Friday, May 30, 2008

Dover Truck Race *SPOILER ALERT*

The Dover Truck race just ended, and if you don't want to be surprised (tape delay at 8 tonight) look away.






OK, Scott Speed - yes, that Scott Speed - won the AAA Insurance 200. This was shocking to listen to, and it is every bit the upset Donny Lia's victory one race ago was. More to come on this over the weekend, but Speed may indeed be a legitimate contender as he moves up the ladder.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Little Late

My Indy 500 recap is a few days late, but I feel like I needed some closure on the subject.

Scott Dixon won, and he probably deserved it, he definitely had the best car throughout the day. The race itself was far from boring, with intrigue and dashed hopes at every turn. That makes the Indy 500 what it is: a battle of attrition, a battle with lady luck, and at the end, a battle at the front. I was rooting hard most of the day for Marco, but Castroneves did a good enough job blocking him that he had no chance to pull off a win. I would also have liked to have seen Vitor Meira pull off a win too, I thought for sure he could have won one by now. He's still an underrated driver in this series. Still, Dixon dominated May, and without Franchitti there he pulled off a convincing win. A few other thoughts:

- I may be in the minority on this, but Marco didn't wreck Tony Kanaan. True, Marco made his move late, but Kanaan just had bad luck when Sarah Fisher came around and plowed into his car. Otherwise, a caution is out, Kanaan pits, and he could have challenged Dixon. Oh well.

- Graham Rahal, my rookie of the race pick, looked pretty good in his limited time. He may be the American that goes to F1 soon.

- Danica's latest hissyfit has been overplayed and overblown. This is coming from a guy that's been more pro-Danica than most bloggers, but ABC went out of their way to make the situation a circus.

- Ganassi should make his IRL and GrandAm teams share notes with his NASCAR teams. Why are the #40, 41, and 42 so bad?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Page Additions

No, I don't want to talk about the 600, having to see Kahne do the double is bad enough. Anyway, you'll notice to the right I've enacted a countdown for Joey Logano's first Nationwide race this Saturday at Dover. I know I've sang his praises for months, but I'm convinced he is the real deal and it wouldn't surprise me to see a top 10 finish.

Also, you'll see a nifty little widget at the bottom of the page that contains some headlines, courtesy of Prilosec OTC and their promotion at Homestead. Be sure to enter that contest.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Official Indy 500 Pick

I wanted to get this in the day before the race, so when I'm wrong, I can still say I got a pick in. That said, I'm going with youth and vigor in the first Indy 500 with a legitimate full field in years, and my winning pick and my rookie of the race pick are both coming from historical families... without further adieu, here are my picks:

Winner of the Indy 500: Marco Andretti
Given the above car, what will be the difference in years before and now? The return of Indiana Jones, that's what. Hey, if he can come back to success, so can the Andrettis at Indy, and how's this for coincidence: Indiana Jones at the Indy 500? I'm not betting against it.

Rookie of the race: Graham Rahal

Rahal shocked the field winning at St. Pete, and of the Champ Car guys rookies in the field, I think he'll take to this track and the pressure better than most.

There you have it, be certain to tune in tomorrow afternoon for what could now feasibly be considered again The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Schedule Shake-up, Part 1

We're getting clues about NASCAR shuffling the deck with the fall schedule, and I'm hoping we see more come down the pipe later. Word leaked today would do the following: move Labor Day to Atlanta, move Talladega's date to California, and move Atlanta's date to Talladega. I like this plan. I like it because we get California off the Labor Day spot, and put it back in the south at least. It's not Darlington, but it's close, and Atlanta's a damn good track. Second, I like moving one of the 1.5 mile tracks out of the Chase, because there are still too many there. In the Chase, 5 of the 10 races are on 1.5 milers, so moving the 2-mile California track there isn't a bad idea. Heck, let's move the 2nd race of the year away from there, and leave California with 1 race, in the Chase, and watch it sell out. Finally, Talladega moves back in the order of races, making it even more important. Second of all with Talladega and Atlanta, the space between dates should increase ticket sales in both. This has been a busy weekend, Humpy retiring, Bruton Smith buying Kentucky, schedule swapping, Aflac signing a monster deal with Edwards, and we still haven't had a race yet.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Surprise, Surprise....

As expected, NASCAR has set limits on the "Limbaugh setups" being used on the intermediate tracks this year:

NASCAR wants teams to cut down on rear adjustments
CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR sent a memo to Sprint Cup teams this week putting a limit on the amount of rear adjustment being made to create more sideforce. Teams have been increasingly adjusting the rear housing in an attempt to close the gap on the No. 99 car of Roush Fenway Racing's Carl Edwards, who has won three times on intermediate tracks this season.

The adjustment basically has the back tires turned to the right with a rear toe adjustment, allowing the car to enter the turns with more speed. It's not visibly noticeable on the turns, but on the straightaways the car appears to be crabbing down the track sideways.

"The best way to describe it is a hook and ladder fire truck," series director John Darby said on Friday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "You're going straight down the road and that guy in the back turns the wheel to the right and the back of the fire truck goes over to the right. That's essentially what's going on."

Darby said teams have been adjusting the rear end in excess of two degrees. NASCAR limited the adjustment to one degree.

The memo came two weeks after four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon said the governing body needed to take a closer look at how far teams were going.

"When cars can't even get on the scales because they're running sideways, it's something they need to address," Gordon said at the time.

"We don't want to totally eliminate it, because it's a valuable adjustment," Darby said. "I'm sure everybody watched the 77 car [Penske Racing's, Sam Hornish, Jr.] run around here last week. He was in excess of two degrees. That gets to the obnoxious side."

Hornish, who was 34th in points with only one finish inside the top 20 through the first 11 races, finished seventh in Saturday's All-Star race that was a non-points event.

Competitors and fans commented afterwards about how sideways Hornish's car appeared on the straightaways.

"To do that requires a different axle shaft and drive plate," Darby said. "Up until this point all it takes is a toe adjustment of the housing. If you go that far, you start taking out very common, very simple, very reliable in-stock parts and putting some exotic stuff in there.

"Now we just raised the bar by what it cost to do it by triple. That's why we put the limit in there."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Humpy Wheeler To Retire

In a bit of news I just came across, Humpy Wheeler is set to retire after Sunday's Coke 600. I'm left a bit breathless from that, he's been around since I can remember, and being from North Carolina, he always got special attention whenever the races were in town - and even when they weren't he could find ways to make news. I'm not prone to these retirement things, so in the coming days I'm going to be on the lookout for some of the better ones and link to them. Charlotte, Lowes Motor Speedway, and NASCAR will not be the same without him as a promoter. I wish there were more like him, but the broke the mold.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Unbelievable

Rarely do I actually get mad at the end of a race. It happens, of course… take last season, when Jimmie Johnson won 10 races, and 4 in a row at the end of the year. But after the All-Star race Saturday, I genuinely can’t believe that Kasey Kahne won. Kahne didn’t transfer in from the Sprint Showdown, and didn’t have the best car in the field. Yet, thanks to the fan vote, this year known as “how many ugly women can vote for Kahne since he can’t drive the COT.” I turned my back on the finish, because I wasn’t just upset that Kahne won, but that Biffle didn’t make the necessary adjustments to win, because he really should have. Oh well.

There is also a second unbelievable, and that is the run by Sam Hornish Jr. Saturday night. Visually, everyone watching on TV and in-person could read the 77 on the side of his car… all the way around the track. Seriously, I don’t think I could set a car up like that on NASCAR 08. I’m already sick of hearing the term “yawed out” in relation to these cars, but I see now that these teams have gone beyond what the 99 has done this year. I thought it was hilarious that Hornish said he couldn’t hardly pull the car in and out of the garage stall, and that teams are having trouble getting the cars up on the scales. I go back and forth on what I think is innovation and what is close that line of cheating, and at this point I still consider it innovation. But, with displays like Hornish and what I’m sure we’ll see in the 600, it might need to be looked at. At the same time, NASCAR has its greedy hands on so much else, I want them to leave some things alone. I guess this is just the latest “lovely” aspect of the new car.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Well-Deserved Off Week For The Nationwide Series

For only the second weekend this year, the Nationwide Series is taking a week off. I myself find the Nationwide Series has a more thought-out plan for off weeks, I maintain Sprint Cup needs one after the 26th race before the final 10. Anyway, I think it's time for a link fest about Nationwide:

Tony Stewart's victory lane interview, courtesy of Nationwide

Joey Logano, rising star

Testing speeds from LMS this week

Finally, the drivers, owners, and rookie standings from the series.

Yours truly will be in Charlotte for all-star weekend... I love this time of year.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Difference Between Kurt and Kyle Busch

Undeniably, Kyle Busch’s emergence with Joe Gibbs Racing – in Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Trucks – has been the top story of 2008. To go along with that, Busch has become the newest villain in NASCAR, and he makes a good one: young, unafraid, and most importantly, loaded with talent. His performances at Richmond and Darlington just go along with the rest – breathtaking moments at the Daytona 500, his convincing win at Atlanta, three Nationwide wins in a row and leading more laps than anyone, passing trucks on the apron at Atlanta, and numerous more moments. It all compares to the emergence of his older brother, Kurt, in the 2002 Cup season. It was that year Busch had his coming out party in Cup, when he moved Jimmy Spencer out the way en route to his first win at Bristol, followed in the fall by triumphs at Martinsville, Atlanta, and Homestead. Busch continued winning, right up until he was punched in the face by Jimmy Spencer. See, over the course of that time, Busch’s ego went out of control, and it took him getting a bloody nose to see some of the errors of his ways. But, those lessons never took, and Busch ended up getting suspended by his own team for an encounter with the law in Phoenix, and his move to Penske Racing has rendered him little of the fan support from Rusty Wallace, which he sought when he left Roush, and after his runner-up finish in the year’s 500, Kurt has been an afterthought in Cup competition.

That brings me to what I believe is the difference between the two. I don’t think Kyle is as arrogant, as condescending, or has the chip on his shoulder that Kurt did, and still does. Granted, some of that may be because Kyle watched his brother go through a lot, but they’re two different people and I don’t think Kyle will find himself getting deservedly punched in the face (he still may get punched, obviously). As I mentioned earlier, Kurt left Roush so he could try and inherit the fan base of Rusty Wallace. He and the Roush camp had their share of problems, but it is undeniable that he put the #97 on the map while he was there, but the resulting collateral damage is why we haven’t seen, and probably won’t see it return for some time. The best move Kyle could have made was signing with Joe Gibbs after getting kicked out of Hendrick’s stable. Kyle could very well have been heading down the same path as his brother. It was obviously tough sticking around for the rest of the year, but he made the best of it, and is now where he can be allowed to be himself – not part of Hendrick’s corporate image. Gibbs, allowing Kyle some rope to act, is able to concentrate on driving… and it shows. Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin have had nothing but success with Gibbs, and it’s because they can be themselves.

It’s for that reason that I see Kyle eventually becoming more popular and staying more relevant than his brother in Sprint Cup, or whatever it’ll be called in the future.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Vote Patrick Carpentier In The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race

In what has become a tradition of sorts, it's time again for an All-Star race campaign for a certain lucky driver. It was successful in 2006 with Kyle Petty, who also benefited from corporate backing. Last year didn't turn out as I'd hoped, but I'm doing this again for 2008, and I'm ready to announce the driver I'm endorsing for the Fan Vote.

Drumroll please..... I'm proud to endorse Patrick Carpentier for the All-Star Fan Vote.


So, the question is, why Patrick Carpentier? There are certainly other drivers, but let me convince you why you should be voting for Patrick Carpentier.

To start, I just plain like the guy. He's a blast to watch on and off the track, and he is eager to learn and he wants to be a NASCAR driver. Some guys in this rookie class, I don't know if you can say the same. Carpentier's an accomplished driver without a doubt. He has won in CART and competed in the IRL, A1 Grand Prix, and Grand Am. He even competed in a CASCAR race prior to his decision to enter NASCAR, starting with the Busch race last year at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He won the pole and finished 2nd in that race. The next week at Watkins Glen in the #10 Cup car, he led laps in his first race.

Now, fast forward to this season. When he has had the opportunity to time trial his way in to the field, he has done so, and done so impressively. Those that have watched qualifying this year know what I mean. In the Nationwide Series this season, he has competed three times. In those three races, he has finished 8th in Las Vegas, 5th in Mexico City, and 8th at Talladega. That's three top 10s at 3 different tracks for a guy with little stock car experience. Mostly, though, winning the Fan Vote and competing in the All-Star race will solidify his legitimacy in Sprint Cup and let him prove he can run against the best. Of the rookie class this season, I believe he has the most potential of any of them to become a top driver. Don't forget he is Canadian, and can push us toward universal healthcare. Just kidding about that last part.


So, there is my case for Carpentier. I'll be voting daily, and I encourage and hope that you, my beloved readers, will Vote Carpentier '08. Gratuitous links below:

Vote Carpentier!

Carpentier's personal site

(A quick shout out to my buddy Hester for the Vote Carpentier image)

Forgot To Mention Hamlin, Dale Jr., Kyle, and Bowyer

Due to the close proximity of my apartment and the venue in which I saw Kid Rock, I was able to watch the last 10 laps of the race at Richmond. What I missed out on was Hamlin's domination, as I turned on the TV and saw Dale Jr. at the front with Kyle Busch on his tail. I could immediately tell that Kyle was either going to win, or do his best to wreck trying. Of course, what happened was he wrecked Jr. and didn't win. Since then, that battle has been the topic of conversation, so I feel that I need to chime in: Dale Jr. put himself in position to be wrecked. He obviously knew Kyle was loose, and Kyle had damn near passed him coming off of 2... so what does Jr. do? He gives Kyle no room in 3, and knowing that Kyle was going to slam his car into turn 3, he gives Kyle little to no room... and got wrecked. Come on, it's 5 laps to go, and after what you've seen this year, you really think Kyle is lifting? So there's my take. Of course, Clint Bowyer has the win handed to him, aided by Mark's run on Kyle during the GWC.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Whew!

This post holds little value, except to offer a brief update: I'm back from Rockingham, and it was so special to have been there today. Joey Logano's the real deal folks, but more on that in a few days. I also attended the Kid Rock show here in Charlotte Saturday night, so I'm quite tired. More to come both here and over at Bench Racing, but how about a shot of yours truly in the infield at The Rock?