2014 Season

I can believe the start of the 2014 season is upon us.  There are so many story lines that have come out of the off-season.  It has been one of the busiest off-seasons I have seen in a few years.   Here are some story lines coming into the 2014 season.

The Chase–new changes are here! 16 drivers, a win gets you in the Chase if you are in the top 30 in points, eliminator rounds in the last 10 races and a 4 car shoot out at Miami.  Not sure what to think about the changes, I will just have to wait and see

Qualifying–You will have three rounds at 1.25 miles or longer and 2 rounds at tracks less 1.25 miles.  Round 1 = 25 minutes to post qualifying time-after which the 24 registering the fastest will advance to 2nd round. Those not advancing to Round 2 will be sorted based on 1st round times in descending order. Round 2 = 10 minutes to qualify, 12 fastest in this round will move onto the final round, those not advancing will earn positions 13-24 based on time.  Final round = 5 minutes, fastest times from this session will determine 1-12 positions.  There will be a 5-minute break between each round where teams can make adjustments.  They will not be allowed to jack the vehicle or raise the hood and once the car enters the garage, it will no longer be permitted to return to the track for additional qualifying attempts. Of course is you are at tracks 1.25 or less, drivers will only have two rounds to get things done.  Did you get all that?

Jimmie Johnson–Will he or won’t he get to that magic mountain of 7 championships this season?  I haven’t heard much chatter about it, but it is still early in the season.  But I am sure somewhere down the line, it will be mentioned.

Stewart Haas Racing–I think this is the team that you need to watch our for in 2014 (of course I am a little biased).  SHR went from a three-car team to a four car team.  SHR added new drivers Kevin Harvick (who replaced the departing Ryan Newman who is now in over at Richard Childress Racing) and Kurt Busch driving the #41.  Danica Patrick will be starting her 2nd year in Cup.  But all eyes I think will be on Smoke, aka, Tony Stewart.  More about my thoughts on Tony later.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.:  I am interested to see how Dale Jr. will fare this year.  It was announced that his crew chief, Steve Letarte, will be leaving at the end of the season to join NBC when they take over the final part of the NASCAR season next year.  I am sure the good folks over at Hendrick Motor Sports have started looking at who will replace Letarte.  Letarte has done good things for Junior since becoming his crew chief.  I don’t cringe every time Dale is interviewed.  He looks more relaxed and upbeat.  Steve Letarte will be missed, but I am looking forward to him in the broadcast booth next year.

The #3–It is time.  It has been 13  years since the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr.  Richard Childress has been very respectful about bringing back this iconic and revered number iconic back to the Cup level.  Dale Sr.’s legacy to me is more than just the number.  That’s what I focus on when I look back at his career.  Is Richard Petty’s legacy diminished because someone else drives the #43?  I know there are some small faction who would like to not see the #3 back on the track and that is ok.  But I am excited to see it back on the track and I think Mr. Dillon will do the #3 proud.  Note to those crazy loons who wear the aluminum hats–there is no conspiracy with the #3.  Are you kidding me?  You know how many people you would have to involve to pull off that kind of thing?  You guys need to stop drinking that “special Kool-aid”.  If you really want to scream NASCAR is on the take and fixed, how come Junior hasn’t won a championship or for that matter multiple championships?  RCR has always had fast cars at the restrictor plate tracks.  So take your aluminum hats and black helicopters and go back to figuring out something more important, like why do hot dog packages come in packs of 10 and buns in packs of 8!

Sprint Unlimited–I liked the racing even after the 9 car crash that took out some of the major players in the race.  There was side by side racing.  Denny clearly had the car to beat it seemed.  He won all three segments and stood in victory lane for the first time in the Unlimited since he won the thing back in his rookie year.  Of course, the weirdest part of the night was when the pace car caught fire!  You heard me, the pace car caught fire!  I mean two years it was a jet dryer up in flames!  At one point, I was waiting for the mayhem guy from the All State commercials to pop out!

Thank goodness this race occurred AFTER Valentine’s Day.  It looked like Danica Patrick was going to make it thorough the big crash, but only to be hit by her boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  It never saw her.  I would have loved to been a fly on the wall in that trailer home to hear the conversation.

I’m telling ya, it had to be the full moon that was hovering over the race track.  That would explain so much!

Tony Stewart–It has been a long off-season for us Tony fans.  I mean, we haven’t seen our driver in a car since August.  I for one am pumped to see Tony back in his #14!  He seems very upbeat about getting the 2014 season underway.  That was clearly evident on Saturday night.  He looked great out there.  It was if he had never been gone.  But my excitement was short-lived thanks to that 9-car pile up courtesy of Matt Kenseth. Saw this quote on Twitter from Tony, “I’ve waited for 7 months to race, I damn sure wasn’t going to sit there and ride around.”.  Now that’s the Tony I love!  I am hoping 2014 is the year of #14.  I want to see him win the Daytona 500 this year.  Of course if he does all those crazy conspiracy loons will come out of the lead line caves screaming CONSPIRACY!  But you know what, let them cry all they want.  Just like Dale Sr., he has won everything he can at Daytona.  He knows how to get around the place.  But that just goes to show you how tough winning the Daytona 500 can be.  Some of NASCAR’s best drivers, have never one a the 500.

Hope that has caught you up to speed for Daytona.  Now here are a few house keeping things I need to take care of.  If you are in Raiderland or listening outside the boundaries of Raiderland, check at That Dang Ol’ Show.  You can listen to the show on Monday nights from 6:00-8:00 pm on The Red Dirt Rebel (105.3).  If the wind is blowing just right and the sun is setting in the west, you might just hear me call in and talk a little racing.  Plus, you might learn a thing or two in the process.

And finally….since there are only 5 days until Daytona (February 23, 2014)…I need to put the disclaimer out there for everyone.

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!

SMOKE YUMMO.CHARLOTTE COKE 600.2010

Daytona and Other Musings

Beginning on Valentine’s Day with Media Day through yesterday’s Daytona 500, I can say it has been an interesting Speedweeks 2013.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  This was probably the first time in a long time I followed everything that was NASCAR during Speedweeks.  I found craving anything NASCAR.  I came across several NASCAR events over on ESPN Classic.  I loved watching previous Daytona 500s.  It was fun to see the cars, the drivers, and yes, the racing.  Coverage of the sport has come so far since some of those 500s.  despite what Daytona 500 I was watching, they all ended the same way, the winner experiencing the biggest joy of their racing career.  It was awesome to see!

I had waited all winter to see the Daytona 500.  I had settled in with my snacks and media setup.  After some delays with NASCAR.com, I was able to get my Raceview set up.  This was going to be a historic Daytona 500.  A week ago Sunday, Danica Patrick because the first women to win the pole at Daytona. This was the first points race of the season with the new Gen 6 car.  it was just going to be one of those days.  I was hoping Tony Stewart would get his first Daytona 500 victory.  The day before he had won the Nationwide race tying Dale Earnhardt Sr with 7 wins in Nationwide races at Daytona.  It was a very subdued celebration for Tony due to the chaos of the crash.  I am still processing all that happened on Saturday.  Much has been said about the crash that occurred on Saturday.  I just remember seeing Kyle Larson’s car and wondering where the front part of his car was.  Then we all knew.  His engine and one of the front tires was in the catch fence.  His other front tire and what seemed to be part of the axle (I think that is what was still attached) landed several rows into the grandstands.  Even though parts of debris landed in the stands, the catch fence did it’s job.  It kept Kyle’s car from entering the grandstands.  It was just so surreal.

I was hoping for more of the same from Tony Stewart on Sunday.  The Daytona 500 has been so elusive for Mr. Stewart.  For some reason he has the car to beat on Saturday, but he seems to be snake bit on Sunday.  The race started out great.  It seemed everyone was minding their Ps and Qs.  But around lap 35 that all changed. From what I could tell from the replays, Kyle Busch got into the back of Kasey Kahne.  Kasey ended up spinning in front of the field.  It looked like Tony was going to make it through, but next thing I know Kevin Harvick gets into Tony.  Another Daytona 500 gone!  Let’s just say this was NOT A HAPPY TONY STEWART FAN!  I don’t normally throw electronic equipment, but in the air my iPad went.  I had to restrain from saying some very choice adult words due to my children in the room.  But none the less Tony’s day was done more or less.  I have to give major props to his crew for getting him back out on the track to get those precious points.  As we all know, EVERY SINGLE POINT counts in Cup.  What was even cooler, was Tony was helping his crew out on the repairs.  (Photo courtesy of Stewart-Haas Racing Twitter Account)

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Even though Tony was knocked out early in the 500, his Stewart Haas Racing teammates had a much better day.  Ryan Newman finished 5th and Danica finished 8th.  All in all the SHR team had a good Speedweeks.  Thanks to Newman’s finish in the top 5, everyone can get a Bloomin’ Onion at Outback!  Of course once race does not make a season.  There are still 35 races left in the season.

I can’t even describe what I felt on Saturday while watching the Nationwide race.  On one hand I was excited for Tony’s victory and on the other I was concerned with the drivers and the fans.  When I first saw the crash happen I didn’t know Kyle Larson’s car had ended up into the catch fence.  All I saw was half of his car and wondering where the rest of the car ended up.  I had never seen anything like that before.  Then we all knew.  The rest of his car ended up in the stands as well as the catch fence.  Tony Stewart is a class act.  I know as much as he wanted to celebrate his victory and revel in tying Dale Earnhardt Sr, he was more concerned about the fans in the grandstands.  I also have to give major props to ESPN in staying with the story despite the fact they were bumping up against the North Carolina and North Carolina State basketball game.  But the biggest props goes to SPEED television and their crew.  They did an excellent job in reporting this fluid story.  NASCAR does everything in its power to protect everyone at the track from fans, to crew members, and to drivers.  Even with all the safety devices and procedures in place, NASCAR is still a dangerous sport.  Drivers know this.  The catch fence did its major job, preventing a race car going at close to 200 mph from entering the grandstands.  Yes, parts of the car did end up in the stands, but this could have been so much worse.  The engine and one of the tires remained in the catch fence.  Thoughts and prayers are with those fans who were injured.  I am hoping for a speedy recovery for them.

Here are some other tidbits from Daytona.

  • Danica Patrick was the belle of the ball in Daytona. Yes, she receives quite a bit of media attention.  But look at what she accomplished during this Speedweeks:  winning the pole for the 500, lead a lap during the 500, raced in the lead pack most of the day, and briefly had a shot to win.  She finished 8th in the 500.  That is the best finish int he 500 since Janet Guthrie in 1980.  She finished 11th.
  • Congrats to J.J. Yeley for his top ten finish yesterday.  This means Kids Eat Free at Golden Corral today!  With two kids I was going to take advantage of it today, but with blizzard conditions out here in Raiderland, looks like grilled cheese sandwiches tonight.
  • Little Keelan Harvick is such a cutie!  He was Daddy’s little good luck charm for the Spring Unlimited & the Dual race.  Unfortunately that was it for little Keelan.  Daddy was collected in the early crash that took at Tony.  Even though Kevin didn’t make history, I think he will be a force this season.
  • Not a fan of Rusty Wallace.  While watching the pre-race show for the Nationwide race, he stated he didn’t understand why Dale Jr. was racing in the Nationwide race.  Wasn’t the goal for Junior to win a Cup championship and shouldn’t that be his focus?  Rusty also asked was is it his duty to help build the Nationwide Series or win the championship.  He just didn’t understand why he was doing all this stuff.  Seriously?  Why is he calling out just Junior?  Why not call out Tony Stewart?  I mean Tony was racing in Nationwide on Saturday.  He also own a Cup team.  He also has Tony Stewart Racing and Eldora Raceway.  Plus he races at other tracks when he is not racing in Cup.  Seriously Rusty…ugh!
  • To borrow from a Mac Davis song (Happiness is Lubbock, Texas)…hey Carl, what is the best view of Daytona?  In your rearview mirror.  Man Daytona wasn’t kind to Carl.  He was involved in 5 crashes (4 during Speedweeks and one during testing in January).

And finally the “Fan Driven 400” at Pocono Speedway!  Today is the deadline for submitting idea for the name of the June 9, 2013 race at Pocono.  You can submit your idea at walmarturl.com/FanDriven.  Three submissions will be chosen and fans can vote from March 11 to April 8.  additional information about other ways to be involved in the “Fan Driven 400” check out my post at https://trixiestrailerpark.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/fan-driven-400/.  Good luck! 

Danica Patrick

I was going to rehash all the stories I had read on the internet and watched on tv the last couple of days. Honestly I kept deleting everything I had written. Even with this post, I am having a hard time writing about the story. But on the eve of the Budweiser Duels, here goes, my take on this historical even in sports history.

I have heard so much talk about Danica since she decided to come over to NASCAR from Indy Car.  There has already been quite a lot of hoopla surrounding her arrival both good and bad.  But you cannot argue with the historical significance of what she accomplished on Sunday.  Title IX has been law since 1972.  I was only two years old when this went into effect.  Growing up I lived next door to three boys.  Of the three, two were very rambunctious and into sports.  We all played football, basketball, and baseball together.  It didn’t matter that I was a girl to them (well, at least until I hit puberty).  I was good at all the sports. I held my own with this boys.  And to blunt, I could throw a football better than most of the boys on the block.  However, I was somewhat limited to the sports I could participate in at school.  It wasn’t because I was a girl, it was because my school didn’t have many offerings for girls.  In junior high, it was basketball and track.  In high school it was the same thing.  But either way I was given the opportunity to play sports.  I did play soccer and softball through other sports programs offered.

As a young girl growing up in the 1980s I didn’t have many female sports figures I could follow or point to for inspiration.  All the ones I grew up knowing and following were men.  The only time I can remember watching women participate sports was on Wide World of Sports, Wimbledon, or the Olympics.  I believe the only women’s basketball I ever saw was when the NCAA tournament rolled around in March.  That was it.  I knew there were women who were participating in sports, but there wasn’t they didn’t receive the exposure they do today.

As a young girl, I went to the local dirt track on Saturday nights with my father.  I so wanted to be a race car driver.  I wanted to get out there on that dirt track and race with those guys.   There were no women I knew of at the time that raced.  But as I know now that wasn’t true.  Women have been a part of NASCAR since it’s inception from Sara Christian (first female driver in NASCAR) to Louise Smith to Janet Guthrie (she also competed in Indy Series) to Shawna Robinson and now Danica Patrick.  Each of these women and the many others who have been part of NASCAR have laid the groundwork for Danica.  And whether you like it or not, she is laying the groundwork for the next generation of female racers who want to race in NASCAR.

Of all the side stories that came out of qualifying this past Sunday the one I enjoyed the most was about Ella Gordon, daughter of Jeff Gordon.  I found the story on USA Today written by Jeff Gluck http://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2013/02/17/danica-patrick-daytona-500-pole-jeff-gordon/1926541/).  Danica took a picture with 5-year old Ella Gordon after winning the pole on Sunday.  According to her father, Ella didn’t realize girls could grow up to be race car drivers until Patrick came along.  Now Ella can grow up knowing women do race in NASCAR thanks to Danica.  Who knows 20 years from now we may Miss Ella Gordon and other young ladies competing in NASCAR.

And folks that is the significance of this accomplishment.

Don’t forget…

  • Fan Driven 400–Don’t forget you can become part of NASCAR history too!  You can submit your idea for naming the June 9, 2013 race at Pocono.  You have until Monday, February 25 to get your idea submitted online at walmarurl.com/FanDriven.  For more additional information about how you can participate your participate in the “Fan Driven 400” go to https://trixiestrailerpark.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/fan-driven-400/
  • Budweiser Duels are on tomorrow, February 21!  This is the first time in awhile I be home to watch them.  Several drivers are already “in” the 500 due to speeds set on Sunday.  These include Danica Patrick, Jeff Gordon, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse, and Kurt Busch.
  • All the points racing action begins Friday with the Camping World Trucks Series, then Saturday with the Nationwide Series, and finally the Daytona 500!  It has definitely been a very long off-season!

Daytona 500-The Final Report

This was the weirdest Daytona 500 I have ever seen.  It was filled with a lot of firsts in the 54 year history of the race.

First of all the race that was scheduled to start on Sunday at 12:00, was delayed by rain and postponed until Monday.  This would be the first time in the history of the 500 it would be postponed due to rain.  Monday brought even a further delay for the race.  Instead of starting it at the 12:00 (EST) as announced on Sunday, NASCAR moved the start time to 7:00 pm (EST).  I have to give some props to NASCAR for moving the race time to an evening start time.  This would give track officials to get the track ready and to keep fans from having to sit for hours in the stands waiting for the race to start.  This would mean the 500 would be run in prime time under  the lights–a first for the 500.

But the delay was just the beginning…lap 2…Elliott turns Jimmie Johnson and well, the melee ensued.  Lap 2 people…this is a 200 lap race.  This wreck dashed the hopes of Trevor Bayne to be a repeat winner.  There has been a repeat winner in 10 years.  This crash also ruined the debut of Danica Patrick.  She became the third women in NASCAR history to start the Daytona 500.  Janet Guthrie was the first when she started back in 1977 and then again in 1980.  Followed by Shawna Robinson in 2002.  Jimmie took quite a hit during this crash.  It was interesting to see how Jimmie prepared himself for impact.  I always assumed the drivers put themselves in crash position, but how they did it was a mysterious.  I am still on the fence about seeing what drivers go through during their crashes.

After another early caution the drivers seemed to settle into the race.  Unlike the last couple of years, the drivers did not pair up in the two-car tango.  I wasn’t a big fan of the two-car tandem because it took away some of the fun that I enjoyed about the race.  I loved to see who was going to pair up with who during the race.  I liked the pack racing.  It made for some exciting racing.  It kept you on the edge of your set.  Pack racing does have a higher chance of big crashes, but I think it allows the drivers to be in control of their fate.  I think last night was a little bit of a hybrid–not quite two car tandem and full pack racing.  There were times when two drivers would hook up in the pack to make their way to the front.  Either way it was fun to watch.

Just when you thought this was going to be a normal race (well…after all the delays), you were wrong.  After coming back from commercial after David Stremme brought out the caution, I see a Juan Pablo’s wrecked car in the infield and Juan climbing out of his destroyed car.  Juan Pablo was coming around to catch up with the rest of the pack after his pitstop.  After something apparently broke on his car, he slammed into a safety truck.  Next thing you see is the huge fire back in turn 3.  The jet dryer on the back of the safety truck began to leak 200 gallons of jet/diesel fuel and caught fire.  Yes, I said fire!  It was one of the craziest sights I had seen during a NASCAR race.  Major props to the track and safety workers in battling the fire and getting the track ready for the final 40 laps of the race.  I had to giggle when I saw them bringing out several boxes of Tide detergent.  But that wasn’t the funniest sight to see during this delay.  It was the fact that Brad Keslowski was tweeting from his phone during the entire delay. Once again another first for NASCAR.  Both the driver of the safety truck and Juan Pablo walked away from the accident.  After an almost 2 hour delay, the boys and girl got back in their cars and started racing.

I have to admit the racing after this delay was anticlimactic.  I was hoping there would have been more door to door, edge of your seat racing, but from my recliner it didn’t happen.  It may have been the fact that I was tired, sick and wanted this race to end. I thought Biffle and Junior were going to make a run at Kenseth, but Matt had a fast car and I don’t think they were going to catch him.  Matt Kenseth took his 2nd Daytona 500 win in the last 3 years.  It was 11:55 pm (CST) on my clock when Matt took the checkered.  I, along with NASCAR Nation, were very grateful the “hostage crisis” known as the Daytona 500 was over.

Other tidbits from the race

  • Tony Stewart who won his dual race on Thursday, however this didn’t translate over to last night.  He finished 16th after a late race crash.  His 14th attempt to win the Daytona 500 wasn’t in the cards last night.  He has won everything at Daytona.  This is the one race that has eluded him.
  • Martin Truex won the midway bonus.  That is a cool $200,ooo for Mr. Truex
  • Danica finished 38th
  • Only one Hendrick car survived the race–Dale finished 2nd.  Jimmie crashed on lap 2, Jeff lost an engine, and Kasey got caught up in a late race crash.  Looks like Mr. Hendrick will be writing some checks for some sheet metal.
  • Possible penalties and fines ahead for Chad Knaus after Jimmie’s car failed inspection due to an illegal C-post on the #48?
  • Congratulations to Kevin and Delana Harvick on the announcement they are expecting a boy later this year.
  • Congratulations to Ryan and Krissie Newman and big sis Brooklyn on the announcment they are expecting a little girl.
  • Condolescences and prayers to the Chris Myers and his family as they deal with the loss of their son Christopher.

Well…this closes out 2012 Speedweeks.  The boys are headed to Phoenix this week and I for one can’t wait to see what will happen next.

Daytona

I will post my notes about the race later today once I have had tons of caffeine and some sleep.

In the meantime…congratulations to Matt Kenseth on his 2nd Daytona 500 win!

Daytona 500 Watch 2012

Dear Mother Nature,

Yesterday you seemed to be upset with all of us folks in NASCAR Nation.  I am not sure what we did to upset you, but with some sense of humiliaty, please accept our appologies and let the drivers race today.  The drivers have prepared for this race for quite some time.  The crew chiefs as well as all the boys in the garage have worked countless hours preparing these cars for the 500.  Some even had to work overtime preparing the backup car.  Fans have spent lots of money and have driven from miles around to see this wonderful race we call the Daytona 500.  So if you can find it in your heart today to forgive us for whatever we may have done, we would greatly appreciate it.  Please let us race today!

Thank you.

A NASCAR fan.

Daytona 500-Rain Delayed

Looks like Mother Nature won out today, the Daytona 500 has been postponed until tomorrow. NASCAR waited until the latest they could to get the race, but Mother Nature was not going to give up. Thanks Mother Nature..not! This is the first time the Daytona 500 has been postponed due to weather.

Well, I guess most of NASCAR Nation will be keeping one eye on our work and one eye on the race. Thank goodness there are ways to be a multitasker tomorrow while on the job. I hope my coworkers understand things tomorrow. I wonder what tomorrow’s race will bring. I am hoping Tony gets his first Daytona 500, but if Friday and Saturday is any indication, tomorrow’s race is going to keep us all on the edge of our seats.

Have a great evening everyone!

In the mean time check out my yougest son Chase watching his favorite driver being interviewed on Fox earlier today. I wonder where he gets it???