Monday, December 31, 2007

The End of the 2007 NASCAR Season Wasn't Anything to Write Home About

Not much going on in the racing world since the (yawn) end of the NASCAR Cup Season...Fans are left with a curious feeling that the next season will be the most political one in many years. The "Car of Tomorrow" (now the Car of Today??) has proven to be a clumpy unwieldy un-racy effort created by NASCAR supposably in the name of safety. It just seems odd--NASCAR has never really gone out on a limb about safety before. That was left to the teams and innovators such as Bill Simpson, who was nearly driven out of the sport in 2001 after NASCAR attempted to blame his equipment for the death of Dale Earnhardt....

How will Junior do at Hendrick? How many folks truly care anymore? It still leaves a hollow feeling and taste for true Earnhardt fans. And these attempts to re-engineer history by claiming that Rick Hendrick and Dale Earnhardt were friends, buddies....Does anyone REALLY believe that? Some us us have been race fans since the mid 1970's. And, we have a loooooooooonnnnnnggggg memory when it comes to Dale. It's a moot point to argue that if Dale were around he'd be livid with Junior. Because, frankly, if Dale were still around--well, you can bet your last dime that Junior would not have defected to the enemy camp.

Folks are trying to make Teresa Earnhardt the wicked stepmom, but if you think this through--there was a LOT more to the sudden demand by Junior and sister Kelley for 51 percent of DEI. Some clever person in the background--probably someone who has a history of lies, deceit, bribery--was the mastermind behind that. What better way to cause a rift at DEI? This person has been playing Dale Jr. like a violin...and it's not to Junior's benefit, unfortunately.

So, this is my crystal ball background for 2008. It'll take a few months, but the defection of Junior to Hendrick Racing is not going to be the answer for him, unfortunately. It's going to take awhile, but that initial comment by Hendrick, "there's no room at the Inn" (kind of appropriate for this Christmas season), which suddenly became "Of course we have room for Junior!!" will prove to be prophetic. There IS no room at Hendrick Racing for Dale Junior--unless Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are going to move over. Why should they??

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Juan Pablo Montoya - "Rookie" of the Year

It's been a lot of fun watching the extremely talented Juan Montoya in NASCAR this year. Not unexpectedly, his 'learning curve' has been pretty swiftly elevated. Other open-wheel drivers will join the series next year, but Montoya has always been in a class of his own. His talent parallels that of racers such as Ayrton Senna, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., Emerson Fittipaldi and that caliber. There's a lot of jealously out there, particularly from some of the 'chasers,' but that's to be expected.

Congratulations, JPM -- probably the most experienced 'rookie' to race in NASCAR Cup in a long time!!

Mikey, Won't you Please Shut up??

The NASCAR CTS is easily the best pro racing going. They actually had a championship RACE down to the wire, and not a points runaway. That said, it was so unfortunate that Toyota Mouthpiece Michael Waltrip was on hand to help 'call' the race for SpeedTV. Mikey didn't make the Cup race field (AGAIN -- how many Cup races did he make this year? Rumor has it that he had to refund $300,000 to Toyota for each race he missed), so the geniuses (or is it genii) at SpeedTV once again kept him around to help broadcast the Truck race finale at Homestead, FL. All too often this year, we've had to put up with Waltrip in the booth. For this race, what was particularly annoying was that, shy of hoping to plant a grenade in Hornaday's truck, Waltrip was overtly rooting for Hornaday to blow up, crash or have problems on the track. At times, Mikey sounded like he was wired on Red Bull or something; it's one thing to be excited and enjoy a race and quite another to spend most of your air time trying to predict an accident for one of the championship contenders. I love it when announcers are sincere and don't play a party line. Unfortunately, Mikey always seems to have an agenda when he's in the booth providing commentary.

I have never heard such a trite, unprofessional job of calling a race before tonight. What promised to be (and was--if one could ignore Waltrip's commentary) a superb ending to the CTS with the down-to-the-wire finish between Ron Hornaday and Mike Skinner was dismally blotted by Waltrip's commentary. Obviously devastated that his beloved Toyotas were not going to win the CTS championship. Even with less than 20 laps to go, and Skinner in 35th place (out of 36 trucks), well, you have to admit that Waltrip was loyal to the bitter end. And, it must have been bitter for him, since Hornaday won the championship in typical Hornaday championship style.

Waltrip's comments seemed to be over-the-top pathetic in trying to root for his Toyota favorite. The only good thing about the end of the truck racing season is that we don't have to listen to Michael's whining and whimpering any more.

Congratulations to Ron Hornaday and the Kevin/Delana Harvick-owned 33 team for a fantastic finish. Hornaday is a true champion and deserved the championship this season.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Don't Hold Back, Junior--Tell us how you Really Feel...

"I'll be glad when I get with good people and not have to deal with jerks."

That was Dale Earnhardt Junior's comment after the Homestead race on Sunday.

Nice going, Junior. Whatever class you had is swiftly departing as you join your new Hendrick 'family.'

It's hard to think that Dale Sr. would have approved of Junior's bailing out of DEI. As a matter of fact, those who knew Dale Sr. feel he would be pretty angry and appalled at the way things turned out this year.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ho-Hum Here Comes Homestead -- And No Wonder Ratings are Down

No matter how many television analysts tell you how wonderful they think Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson is, the fact of the matter is that a huge proportion of racing fans do not agree with the Marty Smiths and Stacy Comptons of the world who spend 95 percent of their time on the air kowtowing to the Hendrick racing drivers. Just because someone tells you what they want you believe, well, that doesn't make it so.

NASCAR ratings are consistently, seriously down -- not just the 4 or 5 percent we saw last season and earlier this season, but to the tune of a whopping 16-20 percent per event. NASCAR's Brian France dismisses this stat with a notation that 'all sports ratings are down.' Huh??? Well, maybe he's referring to soccer or badminton. Sports ratings for the major four are thriving, and college football is enjoying an excellent season, as well. Sponsors are not paying for fans not to watch the sport, after all. The 'Chase,' to be blunt, is BORING. Drivers have been warned by NASCAR officials to stay away from the top 12'ers and not impact the Chase.

A large majority of long-time race fans are truly sick of the politics, money, greed and over-promotion of the sport. Then, we have the 'car of tomorrow' (COT) which NASCAR has contrived as a sort of generic car for the sport--a car which is not racy, not particularly fast, not well-handleable, and not liked. It doesn't look remotely stock. And the fact that manufacturers have had to 'brand' a name for their COT (Avenger, Fusion, Camry and Impala -- and I've yet to see a 2-door Impala at my local Chevy dealership), it just makes for a cruddy looking product. Not to mention the COTs are not delivering any sort of exciting racing for the fans.

Add to that the Dale Earnhardt Junior defection to Hendrick--he's been a lame duck since June 13, 2007, when he had his press conference announcing he was leaving DEI to go to greener pastures--and you have a perfect storm of the type that NASCAR hoped never would happen. One which has resulted in 1 out of 5 fans NOT watching racing. Not caring which Hendrick team wins the Cup. And, it's interesting that Budweiser made no effort to try and stay with Dale Jr. Actually, it's very telling. Their marketing folks created the 'cool Dale Jr.' persona in the ads; no doubt they will help Kasey Kahne develop an image/persona of his own. These folks (Anheurser-Busch) spend over $225 million each year in ADVERTISING alone. Don't underestimate that they are one of the biggest spenders in all sport.

Junior's fans seem to think that he will receive the same equipment and technology that the 24 and 48 receive.....HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA....ROFLMAO, as they say. The 24 and 48 shops are at the top of the hill at RHR. The 5 and 25 shops are, and have been, at the bottom. Why do you think Kyle Busch bailed? And Brian Vickers? Even Terry Labonte finally got fed up with the food change at RHR. Little ol' Casey Mears appears to be content to be an also-ran. This is the situation, and it will not change. One can foresee Hendrick throwing Junior a bone or two when the season kicks off, but the bottom line is that there are two premier teams at Hendrick Racing. Unless one of the two (Gordon or Johnson) leaves--or retires--there's still not really 'room at the inn' for Dale Junior (to quote Rick Hendrick in May 2007). Why should this change?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dale Junior Part of Hendrick Now--Busch Team Caught Cheating

Well, it looks like Dale Junior is now officially a member of the Hendrick family. His Busch team (the #88 Navy team with driver Brad Keselowski) was caught cheating at Memphis (altering lug nuts in an attempt to make pit stops faster). Hendrick Busch driver Casey Mears' team was also found guilty of the same infraction. A trick that Tony Eury, Sr. said he picked up from RHR.

People used to complain about Dale Sr.'s aggressive driving. In all my years of following stock cars (beginning in 1976), I don't recall cheating being leveled at Dale Sr. or his teams. I'll take aggressive driving over cheating any day of the week.

Looks like Dale Junior is already learning the nefarious, crooked cheating ways of the Rick Hendrick organization. Integrity obviously is no longer an issue for the JR Motorsports team.

Anyone who thinks Dale Earnhardt, Sr., would approve of Junior and the course his career has taken obviously has no concept of what Dale would have thought of this. It would hardly be approving.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NASCAR is FINALLY Considering Changes to Busch (Nationwide) Series

This is a subject on which I have written many times, in many venues, over the past 10 years. NASCAR is finally considering making significant changes to the 'feeder' series (Busch Series, which will become the Nationwide Series in 2008). So far, their tentative thinking is to disallow Cup drivers receiving points for competing in the races (probably limited to those in the top 35 in Cup points).

They could take it a bit further. How about disallowing the prize money?? That should go to the Busch/Nationwide regulars. It would afford them a better payday, and they certainly have been shafted in that area particularly in the past 5 or so years. If a Cup team wants to do their R&D in the companion race, why is NASCAR paying them to do that? Seriously, this is something that should be thrown on the table.

The Busch Series was developed and intended as a developmental series, not as a practice round before the Cup race. It's about time that the AAA-leaguers were given priority in their own league. Watching a Kevin Harvick or a Carl Edwards come in and run the Series with their Cup money, development and team members, while amassing 800-900 point leads is disheartening to those who are trying to get the proverbial foot in the door.

Hopefully NASCAR will make some better decisions for the future of the new Nationwide Series. Going to what are termed 'pony cars' (Mustangs, Camaros, etc.) would also be a good way to separate the two Series. Perhaps we'll actually be able to applaud NASCAR on this one someday.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Torre Rejects Yankees Offer -- Off Topic!

Let me be blunt. I am a lifelong Yankees and and I love Joe Torre, but it's easy to see why he turned down the offer. First of all, it was a pay cut with 'incentives' to reach the postseason. It's hard to believe that Steinbrenner tried to scapegoat Joe with the media threats the way he did, but well, that's George for you. I have a feeling that Riviera, Posada and A-Rod will likely not be back, if Joe isn't. It was an insult to this truly great manager to try and get him to take a pay cut after dissing him in the media during the Cleveland Series. I hope Joe gets another, good deal somewhere he wants to be and although I'm a diehard Yankees fan, I'll also be a fan of whatever team he might decide to manage for.

Joe got the Yankees into the playoffs every year he's managed them. Even this season, which started so poorly and had folks writing the team off -- well, Joe got the boys to the wildcard position.

Joe will be in the HOF as a manager; that's a given. As usual, he has managed to out-class George Steinbrenner. Look for the Bronx to be burning once again...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Chase is BORING...and so is the Busch Championship

So much for NASCAR's ballyhooed Chase for the Cup. It's basically a two car 'race' now -- the 24 and 48 have a substantial lead on the field. Only Clint Bowyer is a potential threat but if things continue to go as they are, and with the failure of the DEI-RCR engines last week at Talladega, well, the 07 Jack Daniel's team has to be sweating bullets...There would still need to be a major points loss for both the 24 and 48 teams in order to make this Chase more interesting. Fortunately, we now have playoff baseball and NCAAF and NFL and NHL as alternatives. And a lot of people are apparently looking at alternatives, judging by the ratings.

If the resources of all the other 'chasers' were put together, they still would not be able to compete with the Hendrick teams. And, I'm not talking racing talent. It's equipment, checkbook, and the usual 'gray areas' of the rule book being overlooked for RHR. Any one of the other Chasers (or for that matter, just about any Cup or Busch driver) could compete and win effectively in either the 24 or 48 car. Now, the other Hendrick teams--well, that's another story. Only Kyle Busch has shown he has the ability to compete and win in the lesser Hendrick equipment. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out next season when Dale Jr. takes over that ride. After all, the 5 shop is NOT located in the same area as the 24 and 48 shops. Nor is the 25 team, for that matter.

Television ratings are down for virtually all NASCAR events this season. Look for the last 6 races in the chase to continue to drop in viewership.

It's ironic that the chase was extended to 12 drivers this year, instead of 10, in hopes of Dale Jr. making the field. Well, that didn't work....

Too bad the Busch Series doesn't have a Chase format. Never thought I'd say that...This second season of a Cup driver (this year Carl Edwards, last year Kevin Harvick) running away with the points lead has really put a damper on that. On the one hand, drivers can race for the event win, so that makes Busch racing a little more exciting than Cup has been. Cup racing has been more of a 'don't wreck the chasers' drivers meetings mandate from NASCAR. Who knew that Talladega could be made boring? NASCAR certainly managed to make it so with the use of the car of tomorrow (COT).

For awhile, it looked as though at least the Busch Series' dynamics might change for next season with their using stock cars and not COTs--but if the COT is run in Busch next year, that will certainly not help level the playing field. Hopefully, they will stick to the plan of not using the COT in Busch til 2009. Too bad they can't plan just to not use it all all.

What's the difference between an IROC and COT? NA$CAR couldn't make any money off the IROC Series. It was neutral and competitive.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

In NASCAR, the Race is NOT to the Fastest

NASCAR's embarrassing itself more and more lately. Several of the fastest cars in qualifying at Talladega on Saturday will not be in the field because they are not 'locked in' by being in the Top 35 in points and have to race for the remaining 8 spots in the field.

This just ain't right. NASCAR always claims to want to give the fans a show. Well, give 'em the FASTEST 43 cars in the field!!! That's racing.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Is Bruton Smith the Britney Spears of NASCAR?

Self-centered, egocentric and above the law? Bruton is throwing a hissy-fit because the Chamber of Commerce angered him when they voted to ban drag strips--addressing concerns of homeowners in the vicinity worried about the noise. Bruton's reaction? Threaten to close the 2 mile Charlotte Motor Speedway and build a new site elsewhere.

"In light of what's happened ... now I could take that $200 million and maybe another $100 (million) or $150 million and I could build a new facility," Smith said.

Talk about wanting to cut the nose off to spite the face! What an idiotic reaction. Sounds more like a self-centered teenager than a multimillionaire businessman. So much for history, community, and smart business practices. Hey, Bruton--since you have money to burn, send a few million my way. Apparently, you won't even miss it...Maybe you can rent the old speedway out to Hendrick racing for their practice sessions - oh, wait, that's right. They already use it for that...

The antics of Britney Spears, particularly in the past few weeks, reminds one of Bruton's reaction. Boo hoo hoo.... I'm above the law and they won't go along with me, so I'll show them! Yes, Bruton--show the racing community that you are an over-inflated egomaniac. Yep. That'll show 'em...

Monday, October 1, 2007

NASCAR Tops Itself in Lucricidity at Kansas

I'm not sure if Lucricidity is a word, but if it is, there ought to be a NASCAR logo next to it in the dictionary.

What the hell was that at Kansas Motorspeedway Sunday??? The race starts, then is delayed by rain. The race restarts. A little after halfway, a downpour halts the race. NASCAR rushes to dry the track (why? Because the 24 and 48 are a lap down because of green flag pitstops?). The race is restarted with NASCAR announcing that lap 225 will be the last lap. A wreck occurs. NASCAR announces that the race will end at lap 210, since it's getting dark. With less than 4 laps to go, another caution flies when the 42 car blows a tire. Since it's getting a bit dark, NASCAR then announces that the race is over. Greg Biffle is in the lead. Biffle does NOT cross the start finish line; he pulls off the track. NASCAR says Biffle won it, anyway, because the scoring loops (which are the PREVIOUS point at which a car is scored, around the track) show Biffle was leading (even though he did not cross the finish line first) are where the field was 'frozen.' Huh???

If you don't cross the finish line, then you really shouldn't get the win. Sorry, Biff -- you blew this one.

NASCAR had to issue YET ANOTHER 'clarification' as to how the end of THIS race was scored.

We need to stop insulting the WWE. At least they don't pretend they're not scripted.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

How Come NASCAR Allowed Johnson to Pull Backup Car out Even Before He Got the 48 Car off the Track??

In happy hour today (Saturday), Jimmie Johnson brushed the wall. His car, which had qualified on the pole for Sunday's race at Kansas, was immediately taken to the garage and TV cameras showed the crew getting the back up car out even before Johnson drove his 'wrecked' car back to the garage. It took all of 22 minutes to have the backup car out on the track for final practice AND Johnson's 'backup car' was fasted in practice...HMMMMM....Looks like this was a premeditated setup to get a 'qualifying car' in the race for the pole, and then the 'backup' car in the race to run the race. And the fact that Johnson will drop to the back of the field at the start is utterly meaningless. Within 20 laps he'll likely be in the top-15, barring an unforeseen accident. It is so tiresome seeing the Hendrick teams pull stunts like this, and get away with it.

NASCAR officials have always made the decision as to whether a care is repairable or whether a backup car may be brought out. Surface sheet metal damage was minimal and NO NASCAR officials were shown around the car while the team decided to bring out the back up car. Frankly, this was quite surprising. NASCAR always says they run the show. In this case, it looked like Hendrick Motorsports was calling the shots for NASCAR once again.

If NASCAR was keeping tight control over this situation, well, it sure didn't look like it!! Guess they were too busy worrying about Tony Stewart's being caught cussing in the garage.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Denny Hamlin Getting a Bad Rap for Kyle Petty Incident

I've watched the replay of the Petty/Hamlin/BOWYER incident at Dover from Sunday's race about a dozen and a half times. Too bad they won't show about a half of a lap leading into it. Petty doesn't seem to realize that Bowyer was involved and closed up any 'hole' Hamlin had to try and not get into the back of Kyle's car. If you watch closely, you'll see what I mean.

Kyle used his position to really run his mouth about Hamlin -- and that seemed unusual for Kyle Petty. Kind of wish he had seen a few replays first. You can't put this one on Denny. And, Denny's comments about Kyle's cars usually being a second or so slower than the other cars are also true.

NASCAR should have fined Kyle for slapping Denny's helmet in the garage, while he was strapped into the car.

Kyle's getting a new spotter, starting this weekend. Interesting, eh??

Monday, September 17, 2007

Of Course Dale Jr's Number is Going to be 88!!

That's the number on his Busch car, as well, for all you rocket scientists out there who couldn't figure this one out....

Friday, September 14, 2007

Budweiser a Great Fit With Kasey Kahne

It shouldn't be surprising that Budweiser elected to go with Kasey Kahne and the #9 Evernham Dodge. It's a great fit! Kahne has already shown he has the talent for some of the best racing commercials (particularly the AllState ones, with the three women fans who stalk him); he has charm, looks, the whole package. It'll be interesting to see how he's portrayed in the new Budweiser commercials.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Accusing Teresa Earnhardt of Having Junior's Motors Sabotaged is Truly Ridiculous

Saw this headline on Yahoo Sports tonite: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s stepmother derailing his car wouldn't be surprising, writes Jenna Fryer (AP writer).

I thought AP writers had to have higher standards and more ethics than that.

More fuel for the conspiracy theorists. And, hey, sometimes I am one of them, too...But, in this case, it's laughable because it's so utterly preposterous. If Dale Jr.'s hard luck and misfortunes are to be put at anyone's feet, it is his own; after all, he has kept basically the same shop team and crew together and he's had similar misfortune the past several seasons. He went into the last race to the Chase over 100 points behind 12th place. It wasn't as though he was in 11th or 12th and holding off the competition.

DEI and Budweiser and Chevrolet have too much at stake, and while many of the newer Junior fans might think it's fun to make charges such as this at Teresa Earnhardt, the facts remain that she is CEO of DEI and has a lot at stake financially. It would be petty and beneath her to order something like that done. And, do you really think that 'secret' could be kept in this sport? There are few secrets in the garage. The gossipiness of racing crew members is legendary. This alone would preclude a secret sabotage effort.

The likeliest culprits are the folks on Junior's crew that deal with the engines. That's where fingers need to be pointed. If I had five or six engine failures, I know I'd be reassessing who is working on the engines and what they are doing. Not trying to blame Mrs. Dale Earnhardt for trying to keep her step-son out of the Chase. After all, that sure would have helped sell all that leftover Budweiser and #8 souvenir swag that is still hanging around; most of it at half-price.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

So it was hot in California on Labor Day Race Weekend...

Boo-hoo-hoo....Cry me a river.

We never whined about that when the NASCAR race was at DARLINGTON, where is should have been kept at.

Monday, September 3, 2007

NEXTEL Shows Utter Lack of Class in Suit Against Childress and ATT/Cingular

You know those cute ATT commercials about the miscommunications when calls are dropped? It's starting to look like NEXTEL is the one doing all the dropping. When they signed on to be the title sponsor the the NASCAR Cup Series, there were already a few major players in car sponsorship, particularly Alltell and Cingular.

This year, ATT and Cingular merged, so naturally one would expect the car sponsorship on the Richard Childress owned 31 car, driven by Jeff Burton, to switch to ATT. That would have been the obvious, polite and normal expectation. NASCAR, as usual, had other ideas and stepped in to 'protect' it's new multi-million dollar title sponsor. Apparently, they don't see an anomaly in NEXTEL's change to Sprint next season and why everyone else is confused as to why it's OK for NEXTEL to change a name brand with a sponsor's merge, but it's NOT OK for Cingular to change to ATT when those two companies merged earlier this year.

If NEXTEL thinks that this suit is making fans of their product, they might do well to reconsider this PR blunder. All that this tells this race fan is that they are two-faced, petty, insecure, do not respect an owner who has been a respected mainstay in this sport for over 30 years, and that they are definitely NOT the product for me. I just got a new Cingular phone; this is certainly not making me think that NEXTEL is the better product. Just the more obnoxious, pushier, insecure and pathetic one.

NASCAR claimed that the telephone carriers who were sponsors were grandfathered in when NEXTEL bought the naming rights to the Cup Series after Winston left. Now they are arguing that this does not, ahem, include name changes with business mergers...oh, wait...then where does that leave Sprint? Race fans are so tired of the two-facedness of NA$CAR. Wouldn't it be nice if they could play nice just this once? A competitor and a series sponsor are two diffenent things. It begs the question: Doesn't Brian France have enough money yet to retire and buy that NFL team he wants for the west coast?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Congratulations, NASCAR -- You Managed to Make Bristol BORING...

Yep, those cars of tomorrow (COT) really change racing. Less speed, less action, and more boring racing. How can Bristol be made boring? Just run a COT there. Saturday night's Cup race was one of least memorable in racing's history.

Can't wait to see how you NASCAR COT folks manage to ruin Talladega. Oh well, maybe there'll be a football game or something else to watch.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hendrick doesn't get the #8 for Dale Jr.

Somehow all those commercials for Bud with Junior announcing his number change to 6.3 are REALLY funny now....

Good for Teresa sticking to her guns!! The number 8 belongs at DEI. It belonged to Ralph Earnhardt, Dale used it, and it belongs with DALE Sr.'s company.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tony Stewart in a TOYOTA??? Say it Ain't So, Tony!!!

All these swirling rumors about Joe Gibbs Racing defecting to Toyota -- I just can't see Tony Stewart running a Toyota in Cup racing. Particularly since he is so involved in World of Outlaws (WoO) and dirt car racing. Tony has been a Chevy guy since day 1! Paul McMahan runs one of Tony's Chevy's and Donnie Schatz is expected to run another Chevy next year.

Latest word is that Gibbs racing does have a governing board, and their three current drivers are on that board. Hopefully they will be able to make a case for keeping JGR with Chevrolet. Sure hope so!

Toyota's entry in Cup has been less than stellar, shall we say, and jumping ship next year would be a tremendous hurdle for a team changing manufacturers. No matter how good JGR is, that will be a 'lost season' for any driver of Tony's or Denny Hamlin's talent.

Joe Gibbs still runs JGR, even if son J.D. is managing the race teams. Hopefully this is just one of those rumors that will go away.


Saturday, August 4, 2007


If Teresa Earnhardt is truly concerned with carrying on the legacy of her late great husband, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., there is only one option concerning the number 8. Keep it at DEI. The 8 was the number of Dale's father, Ralph Earnhardt, and it was Dale Sr. who set up the 8 team for Dale Jr. to run, honoring his father's number.

Rick Hendrick has his fat checkbook out ready to buy the number 8 from DEI. Teresa--you don't need his bribery-tainted funds. Hendrick's history (as a convicted felon, charged on 15 counts of bribery in the Honda scandals of the early 1990's, who pled guilty to one count in a plea bargain) is well known among the long-time fans of the sport.

The number 8 belongs at DEI. To give it over to Hendrick would be blasphemous. After that, then what? Is the number 3 going to be up for sale, too?

NASCAR proclaimed they would not interfere with any private sale of the number. As usual, NASCAR has let the Hendrick bank account interfere with their thinking. Either NASCAR controls the numbers--or they do not. Which is it, Brian France? Do you have any inkling as to what is going on in the sport?

Teresa, the true Dale Sr. fans hope you keep the number 8 safe along with Dale's legacy. There's enough sell-out in racing today. Some fans hope you keep the number 8 at DEI, where it belongs.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

NASCAR Cup Qualifying Should be Strictly on Time

Too often, this season in NASCAR, we've seen the faster cars not make the field because of the political rule that NASCAR's brass put in a few years ago locking the 'top 35' cars into the field. This rule was purportedly to protect the big name sponsors, but basically all it has done is muddy the waters and allow some Cup teams who are fairly mediocre to make the race regardless.

Now NASCAR is toying with an idea to let the teams NOT locked in qualify in a separate group. This does not solve nor resolve anything. It's still a matter of disallowing some cars which may well be faster than some of the 'locked in' cars from racing.

If a Cup team -- regardless of WHO they are -- cannot make the show on speed, well then, So What??? The fastest 43 cars qualifying should race. Even the 'Champion's Provisional' which has notoriously been used this year to get Toyota into 6 races with Dale Jarrett, and is now available to Bill Elliott, among other past champions, is still an uneasy way to get into a race. Among this year's tinkering with the rules for qualifying past champions are now limited to using the provisional 6 times per year. This is something that should be either unlimited--or eliminated. Do one or the other.

It's frustrating to see a team which would have otherwise made the field go home because a driver in the lower 35 in team owner's points is guaranteed a spot.

With the multi-million dollar teams out there competing--if they can't make the race on time, they SHOULD go home. The bottom line is, once again, the fans are being cheated of the best event because of another inane NASCAR rule.

Come on everyone at NASCAR -- think about it. The fans want to see the fastest cars race. What's wrong with that?

Sunday, July 15, 2007


The top 35 teams in points being guaranteed a spot in a race has always irked me. The top tier of NASCAR--the Cup racers--are supposed to be the best in the business. That said, NASCAR's instituting the top 35 rule a few years ago has never made sense from the sporting standpoint or the fan's standpoint. The rule was put in to help 'guarantee' sponsors would have their cars in the race.

It's really very simple. The top 43 cars in qualifying should be the 43 cars in the race. No provisionals, no 'special rules.' The fans deserve to the the best/fastest cars race. If a team cannot make the race on time, then they should not be allowed to run. And, that includes if a car does not attempt qualification for whatever reason (wrecked in practice, etc.). We've seen a few cars race that did not qualify on time.

As they used to say--you can't win the race if you don't qualify. And, if you can't qualify on time, you shouldn't be in there anyway.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Shane Huffman Ousted by JR Motorsports--WHY?

Shane Huffman was running 13th in Busch Series points, and 5th, if you were to exclude all the cherry pickers from the Cup Series who have invaded the Busch Series once again. Add to that the fact that team owner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. qualified the #88 Navy car (after giving Huffman notice earlier last week) quite poorly, and was candid that the car and equipment was not nearly as good as he had thought it was. So for that Shane gets fired? Now Junior is going to put Brad Keselowski in the car--a far more inexperience driver than Shane. Oh, yes. This should be fun. Nothing against Brad, who is definitely a talented, up-and-coming driver--but this move makes little sense in light of Shane's performance is subpar equipment.

What a raw deal for a very talented racer. Shane Huffman deserved better of JR Motorsports. Perhaps the bigger issue was that for some reason DEI did NOT have a Busch car entered for the Friday night race. So, was this the real reason Shane was ousted? Because Junior needed a Friday night ride to prep for the Saturday Cup race at Daytona?

That's the most likely scenario. Hopefully some of the other team owners have taken note of Shane's success in what is now admittedly below par JR Motorsports race cars. He's a good, solid racer and needs a break. And, apparently, some decent equipment.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Suspended Crew Chiefs Banned from Track -- The Way It Should Have Been All Along!!

According to Scene Daily:

Suspended Crew Chiefs banned from the track: NASCAR has changed its policy and will not allow crew chiefs to attend races while they are suspended, NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter said Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. Previously, the policy was to simply suspend a NASCAR license, meaning crew chiefs and others under suspension could not enter a track's garage area or pit road.

The suspensions were never intended to allow the crew chiefs to continue to work on the cars. Enough outrage about this was made in the media and online that NASCAR realized what was going on. About time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Some Guy Named Doug Guthrie Loves My Blog!!

This guy is a hoot. He writes for the Detroit News/Sports with a weblog. I guess I have a bona fide fan...What's really funny is that he says most of the same things I say, particularly about the topic of the "suspended" Hendrick crew chiefs in his own blog...

Doug's latest column includes (these are his words):

"Last time I linked to a rant by Valerie Wood she e-mailed me an angry message that said I was rude. I warn you that her opinions are heavily weighted by her love for Dale Junior and her hatred for everything Hendrick. Last time she defended Talladega's beer-throwing fans saying malicious destruction of property and borderline felonious assault are the only form of expression open to her sunbaked Budweiser-powered faithful. This time I actually agree with part of what she is saying. The three suspended crew chiefs were at New Hampshire leading their teams from motor homes a few steps outside the garage -- meeting the letter of NASCAR's laws. As for spirit, NASCAR doesn't care about anything that isn't the color of money. It is a farce and it made Valerie mad. She's fun to read when she's angry."

Well, I did email Doug. I said (verbatim from my email):


You'll never understand the whole thing with Gordon. And, no, I don't "HATE" him and I don't appreciate your putting that out there as you did. It is true I don't admire him. You and the NASCAR media are never going to change that fact...Not for me and for a very large majority of fans. There's too much I know about him, from being around the sport for 35 years, but you might be a little more discerning if you're going to cruise around the web looking for fodder for your articles. Not that we mind being quoted!! But, come on. Don't say I hate someone when I don't. That was rude.

Valerie Wood

Not that Doug ever gave me the courtesy of a reply. It's true -- I don't like being accused of 'hatred'. That's a bit overblown. I don't like cheating, lying, stealing, bribery, and just about any other felony you could name. If that makes me a 'hater' in someone's book, well, perhaps they should re-evaluate their own opinions and definitions. Some of us, with the 4th of July upon us by the way, love truth, justice and the American way....

Thanks, Doug, for the mentions! How can I be mad at someone who loves to quote me, and who takes me so seriously? At least he realizes my opinionated commentary is very often humorous...

Monday, July 2, 2007

NASCAR Alibi's for the Suspendees

Good ol' Robin Pemberton had to go on TV prior to yesterday's race at Loudon to explain that those who are suspended may not go where any NASCAR license is needed (e.g., pit road, the pit box, the garage). Apparently it's OK to sit in the motorhome, buy a ticket and talk on your exclusive Hendrick frequency....oh, that's right....they don't think we recall that several weeks ago much ado was made of Hendrick Racing having their very own private radio frequency. What will Nextel/Sprint come up with next?

The crew chiefs are allowed to text message, cell phone, email, etc. On tonite's NASCAR Now, Tim Brewer stated that both Knaus and Letarte met with their interim crew chiefs prior to and after the race. I'm sorry--what part of suspension don't we understand???

The fact remains that in REAL sports, suspensions are SERVED, not worked around. I've been defending NASCAR as a real sport for over 25 years....guess that stance needs re-evaluation once again. This year has been one of the worst dog-and-pony shows in a long time. Add the COT to that, and you really get a mangled season....

If a team is caught cheating over and over, do you really think they are going to suddenly abide by the rules???

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hendrick Racing Flipping the Bird at NASCAR from the Motorcoaches

To anyone who follows any professional sport (or even if they don't), it's obvious that when a suspension is handed out, that the intent is to prevent the individual suspended from participating in the event. Any attempt to play coy and get around the suspension is a deliberate move to undermine the nature of the suspension. That said, it was widely noted on Speed TV early this afternoon (Saturday, June 30, live from New Hampshire International Speedway) that the suspended crew chiefs (Steve Letarte and Chad Knaus) from the 24 and 48 Rick Hendrick Racing teams were comfortably ensconced on the track's property, in motorcoaches, running the shows for their teams. Is this not a flagrant violation of a suspension? Hendrick and his two drivers, Gordon and Johnson, have said they are 'outraged' at the 'severity' of the penalties levied against them last weekend at Sonoma when both car bodies had been altered. Never mind that NASCAR has been extremely clear about penalties for those who would tamper with it's 'car of tomarrow' (COT). And for me to say that NASCAR has been supremely clear--well, that can only mean that even NASCAR has been quite blunt about what they will and will not allow teams to do.

A far less extreme case a few weeks ago, when a wrong bracket set was left on the 8 car of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., resulted in a 100 point penalty against the driver, the owner, $100,000 fines, and a 6 race suspension for the crew chief. The details on this however, clearly show that it was an error on the team's part for leaving the wrong bracket on the car. Initially, NASCAR was working with three sets of brackets for the COT and the team tested with one of the three sets issued before the final decision was made as to which would be used. DEI's engineers, working on the testing for the COT, sent the car to the track with the wrong brackets. Beyond that, the car went thru initial inspection, pre-qualifying inspection, and post-qualifying inspection before NASCAR noticed that the wrong bracket set was on the car. And, the part would have given no advantage to the race team. With all that in mind, the penalty issued by NASCAR was intended to keep the strong message Don't Tamper With the COT, in the foreground.

The same penalty, for a far more egregious violation, was levied against the two Hendrick cars last weekend. Yes, you could argue that parking the cars for the first day of practice was also a part of the penalty, but face it. That made little difference in the outcome of the race. Yet the Hendrick outfit, apparently used to their pocketbooks talking, has expressed outrage at the penalties. Actually, it could be argued that a 200 point/$200,000/12 race suspension would be in order.

Nevertheless, to hear that the crew chiefs are onsite, at Loudon, NH, running the show by remote, is a clear flip-off at NASCAR and its governing of the races. A suspension should be a suspension, period. If a baseball manager is suspended, he doesn't get to sit in the clubhouse and run the game. Likewise in football, basketball, hockey....Apparently the Hendrick teams cannot even interpret the meaning of suspension without trying to get around the rules and cheat. Cheating at a suspension should be an additional fine and penalty. If NASCAR is truly running the show, they need to step in and stop this absurdness right now.

Cheating a suspension. Isn't that the height of hubris? (e.g., arrogance, greed, self-importance)...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hendrick Teams Should Take Punishment Like Real Men

After all, the Hendrick teams, particularly the 24 and 48, do not have a pristine past record for playing by the rules. They got caught making changes on the COT. They got penalized. Stop whining and take your punishment like real men....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wow -- Something Hendrick Can't Buy???

NASCAR has always owned the car numbers. They 'lease' them to the teams....Hendrick said he wanted to buy the 8 from DEI. NASCAR said DEI cannot sell it.

Sure would be nice if NASCAR actually stuck to their guns for a change! But, of course, Hendrick's history of bribery cannot be ignored.....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (Junior) Overload?

Today Dale Jr. announced a personal contract with Sony. Another one with Adidas is expected soon. Already a Chevy spokesman, and at least thru this season a Bud media darling, is Junior going the way of so many others who have overexposed themselves? Only time will tell...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Liar, Liar Pants on Fire...or Hendrick and Kyle Busch

Kyle Bush is nothing if not frank. Asked if he was aware that he had been ousted at Rick Hendrick Racing (RHR), he said that he only became aware after the big press conference hooha about Dale Junior coming over to RHR.

“Well, you know, this is all brand new,” said Busch. “I hadn’t talked or discussed or done anything with any other team. There had been a rumor that flew around that I was unhappy at Hendrick Motorsports, which was untrue. I was just frustrated with the way things were going, that I wasn’ able to get results. We had been running good and been fast everywhere, but we just had some bad luck and were crashing, and whatever. “That rumor started, and then after that rumor, it was that I was getting offers from other teams, which, I had never talked to anybody.” Busch said he hadn’t been given any indication that he wouldn’t be back at Hendrick until Monday."

Rick Hendrick can't even lie well....

Great Quote!!

The France family is going the way of the WWE's McMahons. The first generation built it, the second grew it, and the third will oversee its ruin. -- Anonymous

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

June 13 -- A Day That Will Live in Infamy

Dale Jr. driving for Rick Hendrick, the convicted felon. Who said there was 'no room at the inn' 4 weeks ago. Convicted felon, convicted liar. Way to go, Jr. Someone has pulled the wool over your eyes, that's for sure. Does Jr. really think he'll get the equipment Gordon and Johnson get?
Does Jr. really think his fans will follow en masse? Oh, the newer ones who have no idea about the history of the sport, nor the history of Rick Hendrick will. Those of us who've been around for 20 or 30 years or so have a lot more knowledge about the way that outfit got started and operates. Maybe Jimmy Spencer had more insight about Kelley Elledge than we gave him credit for. Obviously she is not in tune with the fans and the timbre of the sport.

What a colossal shame. Knowing Dale Sr., he is certainly NOT smiling down on this one.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pocono Caution Flag Thrown at Suspicious Time...

Did anyone else wonder why NASCAR threw the caution when they did at Pocono on Sunday? Just because Ryan Newman was in the process of passing Jeff Gordon when the 'rain' started...Those of us who were at Pocono wondered; after all, they could have easily raced safely back to the start/finish line.

Yet another yellow flag, rain shortened win for the 24. What's that make it now, 25 won that way?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

It's a Shame a First Cup Win Gets Overshadowed

On Monday, Martin Truex, Jr. won the "Autism Speaks 400" at Dover, Delaware--a race delayed a day by rain. On that same day, Bill France, Jr. passed away.

The media has chosen to focus on the passing of the 74-year-old France, to the point where it's like, Oh, by the way, Truex got his first win.

That's rather sad. France, who unquestionably brought Cup racing to the forefront of sport (while making himself and his family billionaires at the same time), had been out of racing for several years (even though he had kept a hand in the pot, as they say).

Last week's race at Charlotte was much ballyhooed as Casey Mears' first Cup win. It's a pity the same thing couldn't have been done for Truex--who is driving for a far less political team.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Brian France "Disappointed" in Court Decision

After losing three decisions within 28 hours as to whether ATT's logos could adorn the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car (driven by Jeff Burton), NASCAR Chairman Brian France said he was disappointed and would focus on more appeals.

Must be hell not to control the judicial court system.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Richie Gilmore compares fine/penalty of Dale Jr. with Death of Dale Sr. and its Aftermath

Check this out:

In USA Today, 5/19/07:
CONCORD, N.C. — Regardless of how a pending appeal turns out, Richie Gilmore, vice president of Dale Earnhardt Inc., said the fines levied against DEI and the looming suspension of crew chief Tony Eury Jr. provide a major rallying point for the No. 8 team of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"In some ways it's been kind of like it was when we lost Dale Sr.," Gilmore said. "We went out and won (at) Rockingham the next weekend."

It's the kind of boost in morale the No. 8 team can use, particularly in the wake of Earnhardt Jr.'s announcement that he's entertaining any and all offers for his driving services beginning in 2008.

How can ANYONE even think to compare the death of Dale Earnhardt with a NASCAR penalty/fine? I have long had my doubts about Richie Gilmore anyway--he came over to DEI from Hendrick Motorsports and right after that, DEI started losing it's much prized advantage at restrictor plate tracks. Almost like someone from Hendrick was feeding info back to their own team....Who could that be? Hmmmmm.....And, to make a laughable statement like this.

No doubt it might well be a rallying point for the Budweiser team, but please, don't be so asinine as to compare it with February 18, 2001.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dale Jr. Makes Decision That is in His Own Best Interest

All along I have said that Dale Jr. would part ways with DEI. A lot of people told me that there was no way he would do that, but they don't really seem to realize that Dale Earhnardt, Jr. is his own man and makes his own decisions. He's smart and listens to input from various sides, but ultimately he does make his own mind up after careful consideration. Maybe it's the Libra in him. Libras tend to weigh things out and they do not like discord.

It's been an ill-kept secret that step-mother Teresa has been difficult to deal with since Dale Jr.'s teen-aged years when he and sister Kelley went to live with his father and step-mom. Teresa, by all accounts, treats all of Dale Sr.'s children by other wives diffferently than she treats her own daughter.

Dale Jr. has made the first move to distance himself from the Teresa-run DEI. Predictions are running rampant. Personally, I'd like to see him end up driving for RCR in a black and red Budweiser #3 car next season. Richard Childress has been a good friend to Dale Jr., and was his father's best friend. He has looked out after Dale Jr. like a son.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Qualifying Solution Perfectly Simple

The fastest 43 cars race. The others go home.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Vandals Are Coming! The Vandals Are Coming!

Way back in the day, when I was in high school, every year the Principal addressed the school in a major assembly. After the usual news and notes, he would solemnly launch into a speech about the dreaded Vandals, who came down from the North of somewhere and laid waste, destruction and destitution to the school. He would talk about how horrible the vandals were and what terrible things they did.

NASCAR's media blitz over the trash-throwing at Talledaga (and Phoenix, the week before) reminds me of that time. Those of us who would never have even thought about doing something like graffiti on the walls or tearing up anything were always made to feel like we were being chastised for the few people who did the dirt and damage. The Vandals, however, were smug in knowing that no one knew who they were or they would have been singled out and punished.

Later in life, it was the office managers. Staff meetings would be held and one or two slackers would never have a clue when the boss said, "you need to look in the mirror and see if you are doing your job."

Punishing the masses for an infrigement by the few (prohibiting beer coolers has been suggested so that no one can enjoy a beer at a race because a few folks let their poor judgment get the best of them) is not the answer. A lifetime ban from buying race tickets strikes me as NASCAR's pomposity at a new height. Hey, maybe they'll put the photos of the folks not allowed to buy tickets on beer cans, so that the other fans will be able to spot them more readily.

The media and webbers are all over how the "Talladega" fans are the worst in sports. No, they are not. Again the actions of a few are being touted widely and it is mean-spirited and unfair to blame the folks who go to the race year after year for the actions of a dozen or so folks.

Probably the best way to have handled this after Phoenix was for NASCAR to keep their noses out of it and not get the print and internet media involved. That turned this whole issue into a 'dare ya' thing and there was no question in my mind (and I wasn't at Talladega--I was in Maryland) that there would be trash/beer can throwing regardless of how the race ended. Because, after all, NASCAR made sure the Vandals knew they had the power to incite.

Only in NASCAR are Fans Banned for Life!!

According to a report today, 14 people have been 'banned for life' from buying tickets to Talledega. That for throwing debris on the track after the race on Sunday.

THIS JUST IN...NASCAR is developing the "CAN OF TOMORROW" -- A styrofoam nerf can that they will exclusive $ell and market to the fans at the track. Once the beer is gone, the can will self-destruct in 5 seconds.

Only in NASCAR. Now they'll have a convenient excuse why it was not a sellout in the future. It would have been... but we banned fans from coming to the event.

No wonder it's becoming harder to defend being fans of this 'sport.'


Thursday, April 26, 2007

NASCAR PO'ed at Tony Stewart'sTelling the Truth

Tony Stewart's comments on his radio show this past week about NASCAR's questionable debris cautions only backs up what many of us have been saying for a few years. Comparing NASCAR to WWF (or whatever you want to call the pro wresting league) is an apt way to view NASCAR's not so subtle way of directing the outcome of a race.

Likewise, NASCAR's use of their 'pit road speed limit.' NASCAR recently maintained they now have a 5 MPH leeway; of course that depends on where and when they clock the car from. Denny Hamlin was accused of going 50.1 MPH over the tolerance established for Phoenix (45 MPH + 5 MPH), so he was penalized for speeding. This is only one of many instances in the past couple of years where some drivers are penalized while others who consistently smoke their tires in and out of the pits, like Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, are rarely if ever caught speeding.

NASCAR spokesmen said they were "disappointed" in Tony's comments regarding NASCAR and Pro Wrestling. Guess the truth hurts.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Gordon Knew Exactly What he was Doing When he Used the 3 Flag

It was truly a sickening, disgusting sight to see Jeff Gordon do a victory lap in Phoenix holding a Dale Earnhardt 3 flag after Saturday night`s race. Many, many Earnhardt fans felt that Gordon`s actions were a deliberate insult and tacky way of bragging to the world that he had tied Dale`s career wins at 76. Feelings on this topic run deep with Earnhardt fans, and we certainly have a right to our opinions as well. I didn't like it. It was two-faced and insulting. I don't have to like it, and I don't appreciate Gordon's self-aggrandizing actions nor think it was necessary to rub in the fact that he's still racing. Some of us have lived and breathed racing for better than 40 years, and we feel intensely about our sport--who we like and who we don't. Racing is nothing if not passionate, and Earnhardt fans are as passionate about Dale Sr. today as they were when he was racing. Gordon might as well have been 'flipping the bird' at the Earnhardt fans--that's exactly how that gesture came across.

It was definitely not a friendly "rivalry" when Earnhardt was racing Gordon and to pretend it was is insulting and tasteless. If Gordon wishes to revise history, this is not the way to do it. His actions smacked of sheer gloating, ignorance and irreverance. And, whether or not he said anything in Victory Lane (and the first thing out of his mouth was about Dale Earnhardt), the fact remains that he is so keen on trying to be compared to Earnhardt, he will do anything to further that goal. It would have been a helluva lot more classy had he used a Virginia Tech flag, to salute the University after last week's tragedy. But, that's right--Gordon was born in California. He's not a native Southerner...Gordon plays the humble role well, but sincerity is not one of his better personality traits. Revisionists try to portray Earnhardt and Gordon as being close friends. They were business partners in many efforts, but Dale was the consumate businessman. Every driver wishes he were Dale's best friend, but from all accounts that role still fell to Richard Childress and a few others. All of a sudden we're hearing what great friends Dale and Gordon were. Come on....get real. A friend is someone you chat with on the phone, go hunting with, or socialize with. I don't ever recall seeing a photo of Dale and Teresa and Jeff and Brooke out on the town having dinner.

Dale Jr. is too nice and too much of an ambassador for the sport than to do anything other than he did and congratulate Gordon. Junior has a lot of clout with the fans--but this is not about Dale Jr. It is about honoring Dale Sr. -- something a great many race fans feel was NOT done. Bet you won`t see Gordon driving around with a Cale Yarborough or Darrell Waltrip flag when he likely ties their records.

This sport truly changed for the worst when Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was killed at Daytona in 2001. A fake-feeling tribute by a driver who is widely disliked because of his owner and team`s history of bribery and cheating was a poor choice, done in poor taste. As my mom used to say, "Consider the source."

All week long there have been articles defending Gordon`s actions, trying to portray this as a "tribute." A tribute is a very honorable and personal thing--and this did not feel that way. It felt more like a "Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na" braggadocio. It was not spontaneous. It was premeditated, as we heard on the voice feed on the television broadcast. Perhaps if so many of Gordon`s wins had not been under questionable circumstances--even this one, with the so-called safety problem of not having his radio work so the race was delayed til he got a new helmet (wonder if it had been Kenny Wallace or Mike Bliss - would they have been allowed to get new equipment while NASCAR put the start on hold? Past history of NASCAR says No Way)....

If Gordon wins 100 races, it will not make him one bit more popular with the fans who have seen too many shenanigans out of the Hendrick camp for them to ever like him. Even with NASCAR`s blessing, though, he will never match Petty`s 200 victories. And, even if he did, that would not change the feelings of the fans who detest Gordon and what he represents. And, like it or not, the fan is the backbone of the sport and the fan has a right to voice an opinion, whether the Gordon fans like it or not.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

NASCAR's COT Really Does (to Quote the Race Winner) 'Suck'

Let's get right down to it. I don't like the car of tomorrow (COT). Or, car of today. Whatever you want to call the thing. It looks like a bad modified car. If I want to watch modifieds, there are better ones out there that are racier and less contrived. NASCAR is patting itself on the back for a successful first showing at Bristol on Sunday (March 25). I beg to differ. I've never seen cars go that slowly around the marvelous, steeply banked bull-ring short track. The race itself was so-so. Sometimes it was even boring. Bristol -- boring?? Just when you thought NASCAR couldn't screw up a great event like a Bristol race, they manage to do that, as well.

If NASCAR had wanted to do it up right, they would have asked Jay Signore, of IROC fame, to oversee a program setting up a generic car. At least the IROC cars were competitive and racy. Instead, they created a one-style car and convinced the major auto manufacturers to put their name brands on this styless, non-stock car. Go into your local Chevy dealership and ask for the car that 'won on Sunday.' It cannot be had. But then, who would want it anyway? The 'Impala,' 'Camry,' 'Avenger' and 'Fusion' names on the cars are just that--names. It's hard to believe that NASCAR convinced the folks running Ford, Chevy, Dodge, and yes, even Toyota, to go along with the COT thing.

The upcoming race at Martinsville also features NASCAR's concept car. Too bad. Martinsville is usually another exciting, competitive race. No doubt NASCAR will refuse to admit they made a bad call with this COT project. Instead, they'll keep forcing it down the teams and fans' throats because--mark my words--somehow, somewhere, the folks that run NASCAR will be making the profits off of the COT. Maybe they've even bought an automotive plant to manufacture the things. Whatever, however, there is only one bottom line for NA$CAR and that is the dollar.

Race winner Kyle Busch's first words after winning the Bristol event was that the car 'sucks.' Kyle, I could not agree with you more.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Michael Waltrip Overload (Or, Won't You PLEASE GO HOME!!)

I like Michael Waltrip. I really do. He's tall, handsome, and has a good sense of humor. He can be witty. But, the fact of the matter is he has been just too salesmanlike lately and I just don't like seeing him every single time I turn on a racing show, ESPN, Speed Channel, or any sports network. The commercials (Aaron's, Dominos and NAPA in particular--who'd have thought NAPA would become a Toyota sponsor?) are getting sappier and sillier. They must be a real ego boost, but they have reached the top of the annoyance level meter in our household. There oft comes a time when a person reaches the point of overexposure. Michael--you've reached that point. Michael Saturation might be a good term for it...I actually turned off the television Sunday morning when Michael Waltrip was on yet another panel show on Speed, wearing his driving suit (guess since he didn't make the Cup race again, he felt he had to get some use out of the fancy duds), and going on and on about whatever it was he was talking about. 'Please, Shut Up!' I told him (well, it was a bit stronger than that), and I clicked the TV off. There. That was better. There's only so much jabbering one can take with all these racing experts trying to out-shout each other.

All winter, all we heard in racing news was about Michael and his newToyota teams -- how grand it was going to be, the new shop being built, hype after hype...Now, having missed 3 races in a row, one wonders how long Toyota is going to stick with Michael as the flagship for their Cup teams. He's giving new definition to the term, 'Go or go home.' ...Of course, NASCAR is rushing the car of tomarrow into usage an effort to help level the playing field for the Toyota teams. One wonders if Toyota was sold a bill of goods that was undeliverable. From an objective point of view, it rather looks that way.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The NASCAR Dictionary: Discretionary Penalty (AKA a Non-Call of an Obvious Infraction)

Well, we have yet another term to add to the ever burgeoning NASCAR Dictionary. Look up Discretionary Penalty and you'll find a picture of Jimmie Johnson there. Hopefully without the Mr. Ray Hair-Weave he's sporting in his latest NEXTEL commercial...

In Sunday's race at Las Vegas, a NASCAR Official intercepted a tire that came off of Jimmie Johnson's car during a pitstop at the end of the race. The equipment (tire) left the pit box and was out of control. Only the official's action kept this from being a potential safety issue. That said, NASCAR declared that they did not charge Johnson with the usual penalty for this infraction because it was a 'discretionary' judgment call. Oh, boy!! Now we have a new NASCAR policy as to when the officials decide whether or not to enforce a penalty....Or, Johnson has added a NASCAR Official to his Pit Crew....Did Johnson's whining about the late caution at California 2 weeks ago, which took him out of the lead of the race, cause NASCAR to get all touchy-feely about Poor Jimmie?...Ah, yes...another black mark on the dark and sooty face of NASCAR...and they they wonder why fans get upset that they appear to make up the rules as they go along -- even though the sport has been around for over half a century.

I can't wait to see what happens the first time Jimmie loses a lug nut during a pit-stop. Perhaps the official will go over and help put it back on the wheel. With NASCAR, one never knows...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

ESPN Race Analysis is a Refreshing Return to, Well, Race Analysis

ESPN's NASCAR Busch Series racing coverage has been anything but Bush League. What a refreshing return to the race and the drivers being the main part of the show. Sure, FoxSports, TNT and Speed have excellent overall coverage, but after a few years of the same old, same old hype and sometimes downright silly schtick, it's nice to have racing commentators and analysts who actually talk about what is going on on the track and are not secretly rehearsing for their next NAPA commercial. Keeping it businesslike is a nice change of events.

Former Cup Crew Chief Tim Brewer has been a marvelous addition to the broadcasts as a race analyst. One of NASCAR's most successful crew chiefs in racing history, Brewer was on the comm for 53 wins, 55 poles and 2 Cup championships. What I especially admire is that he has a talent for explaining the more technical racing issues in layman's terms without being condescending to the viewers. (How many times have we heard the Fox 'experts' start every sentence with, "For you new racing fans...."?) Brewer has a quiet charisma, and his down-to-earth approach is certainly a blast of fresh air for long-time race viewers.

Rusty Wallace, in his second year with ESPN, is doing a most creditable and credible job. I have to admit I had my doubts about how he would make the transition from racer to broadcaster. And, of course, long time pro Jerry Punch is a most welcome sight for race fans as well. While I'm at it, I've been favorably impressed by Angelique Chengelis' reporting. This veteran motorsports write has made the transition to the booth smoothly, and it's such a delight to have a woman sportswriter of her knowledge covering races.

One can only hope ESPN maintains (and why wouldn't they?) their usual professional approach. And, please, Lord, let's not hear any 'Boogity, boogity, boogity' from the NASCAR Countdown commentators!! Somehow, I don't think we'll have to worry about that, though.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Montoya Scores First Busch Win in Mexico City and Thumbs Down to Scott Pruett

Juan Pablo Montoya had the fastest car and his car had one determined racer driving it. Leading most of the Mexico City Busch race on Sunday, a pit-stop mishap put him back in 21st position with about 24 laps to go. Passing on a road-course is treacherous at best, but Montoya raced his way up through the field, finally catching the current leader, Scott Pruett, who was driving the #41 Juicy Fruit car. Pruett, who is a teammate to Montoya, threw a block when Montoya made a move to pass him on the inside. Pruett's car got loose and spun. If you watch the replays a few times, you'll note that Pruett then attempted to steer his spinning car into Montoya's in retaliation, but Montoya, having the quick reaction time of the world class racer that he is, managed to avoid Pruett's car, go around him through the grass, and get back on the track.

Seems to me that Pruett's move to block and then try to wreck his teammate was a pretty classless move. Of course, Pruett whined after the race about Montoya 'taking him out,' but just because a driver gets camera time, it doesn't mean they're telling the whole story or what really happened....Pruett's on-camera 'thumbs down' gesture and remarks about Montoya may have been made in the heat of the moment; his team owners were more cautious and Chip Ganassi said he'd have to look at the tape before he commented on it.

If there's a faster car behind you, basically you have a handful of choices. Go faster and maintain your lead, get out of the way of the clearly faster car or, if you insist on trying to stay in front of a faster car and wind up wrecked, don't whine about it.

Congratulations to Juan Pablo Montoya on an exciting, well-deserved first Busch Series win. As I have said many times, there are drivers--and there are racers. Montoya belongs in the elite class of racers.

A little bumping and banging? Well, that's racin'.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Of Empty Seats, a Cup Weekend Off, and Mexico on Tap

After all the hype and hulaballoo of Daytona, we were subjected to a so-so oft-boring race out on the West Coast in California. Where, incidentally, there were plenty of empty seats in the stands (and no, not because the fans were standing up. The fans were absent from the race). The folks that schedule racing for NASCAR need to realize that two races at the same track in California are one race too many...Add to that that the ratings for the event plummeted 9.5% below last year's television ratings for the same event...It's an off weekend for the Cup Series, where in past racing years an event would have been run this weekend at Rockingham. No wonder us Southern race fans who have been following NASCAR for 30 or 35 years are annoyed at the new scheduling... Well, major league baseball's Spring-training has started this week, at least.

NASCAR is trying to build up its fan base and relationship with Mexico by running another Busch race there this weekend. The third one, so far.... For the many of us who are not diehard fans of road racing, this is not exactly a riveting event. But, by not having a Cup event anywhere this weekend, NASCAR forces fans to pay attention to the race in Mexico. And, just for the record, I adore Mexico. What a gorgeous country!.... Personally, I just don't care all that much for road racing, anywhere. Oh, I'll watch the race, but we won't be glued to the television...Just seems that if NASCAR was really goin' courting, they'd have put a CUP race on the docket there and had both Series run on the weekend. That's the way to add punch and panache to the event.

Of course, we all realize this is actually PR hype for NASCAR to try and recruit 'new' fans among the Hispanic and Latin populations. Maybe NASCAR has truly put off so many of their original fans with all the constant rule changes, politics, favoritism, and eternal quest of the sports fans' dollars that they're really desperate to recruit more fans by targeting a demographic. And, by the way, there will be a race in Canada, eh? Why does NASCAR's 'brain trust' (and I use that term loosely) feel they have to dangle their wares in order to sell the sport? How many billions of dollars do the folks that run this sport need?

NASCAR has had the enormous great fortune to have a 'rookie' driver fall into their laps in the person of championship racer Juan Pablo Montoya; arguably one of the top racing talents in the world. He brings in a cosmopolitan, world-wide fan base to the sport. This native of Colombia, South America has a devoted following that will surprise even the NASCAR executive staff. And, if some of the lesser-talented folks on the track would stop angling to wreck Montoya, he quite likely would have already had a win in stock cars (Busch or Cup) -- or at least some top-10 finishes. A racer like Montoya brings far more to the sport than NASCAR realizes. Now, that's the cosmopolitan flair that will benefit Cup racing in the long run.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wonder How Come...(In No Particular Order)

...they call it the Car of Tomarrow? It was the Car of Tomarrow last year. What are they going to call it when Tomarrow gets here? The Car of Yesterday?

...DEI engines were the only ones to blow up at California. Supposably it has to do with the change to unleaded fuel... ??? Seems like ever since Richie Gilmore came to DEI, their restrictor plate program has gone downhill, while Hendrick Racing (from whence he came) has improved dramatically...Can you say "fox in the henhouse?"'s taking so long for Dale Jr. and Richard Childress to team up. That's what most of Dale Jr.'s fans are waiting for.

...Steven Wallace can even see to drive, since he blinks about about 200 times a minute?

...Mark Martin can drive a Chevy in the Cup Series and Fords in the other series? What happened to brand loyalty? one is stepping up to sponser the IROC Series? That's a damned shame that no one will step up to the plate and back it. Of course, it's the most neutral racing series in stock car--NASCAR doesn't have their claws in this one too much.

...NASCAR doesn't admit they blew it and give a race back to Rockingham?

Friday, February 23, 2007

NASCAR and Consistency....A LONGSTANDING Problem

I was scanning the articles in today's news at Jayski's, and what struck me were all the articles by sportswriters who are now (thanks to the green flag finish at Daytona last Sunday) stating that NASCAR needs to show consistency in order to be considered a legitimate sport...that NASCAR needs impartial officials....that NASCAR doesn't enforce penalties across the board...Well, a big DUH should be sent out to all those writers! They state these lofty premises like they've just discovered the cure for a horrible disease...C'mon!! We've been saying that for the past 20 some years...Where were all these sportsfan/racing writers back then?? Guess, better late than never.

For the 439 millionth time, NASCAR is a sport run and owned by one family. They have made nepotism an art. As long as one family controls a sport, the sport's rulebook is not available to the fans or public, and that family is raking in literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year of course there will be discrepancies and inconsistencies. Richard Petty tried to unionize the drivers back in the 1970's and was lucky NASCAR let him back in to their sport. Until a Board of Governors, comprised of team owners, track owners (yes, there are some tracks NASCAR's France family does not own) it's a moot point to talk about how the sport is run.

Heck, Michael Waltrip's team was fined $100,000 (chump change to them), 100 points for driver and owner (more of an 'ouch'), and the crew chief suspended indefinitely for a 'mysterious substance' found in the manifold. Now NASCAR won't even reveal what that substance was to be public. Not to worry, tho. Secrets in the garage are seldom well kept.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

NASCAR Finally Got It Right by Not Throwing Caution at End of Daytona 500

The buzz all week has been about whether NASCAR did the right thing by not throwing a caution when the bulk of the field was wrecking 1/4 mile behind the two drivers racing for the win in the Daytona 500. The wreck was BEHIND the leaders on the last lap, folks! It was great to see NASCAR actually let the two vying for the win, Kevin Harvick and Mark Martin, actually RACE for the win. I don't agree with NASCAR's calls most of the time, but they actually got this one right!! Kevin Harvick raced Mark Martin for the win, and beat him to the finish line. End of story.