Sunday, December 28, 2008

Allmendinger Replacing Sadler!

I'm literally almost in shock right now - just finished watching the Panthers wrap up the NFC South and a bye, but went to ESPN and read that A.J. Allmendinger was replacing Elliott Sadler at GEM.  Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic news.  My question is, why would any Sprint Cup owner want Sadler?  He might be able to contend in Nationwide.  I'm so happy for Allmendinger right now.  I can't wait for the official announcement.  Watch out, everyone... Allmendinger could be the surprise of the year in 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Why I'm Against Shortening Races

The hot new way to "fix" NASCAR in tough economic times has become making races shorter.  Most recently I've seen the idea discussed here.  I couldn't disagree more.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is supposed to be racing at the highest level.  It's the most-watched form of racing in the US.  More sponsors, the best drivers, the best teams, the best of everything.  To me, shortening races under the guise of the economy is weak, and worse, it delegitimizes the sport.  Is the NFL going to start cutting their games to 12-minute quarters?  The author makes the argument that cutting races isn't the same as cutting innings in ballgame or time in a quarter, but that's exactly what he is doing.  If NASCAR trims 50 or 100 miles off of races, even if it's not every race, that's still a bad example.  I disgaree that it sets awareness of the times.  If the prices are too high and people stop showing up, then you cut the price of attending the race, you don't cut the racing.  Unless the commissioners of the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB all agree to do the same, NASCAR should keep the race distances exactly where they are.  

Unless they don't believe NASCAR is a legitimate sport.  Any sort of cut would prove the haters correct.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Catfish's Christmas Treats

In the form of the brand-new Official TCS Skank, Miss Aubrey O'Day.  Hey, she showed up (and came out?!) at the NASCAR Awards banquet, so I want to personally thank her.  Aubrey, if you get this, come to Charlotte.  We'll set up a photoshoot.  My email's on the right.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bobby Labonte Can Still Drive

My question is, will he get the right opportunity at GanassEI?  The combined team of EGR has more team presidents, directors, and owners than drivers.  How the power struggle sorts out will have a lot to do with the performance.  Labonte has done the best he can with the Pettys, but it just wasn't enough for team and driver, which is a shame.  That's the way the world works, though.  A lot of fans probably don't remember Bobby Labonte is the 2000 Winston Cup champion and was one of the very best in the business for a lot of years.  In good equipment he could still recapture that form.  That's why I had hoped he would drive the 4th Childress car next year, but that wasn't meant to be.

In the Nationwide Series last year, Labonte had top 5 finishes in 2 of the 5 races before the #21 Childress team was shut down.  All he needs is eqiupment but I have doubts until proven otherwise.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Matt Kenseth Needed A New Crew Chief

I can't be happier to see that today Drew Blickensderfer was promoted to Kenseth's Cup team. To me, Chip Bolin just wasn't the right choice to fill in after Reiser and seemed to work better as an engineer. I listened to Kenseth for a good bit of the race in Martinsville in October, the one where he finished in the top 10 despite spinning out early. He was upset at Bolin for not updating him on things like the pace car's position on the track, and other small but important things. Combined with the reunion of spotter Mike Calinoff, I think the #17 team should be back contending for wins and a 2nd championship next season.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

So... This Is Where The Sponsorship Money's Going?

I received an email yesterday regarding a few photo albums, and honestly, I debated whether to post them for you good readers of The Catfish Show.  Eventually, as you'll see, I have decided to post them, mainly to make some people squirm, and to shake things up a bit.  With hundreds of employees losing their jobs, I bet they'd like to see what NASCAR was doing in New York last week.


Enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Still Decompressing After The Season

No posting lately, and I likely won't do another one this week on TCS. However, keep your eyes on On Pit Row this week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jimmie Johnson Makes Cover of Sports Illustrated

It takes talent to profile Jimmie Johnson and leave the reader actually liking him. Yet that's exactly what Lars Anderson does in SI this week, and I've been lucky enough to receive the story before it hits newsstands. Here are an excerpt I enjoyed, along with the cover:


Away from the track, team owner Rick Hendrick says, "nobody has more fun than Jimmie." The ultimate guy's guy, according to one of his close friends, Noah Lazes, an event planner in Charlotte, who offers this snapshot: On the morning of the AFC and NFC championship games two years ago Jimmie phoned him in Charlotte: "You want to have a man day and go see the NFL games?"

"Uh, games, plural?" responded Lazes.

"Come on," Jimmie said. "Two guys, two games, one airplane and a bottle of Goose. Let's go."

An hour later they were airborne in Jimmie's six-seat Gulfstream G450, heading from Charlotte, where the Johnsons own a 12,000-square-foot house, to Chicago for the Saints-Bears kickoff. Then they flew to Indianapolis to watch the Patriots play the Colts. "The thing you've got to realize about Jimmie is that his success has afforded him the chance to do amazing things," Lazes says. "As serious as he is at the track, he's as fun-loving away from it. I wish more people saw that side."

Hendrick saw that side a few days after the 2006 season, when Jimmie called to report that he'd just had an "accident" while playing in a charity golf tournament in Lecanto, Fla. Full of an afternoon's worth of liquid courage, Jimmie had hopped on the back of a friend's moving golf cart, climbed onto the roof (at the full-throated urging of spectators) and pretended he was surfing. The improbable target proved too tempting for players in the following group, who began hitting golf balls at Jimmie. One of the balls startled the driver of the cart; he swerved, sending the surfer tumbling onto the fairway. Jimmie split his lip and broke his left wrist.

The injuries didn't cause him to miss a race, but Jimmie feared he might have lost the respect of his fans and the support of his sponsor, Lowe's. (Not the case at all.) "I can be a jackass," he says. "I sometimes wish people could hear the voices in my head because there's some crazy-ass s‑‑‑ in my brain."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Championship Linkage - Nationwide

Thanks once again to the folks at Nationwide, who provide the final interview of the 2008 racing season with champion Clint Bowyer. You can check that out here.


Also, don't forget that the #20 Joe Gibbs Toyota finished the season as the owner's points champion by 12 points over Bowyer's #2 team. The #20 team won a staggering 9 races, and finished the year with 26 top-10 finishes. The margin would have been much larger if not for a 150-point penalty following the Michigan race. perhaps most impressively, the #20 was driven by Joey Logano for half the season, and still managed to win the owner's title. For some reason, I've seen no stories about this feat. It mattered in 2003 and in 2007, but what's the reason against celebrating them this year? I'd like to know.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jimmie Johnson Makes History

I'll give him his due. The Lowes #48 team has figured out how to win a championship with this format. I'll give more thoughts later this week, but they won't be about Jimmie Johnson. The rest of the media will write enough fluff pieces to suffocate a polar bear.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Truck Series Lineup

TruckSeries.com

Skinner, Braun, Harvick, Hornaday, and Setzer make up the top 5. Benson rolls off in 8th.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No Red Bull This Weekend For Mark Martin

Updating the post yesterday, Chevy told Mark he won't be driving the #84 this weekend after all. Among the options being considered are putting Vickers in the #84 and Speed in the #83 this weekend, putting Skinner in the #84, or some other driver shuffle. The entry list still has the #82 with driver TBA, so we'll see, I guess.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Last Chase Column For On Pit Row

Check it out here.

Looks Like Red Bull To Have 3 Entries @ Homestead

Nothing official yet except the mention from the Sirius show, but Red Bull looks to have 3 cars at Homestead in the finale this week with Brian Vickers in the #83, Mark Martin in the #84, and Scott Speed in the #82. Martin will try and put the #84 back in the top 35 for next season and Speed gets to attempt another race (he originally planned on running the #82 at Lowes) which will only help. The second car next season will also switch to #82 from #84.

Want To Watch Dale Earnhardt's 10 Greatest Wins Whenever You Want?


Then do I have an offer for you!

The folks at A&E Home Video have done it again, this time collecting 10 races to watch and experience the joy all over again. These races include the 1995 races at Sonoma and the Brickyard, his first wins at both a road course and on the history Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It has his triumph in the 1998 Daytona 500 as well his final win in what I consider to be one of the greatest races in history, the 2000 Winston 500 at Talladega. The list price for this 5-disc set is $39.95 but I have been given an extra set - and I'm giving it away to a TCS reader.

To win, we're going to play some trivia. Tell me, either in a comment or in an email, how many years did Dale Earnhardt run a special paint scheme in The Winston. Bonus points if you can name every scheme. If we're still tied after that, I have one more question in the bag. The winner will be notified on Nov. 19, so have your entries in by Nov. 18 at 11:59 PM.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

A.J. Allmendinger Continues Strong Runs

I don't know how A.J. Allmendinger is still without a ride in the Sprint Cup Series. A.J. has turned in solid performance after solid performance since taking the wheel of the #10 GEM Dodge and yet there is still no word of what he will be doing for 2009. Look at his finishes in the four races in the #10:

Martinsville - 15th
Atlanta - 14th
Texas - 26th (but ran in the top 15)
Phoenix - 16th

Not only that, but he also drove the #9 GEM Nationwide car to a top 12 finish at Phoenix as well. Allmendinger has proved that given the equipment, he can compete with anyone. Look at the situation, how does GEM not keep him in the car for the future? They've already signed Reed Sorenson but honestly, do you think Reed would be doing what A.J. is right now in the car? Allmendinger's outdriving Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler every race. Come on, Gillett, keep Allmendinger in the car. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Truck Race Craziness!

Turn 3 of the first lap, Ron Hornaday gets loose and spins out, getting absolutely nailed in the process, and Johnny Benson even got a piece of the action! Hornaday sits in the garage trying to fix the myriad problems on his truck, while Benson has mainly cosmetic damage. This is huge, and it just adds one more twist to the championship in this series.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yeah, I Know...

Been a while. Things are busy on my end, but if Edwards turns in another win at Phoenix this could really get interesting. As coach said in American Pie, you don't score... until you score. Jimmie hasn't scored yet.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Edwards Wins, I Still Hate Jimmie Johnson

I thought Atlanta was pretty decent today, not the best but it was entertaining. I enjoyed seeing the drivers work the wheel the whole race thanks to an abrasive track and Goodyear tires. I liked the Darlington comparisons because that's was racing is at its best... I prefer that to guys being able to stay out on 100-lap tires and pull away from the field. Edwards slung the #99 around all day, not handling the best but doing enough to stay up front and then make a move when it mattered. Good runs today from Kenseth and Hamlin. (Psst... be honest, you were hoping he would take Jimmie out on the last lap when he got loose in turn 3. It's ok, I was too)

I'm refusing to call Johnson the champ in waiting, something could still happen. Edwards will more than likely win at Texas and we'll see where we stand next week.

Get Mikey Waltrip Off The Damn Track

This is getting ridiculous. How many cautions does he need to bring out today before enough is enough???

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How Long Until Clint Bowyer Takes A Hostage?

I can see it now, reporters have flocked to Welcome, NC to watch a hostage negotiation. Police yell at Clint Bowyer through a megaphone, telling him it'll be OK - just come on out. Really, you'll be fine.

If I'm Bowyer, I'm not so sure. He has to be close to snapping by now, after making the Chase for the 2nd year in a row he gets rewarded by:

- Being moved to the brand-new #33 team
- Having the #07 team and Gil Martin taken from him
- Potentially needing to qualify on speed the first 5 races of 2009
- Working with a new crew chief whose previous Cup experience was with Brendan Gaughan

Seriously, RCR is moving heaven and earth to make sure Casey Mears is dropped into the best situation possible. He gets a Chase-caliber team, a top 12 points position, and lets face it, a way cooler sponsor and in return Bowyer gets to work with brand-new everything, or a Nationwide team moving to Cup.

Where's the negotiator?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bob Margolis Annoys Me

I honestly don't know why I read his columns, other than for the same reasons I watch the Boston Red Sox (go back to Bahston, losers!) or Bill O'Reilly (not a real conservative, but I have another blog for those sorts of things).... his latest Observations column from Martinsville. I was at the race, and feel the need to correct some of his "observations" from the race (my thoughts in bold):

- Watching Elliott ride around the rear of the field for most of the race in the woeful Wood Brothers entry was an embarrassment to both Elliott and the sport in general. Due to attrition and his veteran's instincts, Elliott still managed a top-20 finish.

Actually, Bill was pretty competitive most of the day. I want to say he got the lucky dog early, but he stayed close and passed cars. Sure, Bill isn't what he was even a few years ago, but come on - Wood Brothers equipment can only do so much, and the so much has been very little at almost every track.

-I'm convinced that the only reason AJ Allmendinger did so well in the GEM Dodge – he wound up 15th – is that when he learned how to drive a stock car at Red Bull, it was a really bad stock car and that's all he knows. Not to take anything away from Allmendinger, but Patrick Carpentier (hey, remember him?) did a pretty darn good job in a car that was far less than competitive.

Umm, what? I'm a fan of both drivers, but this paragraph makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Allmendinger's simply further along in his progression and ran better than Elliott Sadler and Kasey Kahne yesterday in his first race with a team at a track exceptionally tough on inexperienced drivers.

- Kudos to rookie Chad McCumbee (finished 25th) for one heck of a job in the Petty Dodge. Let's hope that the reported Boston Ventures/Petty-DEI deal comes together (I hear it's likely) and that this kid gets to drive a Cup car next season.

I'm sorry, but McCumbee was a backmarker. I think he mistook the finishes of Bill and McCumbee, because Bill is the one that was surprisingly solid and McCumbee rode around the back and waited for everyone else to crash out. I honestly don't know if Chad has Cup-level talent. We'll find out next season.


I guess that finishes up my rant. I read it and had to respond, maybe someone will see it. The race yesterday marked the end of 3 races in 9 days for your esteemed blogger. Here's a view from my seats in turn 2 yesterday to finish up.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Johnny Benson Outduels Ron Hornaday For Martinsville Win

Ron Hornaday dominated most of the day, but it was 4 tires, a better truck at the end, and little extra fuel that allowed Johnny Benson to move around Hornaday in the waning laps of the Kroger 200.

For those that can remember, Benson's always been known as a guy that was maybe too nice on the track. Today, it was refreshing to see him waring out Hornaday's truck, it shows how much he wants to win this championship this season.

As for the rest of the finishers, they're about who you would expect. Dennis Setzer capitalized on both KHI trucks running out of gas to finish 2nd, while Rick Crawford, Kyle Busch, and Todd Bodine rounded out the top 5.

Benson now leads Hornaday by 65 points with 4 races to go, with Matt Crafton and Bodine way behind. The BDR-KHI rivalry continues, this time with Benson in the running instead of Mike Skinner last season.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What's Your Car Worth? Amoco Ultimate Wants To Know

As race fans, we love our street cars too. Living in North Carolina, I see some great ones. I see decals and paint schemes on cars around here, and it's great. If I won the lottery, I'd buy a street-legal race car to drive around. So, I want to know this - is your car the worth of Amoco Ultimate gasoline?

You know I don't just do every contest that comes along, but I like this one, and here it is: go to The Amoco Ultimate Photo Contest website and follow the rules: send a picture of your car and some words, and you could win a trip to the 24 Hours of LeMans, only the greatest sports car race in the world.

Secondly, I want to know which NASCAR blogger has the baddest car around. The winner will receive a $25 gas card from BP. To enter, either leave a comment here or email me if you like (thecatfishshow@gmail.com) with your car, blog site, and why your car is the baddest around. I'll crown the winner on October 30th.

Good luck, and thanks to M80 marketing for the promotion.

Nationwide COT Leaves Me Cautiously Optimistic

For years now, the Nationwide Series (dating back to the Busch days) has been in need of a new identity. The new car looks to possibly, finally accomplish that goal. The car unfortunately incorporates many aspects of the COT, but with a few key differences - one being the splitter looks different, and it maintains the rear spoiler instead of a wing. That will play a big difference in the handling of the cars. The Dodge car actually looked sweet, shame it won't be around to see the track. Other models considered are the Chevy Malibu, Ford Taurus (wtf didn't they just get replaced??) and Toyota announced theirs would be a Camry.

Most importantly, I think, is that the Sprint Cup guys got to deal with the headaches of the new car, running 2 different cars at the same time, and dealing with such a change. It should be expected to be a smoother process the second time around. A transition to the new car should start in 2010 without the unnecessary step of running different cars every week of the season.

My problems are still here: one, I want NASCAR to step up to the plate and aid the teams financially with the switch to these cars, especially the smaller teams. That would earn a lot of respect on my part. Two, the schedule needs to include more stand-alone events away from Sprint Cup in order to really be a 2nd series. I could see a reduction in Truck Series races and in return this series should take over some of those races.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Danny O'Quinn Has A Ride, At Least This Week

Kudos to the Rensi team for putting Danny O'Quinn in the #35 this week at Lowes Motor Speedway.

I found out that O'Quinn has been spotting for Jon Wood in the Truck Series, as this story indicates. He also made 1 Nationwide start this season, finishing 24th at Richmond last month. He can still wheel a car, he beat John Andretti for ROTY in this series despite missing 2 races, I'm dumbfounded as to why he can't get anything lined up. But, I'm still a fan, and I'm still hoping.

Show Danny some love on his website.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Regan Smith Wins AMP Energy 500* (Cough Cough)


Regan Smith won yesterday, right?


I mean, he crossed the line first, right?


On the last lap anything goes, right?


So why did NASCAR rob him of a win? Because they're a bunch of meanies?


It wasn't politics, Bob Margolis.


So what was it?


It was NASCAR clumsily doing the right thing.


I'm not one to defend NASCAR on everything they do, but this was the right call. Jayski ran up and posted a quote from one of the puppets in regards to the Truck Race back in 2007. The puppets named were wrong. If you're going to have the rule that there's no passing below the yellow line, it makes no sense to not have it apply to every lap of the race. If you want them to pass below the line, then lift the ban. Maybe we'll see Jeff Gordon do this again at Daytona.


Point is, the right call was made yesterday. Smoke defended his spot, Smith could have made a move to the high side (which is where most passes for the lead were made yesterday) or rode behind him content to get a career finish. He didn't, and he suffered the consequences. As it stands, Stewart finally snaps his winless streak, Paul Menard gets a career-best Cup finish as he moves to Yates, and David Ragan nets another top 5 finish at 'Dega.


Other points from the race:


Remember what happened at Dover when Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Matt Kenseth battled for the lead and I threatened to jump off the roof of my apartment complex if they all wrecked? Well, needless to say I hit the bottle after yesterday's crash. Carl hit Greg in the absolute worst spot he could, on the quarterpanel in the middle of the turn. I saw it happen in slow motion. That sucked. Jimmie Johnson leads the points, but I don't think the Chase is over by any means. This race will be important coming up at Lowes.


Denny Hamlin was kept overnight in the hospital following his hard crash, and he may have a concussion as a result. Could we see Joey Logano in the #11 this week?


That's all for now. The next 2 races are in my backyard. I'm going to be broke in 2 weeks.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Talladega ARCA Races Never Disappoint

Today's race was more proof. The crashes, the lead changes, the overall uncertainty makes this one of the highlights of the season. Today was no exception, with the addition of a thrilling championship battle between Scott Speed and Ricky Stenhouse. Stenhouse loses a tire, hits the wall, goes to the garage... followed by Speed doing the same thing! Soon it was a battle between the two teams to fix the cars and send them back on to the track. In the mean time, Joey Logano rode in the second spot until the leader spun in front of him, thanks once again to tires. Logano would then lose the lead, regain it, only to have Justin Allagier outduel him for the victory. Young Allgaier looks stout right now and he could mount a surprise challenge for the title, mathematically he hasn't been eliminated. As it stands, next week's finale at Toledo will be fun to watch.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pre-Talladega Linkage

This is one of my favorite weekends of the year. Gratuitous links, courtesy of someone too busy to write a real post today:

- A must-read on the legend of Talladega, it's old but for the old school fans of the sport it's always good to see someone that remembers the curse.

- Paul Menard takes his sideburns and dad's $$$ to Yates Racing for next season. The slide of DEI continues and Yates needs the cash. A win-win, in my eyes.

- Story about the struggles of open-wheel drivers in NASCAR this season. You mean those same ones ESPN called "The best rookie class in NASCAR history" back in February? Yeah, about that...

- Updating yesterday's story about Rusty's possible comeback, he shoots it down. I'm not convinced, not yet anyway.

- Nice little story about the process of UPS moving their dollars to David Ragan and Roush Fenway for 2009.

- Joey Logano will pull double duty in the ARCA Series as well as the Truck Series, where he'll drive the #59 that Ted Musgrave threw a hissy over and quit back at Vegas. Thankfully, he has been pulled out of the shitbox that is the DLP car.

- JTG Daugherty racing has formed an alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing for next season. This sounds more like the pretty new girlfriend moving into the guy's house after a tough divorce. Will they get married? We'll see, we'll see.

- The entry lists for the weekend. Bram delivers the pure stats.

Who's getting up at 7 AM to see the unveiling of Jeffy's new car?

Not me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

We Officially Have A 3-Man Chase


After yesterday, it's clear who the 3 men with the chance to win the 2008 championship will be. Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, and Greg Biffle have been the 3 best drivers in the first 3 Chase races. The title is usually down to the legit contenders after the first 3 or 4 races. As it stands now, they're separated by a mere 30 points. Given we still have Charlotte, Atlanta, Texas, and Homestead still on the schedule, it's a strong liklihood we'll see some more frantic finishes at the line for the win.

If anyone else wants to make a move, time is quickly running out. The RCR duo of Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick sit 121 and 143 points back respectively, and Jeff Gordon behind them 143 points behind. Of them I'd say Harvick or Gordon have more winning potential, but the consistency of Burton's team seems to be returning. I've already discounted drivers 7 through 12. Kyle Busch could win the next 7 races but he won't be the champ.

Up next, of course, is Talladega. You can check out my OPR column here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ever Wanted To Go For A Ride With Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

All you need is an Ebay account:

Bidding Starts Today in 10-Day Charity Auction for a Ride with Dale Jr.

Wrangler® and NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Team up to Raise Money for Children’s Camp

Greensboro, N.C. (Sept. 23, 2008) – Three laps, four and a half miles, three and a half minutes, 170 mph…. No matter how you look at it, a breakneck ride shotgun next to Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a thrill of a lifetime! And, thanks to an online charity auction from the Wrangler® brand, one lucky fan will get the chance to climb in the passenger side of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet for a thrilling ride around Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte.

Bidding opens today at 7:00 p.m. EDT on eBay and will continue through Friday, Oct. 3. Following the final bid, Wrangler® will donate 100 percent of auction proceeds to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, a NASCAR-themed medically sound camp that enriches the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses.

The denim giant is also hosting two additional auctions of autographed memorabilia to further help raise funds for Victory Junction. Up for grabs are a pair of signed Wrangler® jeans worn by Dale in a photo shoot for the brand’s current ad campaign, and a door panel from the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet Dale drove during this year’s Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. Dale was unfortunately involved in a crash during the February race, resulting in the blue paint streaks still marring the front of the panel.

“Whether it’s signing a pair of jeans, giving away the door from one of my cars or driving a generous fan around the track, I’m more than happy to do my part in contributing to Victory Junction,” said Earnhardt. “Wrangler has continued to go above and beyond in helping this great charity and I’m honored to be a part
of it.”

Founded by NASCAR-driver Kyle Petty and his wife Pattie in honor of their late son Adam, Victory Junction operates solely on the generous donations of others to provide camping experiences to chronically ill children at no cost to their families. Wrangler® invites fans interested in making a personal donation to Victory Junction to visit the auction Web site at www.ebay.com/wranglerjeans. Donations can be placed in any monetary value via Pay Pal and will be processed directly to the camp.

Since 2005, Wrangler® has helped raise nearly $160,000 for charity by working in conjunction with Dale Jr. and corporate partners to auction similar ridealong experiences. Wrangler® is proud to be the longest running sponsor of Dale Jr. and continues to reign as the official jean of Dale Jr., the No. 88 race team and the entire Hendrick Motorsports organization.

About the Auctions

All three Wrangler®-Dale Jr. online charity auctions will be listed on eBay with eBay Giving Works, which empowers people to buy and sell for a cause. Bidding begins today, Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 7:00 p.m. EDT and closes next Friday, Oct. 3 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. Fans can get more information or place bids by visiting www.wrangler.com or www.ebay.com/wranglerjeans.

The ridealong with Dale Jr. will take place Oct. 29 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The winning bidder of this ride will also receive (see rules for complete details):

  • Roundtrip air travel to Charlotte, ground transportation and hotel accommodations for one night (winning bidder and guest)
  • Footage from the in-car camera during the ride with Dale Jr. (winning bidder only)
  • Racing lessons with the Richard Petty Driving Experience – get behind the wheel while professionals teach you to drive a NASCAR-style racecar (winning bidder and guest)
  • Autographs and photographs with Dale Jr. (winning bidder and guest)
  • Wrangler® clothing (winning bidder and guest)

About Victory Junction Gang Camp
Victory Junction Gang Camp is a year-round camping environment for children, ages 7 to 15, with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. Founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty in honor of their son Adam and located in Randleman, N.C., the Camp offers programs for 24 disease groups and maintains strong relationships with 22 partner hospitals. Victory Junction’s mission is to provide life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun and empowering, in a safe and medically-sound environment. As a non-for-profit organization, Victory Junction operates solely through the support of generous donors to provide this experience free of charge to children and families. For more information, visit www.victoryjunction.org.

About the Wrangler® brand

Based on more than 60 years of heritage in making authentic denim jeans, the iconic Wrangler® brand is long respected for comfortable, durable and affordable jeans, pants, shorts and shirts. The Wrangler Jeans Co. ® and Wrangler Hero® Five Star Premium Denim lines are available at value-minded retailers nationwide and retail for less than $20. For more information regarding the Wrangler® family of authentic clothing or to locate a retailer, visit www.wrangler.com or call 1.888.784.8571.

Wrangler® is a division of VF Jeanswear Limited Partnership, which is an affiliate of VF Corporation. Through its many affiliates, VF Corporation is a leader in branded lifestyle apparel including brands such as Lee®, Riders®, The North Face®, Vans®, Reef®, Napapijri®, Kipling®, Nautica®, 7 For All Mankind®, John Varvatos®, JanSport®, lucy®, Eastpak®, Eagle Creek®, Majestic® and Red Kap®. VF Corporation's press releases, annual report and other information can be accessed through the Company's home page, www.vfc.com.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Greg Biffle Goes Back-To-Back, Wins @ Dover


I hope you didn't listen to me after Loudon last week.

Today's race was incredible. Specifically, watching 3 teammates - Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, and Carl Edwards battle and trade the lead multiple times in the final two runs of the race was special to watch.

To start, after some brazen pit strategy, Jimmie Johnson ended up leading Edwards and Biffle. Soon, though, Edwards was looking inside when Biffle shot to the outside and passed them both. It wouldn't be long before Edwards would re-take the lead, with Kenseth and Mark Martin lurking. Biffle had thought he had a flat tire, but it turned out that he had burned it up racing so hard so early. Consider this a lesson to be learned. Sure enough caution came out, and the debate was 2 tires or 4 tires. Edwards wanted 4, he got 2. Everyone else got 4.

On the restart, Edwards would hold off Kenseth for a while, but it got really, really exciting after that. Kenseth closed in along with Biffle, and the 3 cars battled until Kenseth took the lead with Biffle on his tail in 2nd. Edwards would fade to 3rd. Biffle stayed right on Kenseth in the ensuing laps, looking under him and sending an occaisional tap to his rear bumper. As they escalated their racing Edwards came back out of nowhere, briefly passing Biffle and looking at Kenseth's inside. That turned out to be a blessing for Biffle, who took the high lane and retook Edwards, then also made the pass on Kenseth and pulled away - game over. Biffle raced to his 2nd win of the year, a back-to-back effort in the first 2 Chase races.

Biffle's peaking exactly when he needs to do so. This run reminds me of Kurt Busch's 2004 Chase. Busch didn't make the most noise in the first 26 races of 2004, but was the best when it mattered. Biffle could be on a similar path.

Roush Truck Program Back On Track

I got a chance to see the Truck race last night at Las Vegas and I saw something I haven't seen enough of in years... both Roush trucks running competitively all night. Erik Darnell and Colin Braun were good all night. Darnell especially has been impressive since June or so, solidifying his status for next year I believe. He almost recorded his 2nd win of the year last night and moved up to 4th in the series standings. Braun ran in the top 5 most of the night and would have finished 3rd if not for a last-lap wreck. That's happened to win too often this year. Usually one truck has done well while the others struggles a bit. Mark Martin and Travis Kvapil won multiple races in the #6, but Darnell has hit-or-miss. The consistency has been lacking. Maybe after last night, it's coming back. If so, 2009 should be good.

While I'm on the Trucks, it never ceases to amaze me how their points battles always go down to the wire. They're on the same path this year, as Benson and Hornaday sit 1 point apart with a handful of races left. In keeping with tradition it'll go to Homestead, where you can count on at leat one team to pull a Jim Smith and flood the field.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Silly Season Parlor Game

The news today comes fast and furious in regards to what happens next season. Two stories could solidify what happens with Bill Davis, Gillett Evernham, Chip Ganassi, and Michael Waltrip for 2009. The way it looks now if everything holds looks like this...*

Gillett Evernham
#9 - Kasey Kahne
#10 - Reed Sorenson/Patrick Carpentier
#19 - Elliott Sadler
#22 - Sorenson/Carpentier
Or Chase Miller, of course...

CGMWR
#00 - David Reutimann
#41 - Michael McDowell? Dave Blaney?
#42 - Juan Pablo Montoya
#55 - Michael Waltrip (sigh)

The result is that Dodge loses the Ganassi team to Toyota, and Toyota loses Bill Davis' Cup operation. It solidifies GEM as the biggest Dodge team for 2009 and at least on paper the combined resources of Ganassi and Waltrip could make some noise. It didn't make sense for Ganassi and Evernham to merge, with Sorenson and Ganassi hating each other now. Bill Davis Racing has a top-tier Truck team and if he adds Michael Annett to the Nationwide Series, it could start to look the same there. He could become the Toyota talent incubator.



*of course, everything I've just wrote could not happen at all. Whatever.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Greg Biffle Wins 1st Chase Race @ New Hampshire


Not that I'll complain, but it was certainly surprising to see Greg Biffle win at NHMS today. As the ESPN announcers tried to beat in your head, this isn't a track Biffle traditionally has done well at. I think Rusty Wallace wanted Johnson to win, he loves talking about the flavor of the month. As usual, the race itself proved boring, and it won't get better until Talladega. As far as the points go, Edwards and Johnson sit tied with Biffle jumping to 3rd.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Midweek Linkage

The Chase is set and if you're not in it, you're not going to get talked about. Welcome to the Chase for the Cup: Year Five. Linkage below:

- Jimmie Johnson goes back-to-back, wins Richmond.

- Helio Castroneves wins Chicagoland IRL finale, Scott Dixon claims 2nd IRL title.

- Also in IRL news, Dario Franchitti runs back to the series to replace Dan Wheldon at Ganassi. Wheldon moves to Panther Racing, displacing Vitor Meira.

- Robin Miller's mailbag is always fun.

- The Nationwide Series gets its own COT. Target date is 2010.

- In what may be the most useless work by a researcher at ESPN I've seen in a while, they're doing 'ancient chaseology' - what would have happened if the Chase were around back in the 1970s.

- Jason Keller is getting the shaft once again, hey the guy only finishes in the top 15 every week in a series overrun with Cup drivers.

- Speaking of getting the shaft, Mansfield Truck winner Donny Lia gets released and promptly turns around and gets the chance to drive the #81 Randy Moss Chevy.

- Dodge is throwing in the towel in the Truck Series.

- Had to wait a week, but Joey Logano will make his Cup debut in the #02 at Loudon.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Richmond Debuts Only Half As Good

Two anticipated debuts were expected to occur this weekend in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races. On the Cup side, the first race for Joey Logano was scheduled. The weather, as mentioned in the previous post, had other ideas. I have an idea, load that car and take it to Phoenix. I believe Logano's last scheduled race was supposed to be at Texas, so do it there... should be a fair amount of carryover between the two setups. Of course, JGR could put the screws to HOF and put Logano in the #96 early....

The second debut will go on schedule, as Austin Dillon will pilot the #21 for grandpa Richard Childress in the Nationwide race, now at 7 PM Sunday. Dillon has been on the fast track, running the full East Series schedule peppered with some late model and ARCA starts. I don't know how many other starts Dillon will make this season, but just getting the opportunity this week itself is impressive. As long as he keeps the wheels straight and the car off the wall, he should be ok. I'll say he finishes a respectable 17th.

Tropical Storm Hanna Turns Sunday Into Tripleheader

Too bad the races from Richmond won't air tonight and tomorrow. However, all is not lost. Sunday, in addition to the opening NFL games, we'll also get to see the Cup race at Richmond, the IRL finale at Chicagoland, and the Nationwide race at Richmond.

If you need to see some racing before then, Saturday features a double feature: Trucks from Gateway and ARCA from Chicagoland.

Monday, September 1, 2008

UPS To Ragan: Official

Confirmed today that UPS will indeed sponsor the #6 of David Ragan in 2009.

Snore... Bore... Please, No More

Ok, seriously, does it get much worse than the weekend races at California? Good lord, I think I'd be more excited watching C-SPAN for 4 hours. Kyle Busch led 144 laps in the Nationwide race. Jimmie Johnson comes in and leads 228 laps in the Cup race. Very little action to speak of, cars barely hanging on because there was so little grip, I wonder how many fans left the race (that came to begin with) before it was over? After the race in Februrary, it was said something needed to be done to this track. After last night, I think that'll become a unanimous opinion. Turn it into a west coast Talladega, turn it into a bullring, turn it into a landfill... all three of those options are preferable to another race like we were subjected to last night.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Joey Logano Offically A Sprint Cup Driver

It's been a whirlwind season for young Joey Logano.

The Middletown, CT native is a talent that rarely comes along. Regular readers know how highly I think about him. This is a guy that won the East Series title at the age of 17. He followed that up by dominating the ARCA race at Rockingham this May in preparation for his Nationwide Series debut, which came at Dover this May. He would go on to capture poles at Nashville and Kentucky, winning in Kentucky in just his third series start. Logano followed up with consecutive runner-up finishes at Milwaukee and Gateway and top-10 runs at IRP, Watkins Glen, and Michigan. The kid's ready to contend at any level you put him in.

For Gibbs, this meant not going outside of the organization to find a replacement for Tony Stewart in the #20 Home Depot Camry. Why go through that process and deal with possible chemistry issues when the best choice is already there? Logano's been a teammate to both returning drivers next season, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch this year. Hamlin in particular has taken an active role in Logano's development, which will only accelerate the learning curve. Logano may actually be on the same level as most drivers in the COT, since he has been the primary test driver for the cars since their inception. I'm going on record right now and saying that Logano wins in 2009 and qualifies for the Chase. I'm that confident in his ability, not to mention the JGR camp and the quality of the team he will inherit.

As for the rest of 2008, Logano is looking at running 6 Sprint Cup races in the #02 - Richmond, New Hampshire, Kansas, Lowes, Atlanta, Texas, 9 Nationwide races in the #20, as well as the ARCA race at Talladega in order to garner some plate experience before the Daytona 500 this fall.

Here is his ride for 2009, courtesy of Home Depot Racing:

Back To School: What Have I Missed?

Yes, it's that time of year again. I think I need to catch up my thoughts on all the news of the last week or so, not to mention the latest incarnation of "can these guys be rivals?!?"

- NASCAR brought the hammer down on the Gibbs Nationwide teams, suspending 7 guys and stripping the team of owner and driver points. The driver points are meh, they're not running the full year. This does bring the #20 back to earth a bit on the owner side. What is big is the indefinite suspensions of guys. I wonder how many of them will be back with the team... someone could use their "free time" and recruit some Toyota talent.

- Kyle Busch wins Bristol trucks, Brad Keselowski wins Nationwide race. You know, Keselowski has been exceptional this year, his first full year with the #88 team. If JR Motorsports of all teams can't get a sponsor, that would be surprising. He could win the championship this year - and certainly would be a favorite in 2009. Here is some audio from Keselowski himself, courtesy of Nationwide.

- Casey Mears to RCR with Jack Daniels in the #07, Clint Bowyer moves to General Mills and #33. Bowyer is obviously unhappy, anyone who watched the press conference or saw the pictures could see that. I mean really, moving from the badass Jack Daniels car to Cheerios and Hamburger Helper? I'd be upset too. Not to mention the possibility he won't be in the top 35 next season, unless this happens.

- Carl Edwards used the classic bump-and-run on Kyle Busch to win his second straight Sharpie 500. The win made for some interesting fireworks after the race as we're 2 races away from the Chase, and Edwards now has 6 wins to put up against the 8 of Busch. More on this in a bit...

- Two items of note from today, the long-awaited announcement of Joey Logano as the driver for the #20 Home Depot Camry next season with Home Depot returning as sponsor. I'll have much more on that later this week. Also, NASCAR is working out the kinks in regard to the '09 testing policy. So far I like it, which is obviously a minority opinion when it comes to things NASCAR has done in the last several years.

- Kyle Busch vs. Carl Edwards

As opposing to manufactured feuds, this one could be the real deal - maybe. NASCAR and the media tried to make Jeff Gordon/Dale Jr. a rivalry several years ago. It failed, of course, because there wasn't a compelling backstory. So it fizzled out quickly. Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick had a good rivalry back in the Busch Series, as they had numerous run-ins and culminated in the post-race collar-grabbing at Bristol back in 2002. The last great NASCAR Sprint Cup rivalry was Kurt Busch/Jimmy Spencer, a rivalry that was years in the making. Kyle is a natural adversary much like his brother. For a while it might have been Jr., but he couldn't keep up. That left Edwards, the other dominating driver this year, to make something happen - and he did. The move he put on Busch was short-track racing. Busch's reaction was childish, and Edwards didn't put up with it as he spun Busch around on the cool-down lap. It will be interesting to see if this can be a legitimate feud that has staying power, not just a flash in the pan as so many have been before.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Michigan Again Proves To Be House Of Roush

For the 5th time in the last 9 races at Michigan, a Roush car entered victory lane. This time it was Carl Edwards, who looks every bit as tough as Kyle Busch entering the Chase. Edwards also swept the weekend, taking home Nationwide honors and looking to make a sweeping comeback and ruin Clint Bowyer's year. Getting back to the Sprint Cup side, it's fun as a Roush fan to watch Michigan - a better than average chance of watching a win.

Edwards dominated the day, but it was also a big day for fellow Roush drivers David Ragan, Greg Biffle, and Matt Kenseth. The three drivers took positions 3-4-5 and improved their Chase chances thanks to DNF finishes from Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, and Kasey Kahne. For Ragan in particular, he is the unquestioned underdog in the fight to Richmond. It would be quite the story for him to make the top 12, a year after getting thrown into the fire and taking the criticism, learning the hard way, and stand on the stage as one of the top 12 drivers in the sport. As of now he stands on the outside, but one breakthrough win at California or Richmond could be enough.

Biffle and Kenseth don't look like championship contenders right now, but their performances Sunday did a lot to solidify their standing to at least have a shot at the title. Biffle has been a tad more consistent than Kenseth, who I still maintain is adjusting to having a new voice in his helmet. Chip Bolin has proven himself worthy of the promotion... it just has taken more time than I or most others expected. Only Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson have made every Chase since its inception and I don't expect that to change.

Heading into Bristol, Kenseth and Edwards are the last 2 drivers to have won the August race. Kenseth did so in 2005 and 2006, Edwards last season. I would expect both to be in contention Saturday night along with the usual suspects.

Finally, much like Jack himself Sunday, I didn't mention that other guy... will he be in the 5th car next season? Or will it be surprise?

Stewart-Haas Racing Switches Newman's Number to 39

On his radio show tonight, Tony Stewart announced that Ryan Newman would compete with the #39, allowing Morgan-McClure to take the #4 - if they ever make it to the track again. I commend Tony for being the bigger man, I myself would have told MMM you're not coming back, so I'm taking the number. The #39 holds special value to Newman though, so that's cool that they're both running numbers that mean something to them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An open letter to Leilani Munter

My messages sent on MySpace received no response (you too can add Leilani as a friend there) so I’m issuing a public response to her first column on the liberal-socialist website the Huffington Post. In this column, she refers to an ESPN story calling her a “tree hugging race-car driver” and describes her vision of racing blending with environmentalism. Her desire is great, and she’s attracted attention for her efforts.

It’s just unfortunate she has misplaced those efforts on global warming schemes that will cost Americans taxpayers, while accomplishing nothing – and making problems worse.

Munter appears to like these carbon offsets and even does a version of it herself. OK… how’s that working out in countries that have them? Well, for starters, the emissions in Europe are rising, and are on track to miss their “goal” of reduction by 2010. On top of that, one of the smartest guys I’ve had the privilege to meet, Christopher C. Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has this to say about US emissions versus European admissions:

U.S. emissions have risen far more slowly than those of its noisiest antagonists. For example, over the past 7 years for which we have data (2000-2006), the annual rate of increase for U.S. CO2 emissions is 0.38%, compared to the EU’s 1.07%. Indeed, over the same period even the smaller EU-15 economy has increased its CO2 emissions in real terms greater than the U.S. by more than 20%.

It’s not only irresponsible, but the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade legislation that Ms. Munter likely supported was shown to cost Americans trillions by 2030, among these a loss of $1.7 trillion in GDP and the cost of permits to reach $100 billion by 2020. No wonder this thing didn’t even get a majority of votes. (Much more on those numbers available at the Heritage Foundation)

The next point I want to address is her support the following: CFL lightbulbs. CFLs, also known as fluorescent bulbs, are great in theory. They’re cheaper than incandescent bulbs, and they last for years. In practice, as with most of these environmental schemes, they can do great damage. CFL bulbs contain Mercury. God help you if you break one of those things, as Mercury fumes can spread throughout your home and damage your health (read this tale to see first-hand). Plus, has anyone even used a CFL bulb? The light they produce is dimmer than incandescents, and they have a buzz to them as well.

Uncomfortable yet? Consider this: the energy bill that passed Congress and signed into law by President Bush will ban incandescents by 2014, so each and every bulb in your house will need to be a CFL… or you’ll be breaking the law.

So in effect, having a higher-quality light in your home will be a federal offense.

I hope this letter finds Leilani Munter well. If not, I hope after reading this, you’ll congratulate her on the new gig, but realize what she is advocating will result in disastrous effects to this country – and it may already be too late in some cases. I'd look forward to a meaningful debate on the issue, should she accept.

Sincerely,
Matt Mercer

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Newman Announcement Friday; Logano Going Cup Racing

The puzzle pieces are fitting together quite nicely, now.

The first announcement will be Ryan Newman's Friday, where he'll officially join up with Stewart-Haas Racing for 2009. ESPN mentions Burger King, the Army, and UPS as potential sponsors. My Spidey Sense tells me it'll be one of the first two.

The second one features a report that Joey Logano will enter the Cup race at Richmond, like I said a few months ago. Gibbs has entered an extra car at Richmond in the past, so it made sense. Logano was also added to the Nationwide race at Michigan this weekend in the #18, a race he wasn't originally scheduled to run. That's what happens when you're going Cup racing full-time in 2009.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reports Of Kyle Busch's Pre-Chase Demise Greatly Exaggerated

The NASCAR media's toughness with Kyle Busch knows no bounds. After his 7th win in Chicagoland, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards responded with wins at Indy and Pocono. All of a sudden, it's like Busch hasn't been the dominant driver of the 2008 season. Experimental setups and unfortunate strategy breaks aside, Busch runs as well as anyone at any track, at any time. This proved true again today at Watkins Glen, where Busch led over half the race to sweep the Sprint Cup road courses for the year and also record a NASCAR record, winning on 3 different road courses in the same year. With the disappearance of Mexico City from the Nationwide schedule, it likely won't happen again for a while, if ever.

Busch won today in much the same way he did at Infineon, using strategy to work his way near the front and once he took the lead, he didn't give it back. Gibbs teammate Tony Stewart ran behind him the last third of the race, but couldn't touch him, and neither could anyone else. A red flag for a massive crash in turn 11 and other cautions couldn't stop Busch from reaching victory lane for the 8th time this year, and his 12th in his young career. The rest of the year shapes up favorably as well, Busch has won at many of the tracks coming later in the year and it's not of the question to see him get close to or break the 13-race win record shared by Richard Petty and Jeff Gordon.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pencil It In: David Stremme To Drive Penske #12 For 2009

An unnamed source today confirmed with me that David Stremme would take over for Ryan Newman in the #12 car for 2009. Supposedly Stremme has been doing an excellent job as the test driver for Penske, and has earned the promotion. This may become official in the next few weeks.... but you heard it confirmed here first.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Edwards, Fellows Take Weekend Wins

In Montreal, Canadian Ron Fellows won in what was certainly a first in NASCAR racing, a rain-soaked event in which those with the experience rose to the top. Patrick Carpentier finishes runner-up for the second year in a row, and Marcos Ambrose won the bronze. Fellows' victory interview can be found here, courtesy of Nationwide.

On the Cup side, Carl Edwards finally won again, his 4th of the year.

I'll admit to being bored by Pocono, and I fell asleep before the rain delay... I blame a big lunch. All I know is that I hoped we would see clear skies and the green flag again, Kasey Kahne winning 3 times a year is 3 times too much. Thankfully it did and he didn't, as Edwards probably had the fastest car throughout the day and had enough gas to make it to the line first. Kudos to David Ragan on a 5th-place run, and he continues to stay right around that 12th spot to sneak into the Chase.

Finally, a nice lady from NBC alerted me to an upcoming special on General Motors to air on CNBC, titled "Saving General Motors" and it takes an unprecedented look into the company as it fights for survival. For NASCAR fans, Dale Jr. will be appearing in the new 2010 Camero. I look forward to watching and seeing how the explain the problems - and how they're going about fixing them.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

One Year Ago In Montreal....

Part 1:


Part 2:


Post-race interviews:



I guess you could say I'm excited about Montreal, although to top what happened last year we'd have to have a streaker run across the track with the checkered flag and a gator pit in one of the turns, or something like that.

Monday, July 28, 2008

'Tire'some Race @ Indy

Major linkage to yesterday's 160-lap exhibition:

Photo gallery
David Caraviello
Race recap
Race recap #2
Terry Blount
Ryan McGee
Bram's recap

My quick thoughts:
Yeah, I could sit here and talk about how bad the race was yesterday for hours. There is plenty of blame to go around and those responsible should be held accountable. Still, I can't get over something one of the people I was watching the race with said.

"You know, there were thousands of families there who spent their whole vacation on tickets for that race. They deserve better."

I agree.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Somehow, I Forgot The IRL Only Had 5 Races Left

I've occasionally written about the IRL this year, although not as much as I'd like. This year's been an interesting season, too... the reunified series has led to some interesting results and stories, although familiar faces have won most of the races - with the exception of Graham Rahal and Ryan Briscoe. As mentioned, only 5 races remain, and it shapes up to be very interesting, with 2 street courses, 2 mile-and-a-half ovals, and a road course. One year ago, it was a battle between Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon, a title that was literally decided on the last lap of the last race of the year. With 5 races to go, Franchitti led by just 24 points.

This season Dixon leads by 58 points over Helio Castroneves, with Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon 90 and 91 points back respectively. Those are the four drivers with a chance to win, as 5th place Ryan Briscoe sits 159 points back.

I'm looking forward to the Edmonton race because of the potential for a shakeup in the standings. This is a race new to the IRL drivers, but for the Champ Car holdovers it will be their fourth trip to the track. Sebestien Bourdais won two of the three races, but Newman/Haas/Lanigan driver Justin Wilson won here in 2006. After Edmonton, the races left are Kentucky, Sonoma, Belle Isle (one of the craziest races I've seen last year) and the finale at Chicagoland.

The Edmonton race goes off at 5 PM on ESPN Saturday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Haas Racing Applies For #14 Trademark

So says Scene Daily, looks like Tony Stewart will indeed race that number in 2009. For his sake, I hope goes like this:


Instead of this:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Penske and Ganassi Win Everything Except a NASCAR Race

While their Sprint Cup teams are firmly second and third tier, the IRL and sports car teams fielded by Penske and Ganassi continue to dominate. In the IRL race today, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves recorded a 1-2 finish for Penske, while points leader Scott Dixon took 3rd in his Ganassi Honda. Between the two teams, they have 4 of the top 5 drivers in the IRL standings. In the GrandAm series, the Ganassi team led by Scott Pruett is having a dominant year, having won 6 of the 9 races contested.

Of coure, the NASCAR teams are a different story. Penske has two wins, neither of them particularly deserving and the Ganassi team shut down the #40 a few weeks ago and is more or less wasting the talents of Reed Sorenson and Juan Pablo Montoya. Since Ganassi entered NASCAR, only Sterling Marlin, Jamie McMurray, and Montoya have won for the team, McMurray's coming in 2002 and Montoya's last year at Sonoma. Penske has considerably more upside than Ganassi, as the 2 and 12 teams have proven they can win if the puzzle pieces fit. I agree with the popular rumor going around in the last few weeks having Ganssi merging with Michael Waltrip Racing and moving to Toyotas. Ganassi has little loyalty to manufacturers anyway, and he's worked with Toyota before.

In the end, however, I like seeing these two teams get beat up in NASCAR. There's no question where the top talent in racing resides, and they're on the track 38 weeks a year.

Who Wins The Brickyard?

Who Wins The Allstate 400

Tony Stewart
Jeff Gordon
Kyle Busch
Jimmie Johnson
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Carl Edwards
Mark Martin
Jeff Burton
Kasey Kahne
Someone else


(View Results)

Create a Poll

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

NASCAR and Business: A Lesson In Protectionism

The news that Anheuser-Busch was selling to InBev is a blockbuster in the brewing world, as two companies that can benefit from each other agreed to merge. However, if you live in the US during an election year, it can get downright.... pathetic.

Budweiser's being bought by foreigners!

I'm never drinking Bud again if some European buys them!

Slow down, Billy Bob. Odds are you've been drinking beer produced in America and owned by foreigners for some time now.

Miller Brewing Company, which makes the Miller family of beers (Miller Lite, MGD, Miller High Life, etc.) is owned by... SABMiller, which is based in South Africa. Oh noes~!

Coors Light is made my MolsonCoors, which merged in 2005. Canadians run Coors! It's not a one-room brewery in Colorado? Who knew?

In fact, Miller and Coors are marketed by the same people in the US! Isn't capitalism grand?

Still, with Budweiser, it's bigger, because A-B has the largest market share of the US. Yet this just follows a trend in the beer and spirits market in which companies try to shore up their markets in other countries. Hell, Diageo lays claim to Guinness, Red Stripe, Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, and Captain Morgan, just to name a few. It would have stupid of A-B not to listen to InBev, because their shareholders are getting a great deal. It's a win-win for both sides.

This is no different than Toyota outrage in 2004 through 2007, as people kept talking about "American cars" only competed in NASCAR when Toyota was building more cars in the US than Chevy or Ford, and the tip of the iceberg, saying those things about foreigners when German company Daimler-Benz owned Chrysler. Last I checked Miller Lite still sponsored the #2, and Coors Light made a big-time deal with NASCAR to sponsor the pole award and get their sticker on every car competing.

In closing, I'm a lot less opposed to this deal because it's part of a pattern. I'm a lot less opposed because it's a good business deal, and it will only add to the beer portfolio in the grocery store. Finally, I'm a lot less opposed because free trade benefits everyone, despite what election-year news cycles try to tell you.

So, Who Else Won This Weekend?

I'm glad you asked.... we have....

- Scott Dixon beating the rain in Nashville Saturday night, a race Tony Kanaan nearly had for himself. Somehow, I missed out on the double-duty for Marco Andretti, who drove in the ALMS race at Lime Rock in Connecticut and the IRL race in Nashville that night. Come on, ESPN, you broadcast the freakin' series.

- Trevor Bayne outdueling DEI teammate Jesus Hernandez in the Camping World East Series at Thompson Speedway Saturday night. Hey, if you're wondering where DEI dominates, it's the East Series with 3 drivers who have higher aspirations in Bayne, Hernandez, and Jeffrey Earnhardt. These guys are the future of the company, if the company survives this year. Also in the series is Austin Dillon, driving the #3 and still leading the points.

- Finally, I'll give some love to the local level, where Junior Miller scored his 69th win at Bowman-Gray Stadium Saturday night, and in the street stock division, a fight broke out on the track. Believe me, if I could find the video, I'd post it. That's the way it used to be, and I wish it still was. Settle it like men.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What Else Is There To Say About Kyle Busch....


Talented? Exciting? Rowdy? Dominant?

I don't know... but the move he made for the win tonight was damn impressive. Kyle makes a Chicago sweep and earns his 7th win of the season. He's done it in every way possible, too... dominant, late passes, in front by inches, etc. I think we should start tallying his wins by paint scheme. I think the regular M&Ms one has 4 now, with Interstate, Snickers, and Combos with 1 apiece. Pedigree is due for the next one. Just when we thought parity was over, Jimmie Johnson wins 10 last year, and Kyle may yet break that mark. Now we'll have one final off week to talk about how good the kid is, and hype up the Brickyard and the return of ESPN's coverage to the top series.

Weekend Linkage

Lots going on tonight, and a few stories about the news from the week:

Sprint Cup:
Lifelock 400 lineup (quals rained out)
One of many you'll find about Stewart moving to Haas
Franchitti meets with Ganassi
DEI not for sale; Dale Jr. doesn't want it

Crew chief silly season

Nationwide:
Kyle Busch wins Chicagoland
Navy leaves JR Motorsports at end of the year

IRL:
Helio Castroneves on pole at Nashville tonight

East Series:
The most interesting regional series also races tonight

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

More Details Trickle Out For Tony Stewart's New Venture

The worst-kept secret in NASCAR, Tony Stewart's eventual move to Haas CNC Racing, it taking shape more and more as the days go by. ESPN.com has the latest piece of the puzzle, indicating that Smoke has been released from his last year of his contract with Gibbs and has purchased a 50% stake in what will be a renamed Stewart Haas Racing. Among the other details:

- The team will carry different car numbers, with #14 being likely for Stewart
- Ryan Newman is the favorite to join Stewart with the team
- Office Depot will be the primary sponsor of Stewart

Of course, there are multiple other rumors and inside sources, which paint the broader picture:
- Old Spice, Burger King, and Jack Daniels are also likely headed to the team
- This one started by me, Ryan Newman will carry the #39

I know one thing, it sure will be strange not seeing Tony Stewart driving an orange #20.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Kyle Busch Finally Conquers Daytona

My experience with the Coke Zero 400 was interesting, to say the least. Let me explain: I went to see a little band named MOTLEY CRUE in Charlotte Saturday night, along with host of others. Needless to say, the show rocked. Yet I still wanted to know what happened during the race, so I received text messages every so often of who was leading and so forth during the show, and I was able to quickly read them. Once I was in the parking lot and the car, there were 33 to go.

One of the first things that left me bewildered was why is J.J. Yeley in the race? My text messages failed to mention Tony Stewart getting sick and having Yeley replace him in the #20. The cautions were downright ridiculous listening to the MRN boys, but then again they make everything more exciting, so I can't judge in exact terms. At any rate, the final 2 laps were incredible. I had to watch them on NASCAR.com when I woke up today. Going back to last night...

When I heard Gordon spun by Edwards, I yelled. Got one of the way! Of course, Kyle Busch was going to be tough to pass. This is the same way he won Talladega, being in front when it matters. Carl Edwards is a good plate racer, but he hasn't had the opportunity to win one of these things, and he really needed a win to get close to Kyle when the Chase starts. As they ran side-by-side, I and probably everyone else were having flashbacks to the race one year when McMurray edged Kyle at the line. This one wouldn't get the far though, as the race ended on the white flag lap thanks to Michael Waltrip and Sam Hornish. For someone listening on the radio and having huge rooting interest, I was ready to choke someone to find out who won.

NASCAR is going to the loops and video to determine the winner, I want to strangle Joe Moore

I placed a frantic phone call to my mom, yelling out "who won?" as the radio guys dilly-dally about. Of course, I guess no one really knew at the time... after a few more seconds, I had my answer. Kyle Busch. Damn.

As you probably can guess if you're a regular reader, I like Kyle and I respect the hell out of him. But I wanted Edwards to get that win. Soon after, I went back to my healthy respect and told my fellow concert-goers how good he is and how dominant he has been this year. I wasn't too disappointed with the rest either, as Matt Kenseth took 3rd and David Ragan was 5th. Most of all, I wish I could have seen it live, but racing will be there every weekend, 38 weekends a year. A great time with friends and 5 awesome bands was worth it to skip this week.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ganassi Shuts Down #40 Team

In a bit of somewhat surprising but much-needed move, Chip Ganassi shut down the #40 team, putting Dario Franchitti out of a job for the time being.

This could set up a few interesting scenarios, depending on what Franchitti decides he wants to do. Ganassi said he hopes Dario will run the rest of the year in the #40 in the Nationwide Series, and see what happens for 2009. As I stated before, I think Ganassi's Cup team is in the process of dying on the vine and he (and Sorenson and Montoya for that matter) should look for other rides. While I think Mears will end up in RCR's #33 next season, it would a great fit for Franchitti to join Harvick, Bowyer, and Burton... and he is also good friends with RC himself. One thing I do know for sure, however, is that Franchitti will not return to Cup with Ganassi. He also can't return to AGR after their acrimonious breakup, so if he is serious about stock cars, he should run the Nationwide car as much as he can - and bolt the team before 2009.