Posted in NASCAR 2013

SHR and That Dang Ol’ Racing Show

I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about the new addition to Stewart Haas Racing.  I have read several articles about Kurt Busch coming to SHR as well as other media sites about the story.  I just don’t know if there is a need to write another story about it.  I have not been quiet about my dislike for Kurt Busch over the years.  He is a hot-headed and quite frankly he can be a complete a-hole.  He has tangled with Tony Stewart along with other drivers on his new team.  He is a polarizing figure in the sport.  Every time he is announced at driver introductions, he gets more boos than cheers. So why would you want someone like this on your racing team?

The man can drive a car and he knows how to win.  Why wouldn’t you want the man on your race team?  Was he the driver I would have loved to seen go to SHR?  One word-NO (and I believe Tony wasn’t on board right way).  Think about the make up of the 2014 Stewart Haas Racing Team (prior to the addition of Kurt)–Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Danica Patrick.  These drivers have been known to say what they think and make no apologies about it.  They can be a little hot-headed at times.  One just has to look at the last Saturday’s race at Bristol.  Kevin thought he was wronged by Denny Hamlin.  He went over to his car while on pit road to discuss the matter further with Denny.  Or who could forget last year at Bristol, Tony throwing his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s car.  If you need any further evidence, just check out You Tube.  Now throw in Kurt Busch…wow!  Some of the commenters out there believe Kurt Busch has anger management issues.  Who doesn’t on some kind of level?  Some are better than others at controlling their anger.  Tony is no stranger to anger management issues.  I think he has “mellowed” a little over the last several years.  I contribute this to getting older and being a team owner.  But don’t make this mistake in saying this mellowing means his passion for the sport has changed.  It hasn’t.  I think Kurt has proven he can still be upset about things, but he has done some mellowing himself this year.  Despite his past shenanigans, I still believe this is a good move for SHR.   With Kurt Busch you get a driver who has 24 wins, 95 top fives and 185 top 10s not to mention he won a championship in 2004.  He was the first driver to win a championship under the Chase format.  He is currently sitting 12th in the standings on the bubble of making the Chase this year with a one-car team.  And I have to admit I like that fact he isn’t afraid to race his brother, Kyle.  I mean look what happened in the 2007 All-Star race.  Of course I for one would take out my own grandmother for a million dollars.  I believe the brothers didn’t talk to one another until their grandmother stepped in.

I am ok with Kurt Busch becoming part of SHR.  With that being said, I am did not like how it all came about.  I know Gene Haas was the one who wanted Kurt in the SHR stable.  That’s fine and dandy.  NASCAR is a business and it is all about making the most of your investment.  Tony Stewart understands all of this.  Gene Haas is a co-owner of SHR along with Tony.  I get all that.  But in the end, Tony Stewart elevated his racing team.  He won a championship within 3 years of creating SHR.  It was just weeks ago, Ryan Newman was let go because there was not going to be enough for a fourth team.  You have to wonder if Mr. Haas wanted to keep Newman around on SHR.  During his time at SHR (this also includes his time this year through 24 races) Newman has 4 wins, 28 top 5s, 70 top 10s.  He has won 7 poles and qualified for the Chase only twice since joining SHR in 2009.  Compared to Kurt Busch over this time with Roush/Penske/Phoenix and Furniture Row, Kurt has 6 wins, 34 top 5s, 70 top 10s, 6 poles, and qualified 6 times for the Chase.  It can be compared they both look similar on paper.  But I guess Mr. Haas wanted Kurt Busch on the team.  I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Mr. Haas and Mr. Stewart discussed this matter.  I bet it was an interesting conversation and I am sure it didn’t sit well with Tony.  I just think the timing of it all is rather hinky.  Was there another team entertaining Kurt an offer besides Furniture Row and Mr. Haas wanted to pinned down Kurt while the iron was hot?  No matter what any of us think Kurt Busch is now a member of Stewart Haas Racing.

How happy will I be to watch all four members of SHR next year?  Happier than a camel on Wednesday!  (sorry, for the shameless use of a Geico commercial)

Some final thoughts…

If you missed last night’s That Dang Ol’ Racing show, you must have had something more important to do last night.  I was able to win free pizza from Domino’s by winning last week’s Dang Ol’ Racing Challenge.  Thanks to Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, and Jimmie Johnson for racking up some serious points for me.  Does this mean I have to share my pizza with them?  I hope not, because I am not good at sharing.  This week the boys are headed to Atlanta and I have chosen Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, and Matt Kenseth.  Let’s hope these boys get it done, so I can be a two-time winner!  As I mentioned in previous posts here in The Park, I was excited to hear about this new show.  For years now I have been posting about NASCAR and looking for those of you out there who are willing to banter with me about the sport.  I have those who tolerate this obsession of mine.  I have tried to explain things to hem and even invited them to watch a race or two with me, but to no avail.  Now I have a place I am able to share my thoughts on NASCAR.  For my friends and family, you should send on Mr. Ryan Hyatt a thank you.  I don’t have to bother you as much or subject you to this thing I love called NASCAR.   Well, if you want to catch That Dang Ol’ Racing Show, just tune into 98.5 Real Country every Tuesday from 6-7. You can also find the show on Facebook (That Dang Ol Racing Show,) or on Twitter (@dangolracing).  You can find that show blog on my blogroll, just go over to the right side under Infield and click and boom…there you are!  So join the show next week,  you can have a chance to win free pizza from Dominos and who doesn’t like free pizza!  Please note I am not a paid spokesperson or am I compensated in any way shape or form.  I just like the show and want others to join in on the fun!

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

Sonoma

In years past I was a big fan of the road races, but the last several years have provided some exciting racing at the road courses.  Part of the reason I didn’t like road racing, is you would have teams bring in what they called “road course ringers”.  Teams would bring in these drivers because their current drivers just didn’t perform well on the road courses.  But on the flip side, how are drivers going to get experience and improve their skills if they never get a chance to be out on the course.  Anyway, I know some teams bring in other drivers, but we don’t hear as much about the road course ringers as we used to.

with that being said, I was ready to sit down and watch the race.  I had my notebook in hand and was settled in my big comfy couch.  I wanted to watch a race from the green to the checkers.  The last several weeks I haven’t been able to sit down and watch the races.  Of course, part of it may be because I didn’t want to mess with the mojo for Tony Stewart that seemed to be working (see previous posts). And just like the last couple of weeks, I didn’t get to watch the race.  So the mojo was still working…sorta…see more below.

I would like to congratulate Martin Truex Jr for his victory yesterday at Sonoma.  He has not had a win in since June 2007 (or 218 starts since his last win).  That’s 6 years.  While looking over my notes for this post, I noticed my youngest son had not even been born yet.  Well, I am glad he won.  He has been so close so many times this year.  I like Martin Truex.  I am glad for the race fans and as well as Martin that we no longer have the privilege of seeing him “lip sync” the NAPA Know How Jingle.  You could tell everyone was happy for him!

Kudos have to go out to both Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch on their finishes yesterday.  First up is Jeff Gordon. He was tagged for entering a closed pit road after a yellow had been thrown.  He missed it by thatmuch.  But at the time Jeff decided to pit, it was still green and it was too late to change his mind.  At that point, you are pretty much committed and you just take the penalty.  Who knows if he had made it before the yellow, if we would be celebrating with him victory lane instead of Martin. By the way, Jeff was runner-up in yesterday’s race. All I have to say when I heard Kurt got a speeding penalty while serving his first penalty for speeding on pit road…”DOH!”.  That is when you know you are having a bad day.  Despite this, Kurt finished 4th.  I loved what he said to his guys though, “We were fast, even on pit road, twice. I messed up, flat out. I was speeding both times.”  I love it.  Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that you messed up and move on.

Final thoughts…

  • Once again Jimmie is still in the lead at this point in the season.  But it really doesn’t matter if you lead the first 26 races, it matters what you do in the last ten.  Points reset and the everyone from 1-12 is reshuffled.  Right now the two wild spots go to Tony Stewart (1 win at sitting in 15th spot) and Kasey Kahne (1 win sitting in 11th).  Paul Menard is sitting in the 12th position but he does not have a win this season.
  • This has been such a feel good weekend for the folks of NASCAR.  On Sunday, we have Martin wining after a 218 winless streak.  But prior to Sunday, AJ Allmendinger took the win at Road America in the Nationwide Series.  It has been a tough year for AJ.  It was good to see him get a second chance in NASCAR.  From all the interviews I have seen of him, he is so thankful he has been given a second chance.  It was wonderful to see the joy on his face in victory lane!  I loved it when he kissed the ESPN camera!
  • I have to say, I wish those singers who get the wonderful opportunity to sing the National Anthem at a sporting event would just sing the song.  This not a tryout for “The Voice” or “American Idol”.  I don’t mind if you want to hold the notes at the end of the song.  But please how some respect for our National Anthem!
  • Cannot wait for BadGroove’s report from Sonoma.  She always has a way of sharing her adventures that make you feel like you were right there with her.  She has some of the best writing out there!  If you haven’t read her stuff, you are missing out!  There are days I wish my writing was even close to hers!  Way to go Amy!
  • I love any commercial with Tony Stewart in it.  But, I have to say I am a little creeped out with his latest one involving him doing the splits.  It’s just creepy!  Sorry Tony, I am not loving this one.  Has anyone tried the soda cookie?  Just curious…

One final message…

The last few weeks I have discussed with you the idea of not messing with the mojo.  I am very superstitious when it comes to sports.  I myself had a specific routine when I played basketball and I followed it religiously.  I know athletes at all levels I am sure are the same way.  This is the reason I didn’t want to mess with the mojo.  Since I started not watching the entire races (starting with Charlotte), Tony has not finished out of the top 10.  To increase the mojo magic, I posted a picture of Tony holding the 2011 championship trophy prior to Dover.  Guess what he won at Dover!  So I have been doing this hoping the mojo would continue.  Well, last week, I didn’t get to post things as I wanted due to work and home related matters.  I did hold up part of the mojo magic, I didn’t watch the entire race.  BUT, I DID NOT POST THE PICTURE!  And Tony finished a dismal 28th place!  UGH!  So in order to get the mojo back to where it needs to be…here it is!

2011 championship

Posted in NASCAR 2013

Day O’ Racing-2013 version

I have to say I love Memorial Day weekend.  To me it’s the start of summer, even though the official date isn’t until someone in June.  It also means my birthday is a few weeks away, but most of all it means I get to celebrate Day o’ Racing!  I have been somewhat unofficially declaring the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend Day O’ Racing!  I mean three races in one day–Monaco, Indy 500, and the Coke 600!  I usually don’t get up early on Sunday to watch Monaco, sorry boys, I like my sleep and as you know the Coke 600 is a marathon.  I need my rest!

I have been somewhat posting pretty religiously about Day O’ Racing since 2005. I started looking back on my posts and I have to say some of them are quite entertaining.  Back in 2006, Tony ended up hitting the wall and fracturing his right scapula. For the most part, Charlotte seems to get the best of Tony at times.  If you want to check out some blasts from the past, you can, just click on the year (2005, 2007, 2008, two posts from 2009(a), 2009(b)2010).  Sorry there really isn’t much from 2012 and nothing from 2011 (this was due in part to my father’s death on April 18 of that year).

I was excited for this year’s version of Day O’ Racing!  I love watching the Indy 500!  There is so much tradition surrounding this event, how can you not watch?  If there was only one race a year I watched growing up, it was the Indy 500!  In fact, I told my husband, this was at the top of my race bucket list, yes, even before the Daytona 500.  I love how the drivers are introduced, the playing of taps, and of course no Indy 500 would be complete without Jim Nabors singing “Back Home in Indiana”.  I don’t know if Indy will be the same once Jim Nabors is no longer able to sing at Indy.  I guess they could CGI him in.  I mean they can do all kinds of things with technology these days.  Any how, I was excited about this race!  For one, AJ Allmendinger!  I mean AJ had a rough 2012.  But I was glad to see he had been given a second chance with Roger Penske.  It was so exciting to see him lead laps and I thought how AWESOME it would be if he won the whole darn thing, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.  He had issues with his seat belt and had to pit under green. But as much as I would have loved to have seen AJ get the checkers, my heart was with Tony Kanaan!  That’s right, I cheer for another Tony on Day O’ Racing.  Indy 500 has been that elusive win for Mr. Kanaan.  Just like the Daytona 500 with some racers, the Indy 500 can be a cruel bitch!  But not this year, my friends!  After 12 years of trying, Tony got see those checkered flags fly for him!

Now I thought to myself, maybe this was a good sign for my other Tony!  I took some time to catch my breath and eat because the marathon was coming up later in the afternoon.  Just like with a marathon you have to pace yourself, and the Coke 600 is no different.  This is the longest race of the year for the competitors.  Of course, not everyone will make the complete 600 miles. As much as I like to say I watched the entire race, I didn’t.  There are parts of the race that can get kind of, shall we say, boring.  I have to say, the weirdest part of the race was when the cable dohickey thing broke and wreaked havoc with competitors as well as race fans.  NASCAR red flagged the race.  Normally under red flag conditions, teams cannot work on the cars.  They can look all they, but no touching is allowed until the yellow flag is back out.  However, NASCAR allowed teams to work on the cars for 15 minutes.  Plus the drivers were given their spots back when the caution came out.  I have to say kudos to NASCAR for making this decision since this was something beyond the competitors control.  I am glad no fans were seriously hurt and escaped with minor injuries.

But as with the Coke 600, teams need to adjust to the track conditions.  This is a race that starts in the daytime and finishes up in the night-time.  The teams who can make the best adjustments throughout the day usually find themselves at the front late in the race.  Kasey Kahne was poised to win another Coke 600, but a late yellow changed everything.  What do you do if you are Kasey?  If you stay out, the rest of the field comes in, you come in the field stays out.  Kasey stayed out and well, the majority of the field pitted.  Kasey still had a shot to win the race, but to me his restart wasn’t the best and especially on older tires.  As the drivers took the green, here comes The Closer–Kevin Harvick to the front!  Once he got out in front, it was over.  I don’t care if Kurt looked to be making a charge, Kevin had this race. Congratulations Kevin!

Oh a high note, Tony scored his first top 10 finish since Phoenix!  Maybe they have figured things out.  This Gen 6 car has all of SHR befuzzled and bemused!  I know Tony likes to win, but he was glad to take this type of finish after all the struggles over the past couple of months.  Maybe Tony can take this positive upswing into Dover this weekend!

Other tidbits..

  • Can’t believe we are half way through the first 26 races.  Right now, Jimmie Johnson is leading the points and has 2 wins.  Here is the rest of the Top 10 [Edwards (1 win), Kenseth (3 wins), Bowyer (0 wins), Kahne (1 win), Dale Jr. (0 wins), Harvick (2 wins), Menard (0 wins), Truex (0 wins), Keselowski (1 win)].  It looks like the 2 wild cars will go to Kyle Busch (sitting 11th and has 2 wins) and Eric Almirola sitting in 12th spot.
  • If some drivers don’t step it up the might find themselves out of the Chase this year.  Some of these drivers include Greg Biffle (13th), Jeff Gordon (15th), Kurt Busch (18th) and Tony Stewart (20th).  None of these drivers has a win so far this season.
  • Even though David Ragan has a win, he is outside the top 20.  He is currently sitting 27th.
  • Denny Hamlin is sitting right now at 24th.  He would still have to get into the top 20 to even have a shot to make the Chase.

My final thoughts…

I haven’t been a big Kurt Busch fan over the years.  I don’t discount his talent.  Just like his brother, he can drive the wheels off his car.  Kurt was the first driver to win a championship under the Chase format back in 2004.  But some of Kurt’s backlash is his own doing.  But I think he is having a good year even though he doesn’t have a win as of yet.  He has been thisclose, but has been able to seal the deal.  So far Kurt has shown some promise with the Furniture Row Racing team this year.  I believe Kurt will get the elusive win this year.  Maybe this is what Kurt needs.  Sometimes you have to take a step back to realizee how lucky you are to race in one of the premiere racing divisions.

Tony needs some good Mojo right now…so here’s my shameless gratuitous picture of Tony!

2011 championship

Posted in What I know.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Short tracks are my favorite tracks on the circuit.  You get 43 cars in a small arena fighting for the same real estate.  When you hear “going three wide” on a short track, it usually isn’t a good thing.  Short tracks make for some exciting racing, but it also can create some angry and/or hurt feelings during and after the race.  Saturday night was no different at Richmond.  It seemed the fireworks had already started on Friday night after the Nationwide race.  Nelson Piquet Jr kicked Brian Scott, as we say in our household, in the peanuts.  Then members of the RCR Nationwide crew were involved in an altercation outside the track.  Before I get into all “love fest”, I want to talk about the race

Matt Kenseth team’s came into Richmond after receiving severe penalties from NASCAR.  With these penalties, he lost the credit for his pole win.  So with that, Matt Kenseth rolled into Richmond and won the pole!  Up through roughly lap 253, the only two drivers who lead laps was Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer.  In fact at one point early on in the race five of the first 6 spots were held by Toyotas.  Kyle took the lead roughly around 253.  It looked like the Toyotas had everything dialed in to the Toyota Owners 400.  The first non-Toyota to lead during the race was Kurt Busch after the 6th caution on lap 203.  It was fun to watch the Busch brothers race at times.  They are very competitive races and want to win and Saturday was no different.  The Busch brothers are aggressive drivers.  I have seen Kyle do things with his car that leave you thinking, “Did I just see that?”  Kyle is having a good year and Kurt is having a decent year, well compared to where he was last year.  I have called both brothers out on this site for their behavior both on and off the track, but I always have given them props for their driving talents.  BUT…I was none too pleased with Kurt after Saturday night (and to be honest there were others at Richmond who were none too pleased either).

Tony was entering the race mired way down in the points and no top ten finish since the 2nd race of the season at Phoenix.  I was hoping this would a chance for Tony to get back on track as the summer stretch approaches.  He tends to get “HOT” this time of year.  So even though, he is in his worst 8 race start of his career, this Tony fan was hoping for a good result on Saturday.  To my surprise, he was mired in the 20s for a third of the race.  Every time there was a caution, I would track where he was when the yellow flag flew and what position he restarted.  Around lap 171, he reached position 17th!  I was excited.  Perhaps if he managed to get to 17th, he could get in the top 15.  After the 5th caution of the night, Tony restarted 13th!  Wow!  I can’t believe how pumped I was for Tony to be up in 13th position.  I thought maybe as the night when the #14 team had gotten something figured out with his car.  He continued to race in these positions until the proverbial black cat hit.  Tony caused a crash.  He got loose and got into Jimmie.  This put him back down to 24th.  He did come over the radio and took 100% responsibility for the crash.  At this point I thought, this evening is over.  Yes, it was at lap 328 and there was still some racing left, but with the troubles this team has had over the last several weeks I wasn’t optimistic.  I have learned you never can count out Tony Stewart.  Tony was up to 5th for the restart after the final caution of the night.  I couldn’t believe it Tony had a shot at the victory! Restarts can be tricky and this one was going to be no different. It was crazy!  All I saw were cars moving every which way to get their best shot at the win.  And like he is known to do, here comes Kevin Harvick.  With the front-runners bearing down, I really did have hope that Tony would have the chance to win.  Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be thanks to Kurt Busch.  From my viewpoint, it looked like Kurt took Tony out of the groove causing Tony to get loose.  Tony was on his way to the best finish he has had since Phoenix.  Tony finished 18th.   Tony was not happy with Kurt and made no bones about it after the race was over.  Of course, Kurt said he didn’t know what the 14 was upset about.  Really Kurt?  Of course, Tony wasn’t the only who was not happy with Mr. Busch.  I believe Matt K. was upset with him as well.  Oh by the way, Tony left without comment.

Congratulations Kevin Harvick!

Other tidbits…

  • I believe the penalties handed down to Matt Kenseth by NASCAR were harsh.  I know NASCAR are hard asses when it comes to fuel, engines and tires.  But in this case, this was a clear oversight on the people at TRD.  In fact Clint Bowyer’s engines from Richmond and Daytona had rods too close for comfort so TRD pulled them out of use.  Because of TRD’s oversight, JGR suffered the brunt of the penalties.  JGR is appealing the penalties.  Joe Gibbs said he was appealing on the severity of the penalties.  It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out.
  • Can Denny Hamlin make a run for The Chase this year?  He has been sidelined since his wreck at California.with a back injury.  It will be a long road for him.  He will have to rattle off some wins along the way, but there are those who think he can do it.  He begins his journey this week at Talladega.  He has been given the clear the start the race which will allow him to receive the driver points.  Then Brian Vickers will take over the car for the rest of the race.  He is targeting the race at Darlington (May 11) to be his first full race since California.
  • Speaking of Brian Vickers, I am glad he has been given the chance to show what he can do in a Cup car.  Like Denny, Brian knows what it is like to see someone else to drive you car.  During the 2010 season Brian had to step away from his ride due to illness.  He did not return to competition until 2011 season.  He has had a rough time the last couple of years, but I think he is back on track with his career.  He is now running full-time for JGR’s Nationwide program as well as driving for MWR.  Keep on plugging away Brian.
  • Favorite term I hear uttered during the broadcast…”roll bar motel”!  Thanks for making me almost spit Coke-Cola all over the floor Mike Joy!

Some final thoughts…I am returning to work as of tomorrow, May 1.  I was planning to start grad school and being a stay-at-home mom.  Unfortunately, grad school cost money and I don’t get a salary as a stay-at-home mom (even though it is one of the hardest jobs around), so I am headed back to the work force.  It may seem weird, but I really like working.  I like being a mom and being around for my kiddos, but being there is something I get from working in an office.  I am nervous, but excited all at the same time.  Luckily, I am returning to the same employer, Texas Tech University, however it will be in a different capacity.  What does this mean for The Park?  Absolutely nothing.  I just will have to do some of my posts late at night or very early in the morning.  Thanks for riding along with them over the years!

Posted in NASCAR 2013

Media Day 2013

It is has now begun…NASCAR 2013!  Today is the ever popular Media Day in NASCAR.  This is the first chance we get to see and hear all the drivers in one place.  I love this day!  I am sure by the end of the day the drivers are tired of hearing the same questions from all the media guys.  Some guys are better at Media Day than others.  I can’t wait to see what Mr. Tony Stewart has to say!  I wonder if any of the media guys will ask Danica about Ricky?  Who knows what we will see throughout the day?

sprint unlimited trophy 2013Sprint Unlimited (aka Bud Shootout)–This year the fans were able to vote for how the Sprint Unlimited would play out.  This included segment duration, pit stops, driver elimination and yes, even the driver line-up.  The race segment durations are as follows: 1st segment-30 lap, 2nd segment-25 laps and 3rd segment-20 laps. Voting for the pit stop options will close after the green flag drops for the first segment.  The choices will be 4 tires, 2 tires, or no stop at all after the end of the first segment.  Fans have until the green flag of the segment to vote how many drivers will be eliminated, your choices, 0, 2, 4 or 6.  The other interesting part of this is how will the race lineup be determined.  This too is fan driven.  Only the fans that are attending the race on Saturday will have the luxury of setting the starting grid.   This should be interesting!  Man sucks to be a crew chief during this race, but hey, that’s why they get paid the big bucks.  They will definitely earn some come Saturday night. Here’s a picture of the trophy the winner of the race will receive on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Mike Bagley’s Twitter feed).

I feel overwhelmed by all the ways I can get my information from Media Day–internet, Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, and NASCAR.com.  I have all my electronic equipment on to help me out, iPhone, iPad, computer and yes even my television.  I am so glad I am able to keep up with all of this today.  The last couple of years I was at work and wasn’t able to get involved as much as I am today.  I am hoping to get some fun stuff out of the whole media day coverage so I can share with you fine people out there.  Today helps me to get pumped up for the NASCAR season.  It’s like back to school day for all of us in NASCAR nation.  The disadvantage of watching Media Day in various formats, you get to see the same answers to some of the questions.  All in all I enjoyed the day.

I tried to take notes so I could share with those what they missed today.  I have to admit I was interested in seeing  Kurt Busch.  He is now at Furniture Row Racing which is based out of Denver, Colorado.  It isn’t a powerhouse team like HMS or Roush, but I think with Kurt driving for them, they might be able to get some wins under their belts this year and perhaps make the Chase.  Speaking of Kurt, if you didn’t get a chance to watch “The Kurt Busch Special” you missed an opportunity to get to know Kurt.  I have never been a Kurt fan.  He is very talented, but I have had some issues with his behavior on and off the racetrack.  But I have to admit no matter what he does the media will scrutinize him more than I think other drivers.

The big elephant in the room today was probably the whole Danicky or Stanica or DanRicky romance.  This  would be Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse for those who have been living in a cave for the past several weeks.  Questions were asked and from what I saw they both handled the questions in a professional manner.  Of course, I wasn’t too interested in what Ricky got her for Valentine’s Day and vice versa.  It is no different from my point of view when two co-workers begin to date one another.  Hopefully every time we see them on the track close to one another the broadcasters won’t keep bringing up their relationship.  But admit it, we all are curious to see if what would happen if they broke up.  What makes matters even fun is they are both going for the “Rookie of the Year” title.

I definitely had to multitask today (doing laundry and enjoying Media Day). IMG_1622 At one point in the day I had Sirius NASCAR Radio, NASCAR. com, and ESPN playing all at the same time. Man it is a good thing I am not ADHD or I would have blow some kind of gasket. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anyone I wanted to see or hear. I think I like both Sirius and NASCAR.com’s coverage.  It seemed more conversational than the ESPN coverage.  All were of course very informing and entertaining.  I got a chance to see Tony Stewart not once but twice today.  My youngest loves Tony Stewart and he too was enjoying some of media day.  Frankly he was building a race track with his Geotrax on the floor during most of it, but when Tony was on he stopped to watch.  He is DEFINITELY my son!

Here are a couple of tidbits from today.

  • Mark Martin has been in every Sprint Unlimited (formerly Shootout or whatever it has been called over the years) since 1982 with exception of last year.
  • Michael Waltrip will run the #23 (instead of #30) for Swan Racing in the Daytona 500 in honor of the 26 victims of Sandy Hook Elementary.  All I have to say is very classy.
  • It seemed as if Danica Patrick was more relaxed this year then in previous Media Days.  I remember watching her during her first Media Day.  She seems like an old pro now.  This will be her first full season in Cup this year.  There will be a definite learning curve, but hey, who hasn’t had to navigate a learning curve during their first year in Cup.
  • Talk turned did turn to the new car–Generation 6.  I am excited to see this new car.  I was not a fan of the COT.  I think the racing suffered because of it in my opinion.  I think it will improve the racing we have seen over the last few years.  But until the drivers can get some real racing in the cars, we can only predict what will happen with this new car.
  • Kevin Harvick will be in his final season with Richard Childress Racing.  He will move over to Stewart Haas Racing beginning in 2014.  It will be interesting to see how his season will be knowing he is considered a lame duck.
  • Will the iconic #3 return to the track next year in Cup?  I think enough time has elapsed since the passing of Dale Earnhardt Sr.  It will be 12 years on February 18.  I think the fans will be at peace with the decision if the #3 returns.

That’s about it from me today.  If you want more notes and news from today, check out Facebook, Twitter, or NASCAR.com.  I am sure you will find what you are looking for with regards to the season.

Posted in NASCAR 2012

Oops He Did It Again

Kurt Busch has done it again.  He has been suspended by NASCAR for his latest actions in NASCAR.  He will be suspended from all activities this weekend at Pocono.  Kurt was already on probation from NASCAR from his actions during the Darlington weekend May 12.

This latest saga began last Saturday after the Nationwide race.  Bob Pockrass, a reporter from the Sporting News caught up with Kurt.  Mr. Pockrass asked Kurt whether or not his probation status had affected his racing during the Nationwide Race.  Busch’s response, “It refrains me from beating the s*** out of you right now because you ask me stupid questions,” Busch replied. “But since I’m on probation, I suppose that’s improper to say, as well.”

My question would be with regards to this latest incident is (in my best Dr. Phil voice) “What were you thinking?”  That’s just it.  I do not think Kurt Busch was thinking on Saturday.  Could this latest incident spell doom for Kurt?  He is currently driving for Phoenix Racing which isn’t one of the top-tier teams in NASCAR.  They have a limited budget and with Kurt not being able to run this weekend in Pocono will hurt Phoenix Racing.  Kurt went on an expletive tirade against ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch at last season’s ending Homestead weekend.  His 2005 season was cut short with two races to go after he was pulled over for suspicion of drunken driving and cited for reckless driving.  He has also had several dustups with fellow drivers throughout his years in NASCAR.  the one that clearly comes to mind is his dustup with Jimmy Spencer. Of course who can forget his run in with Jimmy Spencer.

As a former champion (he won it all in 2004), I expect you to handle yourself with a little bit more professionalism on and off the track.  I can understand that drivers feel frustration when they are knocked out of race sooner than expected.  But with all the advances in media distribution (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and with everyone have a cell phone camera, you have to be mindful of your behavior at every corner.  I do not know what is going on with Kurt Busch.  I am sure he is the only one who knows why continues to do what he does.  I would like to think with this latest incident that someone from NASCAR sits down with him and gives him the “Come To Jesus” talk I believe he is needing.  I feel if he continues to head down this path of behavior, he will be out of the sport.

Just one NASCAR fan’s opinion.