Watkins Glen

I survived my first race weekend without seeing Tony Stewart behind the wheel of the #14.  I wasn’t too thrilled about the prospect of someone else driving the #14.  But I have to say Max Papis did an excellent job this past Sunday.  He qualified 29th and throughout the day he made his way up through the field.  Granted he wasn’t tearing it up battling it out for the win, but all in all he did a great job filling in for Tony Stewart.  He finished 15th.  Thank you for your service Mr. Papis.  All of Smoke Nation appreciates you for everything you did on Sunday for the #14 team.  Speaking of Tony Stewart, it has been announced that Austin Dillion will drive the #14 at Michigan this weekend. This move didn’t surprise me in the least. For one he is sponsored by Bass Pro Shops. He has 9 cup starts with two of those being at Michigan. He finished 11th this past June at MIS. I think he will do a good job for Tony. As for the other races in the season, I think we will just have to wait and see.

Now on to the racing this past weekend at The Glen. This is the final road course for the Cup drivers this season. It was no surprise Marcos Ambrose earned the pole for the race. He was the defending race champion. In fact he was going for third win in a row at The Glen. The way the race started out it look like Marcos was going to sew up his third win. However, as we all know things can change quickly in NASCAR. It wasn’t long before Jeff Gordon’s day went from good to horrible. Jeff ended up spinning his car and crashing the #24. This crash was not what Jeff needed. It has not won a race this season and this put his chances of making the Chase this year in jeopardy. It has not been a kind 2013 for Jeff. He fell 4 spots in the standings and now sitting in 13th. He is still on the outside looking in. Right now his teammate Kasey Kahne and SHR driver Ryan Newman are right now holding on to the two wild card spots. If he doesn’t get in the top 10 and stay there, or get a win, the Chase will be without the #24.

Marcos was cruising along throughout the day until the caution came out for his teammate’s crash around lap 60. Drivers were in the middle of green flag pit stops when the caution was thrown. Kyle Busch was one of the drivers who was able to get his pit stop complete prior to the caution. Unfortunately this caution was a turning point in both the #18 and #9 teams. Marcos had to pit under the caution and when things all shook out, Kyle had the lead and Marcos was stalled back in the 12th position. This was going to be the first time in the race that Marcos would have to drive his car in dirty air. Up until that point Marcos had a fast car. But the fastest and the best car of the day doesn’t always win the race. He still had enough time in my opinion to get back to the front to challenge for the win. A few cautions here and there, and he is right there. Unfortunately the changes his pit crew made to the car didn’t help his case any. He wasn’t able to make his way up to the front. He was involved in a late race crash. Marcos ended up finishing 31st. Because of Marcos bad luck, this opened door up for Kyle Busch to take the win at The Glen. Once he got out front, he stayed there. I am sure he was hoping to see things go green for the rest of the race. His crew chief was telling Kyle to save gas and his tires. He had enough gas to get to the checkers, but not the green-white-checkers. Kyle didn’t want to see these cautions even though he would probably help with him saving gas. If the race stayed green he could keep some distance between him and those behind him. Once the cautions flew, this means the field is bunched up and he would have to play a little defense. It didn’t matter on Sunday. Kyle was textbook on his restarts. It was one of those things that it was his day. The Glen hasn’t been too kind to Kyle the last couple of years. Take last year’s race, he was battling with Marcos and Brad K for the win. He ended up spinning out in some oil that had been on the track. All Kyle had to do was hit his marks and keep Brad K. behind him. This was going to be a tall order for Kyle. Brad was able to lay the bumper to Kyle and could have spun him out for the win. According to Brad, he could have spun him, but he didn’t need any more drama. Sometimes you have to take the high road and take 2nd place. Congratulations to Kyle Busch on his win!

I have been trying to get back in the groove with all things NASCAR. It’s been a little bit easier for me since I no longer work full-time. Well, I work full-time, but my office is my home. I don’t get a paycheck and I am “on-call” 24/7, but the benefits definitely out way everything I had while working. But now that I am at home, I am going to try to get back on track with things.

There has een a little news reported today.

  • Brian Vickers has signed on to be the full-time driver for Michael Waltrip Racing beginning with the 2014 season. This comes to no surprise to anyone. I have always liked Brian Vickers. He has had a tough road the last few years in NASCAR. He had to sit out the 2010 due to blood clots. He came back to his Red Bull in 2011 only to see Red Bull close its doors at the end of the 2011 season. He has been driving part-time with MWR sharing his time with Mark Martin. I think he sealed the deal with his win at New Hampshire this year. I am glad to see Brian Vickers back in a car full-time.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya will be out of the #42 car beginning in 2014.  He has been in NASCAR since signing on with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2006.  He has had only two wins in 239 starts.  Both of these wins have been on road courses.  His highest finish in the standings has been 8th back in 2009.  I don’t know if JPM ever adjusted to racing in NASCAR.  Sometimes drivers from other series don’t always fair well in NASCAR.  Sam Hornish struggled when he first came into NASCAR leaving the Indy Series.  He has found a resurgence in Nationwide the last few years.  He is battling for the championship this year.  I am happy he is finding success in Nationwide.  With JPM, this leaves the door open for drivers who do not have a full-time gig in NASCAR.  Could this mean Ryan Newman may have a home next year in the #42 or will AJ Allmendinger find his way back to a full-time ride?  Only time will tell.  Let the silly season begin.

A few observations…

  • Fox Sports 1 launches this Saturday, August 17.  I for one am not sure how I feel about this change.  I like Speed TV.  As I mentioned in my last post, there are shows I will miss once FS1 goes live.  I caught myself watching Barrett Jackson auction last Saturday.  I got to thinking, what happens to all of us fans of Barrett Jackson?  Is FS1 going to broadcast these auctions?  I hope so.  I really like seeing all those classic cars in all their glory!  I wish I had the money to purchase some of the cars especially the ’67 Camaro I saw on the auction block last Saturday night.  It was one sweet ride.  I am going to miss Wind Tunnel with Dave DeSpain.  I DVR’d the last episode that aired last Sunday, but I haven’t been able to watch as of yet.  I think I will watch it later this evening.  Of course, I am not sure if I will get a chance to watch any of the shows once FS1 goes live since I have Dish.  Apparently DISH and Fox Sports is still in negotiation about the finance side of the deal.  So if you are on Dish, DirectTV, and/or Time Warner, there may be a delay for you in watching Fox Sports 1.
  • I kind of cringed on Sunday when I saw the Mobil 1 commercial with Tony.  When I first saw the commercial where Tony does the splits, I was creeped out, but now knowing he has a broken leg it was just weird.  Of course, if you haven’t had a chance to try soda cookies, you should give a go.  I tried it earlier this summer and you know it wasn’t all that bad.  Of course, Oreo cookies are still better with milk.
  • All this debate on whether NASCAR drivers should be allowed to race outside the series is driving me nuts.  Like my husband said, dirt racing is Tony’s golf game.  I don’t have a problem with it.  This is what makes Tony who he is.  This is part of the reason most of us like Tony Stewart.  He is a blue-collar driver.  He is a throw back to the kind of drivers I grew up watching.  I don’t know if I can see Tony not racing on during the week.  I can if maybe scaling back the amount of races he competes in, but totally cutting it out, I don’t think so scooter.

Make sure you tune in tonight for That Dang Ol’ Racing Show on Real Country 98.5 FM here in Lubbock, Texas from 6-7.  I am glad I have a way to get my NASCAR fix during the week.  I am also glad there is a forum for us NASCAR fans out here in Raiderland.  It can be tough for a NASCAR fan this time of year, especially in Texas when the talk turns to everything that is football.  Doesn’t matter if it is high school, college or professional, it’s football, football, football this time of year.  I am pumped for the start of the football season, but I am still in the midst of my NASCAR season.  I am glad to know once a week for about an hour, I can listen to something other than football talk.

Party in the Poconos 400

I was already to go for the race last Sunday.  For the first I was pumped up for a Pocono race.  Of course, it helped that my driver won the week before race.  I just had this feeling about Tony that he would have a good weekend.  Thanks to Mother Nature, qualifying for the race was rained and the field set according to points standing.  This meant Tony would be starting mid-pack.  I wasn’t worried though.  Tony has a history of not lighting up qualifying.  It doesn’t matter where you start, it is where you end up that counts!

Of course, with qualifying being rained out this meant Jimmie Johnson, aka 5-time, wasNASCAR 2013:   Sprint Cup Series PARTY IN THE POCONOS 400 JUN 09 starting on the pole.  This doesn’t always bode well with the other 42 competitors.  When Jimmie gets out in front and takes control of a race, well, it makes for a long day for the those who aren’t Jimmie fans.  I think Jimmie wanted to win this race and in a dominate way.  He felt cheated after last week’s race at Dover.  When Jimmie has a chip on his shoulder watch out!  And that was the case on Sunday.  I started watching the race and Jimmie took command of the race.  Then for some reason, my body chose to take a nap.  I woke up with right before the 2nd caution of the race.  I guess I didn’t miss much in between because one there had only been one caution, and two, Jimmie was still in the lead.  And that is pretty much how it ended.  Congratulations to Jimmie for his third win of the season.  He is now tied with Matt Kenseth for the most wins so far this season.  He still has the points lead folks.  But does it matter that he has the points lead now?  Nope.  Everything resets for the final 10 races.  There is still quite a bit of racing until Richmond!

NASCAR 2013:   Sprint Cup Series PARTY IN THE POCONOS 400 JUN 09

This was the third week in a row, Tony finished inside the top 10 with a 4th place finish.  I am telling you guys do not mess with the mojo I have going on with the #14 team.  Once again, I didn’t watch the entire race AND I posted a picture of Tony with his championship trophy from 2011.  I am so proud of the #14 team.  They have jumped up 7 spots in the last three weeks from 20th to 13th!  If they continue the move up the points standings, Tony will be in the top 10 before you know it.  I still think he needs at least one more win to secure himself in The Chase.  Tony seems to be on the upswing compared to the first part of the season.  So without further ado and to keep the mojo going…

2011 championship

Some thoughts from the weekend…

  • First race of the TNT race schedule.  I am not a fan of the TNT coverage.  I just have to remember they have only 6 races.  One down, five to go.  It’s going to be tough, but I think I can make it.
  • Enough with the restart controversy.  Move on, let it go.  Jimmie Johnson got punked at Dover.  He tried to outsmart Juan, and well, Juan outsmarted him.
  • In the waning moments of the race on Sunday, I found myself rooting for Dale Jr to pass Jimmie.  This for me was like choosing between cheering for Michigan to beat the University of Texas in a football game.  I DO NOT LIKE either team (I am a big Ohio State fan and Texas Tech alum).  But I like one just a little bit more than the other.
  • Here are some pics from the race weekend I thought you guys might enjoyNASCAR 2013:   Sprint Cup Series PARTY IN THE POCONOS 400 JUN 09

NASCAR 2013:   Sprint Cup Series PARTY IN THE POCONOS 400 JUN 09

NASCAR 2013:   Sprint Cup Series PARTY IN THE POCONOS 400 JUN 09

NASCAR 2013:   Sprint Cup Series PARTY IN THE POCONOS 400 JUN 09

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.

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.

Day o’ Racing

It’s Wednesday.  This means it is one day closer to Day o’ Racing.  Once again this is the one of few days of racing that I looked forward to every year.  I mean what more could this race fan or any race ask for.  First up you have the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500.  Then you have the Coca Cola 600 in the evening.  THe Coca Cola 600 can test any seasoned NASCAR driver.  It is 600 miles (0r 400 laps) of up on the wheel, door to door (ok may be not) racing.  Sometimes it’s not about track position, a good car, or something else.  It’s sometimes about survival.  Can teams keep their cars running for that long of a period of time?  600 miles…That’s almost a round trip from my house to TMS and back.  It’s 333 miles one-way to TMS from my house.  Of course it takes me a little bit longer for that trip than the boys will take on Sunday.  Makes me tired just thinking about it.

I hope all my friends and family will understand if I don’t want to leave the household on Sunday.  Heck, they can have me on Saturday and even Monday, but sorry folks I will be busy on Sunday.  I did have people over last year for a Sundy BBQ, however, racing was on and that was the way it was going to be. 

To remind my friends, family and even that occassionally coworker who still doesn’t get it (in reference to NASCAR and for this weekend only also the INDY 500….here is my disclaimer…as posted on February 7, 2008

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 race 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 Sundays or the occasional Saturday…it’s nothing personal…IT’S NASCAR!!!

So please don’t take it personally when I turn down your invite to the Sunday afternoon BBQ, get together, etc or make me feel guilty about spending time with you.  I have let you know what Sunday, May 25 is for the last couple of weeks so you have had plenty of notice.

In other news…

Humpy Wheeler is planning to annouce his retirment as president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway.  It has been reported Marcus G. Smith, son of track owner and Speedway Motorsports INce chairman O. Bruton Smth, will take succeed Humpy.  Under Humpy, Lowe’s Motor Speedway expanded to 167,000 seats and became the first modern facility to install lights for night racing.  THe first night race at a superspeedway was in 1992.  I have to say, in this race fan’s opinion, Humpy sure does know how to put on a show for the fans.  Even though Humpy may be heading into retirement, I am sure he will be around as he always has.

Juan Pablo Montoya has a new crew chief…again. Will third time be a charm?

Three engine failures for JGR this past weekend.  That’s quite a bit of money wasted or invested depending on your point of view.  I am glad they chose the All-Star race to “experiement” instead of a points race.  But this does bring up a very interesting point I have heard grumbling in the background of the All-Star wrap ups. What is the value of the All-Star race to some teams?  I know teams are still trying to understand how the COT works and perhaps this may have been the reason some teams chose to experiment a little bit more than in year’s past.  Could this be the reason the All-Star race was as competitive in year’s past?  I don’t know.  I guess this is just theorizing on the ever changing environment in NASCAR.