October 30, 2005Race Recap)
Back to Atlanta and the Roush cars are back with Carl Edwards scoring the win. Except for Kurt Busch, who had a tire go down and went into the wall. Mark Martin finished third, Matt Kenseth fifth and Greg Biffle seventh. With his backflip and win Edwards finally looks like a Chase-worthy driver again.
Rusty Wallace, the aforementioned Busch and Jeremy Mayfield all had trouble today, and championship hopes don't look good for any of them (did it ever look good for Mayfield?). Ryan Newman started on the poll but wasn't much of a threat today, especially after tagging the wall late in the race. Jimmie Johnson slipped back late in the race, nearly going a lap down until he was saved by a debris caution--lucky dog.
All of which means Tony Stewart's ninth place finish keeps him gaining ground toward claiming his second NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship. With three races to go the top 5 are within 107 points, but it's Stewart's championship to lose. Newman, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards can only hope both Stewart and Johnson have some serious trouble.
As much as I dislike Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, it's nice to both of them running up front, if only to silence all the whiners who only seem to care about these two. But after such bad seasons for both of them (and how sick is it that a "bad" season for Gordon includes four wins?) it must be reassuring to be doing something right again.
October 28, 2005Rules)
Everyone loves to speculate about the Chase and whether or not it's a good idea. Personally I've enjoyed it as a way to focus the season, and I like hearing driver's reactions to it.
"I hated the Chase, the idea of the Chase. I was sick in my stomach to think that we would make changes in a historic format for the sake of entertainment," says Mark Martin. "I think I was wrong. I think I've made that clear to everyone that after the first (Chase), at the banquet in 2004, I gave Brian and NASCAR an apology for being wrong. ... I think it's exciting and more interesting for the fans, and that translates into health for the sport that we love."
When asked how it's changed for the drivers, Martin says he doesn't know. Is it more exciting?
"Probably not the ones that don't make it," says Martin. "You'd have to check with them. I've made it every year, both years, so I don't know. It's been good for me."
It's cool to see people like Martin come around to the idea of the Chase. Nobody wants to change everything about NASCAR, but it does need to adapt to survive.Interviews)
Mark Martin explains why he doesn't do burnouts from a recent NASCAR press conference:
Q. Mark, after you won your last race, I must have had 100 phone calls from people wanting to know why you didn't do the burnout. I know you've talked about this before. I promised them the next time I talked to you I would ask you about that. Can you redefine that so we're correct in that with your fans.
Martin: Sure. Burnouts are for juveniles and for the kids. You didn't ever see, you know, Dale Earnhardt doing burnouts. There were a few spins through the grass, and that's about it. Bobby Allison, Daryl Waltrip, Richard Petty. I'm old school, and Rusty (Wallace) is, too. Last time I saw Terry Labonte win, he just rode it right over to Victory Lane after he won as well. So that's just not our style. My luck, I'd wind up with the same engine parts in my car in the next race and they'd break. So it's just not what I do. I'm old school. It's pretty entertaining to watch these young kids do them, though. They put on a heck of a show.
Q. It's kind of like spiking the ball in the end zone and dancing. You don't think they should be doing it that way?
Martin: Oh, I didn't say that at all. I don't think an old man should do it, you know? That's all. I'd say if, you know ... I don't know. I just don't think that the old guys should because they never did before. All I'd be doing is copying the kids.
October 24, 2005Race Recap)
Though Tony Stewart dominated all day long, it was Jeff Gordon with the win at Martinsville yesterday. It's been 23 races since Gordon's last win, making this number 4 for the year. That sounds pretty good for most drivers, but it's been a pretty abysmal year for Gordon since he didn't make it into the chase.
All I can say is at least it wasn't Tony Stewart. That guy seems unstoppable every race. If he doesn't win, he's at least up there with a shot at it. This year's championship is Tony's to lose.
And the Roush cars certainly helped him with that today. Kurt Busch finished sixth and Matt Kenseth 12th for the best Roush finishes, though every team had problems. Kenseth and Carl Edwards spun around a few times. Busch spun Michael Waltrip and was penalized a lap for it. Greg Biffle went down a lap. Mark Martin struggled all day after starting at the back of the pack and it finally came to an end when his brakes caught on fire.
It looks like Jimmie Johnson is the only one who has anything for Stewart.
October 16, 2005Race Recap)
So Jimmie Johnson wins a caution-heavy race at Charlotte. Tires were blowing left and right putting cars into the wall and taking out more than a dozen drivers. NASCAR threw two competition cautions to check the tires and at one point mandated that crews use the recommended air pressures from Goodyear. Bah.
On top of the frustration of a lame race I taped the race last night and sat down to watch it today. With five laps to go my screen went blue. Apparently setting the VCR for five hours wasn't enough. Bah.
And today comes the revelation that NASCAR considered cancelling the race. Instead they opted to mandate air pressures. How lame is this? When conditions get to the point that NASCAR has to change rules in the middle of race and even consider calling off the race, something needs to be done. And honestly, something should have been done long before the green flag dropped.
With only five races remaining in the Chase to the Championship, the numbers get especially interesting. Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson are tied for first with Greg Biffle 11 points back, Ryan Newman 17 points back and 51 points back to Mark Martin. It was Tony's championship to lose, and he lost a lot of ground last night. It's also amazing to see Mark Martin come back from his DNF at Talladega, though I'm afraid he may be shaping up for another heart-breaking runner-up position.
October 5, 2005Extracurricular)
It's an 8-year-old's dream. Combine NASCAR with the podracing from Star Wars: Episode I: rocket-propelled aircraft racing. How cool is that?
A typical hourlong race imagines a spectacular X-Racer liftoff allowing fans to follow each rocket plane by tracking their 20-foot exhaust plumes and watching large-screen TVs.
Streaming multi-angle video would be available from each aircraft, showing cockpit, "on-track" and "side-by-side" and wing-angle views. Fans also would be able to track races by using hand-held GPS devices connected to WiFi systems.
The rocket planes will have a liquid oxygen/kerosene fuel mix, calculated to have a burn time of four minutes, requiring pilots to shut down their engines repeatedly and glide, then restart to pass opponents at up to 300 mph.
The race course would be two miles long, a mile wide and about 5,000 feet high.
They hope to have an exhibition race in 2006 with league racing potentially starting in 2007. No estimates were given for league start-up costs, but each plane is supposed to cost under $1 million. Sounds pretty cool... as long as there's no bump drafting.
October 3, 2005Race Recap)
What can you say about NASCAR racing at Talladega? It's just wild. Wild enough for Dale Jarrett to win for the first time in 98 races. Wild enough for four Chase racers to get swept up in accidents (or blamed for them, in the case of Jimmie Johnson) and finish in 25th or worse, more than a few laps down. Wild enough for one Chase racer to have a tire go down, brush the wall, and come back to finish 8th (Kurt Busch).
The final laps were pretty intense as it was anybody's race. The announcers kept talking about Jarrett's car, though he opted not to run with the front runners most of the race. His car came charging back out of nowhere and passed Tony Stewart on the last lap. Kyle Petty's spin brought out the caution and the field was frozen with the win going to Jarrett.
One of the best sights of the race was seeing Petty's bent and mangled race car squealing towards the finish line as Petty forced it across the stripe so he could actually finish all 190 laps (though NASCAR scored Petty in 24th position, one lap down).