February 7, 2009Extracurricular)
The 2009 NASCAR season unofficially begins tonight with the "pre-season" Bud Shootout race at Daytona. I'm looking forward to enjoying the race along with Restrictor Plated, a new site that's pairing NASCAR commentary with the micro-blogging service Twitter.
We'll see how it works out.
May 30, 2007Race Recap)
So Casey Mears finally gets his first win and he does it on fumes. And out come the naysayers whining and complaining about gas mileage races. Please. I loved the finish. It was incredibly exciting to see whether or not Mears would have the gas to make it, or if it might go to Kyle Petty--who's last win at Charlotte came some 20 years ago (it was still his best finish in 10 years). I've said it before, gas mileage finishes are great. It sure beats six cautions and a green-white-checkered in the last 20 laps.
First car to the finish is what wins races, and that doesn't mean the fastest car. Tortoise and the hare, my friend.
February 27, 2007Extracurricular)
Mark Martin dominated the California truck series race last Friday night (he has an almost disgusting 7 wins in 18 races record in the truck series) in his first ride with the Wood Brothers. That is until five laps to go when he was bumped out of the way on the restart and finished 23rd.
And what did Martin have to say about it?
"The Wood Brothers, to see there stuff out front like it was in the '70s, that means something to me," Martin said. "That means more to me than a championship and is probably something only the gray haired fans can appreciate."
Who else would just roll with it like that? That's why Martin is the nicest guy in the garage area. But nice guys don't always win championships.
February 25, 2007Race Recap)
And the 'Sucks to Be You' award for today's California race goes to Kevin Harvick. With ten laps to go Harvick was sitting in second place reeling in first place driver Matt Kenseth, when a caution and subsequent red flag came out. When the race started up again Harvick's #29 had a flat left front and hit pit road as the rest of the field took the green flag.
Even if he couldn't get past Kenseth, a second place finish after winning Daytona would have been a nice start to the year. Instead he ended up 17th. Doh. Sucks to be you.Speculating)
I realize it's only two races into the--how many races do they run in a season now, 33? 36?--season, but I love the fact that veteran and perennial underdog Mark Martin is sitting on top of the points standings. That's semi-retired Mark Martin who's supposed to be running a shortened 22-race season. Even after his second place finish at Daytona they were talking about letting Martin run the entire season and trying for a championship. After Daytona owner Ginn Racing said Martin could run the full season if he wanted to, and after today's fifth place finish and sitting on top of the standings that temptation is going to be much greater.
It's fun to see a veteran having the time of his life and setting an amazing example of sportsmanship. When NASCAR neglected to throw the yellow at the end of the Daytona 500 and denied Martin his first Daytona victory, Martin simply said "Nobody wants to see a grown man cry. That's what it is, and I'm not going to cry about it."
February 20, 2007Speculating)
Oh yeah, NASCAR started up again. We're kind of on again off again here, so deal with it.
As a lifetime Mark Martin fan it should come as no surprise that I was bummed about Sunday's finish. There was much screaming and yelling as the cars started spinning, passing and flipping, but what's done is done. A last lap wreck while Martin was leading, but NASCAR didn't throw the caution which would have given Martin his first ever Daytona 500 win, and Kevin Harvick comes out of nowhere to beat Martin to the line by a few feet.
October 1, 2006Speculating)
If you follow Mark Martin at all and know his history with Talladega you've just gotta love this comment from the NASCAR recap of today's race:
Martin, a self-described pessimist who has come agonizingly close to winning championships in the past, said he fully expects to wreck at Talladega Superspeedway next weekend.Race Recap)
But if that doesn't happen, he says, who knows?
"So far, I haven't had a disaster -- so let's go see what happens," Martin said.
What a race today. Tony Stewart runs out of gas on the last lap coming out of turn 2--turn 2--and coasts his way to victory. Second place runs out of gas taking the white flag and manages to coast all the way. Gordon has a fuel pump problem and finishes 39th?! Kenseth has a crap car and finishes 23rd?! Jimmie Johnson flushes a come back day with a botched pit stop and penalty?!
What a race indeed. Jeff Burton's looking pretty good about now.
September 24, 2006Speculating)
So Tony Stewart had a rare wreck today and took out Chase contender Kasey Kahne. Normally this might be justice since Kahne raced his way past Stewart into the Chase, but since the two are buds it's just a tragedy. And to hear Stewart's bellyaching it's a tragedy that NASCAR must remedy.
"This Chase thing needs a lot of work, and it's not a matter of how many cars make the Chase,'' Stewart said. "It goes a lot deeper than that.
"The guys that have an opportunity to win the Chase are guys that just don't have bad luck. That's all there is to it. It's not about anything else. Kasey can go out and win the rest of the races and not win the championship still.''
Sorry, Stewart, but it's not just about avoiding bad luck. It's about being consistently good. Having bad luck and screwing up is not being good and that's not good enough for a championship. Finish 38th a few times in a year and you're just not going to have much of a shot at a championship. It was true before the Chase and it's true now. Why should we handicap it to help out those who have bad luck? Racing is racing. Kahne's 16th place finish last week certainly didn't help him. You have to be consistently good to win, and Kahne--like Stewart--just doesn't have it this year.
Frankly, Kahne made it into the Chase and that should be reason enough to celebrate.Race Recap)
So Jeff Burton wins. Wow. It's been a while. As much as I like Matt Kenseth, I couldn't help but root for Burton.
And interesting shuffle in the championship standings. Not a good day for a lot of people. Except maybe the Jeffs. Jeff Burton is leading the championship standings for the first time since 1999 and Jeff Gordon is sitting in second.
September 17, 2006Race Recap)
Kevin Harvick wins the first of the 10-race Chase and takes the points lead for the first time in his Nextel Cup career. He dominated the race, too, leading almost two-thirds of the laps. Last week I said he was on fire, and he is.
Last week I also said you can never count out Jimmie Johnson, but with his 39th place finish maybe you can count him out. Kyle Busch also had a bad day and could be on the outs. Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon, however, had great days, finishing 4th and 3rd respectively, and moving up to 2nd and 4th in the standings. Jeff Burton came home with 7th, but more importantly managed to get a decent finish--not in the top five like he ran much of the day, but at least a top 10. Kenseth, Martin, Earnhardt and Kahne (10th, 11th, 13th and 16th), however, need to have stronger finishes.
11th is OK, but it may not be enough. But you have to give Mark Martin props for the move he made on Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman towards the end of the race, going three wide to pass both of them. Stealing two positions like that in the closing laps of a race is what you have to do. 11th may not be enough, but it's certainly better than 13th.
September 10, 2006Speculating)
So where are all the NASCAR blogs? I speculated a while ago that it'd be cool to see a blog from a shoestring team like Derrick Cope's. Or what about Morgan Shepherd's Racing with Jesus team? They seem eager just to get publicity and they're not exactly getting any TV coverage.
It doesn't have to be the driver blogging. How about a crew member? How about a truck driver? How about an insider somewhere? There has to be an enterprising person out there who realizes the attention a blog could draw. It seems like a no-brainer, especially for the teams at the bottom, those struggling to get attention and languishing outside the top 35.
Getting attention seems to be the only way some of these teams are still out there. Like Kyle Petty. It's not like he's going to win a race. But he still manages to get the sponsors and keep on doing what he's doing. It's not because he's successful on the track. It's because he can get the sponsors the attention they pay for. I think a blog could deliver the same thing.
Don't give me a journalist blogging. Don't give me another fan blogging (like myself). Give me a voice in the garage. Someone biased. Someone with something on the line. Someone who know's what's going on under the hood. Someone the networks will likely never cover. That's a blog I'd read.Race Recap)
It's been a while since I've done some NASCAR blogging. Having a kid can do that to you. But last night I taped the final race to the chase and watched it this afternoon (amazing how much faster a race can go when you fastforward the commercials).
Wow. With a scenario where one guys is out and eight guys are in I had no idea that of all the guys Tony Stewart would be out. I was thinking maybe Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton--but not Stewart. I have to say with a bit of biased glee that I'm pleased. I'm hardly a Tony Stewart fan. Stewart is amazing, but I'm fine with not having him in the mix for the championship.
The end of tonight's race was amazing with all of the guys who I thought might be in danger running well, and all the guys I thought would be safe were having problems. Stewart was back in the pack, Denny Hamlin had engine problems, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had brake problems. Any one of them could have been out.
April 22, 2006Race Recap)
After a week off for Easter NASCAR comes to Phoenix and the drama continues, with Kevin Harvick finally putting Richard Childress and the Goodwrench Chevy in victory lane. Harvick has been on a roll lately and finally put it all together for the win. He came on strong late and passed Greg Biffle, who later ran out of gas, and nobody had anything for him.
As the final laps closed a number of cars ran out of gas, including Biffle and Mark Martin. Biffle ran strong and up front all night but his car faded near the end of a long run and running out of gas was a nail in his coffin, leaving him with an 16th place finish. Biffle just can't seem to close the deal this year. Martin had a let down of a night with an incredibly strong car. A bad pit stop put him back in the pack and then he ran into the back of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and managed to squeeze his car through a closing gap. He had battled back to the top 5 and was fighting Mat Kenseth and Tony Stewart for second when he ran out of gas and had to settle for 11th.
Tony Stewart continues to show his dominance as he went from deadlast to first. He didn't hold the lead for long, but he had the patience and the muscle to do it and finished strong in second. Matt Kenseth was quiet all day and managed a third place finish, enough to push him past points leader and 7th place finisher Jimmie Johnson and into the points lead.
April 20, 2006Speculating)
1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope was fined $50,000 and 25 points at Texas when NASCAR discovered an improper manifold. According to Cope it wasn't about tricking NASCAR and sneaking in a few more horsepower. It was about being cheap.
The team has only one motor and it has a short track manifold. Thanks to the fine, the team won't be running the next few races. Marty Smith suggests NASCAR should only fine points, since the cash fines don't hurt big teams like Roush or Hendrick, yet they cripple teams like Cope's.
Smith explores some interesting history, including the punishment Cope's lone motor has endured, while a Roush motor would have the valve springs replaced just in case. It's a difference of economy and scale, a difference of cash. Cope doesn't have any, as evidenced by the fact that a $50,000 fine seriously set them back.
With cash in that short of supply, I think Cope should explore blogging. Other racers have turned to eBay to sell sponsorship, I think it'd be interesting to develop a blog following for such a down on your luck, penny-pinching story. I'd follow it.