Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gas Up Your Hog - It's Ride To Victory Time

Kyle Petty gets ready for the 2009
Ride to Victory.
Kyle Petty and company will be taking to the highways of North Carolina yet again for the 8th annual Ride to Victory on Sunday, Oct. 17.

And if you've got a bike and want to help out a good cause, then you're invited to join them.

An extension of Kyle Petty Charity Ride, Inc., this year’s Ride to Victory will benefit Victory Junction, a year-round camping facility serving children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses.

Rally points this year include Tilley Harley-Davidson of Statesville, Iron Horse Motorcycles in Monroe, Harley-Davidson of Charlotte and Carolina Harley-Davidson in Gastonia. The full group will depart zMAX Dragway at 10 a.m. and participate in a “classic” Charity Ride pit stop at Pilot Flying J before arriving at Victory Junction.

Riders will continue to Kyle and Pattie Petty’s Adaumont Farms for “Kyle Petty & Friends: A Songwriters’ Jam.” This special event includes performances by famous country music singers and songwriters Mark Collie, Billy Montana and Rafe Van Hoy. They will join former Petty himself to share personal stories that inspire their songs, as well as perform them. Petty will be accompanied by violinist Jimmy Edmonds for a special performance of his own.

The cost for both the day’s ride and the evening jam is $40 before the event. Registration will be available at all rally points the day of the event for $50; however, rider spots are limited and pre-registration is recommended.

Tickets for the Songwriters’ Jam alone are $20 and may also be purchased by calling (704) 714-4545. Tickets at the gate are $25. For more information or to pre-register, please visit

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Non-Chaser of Note: Mark Martin

Joey Logano may have been the non-chaser with the best finish at Dover. 

But Mark Martin passed the most cars.

While several chasers did a slow slide to the rear, Martin and his No. 5 Chevy kept movin' on up like George and Weezie - from 42nd to 12th.

Passing 30 cars is a good day's work for a driver.  It's just too bad Martin had to start in the back.  If he had kept his original third qualifying spot, he could well have netted his first victory of the season.

Just how good was Martin's Dover performance? 

He hasn't passed this many cars since the June 2009 race at Michigan - where he started 32nd and ended with a win.

Not too shabby.

Monday, September 27, 2010

When Nineteenth Is as Good as a Win

Mike Pagano, owner of PaganoPhoto – Photos by Mike Pagano in Cedar Brook, N.J. (pictured right), poses for a photo with NASCAR star Greg Biffle (center), and wife Gayle Pagano (left) on pit road prior to the start of the Sept. 26 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 race at Dover International Speedway.
Greg Biffle probably wasn't too thrilled with his finish at Dover, but 19th was just enough to give small business owner Mike Pagano a win.

Pagano was one of two finalists in the "Official Small Business of NASCAR, Courtesy of Office Depot" sweepstakes.  He's the owner of Pagano Photos - Photos by Mike Pagano in Cedar Brook, NJ and as part of the contest, his business logo was featured on The Biff's No. 16 3M Ford.

And all Pagano needed to win the "Official Small Business" title was for Biffle to beat Tony Stewart (whose car sported the logo of Pagano's competition - Rose Berger, owner of Professional Cleaning Services in Greer, SC).

In the end, Biffle beat Stewart by a mere two spots.  But it might as well have been a runaway as far as Pagano was concerned. 

"This entire week with Office Depot has been amazing and winning the 'Official Small Business of NASCAR title is just icing on the cake," said Pagano after the race. "This has truly been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a real honor for my small business."

As finalists, both Pagano and Berger received a $10 thousand small business makeover from Office Depot and a VIP weekend at Dover International Speedway.

If Biffle had won Sunday's race, Pagano would have walked away with a cool $1 million. But who's counting?

Said Biffle, “As a small business owner myself, I wanted to do a great job for Mike. I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t help him get the big $1 million prize, but I know he’ll put the $10,000 small business makeover from Office Depot to great use.”

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Don't Count Out That Horsehoe Just Yet ...

Just when you thought Jimmie Johnson's infamous golden horseshoe had lost its shine, the No. 48 team pulls out a powerful performance at Dover.

Starting from the pole, Johnson led the most laps and crossed the start-finish line with an uncontested victory (his sixth at Dover International Speedway).

Not bad for a guy who has been all-but counted out of the running for the 2010 championship.

"I don't look all that excited right now but there's a huge weight off my shoulders that we were able to come and win a race in the Chase," said Johnson after the win.

Johnson's victory bumps him to second place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup points standings - a mere 35 behind leader Denny Hamlin.  And, perhaps more importantly, he'll head to Kansas with a whole lot of momentum behind him.

The race wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for team Lowe's. There were a few missteps on pit road which exposed a potential weakness of the defending four-time champs.

But Johnson and company rebounded and ended the day with a notice-serving burnout.

Take heed would-be champions: the Chase is where Johnson and Chas Knaus are at their butt-kickin' best.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

If NASCAR Were a Musical: Hamlin vs. RCR

Thank God for Denny Hamlin. 

You may think he's mouthy, immature and lacking in judgment. But he sure is good at stirring the pot and amping up interest in any given race.

It started Friday with Hamlin's harsh weigh-in on the penalty against the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing team.  He ripped RCR to shreds.

And it just got better from there.

The umpteen media stories about the escalating fuss between Hamlin and RCR make for riveting reading (it's hard to top a quote like "pissing contest with a skunk").  Yet there is another way to tell the tale - through the magical and universal language of song.

Without further ado, I give you a summary of this week's biggest story - retold in the lyrics of popular songs:

Hamlin on Clint Bowyer and RCR's penalty: "Don't think I don't think about it. I've seen it all before.  Everybody knows. Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats. Hey white liar - you get what you deserve."

Bowyer to Hamlin: "Shut up and drive."

Childress on Hamlin: "Ain't no talkin' to this man."

Bowyer on his team's penalty: "What kind of fool do you think I am? I know I should not gamble, 'cause I can't afford to lose. It's a bitch at the bottom."

Harvick to Hamlin: "You're walkin' on the fightin' side of me."

Hamlin to Harvick: "Hit me with your best shot."

Mike Ford to Hamlin: "Just walk away."

Childress to NASCAR: "What I need is a good defense. They will stop degrading us.  They will not control us. We will be victorious."

Jimmie Johnson on the whole deal: "Here's a quarter, call someone who cares."

Editor's note: See the comments for song titles from which the lyrics were pulled.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Ultimate Chase Playlist

After being on the road 38 weeks each year traveling the NASCAR circuit, drivers have plenty of time to fine-tune the playlists on their iPods- even if they can’t listen to their favorite songs while racing at 180 mph.

Now NASCAR's top 12 have chosen their favorite songs - the tunes they'll be listening to as they focus on winning this year's championship. 

From Elvis to Eminem, their song choices just might surprise you.  Without further ado, here is the Chase for the Sprint Cup ultimate playlist ...

“Not Afraid” – Eminem (Denny Hamlin)

“Nothing Else Matters” – Metallica (Jimmie Johnson)

“Walk the Line” – Johnny Cash (Kevin Harvick)

“CC Rider” – Elvis (Clint Bowyer)

“Jukebox Hero” – Foreigner (Carl Edwards)

“Everything” – Buck Cherry (Greg Biffle)

“Another Way to Die” – Disturbed (Matt Kenseth)

“Love The Way You Lie” – Eminem (Denny Hamlin)

“It’s Now Or Never” – Elvis (Clint Bowyer)

“Say It Ain’t So” – Weezer (Kevin Harvick)

“Enter Sandman” – Metallica (Greg Biffle)

“Miracle” – Nonpoint (Matt Kenseth)

Bonus Track by a non-chaser: “Wired to the T” – Dorrough (Mark Martin)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When All Else Fails, Blame the Wrecker ...

Bowyer celebrates his Loudon win after Sunday's race.
My how fortunes can change. And sometimes all it takes is 60 thousandths of an inch.

Today NASCAR got tough with New Hampshire race winner Clint Bowyer, team owner Richard Childress, crew chief Shane Wilson and car chief Chad Haney when the No. 33 car failed tech inspection. 

And the penalties are bad enough to put a sizable dent in the team's once rosy championship hopes.

Bowyer was docked 150 championship points,  punting him from second to twelfth in the Chase standings.  Childress was docked 150 owner points.  Wilson was fined $150 thousand, suspended from the next six races and put on probation until Dec. 31.  Haney was served with the same penalty as Wilson - minus the hefty fine.

“It revolves around how the body of the car is located on the frame on three coordinates,” said Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby.

Childress vows to repeal the ruling.  And, in its defense, the team is blaming the wrecker which they say hit the rear bumper of Bowyer's No. 33 when it pushed the gasless Chevy to Victory Lane after Sunday's race.

RCR's official statement is below:

"The following is a statement from Richard Childress, president and chief executive officer of Richard Childress Racing, regarding NASCAR’s penalty on the No. 33 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team after last week’s race in New Hampshire:

'First of all, I’d like to apologize to our sponsors, our fans and everyone at RCR for the situation that has resulted from this ruling. RCR has a long-standing reputation of integrity on and off the race track. We pride ourselves on working within the rules established by the sanctioning body.

NASCAR informed us after the Richmond race that we were very close to their maximum tolerances. They also told us they were going to take our New Hampshire car to the NASCAR Technical Center after that race. It doesn’t make any sense at all that we would send a car to New Hampshire that wasn’t within NASCAR’s tolerances. I am confident we fixed the area of concern and the New Hampshire car left the race shop well within the tolerances required by NASCAR.

We feel certain that the cause of the car being out of tolerance by sixty thousandths of an inch, less than 1/16 of an inch, happened as a result of the wrecker hitting the rear bumper when it pushed the car into winner’s circle. The rear bumper was also hit on the cool down lap by other drivers congratulating Clint on his victory. That’s the only logical way that the left-rear of the car was found to be high at the tech center. We will appeal NASCAR’s ruling and take it all the way to the NASCAR commissioner for a final ruling, if need be.'”

Childress versus NASCAR.  This could be good ...

Non-Chaser of Note: Jamie McMurray

Every driver but McMurray had this view the
night of the Daytona 500.  His race-winning car
is still on display at the Daytona 500 Experience.
He may not be in The Chase, but Jamie McMurray sure drove like a champ Sunday in the fuel-mileage finish that was Loudon.

McMurray turned in the best finish of all the non-chasers with a respectable third.  But that isn't too surprising given how good the No. 1 team has run all season.

Thus far, McMurray can boast two wins, eight top fives, ten top tens and three poles.  Consider also that a few short months ago, McMurray became only the third driver in history to win both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year.

So what if he cries too much in Victory Lane?  It's a cryin' shame that Jamie Mac and company didn't make the Chase.

In this instance I side with ol' DW.  Winners should be chasers.

Truex to Run for a Cause at Texas

NAPA Auto Parts and Martin Truex, Jr. are teaming up with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to honor breast cancer victims, survivors and supporters.  The driver's special paint scheme will be unveiled during the Nov. 7 Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Now through Oct. 11, fans can submit the names of loved ones affected by breast cancer to appear on the No. 56 Toyota by making a minimum donation of $5.60 via the NAPA KNOW HOW Facebook page. NAPA is hoping to recognize more than 56 thousand individuals via the special paint scheme. NAPA will make a minimum guaranteed donation of $250 thousand to Susan G. Komen for the Cure with this promotion and the NAPA All Out for the Cure™ program.

Names submitted with a donation of $560 or more will be in white on the car. All donation proceeds will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway will be broadcast live on ESPN at 3:00 p.m. EST Nov. 7.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NASCAR After The Lap Returns to Vegas Champion's Week

2009 Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson flashes the-four-time
sign at last year's Champion's Week in Vegas
There are only nine races left 'til Champion's Week in Vegas, and fans will be thrilled to learn that NASCAR After The Lap is returning to the week's line up of activities.

Sponsored by Ford Motor Company and Coca-Cola, NASCAR After The Lap is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT on Thursday, Dec. 2. It's the only free event providing NASCAR fans with unprecedented access to the 2010 Chase drivers.

Taking place at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, NASCAR After The Lap will feature an unfiltered fan question-and-answer session with the 12 Chase drivers. General admission seats are free and based on a first-come, first-serve basis. Seats may also be reserved at until Dec. 1.

For fans not able to attend NASCAR After The Lap, will offer a web cast while SIRIUS XM Radio will broadcast the event live on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio channel 128.

Leading up to the event, fans have two additional ways to get involved with NASCAR After The Lap:


o Enter the "SEND ME 2 VEGAS" sweepstakes at . The winner gets a 2011 Ford Taurus SHO valued at up to $40 thousand and a VIP trip for two to NASCAR After The Lap.

o After entering the “SEND ME 2 VEGAS” sweepstakes, fans can submit a message to their favorite NASCAR driver at and at Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup races at The Sprint Experience and the Ford and Coca-Cola displays at select races.

o Fans’ messages will be compiled and assembled into a card featured during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

o The “SEND ME 2 VEGAS” sweepstakes’ winner will present a version of the card to the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion live at NASCAR After The Lap.

 Coca-Cola Chase for Charity

o The Coca-Cola Chase for Charity is an online auction that allows fans to bid on collectible, autographed items. Bidding begins Monday, Sept. 20 and concludes Friday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. ET. Proceeds benefit The NASCAR Foundation.

Some Off-Track Loudon Action

The American Parkour Performance Team put on live parkour demonstrations for fans at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend, proving that not all the action was on the track at the SYLVANIA 300.

The team's athletic performance featured a mix of choreography and freestyle running.

Check out the video -

Monday, September 20, 2010

Welcome to the Chase - NASCAR's Own Version of "Survivor"

Clint Bowyer celebrates his
win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
If Sunday's race at Loudon was the first episode of Survivor, then Clint Bowyer would have the immunity idol and Jimmie Johnson would be in danger of getting voted off the island.

Bowyer took advantage of what turned into a fuel mileage race to take his first checkers since 2008. And, as a result, he rocketed from twelfth to second in points. 

Meanwhile, reigning champ Johnson dropped like a rock from second to seventh in points after getting caught up in a mid-pack spin.  He ended the day in twenty-fifth spot.

On Survivor, fire represents life.  And if that's the case, then Smoke was nigh unto death as his car ran out of gas at the race's end.  While Bowyer began his victory burnout, Tony Stewart (the former race leader) was still sputtering across the finish line in twenty-fourth spot.

But beyond Bowyer, there were several other Chasers who managed to outwit, outplay and outlast at Loudon.  These are the guys who head to Dover with momentum on their side.

Denny Hamlin took a race that started as a basket of lemons and turned it into a dry citrus martini.  His impressive second-place finish was hard fought and well-earned.  Talk about an auspiscious beginning for a championship run.

Mr. Consistency and pre-chase points leader Kevin Harvick made good on a bad qualifying run and a faux pas in the pits to leave Loudon in the top five.

And Jeff Gordon, who has had a season of ups and downs, was there when it counted, bringing the No. 24 Chevy home in sixth spot.

Speaking of Hendrick Motorsports, former HMS jackman Chase Rice is a contestant on this season's "Survivor: Nicaragua"

And in case you were wondering, Rice did manage to last 'til week two.

Wonder of he'll perform better than Johnson ...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stewart Wins the First Race of the Weekend ... Kinda

Championship contenders Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch took part in a race of a different sort today.  And Stewart came out on top.

The race took place at the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn. where the guys competed against each other with radio-controlled cars on an outside oval track. The trio raced for five laps, with Stewart taking the win.  Gordon finished second and Busch came in third after rollling his car while trying to catch Smoke on the last lap. 

Guess some things never change.

Highlights of the five-lapper were shown on the network's NASCAR Now.

But this weekend's real deal will take place at at 1 p.m. Sunday when ESPN televises the first race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship from New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
In the meantime, here are a few highlights from the group's appearance on ESPN's NASCAR Now.

Gordon, Busch and Stewart race to the finish.

Kyle Busch visits the ESPN campus.

Stewart shows off his winning car.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Win Tix to Loudon and Help a Good Cause

The Greg Hill Foundation is hosting an online raffle to give four lucky fans the chance to win a NASCAR prize package and raise money for a good cause.

The winner will receive four tickets to the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, four tickets to Saturday's New Hampshire 175 Camping World Truck Series and VIP parking to boot.
The online raffle will take place at Raffle tickets are $2 each, with a minimum purchase of five tickets. The raffle closes Thursday, Sept. 16 at 11 a.m.

The Greg Hill Foundation was started by Greg Hill - host of WAAF/Boston's Hillman Morning Show. The Greg Hill Foundation's mission is to respond to immediate requests for assistance and to improve the lives of local families touched by tragedy, through matching the charitable donation of Greg's media audience.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

That Repave Keeps Rollin' Along

NASCAR driver Jeff Burton tries his hand at driving a Caterpillar grader
at Daytona International Speedway today.

I missed Jeff Burton's appearance at Daytona International Speedway by three days - but he and I can both testify that the repave is rolling along just fine.

I visited the track Sunday and saw the first layer of pavement being laid down firsthand.  Pit road has also been torn up and will be several feet wider by the Daytona 500. 

The first layer of pavement goes down on the high banks Sunday.
While I got to glimpse how the construction equipment actually stays on track's high banks without sliding to the apron (connected via strong cables and a truck on the outside of the wall), Burton was there to drive a Caterpillar grader and bury a time capsule with track president Joie Chitwood.

Some of the items placed in the time capsule were:

· Tickets from 2010 Daytona International Speedway events including the 52nd annual Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, the final race on the old asphalt

· Die-cast cars including Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet that won the Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered By Coca-Cola NASCAR Nationwide Series race and Burton’s No. 31 Caterpillar car

· Newspapers from the Daytona Beach News-Journal including their special Daytona Repave section

· Business card of Lane Construction’s John Rauer, the project manager on the Daytona Repave

· Sprint Blackberry phone

· Press releases, brochures and photos

“It’s really cool to be here,” said Burton, who added he would like to come back to Daytona someday to dig up the time capsule. “The history of this race track and the France family actually building this track with their own hands and (now) seeing it reconstructed, it’s pretty cool."

"This track is going to make racing incredible. What you’re going to see is three wide and two wide all the time. "

The target completion date for the repave is Jan 1, 2011.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Photoshop Friday - The Dukes of NASCAR

With NASCAR headed to Hotlanta Georgia this weekend fans can expect some fast racin', cars flyin and maybe a penalty or two from NASCAR sheriff Mike Helton. Will good ol' boys Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards make things interesting yet again? Or will a new feud emerge while the boys from Sprint Cup "straighten the curves"?  After all, if I'm not mistaken, Atlanta isn't too far from ol' Hazzard County ... Yeehaw!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Talk About Arriving in Style ...

If you've ever wanted to be one of the NASCAR elite who helo in to race and hang with the winner in Victory Lane, then you're going to want to read further.

SYLVANIA, the sponsor of the SYLVANIA 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is going to give a lucky fan one heckuva a race experience.

Now through Sept. 10, fans can enter to win a VIP experience like no other.  In addition to the grand entrĂ©e in a private copter, the winner (and a guest) will receive exclusive behind-the-scenes access to all the action, including:
  • A tour of the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage
  • Attendance at the pre-race drivers’ meeting
  • A seat in a luxury suite during the race
  • Entry to Victory Lane to celebrate with the winner
Folks who have already purchased tickets to the Sept. 19 race are automatically entered and fans who haven't purchased tickets can enter at no cost online.

Visit the contest web site - and good luck!