In Stealth Mode

My last post here in “The Park” was back on April 4.  Quite a bit has happened since that time.  This has been the longest I have gone without posting something on the blog.  For those who have caught me on Facebook, you know that I lost my father in a car accident on April 18.  It was very sudden and I am still dealing with his passing.  I wrote about my father in a post back on August 7, 2010.  During the days after his death, I will admit I did not want to watch any kind of sports including NASCAR.  It was too painful for me.  But as I looked back on that post, I remembered how much sports was a significant part of who I was.  It helped me to close to my father even though he was no longer alive. 

I have started three different posts since that day, but did not have the strength to put my thoughts down.  Every time I tried, I found myself in tears so I just stepped away from the computer and well, pretty much let the grass and the weeds grow around “The Park”.  But I am here to tell I am back.  I am going to make a concerted effort to get back in the groove of posting my thoughts on NASCAR.

Lately I have been doing some research on my favorite sport.  I have purchased a couple of books on the history of NASCAR.  I purchased the book “Real NASCAR: White Lightening, Red Clay and Big Bill” by Daniel S. Pierce.  I am currently in the process of reading this book.  So far I have enjoyed the book.  I will probably post more on the book later.  I bought the book “Driving with The Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels and the Birth of NASCAR” by Neal Thompson last year.  I started reading it, but like I have been doing lately, put it down and forget to come back to it.  I have to basically start it again.  I don’t mind though.  Why am I so interested in the history of the sport?  Well, I don’t want to go into much detail yet, but let’s just say I am working on something that I have been wanting to do for the last year or so.  Once I get a more concrete view of things I will most definitely share things.  Either way I believe it is going to be an interesting journey for me.

Well, the boys are at Kentucky this weekend.  This will mark the first time the Nationwide & Cup teams will race at the track.  This date has been a long time coming for the speedway.  I won’t go into too many details because frankly I don’t want to rehash things, but let’s just say, in my opinion, it was an ugly.  And when you get lawyers and the courts involved, I just tend to tune things out.  Any way, the boys are now racing at Kentucky.  The qualifying for the Cup boys was rained and the starting grid was set by the speeds in the first practice session.  This was the first weekend NASCAR used the new rain out rules.  I was disappointed Michael Waltrip would not be able to race tomorrow night.  He was running a special paint scheme paying tribute to his brother NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2012 member, Darrell Waltrip.  It’s just not fair, but sometimes Mother Nature has other plans.

Well…that’s about it for now.  I am hoping Tony can grab a victory tomorrow night.  If any driver who needs a victory it’s Tony.  He is currently sitting in the 12th position and well, he doesn’t have a win this season.  I don’t want my driver out of the Chase.  Go Tony!!!

The Paperclip

I have to admit I did watch all of the race like I wanted.  I was still recovering from a nasty case of laryngitis and upper respiratory infection.  I know sitting around the house and watching the race seems like a way to rest, but I found it hard to concentrate between all the coughing and drowsiness. 

I have to say Tony’s day was junk.  That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.  Tony finished 34th.  Not exactly where this fan wanted her driver to finish. 

I still cringe at the replay of the wreck between Truex and Kahne.  It is amazing both drivers were able to walk away from that type of crash.  Of all the things that NASCAR has done over the last 10 years since Earnhardt’s crash it has been the safety features for the drivers as well as those on pit road.  I do not know if Truex might have walked away unharmed like he did yesterday.  I have to give props to great sportsmanship to Truex as well. 

Now on to Mr. Harvick.  Even before the race began, all the pre-race shows were all about Hamlin and/or Johnson.  I cannot blame them for talking up these two drivers.  Between the two of them they have won the last 9 races there.  The last time a different driver won the race before yesterday, was Tony Stewart who took the checkered flag at the Fall 2005 race.  Oh by the way, that was the same year he took the championship.  I saw the clip of Kevin passing Dale Jr. and once again Kevin made a clean pass for the victory.  I have read a couple of message boards and I do understand some of the comments.  Can Harvick race dirty?  Yes.  Would he moved Junior for the victory?  He might have.  But yesterday, he didn’t.  I think some of the comments were from Dale Jr. fans who once again disappointed by Dale’s finish. 

I have always been honest about the fact that I am not a Dale Jr. fan.  I have to say I was a little skeptical about the change in crew chiefs with the HMS teams.  But as we all know Mr. Hendrick does not make changes to just make changes.  He knew three of the four teams struggled last year and well, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.  I was wondering if this change would help Junior or be another attempt to fix something, well to frank, cannot be fixed.  But I for one am pleasantly surprised how well he has run so far this season.  All you have to do is check out his results in the first six races of the season.  (Note:  2010 result in parenthesis)

  • Daytona–24th (2nd)
  • Phoenix–10th (12th)
  • Las Vegas–8th (16th)
  • Bristol–11th (7th)
  • Fontana–12th (32nd)
  • Martinsville–2nd (15th)

I would have to say Letarte has been able to put Junior in position for a win.  He was thisclose to a win on Sunday.  This has to be a confidence booster for Jr.  For those in Junior Nation, I feel Junior will win a race this year.  Good things come to those who wait.

Up this week…the boys head to my home state of Texas!  Unfortunately I will not be able to make the trip this go around, but I am doing everything I can to get myself to TMS for the fall race.

Vegas and other things

Sorry for not posting after the Vegas race.  I had everything ready to go, but I have been dealing with quite a few health issues (some mine, some my son’s) so they have taken priority for me.  I made my first visit ever to a cardiologist.  It was a little scary especially since I am only 40.  I am now on medication and have to go back in two weeks for a stress test and other tests.  I am treading the treadmill thing.  Treadmills and I have this understanding, I don’t get on them.  That’s pretty much it.  One of my co-workers told me I should stop watching NASCAR with all the chest pains I have been experiencing.  He is always kidding me about NASCAR.  I told him watching NASCAR is good for my soul.  But enough about me, let’s get to talking about racing

Vegas was just disappointing for this Stewart fan.  Vegas is one of two tracks Tony does not have a victory.  Sunday looked promising until a late caution and pit road mistake pretty much cost him a victory.  I have to give credit to the #14 team for finishing 2nd, but for Tony this was one that is a bitter pill to swallow.  He clearly had the car to win the race.  But as we all know the best car doesn’t always win the race.  He was heartbreaking to watch his post race interview with Fox.  I wonder how they decided who was going to interview Tony.  I mean Tony has been known to speak his mind (both good and bad) when stepping out of the car.  But there was Matt Youcum right there asking Tony the tough question.  Clearly, you could see Tony was upset with the result.  I am glad it was a short interview and with someone who really understands Tony. 

Other tidbits from Vegas

  • Of there was some action off the track as well.  Apparently Robby Gordon and Kevin Conway had their own little meeting in the garage.  This resulted in Robby getting put on probation immediately.  I mean if you are going to get in a fight, Vegas is the place to be.  Did anyone notice if Don King was hanging out in the garage?  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
  • Congratulations to Mark “The Kid” Martin for winning the Nationwide race.  So he got the win when Brad K. blew a tire.  But sometimes racing is about being in the right place at the right time.  Who hasn’t taken advantage of mistakes and bad breaks of other drivers to snag a victory?  Also this is the first win for Turner Motorsports.  It’s nice to see the smaller teams (well, compared to Hendrick/Roush) win. 
  • It was 50 years ago on March 4, 1961 that Wendell Scott became the first African-American to start a NASCAR race. 
  • Danica Patrick finished 4th in the Nationwide race.  This was highest finish by a woman in a NASCAR event.  She was also the first woman to lead  lap at Daytona.  I am still not sure where I stand on Danica’s presence in NASCAR.  From what I have seen she has improved from this year to last, well at least in the first couple of races.  Until she is able to commit to NASCAR full-time, I am holding my opinion.

There is no Cup race tomorrw.  The boys are off until next Sunday where they will head to Bristol for some short track racing.  However, you can catch some  Camping World Truck racing at Darlington today.  I love to watch the trucks.  Lots of racing action!

What will I do tomorrow?  I am not sure yet.  Right now I am watching “Cars” for the millionth time (well, at least it feels that way) with my little foster son.  He can sit at watch this movie and be entertained through the entire movie.  Not bad for a 2 year-old.  I still find this movie very funny.  They definitely nailed Daryl Waltrip’s personality!  Speaking of Waltrip (not Daryl, but Michael).  I am almost finished with Michael’s book, “In The Blink of An Eye: Dale, Daytona, and the Day that Changed Everything”.  I have enjoyed the book.  You know what is weird, while I am reading the book, all I can hear is Michael’s voice in my head.  It’s as if he is narrating the book for me.  I have found the book very intriguing and now understand a little bit more about that day back in 2001.

This is the 2nd year for Toyota’s Sponsafy program.  You can pick a driver, decorate your car and win a cool prize.  If you have seen the site, or been over there check it out.  I have one already out there entitled “Pink Bubblegum”. I know it isn’t too spectacular, but it is what I wanted to design. I am in the middle of working on a second one with a Texas theme. So in the mean time, if you want to stop and look, vote for me. You can also vote for others too! Vote early and vote often as they say.

Have a great day!

Well, I hope everyone has

“We just beat Kyle Busch!”aka Phoenix…better late than never

I know this is somewhat late in the week to be talking about last week, but if you knew the kind of week I had you would certainly understand.  With that, I won’t make this very long since I am getting for the Vegas race.

Congratulations to Jeff Gordon for his victory in Phoenix last Sunday.  With the win last week,  he snapped his 66 race winless streak.  His last win prior to last week was at Texas in 2009.  He also is now tied for 5th with Cale Yarborough on the all-time win list.  I have to say when Jeff moved Kyle B. it was awesome.  I did not want Kyle Busch to win last week.  Sorry Kyle…but that is just how this NASCAR fan feels.  The move he put on you was, in my opinion, classic Jeff Gordon.  And the other cool thing, the crowd cheered for him.  Even when he got of his car in victory lane, there were a little more cheering than he has had in the past.  I mean he has had beer cans thrown at his car.  I guess it is all about the level of dislike you have for the driver.  I guess more people dislike Kyle than they do Jeff Gordon.  Either way, it was nice to see such emotion from a driver in victory lane. 

Jeff Gordan is just one of several drivers who are still struggling with their winless streaks.  Here are some of the drivers still looking for victory lane.

  • Mark Martin-47 races
  • Kasey Kahne-49 races
  • Joey Lagano-57 races
  • Matt Kenseth-72 races
  • Jeff Burton-79 races
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.-95 races
  • Martin Truex-133 races
  • Bobby Labonte-254 races

Will today be the day one of these drivers end their winless streak?  Guess we will all have to tune in today to find out.

Now on to Vegas…heard Tony Stewart was driving a taxi in Vegas.  Can you imagine that?  At least he would get you where you needed to be in a hurry.  Also for those of you who are thinking about shoplifting in Vegas, make sure Morgan Shepherd is not hanging around.  Amy over at Bad Groove has made her yearly pilgrimage to Vegas. From her Facebook postings, I can’t wait until I see her posts. On that note, if you haven’t checked out her site, it is a must read.

Well…let’s kick the tires and light the fires…HAPPY RACE DAY EVERYONE!

The Week That Was

I really had an excellent post for the Daytona 500, but with the way my week has been, I am lucky to be sitting at my computer on this race Sunday.

Seven days ago we were all poised to sit and watch the first race of the season.    For me it seemed to take forever for the race to begin.  I guess the off-season had me all pumped up and I was waiting for everything to get going.  I will not bore everyone with a recap of the race.  It has been analyzed to death by just about everyone out there.  I do have to say I am still in awe at the fact that 20-year old Trevor Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500.  Other than Dale Earnhardt Jr winning the race last week, this was a storybook ending.  I mean you have a rookie running his first Daytona 500 driving for the Wood Brothers in the #21 which at one time was driven by David Pearson.  In fact David Pearson was the last driver for the Wood Brothers to win a Daytona 500.  Trevor Bayne wasn’t even alive when this happened back in 1976.  And makes it even more special David Pearson is a 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee.  I just love it when NASCAR history comes together like it did last Sunday.

I am not afraid to say it, I really wanted Tony Stewart to win last week.  I mean he has won everything there is to win at Daytona except the big one.  He was poised to make his move last week in the waning moments of the race, but as we all know restrictor plate racing is just a crap shoot.  I was not happy with one particular driver because he always seems to mess it up for everyone.  And Sunday was no different, but that’s the way racing is.  Tony finished 13th on his 13th attempt to win the Daytona 500.  He will try to win his 14th next year.  But on the upside of his Daytona 500, he won his 4th Nationwide Daytona race in a row.  He has won six in the last seven races.  This gives him 6 wins in a Nationwide car.  There has not been a driver this dominant at this particular race since Dale Sr.  Dale won 5 races in a row from 1990-1994.  He also won in 1982 and 1986.  This gave him 7 wins.  In 2012, Tony can tie Dale Sr. win another victory in the Nationwide race with number of races won in a row and for total wins as well.   All I have to say is Tony is just scary good at the Nationwide race. 

Nerdiness alert….Once again my numbers nerdiness is showing.  I don’t know why I have this condition, but I do.  I just like numbers.

Now on to Phoenix…Carl Edwards is the hottest driver on the circuit right now.  This goes back to the 2010 season for his back to back wins in the final two races of the 2010 season.  He also finished 2nd in Daytona 500 and he also is atop the points standings (albeit, it’s very, very early).  Oh by the way, he is starting on the front row of the race today.  Yesterday in the Nationwide race he came in 2nd.  One more thing, the last driver to win at Phoenix, yep Carl.  Guess what else?  He had the pole for that race too.  I am going to say Carl has a pretty good chance to take the checkered flag today.  Of course he is driving the Subway car in the Subway Fresh Fit 500…coincidence???  Looks like a Carl kind of day…of course I hope Tony can take spoil things for Mr. Edwards and come away with a victory today.

Happy Race Day!

Speedweeks 2011 and then some….

I was trying to figure what I would say about the anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s passing.  I debated about what I wanted to post or even I wanted to post for that matter.  I figured as a fan of NASCAR I should say something about the anniversary. I decided to forego my post on Friday since I had already remembered Dale earlier in the week.

As part of my after Christmas shopping back in December, I purchased a new calendar for work.  I was debating between several calendars and found it…a NASCAR calendar.  Every day this calendar has some tidbit about NASCAR.  Whether is was the definition of a term or informaiton about a track/driver, etc.  I tore off February 17 to unover the 18th.  So what does this have to do with this post.  There was also another piece of NASCAR history that happened on February 18.  

Dateline…February 18, 1979.  I was not even 8 years old that year and I had idea that NASCAR even existed.  But now, I know how significant this day was for all NASCAR fans.  This was the first time the Daytona 500 would show the race live lap-by-lap courtesy of CBS sports.   NASCAR was delivered every week like it is now.  As with NASCAR it delivered.  In case you don’t know….Richard Petty won the race, but I don’t think that is what most people remember.  Most remember the fight down in the infield between the Allison Brothers (Donny and Bobby) and Cale Yarborough.  This race brought a national spotlight to our sport and well, the rest is history.

I caught the tail end of the truck race on Friday night.  With truck racing at Daytona you never know what you are going to get and Friday night was no different.  I was hoping Elliot Sadler was going to have a great race and even win.  But a late crash which pretty much wiped out the field, put both Elliot and Michael Waltrip in spots 1 and 2 respectively.  To be honest, I don’t think the rest of the field had a chance to past them.  As the green flag flew, I began to cheer for Michael.  I mean this anniversary of his first Daytona 500 win as well as the anniversary of his friend’s passing.  He was in the second spot and had a great chance to win the race.  Everything was coming in to place for him as they headed into the last turn on the last lap.  Out pulled Waltrip and it was on to the checkers.  Sorry to all the Sadler fans, it was not going to be your night.  Waltrip passed Sadler for the win!  I was cheering so loud for him that I upset my 2-year-old as well as my 7-year old. This was his first win in a truck at Daytona.  Hollywood couldn’t have written a better script for Waltrip.  It was just an awesome sight to see.

I missed the Nationwide race yesterday.  I was on my way to Houston for a mini-vacation.  But don’t worry I was monitoring the race via Twitter and Facebook.  While waiting for the plane to leave big D, I saw that Tony won!!!!  That would be his fourth Nationwide race in a row.  Tony is just scary good.  I am hoping he will be able to take all that momentum today and win the 500.  This will his 13th attempt to win the 500. 

I may not be at home today to watch the race (I’m on a mini-vacation in Houston), but I will be sitting in the hotel room watching the boys take it to Daytona today.  I will be cheering loudly for my driver so those in the rooms next time to mine need to consider this their only warning. 

One more thing…boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing boys!

NASCAR Disclaimer

Since the Daytona 500 is only 5 days away…YES FIVE 5 DAYS AWAY!!!I thought it was time to post my annual disclaimer for all of my friends and family who are not NASCAR fans.  Which by the way, I still to this day don’t understand what their problem is, but hey what are going to do…so without further ado.

Attention to all of my family, friends, co-workers and complete strangers, NASCAR season is upon us.  I will NOT be available for family functions, outings, or get-togethers on Sundays.  If there is an event on said Sunday, you will have to understand they must be held prior to the start of the race or after the race.  If you must schedule things during the raced be aware I may not attend your function or request that I have access to a television set.  This also applies to races that are held occasionally on Saturday nights.  If you wish to spend time with me, you must understand the topic of conversation will be predominately about the upcoming race, the previous Sunday’s race, Tony Stewart, or anything in general about NASCAR.  This is the time of the year all projects are put aside unless they involve a NASCAR related event.  Please don’t be offended if I ignore you on Sunday or the occasional Saturday…it’s nothing personal…IT’S NASCAR!