Once again I have spent another June evening watching the Prelude. If you have never caught the Prelude to the Dream, well you are missing out on some fantastic racing. This is my fourth year of watching the event. It is a pay per view event, however proceeds go to the charity the event benefits each year. This year it was Feed The Children.
The Prelude is held each year at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Eldora is owned by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. Each year Tony invites many of his fellow NASCAR drivers to compete in late-model cars on this dirt track in Ohio. NASCAR car drivers are not the only ones who are invited each year either. Tony also invites drivers from NHRA and IRL. I usually don’t compare the ball and stick sports to NASCAR because NASCAR, in my opinion, is different from ball and stick sports on many levels. But this type of racing on dirt is like being at a minor league baseball game. Drivers are racing for no points, but bragging rights. This year was no different.
All the usual suspects were there this year–Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Kenny Schrader, Kenny Wallace and yes, even 5-time himself Jimmie Johnson. This year’s drivers also included Danica Patrick. I found this very intriguing. This was going to be the first time she would race in this type of race car and on this type of racing service. She didn’t do too bad for her first time on dirt. In case you haven’t watched late-model dirt racing, you have to turn right to go left. It felt like she was a fish out of water but at least she gave it a shot. I still wonder why Dale Jr hasn’t tried his hand at this event. I think they could really draw quite a crowd if Dale Jr. ran it one time. Of course, they draw a crowd for this event becuase of the love Tony has for Eldora and this event.
I was not disappointed. I thought it was quite funny when Tony took Darryl Waltrip around the track in his late-model car. I swear I think DW was screaming like a little girl the whole time he was in the car. It was pretty hilarious. Tony knows what he was doing and I don’t believe he lifted once. Talk about your E-ticket ride! Another great moment prior to the race was Tony’s presentation to Dick Bergren. He gave Dick a racing helmet he wore during his championship season last year. In case you weren’t aware, last weekend was Dick’s last race as a report for Fox. I will miss him. He was one of the best!
Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer clearly had the best cars of the night. They were going at pretty good until Clint got into the wall. I thought Kasey Kahne was going to run away with the even after Clint was knocked out. But even on the dirt track Kasey is snake bit. He ran into a stranded Bobby Labonte. I don’t know if Kasey saw him, but that was a nasty crash. It was nasty enough to take off one of Kasey’s wheels. I believe Kasey saw him, but due to the racing surface couldn’t stop in time. This opened the door for Kyle Busch. It was pretty much that way the rest of the race. Tony was trying to get make his way towards the front, but didn’t have enough laps left. Congratulations to Kyle Busch!
One of these days I would love to make the pilgrimage to Eldora to watch the event live. I love watching dirt racing. It brings me back to those Saturday nights in Amarillo when my family would head out to the dirt track. It wasn’t a complete Saturday night until you go some of that mud in your hair that was flung from the cars on the race track. I can still hear the sounds of the cars as the went around the track. It brings me back to a time when I was carefree and had my future in front of me.
Thank you Tony Stewart!
Wanted to share my little car design for Toyota Racing’s contest. You can choose a Toyota driver and “Sponsify” a car design. If you win, your design will be on the track for all the race fans to see. I’m not much of an artist, but I might as well give it shot. If you don’t take a chance, you don’t get a chance win. So if you have a chance, can you stop by and give my car a vote. Here is Viva Las Vegas
You can vote once a day until March 15. Then the Top 10 move on and voting begins again. For those who read The Park know who cool this would be for me.
Vote early and vote often.
I am still here plugging away. The Park has been neglected somewhat and the weeds are starting to grow around the place.
This is the second week in a row the Cup has been delayed. I guess Mother Nature is not a race fan. I did listen to last week’s race and I have to say for a Pocono race is was somewhat exciting. I wish I could have seen some of the race, but momma has to work. Looks like I will be doing the same thing tomorrow. I would love to see the double file restarts coming down into Turn 1, but once again Momma has to work. I think I feel a cold comin’ on (cough cough).
I caught the Nationwide yesterday. Congratulations to Marcus Ambrose for his second win in a row at The Glen. I like Marcus. He is a breath a fresh air and every time I see him interviewed he always has something positive to say even when it’s going bad. I was disappointed at what Kyle Busch had to say about the end of the race. I have to laugh at Kyle Busch calling out Marcus for aggressive driving. Are you kididng me? Now I like Kyle for his driving becuase he wants to win every single race and he isn’t happy that he doesn’t. He is a passionate driver and damn the man can drive, but his little “oh poor me, I’m not getting my way, taking my toys home” attitude is beginning to wear on me. He is not endearing himself to me. But Kyle is Kyle. Can you imagine if he focused soley on his championship run in Cup instead of running all three series, where would he be? I had this conversaiton with Postman. Can you imagine? I mean if you look at those at the top of the standings, they don’t run in all three series. I know Tony has in the past and Jimmie occassionally does, but look at those who pull several double duty weekends. They are at the top and well Kyle may find himself out of The Chase even with those wins.
I have been hearing quite a bit of anti-Earnhardt discussion. I hate to see him struggle like he has over the past few years. I know he made the Chase last year, but he didn’t shine at all. I have many discussions with my friends who are part of Earnhardt nation. When he was going through his last year or so with DEI, they thought if he was in better equipment all the other drivers better watch out. Well, here we are folks year 2 of better equipment and he still is struggling. Mr. Hendrick pulled the trigger and replaced Tony Eury Jr. It might take some time for the team to feel comfortable with one another. Also, and I know Junior nation may not like this, but Junior is struggling with a confidence problem. He was having a good run at Indy and then the engine gave way. It’s seems like he is taking two steps fowards and two steps back. I am not a fan of Earnhardt, but I hate to see a good driver struggle. He didn’t forget how to drive, he just needs some good runs to get back some of that confidence.
I miss The Park. I was able to come here and be myself. As I struggle with some things right, perhaps I should return more often than I have these past few months. It might just be the medicine I need.
I can’t believe I haven’t been here in The Park for a few weeks. It has been somewhat crazy in my life. I am still adjusting to a new little one in the house, but it has been fun.
I have been watching quite a bit of NASCAR lately that I haven’t ignored. There has been some greating racing over the last few weeks and last night was no exception. I didn’t get a heck of a lot of race watching in because we had some friends over for the 4th. As we all racing at Daytona doesn’t disappoint the fans. Because there was a rainout of qualifying and by virtue of the rules, Tony was once again sitting in the cat bird’s seat at the start of the race. But Daytona is one of those tracks where starting up front doesn’t necessarily give you an advantage. However, it doesn’t hurt. From the part of the race I did get to watch Tony had everything dialed last night. After shooting off fireworks outside with friends, family and a few neighbors, I came back in to watch some more fireworks. Tony was clearly headed for his second win of the season in my book, but with a late caution and the laps winding down it looks like it wasn’t going to be easy. With the double file restarts that put Kyle Busch on the outside of Tony on the front row. As the green flag dropped they were off. Klye go around Tony and took the lead and the white flag, but this IS Daytona. It ain’t over until the checkered flag is flown and the car in lead crosses the finish line. Tony got behind Kyle in order to make his move. As Tony moved out from behind the #18, Kyle went to block and that’s when this went crazy. Kyle clipped Tony’s front bumper and well, into the wall went Kyle as Tony crossed the finish line victorious. Unfortunately, Kyle got the worse end of it courtesy of Kasey’s #9 and a few other cars. I was so excited and yes that was me and the rest of the Smoke fans cheering. Congratulations Tony!
For those out there who may think Tony took Kyle out for the victory are just plain wrong. It was racing. We all knew something was going to happen. Would I have been upset if it was Tony hitting the wall? I am sure I would have been, but I would hope after seeing the footage I would have seen it was just a racing deal. I hope that I would have had the objectivity to see that it was racing deal if the tables were turned. Even in the post race interview with TNT, Tony seemed bothered by the end of the race. TNT of course didn’t show much post race coverage, but I wonder what Kyle was thinking about the results. I would hope he would understand like Tony it was racing. That’s it…racing! When you have two passionate racers like Tony and Kyle challenging for the win they would understand how things work. Now matter what they put on a good show.
Now for the last couple of weeks…
- I loved how the road race turned out. I would have loved Tony to have one, but I was happy for Kasey. I mean when you hold off one of the better road racers towards the end, you deserve the win.
- Congratulations to Joey Lagano for his first NASCAR win last week at New Hampshire. I know there are those who think it wasn’t fair to get your first win on a rain shortened race, but who cares. A win is a win. I am sure Joey would have like to continue the race and caputre the win a different way, but Mother Nature had other ideas. Isn’t part of racing out thinking the other teams? The leaders had the same opportunity to start out, but they chose to pit. It’s not like Zippy hasn’t seen a few of these situations before. I mean he has two championships under his belt. Besides, Joey would have had to pit if the race had continued. I thought it was very classy of Tony to come over and congratulate Joey and Zippy.
- Doube file restarts have brought a little excitement back into the racing and are going to start playing into some teams’ strategies if they have already. I still want to see how the double file restarts would fair in trucks. The trucks already put on some of the best racing around. Can you imagine what double file restarts would do?
- Jeremy Mayfield…this is going to get messier before things all settle out. As I have said before this is going to be interesting to see if NASCAR’s drug policy stands up to scruntiny. I haven’t said too much about the whole Jeremy saga in The Park, but the only thing that bothers is the fact he didn’t tell NASCAR about the prescription he was taking prior to the drug test. If anything that can come out of all is that NASCAR can step and reexam it’s drug policies and procedures, then so be it.
I hope to get back on track with things here in The Park now that I have a handle on things on the home front. I hope everyone had a great 4th of July.
I was able to catch most of the race on Sunday. We got home from our little tour around Texas about 50 laps into the race. I have to say I do like the double file restarts. I don’t know if it made that big of a difference at the 2.5 mile track, but I can’t wait until the boys return to Bristol, Martinsville and Talladega. I have never like the lapped cars sitting in the front of the lead lap cars especially when the leaders are sitting 3 or 4 rows back. It can get quite confusing at times, plus the leaders don’t have to negotiate around cars that don’t have a snowball’s chance to be a factor in the race. Plus the lapped cars can create more issues at the beginning of restarts. But for now I like them.
Now on to the best part of the weekend. Congratulations to Tony Stewart for getting his first win of the season (technically it’s his 2nd one), but as we all know it’s the points races that matter. This is the first win by Stewart Haas Racing and I am sure this is not going to be the last. I didn’t realize it until I read one of my favorite blogs, Tony won his first race at the 14th stop of this year’s season. Coincidence…I think not. Tony earned the pole by virtue of owner’s points due to the rainout of qualifying on Friday. But his luck would be short lived when he crashed in practice and had to go to a backup car. This meant instead of starting first, he would be delegated to the 43rd spot. Of course it didn’t take long before Smoke was leading the race. As it always seems to fall Pocono came down to a little gas mileage. Kudos to Tony’s crew for taking advantage of the money stop and getting Tony out in front of Carl. And here is where Tony and Darian rolled the dice. I was holding my breath hoping and praying that Tony was saving enough gas to get him to the checkered flag. It was sweet to see that #14 cross the finish line in first. It was cool to see Tony’s dad get excited about his son’s victory and how touching to see him congratulate him in Victory Lane. What a great early Father’s Day present.
Other notes from this past weekend
- The boys on to Michigan. If Junior doesn’t pull away with a victory it will mean he has gone a full year without a victory. I guess all the broadcasters will be making note of this fact a little bit more. Oh well…
- I have been listening to the “talk” about Danica Patrick coming over to race in NASCAR. I think she has the skill set, but I don’t if she can take on all that is NASCAR. I don’t know how the fans are over there in IRL, but here in NASCAR we can get a little passionate about a sport. Time will tell.
- Kyle Busch smashing his guitar trophy after the Naitonwide race. My opinion…it’s his trophy, he earned it and he can do what he likes. I like Kyle Busch. He has put a little spice back into NASCAR.
- I guess TNT did okay on the broadcast. I didn’t really pay attention all that much because after touring Texas for a week you have quite a few things to unpack and wash.
I haven’t been doing such a good blogger of late. I have been stuck in the back of the pack, on pit road or in the garage. But to be honest I have been trying to get some things in my life back on track and get some focus into my life. I have come to the conclusion I need to get back to what I love to do here in The Park…talk about NASCAR.
I have to say I was somewhat excited about Jeff Gordon finally breaking his winless streak, the longest of his career at what I consider my home track Texas Motor Speedway. TMS was one of two tracks Jeff had not conquered, the other being Homestead, but after last Sunday, Homestead is the last track standing. I think his fellow teammate, Jimmie Johnson, had other ideas. I think if the race had lasted a few more laps, Jimmie would have caught his teammate.
I have been researching some things and I really want to post something about Dale Jr, but I want to wait a few more weeks before making this post. I will say up front that I am not a fan of Dale Jr, but I was a little saddened by the apparent demise of the #8 team he made famous. It is going to be strange not to see the #8 racing on Sundays. The team was suspended indefinitely due to lack of sponsorship. The economic times have been tough for all teams in NASCAR. Many have had to tighten their belts and make decisions they might not have made if it wasn’t for the economy. I am sure there are those in Earnhardt Nation who are just sitting back and saying “We told you so.” Do I think DEI, or EGR as it is now known, will slowly fall to the wayside? I am not sure. EGR isn’t the only team who has had to park a team due to lack of sponsorship.
I am a fan of Kyle Busch. I wasn’t when he first came into NASCAR. I thought he was punk and needed to be taken back behind the woodshed, but he has earned my respect and has won me over. I believe Kyle Busch is exactly what NASCAR has needed. He is a breath of fresh air. He does have smart ass mouth on him and he isn’t afraid to speak his plus he is a damn good driver. I have read he is being compared to a Dale Earnhardt Sr. when he first came into NASCAR. I know that seems like blasphemy in NASCAR, but why can’t we compare him to Dale Sr.? Aren’t other sport superstars compared to each other in the other major sports? Will Kyle accomplish the things Dale Sr. did during his tenure in NASCAR? I don’t know. Dale Sr. raced during a different time in NASCAR. But from this NASCAR fan’s point of view, it’s going to be a blast to see him try.
It looks like Stewart Haas Racing is headed in the right direction. Tony has started out with several great runs. He has 2 Top 5s and 5 Top 10s and is sitting 5th in the points. He doesn’t have a win as of yet, but it is only a matter of time. Ryan got off to a slow start (and I am sure he was thrilled to just get of Daytona), but they have slowly found something and are headed in the right direction. He’s only 92 points behind 12th place Jeff Burton in the standings. He moved up one spot last week to 17th. I figure with a few more good runs, Newman can get into the Top 12. And isn’t that where you want to be after Richmond?
I am hoping to make a more concerted effort to post more NASCAR stuff with a little of my messy and confusing life mixed in.
In case you missed the Bristol Craftsman Truck race was on last night. I know, it’s weird to watch racing on a Wednesday night, but I did catch most of the race. If you are a reader and/or lurker of The Park, you know that I am not a big fan of Jimmie Johnson. However, I wanted to see how he would perform in his first truck race of his career. Jimmie drove teh #81 for Randy Moss Motorsports last night. Jimmie qualified 9th and was doing pretty good. He was at one time leading laps in the race until Kyle Busch over took him. Unfortunately Jimmie finished 34th last night. I am sure he would have finished higher if not for this little action move.
Whether you like Jimmie or not, I have to give him major props for trying to save the truck. That was some damn fine driving Mr. Johnson.
I do have to say I was a little creeped out when they kept saying Jim Johnson. I guess we are so used to Jimmie and not Jim that it just unnerved me. That would be like the announcers calling Tony, Anthony. It’s just wrong.
Congratulations to Kyle Busch on another win. What does that make now across all three series? Eight million? Seriously, though, he has 17 wins across the three series (8-Cup, 6-NWS, 3-Truck). Say what you want, that boy can drive.