Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Looking at the 2006 season, it was Darrell Waltrip who wrote, "It's always something", "Folks, it seems like there's some issue that we have to deal with every week other than the race itself.". I believe that statement to be true, whether it was the most talked about or talked down it in the garage area namely the Car Of Tomorrow or some fight, it was always something. Ironically, this year started off and ended with same name and team coming to mind...Jimmie Johnson, Jimmie Johnson and that #48 Lowe's Team from Hendrick Motorsports.
The #48 Team that made the most news for a team this season, they were at the center of a suspendition at the beginning of the season before the Daytona 500 when Knaus was thrown out of the speedway and even four races later when Knaus returned from his suspendition, to the final ten chase races when they started there come back four-five races in and finally, the crowning of the 2006 NASCAR Nexel Cup Series Champion, Jimmie Johnson. They did it all and made it.
Going beyond all of that and to what I said at the beginning of this piece, for the most part, I wrote all season long that racing was good to great, there were some races that were at total shocker, the fall race at Phoenix was one, it was a sleeper race with Kevin Harvick leading most of the laps and the points leader Jimmie Johnson once again coming home in second place..those were the only headlines there, but two races that I would like to forget, Talladega, those two race with my headline being.."Demotion Derby at Talladega.... for NASCAR" in two parts, its survival, period. Thats It, thats not entertainment and its not Richmond, Bristol or Martinsville racing, but what were they thinking. Thats all I have to say about that.
How about the good, The Daytona 500 would fall in to that category as well as the Bristol, Richmond, Martinsville, Atlanta, Atlanta races, were both highlights of the season, ofcourse the fall race was overcome with NBC's investigation followed by NASCAR's investigation into the debris caution that turned out to be Robby Gordon found guilty of throwing a piece of rollbar padding on to the track to cause a caution. How about the spring Richmond race with Dale Jr coming away with victory or Darlington on Mothers Day Weekend. One race that I will remember as being good was the fall Dover race when Jeff Burton battled Matt Kenseth for several laps for the lead in a clean fashion and finally grabing the lead and his what some say come back victory. That was interesting to see.
The headlines this season...Denny Hamlin's spin to win his first cup race at Pocono, Hamlin said that before that weekend, he had only raced Pocono on his video game, Hamlin had spin going into turn 2 down to the inside of the track only messing up the fron valence and he fought his way back up to the front to win. Another racing headline this season was, will it be Smoke's summer when he on the Pepsi 400 and he's one I bet most fans will remember, I wrote this after Chicago.."Jeff Gordon spins out Kenseth with four laps to go to win at Chicagoland." I don't need to explain that one and speeking of Chicagoland, the headline that made lots take notice of NASCAR, "Juan Montoya coming to NASCAR in 2007" and fans say that at the fianle in Homestead, when Montoya made the race, but end in a ball of fire.
One of the biggest things this past season will be "Who's in and who's out in the Chase for the Nextel Cup Championship." This one had 11 drivers going for ten spots and the headline wasn't won was in, but who was out..Tony Stewart, despite being the defending Nextel cup champion, he didn't get it and the talk came up with should there be a past champions spot or extending it to 11-12 drivers. the top 10 is for the best of the 43 drivers and yes there are more than 10.
The chase races themselves...really no one could runaway with the championship lead, bad luck come on with every chase race and every contender had at least two-three bad races. Some high notes were Rookie Denny Hamlin made the chase and finished 3th with Kevin Harvick finished 4rd & Dale Jr coming home in 5th spot. The points racing man himself Matt Kenseth finsihed 2nd.
The Champion, I have to say, Jimmie Johnson as the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup series champion was big and still is. He deserved it, he didn't points race, but instead he won races and over came lots of big problems including his victory in the Daytona 500 without his famous crew crief or winning the Brickyard 400, in total of five victories, with one Bud Pole, 13 top-five finishes, 24 top-10 finishes and more (Thanks Jayski for the Stats).
I know that this was just a sample of what happened this past season in Nextel Cup, but boy what a season and what a champion. What will happen next year with Toyota and the Car of Tomorrow making there debuts and what others things will make headline and who win be in the chase and fianlly who will be champion...think about it, 2007.
Finally, I leave you with this, thoughtout all of the good-great racing, the sleepers, the headlines on and off the track, the its always something beside the race itself, I am a NASCAR fan though and though and if I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't sit down in front of my television for 3-4 hours on a Saturday or Sunday watching the Nextel Cup races, nor would I get up before dawn, get in the car with my father and go to the track twice a year, battle traffic in and out, park, walk 1 mile or more to the speedway, pay the ticket prices and sit in the grandstands for hours watching it and even more, I wouldn't spend all that time and money watching and buying collectibles/appeal, if I don't enjoy, and that goes for wroting on it. This is what I love period.
See Yeah next season...its the Daytona less than 81 days away.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
A couple weeks ago back on voting day (Nov. 7th), I took in the 2006 New England International Autoshow in Boston, Mass.. I try to take in at least one autoshow per year for the pure entertainment of looking at cars and trying them out, you know, seeing what's new.
My impressions: The only lows to this autoshow was the ticket/parking prices. $10 a ticket ($8 with coupon) and $12 to park. $8 ticket fine, but $12 to park isn't, thats saying it lightly, even parking in a garage is cheaper by more than $7. The other downside, I was expecting to see Camp Jeep and a Chrysler Concept car, but no the both. For the vehicles, there were no real surprises.
The highs: Thinking back to the autoshow, there were a couple of vehicles I was looking to see, the Jeep Compass, Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited, Dodge Caliber and Nitro. The published reviews are in most ways harsh, so heres mine.
Starting with the Dodge Caliber/Jeep Compass, these two vehicles are basically the same with some expections, but I liked them both. The interiers are fine, they are not cheap, there good for there price range, the Compass is a Jeep Lite and its not Trail Rated, but both vehicles were not build for that, rather for people who want either a AWD or 4WD vehicle to get them to and from home/work, that includes going on highways, main and backroads with all weather including snow. Simply put, they were built for light duty and thats what they do. I would consider buying either vehicle, the Caliber R/T AWD would be a good pick for me.
The Nitro is basically the Jeep Liberty (which my family owns one) and the only downside is 16 mpg (18 mpg with a better cold air intake). The Jeep Wrangler 2 & 4 dr, I like hard-top, and the overall design looks good with little change from last year. Again, the downsides was under 20 MPG and the price vs. options. Otherwise, the Chrysler Camp did a good job on them all.
Note to Chrysler Camp (DCX), work on the MPG.
One manufacturer that is getting more interesting in styling, is Mazda, with its Mazda3 and Mazda6, both gets high marks in style.
I was a little surpised on the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado and the Subaru WRX, why do both of these car companies continue to change the styling almost yearly. The Silverado's frontend is over kill, if you want to upgrade in style from a Silverado, look at GMC.
I was most impressed with the Chevrolet Corvette, it keeps getting better, front to back. any angle and in almost any color. The corvette is the only vehicle that can pull of most colors including yellow, orange and etc. Looks great in black.
For the highlights of this autoshow in photography, click here to check out the gallery.
All in all, I look forward to going back next year, but the difference between last year and this year, was the family was searching for a new or pre-owned vehicle. Camp Jeep and the love afair of wanting a Jeep sold my father on buying a Jeep Liberty and with the expection of the 18 MPG and the narrow tires, its great. On the other hand, maybe I will try the autoshow in Providence, RI.
Below is a couple things to think about on this Thanksgiving.
Title: A VW Touareg TDI towing a 747
(Credit: Autoblog.com article.)
When you are traveling on this thanksgiving, here's something to think about while you travel this thanksgiving, bet you haven't seen this. Check out the story behind this photo at Autoblog.com.
Title: Jimmie Johnson wins the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Championship
(Jimmie Johnson celebrates his first Nextel Cup. Credit: Autostock on NASCAR.com)
With the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Season ending last weekend at the finale in Homestead and the crowning of a new champion. Congraduation to Jimmie Johnson, he is the 2006 Nextel Cup Champion which capped off an incredible year for the #48 team including winning the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. He and his team deserves it.
After the holidays, look for two new different columns including the "NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Championship and Season Comments" and back on November 7th (Voting Day), I took in the 2006 New England International Autoshow in Boston with my camera taking several photos along the way, both of those columns will be published sometime next week with a photo gallery of the vehicles at the autoshow.
P.S. Don't forget that the Nextel Cup Series awards banquet is on Friday, December 1, 9:00PM ET on TNT and that the Daytona 500 is only 90 days away, plus the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale is even less.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
First up is NASCAR, starting with the Craftsmen Truck Series, at the season finale on Friday night in Homestead, Todd Bodine scored his first Truck Series championship and brought home the first NASCAR championship for the Bodine family. For the NASCAR Busch Series, this season was no contest with Kevin Harvick clinching the 2006 Busch Series championship four races before the finale in Homestead in a huge domanating fashion.
Finally, the Nextel Cup Series and The Chase for the Nextel Cup Championship saw a shoot out down to the final laps this evening at the Homestead finale with Jimmie Johnson clinching the 2006 Nextel Cup Series Championship. The Unofficial Top 11 drivers in points were: 1. Jimmie Johnson 2. Matt Kenseth 3. Denny Hamlin 4. Kevin Harvick 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 6. Jeff Gordon 7. Jeff Burton 8. Kasey Kahne 9. Mark Martin 10. Kyle Busch and the million dollar bonus for 11th goes to Tony Stewart.
For all you NASCAR Nextel Cup Series fans, the 2007 Daytona 500 is just 91 days away.
In Formula One, Brazil played host to the season finale were it was Fernando Alonso becoming the yet again the youngest-ever champion for the second straight year. The 2006 Formula 1 Season will mark the end of Michael Schumacher's Formula 1 career and the youngest-ever champion Fernando Alonso taking the top spot going into the unknown (rules wise) 2007 Formula 1 Season.
Looking ahead to the two rivals in open wheel racing, the IRL Indy Car Series crowned Sam Hornish Jr. the 2006 IRL champion in a tie breaker for the most victories over Dan Wheldon back in September at the finale and in the Champ Car World Series, in no surprise here, Sebastien Bourdais clinched his 3rd consectutive Champ Car Championship down-under in Austrilia over Justin Wilson and A.J. Allmendinger.
In the Sports Cars two series, the Grand American Rolex Series, Jorg Bergmeister clinched his first daytona prototype championship and in the GT Series, it was Andy Lally and Marc Bunting in the #65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R. clinching the 2006 GT Championship.
In the American Lemans Series, the four champions were: In LMP1 was Allan McNish and Dindo Capello in the domanate winning Audi, LMP2 had Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr in a Penske Racing Porsche, GT1 had Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in a Chevrolet Corvette and for GT2, Jorg Bergmeister in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
Finally, (at least in what I covered/watched this season) the NHRA, three of the four points championship went down to the finale race with Top Fuel being rated as the come from behind victory in NHRA history as Tony Schumacher grabed the 2006 NHRA Top Fuel Championship, as he had to win the race and set a national ET record to win the championship over Doug Kalitta. In the Funny car Division, after beating Ron Capps in round 2 at the finale in Pomona, John Force clinched his record 14th NHRA Funny Car Championship over his teammate Robert Hight. In the Pro Stock Cars, Jason Line beat out his boss Greg Anderson for the 2006 Championship and in Pro Stock Motorcycles, Andrew Hines took the 2006 Championship.
Well, thats it for the 2006 Motorsports Season, Congraduations to all of the champions and from this race fan, See Yeah in 2007 in Daytona for the 24 hours of Daytona and the Daytona 500.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
When it comes to my thoughts on the Busch Series or what its better know as "the cup lites" at least in 2006, I take the season for what it was with the Nextel Cup Regulars, the racing was interesting and good, I did watch most to all of the races and I also attended one of the races at New Hamphire International Speedway.
Two highs was watching David Gilliland pull away from the field in the closing laps at Kentucky to capture his first career victory which purpelled him up to a Nextel Cup ride with RYR and the next week at The Milwaukee Mile watching Paul Menard beat up on the Nextel Cup regulars again when he got his first career Busch Series victory. Back in July after I attended the race at NHIS, I wrote a piece called "The Statue of the NASCAR Busch Series".
I got to wonder with most of the Nextel Cup Series drivers that did double duty in 2006 saying that they will not run the 07 full-time schedule and some only running a part-time schedule, what will the Busch Series look like and how many cars next year.
Finally, two interesting things to think about that I will remember from this seasons finale in Homestead was:
1. Back with 36ish to go, Kenseth had a bad pitstop and said on the radio, I'm disappointed and I don't think my car will came in in time...he started in the top 10 and by 10 to go, he took the leader and won the Homestead race. WOW, what... and 2. Congraduation to Jason Leffler, at Homestead Leffler completed to Wallace Quad, he has hit or wrecked Rusty Wallace, Mike Wallace, Kenny Wallace and now Steven Wallace (Rustys Son), thats all of them, what an achevement and all in one season.
After all of that, all I can say is See Yeah! in 2007 at Daytona.
Speeking of Martin Martin, just like in the Busch Series, Martin added to an already impressive stats by winning the season best of six victories, including capturing his first career truck series victory at the season opener in Daytona. In just about any race that Martin won this season, five of them, he made it look easy, but remember back to the second race of the season at California, he had to fight back and forth to hold off Todd Bodine for the win.
Todd Bodine celebrates winning the 2006 NASCAR Craftsmen Truck Series Championship.
(Photo taken by AP, published on NASCAR.com article)
Included in the highs was the championship battle with a two-way fight down to the finale in Homestead last night were Todd Bodine beat out Johnny Benson to capture not only his first Truck Series championship, but brought home the Bodine families first NASCAR championship. Todd won three races this season including one at hot one at Atlanta. The championship battle thsi season was tight, mostly do to both Benson and Bodine having good luck and bad luck mostly at the same races. It was rare to see one of them have a really good day and the other to see a bad day including crashing out or a drive shaft breaking apart.
I would have to say, most of the season was just that, a good season, one thing that does comes under the lows was one change of venue on the seasons schedule, seeing Richmond be replaced by Talladega was not the highlight of the season, Richmond had always been a race I look forward to seeing every year under the lights and I didn't enjoy the race at Talladaga. Come to think of it, I don't enjoy any race at Talladega, but thats beside the point.
In terms of the championship and the season, I would have been happy to see it go either way for the championship and hats of to all for a good season, until next year in Daytona, See Yeah!
Friday, November 17, 2006
(Credit: Photo by Diane Bondareff)
Earlier this morning, The Ferrari Panamerican 20000 that started back on August 29th in Brazil, ended their three-month tour with the crossing of the finish line at the New York Stock Exchange in New York City.
Photo Gallery, Tour Information and My Previous Post:
- Finish Line at the New York Stock Exchange Gallery
- Ferrari Panamerican 20000 Info
- Shifting Gears on the Ferrari Panamerican 20000 (Previous Post)
(Credit for the information and links: Erin Caldwell - Edelman)
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
In the NHRA, this past weekend in Pomona was the season finale and along with that, two divisions still had points championships still yet to be crowned, the first one was in the Funny Car division with a three-way fight beteen John Force, Force's teammate Robert Hight and Ron Capps. This championship came down to if John Force won two rounds, then he would became champion. In round 2, the biggest matchup was John force vs. Ron Capps, if John wins, he clinches and he did just that, he clinched the 2006 NHRA Funny Car Championship, his 14th NHRA Funny Car Championship. With the championship already decided, it was time to race and would you have know it, John Force ended up winning the event.
In the Top Fuel Division, the same outcome for the points leader Doug Kalitta would be challeging one with second in points Tony Schumacher coming hard. For Tony Schumacher to win the championship in a come from behind fashion, he had to win the event and set a national ET record. Believe or not, Kalitta went out in round 2 and that ment that Tony Schumacher still was in the championship fight. All he had to do was win all of the racing (event) and set a national ET record...and in one of the biggest come back victories in history, Tony schumacher won the 2006 NHRA Top Fuel Championship with a record pass of 4.428 at 327.98 mph.
For the second year in a row, the NHRA series has had there championships go down to the finale and in two cases, down to the winner takes all. Next year, the NHRA will adopt a NASCAR style 8 race championship showdown. (Read more on the NHRA Showdown..)
Now in NASCAR, coming out of Phoenix following yet another domanating performance by Kevin Harvick as he swept both of the 2006 Nextel Cup Phoenix races with Jimmie Johnson finishing in 2nd place yet again, the points championship has a more open picture, there are still five contenders mathamatically in the hunt for the 2006 Nextel Cup Championship with the points leader Jimmie Johnson having a 63 point lead over Matt Kenseth. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin in 3rd and 4th are tied with 90 points back and in fifth is Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 115 points behind.
Now thinking about the idea of any of the five contenders could win the championship in homestead, it makes me wonder why some are giving the championship away to the points leader Jimmie Johnson before the checkered flag has flown. Looking back at the NHRA's Top Fuel Championship battle that had a come from behind championship winner, we might not all be so quick to say that the Chase for the Nextel Cup Championship is over.
Looking ahead to next weekend in Homestead, if Jimmie Johnson can finish 12th or better, then he will become the 2006 Nextel Cup Champion regardless of what the other contenders do, and that will cap off an already winning season for the #48 team.
See Yeah! - Championship Edition next week after Homestead.
Thursday, November 9, 2006
I would summary the Texas cup race with one bold statement: Pure Domanation, Payback and a legend's last race.
Pure Domanation: For the second week in a row and many times this season, the class of the field at Texas was the man they call SMOKE, Tony Stewart was in simple terms, on rails for most of this race. he had the entire field covered. What a good race and a victory. "Space available for Hardware". Can he win again in Phoenix...
Payback: I think we all know what I am talking about, but here its it, in the closing laps, going through turn 3 & 4, Kevin Harvick hit or came close to the #10 Scott Riggs sending him into the wall, after the on track incident, Kevin Harvick and his wife, Delana, were walking back in the garage area near the fuel pumps and then, Kevin was shoved by a #10 crewman sending Kevin and DeLana Harvick along with a NASCAR Offical to the ground. The Harvicks were uninjured, but the NASCAR Offical did suffer a sprained ankel.
After a NASCAR Investigation, the results were the #10 crewman was suspended indefinitely and fined $10,000.
What a move from behind, there were better ways to tell Harvick just what you thought of his driving without shoving him, whats next...come to think it, I don't want to guess.
(Credit: Motorsport.com) Caption at the bottom reads: Terry Labonte and his son Justin driving a replica of Terry's first race car lead the field on a pace lap just before the Dickies 500 last Sunday.
A Legend's last race: The Dickies 500 at Texas also marked the final Nextel Cup Series race for Texas Terry Labonte also known as the "Iron Man" and the Ice Man" in what was an incredible career including 849 career starts, 2 championships and 22 wins in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. He will be missed.
Looking ahead to Phoenix, five drivers left in the chase for the Nextel Cup within 106 points of leader Jimmie Johnson.
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Hooked on Driving with David Ray is basically a 50 minute DVD that provides helpful tips and in-the-driving-seat examples that can prepare any level driver for the track.
This DVD is not just for the person (including me) who has never considered joining a car club and taking there own street car to a local track day, but is also for the automotive enthusiant who does want to see just what there car is capable of, then this DVD has some great tips on just how to get started doing so, including starting off with the technical inspection of your own car and all the way up to just how you should drive on the racetrack.
Like it says, "Getting on track". I would like to thank Erin Caldwell from Edelman for providing me with this preview.
Thursday, November 2, 2006
The two of these vehicles that most impressed me was Chip Foose's Hemisfear, a hotrod that Chip has been working on for years and what a combination of colors - black and what looks to be gray/carbin fiber look and the other, oldly enough, its the Edelbrock 1932 Ford Roadster, simply put, the TV Show "RIDES" had an episode dedicated to the building and unveiling of this read and if you look really close on the photo, under the hood is an image of the american flag and I believe it says the words "Made in America".
Click on photos for a bigger image.
Chip Foose's Hemisfear
Edelbrock's 1932 Ford Roadster, this roadster "Made in America" was featured on TLC's show "RIDES".
A diesel-powered 2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited
2006 Cadillac EcoJet Concept - Jay Leno, GM Advanced Design Studio Create a Bio-Diesel Supercar.
(Credit: Cardomain Blog)
A deep metallic green 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback with a ROUSH 427 IR crate engine putting out 552 horsepower. Previous Post with Press Release.
Inspiration by Dale Earnhardt Jr's own "Big Red", all-new "Big Red Silverado with an off-road package, an #8 in the front grill and Dale Jr. signature on the both sides of the truck.
Here are a couple of blogs and sites that are covering this years SEMA Show with posting photos, check them out.
- CarDomain Blog
From a reader:
- SEMA Show Insider by Car Crazy Central
- MustangDepot of Las Vegas
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
The penalty, for Robby Gordon himself was a fine of $15,000, a loss of 50 driver and 50 owner points and put on probation until the end of the year. In addition, Gordon's crew chief Greg Erwin has been fined $10,000 due to violations of Sections 12-A and 12-4-N -- and 9-4-A (crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of his/her driver, car owner and team members). Erwin also has been placed on probation until Dec. 31. (Read more...) ('06 Cup Series penalties..)
My Thoughts: These penalties are some what in line with what NASCAR has handed-out in years past to drivers, but the penilty doesn't fit the crime, he got off to easy, what about $25,000 fine, loss of 50-100 driver and 50-100 owners points and disqualified from the race resulting in 43rd place points and money, that would make drivers think twice.
One thing I don't understand is why the crew chief got fined and put on probation for, I read the the rule book wording, but he wasn't driving the car or caused the caution with debris, that I don't understand. Nevertheless, whats done is done, hopefully other drivers will see this and not try it. Thats it.