Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tyler Walker Suspended Indefinitely

Tyler Walker was suspended for substance abuse yesterday, coming on the heels of his replacement in the #36 360OTC Tundra for Bill Davis. Wonder if he'll claim an element of the product is to blame. This makes Davis pulling him from the race at Mansfield justified. I'm one to give second chances, but after the fiascoes of Shane Hmiel and Kevin Grubb, I'm going to be more skeptical of him if and when he tries to return.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Weekend Predictions

I had planned to make this a nice, long, juicy post this week. Plans have changed, since thanks to the luck of the draw I won tickets to attend the Coca-Cola 600. So, I'll be outta here Saturday to watch the race. The downer is I'll more than likely miss the Indy 500 unless I can find a TV to watch. On to the races:

Trucks - Ohio 250 at Mansfield
Lucky for everyone without SPEED, this one will be broadcast on FOX live Saturday at 1. This will be the second short track race of the year. Mike Skinner took the first at Martinsville with Todd Bodine in tow. I'll go with Ron Hornaday to win, making it back-to-back times two. He won last week at Charlotte and is the defending winner of this race one year ago.

Busch - CarQuest 300 at Charlotte
If I were a betting man (which I am) I would be on one of these three drivers: Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, or Kevin Harvick. To narrow it down, Harvick will be in the #33 instead of the #21 so that eliminates him. Draw it down now to Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth - Burton took wins at Vegas and Atlanta this year, with Kenseth winning at California and Texas. This one's a real draw but I'll stick to my guns and pick Kenseth for the win. Of course, now Harvick will go out and win by 12 seconds. Keep your eye on two guys in this race: Todd Kluever and David Green. Kluever runs this track very well and could be a sleeper pick, while Green is back behind the wheel of a new car and a new team that has the brains to grow into a contender.

IRL - 90th Indianapolis 500
Let's start off with what we do know: the winner of this race will come from Penske, Ganassi, or Andretti-Green. Eliminate the rest of the field now. Breaking it down from there, a case could be made for any of the remaining 9 drivers, even Danica Patrick. Castroneves has won it twice (officially). Hornish and Wheldon have each won it once. The Andrettis are well aware of how to lose the race. Kanaan, Dixon, and Franchitti all run well here and haven't had the breaks. It may just be me, but I get the feeling that this one is Wheldon's to lose. He isn't on the pole, but I just have a hunch. That's where my head is going. My heart, however, would like to see an Andretti - Marco or Michael win. They both almost had it last year in what turned out to be a down year for AGR. This year, who knows? The impossible could happen. But I'm picking Wheldon to win.

Nextel Cup - Coca-Cola 600
The series is back in the good car for the longest race of the year and I'll be there. I hate being obvious so I'll avoid mentioning how much Jimmie Johnson and the Lowes car have dominated the Lowes Motor Speedway. Neither will I talk about Kasey Kahne, who has reclaimed his spot as the most overrated driver in the series. This one favors two kinds of drivers: patient ones, and talented ones. If a guy is both, it is a nearly unbeatable combination. I have five drivers to keep your eye on as the evening unfolds: Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Jeff Burton. This is just the kind of thing that Kyle Busch would do, go out and win the 600 a week after crashing out his brother to huge cheers in the All-Star race. Martin has been revitalized since taking over the Army car and there is definite potential for a win there. Kenseth and Burton are just so good you can't overlook them. My official pick is going to be Mark Martin. Bobby Ginn has a dream of signing Dale Earnhardt Jr. to his team, he just needs to prove that they're good enough. I think this is driving Martin to give it all he has. This car has run in the top 10 at almost every big track this season and I'm a bit of a homer.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

90th Indianapolis 500 Lineup

1 Helio Castroneves (3) Dallara Automobili/Honda 225.817 mph
2 Tony Kanaan (11) Dallara Automobili/Honda 225.757 mph
3 Dario Franchitti (27) Dallara Automobili/Honda 225.191 mph
4 Scott Dixon (9) Dallara Automobili/Honda 225.122 mph
5 Sam Hornish Jr (6) Dallara Automobili/Honda 225.109 mph
6 Dan Wheldon (10) Dallara Automobili/Honda 224.641 mph
7 Ryan Briscoe (12) Dallara Automobili/Honda 224.41 mph
8 Danica Patrick (7) Dallara Automobili/Honda 224.076 mph
9 Marco Andretti (26) Dallara Automobili/Honda 223.299 mph
10 Tomas Scheckter (2) Dallara Automobili/Honda 222.877 mph
11 Michael Andretti (39) Dallara Automobili/Honda 222.789 mph
12 Scott Sharp (8) Dallara Automobili/Honda 223.875 mph
13 Jeff Simmons (17) Dallara Automobili/Honda 223.693 mph
14 Ed Carpenter (20) Dallara Automobili/Honda 223.495 mph
15 Darren Manning (14) Dallara Automobili/Honda 223.471 mph
16 Buddy Rice (15) Dallara Automobili/Honda 222.826 mph
17 Kosuke Matsuura (55) Dallara Automobili/Honda 222.595 mph
18 A.J. Foyt IV (22) Dallara Automobili/Honda 222.413 mph
19 Vitor Meira (4) Dallara Automobili/Honda 222.333 mph
20 Davey Hamilton (2) Dallara Automobili/Honda 222.327 mph
21 Sarah Fisher (5) Dallara Automobili/Honda 221.96 mph
22 Buddy Lazier (99) Dallara Automobili/Honda 221.38 mph
23 Roger Yasukawa (24) Dallara Automobili/Honda 222.654 mph
24 John Andretti (33) Dallara Automobili/Honda 221.756 mph
25 Al Unser Jr (50) Dallara Automobili/Honda 220.876 mph
26 Alex Barron (98) Dallara Automobili/Honda 220.471 mph
27 (R) Jon Herb (19) Dallara Automobili/Honda 220.108 mph
28 Jaques Lazier (21) Panoz G-Force/Honda 219.409 mph
29 (R) Milka Duno (23) Dallara Automobili/Honda 219.228 mph
30 Marty Roth (25) Dallara Automobili/Honda 218.922 mph
31 Roberto Moreno (77) Panoz G-Force/Honda 220.299 mph
32 Richie Hearn (91) Dallara Automobili/Honda 219.86 mph
33 (R) Phil Giebler (31) Panoz G-Force/Honda 219.637 mph


Coming Friday... my picks to win, place, and show, along with the return of my picks in all three NASCAR races this weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pat Tryson Done At Roush Fenway

Lee Spencer has the scoop in this story. One must be wondering if Doug Richert tries to get himself fired from Red Bull Racing... interestingly, the guy Tryson said would be taking over is Chris Andrews from Evernham, yet all signs point to Greg Erwin, formerly of Robby Gordon's team. Also on Jayski today is a rumor that Aflac will take over for AmeriQuest as co-sponsor of the #16 team. I must say, I'm getting worried at the direction of this team heading towards the future. I hate to think this could turn out like the Jeff Burton deal where Biffle runs bad for the next 3 years before both sides realize they need to move on. Anyway, a few other items:


Mark Martin to sub for Jeff Gordon in June
Marty Smith posted this somewhat interesting story, featuring the "alternate plans" for Jeff Gordon when his wife gives birth this June. In the event Jeff can't race, it would put Mark Martin into the driver's seat of the #24. I'm not counting on it yet, because it seems that every time a scenario like this could happen it inevitably doesn't.

Bill Elliott returns to Ford, at least for the next few weeks
This story came out a week or two ago but I don't care, I still want to talk about it. Seeing one of the great all-time Ford drivers behind the wheel of one of the great all-time Ford teams (arguably the greatest discounting recent history) is something I can't wait to see. At least Bill's not whoring himself out to that awful #37 car. Here's hoping that #21 car runs well in the 600.

and finally...

The COT will race exclusively in 2008... and an angel's wings are clipped. Congrats NASCAR, the undue stress you've put on car owners, shop employees, and everyone who actually has to take care of the cars is glad you've decided to go with just one... and of course, its the COT. Just like you wanted right? I'm still going to need to see more improvement before I can really get behind this thing. Hey, maybe NASCAR should pay some reparations to every team for all their work that means nothing on the current cars. It's worth a shot, anyway.

You know, there are two series that benefit from this: the first is the Busch Series, who will finally have a different identity from Nextel Cup in that they have cars with years of testing and knowledge behind them, not to mention the likely reduction in double-duty drivers. The other beneficiary will be ARCA, whose teams will now have a huge fleet of cars available that they can't afford to buy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Presenting... the #31 AT&T Chevy


So yeah, a definite improvement over the old #17 AT&T car. As part of the transition, I'm assuming the orange will stay for the rest of the season. Anyone else that watched the race Saturday feel like those new uniforms were made months ago and they were waiting to bust 'em out? I certainly do. Also, check out this link from the AT&T website. It has a cool little flash transition from Cingular to AT&T.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kevin Harvick Wins NEXTEL All-Star Challenge



Hey... at least it wasn't Hendrick :-p


All in all, I think it was a solid event. I liked how racy the track was, and the fact that the outside worked so well is promising. I honestly think Matt Kenseth could and should have won, but thats what speeding on pit road will get ya. I also came away extremely impressed with Johnny Sauter in the #70, proving that that team deserves to be mentioned among the mid-pack cars and not the field fillers.

More on the race this week, including as many pictures of the #31 AT&T Chevy I can find.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Everything Old Is New Again

Roush PR

Roush Fenway Adds Valvoline to Sponsorship Lineup

CONCORD, N.C. (May 18, 2007) -- Roush Fenway Racing will add Valvoline as the “Official Motor Oil and Engine Lubricant Provider” in a multi-year partnership effectively immediately, it was announced today.

The familiar red, white and blue Valvoline logo will appear on all Roush Fenway Racing vehicles and driver uniforms in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, beginning with the Nextel All-Star Challenge weekend at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

"We are extremely pleased to have a renewed partnership with Valvoline here at Roush Fenway Racing,” said Jack Roush, owner Roush Fenway Racing. “We have a long history together as well as a shared desire to succeed. The new relationship gives them an opportunity to have a presence with our team in all three NASCAR Series and I believe we will all see the benefits. I believe in their products and I'm excited to carry their logo on our racecars and trucks once again," Roush said.

“The Roush Fenway Racing associate sponsorship with NASCAR’s largest team complements Valvoline’s current primary sponsorship of Valvoline Evernham Racing,” said Valvoline vice president of global brands Rob Stravitz. “It will allow us to increase our brand visibility and promotional marketing opportunities. It will also maximize our technical capabilities through collaboration with more racing engine innovators.”

Valvoline was an associate sponsor of Roush Fenway Racing’s Mark Martin from 1990 to 1992 before moving to the primary position from 1992 to 2000. As a Roush Fenway Racing sponsor, Valvoline lubricated winning Ford racecars and trucks in the NASCAR’s top three series.

In addition to Scott Riggs and Evernham Motorsports, Valvoline also supplies racing motor oils for Petty Enterprises, and in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for Bill Davis Racing, HT Motorsports, Red Horse Racing and Jeff Wyler Racing.

Valvoline’s more than 100-year racing history includes numerous Indy 500 and Daytona 500 victories and championships in NASCAR, Indy Car, Formula One, Trans-Am and NHRA.

About Roush Fenway Racing

Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams, five in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; five in the Busch Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Todd Kluever, Michel Jourdain Jr. and Danny O’Quinn Jr.; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Edwards, Peter Shepherd, Travis Kvapil, Erik Darnell and T.J. Bell.

About Valvoline

Valvoline, a division of Ashland Inc., has been serving American motorists longer than any other motor oil company and is a leading innovator and supplier of quality, high-performing automotive and industrial products in more than 100 countries. Best known for its lubricants, Valvoline also markets Eagle One® appearance products, Car Brite® car restoration products, Zerex® antifreeze, SynPower® performance products, Pyroil® automotive chemicals and MaxLife® products created for higher-mileage engines. Valvoline Instant Oil Change® is the second largest quick lube chain in the U.S. For more information, please visit www.Valvoline.com.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

So I'm watching All-Star qualifying right now, and I must say that I love this format with the pit stop and 3 laps. As for the actual race, the format has changed, yet again. This time there will be four 20-lap segments with no inversions. I personally wish they would go back to doing the eliminations, the "survival of the fastest" I believe they called it. I thought it added a great element to the race because no one would lay back when faced with the prospect of not competing in the final segment. Something to think about, anyway.

AT&T WINS

AT&T was successful in their suit against NASCAR, as the judge ruled in their favor regarding the #31 Chevy of Jeff Burton. Take that, bitch. I look forward to seeing the #31 AT&T Chevy compete soon.

RCR, DEI Merge Engine Programs

AP story

This is surely interesting considering I thought it would have happened a long time ago. The RCR engines are superior to DEI, but DEI used to have good engines. This is the same kind of deal that Roush and Yates hammered out in 2004, with all the engines in one shop operated by both teams. As Yates has found out in the last few years, having the same engines doesn't mean your cars will run the same. DEI has a ways to go with their cars if they want to match RCR.


Last year I supported Kyle Petty and the Victory Junction Gang in the All-Star Fan Vote, which is still a stupid idea, but its back again. This year I'm hopping on board with Clint Bowyer and the 07 in '07. The link to vote is right here, and provided he doesn't win the Open, he should be in the main event.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

News From The Week

Dale Earnhardt Jr. fined 100 points, Tony Eury Jr. fined $100,000 and suspended for 6 races - I happened to miss the announcement Tuesday as I was in Columbia, SC but this is big. The first big penalty leveled against a team in a COT race was just that - big. The penalty drops him out of the top 12 in Nextel Cup points, but I think he can make his way back. I like the precedent this sets, but at the same time, NASCAR's method of punishment is as wildly unpredictable as ever.

Denny Hamlin's pit crew shuffled after latest mishaps - If things had gone the right way, Denny Hamlin could be entering the All-Star race with 2 or 3 wins this year in COT races. Fact is he isn't, and the pit crew is a big reason why. Now, there will be fewer excuses if this team can gel well enough to match the crews of Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth and the like.

Suzy Kolber to join ESPN NASCAR team - Great, lets hire yet another person who has never covered racing. Suzy's cute and all, but I'd rather see someone who knows what they're talking about covering the sport.

John Andretti to return to Indy - John Andretti will drive a third Panther Racing entry at the Indy 500, sponsored by Camping World and RVs.com (jeez these guys are everywhere lately). More on Indy will come this weekend, as the second week of qualifying will be on. Helio Castroneves sits on the pole.

Trucks back on track this week at LMS - Should be interesting to watch, as Mark Martin and Kyle Busch make some of their special appearances in the race. Martin nearly won his first start in the Wood Brothers' #21 truck and Busch won this race last year. Speaking of Martin, he'll be adding 3 more races to his Cup schedule. Did anyone not see that coming?

Alltel team wins Pit Crew Challenge - The resurgence of Penske Racing continues...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Update On Friday's Post

The story about Bill Davis' #23 team being ejected appears to be resolved: it was Mike Lichty, a Canadian driver and friend of Johnny Benson. Judging from the article, it appears Bill Davis himself wasn't aware of the change and that Benson and the team did it themselves... interesting. Very, very interesting.

Help Me Out

Two things... 1.) Do the new colors look good? More like the old blog? And 2.) Are there any blogs I should be reading and I'm not? Use the comments below and help me out.

Erik Darnell 2-for-2 in last 2 races

Erik Darnell is catching fire. In his last CTS start he dominated and won his first race, and over the weekend he won the ARCA race at Kentucky Speedway. This kid has a bright future, and it provides a bit of good news on an otherwise crappy crappy weekend, where Hendrick Motorsports lucked into yet another win. Some say its good for the sport to have one team dominate, but when its this group, I couldn't disagree more.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What The Hell?

I noticed this story on the Observer's website today and I thought to myself, huh? Here is the story:

Unlicensed driver gets Toyota Truck series team tossed from testing at Charlotte track

By JIM UTTER/The Charlotte Observer

Bill Davis Racing’s No. 23 Toyota NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team was thrown out of a test session Thursday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., for using an unlicensed driver.

NASCAR spokesman Josh Hamilton confirmed that BDR’s No. 23 team was ejected from the speedway Thursday night and that the team - and regular driver Johnny Benson - would not be allowed to take part in Friday’s test session.

The team is likely to face additional penalties from NASCAR for the infraction. Any such penalties will likely be announced next week. BDR officials could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

"NASCAR has certain guidelines for drivers who participate in races and test sessions, and the No. 23 team went outside those guidelines,” Hamilton said.

NASCAR officials refused to identify the driver in the truck. He was discovered when late in Thursday night’s session, the No. 23 spun off Turn 2 and wrecked, demolishing the truck. Several witnesses noticed it was not Benson that was taken to the infield care center.

“This is an official NASCAR test, under their supervision and guidance, and we defer to their jurisdiction in handling the matter,” said Jerry Gappens, the speedway’s senior vice president.

“NASCAR took immediate action and ejected the No. 23 team from the test. Obviously, this team violated the guidelines NASCAR has in place and will face the consequences associated with its actions.”

The unidentified driver was treated at the care center but, citing privacy laws, Gappens said his name could not be released.


So, anyone privy to the information NASCAR won't release? I'm very intrigued by this...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

5 Teams Dale Jr. Could Wind Up Driving For

In a somewhat particular order, here are the five places Dale Earnhardt Jr. will most likely end up:

1. Hendrick Motorsports




Seriously, why wouldn't you want to go here? I'm sure he would love to, but they're committed with their four teams and that includes Casey Mears. Would Hendrick dump him for Dale Jr? Absolutely. Will he? I'm doubtful.


2. Richard Childress Racing



Going to his dad's owner just makes sense for Dale. They have the option of adding a team and they are championship-caliber. However, his comments lead me to believe this may not be the slam dunk it appears to be on the surface.


3. Joe Gibbs Racing






I firmly believe Joe Gibbs Racing stands an excellent chance of adding a 4th team for Dale Earnhardt Jr. His teammates would include Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin, two guys that Jr. is tight with and would work well with. Gibbs is championship-proven and just seems to be a great place to be. I think they could very well be the favorite no one is talking about.


4. Ginn Racing






I have Ginn Racing listed here because this is something Bobby Ginn would do. They're on their way to being a championship contender with Mark Martin leading the way, and they have not one, but two openings. Tell me a driver lineup of Mark Martin, Regan Smith, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Martin Truex Jr. wouldn't be formidable. By the way, the team uses Hendrick equipment, which was the big rumor yesterday.


5. JR Motorsports





This would obviously be a last resort for Dale, since he has stated repeatedly he doesn't want the team to grow too fast. Still, it is very possible if no one else satisfies his demands.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Do It Dale, Do It!

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is reportedly leaving DEI with Martin Truex Jr. in tow to drive Hendrick equipment for JR Motorsports.

There will be a press conference tomorrow at 11 AM to either confirm that story or throw a swerve.

Darlington Could Be The Race I've Been Hoping For

Darlington could very well be the race that exposes the Car Of Tomorrow. I kind of suspected it for a few weeks, but Richmond showed me something and Darrell Waltrip (now that's an unlikely ally) pounded on it relentlessly. The COT is slow. Maybe too slow. The cars don't come around like they used to in the turns, and its hard to make a complete pass in them because they don't bite coming off the corners. This was painfully obvious at Phoenix to a degree, but especially at Richmond. A guy with marginal talent in a bad car like Jeff Green can run into guys all day. So Darlington will, in my estimation, only extend that. One line, hard to pass in the regular cars, add the COT, and it could be one damn boring race. That Hendrick will, of course, win. But I'm not the only one who thinks the action could be terrible. Todd Berrier says so here, with an exact quote:

"I really think, at the end of a fuel run, you'll be able to go out there and run faster in a rental car. I'm being perfectly honest with you. I think it's going to be miserably slow. But, I don't honestly know. I think the race at Phoenix, where we were at another mile place; I think it was rather boring from my perspective."

Yeah propaganda sites, the COT is great! Us fans just need to shut up and stop complaining! The Kool-Aid line starts to the left...

Monday, May 7, 2007

Ugh...

If Hendrick Motorsports wins another race, I'll kill this dog.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Again: Someone Step Up & Sponsor Danny O'Quinn Jr.

While the red flag and rain have control of Richmond, I went surfing for interesting articles. Found one that sums up how I've felt since December: Danny O'Quinn is too talented to not have a full-time ride. Mark Ashenfelter from ESPN.com has a great piece on O'Quinn, who this year has a grand total of 3 starts, only 1 of which with Roush. It's a shame that sponsors don't want a guy that gets results, hell look at his season last year - ROTY over a guy with hundreds of Cup starts. While his team stayed intact and has won twice this year (the #17 Busch program with Kenseth) he sits on the sidelines. I'd love to see Dish or Arbys or another unnamed sponsor step up to make the 17 a full-time team with Danny driving the remaining races that Kenseth doesn't. The kid has talent. He needs a chance to grow into the elite driver he is capable of being.


The 4th COT race
I've been kind of critical over the COT. Yes, it's true. And despite NASCAR's best efforts, I'm still not on board that this thing is the greatest invention since the Chase For The Cup. The human toll with this thing is just insane, but you won't see a single story about it on the mothership website. No, they're more concerned with having the worst navigation possible for a major sporting league website. Anyway, whether they run the race tonight or tomorrow I'm looking forward to how this thing does at the Lady in Black. That's gonna be something.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Random Stuff This Week

- The Busch Series is still looking for a new sponsor, and according the stories, all the potential companies well... just don't sound that good. At least KFC dropped out, saving us from the KFC Chicken Bucket Series. Supposedly Subway and Dish Network are on the list as well. At this point, I just hope they find a decent company that will pump some serious $$$ into the series.

- What a shocker... Dale Jarrett has a new crew chief after MWR let Matt Borland go. Smart move for DJ, as his chances of qualifying for Richmond just went from slim to none.

- Kyle Busch's HANS device suffered a crack at Talladega. Good to see the equipment working as good as ever. Seriously though, this is one of the few times I've ever heard of a HANS suffering any sort of damage. Glad he (and the HANS) is ok.

- Talladega banned 14 people for life after throwing beer cans on the track last Sunday, and now wants other tracks to do the same. Funny, I don't recall people throwing beer cans on the track after a win by a certain driver more than once.

- Taking a look at the entry lists for Richmond this week, Toyota brings out a few new toys in each race: Bobby Santos, a highly regarded development driver for Bill Davis will make his Busch debut after putting up some fast times in testing a month or two ago. He'll be in the #91. On the Cup side, Johnny Benson will drive a Camry for Wyler Racing. Should be interesting to see if Benson, so slouch behind the wheel, can make the field for Saturday night's race.