Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

NASCAR Race Review: VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200

May 12, 2012

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Nationwide Series raced their ninth race of the season, VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, SC. Friday night. Qualifying was earlier on Fast Friday, with Nationwide driver Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on the Pole with a speed of 173.546 mph and 28.336 seconds around this 1.366 mile egg-shaped oval. Sprint Cup driver Denny Hamlin, in the Sport Clips car, starts next to him on the front row. The guys in the booth all pick their favorite Sprint Cup driver to win the race, even though this is a Nationwide race. There are many drivers here at Darlington Raceway for the first time at this track “too tough to tame”. 88 Cole Whitt and 99 Travis Pastrano crashed into the wall during qualifying and will start the race from the rear in backup cars.

6 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. starts the race on the inside and moves past 18 Denny Hamlin to lead from the Pole. On Lap 2 the first caution comes out. 36 Ryan Blaney gets going too fast and slides up into the wall, and sends 51 Jeremy Clements sideways. Others get together behind them.

6 again restarts on the inside and moves up in front of 18. 38 Kasey Kahne and 31 Justin Allgaier race side by side and 38 gets by. 33 Brendan Gaughan and 22 Brad Keselowski race side by side and 22 gets by. 11 Brian Scott drives under 31. 22 drives under 31. 2 Elliott Sadler gets by 3 Austin Dillon for fourth. 18 challenges for the lead and 6 lets him by. 20 Joey Logano drives under 2 for fourth.

The second caution comes out when 01 Mike Wallace blows a tire in front of 6 and heads for the wall with much sparks. 31 makes a pit stop with the hood up. 18 and 20 come out of the pits first and they race for the lead at the restart. 20 takes the lead. 18 drives under 20 to take the lead.

The third caution comes out when 50 T. J. Bell was trying to get between 39 Josh Richards and 31. 39 wouldn’t let him in and 50 hits the outside wall, down the track and into the inside wall. 99 Travis Pastrano gets back onto the lead lap.

At the restart, 18 and 20 race each other for the lead and 54 Kurt Busch drives under them to take the lead. After a few laps 18 takes the lead back. 6 gets by 20 for third. 12 Sam Hornish, Jr. lets team mate 22 by for sixth. 6 gets by 54 for second. 6 gets sideways into a lapped car and 54 gets by. 22 and 6 start Green Flag Pitting. 18 pits and 54 leads. 54 pits and 20 leads. 20 pits and 33 leads. 33 pits and 31 leads. 18 takes the lead driving between a lap car and 31. 22 gets by 3. 2 is overheating.

20 drives under 54 for second as 54 has a tire going down. 54 smacks into the wall, bringing out the fourth caution. 2 takes two tires to lead the race. 20 drives under 18 for second. 08 Matt Frahm is smoking and heads for the garage. 18 and 20 race for second and 18 gets by.

18 challenges 2 for the lead as the fifth caution comes out with ten laps to go when 33 gets into the wall. 41 Timmy Hill gets his lap back. 2 restarts on the inside again as they restart with five laps to go. The sixth caution comes out at the restart. 20 in third, instead of pushing 2 to lead, turns left sending 2 across 18 into the wall. (Once again the Sprint Cup drivers take out the Nationwide championship contenders trying to win a Nationwide race.)

18 was leading at the last loop and is declared the leader, even though 20 took the lead when he crashed 2 out. 99 Travis Pastrano is again the Lucky Dog. This will be a Green White Checker Finish. 22 pushes 20 into the lead and he holds off 18 for the win. 20 Joey Logano wins the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway, his second straight Nationwide victory. (Logano takes Elliot Sadler’s trophy. What a great Nationwide driver Joey is!)

So, Sprint Cup drivers finish the Nationwide race in the first three spots, with Logano winning, Hamlin second and Keselowski third. Sam Hornish, Jr. finished fourth, followed by Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Brian Scott, (Sprint Cup driver) Kurt Busch, James Buescher and Cole Whitt for the top ten.

Logano’s taking Elliott Sadler out puts him 23 points behind Championship points leader, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (Hopefully other Sprint Cup drivers will not take him out and he can make up points in races to come.) Austin Dillon remains in third, Sam Hornish, Jr. remains in fourth, Cole Whitt stays in fifth, Michael Annette stays in sixth and Justin Allgaier remains in seventh. Mike Bliss, Joe Nemechek and Danica Patrick each move up a spot for the top ten, as Tayler Malsam falls three spots into eleventh.

And now my commentary. This race only had 43 cars entered. Five of them were Sprint Cup drivers. They say NASCAR race fans only watch Nationwide races if Sprint Cup drivers are in the race. This NASCAR race fan says fans do not come to Nationwide races instead of Sprint Cup races to see the Sprint Cup drivers. The fans that are there for the Nationwide race are fans that are there for the weekend and get to see the Sprint Cup drivers the following day. The Nationwide race should be about Nationwide drivers going for their Championship. Not about which Sprint Cup driver will win the Nationwide race. Nor about which Sprint Cup driver will take out Nationwide drivers to win these Nationwide races. Granted, it would not have been a full race this time without them, but I fail to understand why they have to take out Nationwide Championship contenders to win Nationwide races. Perhaps the Sprint Cup drivers should start these Nationwide races from the rear of the field, instead of taking over the Nationwide races. Joey Logano took out Elliott Sadler to win the Nationwide race. Sadler was leading the race. Had he gone on to win, he would be leading the points. Instead, Logano wins the race and Sadler falls way behind. Perhaps Logano should drop down to Nationwide so he can win races and Championships. I suppose Sprint Cup drivers liven up the Minor League races, but they should not be allowed to take out drivers racing for Championship points to win Minor League races. Have them start from the rear so we can watch these Pros race their way to the front. It’s no fun watching Sprint Cup drivers start out front, lead most of the laps and win these Minor League races. Especially if they take out championship points contenders to do so. Let them take each other out in Sprint Cup, not in the Minor Leagues.This NASCAR race fan would much rather see Nationwide drivers in these races. Perhaps Nationwide owners should find Nationwide drivers to drive their Nationwide cars, not Sprint Cup drivers.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I Love NASCAR racing.

NASCAR Race Review: Aaron’s 312

May 6, 2012

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Nationwide Series raced the Aaron’s 312 race on Saturday at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. This massive 2.66 mile track is known for spectacular crashing while they race in packs three wide, many deep. Lately, the drivers figured out that if they double up, they can go much faster than the pack can. And that leads to less crashing. So NASCAR made changes to the grill so that the cars would heat up more quickly so that they would not be able to push another car for as long.

Qualifying for the Aaron’s 312 was canceled when rain came on Thursday, leaving more time on the track for practice. The lineup is owner points, putting Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on the front row. There was a short rain before the race so that the start had to be delayed to dry the track. 117 laps around the 2.66 mile Talladega Superspeedway is 312 miles.

So, here we go! 2 Elliott Sadler and 6 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. race for the lead and 2 leads the first lap with 18 Joey Logano pushing. When they make the switch, 33 Kevin Harvick takes the lead with help from 38 Brad Sweet. 54 Kyle Busch pushes 30 James Buescher into the lead. 87 Joe Nemechek pushes 3 Austin Dillon into the lead. 5 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pushes 30 into the lead. 01 Mike Wallace pushes brother 99 Kenny Wallace. 1 Kurt Busch pushes brother 54.99 pushes 01 into the lead.

70 Johanna Long overheats and heads for the pits, bringing out the first caution a few laps later to check the track for fluids. 6 stays out to lead. (Allen Bestwick says this is “the first and only caution so far”!) In the pits 1 takes off with the gas can still attached and has to start in the rear. 6 makes his pit stop after leading a lap and comes out of the pits above the yellow line instead of bellow it.

87  pushes 5 into the lead. 2 pushes 18 between other cars and into the lead. The second caution comes out when 1 turns 11 Brian Scott to spin him and collect 39 Josh Richards, 89 Morgan Shepherd and 81 Jason Bowles. 3 gets stuck in his pit and has to back up to exit. He came in to fix the nose damage. A few drivers come in to top off the fuel.

5 leads with 7 Danica Patrick right behind. 31 Justin Allgaier is the odd man out in the middle and falling back. 2 pushes 18 into the lead while the camera is on 1 coming up through the pack. The top ten are all single file. Team mates 12 Sam Hornish, Jr. and 22 Brad Keselowski are hanging out in the back, to avoid possible crashing. 2 hooks 18 sideways and he makes a great save as no one was there to crash into. 99 pushes 01 into the lead. When they separate, 5 takes the lead.

31 pits as the third caution comes out. 38 spins himself out with 01 behind him, collecting 14 Eric McClure and 24 John Wes Townley. 3 and 88 Cole Whitt are on the front row. 39 Josh Richards gets back onto the lead lap. 31 was caught speeding. 5 pushes 88 into the lead. 99 with 01 takes the lea. 2 takes the lead. 6 pushes 7 into the lead. 87 pushes 5 into the lead. 1 is in the pits with the hood up after overheating to add more water. 54 pushes 33 into the lead.

The fourth caution comes out when 39 blows a tire and spins. 12 stays out to lead a lap. 51 Jeremy Clements takes the wave around. 7 pushes 33 into the lead. 2 pushes 18 into the lead. 99 pushes 54 into the lead. 2 is overheating from pushing. 12 takes the lead with help from 22. When they separate 54 takes the lead by going between them with 5 right behind.

The fifth caution comes out when 2 is pushing 44 Mike Bliss. Damage on the 2 bumper snags 44 and he spins. 2 comes in for repairs. 31, in 16th comes to the pits while the top fifteen stay out. They restart with four laps to go. The sixth caution comes out when 15 Jeffrey Earnhardt gets loose and 4 Danny Efland and 01 spin behind him. 2 manages to maneuver around them. 1 Kurt Busch gets back onto the lead lap. (And they are all talking about how he can now win the race.)

The restart is the first Green, White, Checker attempt. 54 is on the top and 87 on the bottom. Before they get to the White Flag there is a seventh caution. 18 is pushing 54, leading. They block 43 Michael Annett, who turns 33 and collects 23 Robert Richardson, 19 Tayler Malsam and 7. 14 hits hard into the inside wall and has to be extracted from the car and air lifted to the Hospital, after barrel rolling 6 1/2 times and landing on his side. (Is this the kind of excitement the NASCAR race fans long to see?) There is a Red Flag to get Eric out of the car. 18 ran 43 out of  room to start the excitement.

This restart is the second attempt at a Green White Checker Finish. (There can be up to three.) 54 and 87 are leading. 12 runs 7 into the wall. 18 pushes 54 ahead. 12, 87 and 3 get together. 18 gets next to 54 at the tri-oval, 54 goes below the yellow line to try to beat 18 to the Finish Line.

18 Joey Logano wins the Aaron’s 312 by inches over 54 Kyle Busch. 6 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. comes in third, followed by 88 Cole Whitt, 5 Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 1 Kurt Busch, 30 James Buescher, 31 Justin Allgaier, 99 Kenny Wallace and 2 Elliott Sadler for the top ten. In Championship points, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. takes over the lead by 5 points over Elliott Sadler. Austin Dillon and Sam Hornish, Jr. stay in third and fourth. Cole Whitt and Michael Annett trade fifth and sixth. Justin Allgaier and Tayler Malsam stay in seventh and eighth while Mike Bliss and Joe Nemechek trade ninth and tenth.

The NASCAR race fans wanted pack racing and all the spectacular crashing and NASCAR did what they had to, to give it to them. But, as you see, the drivers still raced two by two. The spectacular crashing still took place in the pack. But all the lead changes were two by two racing. So, this NASCAR race fan has to ask. Was it a great race with all the crashing, or a boring race with all the lead changes and only seven cautions?

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I Love NASCAR racing.




March 21, 2012

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. Before the Daytona 500 all cars must pass inspection. This year the #48 car of Jimmie Johnson was taken out of the line after John Darby declared it illegal. He didn’t like the way the c-posts looked. The c-posts were confiscated and the team had to correct the problem. They went on to pass inspection, after repairs were made. Penalties were promised after the Daytona 500. 48 was caught in an accident very early in the race and finished 42nd.

On Tuesday after the race NASCAR issued the following penalties: the crew chief and car chief were suspended for 6 races. Chad Knaus, the crew chief was fined $100.000. Johnson and owners Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon were fined 25 owner and driver points. That put Johnson -23 for the next race at Phoenix.

Rick Hendrick appealed the decision and neither were suspended until the appeal could be heard. The appellate board was three people who upheld the decision. Hendrick was adamant that the decision was wrong and went to the next level. After the Bristol race, the appeal was heard by the  one person, John Middlebrook.

Tuesday he made his decision based on all the evidence provided. Johnson and Hendrick/Gordon got back their 25 points. Both men were not suspended and will continue to be on the 48 team for all upcoming races. Both were put on probation until May. However, the $100,000 fine remains to be paid, proceeds to go to the NASCAR Foundation. This moves Johnson up 12 spots in points to eleventh.

Personally, I agree with the decision. I never thought you could fine someone for not passing inspection when they never went through inspection. Of course, this will be talked about and dissected for a long time. Every penalty that Knaus had was brought up as a result. He takes the rule book to the limit, which, basically, is his job.

By the way, I found a new site for sports stuff. There is even NASCAR things to be found. Check it out.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I Love NASCAR racing.

2012 NASCAR Racing

February 19, 2012

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. NASCAR racing is back for the 2012 racing season! The season begins at the Daytona International Speedway and the Daytona 500.

But first there is Speed Weeks. Let me catch you up on all that has happened up to Saturday night.

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is different than any other race. Because the Daytona 500 is the Super Bowl of NASCAR. Normally they qualify based on practice, with the slowest going out first and the fastest out last. That way there is a new Pole winner almost with every car that comes out to qualify. For the Daytona 500 qualifying will be by draw, like they used to do, with the ones not locked in going out as a group last. Qualifying will be on Sunday afternoon and will only place the top two positions. The qualifying will determine the line up for the Gatorade Duels, to be run on Thursday.

The top 35 in owner points are all automatically in the Daytona 500. Those not locked in can get in on speed during qualifying. In the Duels, the top two finishers not already locked in will get in.  Complicated, I know, but this is the Daytona 500, after all!

But first there is the exhibition race, the Budweiser Shootout. No one has won the Shootout and the Daytona 500 since Dale Jarrett did it in 2000! Dale is also the last driver to win the Daytona 500 from the Pole position. This race used to be past Budweiser Pole winners racing for big bucks. Since Coors Light took over the Pole award, it is now based on Daytona past winners. There were 25 drivers entered in the race. They held a Budweiser Shootout selection night. Each driver picked a bottle of Bud that had their starting position on it. Joey Logano this year was able to make his own selection because he is now 21 years old. Martin Truex, Jr. drew the Pole position. Juan Pablo Montoya will start last.

In the mean time, ARCA raced raced their Daytona race. Bobby Gerhart won the pole position, but his speed was disallowed because of an engine oil leak. That put Sean Carr on the pole for the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200. (Bobby’s #5 car has the Sponsor on his car.) There were five cautions, the last one coming out before the White Flag came out, signifying one lap to go.  It ended in a Green, White Checker Finish, with a single file restart. The leader ran out of fuel, while Gerhart made his move to the outside, getting by those running out of fuel, and racing to the Finish Line. I like ARCA because these guys are racing instead of trying to get into each other for position. There were 24 drivers who had never been at Daytona in the race! Gerhart had to start in 42nd and raced his way to the win. This was his eighth Daytona win! (Go Bobby!) And he led only that last lap.

After the ARCA race, we fans were treated to the Budweiser Shootout. NASCAR made changes to the cars so they couldn’t race two by two. Apparently the fans like pack racing better than 2×2 racing and NASCAR listened to these fans. There will be no communication between drivers, so the one pushing doesn’t know what is going on, as he can’t see beyond the car he is pushing. There was a big crash in practice when Kurt Busch made a sudden move that Tony Stewart couldn’t know about and Tony turned Kurt. Sometimes I think we go to these restrictor-plate races just to see the big crashes.

The Budweiser Shootout is 75 laps in two segments. They race 25 laps and then there is a break where they can work on their cars. Then the final 50 laps. 56 Martin Truex, Jr. starts from the Pole. After 25 laps and one caution where 34 David Ragan got into the left rear corner of 27 Paul Menard to spin him, 1 Jamie McMurray comes away the winner of the first segment. Nineteen cars are on the lead lap.

16 Greg Biffle won both practice sessions. 1 pushing team mate 42 Juan Pablo Montoya, made their way around traffic up to the front. 42 gets stuck in the middle and 1 leads. 24 Jeff Gordon was very strong. After ten leaders and nineteen lead changes, fifteen cars are on the lead lap, with fourteen laps to go.

24 leads. 16 pushes 18 Kyle Busch to the lead and 18 drops in front of 24. 14 Tony Stewart goes to the outside and drops in front of 18 to lead. 24 bumps 18, he gets squirrelly, which makes 24 go up the track into other cars where he hits the wall and barrel rolls down the track, coming to a stop on is roof! 18 slides down where no one is and manages to not crash into anything.

At the restart 14 is leading. 9 Marcos Ambrose takes the lead with help from 2 Brad Keselowski. 18 pushes 14 into the lead, then lets go to beat 14 to the Line. Kyle Busch wins the Budweiser Shootout. We are  all told how great a driver Kyle is, even though when others crashed, they ran into others, whereas when Kyle tried to crash there was no one there to crash into, so he didn’t.

Sunday afternoon will be the Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Daytona 500. Remember, only the Pole sitter and second place will be locked into those positions. The rest of the field will have to race their way for positions in the Gatorade Duels on Thursday. Two races, led by the pole sitter in the first race and led by second place in the second. No matter what happens in the Duels, the Pole sitter and second place remain in first and second. The Daytona 500 will be next Sunday. As always, if you need NASCAR tickets, Vivid Seats has tickets to major sports.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR racing.



Testing At Daytona

January 13, 2012

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. Although the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series does not officially begin until February, we NASCAR race fans are getting treated to three days of testing at Daytona International Speedway. Testing began on Thursday and will continue on Friday and Saturday.

Many changes have been put into place this year, not only for the restrictor-plate races, but now NASCAR has introduced fuel injection. Fans complained about the drivers racing two by two, instead of in big packs at Daytona and Talladega. So NASCAR has implemented several changes to keep them from driving 2×2. There will be softer springs, a smaller spoiler and a reduction in downforce. If the drivers choose to race two by two, they will not be able to do so for very long, or the engine will heat up.

The drivers are now limited to crew members to talk to on their radios. They will no longer be able to talk to team members or other drivers. This will keep them from pairing up because they will not be able to tell each other what they are doing. At Talladega, a big deal was made when Trevor Bayne agreed to pair up with Jeff Gordon and then dropped him to pair up with fellow Ford driver. If they do pair up, they will have to resort to hand signals to show their intentions.

Personally, I liked the pairing up. There were record number of lead changes using this method. And some great finishes. The fans are used to pack racing. Three wide, ten deep. Only they were limited to staying in line. Changing lanes was almost impossible as they were too close to each other to move out of line. Pairing up gave them the space to move forward. There were still three wide racing, but only two deep. Pack racing begged for “the Big One”. If one driver makes a mistake or tries for a spot that isn’t there many, many cars were involved in that mistake. Two by two racing generally involved only the two cars without involving the whole field. I like watching racing, not crashing. Perhaps tandem racing is not “edge of your seat” racing, but I find it just as exciting watching them go so fast past other pairs.

In the first test session on Thursday, Jeff Gordon was the fastest. Paul Menard and Kurt Busch also posted speeds over 192 mph. In the second test of the day, team mates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano paired up to go over 202 mph, as did team mates Brad Keselowski and A. J. Allmendinger. Apparently they drive faster while paired up.

All for now. Next test sessions are on Friday, beginning at 1 PM Eastern. You can watch the testing on SPEEDTV. But be aware, they are mostly test cars on the track and not the colorful cars we race fans are used to on race day. And the announcers are always explaining something. So you are limited on what you get to see in testing. But you get to have your “NASCAR fix”.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR racing.