Friday, February 29, 2008

Vote!

I was alerted via email to a contest on NASCAR.com to vote on the logo for the Coke Zero 400 (the race formerly known as the P---- 400) at Daytona. Figuring this is election season, I'm issuing an endorsement for Logo #2. Go here to vote. The deadline is March 3rd.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

California A Plate Track?

Talk this week has centered on the question of if California should be converted into a restrictor plate track. Proposed by Michael Waltrip of all people, I've seen numerous articles on both sides of the issue. As such, I feel that I should make the case for in fact taking this bold step.

I hate when race tracks that don't need to be changed do so. For example, Las Vegas. Maybe the COT race this year will be better. Last year though, I thought the track took a significant step backward. The previous layout was coming into its own; after all, it is hard to weather a track that only gets raced on one time a year. But aside from that, ticket sales are strong at Vegas because you can make a weekend out of it. Fair enough. Now, what moron would put 2 races in the middle of the nowhere in California, compared to one in Vegas, and then see the dearth of butts in the seats at California, not to mention that California and Vegas ARE ON BACK-TO-BACK WEEKENDS, and think we still have a winner? Probably the same group of people that would award lucky dog awards, create a brand-new car out of thin air, and say "f-you" to tradition. Sorry, got sidetracked there. My point is, the rationale of giving people a reason to go to California is not a bad thing. I think giving Vegas one of California's dates, while making California a plate track, would absolutely fill the seats at both tracks. I would even accept running the California race on Labor Day if it were a plate race. Sunday night in early September? Tell me that's not a ratings winner and I'll call you a liar. Anyway, something at least to think about as you hear the stories of a "grown up" Kyle Busch. We'll give that one a few more months and see how he's doing.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Today: Cup, Nationwide Doubleheader

Running two races on a Monday should be... fun. Or, you know, the opposite of fun. I feel bad for everyone on the teams that are getting such a raw deal with the constant start, stop, get ready, wait bowl of mush that this weekend has been. As I post this right now, I'm at the school library and will be unable to watch at least the Cup race, and possibly the Nationwide race. To be honest, I would think some of the Nationwide teams that are using Cup drivers and not running the full schedule may need to look for alternate drivers. Anyway, the racing begins at 1 PM Eastern today and ends... well... hopefully it'll end.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Well, That Didn't Take Long

Joey Clanton has been released by Roush Fenway, lasting all of one race. I think Roush's new boy wonder, Colin Braun, would approve of this. He apparently was critical of Clanton at Daytona. In the Truck at California will be Travis Kvapil, who ran for the championship last year. The way the year's looking, Kvapil may want to run that truck the entire year. Also in Roush news, Dish Network has signed on to sponsor 15 races in Cup split among Edwards, Biffle, and Kenseth.

A few other notes:

- Coors Light is sponsoring Regan Smith in the #01 for a few races. Hey, he can't do any worse than David Stremme did representing them.

- Robby Gordon was fined 100 points for an unapproved front bumper cover. His explanation sounds solid, but I'd hope to see a little more actual proof before calling this an overreaction by NASCAR. Most of the Robby sympathizers are too quick to do that.

- California Speedway is changing its name to the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California. Why not call it "Twice the size of Rockingham with half the excitement and a third of the fans?"

- Mark Martin will make his 700th Cup start this weekend. I think that's a special number to reach. Not many do, congrats to him.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Can We Finally Get ONE Open Wheel Series...

Per SPEED Channel, it looks like Champ Car will finally fold into the IRL, ending an experiment that shows how fast a form of racing can become irrelevant by dividing into two entities. Sure, I still watched IRL a good portion of the time, and I may have seen 10 Champ Car races in the last 4 years. But, it's time. Thanks to deep pockets and at least somewhat competent race management, the IRL has finally prevailed in the battle and we'll finally have one series for major American open-wheel racing. We'll see if Newman-Haas and Forsythe can come in and play with the big boys of the IRL in Penske, Andretti, and Ganassi. We'll see if the racing improves as the car count will reach beyond the usual 19-20-21 range. Overall, I'm happy to see that, despite this being well overdue, it will finally happen.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ryan Newman?!

Your Daytona 500 winner in what has to be considered an upset... Ryan Newman. Enjoy the slideshow:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Daytona 500 Prediction

So, once again I'm going to humor myself and pick the winner of the Daytona 500. Do I expect to be right? Well, I hope so. Usually, I'm not. And, I'm OK with that. It allows me to be a sentimental fool in big races. That brings me to my pick for the 50th Daytona 500.


scroll down...




not much longer! (feel the suspense!)





Mark Martin, driver of the #8 Army Chevrolet.

Why Mark? Hell, I don't care about being right. For a race like Daytona, I want someone who has truly earned it and deserved it to cash in. This belief was reinforced after the race last season. I thought last year was Mark's best chance to win... now, given an entire offseason with the DEI bunch, I think this might be his best chance. I never thought I'd be cheering for the #8 to win at Daytona. Today, I am. Go Mark!

Friday, February 15, 2008

2008 Sprint Cup Predictions

These two look pretty happy with their new Jr. stuff.....



So, before the season actually starts, I thought I'd humor myself (and you) and make some predictions for the season. Let's go:

First-time winners
Reed Sorenson

I would be truly shocked should anyone besides Sorenson register their first win this season. The open wheelers aren't ready this year, and they aren't going to contend week-to-week for at least 2 years. Still, I have faith in Sorenson should Ganassi improve their operation, which I thought would happen last year.

Most improved driver
Kasey Kahne

For the second time, I see Kahne coming back with force for '08. You may remember seeing this story in 2006, but given how bad Evernham ran last year I don't think it would be that much of a stretch to see Kahne return to victory lane. Also in this category, you can put David Ragan.

Most likely to be fired by May
Jacques Villeneuve and David Gilliland (tie)

Already, problems are abound with Villeneuve and Gilliland... well, he just can't drive. Add that up, and you get a driver shuffle in just a few short months.

Now, the big ones..

Top manufacturer
Chevrolet

Come on... you kidding? Of course it's Chevy. Although Toyota may make a push for 2nd, mostly behind the strength of Joe Gibbs Racing.

Rookie of the year
Dario Franchitti

To be honest, this is a hard one to predict. The unknowns of this rookie class are big. Start with the open wheelers: Franchitti, Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier, and Sam Hornish Jr. All four have small stock car experience, although Hornish has competed semi-regularly in Busch and DNQ'd about 8 Chase races in the COT. The other two competitors for the award are Regan Smith and Michael McDowell. Smith brings arguably the most stock car experience to the class, given his aborted run last season as Mark Martin's understudy. This year though, he has the car to himself. One problem I see with that is the lack of sponsorship may derail his run. McDowell is a wild-card in my book. Yes, he has talent. However, he takes over the #00 for a seemingly improved Micheel Waltrip Racing and will inherit the #44 team after Dale Jarrett retires. I could go in four directions: Franchitti, Hornish, Smith, and McDowell. I favor Franchitti because he is locked in, is the oldest of the group, and has a temperament that may serve to give him the edge in a 36-week season that I don't see Hornish having.

The Chase drivers
I must emphasize this one is in no particular order. Should be fun to go back and look at this in September.

1. Jeff Gordon
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Carl Edwards
6. Kasey Kahne
7. Martin Truex Jr.
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Tony Stewart
10. Denny Hamlin
11. Kurt Busch
12. Kyle Busch

For kicks, the last 2 out are Greg Biffle and Casey Mears.

We have 3 Hendrick cars, 2 Roush cars, an Evernham car, a DEI car, a Childress car, 3 Gibbs cars, and a Penske car. Now I'm ready to crown the 2008 champion.
The 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion
Jeff Gordon

I'm aware a few people's heads may have exploded seeing a dedicated Hendrick-hater like myself pick Jeff Gordon to win the championship. But let me tell you why he'll win his 5th championship this year: he wants it. Sure, he wanted it last year. This year he will kick it up a notch or two. He could taste the title last year, only to be beaten by his teammate and protege. For all the pleasantries he gave Jimmie, Jeff was miffed and clearly upset. Remember back in 1997, when Jeff had lost the title to Terry Labonte the year before? He wanted to make a statement. I see him having that type of mentality for 2008, where he won't try and dominate through the regular season before losing it all in the Chase. Jeff has come close to winning the Chase twice. He won't fail a third time. You'll be seeing this at Homestead in November, and Jeff Gordon will claim his 5th Cup Championship:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Hope I'm The First With This...

For your viewing pleasure, I have:

Danica Patrick Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2008 Gallery

Ingrid Vandebosch Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2008 Gallery


What the hell are you waiting for? Go look!!

Gatorade Duels Lineups

Ah... I love this time of year. Yours truly missed the Bud Shootout, I attended CPAC 2008 in Washington the past week. If you believe the rest of the media, you'd think Dale Jr. was going to win all 36 races this upcoming season. Luckily, you still have me here to bring a strong dose of reality to NASCAR. I hate I missed the incident with Tony and Kurt, made even funnier by Kurt calling Tony fat and Tony proceeding to punch him. Jesus Kurt, you need to stop telling the truth to people. In other NASCAR news, the newly-brunette Nicole Manske has shown up on NASCAR Now on ESPN2. I miss the blonde version. Jimmie Johnson takes the pole for the 500, joined by Michael Waltrip on the outside front. These duels should be a true joy to watch... coming tomorrow:

Duel #1

http://www.nascar.com/races/cup/2008/101/data/lineup.html

Duel #2

http://www.nascar.com/races/cup/2008/102/data/lineup.html

Coke Zero Comes To NASCAR

COKE ZERO PULLS FAST ONE ON TOP NASCAR DRIVERS

Competitors Encouraged To Sabotage Coke Zero’s NASCAR Program
Because Coke Zero Tastes Too Much Like Coca-Cola

New Advertising To Debut During Daytona 500

ATLANTA, Feb. 12, 2008 – “Taste infringers” and “soda pirates” are just two of the accusations leveled at Coke Zero and those behind its success in the brand’s first-ever NASCAR television ad. The new commercial uses a humorous, unexpected set up to reinforce that Coke Zero has “Real Coke Taste and Zero Calories.”

It’s not easy to pull a fast one on some of the fastest drivers in NASCAR, but that’s exactly what Coke Zero set out to do as 12 of the sport’s top stars gathered at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. to shoot the new commercial.

The ad builds on the Coke Zero campaign launched in 2007, when hidden cameras caught humorous exchanges between improv actors impersonating Coca-Cola brand managers and real-life lawyers. Hoping to “sue” their coworkers who promote the Coke Zero brand, the actors consulted with the attorneys about filing an imaginary lawsuit for “taste infringement,” since
no-calorie Coke Zero tastes so much like Coca-Cola.

Coke Zero extended the unconventional approach for its new NASCAR spot by filming Coca-Cola Racing Family members during awkward, sometimes baffling conversations with the same actors reprising their roles as Coca-Cola brand managers. Expecting to shoot scenes for a different plot, the drivers ended up starring in an entirely different commercial as the phony brand managers solicited their help to keep Coke Zero from taking the checkered flag and further encroaching on Coca-Cola’s turf.

The unscripted give-and-take between the drivers and the improv actors generated lighthearted moments and great reactions, while irreverently underscoring that no-calorie Coke Zero tastes like Coke.

“We know our drivers would never compromise their performance on the track, just like Coke Zero drinkers won’t compromise when it comes to demanding real Coca-Cola taste with Zero calories. That’s what made the ad even more fun to shoot,” said Caren Pasquale Seckler, group director, Low Calorie Colas, Coca-Cola North America. “We think race fans will get a kick out of seeing their favorite NASCAR drivers caught off guard.”

In one exchange, the imposter Coca-Cola brand managers say to Mark Martin, “We can’t have Coke Zero in the winner’s circle, being hoisted for that traditional drink,” leading to a perplexed look from the veteran driver. After referring to the Coke Zero brand as “taste infringers” and “soda pirates” during a conversation with Jeff Burton, the brand managers corner Jamie McMurray outside the Sprint Cup garage and ask, “Would you be willing to throw a race?” A stunned McMurray replies, “I don’t think so, no…”

In the final scene with Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick, an exasperated Stewart says that the fake brand managers’ suggestions will “probably get us suspended,” to which the quick-witted actor retorts, “Well Tony, come on, you’re pretty comfortable with that.”

The new Coke Zero ad, which debuts during the FOX broadcast of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m., features members of the Coca-Cola Racing Family -- a group of top drivers that includes Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Petty, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart and Michael Waltrip.

“At first, the fake Coca-Cola brand guys came across as really serious, so we were trying to be polite and figure out what they were thinking,” said two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart. “But the more they talked the crazier their ideas became until it got to be pretty unbelievable. While it was an unusual experience, Coke Zero is a fun brand and this was a clever way to shoot this commercial.”

Following its debut, 30- and 60-second versions of the Coke Zero NASCAR spot will air throughout racing season on television and in cinemas. Two additional 30-second spots, also featuring drivers being badgered by the faux Coca-Cola brand managers, will be posted at cokezero.com and NASCAR.com. The ads were created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky of Miami. The 60-second version of the commercial will also be available for viewing at a special Daytona 500 ad showcase on NASCAR.com, beginning at 7 a.m. the morning of the Great American Race.

In addition to the new ad campaign, Coke Zero is taking a more prominent role in NASCAR beginning this season, including title sponsorship of the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, which takes place July 5 at Daytona International Speedway.


About The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company. Along with Coca-Cola, recognized as the world's most valuable brand, the Company markets four of the world's top five nonalcoholic sparkling beverage brands, including Diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite, and a wide range of other beverages, including diet and light beverages, waters, juices and juice drinks, teas, coffees, energy and sports drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company's beverages at a rate exceeding 1.4 billion servings each day. For more information about The Coca-Cola Company, please visit our website at www.thecoca-colacompany.com.


Also, check out a sneak peek of the ad here: http://www.msa.tv/CokeZeroAd/

Monday, February 4, 2008

I Guess I Forgot...

To mention that Ganassi pulled off the trifecta and won their third straight Rolex 24 hours with the team of Scott Pruett, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti, and Memo Rojas. All in all, those guys were pretty untouchable. If anything we see the collection of talent that Ganassi has amassed over the last several years. However, with the brief exception of a few races last year in Cup, it just hasn't translated into a consistent operation. Not since Sterling Marlin's near-championship effort in 2002 has the Ganassi group contended for a title. Pending sponsorship for Franchitti, I like their lineup for the next few years with the reigning IRL champ, Montoya, and Reed Sorenson. Yet, you can bet that Ganassi will be pushing for Dodge to move above Ford because Dodge has more depth on its roster than Ford. Throw in Penske and a potentially resurgent Gillett-Evernham Motorsports, it looks better on paper than the Roush machine with wounded ducks Yates and Wood Bros.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Catfish Show Super Bowl XLII Prediction

I wanted to go ahead and get my Super Bowl prediction on record, I'll take the Patriots over the Giants with a final score of 34-26. Mark it down, folks. In less than one week we'll have the Bud Shootout upon us.