Monday, July 30, 2007

Tony Kisses The Bricks At Indy For A Second Time

Tony Stewart came across the start/finish line first at the Allstate 400 for the second time in three years, giving him his second win at his personal holy grail of racing. The win also gives him back-to-back wins (2 weeks ago at Chicagoland) and some serious momentum heading into the final handful of races before the Chase begins. As was the case in 2005, the best car won. I don't see how anyone can't not like Tony after his victory lane interview. You don't get that sort of raw emotion from guys that have won as much as he has.

Juan Pablo Montoya finished 2nd at the Brickyard, his best on an oval. That first oval win might come this year yet. Polesitter and Montoya teammate Reed Sorenson ran a good race as well, finishing the day in 5th. Maybe he has the confidence back to go and compete in the top 10 on a weekly basis. Has the DEI/Ginn merger gotten off to a good start? Possibly, as Mark Martin scored his best finish in a while with a 6th-place effort and Paul Menard finished the day in 20th. Menard should look to finish the season with improving results now that his team will be able to work on their car for 500 miles, not 2 laps of qualifying.

Weekend winners were Ron Hornaday in the Trucks, trying to close in on the championship chase with Mike Skinner and Jason Leffler, who scored Toyota's first ever win in the Busch Series over Greg Biffle and a pissed off David Reutimann.

One final note... this is my favorite pic from the celebration...
I believe after kissing some dirty bricks, I'd want to wipe it on someone too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Newman-Haas Buying Yates? What's Next?


Lee Spencer (not always the most accurate, but read on) is reporting that the Newman-Haas team that has dominated Champ Car since all the other good teams went to the IRL has offered to buy Robert Yates Racing. This isn't new territory for Haas, who partnered with Travis Carter for many years in the series with the #26 and currently is a part-owner of Kyle Krisiloff's Busch team. Spencer reports the deal could be announced Friday.

11:15 Update: Now Angelique Chengelis is reporting that Newman-Haas and Yates are merging in a deal that focuses on both teams' long-time allegiance to Ford. Maybe if Bourdais doesn't get that F1 ride, he could end up driving for Yates in the Cup Series. For Yates, they need to step their game up given how pathetic they've been the last 2 years.

One Of The Biggest Stories Of The Year: Dale Earnhardt Inc. & Ginn Racing Merge

PR from DEI:

Dale Earnhardt Inc., already one of the world’s premier racing organizations, has become even stronger through a merger with Ginn Racing.

Effective immediately, the team will feature the Chevrolets of Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin and Aric Almirola. Martin and Almirola will combine to drive the No. 01 Army Chevrolet for the remainder of the 2007 season as well as the entire 2008 season. Menard drives the Menards Chevrolet, Truex drives the Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet and Earnhardt handles driving duties of the Budweiser Chevrolet. All four entries are inside the coveted top 35 in Nextel Cup points heading into this weekend’s Brickyard 400.

Regan Smith, who was originally slated to drive the Ginn Clubs and Resorts Chevrolet in the Brickyard 400, will instead compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Indianapolis Raceway Park Friday night in the Ginn Resorts Chevy Silverado. Specific schedules for Martin, Smith and Almirola will be announced later.

In addition to NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competition, the company will continue to field entries in the NASCAR Busch Series, the NASCAR Busch East Series and will analyze its future involvement in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

“This merger is great for both companies,” said Max Siegel, president of global operations for DEI. “Our stated goals included an expansion to four cars as quickly as possible and, in order to do that, we had to acquire more shop space. This relationship with Bobby Ginn and his company allows us to accomplish both which makes this a perfect transaction.”

The numerous teams of Dale Earnhardt Inc. will operate from both the original facility built by Dale and Teresa Earnhardt as well as the nearly 180,000-square-foot facility currently housing Ginn Racing’s teams. The buildings are less than five miles apart in Mooresville, N.C.

“When I purchased Ginn Racing last year it was done with a goal of fielding a multi-car effort capable of winning races and championships,” said Bobby Ginn. “We came very close to winning the season’s biggest race earlier this year with Mark (Martin) and today we feel as if we have done one better by partnering with a company with the legacy of Dale Earnhardt Inc.

“Our performance has been strong, as evidenced by our top-10 position in owner’s points with the 01 car, but we know that having the opportunity to be part of a four-car effort provides significant benefits.”

Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s current management team will be responsible for all day-to-day activities and transition plans have already begun to develop.

John Story, vice president of motorsports operations for DEI will oversee the expansion of the company’s racing efforts.

“The combined resources of the companies are tremendous,” Story said. “Ginn Racing just completed the installation of a seven-post rig. With our recently formed R&D team, as well as the combined efforts of two strong engineering programs, we will be able to stay on the cutting edge. Both companies have many talented people. All of our teams will undoubtedly become stronger.”

In completing this merger, points on Ginn Racing’s No. 13 car, which was 34th in NASCAR Nextel Cup owner’s points, have been eliminated.

"NASCAR's cap of four teams per company meant we had to give something up," said Ginn. "We felt so strongly about this merger that we surrendered the intangible value of the 13 car. We all were completely comfortable that the benefits of working together far outweighed the value of points."

“There are three huge benefits to us – the real estate, Mark Martin and an ability to work with Bobby Ginn on strategic development projects that Teresa has been planning for years,” Siegel said. “The value of additional square footage is easy to see, but the value that Mark will bring to our company is harder to measure and may be even more impactful. Mark has pledged his complete support to our young drivers and our entire company in an effort to make us all better. Given his stature in the sport, this type of benefit cannot be quantified.

“Teresa and Bobby have discussed some very high level strategies concerning her development objectives and who would be better to partner with than Bobby? This is a win-win relationship in its truest form.”


So we have the 01, 1, 8, and 15 as one team now. In effect, though, 2 teams were put out of commission with the 13 being dissolved and the 14's points shifting to the 15. I really would have thought that the details would be better organized when the announcement was made. This puts a lot of people in limbo that worked for Ginn Racing, perhaps they will shift to Busch or Trucks in some capacity. Also left in limbo is Regan Smith, who was to take over the 14 starting at Indy. He has to be disappointed with this, and if I were him I'd start looking for other opportunities. I doubt very seriously he will take over the 8.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Introducing Hendrick's Newest Driver (Whiner), Landon Cassill

18 year-old driver Landon Cassill made debut in the Busch Series last night at Gateway, and actually ran pretty well for a while. However, all was not sunshine and buttercups after he sent Mike Bliss into the wall and just a few laps later met his own premature exit from the race after a collison with Travis Kittleson. In his post-crash interview, though, he showed the viewers watching that he has completed a crash course in Hendrick University's "Blame Everyone But Yourself" program. After taking no responsibility for sending Bliss into the wall when Bliss was running in 2nd, Cassill then went on to blame Kittleson for passing him in what should have been a clean move. With more experience, Cassill should know that he needed to give the spot to Kittleson, who wasn't really a threat to him. Cassill could have earned a top 5 finish last night. Instead, he showed great promise and an attitude problem. Are we looking at the next Kyle Busch?

Reed Sorenson got back to victory lane in the series for the first time since 2005, also at Gateway if I'm not mistaken. Kudos go out to Jason Leffler and David Ragan, both scoring top 5 finishes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Changes At Ginn Racing

Ginn Racing has completely restructured their team as of today. The team signed driver Aric Almirola to co-drive the #01 with Mark Martin for the remainder of 2007, with Regan Smith moving to a full-time effort in the #14 replacing Sterling Marlin. This leaves Marlin without a ride heading into Indy in 2 weeks. The #13 team will also not run unless the team manages to find sponsorship for driver Joe Nemechek.

Pretty major news if you ask me, given that first Almirola was the Gibbs golden boy for several years as they paid his way through late models until now. Quite frankly, I'm shocked that the Milwaukee ordeal impacted the landscape of racing this much. The second part of the deal is not that surprising. Marlin's best days are far over and the team needs to run Smith in as many Cup races at possible with the Busch team (which was a pretty good team) being shut down. I think the DEI rumors have proven to be a false alarm and Ginn may still wish to make it with the 01 and 14 teams. I think we may see Sterling Marlin driving for BAM Racing or a team of their ilk in the next few weeks as he winds down his career. I personally still think he could be a factor in the Trucks if he chose to race there.

Monday, July 16, 2007

DEI/Ginn Merger?

The company of the day has to be DEI, who is burning up Jayski's front page with rumors that may have legs. First, the company is the odds on favorite to land Kyle Busch, along with more rumblings of the company buying/merging with cash-strapped Ginn Racing. The Busch deal is well-documented; yet it is very interesting to see what happens if this thing with actually goes through. Among the first questions is how to divide 6 teams with 7 drivers down to a 4 car/4 driver operation. You know all three DEI cars will remain, those being the #1, #8 (or 5, or whatever) and the #15 with Truex, Busch, and Menard driving. The Ginn team, however, uses the #01 with Martin and Regan Smith, the #13 of Nemechek, and the #14 of Sterling Marlin. You know Sterling will be gone and most likely Nemechek, which leaves the question of what to do with Mark Martin and Regan Smith. Smith is supposed to be the future, while Martin I believe will want to return next season. I sincerely doubt that Martin and Smith will share the #01 for another year. My opinion is that Martin will lose out in this hypothetical deal. Your DEgInn lineup for the next year will be:

01 Army - Regan Smith
1 Bass Pro Shops - Martin Truex Jr.
8 Budweiser? - Kyle Busch
15 Menards (w/ 13 or 14's owners points) - Paul Menard

So in this circumstance, what of Mark Martin? Any team looking for a part-time driver to help develop a young talent?

Terry Blount, I Had So Much Respect For You...

Among the writers on ESPN.com I thought Terry was one of the best, given that he didn't come from NASCAR.com (cough David Newton and Marty Smith) but he always seemed to be more truthful than the others. That said, his latest piece, titled After brutal Chicago race, bring on the COT is just the latest example of NASCAR's heavy hand pushing this monstrosity and calling it the savior of the sport. For real NASCAR journalism these days, you're going to have to find a place that isn't a part of a NASCAR TV deal.

You see, everyone, these "writers" want you to never be satisfied because they make their money reporting "controversy." There isn't enough side-by-side racing. Go to a restrictor plate race, the cars need to be more spread out. It's impossible to ever be happy with the current state of racing, something always needs to be done. Even though the cars we've seen race week-to-week are favored by every driver out on the track, not to mention just about every crew chief sitting atop the pit boxes, we had to re-design everything. Change everything about the cars. We needed to "level the playing field." Nevermind that the essence of racing is about competition and having the best piece on any given week. I've grown tired of these gimmicks to sell the soul of the sport. Everyone, I think we need a reminder of what racing is all about. This weekend, go out to your local short track and show them some support. Maybe they'll also show us why we love the smell of the tires and the roar of the engines. For those guys, that's what it's still about.

Friday, July 13, 2007

14 Years... Has It Really Been That Long?

14 years ago today, the racing world lost someone who would have undoubtedly become one of the sport's greatest drivers, that being Davey Allison.

I was still a rather young boy at the time, but I do remember Davey Allison. He was a young boy's favorite driver in the #28 because he was so good on the track and always appeared so nice off of it. As I've grown older, I've only come to realize more just how good he was and how good he would have been. I always argue that Dale Earnhardt would not have 7 championships, and Jeff Gordon would not have 4 championships had he not been taken that day. I guess, though, it adds to the legend of someone when they're taken before we would want them to be. When I read the book by Larry Mac a few years ago I skipped ahead to the chapters about Davey. The death of Davey marked the end of the Alabama Gang in NASCAR racing, with his dad and uncle long retired and no one else to carry the mantle. RIP, Davey. You're still missed.

If anyone wishes to learn more about Davey, visit http://www.daveyallison.net/

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Looking Back - Preseason Predictions

Since we're at the halfway point of the 2007 season, I thought I'd take a look at my predictions for the season and how well... or not so well they have held up. The original post is here.

Good calls: I mentioned Martin Truex Jr. winning in the series this year, and he has done that and more with his run in the last 2 months. My disappointment also is turning into fruition, as Ginn Racing is not the powerhouse in 2007 some kool-aid drinkers thought they'd be.

Undecided: Matt Kenseth as my championship pick can still very well happen, but his team just lacks any sort of momentum at this point in the year. Although, they are one of the few teams that could turn it on by September. I also really thought Ganassi would be doing better than they are. The cars looked great in the first several races of the season, but they've dropped like a rock since. At one point, David Stremme was 11th in the standings and now I don't even know if he is in the top 25. I'd look for a driver shakeup in that organization in 2008. Also on the first-time winners, I have Bowyer, Sorenson, and Gilliland among those I think could win. Right now, cross Gilliland and Sorenson off. Clint, you need to win one this year buddy and I can elevate this into the good calls section.

Bad calls: Obviously, my picking Paul Menard as ROTY is turning out to be a dud. I thought he'd at least make every race and have a chance to run solidly, but that isn't the case as he sits in 3rd in the ROTY standings 69 points behind Montoya.

As far as the Busch and Truck predictions, I think I nailed it in Busch and completely blew it in the Trucks. Edwards is on pace to clinch the title before the Chase starts and Ragan leads the ROTY standings, while Montoya has won and Blaney has had a great year for Braun.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

If Pictures Are Worth A 1,000 Words...

This is quite a story:




Jamie McMurray wins the Pepsi 400 to claim his second career win.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Lots Of News This Week...

Several stories to get to this week:

- The big one I guess is the impending name change of Nextel Cup to presumably Sprint Cup. I've disliked that name for a while since it sounds like "spit cup" but I'm not Brian France, who may like that sort of thing. The Sprint Championship Series sounds better but I'd rather keep the Cup name. Maybe the new Busch sponsor will sound better.

- The whole deal with crew chiefs being suspended has become such a farce. Even back last year Cheater Knaus took advantage of NASCAR making things up as they go along. It's past time to make sure these guys are not able to have any contact whatsoever with their team during the week or during the race weekend.

- TNT will use a new "wide open" coverage for the Pepsi 400 this weekend. My guess is that "wide open" coverage means, in TNT terms, wide open advertising.

- Kyle Busch is close to deciding a new team and the choices are among the following: Gibbs, Childress, DEI, Evernham, and Ganassi. My guess is that Ganassi is there just to be there, and I don't know why anyone would want to be Kasey Kahne's teammate since you know that if you run better than him, your team and cars will become his by the next season. That leaves the trio of Chevy teams. Any of them look good, especially since DEI's resurgence of late. I still think there will be a new driver of the #18 next season with J.J. Yeley being pawned off to HOF.

- I really couldn't believe what I read yesterday, that NASCAR is considering moving the Daytona 500 to the end of the year. It would be unconscionable to take this event and overshadow it by making the championship decided there. I'm not in favor of a plate race deciding the champion, plus, this is the freakin' Daytona 500! Why screw with the greatest event in racing? Oh that's right, we are talking about NASCAR here...

- Man, it must be tough to drive for Dale Jr. Shane Huffman, your fade into obscurity will take place in 3.... 2.... 1.....

- Much to my chagrin, I missed Travis Kvapil punt Brad Kesolowski out of the way at Memphis to pick up his second win of the season. Kesolowski put on a hell of a show, driving the suspended Ted Musgrave's #9 almost to a win. But, Kvapil was faster and he would have gotten around him one way or another. Brad may parlay this into bigger things, and soon. Color me surprised.

- Anyone heard from Jon Wood lately? Supposedly he'll be back soon in a truck for the family team. Since his illness and recovery, Kelly Bires has driven the #47 Busch car admirably and admittedly better than Wood himself. I think everyone may be realizing that Jon Wood just may not have what it takes to be a Nextel Cup-level driver.

- The Cup and Busch Series' are both in Daytona for some restrictor plate racing. Odds are, you won't know the difference by looking at the finishing order of both races since the same drivers will be in the top 10 in both races.

- Who was it that used to drive for Dale Jr. in Busch?

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