Monday, April 30, 2007

Aarons 499

Want a picture of the Aarons 499 that fits perfectly? That's it. NASCAR served up the win to Jeff Gordon on a virtual silver platter. David Reutimann blew his engine but I guess it wasn't bad enough to warrant a caution until Jeff had completed his pass of Jamie McMurray, 3/4's of a lap later. In so doing, NASCAR gave Jeff Gordon his 77th win on Dale Earnhardt's birthday and have their storyline heading into Richmond and beyond. At this point, the Kentucky and AT&T lawsuits are critical to bringing some transparency to this sport.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bobby Labonte, Erik Darnell Provide Two Great Wins Saturday

Bobby Labonte's upset win in the Aarons 312 today was absolutely great. The race itself was interesting, the plates made the cars able to do anything on the track. I feel like Mears probably had the best car, and he was able to come up and take the lead several times during the day. There were several wrecks, but none really deserving of "the big one" title. I was ok with Tony stealing the win on the GWC, but ecstatic when Bobby moved to the outside and passed him going down to the start/finish line. Great finish, and Tony coming to celebrate with Bobby after the race was fun to see as well. Congratulations go out to that 77 team for their first win. Shout outs today go to David Ragan and Kyle Krisiloff, who finished 4th and 5th, as well as Danny O'Quinn, who drove the #17 Dish Network Fusion to an 11th-place finish. Someone needs to sponsor this guy full-time.

Erik Darnell scored his first career win the Craftsman Truck Series in dominating fashion today, winning by over 10 seconds. It nearly made me sick last night watching Scott Lagasse pass him to win the ARCA race, but Darnell more than made up for it today by scoring the win for the 99 team. As Phil Parsons said, this is going to open up the floodgates because this guy has talent.

Ah yes, the Aarons 499. What more can I say that won't hear some annoying people yell at you about? It's gonna fast, it's gonna be ferocious, and you just might see a new face in victory lane. More likely though, a Hendrick car will win. Sigh. I'd also keep my eye on the DEI and Childress Chevys for obvious reasons, and there are a few other cars to watch: the 26 of Jamie McMurray and the 2 of Kurt Busch being the leaders of that pack.

Brooklyln Style Wins

Brooklyn style wins, Jayski cries. Brooklyn was a better paint scheme anyway, now lets see if he actually makes the race.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sweet, Sweet Talladega

Every year when I'm out amongst other race fans, I often get asked why I love plate racing. The answer is simple: it's something different. I love the strategy of plate races. You can't deny its just a cool visual seeing the cars packed together and using the draft. More to the point, it's only 4 times a year of this, which is just enough. I love Talladega.

A quick rundown of the racing going on at Talladega and Kansas this week:

The Busch Series and Cup Series are both in Talladega, both races are can't-miss. The storylines are numberous... Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers returns to the track of his first career win, the pavement has some age, NASCAR changes the plates for the Busch Series, and the over/under on Tony Stewart pit-road speeding "penalties" is currently at 4.

The strange combination of ARCA, Craftsman Trucks, and IRL descend on the Kansas Speedway. The ARCA race will run today at 5 on SPEED, and Mike Skinner goes for 4 in a row Saturday. The IRL will run their final race before the Indy 500 Sunday. My prediction: Marco Andretti gets his first oval win.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

NASCAR Legal Beat

So today two stories I think are newsworthy, and both have to do with the future of a prominent team and NASCAR itself.

Kentucky Speedway revises lawsuit: The group that filed suit in 2005 to get a Nextel Cup race at the track wants to change the specifics of the suit, from getting a race to breaking up NASCAR and ISC. The suit is still sitting in U.S. District Court and who knows when it will be decided. A big thing to me is the number of cases that NASCAR is taking on. I guess they can afford to fight legal battles on several fronts. I personally wouldn't mind seeing the two companies being permanently split. At this point, I think they can exist separately. I would love to see NASCAR act as more of a sanctioning body instead of the all-encompassing monster it is currently. I'll probably be out of college before this case is ever truly decided.

Dale Jr. can have 51%... for $55 million: So, Jr. the great business mind doesn't realize that Teresa won't simply "give" him 51% of the company. DUH. Seriously, he stopped listening? My limited business mind can figure this much out: According to the 2007 Preview & Press Guide, Dale Jr. has earned almost $43 million in race winnings. Add this year's total and he is over. Now, he doesn't personally get all of that money but I'm betting he is living rather comfortably. Now, Jr. also gets millions from Budweiser and other endorsement deals annually. Jr. will need to bring in an investment team to make up the difference if he wants the controlling interest, or take out a huge loan to cover it. Now somehow, I think he can pay that back. At the same time, he won't have that 51% by himself, nor should he. John Henry and the Fenway Group have 50% of Roush, but it isn't him by himself. Jr. could easily be the front of a group that gets the controlling interest of DEI.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I Know, I Know

Again... I apologize for not writing this week. Stuff happens, ya know? But I had a good 15 pages worth of papers to turn in this week and a few other assignments thrown in for fun. Anyway, I'm almost giddy for this weekend because the series heads back to TALLADEGA. That makes me happy.

Jeffy finally won again last night in what turned out to be a pretty entertaining race. COT shills are pointing to the close racing and saying "see? Told you it would be great racing" but I don't buy into it... at least not yet. A lot of finishes are close at short tracks, and the Busch race Friday night was just as entertaining. I find it kind of ironic that DW isn't lapping up the COT the way I thought he would, and his arguments provide a good counter to Hammond, Larry Mac, and Mike Joy, who seem to be wetting themselves every time they talk about the car. Let me be clear, the car hasn't proven to be a clusterfuck the way I thought it would. Thank goodness for that. However, there are still ample opportunities for that to happen. I'm thinking Darlington here in a few more weeks. I want to commend the Haas Racing team for their performances last night, with top 10 finishes for both Jeff Green and Johnny Sauter. They seem to have put their eggs in the COT basket and its been paying off well for them. All in all, I agree with something Joy said last night: "the good drivers are still the good drivers, and the good teams are still the good teams." Look at the top 5 finishers - Gordon, Stewart, Hamlin, Johnson, Kenseth. The only team not represented there and should be is the RCR threesome, and they were just unfortunate as Harvick led laps and Burton was in the top 10 most the night. I also want to give a shout to Bobby Labonte, who quietly scored a 9th place finish. The bad luck continues for Casey Mears, who looks pretty comfortable as the new Hendrick doormat.

Later this week I'll do my annual defense of Talladega and plate racing.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

No, I Haven't Disappeared

Believe me, I had a lot to say this week. We're back to a car that people know how to drive and work on, although Phoenix will feature the COT. Matt Kenseth won the Busch race yesterday, so w00t w00t for that. And just to piss Jayski off, vote for Brooklyn style at Talladega because Philly sucks at pretty much everything.

Anyway, the finish of the race today was awesome. If you want an example of what close, real racing is, the last two Nextel Cup races have been brilliant examples. Jeff and Jimmie at Martinsville, and Burton and Kenseth today. Congrats to Jeff on the win. Kenseth gets a runner-up finish, Roush Fenway puts 3 cars in the top 6, and Mark Martin returns and finishes 3rd. More will come later this week, but don't quote me. I have less than a month of school left and I'm looking to "finish strong" as they say.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Michael Waltrip Obviously Has Too Much Time On His Hands

So Michael Waltrip crashed his car and then left the scene last Saturday, but he did save a ton of money on his car insurance by switching to Geico.

Sorry, bad joke.

Anyway, he knocked down a utility pole in the one-car accident because "fell asleep" then left the car there after he crawled out. I swear, I was expecting him to pull a Scott Wimmer and be found hiding under his bed. Yes Mikey, you were an idiot. A big idiot. The thing that baffle me though, look at the bottom of the story. What the hell does raising money for charity have to do with him leaving his car a mile away from his house and not reporting the crash? To try and say he is a good guy despite this? Thanks WSOC, just report the news and leave stuff that has nothing to do with what happened out of it.

A guy that made 1 race and has negative points has been one of the biggest stories of the year thus far. Unbelievable.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Taking A Look At The Nextel Cup Standings

With the off weekend for Easter upon us, it's time to take a look at the standings and see where we are after 6 races. We'll start with the top 15:

1. Jeff Gordon 966
2. Jeff Burton -28
3. Jimmie Johnson -60
4. Matt Kenseth -130
5. Kyle Busch -162
6. Denny Hamlin -190
7. Clint Bowyer -215
8. Tony Stewart -240
9. Carl Edwards -256
10. Kevin Harvick -279
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -289
12. Jamie McMurray -316
13. David Stremme -321
14. Elliott Sadler -327
15. Mark Martin -337

So the breakdown on this is a whopping 10 Chevys, 3 from Hendrick, 3 from RCR, and 2 from Gibbs. The 3 Fords belong to Roush Fenway with Dodges from Ganassi and Evernham. Somehow, the top 10 or so don't surprise me, with Bowyer a mild surprise. I certainly didn't think McMurray, Stremme, and Sadler would be where they are at this point. Perhaps one of the best stories was the first 4 races for Mark Martin in the #01 Army Chevy. It will be telling to see how well he and the team perform at Texas next week.

As of right now, I wouldn't overlook the next 10 drivers in the standings. Among them are Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, and Greg Biffle. Mixed in with those drivers are guys that people love to criticize for being "wild," but are performing respectably. I'm referring to J.J. Yeley, David Ragan, and Mr. Motorola Robby Gordon. Taking stock of teams that haven't done much of anything this year, we have the Yates Fords of Ricky Rudd and David Gilliland sitting pretty in... 29th and 30th. Casey Mears is a shocking 33rd, turning in his worst performance since his rookie season in the #25. Right behind him is Kasey Kahne, who will probably start driving Sadler's cars if Sadler keeps running well. Hey, it worked last year when he started driving Mayfield's old cars, maybe it'll work this year too. Johnny Sauter is sitting in the tenuous 35th position which can be argued as a remarkable achievement for a team that no one expected to do much of anything.

I really, honestly thought that Team Red Bull would be performing better than they are. Brian Vickers is a very solid driver and Doug Richert is a top-notch crew chief. A.J. Allmendinger has loads of talent. I expected them to be one of the teams that would have at least one car locked in to the field. I'm also disappointed with the #15 team and Paul Menard, who have made only 3 of the 6 races this year. Of course, I'm absolutely giddy watching the #55 going home week after week.

I think thats all I have to say, so I'll stop rambling. The only racing that I know is on is the annual Nashville Busch Series snoozefest.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

So Long Washington State, A Victory For Race Fans Everywhere

Real racing = 2, NASCAR's big-market money grabs = 0

Some terrific news today from ISC, who is dropping their plan for a race track in Washington State. Absolutely great news that NASCAR won't push for a track in an area of ignorant local politicians and people that won't support and grow the sport. This marks the second swing-and-miss for NASCAR after the Staten Island deal crumbled several months ago. I'm sure the latest propaganda "writer" on NASCAR.COMmunist is heartbroken Martinsville will be around for a few more years.

Also today, a design change for the COT will be made. Gee, that didn't take long. How do you not realize putting foam over exhaust pipes might not be a good idea?

2007 IndyCar Series After 2 Races

The 2007 IndyCar Series has been in Florida for both races they've had, one on the 1.5 mile Homestead-Miami Speedway and the other this past Sunday on the streets of St. Petersburg, won by Helio Castroneves. The series points standings are as follows:

1 Scott Dixon 80 Leader
2 Dan Wheldon 75 -5
3 Helio Castroneves 75 -5
4 Tony Kanaan 65 -15
5 Sam Hornish Jr. 61 -19
6 Dario Franchitti 56 -24
7 Tomas Scheckter 52 -28
8 Vitor Meira 4 6 -34
9 Marco Andretti 44 -36
10 Danica Patrick 40 -40
11 Buddy Rice 40 -40
12 Ed Carpenter 40 -40
13 Scott Sharp 37 -43
14 Darren Manning 35 -45
15 Sarah Fisher 34 -46
16 Jeff Simmons 29 -51
17 A.J. Foyt IV 29 -51
18 Kosuke Matsuura 27 -53
19 Marty Roth 15 -65
20 Alex Barron 12 -68

I don't think the top 5 is a surprise at all. Dixon, Wheldon, Castroneves, Kanaan, and Hornish are the elite drivers and have been for years. I was hoping that this season would produce the new faces up front more often, which may happen after Marco Andretti's 4th-place finish in St. Petersburg after having trouble the first week. Franchitti looks like he might be in his old CART form as well.

A few more notes:

- Those expecting to see a Danica/Fisher battle have too great expectations for Fisher's team. She's more or less a competent driver but Dreyer & Reinbold is hardly on the level AGR is. The entrance of Milka Duno should be interesting to see, but she may very well fall flat on her face by moving from sports cars to the IRL. Oddly enough, she isn't even going to run the road course races, just the ovals. That's puzzling.

- My surprise pick of '07, Vision Racing, has gotten off to a mixed start. Scheckter's currently 7th, but Carpenter and Foyt have each had their troubles. Carpenter flat out sucks on road races so he'll need to perform on the ovals to avoid being a career backmarker.

- Tell me, was I the only one having a hard time seeing the Delphi car without Scott Sharp driving?

- The next race on the schedule is the annual visit to Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on April 21st.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Martinsville Thoughts...

The second race of the COT proved to be, well, pretty damn exciting. My thoughts on Jimmie and Jeff are well-known but I'll be the first person to tell you that today, they put on a terrific show at the end of the race. It was compelling to see A.) how much Jimmie would block Jeff and B.) how hard Jeff would hit Jimmie to move him out of the way. Gordon's car was a bit better than Johnson's but Jimmie did what he had to and got the job done. I was surprised how well his car would run a lane higher and keeping Jeff from getting alongside on the straightaways so he couldn't get by him. I still can't stand him, but I give the man his due, he earned it today.

I'll tell you, it'll be interesting to see what happens when Kyle Busch puts it all together mentally. He made some bold, wild, and daring moves in the #5 all day. The talent that kid has is scary. He still doesn't like the car, by the way. I wonder what he'll say at Texas in two weeks if he finishes 3 laps down in 28th.

Today was a day of redemption for David Ragan. He drove a great race today and showed that he really has come along since last October. A 15th place finish is solid and I hope that this run has silenced some critics, or at least stopped them from being so vocal.

There is still some work to be done with the COT. One thing we will see with this car, I believe, are close finishes nearly every week. I still think we need spoilers instead of wings, but some teams were proactive and put their logos on the sided of the wing. I thought that was kind of funny. So far I'm liking this splitter in the front so I'll relent a bit on the car. Is it too early to be demanding a hybrid of the current car and the COT?