Posted in NASCAR 2013

Stewart Haas Racing and Michigan

I was going to write about Sunday’s race in the first part of the post, but with everything going on with SHR I thought I would lead with it this week.  On sunday night while pursuing Twitter looking for more information about the race, I saw it.  I saw there was a possibility that Kurt Busch might become a 4th team member of SHR.  Yesterday it was somewhat quite on Twitter and Facebook with this story.  All that I have seen is Kurt Busch has an offer on the table.  I am not sure how I feel about this possibility.  Kurt Bush has been having a good year running for Furniture Row Racing.  He had another good finish on Sunday with a 3rd place finish.  Kurt is currently sitting in 9th place in the standings.  There are only three races left until the Chase begins (Bristol, Atlanta, and Richmond).  I think he will make the Chase unless he completely implodes in the next three races.  Kurt only is on a one year contract with FRR and it will expire at the end of the 2013 season.  But Kurt Busch at SHR I just don’t know.  Can you imagine Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick AND Kurt Busch.  These four drivers are never at a loss for words when it comes to dealing with the media.  Kurt Busch, just like Danica, is polarizing.  Everything I have read, people really hate this move or really like this move, there is no middle ground.  I for one have never been a Kurt Busch fan.  Of course I am not a Ryan Newman fan either.  There have been those who wonder if you can find room, money, and sponsorship for Kurt Busch to be with SHR in 2014, why couldn’t you find the same for Ryan Newman?  I am by no means an expect on this matter.  I only see what is reported regarding this matter.  Maybe Tony wanted to go in a different direction with his team.  I mean he is investing his money into the team along with Gene Haas. To quote the Godfather, it’s not personal, it’s business.  There is more to Stewart Haas Racing than just the drivers, he has crew members and other staff members that depend on the success of SHR.  I am positive the decision to let Ryan go wasn’t easy, but in life you have to make tough decisions.  On paper, both Ryan and Kurt have roughly the same numbers.  They both started racing in Cup in 2000, with Kurt going full-time in 2001 and Newman full-time in 2002.  Kurt does have a championship under his belt back in 2004.  Note he was the first driver to win a championship under the Chase format.  Of course, there is more deciding which driver drives for which particular team every year.  Sometimes it is about what is best for the team, or what the driver whats, or lately, sponsorship.  I guess we will all have to wait to see how this all shakes down for SHR.

In other news coming out of SHR, it was announced yesterday that Tony Stewart will be out the rest of the season and Mark Martin will take over driving duties for the rest of the season.  Mark will begin his driving duties in the #14 starting with Bristol on Saturday night.  The only race that Mark will not race is Talladega where Austin Dillion will once again to the helm of the #14.  This gives Brian Vickers the opportunity to get into the #55 earlier than expected.  I think this is a good move for Tony.  The team will have consistency with one driver the rest of the season.  Even this late in Mark’s career he is competitive.  I think he would have won the race on Sunday if he hadn’t of run out of gas.  Both drivers have a deep respect for each other.  Several years ago Mark Martin said Tony Stewart was one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR.  I am happy with this choice.  Besides this will sort of force my hubby to cheer for the #14 each week.    I know Mark will give it his best when he gets behind the wheel of the #14.  I am thankful SHR is going with one driver (other than Talladega) for the rest of the season instead of the “insert driver here” every week.  If someone out there is questioning this decision all you have to see is what Tony Stewart said about mark Martin… “Mark is someone I’ve looked up to my entire career and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.”  That right there says it all for those naysayers out there.

I was going to write about the race in another post, but with That Dang Ol’ Racing Show broadcast looming tonight, I wanted to get things posted before then.  This would be week two without Tony in the #14.  Austin Dillion was tagged to drive for the #14 team for the race.  He qualified 27th and finished 14th.  Thank you Mr. Dillion for your support.  See ya at Talladega.  Now on to the race.  Joey Lagano was on fire during the weekend.  He set a track record and grabbed the pole for the Pure Michigan 400.  I was watching practice (which I rarely do) and in an interview with Brad K. he thought his teammate was going to be the man to beat over the weekend.  I was wondering if the race was going to be a long race by the way it started out.  There were 3 quick cautions which started with Clint Bowyer’s spin on lap 1.  The next two, I was wondering if I jinxed.  Every time I would go into my kitchen, caution.  Let’s just say I was banned from the kitchen until commercial.  Despite the early cautions, the race started to settle down.  If you were watching the race, you know that Jimmie Johnson crashed in the last practice session and had to use a back up car that was slated to be used for Chicago (the first race in the Chase).  And as you know, since you were watching the race, ESPN was keeping track of Jimmie’s progress towards the front.  Yes, ESPN I got it.  Jimmie was starting in the back and he was going to make his way to the front.  But you don’t have to make it your goal to let us know every chance you got.  For those who don’t know, Jimmie made his way to the front in 45 laps and was able to lead a lap prior to the start of the first green flag pit stops.  Jimmie’s day however was short-lived.  He was out of the race around lap 58 with a blown engine.  For you Jimmie fans out there, this didn’t affect his Chase chances on any level since he is leading the points right now and has already punched his ticket for the Chase.

Turn 2 was not kind to several drivers throughout the day.  Several drivers ended up spinning out or hitting the wall.  Turn 2 got Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse, and the ever popular Kyle Busch.  Dale Earnhardt had a decent day, leading laps and looked like he was to give himself a chance to win the race.  Dale’s day went south around lap 135 when he hit the wall and sustained heavy damage.  This was the 2nd car from HMS that had a bad day.  Dale finished 36th and lost one spot in the standings.  He is now sitting in 7th spot.   So have  no fear Junior nation, your driver is still ok.  My husband was trying to convince me to pick the #88 for my race pick contest.  He seems to do pretty good at Michigan, but my gut said no.  He is just like picking Ohio State in the NCAA basketball tournament.  Looks good on paper, seems like a sure thing, but in the end all you get is heartache.  And Sunday was just an example of that.

Joey Lagano was the man of the weekend.  He was poised to take the win after Mark Martin ran out of gas with three laps to go.  Mark Martin had nothing to lose with his gamble.  He wasn’t fighting for a spot in the Chase or trying to keep his spot in the Chase.  So why not gamble on fuel mileage, unfortunately the gamble didn’t pay off for Mark.  Mark finished 27th.   When Mark ran out of gas, there was Joey passing him for the lead.  This would mark Joey’s first win since moving over to Penske this season.  This win snapped a 44 race winless streak for Joey.  More importantly for Joey, this put him back in the race for a wild card spot.  He moved up 3 spots to 13th in the standings just 7 points behind Martin Truex who has the last wild card spot.  This wild card race is getting pretty interesting especially now that Tony Stewart is out for the season.  Once again, I think this will all come down to Richmond to see who grabs the two wild card spots.  If Kasey stays out of the top 10, he will have a secure spot since he has two wins.  Of course this could all change, if one of those sitting around him in standings with one win gets a win in the next three races.  man I am going to love the next three weeks!

Few thoughts…

  • I am beginning to find myself cheering for Clint Bowyer each week.  The more and more I watch him in interviews and watch on the race track, he is the type of driver I could get behind.  I would love to hang out with Clint maybe go fishing and have a few beers with.  And if you can hang with the Duck Dynasty crew and get what Duck Dynasty is all about, then you are good people in my book!
  • For those living under a rock, Speed TV is no longer on the air.  It is now Fox Sports 1.  I am going to give Fox Sports 1 a chance.  When ESPN started back in the day, I am sure they weren’t lighting it up on a daily basis.  They have had a few years to fine tune their programming.  Race Day has been pared down to one hour.  I may be in the minority on this, but I am glad it is now down to one hour.  In years past, Race Day would air right up until race broadcast time.  For example, if the race broadcast pre race show began at noon, Race Day would end at noon.  I would then switch over to the race and watch that pre-race show.  Sunday, Race Day ended an hour prior to ESPN’s pre-race show.   Some were upset by this change, but for me I just rolled with the flow.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya is out of the #42 at the end of the season.   Silly season is in full swing folks!  Let the rumors and half-truths begin!  Launch the black helicopters and drones!  Kyle Larson’s name has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Juan in the #42.  This would be a WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, move!!! Kyle is in his rookie season in the Nationwide Series.  Prior to this weekend’s race at Mid-Ohio, he has only 21 starts under his belt in Nationwide and was sitting in 8th spot.  He does have 2 starts in Trucks with one win and a 2nd place finish at Eldora.  I think Kyle needs to get more experience in NASCAR before being thrown into the shark tank.  AJ Allmendinger’s name has been kicked around for a possible replacement as well as Ryan Newman.  Either one would be a better choice than Kyle Larson into the seat.
  • Speaking of JPM, saw an interesting story on ESPN.com.  Michael Andretti would love for JPM to come race for his race team.  But as with NASCAR, it is all about sponsorship.  If Andretti can find sponsorship, could Juan be headed back to Indy Racing?  It would be interesting to see how that all shakes out.
  • Brad K. was going to gamble for the win on Sunday, but wasn’t going to be really close on fuel.  Points racing is not what drivers like to do, they want to race for the win, but sometimes IT IS about the big picture.  Brad and his team decided he needed to come down to get gas and finish the race without the win.  By the way, Brad finished 12th.  I am sure it wasn’t what he wanted, but it kept him in Chase contention.  If he would have run out of gas, he would have definitely finished further on back.
  • If you haven’t seen the show Duck Dynasty, what are you waiting for?  This is one of better shows on television at the present time.  Yes, it is a reality show, but not like all those other ones out there.  The Robertson family is funny!  Yes, they are rednecks and at times I wonder about Uncle Si, but in the end they are all about family and God.   They sit down to dinner with each other and you see them pray.  There’s nothing preachy about it at all.  It is one of the few shows I can watch with everyone in my family.  I don’t have to worry about language or other things my two children will pick up.  It’s tough finding shows that I can sit down and watch with my kids.  Gone are the days of Dukes of Hazzard, Full House, Little House on the Prairie.  Now we have shows like Dance Moms, Honey Boo-Boo, and the Real Housewives.  Don’t get me wrong, I know there are those of you out there who watch these shows, but there aren’t the kind of shows I can sit down and watch with my kids.   So if you haven’t watched Duck Dynasty, stop on over at A&E and watch!
  • Non-NASCAR related–my youngest son loves to watch the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the Disney Channel.  It is a pretty decent show for the younger crowd.  Kids can learn things from watching the show.   It’s not on the same level as Phineas and Ferb, but it is still a decent show for kiddos.  However, if I hear the phrase “oh tooldles” or see the “hot dog dance” one more time, I think you will have to lock myself up for the rest of the summer!  Of course both boys will start school come Monday, August 26.  My oldest will be in the 4th grade while my youngest will be starting Pre-K!  To all parents out there, not much longer…6 days!

Don’t forget about tonight’s broadcast of That Dang Ol’ Racing Show on Real Country 98.5 FM here in Lubbock, Texas from 6-7.  I was all prepared for last week’s show.  I had to make a run to Barnes and Noble with my other half so he could get his fantasy football magazines.  I had cell phone in hand and yes, that was me in B&N with ear buds on.  To be clear, it was just one ear bud and not both.  But due to technical difficulties and things beyond my control, the show was postponed to Wednesday.  Wednesday’s show was scratched as well.  And so here we are this week.  The delay for the 2nd broadcast  hasn’t deterred me in the least.  I will be tuning in tonight to listen to the discussion and maybe I might just call in!

Since the news came there would be a local racing show, it has jump started me back into my blog.  It does help that I am a stay-at-home mom.  I can keep better track of things and maybe provide a little more in-depth analysis here in The Park.  I have been providing my take on NASCAR for several years now.  It has allowed me to meet fellow NASCAR fans across the US.  Even though I don’t know them on a personal level, I feel connected to them because we are part of the NASCAR Nation.  I have always maintained The Park as a place for discussion and debate.  I welcome it.  The words I type here are my opinions and my viewpoints.  They may not always agree with the majority of those of you out there, but that’s what makes things fun!  If we all agreed, it would be boring.  I know what I am talking about.  I research things using NASCAR.com, ESPN, Fox Sports and yes, Twitter and Facebook.  I even read other’s blogs who provide other insight.  I try to be entertaining for those who stop by to read my posts.  I am not too concerned whether or not my readers comment (even though secretly I wish someone would), I am just hoping I can get more readers and maybe, just maybe someone might notice my work.  For those who stop by thanks for your support and for those first timers, WELCOME!  Have a great day!

Posted in NASCAR 2013, What I know.

Bristol Baby

Bristol started out great.  I was ready to watch an exciting short track race with the Gen-6 car.  I was anxious to see how it would perform on this type of track.  The top qualifiers had a qualifying speed of under 15 seconds.  But alas, Bristol is always unpredictable.  And for this Tony Stewart fan, Bristol was just a long day of watching other drivers contend for the win.  Tony had a left rear going flat.  He was trying to nurse it around and get to the bottom.  Unfortunately he was not able to do so and BOOM, tire let go and into the wall he went.  All I could think of was that Geico commercial, “Someone help me, I have a flat tttiirrreee!!”

  And that was pretty much it for Tony for the day.  All he could do was log laps around Bristol.  I have to say, that has to be the most boring thing to do for a racer.  He finished 31st.

I have to say there was some good racing going on at Bristol.  As mentioned in my previous post about Bristol, Kyle Busch is a monster when it comes to this track.  Sunday was no different.  When he received a speeding penalty during his pit stop under the 2nd caution of the day, he started 32nd.  For most drivers, they would spend most of the day mired in the pack.  However, this is Kyle Busch.  He managed to move his way up through the field and to make a long story short, he finished 2nd.  I am telling you, if you have to place a bet with some of your hard-earned money, I would put it on Kyle at Bristol.  I think I would also like to put my money on Kasey Kahne as well.  He ran up front all day long. Speaking of Kasey, he has been moving up the power rankings of late. He finished with a 36th place finish at Daytona and then a 19th place finish at Phoenix. Last week he finished 2nd at Vegas and this week, he finished 1st.  Congratulations to Kasey!

Now back to Tony…

It has been a rough start for Tony this 2013.  He is in 24th spot, 85 points behind points leader Brad Keselowski.  He has had only one top 10 finish and that was at Phoenix.  This is the 2nd race of season where he was out of it early.  Daytona was just a disaster and he finished 41st.  Vegas was a struggle all day for him and he did finish 11th.  And now his latest race…a 31st place finish.  I am not worried though.  Tony has a history of starting off slow, catching fire in the summer and finishing strong.  I mean just take a look at his 2011 campaign.  He had not won a race in the first 26 races and was on the verge of not making the Chase.  And well, we all know he caught fire and scorched the Chase to win his 3rd championship.  So for now, I am not on the ledge or drinking the crazy kool-aid.  Maybe his luck will turn around this week at Auto Club.  He is the defending race champion.

Speaking of Auto Club Speedway, you can purchase a Walmart Family Track Pack for only $99!  You can purchase the pack online via Walmart.com.  If you are headed out to Auto Club this weekend, you might want to checkout some of the Walmart stores in the area.  You can experience Race Time at Walmart which brings NASCAR to life for race fans.  You can see real show cars, experience racing simulations, sample products, and perhaps meet some NASCAR drivers.  There are several WalMarts hosting this experience this weekend in and around Auto Club.  I am not familiar with the area, but here is what I found out for you guys–enjoy!

  1. 3/21/13     10:00-4:00 @ Walmart on 4001 Hallmark Pkwy, San Bernardino CA
  2. 3/21/13     11:30-5:30 @ Walmart on 2050 W Redlands Blvd, Redlands CA
  3. 3/22/13     10:00-4:00 @ Walmart on 3943 Grand Ave, Chino CA
  4. 3/22/13     11:30-5:30 @ Walmart on 17251 Foothill Blvd, Fontana CA
  5. 3/23/13      8:00-2:00 @ Walmart on 1610 S Riverside Ave, Rialto CA
  6. 3/23/13      9:30-3:30 @ Walmart on 12549 Foothill Blvd, Rancho Cucamonga CA

Some final thoughts both NASCAR-related and Non-NASCAR-related…

  • Joey vs Denny–The feud between these two has escalated again after Bristol.  Denny took issue with Joey cutting him off on the race track.  And well, Denny clipped him and spun him out.  From this fan’s point of view, I thought it was just a racing deal.  From what I could remember (I have slept since Sunday), Joey just got out of the groove and ended up in front of Denny.  That’s it.  After the race, Joey went to confront Denny about the incident and well, pushing and shoving ensued with the crews.  As always the media was RIGHT there to capture the events.  I did like one of Denny’s quotes after being asked what Joey said to him in the car window, “He (Joey) said he was coming for me.  I usually don’t see him, so it’s usually not a factor”.  I chuckled a bit on this statement.  With that being said, I am not a fan of Denny Hamlin.  Never have been.  I think he lets the distractions get to the best of him.  A couple of years ago, he had the car to beat in the championship and well, I think all the distractions that come with it, got the better of him and he lost the championship to Jimmie. He can drive the car, don’t get me wrong, I just think he is not the kind of driver I can get behind.  I am anxious to see if Joey will get back at Denny later on in the season.  If it were me, I would wait and then strike!  I’m just sayin’!
  • Commercials–There have been a couple of commercials this year that have made me chuckle.  I like the one where some of the drivers are campaigning for themselves to put them on your fantasy team.  My favorite in this commercial, Kyle Busch.  Just too funny!  Also the Coca Cola road trip commercial with Tony Stewart.  Best part:  Joey giving directions to Tony!  And at the very end, you here that typically statement on a long road trip, “Are We There Yet?” uttered by Greg Biffle (I think).    Don’t get me wrong I have always like the commercials from Budweiser, but the I am played out with the one where the guy raises the horse and then sees him years later pulling the Budweiser wagon.  I swear, they show this commercial on every single commercial break!  Fox–I would prefer more racing than commercials.  I know you have to pay the bills and all that, but sometimes I feel like I get ten laps of racing and ten minutes of commercials.
  • Duck Dynasty–if you haven’t heard of this show or let alone seen it, you have been just living in a cave in my opinion.  This has got to be the funniest show on television at the moment.  These guys take redneck living to a whole new level!  I mean you might be a redneck if you use an old camping trailer to build a new duck blind!
  • Bon Jovi–I was lucky enough to attend the Bon Jovi concert here in Raiderland.  I have been a fan of them since I could remember.  They put on an AWESOME concert!  And I have to admit this was only the 2nd rock concert I have attended.  I am more of country concert person.  Rock concerts are definitely different than your country ones with the exception of Garth Brooks.  He is able to combine both the aspects of a rock concert and a country concert into one.
  • Karate Kid–I love this movie.  I saw it in a movie theatre back in the day with my junior high Spanish club.  I have been a fan of Ralph Macchio ever since.  Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi ROCKS!  But come on CMT, how many times a week do you need to show this movie?  My hubby told me I didn’t have to stop and watch, but…how can you not?  Oh well, as long as you continue to show the movie, I will be there watching!  Wax On, Wax Off!!

Don’t forget…voting is still open through April 8 for you to choose the name of the Pocono 500.  You can head on over at walmarturl.com/FanDriven to cast your vote.  You can only vote once day, every day until April 8.  Looks like “Party in the Poconos 400” has taken the early lead, followed by “Race More. Live Better 400” and “Pocono for the People 400”.  Better hurry, not much time to cast your vote!