April 8, 2006
So the rumors are true. NBC's Dateline sent Arab-looking men and a camera crew to last week's NASCAR race at Martinsville to see if NASCAR fans would cause a scene. And what happened? Nothing.
Odd that NBC, which broadcasts half the NASCAR season, would try to make the fans look bad. Guess the only ones looking dumb are NBC.
November 21, 2005
It's no real surprise, but Chevy walks home with the 2005 NASCAR Manufacturers title. They beat Ford by 13 points (I think, the standings haven't been updated, so I did the math myself), though I think I heard they locked it up a few weeks back. Goes to show nobody really cares.
Chevy's won the title four of the last five years, and it's not too surprising. Who even drives Fords? Roush, Yates and the Wood Brothers all field Fords, but that's about it. That accounts for 8 cars, plus a few hardly competitive stragglers. Chevy has a much stronger and larger stable with the Hendrick, Gibbs, DEI and Richard Childress teams. Even Dodge seems to pick up more random teams than Ford does: Penske, Evernham, Ganassi, Petty, Bill Davis.
It's as if Roush Racing is single-handedly keeping Ford in NASCAR. Oh well, that's just a Ford fan whining.
November 13, 2005
Well here's another chapter to the soap opera of NASCAR: Defending series champion Kurt Busch was involved in an altercation Friday night with law enforcement officials, and apparently was given a citation for reckless driving. As the details emerged it became clear that alcohol may have been involved, and abusing alcohol is a big no-no when you're got an alcohol sponsor interested in promoting responsible drinking.
So Roush, in cooperation with their sponsors, have suspended Busch for the next two races, effectively firing him since he heads to Penske in 2006. Kenny Wallace replaced Busch in today's race at Phoenix.
The NBC coverage today doesn't seem to want to touch this with a ten-foot pole, and you can't really blame them. I'd love to hear what Busch has to say in his own defense. I'd also love to hear what Penske has to say. What a mess.
Some folks miss the days of unrestrained drivers who get into fist fights at the track. I'm not sure this qualifies as one of those bad boy moments--seems more like a spoiled kid getting in trouble. Busch may not realize it, but Roush and his sponsors certainly know that NASCAR drivers are role models, and if they don't act like it they're going to pay the price. Not the way you expect a champion to behave.
November 12, 2005
It didn't take long for the announcement to come about Bobby Labonte's future. After the announcement came that he was leaving Joe Gibbs Racing, this week he announced that he was joining Petty Enterprises and would replace Jeff Green in the legendary #43.
It's cool news, but it's also kind of sentimental good news. Richard Petty may be the undisputed King of NASCAR: he's got more wins, more championships (Dale Earnhardt ties Petty for championships), more starts than anybody, and unlike most sports it doesn't seem likely anyone will surpass his milestones. And though Petty raced until 1992, his last win came in 1984, and his last top five in 1988. The #43 car has been in victory lane only three times since 1984 ('96 & '97 with Bobby Hamilton and '99 with John Andretti) and has only one top five in the past five years. Petty Enterprises hasn't exactly been a contender lately.
It'd be awesome to see the team return to victory, and with Robbie Loomis and now Bobby Labonte, they may just have that chance. Though you also have to wonder if signing with Petty is just another sign of Labonte's declining success. I hope not, but I think it takes more than the right driver to make a winning team. You need the right driver, the right crew, the right engines, the right handling--the right everything. I'm not sure if the driver is the only piece Petty Enterprises is missing. I hope so, I'd love to see #43 get a win. But I'm not getting excited just yet.
November 8, 2005
Silly season 2005 finally got respectable with a massive driver shuffle announced yesterday: Roush Racing released Kurt Busch to drive for Penske Racing next year and replace the retiring Rusty Wallace; Ganassi Racing released Jamie McMurray to drive for Roush next year and replace the departing Busch; Casey Mears will move from the #41 to the #42 in Ganassi, and will be joined by rookies David Stremme and Reed Sorenson. Whew.
This is the much-discussed and long-awaited solution to the whining that happened earlier this year when everyone (Busch & McMurray) wanted to be released from their contracts early. I'm glad to see it could be worked out so we don't have to listen to all the lame-duck commentating next year.
In other news, Bobby Labonte and Joe Gibbs are parting ways, with no replacements or new rides announced. The 2000 champion sounded pretty chipper, though with all the other deals floating around it's surprising he doesn't have something lined up. Maybe Mark Martin should give him a call.
And what does become of Mark Martin? Will he be back in 2006? With Kurt Busch leaving and Jamie McMurray filling that void, there isn't any new plan to replace Martin. Looks like he's probably back in 2006. The only reason he's coming back is because of loyalty. He's loyal to Jack Roush, the only car owner he's driven for in his entire NASCAR Nextel Cup career, who basically doesn't have a driver to fill the #6 car in 2006. Some fans are bashing Martin for redoing his "Salute to You" in 2006. Sorry, but I'm seeing a loyal driver worrying about more than contracts and money. Compared to all the other drivers who are jumping ship for greener pastures, I respect Martin for being willing to drive another year. There's a reason Martin is one of the most respected drivers in the garage.
And you can just see Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his fans sitting back and yawning. Unfortunately the best they can hope for is more Dale Jr. commercials.
September 19, 2005
NASCAR layed down the smack today, fining Robby Gordon, Michael Waltrip and Kasey Kahne for their role in on-track incidents in Sunday's race. Gordon, Waltrip and Kahne were all penalized 25 drivers points (and their owners 25 owners points) and Gordon fined $35,000, Kahne $25,000 and Waltrip $10,000. Gordon was penalized and fined for trying to hit Waltrip's car during a caution and for swearing on live TV. Kahne was penalized for trying to hit Kyle Busch's car during a caution. Waltrip was penalized for an inappropriate gesture during live TV. Both Gordon and Kahne are on probation for the rest of the year.
I'm not sure what inappropriate gesture Michael Waltrip gave, but I sure didn't see it. It looked from the replay like Gordon was at fault and just got pissed off. The guy tends to wreck a lot and you'd think he'd either learn to control his temper or find another sport.
It's about time NASCAR does something, but it seems a little late. Wrecks happen. Cars get into each other, drivers don't always give each other room, and sheet metal gets crumpled. When it's blatant, like taking out another car during caution, it needs to be penalized. This isn't Days of Thunder.
And why does NASCAR stand around and let stuff escalate. Robby Gordon got out of his car before deciding to get back in and try to run over Waltrip. Then he stood around a while before chucking his helmet. Why didn't the officials just walk him off the track immediately? He was obviously going to do something stupid. And if he refused to leave the track, the should have penalized him right there. It seems like NASCAR is good at standing around and watching the inevitable happen, as opposed to putting a stop to it before it starts. Kasey Kahne thought as much when he made his original comments that taking matters into your own hands is the way to do it. If NASCAR won't do anything about it, then they leave it to the drivers to sort out. And that means more crumpled sheet metal and more teams being unfairly screwed over.
(And FYI, it's Robby Gordon with a 'y', not Robbie Gordon. I initially made that mistake.)
August 22, 2005
Two people were killed and six injured when a stock car crashed during a qualifying run and ended up in the stands at Mount Vernon Raceway in Southern Illinois. Driver Kevin Beatiee said the throttle stuck during his qualifying lap at the quarter-mile dirt track.
The car's speed wasn't known, but it flew deep into the stands, said Capt. Conan King of the Jefferson County Fire Protection District.
"I believe there's about 25 rows of bleachers," he said. The car "landed probably two rows from the top."