Recent Posts

Ten Points To Ponder … After Phoenix

*1. Longtime Gone* - The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has become a favorite of many race fans, due to its highly competitive fields and close championship battles. The racing that the series provides has been likened to "old school," and has steadily increased in popularity. However, there has been no race scheduled since the series visited Martinsville March 29th … over two weeks ago. The wait won't end anytime soon, either; the series will take to the track next in two weeks, on April 26th at Kansas Speedway. Why?

Read More »

For Junior, Patience Is A Virtue

As the No. 48 crossed the finish line first Saturday night, it was the true definition of a champion returning to form. Crew chief Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson had pulled their patented magic once again; sitting in second as the race wound down, they used communication and cunning to find that extra ounce of fuel to finish first. It was the patented strategy of a duo that's proven their success; when the going gets tough, they stop at nothing to find a way to win. Across the way, teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Tony Eury, Jr. could simply look on with admiration and awe. For as the winning Hendrick trophy slipped out of their grasp and into someone else's, no one could stop them from finding another way to lose. Again.

Read More »

Bubble Breakdown: Reutimann Muscles His Way Into The Top 35 … Again

The big news for the week from bubble land involved the No. 70 Haas Automation Chevrolet previously driven by Jeremy Mayfield. On Monday, Haas CNC Racing announced that the team and Mayfield agreed to part ways after the No. 70 car fell out of the Top 35 in owner points. According to team General Manager Joe Custer, "Jeremy stepped into the seat and did everything we asked him to... and more. Ultimately, we were unable to provide him with the right balance, handling, and speed he needed to be successful." With that, the team was off to roll the dice at Phoenix, bringing back 2007 driver Johnny Sauter in an attempt to revitalize the program. But apparently, they couldn't provide those things for Sauter, either, as he was only able to qualify the car in 42nd position and finish a disappointing 37th. The deal was for Sauter to drive at Phoenix only, meaning the team now has two weeks to decide on a driver before the next race at Talladega; but with speed, not skill, the deciding factor in that qualifying session, who the organization will pick is anyone's guess.

Read More »

Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Sam Hornish Jr. Carries Banner for Penske Racing

*Rookie of the Race: Sam Hornish Jr.* Hornish Jr.'s day did not start well at all at Phoenix. After being openly disappointed with his 31st place qualifying run, the open-wheel convert slipped to as far back as 40th in the open portions of the race, and became a moving roadblock on the inside line for more than one restart. However, Hornish and his team worked hard on adjusting to the track's transition from day to night, preventing the car from becoming too tight as the track cooled off. Later in the race, with fuel mileage an issue, Hornish went into fuel-saving mode, running smooth laps and saving gas in a way that had crew chief Chris Carrier beaming after the race.

Read More »

Think Twice Before Playing Poker With Aaron Fike

It often appears that the suits in NASCAR hold all the cards; they are usually confident that no matter what the circumstances, they always have four aces up their collective sleeves. But a young driver named Aaron Fike -- in his bid for eventual re-instatement as a NASCAR competitor -- may have just laid down a Royal Flush. Fike's recent admission that he used heroin on days he was scheduled to race in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series before he was suspended in July of '07 has left many in the racing world stunned, and at the very least, has Brian France and his court jesters frantically searching for a napkin to wipe the egg from their faces. One of the reasons Fike's admission is so stunning is because it is a 180 degree turn around from statements he made in an Associated Press interview last year, after undergoing 4 months of intense rehab.

Read More »

Driven To The Past : Kenny Wallace

We aren't reaching too far back this time, but I did promise last week, in a response to Kenny Wallace's driver diary , that I would tell the story about how I broke a couple of ribs at Bristol back in 2002 and it was really Kenny's fault. Let me preface this by saying I love Kenny, to a fault. He's been one of my favorite people since we met, way back when he was a fixture on his brother's pit crew in ASA. Right away I knew this kid was one of a kind. The fact that he has persevered no matter how many times the breaks didn't go his way has endeared him even more to me. If anybody wants to hear the whole story, read "Inside Herman's World," written by Kenny with Joyce Standridge. At the time this incident happened, I was helping to run I-75 Speedway at Mt. Vernon, Ky. and Corbin Speedway. The general manager, an Illinois native named Mike Duenser, called me one day and asked if I knew that the All-Pro (I think they still called them All-Pro that year) cars were running at Bristol in a mid-week event. This was before the annual August race.

Read More »

“Our” NASCAR? Nice Try, Brian

Prior to the start of the 2008 NASCAR season, Brian France held his annual "state of the sport" press conference. In his announcements, to the surprise of some accustomed to the sport's general arrogance about criticism, he admitted that some hardcore fans had been driven away from the sport. He also stated that NASCAR had experienced all the change it could stand for a while and was going to reach out to fans that had been alienated. This was followed by two commercials that have been airing regularly during each race this season. One proclaims the sport to be "Your NASCAR—My NASCAR—Our NASCAR"; another shows classic moments from the 1960s through today with Matchbox 20's "How Far We've Come" playing in the background, an obvious attempt to show one long interrupted string of excitement through the years. The commercials deliberately focus on the sport's tradition and history. They remind us that in every era of NASCAR, there have been great finishes, great victory celebrations, and great rivalries.

Read More »

The More Things Change

It seems as if all I have to say about NASCAR these days is negative _(well, okay, but give me some credit-it's all anybody else talks about either.)._ My opening line to most racing conversations is akin to, "Is NASCAR touched in the head…" followed by a complaint: "What do they mean, they wont give a Busch Series regular a provisional just because he drove a Cup car last year?!" "Let me get this straight, it's been policy to fine drivers for profanity on TV or radio interviews for years, unless said driver wears a red suit and has the word "Junior' attached to his surname?!" "The new points system is an invitation to wreck anyone in the way of a teammate in the Top t10!" There's always something new to fuss about, so when one gripe session has run its course, there's a new complaint waiting to take over. Convenient! _(Okay, the complaints are different now. So is Junior's uniform color-who'd have thunk THAT? Well, there IS the "the Chase stinks" part-some things will never change! Also, in 2004, fans were just trying to process the change for Winston Cup to Nextel-and now we have Sprint Cup AND the Nationwide Series. But it's still easy to complain, and 2008 brings a whole bevy of new complaints-the Top 35 rule, even MORE cookie-cutter tracks, the Nationwide Whacker problem…oh, and how, well, WRONG ‘Nationwide Whacker" sounds…)_

Read More »

Nuts for Nationwide: Field-Filling Rearing Its Ugly Head Again

Perhaps one of the best barometers to gauge the health of a racing series is to look the weekly entry list. A once over of the Nationwide Series entry lists so far this season might not seem concerning. Sans the season's second race at Fontana, every race has drawn at least 43 teams to the track, with full fields taking the green flag at six of the series' first seven races. What these lists don't show, however, is that field-filler teams are running rampant in the series, at a level unseen in NASCAR's top tier series since Joe Ruttman took the green flag at Rockingham without a pit crew during a Sprint Cup race in 2004.

Read More »

Matt McLaughlin Mouths Off : Debunking The Theory Of Green Flag Passes For The Lead

NASCAR is doing a full court press right now trying to convince fans and even us cynical media types that the racing with the new car is as good, if not better than, ever. I'll admit that some of the numbers I've seen thrown around about the number of passes for the lead in races that I found incredibly boring really surprised me. So I decided that next time a race bored me to the point I was doodling hot rods in my notebook (note to the under 30 crowd--a notebook can be a tablet of paper in which one writes with a pen, not just a laptop computer), I was going to analyze those statistics. I figured I'd only have to wait until the next cookie cutter 1.5 mile race and, in that regard at least, Sunday's race at Texas didn't disappoint me. If everything is bigger in Texas, Sunday's race was the biggest farce, masquerading as a race, since the first time the Cup boys raced at Texas and half the field crashed out in the first corner.

Read More »