Eliott Sadler managed to leave Cali with a top 10 finish--his first since the Daytona 500. Thankfully, Sadler had nothing to cry about this Sunday.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Eliott Sadler managed to leave Cali with a top 10 finish--his first since the Daytona 500. Thankfully, Sadler had nothing to cry about this Sunday.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
In the meantime, here's a little from Roger Mears on his son Casey's early start in racing:
Sprint Cup driver Casey Mears, pilot of the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet, won his first NASCAR Cup Series race at the age of 29.
Photo: Casey Mears and his dad Roger Mears
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
It might tell you about July 12, 1958, the day Richard Petty scored his first win. Or March 16, 1966, when Fonty Flock gave Chevrolet its first victory. Then there’s the time Frank Mundy won NASCAR’s first-ever race under the lights. Not to mention all the races with legends like Buddy Baker, Junior Johnson, Fireball Roberts, Cotton Owens and South Carolina’s favorite son David Pearson.
Located just outside Columbia, SC in the small burg of Cayce, the half-mile dirt track hosted its first race in 1948. It was NASCAR sanctioned in 1951 and ran NASCAR races there until the early 1970s. That’s a lot of time for memories to mount up and history to be made.
Now, thanks to the folks at Racers Reunion, this historic place and all of the great racing moments that took place there will be shared with future generations of NASCAR fans.
Jeff Gilder, the founder of Racers Reunion, announced last week that Columbia Speedway will be turned into a first-class events facility and that a museum will also be built on the site.
“The track was an important track in the formative years of our sport,” Guilder said. “We need this to preserve our racing heritage. Too many tracks have gone by the way being replaced with condos, Wal-marts, golf courses, etc. The cool thing about this track is that its owners would rather have a race track than a Wal-mart.”
But will any new racing memories be made at Columbia Speedway? “We will return the track back to meet racing specs,” Gilder said. “Whether there will ever be racing there is a question to be answered later.”
Racers Reunion, the group heading up the preservation effort, is an online social network that brings former drivers, crew members and fans together to share connect, share memories, and just talk shop. About 100 of its members (all volunteer) banded together earlier this year to save the Columbia Speedway, hosting the first annual Love Chevrolet Columbia Speedway Spring Festival on April 25.
According to Gilder, the event was attended by 30 thousand people from 17 different states and Puerto Rico. And a host of legendary faces from racing’s past were present as well, including Buddy Baker, Ned Jarrett, Dave Marcis, Little Bud Moore, Gene Hobby, Dick and Johnny Dangerfield, D.K. Ulrich, and at least a dozen other former drivers.
“The response was greater than anyone expected,” Guilder said. “Now the community, the city of Cayce, the county, and surrounding areas have realized the potential of the facility and have embraced our efforts to preserve the track and create an events facility that can be used by a variety of events.”
If you’d like to get involved, fan help is always welcome. There are coordinated work groups that get together to keep up with the track's maintenance. And donations are also accepted on the Racers Reunion web site.
“This race track is one that always prompts some great stories when mentioned to anyone who was there as a spectator or participant,” Gilder said. “All the drivers who raced there agree about the importance of this track.”
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Luckily, Logano's penalty didn't keep him from victory. But there was a heap of other teams who were adversely affected by what most drivers and even media members are calling an electronic glitch.
Though the ESPN crew tried to get a NASCAR official to comment on the pit road issues at the end of the broadcast, they were met with silence. Look for more on this story during tomorrow's pre-race shows.
I'm sure Carl Edwards (and Brad Keselowski, Justin Allgaier, etc., etc.) would like some answers. And so would the fans.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Last night's Meijer 300 was led, for more than half the laps, by Nationwide points leader Kyle Busch. Once again, it appeared that Busch's evening would end with another checkered flag, another fiery burnout and another signature bow.
But Busch's teammate and last year's race winner Joey Logano had other ideas. With the strongest car on the track, Logano raced for the lead early on. Saddled with a pit road speeding penalty (an issue for half the field last night), the new kid had to drive his car forward from way back in the line.
And by the time the field was red flagged after Mike Bliss crunched the wall, Logano was sitting in 2nd spot. That's when ESPN replayed Busch's radio chatter, specifically his spotter saying that Logano was just better than Busch.
Turns out the spotter was right.
With 10 laps to go, Logano nosed past Rowdy and never looked back. He didn't just win, he won by a mile.
Of course, before the race was over, Busch's crew chief seemed to sense his driver's lead might not last. He was quick to point out that Busch had just haloed in from Michigan and that Busch was actually treating the first half of the race like practice. Then after the race, when Busch congratulated Joey on camera, Rowdy kept to the team talking points, saying that practice times at the track clearly played into Logano's favor.
Sorry, but you can't butter your biscuit on both sides. Busch is a more experienced mega-talent in the eyes of his peers, media and fans. He shouldn't need as much practice as Logano. And I'm surprised he admitted that he does.
I guess any excuse will do when your teammate turns you into toast.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Newman took part in a tree planting ceremony today at Michigan International Speedway as part of the kickoff for the "NASCAR Green Clean Air" initiative. And if Newman had his way, the rest of NASCAR nation would pay more attention to green living and environmental conservation.
“There’s nothing to be skeptical about. It’s something that we need to do," Newman said. "Johnny Appleseed came by a long time ago and dropped a bunch of seeds off and we need to follow his pattern."
Although I'm not planning to trek barefoot across the wilderness with a mush pot for a hat, I do think Newman has a point. I've seen what has happened to my native state in the last dozen years. And it would indeed be a step in the right direction if more Florida contractors would practice responsible development instead of razing everything with roots just to build another strip mall.
But it's not just about planting trees. As Ryan Newman told the media today, there are multiple ways for regular joes to make a big impact on the world we live in.
"We can talk about recycle and we can talk about drilling holes in tires and we can talk about planting trees and what we do with the water and things like that," Newman said. "Everybody has to help out. It’s not just NASCAR. It’s the fans and it’s the people. It’s you guys. Everybody has to help out in respect to this to make a difference.
John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, would be proud.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Word broke today that General Motors is cutting its factory support for Chevy teams in both NASCAR Camping World and Nationwide Series. This is depressing news for a sport which is also suffering from lower ticket sales, lack of sponsorship and still reeling from a round of 2008 layoffs.
Although some folks, like Rick Hendrick, have publicly said they think General Motors will be all right in the end, I've got to believe that anyone involved with a Chevy race team entertains private doubts.
With the stimulus money long spent and Chapter 11 underway, General Motors must save money where it can. And it would be difficult for the company to justify spending dollars it doesn't have on its NASCAR investment. Especially when it's laying off employees left and right, shutting down plants and operating on a wing and a prayer.
Early news is that the teams most likely to be affected by the cuts will be Kevin Harvick, Inc., JR Motorsports (owned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Rick Hendrick) and Rusty Wallace Racing -- all three of which are owned by current or one-time Cup drivers.
What's not yet clear is how much less GM will be contributing to these race teams. Hopefully "cutting back" doesn't mean "cutting off."
So far, there's nothing to indicate that the cuts will affect Chevy teams in the Sprint Cup series.
But time, as always, will tell.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
More than meets the eye: Kyle Busch will drive a new Transformers: Return of the Fallen/M&M's paint scheme at the Infineon road course in Sonoma, CA. This is ironic in so many ways. Given the backlash against guitar man, I bet Joe Gibbs is wishing he could transform Busch's image about now.
Speaking of Joe Gibbs Racing: If anybody needs the luck of the Irish Hills for the Lifelock 400, it's poor Denny Hamlin. Seriously, could he have had a more discouraging day at Pocono? Hamlin had the fastest car in practice, but with a busted fuel pump right out of the gate, he didn't ever have a shot at a decent finish. The law of averages would indicate he's due for a good race. Hopefully, Hamlin will find his pot of gold at MIS--or at least finish in the top 10.
Everyone's favorite track?: It's true. Drivers adore Michigan--even if they've never won there before. Says Jeff Gordon, "You would think my favorite track would be one where I've won more times, but I love Michigan." Per Bobby Labonte,"Michigan is my favorite race track to go to as a race car driver. I just love Michigan speedway. It’s just a fun race track to race at and I know that I’ve used every groove there ever was to run there, from entry to middle to exit. " Then there's Brian Vickers, “Michigan’s a great track with some really fun racing. I like the fact that it’s wall-to-wall racing." Finally, David Stremme, “Michigan International Speedway is awesome."
Just because I love Duke basketball: Houston Rockets star and Naismith winner/Duke basketball alum Shane Battier will be taking in his first Cup race this weekend as part of a promotional effort for the ServiceMaster Clean/Shane Battier Franchise Scholarship . “Growing up in Detroit, with my family and friends entrenched in the automotive industry, gave me a keen appreciation for cars,” said Battier. “And having lived in the NASCAR belt for the past 12 years - in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas – I thought it was about time to get to a NASCAR race.”
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The caption that ran with the picture above: "At JR Motorsports, We Break Hearts, Not Guitars."
Go to any race track on any given weekend and amid the pit crews, die-hard fans and media types, you'll find a slew of wide-eyed youngsters who dream of being a professional driver one day. It's the nature of such dreams to change with the passage of time. But when a child is blessed with real talent, a passion for motorsports and a supportive family, a boy's far-flung dream can turn into a man's present-day reality.
Just ask Moses Smith. He's one of the lucky ones.
Bit by the racing bug, Moses began driving go-karts competitively in what was at first a "father and son thing". He eventually became the California State Champion and has seen more recent success in Formula One and now NASCAR.
"It has never been a chore or a challenge," "z." said, "We really do not balance racing and family because to the Smiths it is one and the same."
Monday, June 8, 2009
The fun in the "fast lanes" takes place from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., Oct. 14 at Dave and Busters in Concord, NC. This Fan Club members only event includes bowling (obviously), autographs, photos with Elliott and Hermie, prizes, food and more!
Tickets are $20 a pop and that includes food, drinks and bowling. Limit four tickets per Fan Club member. Purchase them now at at SadlerFanClub.com. You can order them by clicking here. There are a limited number of tickets available so order ASAP.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Unlike last weekend's head-to-head battle with Jimmie Johnson, Stewart drove the last laps at Pocono more conservatively than he had all day. In an attempt to save fuel, Smoke slowed it up and coasted into the corners. And, when it was all said and done he was just fast enough to keep his competitors at bay.
While crew chief Darian Grubb counted down each lap, Stewart made his feelings on the slower pace clear declaring, "I hate this."
Slowing down just ain't Smoke's style.
The finish sure was a study in contrasts compared to how he shot out of the Pocono gates. Starting in last place with a back-up car, the pre-race pundits thought Stewart may have a tough time snagging another top five finish. But Smoke didn't seem to care. Like Bo Duke on a dirt road in Hazzard, Stewart "straightened the curves and flattened the hills" as he rocketed into the top 10.
This Pocono win is well-deserved. And with the strength of Stewart-Haas racing behind him, Smoke may just steal that fourth Cup championship out from under Jimmie Johnson's handsome nose.
Note from NASCAR-ista: Be sure to enter my "If I Were Smoke Contest" and win an Armor All prize pack!
Saturday, June 6, 2009
But the fireworks didn't begin until after the race. That's when he literally set the track ablaze in a race-winning burnout and smashed the Gibson Guitar trophy in Victory Lane. Yup. Smashed it. With all the grace of a coked-up death-metal front man, Busch hoisted the custom-designed award over his head and broke it to pieces on the concrete.
This is why no matter how talented he is (and he's remarkably talented, no doubt) most race fans don't cotton to him. He doesn't race with respect. He won't hang around when he has a bad night and answer a simple media question. He leaves his teammate to take the heat for his own bad finish. And when things do go his way, he puts on a display worthy of a three-year-old chimp.
If Kyle ever grows up, fans may come around. But after this business in Nashville, he'll be nobody's hero for a while.
How does Jimmie Johnson bide his time during a rain delay? “Days like today are really actually relaxing. At home there’s a lot going on. At the track, I usually catch up on emails and phone calls and catch up with friends and stuff like that. I’ll just sit around and hopefully not eat too much.” Hey Jimmie, if you get too bored, I could always use a pool boy. Love that Jimmie.
Ryan Newman on which turn he sets up for at the Tricky Triangle: “You make the car as good as you can and then as a driver you manipulate it the way you need to so if you’ve got to run the bottom of three or the top of one or the way you enter turn two that’s what you do as a driver. That’s why they put the steering wheel in there." Hear Hear! More drivers need to quit yappin' about setups and manhandle the dang car.
Rain delay an advantage for Mark Martin: "I view it as the less time on the track the better. I feel like for our team, for us we usually hit the track running and the longer we run the more the competition has a chance to catch up." Sounds like the old man's got it all under control. Maybe I should pick Martin to win Sunday's race ...
Jeff Burton surprised that the restart rule changed so quickly: “I’m shocked that we are doing this this year. I have become very used to the shipliner analogy about how it is hard to turn a ship real quick." Is there a fan who ISN'T thrilled about the new restart rule? Here's to more shootout-style racing.
Kasey Kahne gives a glowing review of this week's tire test at Indy: "The tire drove as good as any tire that we’ve had there with this car. It actually probably drove the best that we’ve had with this car. They (tires) didn’t blister. They didn’t cord. They looked really good. I was real pleased." I hope he's right. Another Indy race like last year and Tony Stewart won't be the only one on a tirade.
Jeff Gordon stops just short of calling Kyle Busch an instigator: "It's hard to create your own rivalry. I think Kyle is a little bit involved in that. He’d like there to be one. I don’t think Junior is really as involved with that as Kyle is. That’s cool, if it materializes on the race track. To me, rivals really are the guys who are battling on the race track that have sort of unique fanbase to themselves. And that is definitely true among Junior and Kyle because I’m pretty sure Kyle’s fans aren’t the same as Junior’s fans. " You can say that again.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
But if you're one of those Stewart fans who lies awake at night wondering what your favorite driver does when he's not wheeling a race car, then your prayers have been answered. Thanks to the new "Off Track With Tony" video series, Smoke is giving folks a behind-the-scenes peek at his personal life-- from his impressive collection of dream cars to a tour of his property in Columbus, Indiana. You can check out the videos (a new one will be posted each week) at the Armor All Owner Center. And, as part of the video series kick-off, you can also enter to win a VIP race weekend with Stewart himself.
Here at NASCAR-ista, we're running our own little "If I Were Smoke" contest. Just send me a picture of the dream car YOU would buy if you were Tony Stewart, with a brief note about why this is THE car for you and you'll be entered to win one of two Armor All Prize Packs. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to attach a jpeg image of your dream car. I'll post the entries of the two lucky winners. The entry deadline for the "If I Were Smoke" contest is August 1.
In the meantime, check out these "Off Track With Tony" highlights:
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
When the checkered flag flew at Dover Sunday, viewers said "so long" to the FOX Sports portion of the 2009 season. And though the network's coverage has had its up and downs (Sunday's absent ticker being a definite down), this fan will miss Waltrip and company's darned entertaining coverage of the best sport ever.
Say what you will about Waltrip. He makes race day fun. Sure, he's dopey at times. He has an irritating habit of telling every driver he talks to to that they're his pick to win the race. And he's a shameless huckster of gopher paraphenalia (rumor has it that Digger's last name begins with "W"). Still, ol' Darrell is amusing, energetic and one hard-working broadcaster. The same can also be said for his fellow cohorts in the Hollywood Hotel.
The bright spot to the end of FOX coverage is that the-gopher-who-shall-not-be-named and his annoyingly catchy theme song will now be absent from race day broadcasts. But with all that DW/Digger merchandise on the market, it's probably unrealistic to hope that FOX will nix the rodent cartoons in 2010.
Ghastly gophers, absent tickers and occasional dopey-ness aside, I've got to thank Darrell for one heckuva ride. We'll catch you and the boys in 2010.