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

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

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. 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 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.