Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
He was in his 13th year of covering NASCAR.
I've had opportunity to talk with David on several occasions because he took the time for the little guy. We started exchanging emails and then as I pestered the crap out of him with questions, I asked if I could interview him. Without hesitation, he said sure, and gave me his home phone number. He was my first NASCAR interview.
He could be harsh but only if you were on the other side of the argument because once he made his mind up, he dug in and never wavered unless you could downright prove to him where he was being silly.
Whenever I had a question or curiosity, he always had the time. Farewell buddy. I'll miss our intermittent chats and your perspectives.
RIP David and my condolences to his family and friends.
There's more info over on the paper / website he worked for, ThatsRacin.
"I was not going to allow myself to be in that same spot as Regan was last year and I just held my ground. I was here to win … and put these guys (his team) in victory lane. … I'm sorry it caused a wreck and sorry for those that are hurt. But that's just the situation with the rules and the way it is"
Yet drivers under stand the rule, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. said in the same post race set of press interviews:
"I kind of like the yellow line rule. I think that the drivers have begun to understand what it means. I think that you can't necessarily blame what happened at the finish of the race on the yellow line rule. Guys have been running over each other for years. So I mean, guys get into each other way before we had yellow line rules."
But now NASCAR is considering enforcing penalties on excessive blocking or aggressive type driving? You have got to be kidding me?
A: First NASCAR enforces a rule saying you can't go below the yellow line at plate races. Fair enough.
B: Drivers have the chance to not get penalized if they do cross the line. Fair enough.
C: Some drivers have been penalized for not self-enforcing the "out" of the rule of furthering their position. Fair enough.
D: Jr. once got a position from going below the line. They made an exception due to circumstances. Fair enough? Curious actually.
E: Last year we watched Regan Smith get forced below the yellow line on the last lap and not back off on his momentum. He got penalized for that severely. Fair? No. Consistent rule enforcement? I don't know. See "D". But Regan bowed to the yellow line beast because he was concerned about wrecking Stewart, who, it seemed, did intentionally mean to block Smith. (But that's another story altogether.)
F: The message was clearly sent by NASCAR, as Smith noted last year. Don't go below the yellow line. Which was implied, and never really denied by NASCAR that if that's the case, you need to go for the win, then obviously someone is going to get hurt because someone will get wrecked. NASCAR was put on notice. (How's that working for you NASCAR?)
G: Brad Keselowski, per Carl Edwards, did everything right. He defended his position, he had the momentum, and Carl didn't see that. Brad wanted his win, and of course, Regan Smith was on his mind. Carl came down on Brad and Brad held his ground.
By NASCAR's very own rules and their enforcement of the rules on previous efforts, there's question as to who gets leniency and who doesn't. The question or fact remains that NASCAR's rules forced the situation that happened last weekend.
Now, they are reportedly looking to come down on aggressive driving / blocking in these races? Are you EFFING kidding me? Why don't we just put the drivers in solar powered soap box derby cars and keep the speeds to about 40 mph? How'd that work for you NASCAR?
No, instead, NASCAR should actually put into affect the "Last Lap, Anything Goes" rule. Remember how all the drivers were under the assumption that anything goes on the last lap due to a statement made by a Truck Series official? I think they need to bring back the exception that NASCAR denied that they had.
This last lap, or last 1/2 lap exception would not hurt anyone. The yellow line rule is in affect to keep people from being on the apron doing 200 mph where cars can't hold their line. When they're down there and lose their line, they can cause a wreck. Fair enough. But once everyone has passed the start / finish line at the checkers, they back off and slow down. The speeds aren't there and they aren't packed up tightly. It's at this time that the apron would not be the danger it normally presents during the race.
So let them have their free-for-all in that last 1/2 to 1/4 lap NASCAR. You would then still have fantastic racing and fantastic finishes, allowing the drivers do what they do best - race to the line. Put the intensity back in the finishes NASCAR. You owe us that after creating the situation that occured last weekend with your yellow line rule.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Admittedly, I never noticed David Ragan back there behind Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr.. All I can say is that I was intently watching Newman and Jr.. I was waiting to see who was going to wreck who, or if they'll both be so defensive that they end up outside the top 5.
I've seen Dale Jr. try to make a last second pass at a plate track and watch it NOT work for him at all, so I sat apprehensively as those last 3 laps boiled down.
We listened during the final caution lap between his spotter and himself:
Dale Jr.: "He ain't leading the race for nuthing."
Spotter: "Ya, 10-4, I gotchya."
Dale Jr.: "He just..., let me handle it. Don't try and talk me out of nuthin."
Ah, the ever terse and delightful Dale Jr. under pressure.
When they took off, Dale Jr. pushed Newman hard, trying to put distance between them and the rest of the pack. For one lap it looked like it was working but then the rest of the pack tightened up and it was the usual scatter pack coming for that much coveted win spot.
The last 1/4 lap, Jr. made his move and Newman blocked with his fender. They both got just a bit out of wack and then from behind them, David Ragan charged through those two and took the win from Newman.
I'm not saying David Ragan is like the Intimidator, but damn, that pass from nowhere reminded me of Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s last win here at Talladega.
Congrats to David Ragan and the UPS Racing team.
Did anyone notice after the race during interviews, you can hear the winning team doing their "Wooos" for the photo ops? On cue almost evey 90 seconds or so, Woo!.
Friday, April 24, 2009
As you remember, last years race was a debacle as the field had to pit every 10 laps. Thus making the race nothing but a series of trophy dashes.
It would seem that Goodyear is still trying to fix the problem and they haven't found the correct mix of compounds yet. This means that today, right now, they still have tires that only last 10-12 laps, per repetitive tire tests.
Not good gang. If Goodyear needs 30 days to make a batch of tires for a race and they're running out of time.
I'm betting that right now, if they don't get the correct compound, they'll probably go to a very hard tire that doesn't wear / blow as fast. This will keep the cars out there longer, but the grip will suck and the drivers will have to adapt and slow way down to keep the cars in their repsective lanes.
- Brad Keselowski
- Brian Vickers
- Carl Edwards
- Clint Bowyer
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- David Ragan
- David Reutimann
- Eric McClure
- Joe Nemechek
- Joey Logano
- Kyle Busch,
- Michael McDowell
- Michael Waltrip
- Matt Kenseth
- Ryan Newman
The brave souls that do qualify will be pulling
- 117 laps on Saturday (Aaron's 312 - 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday ABC ) and
- 312 laps on Sunday (Aaron's 499 - 1 p.m. ET, FOX).
We here at NBaP is tired just thinking of that!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
General Motors Corp. on Thursday did announce plans to shut down 13 assembly plants in North America for "multiple weeks" in the summer to minimize the amount of unsold inventory as they face slowed demand of their product.
All the while they are still trying to negotiate with their creditors in how best to handle the debt.
Meanwhile, NBaP noted that a New York Times article that went to print which is citing anonymous sources that it said possessed "direct knowledge of the action," said the U.S. Treasury is preparing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that could come as early as next week.
They're (Chrysler) is also looking to submit a restructure plan by April 30th in order to qualify for additional bail out money.
So despite the stories and worry, right now there are several viable options on the table that everyone is looking at and no one is writing anyone off yet.
But you can't help but wonder if the big C goes under the Ch 11 gun, what does that mean to our sport? And who's next, if anyone?
All we can do is hold our breath and wait. And hope they pull it all together.
For more details check out the Market Watch article.
Of course, I have to taunt you that speaking of change, change is coming to NBaP! Keep your eyes open! You may even miss it at first!
We already have four races in the books and the competition for top rookie honors is heating up.
While Canadian J.R. Fitzpatrick (No. 7 Mammoet Chevrolet) maintained his slim point lead following Martinsville, the rest of the class is right behind him and waiting for him to slip just one little mis-step.
Washington native Tayler Malsam is only four points behind Fitzpatrick. Malsam heads to Kansas with a little experience, having competed in last year's ARCA race, where he came in 14th, despite being involved in an accident.
Tied with Malsam is James Buescher (No. 10 International MaxxForce Diesel Ford). The 19-year-old comes off a strong run at Martinsville where he finished 11th, his best finish so far this year.
Raybestos Rookie Standings after four races of the 2009 season:
|1||J R Fitzpatrick||42|
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Talladega. (That's pronounced Tal-A-Day-Ga) LOL.
But for some, this is one of the 4 of the most exciting races to watch all year long. It's a restrictor plate race, which means NASCAR has sanctioned the addition of a component to limit how much "go juice" (gas) one can pump into the carburetor. This limits the speeds of the cars.
The Down Side:
That means that they can't get going so fast that they don't become airplanes. I've watched these cars hit 200+ mph and then do a nose lift and go tumbling. No fun for the driver, the cars around them, or the fans. Hence, this safety measure.
The Up Side:
With limited fuel flow, the drivers need to stay as close as possible to the car in front of them to stay within a competitive distance to the other car. It's called drafting and there are advantages to drafting.
A car by itself can run about 160 - 170. Cars that are drafting together can run around 190 mph. Because they need to draft to keep competitive, you'll usually see the majority of the pack side by side throughout the day. Drafting also is a nasty little trick for passing other cars because you're not using as much HP to keep up with the guy in front, so you have a few extra horses to zip out and around the guy in front of you... if others follow you. Otherwise, you stick your nose out there, and the line of drafting cars just pass your a** up as you sit helplessly and watch!
Of late, during races the drivers have been more patient and string out, but as you hit the last 60 laps or so, everyone starts to play chess, trying to jockey for that one position that you can draft from and slingshot around the car in front of you for that win in that magic final lap.
Drivers Hate It:
Drivers don't think it's racing. They sit around all day driving 200 mph in close knit packs less than a few feet apart as the car jostles from the wind, trying to avoid the big wreck. The big wreck happens when someone blows a tire usually, or if someone does something stupid to cause issues because they get impatient.
Either of those tend to happen when you pack a bunch of win-hungry drivers together.
I think it is racing. Why? Because we inevitably see the more skilled drivers at the front of the pack at the end of the day. If front runners were more random, I'd agree with the "It's not racing" statement. So to me, it is racing.
I have to say, it's one of the more edge-of-your-seat events on TV. In car camera shots or bumper cam shots are very telling in what the drivers have to deal with while they look like they're putting around the track, lap after lap. Hard core fans don't like the cam shots. At times, I love them. It says it all.
In the end, of the cars left running, usually the best car out there is competing for the win if they don't get outwitted in the draft game. If you're driver moves too soon, he gets left behind. If he waits too late, there isn't enough time to make up for it.
What other race will you see the top 30-35 cars go across the start-finish line in under 1, maybe 2 seconds?
That's why it's so fun to watch.
- Ryan Newman (No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet),
- Kerry Earnhardt (No. 31 Chevrolet, owned by Stanton Barrett),
- Bobby Gerhart (No. 275 Chevrolet, owned by Bob Schacht) and
- Justin Hobgood (No. 91 Chevrolet, owned by Randy Humphrey).
Earnhardt attempted to compete earlier in the season but was unable to earn a starting spot.
Meanwhile, 22 drivers have competed in all seven Nationwide Series races this season. The highest positioned driver who has not competed in all seven is Joey Logano (No. 20 GameStop Toyota).
There are 47 drivers hitting the timing lights for the 43 starting spots in this weekend's Nationwide race.
Among those looking to make the field on speed are
- Scott Wimmer (No. 40 StopRepairBills.com Chevrolet; 31st in car owner points),
- Jeff Green (No. 05 31W Insulation; 32nd),
- Brian Keselowski (No. 26 Schweitzer Tile Dodge; 33rd),
- Kenny Hendrick (No. 42 Dodge, owned by Chip Ganassi; 34th) and
- John Wes Townley (No. 09 Zaxby's Ford; 35th).
Despite the different drivers that have wheeled the No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet, the teamwork has paid off in getting the car near the front of the point standings. The car is only nine points out of the point lead, behind the Joe Gibbs owned No. 18 Toyota and six cars are within 77 points of the No. 18 machine.
Ryan Newman will be the fourth driver to compete this season in the No. 33, which has five top 10s and sat on the pole for the Camping World 300 at Daytona International Speedway. This will be Newman's first NASCAR Nationwide Series race of 2009 and first time in a Nationwide race at Talladega.
While KHI is second, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owners hold first, four of the top five and seven of the top 10 spots in Nationwide owner points. The two other series-only regulars that hold spots are the No. 38 Braun Racing Toyota (eighth) and the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet (ninth).
NASCAR Nationwide Series Car Owner Standings
Owner No. Points
1 Joe Gibbs 18 1,075
2 Delana Harvick 33 1,066
3 Jack Roush 60 1,028
4 Jack Roush 16 1,015
5 Richard Childress 29 1,014
6 Joe Gibbs 20 998
7 Jack Roush 6 949
8 Ralph Braun 38 932
9 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 88 898
10 Todd Braun 32 891
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Yep. That's the last time a driver-owner won an event in a Cup Series race and it was Ricky Rudd at Martinsville Speedway.
yet after just 8 races in his new team, Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Old Spice Chevrolet would seem to be creeping ever closer to that first victory. As it stands, Tony heads to the wreck fest potential, Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, 4th in the series points.
Talladega is one of NASCAR's fastest tracks, the 2.66-mile Talladega tri-oval. Ironically enough, it is also where Stewart's last previous NASCAR Sprint Cup win occurred.
At the moment, he's starting to be compared to Alan Kulwicki in his slow, methodical approach to that front points spot and NBaP is impressed. Which means, for the first time since Alan Kulwicki's magical march to the series title in 1992, the words "driver-owner" and "championship" are compatible when used in the same sentence.
"This is the best start to the season that I've ever had in my career," Stewart said. "The last three weeks have just been amazing. I mean, it's been so much fun. We've been in contention. We've led laps. We're doing everything right. It's just a matter of time.
"We are consistent now and that's the way you've got to be. We're just clicking them off one at a time here. I don't think any of us would have predicted we would be in the top five in points."
If you recall, Jr got spun and it would seem to be that he blamed Mears. Then he spun Mears on the cool-down lap. Then Mears warmed up the cool-down lap by thumpin' Jr. back.
Kids, kids, kids.
Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 team and Mears, driver of the No. 07 team, both violated Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing; hitting another competitor's car after the race had concluded) of the 2009 NASCAR rule book.
The probation takes effect beginning with this weekend's event at Talladega Superspeedway.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Celebrated on May 15, NASCAR Day is an opportunity for fans, corporations, schools and organizations across the country to donate to The NASCAR Foundation to raise funds to help thousands of children live better lives.
Through the partnership between The NASCAR Foundation, FOX Sports Supports and Komen for the Cure, a portion of the net proceeds raised through the program will benefit Komen for the Cure, supporting its promise to save lives end breast cancer forever. Specifically, the money raised will support the Susan G. Komen Scholarship Fund – a fund specifically designed for children whose mothers have lost their battle against cancer.
The NASCAR Foundation also announced that APlus at Sunoco, the official pit stop of NASCAR, will be the official "pin stop" for NASCAR Day pins this year. Fans will be able to visit participating locations to make a donation. Anyone making a donation of $5 or more will receive a collectible lapel pin.
NBaP thinks that since NASCAR fans do have a great reputation for supporting causes that our sport looks to support, we should make the fan base proud and do what we can for this great cause. There's a ton more info at the NASCAR news link at NASCAR.com.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
A.J. Allmendinger signed a contract with Richard Petty Motorsports that lasts through the 2010 season.
Up until now, 'Dinger has been driving under a creative contract, dependent on sponsors and performance. He's proven the performance part. (NBaP would love to see him in top tier equipment!) And up until recently, was guaranteed a ride up until Richmond with a new sponsor signing on until then.
It seems that all the chatter about the possibility of 'Dinger headed looking at a ride with an American Formula One team, or other NASCAR teams that started inquiring into his availability cranked the interest up a notch from RPM.
Regardless, the Los Gatos, CA native (He's nearly my neighbor!) has himself a ride for a while. Way to go A.J.!
Friday, April 17, 2009
With Gordon's win at Texas, he now has a win at 21 of the active 22 tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule.
The only track he needs a win at now is Homestead-Miami Speedway -- the site of the season finale Ford 400 -- and that will complete the active track win sweep.
NBaP is amazed at this endeavor, being that only three drivers have won at every active track in a given season's schedule:
- Richard Petty,
- David Pearson and
- Cale Yarborough.
Petty boasted a win at every track run from 1981-1985.
Pearson had a win at every track from 1976-78 and again from 1982-85.
Yarborough also did it from 1981-85.
Regardless of whether you are a Jeff Gordon Fan or not, I think it's a worthy, professional endeavor and we should root for achievement, if nothing else.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Jimmie Johnson is going to try and make it four-in-a-row at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night.
NBaP doesn't have to look far to see who the last driver to win four-in-a-row was. It was Johnson, himself when he won four straight at Lowe's Motor Speedway from 2004-2005.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series record for most consecutive wins at a track is 7, held by both Richard Petty (Richmond, 1970-73) and Darrell Waltrip (Bristol, 1981-84).
At Phoenix, five drivers have posted multiple victories at Phoenix – each time in consecutive races:
- Davey Allison (1991-92),
- Jeff Burton (2000-01),
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2003-04),
- Kevin Harvick (both 2006) and
- Jimmie Johnson (2007-08).
If you're a fan of the new Loop Data from 2005 and on:
Two drivers have scored a perfect Driver Rating of 150.0 at Phoenix.
- 2005: Kurt Busch posted the very first 150.0, leading 219 of 312 laps in his only Phoenix win.
- 2006: Kevin Harvick completed the season sweep of Phoenix, leading 252 laps to score a perfect Driver Rating.
Pocono Raceway is the only other track where two perfect Driver Ratings have been recorded (both by Kurt Busch, 2005 and '07).
Surprisingly, Johnson has not had a perfect Driver Rating at Phoenix. In his November win last season, Johnson posted a near-perfect Driver Rating of 149.9, leading 217 laps of the 313 laps and tallying 66 Fastest Laps Run.
NBaP was wondering if Jimmie Johnson has ever scored a perfect Driver Rating, and he sure has. It was at Auto Club Speedway race last season.
There may be a Dorothy in Kansas, though she's not the one that went flittering about in a hurricane, but there is a storm brewing, and looking at Kansas in the form of the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES.
The NCWTS Teams are looking forward to the next event in the schedule, the April 25 O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway.
The track does not have a repeat winner ... yet and Victory Lane has seen winners of all experience levels, from Raybestos rookie-of-the-year contender Ricky Hendrick in 2001to three-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. a year ago.
The O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 marks the first opportunity of the season for Midwestern fans to see the series “up close and personal.” The race traditionally has been among the best-attended “stand-alone” races on the schedule and continues a Kansas City NCWTS tradition extending back to the inaugural season of 1995.
NBaP sends out a thanks to the Kansas fans for keeping it alive and well there.
Meanwhile we have a former champion battle brewing at the front.
Three of the top four in current championship standings are former NCWTS champions including Hornaday and Mike Skinner, who have battled for wins and titles in 155 races over the past 15 seasons.
Their records head-to-head are identical: 25 wins apiece. The two battled down to the wire in 2007 with Hornaday edging his rival for the championship by 52 points.
The two are separated by just five points entering the Kansas race. And if NBaP had a guess to make, that separation will be even closer, if you count paint and sheet metal!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Earlier this week, Jeff Burton sat down with the press to chat about a few things. Let's see what he had to say on a few different subjects:
Coming to Phoenix, Jeff has won twice here so you would think it's a good track for Jeff. Despite that, he has some concern being as the team has not done as well as they need to. They're hoping to turn the tables this week for the 12th place sitting team.
His Take On The Economy
It's not as bad as they initially worried it might be, Jeff's take is that sometimes people just have to
"..buy milk first before rather than going to a race, and that's OK. That's a decision people should make."
Regardless, he knows the sport has lot of loyal fans, and he appreciates that.
His take on Marco Ambrose as a driver.
He said he hasn't had a lot of interaction with him but added that everyone is impressed with what he's been able to do this year as far as running competitively, barring engine issues.
Like any rookie, he's feeling his way through it and he thinks what Marcos has done is good.
NBaP LOL Moment:
Jeff was asked if he could understand Marcos when he talks with him.
Jeff said "I grew up with Ward, so I can understand pretty much anybody."
About drivers reaching out to more fans:
A lot boils down to how much time the drivers have to spend. The sponsors have always been the driving force behind the fan interaction with autograph sessions, sweepstakes and other things. Now that racetracks are stepping up to the plate and holding fan events. Everyone needs to do as much as possible on a race weekend to make the experience fun for everyone.
On the lug nut issues at Texas, where lug nuts are falling off because of the new
stud rule, gluing issue.
"Well, the stud length rule, the theory behind that, is that if you don't have enough threads on the nut side of the wheel, it's dangerous. The problem is the more threads there are, the longer it takes to tighten it up. In a competitive-based business, when our tire changers are paid and given the charge to do it quicker than the next guy, making it take longer – it doesn't make it safer. In some ways that can actually make it less safe because you have to stay on the lug nut longer."
He feels the idea behind the rule is sound, but the practice of isn't working out quite yet.
Yet, he doesn't lose sleep over the impact the issue can have on him. His focus is abut the things he can control such as getting on pit road, getting on good, putting the car where he needs to put it and all the other driving parts to the equation.
Otherwise, he says his guys work exceptionally hard and he feels like he's in good hands.
About Sponsors Demanding More For Their Money These Days
Jeff replied, "It's a buyer's market. I don't care what you're buying, except for maybe handguns and ammunition, it's a buyer's market."
His take is that corporate America is really smart and that's why they're where they're at. They're always gonna be looking for added value, there's no question about it.
And with that, teams need to be proactive in what they offer, but it's a fine line between getting a great deal and pricing yourself out of the position to be competitive.
Having "owned" Phoenix earlier this decade, does he think that if they unload a halfway decent car, can he contend for the win?
He feels they can contend for the win and it will take the entire team to do it.
"I can't just sit back and say, I've won her before, you just got to give me a good car. Getting a good car has a lot to do with the driver's input, what the driver thinks he needs out of the car. There's a lot to it other than unloading it. I believe we can go to Phoenix and compete at a high level and contend for a win."
On The Challenges Of RCR Adding A Fourth Team
It's been very difficult, having to build 25% more cars and have more employees. Despite new issues from having four teams, he feels that ultimately it will make them stronger.
Does a racecar driver have to ignite the fire in their belly or does it burn constantly?
He says everyone is human and they have their up and down days. There's even different times in your life or in your day even where you're not as motivated as others. He feels it's important to stay focused.
Despite getting older, he hasn't lost the competitive edge everyone says would happen. Yet he can't predict anything.
"I may only go to Phoenix for three or four more years. I don't know. I want to go for 10 more years, but I don't know if I'll be able to."
"I'm more motivated today than I was when I was 18 because I understand how special it is. I've lost it, and now I have it back. I want to make sure that I don't lose it again."
Too Early To Judge Joey
Once in a while, a random comment can serve as a humdinger of a reality check.
I heard Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, doing a radio interview. One of the hosts of the show asked him what he was planning to do on one of the all-too-rare days off allotted to NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers over the course of the grueling, 36-event race season.
"I'm just going to be a kid," Logano said.
Well, that sounded a little bit odd. If you ask most of the guys on the circuit, they might say they hoped to take the boat out for an afternoon or two, maybe relax a couple of days and enjoy the feeling that only comes with having absolutely nothing to do, and some period of time in which not to do it.
They might spend some time going over the books of the various business endeavors they're involved in. Someone might even get married; you never know. But why in the world would anyone say his goal was to make every possible effort to act like a kid?
Oh. The light bulb just went off. Logano wants to act like a kid, because he is one.
Logano has been in the news lately more than he would have liked, for the wrong reasons. The driver who was given the nickname "Sliced Bread" (as in, the best thing since ...) is already feeling the hungry dogs of doubt nipping at his heels.
He's hanging on to a spot in the top 35 for dear life -- currently, he is in the 35th position in the driver standings -- and some naysayers are already showing signs of changing that "Sliced Bread" designation to "Toast." They haven't gone that far yet, but you can tell they're really, really tempted.
After a disappointing 38th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, various Internet "experts and insiders" declared that JGR was considering replacing Logano in the car.
Is it just me, or are we being a tad hasty -- one might even say immature -- with this rush to judgment? Joey Logano is 18 years old. I have sweatshirts that are older than that, and they're not even all that ratty.
It might not be such a bad idea to try and gain a little bit of adult perspective here.
Joey Logano was born in the year 1990. The number one movie at the box office that year was "Home Alone." Think about this, people. He's younger than Macaulay Culkin. A lot younger. Yikes.
The top pop song in 1990 was "Hold On," by Wilson Phillips. 1990 also happened to be the year that Milli Vanilli was stripped of their Grammy award after it was revealed that, well, they didn't actually sing. The Grammy folks are picky about that stuff.
Wilson Phillips' last Top 40 hit was "Give It Up" in 1992. Logano was probably learning to say things like "No!" and "Mine!" about that time.
The San Francisco 49ers were Super Bowl champions in 1990, and the Cincinnati Reds won the World Series. Dale Earnhardt was the Cup Series champion, with Mark Martin, Geoffrey Bodine, Bill Elliott, Morgan Shepherd, Rusty Wallace, Ricky Rudd, Alan Kulwicki, Ernie Irvan and Ken Schrader rounding out the top 10.
The number one TV show that year was "Cheers." Logano can vote, and could serve his country in the military, but he is years away from being able to belly up to the bar with Norm and Cliff to shoot the breeze with Sam Malone over a couple of beers.
Let’s stop worrying about what Logano hasn’t done (so far), and talk for a moment about what he has.
At the age of 7, Logano won his first Eastern Grand National championship in the junior stock car division. He followed it up with a junior Honda Division championship in 1998 and in early 1999 a late modified division championship.
At the age of 10, he set a record 14-race Legends car winning streak at Atlanta Motor Speedway. At age 12, he won the Southeast-based Pro Legends national championship.
In 2007, at age 16, Logano won five races, three poles, and had 10 top 5s and 10 top 10s on his way to the Camping World East Series championship.
Last year at Kentucky Speedway, in his third start, Logano made history by becoming the youngest driver ever to win a Nationwide Series race.
The bottom line here is that if you're going to hold up a yardstick, make sure you're using the proper standards of measurement when you're wielding it. I surely am glad nobody examined me under the microscope and potentially put my career on the line after just seven weeks on the job. That's kind of harsh, unless maybe you're a brain surgeon or something like that.
The comedian Paula Poundstone once said that adults are always asking kids what they want to be when the grow up because they’re looking for ideas. I propose that we give this kid a break, because wouldn’t you really love to be Joey Logano when you grow up?
I know I would.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
This is just about as good as it gets for it being this early in the season. Then again, we here at NBaP know it is early in the season and we've seen what happens as things hit the final leg of the season! (Can we say Kyle Busch?)
In these top 5, we have four-time champion (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001) Jeff Gordon leading the pack.
Three-time series champion Jimmie Johnson.
The 2004 champion Kurt Busch, who didn't make much noise last year after all his owner points were wasted on Sam Hornish.
The ever hungry two-time (2002 and 2005) champ, Tony Stewart is fifth in points. With Tony sitting up top like this, and doing as well as he is, I am a betting man that he is very hungry to make point and prove that new teams are viable for contention when they're done right.
The total number of points separating Gordon from Stewart is a mere 216.
Monday, April 13, 2009
The No. 8 had one heck of a legacy.
The No. 8 legacy is one we will all remember as it started out under the driving guidance of Dale Earnhardt Jr and team owner vision of Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Since Sr's passing things have changed. The team is no longer what it was and has been absorbed into another team. (I don't care what order the names are in, if you need to join up with another entity to survive, you have been absorbed.)
Last Monday operations of the No. 8 under EGR were suspended.
NBaP is sad for Almirola and the team. Whether Almirola needed to do better, or he needed better equipment, it's moot now. So is pointing fingers at who or what helped precipitated it. For the moment, the shop is quiet while EGR attempts to stir up a sponsor.
Despite this, EGR says there are no changes planned for the No. 42 or No 1 cars.
No 8 on-track Image Cr: Getty Images for NASCAR, Red No. 8: ActionDiecast. (Though diecasts are from ACTION, I get all my non-Elite diecasts from Racing USA.)
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Now, he's got even more chances.
Due to the performance levels he's demonstrated with the No. 44 car, the team has been able to sign on Hunt Brothers Pizza, keeping 'Dinger in the car through September. Look out Richmond, here we come.
NBaP is pretty excited for A.J.. He's got talent and the obvious ambition and motivation to take a decent car and put it up there in all our faces, for all to see. Including potential sponsors.
CONGRATS 'Dinger! Keep it up and nail even bigger sponsors.
Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images for NASCAR
Saturday, April 11, 2009
His last win moves him up to seventh all-time – and he’s back to within striking distance of standings leader Carl Edwards at 38 points out. But does he have any real momentum on his side? Maybe not if he lets it haunt him that he’s never won at Nashville.
Nashville looks like his thorn in Kyle Busch’s side.
He has only one top-10 finish in six tries, which was a sixth-place in his first race there in 2004. Last year he captured the pole and led a race-high 125 laps but a self-inflicted wound, a spin on Lap 62, took him out of contention and he finished 16th.
Then he also has to keep an eye towards Carl Edwards. Edwards has been given the nickname of “Concrete Carl” thanks in large part to basically owning the track.
He’s the all-time leader in wins with three and has finished out of the top five only once – last June when he was 13th.
Nashville Superspeedway hosts the traditional start of what is referred to as the stand-alone season, the first of nine such races on the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule.
The race at Nashville brings a bit more to the table, too.
It’s Nationwide’s inaugural “Dash 4 Cash” race where eligible drivers (full time series regulars and part-time or limited series-only regulars) can pocket a $25,000 bonus with a win.
Other Dash 4 Cash tracks are Kentucky Speedway, Iowa Speedway and Memphis Motorsports Park.
Image: Brad Kesolowski practicing at Nashville. Photo Credit: Dak Dillon for NASCAR
Lowe’s Motor Speedway will honor Autism Awareness Month by contributing $10 from every ticket that was sold to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 from April 3 – April 11, to Autism Speaks.
“Autism affects millions of families around the world, including many of our great fans,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “We’ve worked with local non-profit groups that help children with autism and their families through Speedway Children’s Charities. Now we’ve decided to significantly expand those efforts to help Autism Speaks increase awareness of the disorder and raise funds to help find a cure.
Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s contribution will help fund autism research, awareness, advocacy and family services.
NBaP thinks this is a great gesture on the part of the track to help with this issue. If you feel there is more you would like to do, please visit their site and discover what different ways you can contribute to Autism Speaks causes.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks funds more than $30 million each year in new autism research, in addition to supporting the Autism Treatment Network, Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, Autism Clinical Trials Network, Autism Tissue Program and a range of other scientific and medical programs.
Friday, April 10, 2009
The other weekend the rule was passed down, no, reinforced that radio traffic will remain public domain between teams.
It was reinforced because after the public airing of their "spirited debate", because Kurt Busch was inquiring about it as he was having terse words with Roger Penske at Martinsville.
Sorry for the redirect, but you can read the rest of the article on my new site location , Radio Chatter in NASCAR.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
It's noted that a majority of America's largest companies have become part of the "green" movement in the way they approach business these days. Yet some despite their spin of green, from installing solar panels, using eco-friendly supplies or materials, they still have their issues with their products and pollution.
AOL Money did a snippet on the 10 most polluting companies and there are a few familiar names out there!
On the sad side of things, one of our major sport sponsors, Jeff Gordon's sponsor, DuPont, is No. 4 on the list of most pollutive (I think I just made up a word!) in the country! They even had to fork out in December of 2005 a settlement with the EPA of $16.5 million. Ouch, that's about a year of hood sponsorship!!
No 6 on the list is Waste Management!
No 8, BP
GM was No. 10.
Ouch. But then again, I'm thinking that solar car races just aren't that exhilarating to watch... never mind the cloudy days!!!
Saturday, April 4, 2009
He had no concrete information, and was just inquiring with his co-host if he had heard anything, because Nate had heard some unverified whisperings.
That would be nuts if that were the case, but not a total surprise.
If anyone's heard anything (I did a quick search about and found nothing), leave a note here at NASCAR Bits and Pieces. (NBaP)
Thursday, April 2, 2009
A lot will be determined at Texas in regards to who will have to qualify on time or be locked into the NASCAR Nationwide Series 300 at Nashville the following week.
But don't look now, but a top-10 finish at Texas doesn't automatically guarantee a starting position at Nashville.
The O'Reilly 300 will be the last race in which teams finishing in the top 30 in the 2008 owner point standings will be guaranteed a starting spot. After Texas, the top 30 in the 2009 owner points will be guaranteed starters.
Currently, teams occupying positions 25-30 are separated by only 24 points, and 32-37 are separated by 44 points. That's 12 positions separated by 64 points.
NASCAR Nationwide Series
Rk. Owner No. Pts
25. Johnny Davis 23 352
26. Bob Germain 15 348
27. Cindy Shepherd 89 337
28. Pat MacDonald 81 331
29. Lori Morgan 01 331
30. Charlie Shoffner 61 328
32. Chip Ganassi 42 325
34. Dusty Whitney 26 292
35. Jimmy Means 52 271
36. Wayne Day 05 268
37. Jay Robinson 09 261
When the top drivers like Carl Edwards gets his 1,000 point lead, this just might be the tight points event of the series! NBaP can't wait!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Earlier this week, Tony Stewart sat down with some media members via teleconference and fielded some questions. The following are excerpts from that interview with Tony Stewart
On his new team: He's pretty happy with how things are going. Especially with the great day they had at Martinsville, both teams finishing in the top 10.
Not knowing when the organization was going to hit its stride, but they did right off the bat was a great thing. Obviously he's overlooking the bad luck Ryan's had, and focused on the fact that he's had a 7th- and a 6th-place run consecutively.
He feels they clicked sooner than anticipated.
NBaP Warning: It's a long read folks but I didn't want to leave too much out. Get some coffee and kick it a few!
On thinking more as an owner than a driver when racing:
TONY STEWART: I haven't. I catch myself worrying sometimes about where Ryan is, you know, with some of the bad luck he had early in the year and that's probably the only difference between what I normally would do and what we're doing now.
For the most part, I stay strictly in that driver mode and concentrating on what I've got to do to get to the front.
On feeling any pressure to not get involved in the controversies that come along during race weekends?
TONY STEWART: If anything, it's made me feel like I could get involved in them if I chose to.
It's been easy to kind of stay out of the controversy. We've got enough stuff to keep us busy that I think it's a little better to put it all in perspective and realize that some of those controversies aren't worth the time and effort.
On the idea of building a Cup team from scratch, like Michael Waltrip Racing, and on the improvement from MWR:
TONY STEWART: Definitely seen a great improvement. With Reutimann and Marcos, they have had two great weekends in a row.
I can't honestly imagine building an organization from scratch. I don't think I would have tried to take that on.
On where the 20 car is now in points, feeling bad for them? Has Joey called for comfort?
TONY STEWART: He hasn't. But I feel bad for those guys because I know they deserve better than that. It's just a matter of time before Joey hits his stride and gets used to being in a Cup car full-time.
He's more than capable of doing it. He's going to hit his stride soon. You can see his confidence building every week.
On the rush or feeling of satisfaction out of having a business success (wins):
TONY STEWART: I am proud of our guys. I've left Martinsville after a third-place finish and left mad 'cause I knew we had a shot at winning the race or a shot at at least a better finish than a third. This weekend a third was like a win to us. A year from now it won't necessarily be like that. I think we'll constantly adjust the yardstick as far as where we expect to be.
But six races in, to have a top-three run like that, then to find out Ryan had a 6th-place run, I felt that was an awesome accomplishment for a young team to be able to do that in just six races.
On comparing winning a race yourself as a driver vs being an owner.
TONY STEWART: A win is more of an individual feeling, whereas a team owner you're happy for the whole organization.
Being a car owner has helped put it in perspective, that it's not just a personal accomplishment.
On feeling if he and Darian have broken each other in yet?
TONY STEWART: I think so. Every week we have spent more time with each other. The one thing that's happened from day one is we felt very comfortable around each other. So from that side, it's been really easy.
At the racetrack, obviously it's taken me a little bit of time to get used to his package, the cars that we're bringing to the racetrack. But every week that we go out and have a good run, I gain that much more confidence in him, in that relationship that we have, with the communication just getting stronger and stronger each week.
NBaP: I told ya it was a long read!
On the government involvement with GM and if he thinks it's going to impact the sport:
TONY STEWART: I don't know honestly. I know that talking to the people at Chevrolet they're very committed to the racing program. They realize the value of it with not only the rest of corporate America but what it does to our nation. It still goes back to 'win on Sunday, sell on Monday.' This is a sport that's been good for the auto industry and vice versa.
I know it's a tough time for them, but they're very committed to not only the racing product, but also the products that they build for the Americans out there in tough times. I'm very confident that the racing side is going to be fine.
On how he looks at the new loop data and their performance potential at Texas:
TONY STEWART: We're pretty comfortable with it right now in all honesty. I mean, we've been to California, which was two-mile. We've been to Vegas, a mile-and-a-half. I feel like our superspeedway program is really good. Our mile-and-a-half package is really good, even though we've really ran one of 'em.
I've got a lot of confidence going into this weekend. Texas is a track that I really enjoy. It's a lot of fun. I feel like we're gonna have a good run this weekend. I have that gut feeling.
On whether they've set goals with the team and if so, where are they with those goals right now:
TONY STEWART: Honestly, we didn't. We go to the racetrack with the attitude that we're going to try to get a hundred percent out of whatever we've got that weekend. I think when we sat down early in the year, you look at everything on paper, and it's supposed to be successful. All the pieces are in place. I feel like all the right people are there, all the right tools are there. So on paper it's supposed to work. It's just a matter of how soon are all the personalities going to click with each other. You start building momentum.
On the recent success being a morale booster back at the shop:
TONY STEWART: It is. You know, perfect example was yesterday. (Monday) We have our competition meetings on Monday. Ryan and I are both there, both the crew chiefs. Bobby Hutchins, our competition director is there. The atmosphere at the shop was unbelievable. Since I've joined that organization, I've not seen everybody in such a good mood and the morale so high. It's a good feeling.
On whether it's too early or just about time to size up where everybody is?
TONY STEWART: I think it's starting to shape up, at least who has the opportunity to be in the Chase. I'm not sure it's an accurate assessment of who's a championship contender or not. I think by now we're all starting to get an idea of who the contenders to be in the Chase are.
I think the next three or four weeks will be an indication of who those people are really going to be that are really solid to be in the Chase this year.
On being a satellite teams and what they might be doing different or better than other teams:
TONY STEWART: I don't know honestly (laughter). It's the first time I've done this. You know, I feel like the biggest key to making all this work is having the right key people in the right places and having the right tools in place.
I feel like Haas Automation, Haas CNC Racing did a great job of building a foundation long before I got there. I can't take credit for all of it. I think what we were able to do, what I brought to the table, was helping to attract some other people that they weren't able to attract in the past that helped make the difference and take it from a team that, you know, kind of was so-so to now a team that can run in the top 10 I feel like consistently.
Just because you've lasted this long reading the article!
On any discernible difference driving a Toyota to a Chevy?
TONY STEWART: It is feeling-wise. It's not so much physically as much as it is in your mind. I'm proud to be back in an American car. That being said, I mean, the physical part of it is it's a motor difference really and decal package. You know, there's that feeling and pride of knowing that you're in an American car, that we're out there racing with some of the best manufacturers in the world. So that sense of pride is the biggest difference.
On the differences between Atlanta and Texas, since they both look the same:
TONY STEWART: They're night and day, in all honesty. I'm not sure that everybody realizes, even though if you looked at the top of the tracks, there's shaped almost identical. But Texas is built quite a bit different than Atlanta is and Charlotte. What most people don't realize is the bottom of the racetrack, the apron, is paved all the way to the inside wall. That's different to what you see at Atlanta, Charlotte, some of these other places. The reason, that's what the IndyCar track was supposed to be. IndyCars were intended to run on the apron. That was going to be their racetrack. The transitions going into the corners and coming off the corners are a little more abrupt and later. The banking comes in a lot later, then it falls off a lot earlier than we have at the other tracks. That's to accommodate what was going to be the IndyCar track. That poses its own unique challenges.
But obviously the grip level at Atlanta is a lot less than what we have at Texas, too. But that's what makes Atlanta so much fun. But, you know, Texas every year that we go through, it's getting better and more worn in to where the groove moves around the racetrack and cars are running from the bottom to the top. At least from a drivers standpoint, we enjoy that part of it. We enjoy not having to be line committed. Helps us out on the aero side. We can help ourselves out as drivers versus just being stuck behind somebody.
On if running Nationwide races are beneficial anymore?
TONY STEWART: I don't think you learn a ton. I mean, you might learn some stuff air pressure-wise. Aside from that, as far as the actual setup of the chassis, they're night and day different now between the two series. I don't think you learn as much as you used to.
On any doubts going into Cup team Ownership:
TONY STEWART: I was eager. I mean, I don't think if I didn't have the background of ownership with the USAC side, the World of Outlaw teams, I don't think I would have been as comfortable making the adjustment to the Cup side. But it's having a great owner like Joe Gibbs that I learned from for 12 years, being in his organization, having that experience at a smaller level.
On the (premature) idea of expanding to 4 teams:
TONY STEWART: I'm not sure we've got that far yet. Obviously when we had our first meetings with Joe Custer, he filled us in on their intentions to be a four-car team eventually.
My opinion on it right now is I don't want us to try to expand until we get two cars really successful. I don't want to expand till we know that they both have an opportunity to win a championship. Once we get to that point, then I feel comfortable expanding the operation.
Question: This was a long read. Should NBaP have broken this up into more than one article? Thanks for coming by.
ESPN2 will carry the O'Reilly 300 live on April 4 beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET with the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show. Race coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET.
Kyle Busch swept both races at Texas last year but he'll have to fend off the challenge of Kevin Harvick, who will not only have come off his first win of the season in the previous race at Bristol, but is the all-time winner in series races at Texas (four).
In fact, prior to his Bristol win last week, Harvick's last series victory was at Texas in the fall race in 2007.
Texas Fast Facts
Next Race: O'Reilly 300
The Place: Texas Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, April 4
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
The Distance: 200 laps / 300 miles
TV: ESPN2, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: Sirius NASCAR Radio / PRN
2008 Race Winner: Kyle Busch
2008 Polesitter: Kevin Harvick (via final 2008 owner points; qualifying was rained out)
Event Schedule (all times CT):
Practice 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.;
Final Practice 1-2:00 p.m.;
Qualifying 6:05 p.m.
Gordon’s winless drought reached 47 races after Martinsville, but it looks like he's headed there soon.
Through six races this season, Gordon leads the series in top fives (four), top 10s (five), has a Driver Rating (119.6), Average Running Position (5.4) and Fastest Laps Run (191).
Of course, as if that's not bad enough, Texas is one of only two tracks at which Gordon has yet to win (Homestead-Miami Speedway is the other).
In 16 starts at Texas Gordon has scored a top-10 finish in half of them. He has six top fives, including two runner-up finishes.
Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Gordon has an Average Running Position of 15.4, a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 57.3% and 97 Fastest Laps Run at Texas.
So? What do you think? He might be able to do it. I do think he's destined to a victory this year... it's just a matter of where.