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Monday, December 21, 2009

Bring Back # 3

Bring Back #3

Paul Denton

Monday, December 21, 2009

I do agree with Darrell Waltrip on his article about bringing back the late Dale Earnhardt's number three race car ;But we are on a different page as to why.I didn’t like Earnhardt but I give him ton’s of credit for the records he made in racing.And in that capacity he should be honored.Junior drive the 3 ?Why? Do the fans think there will be a miracle and he’ll turn into his father ,It’s just a car.And Junior is not his dad .Jr is a decent man that is a middle of the pack driver and there is no shame in that. Not everyone can be a Petty ,Johnson Or Earnhardt `[except in name.] I say put the car up for grabs ,which by the rule book Nascar should have already done and stop Worshiping the car The Man drove .Let Junior live his life and the fans give him some room to enjoy his life where as it looks he hasn’t been of late.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Actually, Danica Might Do Better Than Most People Think

We all know Danica Patrick brings attention to herself. Whether it be good or bad, she will be under the microscope, with a high profile personality behind the wheel, and a high profile personality for the owner. However, some people are already spectacle of her and she hasn't even turned a lap in an actual race.

Here's the thing, she might surprise us all. Now I'm not saying she will win the first race of her Nationwide career(at whatever track that may be)but she can certainly start out strong.

So far, things seem optamistic.

“The car moves around quite a bit,” Patrick said. “The car was definitely getting some action in the rear over the bumps. It was getting a little bit loose. But I kept my foot in it, and I tried not to chase it too much with the steering.

“I didn’t want to have an accident. But I felt all right. It was fun. I trusted the car. I trusted the preparation of it. I trust [crew chief] Tony [Eury Jr.] putting a setup on there that is not going to do anything horrendous. It didn’t. It was fine. But it definitely is a lot more movement than I am used to in the corners. I’ll have to get used to that.”

It's going to be a challange, but these last few days have made me convinced, that things will work out very well. Danica, and all the people surronding her, have noted the hard work and talent that has been showed from her. She impressed Tony Eury Jr. at a test at Walt Disney Speedway, and although it was a rain shortened test in th ARCA test, she still ranked 12th on the speed charts.

So overall, watch out for Danica. She may not be perfect, but she won't completely fail. She's going to surprise some folks, and she's going to have a good time doing it. Mark it, this is my prediction, and I have a pretty good feeling that I am going to be right. Then we'll see what people say about her.

Friday, December 11, 2009

2009 full of surprises

The season that was NASCAR 2009 wasn’t only a historic one, it also provided a lot of surprises -- both good and bad.

While Jimmie Johnson winning a Sprint Cup title is no surprise, he did claim a fourth-straight in 2009, something that has never been done.

While Johnson as Sprint Cup champion lost its shock value years ago, there were some surprises from the Hendrick Motorsports camp.

For one, the resurgence of veteran driver Mark Martin. It’s no secret that Mark Martin can drive a race car, but 2009 was his first full-time season in a few years, and he was racing with a new team, making the move the HMS from DEI following the 2008 campaign.

A new home and a little rust didn’t slow Martin down. As a matter-of-fact, they may have sped him up.

Not only did Martin claim his first Cup win since 2006, he went on to make four additional visits to victory lane. His five-win total was second only to Johnson, the only driver to finish ahead of him in the championship points standings. Martin also won the most poles in 2009 with seven.

Also history making, thus at least somewhat surprising, was Hendrick’s dominance of the championship hunt. Hendrick drivers claimed the first three positions in the points standings, with Jeff Gordon finished third behind Johnson and Martin, marking the first time and single owner has placed cars in the first three spots.

While three out of the four HMS cars thrived, one, surprisingly, struggled.

As he watched his teammates succeed, Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggled miserably.

After two Nationwide Series (then-Busch Series) championship seasons and a Cup stint for the family owned DEI that produced several wins, Earnhardt Jr. found himself at Hendrick Motorsports at the start of the 2008 season.

His tenure with HMS got off to a good start with Earnhardt Jr. winning the Budweiser Shootout and his Daytona 500 qualifying in his first two runs with HMS.

At least he did get a points win and made the Chase with HMS a year ago.

In 2009, though, Earnhardt Jr. endured a separation from long-time crew chief and cousin Tony Eury Jr. in a season that produced no wins, only two top-fives, and five top-10s through 36 races.

To add insult to injury, Earnhardt Jr. wound up in 25th spot on the season.
Also suffering in 2009 was Richard Childress Racing.

RCR expanded to four teams for the 2009 campaign, up from three.

Despite the extra car, RCR failed to make it to a Sprint Cup victory lane in 2009 and had no representation in the Chase for the first time since the Chase’s inception.

Roush Fenway Racing also had a difficult 2009. Things looked good to start off the season, as Matt Kenseth won two-straight to open the year, including Kenseth and Roush’s first Daytona 500 victory.

That was the end of the celebrating for Kenseth in 2009, though. Those two races were his only two of the year, and he failed to make the Chase for the first time in his career.

Things were a little better for the Roush Fenway organization as a whole, but not much.
After Kenseth’s wins in the first two races of the year, it looked as if Roush would be shut out of victory lane. Another of the team’s drivers, Jamie McMurray, did pull out a win at Talladega Superspeedway in the fall, to finally give the five-car team it’s third and last win of the season.

Fellow-Roush Fenway driver Carl Edwards was one of the other three Roush drivers who didn’t make a trip to victory lane in 2009 -- and that follows a 2008 season during which Edwards was the series’ win leader with nine.

Unlike Kenseth, though, Edwards did manage to make it into the Chase, along with fellow Roush Fenway 2009 winless driver Greg Biffle.

While a few teams were probably glad to see the 2009 season draw to a close, at least a few others had reason to celebrate.

While it’s not necessarily a surprise to see Kasey Kahne in victory lane, it had been awhile since fans have seen Richard Petty’s trademark cowboy hat there.

With Petty Enterprises’ merger with the former Evernham Motorsports prior to the start of 2009, Kahne became a Richard Petty Motorsports driver.

With his first-career road course win, Kahne was able to bring the King to his first victory lane since 1999. Kahne would go on to bring Petty to victory lane a second time before the end of 2009.

Also relishing in the success of 2009 was the newly-formed Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, especially with the success of its Colombian import -- Juan Pablo Montoya.

In only his third full-time season of competition, Montoya rode a long wave of consistency to the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup to become the first-ever foreign-born Chase driver.

Montoya didn’t post a win in 2009, but he did, by far, put together his most successful season in NASCAR, with seven top-fives and 18 top-10 finishes on his way to an eighth-place finish in the points standings.

The 2009 season was so full of surprises that race fans should have plenty to talk and speculate about in the next two months leading up to the 2010 Daytona 500 coming up on Feb. 14, 2010.

To read more from this author, visit Louisville NASCAR Examiner.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

According to Busch, 2009 title run wasn't easy

On the surface, Kyle Busch's run to the 2009 Nationwide Series championship may have looked easy, but Busch himself admits that staking his claim on the 2009 champion's trophy was no easy task.

"It wasn't a cake walk this year," Busch said at the Camping World Truck Series/Nationwide Series awards banquet in Miami on Monday.

Sure, he accumulated 5682 points over the course of the 35 races that made up the 2009 campaign -- the most ever earned by any driver in the series in a single season. But even on the strength of a season that included nine wins and 11 second-place finishes, the 2009 Nationwide Series title came down to the last race of the season.

"We went all the way to the last race before we won the championship, Busch said. "Just shows you how hard this is."

His road to his first NASCAR title may not have been easy, but Busch made it look like a breeze. Even though the championship outcome wasn't decided until the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway about a week and a half ago, Busch did pretty much have his title in the bag prior to the season finale. After all, all he had to do was start the Ford 300 season-closer to stake his claim on the trophy.

"Carl (Edwards) and Brad (Keselowski) both kept it really close," Busch said.

Maybe that depends on a person's perspective. The 2009 Nationwide Series title may have come down to the final event of the year, but Busch ended up claiming his title with a cushion of more than a race worth of points over second-place Edwards.

Busch's season was so dominant that Keselowski's performance that would have been title-worth in past seasons -- with four wins, 22 top-fives, and 28 top-10s -- was only good enough for third.

According to Keselowski, the 2009 season he turned in would have produced a series title in six of the last seven seasons.

Whether or not Busch's title was an easy one to obtain, the 2009 champion contends that he doesn't have plans to defend his title in 2010. His story now is that he's going to scale back his Nationwide schedule to only companion events to focus more on his Sprint Cup Series efforts.

Whether Busch sticks to that plan remains to be seen, but the 2010 Nationwide Series points race may come down once again to a pair of Sprint Cup regulars. But instead of the two drivers being Busch and Edwards, it'll be Edwards and Keselowski. All indications point to Edwards once again competing in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series full-time next season, and Keselowski will continue to race in the Nationwide Series full-time in addition to becoming a full-time Sprint Cup Series driver for Penske Racing.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Season In Review: Attendance

Thanks to Jayski.com, I was able to shed some light upon a very common issue in the 2009 Sprint Cup season. This re-occurring problem is attendance.

Everyone seems to make a big deal if the races aren't sold out or not close to it. But, here's the thing, even in tough times, the attendance is not that bad. The first thing that people must consider, is the track size. If it is remembered that there are big tracks, with grandstands all around, it can be tough to fill all seats, especially when there are 100,000 to fill.

Another thing to remember, the attendance is still very large when it is not full to the max. Take the first Dover race for example. There were 147,000 available seats to be filled, however they did not sell out. In fact they had around 32 % of the seating empty. Yet, they still had 100,000 fans packed in at the track. That's more than most stadiums could ever fill.

Don't forget the infield either. In some cases this year, the attendance was higher than the seating, most likely because of the infield capacity. In the first Texas race, there were 176,300 people there, but the seating capacity was 158,000. That's pretty good.

Here's another booster. At the rain delay for the Watkins Glen race in August, the estimated crowd for Monday was only off 5,000 people from Sunday's race. It seems like a lot, but it really isn't. I was attending that race(even on Monday) and I was very impressed in the amount of people at the track. It wasn't even that noticeable.

My point here is this: there is not that big of a problem with NASCAR's attendance. Certainly, it is not exactly what it used to be, but it is still doing pretty good. Don't forget, NASCAR isn't the only thing struggling out there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Can anyone stop HMS?

NASCAR has pretty much always had both haves and have-nots among its roster of competitors, but increasingly, Hendrick Motorsports seems to be becoming the one have heads and shoulders over the have-nots

Other traditional haves in the sport, like Roush Fenway Racing and especially Richard Childress Racing seem to have fallen off their thrones at least somewhat in 2009. Roush Fenway does have three wins across its five Sprint Cup Series entries, but two of those were Matt Kenseth's two victories in the first two races of the season. Roush hasn't really been heard of since, except for one win courtesy of Jamie McMurray a few weeks ago. And this is with last season's win leader on the Roush-Fenway roster -- Carl Edwards who visited victory lane nine times a year ago.

The five-car organization only has two cars in the Chase, and one of the three Roush drivers on the outside looking in is Matt Kenseth -- a driver who had been in the Chase every year since its inception until 2009.

Things over at RCR have been even more dismal. The four-car organization hasn't visited a Sprint Cup victory lane a single time this season, and the team was completely shut out of the Chase field in 2009 for the first time since the Chase was created.

Joe Gibbs Racing, on the other hand, does seem to be weathering the storm. All three of its drivers have visited Sprint Cup victory lane at least once this season, and a couple of its drivers have multiple wins -- Kyle Busch with five and Denny Hamlin with three. A third of the JGR organization is in the Chase (Hamlin), and one of its other two drivers (Busch) just barely missed out.

Even with Gibbs' success, the team doesn't seem to have anything to stop the Hendrick Motorsports juggernaut. Not only are three of the team's cars in the Chase, they hold the top-three positions in the points standings heading into the final race of the season -- Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Only HMS drivers have a mathematical shot at the Sprint Cup trophy on Sunday -- leader Jimmie Johnson, second-place Mark Martin, and third-place Jeff Gordon. Gordon, however, will be eliminated from contention when Johnson starts the race on Sunday, leaving the other two HMS Chase drivers to battle it out for the champion's trophy.

"I think that having the two teams battling for the championship and then with the 24 car (Gordon) right there on our heels, I think it's raised the production of the whole company up a bunch," Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus said. "So we're real happy with that."

While it looks like Johnson pretty much has the 2009 title in the bag, whether or not Martin is able to overcome the odds to claim his first Cup, the 2009 title will go to Hendrick Motorsports for the fourth-consecutive year (Johnson has won the previous three, and his going for a record-breaking fourth-straight).

This year team owner Rick Hendrick will claim his fifth Sprint Cup this decade (Gordon won his fourth title in 2001).

Do the folks at Hendrick Motorsports know something nobody at any of the other teams does? Do they have that many more resources than everybody else? Is the tandem of driver Johnson and crew chief Knaus really that better than everyone else?

"We've had a really good season, obviously," Knaus said. "I think that with Alan and Mark running as competitive as they have this year, very similar to when the 24 car was running as well as what they were a couple years ago, having that internal competition I think has really helped our team and helped our company, actually, to rise to a better level."

To read more from this author, visit Louisville NASCAR Examiner

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hey! We Might Have A Rivalry

After the Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, we might just have a rivalry. Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski have been know for their love-to-hate relationship. It has gone on now for about one and a half years. The story even continued into the race on Saturday.

Denny Hamlin gave Brad Keselowski a little love tap on a restart, which was soon transformed into Denny's problem more than Brad's. The very next corner, Brad gave him a "what the heck!" tap, and then another one, the second one resulting into a little spin and scare for Hamlin.

Now it makes the media along with the fans wonder, is this finally the rivalry that NASCAR needs? The answer is yes.

Over the past few years, everybody seems to be making something of nothing. People keep trying to make something into a rivalry that doesn't exist. An example could be Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kyle Busch, or Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, but none have seem to have had any flair. This time however, it is a little different.

The real major difference is that it has happened several times. They have gotten together on or off the track for several reasons as of late, which makes remids many fans of a rivalry. They also make it clear in all their interviews by saying how much they dislike each other, especially Denny Hamlin. They don't seem to want to call each other up and apologize to each other and then go out for some tea. They actually seem to keep the rivalry going, instead of making everyone excited just to be disappointed.

And it's not just Denny Hamlin who is upset with Keselowski. It seems to be Kyle Busch, along with many others who have noted Brad's aggressive driving. Even Kyle Busch's Nationwide Series crew chief had mentioned something about Keselowski in an in race interview. Sounds like a lot of attention has been put on this.

Now for some reason, drivers seem to be afraid of this. They don't like it at all. However, they need to get over it. This is exactly what NASCAR needs. It's time for some beating and banging, it's time for some good old racin'.

I applaud NASCAR for keeping Brad from any penalties. Maybe NASCAR has realized that the fans want this, well at least most of them. Obviously Denny Hamlin fans are not happy, but hey that's what a rivalry is about. If the fans get fired up and excited and into it, it's even better.

Now, let's look into the future. Will this continue? Will there be more rubbin and racing between the two of them? The answer seems to be yes. The two drivers never seem to get over their problems. And don't forget, they'll be racing a lot more now that Keselowski will move to the Cup series and Nationwide series full time in 2010. Now that's adding more fuel to the fire. Now, one last tip to NASCAR: Let em' race!!

So, you think the Chase is over?

By Paul Denton

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So, you think the Chase is over? Not yet

Jimmie Johnson's 38th-place finish at Texas was a godsend for Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon. That 184-point lead that the No. 48 rolled into the Lone Star State is now a mere 73 points (or one more wrecked race car during the final two races).
There's still hope ... for Martin's first Cup Series championship.
There's still hope ... that Gordon's Drive for Five -- now in its eighth year -- will come to an end.
Technically, to clinch at Phoenix, Johnson needs to:
• Lead by 195 points after the race.
Currently up 73 points, he'll need to gain 122 points at Phoenix. (Realistically, he only needs to lead by 161; he'll start the race and earn at least 43rd-place points.)
To clinch at Homestead, Johnson needs to:
• Average a fourth-place finish over the final two races;
• Fifth and a lap led in each of the final two races;
• Sixth and the most laps led in each of the final two races.
If he does that, he'll clinch no matter what any other driver does.

How Is The New Points System More Boring Than The Old One?

Okay, first of all, I just don't get it. I hear people complain all the time that the old points system is better than the new system. I just don't understand what stats those people are looking at.

If you do look at the stats, if the points were still the "old-fashioned way" Tony Stewart would be leading the points. Now I'm not saying anything against Stewart, what I'm trying to point out is the points lead. It would be 93 points over 2nd place. As I recall, the points lead is currently less than that right not.

The Chase was made to bunch things up and make it exciting, not lock the championship up 5 races sooner than it's supposed to be. Now, I'm not totally going to agree with every little detail of the Chase, because I believe there needs to be some tweaks. The thing that is just impossible to understand is how the heck can people say it's worse than the old system.

At some point people have got to give NASCAR some sort of credit. They are trying to make it exciting in some way, but yet the people are still not satisfied. Some people are never happy with NASCAR anymore but yet comtinue to watch it. The sport needs positive engergy from both the fans and the media. As of late, there is way too much negative energy.

So a little advice to people: Give it some time to be better. Let change be a good thing because either way, it will happen.

DO NOT Count Out Mark Martin Just Yet

Jimmie Johnson has lost his points lead drastically. Well, at least most of it. But he still has a well-cushioned lead of 73 points over Mark Martin with 2 races left in the 2009 season. The thing is, people still seem to think it is over but, it's not. However, it very well might be, and I even think it might be. But do not ever count out anybody in this sport, especially if it's Mark Martin.

Mark is very hungry for that first championship. Jimmie Johnson is also very hungry, although you would think that he would be full. Mark Martin even knows he still has a chance. In fact, he probably is the only one with the chance to beat Jimmie Johnson this year.

The only way Jimmie is to lose this one, is if he messes up. He already had one bad race, now the pressure is on. The pressure might just get to that team, even though they handle it well all the time. This pressure, is quite different, as there is probably no pressure like going into the history books. Mark Martin, he doesn't care about pressure, he just wants to go out and win it. He knows he is the underdog in the battle, so there is no need for pressure. Now if it tightens up even more going into Homestead, then the pressures on. At that point, it is just who handles it the best.

The championship will be going until the end or as some people might say, until the fat lay sings. And she will, don't you worry. She will not sing at Phoenix however.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Race Preview: Phoenix

Chase race number 9. It's almost over, but not exactly. The points lead shrank in half this past weekend at Texas, and Mark Martin is there to take it over. But who should everyone look out for this weekend? Well, let's take a look:

* Kurt Busch- He's got a crew chief that is going to be leaving at the end of the year. He wants to win as much as he can before they part ways. This also might be the last race for him and Pat Tryson. It was said that he would leave when they did not have a shot at the championship, and that could be after this race. He also just won at Texas. Now that makes it a little easier to feel happy and confident.

* Kyle Busch- He dominated the race last weekend along with his brother, and if he didn't run out of gas, he would have won. He also has a new crew chief. As they communicate more and more, it might just get even better, and besides, you can never under-estimate Kyle Busch.

* Mark Martin- How could you not include this guy as a favorite?! He won here in the spring, and he's always hungry for more wins! Plus, he's hungry to win that championship. He's hunting down Jimmie Johnson and is making up points. All he can do is win, and we know he can do that.

* Jimmie Johnson- He always runs well everywhere, duh!(well, unless he wrecks)

* Dale Earnhardt Jr- He's won here before, and he seems to be really clicking with Lance McGrew. Hope is back with that team, they just have to get rid of the bad luck. You might not want to look for a win, but a good run is very likely.

* Kevin Harvick- He always seems to do well at the short tracks, and the team really seems to be turning it around for next year. So what if he's not at RCR in 2011?

Maybe one of these guys will win, and maybe not. NASCAR is still very competitive, so know one can really know for sure. 34 down, 2 to go!

This Championship Might Not Be Over

Everyone has to rewrite their last few articles about the championship. Because things have changed drastically. At least according to Carl Edwards who mentioned something along the lines of that on the radio.

And he might be right. The championship is as close as it might ever be if your racing against Jimmie Johnson. The points might also change completely. 73 points can seem like a lot, but it really isn't. One bad race for the 48, one very good race for the 5, and they'll at least have to put on a show to decide the champion. And it IS possible for Jimmie to have a bad run. It just happened last week, even though I had to rub my eyes to make sure that I was seeing the write thing.

It's not over yet, and will not likely be over until the final race at Homestead. No matter what the points lead is, there will be a pretty good chance that it won't be locked up this weekend.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Where have all the Dodges gone?

It seems like just a few years ago when Dodge had a significant amount of representation in the Sprint Cup garage as far as numbers go. There was Chip Ganassi Racing, Evernharm Motorsports, Penske Racing, and Petty Enterprises to name a few.

With team mergers, Dodge seems to be the manufacturer that has fallen by the wayside. Evernham and Petty merged awhile back, making two Dodge teams one. Then the resulting team, Richard Petty Motorsports, announced a merger with Yates Racing, resulting in a switch to Ford.

Before the Petty-Yates merger, the Ganassi organization merged with Dale Earnhardt Inc. to form Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. With the former DEI fielding Chevrolets and CGR running Dodges, a common manufacturer had to be decided on upon the merger. The new team went to Chevrolet, meaning another decrease in Dodges on the racetrack.

As on now, it looks as if Penske Racing will be the only Sprint Cup Series team that will be putting Dodges on the track in 2010. Penske's three cars to be driven by Kurt Busch, Sam Hornish Jr., and Brad Keselowski appear to be the only ones that will be "grabbing life by the horns" when the green flag waves on the 2010 Sprint Cup season.

Pontiac pulled out of the sport several years ago by manufacturer's choice, General Motors making the move to focus on a single manufacturer -- Chevrolet. Is Dodge following by the wayside, because teams just don't want a Dodge anymore?

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Finally, The 88 Team Knows What's Next

Whether or not you agree with the decision to have Lance McGrew back with Dale Earnhardt Jr in 2010, one things for sure- you at least know what is happening.

The past few weeks, uncertainty hit the team, and it showed. Dale Junior made comments almost as if it were a cry for help. It all seemed to be improvement, but then it took a step back. Junior made it clear of all his frustration and even Rick said he was frustrated, but he kept hinting back to the fact that it as all bad luck.

Week after week, fans were waiting. Rumors kept circulating the team about possible crew chiefs, and the more the team waited, the more that it seemed to be Lance's opening. And it was.

Ever since taking over the job in May, they have gotten faster, but have been unable to close the deal. There have been new cars, new forms of communication, and it has all been paying off. They just have to get the last 100 miles together.

Now, they have all the rumors behind them. They know exactly who their "dictator" will be. They just have to tie it all together and focus on the future. And besides, this week is Talladega, and it would be a prefect spot to start the turn around.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Busch's Crew Chief Change A Surprise

We all knew Kyle Busch has had a bad year--if you call winning four races bad. However, he did miss the chase, which was surprising compared to last year, where he was the top seed going in.

A few days ago, following the race at Martinsville, something happened that was really never thought of, or rumored: Kyle Busch would get a crew chief change, as Steve Addington would leave after the Talladega race, and Dave Rogers would take over, as the team hopes it will turn the performance around.

Dave Rogers is a great crew chief, we all should know that. If you pay attention to the Nationwide races, you'll know that he is the crew chief of the 20 car, a car that has beaten Kyle Busch on several occasions. However, Steve Addington is also a good crew chief. After all, they have won around ten races since Kyle went to JGR. It was quite a surprise to me, as well as others, when there was even such a rumor following the race on Sunday. But to even have it happen, told me something. That team has high, I mean really high expectations. We all know Kyle does, but I don't think much of it was his decision. Even running better than average, they still aren't satisfied.

I think it is great that they are wanting to win badly, but I don't think they are going about it right. Busch and Addington have done very well together, and have won many races, but I just don't see how dropping the performance that fast can even be blamed on one man.

They just had a bad year, and a team can't have that great of performance for too long(maybe if your Jimmie Johnson). That's the nature of this sport. The team hit the panic button when it wasn't needed. They just finished 5th at Martinsville! How is that bad? I just don't quite understand it.

I guess if they were going to make a change, now would be a good time to do it. They have nothing to lose this year, it's just that they will have a lot more to lose next year if they make the wrong decision. I may be wrong, and it won't be the first time, we just have to sit back and watch, as we always do.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Too many drivers, not enough cars

With mergers over the last couple of season and teams scaling back for economic reasons or to comply with the NASCAR team limit rule, there may actually be more drivers with Sprint Cup racing experience looking for rides than actual rides available for 2010.

Among the drivers looking for rides for 2010 are:

Bobby Labonte and Reed Sorenson will both seem to be losing their 2009 rides due to the Richard Petty Motorsports/Yates Racing merger. With the two organizations coming together to form one next season, they must scale back to a combined four cars. The newly formed team plans to hold on to existin RPM drivers Elliott Sadler, Kasey Kahne, and AJ Allmendinger -- leaving Sorenson withouth a ride for next year.

Sorenson does have a part-time Nationwide Series deal with Braun Racing for next season, but no word on a Sprint Cup opportunity for 2010.

Paul Menard, a current Yates driver, will also be part of the newly formed team. However, his teammate Labonte is the odd man out.

Jamie McMurray is forced to seek a seat elsewhere, as 2009 was the last season Roush Fenway Racing was given to field five cars before having to scale back to the four-car cap NASCAR implemented a few years ago.

David Stremme
's current ride, the No. 12 car at Penske Racing isn't going away, but Stremme won't be in it next year. After one year back in the Sprint Cup Series after a one year stint back in the Nationwide Series, Stremme will lose is ride to Brad Keselowski in 2010.

Casey Mears hasn't lost his ride in the No. 07 at Richard Childress Racing as of now, but it is in jeapordy. Childress doesn't yet have a sponsor for the No. 07 for next season, and according to team owner Richard Childress, if one isn't found by the close of this season, he may have to go back to being a three-car operation for 2010.

The only ride that looks to be up for grabs is the No. 1 car at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. Martin Truex Jr., the current driver of the No. 1 car, announced awhile back that he would be leaving the organization to pilot a car for Michaeal Waltrip racing, as team owner Michael Waltrip scales back to a part-time schedule.

There's no official word yet on which of these drivers, or another driver from perhaps the Nationwide Series, for that matter, will get the only ride that seems to be available, but rumors have McMurray as the leading candidate.

One coincidence of note -- three of the four drivers mentioned above who are looking for rides, or four of the five if you already count Mears as losing his ride, are former Ganassi Racing drivers. Of the drivers looking or possibly looking for teams for 2010, Labonte is the only one who hasn't driven a car for Chip Ganassi. The rest of them got their first Sprint Cup Series rides from Ganassi.

Whether it's McMurray or someone else, it looks as if someone will return to where it all started.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Well, Tony Eury Sr Will Definitely Not Be Junior's Crew Chief

In the past few weeks, speculation has circulated around the number 88 team about who may be the crew chief for the 2010 season. From what almost seemed like a cry for help from Dale Earnhardt Jr, Tony Eury Sr seemed to be a candidate for the job. Of course, that was very unlikely, and Lance McGrew would have to leave from the position first, which almost seems will not happen anytime soon from Rick Hendrick's recent comments. However, we finally know one thing for sure. Tony Eury Sr talked about his plans for the 2010 season for JR Motorsports, a team co-owned by Dale Jr and Rick Hendrick.

Eury said that he is not exactly sure what the team has in store for next year, however the 88 Nationwide team will be running full time with Brad Keselowski's replacement, Kelly Bires. He said that he plans to return as the crew chief of that car, as is he with Keselowski. He said he is almost 100 percent sure, but things might change.

This is great for JR Motorsports, and all the Kelly Bires fans. However, it may not seem all that bright of news to people who were eager of the possibilities that Tony Eury Sr would return in the cup series helping Junior, even though it was very unlikely, even said by Junior himself.

So mark him off the list. The search however, continues. There have been other crazy ideas thrown out there lately of who would make a good fit. We will have to keep waiting, until Rick Hendrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr find that true "dictator."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Was The Last Lap Uncalled For?

On the last lap of the Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, a car stopped on the track on the front straight-away. Yet, NASCAR did not throw a caution until the cars were racing past that stopped car.

The question is was that uncalled for? Was that too dangerous? Should NASCAR have thrown the yellow sooner?

Well, in my opinion, there should have been a caution thrown a little bit earlier, but I have to give NASCAR credit for letting the teams race that extra bit. As I was watching the last lap, I did not see the cars slow down at all until the start finish line, regardless of the caution being out. Even so, the caution didn't wave until at least after the the leaders exited turn four. I think, that the caution should have been thrown as late as possible, but yet able to have enough time to slow down before the start finish line, around where the car was.

I see this as a more bigger problem than the race at New Hampshire, where I felt people complained about a dangerous situation that didn't really exist for no reason. This race was cutting it close, and I feel that the timing could have been a little bit better.

You also have to remember that NASCAR has to make a call in less than a slit second, and it can be hard to make the right one. I give NASCAR credit, however I feel like the time needs to be better when these scenarios occur. This way, safety is better and better in the final laps.

If Johnson Does Well At Talladega, It's Over

Trust me, I DO NOT want to be the negative guy who says the Chase is over before it actually is. And believe me, I usually do hate it when they say it is over. But come on people. It looks to be over. But wait! Don't stop reading now, there is still one thing that needs to be done before we can actually make these assumptions, and that is racing at Talladega.

Yep, you heard me, the scary word--Talladega. If Talladega can't make the Chase more exciting, no other track can. It's gonna take two things: bad luck for Jimmie Johnson, and good luck for the other competitors.

After Martinsville, the three time champ has now opened up a 118 point lead over second place, who just happens to be Jimmie's teammate, Mark Martin. Now, it is still mathematically possible, but not probable. In fact, it is the biggest Chase lead so far. Just two weeks ago, it was the closes, but give Jimmie time, and he will pull the lead more and more.

Now this is why I like Talladega. It is a great place in the Chase, at least in my opinion. It is only four races away from the final race of the season, which can either make for more excitement, or can help with the lack of excitement and provide hope for the fans.

However, is it possible for the 48 team to have bad luck? They just never seem to. If you have ever heard the expression, "Better to be lucky than good," then you know it pretty much describes Jimmie Johnson. The thing is, he is both lucky and good. And for the most part, you need luck to win at Talladega, and you need to know what the heck your doing first of all, but we all know the 48 team does.

So, what if Johnson "escapes" from bad luck? Then, it's over. And you know it. The 48 team has been very successful in the final tracks of the chase, it's obvious because of the past three championships. So, if your anti-Jimmie Johnson, you just have to cross your fingers, because it will be tough for anyone to beat him.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Childress looks to solutions

Richard Childress Racing has been considered one of the top-tier teams in Sprint Cup Racing for several years, going back to the mid-eighties when its driver Dale Earnhardt won six of his seven Cup titles in a span of only nine years. The RCR team, however, is experiencing one of its worst seasons in recent memory in 2009, especially in the Sprint Cup Series.

RCR’s Nationwide Series program isn’t experiencing the level of success this year that it has in recent years, but the organization has scaled back in that series, usually only running one car (as opposed to two in previous years) and having no full-time Nationwide Series drivers in its stable. Even so, RCR does have two Nationwide wins so far this season.

On the other hand, RCR has four full-time teams in Sprint Cup competition after adding the No. 33 car for the 2009 campaign. So far, the team seems to have faltered, either because of despite the addition of a fourth team.

Not only does Richard Childress Racing have no representation whatsoever in the Chase for the first time since the Chase’s inception, but none of the four teams have been able to manage a win through 31 races in 2009.

All four teams combined only have nine top-five finishes -- four from Clint Bowyer, three from Kevin Harvick, two from Jeff Burton, and none from Casey Mears.

In the final races leading up to the Chase cutoff, Bowyer looked to be RCR’s only hope of getting a car into the Chase. He fell short, though, and now sits 15th in the points standings, highest of any RCR driver.

Mears and Burton are barely in the top-20 right now, with Mears in 18th and Burton in 19th. Harvick isn’t even in the top-20, as he currently holds down the 21st position.

Harvick’s frustration with the team’s performance this season has been so intense that the rumor mill not so long ago had Harvick trying to get out of his contract (that runs through the 2010 season) a year early to search for greener pastures. Whether he was unable to get out of his contract, he had a change of heart, the rumors were blown out of proportion, or a little of each, Harvick is now saying that he’s committed to driving for RCR next season. But at the same time, he often doesn’t seem to be excited about it.

As team owner Richard Childress has done several times in the past, he’s shaking up his personnel, hoping to find some combination, or at least one combination that clicks. He’s not waiting until the end of the season to do it either.

I said previously that RCR would continue to adjust our team lineups in order to have the right personnel in place and this is the next step in that process,” Childress said.

After Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway, Todd Berrier will take over as crew chief on Burton’s No. 31 team. Doug Randolph will then take over for Berrier as crew chief of the No. 07 driven by Mears. Randolph makes the move from the organization’s No. 29 Nationwide Series car driven by Burton, Bowyer, and Stephen Leicht. Dan Deeringhoff will assume crew chiefing duties for that car.Scott Miller, who has been the crew chief of Burton’s No. 31 since 2005, will become the full-time director of competition for RCR. He was named to that position in September, but has only been in that capacity part-time, while also continuing his crew chief duties.

“Todd, Doug, and Dan are all proven winners, so the goal of these moves is to put them in the best situations to continue that success,” Childress said.

There will also be minimal changes changes made within the crews of the No. 07 and No. 31 teams.So many changes made all at once may set the RCR teams back just a little before they can move forward, as the new driver-crew chief pairings get used to each other, but at this point, the 2009 season is already in the toilet, and RCR may as well go ahead and get started on preparations for 2010.

“I’m confident that making these changes now will be a benefit to the teams for the rest of this season as well as in preparing for 2010,” Childress said.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Chase WAS Close

Going into the 5th race of the 2009 Chase, things were looking good. Meaning that Jimmie Johnson will not win another championship, and if he did, it would be close. It seemed to be looking like a good race to the championship unlike years in the past. However, that little fantasy ended right after it started.

Let's fast foward through the Lowe's Motor Speedway race. Now Jimmie Johnson is 90 points ahead of second place Mark Martin, and it is beginning to look like it is not going to close up by much.

Could the Chase be over? It looked like it would be close, but if you look at the past, Jimmie Johnson never makes any bad mistakes. In fact, he just keeps winning, and winning, and winning. Now, it looks like he will get four in a row.

The 48 team is amazing. They have the "magic" that nobody else has. They don't make any mistakes, and they just keep performing. But the thing is, they don't have any bad luck. They have amazing luck. Everything seems to fall the way Chad Knaus wants it to.

So, will anyone catch him? The answer: no. No way. Maybe next year, but I just don't see it happening. You can't finish in the top 5 every week and win the championship. You have to win. And when I say win, I mean win more than Jimmie Johnson. That is tough to do.

The thing is, I think this is good for our sport. Over the years, teams have seemed to have lost their winning desire. If Jimmie Johnson continues to dominate, it will force others to step up their game, work harder, and make the sport more exciting. In a few years, there will be more exciting finishes for the championship more often.

Crew Chief For Next Year All Hendrick's Call

Well, it's official. Dale Earnhardt Jr has no luck at all. One race after another, regardless of the performance of the team, they just can't seal the deal. It's for more than just one reason too. Wrecks, pit road issues, engines, transmissions, and anything else possible has seemed to put the 88 team down. So much, that it is almost like Dale Jr is crying for help.
He didn't seem to sure of what he wants for next year, he just seems like he wants something to happen now. So exactly what is that something? Well, I for one, have no idea, but it doesn't matter. Neither does Junior's ideas. According to the most popular driver, it's all up to the boss--Rick Hendrick.
He's right too. If Dale Earnhardt Jr had his way, Tony Jr would be on the pit box, and things would be different, maybe for the good or for the bad. Rick is in charge, and he has had experience doing these things before, and he's probably the best man in NASCAR that puts the right people together.
Maybe it has nothing to do with people. Maybe it is just confidence. Being in the so called "best cars in NASCAR" and not winning can take some of that away from you. At this point, nobody knows anymore what the deal is. As a fan, it is frustrating, but it is just time to say, "It's Rick's call." Nobody seems to know the answers, so I guess it is up to Rick Hendrick, like it should be.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So What If It Was An Unnecessary Caution For Debris?

Less than 20 laps to go!! The drivers are anticipating the checkered flag in just several minutes. They try to get what they can, every spot they can catch, and they begin to realize that there is not much more they can do, time is running out. Some are happy with what will most likely be their finishing position, some are not. NASCAR begins to worry, there isn't going to be a good finish, Oh No! We have to do something! Quick, put the yellow out! That's what happened Sunday at Auto Club Speedway--well, at least according to Kasey Kahne.

"It's disappointing that we had a bad race because of a caution to put a show on for the fans. That's a good part of the sport - we have to keep the fans excited - but sometimes it ruins people's days," said Kahne.

Kahne however, was not the only one. There was at least another driver, that made it very clear on the radio. Around one lap before the "mystery" caution, Dale Earnhardt Jr came on his radio and told his team something very interesting. He told his team that they better figure out a plan, because there will be a caution soon to bunch things up. And about 25 seconds later, "caution's out." Junior also showed his displeasure after the caution, but I'm not going to repeat anything he said. One reason is I don't remember it all, the other....let's keep this a family friendly website.

So, are they right? Well, maybe, maybe not. There was debris, but was it a harm to the fans or the competitors? I guess we'll save that for another rainy day, but what if? Yes, let's play the famous "what-if?' game.

What if NASCAR did throw the caution and it was unnecessary? I'm not saying there wasn't debris, I'm just saying if it was thrown unnecessarily, that it was not a problem. Is it good for our sport? Would it really make things more exciting? I guess I can't answer that for you, but if you like wrecks, maybe that was a good choice in your opinion. But, shouldn't NASCAR be more careful with debris cautions? After all, they can't keep the track completely clean. I'm my opinion, if the sport is struggling so much that they have to have cautions at the end where they may not be needed, then it's not good. If this is all true, NASCAR should find another way to make it exciting, not by just "rigging" it. Everyone knows drivers have been suggesting ways for a long time to make it exciting, even the fans have. It cost a lot of drivers a good race, and spread the Chase points out even more.

Who knows, maybe it didn't even happen that way at all. The only people that know, are NASCAR, and they have already voiced their explanation, it's just up to if you believe it or not.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Junior Just Can't Catch A Break

It has been a disappointing season for Dale Earnhardt Jr, NASCAR's most popular driver, and it continues to be that way. It should however, be just a little bit different than it actually is.

It just seems as if it is all just bad luck. If you take a look at the whole season in general, especially after the crew chief change, there aren't a lot of things that Dale Jr himself has caused. He just has bad luck, end of story. For some reason, he just can't catch a break.

It is not Junior nor is it his crew chief. The team has been running so good lately, with the good car at Loudon ending in a wreck(not his fault), and a good run at Kansas leading with a pit road penalty and a blown motor(again, not his fault), and the recent race at Fontana(having a good car and being wrecked, not his fault).

On paper, they're terrible. However, if you take a look at the running positions that the 88 team has been in lately, you'll notice that they aren't that bad. For some reason they just can't get things to work their way. With cautions, motors, bad pit stops, it just doesn't all come together.

They better shake all this bad luck off soon because the season is ending, and the 2010 season will soon begin. And everyone will have the attention on the 88 team yet again.

Fontana Seating Numbers Bad On Saturday, Pretty Good On Sunday

In the past years, the Auto Club Speedway has been very disappointing in the number of fans seated in the grandstands. So much so that NASCAR switched the dates with Atlanta, moving the Labor Day Fontana race into the Chase, moving the Atlanta race out. It was a successful move for Atlanta, which consisted of a very promising crowd, other than what had been seen before.

So, it helped Atlanta. But many people wondered if it would pay off for Auto Club speedway.

On Saturday, for the Nationwide race, it was a very sparse crowd. What made it more upsetting was that it was a fantastic race, one of the best races of the year. Not to mention it tightened the points battle into an almost realistic race.

Sunday however, was different. As I was watching the first few laps on TV, I happened to glance over to the grandstands, and what I found was quite impressive. It was actually almost full. From what it seemed to look like, it was packed from the exit of turn four until the three quarters mark of the straightaway, when you could begin to see seats again, instead of fans.

Not the best, but compared to recent races that have been seen at Auto Club Speedway, it certainly is a good place to start. The good action for both ends of the races will hopefully gather more people to that track.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why Is It Always NASCAR Vs. The NFL?

Why are NASCAR's ratings compared to the NFL's? They are two completely different sports. How can they be compared if they are not at all alike?

For many years now we have been always been trying to beat the NFL in ratings. It is almost like we are trying to make the NFL vanish completely. In fact, there is no reason for a competition because they are two totally different sports. It's like comparing apples to oranges. It just doesn't work.

Especially during the Chase season, when both sports are running, there are comparisons made everywhere, at anytime. The thing is, fans like both sports, and it is almost like we want all the NFL fans to come over to NASCAR. It is possible to like two or more sports.

Maybe the key to being successful is to stop trying to worry about what other sports are doing, stop comparing, and just be our own sport. Because that is the only thing that we can do. If we compare NASCAR to IRL or the Rolex Series that's one thing because they are both motorsports, but comparing NASCAR to the NFL, should not be taken serious.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Why Not Keep Lance McGrew?

Well, we all know the story. So I'm not going to repeat it all. We all know about the crew chief switch for Dale Jr. And if not, get out from under your rock and catch up on your NASCAR reading.
Lets start here--Lance McGrew is currently the crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. And we all know why, but that's not the point. McGrew has taken over the crew chief responsibilities for the number 88 team since May of this year. They just didn't seem to get anywhere since the switch. The thing is, they did get better. They just have the worst luck of anyone, at least it seems like it.
But, as far as we know, Lance McGrew may not be the crew chief for Dale Jr next year. Jr however, has made it very clear that he wants Lance back.
"Well, I just want to make it clear, I guess, that the decision is Rick's (Hendrick) and his management team. I like working with Lance. I get along great with Lance. We have had some great runs and I feel like I can build on that type of success and it happened more often, more consistently with Lance. And I hope that we're successful the rest of the year and that we go into next season with the same group of guys. But the decision isn't mine, and never will be mine. So, I hope that we'll have more success and continue to give Rick and the people that do make those types of decisions good reason to keep us as a team and keep us working together because I really do enjoy working with him. I feel like I'm a different race car driver than I've been over the last several years; just my temperament and my disposition throughout the races and the weekend. I still have to check myself every once in a while; I get a little angry, but just during practice and stuff when something you do to these cars can frustrate you. But for the most part, Lance is really great at controlling the situation and controlling our team and directing our team throughout the weekend and the races themselves. I've enjoyed the experience working with him."
But the thing is, why wouldn't Lance McGrew be back? He has obviously helped the team. If you listen to Junior's radio, you will notice that he has been more calm and more descriptive then he ever has with Tony Eury Jr, Dale Jr's former crew chief who is also his cousin.
If Rick Hendrick did decide to shake things up, he better start now. Why would you change something that took so long and hard to get? If there is a change, it will just put Junior in a worse situation, he will have to learn a new crew chief and build new chemistry. It will make it a slow season again, making Jr Nation say once again, "Maybe next year."
But, like Jr said, it is Rick Hendrick's decision. Because if it wasn't, Tony Jr would still be up there, on top of the pit box.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

McMurray Gets a "Spirited" New Sponsor

As race fans prepare for the excitement of night racing at a track that embodies the history and hometown roots of many of NASCAR’s elite, Jeremiah Weed Southern Style Sweet Tea recently announced that it will be coming along for the ride at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway on October 17 as primary sponsor of the No. 26 Roush Fenway Ford Fusion driven by Jamie McMurray.

In the process, the brand also becomes the first vodka to sponsor a car since NASCAR lifted its ban on spirits sponsors beginning with the 2005 season.

Mr. Jeremiah Weed, legendary patron father of Jeremiah Weed Bourbon Liqueur, first made this announcement from his home in Weed, Kentucky, and declared that it was now, more than ever, the right time to rally behind America’s fastest sport and all of its avid fans.

“Jeremiah Weed was born in the south and to thank some of the brand’s favorite people for embracing the product, we thought Charlotte would be the perfect place to make our NASCAR debut,” said Weed. “We look forward to providing fans a reason to celebrate responsibly all weekend, and will do everything we can to ensure that we are toasting Jamie when hopefully he puts the No. 26 car in Victory Lane .”

Jeremiah Weed Southern Style Sweet Tea first introduced itself to the sport earlier this year when it offered to become the official sponsor of air in the stock car tires. To guarantee fans enjoy the race in true Southern style, Jeremiah Weed will announce additional details regarding the sponsorship of the No. 26 Ford leading up to the race weekend.

Additional updates can be found on the Jeremiah Weed website.

Chevrolet continues dominance

As most NASCAR fans have probably heard by now, Tony Stewart's win of Sunday's Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway clinched the 2009 Manufacturers' Championship for Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series.

"To win the Manufacturers' title for Chevy by winning this race is awesome," Stewart said after his win on Sunday. "This is a proud moment. Chevrolet has been a big part of my career, and General Motors in general has. To be the team that wins the race today and locks down the championship for them, is a huge sense of pride for us and something that we hope they're as proud of us helping and doing our part in that as we are."

The championship was the third for Chevrolet, the most for any manufacturer that has ever fielded entries in NASCAR. It was also the seventh-consecutive for Chevy.

"This award is exceptionally gratifying for everyone at Chevrolet and GM, especially in this challenging economic environment," Chevrolet Global Vice President Brent Deward said. "We salute our Chevy teams, owners, and drivers for all their hard work and dedication in achieving this exceptional recognition".

The manufacturer arrived at the early clinch with a total of 15 wins scored by five different drivers of the Chevrolet Impala SS. Drivers who have contributed to the total with wins include Mark Martin with five, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart each with four, and Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski with one apiece.

Also, finishes by drivers such has Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. contributed points to the Chevy cause.

The Manufacturers' Cup, which debuted in 1950, is awarded to the manufacturer that accumulates the most points during a given season. Points are accumulated based on top-four finishes -- nine points for wins, six points for second-place finishes, four points for third, and three points for fourth.

"Congratulations to all of our Team Chevy organizations, drivers, crews, GM Racing and to everyone at General Motors who contributed to this championship effort for this much deserved accomplishment," GM Racing Manager Mark Kent said.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Martin, Hornaday prove age is just a number

In recent years, NASCAR teams (especially at the Sprint Cup level) and sponsors have seemed to turn their focus to younger talent when it comes to choosing a new driver. That trend has probably been mostly initiated by sponsors looking for younger, hipper spokesmen for their products.

Mark Martin is showing race teams that younger may not always be the way to go, especially if the focus is to remain on the on-track results side of things and not just on a sponsor's desire to target the younger crowd.

Granted, the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup is only two races old, but Martin, the oldest guy in the Chase field at 50 years of age, looks poised to win his first Cup title. And that's after he tied Kyle Busch for most wins during the 26-race "regular season" with four.

In the two races since this year's Chase began, New Hampshire and Dover, the "old man" has a win and a second-place finish and has been the only driver to lead in points so far in the 2009 Chase. Not bad for a driver who is in his first full-time season since coming out of semi-retirement.

"I said in February before we got started that I was, you know, mentally the toughest I'd ever been," Martin said.

Martin isn't the only 50 or older driver getting it done on the national level in NASCAR either. Ron Hornaday, at age 51, is on track to win his fourth Camping World Truck Series title, the most of any driver in the series. It would be his second in three years.

Hornaday already has six wins in Truck Series competition through 20 races, so the driver in victory lane following truck events in 2009 has been Hornaday nearly one-third of the time. With 16 top-10 finishes to his credit, only has four finishes this season outside the top-10 so far this year.

Also worth mentioning, those six wins include a streak of five-consecutive trips to victory lane, the longest winning streak ever in Camping World Truck Series history and the longest in any of NASCAR's national touring series since the 1970s.

While many of their younger competitors may sometime seem to be all business and get stressed out worrying about on-track performance issues, according to Martin and Hornaday, they're just having fun.

"I feel like I’m the luckiest man in the world to compete on this level on this stage and have no thoughts other than I want to strap in that car every Sunday," Martin said.

Not long ago, Hornaday said that traveling from racetrack to racetrack in the Truck Series is like a vacation for he and his wife Lindy. He said the the kids were grown and now he and his wife were enjoying themselves from race to race and week to week.

While 50 is considered over the hill and most other professional sports (except for maybe golf), Martin and Hornaday are proving that they are in their prime since hitting the half-century mark.

To read more from this author, visit:

Louisville NASCAR Examiner

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Penske and Petty doomed from the start?

Did Penske Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports shoot themselves in the proverbial foot and eliminate their chances for a Cup title before the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup even started?

Each of these teams placed one of its cars in this years Chase -- Penske the No. 2 car of Kurt Busch and RPM the No. 9 of Kasey Kahne -- but their Chasers seem to have a lot going against them already.

There appears to be a lot of confusion in the RPM camp since the team recently announced a merger with Yates Racing and a switch to Ford for 2010. As a move of disapproval, the team's vice-president has resigned. Also, several members of the engine shop have already departed, since the move to Ford means RPM will be shutting down its engine program and getting engines from the Roush-Yates group. The turmoil in the engine shop kind of leads to speculation around Kahne's engine woes at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday that resulted in a 38th-place finish, plummeting him to the basement of the Chase points standings.

Kahne's now in a whole, as far as the Chase goes, that will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for him to climb out of.

There are also other question regarding the atmosphere at RPM. It was revealed recently that fellow-RPM driver Reed Sorenson has been racing without a salary for the last few months.

No wonder Kahne is questioning his team's leadership and direction!

While Penske Racing isn't in the midst of a merger or a manufacturer change, the organization has managed to make at least one decision that is sure to hinder Busch's quest for a second Cup title for himself and a first for Penske.

Not long ago, crew chief Pat Tryson announced that he would be leaving Penske at the end of the year. Not long after that announcement, an announcement was made that he would head to Michael Waltrip Racing next year to be Martin Truex Jr.'s crew chief.

In some ways, it's understandable that a team owner not want someone who will soon be moving to another team be privy to technology the team is working on for the coming season. However, with a car in the Chase, is it a good idea to bar the crew chief from the shop except for Tuesday debriefings? I wouldn't think so.

Busch did manage at top-10 finish at New Hampshire Sunday, but that may be because it hadn't been long since Tryson stopped coming to the shop every day. Of course, all Chase drivers want to get as many points as they can whenever they can get them, but the clock may be ticking for Busch and the No. 2 team. It's probably only a matter of days before the effects of not having a full-time crew chief take their toll.

As any Chase competitor or former champion will tell you, championships are hard to come by. Why make the process even harder by putting your team at a disadvantage before the Chase even starts?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Welcome To The Chase Juan

Just a few years ago, the announcement came that made people talk. Juan Pablo Montoya, a successful Indy driver, was going to NASCAR. Many people didn't know how he would do. Some, thought he would make it, some didn't.

When he first started, he didn't make a lot of noise. He started his NASCAR Cup career at Homestead Miami Speedway in 2006, a year before he would race full time. He finished 34th. But, that could have been considered both good or bad, it depended on who you asked. But, it still wasn't enough information to know.

In 2007, his career officially began. He did OK. He did win in NASCAR however. But, it was at a road course, and he has a lot of road course experience. It was a nice relief, but it was almost expected in a way. Over the first season of his career, he had an average finish of 22.7. It was an OK start, but he had a while to go before he would be successful in NASCAR.

His next year, in 2008, was even worse. He had an average finish of 23.9. He didn't win either. It was a step backwards from the previous year, and people started second guessing the team.

But, in 2009, the tone changed. His team merged with another team, DEI. The newly renamed team was Earhnardt Ganassi Racing, and was moved to race a Chevy. And so far, it has worked out well. They have not won any race yet, but they have gotten close to it multiple times, and came up short. He is also in the Chase, for the first time in his career. He now has a pretty good shot at the Championship.

He may not win the championship this year. His team still has a lot more work to do. He has a lot of experienced teams to beat, but one year, he will win it. It may or may not be this year. But there is no question about this: Juan Montoya has succeded in NASCAR. He has lived up to expectations, and then some. And he's not even done yet.

Chase Preview: Hendrick Hard To Beat

The Chase is on. NASCAR's version of the playoffs has now begun. Now that everybody knows who makes it, and who doesn't, there is one more question: Who wins it?

Well lets see, I can probably narrow that down to a few drivers. Hendrick Motorsports drivers. They have the best shot out there, they have won several championships in just the last little bit, more than many teams couldn't even dream of. Now, I'm not saying they are going to win it, they might be beaten. Maybe Tony Stewart might beat him, oh, yeah that's right, he's in Hendrick equipment too. Hendrick equipment also runs through Ryan Newman, so Hendrick stuff is in almost half of the chase field.

Well, we all know Jimmie Johnson knows how to win the championship. In fact, he knows how to win it three times.....in a row. Now, Jimmie hasn't been on a roll like he has in the past years before the Chase, but that doesn't mean anything. I wouldn't count Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus out at anytime, or at least not for long. And they have proved that to us before.

And then there is Jeff Gordon. By the way, he is going for his fifth championship. He has never won one in the Chase format, but this year would be a good year to start. He's only won one race, but it shows that he has made improvement since last year, where he went win-less. If he wins it, he will have a lot to prove about his number 24 team.

And then, there's the old man. Mark Martin. What a phenomenal story. He has never won a championship before, but now, at Hendrick Motorsports, he has the best shot he can get. Although, he will have 2010 and 2011 to win it too. That's right. He just announced that he will return, just a day ago, for two more years. That is a nice confidence booster going into the chase. It also helps that he is leading the points going into the Chase too.

Don't forget Tony Stewart, he has had a wonderful year with his new team. He has proved that he can be an owner/driver and still win. He was the points leader until the end of the regular season, when Mark Martin had more bonus points because of more wins. But he knows how to win championships too, and he's always hungry for more.

So, watch out for the Hendrick boys, and the ones in HMS equipment. There might be another champion in victory lane at the end of the season, like Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Juan Montoya, and others, but they are going to have to win. Because the Hendrick equipment, is pretty hard to beat.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bires And JR Motorsports A Good Fit

It is official. Kelly Bires wil go to JR Motorsports next year to run the Nationwide Series schedule. The details have not been worked out yet, such as sponsorship, amount of races, and even the car number, one thing is for sure, the next rising star has been chosen.

JR Motorsports has always wanted to help out new comers into the sport. That's exactly what happened with Brad Keselowski. Team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr saw the talent that Keselowski had. And he took a chance with him. A lot of people questioned Earnhardt's decision, but no one has regreted the decision after that.

Well, Brad Keselowski went from a nobody to a major contender in both of NASCAR's top series. And the same thing may happen to Bires. If he finds sponsorship for a full time job, then he will most likely make it. After all, he is in Hendrick Motorsports equipment, with a great mentor in Dale Jr.

He is the perfect man for the job. A driver who has showed talent before in less-than-capable equipment, just as Keselowski did. He has impressed NASCAR's most popular driver, which is another plus. And he is someone who has nothing to lose. He just has to go out there, give it all he's got, and things will improve from there.

So now, we just wait. At first, we may not see a lot, as Bires still has a lot to learn. But as the weeks go on, and Bires continues to learn, we will see JR Motorsports in victory lane again, but this time, not with Brad Keselowski. And even more years down the road? Look for some type of deal that Brad Keselowski has for 2010.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Whats Up With Junior?

Dale Earnhardt Jr is by far the most popular driver in NASCAR. But there is also no hiding that he has been struggling too.
In the end of May, after a terrible 40th place finish at Lowes Motor Speedway for the Coca Cola 600, team owner Rick Hendrick finally realized that is was finally time for a change. So, the streak ended. Dale Jr. and Tony Eury Jr could no longer work together any more. Time ran out to make something happen, and nothing did.
So Junior went into the rest of the season with chase hopes more than likely not probable with a new crew chief: Lance McGrew. Now, here is where it gets tricky. Have they really improved? Are they getting worse? Is it Dale Jr's driving abilities that are causing the problem? Is it pressure? What is the problem?
Well, as far as I see it, there is no problem related to pressure. The team has a lot of pressure on them already, but that doesn't have anything to do with anything at all. When you work at Hendrick Motorsports, you pretty much have to handle the pressure right off the bat, especially when your the 88 team.
So then what is the issue? Why is it that the 88 team is not performing? Well, the answer is that there is no issue.
The thing is, everybody(or at least it seems like it) expected the team to perform right out of the gate. Why? Just because one person is moved around doesn't mean things are going to change overnight. Jr may be a good driver with a good team, but nobody is that good.
But the thing is, they have improved quite nicely. Sure, they aren't winning. But, you have to be able to finish in the top 10 each week and then the top 5 each week before you can think about consistently winning. Their communication has improved. I have never heard Junior communicating this well with his team before. It shows that he has to learn more too. And he is.
So then you might be asking why they aren't performing now that it has been a while in the season. And my answer is that it takes time. Lance and Earnhardt have been communicating very well and have learned at a fast pace more about each other. But it will still take time. They still need to keep up the good work, work hard, stay patient, stay focused, and be calm to be able to win again. And after last weekend at Richmond, it seems they have. They did nt perform well. But, neither one really lost their tempers as if they would have a few months ago. They just kept working on solving the problem. They are slowly improving, one way or another, and it doesn't have to show that on paper.
And regarding Junior's driving ability? Let me just leave it at this. Someone just doesn't win 18 races in their career by accident. Dale Earnhardt Jr may have been younger, but people can still win as they age, just ask Mark Martin. So just wait. Because one day, Dale Jr will show up in victory lane, and Jr Nation can take a big sigh of relief.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kyle Busch Misses Chase; Still Shows Maturity

Maturity. Something that has been lacked by Kyle Busch for most of this year. He won a lot of races. He lost a lot of races. When he won, he looked like the nicest guy in the world. When he lost, stay away from him, or he'll snap at you. He would always get right out of his car, speed walk away, and you wouldn't hear from him until next weekend. I even felt bad for the pit reporters, who had(or at least try) to interview him when he lost. So when it came to the end of the race at Richmond for the Chevy Rock N' Roll 400, it was official. Kyle Busch would not make the chase. Sitting there watching TV, made me wonder. How will Kyle react to this? Will he flip out, run away, or decline to interview? Well, he actually did an interview. But, not just any interview, he showed maturity, and answered questions very well.

"Well, we did all we could do. We gave it a valiant effort. I'll be looking to win some races the rest of the season and hopefully go out with a bang."

He stayed positive. He stayed calm. Sure, he was disappointed, but any driver would be, it was just how he handled it, unlike he would have in the past. He also referred to the fact that they didn't lose the chase in just that one race. They lost those 8 points all throughout the year, in different spots that could have been avoided. He handled it like a veteran.
So what does this mean for Kyle Busch? It means that he has matured. He has learned that he is not the only one who can control what happens in his season, and during every race. He has learned that there are just some things that are out of his control. And there is nothing he can do about it. He has learned to be a team player, and respect his team. But most of all, he has earned respect. Kyle Busch fan or not, he is learning to become more mature, and he is trying hard, so you have to give him credit for that.

Truck Series Needs Double-File Restarts

The previous race at Gateway for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series was amazing. It caused a lot of difference in opinion among the fans. The restarts were crazy, exciting, and out of control. But, I'm not going to talk about the Matt Crafton disaster. But, what I am going to talk about are the restarts in general.
The Sprint Cup Series has double file restarts. The Nationwide Series has double file restarts. So why in the world doesn't the Camping World Truck Series have restarts? I have no idea. But one thing that I do know, they need them.
The Truck Series is a very exciting series. At some times, it can be even more exciting than the Cup race. But the problem is that no one bothers to watch it. And it is a very good NASCAR racing series. So then why isn't NASCAR helping it? As far as I'm concerned, the double file restarts are one of the best things NASCAR has ever done. It just makes since. It adds excitement that NASCAR fans along with NASCAR themselves have been looking for. So, exactly what are you waiting for? Why are we seeing the single file restarts still?
NASCAR made an announcement a few weeks ago that the Truck series would not go the the new restart rule. People were shocked. Fans were disappointed. Even the drivers were disappointed. For some reason, it was going to be delayed.
My point here is that it needs to happen soon. The Truck Series is a very exciting sport. So could you imagine what it would be like if they were racing double file on every single restart? I could. And it would make me watch the Camping World Truck Series a lot more often.

Kyle Deserves Chase Entry

Well, after 26 races the field is finally set for NASCAR's playoffs, " The Chase ", with Mark Martin leading the field of twelve drivers. Martin has posted four victories this year while fellow Chase entries Stewart and Johnson have three, Hamlin and Kahne, two, Gordon, Kurt Busch, and Vickers, one each. The remaining field of Edwards, Newman, Montoya, and Vickers have not taken the checkered flag once this year. Oh, and Kyle Busch has four victories also, but will not be in NASCAR's playoffs this year.
How can a sport whose fundamental goal each week is to take the checkered flag exclude a driver who has done so in 15% of the races? He has as many wins as Chase leader Martin and if he had won Saturday night at Richmond would have taken the top spot away from Martin. We have four drivers in the Chase with zero wins which makes me wonder if they are more deserving than Busch to be in the Chase.
Ok, I understand NASCAR's reasoning here and it is not without some merit. They say, and many agree, that it is all about consistency. The Chase is based on points accumulated in the first 26 races and those drivers who finish in the front of the field consistently obtain the most points. But that, in my opinion, is contrary to the goal of all sports, which is to reward those who win. Really, nobody cares who finishes second or third. I dare anyone to tell me without looking who finished second at the Daytona 500 this year, who was second in the NFC East last year, or who lost the World Series in 2008.
Everybody likes winners and like him or not Kyle Busch is just that. He is arguably the most exciting, most controversial, most goal oriented driver in NASCAR right now. With Kyle it is all about winning and he puts it all out there every week. He views anything less than the checkered flag as failure. In a period of time when NASCAR has been concerned about its viewership they should recognize him and his style as an asset and reward drivers with multiple wins like him with a spot in the Chase.
Why not have a " Wildcar " spot like other sports who offer " Wildcards "? Reward two drivers who do not make the Chase on points, but have the most wins outside of the Chase driver's entry list, into the Chase field. If there are multiple drivers with the same amount of wins then go back to points for the tie breaker. The Chase field can either be expanded to fourteen or trim the entry list to ten to accommodate the " Wildcars". I would favor a larger field as it would make for more excitement.
This year's list of Chase drivers is a good one, but NASCAR has missed an opportunity for an even more exciting end with the absence of Busch. Like I stated earlier you may not like him, but he brings excitement and many thrilling finishes amidst controversy to most of the races he is in. Many watch him in the hopes that he will fail, but negative or not he does bring in the interest and viewership, and that is exactly what NASCAR needs to do during the year and in the Chase if it is to survive.