Post Dega

Personal note…I can’t believe I went by I didn’t acknowledge April 12.  No it wasn’t my birthday…that’s June 15 or my wedding anniversary that’s June 9…but the anniversary of The Park.  I can’t believe it has been 4 years already.  What started out as a way to just share my randomness in my life as well as my passion obsession, has turned into a place where I have meet some wonderful people who love to blog just as much as I do.  At one point I thought about giving up on The Park, but it has become a part of me.  I may not have the traffic or the readers so people do with their blogs, but I like to think I can brighten someone’s day out there with my efforts.  Thank you to all those who stop by and comment and for all those lurkers out there.  I hope you continue your travels through The Park.

I was planning on posting my thoughts about the race at Talladega on Tuesday, but with the sudden passing of David Poole, I wanted until today.

As I have mentioned here before I like racing at Talladega.  I like the sitting on the edge of your seat kind of racing and Sunday was no exception for me.  Of course the face of the race took a different look on Lap 7 when the Big One happend.  I mean it took out several of the race contenders in one fell swoop.  it shows how one itty bitty wiggle/bobble can cause a massive pileup.    This race took out Jeff Gordon, the points leader as well as Mark Martin who had managed to climb to 13th in the points standings.  I felt bad for Mark. He was gaining  momentum and to have it all taken away just plain SUCKS.

I make no bones about the fact I am not a fan of Dale Jr.  I won’t go into all the horrendous details and detailed explanation of why, but on Sunday I found myself wondering where he was on the track.  It wasn’t because I was thinking of becoming a member of Junior Nation…the reason I picked him as my driver was for one of my fantasy leagues.  I was in the lead coming into Talladega and I wanted to maintain my lead as well increase my lead, plus Junior was still on the block for me to pick so why the hell not?  I mean I am not a fan of his, but I am not going to let that come between me and winning.  I mean look at the numbers at Talladega for Junior.  His best starting position is 3rd and well his best finish is first and he has done that 5 times.  It’s all about winning in my book.  And with the finish on Sunday I am have maintained my lead and stretched it out. 

Now on to The Crash…

We all know the best part of the race usually happens within the last 25 laps.  This is where those who have a possibility of winning begin to make their moves and find their drafting partners or better yet who they call follow to the front until they can pull out to take the lead.  Just like they did in the Nationwide race on Saturday, Newman and Junior hooked up nose to tail as they made there way to the front.  Plus you couldn’t count out David Ragan either since he was just about in the same spot after the last restart on Sunday as he was on Saturday.  But as we all know, this is Talladega…anything can happen.  Since Tony had a rough go on Sunday and to be honeset I thought he was going to make it interesting near the end, but as luck would have it no.   But there was the other SHR car driven by Ryan Newman.  If Tony couldn’t get the first win for Stewart Haas Racing, it was perfectly fine and dandy that Newman get it.  I was thinking Dale would make his move around Newman sooner than he did on Saturday, but the next thing you know he comes Carl Edwards being pushed by Brad Keselowski.The two of them passed the Newman/Earnhardt Express like they were standing still.  There was Carl I grimmaced.  He pretty much rode around all day until he needed to make his move…of course this was nothing new.  I have seen other drivers do this as well.  You have to do what you have to do to WIN. 

In my opinion, the incident between Carl and Brad was a racing deal.  Brad held the bottom line and did not go beyond the yellow as he was instructed by NASCAR during the driver’s meeting.  If he had gone below the yellow when Carl came down on him, it would have cost him the victory (see Fall 2008 Dega race).  It was a horrific accident.  Every piece of safety equipment did it’s job from the fence to the Hans device.  Carl was able to walk away and make his way to the start finish line.  I believe if Newman’s car had not been there when he started flipping I don’t think he would have ended up in the fence.  From what I could tell he was headed back down to the track surface when he hit the front of Newman’s car which accted like a catapult.  Eight fans were injured because of debris from Carl’s car.  This begs the question…should NASCAR car look at ways to prevent something from this happening in the future?  That I can’t answer.  NASCAR considers safety of the drivers, crewman, and fans priority number one and I am sure NASCAR will be disccussing these things in the near future.

Congratulations Brad for your first win in the Cup Series.  I think you have a might bright future in NASCAR!

Talladega

As I lay in my recliner trying to beat this sinus cold that has taken over my body, I flipped on to Speed TV to see a replay of the 2007 Aaron’s 499.  I must say it was kind of exciting to watch even though I knew who the winner was going to be.  I like Talladega.  I have made no bones about this fact here in The Park before.  It’s a chess game of sorts.  One little move can make or break the race.  One wrong misstep could take out a gaggle of cars and change the race in a second, but I still love it.  This race could change the face of the standings as well.  I don’t know how it would effect them this soon in the season, but when the boys come back in the fall it could change the face of The Chase.

I do have a little dilemma this week.  Dale Jr. tends to race well at this track, but he hasn’t had the best luck this season.  Even though this little tidbit has not escaped me this week, I am still thinking of choosing Dale Jr. as my driver for this week over at On Pit Row’s “One and Done” Fantasy Racing contest.  I have a slight lead and sitting a top the standings, but like anything else it could all fall apart of this weekend.    But sometimes it’s about points racing and maintaining that lead.

I am hoping this is the weekend Tony Stewart gets over that hump and get his first win in the #14.  He won last fall’s race after a discussion regarding the yellow line, but I think he will be one of several drivers to watch this weekend.  I have to admit I think Dale Jr. will also be one of the drivers to watch this week as well.  All his teammates have each won a race this week and to some there may be some pressure on him to win on for HMS.  But Talladega is one of the those tracks where he runs well.  So maybe he will come through for me…but of course it needs to be behind Tony.  Come on now…let’s don’t all go drinking that crazy kool-aid.

Race 4: Talladega

Wow…that’s really all I can say about Talladega.

Congratualations to my driver Tony Stewart for picking up his first win of 2008, his first win in #20 Home Depot Toyota (and yes I know it was Subway), and his first win at Talladega. Of course there is always a little controversy that surrounds Smoke. I have tried to keep a perspective about the whole yellow line thing because I guess I am a rules girl. NASCAR explained to the drivers on Sunday morning the rule about the yellow line. You can’t go below it…period. If a driver goes below the yellow line then they will suffer the consequences. And in this race fan’s opinion that’s what exactly happened on Sunday. I really don’t feel like debating the whole did Stewart push the #01 down below the yellow line. Regan Smith was there and he advanced his position. And in my eyes and NASCAR that was a big no-no. It was the green-white checker and Tony was leading. Tony was going to do everything in his power to win on Sunday. Tony was going to protect the bottom to prevent the others from getting a run. We have seen it time and time again at other tracks. Drivers do what they need to do to get the victory. That’s racing.

I have to say Carl Edwards went from “wow, what a great move” to “WTF just happened” in the matter of a 7 days. I know about 20 laps left at Talladega is when everyone turns it up a notch and Sunday was no exception. Carl basically took out two of his Roush teammates along with a few others including Dale Jr who was having a typical Talladega run. I have to say Carl did apologize causing the big one. Of course, with Carl and Greg involved in this crash, it helped out Jimmie. He left Talladega still with the points lead.

It was strange some teams were having tire issues. I don’t see Talladega as a track that will give the teams fits about tires. But as we all know tires have a mind of there own. They weren’t just getting cut, but exploding. Just ask Dale Jr., or Brian Vickers, or Denny Hamlin. In fact, he was taken to a local hospital after his crash at Talladega. When you slam into going that fast, even with all the safety measures in place, you are going to feel it.

Now that Talladega is out of the way, we can look to the remaining races. Next up Lowes, or as the race commentators say, Jimmie’s House. Oh and by the way, it’s on Saturday night! I love Saturday night racing.

Well, I am still recovering from my trip to Chicago. I have to say I had a wonderful time, but I don’t think I could live there. Too big of a city for me. However, I was able to experience ESPN Zone and all that it entails. I love ESPN Zone! I mean come on, you have a tv at any angle. While there my fellow co-worker and I were able to eat with Jeff Daniels. That’s right star of Dumb and Dumber was eating dinner at ESPN Zone with us. Ok…maybe he was three tables away, but we were there and he was there and we were eating dinner. So, in my world, we had dinner together. Of course I didn’t get a way with from the place without purchasing a few souvenirs. My favorite…a coffee mug with the following on it…”Yes, I am a woman, I know the game, I watch ESPN”. How can I not purchase this mug?

And we were able to get a bird’s eye view of Chicagoland Speedway.

I was able to see Kansas Speedway, but did have the forethought to pull out the camera.

Sorry for interrupting the race post with my Chicago highlights, but it was a great trip and has refocused me with regards to my job as an advisor. In fact we will be making a few moves in the office and I will be able to get back to what I love–working with students. I work with students now, but not as many as I would like. This new change hopefully will get me out of that professional funk I have been in lately. And with that here are a couple highlights of my trip….

  • Chicago style pizza…yum
  • Magnificent Mile…lots of walking
  • Navy Pier…lots of water, ships, and Navy men
  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Company….great food and atmosphere as well as a cute waiter named Tony! (waiter in the middle…the one behind us wanted to join in the fun and hoped into the picture)

Bing, Bang, Boom

All I can say is WHEW!

Yesterday’s race kept me very glued to the television set even while cooking bbq ribs for Postman’s birthday festivities.  I was worried this race would turn out like last Fall’s race when the COT made it’s debut.   But on the contrary, it was well worth it.

Going into yesterday’s race, I knew it was going to be the Dale Jr. and Tony Stewart show.  Sorry for all the fans of other drivers out there, that’s just the way I saw this particular race shake out.  And it pretty much was that for majority of the race.  Except there was that #11 guy, Denny Hamlin.  Denny was either challenging for the lead or leading the pack.  But looming in the distance, you could see that big #20 and the #88.  But just when you think you have everything all figured out at Talladega, you don’t.

Earlier in the week, I did a comparision between Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr.  I gave the edge of Dale Jr. and the rest of the field and that includes over my driver Tony Stewart.  Prior to yesterday the highest Kyle ever finished a race at Talladega was 11th.  And yesterday it looked like once again Talladega was going to get him again.

On Lap 44, Kyle was having difficulties with his car.  He tells his crew “This is a bad sign.”   Then comes the miscue on pit road where Kyle cannot get over to pit on Laup 62, thus having to go around and come back through.  This puts him 35th and almost a lap down.   He will eventually go a lap down and on lap 117 will get the infamous lucky dog.  But retarting at the back of the pack at Dega compared to staring at the back say at track like Bristol, is different and it was going to be a matter of time before Kyle made his way up front.  After all most getting sideways with Jamie McMurray, Kyle takes the lead on Lap 170.  I have to give major props to both drivers for not creating the Big One at this point of the race.  I believe if this were the old car, Kyle Busch would not be celebrating in vicotry lance.  At this point in the race, however, it was on as we say here in The Park.  Gloves are off and it’s ever driver for himself.  I know some of you Gordon fans out there didn’t like the way Kyle blocked Jeff, but hey it’s racing and that’s that.  I have seen Gordon do the same thing.  Like I said, it’s Talladega baby!  You do whatever and/or draft with whoever to get yourself to the front–and that’s just what Kyle did to capture his first win at Talladega.

CONGRATULATIONS KYLE! 

Talladega didn’t disappoint us with the Big One.  The Big One occurred on Lap 173 when it looked like mass chaos.  When it’s three wide and everyone is jocking for position, it’s just a matter of time before BAM!  Bobby Labonte gets sideways and heads up the track and well…collects Tony, Martin Truex, Kurt B. and Jamie McMurray.  Dale Jr. sustains damage to his vehicle.  However, it was the end of the day for Smoke.  He finished a bismal 38.  This wasn’t the only Big One for the day.  Just as white flag is thrown, Michael McDowell spins on the frontstretch, but no caution is thrown.  However, there is a big crash towards the back.  Apaprently #26 shoots up the track and collects quite a few cars including David Stremme who was having a great day substituting for Dario Franchetti who was injured the day before in a crash during the Nationwide race.  David finished 28th.

I have give some kudos to Juan Pablo Montoya.  He finished second to Kyle and I thought ran exceptionally well.  Where did Denny Hamlin end up?  That would be third.  And which HMS driver finished the highest in yesterday’s race???…wait for it…Casey Mears.  I turned to Postman at one point yesterday and jokingly said…Casey is racing today right?  I know it must be difficult at times when your other 3 teammates get all the press coverage before, during, and after the race.  Way to go Casey!  David Ragan and Travis Kvapil had good days as well both finsihing 4th and 6th respectively.

All in all this Dega race did not disappoint.  On a side note, yesterday we had Postman’s birthday celebration.  The race was over by the time all the non-NASCAR guests arrived, but like with any good party there were some beatin’ and a bangin’.  We had a sprainged knee, broken piggy bank, knee to the groin, and the final accident…a knee to the nose which caused some minor bleeding.  That’s when I knew the party was over.  Once you have blood drawn, the party’s over!  That’s what you get from a party over in The Park.

Now we move on to Richmond and some Saturday night short track racing!

Smokin’

Wow! What an ending to the Nationwide race today. It looked like it was going to be a classic Talladega last lap pass kind of race until a debris caution came out. It was Tony leading the pack with Dale Jr. right behind him. When the green flag was thrown, it was on. Dale Jr. pulled out and looked like he was going to take the lead. But in the race fan’s opinion, he went a little too soon. Of course I am a little biased because my boy was leading. But Tony wanted this win. He had not see victory lane at Talladega in either the Nationwide car or his Cup car. After all the talk across the world wide web with Smoke talk, it was Tony’s time to see the checkers at Dega. Oh yea…he won it from the pole!

CONGRATULATIONS SMOKE!!!

And where does Tony start in tomorrow’s race? That would be 2nd. Way to go Front Row Joe!

Of course, Talladega is famous for the Big One and today was no different.  Kevin LePage was coming out of the pits and trying to merge with the racers on the track.  From what I understand from the merging rule, he came up onto the check too soon and the melee began.  The intial impact was very violent.  It was scary.  I saw the post crash race interview with Kevin Lepage.  Now, this is from my own viewpoint as a race fan and this my own personal opinion, so if you are a Kevin Lepage fan, I’m sorry.  This wreck was his fault.  From his interview, he seemed like he was not taking responsibility for the wreck.  Even the guys in the booth were saying he made a mistake.  I hope in tomorrow’s driver meeting, the NASCAR bosses explain the merging rule so a wreck like today doesn’t happen tomorrow.

And how ’bout David Stremme finishing 2nd behind Smoke.

Even though tomorrow is Postman’s birthday, we will be watching the race.  We are not having his party until later in the day and perhaps the race will be over so the non-NASCAR friends of course will be able to enjoy themselves.  But hey…a little NASCAR never hurt anyone.

#18 vs #88

The talk so far this season, in my opinion, has been about Kyle Busch and Dale Jr.  Both drivers moved from their prospective teams to new teams this season.  Both of the moves were interrelated to one another.  Kyle was let go at HMS to make room for Dale Jr., who became quite the free agent after deciding to leave his father’s team DEI after the 2007 season.  Kyle landed on his feet over at JGR which made a big move from Chevy to Toyota.  The expectations placed on these drivers was already high coming into the 2008 season.  How would Dale Jr. perform under HMS?  Would Busch find success under JGR and a new manufacturer?  And finally, at the end of the season, who will be judged as the driver who made the better move? 

In this race fan’s opinion, both drivers have performed outstanding.  And here is a little comparison, if you don’t believe me.

Kyle Busch

  • 1 win (Atlanta)
  • 4 Top 5s
  • 5 Top 10s
  • 11.0 avg finish
  • 2nd in the points standings

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

  • 0 wins
  • 3 Top 5s
  • 6 Top 10s
  • 10.5 avg finish
  • 3rd in the points standings

Now, this weekend I believe will be a whole other ballgame for the two.  I think this is the weekend, Dale has the biggest chance to come away with his first win of the season and his first win since the spring race at Richmand in 2006.  Last year, just wasn’t his year.  With all that was going on with DEI and the media scruntiny, one can’t blame him for having a rough year.  But this year is a different story.  Just look at where he was this time last…15th in the points.  He is now sitting 3rd behind Kyle Busch and points leader Jeff Burton.  Now speaking of this race weekend…Dale Jr. has not only the definite edge over Kyle, but I think the rest of the field.

Dale has 7 wins, 14 Top 5s, and 20 Top 10s at Talladega.  He has an average finish of 16.4.  The last couple of years at Talladega has been rough for him.  In 2007, he finished outside the top 20 in both races.  The spring race was due to engine issues.  In 2006, he finished 27th and 33rd, and in 2005, 20th and 36th.  He has not won at Talladega in a Cup race since the spring race in 2003. 

Kyle on the other hand hasn’t faired so well at Talladega.  He has had zero wins, zero top 5s, and zero top 10s.  His average finish is 31.7.  The highest he has ever finished at Talladega is 11th and that was back at the spring race in 2006.  Will that all change this year?  I am not sure.  The way he has been driving he might be able to tame Talladega and finish in the top 10, but Talladega is a different beast all together.

Kyle has been known to overdrive his car and not be there at the end of the race when it matters the most.  With Talladega, it’s all about staying out of the big one and putting yourself in position to make a challenge for the win in the closing laps.  It’s also about drafting partners too.  Dale will definitely have more drafting partners this year with Jimmie, Jeff, and Casey.  Plus there is always Tony who Dale likes to team up with on occasion.  Since Kyle is now teammates with Tony and Junior with the HMS guys, it will definitely be interesting to see how all the drafting dancing will work out this weekend.  But as we all know, we it comes down to the last few laps, all bets are off and it’s every driver for himself.  Hell, I’d even draft with Jimmie if it meant I could win!

And of course….

Plus you have The Big One which can take out many an experienced driver (This if from 10/7/07).


 

Note to Postman, I know Sunday is your birthday, but this is Talladega baby!  I love you!