Saturday, November 29, 2008

Preview: Upcoming Articles on NASCAR Bits and Pieces

Over the next few weeks I'll be publishing a series of articles that are going to be covering different facets of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from the 2008 season, in a statistical take on things.



It's a TERSE look back at selected statistics from the year.

  • The 2008 season in general, on Dec 1st
  • Some Qualifying stats on Dec 3rd
  • Some race numbers on Dec 5th
  • Rookie notes and Lap count notes on Dec 8th
  • Team Owner Notes Dec 10th
  • A real short look at Penalties from 2008 on Dec 12th
  • Manufacturer notes on the 15th
  • Curious tidbits on Dec 17th
  • and some "Notebook" factoids on the 19th.

I've got an exciting month planned for everyone so stay tuned and check out the tidbits coming at you, in "Bits and Pieces".

-Bruce

NASCAR Nationwide Series 2008 Season Recap, Pt 2



As promised, the 2nd part of the season statistics recapped for the NASCAR Nationwide Series 2008 Season Recap:




Winners
• There were 12 different race winners in 2008:
  • Kyle Busch (10)
  • Carl Edwards (seven)
  • Tony Stewart (five)
  • Denny Hamlin (four)
  • Brad Keselowski (two)
  • Mark Martin (one)
  • Matt Kenseth (one)
  • Clint Bowyer (one)
  • Scott Wimmer (one)
  • Joey Logano (one)
  • Ron Fellows (one)
  • Marcos Ambrose (one)

• 49 drivers registered at least one top-10 finish in 2008, led by Clint Bowyer with 29.

• 10 races were extended by green-white-checkered finishes in 2008:
  • Las Vegas
  • Atlanta
  • Phoenix
  • Richmond
  • Darlington
  • Charlotte
  • Daytona-2
  • Dover-2
  • Memphis
  • Phoenix-2

• Two races were shortened in 2008: Bristol (171 laps) and Montreal (48 laps).

• With Denny Hamlin's win at Richmond, it was the fifth consecutive victory for Joe Gibbs Racing.

This was the first time in the history of the NASCAR Nationwide Series that an owner posted five straight wins.

• Busch’s win at O’Reilly Raceway Park gave JGR it's 14th win of the season.
That broke a tie with Richard Childress Racing for the most by a car owner (2007).

Unique Statistic
• James Hylton competed in the second Daytona race At 72 years, 313 days old, making him the oldest competitor in any of NASCAR’s three national series.

The Pole Winner/Race Winner
• The Coors Light Pole winner (or driver that started first in cases of no qualifying) finishing position:
  • First 7
  • 2nd-5th 9
  • 6th-10th 5
  • 11th-30th 8
  • 31st or beyond 6

• The race winner’s starting positions:
  • Pole 7
  • 2nd-5th 13
  • 6th-10th 5
  • 11th-30th 7
  • 31st or beyond 3

• 60 drivers led at least one lap this season.

• Kyle Busch led 1,933 laps in 2008, more than any other driver.

• Drivers who led the most laps (number of races):
  • Kyle Busch (14)
  • Carl Edwards (five)
  • Tony Stewart (four)
  • Clint Bowyer (four)
  • Denny Hamlin (three)
  • Mark Martin (one)
  • Scott Pruett (one)
  • Brad Keselowski (one)
  • Marcus Ambrose (one)
  • Jeff Burton (one)

Nationwide Series standings
• Two drivers have ranked in the top 10 in points all season: Carl Edwards and David Ragan.


Rookie Performance

• Three rookie contenders won poles this season: Landon Cassill (Memphis), Bryan Clauson (Daytona-2) and Dario Franchitti (Watkins Glen).


Owner Highlights

• Joe Gibbs Racing set the mark for the most owner wins in an NASCAR Nationwide Series season with 19, breaking the record set by Richard Childress Racing.

• Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 40 Dodge posted back-to-back poles at Montreal and Watkins Glen – with different drivers at the wheel – Scott Pruett (Montreal) and Dario Franchitti (Watkins Glen).

Car Owner’s Championship
• Joe Gibbs Racing won the car owner’s championship with the No. 20 Toyota finishing the season 12 points ahead of the No. 2 of Richard Childress Racing.

• The 20 car posted nine victories with four different drivers: Tony Stewart (five), Denny Hamlin (two), Kyle Busch (one) and Joey Logano (one).

• This is the third time in series history that there has been a split championship. All three have occurred since 2003, all involved multiple drivers for the winning car owner and all have involved Richard Childress Racing.


Penalties
• There were 512 on-track penalties issued this season.

• Penalty Recap:
  • Pitting Before Pit Road is Open 205
  • Too Fast Entering Pit Road 63
  • Too Fast Exiting Pit Road 57
  • Others 187

Manufacturer Notes
• Toyota won the manufacturers’ championship – its first in the series, with 253 points. Chevrolet was second with 201. Ford had 199 points while Dodge had 117.
• Toyota had 20 victories in 2008; Ford nine and Chevrolet six.
• Toyota swept the first three finishing positions at New Hampshire – the best performance by a manufacturer this season.

And there ya have it for the 2008 season!

source: nascar press release

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tight in Turn 2: A Dour Look At The Awards Banquet

This is another segment of Tight in Turn 2 where Charlie Turner (Of On Pit Row) and I exchange banter about various subjects.

This week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Banquet in New York is what's on my mind:


Well, the 2008 season is over.

History has been made and matched. Television delivered and yet at the same time, ticked us off on occasion. Drivers have switched teams and some have been screwed by the new rules for the first demo race of the year. Meanwhile others have been screwed by the new testing rules. Running the show is Brian France, and yet fans don't think he's qualified. It seems at any one time, not all of the people will be happy all of the time.

Case in point: The NASCAR awards banquet. I cringe at the thought of the event.

The annual awards banquet brings us the hi points of the year and presents awards to the top drivers in each of their categories as well as some other features. It's treated as the gala event of the year for the sport.

But.

For me, it is the longest 10 hours of my life. No, it's not 10 hours long... it just feels that way. In fact I no longer watch it live. I record it and watch it later.

What I don't get is that NASCAR, with their mucho denero resources, has access to the best and the brightest of the entertainment world and yet they don't seem to hit their mark.

Entertainment wise, they fall short every single year... in my humble, dis-stressed opinion. Are they pinching pennies when in fact they should be spending them?

The issues I experience are the following:

The Writing:
Whether it's the emcee or the host, the narratives fall short. Granted, the emcee's are usually sports reporters and not entertainers so I give them that. Though it wouldn't hurt to send them to a quick impromptu acting course to generate some real "genuine" emotional delivery when they actually deliver an old, just out of elementary school type joke that someone, somewhere thinks is "funny". It's not. And if it could be, it's killed by the monotone delivery of the line.

Host
The host is usually a known brand name. Last year it was Jay Mohr.

Jay Mohr has a funny, dry sense of wit and timing. Yet it's obvious that the material he's given just isn't up to par, and from what I can tell, he had restrictions on the ad lib opportunities, because who I saw on stage was not the Jay I know. Either that, or the material is so far off from funny that even Jay can't save it.

Speaking of Restrictions
OK, when the drivers come up to chat on stage, I cringe for them. I know this is a big moment but when they get up there, they are so rehearsed that it looks pretty uncomfortable. I'd rather see Tony Stewart's ease of chat or the "old" Jimmy Spencer type deliveries that come off the cuff.

I'd love to see them be themselves.

Announcer
The background announcer who presents the information for each upcoming award needs to be... something different. It's monoton-ish while whoever it is tries to deliver feeling in some way that comes out as failed emotional implications. It hurts to listen to her and I'd like to hear a different, more soothing voice. Not the roller derby queen sounding voice they have had in the past.

Entertainment
Awesome. NASCAR gets some name brand entertainment on stage. I wish the bands would have more runs at playing their tunes across the night. It would dispel the emotional pain that develops unabated throughout the show.

~~~
I break it down to what NASCAR is willing to pay for and I wish they would bust into their profit margins just a little bit more and give us something worth looking forward to that is also entertaining. They need to edit the show.

To be blunt: The awards show does not need to be as long as the usual length that a race runs. The Academy Awards takes the incredibly boring parts and does separate award presentations for things like the scientific awards of excellence and what not because people really don't care who made the special effect... or how. The audience just wants to see Hollywood while it spins around kissing it's own... well, you get the point. They don't want to be bored.

That's my take on the whole thing and like every year, I hope they kick it up just one more notch so I can almost enjoy the show. At least more than the year before.

Even though they're paid the big bucks for winning the Championship, I feel for the Lowe's team members and wives that have to sit up there on stage all night. I cannot imagine being in plain view of the world, in proper attire, in proper posture for such a long period of time all the while trying to look interested. Wow... that's worthy of some kind of hazard pay.

With that being said, I asked Charlie Turner of On Pit Row his take on the show:

Charlie?:

Bruce I guess it just depends on what you expect.

NASCAR is great - though plenty will argue with this too - at putting on a show at the race track. Better than anyone else in the business, in my opinion, anyway.

But there are two things they've proven that they can't do well at all.

One is make a credible movie about stock car racing. Talladega Nights wasn't even a good Will Farrell movie - how do you screw that formula up? And two, they can't duplicate the Academy Awards. Damned if I know why they even try.

So, around ON PIT ROW-land, we just go with it. We'll do a live blog and act like we're doing Mystery Science Theater. We'll make fun of the thing and have a blast. It actually makes the two hours or so pass by pretty fast.

My only fear now is that they'll hire someone who knows how to make one of these things work, and it will actually be good. Then what?

~~~

Charlie inquires over on his site: Is NASCAR competitive enough for you? Check out his take and my two cents!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

Hello.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  (If you are reading this afterward, I hope you had a good one.)

I'm thankful for many things in these tough times and I can only wish you all the best and thank you for spending some of your valuable time here with me as I rant and report.

Best Wishes,

-Bruce

Nationwide Series - A Look Back at 2008

Clint Bowyer won the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, his first series title.

He finished the season 21 points ahead of Carl Edwards, the fourth closest championship margin in series history.

Bowyer finished the 2008 season with one victory, 14 top-five finishes and 29 top-10s. He had no DNFs.

There were 12 different race winners in 2008, led by Kyle Busch who tied a series record with 10 wins this season.

2008 Season Wins & Highlights
• Tony Stewart won the season-opener at Daytona then repeated in the second race (Auto Club Speedway). It was just the third time in NASCAR Nationwide Series history a driver had won the first two races of the season (Dale Earnhardt in 1986 and Chad Little in 1995).
• Mark Martin won the third race of the season at Las Vegas.
• Matt Kenseth won at Atlanta.
• Clint Bowyer won at Bristol.
• Kyle Busch posted his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of 2008 at Texas.
This win makes this the fourth consecutive season Kyle Busch has won in all three series.
Only two other drivers have accomplished the feat and both did so just once – Kevin Harvick in 2003 and Terry Labonte in 1995.
• Kyle Busch became the second repeat winner with his victory at Phoenix.
• Kyle Busch posted his third consecutive victory of 2008 with his win at Mexico City.
• Tony Stewart won his second restrictor-plate race with his victory at Talladega.
• Tony Stewart won his fourth race of the season and the sixth consecutive win for Joe Gibbs Racing with his win at Darlington.
• Kyle Busch became the second four-time winner of the season with his victory at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
• Denny Hamlin won at Dover.
• Brad Keselowski became the first driver to post his career-first victory in 2008 with his win at Nashville.
• Joey Logano won at Kentucky and became the second first-time winner. He also became the youngest winner in series history with this win, being at the ripe old age of 18 years, 21 days.
• Carl Edwards edged Clint Bowyer to win at Milwaukee, posting his first victory since Nashville in June 2007.
• Tony Stewart won at New Hampshire.
• Denny Hamlin won the July Daytona race. This gave the JGR No 20 car its ninth victory this season.
• Kyle Busch won at Chicagoland.
• Carl Edwards took the checkered flag at Gateway. His second win in 2008.
• Kyle Busch won at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, leading 197 of the 200 laps. His sixth victory of the season.
• Ron Fellows won the rain-shortened Montreal race.
• Marcos Ambrose posted his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory by winning at Watkins Glen.
• Carl Edwards won at Michigan.
• Brad Keselowski posted his second career victory at Bristol.
• Kyle Busch posted his seventh victory at the Auto Club Speedway.
• Carl Edwards won his fourth of the season at Richmond.
• Kyle Busch got win #8 at Dover.
• Denny Hamlin won the Kansas Lottery 300.
• Kyle Busch won the Dollar General 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Number 9.
• Carl Edwards won his fifth race of the season at Memphis.
• Kyle Busch ties the all-time win record at Texas Motor Speedway. Sam Ard won 10 races in 1983.
• Carl Edwards won at Phoenix, making that win # 6 of the season.
• Carl Edwards won the final race of the year, #7 of the season.

Qualifying
• 162 drivers attempted to qualify for at least one race this season.

• There were 18 different pole winners in 2008:
  • Kyle Busch (four)
  • Carl Edwards (four)
  • Joey Logano (three)
  • Tony Stewart (two)
  • Brian Vickers (two)
  • Jamie McMurray (two)
  • Colin Braun (two)
  • Kasey Kahne (one)
  • Brad Keselowski (one)
  • Landon Cassill (one)
  • Bryan Clauson (one)
  • David Reutimann (one)
  • Scott Pruett (one)
  • Dario Franchitti (one)
  • Cale Gale (one)
  • Kevin Harvick (one)
  • James Buescher (one)
  • Denny Hamlin (one)

• There were eight first-time pole winners this season:
  • Colin Braun (Mexico City)
  • Joey Logano (Nashville-2)
  • Brad Keselowski (Milwaukee)
  • Landon Cassill (New Hampshire)
  • Bryan Clauson (Daytona-2)
  • Dario Franchitti (Watkins Glen)
  • Cale Gale (Bristol-2)
  • James Buescher (Memphis)

• 150 drivers qualified for at least one NASCAR Nationwide Series race this season.

(The 2008 season numbers will be continued in the next article on 11/29/08)

Source: NASCAR Press Release

Friday, November 21, 2008

Craftsman Truck Series - A Look Back At the 2008 Season

Johnny Benson won the 2008 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship, his first series title.

He became the 10th different driver to win the series championship.  Benson finished the 2008 season seven points ahead of Ron Hornaday Jr., the second-closest championship points margin in series history.

Johnny finished the 2008 season with five wins, 14 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s. Benson's first series championship comes in his fourth year of full-time competition in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (2005-08). He has finished in the top-10 in the final points standings in all four of those years.

Benson competed in 25 series races prior to 2005.

There were 12 different race winners in the 2008 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season:
Ron Hornaday Jr. had six and Johnny Benson, five.  At least they left room for some folk!!

2008 Season Winners
• Todd Bodine's victory at Daytona continued the streak of a different Daytona race winner for the ninth consecutive year.
• Kyle Busch won at Auto Club Speedway to become the sixth different race winner in as many races at California.
• Kyle Busch became the first repeat winner when he won at Atlanta.
• Dennis Setzer won at Martinsville.  This was his third win there, making him the all-time win leader there.
• Ron Hornaday Jr. won at Kansas – his 34th series victory.
• Matt Crafton had his first career victory at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
• Donny Lia got his first win at Mansfield.  And he only had 8 starts at the time.
• Scott Speed - Another first time winner, won at Dover – in just six Truck Series starts.
• Ron Hornaday Jr. won at Texas
• Erik Darnell won at Michigan, giving the Roush organization his 49th series victory.
• Johnny Benson won at Milwaukee.
• Ron Hornaday Jr. won at Memphis, becoming the first three-peat winner of 2008.
• Johnny Benson won at Kentucky.
• Johnny Benson won at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.
• Johnny Benson notched three in a row winning at Nashville Superspeedway.
   This was only the fifth time in the series a driver had won three in a row.
• Kyle Busch won at Bristol.
• Ron Hornaday Jr. took New Hampshire.
• Mike Skinner finally got his first win of the season at Las Vegas.
• Todd Bodine won at Talladega.
• Johnny Benson won at Martinsville.
• Ryan Newman won at Atlanta in his debut in the Truck Series.  Only Mike Skinner, Robert Pressley and Kasey Kahne have done the same.  Win in their debut that is.
• Ron Hornaday Jr. won at Texas, posting his series-leading sixth win of 2008.
• Kevin Harvick won at Phoenix.  Oddly, all of Harvick's series wins have come from Phoenix.
• Todd Bodine won at Homestead-Miami Speedway, giving him victories in both the season opener and the finale.

Stats for Qualifying and Such
• 121 different drivers attempted to qualify for at least one race this season.
• There were 12 different pole winners in 2008.
• Three drivers posted their career-first poles this season:  Justin Marks (Texas) Bobby East (ORP) Scott Speed (Bristol)
• 45 different drivers posted top-10 starts this season, led by Ron Hornaday Jr. with 23.

The Races
• There have been 12 different race winners in 2008:
Ron Hornaday Jr. (six)
Johnny Benson (five)
Kyle Busch (three)
Todd Bodine (two)
Dennis Setzer (one)
Matt Crafton (one)
Donny Lia (one)
Scott Speed (one)
Erik Darnell (one)
Mike Skinner (one)
Ryan Newman (one)
Kevin Harvick (one)


Interesting Stats on Race Winners
• The race winner's came from various starting positions throughout the field:
Pole 4
2nd-5th 9
6th-10th 5
11th-30th 7
31st or beyond 0


Laps Led
• 36 different drivers led at least one lap in 2008.
• Ron Hornaday Jr. led 1,326 laps, more than any other driver.
• There have been 314 on-track penalties issued this season.
• Penalty Recap:
Pitting Before Pit Road is Open 160
Too Fast Entering Pit Road 29
Too Fast Exiting Pit Road 41
Others 84


Manufacturer
• Toyota won the manufacturers' championship with 178 points to 166 for Chevrolet, 115 for Ford and 91 for Dodge. It is the third time Toyota has won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Manufacturers' Championship. All occurred in the past three seasons.


Notebook
• Ryan Newman became the 19th driver to post victories in all three of NASCAR's top three national
series with his win in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Atlanta.

Source:  NASCAR Public Relations

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Warning To The RCCA NASCAR DIECAST Collector About the Elite Champ Diecast

If you are an RCCA member and are looking at the RCCA website for the

Jimmie Johnson 2008 Lowe's 3X Champ Diecast.

Call RCCA to order it. I could not find the diecast on the website and they are only making 300 of 1/24 scale Elite, LiquidColor diecasts!

1-800-952-0708 is the number.

Good luck!

Check out my new location at NASCAR Bits and Pieces.com!

Watch A NASCAR Video on The Championship Race

Check out the NASCAR NewsCast.
It's got a quick recap, and video snippets of interviews:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cursed to Win??

Observations by Bruce:

Carl Edwards just swept Homestead with wins in the Nationwide and Cup races and in both series and he came in 2nd in the points standings in both series.

Great accomplishment Carl.... let's look to next year!

Edwards Wins the Race, JIMMIE JOHNSON Wins the CUP


Today marked last time starts with their teams today. Some of note are Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Casey Mears.

The front-row first timers, David Ruetimann and Scott Speed charged to the line leading the pack and quickly moved up to the middle line and led the first lap of the race he got his first pole in. Good job man!

By lap 10 Carl Edwards got behind Matt Kenseth, the race leader, but his teammate wasn't going to give him anything. (Are you surprised?)

At lap 21, Carl was 1st, but Jimmie Johnson was running 18th. Carl did everything necessary to be in position to take advantage of any on-track issues that Jimmie Johnson might have as Carl led the most laps in the race.

Poised to strike is the best I can coin it, but it was for naught.

In the last 50, they were both in the top 10 as the rest of the drives struggled with their own achievement issue, like not letting a win streak end.

With 27 to go, the tension is cut... nothing can be done as far as I could tell. Kurt Busch is out after multiple issues, and Marcos Ambros is 45 laps down, IF Jimmie were to lose an engine and finish 41st, Carl has to win the race to take the Cup.

With 23 to go, Tony Stewart looked at Matt Kenseth, called "Here kitty kitty kitty", then passed him for the lead. This would be a poetic popular win for him, but gas mileage had something to say about that.

With a repeat fuel saving performance, Carl Edwards almost looked like he ran ot of gas as he slowed down to make it to the finish line on the fuel he had left in the tank and it works as Carl wins for the 9th time this year, the Ford 400 but Jimmy Johnson finished 15th and wins the Sprint Cup Championship.

Carl needed to be pushed to victory lane.. no mo gas!!

But,

JIMMY JOHNSON IS A THREE-PEAT CHAMPION
in 2008 at HOMESTEAD.


History is being made for us as we live through it.
Jimmy gets a three-peat.
Rick Hendrick gets his 8th championship.
Chad Knaus gets his own history mark as being the ONLY crew chief to win three seasons in a row.

What an honor to at least be a part of the fandom and reporting world of this historic day in NASCAR history.

~~~

Crossing the line of the Ford 400, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer were the top 5.

(But we wouldn't have known just watching the coverage.. it was all Jimmie... rightfully so, but it would have been nice to know about Kevin, Jamie and Clint.)

See the rest of the info at:
Cup Race Results
Cup Final Standings

A.J. Allmendinger finished 11th in the No. 10 Dodge. Good job 'Dinger.

You know what this means for me? I will now have 3 Lowes championship diecasts in my collection. I was hoping to add a different scheme / sponsor to my display case.

DEI Ganassi Racing Affects The Top 35 Owners Race

Wha' happened? With the formation of DEI Ganassi Racing, two slots are about to be opened up in the Owners Top 35 Race.

Top 35 Impacted The team merge changes things up big time, for a few teams. All four DEI cars are in the top 35 Owners points.

14 -- #8 Teresa Earnhardt
16 -- #1 Teresa Earnhardt
27 -- #15 Teresa Earnhardt
30 -- #01 Teresa Earnhardt

If DEI doesn't sell or swap their car numbers with anyone and they drop two cars from the the field, we effectively will be looking at the top 37 in owners points for the focal point. Or, as the two cars would no longer be in the points standings, everyone is bumped up two spots.

This is WAS good news for the No 84 and No 77 cars, if the 77 had actually made the Ford 400 field.

As it stands now - The No. 10 Dodge driven by A.J. Allmendinger, (Who was running 31st on lap 36 of the Ford 400) can benefit if he can make up the 59 points that he's lagging behind the No 77 Dodge by in the Owners Points standings. This means he needs to come in 34th or better to get that car up in the Top 35.

Allmendinger has been able to show his obvious talent level when he gets himself behind the wheel of decent equipment and I dare say he will probably do what he needs to get that car up there, barring any in-race issues.

Yea... no pressure there.

Reader comments are always welcome on NASCAR Bits and Pieces.

A Brad Dougherty of ESPN Prediction

When Brad Dougherty was asked who he think is the champion, he answered that Carl Edwards has a fire in his belly that he likes.
He thinks Carl Edwards will be the champion...  in 2009.

OK gang, let's see how that pans out.
We can hold him to that prediction here!!

-B

DEI Ganassi - An Interesting Scramble

DEI and Ganassi are now one.
Fans who have been with this sport for many years are just plumb shocked to see what has become of DEI. Emotionally, we all think this would never have happened if "Sr" were around, but Dale made practical business decisions and this economy probably would have forced this situation anyway.

Will this merger act like a real math problem?
In math, when two negatives are multiplied together, they create a positive result. But will conjoining two teams that are struggling on their own actually help them create a positive

Who's got the pull?
Obviously we see who had more pull between the two organizations today. I mean face it, Teresa has never backed down for anyone and I'm not surprised to see the DEI moniker first in the name plate. Unless they were just listing it alphabetically.

Dude, we merged. Oh, we still need sponsors!
These two teams come together, losing staff and dropping cars, and still not having sponsors for their entire garage. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (Eh? That's one long team name.) and will field cars for Martin Truex, Aric Almirola, Juan Pablo Montoya and one unnamed driver yet.

They bring together a sponsored car with no driver, a driver with a full sponsorship (Truex), a driver with 1/2 a sponsorship (Montoya) and ??. This sounds like another ill-conceived bail-out package that will be drawing funds and sponsors from a turnip that will not give up any blood.

Some sarcastically or humorously predicted that DEI will become a museum. After DEI took over the GINN facilities, the original DEI garage has become a museum.

But more importantly, you need to take a peak at my Top 35 Race Update post. The DEI merger impacts this scenario more than you think!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Clint Bowyer is the Nationwide Series Champion!

with 52 laps to go, the intensity of the Nationwide series took a focus on the end lap.

Kyle Busch was looking to make history with an 11th win in one season, breaking Ard's 10-win record.

Carl Edwards was hanging on with his destiny completely out of his hands as he ran in the top 5 most of the day.

Clint Bowyer and his team performed beyond expectations as he manipulated his car up into the top 5, keeping his points buffer in front of Edwards. After 29 weeks of leading the points standings, it came down to a few laps.

Earlier in the race, the Championship contenders were tied for score, but as Clint moved up through the pack, that points lead grew.

With 45 laps to go, Bowyer held a 41 point buffer in front of Carl.
With 20 laps to go, it was down to a 21 point lead as Carl took the history making lead away from Kyle Busch.

At this point, the collective breath is held by all concerned, hoping against hopes of any tire or engine failures.

With 10 to go, Clint holds 5th, needing to finish 9th or better.

A Caution came out with 9 laps to go, bunching the cars up around the 3 drivers looking to make a bid for their own personal goals. With 4 laps to go, the unknown variable was Kyle Busch, looking for that 11th win, sitting behind Carl Edwards but nothing untoward happened to an of the drivers.

No tire issues, no engine issues, just plain old fashion race to the checkered flag.

Despite Carl Edwards winning the race, Clint Bowyer finished 5th and becomes the Nationwide series champion, BY 21 POINTS! The closest points race in "Nationwide" history.

Carl Edwards,
Kyle Busch,
Brad Keselowski,
Jason Leffler
Clint Bowyer

Round out the top 5 finishers of the Ford 300 at Homestead.

CONGRATS TO CLINT BOWYER



Nationwide Race Results | Points Standings



(Photo Credit: Robert Laberge / Getty Images for NASCAR)

Jimmie Johnson, The Ford 400, The Race Lineup

Right now, if you were to look at some stats, it's not looking good for Jimmie Johnson. For others, the stars have aligned nicely.

David Reutimann got his very first pole for Sunday's race while Jimmie Johnson looked to struggle and has qualified 30th for the Ford 400 at Homestead, putting the team at a disadvantage in the pits.

His 30th place starting post does not belie the fact that in the first practice session, Johnson was 6th quickest - so the starting spot isn't too worrisome. This is the kind of drama NASCAR likes!

Edwards has it a little better, as he's got himself the 4th starting spot and finds himself 7th on the speed charts from the first practice session.

Carl has better pit position but we have all seen how Johnson and his team handle adversity, not to mention all he has to do is finish in front of a few cars to lock himself into the Cup, the will runneth over when he crosses the finish line 36th or better on Sunday.

Behind Reutimann, is Scott Speed, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards & Kevin Harvick rounding out the top 5. (screen shot, nascar.com)

Cup Lineup | Practice 1
























Jimmie Johnson turns laps around Homestead during practice for Sunday's Ford 400.
(Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Johnny Benson is the TRUCK Series Champion

Johnny Benson just took the Truck Series Championship by finishing 7th, 1 spot in front of Ron Hornaday Jr, who finished in 8th.
WOW! What a race. The whole night was a tight competition where at one point, Ron had 27 points on Johnny.

The last 40 laps were about these two drivers as they battled with each other throughout the end game.

A late race caution had Johnny stay out and Ron pitted, taking 4 tires and set himself back too far in the field. Another caution came out and it was a green / white / checkered and on the restart Ron was held up by a slow start by Scott Speed and he had just too much distance to make up to pass Johnny.

JOHNNY BENSON, the 2008 CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES CHAMPION.
The LAST Craftsman Sponsored Champion as Craftsman heads out to pasture and Benson's first Truck Championship.

CONGRATS TO JOHNNY BENSON!!!!!

Oh, yea... Todd Bodine won the race... almost forgot!! Rounding out the top five were Brian Scott, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Dennis Setzer.

Johnny Benson (23) and Ron Hornaday Jr. race side-by-side during the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Benson finished seventh and Hornaday finished eighth, giving Benson his first series title.
(Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Truck Results | Points

Johnny Benson photo cr: Marc Serota/Getty Images for NASCAR

Truck Series Logo For 2009 Revealed

NASCAR and Camping World unveiled the logo for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Friday.

Camping World will be the new title sponsor beginning in 2009 for the Truck Series. Craftsman will be taking it's leave of the series this year, after 14 years of sponsorship by Craftsman.

NASCAR and Camping World announced a seven-year partnership agreement on Oct. 23.

The inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season will kick off Feb. 13, 2009 at Daytona International Speedway. The series, which features 25 races at 23 tracks located across North America, will be exclusively broadcast on SPEED and FOX.

Breaking News, or Saved Tires: Testing Banned for 2009

NASCAR has banned testing for all three National Series (Truck, Nationwide and Cup) at all NASCAR sanctioned tracks next season. This decision has been made with an eye on trying to help teams save several million dollars in their 2009 budgets.

Here's where you need to shake your head: This moratorium also includes "preseason" Daytona 500 testing. I'm betting networks are scrambling to figure out time filler shows for the slots they reserved to cover the Daytona testing.

What this means is that no tests will be allowed to be conducted by any team where a Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series or Truck Series event is held.

~

Brilliant!

On one side of the coin, I say good job. You've saved the little team oodles of funds.

On the other side of the coin, I say, WTH are you thinking? You know testing is going to happen and you can't stop it. It's just going to happen at non-sanctioned NASCAR tracks.

You've just made it harder for the smaller teams or new drivers to get that valuable on-track experience needed while they test. Heck, Penske was going to build his own track a few years back. I'm guessing he might be rummaging through the drawers for those blue prints right after the announcement at Homestead this morning.

If you had to cap the practice sessions, I'd say limit the tests to the number of tests the smallest team conducts. In this fashion, if teams want to test, the racing community comes together and starts helping each other so they can get their tests and everyone makes out OK.

I guess this is going to mean more NASCAR Racing 2003 simulation testing for the young guns! It worked for Carl, Denny, Dale Jr and Truex, just to name a few. They've used the software to get familiar with different aspects of tracks they've either never been to or wanted to test new ideas on. Denny's first two wins at Pocono were credited by him to the simulation. Jr and Truex both were recanting how their on-track tactics were just like a mod in the game they used, that got them to the front.

There's no reason it can't work for the newbies. In fact, it's going to have to now.

Let's see if this detracts from ABC's blunder last weekend? (No, I'm not bitter and bringing it up every chance I get. Not me.)

Oh, by the way: This new restriction will put a premium on tire testing. Tire testing has not been banned... yet. Again, probably another advantage for the bigger, experienced teams.

Tight in Turn 2 Looks At: NASCAR Media Coverage


I say "we", but it's really my rant today, here in Tight in Turn 2.

Hmm, what am I gonna touch on today? Let me think. Jimmie Johnson looking to make history? Johnny Benson switching teams after a good season? Tight point races in 2 of the 3 series? A possible milestone in the Truck Series?

Nah.

The Shock:
I was distracted along with many others this week by how ABC (Entertainment) showed absolutely no respect for the NASCAR fan, the TiVo and DVR folk, and the antenna folk and shoveled the NASCAR fan off to ESPN2 so they could air America's Funniest Videos with less then 40 laps to go, in a history making season, during our playoffs, in the next to last race of the season.

In addition to cutting channels to in multiple time zones, all coverage was affected when the switch occurred because the extra pay features were interrupted for a short while also.

Everyone lost while ABC kept their Sunday night lineup just the way they want it so that the couch controlled comfort of AFV can lead into ABC Entertainments bread and butter line-up, Extreme Home Makeover, which leads into Extreme Emotional Destruction, I mean Desperate Housewives. when in fact, we were left as Desperate NASCAR fans.

I keep emphasizing the ABC Entertainment division because ABC does not have a sports unit anymore. It's ESPN, and the Entertainment division has the first and last say on what happens after 7:30 in each respective time zone. In this case, Easter, Central and Mountain were bitten by this travesty in one way or another. Even the West coast was hit because when "The Leader of the Band" changed our channels, the West Coast lost their High Def pictures.

This has been beaten to death this week like the dead horse it is. Even in the press conference I was a part of, Brian France tried to focus on the season itself, but the economy and ABC were the more focused issues that came up. France more or less indicated that NASCAR was not happy with the scenario and they've talked to them. Like that's going to change your contract stipulations!

We have to remember:
This TV thing is a team effort, or lack thereof. When the contracts are put together both sides create and prepare for whatever stipulations and events that might occur. In other words, NASCAR does not have any clauses dealing with the overrun of time on ABC, and ABC hasn't given them the time of day.

This year along, ESPN2 has screwed the pooch with the Nationwide series a few times too. How many times has the pre-race been dashed for a football game? A few, and that's fine. They stuck with the original game until it was over... Oh, there's an idea, huh? But on at least one occasion, the football game that was scheduled before the race ended a tad early. Before I could rejoice in the idea of actually watching the Nationwide pre-race show, they switched to a completely different college game and we not only missed the pre-race, but I believe the race start was put off a few minutes. LOL. Can't win for losing.

Network Confidence:
My take on the whole issue is that NASCAR was not very confident in their contract when they made the deal that lasts with ESPN through 2015 when they didn't negotiate overruns of time blocks. That's just my take, but there it is. That's all fine and dandy, but there were some other interesting tidbits that came to light from this.

Over on The Daly Planet, John touched on the ABC issue and the fans that responded were pee-o'd and ABC took a hit this week from the racing fan demographic, for sure. Additional casualties include ESPN. More and more fans seem focused on never watching another broadcast from the Mickey Mouse run companies (Disney does own ABC and ESPN's) but other options also seem diluted in marketing victimization.

Again, over on the Daly Planet, John asked his constituents about the different websites that offer NASCAR info to the fan, and there seems to be a consistent, across the board grumblings about how NASCAR.com and SPEED were revamped, and

A: Got way too busy,
B: Completely ticked at Videos being shoved down your throat when you get to the sites,
C: Are fairly complicated in the layout to the effect of making it hard to find what you're looking for.

So basically, as NASCAR developed momentum, an oogle of marketing minds and advertisers jumped on board and made the sites either too convoluted or ad ladened to make anyone's visit easy, or not worth their while.

With that said, just what informational outlets do we have that don't inundate us with online ads, or focus on what we really want in the world of NASCAR? Are we being diluted to the point of over-saturation?

Bruce: NASCAR is on way too many channels these days and the coverage gets diluted by being on the air so much these days. If you want TV info, SPEED TV is a great source if you want to make a statement and never watch another Mickey Mouse run broadcast agin, but their website is too busy for most and the recommended approach is via RSS feeds... for now.

As far as never watching another broadcast, I don't think that's a reasonable approach either.

Even the products you pay extra for come through the network you may so fervently wish to avoid. Besides, can you really say you'll never watch the 2nd half of the season ever again, until after 2015? I know I can't. Not with what I do, but at least I can dodge the network advertisers and speak my mind with my wallet, or lack thereof on the network advertisers. Why? Cause that's what keeps the networks afloat. Marketing money and advertisers. They're the one's that need to step up and make changes, that is if they want to woo the most die-hard, product sponsor supporting sports fans.

As far as websites go, Jayski's was noted quite a few times as a go-to site, but I'm not sure folk realize that ESPN bought him out a few years ago.

I'm not changing where I go for info. I've got RSS readers and I surf the web in FireFox with add-on called NoScript. NoScript blocks java and other scripts so about 80% of the time, I don't even realize there was an ad or video on a website. I've never had to hear the video blast me on NASCAR.com and I cruise the internet in ignorant bliss.

The bottom line: At least we have options and coverage so we can watch our beloved sport or have many resources to be able to look up decent information or opinions, just like here on NASCAR Bits and Pieces or On Pit Row.

OK, I'm done ranting. I asked Charlie Turner over On Pit Row his thoughts on the matter. I didn't leave him much room to chat about, but he still interjects that wisdom we've all come to know and love.

Charlie: I don't know that I can ad much that you haven't covered in your rant Bruce. I am surprised that the NASCAR TV contract negotiating team left open the possibility of being pre-emptented during the Chase. That was a boneheaded ommission in the TV deal.

Balancing the amount of advertising content on a website is a creative decision. Some sites care more about the look and - what would you call it, purity? - of their presentation. Others are in it to at least try and make some money, although the NASCAR blog reader is not a good demographic for that, in my opinion. Other sites seem like they have to try every new widget that comes down the web 2.0 pipe. Making content decisions can be easy or hard, depending on what you care about. Personally, I can't stand the Nascar.com or the new SpeedTV.com sites. They are just too complicated, slow and busy for me. But they also generate huge traffic numbers compared to independent NASCAR blogs. Personally, I think the comments that you read on either of these topics represent a very small, rather rabid percentage of the NASCAR audience. Most - maybe 95 percent of the people who watched that race Sunday - while they may well have been irritated - will tune in again. They probably couldn't even tell you what network they were watching. They were watching the NASCAR race. And they'll watch the next one too.

(Thanks to John Daly on The Daly Planet for the inspiration of this article.)

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You can see the other half of the Tight in Turn Two series on Charlie's site, where he asks if I had to choose one person to pick for a fantasy league, who would it be? See my answer HERE.

Owners Points - The Battle Ends Here at Homestead


The Top 35 Battle

As the race winds down, if no paint chips or bird poops scare the media into dooming Jimmie Johnson, there's always the Owners Points race.

Remember, the top 35 have guaranteed starting spots for next season in the first 5 races of the year.

Currently,

the No. 47 Toyota driven by Marcos Ambrose holds the 35th position. But it is only 17 points ahead of the No. 84 Toyota in 36th-place and 35 points behind the Robby Gordon machine in 34th.

This might be the exciting race to watch!

The End Of An Era: Stewart and JGR


This weekend, Tony Stewart will be competing in his last race for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Sunday ends a 10-year era that saw him bring 33 wins and two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships to JGR.

In 2009, Stewart will venture into new territory and drive for his own team – Stewart-Haas Racing. And he's got himself a whippin' boy: Ryan Newman will be driving the other car under the Stewart-Haas roof.*

A Note to Tony:
Thanks for the 10 years of bright orange fun whipping around the track, or you whipping photographers around the track. Either way, it's been fun.

You've been through a lot, and come through a lot. We've been there with you through it all: Cussing you out and rooting you on, either way, we've enjoyed the stay you've had at the No. 20.

Good luck with your new venture Tony!


I don't know about you, but I was surprised when Zippie didn't go with him. But the bread is buttered in such a way to keep Zippie at JGR. Face it, he's got the next Stewart Jr. coming under his auspices. Would you go anywhere else?

*I couldn't help myself with adding the funny in the LR corner of the Stewart / Newman image. But Stewarts face just says "I am planning my next evil prank!!".

Comments are always welcome here at Bits and Pieces.
Images: Nascar Media Press Site

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bit and Pieces for a Thursday

This weekend, a few drivers are hoping not lose some streaks, but any or all of them may fall short with this last 2008 season weekend at Homestead.

Jeff Gordon is looking to end a drought: He's won a race every season in the last 14 years. He needs to win this Sunday to continue this streak. And no - Homestead is not his best track. His best finish here in Florida was 3rd in 2004. Yet, he has finished in the top-10 in 7 of his 9 events here, so it's not like he's out in the blue.

With Jeff, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick are looking to continue their own streaks.

Kenseth has won at least one race in six consecutive seasons.
Harvick has won in three consecutive seasons.


Readers are always welcome to comment

Johnson, Edwards and Homestead, the Ford 400


I've got a bad feeling that Homestead is going to be a bit anti-climatic as I expect the cameras to hover over Jimmie Johnson, looking for the tiniest little fart, loose pebble or flying paint chip. Once there are 8 cars out of the race, if they get to that point, the Championship is Jimmie's and he can pull up to his pits, get out, and kick it on a lawn chair on top of his pit box and watch the struggle for second. Unless NASCAR starts him 2 laps down just to keep us excited about the process!! I know that won't happen, but I had to toss that humorous overtone out there.

The real take on the upcoming weekend:

Jimmie Johnson’s statistics for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is very daunting for the competitors to look at.

Johnson has himself three wins with an average finish in the field of 4.7 and a resounding Driver Rating of 118.7 while he's fired up in the Chase.

When was the last time Johnson finished outside the top 15 in a Chase race? That would be when he finished 26th, at Talladega in 2006!

Right now, Jimmie Johnson has a 141-point lead over Carl Edwards and all he needs to do is finish 36th or better to make a piece of history that has ONLY HAPPENED ONE TIME BEFORE IN NASCAR HISTORY, and that's win a third consecutive championship.

In his career, Edwards has never gained 141 points on Johnson in one race, and yet, there is a wee bit of hope…

In 2005, Jimmie finished 40th and Edwards finished 4th. If that were next week, that would give the Cup to Carl!

Some Rating Numbers:
At Homestead, the stats may give Carl Edwards a teeny bit of hope, but it's going to be more than hope to help Carl overtake the No. 48 Chevy.

Edwards has a Driver Rating of 107.2 and an Average Running Position of 9.1.
Johnson has a Driver Rating of 85.0 and an Average Running Position of 16.8.

It ain't enough, but it's something for Carl Edwards, his team, and his fans.

Did you Know?:
If Jimmie Johnson wins the championship:

  • Chad Knaus will become the first crew chief to win three consecutive championships.
  • This will be the eighth championship for Rick Hendrick. (Previous: Jeff Gordon-4, Jimmie Johnson-2 and Terry Labonte-1.)

Overall Driver Ratings for Homestead:
Martin Truex Jr. 116.1
Matt Kenseth 115.6
Greg Biffle 111.0
Carl Edwards 107.2
Kasey Kahne 97.4
Jeff Gordon 92.8
Mark Martin 91.6
Ryan Newman 90.7
Kevin Harvick 88.4
David Ragan 88.3
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005 and 2007 races (3 total) at Homestead.

Qualifying/Race Data
2007 pole winner: Jimmie Johnson (176.788 mph, 30.545 seconds)
2007 race winner: Matt Kenseth, 131.888 mph, 11-18-07)
Track qualifying record: Jamie McMurray (181.111 mph, 29.816 seconds, 11-14-03)
Track race record: Tony Stewart (140.335 mph, 11-14-99)

The Pit Windows expected at Homestead: Every 50-55 laps, based on fuel mileage.

source: NASCAR Press Release

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Nationwide Series Heads To Homestead

This Nationwide race going to Homestead will be the 14th time in the 27-year history of the 2nd tier series that the season title will be decided in the last race of a season.

Driver's Championship Clint Bowyer is looking for his first NASCAR national series title as he has a 56 point cushion over Carl Edwards. But I don't think cushion would be the word that Bowyer would use. I say that because 7 races ago, Edwards was 207 points behind him, but through the virtue of herculean efforts by driver and team, Edwards has won three times, had two runner-up finishes and has stayed in the top 5 for every race.

All Clint Bowyer has to do is finish 8th or better and the title is his, no matter what Edwards does. Yet nothing is set in stone as you might remember that Bowyer finished last weekends race all duct taped up!

Though a lot of focus is on the Cup series, I think that will pan out and this points race will have some serious merit throughout the event. Of course, we'll have to just wait, watch and see what happens.

Remember, 8th or better.


Owner's Championship The No. 20 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has a 28-point lead over the No. 2 Chevrolet from Richard Childress Racing. Joey Logano will drive the No. 20 at Homestead, trying to shore up that contest while Clint will be trying to do his own Owners points dance trying to win it for RCR.

Did you know that RCR s tied with DEI for the all-time lead with four series owner titles?

All the No. 20 has to do is finish 2nd to clinch the title, and I just won't be surprised if Logano does that.


Rookies After Phoenix, Landon Cassill wrestled the lead away from Bryan Clauson in the rookie race by six points. Strangely, Cassill will have to just watch the race and see what develops as Dale Earnhardt Jr. is entererd in the No. 5 Chevy. Not sure what's up there. Being Hendrick, I'd think they give Cassill the wheel to try and take the Trophy. Does this imply a lack of faith, or lack of focus on his rookie driver? We just get to watch to see if Clauson can do this without much competition on the track.


Kenny Wallace Makes a Milestone
Did you know that Kenny Wallace will be making his 418th series start this Saturday? Second only to Jason Keller with 456 starts. Kenny has 772 combined starts in NASCAR's three national series.


Speaking of Records: Kyle Busch has one more shot to bust the record for wins in a season. Winning on Saturday will give him his 11th win of the season and push past his present stance of sharing the 10 win mark with two-time champion Sam Ard.

source: nascar press release

NASCAR TV Times for Homestead and A Weather Link

Friday night, we have the 3 point battle for the Truck Series championship,
on SPEED at 4:30 PM (pacific, 7:30 eastern)

Saturday, we have the 56 point battle for the Nationwide Series Title,
on ESPN2, at 1:00 PM Pacific (4 Eastern)

Sunday, the Sprint Cup championship will be awarded to the driver who outperforms the other
on ABC at 12 PM Pacific (3 Eastern). Or maybe they should just start the show on ESPN2 and leave out any other transmitting surprises... Come' on... you knew I was going to take a shot.

Here's a weather report for the upcoming days on Wunderground for Homestead.
So far, good weather is on the outlook... for now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Press Conference with NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France

Brian France started out by pointing out that we're deciding 3 titles this weekend. Wanting to focus on how this 2008 season is going, his first point to make was how important the manufacturers in NASCAR are to the sport and NASCAR has every intention to keep them in the sport and help them stay in the sport, though he didn't go into specifics on that plan at this time.

Looking back at '08, they've implemented the COT (The new car), looking to the benefits from the new car and how the competition has improved as the teams have figured out the new car through the year. As they've stated in the past, the cost of the COT will deliver cost savings in the long, and in some spots, the short run and emphasized that NASCAR is looking to remove cost from the system to help all the teams across the board.

As far as the Chase, it emphasizes a balance in NASCAR of running well, and running to win. After NASCAR added more points to a win and changed the seeding process they want to make it clear that teams have to win more to have a chance to win the championship. (duh?)

Despite trying to focus the meeting on the 2008 NASCAR racing season, the questions hit on some expected topics: ABC's handling of the Phoenix race, the economy and costs.


ABC's Punting of NASCAR for AFV:
We didn't like it and did not anticipate it. After that event, they talked with the networks over the last couple of days. He didn't agree with the issues that ABC presented to him as to what they had to deal with and France said that NASCAR got the short end of the stick in that situation and are working on eliminating that in the future.

As far as how to prevent something like this from happening in the future, Brian said that "they want to do what's in the best interest of the NASCAR fan.". he added that ESPN did not like what they had to do last Sunday and touched on how the red flags took the race outside of ABC / ESPN's planned broadcast window. he indicated that NASCAR and the networks "interests are aligned in the same direction."


The Economy: Teams, Fans & Tracks
No decision yet as been made on the premise of eliminating testing for '09 but that they would have to act quickly if they are going to make that kind of decision. Whatever they decide, it will be a comprehensive plan that's enacted, being as aggressive as they can to remove cost from the system.

Yet on the idea of reducing the length of some races or the schedule, Brian said that the reduction of events is not practical or possible due to contracts in place and didn't look to the idea of shortening events either. There are other areas where they can cut costs.

As far as helping fans afford the races, and drawing fans to the tracks in 2009, he said that issue is in the hands of the individual track owners and they are hard at work on this issue. They're familiar with their individual markets, some, more so than others and are sensitive to the costs to the fans. They're trying to do everything they can.

When asked how healthy is NASCAR, financially, Brian replied that te will come out of this and weather storm. In regards to future growth after times pick back up, he said that NASCAR has lots of areas that could be cut, but they won't because once the economy turns around, they'll be in pursuit of enlarging their fan base and want these other mechanisms in place for when that happens.


The Chase
It doesn't look like the Chase this year is going to be as exciting as hoped for. Each year the points lead headed into Homestead seems to be growing with each subsequent season. Brian's take is that he's love for all 12 drivers (He actually said 11 and I'm wondering if that was a slip.) to be within 25 points of each other, but it's just the nature of sports.

It wouldn't be right to try and modify the system within the Chase to keep points close and that the Chase and the system as it is, is designed to promote improved performance to win the Championship.

As far as one team dominating the series (Ahem, No 48 team) he referenced the historically nature of the beast saying that there are those who have had their year to year runs of dominance and then another team will come along and have their dominate performances and it's the nature of sports.

There is concern that the Chase system is hurting teams as the focus of the media is pretty much on the contenders for the Cup, both before and after the cut-off date to make the Chase, but Brian re-emphasized that teams are getting better at grabbing sponsors, and the incentive is to perform better.


Their New Series: Will it be integrated Into the Weekends?
With NASCAR recently acquiring the Grand Am Series, they would love to see the series integrated into weekend events but that potential is limited due to race track obligations and established weekend outlines. The Grand Am Series is a different demographic, and they've encouraged Cup teams to look into starting Grand Am teams.


In Summary

There were plenty of expected questions today, and we didn't hear anything out of the norm. NASCAR is not happy with the handling of their telecast and I hope they resolve that issue down the road with all the networks they deal with, but that will remain to be seen. Rain is one thing. Red flags: It should be a prepared for eventuality.

Despite ESPN indicating they didn't like what they had to do, when it did happen, I wasn't surprised one bit. Their past and present track record of handling NASCAR programming has developed a very thick skin with me and I've taken to heading to the TV remote with a pre-wince, waiting to see what if anything, is where it's supposed to be on the tube. A sad, yet realistic perspective.

The economy is hovering over everyone and the answers were fairly pat and the future-focus of NASCAR is there. Whether they make in whole or part through these times will remain to be seen. They recognize everyone's plights, from fans to team owners, and are looking at different ways to help everyone get through the storm. But if they insist on maintaining profit margins, I don't see the race attendee benefiting yet.

Numerous times, Brian was asked in different ways, how NASCAR is doing financially and the answer kept going back to the future of the sport and cutting costs for the teams. So either NASCAR is rolling in the dough and doesn't really want to fess, or they're hurting and don't want to let on. What's your guess?

Despite the statements about the economic beast, he still encourages cup teams to look at starting Grand Am teams? I'm not sure the details or left and right half sides of his brain are connecting with that hope, but I see where he's coming from. He didn't say it, so let me: if Cup teams start GA teams, I bet they hope to see NASCAR fans migrate towards the new series, helping it grow. That's just my thought on the matter.

Though he emphasized early on in the conference that they are looking to help manufacturers stay in the sport, he did not expound on that, and I did not get a chance to ask him about that statement. I was too far back in the question line to be heard before the conference ended. I'd like to know more about that angle.

And of course, they feel the the COT is doing exactly what it needs to do, level costs in different areas of the sport and the racing is getting more competitive as teams learn the nuances of the car. Albeit, via a few heavy fines here and there. Yet at the moment, the competition is still just between the big teams. I think there's still a little way to go before they get the parity they are hoping for... if it ever does happen.


NASCAR Bits and Pieces readers are encouraged to comment on this or any other story on my site. There will be a little delay between posting and showing up, but your comments will appear.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series - Closing the Door at Homestead


First, let me bid Craftsman farewell and a hearty thank you for being a supporter of the NASCAR Truck Series. THANK YOU Craftsman! It's been a good run but next year, we're going to go camping with the Truck Series.

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The NASCAR Truck Series is Looking at the Closest Finale in Truck Series History and in my opinion, may very well be the more exciting race of the weekend, at least if the drivers stay within 10 to 15 points of each other through the race. Not sure my nerves can take that one!

CONTENDERS
With 3 points between Johnny Benson (Points leader) and Ron Hornaday Jr., this is the closest championship battle in series history, and without the benefit of the Chase for the Cup set up! This is also the 2nd closest points battle for the title in a NASCAR national series since 1975.

In less than a few days, the Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will see just how close, or not, barring on-track issues, this series will finish out.

If Benson wins, it will be his first Truck title. For Hornaday, it will be his fourth.

They've both won races at Homestead and I think, the more tension filled race to follow of the three at Homestead in the season closing weekend.

The only other closest points pressure cooker was in 1979 when Darrell Waltrip led Richard Petty by two going into the finale (Petty won the championship).


ROOKIES
Going into Homestead, Colin Braun has a 26-point advantage over Brian Scott. If Braun wins the Raybestos Rookie of the Year award, it will be the 6th ROY win for Roush Fenway Racing. It seems more than likely, but hey, as we're learning, anything can happen!


OWNERS POINTS:
Yea, let's not forget the Owners points race that's got a three way race going to Homestead.
Gail Davis (Benson) holds a three-point lead over DeLana Harvick (Hornaday) and while Billy Ballew may still be in contention mathematically it just isn't likely.

See ya'll at the "track"!
source: NASCAR Press Release

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dave Moody Is Eating UP the ABC FoPar

Dave Moody on SIRIUS NASCAR Channel 128 is having a field day with ABC....

Read the rest over at my new location at NACAR Bits and Pieces.com at Dave Moody Disses ABC Fopar

Thanks.

Observation of Haves and Have Nots

A Humorous observation by Bruce Simmons:

During the rain delay in Phoenix did you notice:

Contending for the Championship, 2nd in points: The No. 99 car gets a cool looking car cover, even with zip open windows and all that. Carl Edwards was livin' phat!

3rd in points: The No. 16 car of Greg Biffle gets a large clear glad bag for a rain cover!!!

Oh, the love! Not!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

ABC's Interrupted Coverage of Phoenix


During the Phoenix race, and well after the race, there was some ire building up amongst viewers from the change of venues from the HD ABC telecast to the SD ESPN2 network as the race was lengthened from a few unforeseen events that caused two red flags. ABC released a statement :

" After two red flags, rain in Phoenix and 4 1/2 hours on ABC, we were still 34 minutes from the end of the telecast as it turned out. We told fans in the East and Central from the second red flag on that the race was moving to ESPN2. ABC's entertainment viewers and NASCAR fans were both well served in a tough spot, and we are fortunate to have ESPN2 among our networks to serve the fans."
Via contractual obligations, many viewers on the East Coast were "treated" to America's Funniest Home Videos.

Bob Margolis over on Yahoo Sports saying:

It was a real slap in the face to race fans and a measure of the lack of respect that the ABC/ESPN network has for NASCAR and auto racing in general when it made race fans living on the east coast switch from ABC to ESPN2 in order to watch the final laps of Sunday's race.

"I can't imagine 'America's Funniest Home Videos' would take priority over us," Jamie McMurray said after the race. "I mean, I like that show, but I'd rather watch the race, you know?"


This manner of doing business isn't new for the network, which has a long history of displaying its lack of respect for auto racing. I can recall numerous times when I was forced to watch other sports to their conclusion on ABC or ESPN only to join racing in progress.


And please don't hand me the "it was still on live" on another channel line. Even CBS delays the start of its No. 1 show – 60 Minutes – when a football game runs long.

I can't argue with that. A few weeks back, I tuned in to watch the pre-race show on ESPN2 and the football game that was on ended a few minutes early. Then they switched to a game that still had some time to go and the pre-race show was eliminated after they covered the new game they switched to.

Lee Spencer of FoxSports added to the fray about today's coverage with the following constructive observation:
How bad was the spanking Johnson put on the field? With 35 laps remaining, and after the race had been delayed by seven cautions, including two red-flag periods that stopped the action for 41 minutes and 29 seconds, ABC decided its audience would find America's Funniest Videos more compelling. At 7:28 ET, the action moved to ESPN2 in both the Eastern and Central time zones.

"To go to America's Funniest Videos," Johnson said. "That one hurts."

So it was a rough night for ABC, much like the debacle at Phoenix when Fox was covering the 1st race there. Huh... what's up with Phoenix maybe!?

Comments are always welcome... not to mention I'm gettin' tired of talkin' to myself!!!

NSCS Recap: Johnson on brink of 3rd title after Phoenix win


Jimmie Johnson performed just as his statistics predicted, and not far behind, so did Carl Edwards but it wasn't enough to cut into Johnson's lead. In fact, Johnson lengthened his lead.

Once he got past Jamie McMurray after the opening laps, polesitter Jimmie Johnson played his own version of “Catch Me If You Can” Sunday -- and nobody could -- in the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 and in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Though it took a green-white-checkered-flag finish to decide the race, the outcome was hardly in doubt, as Johnson dominated the race, leading 217 of 313 laps. Kurt Busch finished second, .295 seconds behind the two-time defending Cup champion.

With the victory, his seventh of the season, his third straight at Phoenix and the 40th of his career, Johnson widened his lead in the Chase to 141 points over fourth-place finisher Carl Edwards.

If Johnson finishes 36th or better in next Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he will join a club that currently has only Cale Yarborough as a member: drivers to win three straight Cup titles.

Johnson's win did clinch Chevrolet’s 32nd manufacturers’ championship.

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Of the 12 drivers who started the Chase, only Edwards has an outside chance to catch Johnson.

“I’m excited,” Johnson said. “I wish we could have left here and all we have to do is start (at Homestead), but Carl put up a great fight. They’ve been a strong, championship-caliber team all year. But as long as something doesn’t go crazy for us down in Homestead, we’re going to tie Cale -- and I can’t wait to start celebrating.”

Edwards knows his title hopes depend on major disaster for Johnson’s team.

“He (Johnson) did a great job,” said Edwards, who finished one position behind Roush Fenway Racing teammate Jamie McMurray. “It’s still possible, just not probable. We’ll just have to go there and hope that something happens. You saw it with the 24 today.” (Johnson’s teammate Jeff Gordon blew his engine Sunday and finished 41st.)

Denny Hamlin finished fifth, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton and David Ragan.

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For the first 273 laps, Johnson easily put distance between his No. 48 Chevrolet and whatever car happened to be running second. After a restart on Lap 267, following a caution for debris in Turn 3, Johnson pulled away steadily from Kurt Busch until a massive crash in Turn 3 stopped the action on Lap 273.

The wreck left the No. 38 Ford of David Gilliland on top of the roof and hood of Scott Speed’s No. 84 Toyota, and NASCAR red-flagged the race for more than 17 minutes (The 2nd of the race) while the safety crew winched the cars apart. Gilliland and Speed were examined in the infield care center and released.

By then, Johnson already had locked up a five-point bonus for most laps led, as Edwards continued his slow, methodical climb from his 15th-place starting position.

A succession of excellent pit stops, coupled with positions gained on the racetrack, left Edwards in the fourth position for a restart on Lap 267, but he was unable to gain another spot. Though there were four more cautions and four more restarts in the final 40 laps, Johnson, who led the final 95 laps, finished the event without a serious challenge.

The end of the race was interesting as there was conflict going on all over the track.

A caution came out with 20 Laps to go. During the caution, ABC showed Tony Stewart ramming the back bumper of Greg Biffle. Elsewhere, they covered Paul Menard rubbing bumpers with Jeff Burton. There was angst everywhere near the end of this long day.

With 6 to go, it looked like to me that Kenseth was crowding A.J. Allmendinger down into the turn and 'Dinger's car got a touch loose and tapped out Kenseth. Kenseth's spin collected the already irritable Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon.

In the Green / White / Checkered dash, as the cars were coming across the line, Kenseth appeared to come down off his outside line across A.J. Allmendigner's nose sending 'Dinger spinning into the wall and collecting at least 10 other cars at the finish line.

It seemed retaliatory on Keneth's part and if that is the case, I assume we'll be seeing some discipline from NASCAR come Tuesday.

Source: NASCAR Press Release: By Reid Spencer of Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

Just an Observation On The Return of a Classic Sponsor at Phoenix

Is it just me, or is it nice to see the Golden Arches (McDonalds) out on the track again.

A.J. Allmendinger is running the Gilletet Evernham Motorsports No. 10 Dodge sporting the red look with Golden Arches.

Brings me back to the Bill Elliott days, except for the splitter, wing, boxey look...  etc.

Engagement News and Rumors: Jamie McMurray and Ray Evernham

Jamie McMurray
It was announced on ABC's pre-race show that Jamie McMurray got engaged this last week.

I'm guessing he's in a pretty good mood and could this possibly explain his exuberant start on the front row. Shannon Spake from ABC / ESPN didn't pursue this line of thoughts while interviewing Jamie in the truck during the pre-race.

I can't find anything under the NASCAR banner, sooooo,

Jamie proposed to his girlfriend, Christy Futrell, last Monday at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

He said in an interview that he felt kind of corny, questioning the "getting down on one knee" thing. Jamie... score the points and don't start with a deficit.

Her reaction was crystal clear: ''Are you kidding? Are you serious?'. LOL... my wife did that too.

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Ray Evernham
Rumors seem to be aswirl that Ray Evernham got engaged to Erin Crocker.

This relationship has had quite a bit of history, from when Jeremy Mayfield socially shot his driving career in the foot when in 2006, he spouted, in a lawsuit of all things, about the team being hurt from Evernham spending too much time with Crocker, and the issues with leaving his wife.

It's been reported that Erin Crocker's Facebook account has been updated from Being in a Relationship, to Engaged. I can't confirm it because I am not a "friend" of Erin's. So is it Ray? I'm thinking Erin's Facebook page image might be a fair clue.


Her website doesn't have any news either, her news page is empty, but is loaded with online ads. Huh. In fact the info on the main page seems to be a report from a news site instead of an update from the driver. Is the lack of news on her website indicative of her driving development or just an oversight?

In case you were curious:
Ray Evernham was born Aug 26th, 1957.
Erin Crocker was born Mar 23rd, 1981.

You do the math!!

NASCAR Bits and Pieces welcomes all comments from our readers.

Related Bits Link.
Source: McMurray News: ABC telecast, source; Evernham News: source, Facebook screenshot, erincrocker.org.

NNS: Carl Edwards Wins, Making Up a Little Ground


Carl Edwards won Saturday's Hefty Odor Block 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway -- and championship leader Clint Bowyer got lucky.

While being second in the point standings, Edwards trimmed Bowyer's lead down from 91 points to 56, on a day that could have been so much uglier for the driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet.

Other finishers were Denny Hamlin, who came to the pits for new tires before a green-white-checkered-flag restart that took the event one lap past its scheduled distance of 200 laps, made a valiant charge from fifth to second in the final two laps. Kevin Harvick finished third, followed by Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch and rookie Landon Cassill.

A great pit stop on Lap 130 got Edwards out ahead of Harvick, and he then held the top spot the rest of the way.

"We couldn't be going to a better racetrack," Edwards said. "I like the fact that you can run at the bottom or the top. I'm sure (crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer) will bring the best car we have. I just hope it's fast enough."

Bowyer appeared headed for disaster on Lap 79, when the field was bunched coming to the line for a restart after the sixth caution of the race.

"I thought we were done," Bowyer said. "We got all bottled up there. The 88 (Brad Keselowski) ran into me, and I drove through the 6 (David Ragan)."

The impact damaged the nose of Bowyer's Chevy, and after a series of pit stops to tape the front end, Bowyer fell to the back of the pack. After another quick caution on Lap 85, Bowyer restarted 24th and spent the rest of the race working his way forward.

"It was a roller coaster, for sure," he said. "But I'm really proud of our guys. They didn't give up. I thought our championship run was done right there. The car was really tight after that, and we had to pull all the tape off. But it was a good run for us -- really proud."

Even though he knew Bowyer's car was damaged, Edwards wasn't about to relax, and just as well. He had watched the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday night, in which title contenders Ron Hornaday Jr. and Johnny Benson both suffered a litany of problems.

"I thought, sure enough, as soon as I start relaxing and counting points, something would happen to us," he said. "They did a good job of recovering. Anytime you can have any damage and fight back and finish fourth, that's a good outcome."

Other Notes:
Joey Logano's No. 20 Toyota slammed the inside wall on the frontstretch coming to the white flag, but Logano salvaged a 10th-place finish to keep the Joe Gibbs car 28 points ahead of the No. 2 Chevy Bowyer drives for Richard Childress in the race for the owners' title…

Brian Ickler started 34th and finished 34th in his Nationwide Series debut.

The next and final race of the Nationwide Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway next Saturday.


For complete results:
Nationwide Results | Points

Source: By Reid Spencer Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
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