Tuesday, October 30, 2007
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.
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.
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.
Monday, October 29, 2007
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...
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
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
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
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.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
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
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.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
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:
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…”.
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. )
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.