Texas, Tony and Tidbits

Before I can even begin to put my thoughts down, I have to send all my thoughts and prayers to the city of Boston as well as to the families directly affected by the bombings on Monday afternoon.  We stand with you through as you try to heal from this horrific event.  If history has shown, Boston will rise and become stronger!  God Bless You!

Disclaimer…First and foremost, I will not make this blog about politics.  This is NOT the purpose of this blog.  With that being said, if you read this post, and want to comment, you are more than welcome to do so.  I welcome discussion on this site, however I will not engage in a negative conversation just because you don’t agree with what I have to say.  Please be aware these are MY opinions and MY opinions alone.  I stand by them.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to post about the Texas weekend.  There were so many stories coming into the weekend, during the weekend, and out of the weekend.  With all the stories I had several things I could have written about.

Kyle Busch was on fire this past weekend at Texas.  He swept the weekend winning the Nationwide race on Friday night and then winning from the pole on Saturday night.  I know there are a majority of you out there who do not like Kyle Busch.  I am not the biggest fan and I have called into question some of his behavior over the years.  All I know is this man can drive the wheels of a car.  All throughout the race, he was up front leading laps.  Oh and by the way, he lead the most laps that night.  I know there are those who think Jimmie is the one to watch seven races into the season.  But you have to look at Kyle to challenge Jimmie throughout the season.

Now…with the part of the post I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write.  I have been kind of holding off on the post. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a fluke or some just bad luck, but…I am beginning to wonder what the heck is going on the #14 team this season.  I don’t know if they are snake bit or what, but this is NOT the kind of season I expected so far from Tony. Tony has been known to start a little slow and get hot through the summer, but this is getting hard to watch each week.  I am beginning to think there is more going on with the #14 team.  Have they missed the mark on figuring out this new car?  During the race on Sunday, I was listening to Tony’s scanner and he said, “I don’t care how many times we have come down pit road, fix this thing this time.”  Clearly the #14 has missed the mark.  The highest spot Tony has finished so far this year is 8th and that was a Phoenix.  He hasn’t had a top-ten since, let alone a top-5 or a win.  He is 111 points back from points leader Jimmie Johnson and in 22nd place in the standings.  If this continues, Tony will NOT be in The Chase.  I am hoping the #14 team has a come to Jesus meeting this week at the competition meeting.  It’s been difficult for this Tony Stewart week after week waiting for the team to get the set up right.  This past weekend I saw him struggle at a track he likes.  I was at the race in 2006 when he won his first race at Texas.  But yet on Sunday, he struggled.  He finished 21st.  I am hoping they get something together this week for Kansas.  I know there is still some racing until the 26th race at Richmond, but if things don’t change, this Tony fan will be watching her driver outside The Chase.

Penalties were handed down to Brad Keselowski and Joey Lagono.  The #2 and #22 teams had to remove the rear housing from their cars on Sunday morning.  Here is what NASCAR said about why the teams were penalized.  According to NASCAR’s statement, the infraction by the Penske teams violated the rule which states suspension systems and components must be approved by the governing body.  Teams were changing things and getting through inspection right up until race time.  In fact, Joey was still not in his car when the command was given for drivers to start their engines.  He was sent to the back of the pack because he was late.  However, Joey sort of got the last laugh and finished 5th while Brad finished 9th. NASCAR handed down the following penalties to the #2 & #22 teams.

  1. Joey and Brad were docked 25 driver points as well as 25 owner points
  2. Brad and Joey’s crew chiefs, Paul Wolfe and Todd Gordon respectively, are suspended for 6 races as well as the All-Star race.  They have also been fined $100,000.
  3. Team engineers for both teams as well as team manager, Travis Geisler were also suspended for 6 races.

Penske will appeal the decision which means all crew chiefs and members will be with the teams this weekend and other races until the appeals have been heard.

Keeping with the Penske teams, Brad K. went on a tirade on Saturday.  He was angry for the way NASCAR confiscated the rear housing on the #2 & #22 prior to Saturday night’s race.  He was also critical of the way NASCAR delayed his team in the inspection process at Martinsville as well as the penalty he received for pitting outside the pit box.  Brad was not fined for his critical comments about the NASCAR governing body.  You can make your own decision on whether Brad should have been penalized in light of the fine Denny Hamlin received for his criticism of the Gen-6 car.

Now…before I comment on the following, please reread the disclaimer.  I am not going to get into a political battle with anyone.  This is NOT what The Park is about.  There has been much made about the NRA sponsorship of this Cup race this past weekend.  I have had discussions with friends and family about this since the announcement that the NRA was going to sponsor this race in Texas.  I will say, I did not have an issue with the NRA sponsoring a race.  Whether you like the NRA or not, this wasn’t about TMS trying to be political in any sense of the word.  This was about sponsorship and bringing dollars into the sport of NASCAR.  Eddie Gossage, even said he would not have the gun celebration in Victory Lane if teams, sponsors, etc did not want that type of celebration.  To be honest, I was glad he did not have to alter the celebration in Victory Lane.  It is one of the things that makes TMS, TMS.  I am sympathetic to the Newtown tragedy as well as others where guns were used to kill innocent people.  I believe in the 2nd amendment.  I believe we should have the right to own guns.  Owning a gun is a great responsibility.  I am a gun owner.  I have two shotguns, one belonged to my grandfather and the other belonged to my father.  I do not have shells for both guns because (1) they haven’t been fired in quite some time and need cleaning and (2) I have small children in the house.  I am not ready to have the ammunition in the house with my small children. Once I choose to have the ammo in the house, I will sit down, just like my father, and explain what it is to be a responsible gun owner.  I grew up knowing that guns could kill.  I knew that if I ever messed with my father’s shotgun I was in serious trouble.  Every single time he cleaned his gun, he sat with me and explain the dangers of a gun and also how to be a responsible gun owner.  When I would go hunting with him, he taught me how to carry the gun as well as how to behave while hunting.  That’s just it.  You have to be a responsible gun owner.  Lock your guns up if you do not want your children playing with them.  If you truly don’t want your guns to be handled by your children, DO NOT HAVE THEM IN THE HOUSE!  That’s it.  I could go on about other issues regarding the gun law battle, but that is for another day and time.

IMG_3506I have to give mad props to one Mr. Eddie Gossage.  This man knows how to market his product.  He also knows how to put on a show for the fans who make the pilgrimage every year to Texas Motor Speedway.  The racing isn’t always the best on TMS, but this man is a showman!  I love his current marketing of TMS by calling the racing at TMS the Wild Asphalt Circus.  I have been able to attend 3 race weekends at TMS.  I got the chance to attend the first fall race at TMS back in 2005.  It was my first experience attending a NASCAR race.  Despite the fact I had no clue what I was doing or what to expect, I had a great time.  Unfortunately I haven’t been back since the fall race in 2006.  Most of this has to do with the cost of attending a race weekend.  There are great ticket packages and I have people in the DFW area where I am sure I could crash for a weekend, but right now we just can’t afford to attend a race. I am hoping to attend the Truck race/IRL weekend this year.  It is a little cheaper on the pocketbook.  Besides one of my Facebook friends is encouraging me to see the Indy race there this June.  I will see what I can do.  Last year I had the great opportunity to meet Eddie Gossage last year when the Kyle Petty Charity ride came through Lubbock.  You could tell he was tired from riding all day, but he took the time to meet fans and take pictures.  If you ever get to meet the man, do so.  Thank you Eddie Gossage for all you do for the sport of NASCAR!

Saturday Night Racing

The time has come for some NASCAR racing!  I cannot wait.  It seems like forever since the checkered flag flew at Homestead to close out the 2012 season.  I love this time of year.  Everywhere I turn there is something about NASCAR on television.  That was no different yesterday.  I was channel surfing yesterday morning and came across the 1998 Daytona 500 on ESPN Classic.  Because I needed NASCAR racing fix, I stopped and watched.  I do not normally stop and watch previously run races, but how can a NASCAR fan not stop and watch this Daytona 500.  For those who may not know, this was the one and only Daytona 500 that Dale Earnhardt Sr. ever won.  Who knew in just three short years we would no longer see The Intimidator running his black #3 on the track?  I still get chills when I see him take the checkered flag that day.  He had won everything there was to win at Daytona, but the Daytona 500 was the one race that eluded him. But on that on that day back on February 15, he was not going to be denied.  The only thing more special that day than Dale winning, was the admiration of the all guys on other teams.  As Dale drove his car down pit road, everyone came out to congratulate him on his victory.  It was something that has never been seen and probably won’t again.  Respect…that’s what it was all about.  Dale may have been labeled the Intimidator but he was one of the best around.

The Sprint Unlimited will be held tonight down in Daytona.  I am pumped for this race to get started.  I think it is going to be interesting to see how the race will turn out.  The race is going to be very fan oriented.  As mentioned before the fans have been able to choose the format of the race.  The fans also get to choose what the teams must do on the mandatory pit stop after the first segment.  Plus, the fans get to determine how many drivers, if any, will be eliminated at the end of segment two.  Of course I think the interesting part is the fans who are attending the race will get to determine the starting grid for tonight’s race.  They have three options (1)most career wins (2)2012 points and (3)poles won.  I am hoping the racing will be fantastic and this fan driven race doesn’t turn out to be a bust.  I think that is what I like about NASCAR.  NASCAR as a whole understands they cannot have a sport without its fans.  Yes, NASCAR does have high paid athletes and its share of problems, but all in all NASCAR likes to have their fans involved.  NASCAR has the most loyal fan base around.  Just ask anyone.

So…now back to the race.  This will be the first drivers will have the chance to put the cars in race conditions. I am interested to see if the cars will be able to create that racing action we all love to see at Daytona.  Will the drivers be able to bump draft?  Will the cars respond better in pack driving or single file or heaven all help us two by two?  I am just hoping for some great racing (and for that #14 to cross the finish line first).  Of course we all know the drivers will probably take things easy throughout segments one and two.  It is the third segment of 20 laps I would watch out for.  Even though this isn’t a points race, drivers are competitors and well, frankly winning is everything.  I want to see some last lap passes and a race to the finish.  And did I mention it, I want that #14 to be the first one crossing the finish line at the checkers.

Coolest thing I saw yesterday during practice…there is a camera mounted inside the car on the passenger side.  From the view of the camera, you can see what it is like when the car heads off into the 31 degree banking at Daytona.  The camera stays put as the car heads off into these turns.  It was wicked cool and to be frank made me a little queasy.  I was also in awe of how much technology can take us into the whole experience of NASCAR.  Granted I wasn’t pulling the amount of Gs the driver does when he or she enters the banking, but oh my–coolest thing ever!

Caution…climbing up on the soap box.  An article coming from the Sporting News has riled me up just a little.  Jimmie Johnson or 5-timer feels our newest champion Brad Keselowski needs to mature a little.  Apparently Jimmie didn’t like how he handled himself after winning the championship.  He took issue with the way Brad behaved on Sportscenter after the race.  Blah, blah, blah.  Here is my take on all of this (and remember this is my opinion and I am not a big fan of Jimmie).  I like a driver who has a personality and isn’t afraid to show it to the fans.  He does speak his mind and is a little brash at times, but hey why not?  I am tired of these drivers who toe the line and say all the right things.  Vanilla frankly is booorrriiinngg!  Brad brings a young perspective to the sport.  Isn’t that what it is all about these days?  How are you going to grow your sport if you can’t bring in new fans, younger fans?  Brad is fun!  Yes, the champion does represent the sport and should act accordingly, but come on Jimmie, he just won his first NASCAR championship!  Can’t the man have a little fun?  And as I recall Jimmie, wasn’t there something about you and a golf cart a few years back?

One more little note…thanks to my hubby I will be able to watch tonight’s race after all.  There was this little issue about DISH and the owner of our local Fox affiliate and well, FOX was blocked.   This meant no racing for me.  I could listen to it on Sirius NASCAR radio, but it just isn’t the same.  My hubby purchased an antennae and tada…FOX television!  That’s right kiddos, momma is VERY, VERY, HAPPY!!!!

By The Time I Get To Phoenix…

Before I get to my post about this weekend, I want to wish all my fellow Texans “Happy Texas Independence Day!”

Now on to Phoenix.  I like watching all the activities of Speedweeks when it rolls around every year.  It means that the NASCAR season is upon us.  Preparing for the Daytona 500 is a different element.  Qualifying has two parts.  You have qualifying day where the front is determined.  the other drivers that day are then sorted out into two dual races which sets the field for the 500.  The 500 is the only race on the circuit that has this type of qualifying.  Teams can’t judge where their season will end up after the 500.  I mean look where Jimmie Johnson is now sitting.  You can’t tell me he won’t be challenging for the championship come fall. 

This week begins the real start of the season.  This is wear teams begin their normal routines fo race week.  The boys are in Phoenix this weekend.  This will be the 2nd race on the new configuration. Phoenix has over the last couple been a place where drivers who have had a long winless streak have won.  Last year it was Kasey Kahne in the fall race and Jeff Gordon in spring race.  Will Phoenix have the same result this year?  Will a driver who has not seen victory lane in a while win?  Or will it be a driver from Hendrick Motorsports?  From what I can tell HMS drivers have a pretty good record at PIR. Here is what I found regarding HMS current paddock of drivers.  Jimmie has 4 wins at PIR.  Jeff and Dale have 2 wins.  While Kasey has one.  From these numbers HMS is a strong team going into PIR. 

But I wouldn’t count out the Roush drivers either.  Ford has shown how strong they are already in the season.  Matt Kenseth not only won his dual race, but the Dayton 500.  Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle qualified for the front row last week.  Greg finished 2nd and Carl finished 8th. 

As we know, I will be strongly cheering for my driver Tony Stewart.  He has not won at PIR since 1999.  He has 8 Top 5s and 11 top 10s.  I am hoping he has a good showing at PIR this week.  I was unhappy with his finish at Daytona 500 after winning his dual race and starting the 500 3rd. 

But what we know about NASCAR, each race is different and sometimes it can be a crap shoot on who is going to win.

One more thing from Daytona and this will be it.  I was planning on writing a post about the influence of social media on the sport.  The impact of social media came to the forefront on Monday night.  After Juan Pablo’s car crashed into the jet dryer Brad Keselowski  from his car snapped a picture with his phone and sent it out via Twitter.  Now this was the first time something like this occurred. During the fire delay we saw Brad tweeting from his phone while other drivers gathered around him.  During this time, the number of followers for Brad increased dramatically.  I wasn’t one of the people who joined up on Monday, I had already been following him.  But I found myself following all the action during this delay via Twitter.  Normally during a delay I have been known to flip back and forth between the delay and another program.  But Monday night I found myself glued to the television.  I also found myself becoming part of the conversation.  Some people think Brad should not have been doing this.  I didn’t have a problem with it.  He wasn’t driving his car AND tweeting.  It was only after his car was stopped that he took to his phone.  NASCAR even issued publicly Brad had not committed a violation with his tweeting on Monday.  I loved it.  Brad let us view NASCAR from an insider’s view.  A view many of us never get to experience.  Thank you Brad!  I will hold off my post on social media until next week.

Happy Race Weekend everyone!  Go Tony–bring home that win!

Hot Atlanta

Congratulations to Kurt Busch for his victory today.

I am proud of the #14 team today. They started out at the back of the pack after changing engines after the last practice yesterday. He, and the #39 team, were experiencing drive train issues so it is better to be safe than sorry. Tony finished 13th. I would have liked better for Tony, but after having a tough day with the car, I will take a 13th finish.  Ryan Newman finished 17th.

Tires seemed to be the issue of the day (outside the whole Carl/Brad incident).  Several drivers, including Ryan Newman and Mark Martin had blown tires.  I can’t remember whose tire they showed, but it was shredded to pieces.  Were some of the teams too aggressive on their setup for yesterday’s race?  Perhaps, but you should be able to depend on one’s tires during a race especially if they were specifically tested at the track. I guess Goodyear needs to go back and do some more testing before the boys return to Atlanta in the fall.

Now for what I am sure will be the talk of all the NASCAR radio shows tomorrow on Sirius as well as everywhere else. Prior to the start of the season NASCAR told the boys to “have it”. There was quite some debate around this topic. How far would the leash be released before NASCAR would pull it back and say that’s enough boys?  Well, today will test this whole idea of “have it boys”.  Early on in the race, Brad K. clipped Carl which sent Carl up the track and into Joey Lagano.  This wreck pretty much ended Carl’s day.  Brad had minimal damage and was able to continue on with his day.  It looked like he was going to have a good finish. However late in the race Carl let Brad K. know how he felt about the earlier incident.  When Carl was interviewed after the first initial incident, he played it off as if it wasn’t a big deal.  Well, I guess it was a bigger deal for him than we all thought. I know this is going to set a firestorm of debate between all NASCAR fans.

The boys are off next weekend so this will give everyone a chance to spend some quality time with friends and family who are feeling neglected because of NASCAR. Heck, be daring and watch some other kind of television on Sunday. Have a great week everyone!

Post Dega

Personal note…I can’t believe I went by I didn’t acknowledge April 12.  No it wasn’t my birthday…that’s June 15 or my wedding anniversary that’s June 9…but the anniversary of The Park.  I can’t believe it has been 4 years already.  What started out as a way to just share my randomness in my life as well as my passion obsession, has turned into a place where I have meet some wonderful people who love to blog just as much as I do.  At one point I thought about giving up on The Park, but it has become a part of me.  I may not have the traffic or the readers so people do with their blogs, but I like to think I can brighten someone’s day out there with my efforts.  Thank you to all those who stop by and comment and for all those lurkers out there.  I hope you continue your travels through The Park.

I was planning on posting my thoughts about the race at Talladega on Tuesday, but with the sudden passing of David Poole, I wanted until today.

As I have mentioned here before I like racing at Talladega.  I like the sitting on the edge of your seat kind of racing and Sunday was no exception for me.  Of course the face of the race took a different look on Lap 7 when the Big One happend.  I mean it took out several of the race contenders in one fell swoop.  it shows how one itty bitty wiggle/bobble can cause a massive pileup.    This race took out Jeff Gordon, the points leader as well as Mark Martin who had managed to climb to 13th in the points standings.  I felt bad for Mark. He was gaining  momentum and to have it all taken away just plain SUCKS.

I make no bones about the fact I am not a fan of Dale Jr.  I won’t go into all the horrendous details and detailed explanation of why, but on Sunday I found myself wondering where he was on the track.  It wasn’t because I was thinking of becoming a member of Junior Nation…the reason I picked him as my driver was for one of my fantasy leagues.  I was in the lead coming into Talladega and I wanted to maintain my lead as well increase my lead, plus Junior was still on the block for me to pick so why the hell not?  I mean I am not a fan of his, but I am not going to let that come between me and winning.  I mean look at the numbers at Talladega for Junior.  His best starting position is 3rd and well his best finish is first and he has done that 5 times.  It’s all about winning in my book.  And with the finish on Sunday I am have maintained my lead and stretched it out. 

Now on to The Crash…

We all know the best part of the race usually happens within the last 25 laps.  This is where those who have a possibility of winning begin to make their moves and find their drafting partners or better yet who they call follow to the front until they can pull out to take the lead.  Just like they did in the Nationwide race on Saturday, Newman and Junior hooked up nose to tail as they made there way to the front.  Plus you couldn’t count out David Ragan either since he was just about in the same spot after the last restart on Sunday as he was on Saturday.  But as we all know, this is Talladega…anything can happen.  Since Tony had a rough go on Sunday and to be honeset I thought he was going to make it interesting near the end, but as luck would have it no.   But there was the other SHR car driven by Ryan Newman.  If Tony couldn’t get the first win for Stewart Haas Racing, it was perfectly fine and dandy that Newman get it.  I was thinking Dale would make his move around Newman sooner than he did on Saturday, but the next thing you know he comes Carl Edwards being pushed by Brad Keselowski.The two of them passed the Newman/Earnhardt Express like they were standing still.  There was Carl I grimmaced.  He pretty much rode around all day until he needed to make his move…of course this was nothing new.  I have seen other drivers do this as well.  You have to do what you have to do to WIN. 

In my opinion, the incident between Carl and Brad was a racing deal.  Brad held the bottom line and did not go beyond the yellow as he was instructed by NASCAR during the driver’s meeting.  If he had gone below the yellow when Carl came down on him, it would have cost him the victory (see Fall 2008 Dega race).  It was a horrific accident.  Every piece of safety equipment did it’s job from the fence to the Hans device.  Carl was able to walk away and make his way to the start finish line.  I believe if Newman’s car had not been there when he started flipping I don’t think he would have ended up in the fence.  From what I could tell he was headed back down to the track surface when he hit the front of Newman’s car which accted like a catapult.  Eight fans were injured because of debris from Carl’s car.  This begs the question…should NASCAR car look at ways to prevent something from this happening in the future?  That I can’t answer.  NASCAR considers safety of the drivers, crewman, and fans priority number one and I am sure NASCAR will be disccussing these things in the near future.

Congratulations Brad for your first win in the Cup Series.  I think you have a might bright future in NASCAR!

#88 Wins

That’s right folks the #88 has seen Victory Lane.  Unfortunately, it was not THE #88.  Congratulations to Brad Keselowski for getting his first win in the Nationwide series. Way to go Brad!

Nashville was the second leg of the Busch Bermuda Triangle. Last night wasn’t too good to Busch he finished 20th. Now for the final leg of the triangle is Pocono today. Even though Busch qualified 10th, he crashed his primary car and will start from the back of the pack. It will definitely be interesting to see if Kyle can make his way to the front.

Saturday Night Special

Whew…what a race, well at least in the closing moments.  I didn’t get to watch much of the race last night, Little Smoke was being a little ornery.  He’s 4 and a boy so no further explanation should be necessary.

But I guess I did tune in at the right moment, Kyle Busch took his car to victory lane last night breaking the Gibbs #20 domination over the last several races in Nationwide.  It was kind of ironic that a Gibbs driving did break the #20 car’s domination however.  But the real excitement wasn’t in Victory Lane, it was in the pits.  

Brad Keselowski, driver of the #88 JR Motorsports Chevy, bumped Hamlin’s back bumper under the yellow right before the green/white checker.  Apparently Denny wasn’t happy with the bump from behind so Denny proceeds to get into Brad’s left front corner panel.  And well…that’s where everything went south.  Pit crews were “discussing” the incident in the pits while Kyle Busch was celebrating his victory on the track.  Nothing like a good “discussion” on a Saturday night.  Reminds me of those Saturday nights I spent with  my dad at the dirt track.

Denny-“Give a guy two inches to let him clear, and don’t just hang onto my rear quarter panel,” said Hamlin, who made it clear that his retaliation was for the bump under caution, not for the way Keselowski had raced him. “You throw a rock, I’m going to throw a concrete block back.”

Brad-“I race one day a week, not two,” he said. “I have 200 laps to prove myself, not 400. I have to make the most of every lap.”

Junior-“What the hell did he do that for?” asked Earnhardt, Keselowski’s car owner, after the race. “Brad bumped him just a little bit under caution, and Denny knocked the fender off his car. Now the car’s all tore up.

Sounds like Denny doesn’t like to be raced hard.  Um…did Denny get the memo?  Isn’t that what racing is about?  This is NASCAR Denny.  Like I said I didn’t get to see all of the race so I cannot say if Brad was driving him too hard or not.  In my opinion, as long as the racing is clean what’s wrong with a little hard racing.  C’mon on now!  Hey Denny…it’s time to put your big boy undies on and deal with it.

One more thing…Congratulations to Donny Lia for winning the Ohio 250 yesterday in Mansfield, Ohio yesterday afternoon on a last lap pass.  This was his first win in 8 starts in the Craftsman Truck Series and the first time a rookie has a won a race since Carl Edwards did it in 2003.  Way to go Donny

Now on with the “Day O’ Racing”.  I got my food, my adult beverage of choice and a nice comfortable chair to watch all the action.  I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day!