Monday, December 31, 2007

It’s about that time - Goodbye 2007 and Happy New Year 2008.

When it comes to 2007 in Sports and Entertainment, it was a banner year for fans, fans that saw numerous changes, whether it was in the television shows they enjoy or the regrouping of there favorite sports teams, not to mention records in automobiles and a outspoken driver in NASCAR.

Looking back here in New England, mainly Massachusetts, sports fans had a great year, records were broken and a championship was won, first came the Boston Red Sox going all the way and winning the 2007 World Series Championship and just this past Saturday night, all of America toned in to see the New England Patriots make history or what we call “Perfection” with going 16-0 in regular season. I watched that game and what a game it was with the Patriots having to take it down to the final minutes for the victory.

In NASCAR (considering that’s what I mainly cover here on Racedriven), fans mourned the loss of three of the greats, Benny Parson, Bobby Hamilton and Bill France Jr.

In a different way, NASCAR fans and drivers showed NASCAR what they were thinking and at least in one way was the wrong thing to do and no I am not talking about Tony Stewart calling NASCAR out on his radio with say words including NASCAR playing god, no, no, that was a good thing, no I’m talking about the Talladega race with throwing bottles and toilet paper on the racetrack, mainly at Jeff Gordon.

At the end of the season, it came down to a battle between teammates that had some fans cheering for none-other than Jeff Gordon over Jimmie Johnson, but in the end, it wouldn’t really matter because the championship for the second straight year in a row would belong to Jimmie Johnson, but the year would belong to NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the combination of his misfortune on-track with DEI using his engines as test-beds (in some cases) and his off-track announcements of him leaving DEI for happier places at non-other than Hendrick Motorsports and running the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard/Mountain Dew Chevrolet Impala SS, that’s going to be huge.

In the same category, the year was over shadowed by the announcement of Joe Gibbs Racing making the move from the championship winning Chevrolet manufacturer and going to the foreign teams of Toyota, the team includes 2-time champion Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and the man that if he could stop inserting his foot in his mouth, could became a good Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch. I still don’t understand this one.

And finally goodbye to Nextel and Busch, hello Sprint and Nationwide, the Driver of the Year award went to Jimmie Johnson, although Jeff Gordon was right there, basically it was a Hendrick Motorsports banner year and the award for the stupidest statement said was, drum roll please, winner, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France with this comment at the Awards banquet in November…

(From autoracingsport.com – Cup Scene…) “It would have helped if he would have been competitive,” said France. “He didn’t win an event and he certainly didn’t make our playoffs. And that’s unhelpful if you’re trying to build ratings.”

Going beyond NASCAR for a moment, in World Rally and beyond, (From the Cardomain blog… Colin McRae Dies. Everyone's favorite rally driver died in a helicopter crash in September. RIP Colin.

In Television, fans, can you say series finales and canceling your favorite shows, that 2007 for yeah. Fans saw the series finales of Gilmore Girls and The O.C., the canceling of so many including Veronica Mars and Jericho, which in the case of Jericho, made for a massive fan response that got CBS’s attention with Jericho returning in February. Fans also say there favorite show go to repeats, as the writers strike happened. Now one thing to consider, the writer’s just want to be paid fairly, but I just heard that Letterman struck a contract with the writers to bring back his show, but why can’t the networks do the same. In the same light, viewers found themselves watching pilots air in there favorite shows slots and one is successful, the Kristen Bell narrated Gossip Girl, damn, good combination.

With the writer’s strike, viewers are now enjoying more realty shows including a bonus season of Survivor 16 with fans vs. Favorites and a Big Brother 9 (The winter edition). Both should be good.

What about movie’s, one movie that was a must for me to see on DVD, The Simpsons Movie and wouldn’t you know it, it was less like a movie and more like two episodes glued together and I’m still on the fence about it, one of my family members said he didn’t like it.

Finally, in the wonderful world of automobiles, this year continued to mark the raising of gas prices and the even bigger demand of alternative fuel vehicles beyond just E85. In January was a banner month for car enthusiasts when the headline “2007 Barrett-Jackson including an all new record of 5 million dollar bid for a Shelby Cobra.” Which includes $600,000 for a 2007 Shelby GT, along with something about the Ramcharger, how did that end?

Fans also saw (From the CarDomain blog… The GT-R is born. The new supercar from Nissan is here, and it's coming to the US!) And with that a pony car war between Chevrolet’s new Camaro, Chrysler’s answers back with the new Dodge Challenger (after the sale of Chrysler), all up against the proven Ford Mustang.

Let's combine Automobiles, Motorsports and Movies, yes I am specking of my favorite movie Cars, so what about a Cars 2 Movie (sequel), come on Disney and Pixar, I really want a Cars 2 movie, it’s a must have, maybe something like Lightning McQueen finds love with Sally and wins the Piston Cup against a new comer.

So what headlines might 2008 brings…
Barrett-Jackson continues to set records with more million dollar plus cars; NASCAR finally wakes up and not only removes the top 35 rule, but fixes the COT (making it a stock appearing racecar) and listens to the fans in what they want; The writer’s strike finally ends? Big Brother becomes a twice a year show; Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins in the Sprint Cup Series; In world news, alternative fuels including hydrogen are finally being produced and The United States have a new president - the US troops are finally coming home safe.

In a couple of hours live from Time Square in New York City, 3-2-1, See Yeah in the new year...

- Racedriven

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How do you enjoy your NASCAR Sprint-Nextel Cup Series races?

In 2007, NASCAR began experiencing a slight drop in their television coverage ratings for most of there Nextel Cup Series races. The same happened in its attendance at the most events at the racetrack except for New Hampshire which was sold out both times. This has gotten NASCAR attention in a big way and there begins the speculation as to why?

Unfortunately, some fans and even the NASCAR Chairmen and CEO Brian France himself started pointing the blame at none other then on NASCARs Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. for first his on-track heart-break which includes 6-7 blown engines and crashes totaling 10 DNFs along with the off-track announcements of him first leaving DEI and then joining Hendrick Motorsports in a five-year deal.

For the NASCAR Chairmen and CEO Brian France, he decided to make his most known comment at the Nextel Cup Series Awards Banquet in New York City, his comments (which might have been taken out of context, but we still get the point)…

(From autoracingsport.com – Cup Scene…) “It would have helped if he would have been competitive,” said France. “He didn’t win an event and he certainly didn’t make our playoffs. And that’s unhelpful if you’re trying to build ratings.”

Personally, to those who thought that the drop in ratings was due to Dale Jr’s season, not even close and to Brian France, you should thankful that Dale Jr. is even in this sport, you owe both Dale Jr. and his fans an apology and then you should start by looking at yourself first, stop looking at the sport as an accountant and start looking at it through the eyes of fans, you know, the ones who purchased all those tickets, merchandise and more.

However, one suggestion (that in my opinion that makes the most sense) that with the every changing (new) technology, could it be that most of those drop ratings could be due to the many different ways that NASCAR fans can watching NASCAR events, and since its only fitting to ask, How do you enjoy your NASCAR Sprint-Nextel Cup Series races?

1. Watching television – FOX for the first 13 races, TNT for 6 races and ABC/ESPN for the remaining 17 races including 11 races on ABC – Richmond + 10 chase races.

Now could it be that you only watch the television coverage if it was a top 4 race (Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, Brickyard 400 or Fall Bristol) or only when a particular network like FOX televised the event.

2. On Directv’s Hot Pass (This is a getting bigger every race, I had the chance to go to NHIS last September and sit on top of the #29 Shell-Pennzoil Pit Box and while up there for about 100 laps, they had several TV’s with one being the ABC coverage and the other having Directv’s Hot Pass, great coverage for that driver. I was even on TV that day.)

3. On Cable INDEMAND

4. On the Internet via Trackpass on NASCAR.com

5. Via the Radio (I’ve done this while driving or at a family gathering during a event.)

6.In a group gathering like a Sports Bar or a NASCAR party (I know if I were still purchasing Pay-Per-Views, that’s how I would do it.)

7. Or you just tape it for later (You know Tivo or DVR it.) Sometimes taping a program isn’t calculated into account when it comes to the television ratings numbers

Any of these ways are cool to watch a NASCAR event, but only the 1st one (Television broadcasts) is calculated in the ratings. Ever changing technology is making better ways to enjoy the NASCAR experience,

So what has happened or caused the lower ratings…
I believe that NASCAR fans are looking at other ways to enjoy there NASCAR coverage, rather than just watching the races on television, either due to they don’t like the TV coverage (I have read over the internet and even at the track at fans don’t like the ESPN/ABC coverage or the FOX, TNT coverage) or they purchase stuff like the HotPass or they even Tivo/DVR the races for later.

Personally I watch the television coverage mostly LIVE, sometimes I will DVR it or listen to the radio. If I had the option of using Directv (living in a rental property and too many trees), I would get HotPass.

I do believe that NASCAR has lost some of its fans, either due to they just want to try it as it was the NOW or In-style thing to due (You know, been there, done that like MySpace) or fans just left because of NASCAR’s calls or something else. They are all interesting reasons for the ratings drop, but blaming it on a driver’s bad season is stupid and uncalled for, will the ratings go back up, yeah, maybe in a couple of years.

As for attendance, high gas prices, high ticket prices and its overall an expensive trip for a family of four-five to go to the races.

Bottom Line: NASCAR is one of the most popular Sports to watch in the country, but NASCAR should try to televise all of the races LIVE on national television (like FOX, NBC and ABC) and put the LIVE coverage in Canada, Mexico and over seas. There’s more fans internationally too, start with Canada first NASCAR, you have a huge amount of fans up there period.

- Racedriven

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

From Racedriven to Anonymous: What will Dale Earnhardt Jr. be driving in NASCAR in 2008?

Merry Christmas everyone, boy, what easy Christmas for the most part this year I’ve had, all I had to do was go to a Christmas party on Christmas Eve, thankfully it was a couple miles away from my home this time, instead of in the next state down. Good party, hats of to the host, amazing ham dinner. As for Christmas day (yesterday), it was a peaceful day at home with my father and a simple Ham dinner and me, shopping online using my Best Buy gift cards that I just received. Good days.

On this Christmas holiday week while you sit down to dinner with your friends and family, I ask you to ponder this question for a while, what will Dale Earnhardt Jr. be driving next season (2008) for Hendrick Motorsports and for his joint venture between Hendrick Motorsports and Jr Motorsports?

Now, why do I bring this up, because early this morning I received a comment which was not-friendly advice that chewed me out for posting misinformation, that comment was by Anonymous, that was left in response to one of my posts called "My Take: Dale Jr. will be driving the #88 Mountain..."

”Anonymous said …Actually you have been misinformed. Dale Jr. is not driving the #88 car. But he is driving the #5 car whose sponser is GoDaddy.com. Before posting stuff on this site, you might want to do some research on the matter. I predict that you will have to write a retraction about your unofficial news about Dale Jr. From now on I highly suggest you research things before adding them to this site. Friendly advice nothing more.”
Wow, normally I respect anyone who leaves me a comment, it shows interest in what I am talking about whether its positive or in this case negative and yes I do read everyone of them and try to leave a comment back if need, but this time, the person who left the comment needs to take his own advice, my article was and is correct.

So what’s the answer to the question, what will Dale Earnhardt Jr. be driving in 2008?

Lets start with the Sprint (formerly Nextel) Cup Series starting with the Daytona 500in February, Dale Jr. will be driving the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard/Mountain Dew Chevrolet Impala SS for Hendrick Motorsports. You can read the entire article here.

Now, in addition to driving in the Cup Series, Dale Jr. also announced that JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports would be combining there NASCAR Nationwide (Formerly Busch) Series Operations in 2008. JR Motorsports will now field two Nationwide Series car which Rick Hendrick will be listed as car owner of the No. 5 team and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be car owner of the No. 88. (Read here.)

The #88 Navy car (owned by Dale Jr.) will be driven by Brad Keselowski, now here’s were the #5 comes in, Several drivers including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Ron Fellows and more will be driving the #5 Chevrolet in the Nationwide Series in 2008. Dale Jr. will drive in 6 races. The sponsorship will include Godaddy.com (for two races that’s pictured above and here), Delphi (for two races) and others. Update on Jan. 4th, it was announced National Guard will Sponsor the #5 car for 21 races for Landon Cassill (19 races) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Read press release on National Guard...)

Now I really can’t wait until the 2008 NASCAR racing season starts up in February, so enjoy the holidays and to Anonymous, like I said before, you should take your own advice.

- Racedriven

Monday, December 17, 2007

Survivor: China ends with Todd being named the Sole Survivor.

Two words best described this season and in most cases, most seasons of Survivor, numbers and strategy, from the season premiere of Survivor China, I picked out Todd as a strong player, not for winning challenges, but for his outwit way of playing the game, he had a way of getting into peoples heads and that got him through the game, plus winning a couple of challenges and I picked James for the outplay part of the game, he was by far the strongest player, he could win challenges and he know when to keep quiet at camp.

To me, there were two turning points in this game, first, James getting both of the immunity idols, but doesn’t use them at Tribal Council when it counts, in the game of Survivor, you don’t trust anyone, including your alliance, this is a game for a million dollars, not real life. Just think what would have happened if James had gone with his gut and played the idol, Todd would have been voted out and not been in the final three. The second turning point was also at Tribal Council when Denise voted to keep Todd and vote out PG, had she had kept PG, there was a good chance she would have been in the final three and Todd wouldn’t have.

Survivor China had a lot of interesting moments, challenges and good rewards including having dinner on the great wall of china, private plane rides, riding on a yate having dinner, but I was shocked to see that this season had a first, no winning a vehicle, what’s up with that. Remember, no castaway/player in Survivor history has ever won both the vehicle and won the game becoming the sole survivor, I would have liked to have seen if Todd could have been the first.

While I was watching the finale, I began to think, who really should have won in the finale four and who would have been voted out, I believe that if Denise was in the final three, she would have come really close to winning everything, second place for sure. It was really no surprise to see Denise voted out including the fact of what I just said… now looking back at the final three – Todd, Courtney and Amanda, I was fine seeing anyone of those three win, each of them played the game differently, Todd for his outwiding everyone in getting numbers on his side and winning a couple of challenges, Amanda for creating an alliance with Todd, winning challenges, as for Courtney, she won one challenge and well she was the under dog period, I was impressed that she made it the entire 39 days period.

However, I see why the jury voted Todd as the winner of Survivor China and not Courtney, he did play a good game.

Think about this for a minute, is it possible to play and win a game of Survivor or Big Brother for that matter without lieing and backstabbing the other players? I haven’t seen it yet, but if I have missed one case, let me know.

I was even more shocked during both the final Tribal Council and the reunion show when one, Todd was able to shut JR up and two that JR voted for Todd, that was the winning vote. All in all good game.

Now, Survivor fans are in for a treat, during the reunion show, they let fans in on what the next edition of Survivor was good to be and the fact that it starts in Febuary 2008 is great… Survivor 16 will be Survivor: Micronesia that puts Fans vs. Favorites. It sounds like another group of castaways vs. former castaways, plus one of the 16 Survivors from this edition will be in the next edition, that should be cool to see.

Well that’s it here, Congrats to James for winning Most Popular player of Survivor China ($100,000 prise) and and to Todd for becoming the sole survivor and winning $1 Million Dollars and now I’m out.

- Racedriven

Saturday, December 15, 2007

NASCAR and Penske miss use championship provisional and owner points.

Championship provisional and owner’s points in NASCAR’s elite series the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a hot topic right now considering that the top 35 in owner’s points are locked in to the each race, which is basically a golden pass to just run a qualifying lap to determine were you start the race and not to see if you make the race or not.

Several teams over the years have been using these six championship provisional as a way to get there car in the field by hiring a former Sprint-Nextel-Winston Cup Series champion to drive there car and if that car don’t make it in, then the most recent champion can use the provisional – example: Bill Elliott in the #21 Wood Brother’s Ford subbing for Ken Schrader while the #21 was outside the owner’s points.

NASCAR has even seen the owner’s points sold to other teams or given to other teams as the result of a merger – examples: first, Michael Waltrip back at the beginning of 2006 and second, as a result of the DEI-Ginn merger, the #15 of Paul Menard received the #14 car owner’s points.

I had thought I had seen it all and I hated to see Ken Schrader out of the #21, but nope, not even close, enter Penske racing and Sam Hornish Jr., back before the 2007 Phoenix fall race, Sam Hornish Jr. was announced as Penske Racing’s third Cup Series driver, but the problem was he didn’t qualify for his first six races and the speculation was that Hornish Jr. (the Indianapolis 500 winner and 2006 IRL series champion) would be given his new teammate Kurt Busch’s owner’s points from the previous season since Busch would qualify for six champion’s provisional.

Well, according to the ESPN – AP article on ESPN.com, NASCAR has officially approved the swapping of the owner’s points between Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr.. So that gives Hornish Jr. a golden pass for the first five races, he’s in the race no matter how fast he goes and for Kurt Busch, if he doesn’t qualify on time, he is automatically in the field using one of his championship provisional (six total).

This is not what I would have expected from NASCAR at all, I would have hoped that NASCAR would have fixed this loophole, but the question is how? I really don’t have an answer, I do believe that the championship provisional should stay, but how do you determine who get’s to use it and who doesn’t and the same goes for the owner’s points.

Well, now NASCAR fans will be watching this story for the first six races (five races start on the previous years owner’s points) to see just how these driver do and who will qualify for that sixth race of the season at Martinsville? Will Sam Hornish Jr., and/or Kurt Busch be in the top 35 going into Martinsville?

Note, from the open wheel invasion, Dario Franchitti took over the #40 Dodge fielded by Ganassi Racing which has top 35 owner's points and is another one guaranteed a starting spot (first five races), but the same can't be said for Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Carpentier, who both are go or go homers for at least the first five races…

Bottom Line, first this is not what the owner’s points and the championship provisional are to be used for and second, I can’t believe I am about to defend Kurt Busch, but Busch did earn those owner’s points and he did it by making it in to the chase for the Nextel Cup and they should be his, more importantly, what does that say for Sam Hornish Jr., an IRL Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner who can’t qualify for the field of a Cup Series race without a golden pass, please, not much at all.

It should be mandatory for all incoming drivers should have to drive at least one full season in the Nationwide (Busch) Series or the Truck Series before entering the Cup series, but that’s a hole different subject.

NASCAR really does need to get rid of the top 35 rule and go back to fastest 35-36 cars make the field and 36-37 though 43rd are provisional, plus add a 44th position for a past champion, only if they need it. (The 44th position only if the a previous champion needs it was suggested by Kyle Petty on SPEED). Golden Passes in NASCAR’s elite series, oh brother, what’s next…

- Racedriven

Monday, December 10, 2007

The year that was: Open wheel, F1, NHRA and Road racing though the eyes of this racing fan.

It was an interesting 2007 season all over Motorsports for me and on any given week I had plenty to write about and what an elevator of a season its been.

Open wheel racing in the United States doesn’t really count for much anymore like it use too, for the IRL, I watched basically the entire season or at least as they say Tivo-ed it to watch when I had the time. They still had there fair share of action including one spectacle in racing, the Indianapolis 500. Even with all of the rain being off and on all day, the race was entertaining at times and seeing Dario Franchitti win it (yes, even on fuel mileage and the race being shortened due to rain), it was cool too.

The championship battle all season long was nothing like I expected and with no Penske racing cars in the mix (like I predicted at the beginning of the season), but rather the battle came down to Andretti-Green Racing vs. the challenging Ganassi Racing team. In the end, it was one bad call on the Ganassi Racing side of it that ended it all and with a hard charging Dario Franchitti winning it all.

Soon after the Indy 500, WindTunnel asked the question “Which was the most interesting race to watch…Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 or The Coca-Cola 600?”, even after a good Coca-Cola 600, I still choose the Indianapolis 500.

Of course now the latest trend is for some open wheel drivers to invade NASCAR and what a crop it is - Dario Franchitti, Jacques Villeneuve and Sam Hornish Jr. just to name a few.

As for the Champ Car World Series, I began the season watching the first two races, the first-ever Las Vegas Grand Prix and then the popular Long Beach Grand Prix. Since then, Champ Car hasn’t even come on my radar at all. The championship from what I read was a run-away bust just like most of the races.

On yesterday’s Speed news, Miller reported on two interesting stories, first, that Paul Tracy had been emailed by Forsythe a couple weeks ago that told him to renegotiate his Contract or loss his ride as Miller put it. Tracy has been trying to get a hold of Forsythe for weeks now, but no response, Tracy did tell the media that he has an iron contract for 4 more years to race for them. Personally, no need for Tracy to renegotiate his Contract, they have to pay him either way. If he leaves Forsythe, were does he go? A team should pick him up either in Champ Car or some where else, but if its going to heard Champ Car more, no Tracy, no attendance.

The second story was that in a private test session at Homestead-Miami Speedway on the road course, both the Champ car and the IRL cars ran together on track (Link removed on both the Tracy story and this one here…), could this be a sign of these two low-rated series getting back together? Personally, that might be the only way open wheel racing in the US can survivor.

Time is always an issue every day in what you watch and don’t watch and as much as I like watch NHRA, I didn’t get a chance on most Sunday nights even with a DVR. I watched the live ESPN coverage from Indianapolis, but for the most part nope. However I’ve been a huge fan of John force and team force for years now since before I meet John Force himself at Racearama years ago. It was great to see Ashley Force come up and race in the funny cars and she did great for her rookie season.

Still shocked with John Force’s accident in (I believe) Texas, I hope he gets back on track next year. Good luck John, good well soon.

Formula 1, Formula 1 for me this season was a huge turning point as for the first time I wasn’t watching much of the series after the Indianapolis Grand Prix, instead with Eclstones comments about not needing the United States anymore and combining that with the racing, I ended up writing a piece called “Is Formula 1 in trouble in the eyes of its US and Canadian fans?” and walking away from the series. However I did end up watching the finale in Brazil and we all know how that ended - a controversy nightmare with no clear World Championship. In the end, Raikkonen won the World Championship and I guess I understand why, oh well.

Personally, I don’t understand why McLaren-Mercedes will continue to run in the Formula 1 after that FIA’s decision on Spy-gate or whatever.

Earlier today, Renault announced there 2008 lineup and they signed non other than the two-time World Champion Alonso to a two year deal. Let’s be honest, that was all Alonso was going to get, no other team can afford him or handle him, now he’s back number 1 at Renault. So for 2008, the World Championship battle could be Lewis Hamilton at McLaren vs.Raikkonen at Ferrari vs. Alonso at Renault, now that might be entertaining, now all Formula 1 really needs is on-track passing.

I heard the former Formula 1 winner Juan Montoya say, in the first four races this season in the Cup Series, he was either passed or had passed other drivers more times then in all season in Formula 1 and its true too. I see more passing in a single Martinsville, Richmond or Bristol Cup race then in half the season of formula 1. That’s what they neded to work on, being able to have competitive on-track racing period and retracting there comments on the United States with adding a GP in the States. You watch, F1 might not even be in Canada neither.

The biggest thrill besides NASCAR of course for me was watching the American Le Man’s Series and the similar Grand-American Road Racing Series both put on great races all season long, the 24 hours of Daytona (Rolex 24 at Daytona), 12 hours of Sebring, 24 hours of LeMans, the season in these two series were action-packed all around. In ALMS, it was Audi narrowly winning over Porsche in the prototypes, but what a race it was in the GT class, great battles all season long with the champion being Mika Salo.

In the same respect, the Grand American series came out on top in both there championship battle as well as there good, close, competitive racing all season long, no this isn’t an advertisement… One downfall this season was the official calls made during the race, you thought NASCAR was bad, nope. But, all in all good racing with GURNEY & FOGARTY winning the championship.

- Racedriven

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What were the biggest surprises, disappointments and thrillers in NASCAR of 2007?

The biggest surprises came in all three series, first with the Truck Series Championship battle, this one was close just about all season long, no one driver ran away with it and amazing enough the championship came down to the final race, 29 points going in and one mistake (with a part), that’s a real championship battle. Congratulations to Ron Hornaday Jr and Kevin Harvick Inc., what a season.

Of course, in Nextel Cup, one NASCAR writer wrote “The championship belongs to Jimmie Johnson, but the season belongs to Dale Earnhardt Jr.” and that sentence is right on, on big surprise was Dale Earnhardt Jr’s announcements, first leave DEI and then join Hendrick Motorsports (and I might add leaving without the #8 and Budweiser), that’s going to be a good combination and with that Hendrick Motorsports creating the most powerful racing teams with Johnson, Gordon, Mears and now Earnhardt Jr… all winners

The Busch series seeing two championships, let’s be honest here, by the halfway point in the Busch Series, did anyone really think Carl Edwards wasn’t going to win the championship, but it was interesting (who we kidding, it was funny) to see the owner’s championship not won by Roush-Fenway Racing, but by RCR by a combined effect of Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer.

The biggest disappointment was NASCAR’s decision to penalize Kurt Busch for the Dover pitroad incident, not suspended him. To me “This is not about points, but rather Busch’s reckless driving on pit road and endangering the life of person namely a crewmember.”

On-track had to be both Kasey Kahne and Greg biffle, both driver’s showed so much promise in 2006, Kasey Kahne had the most victories and was in the chase and yet both teams struggled so much.

Finally, one of the biggest disappointments came from DEI and Joe Gibbs Racing… DEI and Dale Jr. for 10 DNF’s including 6-7 blown engines and Gibbs Racing for leaving General Motors (Chevrolet) and switching to Toyota… Toyota didn’t have such a good year, but I will go on record as saying some is do to the top 35 rule, the go or go homers.

The biggest thriller of the season by far was the Daytona 500 with a good race and a thriller of a finish – Kevin Harvick edging out Mark Martin for the victory while a huge wreck broke out behind them with Harvick’s teammate Clint bowyer sliding across the finish line on his roof. With that said, racing fans were treated to several exciting finishes beyond just Daytona, how about both Martinsville races with Johnson vs. Gordon, Texas with Burton vs. Kenseth, Bristol (first COT race) Kyle Busch vs. Burton, the Busch race at Las Vegas with Burton vs. Kyle Busch, like I said thriller finishes.

Previously I asked the question, what was the biggest story in racing of 2007 and while I said Dale Earnhardt Jr. for both his On-track and Off-track season, one person said “Lewis Hamliton”… however that got me thinking, I would love to see Lewis Hamilton in a McLaren vs. Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari vs. F. Alonso in a Renault for the World Championship, that would be entertainment. Comments…

- Racedriven

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What were the biggest stories in racing of 2007?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, boy do we have alot to be thankful for on this day, how about being thankful for a good racing all season long. On this Thanksgiving while you give thanks for all of this good things in your life and sit down to dinner with your friends and family, I ask you to ponder this question for a while, what was the biggest stories in racing of 2007 and what what was the biggest?

I have been pondering that very question for the last couple of weeks as it was the WindTunnel question of the week, so here's what my take...

When you look at last season in the world of Motorsports, you had a lot to consider for this award and the same goes true for this season. While Formula 1 had a lot to be thankful after last season (2006) including one good championship battle and the idea of moving on to 2007 despite the announcement of there 7-time champion Michael Schumacher would be retiring, they can’t say the same for the 2007 season as it’s on-track boring racing was over shadowed by its Ferrari with the FIA vs. McLaren-Mercedes in what is called Stephen-Gate that ended with no-constructors championship for McLaren and a terrible $100 Million Dollar fine and to top it off, Formula 1 then decided to pull out of not only Indianapolis, but the entire market of the United States fans in the cold.

This past May ended with "One of the great specticulars in racing" the Indianapolis 500 living up to its name after Dario Franchitti won in great fashion. The Indy racing League followed that up with it's Indy 500 winner capturing the IRL Championship with a last turn battle (on fuel) for the championship.

Another big story of the year was the Open-Wheel drivers invading NASCAR with driver’s like Dario Franchitti, Jacques Villeneuve, and Sam Hornish Jr., to join Juan Montoya made the cut.

There’ll all big stories in one way or another, but the 2007 season not only in NASCAR, but in all of Motorsports belongs to NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.. When you look at the season that Dale Jr. has had both On-track and off-track that wins this one…

His On-track nightmare included not making the chase (due to the 100-point penalty after Darlington or the 10 DNF’s including 7 blown engines.) wasn’t even the biggest.


Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s new colors and car number were revealed at the Dallas Convention Center (Hendrick Motorsports/Autostock photo)

But off-track it was Dale Earnhardt Jr’s four huge announcements that really take the bill – first, (in May) leave DEI, second (in June), joining Hendrick Motorsports, third, Budweiser and #8 will not be making the move to Hendrick Motorsports with him and finally, announcing that he will be driving the #88 AMP Energy-Mountain Dew-National Guard Chevrolet Impala SS.

What a season, now that I have given fuel for thought, so what is the biggest story in racing of 2007 and why? comment below... See Yeah!

- Racedriven

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Should Bruton Smith - SMI consider moving Lowe’s Motor Speedway to the historical North Wilkesboro Speedway?

In my piece last week entitled “Bruton Smith – SMI: The tale of New Hampshire International Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway.”, I started to touch on this very topic of just what should Bruton smith and SMI do with the newly purchased historic North Wilkesboro Speedway land? Newly purchased Brian? With the purchase of the New Hampshire International Speedway now renamed New Hampshire Motor Speedway for 340 Million dollars, in that transaction, SMI also purchased Bahre’s 50% of North Wilkesboro Speedway and now that he owns the entire lot lock stock and barrel, what should he do with it?

By now, NASCAR fans have read about Smith – SMI’s problems with Concord, NC about Smith wanting to build a drag strip on the site of his Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord and the city originally said “NO”. Of course right after that, Smith said he might consider moving the Lowe’s Motor Speedway from Concord to Charlotte just 20 miles or so miles away. Keep in mind that Lowe’s Motor Speedway needs well over $100 million dollars in updates (according to an article) and moving it would cost somewhere over 350 million dollars (according to same article). Seen then, Concord has reversed there ways and said yes to the drag strip in Concord and it is reported that the city of Concord has offered additional business stuff as well.

Personally, the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte has a lot of history and I would rather see it stay just were it is, but if it does move, then I would like to see it as a short track and in North Wilkesboro.

Now just think about instead of purchasing a new piece of land in Charlotte, why not build the new Lowe’s Motor Speedway a little ways away from Charlotte just outside of the city of North Wilkesboro on the site of the old historic North Wilkesboro speedway. Right now there is save the speedway going on and wouldn’t it be great to have a bit of history return to NASCAR. Of course I would want to see the track be a 0.6 mile track (Just what the current North Wilkesboro speedway was back in 1996.) A new short track on the schedule with two Cup Series dates and an all-star event that sounds good.

With all that said, hearing that Bruton Smith – SMI will have a decision made by next Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), that will be a huge announcement in many different ways.

- Racedriven

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The end of an era this Sunday in Homestead...


(Image taken by me - Kodak EasyShare DX6490)

Last race for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in his #8 Budweiser DEI Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS.

- Racedriven

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bruton Smith – SMI: The tale of New Hampshire International Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway.

By now, most NASCAR racing fans have heard that Bruton Smith – SMI has purchased (my home racetrack since I live in Massachusetts) the New Hampshire International Speedway and the other 50% of North Wilkesboro in North Carolina from the Bahre family for 340 million in cash. What a purchase, he buys two Nextel (Sprint) Cup dates at NHIS, NHIS was the only soldout race in the chase so far, the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway and lots of land, So the question is, what is SMI’s plans for not only the newly renamed New Hampshire Motor Speeday, the historical North Wilkesboro, but his Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.

Before I get into what this NASCAR racing fan what like to see change at NHMS, two things, first, Yes, I do know how New Hampshire received there seconddate? I know that the Bahre family and Smith each purchased half of North Wilkesboro Speedway and then closed it, moving one Cup date to Texas Motor Speedway and the other one went to New Hampshire International Speedway. My reaction was: It sucked that NASCAR lost one great race track that had lots of history and good short track racing and I would have rather have seen the dates come from somewhere else, but below you might find an solution. Second, What was my reaction to Smith – SMI purchasing NHIS, now NHMS: At first my arms went up and I just said well there goes the cup dates, but now after thinking about it, a little advice from Marc at Full Throttle and reading the Boston Herald article, I now am thinking that this could be good.

With that said, the Boston Herald is reporting from SMI sources that SMI has big plans on what to do with the northeasts only speedway, (from the article) Smith – SMI plans on making NHMS a motorsports mecca that will not only include two NASCAR Nextel Cup races each season, but the World of Outlaws and the National Hod Rod Association. The article also says that the NASCAR Busch East and Whelen Modified Tour will no longer be part of the Nextel Cup weekend at NHMS and instead be scheduled twice a year as a standalone event and Lights (hopefully only for rain delays), all of this should be announced before Thanksgiving Day.

That means building a new drag strip (keep in mind that New Hampshire already has a drag strip and they may not want to issue a permit to built a drag strip including in Loudon area), a dirt track which I would attend, lights that are really needed for late races due to rain or some kind of delay and hopefully more…

Keeping with New Hampshire Motor Speedway, this racing fan would like to see:
1. Paved (smoother at least), lighted and more access parking, 2. Better walking paths from the parking to the speedway entrances, 3. More seating (100,000 - 110,000 seats), 3. A bridge off of turn two or back straight to get the fans from the seating to the back parking lots without having to travel by the infield tunnel, 4. Keeping the Busch East and Whelen Modified Tour races on the same weekend as the two Sprint-Nextel Cup dates (Believe me, it sells tickets on both Friday and Saturday and 5. A Little change to the track layout (length), but not another cookie cuter racetrack (being 1.5 miles), I love short track racing, a ¾ mile or create a 1 mile track like Phoenix…that would be perfect for two Sprint-Nextel Cup dates.

And of course, lower ticket prices down to the prices of all of his other racetracks which includes $40 for bottom seats instead of the $60 now.

If the only thing you take away from this article is, think about this:
What to do with North Wilkesboro Speedway? Bruton Smith – SMI, why not move the Lowe’s (Charlotte) Motor Speedway to just outside the city of North Wilkesboro, on the land of the North Wilkesboro Speedway. Think about it, recreating the historical North Wilkesboro Speedway as a 0.625 mile with over 100,000 seats, a top notch track that would give the North Wilkesboro area there speedway back and restore some history including two Cup dates, that would be huge and I would be in favor of it.

Finally, this will be interesting and the announcement should come before Thanksgiving Day, the question is, who will be thankful and for what?

- Racedriven

Friday, November 9, 2007

Racedriven Recap: Coverage of the 2007 SEMA Show in Las Vegas

Over the past week with the help of a couple of websites, blogs and a SEMA Promotion Associate, I have created several pieces in a series on the SEMA Show.

The sights and sounds of SEMA 2007 - Part One:
Highlights three photos I received via email from SEMA Promotion Associate - a Chevrolet Bel-Air, a custom built Scion xB and what looks like 1970's Plymouth Cuda.

The sights and sounds of SEMA 2007 - Part Two:
Highlights four hits, one that just made me say “What were they thinking?” and the question, So would you drive on 30s? Or are they just for show?

The sights and sounds of SEMA 2007 - Part Three:
Highlights The Best in Show edition: Two Alternative Fuel vehicles - Jay Leno's E85 powered Chevrolet Corvette C6RS and a 1,000 HP ProPane 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle by Mothers.

Exclusive SEMA Show photos from a SEMA Promotions Associate:
Highlights 13 different vehicles including three vehicles from my part one piece.



- Racedriven

The sights and sounds of SEMA 2007 – Part Three

The Best in Show edition: When I think of Best in Show, this year its all about going green and so we have more than one car in this category, but one theme, alternative fuels.


First Jay Leno’s E85 Chevrolet Corvette C6RS (Credit: Autoblog SEMA video)


Second is a 1,000 HP ProPane 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle by Mothers. The idea of filling up my 1,000 hp chevelle with Propane instead of gasoline is amazing, no more gasoline prices. (Credit: Autoblog/Mother’s)

Third, Just about any other vehicle using Diesel, Bio-Diesel, Ethonal, E85, Propane, Hydrogen or any other fuel instead of using gasoline.

- Racedriven

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The sights and sounds of SEMA 2007 – Part Two

It’s been about a week now since the SEMA Show 2007 has ended and with the help of a couple of blogs – websites, here’s the highlights including four hits, one that just made me say “What were they thinking?”.


The Year One Bandit, we all remember the classic 1977 movie “Smokey and the Bandit” with the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am driven by Burt Reynolds, well to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie, Burt Reynolds and Year One got together and create this beast and what a look it is, works for me. (Credit: SEMAinsider)


The Good Guy's show 2007 Street Rod of the Year built by Barry’s Speed Shop in California. What a ride, I have seen some of Barry’s work and this one is top notch. (Credit: Straightline)


A 2008 Cuda (Barracuda) Concept, I’m not sure what to make of this concept, I like the retro look and it does grab your attention, but at the same time the Cuda name is from Plymouth, not Dodge. (Credit: Straightline)


From the Transformers Movie, the Camaro, still a stunning a vehicle and can’t wait to see the new vehicle hit the streets. (Credit: SEMAinsider)


Welcome to the ugliest Mustang I have seen yet, this is the vehicle that makes you want to say “What were they thinking?” when you built this… What a statement, does anyone have an idea of what that statement might be? (Credit: Autoblog)

Over at the CarDomain Blog, the question has been asked, So would you drive on 30s? Or are they just for show?

First, I am not an expert on wheels and tires nor have I ever driven on anything above stock wheels and tires being maybe 15-16’s so I am entering new territory.

With that said, no way period, the only vehicle that I have ever seen 30’s was a Hummer H2 and that’s not even right, a Hummer H2 or any other 4x4 vehicle should be driven both on-road and off-road, other than that, 30’s don’t look good on a car, its ugly, you have to the car to sit right, the stands, the look and 30’s don’t do that. Driven on 30’s, no way, I can’t even imagine how that feels and is it even safe? Either way it’s not a fashion statement – for show or would I ever drive on them.

In part three, I'm still looking for that one stunner, the best in show vehicle, any ideas?

- Racedriven

Friday, November 2, 2007

The sights and sounds of SEMA 2007 - Part One

This is one of greatest times of year if you are a car enthusiant, it's the SEMA show in Las Vegas this week and what a collection of vehicles they have on display. Now if you are not invited (that would include myself), the next best thing is videos and pictures online and what a gallery many online sites and blogs already have, below is a couple of photos from the last couple of days.


1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air


New Scion xB


And what looks like 1970's Phymouth Cuda
If this a preview of vehicles to see at SEMA, I can't wait to see everything once people get back from Las Vegas and thank you to Teresa Randle of New Media Strategies and SEMAinsider.com for the photos above. Look for part two and beyond in a couple of days.

- Racedriven

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Boston Red Sox Celebrates World Series Victory with rolling rally.


David Ortiz celebrating yesterday with the fans at Fenway Park - (AP Photo / Steven Senne)

First I would like to congratulate the Boston Red Sox in winning the 2007 World Series late last Sunday night and they did it in just four games against the Colorado Rookies. This is the second World Series championship in three years (last one in 2004). Great Job, what a perfect season.

Right now as I type this from my living room, I am watching the Rolling Rally live on Television and believe me there is no short of coverage in Massachusetts, boy I sure wish I could have been there today since I have never experienced a rolling rally before. What a sight to see, several Boston Duck Boats (And yes they do float and in 2004 they did going to the Charles River with the Red Sox players on board…) with all of the players, owners and family members on board along with that World Series trophy, the duck boats started at noon time at Fenway Park and from there they would be traveling very slowly and stopping several times along the way as they travel down Boylston Street towards Boston Common where the parade will end near City Hall.


Several Boston Duck Boats traveling down Boylston Street with players, owners and their families on board - (WBZ4 Photos)

One thing that was clear during this parade with the fans all screaming “Resign Lowell, Resign Lowell” as was the topic on this mornings news, who should the Red Sox sign, Lowell or A-Rod? Personally, you have got to resign Lowell, I don’t know about A-Rod. Just stick with what works, keep the team together for next season period.

- Racedriven

Is the Formula 1 World Championship really decided? More

Last August, I wrote a piece about Formula 1 and what my take was on the current status of the series and I ended the piece by saying “Bottom Line, good bye Formula 1, you don’t want to support the United States and or at least Canada, than I don’t want to support your series.” and it was called “Is Formula 1 in trouble in the eyes of its US and Canadian fans?

With that said, this race fan couldn’t resist watching one more race namely being the Formula 1 realty show season finale in Brazil in hopes of seeing the crowning of a World Champion that was to be decided on track at the finish line, but as we all know by now, that wasn’t to be as after the race, the officials discovered that three teams had violated the fuel tempeture rule by 13-14 degrees with a allowance of only ten degrees and as per the rule book, they should have been disqualified… but the officials decided not to disqualify the three teams in effect effecting the World Championship outcome giving the title to Kimi Räikkönen and not to the McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton.

Well now McLaren has sent a letter of appeal to the FIA and the date is set for Nov. 15, so why the talk? Does anyone think McLaren is going to win the appeal? Is Kimi Räikkönen still going to be 2007 World Champion?

In my eyes and from what I understand the rule book reads, first, the officials did make the wrong call, they should have disqualified the three teams on the spot with the evidence that they had and it’s a huge discussion as why they didn’t. Second, McLaren does have a leg to stand on and I would say if they have all the evidence, they will win the appeal.

However he’s the bottom line, Kimi Räikkönen will still be the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion, because the FIA isn’t going to change the results and that’s it, so in my eye’s, McLaren lost both championships and in the record books under the 2007, World Champion will read Kimi Räikkönen* - FIA makes wrong call at season finale and awards both championships to there golden boy Ferrari.

For the record, I have to say, Kimi Räikkönen does deserve to be World Champion, just not the 2007 World Champion (that honor bellows to Lewis Hamilton) and it will go do in history as the FIA crowned the wrong person as World Champion. And that’s were I will end it.

More...
Recently, a reader (in my comments) asked me why I think Lewis Hamilton deserves to be the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion? JFTR, the only reason why I think Hamilton should be World Champion is because he won the points battle if the stewards had make the call to disqualify those three teams as per the rule book. I also understand that in Brazil, some teams were having problems all weekend getting consistent temperatures from the fuel pump rigs, however normally the stewards don't make many expections and to add to the case, those were the only three teams that were over the 10 degrees allowence on all of there pit stops. That's it.

With that said, if we are talking who deserves to World Champion without the points, well that easy, I would give the World Championship to Kimi Räikkönen, he has earned it, he has paid his due's in Formula 1, but that's not how Formula 1 is. Thank You for you comment and I hope I explained my position.

- Racedriven

Monday, October 29, 2007

Survival was the key to victory in the Memphis and Atlanta races.

What an interesting mixture of races fans had this past weekend in both Memphis and Atlanta.

Memphis, Memphis, Memphis Busch race, how do you put it into words to even come close in describing this 4 hour race… one word, nightmare. This Memphis race prompted one question that should be asked to all race fans and it so happened to be last night’s WindTunnel question of week - What is your NASCAR caution flag threshold? Do you make it to the end, and if not, when do you change the channel?

The answer ironically depends on the racing series, I can stand more caution flags in a Cup Series event rather than either a Truck race or a Busch Series and even more depending upon which racetrack they are at. However while last Sunday’s Cup race at Martinsville nor yesterday’s race at Atlanta didn’t come close to my threshold, the Memphis race did (no exact number), 25 cautions is too much for this race fan to sit though period. Halfway though of 8 laps of racing followed by caution after caution, I was done and asleep, I wake to see the final 10 laps that took awhile.

Believe it or not, the only thing that kept this racing fan from changing the channel in the final laps was seeing who won and I’m glad to say that David Reutimann survived to capture his first career Busch Series victory, that’s was cool to see and if that wasn’t enough, the two front runners of Reutimann and Bliss also came home with something that most drivers including Edwards didn’t have, clean cars… enough said.

Atlanta 500, you know for awhile this race was the complete opposite to the Memphis race, but how quickly things change, one would have though that it was a fuel mileage race, but thank god for the 10 to go caution flag so fans might see another historic finish, however caution breed cautions and Denny Hamlin’s non-picked up ended the day for Truex Jr. and others, caution again and of course on the restart, its over for Dale Jr. when he losses a rear wheel and its Jimmie Johnson winning… didn’t I type that same result the last week at Martinsville…

So now it’s a three-man chase for the Nextel Cup with just three races to go (Texas, Phoenix and Homestead…) with Jeff Gordon slightly over teammate Jimmie Johnson, but don’t count out Clint Bowyer, he’s the wild card and 111 points can be made up in three races, mark my words, Clint Bowyer is still in this.


Dale Jr's #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet COT test car earlier today at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Credit: Racing One/Getty Images)

You know, Ironically nether the Busch, Truck or Nextel Cup Series races were the biggest story of the weekend, that honor goes to - Testing the COT in Atlanta with your 2008 drivers, different, maybe this should have happened the Monday after the finally in Homestead, no not that, nether seeing Dale Jr. in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevy for the second time this year. Here’s one headline I was thinking late last week, Dale Jr. saying “Damn now that’s an engine” as he gets out of his #5 All-Star Racing Hendrick Chevrolet COT earlier today while testing at Atlanta...

- Racedriven

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The four-man chase for the Nextel Cup continues straight into Atlanta.

When looking back over the past six races namely the previous six chase races, they have all been interesting in one way or another. Starting off in New Hampshire which I watched from live in person in the pit area and on top of the #29 Shell pitbox was not what it was in past seasons, but in the same respect it showed that one team is a chase contender being Clint Bowyer, who dominated the field throughout the day and picked up his first career victory.

However, Dover was completely different and ironicly has been the theme for the chase races so far with the exception of New Hampshire, Dover was a game of survival with Carl Edwards being victorious and with that victory also fined and docked 25 points for right rear being too low which was the right call by NASCAR. Moving forward straight into the rain and darkness of Kansas where drivers, teams, owners, officials and fans found themselves experiencing a nightmare of red flags, rain, delays and one controversial finish were this race fan still doesn’t know who really won if you look at the rule book, however it was Greg Biffle’s victory and that how it was scored.

Fourth in line, Talladega Superspeedway, which in my eye’s has and always will be referred to as a "Demotion Derby", it was also the sight of three hours of top line races (boring) followed by 10 laps of excitement with what I thought was a Tony Stewart victory that was not to be as Jeff Gordon grabbed the victory over his teammate Jimmie Johnson and the Car Of Tomorrow showed it needed more work.

Next up was Lowe’s Motor Speedway, which was the sight of the Burton Smith – SMI vs. Concord, N.C. fighting over a to be built drag strip and may end with building a new Charlotte Motor Speedway over in the Charlotte area.

Two things about the one, from building new speedway in Charlotte, at first I was bothered by it expertly with the history of this 1960 built speedway, but it all depends now, if Smith is going to build a new speedway, I would be in favor if he built a ¾ to just over 1 mile speedway with about a 100,000 seats, we need better racing at that speedway period. With that said, the race wasn’t all that bad, but not nearly as excited as earlier races before they touched the race like in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Oh yeah, Jeff Gordon continued his winning ways with another victory and larger points lead over Jimmie Johnson.

Finally one of my favorite tracks on the schedule, Martinsville and what a race it was, I enjoyed this one, to me it had the “wow” factor that so many is looking for, the “wow” factor describes what the fans are looking for in racing and not every race has it, but this one did and it was topped off with a late race duel between Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman, along with Kyle Busch and in some cases the man Dale Earnhardt Jr. with Jimmie Johnson owning this track once again with another victory and one step closer to the points lead.

With all that said, it technically is a three (four)-man race now with J. Gordon leading, J. Johnson 2nd, Clint Bowyer 3rd and Tony Stewart 4th unless the front runners have problems. Now its off to Atlanta, another one of my favorite tracks with great finishes, I just wish this track had better attendants and that requires two dates moved out of the cold season.

Before I sign off, I wanted to answer a question (WindTunnel style), If you are a Junior fan in 2007, will you be a Junior fan in 2008? I’ve been a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan since sometime around the 1997-1998 seasons when he was coming up in the Busch Series and I continue to be fan now, will I be next year, hell yeah and I have no intention of stopping. I’m excited about next season with a new sponsor, owner, teammates and him driving the #88, I’ve even purchased his 2008 #88 National Guard Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet diecast and next season should be interesting.

Going beyond that, in the past several years, I’ve become a Chevrolet racing fan not only with Dale Earnhardt jr., but Tony Stewart as well – Chevrolet would also including ALMS and other series, I always loved looking at Corvette and still do, how about a new Camaro… So Tony Stewart, Stewart moving to Toyota, will I continue there too, yeah I will, I watch Tony Stewart because he outspoken, he’s driver who not afraid to mix it up and I predict he won’t be driving a Toyota for very long… he bound for Chevrolet sometime in 2010. Well that’s it here, from this Dale Jr. fan, see yeah!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

From the Parking to the Grandstands: This race fans view of New Hampshire.

A #3 Dale Earnhardt Tribute hat, a scanner with headset, a digital camera, a medium duffle bag with the essentinuels and one race day ticket for the day is makes up a trip for this race fan to a Friday, Saturday or Sunday day at New Hampshire International Speedway.

This is an experience that I have taking in many times in the past 8+ years of going at NHIS, taking in either a Friday of watching Cup Series qualifying and a Busch East race or a Saturday of watching the Cup Series Happy Hour, an incredible race of the Modified Tour and either a Busch (Nationwide in 2008) Series or Truck Series race and what an experience it is.

What a day, on the road early up though the traffic and toll roads straight though to the speedway with one pitstop along the way and there it is, the first of the speedway entrances, right on up and finding a parking space along the straight and then it begins, the walk from the Jeep to the speedway it self, from this point on it all depends on where you park that makes the difference, walking, looking at souvenirs, taking pictures of the outside events including the SPEED Stage and straight on up and into the speedway.


Image taken by me.

Now its time to browse through the souvenir trailers in hopes of finding that interesting diecast, hat or whatever of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, and so on… Time for lunch and a dart to that general admission grandstand to find that seat up front and then taking pictures and listening to several drivers on the scanner.

While listening to scanner, a race fan can quickly pick up just what is going on with that driver just by listening to the driver’s tone in his description of his car along with just what setup they are working on. Each driver has there own chemistry with there crew chief and crew members on just how they want there car to feel and each driver says it differently. Drivers can go from being happy to being angry and back in a couple of seconds depending on what happens to the car and on track. I have heard drivers get angry over an incident or just the setup and none of the drivers are afraid to say just what’s on there minds, but I have to give them credit, sitting in a hot racecar all day long going over 100 mph average and battling 42 other drivers can anybody upset, so don’t take to much of what they say on the radio to heart.

Over four hours later just sitting in those seats and depending on the day, the action on track could range from Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. pacing final practice to one or two race winners with a burnout or donuts straight to victory lane with the crowd screaming just what’s on there minds.


Picture was taking by me while standing on pitroad... Clint Bowyer winning his first Cup Series race at NHIS this past September.

And then it’s all over, back though the rows of souvenir trailers in a last check for that diecast, up though the thousands of racing fans exiting to the parking lots. If its Friday or Saturday, race fans will go to there cars and battle the traffic to the highway and off we go.

However if its Sunday, the day isn’t over for the NASCAR experience, one hour after the race ends, the infield tunnel opens and 43 Cup Series Transporters – Haulers exit the tunnel all to see thousands of race fans lining the streets from the infield tunnel to just past the first entrance of the speedway on down… What a parade, transporters blowing there air horns at the crowds as they head for the highway three wide down 9 miles of route 106. What an experience…


Picture was taking by me outside the passenger side window of the Cup Series Haulers passing by the grandstands.

And experience I took in first hand last September for the Sylvania 300, the parade is amazing from the sidelines, but it’s even better when your one of the cars heading out in that parade of haulers as both my father and I did. What a line of haulers down the road at dust and to top it off, we followed the #17 Dewalt Transporter for Matt Kenseth on out, its photography handing out the passenger side window with a digital camera in hand snapping one by as haulers go by. Once out and in the city, we stopped at McDonalds in Concord, we spotted the #2 Penske Hauler going by, what a sight to see and then its off… home. Like I said, what experience.


Picture was taking by me outside the passenger side window of a line of haulers waiting to exit the speedway.

What a way to write about taking in the NASCAR experience from two different sides of tracks, first, from the media side of it in my previous piece called “From the garage to the pits: The Best Seat in the House in New Hampshire.”, to writing about it on from what the average racing fan side in this piece, two different sides, one great experience.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

DEI unveils #8 driven by Mark Martin & Aric Almirola for 2008.



Captured: Drivers Mark Martin, left, and Aric Almirola, right, pose by the car they will drive in 2008 for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. during a news conference at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Friday, Oct. 12, 2007. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)


Yesterday was an interesting day in Charlotte with this unveiling and Boy I have to give it to DEI-Ginn Racing, they have made it almost impossible for NASCAR fans - Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans who were upset that DEI didn't give Junior his number and in response were planning on booing the new driver of the #8, however now most of them are going to have a hard time booing that ride now that Mark Martin will be driving a partical schedule in 2008 in it (along with Aric Almirola).

Personally, I have alot of respect for Mark Martin, he's a class act all the way and if both Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr. are happy - there wishes with Martin driving this number, then so am I. Unfortunity I can't say the same for Aric Almirola, I would rather see him full-time in the Busch (Nationwide) Series next season instead, he needs more seat time. As for me booing the #8 next season, not going to happen even if Mark Martin wasn't driving it, I like the idea of a new number for Junior and the #88 has a huge history attached to it.

- Racedriven

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Which championship fight is more exciting – Nextel Cup, Busch Series, Truck Series or the NHRA?

First up is Nextel Cup: Is it a two-man race for the Nextel Cup going into Charlotte? This question was asked a couple of nights ago on NASCAR Now and I really think it deserves a classic answer, simply put NO way, its not just a two-man race (being last weekends Talladega winner Jeff Gordon leading by 9 points of his Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson.). There is still six races left in the chase, I will say that both Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are had chargers right now and seem to be unbeatable at times, but I wouldn’t count out any driver in the top 6.

At this time last season, Jimmie Johnson was a full race out of the lead by -156 points behind Jeff Burton going into Charlotte and we all know he won the championship by 56 points over second place Matt Kenseth. So really any driver that’s around 210 points back, still has a good shot at victory. Really all one of these drivers really need is six races of top 5’s and top 10 finishes. Don’t forget, one blown motor and another competitor finishing in the top 5, that right there is around 156 point swing.

After New Hampshire, I choose two drivers that I though might win the championship this year, first being Tony Stewart which is in 4th place 154 points back and second being the defending Nextel Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson which is in second place only 9 points back of Jeff Gordon.

As for as the championship goes, it’s still really anyone’s (if your in the top 6 in the standings…) championship to win.

Second is the Busch Series and no I’m not talking about the driver’s championship that’s all but looked out by Carl Edwards, I’m talking about the owner’s championship… RCR is only 56 points behind Roush-Fenway Racing. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Richard Childress Racing with the #29 Busch car driven by Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer win the owner’s championship and Carl Edwards win the driver’s championship, that would make an interesting championship.

Third, how about the Truck Series championship, that’s a two-man race with Ron Hornaday Jr. leading Mike Skinner by 14 points, what a championship battle this one has been, these two has been swapping the lead back and forth for several weeks. I’m still looking towards Ron Hornaday Jr. to win the championship.

Finally, one points championship that is really unlike any other championship system I’ve seen is in the NHRA were they truly have a four-driver chase in four different classes called the NHRA Countdown to the Championship that features a unique format.that plays out over the final six races. Right now the chase is down to four drivers and two races left being Las Vegas, NV and Pomona, CA.

So who will win the 2007 NHRA POWERade Pro championships? It’s a hard one to guess on, two races to decide this championship with a total of 30 points between all four drivers, in Top Fuel I would say Tony Schumacher will win the championship, he’s been strong all season long and he’s the defending champion. In Funny Car, no doubt who that would be considering I’m a huge John Force fan including his next generation drivers, it will be Robert Hight, he has won a couple events and he’s a hard charger. How about Pro Stock, Greg Anderson has the upper hand considering he’s the defending champion and finally in Pro Stock Motorcycle’s, who knows… I can say it’s a Harley Davidson vs. three Buells, that’s cool to watch.

So which championship fight is more exciting? Right now I’m still on the Nextel Cup, but the new NHRA Countdown to the Championship is very different from any other series I have ever seen. What about my readers, NHRA or Nextel Cup? You tell me…

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Is it good for the sport that so many open wheel drivers are moving to NASCAR?

Open Wheel drivers heading to stock car racing in both ARCA and NASCAR…We’ve seen it for decades in stock car racing, open wheel drivers making the jump from open wheel racing to Stock cars racing, however in the past year or so, there once again has been a sudden surge of successful open wheel drivers trying there hand in a new challenge and making there debuts in stock car racing.

The current trend has been open wheel drivers who have really never turned a lap in a stock car turning to first the ARCA racing series, running a couple of races and in a short period of time jumping in and out of the Truck and Busch Series right into the Cup Series and what a jump it has created.

The first of the big announcements came at the later part of last season at Chicagoland where Chip Ganassi Racing announced the signing of the Formula 1-Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Montoya and that he would pilot the #42 Dodge in the Cup Series earlier this season (2007) after first making an ARCA race at Talladega, a couple of Busch Series starts and finally a Cup Series start at Homestead last season. However while most drivers and fans including myself were impressed with his progress after last season, currently, going into tomorrows race at Talladega, Montoya is running leading the rookie of the year points which includes a Cup Series victory on the road course in Sonoma (a Busch Series victory in Mexico City…) and has created his own phase for the media “Get over it”. Personally I don’t see him winning the Cup ROTY since his on track and off track actions have been less then professional.

With that, NASCAR fans (and ARCA racing fans…) are watching some of the newest open wheel drivers turned stock car drivers including Indianapolis 500-IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr., F1 Star Scott Speed running full tie in 2008 in ARCA and F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve in the Truck Series and currently making his debut tomorrow at Talladega despite several drivers specking out against him debuting at Talladega.

One thing on the Jacques Villeneuve, I would be included in that I don’t want him debuting at Talladega because Talladega is one totally different animal then any other racetrack on the schedule, its also a Chase race and his lack of experience in a Cup car – drafting and COT. If he had debuted at Charolette next week, I would have been fine with it.

However nothing has compared to the huge news this past week with Chip Ganassi Racing signing (in one of the worse kept secrets) this years IRL Champion-Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti to a multi-year deal for him to drive the #40 Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series next season. I was surprised with this as I though he should drive in the ALMS next season next to his brother in an AGR Acura. Yesterday at Talladega in the ARCA race, both Scott Speed and Dario Franchitti made there stock car debuts without really turning a lap in a stock car before, both impressing many with good runs finishing 7th for Speed and 17th for Franchitti.

So the big question here is why, why all of these open wheel drivers making the jump to stock cars (NASCAR), could it be more money, a bigger challenge, tighter competition, to me its all the above and then some. NASCAR has a huge following and despite the slight drop in ratings and attendance, NASCAR is still the place to be if you can stand the 36 race schedule and the tight competition on and off track.

Bottom Line, is it good for the sport? Yes and No, NASCAR does gets new talented drivers with huge open wheel background including several Indianapolis 500 winners and even more huge fan following of those drivers, but on the opposite side, some current NASCAR driver having to find other series to race in as seats are filling up – replacement drivers in several rides. 43 starting spots in NASCAR Nextel (Sprint in 2008) Cup Series and we have around 48-50+ drivers-teams trying to qualify at each and every race.

From this racing fans prospective, its still cool to see new driver come aboard in this action-packed series, NASCAR proves to have to best 43 racers around going at it 36 times a year, new drivers only make it better unless as one reporter put in (if something goes wrong.) For for the most part, its still good for the sport.

- Racedriven

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

From Daytona to Homestead: The NASCAR schedule and landscape continues to change.

One of the most talked about issues in NASCAR is what tracks should be added, what tracks should stay and what tracks should be deleted from the schedules in quest to be in every big market. I wasn’t shocked at all with the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule that got released last week because there really wasn’t any big changes except from moving a weekend off or two around to give there drivers, teams and fans better alignment. One interesting touch from last year is the move of New Hampshire from mid-July to late June with good from me since I visit NHIS twice a year.

Personally I really don’t know what you can do to make the Cup Series schedule good for everyone, but consider one thing, back in the day, the schedule use to have over 70 races per year and now where down to 36 races a year, that’s change.

However the opposite can be said for the Busch series and Truck series schedule as they dramatically need to change because in some ways, the Busch Series schedule is worse than the Cup Series schedule. One way to make a dramatic change to both schedule is to: Simply put, split the cup schedule in half with 18 races being companion Busch Series events and the other half (18 races) being companion Truck Series events, for example New Hampshire hosts two Cup races per year and with that the Busch Series once in June and the Truck series in September, why not just do that. Both schedule would also include other companion and stand along events.

The Busch Series should continue to go to Canada (either in Montreal or somewhere over Seattle…) and to Mexico City, plus maybe bring the Truck Series along for support. This change would also add a date on the Truck Series schedule for racing in Richmond at RIR, NASCAR should have never have removed that race from n open date to go to Talladega.

Besides the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule coming out last week, earlier today two interesting pieces of news have come to light:

The first reads (Insert article from wsoctv.com: CONCORD, N.C. -- Bruton Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., said Tuesday that if Concord does not work with him on a controversial drag strip, he’ll take Lowe’s Motor Speedway somewhere else. Smith told Eyewitness News he is already looking for plots of land in the Charlotte area. He said he’ll close LMS and build a new speedway and his own airport so that race car drivers will easily be able to fly in and out of town. “I’ve built more speedways than anyone else in the world,” he reasoned. He said it would only take him 11 months and about $350 million to erect another one. Concord doesn’t look like it’s going to be a place for him to grow, he said, so if city leaders don’t change their minds, he will take his business and go. Smith said he’s dumbfounded that the Concord City Council voted against a proposed drag strip near the speedway on Monday night, effectively changing the area’s zoning rules. Workers had already started grading the land to make way for the strip.

Dozens of residents showed up at the city council meeting to protest the strip so close to their homes. Others argued the economic benefits of such a motorsports attraction, which would provide jobs and revenue in the area. Smith will have to take the city to court in order for the decision to be reversed. He wants to undo an annexation, which made the speedway, and the land around it that had been zoned for motorsports, part of the city limits. “Either they go, or we go,” he said. Eyewitness News contacted the mayor of Concord and told him what Smith had to say. He said he had no comment. Smith is estimated by Forbes to be worth more than $1.4 billion. )

That tells me that Smith is willing to go to just about any lengths to get what he wants for his racetracks including possibly closing down a historic track and building a new one just miles away just to build a drag strip. Personally it also tells me something else, if New Hampshire International Speedway is for sale one day and Smith purchases it, New England racing fans (including Canadian racing fans…) will loss at least one Cup race and pay more to watch NASCAR in action. There’s an old saying that reminds me of this story, “Money Talks and everyone else walks…”.

On a better subject, a former NASCAR track and historic track I might add has just been auctioned off to the highest bidder and the new owner is a Former NASCAR driver, Andy Hillenburg buys North Carolina Speedway (Rockingham) for 4.4 Million Dollars… according to the article in SceneDaily.com, Hillenburg hopes to return some form of stock-car racing to the facility within a year and it will also be home to his driving school.

Rockingham “The Rock” Speedway made for some of the most incredible races in NASCAR history including some championship winning moments, Steve Park’s victory in his DEI Chevy following the death of late great Dale Earnhardt, in 2004, Matt Kenseth beat out Kasey Kahne by 0.010 seconds for the victory and Carl Long’s incredible flipping car down the backstraight into turn 3 (you had to see that one…). Nevertheless, its good to see a new owner that wants to breath new life into a historic track. Hopefully the same can be soon said for North Wilksboro Speedway as there has been talk about a new owner there as well.

At the end of this entire shuffling event, it’s the fans who pay.

Monday, September 24, 2007

New Hampshire and Dover create tight points chase and sheds some light on future of the Busch Series.

With two rounds in the Chase for the Nextel Cup Championship complete, I would have thought by this point (after two races…) the chase picture would have looked more spread out considering what happened last season at first race with the lap 3 wreck and most contenders falling or crashing out early, but that wasn’t the case at all and no one expected to see Clint Bowyer pickup his first career victory and in such dominating fashion. When you looked at the other chasers after New Hampshire, just about everyone had really good runs and nothing really changed expect for Bowyers position moved up to fourth in the points.

However the opposite happened in Dover, I truly believe that that racetrack is the Monster Mile, it threw everything at the chase drivers including what some would say the kitchen sink, first the crash with Hamlin and Petty were Hamlin just looked like he ran over Petty and including the little fight sort of speck in the garage area, but the second thing, the huge crash coming off turn 2 with 15 to go with Busch breaking a frontend piece or blowing a tire, that created this huge mess and tight look in the championship.

However the final laps of this one were very exciting with first the third place battle with Dale Jr. finally passing his teammate Mark Martin (never thought I would say that…teammates) and second the lead battle of Edwards vs. Biffle with Carl Edwards and Roush-Fenway Racing winning the race, but it really should be no surprise that he won as he has dominated in most cases this season on concrete tracks.

Just one question, with no more concrete tracks left in the season, how will Edwards fair in the rest of chase and who will win the championship? First for Carl Edwards, he’s the dark horse this season for winning the championship, he’s got that car just right, as for who my picks are to win the championship, that’s easy, I would say either the two-time champion Tony Stewart or the defending Nextel Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. Both have great records all season long and this is really Tony Stewart’s time to shine as he always does and for Jimmie Johnson, his victories this season combined with the creative crew chief on the pitbox calling the shots, he’s right there in it.

Staying with Tony Stewart for a moment, last month I wrote a piece called “Could this really come true: Joe Gibbs Racing to Toyota?” just days before Gibbs Racing made it official and the reason I bring that up is first I asked the question of what isn’t JGR getting from GM in terms of support? And second, is Chevrolet ready to loose Tony Stewart? First JGR got everything from GM in terms of support they needed, that never should have been a question, but the second is what the bigger story here is, I believe Tony Stewart should be in a Chevrolet period and despite the fact that for 2008 and 2009 he will be driving a Toyota, in 2010-2011, look for Stewart to be driving a Chevrolet once again, but I just don’t know where.

Finally, on last nights WindTunnel, one of the guests was Darrell Waltrip and most of the time I enjoy listening to what he has to say on the topics except if has anything to do with removing a Cup date from NHIS, but last night he said something that struck me, being changing the Busch cars to Pony cars… he said they shouldn’t, simply because when ever NASCAR has changed the Busch series to be different from the Cup Series, it didn’t work, but the answer he gave sounds good to me, DW said that the Busch Series should use old Cup Series cars, as much as I hate it in terms of staying with old cup cars, he’s right, the owners are going to have 100’s of old cup cars and really no place to sell or use them, maybe except for the ARCA Series. Recently Frank Kimmel has been driving and winning in a used Matt Kenseth Cup car, he didn’t even repaint it, but just put decals on it and off to the races.


Tony Stewart's 2006 Modified Tour car.
Image was taken by me with a Kodak EasyShare DX6490.

One other thought from me on the Busch Series, NASCAR has to use a car they already have in production, my pick would be a 110 wheelbase modified tour car… it would be a mix of old cup cars and/or modified tour car pictured above…Think about that.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Was this the best season in Big Brother history?

It’s been just about a week following the somewhat shocking season finale of Big Brother 8 and while I am already heavily into the new season of Survivor which is in China this year, I am already looking forward to the next season of Big Brother with the 9th installment.

At the beginning of the summer, I started watching Jessica, Eric and somewhat Dustin along with the twists to see how things played out and while Dustin turned out to be more power hungry once he got the head of household, I was impressed with Jessica and Eric though to the end. Also at the beginning I had made a couple of predicts that were right on at times, but one predict that was completely false was the alliance of Dick and Daniele and that it wouldn’t last, boy was I wrong as they did it making it to the final two

When I look back at the season that was Big Brother 8, there had been times that I said wow that’s a good idea and other times of what is CBS thinking. When looking back you have start with the nemesis twist that while it did produce one or if not the best alliance in Big Brother history with the father-daughter team of Dick and Daniele, it was really no different then seasons past, but on the opposite side of the game, the America’s Player twist was thinking so far out of the box and while I have to give credit to CBS for it, at the same time it was something I hated and with that it also created one fan to get involved with fling a banner over the house a couple of times. The America’s Player twist basically didn’t let Eric had a voice on who he nominated nor who he voted to evict and that’s wrong.

Basically I would have liked to have seen just what Eric could have done if he wasn’t the America’s Player, he is one of the smarted players in terms of Big Brother knowledge to come into the house I have ever seen and after watching him, he can sell just about anything to anybody. In the end, Eric completed over 20 tasks earning $40,000, what a payday if your counting...

I will say this bold statement, if Eric wasn’t America’s player, the final two would have been different, it wouldn’t have been Dick vs. Daniele.

Besides the twists, this season was the first to add the Showtime 2 live feed from the house for 3 hours a night and I found that to be great to watch. In past seasons I would only watch the CBS stuff each week, but once you watch the feed even if it’s the sho feed, you learn so much, strategy changes hourly and so do alliances. The talk is amazing and shocking at the same time. However I also learned that life in the Big Brother is boring at times as well.

I do remember in past seasons seeing houseguests having something to do namely a board game or something, you can only talk about the same old strategy just so many times and other than that and of course beer pogs or quarters, all they would do is sleep and for feed watchers, watching houseguests sleep sucks.

Specking of alliances, this one you needed a score card for, first you had the Mrs. Robinson alliance with Kail, Zack, Mike and Nick during week one and two, but that went out just as quickly, then the LNC and the LNC 2 and the to the final four alliance/LJC, just so much. One thing I was really surprised with was how much the house hated Jen from Day 2, she cried over her house photo and that was what killed her in the game.

Viewers also saw two romances in the house and while the whole Nick-Daniele thing was interesting to some, to me it was the relationship between Jessica and Eric. That one reminded me of Survivor All-stars with Boston Rob and Amber, they were a powerhouse and had alliances with a couple of people though out, I just wonder if it will turn out the same as Boston Rob and Amber as they got married not to long ago.

In the end, this wasn’t the best season of Big Brother and while at times it was a difficult season to watch, it wasn’t the worst. Well that’s a wrap for another season of Big Brother and I am looking forward to next season and congrats to Dick for winning Big Brother 8.

Finally as I look ahead to next season, I would hope to see the Sho live feed return with a showing for at least three-four hours a night like maybe 11pm-Midnight to 3am EST, board games for the houseguests to play. A little bit better competitions and a new house, I wonder if they could move the location of the house, but mainly a some new interesting twists with America voting, just no America’s Player. One idea might be putting a non-player into the house to live among the houseguests and can’t be voted out…

I leave you with this, I couldn't possibly put everything in this final piece, if you are a regular reader here, you already know most of my thoughts on this season as we went, but if no, just search keyword Big Brother 8 or its in the 2007 July though September archives. I'm out.