Thursday, November 09, 2006

NASCAR: The Chase is ON, and almost over!

Two races remain in the season. Fans who have drivers still in the Chase are going into overdrive to find out all information and opinion available. I have just a few quick thoughts, to perhaps lead us into the Phoenix race.

Jimmie Johnson appears to have his ride on rails. This team seems to have a better attitude this year, and have been so consistent it is amazing. They have taken bad cars and made them better. They have had amazingly great cars, also.

Matt Kenseth and his team just don't seem to know how to panic. They too continue to keep focused and have their eye firmly on the target.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr WOW! What a comeback last week. This team is showing some true grit. Perhaps the car does not unload off of the truck in perfect condition, but they sure seem to make things better!

Denny Hamlin A few months ago, while watching Inside Nextel Cup, Kenny Schrader compared Denny to Davey Allison. Wow! and Whoa! and Yikes! And by the way, Kenny.....I agree totally. This rookie will be around a long time. He too has had cars that don't run well, (as in with 7 cylinders) and they still pull off top ten finishes!

Kevin Harvick, in my opinion, is the last one who still has a chance at the title. This team has really come around. Comparing this year to last year is like comparing the Taj Mahal to a grass hut!

Jeff Gordon is probably out of the Chase. But, good days are in his future. When he announced his engagement, he went right out and won. Now that he is married, who knows! A win here, too?

Jeff Burton A great comeback from the last several years. I don't think there is a fan out there who would not be thrilled to see him win again!

Kyle Busch A driver that so many seem to dislike, few can deny his talent! A great year be so young and made the Chase...WOW! By the way, one of the local Las Vegas newspapers had a great article discussing how Kyle is helping a young short track driver. See it here.

Mark Martin I hate that he appears to be out of the running. I hate even more that he will be driving something other than a Ford. But then again, a bunch of my favorite drivers are making changes.

Kasey Kahne What can I say? The car, and the kid can win. But, I see a trend with Evernham cars making the Chase and then self-imploding. In fact, if I were Ray Evernham, I would be very concerned about the engine program.

And while not in the Chase, Tony Stewart is sure showing us how to run without the pressure of points racing. He is racing for wins, nothing more, and nothing less! Way to go, Tony!

More later!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Armchair Quarterbacking, NASCAR Style!....Football not included!

As we start to wind down the season, the last few races are heating up. NASCAR is fraught with controversy and debate. In others words, our racing world is still normal!

  • Gordon Weds: Congratulations to Jeff and Ingrid Gordon. I hope that both will be happy together, forever. And yes, that is said with sincerity. US Magazine
  • Tony Stewart gets Sirius:Tony Stewart fans listening to Sirius Speedway recently learned that Tony's show will debut on the Thursday of the NASCAR banquet week. It appears that it will be up in full force in 2007. In the meantime, I consider Sirius Speedway to be THE most entertaining motorsports radio talk show available. Here is the blog for Dave, Marty and Suzie Check them out!
  • Harvick vs. the Crewman: The internet seems to have some diverse reactions to the incident involving a crewman from the #10 car, the Harvicks, and a NASCAR official.
    1. One of the most surprising reactions is that Delana, by wearing the crew uniform, or by being a team owner, puts herself into a postion of 'needing to be prepared to have this happen!" I have to shake my head over this, as it may imply that Delana somehow 'deserved it' for wearing the crew uniform. I am sure that most rational folks would agree that NO ONE deserves to be on the receiving end of a violent assault. EVER! If Ray Evernham, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, or (gasp) Teresa Earnhardt had been knocked down, instead of Delana, I am sure that no one would say 'that is part of the job of being on a team or a crew or the business!
    2. Some speculation claims that since it was Delana, the penalty was much more severe. Perhaps, but if it had been another driver, another team owner, or anyone else high profile, it would still have received just as much negative publicity. I personally think the fact that a NASCAR official was injured may have had a bigger impact than having Delana getting the shove. Trust me, if Mike Helton or Brian France had been one of those knocked over, we would probably find the crewman knocked back to working at the mill.
    3. The crewman, by many accounts, shoved Kevin from behind. It is one thing to have an altercation face-to-face. But to sneak up behind someone and shove them hard enough to cause TWO others to fall is frankly a cowardly move.The crewman had a suspension, and a hefty fine. I don't agree with the size of the fine, but can only think that NASCAR is saying "Pay Attention, or Pay Up!"
    4. Don't forget....when crime is committed out in the real world, the penalty/sentence is increased if the crime brings physical harm to innocents during the course of the crime, whether intended or not. Perhaps if the crewman had NOT involved anyone else, the penalty would have been less severe.
  • Rookies: Denny Hamlin is soaring this season. However, JJ Yeley has improved greatly, and so has Martin Truex, Jr. Now, the newest crop of rookies are already showing up in the last races. David Gilliland has been showing some very strong runs lately, but the finishes have not shown it. Come to think of it, Stephen Leicht, the RYR Busch driver, is really coming along also. (By the way, whatever happend to Matt McCall?) Juan Paul Montoya found the intermediate track to be more challenging, but I am sure he will be a very quick study! AJ Allmendinger? Unproven, but then he has tried to qualify in unproven, unrun cars. We will see! Good luck to Sam Hornish, Jr this weekend! Now, when Helio joins NASCAR, my happiness will be complete!
  • More on Rookies: More internet discussion has centered on if brand new rookies should be allowed to start their careers while the Chase is running. Why should it be any different for Chase races vs. non-Chase races? Rookies have always been entered in the last few races of the season, to get a head start on the next season. Now, granted, David Ragan brought some extreme exposure to this issue, but he WILL be racing next year, at least for the first few races. But, if you go back a few years to a Truck Race championship...Brendan Gaughan had the Championship lined up, when a freak accident by a first time NCTS racer took him out of contention, with the championship reverting to Travis Kvapil. (During the off season, I plan to research the first years of many of today's stars. Perhaps it will give us a perspective that will show us that some of this year's rookies will be next year's stars!)
  • Robby Gordon All I can say is Robby, Robby, Robby! I realize that Robby is not the first one to do this, and certainly won't be the last. There has been much public outcry that the penalty was too strong, or not strong enough. If you consider that Jr. deliberately spinning out cost him 25 points, and the illegal shock on the #2 recently caused the car to only go to the tail for the race start, it makes you wonder! Will we ever find that the penalties will fit the 'crime?' Probably not! Too many factors have to be judged. And since they haven't asked me (yet) to provide input, I guess this is my best hope! *grin*
  • Chase! In the Chase, Jimmie Johnson may well have it wired this year. It is his race to lose! Matt Kenseth is breathing down his neck. Kevin, Denny and Junior must not have a single glitch, and must also hope that Jimmie and Matt DO have glitches! Good run for Jeff, Jeff, Kyle, Mark and Kasey, but I think they are out of it.
  • Speaking of Kasey.....what the heck has happened to Evernham's program? Granted Scott has had some bad luck, but Kasey's car blows up a motor on a caution? And look at the engine failures recently! As far as Sadler, well....that team change sure is working out well, eh?
  • Terry Labonte.... you will be missed. Softspoken, yet a ferocious competitor! I met you once, and fell completely into fandom. You took the time to listen to what I stammered out, as my nervousness was creating a speech impediment. You didn't laugh, get irritated or roll your eyes at me. You listened, you smiled and you thanked ME! Many of the drivers in the sport today need to take a lesson from you...yes, even some of those so-called veterens. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your career, and your retirement.
And by the way, just in case Dave, Marty or Suzie were to stop by.............Sirius Speedway Rocks My World!