Wednesday, March 26, 2008

2008 IndyCar Debut - GAINSCO 300 at Homestead

After what has to be considered a historic offseason, the IRL is back and is joined by the remnants of Champ Car. The series returns to Homestead for the season kickoff, and after the previous two champions' defections to NASCAR, this year should prove to be pretty wide open. Here is the entry list for the race:

Car Driver Hometown Car Name Entrant Race Strategist
2 A.J. Foyt IV Hockley, Texas Vision Racing Vision Racing
3 Helio Castroneves Sao Paulo, Brazil Team Penske Team Penske
4 Vitor Meira Brasilia, Brazil Delphi National Guard Panther Racing
5 Oriol Servia Pals, Catalonia, Spain KV Racing Technology KV Racing Technology
6 Ryan Briscoe Sydney, Australia Team Penske Team Penske
7 Danica Patrick Roscoe, Ill. Motorola Andretti Green Racing
8 Will Power Toowoomba, Australia Aussie Vineyard-Team Australia KV Racing Technology
9 Scott Dixon Auckland, New Zealand Target Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chip Ganassi Racing
10 Dan Wheldon Emberton, England Target Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chip Ganassi Racing
11 Tony Kanaan Salvador, Bahia, Brazil Team 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing
14 Darren Manning North Yorkshire, England ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing A.J. Foyt Enterprises
15 Buddy Rice Phoenix Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
17 Ryan Hunter-Reay Boca Raton, Fla. Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Rahal Letterman Racing
18 Bruno Junqueira Belo Horizonte, Brazil Dale Coyne Racing Dale Coyne Racing
19 Mario Moraes Sao Paulo, Brazil Dale Coyne Racing Dale Coyne Racing
20 Ed Carpenter Indianapolis Menards/Vision Racing Vision Racing
23 Milka Duno Caracas, Venezuela Citgo/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
24 Jay Howard Basildon, England Roth Racing Roth Racing
25 Marty Roth Toronto Roth Racing Roth Racing
26 Marco Andretti Nazareth, Pa. NYSE Andretti Green Racing
27 Hideki Mutoh Tokyo Formula Dream Andretti Green Racing
33 Ernesto Viso Caracas, Venezuela HVM Racing HVM Racing
34 Franck Perera Montpellier, France Ares/Opes Prime Conquest Racing
36 Enrique Bernoldi Curitiva, Brazil Opes Prime/Sangari Conquest Racing
02 Justin Wilson Northampton, England McDonald’s Racing Team Newman Haas Lanigan Racing
06 Graham Rahal New Albany, Ohio Hole in the Wall Camps Newman Haas Lanigan Racing

The race airs Saturday night on ESPN2 at 8 P.M.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Two Names To Watch This Weekend

Greetings everyone, hope your Easter was fabulous. This week in Martinsville, we'll see the series debuts of two drivers in two series. In Sprint Cup, Michael McDowell jumps into the #00 Aarons Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing and formally enters the ROTY battle. Given how weak the field has been thus far, it isn't out of the realm of possibility for him to win it - should he run well. I've been high on McDowell's talent, but worried he may be here before he is ready. I guess time will tell. He has Dale Jarrett's team behind him, who should help coach him along. He ran well on speedways in ARCA, I would think throwing him in at Martinsville could be dicey. The second driver to watch this weekend will race on Saturday, and I'm referring to Chrissy Wallace's Truck Series debut for Germain Racing. Is NASCAR ready for the latest female driver to enter the ranks? She supposedly ran decent times in testing, the biggest thing will be making laps and earning experience. At least Chrissy has won at some level, recording wins at Hickory Motor Speedway. This most likely will be the story of the Truck race and if she does well, the story of the weekend.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Off Week For Cup, Taking It Easy

Albeit the Nationwide Series races in Nashville, this week will be some lighter blogging. To start with, check out this interview with Mike Skinner in Wine Spectator, also talking about the wine industry within North Carolina and NASCAR. Good stuff here, I myself enjoy a good red wine... although I've yet to spend $400 on a bottle, and don't plan to until I'm making six figures... lol.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jeff Burton Benefits From Wild Bristol Finish

As NASCAR heads into the Easter weekend off, Bristol provided a terrific finish for race fans to chew on until Martinsville. To start with, Burton was sixth with 5 to go. Really, he needed some sort of miracle to get the win, even with 4 fresh tires. Harvick arguably had the best RCR car of the day, but after his incident with Stewart, Burton slid under and took the second spot. On the GWC, race leader Denny Hamlin suffered from a fuel pickup problem and allowed the RCR brigade to run the outside lane around him and give Childress a 1-2-3 finish. Thumbs up to Aric Almirola in his first race of 2008, scoring an impressive 8th-place finish in the #8. Also a good run for David Gilliland, who finished 9th.

The next issue to deal with is the top 35 rule. As of this writing before the points are made official, it looks as if Sam Hornish Jr. moved into 35th place for Martinsville. However, Penske may indeed switch Hornish's and Busch's points again. Jamie McMurray, interestingly enough, fell to 36th and one has to wonder if Roush will consider switching his points with the #17 of Matt Kenseth. Same goes for Bobby Labonte and Kyle Petty. I suspect one could set off the other, or NASCAR may put the kibosh on the whole thing.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Most Common Sight This Season

Has been this: the rest of the field looking at Kyle Busch's back bumper. I know the FOX guys have been practically slobbering on Kyle this year, but the guy's earned the attention. He's won 2 truck races and won his first Cup race of the year today, but more than that has been the way he's driven. I have to give him his due. More on Atlanta and looking ahead to Bristol this week.

Friday, March 7, 2008

I Like This New Qualifying Format

Sadly, tonight was the first time this year I've been able to watch qualifying on SPEED. I generally agreed with moving the cars outside the top 35 to either the front or the back of the line, and having them at the back - it's a blast to watch. In the words of TNT, they know drama. Especially after the first few and you know the times to beat and then have to watch as drivers attempt to lock their way in - along with drivers already gone hoping their effort was good enough - I have to applaud the decision to do things this way. I was cheering hard tonight for Vickers to hold on, and he did... just by 3 hundredths over Schrader. I think this gives fans a new reason to watch qualifying, and that's not a bad thing. Jeff Gordon and Dale Jr. are on the front row, the networks' wet dream. The rest of the lineup is here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Few New Additions

As you can see on the right-hand side of the page, I've added a few new items....

First, the cool new widget from Schmap, which has the race locations and is pretty darn neat. It's free, you can add it to your page if you like. Catfish approves.

Second, a new blog has debuted, titled NASCAR This Week. As you can see from the link, it's written by Monte Dutton, a well-known and long-time NASCAR writer for the Gaston Gazette. Lots of good stuff there, and it looks like the blog will updated frequently.

Lastly, you can accuse me of mixing subjects, but I added a John McCain 2008 icon. You can go there if you like. I don't plan on posting my political thoughts on here, but I am considering a separate blog for that purpose.

We're on our way to Atlanta for a triple-header, with the Trucks racing tomorrow, Nationwide Saturday, and Cup on Sunday. More to come in the next day or so.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

NASCAR Invents New Penalties For The 4,879th Time

From NASCAR's release:

As a result, Edwards and car owner Jack Roush have been penalized 100 championship driver and 100 championship owner points, respectively. In the event the 99 team qualifies for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the team will not receive the 10 bonus points for the UAW-Dodge 400 victory used for determining the Chase seeding order. Crew chief Bob Osborne has been fined $100,000, suspended from the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, suspended from NASCAR until April 30 and placed on probation until Dec. 31.

To start with, I'm not against the penalty per se. If the team did this as a "competitive advantage" and got caught, I'm fine with that. My problems lie in the amount of points taken (100 versus 25) and the amount of the fine ($100,000 vs. $15,000) given. If you want to say it's increased because of Cup vs. Nationwide, say that. Next, we've seen Nationwide teams appeal penalties to have them reduced, and rumor has it the commission will reduce Robby Gordon's massive penalty to just a hefty fine. I think NASCAR just may be making the penalties artificially higher, figuring the commission will reduce them on appeal. Lastly, we know NASCAR is biased against Roush. I don't want to hear the Roush-haters run their mouths on this, if you say Edwards cheated to win at Vegas, explain his victory just last week at California with no troubles. In all honesty, I'd rather the team take the hit now rather than later. As several drivers showed last year, you can overcome a penalty and make the Chase. My last complaint is the stripping of his 10 bonus points for the Chase. I feel this is extremely unfair if the win still stands. Since the inception of this incredibly stupid rule last year, winning races became important and gives a significant advantage to those that manage to win during the regular season. This is an action that has no precedent and is contradictory in its application. You're allowing him to keep the win, but taking away not only 100 championship points, but also the 10 bonus points to start the Chase. So in essence, it's a 110-point penalty. I sincerely hope that provision is taken away on appeal.

What do you think?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Double Your Fun, Carl

A pretty entertaining race at Vegas yesterday, eh? I rather enjoyed watching it. The Roush boys are proving that they don't want to let Hendrick kick their ass again. Still, one of the most exciting stories of the year is watching Kyle Busch do what he does, yesterday it was passing cars on the apron of the frontstretch. This is a post about Carl Edwards, though. The guy has matured into a bona-fide contender for the championship this year. He is back with crew chief Bob Osbourne for the second year after the aborted "switch" of 2006, and he has the experience of last year's Busch title to help, along with the Chase run. I'm damn excited about this year and I just hope they can keep this up.

A few other observations:
- A big thumbs up to David Ragan and Travis Kvapil, both putting their Fords into the top 10. Ragan's got some serious upside.

- The collective hits of Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, and Jeff Gordon are serious concerns for the new car. I don't know if I've seen a front end get smashed in like that. Something teams will need to adjust and NASCAR needs to pay attention to since we're stuck with this car.