NASCAR 2010

It has been awhile since I have posted anything of substance here in The Park.  This has been in part to my little affection for Facebook, but I found I really do miss The Park.  I didn’t think I would because it was becoming something I felt I had to do.  But then I realized it was a place I could escape and talk NASCAR.  I don’t have many people around who have the same passion I have about NASCAR.  In fact many don’t even understand and when I try to explain, well, it’s like trying to explain quantum physics to a 6 year old. 

By the end of the 2009 season I was drained.  I hate to say it, but I grew tired and even at times complacent with NASCAR.  I guess after the Chase began and it was inevitable Jimmie was going to win his 4th championship I found other things to bide my time on Sunday afternoons like football.  I don’t think I really watched a whole Chase race in 2009.   But the off season has allowed me to get rejuvenated for NASCAR.  I have my new 2010 Tony Stewart calendar up in my office.  I have perusing the bookstores and the local Walmarts looking for my preseason magazines in order to prepare for the 2010 season.  I have already warned my family and friends that NASCAR season is just around the corner. 

I have high hopes for the 2010 season.  I am interested to see how the new rear spoiler will perform versus the previous wing on the car.  I wasn’t aware that Tony was in my home state of Texas doing a tire test at TMS with the new wing on the car.  It doesn’t look too bad.  I hope it does what the drivers and NASCAR hope it does.  I hope it brings some more exciting racing.  Racing was exciting last year, but I am always looking for more. 

I think this 2010 season will be one to watch.  I am looking to see if Jimmie can be dethroned as NASCAR champion.  I am not diminishing his run as champion and what he has accomplished the last four years, but I would like to see the #14 standing atop at the end of the season as NASCAR season.  The only other driver that I would be ok with is Mark Martin.  He had an amazing 2009 season.  I think it surprised a lot of NASCAR fans.  It was as if he had been rejuvenuted and he was a 50 year old man driving aorund, but a 24 year old.  He definitely raised the stakes for everyone last year and he has set the bar high for the 2010 season.

There has been much discussion over the offseason about Danica Patrick’s foray into NASCAR.  At this point I am not swayed either way.  I think she has the skill set to race in NASCAR , but how she will fair is another story.  I am looking forward to seeing her out there racing against the boys.  Part of me wants to see her and Kyle Busch tangle and watch it all unfold.  She isn’t afraid to go over and tell a driver how it is and neither is he.

I love the double file restarts in Cup and Nationwide.  It definitely made the restarts fun to watch.  Now you the Truck series will have double file restarts.  Truck racing is crazy as it is and now you have double file restarts….wow…let the racing begin!

And finally….Dale Jr.  If you have been to The Park you know I am NOT a Dale Jr. fan.  He will be heading into his thrid year wtih HMS and he hasn’t performed up the expectations as everyone wanted.  There were times Dale Jr. was racing his heart out and having great days only to end up in the crapper.  I think removing Tony Jr. was a move that needed to be made.   Perhaps now that he will have a full year with Lance McGrew will help him get back to where his fans, owner, and Junior himself want him to be.  I have to say there were times during interviews he sounded like he didn’t want to be at the track or even racaing.  But we all get like that at our jobs.  We begin to question why we chose the career we did and if we should continue.  Perhaps this off season he has had a chance to step back and see where he wants to go and he will get back on track (no pun intended). 

Well…that’s about it for now.  I am so pumped for the season to begin.  How ’bout you?

The Brickyard

I can honestly say I was excited about yesterday’s race.  To me, Indy is the holy land for racing.  I was on pins and needles at the prospect of tony winning and putting that #14 back in victory lane, but we don’t alway get what we wish for.

The day started out with Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya on the front row.    What a way to start a race!  Mark Martin, who I think has stole the show this year in NASCAR (excluding Tony) and Juan Pablo who would have a chance to win both a 500 and a 400.  It looked like most of the day this would be the case for JPM.  He had a 5 second lead on Mark at one point and it looked like no other driver was going to touch him.  Until JPM hit pit road late in the race and got nabbed for speeding not in one zone, but two zones.  JPM was angry and he even said so over his radio.  I can understand his frustration, but you made a mistake.  He finished 11th.  Not the finish I am sure JPM wanted, but still keeps him in the Top 12.  It’s hard to keep your eye on the big picture sometimes, but I think now that he has had some distance away from the race he can reflect on his effort. 

This whole speeding on pit road issue was the topic of conversation on Sirius this morning.  All those conspiracy theorists were calling in talking about how NASCAR rigs the races, etc.  There are times I wonder because things after in the strangest ways, but come on now.  Drivers are even given 5 miles over the posted pit road speed limit.  JPM was nabbed not in one spot, but two.  I could also understand if more than one driver was nabbed for speeding.  It wasn’t like that truck race a few months ago where it seemed everyone was getting nabbed.  NASCAR doesn’t have some state trooper down with his trusty radar gun hiding behind some tree.  No it’s done electronically.  Besides, I believe it was Junior in a post race intereview commenting on the fact that he was hoping NASCAR would have thrown a few more cautions.  Now that statement boggled my  mind more than the whole speeding incident. 

Speaking of Junior, it doesn’t look like he will end up in the Chase this year.  He finished 36th after starting 4th.  He currently sits in 21st spot in the standings, 367 points back of 12th place, Matt Kenseth.  There are only 6 races left until the Chase begins. If he is going to have a shot at even getting to #12, he is going to have to light it up in the next 6 races as well as have those ahead of him have bad races.  To be honest I don’t see that happening…he would have to jump over Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, David Reutiman, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, Jeff Burton, Marcus Ambrose, Jamie McMuray, Joey Lagano.  I am sorry, but yesterday pretty much put the nail in the coffin.

Congratulations to Jimmie on winning his second Brickyard in a row.  I have never been a big Jimmie fan and I have stated that here in The Park, but Jimmie and Chad always find a way to get themselves in position to win a race.  It’s not just here and there…it’s every week the #48 team is a threat.  I guess that’s why he has won the Championship three times in a row and is making waves for that 4th one.  Of course, this doesn’t mean I am going to run out and stock up on Jimmie stuff.  I am just saying as a NASCAR fan I have to respect the talent and tenacity of a team to come with both barrels loaded every week. 

I have to say that was a nice piece ESPN did with Tony and AJ Foyt.  How many of us get to meet our idol and let alone become friends with that idol.   Thank you ESPN.  On that note, you can always tell when ESPN takes over coverage of a sporting event.  With the littlest stories, there is this dramatic buildup, the story and the dramatic ending.  Some times their stories even make you cry.   It does make you wonder sometimes if there are trying to see how many people they can fit in a broadcast booth.  Remember the first year…OMG!  That was too much for me to take in before, during , and after.  I still think some of it could be scaled down, but one thing I am glad they did…keep Rusty out of the broadcast booth.  I don’t mind the pre race stuff, race break commentary, or even the post race stuff, but calling the race not his forte.  I do like Ray Evernham.  He has the unique insight that keeps me engaged. 

It’s going to be an interesting over the next few races to see who gets in…who doesn’t. Either way…I am looking forward to the racing.

Pocono

I was able to catch most of the race on Sunday.  We got home from our little tour around Texas about 50 laps into the race.  I have to say I do like the double file restarts.  I don’t know if it made that big of a difference at the 2.5 mile track, but I can’t wait until the boys return to Bristol, Martinsville and Talladega.  I have never like the lapped cars sitting in the front of the lead lap cars especially when the leaders are sitting 3 or 4 rows back.  It can get quite confusing at times, plus the leaders don’t have to negotiate around cars that don’t have a snowball’s chance to be a factor in the race.   Plus the lapped cars can create more issues at the beginning of restarts.  But for now I like them.

Now on to the best part of the weekend.  Congratulations to Tony Stewart for getting his first win of the season (technically it’s his 2nd one), but as we all know it’s the points races that matter.  This is the first win by Stewart Haas Racing and I am sure this is not going to be the last.  I didn’t realize it until I read one of my favorite blogs, Tony won his first race at the 14th stop of this year’s season.  Coincidence…I think not.  Tony earned the pole by virtue of owner’s points due to the rainout of qualifying on Friday.  But his luck would be short lived when he crashed in practice and had to go to a backup car.  This meant instead of starting first, he would be delegated to the 43rd spot.  Of course it didn’t take long before Smoke was leading the race.  As it always seems to fall Pocono came down to a little gas mileage.  Kudos to Tony’s crew for taking advantage of the money stop and getting Tony out in front of Carl.  And here is where Tony and Darian rolled the dice.  I was holding my breath hoping and praying that Tony was saving enough gas to get him to the checkered flag.  It was sweet to see that #14 cross the finish line in first.  It was cool to see Tony’s dad get excited about his son’s victory and how touching to see him congratulate him in Victory Lane.   What a great early Father’s Day present.

Other notes from this past weekend

  • The boys on to Michigan.  If Junior doesn’t pull away with a victory it will mean he has gone a full year without a victory.  I guess all the broadcasters will be making note of this fact a little bit more.  Oh well…
  • I have been listening to the “talk” about Danica Patrick coming over to race in NASCAR.  I think she has the skill set, but I don’t if she can  take on all that is NASCAR.  I don’t know how the fans are over there in IRL, but here in NASCAR we can get a little passionate about a sport.  Time will tell. 
  • Kyle Busch smashing his guitar trophy after the Naitonwide race.  My opinion…it’s his trophy, he earned it and he can do what he likes.  I like Kyle Busch.  He has put a little spice back into NASCAR.
  • I guess TNT did okay on the broadcast.  I didn’t really pay attention all that much because after touring Texas for a week you have quite a few things to unpack and wash.

The Bullet List

Sorry about not posting in awhile–this is my busiest time at work and I am lucky to get out with some kind of damage like at Talladega. So with that being said here is my bullet list for the past couple of weeks.

  • I was ok with the result of the Richmond race.  I was hoping for a Denny Hamlin victory or at least closer to the front so it would have given me a bigger lead in my fantasy league, but I came out leading the points after that race.  Not too shabby I must say.  Congratatulations to Kyle Busch for yet another win this year.  Say what you want, but this boy can drive that car.  With the win at Richmond that gave him 4 wins so far on the season.
  • How ’bout that race at Darlington?  That’s the second win for Mr. Mark Martin this year.  It’s 2 wins in the last four races.  He is now up to the 11th spot in the standings with 20 bonus points.  He has one more win than teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.  And 2 more than Junior.   I believe I heard this was his first multiple race win season since 2000, but I am not sure on that stat.  I was half listening at times and I think it was on the radio and not tv. 
  • Thanks Jeff Burton for a decent finish for me.  You allowed me to keep my lead in my fantasy league.  Granted it’s a small one, but a lead nonetheless.
  • I listen to quite a bit of NASCAR on Sirius.  No matter what the topic somehow, someway, talk will turn about Juniors’s performance or lack there of this season.  Normally when the talk turns to Junior I usually switch channels because frankly I really don’t care about it, but the other day one of the callers made a decent point.  He said perhaps Junior doesn’t know how to communciate to Eury Jr. about how this new car reacts or what needs to be done.  This is a different car than the old one.  I mean all you have to do is look at how Jeff has struggled with the car.  I have watched Junior drive the wheels of the Nationwide car.  However this car is similar to the old car.   I just think Mr. Hendrick is going to have some tough choices ahead of him.  I mean think abou this…Mark Martin just joined HMS this year and he already has more wins with HMS than Junior has with HMS.
  • I am excited about the results Stewart Haas has been putting up lately.  Tony and Ryan finished 3rd and 4th respectively at Darlington.  Both drivers are in the top 12 with Tony sitting 2nd just 29 points right behind Jeff Gordon.  While Ryan is sitting 8th in the points.   I am excited about the rest of the season.  Both drivers are so close to that first win for Stewart Haas.  I would love for Tony to get the first win for his team, but I would take a Newman too.
  • How ’bout them rookies?  Brad K finished 7th and Joey Lagano finished 9th. 
  • I have to say I was a little disappointed about the suspension of Jeremy Mayfield from NASCAR especially since he was tryign to make a go of it with his own team this year.  This is a no-tolerance policy.  I can’t say I blame NASCAR for having such stringent policies.  Does a driver want to be out on the track driving 150 plus mph with another driver who may be under the influence.  Will Jeremy be able to come back into NASCAR at some point?  I can’t answer that.  But it is going to be interesting to see how this all plays out.  Jeremy has named his wife Shana as the owner and tagged JJ Yeley to drive his #41 car.
  • It’s all-star week in NASCAR.  One of my favorite events takes place tomorrow–the pit crew challenge.  I love to watch this event.  This is the time these guys get to show what makes them best out there.  Many times these guys get no recognition unless they  make a huge mistake, but if it wasn’t for these guys doing what they do best soem of these drivers would be able to do what they do best.
  • Have you voted for your favorite driver?  I have a couple of times, but that’s about it.  I will go and vote a couple of more before the deadline.  So if haven’t voted…go vote!
  • Don’t forget about NASCAR Day on Friday May 15.  Wear your favorite NASCAR gear to work, home, or whereevery to let everyone know what NASCAR means to you.  Of course, for those who are friends and family memebers of a NASCAR fan, you already know what NASCAR means to them.

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!

Talladega

As I lay in my recliner trying to beat this sinus cold that has taken over my body, I flipped on to Speed TV to see a replay of the 2007 Aaron’s 499.  I must say it was kind of exciting to watch even though I knew who the winner was going to be.  I like Talladega.  I have made no bones about this fact here in The Park before.  It’s a chess game of sorts.  One little move can make or break the race.  One wrong misstep could take out a gaggle of cars and change the race in a second, but I still love it.  This race could change the face of the standings as well.  I don’t know how it would effect them this soon in the season, but when the boys come back in the fall it could change the face of The Chase.

I do have a little dilemma this week.  Dale Jr. tends to race well at this track, but he hasn’t had the best luck this season.  Even though this little tidbit has not escaped me this week, I am still thinking of choosing Dale Jr. as my driver for this week over at On Pit Row’s “One and Done” Fantasy Racing contest.  I have a slight lead and sitting a top the standings, but like anything else it could all fall apart of this weekend.    But sometimes it’s about points racing and maintaining that lead.

I am hoping this is the weekend Tony Stewart gets over that hump and get his first win in the #14.  He won last fall’s race after a discussion regarding the yellow line, but I think he will be one of several drivers to watch this weekend.  I have to admit I think Dale Jr. will also be one of the drivers to watch this week as well.  All his teammates have each won a race this week and to some there may be some pressure on him to win on for HMS.  But Talladega is one of the those tracks where he runs well.  So maybe he will come through for me…but of course it needs to be behind Tony.  Come on now…let’s don’t all go drinking that crazy kool-aid.