Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Vacation


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

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

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

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

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

See yall sometime next week.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Montoya Wins!!!

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

Friday, June 22, 2007

CHEATERS

Link

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

Somebody Give Me A Loan...

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


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

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

Friday, June 15, 2007

Waiting

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Dale Jr. Sweepstakes

The reports have been flying all over the place today... announcement tomorrow at 11, could be Hendrick, Gibbs and Ginn are out, Childress is out of the country, Kyle Busch could be out of the 5, etc. Last week I predicted that Gibbs would be his most likely destination, but it now appears that Hendrick will cut uber-talented problem child Kyle Busch out of his team. Of course, as Jeff Burton said, Childress is adding a 4th team and you know that they would love it to be a team for Dale Earnhardt Jr. We're still 21 hours away from this press conference, and new rumblings should be popping up between now and then.

Monday, June 11, 2007

2 Things From Pocono

1. I think there is general agreement that Jeff's win gets a big fat asterisk next to it. Barely 100 laps and a fluke pit strategy, and an average car ends up in victory lane.

2. At the same time, can we petition NASCAR to make every Pocono race about 300 miles? Or just not race at Pocono anymore? Even with the rain delay, I had a hard time paying attention to the "action" on the track as there was none. My god, how does a place like this keep getting 2 races a year? In this instance I wouldn't mind breaking tradition and giving at least one of the dates to a place that wasn't designed by a three-year old.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

NEXTEL Prelude To The Dream - TONIGHT

The buzz of the last few weeks will finally give way to the racing, as the third annual Prelude To The Dream at Eldora will be contested tonight - on HBO Pay-Per-View. I must say, this is a damn neat idea... I only wish I could watch. I'm hoping there will be a replay on the regular HBO at some point. Anyway, here are the entrants that will compete:

Aric Almirola
Dave Blaney
Clint Bowyer
Kyle Busch
Ron Capps
Carl Edwards
Bill Elliott
Ray Evernham
Red Farmer
Jeff Gordon
Denny Hamlin
Kevin Harvick
Kasey Kahne

Matt Kenseth
Bobby Labonte
Mark Martin
Juan Pablo Montoya
Ryan Newman
Cruz Pedregon
David Reutimann
Elliott Sadler
Kenny Schrader
Tony Stewart
Kenny Wallace
Mike Wallace
J.J. Yeley

My pick for tonight's event will be Clint Bowyer, and the over/under for number of cars Montoya hits will be set at 4.

A few more links:
Eldora
HBO
Victory Junction Gang

Why Dale Earnhardt Jr. Is Going To Joe Gibbs Racing

With more and more time passing, I am believing more and more that Dale Jr. will sign with Joe Gibbs Racing. If you believe in connecting the dots, I have several:

- He wants to go to a top Chevy team (which Gibbs has)

- He is friends with both Stewart and Hamlin

- The #18 doesn't have their driver under contract after the 2007 season

- Recently, VISA was rumored to be sponsoring him

- Also recently, Hall Of Fame Racing (affiliated with Gibbs) announced they're looking to form a second team.


To me, it seems very plausible that Dale Jr. will take the reigns of the #18 replacing J.J. Yeley, who moves to the HOF team as a teammate to Tony Raines with sponsorship from Interstate Batteries. As far as a non-alcohol sponsor for Jr. goes, are you going to tell me there aren't billion-dollar companies that wouldn't jump at the chance to have their logo on his car? Yeah, I didn't think so.

That leaves the question of what happens with the #8 of DEI next season. DEI obviously wishes to keep their three teams, so finding a driver that can take over will be important. I also happen to believe Budweiser will continue to sponsor the team provided they get a talented driver in the car. I think there is a good chance that driver will be Greg Biffle. In turn, that will put CTS driver Erik Darnell into the #16 Fusion in 2008.

Of course, I could be wrong... but this is something I've been working up the last few days and I think it's plausible.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Martin Truex Jr. Takes First Cup Win @ Dover

Martin Truex Jr. won the Autism Speaks 400 today, winning at his home track for his first career Cup win in dominating fashion. Truex lead 216 of the 400 laps, almost all of them right on the bottom of the track. Behind him came Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, and Matt Kenseth.

Of course, the big news is the passing of Bill France Jr. today. He was the man responsible for putting NASCAR where it is now and the genuine emotion felt by the broadcast booth when the announcement was made is just a microcosm of how everyone in the sport feels. 2007 has indeed been a transitional year.


UPDATE: Now with pictures. You have to love first-time winners.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Dover Tomorrow

Rain washed out the Autism Speaks 400 today, and it'll go tomorrow. Since I'm not in school, I'll be watching. I think I'll order a pizza and watch. For the record, I'll go with Carl Edwards to do the double and record his first Cup win since November of 2005.