could - Montoya and David Gilliland.  Kenseth will be a factor in the front of the field and his help could put one of these guys in victory lane, if not himself.  Sunday at 2.  The most-watched race of the year will be this one.  Enjoy the race, everyone.

Orbitz 300 Preview; Broadcast Schedules For The Weekend

The NASAR Busch Series starts 2007 in a familiarplace and coverage is back to a familiar network.  Tony Stewart would like to go 3 for 3 in thelast 3 years in this race, but faces challenges from many sides.  Your cheat sheet for the Orbitz 300:

Starting lineup: NASCAR.COM
Broadcast: Starting at 1:00 on ESPN2
Notes:
-The Toyotas qualified surprisingly well, with Jason Leffler, John Andretti,and Dave Blaney all placing in the top 11. Two other teams also dominate the front of the field, those being the RoushFords and the DEI Chevys.  Aric Almiroladrove the #18 Gibbs Chevy to the top spot, matching what J.J. Yeley did a yearago.
- Speaking of Yeley, I’m pretty shocked he failed to make the show.  Also failing to do so were the #24 of CaseyMears and the #22 of David Stremme.
- Stewart’s old Gibbs teammate Bobby Labonte will reunite with him severalraces this year, as Labonte will drive the KHI #77 with Stewart in the#33.  Also on nostalgia runs are MarkMartin in the #06 for Roush, Robby Gordon once again in the #55, and BobbyHamilton Jr. is back with Rensi with a special paint scheme honoring hisfather.
- My predicted winner for the race: Martin Truex Jr.  Truex is flying under the radar amongst theothers in this race (Stewart, Dale Jr.) but he is a stout plate racer in hisown right.  He has won the Talladega races each ofthe last few years and could pull it off in the #11 today.  I am very, very tempted to say Juan PabloMontoya here as well.  Definitely keep oneye on him and don’t be surprised if he wins.


Here are the broadcast schedules for the rest of weekend:
(Just a heads up - I won't be doing this amount of detail every week, but I want everyone to enjoy as much Daytona programming as possible.)

Today

NASCAR Live from Daytona – 9:00 AM on SPEED
Nextel Cup: Final Practice – 10:30 am onSPEED
NASCAR Live from Daytona – 12:00 PM on SPEED
Busch Series Countdown – 12:00 PM on ESPN2
Busch Series: Orbitz 300 – 1:00 PM on ESPN2
NASCAR Live from Daytona– 5:00 PM on SPEED
 

Sunday

NASCAR Live from Daytona – 9:00 AM on SPEED
NASCAR Now – 10:00 AM on ESPN2
NASCAR RaceDay – 11:00 AM on SPEED
Chasing Sunday: The Race to the Cup – 1:00 PM on FOX
Nextel Cup: 49th Annual Daytona 500 –2:00 PM on FOX
The SPEED Report – 7:00 PM on SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane –8:00 PM on SPEED
The SPEED Report – 8:30 PM on SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain – 9:00 PM on SPEED
NASCAR Now – 10:00 PM on ESPN2

My last post before The Great American Race will appear later on today.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Lee Petty, Johnny Beauchamp, & Joe Weatherly Would Be Proud

Then:



Tonight:


Travis Kvapil (my pick) holds on for 2.49 of the 2.5 miles on the last lap and finishes 3rd in the Chevy Silverado HD 250.  Jack Sprague and Johnny Benson (my 2 to watch out for) make the pass, with Sprague edging Benson for the win.  Daytona CTS races are, in a word, awesome.  This has been the best race thus far of speedweeks.

Racing Tonight: CTS Chevy Silverado HD 250

The Craftsman Truck Series officially kicks of their 2007 season tonight under the lights in Daytona in the Chevy Silverado HD 250.  Here is what you need to know for the race:

Starting lineup: NASCAR.COM
Broadcast: Starting at 7:30 on SPEED
Notes:
- 9 Toyotas and 4 Fords make up the first 13 positions in the field.  As yours truly has said repeatedly, these will be the two dominant brands in 2007.  The first Chevy is Cale Gale in 14th.  Chase Miller's Dodge is 15th.
- All 3 Roush Fords are in the top 5 with Carl Edwards 2nd, Travis Kvapil 4th, and Erik Darnell 5th.
- I wasn't aware of this until recently, but the #16 Xpress Motorsports team has switched to Ford.  Stacy Compton will drive the truck tonight.
- My predicted winner for tonight: Travis Kvapil.  K&N Bearings came on board at the last minute, can Kvapil give them a victory?  If not Kvapil, I would look at Sprague or Johnny Benson.

GM In Talks To Buy Chrysler

Story here.

This has been tossed around before, but it seems to be more serious now.  First I don't know where GM will get the money to do this (thanks liberal labor unions) but if it happens, wow.  One wonders what it means to the industry, let alone racing.

Where Is Jeff Gordon's Penalty?

After failing post-race inspection yesterday, the #24 DuPont Chevy was moved to back of the field for the Daytona 500.  NASCAR claims that it was "unintentional" and therefore the team will not be fined or docked points.  This, plain & simple, is NASCAR's blatant favoritism.  It is complete bullshit that his only penalty will be starting at the back for a race that can be won from anywhere.  Where is the 25 point penalty?  Human error?  My god, when Mark Martin was fined for something incredibly similar it was 25 points a fine.  So why doesn't Gordon get one?  Someone explain this to me... I'm having trouble seeing the logic.  Then again, we're talking about NASCAR.  Shame on me for thinking they were serious about cheating.

Sneak Peek @ Allstate Daytona 500 Ads

Want to see the new Allstate ads featuring Kasey Kahne before the Daytona 500?  You can check them out right here.  You will need QuickTime to view them.

Later on today I'll continue my Daytona extravaganza with a look at qualifying for the Orbitz 300 and a preview of tonight's Craftsman Truck Series race.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Presenting The Lineup For The Daytona 500

The duels are done and the lineup is set for the 49th running of the Daytona 500.  Tony Stewart took home duel #1, while Jeff Gordon made a last lap pass to win duel #2.  Gordon, however, failed inspection and will start the race in 42nd.

STARTING LINEUP:

1. 
38 David Gilliland m&ms Ford  
2.  88 Ricky Rudd Snickers Ford
3. 
20 Tony Stewart Home Depot Chevy
4. 
2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
5. 
8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Budweiser Chevy
6. 
40 David Stremme Coors Light Dodge
7. 
31 Jeff Burton Cingular Chevy
8. 
5 Kyle Busch Kelloggs/CarQuest Chevy
9. 
11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Chevy
10.  17 Matt Kenseth DeWalt/USG Ford
11.  07 Clint Bowyer Jack Daniels Chevy
12. 
18 J.J. Yeley Interstate Batteries Chevy
13.  8 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops Chevy
14. 
99 Carl Edwards Office Depot Ford
15. 
55 MichaelWaltrip NAPA Toyota
16. 
12 Ryan Newman ALLTEL Dodge
17. 
25 Casey Mears GMAC/National Guard Chevy
18. 
13 Joe Nemechek CertainTeed Chevy
19. 
21 Ken Schrader Little Debbie Ford
20. 
96 Tony Raines  DLP HDTV Chevy
21. 
48 Jimmie Johnson Lowes Chevy
22.  09 Mike Wallace Miccosukee Chevy
23.  60 Boris Said SoBe No Fear Ford
24. 
26 Jamie McMurray Crown Royal Ford
25. 
16 Greg Biffle AmeriQuest Ford
26.  01 Mark Martin Army Chevy
27. 
43 Bobby Labonte Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge
28. 
9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
29. 
45 Kyle Petty Wells Fargo Dodge
30. 
19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
31. 
66 Jeff Green Best Buy Chevy
32. 
10 Scott Riggs Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge
33. 
41 Reed Sorenson Target Dodge
34. 
29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevy
35. 
6 David Ragan AAA Ford
36. 
42 Juan Pablo Montoya Texaco/Havoline Dodge
37.  22 Dave Blaney Caterpillar Toyota
38. 
14 Sterling Marlin Waste Management Chevy
39. 
7 Robby Gordon Jim Beam Ford
40. 
00 David Reutimann Dominos Pizza Toyota
41.  70 Johnny Sauter Yellow Transportation Chevy
42. 
24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevy
43. 
44 Dale Jarrett UPS Toyota


FAILED TO QUALIFY:

36 Jeremy Mayfield 360OTC Toyota
23 Mike Skinner Bill Davis Racing Toyota
39 Regan Smith Ginn Resorts Chevy
4 Ward Burton State Water Heaters Chevy
15 Paul Menard PEAK/Menards Chevy
84 A.J. Allmendinger Red Bull Toyota
34 Kevin Lepage Detoxify Brand/Makoto Sauces Dodge
37 Bill Elliott Huddle House Dodge
83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
78 Kenny Wallace Furniture Row Chevy
71 Frank Kimmel Fast Track Driving School Ford
49 Mike Bliss BAM Racing Dodge
04 Eric McClure Hefty Chevy
30 Stanton Barrett Bad Boy Power Drink Chevy
27 Kirk Shelmerdine Lilly Trucking Chevy
72 Brandon Whitt Dutch Quality Store Chevy
74 Derrike Cope Royal Admin. Dodge
58 James Hylton Retirement Living TV Chevy

Who's Ready For A Duel?

The Gatorade Duels are set to run this afternoon in Daytona.  Insiders will tell you that these are the most exciting races of Speedweeks because of what is at stake.  I think running them on a Thursday makes them special, like we're getting an excuse to lay out of school or work to watch racing.  I myself have been guilty of that.  These races, whatever they're called (I grew up with Twin 125s), are a big part of the mystique and prominence that comes with winning The Great American Race.

Here are the lineups for each duel:

Race 1
Race 2

The races will air live on SPEED starting at 2 PM.  A full replay will air at 10 PM.  If you're curious to see what ESPN's coverage will be like, ESPN2 will be airing Busch Series final practice at 5 PM.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

NASCAR Brings Down The Hammer On Michael Waltrip

The penalties handed down for the illegal substance in the #55 of Michael Waltrip are some of the biggest I've ever seen in NASCAR:

- Crew Chief David Hyder suspended indefinitely
- MWR Team Manager Bobby Kennedy suspended indefinitely
- Michael Waltrip docked 100 driver and owner points
- MWR fined $100,000

This is huge and NASCAR is not kidding when it comes to outright cheating, especially with the brazen actions by this team.  They should thank their lucky stars that their sorry asses were not thrown out of the speedway and told not to show up for a while.  For the first time in a long time, I agree with Jimmy Spencer... this was not a stiff enough penalty.  $100,000 was not enough for a team that is getting sponsorship from 4 major national companies.  I know if it were me, I would ban the #55 team from competition for the first 5 races of the year, ban the crew chief until December 31st, and fine them $250,000.  This incident has dominated the headlines and only increased the negative perception of Toyota. 

I hope Michael Waltrip is happy with himself.


9:30 Update: Bram (Scottish Racer) has a terrific entry about what the 55 team was trying to accomplish, and how they got caught.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

NASCAR Attempts To Stop Cheating Crew Chiefs

Four crew chiefs will get to chill at home for the first weeks of the season, including three from Hendrick Motorsports.  The offending parties are:

Robbie Reiser #17 - unauthorized aerodynamic violations, suspended for 4 races, fined $50,000, and docked 50 driver and owner points.

Ken Francis #9 - unauthorized aerodynamic violations, suspended for 4 races, fined $50,000, and docked 50 driver and owner points.

Rodney Childers #10 - suspended for 2 races, fined $25,000, docked 25 driver and owner points.

Josh Browne #19 - suspended for 2 races, fined $25,000, docked 25 driver and owner points.


Evernham Motorsports must have been really, really careless to have all three of their teams get busted for something just before qualifying.  As for Reiser, I'm sure everyone is wondering how I feel about it... honestly, the violation is serious enough to warrant a suspension since he got caught.  Tim Brewer from ESPN's new show demonstrated what Reiser did to the 17 and I think its right for him to be suspended.  Same with Francis and the 9 team.  Roush quickly responded, placing Chip Bolin in Reiser's stead on top of the pit box.  Personally, I hope he doesn't appeal the ruling - if Reiser works the 500 and the suspension is held up, he would miss the first COT race at Bristol.  I would sacrifice Daytona in order to have him around at Bristol.  Hell, since Cheatin' Chad Knaus was able to work on the cars during his suspension last season, Reiser should be able to do the same exact thing. 

I can't say I have a problem with increased penalties if that is what it takes to send the message.  I don't think cheating will eradicated completely, but it would make teams think awfully hard before doing something they know is illegal rather than playing with the gray area.  Reiser and Francis don't have the track record that Knaus has.  However, increasing the penalties is something I fully believe in.  If Cheatin' Chad is busted again, I want his ass thrown out for the season and a six-figure fine.  Same goes for Todd Berrier.

The latest with Michael Waltrip's car is that the substance found in his manifold is being tested right up the road from me in Concord.  I can't wait to see how severely he gets punished for this, because I think NASCAR has to do something big when so much attention has been paid to the situation (sorry Evelyn).  The car is impounded and will be torn down, the engine, everything.  If what he and the team did is as significant as the rumors say, Waltrip will be watching the Daytona 500 from either Jarrett or Reutimann's pit. 

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Daytona 500 Qualifying

Your polesitter is: David Gilliland



Other shots from the day I enjoyed:


JPM has to be looking a hot chick's ass.


My god, I hope he isn't giving Richard any ideas.  The 45 needs a driver for 5 races in the summer... NOOOOOOOOOOO


My championship pick is... eating his thumb.


They're wearing brown... but they're very white.



Gilliland sits on the pole with Ricky Rudd on the outside, the second time Yates has put both their cars on the front row for the 500.  They'll lead their respective fields to the green flag Thursday in the Gatorade Duels.  Full qualifying results right here.



I Guess I Should Go Ahead & Do This... 2007 NASCAR Predictions

I know, I know... I try to avoid doing predictions on the season because, well, I suck at them.  Badly.  But I figure this year I'll go ahead and pick my champions, surprises, and disappointments of the 2007 NASCAR season.


Nextel Cup

Champion: Matt Kenseth
I hear it now... homer!  You picked your favorite!  That may well be true, but I haven't seen anyone in, out, or around the sport picking Kenseth to do even finish in the top 5 this year.  Given those circumstances I'll take Matt, who traditionally does well when he has something to prove.  In 2002 he won the most races in the series but was not a championship factor.  He rectified that in 2003.  Last season, he was the runner-up but had mystifying bad luck in the Chase.  I think he can rectify that in 2007.

Rookie of the Year: Paul Menard
The trendy pick has been Juan Pablo Montoya for obvious reasons.  Don't be so quick to overlook Menard, though, because he has quietly been improving his skill in Busch the past two seasons and is ready to make the jump to Cup.  I see it working out like this: Montoya runs spectacularly in some races but struggles in others, while Menard plays the consistency game with fewer top 10s, but fewer DNFs as well.

First-time winners: Clint Bowyer, Reed Sorenson, David Gilliland, and Martin Truex Jr.
Make that likely first-time winners.  All 4 of these guys could win on a given weekend, but all 4 will not.  I'm shamelessly hedging my bets because at least 2 of these guys will make an appearance in Victory Lane before November.

Biggest surprise: Ganassi Racing
I think Ganassi Racing will have a resurgence to prominence in 2007.  JPM is adding a whole new level of intrigue and you know when someone of his caliber with the attention he will get drives your cars, you damn sure better have some good equipment.  I think that has motivated Ganassi during the winter and they'll be considerably better in 2007 than they have been in previous seasons. 

Will disappoint: Ginn Racing
I have no delight in doing this, but right now I just don't see this team doing considerably better than they have been since their existence.  Therefore, the attention of the signing of Mark Martin has made them more important than they really are.  I mean, Regan Smith?  He couldn't get a top 15 in Busch on a regular basis.  Sterling Martin and Joe Nemechek are done as far as being competitive goes.  All those saying this team will step up in 2007 really need to think it through.  I personally don't see it happening.


Busch Series

Champion: Carl Edwards
Well, this is easy.  I'll be shocked if he manages to lose the Busch title for a third consecutive year.

Rookie of the Year: David Ragan
I say that with a bit of an asterisk, because depending on the Wood Brothers/JTG equipment I would not overlook Marcos Ambrose in the #59.  Being 40 years old obviously helps him as well, but I think running the Cup Series will be more than enough help for Ragan to take it home.

First-time winners: J.J. Yeley, David Ragan, Todd Kluever, Juan Pablo Montoya
I could very well see all four of these guys winning a race.  Yeley will rival Edwards for the Championship in the 1 and also win multiple times.  Ragan and Kluever could win if they hit the setups right on their cars, and Montoya will be a huge threat at the road courses along with a few other places.  He did run very well in the ARCA race at Talladega...

Biggest surprise: Braun Racing
This team has darkhorse written all over it.  Toyota is providing the engineering and technology; Leffler, Blaney, and Andretti are all solid Busch drivers; and the team principals are well-versed in Busch competition (Braun, Akins, ppc).

Will disappoint: Brewco's #27
Ward Burton is your driver... need I say more?  The culture of losing at Morgan-McClure in Cup just might rub off on Ward.  Besides, I couldn't really think of anyone else.


Craftsman Truck Series

Champion: David Starr
Are you shocked I didn't go for Travis Kvapil in the 6?  Yeah, I think he has an excellent shot.  But the more I think about it, Starr is in a great spot.  He is driving a truck for Rick Crawford and Circle Bar Racing, which always has some good trucks.  At Crawford's age, I don't see him as a factor anymore.  PowerStroke Diesel has come on board to provide some serious $$$ to the team so I'm going to throw in with this team for 2007.

Rookie of the Year: Who cares?
Seriously... I don't even know who is competing for Truck ROTY.

First-time winners: Erik Darnell and A.J. Allmendinger
Allmendinger has 12 races for Darrell Waltrip's team to win a race and based on the runs he had last season I think that it is very likely he will.  Darnell will run the full schedule in the 99 and will win 2 or 3 and I think he could manage a top 5 points finish.

Biggest surprise: Circle Bar Racing
I gave it away with the championship pick, but this team was always one step away from being a force.  Crawford would win a race every year or two but they just came off as underfunded.  With the addition of PowerStroke to the team I think they'll win multiple times with both drivers.

Will disappoint: Germain Racing
Not even going to hesitate with this pick.  Bodine and Musgrave are champions but we all know that coming off a year like they had, the only way to go is down.  They'll face tougher competition from within (Bill Davis) and from Ford (Roush, WB-JTG, Circle Bar) in 2007.

Morning After: The Bud Shootout

Tony Stewart wins his third Bud Shootout after moving Kyle Busch aside in the closing laps.  Stewart held off David Gilliland, who was aiming to win the Shootout in his first try and Kurt Busch, who may indeed be a threat this season to win some races and clinch a Chase position.  On the last lap, Dale Earnhardt Jr. triggered a multi-car crash that took out the 9, 11, and 19 and damaged the 16 as well. 

For randomly picking Kyle Busch, I think he did pretty well.  He led the most laps in the event but probably should have taken 4 tires during the caution.  I find it hilarious that Stacy Compton and Tim Cowlishaw both picked Jeff Gordon to win and Jeffy wasn't even a factor in the event.  Need to sharpen those prognostication skills guys. 


At 2 PM today we have qualifying for the Daytona 500.  Remember kids, this only locks in the front row of the field because the Gatorade Duels (damn I miss Twin 125's) set the rest of the field on Thursday.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Bud Shootout/Daytona 500 Qualifying Broadcast Schedule

Today

Nextel Cup: Bud Shootout practice – 4:00 on SPEED
Nextel Cup: Bud Shootout final practice – 6:30 on SPEED

Saturday

Nextel Cup: Daytona 500 practice – 10:30 on SPEED
Nextel Cup: Daytona 500 practice – 1:30 on SPEED
Nextel Cup: Budweiser Shootout – 8:00 on FOX

Sunday

Nextel Cup: Daytona 500 qualifying – 2:00 on FOX


My prediction:

WINNER - Kyle Busch
I'm going to put myself out there and go with Kyle Busch.  Conventional wisdom says Tony Stewart, Dale Jr. or Jeff Gordon, but I'm gonna go with shrub.  Just a feeling that he'll do well.  Fords usually don't win this event but if one were to win, it would be the #16 of Greg Biffle.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Kyle Petty To Work With TNT

Kyle Petty will take a break from the driving duties of his #45 Dodge in the 2007 season to work as an analyst with TNT for their six-race stint carrying the Nextel Cup Series.  What I find interesting is that he'll do commentary behind the wheel at Sears Point (Infineon... I like Sears Point better).  So will be trying to run the best he can?  Will he intentionally spin out so we can see what it's like?  These are things that need to be answered.  Nonetheless, he did a solid job last season with the Busch races and should do a good job this year.  Now, who will drive the #45?  I tend to think it would be a veteran guy.  Here is a name: Bill Elliott.  Tell me that wouldn't be something... Bill Elliott driving for Petty Enterprises.


A few more things..

- Joe Nemechek will have CertainTeed as a sponsor for 18 races
I had heard Bacardi would be a sponsor, possibly for the other 18

- Congress honors Benny Parsons

Very cool... it was introduced by Robin Hayes, someone I had the pleasure of volunteering for this past election.

- The Gordons (Jeff and Ingrid) expecting baby girl
Wonder if she'll be a driver... hahaha.  Congrats to the couple that hurriedly got married when they found out they were pregnant.


Dale Jr.'s Power Play?

Seeing this story today certainly made me think about what he is really asking...

Does he really think Teresa Earnhardt will give up ownership of DEI?!

Please.

Dale, you need to go to RCR.  Here is my plan:

1. You sign with Childress to drive the #3 with sponsorship from Budweiser.  All ties with DEI are severed, and JR Motorsports becomes an ally with RCR.

2. Drive your ass off, win another Daytona 500, possibly a championship, and watch as DEI implodes.  Yes, it will be tough to watch but remember... that payoff in the end will be worth it.

3. When DEI is no longer a threat in Nextel Cup (and that WILL happen if Dale Jr. leaves, mark my words) Teresa will get bored and look for a way out.  This is your opportunity.

4. RCR and Dale Earnhardt Jr. reach an agreement to buy Dale Earnhardt Inc. from Teresa.

5. With guidance from RC, Dale Jr. rebuilds DEI into a powerhouse once again.


Questions?  Comments?  Is this a genius plan?  Have I lost my damn mind?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Monday, February 5, 2007

Guess Who's Back (Blogging)?

The king of racing blogs himself is back after a hiatus setting up Backstretch Motorsports, the former (and still) Scottish Racer has emerged with a new blog that is guaranteed to inform, enlighten, and entertain race fans that crave inside news and knowledge (like me).  So, what are you waiting for?!  Check it out here.  Tell him Catfish sent ya.

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NASCAR Now Debuts Tonight

In another reassuring sign that NASCAR on ESPN again is a good move, NASCAR Now will debut tonight and will be completely dedicated to NASCAR.  The show will run at least 5 days a week and have airings before and after races.  I suppose their motto is "the more NASCAR on TV, the better" and if done right, I'll be a big fan of it.  I was a fan of FSN's Totally NASCAR until it was cancelled.  I'm optimistic that ESPN will bring the professionalism, analysis, and fun that similar shows like NFL Live, NBA Shootaround, and Baseball Tonight have.  Even though it will be on ESPN2, it beats having it on SPEED.  The roster that ESPN has assembled is impressive... I'm particularly excited to have Tim Cowlishaw as a regular.  To me, he makes Around The Horn worth watching because he knows that there are more sports in the world besides football, baseball, and basketball.

Why Roush Will Dominate the Busch Series in 2007





First, David Ragan and Carl Edwards are running full schedules in the 6 and 60, respectively.  Add to that the 16 team of Greg Biffle and Todd Kluever, the 17 with Matt Kenseth, and the 26 team that will run with about 483 drivers.  Then Brewco cast their lot with Biffle and Jamie McMurray sharing the 37 (to be sponsored by Cub Cadet and Yard-Man).  I don't see how there could be any less than 7, 8, or even 10 wins this season.  It was good to see most, if not all of the news sites completely avoid mentioning the Dish Network deal I posted over a month ago and I don't even think Brewco bothered to make an announcement with their sponsorship.  However, I'm still upset that there is not a ride available for Danny O'Quinn at Roush or anywhere else.  I fail to see why he couldn't run some races for Brewco, some races for Roush and scrape together a full season at other places.  To see him driving for the 56 Busch team would be an embarrassment but the fact that it may happen just reiterates that, for all of the ratings and money, the Busch Series still lacks an identity.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Few More Bits...

Stories from the week that deserve some attention:

- Roush Racing hauler involved in accident, two employees injured

- Is it just me, or is everyone redesigning their websites?

NASCAR.COM

SPEED Channel

Backstretch Motorsports

Las Vegas Testing

55 teams and drivers took to the new (and improved?) Las Vegas Motor Speedway for two days of testing this week.  The Vegas tests are a bit more indicative of who has done their homework for 2007 and who will need to pull some rabbits out of some hats to keep up.  The Dodge camp seemed to put in a good effort as Evernham's three-car team stayed at the top of the charts for the two days with good efforts from Paul Menard, Tony Stewart, David Gilliland, and Clint Bowyer.  As is becoming a trend, Jamie McMurray was underwhelming along with the ever more disappearing Ryan Newman.  I'm disappointed because there were no unintentionally funny pictures from testing.


Secondly, my apologies for not posting more... school work has its ebbs and flows.  Just think about this... the Super Bowl is this Sunday (go Colts), the Bud Shootout is in 8 days, and the Daytona 500 is in 16 days.