Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nationwide Series To Road America

Consider me excited to see the Nationwide Series tackle Road America in 2010. For all the history of Milwaukee, let's be honest - the race was boring for stock cars. Always was. Too big and too flat. With Road America, it puts the series back up to 3 road course races. What will be really interesting, however, is the fact that its the same weekend as Sonoma. Double duty drivers will really have their hands full. The ringers will now have to pick which race to do, presumably they don't attempt the double as well. All told, a great decision was made.

Friday, December 11, 2009

NASCAR Should Avoid Path Of IRL

I was browsing my usual NASCAR news sources today and noticed something that made me do a double-take. The headline read 'NASCAR testing corn-based fuel, might use by 2011 season' and I had a flash of rage for a minute and had to re-read the story. The piece (it's short) can be found here courtesy of the outstanding Dustin Long. Again, as I've said, I don't like to mix the political side of me with the racing side but there is precedent and it's going to be needed again, so here goes.

NASCAR has no business bowing to the leftist environmental lobby the way the IRL did. The transition was much easier with the IRL since they used methanol instead of ethanol, but corn-based ethanol is probably the worst 'green' fuel to use because of the way it damages farm land, water tables, and lots of other things I've written about in great detail. In fact, if this were 2007, NASCAR would be commended for thinking about switching to ethanol because its negative effects were not well-known at the time. Yet now, the movement has been in the opposite direction of corn ethanol.

Brian France is all too comfortable getting cozy with leftist interest groups. The whole ordeal in the middle of the decade with Jesse Jackson should confirm that. But this is much too dangerous and would have too much of an effect for years to come if it happens. I cannot sit idly by and let NASCAR fall into the leftist environmental lobby's clutches without saying nothing.

Consider this post as the kickoff of "NASCAR Fans Against Ethanol" as a way to show NASCAR that we do not want any part of their desire to appease interest groups that do not have the sport's best interests at heart.

Friday, November 27, 2009

What I'm Thankful For In NASCAR

- I'm thankful for double-file restarts saving the competitiveness from becoming worse than Formula One. More than anything else, they kept me from falling asleep during races... which happened more than once at the beginning of the season.

- I'm thankful I'm seeing history made in the form of Jimmie Johnson, despite my not caring for Hendrick Motorsports, Chad Knaus, or anything Lowes-related.

- I'm thankful for Kyle Busch being Kyle Busch and Juan Montoya being Juan Montoya and not hiding their personalities. Kyle scared us for a bit at Bristol, but it didn't take.

- I'm thankful for Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski trying to recapture the spirit of 1979 in a Daytona infield thanks to their rivalry in the Nationwide Series. While I'm puzzled at why people defend Hamlin, it made Nationwide races exciting and gave people something to talk about.

- I'm thankful Mark Martin returned to race full-time.

- I'm thankful Michael Waltrip finally took my advice and retired from full-time competition.

- I'm thankful fans still showed up to the track this year despite all the negative news. Thank you, fans. You're the reason why we can still talk, watch, and write about this sport.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Proposition

We call the 2009 AMP Energy 500 from here on out The Race That Will Never Be Mentioned. I like it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kyle Busch Getting New CC For 2010

Actually, the last few races of 2009 as well.

Dave Rogers, from the dominant JGR Nationwide team, will take over as the new Crew Chief for Kyle starting at Texas. Hey, as I've said before, if there's anyone thats earned a promotion it has to be this guy. He propelled the #20 to the Nationwide Owner's Points title last season, a feat that got surprisingly little attention. Rogers has worked with guys like Kyle, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, and Joey Logano and has won with all of them. Kyle will get back to his winning ways in Cup soon.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Attention Martinsville!

The Catfish Show is going mobile, and for the first time, your blogger will be a credentialed NASCAR Media member. With a big, big thank you to On Pit Row, I'll be at Martinsville live all weekend. To follow me at the speedway, follow me on Twitter - @mattmercer if you haven't done so already. Also, be sure to follow @onpitrow and @benchracing. They have been nothing but fantastic and I cannot thank them enough for letting me write for them and giving me these kinds of opportunities.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NASCAR Changes Part 2 - Points System

Previously, I decided to change the format of the Chase. Now I'm going to tackle the tricky world of points and points racing.

The biggest complaint about the points - winning doesn't pay enough - will be taken care of with this system. Some favor awarding the winner as inordinate amount of points, but that's not feasible or necessary. However, there are fair points to make: winning deserves a nice bonus.

Other changes I think that need to happen are for the top 5, top 10, and top 20 to be awarded a better percentage of points., top 5, top 10, top 20 receive higher points – 35th through 43rd receive same amount of points, something that's been a popular position to take. It's now reality.

Another complaint as the years have gone on has been the devaluing of qualifying. Back in the old days, qualifying was important. Qualifying was fun. Guys wanted to be the one that sat on the pole and led the field to green. Honest ask yourself, is qualifying as important as it used to be? The answer, of course, is no. That's going to change, because the polesitter will now earn an extra 5 points. Come Chase-time, that's going to be big. Also, I'm keeping the 5 points for leading and leading the most laps in place.

To sum up, I think these changes will be good for the points because you can't rely on the same thing for decades upon end. They need to be updated with the times. Now, you can win the pole, lead the most laps, win the race, and take home 215 points while second place takes home 180 if they don't lead a lap.

Finish Points

Pos. Current TCS proposal

1st - 185 - 200

2nd - 170 - 180

3rd - 165 - 170

4th - 160 - 160

5th - 155 - 150

6th - 150 - 145

7th - 146 - 140

8th - 142 - 135

9th - 138 - 130

10th - 134 - 125

11th - 130 - 121

12th - 127 - 117

13th - 124 - 113

14th - 121 - 109

15th - 118 - 105

16th - 115 - 102

17th - 112 - 99

18th - 109 - 96

19th - 106 - 93

20th - 103 - 90

21st - 100 - 87

22nd - 97 - 84

23rd - 94 - 81

24th - 91 - 78

25th - 88 - 75

26th - 85 - 72

27th - 82 - 69

28th - 79 - 66

29th - 76 - 63

30th - 73 - 60

31st - 70 - 57

32nd - 67 - 54

33rd - 64 - 51

34th - 61 - 48

35th - 58 - 45

36th - 55 - 45

37th - 52 - 45

38th - 49 - 45

39th - 46 - 45

40th - 43 - 45

41st - 40 - 45

42nd - 37 - 45

43rd - 34 - 45

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Motorsports Authentics On Verge Of Bankruptcy

Story from Reuters.

I guess when you make crappy products, this sort of thing will happen. In all seriousness though, I remember saying years ago that this was a bad idea when you a complete standardization of racing apparel and diecasts. The market worked better when there were competing companies that actually made items worth buying. Maybe it's because I stopped collecting, but the diecast business doesn't seem to be as booming as it was. I haven't bought a new racing hat in over a year because the older ones I have are better. I think it's time to declare MA a failure. My fear was oversaturation of a few certain drivers, and that's what happened. There really are fans of drivers other than the top 5 most marketable and when those fans can't find anything to buy to support their drivers, they go away. Add to that less people watching and paying attention to NASCAR now, this really shouldn't surprise anyone.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What'd I Tell Ya

It's still too early to crown a champion. Tony Stewart stormed back into title contention with a win at Kansas, Juan Pablo Montoya made another impressive statement, and the 5/48 show got a little bigger as they proved that, yes, they're human. On now to California... sorry, Auto Club Speedway. It should be interesting to see who finishes where. Fun to watch? I'll get back to you on that... yesterday's ratings were brutal.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Everybody, Overreact Right Now!

Jimmie Johnson dominated Dover yesterday to record his 4th win of the year and move 10 points behind Mark Martin in the championship. However, is this really the end of the championship? I think not, there are 8 races left. A lot of media types have already written their 'fourpeat' stories because Johnson won yesterday. The same way Martin won at Loudon and everyone proclaimed he was the man to beat. Things changed in one week? Really? I must have missed the part where the last 8 races of the year were a foregone conclusion. Johnson dominated yesterday, yes. He also won the first race at Dover so it's not like he has been an also-ran there and magically found something. That would be Martin's win at Loudon. Johnson is a five-time winner at Dover.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's actually talk about this championship a little. The way I see it, there are only 8 guys that have a chance now. Not by margin, but by place. I'm only including 8th-place Jeff Gordon because he is who he is. Realistically, the only guys that can run well enough in the final stretch of the year to take it all are Martin, Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart. I was worried about Smoke since he wrapped up a spot so early and rode around for a month, but they showed they're still going to be a factor. Busch and Montoya have shown they can go toe-to-toe with anyone. If I had to give an edge I'd give it to Montoya, who is riding a huge wave of confidence and the #42 team looks the best they have all year. Not dissimilar to the way Busch's #97 team looked in the first Chase in 2004. Next up are 3 speedway races in a row - Kansas, California, and Charlotte. These races will decide who still has a chance this year. Right now you'd have to look as those same 5 guys mentioned before as the ones to watch at those races. After Charlotte, we'll know who the real contenders are.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The (Real) Arrival of Juan Pablo Montoya

Consider me on the bandwagon that thinks Juan Pablo Montoya could be champion this year. It's been fun this year and really since the summer, when JPM's consistency became better and better. The way the team was racking points and running in the top 10 showed that they had a plan. This team has to be considered as much of a surprise as anyone. A lot of media (myself included) didn't think EGR would be good. If anyone, I figured it would be Truex in this position. Not the case and I think that's been a good thing.

Montoya's season really arrived when he dominated the Brickyard this year. Despite not getting the win, he showed that he could - and would soon. That hasn't been accomplished yet but consider me surprised if it doesn't during the Chase. Another good thing I like is that this team hasn't peaked yet. They could indeed be peaking now. How improbable is that - a team made up of an absentee owner and an owner that's only around when his other teams have an off weekend, a team that combined fielded three times as many teams a season ago, sponsorship issues, rated below many other teams on their manufacturer pecking order, and they could celebrate in Homestead as the 2009 Sprint Cup Champions.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

NASCAR Changes Part 1 - Chase Format

I'm advocating a return to the Chase format as it stood in the first few years. The Chase for the Cup should only include 10 drivers. In years past, of course, it also included anyone within a certain amount of points of the leader after Richmond. I always that idea was faulty as well. I still dislike the idea of 12 drivers in the Chase because I think that's still too many. For me, being worthy of being a champion should be a smaller pool than what we have. With that in mind, here's what I'm proposing:

Go to 10-race, 10-driver format

- Re-seeding reverts back to tiered standings plus race win bonuses

1. 5050 points + 10 points per win

2. 5040 points + 10 points per win

3. 5030 points + 10 points per win

4. 5020 points + 10 points per win

5. 5010 points + 10 points per win

6. 5000 points + 10 points per win

7. 4990 points + 10 points per win

8. 4980 points + 10 points per win

9. 4970 points + 10 points per win

10. 4960 points + 10 points per win

That formula then produces the points standings going into the first race of the Chase.

I thought I would incorporate win bonuses in order to still provide an emphasis for winning during the 26 races before the Chase. Tell me the battle for 10th in any year wouldn't be less intense than a battle for 12th. I think 10 is the best round number in these matters. The Chase will be more prestigious enacting this change.

Coming next in this series, a revamped points system.

Monday, September 14, 2009

2009 Chase Drivers

Mark Martin
Tony Stewart
Jimmie Johnson
Denny Hamlin
Kasey Kahne
Jeff Gordon
Kurt Busch
Brian Vickers
Carl Edwards
Ryan Newman
Juan Pablo Montoya
Greg Biffle


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Richard Petty Hasn't Driven A Ford Lately, But He Did A Long Time Ago

For the details, check out Marc at Full Throttle detailing the season in which Petty drove the blue oval.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Memo To Atlanta

Please do not, under any circumstances, repave that track.

The Pep Boys 500 last night was a fun race. Not fun for drivers that enjoy easy racing, but fun for the fans. Everyone that recorded a top 10 finish earned their money. Even, I'll grudgingly admit, Kasey Kahne.

At this point, I don't think Atlanta losing a spring race eventually will matter as long as this race will stay here on Labor Day in lieu of a return to Darlington. This one should be packed from top to bottom in 2010.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sorry Bobby Labonte Fans, But Your Guy Can't Get The Job Done Anymore

The news today that Erik Darnell would be replacing Bobby Labonte in 7 races this season didn't come as a complete shocker, but it looks like race fans are reacting pretty negatively to the news. I hate to tell the Bobby fans this, but like the title says... your guy can't get it done anymore.

Believe me, I've thought a lot of Bobby Labonte over the years. I thought he could have saved Petty Enterprises. That didn't work out so well. I thought the deal to Earnhardt Ganassi would have been good. That didn't pan out in the end. On paper, it seemed that the Hall of Fame/Yates deal would be an attractive ride. Sponsorship came from Ask.com and they were a new sponsor that had really committed to NASCAR. The results, though, just haven't been there. I'm sure you'll hear people bitch and complain about the equipment, but this is where HoF was running last year and the year before.

As for Bobby himself, he has one top 5 finish in the last 3 years. That was this year at Las Vegas in a fuel mileage gamble. His last win came in 2003. If you're looking at those numbers objectively, is that a guy you want driving your cars? I didn't think so. There comes a time when a driver just can't compete at the highest level anymore. The only exception seems to be Mark Martin these days. People said the CoT would be benefit drivers like Labonte. That hasn't proven to be the case. I understand Bobby's pride in staying in Cup. He won the championship in 2000. It's just time for him to look at moving down if he wants to keep racing. He could retire today and be a hall of famer down the road. His career speaks for itself.

This is a good opportunity for Erik Darnell to get some Cup experience. I think since Jamie McMurray appears headed to the #1 of EGR Darnell might inherit the #26 team when parts of it move to Yates. Darnell and Paul Menard will likely be the drivers of the Yates cars in 2010. HoF is supposedly looking to move on from Yates.

Friday, August 28, 2009

NASCAR Changes

Going off that title, it could be anything inside the post. What I mean by that in this case is I'm finally going to post bits and pieces from a Word document I've been adding to, tinkering with, and adjusting since probably mid-January. In it is my personal changes to NASCAR that I think will be for the better and will carry the sport to the place we thought we were going years ago. One thing I kept in mind was this had to pretty realistic, in that it could conceivably be talked about in Daytona by the France family. You won't find a scrap the Chase or a go back to North Wilkesboro rant. I think just by saying that I'll make a lot of people mad, but grow up and come to reality. Neither one of those will ever happen so don't waste time on it.

My two main points of emphasis are going to be 1.) adjusting the points system and the Chase composition and 2.) overhauling the schedule.

So, what are my ideas? You'll have to stay tuned. Let's just say if I had my way, the 10th Chase spot would have a big bullseye on it right now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kyle Makes It Interesting

With 2 races before the Chase cutoff, Kyle Busch did what he does best, and made the battle to get in the top 12 that much more interesting. He edged Mark Martin in the final laps to take his 4th win of the year (although first since May) and put himself firmly in the hunt after falling out a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Checking In On The IRL

The IndyCar Series has 4 events left in their 2009 season. This weekend's race at Infineon will be the final road course event of the year.

The points standings shake out like this:
1. Scott Dixon 460 pts.
2. Ryan Briscoe -3
3. Dario Franchitti -20
4. Helio Castroneves -101
5. Danica Patrick -139
6. Marco Andretti -153
7. Tony Kanaan -166
8. Graham Rahal -171
9. Dan Wheldon -172
10. Justin Wilson -190

The only contenders for the title are Dixon, Briscoe, Franchitti, and maybe Castroneves. In other words, the same way it's been for the last several years with Ganassi and Penske yarding the rest of the field. Even with Castroneves missing the season opener he still has a shot, although he'll need to win more than once and hope the other teams stumble. What should be interesting is the entry of Penske driver Will Power in this race. Presumably this may be his last start of the year. He won at Edmonton a few weeks ago and could very well be a threat in this race. Power may take valuable points away from some of those guys.

After Infineon, the series heads to Chicagoland, followed by Twin Ring Motegi and Homestead for the finale.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Big Win For Red Bull Racing

Certainly a rewarding win for Red Bull and Brian Vickers today. They carried the water from day one for Toyota in Sprint Cup and finally got the reward - at Michigan no less.

This race also closed up battle for 12th in the points as Vickers moves up to 13th and just behind Mark Martin. Kyle Busch still has to be considered a factor, although seemingly less so after a lackluster run today. Somehow, Clint Bowyer has engineered a run for the Chase after his impressive early season run and then the fall of the cliff with the rest of RCR.

It's now on to Bristol, or the track that used to be Bristol. BrisDull might be more fitting now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Save The Trucks? Here's An Idea

The Camping World Truck Series has produced great racing nearly every year since it's inaugural season. Many enjoy the series because of the feel - it feels like a throwback to short track racing and to the way racing was in the 1980s. Veterans, young drivers, drivers just making a living doing what they love. Yet despite stronger TV ratings this year than in previous years, the Truck Series has a dearth of quality sponsors, a greater percentage of start and park efforts, and have rarely gotten a full field since the beginning of the year. Manufacturers have pulled their support from the series and left the advances to the teams. The saving grace, and what makes this series worth saving, is something that is essential to racing. The Truck Series has great racing! I've come up with an idea that I think will help the series maintain healthy interest - and in the process elevate the focus on both Sprint Cup and Nationwide at the same time.

Here is my idea for the Trucks: End the season at Richmond in September.

The Truck Series currently runs a 25-race schedule and it appears it will do the same next year. My idea to shorten the season comes from the idea that "minor leagues" in other sports end before the top series. The Truck Series is, after all, a minor-league series. In baseball, minors end in time for teams to call up its best players in September. Even in football, the college season ends around the same time as the NFL regular season does. The helps the NFL have sole focus on their playoffs by giving football fans their undivided attention. Hey NASCAR, wouldn't having one of your three national series finish before the Chase begins be an asset?

For a series that consists of 25 races, 10 less than Nationwide and 11 less than Sprint Cup (13 if you count the two non-points races) it doesn't make sense at this point to start the year in mid-February and end the year in mid-November. Keeping the schedule more compact will be less of a strain for all parties involved. By contracting the amount of time spent on each season, no longer will we have ridiculously long breaks between Truck races. Consider the beginning of the year: Daytona, California, week off, Atlanta, 3 weeks off, Martinsville, a month off, Kansas, and then another 3 weeks until Charlotte. In 4 months, the series runs a total of 6 races. Is there a certain reason why this is the way it is? I think it's a case of poor planning.

So by accepting this premise, let's look at the races after Richmond that will be cut out: Gateway (currently the same week as Richmond), Loudon, Las Vegas, Martinsville, Talladega, Texas, Phoenix, Homestead.

These races can be moved fairly easily and still fit into the schedule. Flip flop the combo races at Loudon so that the Trucks go there on the Sprint Cup Series' first visit, and the Nationwide Series takes the current spot. Same could even go for Talladega, Texas, and Phoenix. That leaves Las Vegas, Martinsville, and Homestead. From a fan perspective, these races can be moved to any point of the schedule and I'll still watch. I most other fans of the series will as well. Why not put a race at Martinsville on July 4th weekend? This would be shortly after the Memphis races, two short tracks in a row. Since the rumor is the series won't return to California (Auto Club Speedway) the Las Vegas date is open. That leaves a date at Homestead. I think if this idea were to gain traction, we could find an agreeable date.

That's my pitch to make the series more compact and just as interesting and fun to watch. Crown a champion in Richmond, see ya in February next year. Continuity is important and I think this move would deliver it big-time. Also, it helps NASCAR's top 2 national series at the same time, which is a win all around.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stewart Wins Again, Watkins Glen Needs SAFER

The second consecutive rain delayed race produced a fun one, with Tony Stewart winning for a 5th time at the New York road course. Appropriately, he called The Glen "his house" from victory lane. Much will be said about the latest win and Chase momentum for the #14 team, as well it should.

The biggest thing I'm taking away from the race is the need for the SAFER barrier at the road courses. Sam Hornish, Jeff Gordon, and Jeff Burton are all lucky to walk away after their crash that red-flagged the race for nearly 20 minutes. For reference, here's the crash:


Also, let's not forget, Jason Leffler took quite a hit as well in the same area:


In 2009 in these series, SAFER needs to be outside of these high-speed turns. You just never know what's going to happen. We got lucky this weekend. It's a benefit to have crashes like this expose something that can be fixed. Let's hope Watkins Glen does the right thing and installs the barriers. We might not be as lucky next time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

American F1 Team Gets Major Sponsor(s)

Best Buy and YouTube have been linked as primary sponsors of the USF1 team, reports the website F1-Live. The YouTube angle is exciting as it would appear someone is willing to sink a lot of money into making this program respectable. This might just be worth keeping an eye on for a while.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Farewell, Lowes Motor Speedway

The first racetrack naming rights deal is now over after 11 years.

Welcome back, Charlotte Motor Speedway!

That is, unless Bruton sells the name to somoene else... stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Return Of The Ringers: Watkins Glen

Some names that should make Watkins Glen interesting, at least during qualifying:

#04 - P.J. Jones
I still rememer, to this day, the effort of P.J. in the old A.J. Foyt #14 Conseco car several years ago. He finished the race 4th with smoke pouring off the tires that were rubbing. Yet he still threw the car all around the course.

#08 - Boris Said or TDFKA (The Driver Formerly Known As) Terry Labonte
Obviously Boris is the only one that would actually be competing, so I'm hoping there's no weather. The Glen is more of a Boris track than Infineon, since you can count on Boris to knock at least 3 or 4 guys off course. That hurts him much less here.

#09 - Ron Fellows
Expectations for Fellows have been lowered with his age, but the old guy can still get it done. The #09 is one of the Hendrick cars so this will be a real effort and not a start & park.

#13 - Max Papis
Papis has to view this as his best chance to make a name so expect to see him make things exciting here.

#43 - Jacques Villeneuve
Ah, Jacques is back in Sprint Cup. It should be interesting to see what he does in this car. No one should expect miracles but come on, Reed Sorenson would have put this car in 34th at best. At least Jacques has the talent to race his way to a respectable finish.

#55 - Patrick Carpentier
He had an impressive finish at Infineon and this track probably suits him better. Still though, he'll be hard-pressed to top that finish of 11th. He had a lot of good breaks back in June.

#71 - Andy Lally
Lally has competed at Watkins Glen more times that he could count and is making his Sprint Cup debut. He competed in Montreal before and was actually pretty fast. Could me make some noise in this car? We'll find out Friday.

10:35 PM - Oh well, scratch Villenueve. Pencil in 34th for Sorenson.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ESPN's Sorry Race Coverage

Most NASCAR fans have tolerated the ESPN coverage of racing since their re-entry into the sport. The complaints, however, have grown from a slight buzz to an overwhelming roar. NASCAR fans are the edge of revolt. Uniformly, they agree something needs to be done with ESPN's presentation of the sport and perhaps even the people presenting each race.

The clear majority of fans would like someone - anyone, at this point - to take the play-by-play role from Dr. Jerry Punch. In just 2 races, he has made fans pine for Ralph Sheheen, Mike Joy, and even Bill Weber. Most of these fans would like to see Allen Bestwick, regarded as one of the best in the business, moved back to the booth. Bestwick excels in whatever role is given to him, so that works. I'm fine with Bestwick going back there. I also think that the Andy Petree experiment needs to come to an end. This is ESPN's third year with the sport, but Petree, in my opinion, still sounds nervous at times and the broadcast doesn't flow as well as it should. Maybe that's not the way everyone feels, but the chemistry isn't there the way it is with the FOX and TNT teams.

ESPN has been at the sports broadcasting business long enough that they have a certain way of presenting their broadcasts. The problem with that is NASCAR broadcasts don't follow the same flow of stick-and-ball sports. ESPN wants their play-by-play guy to ask questions of and solicit comments from the analysts while they call the action. With Punch, he overloads the first part of that and as a result we end up watching a four-hour interview. Jarrett and Petree both do more calling of on-track action than Punch. Why is this?

As a quick aside, Punch used to be able to do play-by-play. I've been fortunate enough to get some cool DVDs over the years, and Punch has done play-by-play. He did the Winston 500 at Talladega, Dale Earnhardt's last Cup win. The booth consisted of Punch, the late Benny Parsons, and Ned Jarrett. The calling was excellent. The broadcast was excellent. I was on the edge of my seat knowing the outcome beforehand.

Punch used to be a competent play-by-play man. He isn't anymore.

Going back to the ESPN way (ESPNification), their other broadcasts make use of a pre-game, halftime, and post-race show. In much the same way of the race broadcast, analysts are asked questions, they answer, and maybe we learn something new. This also doesn't translate into their vision of the races. We get Bestwick, Rusty Wallace, Ray Evernham, and Brad Daugherty from the pit studio at random times, often while the green flag is out. Then at other random points, Tim Brewer appears to give a 10-second description of something that Petree, Evernham, or a trained dog could answer. FOX and TNT have usually been much more judicious in their use of the pit studio. TNT excels in this, as Larry Mac is able to run to a car, talk to the booth, or handle things just fine on his own.

The pit reporters have their good and bad moments, particularly bad for Vince Welch and Shannon Spake this past weekend. Dave Burns is able as is Mike Massaro. All in all, they are less noticeable by comparison.

So, what's the solution? It isn't just moving people around to new places. That would be a start, but as John Daly points out in a way few can, it's the overall race presentation that has been horribly done. Somehow, as fans, we've got to make sure ESPN hears us and gives us a broadcast we can watch. Otherwise, the folks at MRN and PRN will call the rest of our races as we listen in to them in our driveways.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Something To Think About During A Monday Race @ Pocono

This race could go to a track like, say, Iowa. Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch had a terrific duel for the lead in the inaugural event for the Nationwide Series Saturday.



Anyway, enjoy 500 miles for a second time at Pocono. Try not to fall asleep.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Michael Schumacher Returning To F1*

Michael Schumacher is coming back to F1, but with a catch... he's taking Felipe Massa's seat while Massa is injured.

This is bigger than Lance Armstrong returning to the Tour de France. I may have to watch the next F1 race to see how he does. This is good for F1 after their struggles w/ putting together a deal to keep things intact for 2010.

News Pt. 2

Let the party continue!

-- I'm pretty excited to see the Ford Mustang coming to NASCAR, even if it is just a nameplate. The Nationwide COT will be a better car than the Sprint Cup COT and you can take that to the bank.

-- Speaking of manufacturers, BMW is pulling out of Formula 1 at the end of this year. Can I be the first to speculate it's move to NASCAR?

-- Scott Lagasse Jr. will be out of the CJM Nationwide car after this week's race in Iowa. Replacing him will be Denny Hamlin for a few races, then possibly Kelly Bires. I guess Gibbs (which has an affiliation w/ CJM) wants to get Matt DiBenedetto a ride for 2010.

-- Ron Hornaday can't lose. Hornaday's racked up an impressive four consecutive wins in the Camping World Truck Series, and has raced out to a points lead that will be difficult to catch. People talk about Mark Martin and his year, but what Hornaday's doing is nearly as impressive.

-- Finally, a hearty Get Well Soon to Felipe Massa.


I Take A Break, News Breaks Out

I've been on hiatus the second half of this month, hey we all deserve it, right? The time away from worrying about writing has actually been good. I've been active on Twitter with NASCAR comments, you can follow me if you can stand everything else I tweet about.

-- The big news today was the expected move of Crown Royal from the Roush #26 team to the #17 with Matt Kenseth for 18 races. I wonder if the rest of the Kenseth sponsors - USG, Carhartt, R+L to name the major ones will be back. Between them they were the primary sponsor for around 10-12 races, so the Roush sponsorship search is far from done.

-- Jamie McMurray is looking likely to bolt from Roush and avoid the move to Yates by reuniting with Chip Ganassi and EGR (or as I've trademarked them, GanassEI) in the #1. That's probably the best move for him in all honesty. He never fit in with the Roush team completely and sometimes that just happens. Consider this: his 2004 season with Ganassi saw McMurray record 23 top 10 finishes. His 4 seasons with Roush? A total of 30. (h/t to my friend Hester)

-- One more Roush item: Scene Daily interviewed Roush at ORP and we got a glimpse into his 2010 Nationwide plans. The shocker? At this point, Erik Darnell is nowhere to be found. Roush plans full-time teams for Colin Braun, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Carl Edwards, and... Paul Menard?

-- Red Bull Racing has given no intention of their plans and Brian Vickers is freaking out. Is Vickers really going to be allowed to walk? It looks possible since they're still sitting on their hands. Perhaps Hendrick wants to stick it to BV if Red Bull kisses the ring and moves from Toyota to Chevy.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Reviewing My 2009 Predictions At The Halfway Point

This should be fun.

Sprint Cup

Champion - Carl Edwards
OK, OK, so Carl's not leading the points. Oh, he hasn't won this year either... well, at least he's run good... well, good enough, at least right now. I really thought the #99 team was loaded this year but they fell behind and are now catching up. A bad night at Chicagoland notwithstanding, they've got the cars to contend for wins now. Problem is, they'll need to win 2 or 3 to get in contention after the Chase cutoff in Richmond. I think he could win at Michigan, Bristol, or Atlanta. I'm still holding out hope, but Mark Martin winning the title wouldn't be a bad outcome either.

ROTY - Joey Logano
Young Joey Logano has continued to impress, winning at Loudon and running better than most imagined he would. The other ROTY contender, Scott Speed, has really disappointed those expecting a battle for the award. Speed took to ARCA and Truck racing fast, but is really experiencing a learning curve at this level.

Nationwide

Champion - Kyle Busch
Yeah, this one's not gonna be close unless Carl goes on a run like he did last year. Even then Bowyer was a smart enough driver to keep a commanding lead. This is Kyle Busch, though, so smart points racing won't come into play.

ROTY - Michael Annett
I didn't forsee this ROTY battle to be so loaded, and my Annett pick is looking rather lowly right now. That's not a dis to him, it just shows how packed the Nationwide ROTY class is and the NASCAR rules that allow it to be that way. Seriously, Brendan Gaughan and Michael McDowell are ROTY material? They've both competed full-time in Sprint Cup. Take them out and Annett is running 3rd and close to Scott Lagasse Jr. Don't count Erik Darnell out either. In 15 races he can accrue a lot of points because the trophy isn't a season-long thing, it's top finishes. If Darnell keeps recording top 5 and top 10 finishes he could upset everyone. At this point though, I think Allgaier's the favorite.

Trucks

Champion - Mike Skinner
Skinner is currently 3rd in the standings and has a win. Not bad. As everyone knows, these Truck Series championships always go down to the wire and it should be no different this year. The sight of Skinner and Randy Moss spraying champagne in Homestead should be enough for anyone to cheer for him to win the title.

ROTY - Tayler Malsam
Malsam has run pretty well this year and has benefited from being teamed with the veteran Skinner. He leads Johnny Sauter, who, thanks these weird ROTY rules, is running for the award. If Malsam holds him off it'll be all that more impressive. Going into Kentucky he leads by 1 point.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Jimmie Johnson's Self-Help DVD

The folks at Funny Or Die sent me a link to a new video with Jimmie Johnson. I must say, it's hysterical. Check it out:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Martin Truex Jr. Brings Championship Experience To MWR

I think a lot of fans and media have forgotten that Martin Truex Jr. is a 2-time Nationwide (Busch) Series Champion. Truex racked up wins, top 5's, and points racing experience while driving for DEI in that series. Michael Waltrip and David Reutimann don't have that. Reutimann is gaining it this year for sure, but adding Truex is a major score. I like it a lot.

As for EGR, is Aric Almirola really the best option to put in the #1? Juan Pablo can't compete with EGR as a one-car operation. A quick split of EGR back to DEI and Ganassi wouldn't be a surprise. Ganassi has to be eyeballing Toyota. Or, he could just be waiting for Honda to make a move to Cup when their deal in the IRL is over. Heck, EGR could end up folding into the RCR tent if they can't re-sign their sponsors and cut Casey Mears loose.

Finally, Mikey will be done as a full-time driver after this year. Praise the lord!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

BREAKING: Mayfield Wins Injunction

Scene Daily with the details.

Midweek Linkage

- NBC Universal was nice enough to send me some info on a CNBC special set to air July 9th at 9:00 PM, titled "Inside Track: Refueling the Business of NASCAR" with host Darren Rovell. Here are some web extras to whet your appetite and watch the preview below.



- The Jeremy Mayfield suit began today, with NASCAR promptly reversing itself and now saying that Mayfield tested positive for methanphetamines after not revealing the result and allowing ESPN to carry a 'source' claiming it was meth.

- The 25 people named finalists for the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame are being released this week with Cale Yarbrough and Darrell Waltrip named yesterday, and Glen Wood and Richard Childress named today. Thursday, the full list will be made available.

- Double-file restarts are slated to begin in the Nationwide Series this Friday night at Daytona. The complexion of restrictor plate racing is about to change again with this rule.

Monday, June 29, 2009

JOEY!


How sweet it is, no matter how you get it.

I said Joey Logano would win a race this year. Predicted it before he made his Cup debut. You can't deny the force this kid will be, even if he didn't outrun the field for this one... he and the #20 team outsmarted them. The statbooks won't care and the trophy won't care. The detractors can go back to their holes and be jealous.

Joey Logano is a Sprint Cup winner and I'm happy about it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Groundhog Day

Kasey Kahne wins at Infineon today, and it doesn't really matter.

Seriously, I'm already sick of seeing headlines from people saying Kahne will be in the Chase, this is the first of many, etc. It's not, OK people??? Kahne is good for a win or two every year, just like he did last year. He faded as the year went on and wasn't a factor anywhere else.

He's going to do the same thing this year so let it go. As long as he races for that team he won't be a factor. Count on that.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2010 Rumor Mill: Never Too Early

Through the grapevine I've stumbled upon a few juicy rumors that could send a 3rd driver to Stewart Haas Racing for the 2010 season. Simply, there are two candidates: Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne.

For Keselowski, it would present a move to the Sprint Cup level while Mark Martin is putting the #5 in victory lane every month. The story goes that Hendrick will pay Keselowski's way on this 3rd car and increase the partnership between the two teams.

For Kahne, it rests on his contract and the willingness of Budweiser to go with him. Kahne doesn't look happy with Richard Petty Motorsports. Reports have him being frustrated on the radio nearly every week. Kahne is also an open-wheel driver, same as both Stewart and Newman. It's not hard to imagine him fitting in with what they're doing. My guess is that Budweiser would move with Kahne in such a case. Kahne is under contract through 2010 though, so something would need to happen on RPM's and SHR's end to make it happen. I imagine a buyout would be rather costly.

Again, these are just rumors... but they've been making the rounds for a reason.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Read & Learn: Mayfield Case

From the Meck Deck's Jeff Taylor.

I can't say I disagree with anything in this post.

Now NASCAR is trying to discredit a witness on Mayfield's side. Unbelieveable. They're hoping to bleed Mayfield so that he'll stop his lawsuit. I knew this was going to happen. It's the Tim Richmond saga for a new generation of fans.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pony Cars In The Nationwide Series

Hopefully this means the cars will look different that the one pictured above.

Lee Spencer of Fox Sports is reporting that "pony cars" are coming to Nationwide in the form of the new Nationwide COT. She also reports that design flaws in the current COT will be changed and that NASCAR won't admit their mistake. Hah, you're damn right they won't.

I actually do have some hopes for this car but NASCAR had a nasty habit of letting you down. It remains to be seen if they'll actually fix the real problems of the car, the ones going on inside where you can't see and where most people don't know. That's the challenge. Adding the spoiler back instead of the wing is probably on the list. Hopefully getting rid of the splitter too. That thing needs to go out with the trash.

Seeing a Ford Mustang as a race car will be cool. It brings more to the table than the Fusion did. Same with the model Dodge uses, if they're still around at this time next year. These changes can't come soon enough. Racing could be revitalized after all.

NASCAR Driver Dies: R.I.P. Carlos Pardo

Story.

NASCAR Mexico driver killed in crash

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Driver Carlos Pardo has been killed in a crash during the final laps of a NASCAR Mexico race, organizers said.

Pardo was leading the race in the 97th lap when his car was nudged by a competitor from behind and slid sideways into a wall at the entrance to the pit lane at about 120 mph on Sunday. The car disintegrated as a result of the impact.

Pardo was removed from the wreckage and sent by helicopter to a hospital. The NASCAR Mexico Web site reported that he died 45 minutes later.

Pardo was later declared winner of the race in Pueblo, east of Mexico City.

He won the series championship in 2004 and had 10 career victories in 74 races.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Off Track With Tony" - Armor All Contest!

Attention readers: time to win some prizes!

Thanks to the good folks at Armor All, I've been given 2 Armor All prize packs to give away however I want to do so.  First, I want everyone watch the exclusive video at the end of this post from the "Off Track With Tony" series.  The series is updating each week and has some really cool stuff.  You can check it out here.

Now for the contest.  Include, with photo evidence, the biggest, baddest, best car to ever win a NASCAR race.  Old school, recent, I don't care.  I want to see what you think is the best stock car we've ever seen.  I can tell you my personal favorite, but I'll wait and see what you think.  Get these entries to me by June 24 at 11:59 PM.  You can do this by either commenting on this post or emailing me, thecatfishshow@gmail.com.  I'll pick my favorites and notify the winners.  Good luck and impress me!

Also, be sure to look at the Armor All Sweepstakes to win a VIP Race Weekend with Tony.  That contest ends on August 31.

video

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blogging The Blogosphere

3 stories I saw today that I feel like I'll comment on:

Examiner: How vital is a Nationwide Series team to the success of a Sprint Cup organization?

Interesting read here, and it pretty much tells you all you need to know about why Sprint Cup teams have Nationwide teams.  It doesn't hurt when your drivers last year won half the races in the series, either, as was the case for Joe Gibbs Racing.  No matter what you do to the series, Cup teams and their Cup drivers will still compete, win races, and make money.

Racin' Today: Smashed Guitar Strikes Sour Chord in Music City

Oh boy, we get some more self-rightous tongue-lashing of Kyle Busch for his smashing of the guitar in the Nationwide race at Nashville.  After reading enough of it Sunday, Monday, and today, I'm going to defend Kyle: he won the race and the trophy and can do what he damn well pleases with it.  Would I smash it into pieces myself?  Probably not.  But I'm also not going to jump on another Kyle Busch bandwagon bash either because I didn't "like" what he did or how it could possibly "offend" someone.  We still live in America, you don't have a right to not be offended.  Kyle Busch is a different kind of guy and what he did added some spice to victory lane that we haven't seen in a while.  I miss that sort of thing.  Tim Richmond was a very different guy when he came to NASCAR and surprise, a lot of people didn't like him either at first.  Even after his death, fans still miss him and people still talk about him and how good he was - and how good he was for the sport.  Kyle Busch will be talked about in a similar sense.

NASCAR Insiders: Is MWR The Best Place For Truex?

I view the possible move for Martin Truex Jr. in a more favorable light than many, mainly because MWR is on the way up.  The Toyota connection simply cannot be overstated, especially given the uncertainty with Chrysler and Government (oops, General) Motors.  As I've been saying, having Mikey wearing the owner's hat full-time will be a plus since his team has come a long way in an awful short amount of time.  From trying too much too soon to decelerating the pace to, finally, a win and success, MWR is a team that will firmly establish itself on the second-tier with potential to go higher.  Should Truex land in the #55, I would expect to see Mikey take a 3rd car for a 2010 limited schedule retirement tour if he won't mercifully leave after this year.  The success has been undeniable when you factor in the surprising success of JTG and Marcos Ambrose.

Richard Petty Motorsports Gets A Foot In The Door Of Toyota

Don't count on RPM staying with the Dodge nameplate much longer.  They're already feeling out Toyota, a move nearly made in the offseason last year.

Elliott Sadler and Kasey Kahne will team up to drive a Braun Racing Toyota in some Nationwide events.  Kahne will do the heavy lifting, running a car at Daytona, Bristol, Atlanta, and Charlotte starting in July.  Sadler will drive in a few weeks at New Hampshire.

Friday, June 5, 2009

On Pit Row's NASCAR 64 Greatest Drivers Tournament

If you haven't voted already in the tournament, this is your last chance.

We're down to the finals, Dale Earnhardt and David Pearson.

I voted for David Pearson and encourage you to do the same.

Oh yeah, it's rained for 40 days and 40 nights on the east coast so no Pocono qualifying today.  Good thing, my pick for the weekend in the One and Done game (at On Pit Row too) is Kurt Busch.  He'll start at the front.  There's still time to get in on the fun there.  Think you can beat me?  Prove it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Double-File Restarts

Looks like NASCAR is going to move ahead with double-file restarts for every race.  The format produces interesting and exciting restarts in the All-Star races, but doing them at every event makes me nervous.

I do think it would make a better show for the fans, but I am worried about the unintended consequences that it may produce.  I think seeing it in action will be the biggest difference.  I used to be against it, but I may be coming around.  It will put all the lap down cars behind the lead lap cars racing for the Lucky Dog, which if it's still around, is a worthy enough prize for them.  The other thing is eliminating cars on the tail end of the lead lap from restarting in front of the leaders.  If they stay out, the theory goes, they'll go to the back of the lead lap cars and in front of the lap down cars.  Is that a better system?  Seems so, on the surface, but that's still something to be ironed out.  If it does change at Pocono this week we'll get to see if it's a great move or a horrible idea.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Marc Davis Gets A Chance

Braun Racing puts the young driver in the #10 for 6 races, including the upcoming stretch of Dover, Nashville, Kentucky, and Milwaukee.  Davis has potential but thus far hasn't been able to lock down a ride.  He competed with Joey Logano in the Camping World East Series, and even ran a race for Gibbs in the #18 at Memphis last year.  However, Gibbs didn't have room for him in the Nationwide program, and Davis and his family started their own and made 2 races this year at Bristol and Richmond.  The #10 isn't a shabby ride, as the #32 and #38 are among the top unaffiliated teams in the series.  It'll be up to Davis to make a good impression as, obviously, he has more riding on his shoulders than the usual young driver entering the series.

Tony George Removed From Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Big news from Indy this morning, courtesy of Robin Miller.

UPDATE - 3:33 PM: Well, maybe not so fast...

Intrigue runs deep.  Probably won't be the last update.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mike Bliss Nationwide Victory Interview

Pictures

Victory Interview with Mike Bliss from NASCAR Nationwide Series at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. 

`In winning the 11th Nationwide Series race of the year at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Mike Bliss was good and lucky. The 44-year-old veteran qualified 10th but had to go to the back because his Miccosukee Chevy team had to swap out a motor. Bliss then methodically drove up through the field and when he stayed out longer than anyone during the long green flag run late in the event, found himself on the lead lap with only one other driver. When a yellow came out just as Kyle Busch and the other top cars had pitted, the race restarted with Bliss leading but in mid-pack with the top cars who had pitted lining up in front of him on the tail end of the lead lap. Bliss then found himself battling for the top spot with Brendan Gaughan who passed him briefly and had no idea rain was fast approaching. 

Bliss: 

I really didn’t know Brendan was there until he got by me. They said that’s your leader now. So I had no idea. I know when Brendan went by I knew I’d get back by him but I had no clue that there was any rain. We went through one and two and there was a little rain and then we went back through again and there was about five of us and we all went sideways and it came down pretty hard over there. 

Gaughan: 

We were battling pretty good for awhile, I was hoping for a little bit longer run and try to get back by him later but second place with the hard luck rusty wallace racing team man. The number of stupid things we’ve had were just nobody’s creation, I’ll take a second place any night.   

For Brendan Gaughan the runner-up was a Nationwide Series career best. Kyle Busch came home third. He was second fastest in qualifying but an engine change had him also starting in the back. It took him however only 35 green flag laps to take the lead. 

Busch: 

Just went to the top when they were on the bottom, went to the bottom when they were on the top. Just kind of made my way through there, picked them off one at a time. Sometimes two at a time but we made it up there pretty smoothly and pretty much had to pass his car figured we should have won the race but third place I guess is good and as everyone else would probably say it’s a good points day but I’m not worried about points I want wins. 

It was the second race in a row where Busch led the most laps but did not wind up in victory lane. Finishing fourth was Brian Vickers with Joey Logano fifth. Sixth to tenth at the end were Jason Leffler, David Ragan, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards. Eleven to 15: Scott Speed, Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Justin Allgaier and David Gilliland. In the battle for the 2009 Nationwide Series Championship Kyle Bush leads Edwards by 73 pts and sitting third is Leffler minus 173. After leading three times for 21 laps, Bliss won his second career Nationwide Series race and both have come at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway but five years apart, the other one coming in 2004. 

Bliss: 

I don’t know why this track is very aggravating in the day and you get really mad and at night it just changes and becomes a better track. I kept over driving the car into the corner which would make it tight so I had to really concentrate and tell myself to back off a little on entry. I don’t know why I run good here and it’s only two races I won. It’s alright it’s close to home I can be in my own bed. 

With rain cutting the race short by 30 laps and Kyle Busch the quickest, Bliss was more than willing to admit this is one victory he might have stolen. 

Bliss: 

I don’t care, yes I did. From the guy who is winning too much anyways. We had a good enough car to run top three all night. Yes, 18 was the best car but he wins too much and nobody likes him. That’s just funny. 

Not to Kyle Busch. 


Pictures and interview courtesy of Nationwide.  Follow them on Twitter here.

I wanted to do something since it's a rare feat for a non-Cup driver to win on a weekend loaded with the Cup drivers.  Congrats to Bliss.

Calling Out Ed Hinton Once Again

The title of Hinton's column after the Coke 340.5 is "Nice guy Reutimann finally finishes first."

Um, ok.

If someone like Robby Gordon had one, would it be "Bad boy Robby steals win"?  

If it were Jamie McMurray, would it be "Pretty boy Jamie wins 2nd race at Lowes"?

If it were Bill Elliott, would it say something like "Old man Elliott steals victory"?

I digress, but Reutimann being a good guy or perceived as a good guy has nothing to do with why he won the race yesterday.  His team made a call that somoene always does when rain plagues a race and it paid off.  Same with Kurt Busch's so-called win at Loudon last year when he stayed out and the rain didn't stop.  I'd rather someone with the experience of Ed Hinton talk about the steady improvement of MWR as a team and the progression of Reutimann from Trucks to Nationwide to Cup.  If anything, I think this race shows that if Mikey put a good driver in the #55 there's no reason not to think it wouldn't be a top-20 car.  I've been on this for over a year.  I'm not quite sure I believe the Truex to MWR rumors but we'll see.  I figured it was a lock for Truex and Bass Pro to move to Stewart Haas.  

For all the work he's done, I'm surprised Hinton is letting the ESPNification bleed into his writing.  Maybe I'm overreacting.  I don't know.  But I can think of better ways to describe the victory for Reutimann than just saying a nice guy finally finished first.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Pick To Win The 93rd Indianapolis 500

I don’t have a great track record with my Indy pick, mainly because I kept picking with my heart instead of my head.  The head’s prevailing this year though, and it’s time for this driver to step into the spotlight as one of the top drivers on the IRL circuit.  I’m picking Penske Racing driver Ryan Briscoe to win the Indy 500.

It’s Briscoe’s time to win.  He finished 5th two years ago and last year had an incident with Danica Patrick that gave him a lot of negative press… until he went out and won the very next week at Milwaukee.  Briscoe improved drastically from the beginning of 2008 through the end of the year, racking up 3 wins on his way to finishing the year 5th in points.  This year he won the season-opener in St. Petersburg and recorded a solid 4th place finish in the only oval race before Indy at Kansas.

Briscoe has been fast all month at Indy as his top practice speeds were the best pre-qualifying before being edged by teammate Helio Castroneves.  Since then he has been fast too, among the top 5 cars in every session.  I believe Briscoe has the talent, the temperament, and finally the experience to get the job done and win his first Borg-Warner trophy Sunday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jeremy Mayfield Starring In Saving Abel "Drowning (Face Down)" Video

I got this a few weeks ago and subsequently decided whether to post it after the drug test incident.  Yet I find myself coming closer to his position than NASCAR's.  The truth is somewhere in the middle to be sure, but for now enjoy the video that takes a more truthful and powerful tone today than it did when it came out.












Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Winston

Yeah, that's right.  The Winston is coming up Saturday night.

I'm living in the past I guess.  I can't help it.  I grew up as a fan of this race, and the great feel that came around the event.  These last few years, can anyone really look at me and say that feeling is still there?  This used to be an event the drivers loved to be in.  The special paint schemes, the cars that were made just for this race, it was all there.  What happened?  This race just isn't what it once was.  Now we have a fan vote to put drivers in the main event.  Driver and team talent has nothing to do with it.  Kasey Kahne didn't belong in this race last year.  If NASCAR wants to know why things aren't as popular as they used to be, this is one reason why.  The best of the best are not represented.  Back in the mid-90s the top 5 drivers would qualify for the main event.  Rules change over time but this one wasn't and still isn't a positive step.  

After all that, though, I'm going to to be in the stands for this race Saturday night.  I'm praying that it's more exciting than the one last year, when it was just about track position.  Given this car and this tire I don't know if a 10-lap dash lends itself to anything but that.  We shall see.  I'm not asking for this race to top One Hot Night, but I want a race I'm glad I paid money to see.

Come on, NASCAR, make this race great again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jeremy Mayfield Drug Identified

I'm going to break some news here.  I've found the drug that caused Jeremy Mayfield to fail his drug test.

It was this.

OK, OK, sorry... couldn't resist.

Really, though, it's this.

It's the first sports drink to use the stuff.  Even Wikipedia has it's own page on the product with a subsection called "Controversies" in the article.  I smell conspiracy led by NASCAR's insatiable desire to freeze out competing products.  All Sport joins the list that includes AT&T and Verizon.  Nevermind you can't actually find it in a store.  

Anywho, while Mayfield looks for a new sponsor (aka suspension) J.J. Yeley will deliver the requisite DNQ's and 40th-place finishes.  

Friday, May 8, 2009

Wall Street Journal Takes On NASCAR

Or should I say Nascar... non-sports newspapers and their funny way of not recognizing NASCAR is an acronym and not a type of car.  I like the etching of The King though.

But on to the blogging!

The WSJ takes on the duel problems of Chrysler's bankruptcy and NASCAR's sagging popularity.  My thoughts will be in bold.

There was talk that Nascar might supplant football as the most popular professional TV sport in the U.S... Not anymore. Nascar television viewership fell to an average of 6.83 million viewers last year, off 18% from its peak in 2005 of 8.35 million, according to the Nielsen Co. Nascar ticket sales are down by as much as 20% at some races, with gaping blocks of empty seats at tracks in Atlanta, Fontana, and even the hard-core racing town of Talladega, Ala. The Texas Motor Speedway has taken out 21,000 seats, 13% of its 159,000 seat capacity, to make room for recreational-vehicle parking. Nascar teams and tracks have laid off more than 800 employees in the past year.

After such impressive growth, a correction has to be necessary to bring the numbers in line.  The market for racing needed to contract a bit and at least NASCAR responded by moving California out of the valuable Labor Day spot because no matter how much they tried, the racing sucked and didn't belong.  If you're going to try and make a primetime event at a prestigious track, make sure the track doesn't suck, K thx.  I'd also be willing to bet the campgrounds will be better than ever and build longer loyalty to tracks that do it right.  Plus, for the city the race is in, having more people there for longer periods of time will be an added stimulus to the local businesses.  Gotta run to the grocery store, gotta get gas, etc.

But one thing is certain: The sport has slowed down. Many longtime fans say that's because Nascar has wandered too far from its roots, when the races were run by stock cars -- vehicles assembled from the American-made muscle cars in dealers' showrooms, with add-ons available from any auto-parts store.

Very true and very valid, but growth did get out of control and things haven't been helped by the idiotic leadership of Brian France.  He could really put this sport in the ground and should probably go ahead and buy that NFL team in Los Angeles so he can turn this sport over to someone that actually gives a sh*t.  I'm not opposed to growing the sport, as I think some of the die-hards are, but things haven't gotten past the point of no return.

Some red-meat Nascar fans were mortified in 2007 when Toyta Motor Co. (pronounced Tie-yoda by Mr. Petty and many other Nascar aficionados) entered the sport and quickly emerged as a dominant brand -- winning 10 races last year compared with four for Dodge.

"It was hard seeing Toyota get into it," said Steve Gormley, a 47-year-old telecommunications engineer from Mechanicsville, northeast of Richmond. "Well, good for them, bad for us."

Boy, I really hate seeing this dead horse brought back from the graveyard.  Come on WSJ, you're better than that.  But shame on these fans that still resent a company that employs workers across the country and don't belong to a corrupt union like UAW.  

Mr. Busch was driving a Toyota Camry -- or at least that's what it was called. Nascar, which is a privately controlled enterprise owned by the same family for three generations, irritated legions of fans with new rules last season that standardized the body types of all race cars. Since then, all vehicles in a Nascar race have the same boxy body style, with a futuristic back wing and a road-hugging shelf-like splitter in the front. Mr. Busch's car looked just like the other 42 except for colors, his number and a few details like fake headlamps similar to a real Camry's.

The uniformity was meant to focus competition on the skills of the driver. An unintended result has been cars so similar in speed that fans gripe that they bunch up like taxis circling the airport -- no passing, no thrills. Nascar counters that the competition is even keener now that cars are alike, with narrower margins of victory and about the same number of lead changes as there were 10 years ago.

Well... can't really complain here, but I'm glad to see they're skeptical of NASCAR's lies about keener competition and narrower margins of victory and same number of lead changes.  That's not real racing and most fans see through it.  There should be greater variance between cars but it won't happen with this one and it would turn my stomach to see another new car.  Maybe the new car can be modified in some way with the grill to bring some sense of stock back to the cars.  It's hard to market yourself as 'stock' when your cars are no different than Indy cars of F1 cars. Sometimes an outsider opinion is needed before people start to get the message.

FYI, the article also has a nifty interactive chart to check out.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kevin Grubb

It's always sad to hear about someone you've seen and know of dying.  Kevin Grubb was 31 years old and was found dead in a motel.

Whatever his circumstances were following his racing career, they're not important anymore.  RIP.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Still Not The Southern 500

The promoters at Darlington decided to bring back the name "Southern 500" this year.  

Sorry.  It's not the same and won't be recognized, at least on this blog, as such.

The last Southern 500 was won in 2003 by Terry Labonte.  It was not the 2004 race in November, won by Jimmie Johnson.  No, this race is simply a continuation of the the spring Darlington race, which of course in recent memory includes the fantastic duel between Kurt Busch and Ricky Craven, which was also the last win for Pontiac.  

This race has become a good one to set up 2 weeks of fun in Charlotte, but alas, is not the Southern 500, Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com, or any combination of those names.