Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Humpy: The Legend Retires!

"Great events people create the illusion that something is going to happen at an event that’s so great and unique that you’ve got to be there. Then they make that illusion become reality."

During the late evening scanning of the NASCAR web-sites, I was stunned and surprised to discover that Humpy Wheeler is retiring. Considered to be the P. T. Barnum of NASCAR promotions, Humpy will be missed by many. However, there is a book deal in the future. I will be one of the first to read it!

"We’d had a great event and we were sitting there talking one day," said Ed Clark, another former employee who now is track president at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "He looked at me and said, ‘Don’t start feeling too satisfied. If you do, put on some old clothes and walk down the street to see how many people will pick you up. You’ll quickly realize you’re no different from anybody else. Don’t get too proud of what you’ve done.’"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sliding through the Marbles!

Three days later, there is, amazingly, still more fall-out from the Sprint Fan Vote, which allows a driver to be voted into the All-Star race.
Fans of Dale Earnhardt, Jr, were tasked, by no less than Jr himself, to vote for Elliott Sadler. And now that it has been reported on that Sadler finished third in the fan vote, the Jr. Nation is concerned that they are not quite as powerful as they believed.

Claims have ranged from voting bots and macros being used, to Budweiser 'buying' the vote. Even this morning's discussion on The Morning Drive (Sirius) has David Poole and Mike Bagley speculating on reasons for the actual voting stats not being revealed.

Fans of Elliott Sadler are claiming that Sadler really should have been the one winning the vote (if he had not crashed), as they are sure that Robby Gordon does not have enough of a fan base. (Oh, how wrong they are! Robby has a large and passionate group of followers. Anyone who was around back in the day of the Trackpass '11th man' voting will remember how it was impossible to go against the tide of their voting!)

It would be awesome if Sprint would release those numbers. However, I will not hold my breath waiting for the results to be published. After all, this was a vote sponsored by the series sponsor, and as such, they can make the rules.

Speaking of Sadler fans, there is a large contingent claiming that AJ Allmendinger never apologized for the accident with Sadler. It amazes me that they are still complaining, even after AJ's post-race comments have been widely published. In fact, AJ's comments post-wreck were broadcast. However, if one does not want to hear anything, it is a simple thing to keep the fingers firmly plugged into the ears while shouting 'LA LA LA LA LA!'

Great news for fans (and unofficial students) of Diandra Leslie-Pelecky! She will be a guest on Sirius Speedway this week, and it appears she will be a regular guest. If you haven't found her Stock Car Science blog, check it out. Her book, The Physics of NASCAR, is a must read.

More great news! If we can judge the entry list correctly, it appears that Travis Kvapil will have Lumber Liquidators on their #28 Ford Fusion for the Coca-Cola 600. According to an interview from Travis on "Trading Paint" (Sirius) last week, Travis said there was a sponsor for this race in the works, as well as a few in the future.

I also neglected to bid a fond farewell to Dale Jarrett. While it is sad that he will not be behind the wheel any longer, it will be wonderful to have him in the ESPN broadcast booth.

And don't forget, this week qualifying will be on THURSDAY! Get your fantasy picks in soon!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Meandering Amongst the Marbles!

There were some surprises coming out of the NASCAR All-Star event at Lowes Motor Speedway, but the few surprises were buried in a heap of boredom.

  • Congrats to AJ Allmendinger and Sam Hornish, Jr. Both former open-wheel stars raced to the top 2 spots in the Sprint Showdown, thereby transferring to the All-Star Race. Both started from the rear of the field. While AJ finished 17th in the All-star, Hornish was able to push his way to 7th.
  • Additional congratulations go to Kasey Kahne, the winner of the Fan Vote and then the All-Star race. As much as I hate the All-Star voting, this time it worked well! I did note, though, that Elliott Sadler finished 3rd in the voting, so evidently even the JR Nation could not make Sadler any closer to winning the popularity contest.
  • Let us not forget Matt Crafton finally finding his way to Victory Lane in the Craftsman Truck series. During his interview on Sirius this week, he claimed that he and his crew chief felt they were on the verge of grabbing the checkers. They were right!
  • Kasey will not have to worry about the whole 'Vote thing' for the next ten years, due to his win. So, will Jr endorse Sadler again next year? I wonder how Chevy felt about JR throwing support to a driver of a competing manufacturer! Hmmmm! Enquiring minds want to know!
  • How ironic that the first two cautions in the Showdown were caused by two of the three GEM cars. The 10 and the 19 were out early. I am most thankful that we will not be subjected to Carpentier running nude down the front strecth. The vision of the double-tracking gaited driver wrapped in a checkered flag diaper is forever seared into my mind.
  • Internet buzz still is of the opinion that Sadler was out of line when he was slamming AJ Allmendinger, post wreck. It will be interesting to see if Elliott actually shows up for his weekly appearance on Sirius Speedway. And if he does show, what will he say? Sadly, there is no way to retract ugly-talk. I can't help but remember the interview with Miss Bell Sadler, as she discussed that Elliott was a bit spoiled. Perhaps he has never out-grown that attitude.
  • The latest Tony Stewart rumor has him buying into JR Motorsports. Many wonder how well he and Jr. would do as business partners, but many forget they are already partners with each other in the VLP club.
  • There are quite a few cars that will have to go back to the drawing board, if NASCAR has their way. Ironically, some of the cars at issue include the 77 of Sam Hornish, Jr. Carl Edwards claims that his car never had any problem getting on the scales, in spite of being called out by Jeff Gordon.
  • The two Yates Racing entries had a good showing in the Sprint Showdown. David Gilliland finished 7th in his Ford Fusion, followed by team mate Travis Kvapil in the unsponsored 28 Ford.
  • Engine problems seemed to plague the Gibbs teams this weekend. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin both had to retire early due to power plant failure. And Tony Stewart started from the back due to changing an engine prior to the race. This little blurb on sums up the issue.
Joe Gibbs Racing used its engines in the all-star race as opposed to the engines it receives from Toyota Racing Development. The team plans to go back to TRD motors for the Coca-Cola 600. Since the all-star race is a non-points race, it provides teams a chance to test equipment without fear that a failure will hurt them in the points.(Roanoke Times), #20-Stewart had to change engines before the race, #11-Hamlin and #18-Busch both lost engines during the All-Star race, all three had rocker-arm problems.(5-19-2008)
  • Speaking again of the Fan Vote, there are many internet boards that claim "something is wrong with the vote process." Apparently some fans used 'voting macros' or 'voting bots' to try and sway the votes in the favor of their own driver. One wonders if ALL of the fans were using the voting bots, thereby canceling each other out.

The next few days may include some interesting revelations! There are rumors that there may be some more sponsorship for one or both of the Yates cars. Awesome!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Elliott Sadler: Double Standards = Double Speak!

Elliott Sadler was on top of his world after qualifying fastest for the Sprint Showdown. The green flag fell, and 6 laps later, Sadler was out of the race. His demise came at the hands of 2nd year driver AJ Allmendinger.

Sadler's wreck was surprisingly similar to the way Tony Stewart was wrecked during the opening laps at the Darlington race by no less than Sadler himself.

How ironic that Sadler 'manned up' and admitted his 'rookie mistake' during his post-crash Darlington interview. He spent the week, when interviewed on Sirius, as saying he sure did not 'do the family name proud.' In the meantime, while Tony Stewart was broadcasting his TSLive show from Graceland, Tony loudly exclaimed that he harbored no ill will towards Elliott. They were pals, and Tony knew that Elliott had no intentions of causing that wreck. Tony was admired by many for his attitude towards Sadler.

Then, Sadler during his post-wreck interview at the All-star race decides he is going to display his anger by childishly commenting on 'what's his name?', and that there was a reason why AJ was 'in and out of that car.' Sadler apologists will claim he was angry and disappointed. Yes, he was, but his reaction was much less gracious than that of the volatile Stewart.

AJ did humble himself in his interview:

What happened between you and Elliott Sadler during the race?
"I don't know if I can really defend myself. It was my fault -- I slid up in to him. I didn't mean to do it. We'd been loose throughout the whole race to start. I was tucked under Brian (Vickers) to try to get him by and get around Elliott (Sadler) clean. I basically passed him right as that yellow came out. I was so close to Brian that the nose just took off on me and I was out of throttle the whole time just trying to miss him. I don't want to race like that. I don't want to be known to race like that. There's no defense. I messed up. I'll apologize to him but I know right now that doesn't mean anything. I don't want to be known for that. We'll talk later. There's no defense there that was my fault."

Even more surprising, the internet and the radio commentators on Sirius are pointing out that there is a double standard when comparing these two incidents. Many feel that Sadler handled the Lowe's incident poorly.

More irony comes when one remembers that Sadler was fined several thousands of dollars for a helmet throw while he was driving the 21 car for the Wood Brothers. His post-wreck quotes come off as a verbal helmet toss!

The man dubbed as a Southern Gentleman came out of this looking like he should be re-named ... as the Southern Brat.