Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"My Take" Status of the Busch Series and What could be next.

The NASCAR Busch Series, a stepping series for drivers to Nextel Cup. I have been thinking about this subject for a couple of months now and I have read fans, writers, drivers and even owners comments on this subject and after going to Loudon, NH (NHIS) a little over a week ago to watch the Busch Series in action...

Simply put, my take is that the Busch Series has an image problem to say the lease. The Busch series cars are basically the same as the Nextel Cup series, the Busch Series cars have a little less horsepower and smaller wheelbase, plus on superspeedways, they have a top hood and spoiler lip for drafting.

This year, the Busch series has become a Nextel Cup testing ground with more than nine Nextel Cup drivers completing in both series full time, plus a couple more Nextel Cup drivers running the Busch series when the series is at the same track as the Nextel cup.

First off, I don't mind that a couple of Nextel Cup drivers are running in the Busch Series, but not nine full-time and many more in some races, the Busch Series has now a new nickname, "Cup Lites", thats not good. In someways, it has helpped the Busch series with growing the fan base, you now see some of your favorite Nextel Cup series drivers racing for a little less in ticket prices. For racing fans in New England, this past July's ticket prices were only $15 dollars plus difference. Busch Series is $40 in advance or $45 at the gate raceday, Nextel Cup Series tickets are anywere from $60 in frontrow to over $120 on top, all purchased in advanced. Remember Cup tickets sell out at most tracks, including NHIS.

So what is the solution to fixing the Busch Series...
Is it limiting the number of Nextel Cup drivers that can complete or something else. To me, the problem of so many Nextel Cup drivers will most likely go away once the Car of Tomorrow is fully introducted by 2009 and if they change the cars in the Busch Series, but the series still needs its own image, for example, the Truck Series is different than either the Busch or Nextel Cup series, thats what the Busch Series needs.

Changing the cars and the making of them (cost) would fix couple of the problems.

First the Cars:
Welcome the Pony Car Series...with the Chevy Camaro(waiting for comfirmation) and Dodge Challenger going into production in 2008-2009, plus the already made Ford Mustang and the Toyota Camry Solara, thats different with a much wheelbase and different look and feel.

If you are not down with Pony Cars, how about...The Busch Modified Series..take the Whelen Modified Tour cars and alter than a little bit more to create a totally new look, but the same great racing as the Whelen Modified Tour puts on now and it would be a great for the Whelen Tour stepping stone.

The Cost:
In Marty Smith's NASCAR.com column entitled "Busch Series needs a complete overhaul -- now", Marty interviews Jeff Burton who said "To start, bolt-on common bodies built from composites, crate engines and completely alternate tires." would reduce cost, to run the Busch Series is about $220,000 per race. I believe that, tires, people, cars, parts, etc...

I like the idea of bolt-on common bodies built from composites, crate engines and completely alternate tires, it would get more owners involved, plus more drivers involved and at less the cost. Sponsers who are coming into the series, could pay less as well.

Final Thoughts:
You should read Marty Smith's column, Jeff Burton makes some interesting comments that I agree with.

The fact remains, a complete overhauling is needed now, changing the cars and decreasing the cost is the answer to the Busch Series. The Busch Series is a preview of the Nextel Cup Series race, but is interesting to watch.

What does everyone else think about my thoughts on the Status of the Busch Series and general about the series?

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Highs and Lows Saturday at NHIS

This NASCAR fan's view at NHIS from behind the fence.

This past Saturday I got the chance to take a day trip to New Hampshire International Speedway to take in the days action. After a three hour car trip up from Massachusetts and getting there for 10:30am or so, I sat through the final practice section for the Nextel Cup Series. Beyond that, I watched a little of the Busch Series qualifying for the Busch 200, but the time it was over, I didn't not even know most of the line beyond who took the pole.

Once 1pm come around, those grandstands were packed...pictured above is Tony Stewart "Smoke's" #94 Modified.

The main event and the real reason that I went up to NHIS was the Whelen Modified Tour, anytime I get the chance to watch the modifieds in action at NHIS I will grab at the chance to and this time for the New England 100, I was not disappointed, the Modifieds put on a incredible show from start to finish. This past Saturday's 100 laper had a bonus in it, two Nextel Cup drivers, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart, qualifyied mid-pack in a 42 car field. This was a great race almost from the begin for the regulars, Carl edwards climbed up to fourth or fifth before a earlier wreck with the wall somewhere out of view of my seat sent Edwards to the garage and retired from the field, he would finish 39th. For Tony Stewart, I watch him come up through the field twice after a two mid-race pitstops, with just under 10 laps to go, stewart was battling for second and trying to go for the lead when going into turn 3, he got hit and ended up in the grass and on the aprin to save his car, Stewart would end of finishing in the 9th position, but the race would come down to the regulars, just when the fans would see an incredible race for the victory, the caution flag came out and the race ended under under the yellow flag. What a shot in the air for the racing fans, no one in the grand stands was happy with that at all. It was announced that RON YUHAS had won the race and he even went to victory lane, but later on, it was JOHN BLEWETT, III being declaired the winner of the New England 300.


Again, the modifieds was the race that I wanted to see and for the most part except for ending the race under the yellow, the modifieds was great to see...see yeah in September.

Clint Bowyer in the #2 beats out Denny Hamlin in the #20 on an early pitstop.

As for the real main event to lots of people, the Busch 200 was up next, for the bUsch race, I didn't find this race as good as I found the modified race, sometime during the race, it was just boring with follow the leader as the Nextel Cup guy domanated the race. Kyle Busch, who started on the pole, got bowed during the introductions, lead in the early laps, before giving up the lead to Clint Bowyer, Bowyer lead through most of the race until he got caught out pitting under green with the caution coming out just a couple of laps later. the real action was in the final laps with Carl Edwards leading with 2 laps to o and Mr. Busch Series Kevin Harvick tried to close the gab, but just ran out of laps and Carl Edwards got redemption from crashing out of the Modified race as he held on to get the victory.

For both my father and I, the day was not over, we left the grand stands right after the checkered flap waved to go home, I was dead on my feet, 90+ degree temperatures, humid and partly to mostly cloudy, we still got roasted, of course we sat in the grand stands from 1pm (the start of the Modified race) until 5:30, when the Busch race ended.

Here's the low...the NHIS parking, we parked behind the backstraight around turn 3 and the traffic getting out was horrible, we idealed in the parking lot moving a 10th of a minute for 1.5 hours to 2 hours to squize out one gate two cars wide. This was a nightmare...NHIS needs to fix its parking, getting into the speedway along route 106N was bad enough on a two lane blacktop squeezed one more lane using the breakdown lane, but the parking, coming in, was lots of NHIS employees parking cars, but on the way out, there were no NHIS employees helpping us leave. I turned a great day trip into hell and we still had a three hour drive home. When I go in September, we will find a different place to park...that simple.

See Yeah!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Read fine print on Chrysler's 30-day guarantee...fees

This is straight from Cars!Cars!Cars! blog on Chrysler's 30-day guarantee...this is a must read.

We're glad someone took the time to look into this 30-day guarantee that Chrysler is touting: The Detroit News reports: Chrysler's '30-day, money back guarantee: What's the catch.

Check out this arithmetic: Let's start with a restocking fee of 5 percent of the stickerprice (ouch!), add in the 50-cents per mile usage fee (yikes!), all the sales tax (what!?) plus finance fees, title, tag and registration (grrr!). Total it up on a premium ride like a Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland, and returning a car you just purchased for about $34,000 could easily cost about 14 percent of the total purchase price -- more than $4,600.

My Opinion: The fact is that most people don't return a new or used car, because everything is fine, but for that person or two who purchased a vehicle and for one reason or another need to return their recent purchased car, they should not have to pay up to 14% of the all in price to return the vehicle. To me, this is more expenive then renting a car for a month - one rental car company is $239 per week, thats $1000 give or take with insurance, compared to $2,300 on a $17,000 vehicle (Dodge Caliber pricing). This includes Chrysler's, Dodge's, and Jeep's...

Read the fine print on any new or pre-owned before you buy that next car including the return policy and onething, extended warrenty - look at that too. Check a buying guide for tips on that.

See Yeah!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Photography: Tony Stewart's Hearse and a 300C SRT-8 convertible

While surfing the internet, from time to time I come across unique photos, but these two caught my eye, check them out.

Tony Stewart's Hearse back from Unique Autosport

Credit: FoxSports and Tonystewart.com

I can't wait to see the Unique Whips episode sometime this year on SPEED. Uniqueautosport has photos on there website. All I can say, inside and out this is incredible, even I had my doubts on this one, but...words can't describe it...now that unique and its one of a kind...right now.

2006 Chrysler 300C SRT-8 Convertible for around $80,000

I saw this on the internet, its in Central Massachusetts at a local Jeep dealership, WOW, interesting and rare to see. Under the hood, 6.1L V8 425 HP engine attached to a 5-speed automatic transmission and its Black...I thought Chrysler wasn't making them, very interesting.

I am waiting to see the all new Jeep Compass that just hit dealerships, will it be a hit in sales like the Dodge Caliber, the Compass and Caliber are basically the same vehicle.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Juan Montoya coming to NASCAR in 2007

The WindTunnel question of the week last night was:
"How successful will Juan Montoya be in NASCAR?"

Now, in case you missed the announcement from yesterday morning, Juan Montoya has signed a multi-year deal to drive the #42 Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Nextel Cup Series starting in 2007 and he will also run all of the Busch Series races that are in conjunction with the Cup Series. After Montoya finishes with his Formula One contract, he will begin testing later this year and running a couple of race in the Busch Series to get him ready and qualifyied (NASCAR Approval) for the 2007 Daytona 500.

From Formula1.com: De la Rosa to replace Montoya
Tuesday Morning, McLaren have announced current race driver Juan Pablo Montoya will not drive for the rest of the 2006 season and test driver Pedro de la Rosa will race alongside Kimi Raikkonen for this weekend’s French Grand Prix. Montoya is free to get ready for his Busch Series and Nextel Cup series Debut.

My Take: I believe after a good amount of testing and a complete season under his belt, Juan Montoya can be successfull in NASCAR, with that said, I think he should run the Busch Series first for a year or two for the experience then jump to the Nextel Cup Series. I will be watching to see how he does in the first half of the 2007 season and later this year in the Busch Series, so just like Toyota coming into the Cup Series in 2007, it will be a wait and see.

As for the press release from McLaren on releasing Montoya, that was a good move for them, bring in there test driver to show what he can do, who is one of the fasted drivers on friday in Formula One practice. This gives Montoya more time to get ready for the 2007 season.

Thoughts on this past weekends NASCAR event in Chicago

Revised with new information, created a part two with Montoya coming to NASCAR.

Well, another NASCAR Nextel Cup Series 500 mile Chicagoland Speedway race in the books were the headline reads "Jeff Gordon spins out Kenseth with four laps to go to win at Chicagoland."

First off, NASCAR made the call of a racing deal so far and if they were to give a penility to Jeff Gordon, the call would have come before the restart.

My Take, either this was a racing deal or a payback from Bristol or just a bump and run...this is not the first bump and run that we have seen this year, yet along in Motorsports racing and most of the time one of the drivers involved was Jeff Gordon...thinking Bristol and Richmond between Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon, Gordon vs. Gordon at NHIS and etc. With that aside, Gordon hit Kenseth in the back bump and spun him out, case closed.

There was one thing at the Chicagoland that I noticed that bothered me, in the TNT pre-race show, one of the pitroad reporters was trying to get an interview with a driver, that reporter followed the driver up on stage and off again to get interview of how his car was for the race and also get into photo ops with drivers to get an interview. There is enough time before the race to interview each driver let along crew chief/owners without interfearing with pre-race stuff. Stay off the introduction stage and out of driver photo ops.

As for the race itself, Chicagoland has finally become a two-three grove race track were you can pass both high and low and there was a good amount of two wide racing and sometimes three wide racing going on everywhere but at the front, if you were the leader, no one could touch you for most of the race. That's all I have to say about the race.

Sometime this week, Dodge will be submitting a new incarnation of the Charger to NASCAR for approval for the 2007 season.

Also the rumor was about that car could be the Challenger, However the Challenger won't see NASCAR action unless the Busch Series moves to a Pony car Type body style. As it stands the Challenger's wheelbase is too short for Cup and Busch action. - HT to a comment left in my comments section, thanks Marc.

Preview of Next Weeks Motorsports:
NEXTEL CUP and Busch Series in Loudon, NH (NHIS)
Craftsman Trucks in Memphis
IndyCar Series in Nashville
Formula 1 in France
ALMS in Salt Lake City
NHRA in Denver
(Erica Enders who parted ways from Slammers racing last week, will be driving a 4th Don Schumacher racing Dodge Stratus RT in the Pro Stock.)

I look forward to New Hampshire International Speedway for both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series this weekend as this is New England and I am trying to go on Saturday for both the Modifieds with Tony Stewart and the Busch Series.

See Yeah!

Sunday, July 2, 2006

My Take on IROC, USGP and the Pepsi 400

During this 1st of July weekend, Motorsports fan were treated to a couple of different types of races and some surprising information:

First IROC race on Daytona's infield road course in 32 years:
The IROC series took to the DIS on late thursday, I didn't know what to think going in to this race, I was looking at these IROC cars on pace lap which were outfited with head/taillights, bigger brakes and etc, but once the race went green and the field went down into turn 1, this race started to get interesting with 12 drivers trying for the same piece of real estate These IROC drivers took road course racing and bumping to a hole new level, no one was afraid at all to make a move or two even going three-four wide on restarts going into the trouble spot of turn 1 and for a road course race, there was lots of side-by-side racing and passing. Once Tony Stewart took the lead in the early part of the race, there was really no stopping him even with a couple of cautions and despite Mad Max Papis's hanging with him, this race was all Tony Stewart's as he cruised to victory. I would call this IROC road course race a successfull one, hopefully they will do this again next year.

Is this Smoke's Summer? The Pepsi 400?:
After watching last night's Pepsi 400 with Tony Stewart grabbing the lead away from Boris Said in the closing laps for final time as he went on to victory once again, the second time this weekend as he domanated the IROC race, I began to think about the headline on NASCAR.com "Summer of Smoke?" and how smoke won five races last year at this time, could we see another year like last and could smoke repeat as champion, this could happen, I have to say, Tony Stewart has been a smarter driver since this time last year, don't be surprised if there is a 3rd championship for smoke soon to come.

As for the Pepsi 400, the race itself was just like anyother Daytona restrictor plate race, not bad to watch, handling was a huge factor and so were a couple of crashes that claimed some points contenders including Jeff Gordon in the closing laps. This race as well as the Busch race on friday night was the final send of FOX/FX, they had a good run this year and atleast for the Cup Series, they will be back at next years Daytona 500 and 7 more after that. Welcome NBC and TNT broadcasts for both series, see you in Chicagoland next week. One send off, hats off to Boris Said who finished 4th in last nights Pepsi 400, great showing.

What about Sunday's USGP? Will there be a USGP in 2007?:
I just finished watching the USGP and the qualifying & race were both entertaining to watch, but the moment of this race was all 22 cars going though turn 1 into turn 2 as the "big one" happened with a 7-8 car wreck involving the two Mercedes getting tagged as well as a BMW flipping through the sand and american driver Scott Speed getting hit from behind. From the start, this race was all Ferrari's as Masa took the lead at the start, but the headline would be Michael Schumacher victories once again at Indy with a Ferrari one-two finish. Renault got out muscled finishing 3rd and Alonso 5th.

As for a USGP in 2007, IMS and Formula 1 decision delayed until after this race, but in my opinion, I would like to see a USGP next year, whether its at IMS or not is up to them, but were other than Indianapolis could they have it? Watkins Glen, Long Beach, Sebring? it belongs in Indianapolis. One note, this was not a sellout race from what I saw, but a big crowd none the less. See Yeah next year Formula 1...with an all Bridgestone field...

Credit for image: Tony Stewart winning the IROC race 3 from DIS website.