Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Postmortem For The 2010 Season

Hello there.

Your blogger took the season off as the real world came calling. I spent the year working on the Congressional campaign of Harold Johnson here in North Carolina. Call it a sabbatical from the blogosphere. I was still able to watch most of the races, just didn't really have the time, effort, or desire to look at a computer more than was necessary from the day job (being on a computer more than 12 hours a day has its downsides).

I'll remember this season as the emergence of Denny Hamlin as a superstar. He won 8 races, talked a lot of trash, came back from ACL surgery, partied in my city, and has become a driver that I root for. There are only a couple true superstars in this sport. Hamlin added his name to the list along with Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and maybe 1 or 2 more drivers.

Jamie McMurray had a great season this year too. Winning the Daytona 500 is something you can always hang your hat on, just look at how Derrike Cope continues to pop up every now and then. To back that up and win the Brickyard and a Chase race would make anyone's season - championship hunting or not. He should be in that hunt next year if he can find that consistency week to week. Props as well to the seeming return of Roush to the elite ranks as Edwards wins the last 2 races and finishes 4th in points, Greg Biffle wins a couple races, and Matt Kenseth (yes he's still in the sport) finishes a quiet 5th in points with 3 different crew chiefs and probably sees the return of Robbie Reiser to his pitbox for 2011. RCR also placed 3 cars in the Chase with regular season leader Kevin Harvick, scrappy to the end, and Clint Bowyer, who can win races and contend but just doesn't scream "championship contender" to me.

Disappointments this year? I have several. First on my list is Juan Pablo Montoya. Just couldn't seem to get started this year and managed just a 17th place points finish. For someone that had clear (and reasonable) expectations of contending for the title, he seemed to regress a bit from the 2009 season and still has the no-oval win monkey on his back. I hope 2011 goes better for him. The sport needs him to contend. I'll have to call Tony Stewart's season a disappointment as well. He never showed up in 2009 form and was never a threat to finish in the top 5, much less win a 3rd title.

That's the highlights for now. I know what you're asking yourself... what are you doing now, Matt? Well, I don't know, to be honest. I am currently seeking employment. I don't even know if I'll blog again. The Chase was good, but we're still seeing a loss in fans and interest. I'd like to say I know what's wrong but the racing wasn't terrible. For the first time, I really am worried about the future of NASCAR.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Racin' For Haiti

FYI: Posting this for a friend in the NASCAR PR world... who knows I might be in attendance as well.

I am hosting a fundraiser for Haiti next Thursday, January 28th between 7:30-9:30 at the Hickory Tavern in Mooresville. The night is going to consist of drivers, crew chiefs, and crew members competing in a fun and friendly game of trivia. It's called Racin' for Haiti.

Here is the location. Be great if we have a good crowd.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Roger Penske May Be The Captain, But This Plan Is More Like General Custer's

Penske says he sees advantages in being lone factory-supported program. May I point to the Ford fall off in this strategy, Mr. Penske. Roush has had varying degrees of success since the Yates engine merger and since Yates fell off the map, culminating in the RPM/Yates merger.

See, Roush had the advantage of being the only Ford program and some years it worked, but in just as many years it obviously hasn't. In the meantime, Chevrolet has run away with the manufacturer's title time after time. It isn't just because of Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick has had to work hard to stay above Joe Gibbs (before their defection to Toyota), Richard Childress Racing, DEI (and now EGR), just to name a few. Now, it's Stewart-Haas Racing added to the list.

All of Penske's quote sound suspiciously like the Roush quotes when they became unquestioned top dog at Ford. I'm still a Roush fan (although that has declined in recent years) and I remember it very well. I think most see now that plan isn't the one to go with. Regardless of the relationship, you need a competitor to make your cars better. Roush will have that now with Richard Petty Motorsports and at minimum 2 capable drivers to compare and compete with (the drivers being Kasey Kahne and A.J. Allmendinger, obviously).

Penske is fully capable of competing around the level of anyone else for stretches of the year. Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski are certainly capable of making the Chase this year. Will both of them? Doubtful. One of them could very well make it in and make some noise. Busch did as much last year. Still, the strategy of thinking you can do it all by yourself is flawed at best and a recipe for mediocrity at worst. Having the access to all the resources doesn't guarantee you'll take full advantage of them. For Penske, it's a plan that could work as he intends or just as easily blow up in his face. If I'm betting, I'm taking the latter.

Coming Soon....

I received a copy of He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back to review. Looking forward to diving in to the book soon and I should have it finished by the start of Daytona Speedweeks - which is just around the corner.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh, Gee, Didn't See That Coming

Word has come down the pipe that spoilers will replace wings on the COT in Sprint Cup.

You know, someone advocated this since the inception of the car. Just saying. Maybe I should be NASCAR's Director of Competition.

As an addendum to this news, I should point out that I do agree with Michael Waltrip about this: clear spoilers would be fascinating to use. Mikey can't drive anymore, but does have good ideas.

I'm just ecstatic that racing may be better in 2010 than it was in 2009. Last year was a year of hell on the track. I'm looking forward to better things.