Thursday, March 29, 2012

The 'Goody's Fast Relief 500' At Martinsville, TV Times and Some Stats

The gang is landing at Martinsville for the 127th time (Cup race) and it's time for some good old fashion fender rubbing fun for the Goody's Fast Relief 500.  And at this track, where wheel-men rule the day, so be it, if their cars can last through the day.


Martinsville TV Times

Most events will be televised on Speed, but the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be televised on Fox.  (All noted times are ET)

On Friday, March 30th:

12:30 PM First Practice  - Speed
3:30 PM  Second Practice - Speed

On Saturday, March 31st:

QUALIFYING at 11:30 AM - Speed

on April 1st, 2012:

The Goody's Fast Relief 500 at 12:30 PM, on Fox.


Coming to Martinsville, it's a good bet that by the end of the day, we'll probably be looking at either Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon or Denny Hamlin fighting for that swath of checkered cotton!

In the last seven races at Martinsville, Denny Hamlin has won three of them, Jimmie Johnson snagged two and Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick each had one a piece.

But looking at the average finishing top contenders for the track, these numbers say a lot:

Jimmie Johnson - 3.7
Jeff Gordon - 4.3                   
Denny Hamlin - 6.5
Dale Earnhardt Jr.  - 11.5
Ryan Newman - 12.9
Tony Stewart - 12.9

But don't be fooled...  Jeff Gordon has the most wins at this track, with seven victories to his credit.

{Hey Ryan, aren't you supposed to let the boss win?}

Also if you look at laps led, from the loop data, Johnson leads the pack with 21.5%.  He's followed by

Jeff Gordon (17.7%)
Denny Hamlin (16.8%)
Tony Stewart (12.0%)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5.9%)

Again, though we don't see Greg Biffle at the top of this statistical heap, he's been having a great year so far and I somewhat expect his emotional momentum to carry forward into Martinsville as well.  I mean face it, if you've ever seen some of his saves, he is definitely a wheel-man!

Time to see who Lady Luck will smile or frown upon!

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Bruton Smith Says The Fans Have Spoken, And Bristol Gets a Make-Over... Again

In case you had not heard, but empty seats is the rule of the day and Bruton Smith is looking to put the wrecking back into Bristol Motor Speedway... More than likely that means no more 2-wide, side-by-side excitement but instead, single-file, chrome-horn running where wrecking is the order of the day.

We'll be hearing in a few weeks what Smith will be doing exactly and then we'll see what the damage really will be.

But the decision is made and they're getting a move on so the track will be ready by the night race taking place on August 25th.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NASCAR Heads to the Paperclip Known as Martinsville, 'The Goody's Fast Relief 500'

So far, no one has talked about reconfiguring this one-mile paperclip shaped track called Martinsville.  And that's good.  I can only handle so much reconfiguration news in a week!  But as it stands, Martinsville is the last of the classic tracks that's flat and tight and still in a shape of a paperclip, forcing the racing to be calm, cool and collected.  Well, that is, if the day went well, that's the attitude that could prevail after beating and banging fenders in an event at the track.

For the upcoming The Goody's Fast Relief 500, looking at the average finishing positions of drivers, the top dog coming into the weekend at Martinsville looks to be

Jimmie Johnson, with an average finish of 5.5, after 20 races.  Behind Jimmie, we have

Denny Hamlin (6.5),

Jeff Gordon (6.9)

Dale Earnhardt Jr., (13).

We all know that statistical performance never matches up when weather and bad luck sit up and take note of our favorite driver, but that's how it's looking for stats, at this early part of the week. 

We'll see how teams unload at Martinsville what what tale the practice and qualifying times will have in store for everyone!

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Monday, March 26, 2012

The 'Auto Club 400' Was A Wash, But Tony Stewart Cleaned Up

Rain on lap 125, or the Auto Club 250 as I'm calling it.  The Auto Club 400, was cut short by rain...  again, the first time rain set its own record.  This is the first race to be rain-shortened at the Fontana CA track, much like this year's Daytona 500 was postponed by rain for the first time ever.  I hope this isn't going to be a trend this year, that's for sure.

Be it as it may, The Auto Club 400 went from perfect blue skies in early morning to rain by lap 125 and everyone pretty much knew it was coming and raced to the halfway point. Some drivers were tweaked that the race was called as early as it was (around 2pm CA time), but had they seen the radar, they might have noticed that the light rain was stopping the race, and heavier rain was on its way.  Plus, I don't think NASCAR needed a repeat of that one fateful CA race where they ran on into to wee hours of the morning.

What befuddled me was that when the caution for rain came out (the first yellow flag of the day), drivers like Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson & Mark Martin pitted.  Very uncharacteristic of how a team might view a rain caution, but they had hopes the band of rain would pass quickly and the race would be on.  But alas, someone wasn't watching the radar close enough.

On the lucky side of things, the race being rain shorted, saved Jimmie Johnson's butt big time... after his pit stop, he car started blowing smoke and had the race gone on to green, he would not have even had the 10th place finish he mustered up.

When the race was called at 1:52pm, local time, Tony Stewart found himself the winner, followed by Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards.


During the race, the biggest controversy during the telecast was how some of the drivers were passing aggressively on the low side then sliding up in front of their slide-pass victim.  The Fox telecast went on and on about that for a bit.

But then again, That's better than then going on about car wrecks or burning track dryer trucks.  (Whose staff was probably getting nervous when it started raining.)

After the race was stopped, did anyone notice the drivers propensity for not holding their own umbrellas?  Seriously guys?


The rain-shortened Sprint Cup race did see a few changes in the point standings... Greg Biffle remains the points leader & Kevin Harvick 2nd, but Dale Earnhardt Jr., moved up 3 spots to third, as did Tony Stewart, moving into fourth.  Other big upward moves included Jimmie Johnson (3 spots into eigth) and Ryan Newman (3 spots into tenth).

Kurt Busch finished 9th on Sunday, and that propelled him 4 spots, into twenty-third while Kasey Kahne's 15th place finish moved him 4 spots up into twenty-eighth.

This won't be indicative of the rest of the season.  As races get run and points get settled, there will be fewer and fewer big jumps in spots... but for now, that's what makes the early part of the season exciting.  The position jostling.

The Auto Club 400 ended with twenty-six cars still on the lead lap.

Unofficial Results:

1 Tony Stewart 
2 Kyle Busch 
3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 
4 Kevin Harvick 
5 Carl Edwards 
6 Greg Biffle 
7 Ryan Newman 
8 Martin Truex Jr. 
9 Kurt Busch 
10 Jimmie Johnson 
11 Denny Hamlin 
12 Mark Martin 
13 Matt Kenseth 
14 Clint Bowyer 
15 Kasey Kahne 
16 AJ Allmendinger 
17 Juan Montoya 
18 Brad Keselowski 
19 Paul Menard 
20 Regan Smith 
21 Marcos Ambrose 
22 Jeff Burton 
23 Casey Mears 
24 Joey Logano 
25 Aric Almirola 
26 Jeff Gordon 
27 David Reutimann 
28 Bobby Labonte 
29 Travis Kvapil 
30 David Gilliland 
31 David Ragan 
32 Jamie McMurray 
33 Dave Blaney 
34 Ken Schrader 
35 J.J. Yeley 
36 Landon Cassill 
37 Josh Wise * 
38 Michael McDowell 
39 David Stremme 
40 Mike Bliss 
41 Scott Riggs 
42 Reed Sorenson 
43 Brendan Gaughan 

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Should Bristol Be Repaved?

The opinions on whether Bristol Motor Speedway should be repaved seems pretty split down the middle!  But everyone is forgetting one perspective that is going to drive this entire equation.

Fans hated the old configuration.  TV fans I can imagine might not have been big fans of the old configuration because of the multitude of cautions that would draw out the length of the telecast.  And sometimes, that felt like it took forever.

And recent news is saying that Bruton Smith, owner of Bristol, is considering dropping $1M on a repave, bringing the track back to or close to how it used to be, prior to the 2007 repave.

Despite fans "not liking" the new, progressive configuration, this is true racing.  Racing that involves tactics involved in waiting out the other driver and his team making the right changes during the race.

But fans seem to want to see the fender bending battles that a one groove race produces.  (See the Martinsville race!)

Drivers are even suggesting things that Bruton can do besides drop a mil on a track repave.  Dale Earnhardt Jr suggested softer Goodyears.  Greg biffle thought it might be a risk to do the reconfigure because it might not turn out like expected.


Repaving will probably return the racing to a one groove race track.  But I have to say...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

RAB Suspended John Wes Townley, Now NASCAR Has Him on Probation

Talk about double trouble...  after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver, John Wes Townley, had an accident in his 2012 BMW, he was later charged with a DUI.  They found him knocking on doors, staggering about the neighborhood where he wrecked his car.  (Seriously, a new BMW???)

[Ignoring Townley's 2010 underage alcohol possession issue, (Really, I'm trying)]

RAB Racing subsequently suspended Townley indefinitely.


Now it's being reported that NASCAR has just put Townley on probation for the remainder of the year, due to actions detrimental to stock car racing, which violates Section 12-1 of the NASCAR rulebook.  I'm assuming this is related.


"Townley will be evaluated by a certified substance abuse professional at NASCAR's discretion and will be subject to random alcohol and drug testing"

So much for that comeback from being let go from RCR.  I hope this isn't a systemic issue... but patterns are patterns.


Fontana: Some Stats, 'Auto Club 400' TV Times and Other Things

It's time to visit the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 event.  The big old D-shaped track is, well, a big D-shaped track.  They go round and round, with lots of space for everyone.  Hence, the cautions are minimal and it all comes down to pit stops and fuel mileage.  Of course this year, I'm betting the teams are getting mild ulcers from worrying about the new EFI system, but if all goes according to plan, it should be a good tactical experience for all the teams.

NASCAR Sprint Cup TV Schedule
If you're wondering about when what is on... all practices and qualifying will be carried on Speed TV with the race live on Fox on Sunday.  (All times ET)

Friday, March 23rd:

First Practice 3 pm
Qualifying 7 pm

Saturday, Mar 24th:

Second Practice 12:30 pm
Final Practice 3:30 pm

Sunday, Mar 25th:

Auto Club 400 @ 2:30 pm on FOX


The last five races at the track has seen Jimmie Johnson win two of those, with Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth winning the others.

Of that pack, actually, of all the drivers, Johnson has the best average finish from the loop data that's been collected over the last 13 events at Fontana:

Jimmie Johnson (4.2)
Matt Kenseth (8.8)
Carl Edwards (9.2)
Clint Bowyer (10.6)
Kyle Busch (11.1)

And Johnson has led the most laps, 23.7%, with Kyle Busch (12.5%), Kenseth (11.5%), Greg Biffle (8.5%) and Jeff Gordon having led 6.6% of all laps in the last 13 races.

And if you look at the above stats, then look at the driver standings, with Biffle, Harvick and Kenseth being pretty strong early-season contenders, you have to keep one thing in mind:  Jimmie Johnson is only 11th because of a 1st lap wreck at Daytona.  You can never count them out.

I think it's going to come down to Johnson vs. Biffle. 

But don't forget to temper your expectations with practice and qualifying performances for the weekend when picking your fantasy line-up for the Auto Club 400.

You might also want to check out iFantasyrace's Auto Club Fantasy Picks for the weekend.


Overturned Penalties
Folks were honestly shocked, the penalty cloud hanging over the No. 48 team has been lifted. 

Now that Johnson's team has been absolved (technically) of all wrong doings from their inspection woes at Daytona, Chad Knaus et al can now truly get laser focused on the task at hand.  Though it's been my observation that they get more focused when Chad takes enforced sabbatical.

Though the penalties have been lifted, they still owe the fine.  Not sure that that's about.  Though I have to wonder, with all fines applied to the NASCAR Foundation, are they tax-deductible?  Seems win-win for everyone, if that is indeed the case.

Here's a great details article on the matter:  Suspension Overturned.


Now Streaming

And if you heard the news, SiriusXM NASCAR content will be streaming online starting Saturday at Fontana.  That's good news and it's about bloody time.  Well, except for the fact that SiriusXM wants additional fees to get the content you're already subscribed to.  (online access fee.)

Despite the SiriusXM decisions on fees, this is the first bonus for the fans, from NASCAR getting its own digital rights back.

The Daly Planet has more on this new streaming content development.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SIRIUS XM To Stream Live, Online!

Dave Moody put up a breaking news post today announcing that beginning at this weekend's race at Fontana, Sirius XM Radio will start streaming live, online, to SiriusXM subscribers nationwide!

I'm speechless with a solid dose of glee to boot.  Fans will finally be able to listen to The Morning Drive, Angie and that guy who's almost always right...  Claire B Lang... anyone you want, any time now.

The streaming arrangement sounds like it will be exactly the same content we get on our radios now.  That includes race broadcasts, shows etc. OR as Dave Moody reported it, in its entirety.

This has been a long time coming and what I believe to be one of the first benefactors of NASCAR reclaiming their broadcast and digital rights in the coming season.

"SiriusXM and NASCAR recently agreed to a five-year extension of their satellite broadcasting agreement.  SiriusXM will continue to broadcast every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race live nationwide through 2016.  Listeners also get daily NASCAR talk and expert analysis 365 days a year on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90."


So Does Bruton Smith Need to Change Bristol For The "Race" Fans?

After last weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the attendance at the track seemed to raise questions about if the reconfigured racing surface and faster racing, was too boring for fans.  To me, the expression that racing boring to fans is an oxymoron.  A true fan would recognize what it is about a race that makes it good to watch and enjoy.  Then there are those that like the spectacle of fender paint trade-offs.


Part Time Fans Driving The Show?

Upon initial estimates from those on the outside, looking in, it seems that fans want the track back to the way it was.  At least those that are taking the time to voice their opinions around the web.

But are race fans really comprising the majority of the nay-sayers, or is it just wreck-fest fans who are clamoring for what they want to see?  Upon initial oversight, I think the wreck-fest fans make up the bulk of the money demographic?  I got a chance to see general fans in action the other day at a bar that just happened to have a NASCAR telecast going.  It was a rare opportunity because the bar-goers were actually looking at the TV.

The amount of oohs and ahs that came from the crowd during the crash replays was disheartening and amazing, all at once.

And suddenly I realized that NASCAR has to appeal to the generic fan who gravitates to the visual of the wrecks in NASCAR.  Suddenly I realize why Fox promos contain so many wrecks.  They need to cater to the bulk of their viewers.  The same viewers who take their news-drama from pretty, hot-looking anchors.


The Variables of Attendance

The boys on The Morning Drive (Mike Bagley & Pete Pistone) on SiriusXM brought up an additional interesting point about the attendance at Bristol this weekend: 

The economy and Kansas having a cup date may be contributing to diluting attendance numbers at Bristol.  Obviously the economy is hitting folks in many ways.  And when you only have so much money to drop on something like attending a NASCAR race, then you probably pick the closest venue.  And it's been said that there were concerns that Kansas would impact Bristol attendance.

There are many variables in the background that make up the attendance of a race.  Many that fans don't dwell on right away, that what seems obvious might not be at all.


In Chess, You Save the Queen Till Later
So folks say the racing at Bristol today is boring.  They just go around in circles.  (For a second, I thought that's what racing was...  laps around a formatted structure, testing the mettle of the driver and the machine on each and every lap.  Not a figure-eight race.)

That driving strategy, based on wear-and-tear on a driver's machine and the other machines around him, dictating the moves, is what it's all about from inside the cockpit of  car.  It's not an all-out sprint for 500 laps.  In chess, go ahead and throw all your non-pawns out there and go for the throat instantly and tell me how well you do? 

Racing is a bit like chess... At least from on top of the pit box and behind the wheel.  It just moves a little bit faster.


Progressive Banking Makes It A True Race

The progressive banking puts the tactics back into primary play and makes the race about the tactics and planning.  A well planned strategy wins the day.  (Unless you're eaten up by flat tires, exhaust pipes and the wrecks everyone loves to see.)  And the masses seem to want the wrecks.  Or at least that's what pays out for the tracks and TV numbers.

If, what's been hinted at, Bruton Smith does dump a Million to flatten the track, well, it would be disappointing to some while putting a show back on for others.  No one really wins or loses.  True fans will stick around.  Others will come along to see what the four and five hour show is all about. (Flat Bristol made for verrrrry long telecasts sometimes.)

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My father (a pilot) once said he hates seeing airplane accidents because that's a plane not flying. (Amongst other things.)  Cars wrecking isn't racing.  But you'd need to be a hard-core fan to understand that.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hendrick Team Points and Penalties Overturned By Appellate; A Few More Points

Today we saw NASCAR's Appellate court in action... when Rick Hendrick and NASCAR faced off the last time in regards to the car body rules infraction that was incurred at Daytona.

On the line were a huge collective of points for both driver and owner, a lengthy "vacation" from the track for a few, and, for you or I, a hefty fine.

But after hearing both sides of the story, with Rick Hendrick showing 20 different photos and almost 20 pages of documentation and affidavits as to the legality of the car, he seemed to have made a point.  He had also added to his testimony how the car had sat in the R&D center in January and Hendrick had written proof that the car wasn't altered after being in the center.

With that all said and done, the man making the final judgement surprised the entire NASCAR fan community when he overturned the ruling, giving the driver and owner points back to the team, BUT, leaving the $100k fine in place.

By Jimmie Johnson getting his points back, he's now 11th in the driver standings, 36 points out of first.


But fans are going crazy because the want to know how one can drop the points penalties and suspensions, yet keep the fine in place?  When NASCAR was asked about the fine remaining, they jumped on that one, saying it proves that the car wasnt right.

BTW:  John Middlebrook has heard 4 appeals now and has reduced portions of all of them.  And if I heard right on SiriusXM this morning, Middlebrook and Hendrick go way back because he used to work for GM.

That's probably not related, but it's out there.


Now the questions of the day are how can NASCAR enforce car inspections if they only going to get turned over?  To be honest, I think they still can.  This was an eyeball call where no template sits.  With that said, I'm guessing there might be fewer judgement calls and more templates on the horizon!

But as to his reasoning, we'll never know what was going on in Middlebrook's mind.  The press was not given access to the man.

Albeit, that's all she wrote.  Jimmie is back in the hunt, Chad is still on the box and it's business back to normal.

Asked how he feels this will impact his image, Chad says it's not about image, it's about winning.  And that's what makes these two, Knaus and Johnson, a force to be reckoned with.  Chad Knaus does what he can to win in this day and age of such close parity.  And he does it often enough that he finds himself in hot water every few years.  Jimmy is the man who can drive the cars Chad squeaks out onto the track.

I'm betting they'll be playing it safe for a little while now.  At least though Fontana.  That's for sure.


Bad News for Jimmie?

Though you have to wonder with two of Jimmie Johnson's championships having come in seasons where Chad had to sit out a few weeks each.

I thought this would fire them up when Chad was gone.  But now that Chad is not gone...  just saying!

Sources, All Twitter, All the Time

The No. 48 Penalties Lifted, Points Returned & Fine Stays in Place Though

I'm surprised by this final verdict because I think like all of us, we were expecting to see Chad Knaus take a quick 6-week vacation.  Be it as it may, NASCAR's Chief Appellate Officer granted the No. 48 teams points back, in both driver and owners points and pulled the suspension that was looming over Knaus's head.  But...  the fine remains in place.

Most interesting.  Here's the press release that just came out, the very same time that the news was announced at the R&D center:

On March 20, 2012, the Chief Appellate Officer heard and considered the appeal of the penalties resulting from the #48 Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team.  This stemmed from an opening day inspection for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2012.

The penalties concern Section 12-1 of the NASCAR Rule Book "Actions detrimental to stock car racing;" Section 12-4(J): "Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR Rule Book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the Event;" and Section 20-2.1(E): "If in the judgment of NASCAR Officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance, will not be permitted: Unapproved car body modifications."

The results of the appeal hearing were as follows:
-          Rescinding the loss of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Car Owner points (for Jeff Gordon).

-          Rescinding the loss of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver points (for Jimmie Johnson).

-          Rescinding the six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events suspension for the Crew Chief (Chad Knaus) and Car Chief (Ron Malec), however both will remain on NASCAR probation until May 9, 2012.

-          $100,000 fine remains in place for the Crew Chief (Chad Knaus).

John Middlebrook – Chief Appellate Officer


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Is Bruton Smith Changing Up NASCAR's Bristol Motor Speedway?

According to the eyeballs and some quick glimpses of the stands at Bristol Motor Speedway this last weekend, despite every trick in the book to keep the cameras off the stands during the race, it would have seemed that the stands "looked" about half full this last Sunday for the Food City 500.

Considering that a seat at Bristol was one of the most sought after seats in all of NASCAR, it's hard to say one way or the other what's up.

But one thing is for sure... if radio reports and what not are true, every since Bristol Motor Speedway went to the progressive banking, the seats have been over so slowly clearing out.

According to track owner
Bruton Smith, whose cup is always half-full, he indicated that rain chased a few attendees away last Sunday and that they sold 102,000 tickets for the 160,000  seat-capacity track.  But visually, folks were saying it seemed less than that.


IF you float around online, you'll see so many comments about how the race is just going around in circles and that folks just aren't that happy any more.  But then there are some that don't mind that the race doesn't take forever to complete, like it used to when it was flat.

But you have to admit, when you have a spare fifty-thousand plus seats sitting around for this track that is on many a bucket list, something is afoul.

And Smith has been reported to be considering dropping a cool million on the track to change things up.  But then, despite getting ready to offer up a cool mil, he also suggest that rain probably kept many fans away.

And you have to admit, rain is a deterrent, if for anything else, the lack of a refund policy if your race gets rained out.  It's kept me at bay sometimes, that's for sure.

So we'll be hearing soon what's going to happen to the track.  But keep something in mind, for the new fan that is... if they do flatten the track, it will be a totally different beast and the races will usually take a lot longer due to the myriad of cautions that take place as fenders and 'tudes collide!


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'Food City 500' Winners And 'The Chase'

I don't know if you were aware of this peculiar stat, but over the last four years, the driver that has won the Food City 500 has also found themselves sitting in The Chase at years' end?

Sure thing...   Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have all graced both the winners circle at Bristol and a slot in the chase in the same year, over the last four years.

Cool beans.  So if that is to hold true, then we should be seeing this years Food City 500 winner, Brad Keselowski, in the Chase this year!  Right?  I think he's got a team for it.

[NASCAR Stats Dept]

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Bristol 'Food City 500' Quickie Recap and Race Results

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from Bristol Motor Speedway was the Food City 500 .  It was good racing...  where inside lines versus outside lines and older tires versus newer tires.  It was classic racing challenges all around, including when the first multi-car caution came out on lap 24.

Kyle Busch, Marcos Ambrose, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick were collected in a wreck between Regan Smith and Kasey Kahne, with Kahne's car collecting the other teams.

The wreck happened while Fox was off on commercial and they played out the ads first before coming back and telling the viewers.

They showed a very angry Kyle Busch pound his roof while getting out of his car and Kasey Kahne's post-accident interview sounded like he was leaning toward blaming Smith for not backing off this early in the race.

Pitting had a ton of different strategies take place this early on, but AJ Allmendinger stayed out and took the lead.

The next caution was on lap 116 for Ken Schrader hitting the outside wall.  Looks like a RF tire set his date with the outside wall.  Kyle Busch is back out.. so there's one spot/point he'll gain.

Every point is precious...  Ask Edwards.

Once past the half-way point of the race is when you start paying attention... drivers start looking at the end game and where they're at and what they need to do to get where they want to.  Allmendinger had a strong car, but then something happened and he faded.

This is how things looked at lap 325, well past the half-way mark:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bristol Motor Speedway, 'Food City 500' Weekend: Can Kyle Win It Again?

The gang are all piled into the big super fast bowl called Bristol this weekend for the NASCAR Food City 500.  If you never saw it, Bristol used to be a flat short track and the racing just from one weekend created more Ebay sheet metal than all of Ryan Newman's super speedway tumble cars of prior years.

But now that they've repaved the track, it's become a fast and mini super speedway with its progressive banked racing surface.  The bright side to the repave was that the event no longer took four hours due to a million cautions.  (OK, sorry to exaggerate... make it a thousand cautions.)  But some fans haven't taken to it, saying that the more continual racing, with longer runs, is boring. 

No one is ever happy with anything, are they?

Be it as it may, looking at past data, I'm thinking Kyle Busch can get a kick in the seat this weekend if he sticks true to form from his historical track-record.

But first, let's look at the TV scheduled for the Sprint Cup series and some factoids, shall we?

Sprint Cup Series TV Schedule

Food City 500 at Bristol (All times ET)

Friday (3/16):

First Practice - Noon on Speed
Qualifying     - 3:30 PM on Speed

Saturday (3/17):

2nd Practice - 9:30 AM on Speed
3rd Practice - Noon, not televised

Sunday (3/18): Food City 500 at Bristol live on Fox 12:30 PM ET

= = =

Since 2008, Kyle Busch has won at Bristol four times so he's a force to be reckoned with here, while pole winners have been a bit random, with Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin nabbing two poles each since '08.

Amongst the gang, over the last 14 races at Bristol, Kyle Busch as the best average finish, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr..  Behind them is Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle.

As you can see, the top-5 historical contenders are all potentials again this year as a few of them are running pretty strong so far this season.

Add to that that Kyle Busch (19.6%) leads the pack as one who has led the most laps at the track over the last few years, well, numbers favor Kyle.  Lady luck might have something else to say because his next closest contender is Matt Kenesth, having led just over 11% of the laps.  So he could be laying in wait, looking to take advantage of any mishap that befalls Kyle.  And we know "stuff" happens to Kyle.

= = =

[stats provided by NASCAR statistical services]

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Bit About NASCAR

What the heck is NASCAR?  Have you ever pondered that one?  Some take it for granted that NASCAR is what they see on TV which is the three big tiers (national series) of racing within the organization:

the Sprint Cup Series,

The Nationwide Series,

The Camping World Truck Series.

But there is quite a bit more to the organization and I didn't really give it much thought until I recently got a press release and like a well crafted press release, there was an "About NASCAR" paragraph at the bottom of the news bit they sent me.

NASCAR is short for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. 

Through the years it has become the sanctioning body for one of North America's premier sports.

Their races are broadcast in over 150 countries and in 20 languages. (Though Juan Pablo Montoya spoke the universal langauge at Daytona when he barbequed a jet dryer truck!)

NASCAR's TV and other media coverage includes FOX, TNT, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, SPEED and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Because the fans of NASCAR are known for being some of the most brand loyal fans in the world of televised sports, more Fortune 500 companies want in on this action called NASCAR.

Aside from the obvious that we all see on TV, NASCAR also runs four regional series and one grassroots series.  But why stop at the domestic level?  NASCAR also runs two international series and has GRAND-AM Road Racing under its auspices too.  GRAND-AM is a fascinating form of racing.  It's a cost effective set of events where in one race on their road courses, you can watch different classes of cars competing at the same time.

NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races at 100 tracks in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico.

NASCAR is based in Daytona Beach, Fla., but also has offices across the country in eight other cities.

And here you thought all NASCAR was, was big crashes at Daytona or Talladega.  Phffft!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chad Knaus Could Be Looking At Another Six-Week Sabatical!

The appeals board heard the appeals of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team on their Daytona infraction.  And despite the team's urging of the matter and trying to get the penalties rescinded, it was to no avail.  Of course the team will be appealing the appeal hearing, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to matter.  I think if this team and particular crew chief didn't have a history of pushing the boundaries, maybe, just slightly maybe, it would be different.  Don't know though.

Below is the press release on the NASCAR Appeals Panel Statement:


On March 13, 2012, the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel heard and considered the appeal of the #48 Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team.

The penalties concern Section 12-1 of the NASCAR Rule Book "Actions detrimental to stock car racing;" Section 12-4(J): "Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR Rule Book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the Event;" and Section 20-2.1(E): "If in the judgment of NASCAR Officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance, will not be permitted: Unapproved car body modifications." 

This stemmed from an opening day inspection for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2012.

The original penalties assessed prior to the deferral were:
-          Car Owner (Jeffrey M. Gordon) – Loss of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Car Owner points;

-     Car Driver (Jimmie K. Johnson) – Loss of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver points;

-          Crew Chief (Chad A. Knaus) - $100,000.00 fine.  Suspended from the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events.  Suspended from NASCAR until April 18, 2012.  Placed on NASCAR probation until May 9, 2012. 

-          Car Chief (Ron P. Malec) - Suspended from the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events.  Suspended from NASCAR until April 18, 2012.  Placed on NASCAR probation until May 9, 2012. 

Upon hearing the testimony, carefully reviewing the facts and historically comparative penalties, the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel was to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR. 

The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer. 


Sad State of Affairs When the 4th Place Driver Has No Sponsors

I was just listening to The Morning Drive on SiriusXM radio and they were chatting up Trevor Bayne.  Trevor Bayne is 19 points out of first place in the driver standings of the NASCAR Nationwide Series and he won't be able to race in this weekend's NNS event at Bristol, the Ford EcoBoost 300, because his team ran out of sponsor money.

The fourth place team has no funding to continue.

It's a shame that that a top contender in the series has to park it because of lack of funds, but the gritty reality of it is that this sport, at any level, is expensive to run in and this part of NASCAR, the Nationwide Series, apparently isn't big enough to draw in the money at this stage of the game.

Trevor said in the radio interview that he's preparing himself and getting ready as if he's going to run the Bristol race this weekend, but him and his team are still fishing for running funds.

He pointed out how important his entire run is each day, because when a sponsor interviews a driver, they want to know about all aspects of a race, not just the end result of the day.  He's very aware of needing to look good to attract the money.  But it has me wondering how sponsors really view the NNS aspect of NASCAR when the 4th place team can't find money.

And along with Trevor, Kenny Wallace will be out of money in a race or two also.  The economy is still trying to recover and no one has excess advertising funds.

Trevor Bayne came to the limelight last year when he ended up winning the Daytona 500.  With only 20 cars on the lead lap and having survived incidents that took out Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Matt Kesneth, Dale Earnhardt Jr and the like, he mustered an excellent drafting posture and found himself pushed to the win by Carl Edwards, in the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford from the Woods Brothers.

It was a popular win, but his team couldn't rest on their laurels and has had to make ends meet since then.  Now, in all likelihood, Trevor Bayne will have to watch the race rather than be in it.

Of course he said, with 3 easy payments of...  

He has a great attitude on the radio and I wish him luck, but admittedly, each NNS race cost around $100k per team.  I just don't have that in my back pocket.  And if I did and I sent Trevor a check, my wife would probably kill me!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Keselowski's Enemy: EFI; Edwards Aplogizes; Jr Ticked at Mark?

Keselowski's EFI Troubles Persist
As the closing laps of the Kobalt Tools 400 were winding down, for but a moment the No. 2 car of Brad Keselowski looked like he had the race won... or at least in strong contention for the win.

But then on a restart, not only did Brad drop like a rock from the front row to pit road, but ended up several laps down.  And despite the EFI not picking up any fuel, they had ended the day with fuel in the car.  Which means something was afoul with the EFI system.

Brad's team is struggling to figure things out because the last thing they really need are more potentially good runs getting ruined by the new EFI system.  And they took this on the chin, saying it's on them to figure it out.

Oh, and by the way, this was the same issue they had the previous week at Phoenix, but they didn't get stung so bad there.


Edwards Apologizes to Kenseth

Where have we heard this before?:  "It's too bad he got wrecked."

Last weekend during one of the many restarts to the Las Vegas race, Carl Edwards had come down on the apron of the track while getting a jump on his teammate.  By going below the line, by the time turn one came up, Edwards had to get up onto the actual racing surface.  This forced Kenseth up the track and into Kasey Kahne and the wall.

The results?

Edwards 5th, Kahne 19th, Kenseth 22nd.

News reports said that Matt Kenseth left the track pretty quickly while Edwards might have been looking for him...  but the apology sounds like something we'll probably be seeing more of.

To be honest, I think we're going to be seeing more of the old Carl Edwards when it comes to doing what he has to, to secure every extra point this year.  Last year he lost the championship to a tie breaker with Tony Stewart.  And I thought back then that this bodes ill for the 2012 season, because all he had to do was finish one spot higher at any one race to be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion.

I think this year he's going to make sure he has that extra point.  And we all know what that means to anyone in his way.  Carl is an aggressive driver who does not apologize for his actions, even when it involves entire fields of cars caught up in his winning ways, so gang, look out!

But regarding last weekend, it really didn't look like Carl forced Kenseth up the track.. but that it's possible that Matt just had the air pulled off his car and he got sucked up into the wall.  But then again, that might not have taken place if they weren't three-wide coming past the green flag on the restart!


Dale Earnhardt Jr Apologizes to Mark Martin

Man, what is it with all the apologies coming out of Vegas?

With around 25 laps to go, Dale Earnhardt Jr. plowed the back of Mart Martin's car, sending him into the wall and relegating him to an 18th place finish while Dale Jr. finished 10th.

The reason for the plow?

It seems that Earnhardt was passing Martin on the outside at one point and Martin drove defensively, slowing Earnhardt down.  Junior says there's some unwritten etiquette about this situation.

He also pointed out that he didn't mean to cause the kind of damage to Mark's car that ensued after shoving him up the track.  But that always seems to be the case, isn't it?

Me, I see it as racing as it is.

But Dale Jr. did have a good looking day yesterday until he got mired in traffic and then it was a struggle to get back to that winning speed once he was out of clean air.  Well, at least Junior Nation had some fun watching those first 70 laps!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

NACSAR 'Kobalt Tools 400' Mini Recap

Today's race was from Las Vegas, the Kobalt Tools 400, in the desert of Nevada.

Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. led the pack to the race starting green flag and by the end of the first lap, Dale Jr. had himself the lead, which he held onto for 70 laps.

Cautions today included a

  • Lap 44 incident with Timmy Hill.
  • 73:  A David Reutimann spin.
  • 127: Travis Kvapil blew an engine.
  • 204 & 229: debris caution.
  • 244: Landon Cassill blew an engine.
  • 255: Kurt Busch RR tire blew, sending him into the inside wall.
  • 259: Kyle Busch LR tire, solo spin.

That that said,

Brendan Gaughan  hit the wall early... no caution, but hard enough to mess his day up.

Despite Dale Jr. pulling away and leading the entire first bit of the race, he had a scare when he started pitting on lap 44/5 when the caution came out... but he got back out in time and retained the lead for the restart.

On the restart, Dale Jr. again led them to speed...

On lap 71, car Nos 88, 17, 29, 16 and 14 were the front runners.

The lap 78 restart found Dale Jr. back in the pack for the first time today, in 16th after taking four tires while many took two!

The front runners included Kenseth, Harvick, Johnson, Stewart and Biffle.

A bit later Jimmie Johnson took the lead from Kenseth...

With around the 50 to go mark, we had Stewart, Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth lead the pack to speed.

With 38 to go, we had a caution and the field piled onto the pits.  Two or four tires?  If any!?  Leaders were topping off only and everyone was ready for the last dash of the day.  (I thought)

But one more caution pulled everyone together for a restart but this restart cursed Brad Keselowski which was a shame... it looked like he might have won this race... but he had some sort of fuel issue.

But now the race looked like it was going to come down to Tony Stewart (leading) and Jimmie Johnson on his tail.  (I wonder if Jimmie might have been saying "Here kitty, kitty, kitty"?)

But then as they got going, the No. 51 car of Kurt Busch drove-piled the wall after his RR tire went away, bringing everyone back together and cooling those tires back down down.  Again.

(I don't think Kurt's having fun yet this season.) 

Again... with 9 to go, Stewart led them aggressively to the line and pulled away while Johnson spun his tires.

AND THEN KYLE BUSCH spins and lands it in the grass...  LR tire flat.

OK, once again, with feeling!

With 4 to go...  Stewart, Johnson, Biffle, Kenseth, Edwards... and Edwards shot down onto the apron to pass the pack and Kenseth gets into the outside wall... the closing few laps Johnson covered Stewart's butt like a blanket, trying to pass him.

With one to go, Johnson can't quite get there and Tony Stewart won the Kobalt Tools 400, Jimmie Johnson finished 2nd, followed by the 16, 39, 99, 16, 27, 1, 21 & 88 cars.

It was good to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. perform well in clean air but once he got in dirty air, he seemed to have a few more issues.

Plus, I was keeping an eye on Dale Jr. during restarts.  On SiriusXM radio, a caller had said earlier in the week that Jr sucked at restarts.  It seemed to be a bit of an iffy talent of his on this day.

But there you have it...  a snarky race recap from NASCAR Bits and Pieces on the Kobalt Tools 400.
NASCAR: Kobalt 400 results - unofficial

Now... we all wait until Tuesday when we'll hear about the No. 48 team appeal decision!  See ya there!


The NASCAR Nationwide Sereis 'Sam's Town 300' Race

The NASCAR Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway started with Elliott Sadler leading the pack early in the race but the crowd thinned out, as they usually do.

What was noticeable was the bounce the cars were experiencing going into and through turns one and two and into the back-stretch.  Dang, when did the track get that bumpy?

As you might know, I'm more or less chronicling the experiences of Austin Dillon and Danica Patrick as they tackle their first full season in the Nationwide Series division!  Check it out...

In the early going, (less than ten laps in), Austin Dillon was 5th, Kyle Busch 12th and Danica Patrick was 14th.

The first caution around lap 10 was for a solo spin.  Later on, Kyle Busch was the solo-car spin.

Lap 40ish saw Dillon around 5th still and Patrick in 19th.

Joey Gase pulled out the third caution...

Mean while, in the garage, Kyle Busch had smacked the wall during his solo spin earlier and was still in there on lap 67 getting pieces and parts fixed.

Lap 70ish, Dillon was 7th, Hornish Jr 11th, Patrick was 16th.

Jennifer Jo Cobb had a caution come from her solo tire-smoker.

Brian Scott WAS 6th, but then near midway of the race, spun it up into the outside wall.  Hard.

The lap 100 restart saw Dillon 6th, Patrick 10th, K. Wallace 13th.  (Kenny only has sponsor money for a few more races before his team has to fold it up.)

Lap 130 is when we learned that Brad Keselowski was having fueling issues and he ran out of gas under green... coasting to his pit stall.  And then he could not get it restarted after pitting.

A debris caution took place just short of the 150 lap mark.

The lap 160 restart had Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leading the pack, Austin Dillon restarting 3rd, Danica Patrick 6th and Sam Hornish Jr was 9th.


With around 30ish laps to go, there were a few late pit stops, Patrick being one of them, taking her away from being near the top-5.

As the laps wore down, it was apparent that unless the hand of fate reached down and intervened, it was Stenhouse Jr.'s race... 

At the finish, it was Stenhouse Jr. 5 seconds in front of Mark Martin, then Elliott Sadler, Trevor Bayne and Gaughan in the No. 33.

Austin Dillon finished 7th across the start/finish line, Sam Hornish Jr 9th, and Danica Patrick pulled off a 12th place finish.  Check it out at for more


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 'Kobalt Tools 400' TV Times & Some Basic Stats

This weekend has NASCAR visiting Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 15th time for the Kobalt Tools 400 and hopefully, not losing too much money in the process.  At least at the tables!

First up is the TV schedule for the NASCAR weekend (All times noted are ET):

Friday, 3-9

  • 3:00 PM First Practice (on Speed)
  • 6:30 PM Qualifying - (Speed)

Saturday, 3-10

  • 12:30 PM Practice (Speed)
  • 3:00 PM Practice (Speed)

Sunday, 3-6-12: 3:00 PM ET The Kobalt Tools 400 live on Fox


With that said, since 2006, Las Vegas has seen Jimmie Johnson win three races, Carl Edwards winning two and Kyle Busch slipping in there to take one title from the boys.

Kyle has historically enjoyed the pole, having nabbed it twice, brother Kurt, once, and that distinction of winning the pole was also shared with Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, and Matt Kenseth.

Over the last seven races in the Nevada desert, Jimmie Johnson has the best average finish of 10.4th.  (If that's a number!)  But the next few spots of best average finish is hotly contested amongst Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch.

But keep your eyes out for Jeff Gordon & Tony Stewart also.  I say that because if they're not attacked by bad luck, they could be contending for the win, as they are noted as two of the top three who have led the most laps here in Vegas.

Mark Martin has a huge stat in scoring top-10's, having, well, ten of them.  So keep an eye on that "kid."


As always, thank you for coming by.  I appreciate the visit and hope you like what I've done with the place!

NASCAR-Bits-and-Pieces: on Twitter &
come like my page on Facebook .  I could use the company!  LOL.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Regan Smith and Paul Menard Are OK After Highway Accident

So now we know Regan Smith and Paul Menard hang out together!  First up, no one was injured, so let's put that concern to rest.

But it seems that when Smith and Menard were headed to a ski resort in Colorado, Smith's truck hit some ice and they went "off-roading" through some trees when the truck slid off the road.

Everyone in the truck was OK.

Smith drives the No. 78 Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing while Menard drives the No. 27 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

So What Happened to Tony Stewart's EFI System at PIR?

Anyone remember before the season and hearing how the EFI system was bullet proof because it's used in other racing leagues?  Anyone not believing that any more?

Well, I know a few teams that aren't believing it.  And Tony Stewart's team is one of them.

Last weekend Tony Stewart tried to play the fuel-saving game by cutting off his motor to save gas, then found that he could not restart it.

Turns out that Stewart's new crew chief, Steve Addington, at least found the culprit as being a breaker switch that shut off.  It didn't affect the car until Tony had turned the car off... it was then that the impact of the switch was made apparent when it wouldn't let the car refire...  grr.

And it seems this situation may have been seen at both Daytona and PIR.

I had a car once that wouldn't turn back on... it had to do with no heat shield over a solenoid.. but that's not a breaker, unless the breaker is heat sensitive...  but that's my uneducated guess.

Until then, I'm thinking the teams need to be more careful about killing the engines to save fuel, as that doesn't look like it's saving positions!

Another Journalist Who Doesn't Think NASCAR is a Sport And Crosses A Line Doing It

There's a site called The Sentinel, and I do believe that they are not of the mind to believe that NASCAR is a sport.  Tsk, Tsk.  They being Eric Rivera, an aspiring journalist for a North Idaho College.

Eric goes on to support his perspective by saying that NASCAR does not compare to hockey and football.  Fair enough.  And Eric does give credit to being able to turn left repeatedly with precision accuracy for hours on end.  OK, that's nice of him to give some credit.

But then he goes on to compare NASCAR to being on par with a Wii athlete and says that he, himself must then compare to a professional driver becuase he plays Gran Turismo.  If I read that right.

Then he further augments his perspectives by grouping NASCAR in with WWE and he finishes the statement by saying,

"So it makes me want to say thank you to all the people who are hardcore fans. Those that push the notion that NASCAR is a true sport. You confirm my suspicion that being dumb and dangerous go hand in hand."

That's when I quit being so understanding of the ingorance involved in proclaiming something to not be a sport when, I presume, one has not even tried it.  And calling the demographic supporting the support to be dumb.


Indeed.  I get the premise that people WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN IN a racecar (You can spell that forwards and backward Eric) thinks it's not a sport, as compared to stick and ball events.

I get that one doesn't understand how much muscle it takes or that how damn brave you have to be to be hurtling along at 100+ mph.  When you turn left, I was surprised by the amount of G-force applied to my brain and how dang heavy my arms got in the corners.

But I'm good with that because they don't get it.

But I don't think they get the on-going and constant physical demands put upon a driver in a car without power-steering or power brakes and endure performing in an environment that gets up to 130 degrees.  Or losing several pounds of sweat per race.

Nah, I'm good with that too, because obviously he didn't do his research.  I'm OK with not getting it and that grey area of what a sport is, whereby a sport could be defined as

"An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others."

Or that it is a

"Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively."

But it's OK...

But when a reporter starts to call people dumb for what they like, then there's the backhand to a large demographic.  That same backhand comes from a writer who doesn't get it because they've never tried it.

So I'm thinking we should all pile on over and leave some friendly and constructive comments that would help Eric understand that he's a bit off the mark with his perception and calling fans names.  I will as soon as I can calm down because right now, nothing good is going to come out of my fingertips if I were to head over there.  And I want to be friendly, constructive and gentle when I tell him to go to hell.

Oh, sorry, did that come out?  See... I have to wait a bit before I get over there.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

TV Ratings Decline for Phoenix; But Can I Blame Digger?

If you're curious, Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Subway Fresh Fit 500 race earned a 5.0 in the TV ratings.

This is a mixed bit of blessing in that this was the second-highest rating for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 (but that pitch seems weak when you see the chart below) but yet, tied for the lowest rating for the second race of any season, since  Fox started airing NASCAR races.

Sure, there might have been other sporting venues on the tele, but there always are... and we just came off a huge, long, drawn out telecast from last weekend.  There can be all kinds of things that account for the drop, including lack of appreciation of what goes into a race or those that tune in know that the big wrecks happen at the big tracks.  (Sorry to say, but I've seen the generic fan reaction and it's a bit sad.)

Over on Sports Media Watch, they've charted out the ratings for the second race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, since 2001.

In 2009 the ratings took a huge dive.

Not to be a hater of the animated critter that was shoved down our throats by Fox, but wasn't 2009 when we started getting fed Digger bites, with the animation and then the next season, with that dreadful cartoon?

I'm sure I'm way off the mark on this one, but the emotional scars are still there and then this chart seems to correlate my own trauma.  Did that many people really get turned off by the Digger marketing or just me?

Just sayin', in fun of course.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ride Along as Tony Stewart races Daryl Waltrip for Charity

Hey all, thought I should pass this press release on...  the time is short as the auction only goes through to tomorrow... but have at... good luck!

Are you interested in helping support charity by riding shotgun as Tony Stewart races Darrell Waltrip at Charlotte Motor Speedway?  Who wouldn't be?

Tony Stewart and Darrell Waltrip are looking to raise some funds for Motor Racing Outreach through   But what would charity be with some trash talk, because the two have been going at it about this Charlotte event!

Fans that want to witness the legendary pair put their trash-talking to the test can bid on leading online charity auction website to spend 4 laps in the passenger seat of Tony Stewart's car and 4 laps in Darrell Waltrip's car at Charlotte Motor Speedway as they take turns actually passing on the track. Bidding is open through Tuesday, March 6 at

Proceeds benefit Motor Racing Outreach, a nonprofit organization that serves the NASCAR community.
Charitybuzz raises funds for nonprofits around the globe through exclusive online auctions with the world's top celebrities, athletes and brands.

-- , on Twitter & Facebook .
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Jason Leffler will Participate in Rockingham Tire Test with The No 18 NNS Team

via Kyle Busch Motorsports press release:

Jason Leffler and the No. 18 Dollar General Racing team will be one of three teams participating in a Goodyear tire test at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway March 6 and 7. 

The test is being held in advance of NASCAR's return to the famed one-mile oval on Sunday, April 15 for the Camping World Truck Series Good Sam Club Roadside Assistance 200.

Other drivers that are participating include Timothy Peters (Red Horse Racing No. 17) and James Buescher (Turner Motorsports No. 31).

If you're interested, the grandstands will be open to fans, free of charge both days.


Jimmie Johnson is Not In A Bad Points Hole Yet & Why I Think That

Right now, after Phoenix, and barring the penalty not being appealed, Jimmie Johnson is 71 points out of first in 37th place in the driver's points standings of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  But this early in the season, there's enough volatility in the standings that just maybe, there's nothing for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team to worry about.


I know that numerically, Jimmie's spot in the standings looks a bit dire, but the new points system can actually help him in the early weeks of the 2012 season.

In the old points system we had various point gaps between positions that made climbing up through the ranks a bit tough.  But with the new points system in place, where only 1 point separates various finishing positions, the early weeks of the season could favor a strong showing for Jimmie Johnson.

Here's the thing... 

The point spreads right now aren't huge or insurmountable.  In this early part of the season while teams are feeling out their position in the season, there will be wins and 15th place finishes.  All leading to a variability in the points for the teams.

For instance, though Johnson is 71 points behind points leader Denny Hamlin, a win by the former and a 10th place finish by the latter would pull Johnson to within 57 points of Hamlin.  (This scenario assumes certain things to happen, and is the best case scenario for Johnson.)

If this happened a few times, things would be good.  Obviously things don't work that easy, but right now, during these first few weeks of the season, Johnson can work the system while there's still some variability to be had in the points.  It won't be too easy after the 4th or 5th week, but by then, Johnson has either regained his penalty points or not, and is in a position to work at his game.

The important part about the early weeks of the season is that positions will jump around at first.  Look at this week after Phoenix.  Kyle Busch climbed 8 spots into 9th and Brad Keselowski jumped 17 spots into 12th.  Martin Truex Jr. clawed up 6 spots into 6th and the points leaders all swapped spots of 3 or 4 positions.

Right now there's volatility in the points standings that Jimmie Johnson has to take advantage of.  At least if he wants to competitive early on and continuing into the latter-half of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

But that's just my take.  Do you have any thoughts on the issue?

-- , on Twitter & Facebook .
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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Being A NASCAR Jet Dryer Driver Just Got Safer

No, Juan Pablo Montoya did not leave NASCAR.  But after Montoya's car broke under caution and slid out of control into a Jet Dryer truck at Daytona, things have been changed for the better, at least for the drivers at the truck.

After the marshmallow roast that was the Daytona Jet Dryer truck, it was noticed that while scampering for his life, the driver didn't have a fire suit or helmet.

As unlikely as this event is to happen again, NASCAR instigated some new rules.

When jet dryer trucks are deployed, there will be an extra pace car behind the trucks with lights on, to apprise cars passing by about the truck that can go up in a ball of fire.  And to slow down.

So the cars need to slow down when they approach.

Also the truck drivers will be wearing fire suits and helmets for the next time Montoya goes on a destructive bent! (sarc)-Bruce 

They initiated the new rules at the Phoenix race today.

Short Recap of NASCAR's 'Subway Fresh Fit 500' from Phoenix

Darian Grubb Continues His Winning Ways at Phoenix with Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin sent a message today at the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway by taking the checkered flag afte a hard-fought final set of laps.  And defending champion crew chief Darian Grub also sent a message by getting his driver into the winner's circle.

Those last few laps were pretty intense because for all intent purposes, it looked like Kevin Harvick was overtaking Hamlin and that it would be Harvick's to not win.  But with just over a lap to go, Harvick faded away from the back bumper of Hamlin's bumper, the conjecture being that he ran out of fuel.

Everyone was having fuel mileage concerns but Hamlin ran pretty good today at Phoenix.

Cars that had problems today included Clint Bowyer (tire), Kasey Kahne (Wall smack), Casey Mears (spin), Paul Menard (crash), collecting A.J. Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray, David Reutimann (engine), Ryan Newman (Crash) and Tony Stewart (FUEL INJECTION).

After 312 laps, 7 cautions, 15 leaders and 25 lead changes, Denny Hamlin showed that fear is not a factor... oh, wait, wrong show!

But Hamlin won, followed by Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, and Brad Keselowski.  Danica Patrick WAS NOT in this race, so the media coverage was minimal.  (snarc!)

Today's race propelled Denny Hamlin to the top of the driver points standings.  Other improvements from last week were Greg Biffle (now 2nd), Kevin Harvick (3rd) and Matt Kenseth is now sitting in 4th.

These big jumps in positions are to be expected for a few races until things settle out.

Results | Standings -Bruce

What? No Digger Mentions From Fox?

So far this year, Fox has avoided calling out their underground camera that they nicknamed Digger in years previous.  They've used shots from the in-ground camera, and I have seen the animated furry friend on the side of the TV frame, but no mentions.

I remember the pain of Digger when it premiered and it got worse when Fox added an animated feature in 2009 for Digger, hoping to entertain the Nielsen demographic of kids.  But it seemed to not really work out.  The viewers felt insulted and I didn't hear too many good things from those fans.

So this year, as I tuned into the Fox telecast, I sit and wait for the inevitable mention... and yet, nada!  They've used the camera angle, and it is an awesome angle as the cars drive over the installation of Digger.  And I've seen the animation pull out some ads from the side of the screen and such.

(Back in the day, it had been noted way back when, that Fox's David Hill wanted an animated mascot, much like Cletus from the NFL.)

But I got wondering why they stopped mentioning Digger?  Why, after all that effort, would they be mum!

Maybe because the name Digger, as cute as it might seem, isn't the first time something animated has been named Digger.

I hate to say it, but Digger is the name for the Lamisil medication.  Digger is the animation used to represent toe-nail fungus.  Ug.

So maybe fox caught that and backed off a bit.  But with that said, I still love the camera angles the in-ground camera provides!  It's a unique and rare perspective. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

NASCAR Nationwide Report on Danica Patrick & Austin Dillon

Today's NASCAR Nationwide race from Phoenix saw some hi's and lows for some drivers, as is always the case.

Elliott Sadler won the race and a race win has been a long time coming for Elliot.

Austin Dillon managed a 4th place win, while Danica Patrick was a few laps short, coming in 21st.

The emotional mishap of the day was watching Kenny Wallace blow a tire and calling it a day, despite being competitive.

Kenny is on borrowed time with just a few races left of his sponsorship coverage.  After that, the team has to hang its hat unless they find some fundage and fast!  (Anyone have around $100k per race laying around?)

Elliott Sadler was the top finishing NNS driver driving for this series points, and Brad Keselowski was the highest finishing, non-points driver, coming in second.

[nationwide results unofficial]-Bruce

Will Kenny Wallace Lose His NASCAR Nationwide Ride?

Did you know that if Kenny Wallace can't get any additional sponsor dollars after the fifth race of the NASCAR Nationwide Series 2012 season, he may be out of a ride?

It's sad to ponder that, but that's what is being reported over on Dave Moody's Soapbox article.

Right now, Kenny has sponsor money for the first five races of the season from American Ethanol and Family Farmers sponsors on his RAB Racing NNS entry.

If they get no money beyond the fifth race, team owner indicated he would be selling the ride.

Kenny Wallace said that sponsoring him costs $100k a race and you can use his likeness for a year, in any way you want, if you bring the sponsor bucks for a single race.

Sounds like a good deal, if you can afford the costs of a single-race sponsorship.  And sounds cool...  I'd love to see my logo on his hood!  LOL...  I gotta go play the lottery...  I'm sure my wife will understand that if we come into a huge monetary windfall, that I'll be spending it in a mere 7-day time period.

-Bruce Simmons