Thursday, August 28, 2008

Final five is revealed as Michelle and Ollie are evicted in Big Brother 10 double eviction night, "Game On, no one’s safe in this game."

Following the eviction of April at the hands of Renny as HOH two weeks ago, I was wondering just what Ollie’s state in the game would be this past week and boy, even though he was lost without April, he came out playing to win as not only the Big Brother fans, but the remaining houseguests it saw a different Ollie, he made his statement, however, when it comes to Dan, my reaction was “what a week, what a statement, I don’t know if I have seen a player like Dan in Big Brother history before.”

Dan as HOH went from him playing as a weak competitor to playing to win Big Brother and I don’t know if this strategy is going to win him the money, but he surely is entertaining to watch, at one point in this season, I referred to Dan as he was like Eric from BB8, now I am not so sure.

A week in the Big Brother house is always an experience, and you know, finally that Big Brother After Dark feed at midnight paid off for me as I got to watch last Thursday night’s HOH competition play out live, amazing that Dan and Ollie stayed up for around 3 ½ hours on those fins swinging around and being thrown into a padded wall, but the deal that Dan made was really too good to be true and Ollie took it.

The deal was – Ollie and I guess Michelle was safe, Dan would nominate his choose being Jerry and nominate Ollie’s choose being Memphis (I am amazed Memphis is still in the house, but he allied himself very well for now), then if someone won the POV, Ollie would choose the replacement nomination which would have been Keesha and it would has been Jerry vs. either Memphis or Keesha…who’s HOH again, that deal is too good to be true.

Was anyone shocked to see that that deal didn’t play out according to plan? Not here…nope, not even close, I know Dan would nominate Jerry and Memphis and that was a strength, however after Memphis won the POV, the second part of that would come into play and I think Dan knew it, so Ollie thought that Dan would nominate his other alliance member Keesha, no way and Ollie, you thought that…

So that leads us past the POV meeting with Dan’s Replacement Roulette??? Wow, what a thought and of course it would be Michelle going up on the block next to Jerry and Ollie & Michelle are surprised? Where have they been, but never the less, Jerry and Michelle on the block for eviction…

What a night for a double eviction live in the Big Brother and surprise, surprise, Michelle is evicted, before I get to big Brother fast forward, Michelle, you are in an alliance with Ollie (at least the way I see it) and not in an alliance with Dan/Keesha/Renny and (I guess) Memphis, so you would be the logical choose to go up as a replacement nominate, so you played POV thinking you were safe??? No one in the BB is safe period, you play to win, speckles and I will leave it there on that one.

As for the second eviction, that was interesting the way it one went down, however Keesha as HOH setup Jerry and Ollie on the block in a stupid HOH competition, HOH headlines, oh brother… and now we see the real Dan come out as he is now playing to win in this game as Dan wins POV and that’s it, Ollie is evicted by a vote of 3-0 and Ollie bolts out the door.

If the last week was this interesting, I wonder what the remaining week will be like, who will be the HOH? Who will be nominated? Who will get the POV? And who will be evicted? Ok and just for the record, the final five is Dan/Keesha/Renny/Memphis/Jerry, wow that went by just as fast as earlier tonight's double eviction, what’s next?

- Racedriven

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What the? NASCAR’s Budweiser Shootout in 2009 goes to the manufacturers…

What an announcement, as a NASCAR fan, I have almost come to expect the unexpected in watching this sport, from the penalties to the interesting calls and also that this is entertainment, NASCAR is putting on a show for the fans and despite some things, I still love watching this sport, it is not what it was back in 1985, nor is it meant to be, although the racing is still good, yes, even with this new car, although the tires and the COT needs a lot of work.

With that said, after reading an article called “The Detroit Three get down to the business of NASCAR.” By Peter M. De Lorenzo that was published on Autoextremist.com which goes into detail about just what various Detroit auto company executives in attendance at the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis talked about with NASCAR, according to the author, it’s the Detroit Three NASCAR “wishlist”, the wishlist has some serious proposals on all three of NASCARs major series and what a list it is.

It doesn’t even matter what I think about the article, whether if it has any truth to it or if it’s just someone’s active imagination, the fact is, with the COT, the manufacturers don’t get all that much in form “Win (should be race) on Sunday, Sell on Monday”, so I began to wonder just what NASCAR might do to give the manufacturers more in the sport that they invest so much in.

Well, in any case, this latest announcement is a step in the manufacturers favor as NASCAR has just announced that the 2009 Budweiser Shootout will now not only be 75 laps with two segments of 50 laps and 25 laps, but to qualify for this race, a race that in the past was based on getting a pole from the previous season, winning a qualifying race or being a past winner of the shootout, now the lineup will consist of the top-six teams from each manufacturer, based on the final 2008 car owner points.

I am not a fan of this, you win a pole, your in doesn't exact anymore, nor is it fair, however will be interested in seeing how it plays out come February, and one of the reasons is, as of now with 12 races to go in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, check out not only who qualifies as of now, but who doesn’t even though they have won a pole.

Who qualifies for each manufacturers:
Toyota’s top 6 teams are: Kyle Busch, Joey Logano (replacement for Stewart in the #20 car), Denny Hamlin, Brian Vickers, David Reutimann, Michael Waltrip (32nd in owner's points.) , for Chevrolet’s top 6 teams: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer (or Casey Mears depending upon owner's points). (All six Chevrolet's are in the top 12 in points.) For Ford’s 6 top teams: Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, David Ragan, Jamie McMurray, Travis Kvapil. However I had to really look for dodge's on the owner's list, Dodge’s 6 top teams: Kasey Kahne, Whoever takes #12 ride, Kurt Busch, Elliott Sadler, Juan Montoya, Bobby Labonte. (None are in the top 12 in points.)

Not in and who got a pole so far in 2008, Ryan Newman, Joe Nemechek, Patrick Carpentier, Paul Menard and whoever else wins a pole in 2008, plus Tony Stewart, Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr. and maybe not Clint Bowyer to name a few, interesting, look for part two in February 2009 after the Shootout.

And I also leave you with this question, what will change next in NASCAR, will it favor the fans or the manufacturers and could we see it favor both? Comments.

- Racedriven

Friday, August 22, 2008

Did the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 and #20 Nationwide Series penalties fit the crime?


Photo Credit:
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
for NASCAR via NASCAR PR)
After Joe Gibbs Racing basically dominating most of the Nationwide Series races this season with 14 wins, a month ago NASCAR issued a technical bulletin with an engine rule change and while I applaud NASCAR in finally noticing that there is a problem in the Nationwide Series with trying to put all of the teams on equal footing after the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 and #20 Toyotas have had their way in the series, this engine rule change isn’t exactly what I was thinking, I would have preferred instead of penalizing the Toyotas, why not just allow the other three manufacturers (Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge) to bring some new parts or even like Chevy a new engine to the series so they can step up even further, what a handy cap for all of the Toyotas and it was just JGR that was the problem. (Read more…)

That’s what I wrote last month following the engine rules change, however also in that piece, I wrote that it most likely wouldn’t have made a difference at Michigan, well, here’s where part two comes into play. At Michigan, both Toyotas were racing for the lead and while #20-Tony Stewart would finish 3rd and #18-Joey Logano would finish 7th, the problem after the race - while NASCAR was trying to chassis dyno both cars, officials found magnets under the gas petals, which wouldn’t allow the dyno to read the true horsepower number.

Interesting way to hide the fact that the JGR Toyotas has found away to get back almost all of the horsepower they lost with the engine rule change, however while I disagree with NASCAR’s rules change, a huge penalty against Joe Gibbs Racing’s #18 & #20 teams is exactly what they deserve and they received a penalty on last Wednesday morning:

#18 – Joey Logano docked 150 driver points, placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2008, JGR docked 150 owner points, crew chief fined $50,000, car chief, engine tuner and one crew member have all been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR and the entire No. 18 NASCAR Nationwide Series teams have been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2008.

#20 – Tony Stewart docked 150 driver points, placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2008, JGR docked 150 owner points, crew chief fined $50,000, car chief and engine tuner have all been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR and the entire No. 20 NASCAR Nationwide Series teams have been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2008.

So the question now is, does both penalties fit the crime? Before you answer that question, I would like you to keep an open mind and remember that this is the Nationwide Series, completely different penalties from the Cup Series and this penalty was at the level of the what a Cup Series team would receive with the exception of a $50k fine would be $100k. Also, what if another team like the #60, #2, #88 and so on received this penalty, did it fit the crime now (all of those teams are running for the drivers and owners, while the #20 is only running for the owners championship…

With that said, when it comes to the drivers, Joey Logano and Tony Stewart, nope, this had nothing to do with the race itself, their penalties should be taken away. I wouldn’t believe for one moment that either driver could have known about this, it handy capped their race, driver’s race to win.

However I don’t agree with the rest of the penalty too, basically the way I see it, this penalty to me has nothing to do with money or points, and it has everything to do with sending a message to everyone in the garage area that this blatten cheating will not be tolerated and if you do anything like this, you will be parked.

So, what does this penalty send? This penalty hurts two drivers who had nothing to do with it (Joey Logano just starting his NASCAR National series career and yes, he will still be a winner), also sends the two crew chiefs, car chiefs and engine tuners home, but for how long? 6 races, rest of the season, until 2010, what? (Rest of the season would be a start), a fine that JGR can pay , but it also made JGR’s season with 14 wins look worthless and casts a shadow on JGR themselves, however…

Now as for what I would have preferred, how about parking the #18 and #20 teams (not drivers) for one race, the crew chief, car chief and engine tuner on both cars should have been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR (At least until Daytona 2009), no fine. That sends a message to everyone, no team likes not qualifying for a race, it hurts watching from the sidelines, imagine being told by NASCAR to not come to the race and see you in a week… that hurts period, just ask driver, team, sponsor or owner. Well, now let’s see what the rest of the season looks like. Comments.

- Racedriven

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Who will replace Tony Stewart in the #20 in 2009 and should it be Joey Logano?

That seems to be an interesting question with no real answer except for the 18 year old NASCAR Nationwide Series winner and 2007 NASCAR Busch East Series champion Joey “sliced bread” Logano, however while I think that Joey Logano is going to be a winner in NASCAR, I also think that bring up Logano to the Cup Series in 2009 to replace Stewart in the #20 is not the best move for him.

Logano would be better off staying in the Nationwide Series full-time for one or two more seasons to gain some more experience. He’s only 18 and so far in the Nationwide Series, he has 9 starts (following Michigan) with one victory at Kentucky on Father’s Day weekend. (Photo Credit: Padraic Major for NASCAR via NASCAR PR)

With that said, Gibbs racing would be better off running him part-time in 2009 alongside a veteran driver (like for example: Mark Martin and Aric Almirola did in the #8 DEI Chevy this season) while running full-time in the Nationwide Series, that way, he would not only gain a lot of experience from a veteran driver and on several racetracks, but have the owners points for 2010, of course that would mean that Gibbs Racing would have to find another driver for the #20 Toyota for one or two years.

As for Richmond, I have not heard an official announcement yet for Gibbs racing, however I have read in rumors that Logano might be making his first Cup Series start at Richmond, which is 4-5 races from now, I will be interested in seeing not only if Logano makes the race, but how he does and keep in mind that Logano has to qualify in NASCARs eyes to run the Cup Series, which he shouldn't have any real trouble there. Comments.

- Racedriven

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tony Stewart and his new teammate Ryan Newman set their sights on 2009 at Stewart-Haas Racing.

Readers of Racedriven.com may be wondering why this NASCAR fan has generally kept quit with the exception of a couple of comments on other blogs on the whole Tony Stewart-2009 move. Well, unlike last season when my favorite driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. was moving from DEI to Hendrick Motorsports, I had written on every move, however for this season’s Smoke news, I’ve been just waiting for all of the announcements to come together as well as just thinking about the whole move.

So as the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season continues on with just four races left in the Race to the Chase, the last thing I thought I would have been talking about is Tony Stewart’s 2009 move, however that is exactly where NASCAR fans are right now as Tony Stewart has just made his final announcement.

Before last month (July), the rumors and speculations had been running on just what Tony Stewart might be doing for 2010 as he was working on his new contract with Joe Gibbs racing, I remember last season (2007) writing that Gibbs Racing was going to move to Toyotas and my prediction was that Stewart would leave Gibbs (mainly Toyota) in 2010 for RCR, Hendrick or another team to drive Chevrolet’s again and that earlier this season, I agreed with Darrell Waltrip when he said he has not heard Tony saw that he wanted to stay at Gibbs and he would leave for another team.

With that said, I was shocked on July 9th, when the headline on Smokes site said “Joe Gibbs Racing and Tony Stewart to Part Ways after 2008 Season”, the first thoughts were wow, my prediction might come true, however at the same time, I thought why would he want to leave Joe Gibbs racing, the team where Smoke has won his two NASCAR Cup Series Championships and currently 32 victories, but winless so far in 2008. Second thought was, is he going to Hendrick with the #5 opening or RCR’s 4th car?

Well that was answered the next day as Tony would announce that he now has 50% ownership in Stewart-Haas Racing. Damn, that was either the last or so Chevrolet team I would have thought he would be driving, let along owning a piece of.

Since Chicagoland and his announcement, I’ve been reading a lot of comments, postings, articles on fans thoughts on this move, some good and others say what is he thinking and in that time, I began thinking about it like I did last year with Dale Jr., I said “that I am a Dale Jr. fan and I would support whatever decision he had made and I am happy to say this is a good one.”

So with that in mind, the question now is, has Tony Stewart made a good or bad career decision? Tony said at his press conference, “There are no guarantees with this.”, however “I like challenges and we’re going to go down swinging.” So the answer is yes, I will say the same thing when it comes to Tony Stewart and him becoming a driver/owner at Stewart-Haas Racing, “I will support whatever decision he makes and I am happy to say this is a good one” and I stand by that. Smoke is not the type of guy that is going to settle for anything, have you seen is Lambo or even better, his Unique hearse, the same will be said his racing, he owners a WoO two-car team and has found success there, so why no here.

One thing to keep in mind, Tony Stewart isn’t building a new raceteam from scratch like DW or Michael Waltrip has done, he is moving into an existing team with people already in place including Hendrick chassis, engines and support, and once everything is complete, Smoke is going to put his people in place at Stewart-Haas Racing, so are they going to be contenders? It is going to take some of 2009 to get everything including the chemistry within the teams in place, however Tony Stewart will be not only a contender week in and week out, but winning races next season, and I would say that Tony will be contending for his third championship in 2010-2011.


Photo Credit: Getty Image via Yahoo Sports.

Even more so, I think it’s cool that Smoke will be driving the #14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, both cars look good, as for the number 14, A.J. Foyt’s number, that’s even better, even though I wish he was driving the #20, but we all know that wasn’t possible.

So the question now goes the same for Ryan Newman, has he made a good or bad career decision? So far this season even after winning the Daytona 500 this past February, Newman has not been happy at Penske Racing to say the least and he has said it in the media, so when the announcement last month was made that Ryan Newman and Penske racing would part ways after the 2008 season, that really didn’t surprise me at all, everybody needs a change and I think Newman made a good decision here.

However, I’m not sure the same can be said for Ryan Newman joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009 for the simple reason of, this is new situation for Newman, a new boss that not only is his owner, but his teammate and friend, he also might not have owners points for the first five races of 2009, I will be interested in seeing what he can do in the (#4 changed...on Aug. 18th edition of Tony Stewart's Radio show on Sirus, Tony had Ryan Newman as a guest and announced the Newman's would have a new number in 2009, the #39, good choice...) #39 Chevrolet.

There is a third person/company that has a huge stack in Stewart-Haas Racing and that is Chevrolet, this is a big victory for them, after about a year of work, they not only have secured Tony Stewart once again under their flag, but now they have secured Ryan Newman for a multi-year deal to drive for them as well. All I have to say is, it’s great to have Tony Stewart back at Chevrolet with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, right where they belong.

Note to all Tony Stewart fans: I feel for you as I went through this last season with Dale Jr., at first you might have your reservations, but most likely or like I did, you will not only accept it, but come to love it that Stewart has made this move, so what do you do now? You do the same thing as I did with Dale Jr., you pre-order your two diecasts, hats, shirts, coats, stickers for your car and see you at the races next season, enjoy. Comments.

- Racedriven

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Big Brother 10: My Take on the first 38 days - "Game On" as Jesse and Libra get evicted.

Whoever said that Big Brother is just a game forgot to tell some of these houseguests including Jerry that…wow and yet keep in mind as you watch the latest episodes of Big Brother 10 that in week one, Jerry broke his alliance/promise with Brian while he was head of household, that got Brian evicted.

With that said, since the week one flip (that I can understand, but Jerry should know that he broke his promise) and Renny getting a gift of staying in the game, the Big Brother has gotten a little quit and uneventful, of course with some little exceptions (fights if you will), from Jesse winning HOH in week two which got Steven evicted over Dan, however during week three with Keesha as the HOH, Jesse was put up on the block as a filler if you will against Angie and while Angie got evicted, I felt that that was wrong, I hate seeing these pones or fillers on the block that think that their so safe that they draw so much attention to themselves, I mean on one hand, you had Jesse running to Keesha saying take me off, take me off the block, I’m losing weight, however at the same thing, he walked around like he owned the place saying good bye Libra.

However week four finally saw a turn in the house, which on the feed and on the CBS three weekly shows was exciting to watch, the last minute deals coming together and at the same time, America voted to give Dan a chance to become America’s Player and he accepted, which I will get to in a minute.

The interesting part here was seeing Keesha, Libra, Renny, and America (Dan) want to vote out Jesse, while the HOH and her alliance thought Memphis was going home, only to see a shocking vote of 4-3 to evict Jesse – Good bye Jesse and he isn’t a jury member, plus seeing April finally see that she’s not all that.

The introduction of America’s Player was under different circumstances then back in Big Brother 8 with Eric, this time, the houseguest would have to choice if they would play (due America’s biding) for the week for $20,000 which included getting a houseguest nominated, hug a HG for 10 seconds and cast America’s vote, ironically, it was all Jesse.

When America’s Player was first played back in Big Brother 8 with Eric, I hated it because, first it gave Eric no real power to play his game, second, it gave Dick life in the house which he also won BB8 and three, Eric got no chance at victory, only some money. It really didn’t work, however for BB10, I liked it and at the same time, didn’t, why? While giving America a vote and at the same time, giving a houseguest the chance at $20k, the down side was this season of was to be back to basics, 13 houseguests, evict one a week until you have a winner (general idea), this isn’t back to basics, but at least it flipped the game around.

Last week (week five) was simply described as “Game On” as Michelle would become HOH and target the four houseguests that voted out her friend Jesse and that exploted with fight after fight, Jerry wanted Dan out after he broke his promise and voted out Jesse, by the way Jerry, my you have a short memory (not a joke against his age), you broke your promise to Brian, which then you put him on the block, which got him evicted, so…

Anyway, Michelle, I wasn’t surprised to see Dan or Renny not be nominated for eviction, instead Michelle nominated Keesha who gathered the votes along with Libra. Finally, Libra would be nominated, but would she get evicted?

While the fighting in the house is always intense and yet is a part of the show (13 houseguests locked in a house with lots of cameras, little food or something to do and playing for 500k, you are bound to have fights) this time with Jerry and Michelle, it went over the top and both are in a lot of trouble, first Jerry vs. Dan and his religion (Jerry went too far with Dan’s relingion) and second, Michelle vs. Libra and her going on the Big Brother and leaving her kids??? This isn’t the first mother that played Big Brother before and it will not be the last, Libra shouldn’t have been gone after for this, but she did lye several times during the game. Of course in the end, Libra was finally evicted.

So what’s next with Renny as HOH and who will see nominate? April and Michelle would be my first choices, along with Jerry. Oh, America’s Choose: “Which food item would you like to give the houseguests for the week? Giant Lollipops, Coconuts or Bologna…that keep that in mind. Comments.

- Racedriven

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tradin Paint – Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson as Marcos Ambrose wins Nationwide and third in Cup at The Glen.

Once a year, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Cup Series comes together to complete in a doubleheader weekend on the road course at the famous Watkins Glen International. For me, I like watching both the Nationwide Series and the Cup Series races on this high speed Watkins Glen road course, sure the action on track isn’t as exciting as on an oval, but it’s not meant to be that was neither, it takes a different type of driving to win on these tracks and that’s exciting at times to watch.

The big question going into The Glen was: Now that you’ve seen a NASCAR race in the rain, do you think there should ever be another one on a road course? And would we see another race in the rain this time at Watkins Glen?

First, the answer would all depend upon which series you are talking about, for the Nationwide Series, after watching an exciting race in the rain (on rain tires) last weekend north of the border in Montreal where the road course ringer Ron Fellows in the JR Motorsports/Hendrick Motorsports Chevy won, yes, I would like to see that be an option for all road course races if it needs to be, either to continue the race or to get the race in on its scheduled day. Now we are only talking running a race in the rain on full wet tires in light rain, not downpours and with thunder & lightning.

However if you are talking about the Cup Series, the answer is no, the current car, the COT is not for running in the rain, the Cup drivers already has a hard time running this car in the dry on road courses, I can’t and don’t want to imagine what the racing would look like in the rain while turning left and right. I wouldn’t expect to see the Cup guys racing in the rain for at least 2, 3, 4 years in some cases, of course that all depends upon how the teams, NASCAR, Goodyear or whatever tire manufacturer NASCAR has can finally develop this COT car correctly.

Second, nope, however fans did learn that in the Nationwide Series races on the road course, racing in the rain would be an option and all teams should be ready to do so and even though Saturday at the Glen in the Nationwide race wasn’t in the rain, the race had a couple surprises and no that wouldn’t be 20 double duty drivers, but once again what was a exciting race throughout would have its own entertainment with 20 laps to go.

Kyle Busch, my answer is: you get an aggressive driver, hammer down, do anything to win, but when I think of Jeff Burton, the opposite comes to mind, nice guy, hard, clean racer, so with that said, it surprised me that in those 20 to go that once Busch spun out both himself and Burton out of the lead, that Burton returned the favor, wow, I wasn’t expecting that, but at the same time, Burton didn’t nail him or spin him neither.

But you know, none of that would matter in the outcome, as leader Burton and second place Jimmie Johnson along with Dale Jr. would all run out of fuel and that put Marcos Ambrose in the driver’s seat for the victory, however I was thinking in the back if my mind with 3 to go, that Boris Said might play a role in this outcome consider Said was right up a head, after Said and Ambrose got into it back at Mexico City, but nope, Ambrose would finally win a Nationwide Series race, great job, he earned it.

What does lots of green flag racing, The Big One and the Wood Bros. #21 have to do with Sunday at the Glen? That best described the race itself, a day of the same pit strategy all around turned to the Big One with 8 laps to go when Michael McDowell got together with David Gilland starting off a huge wreck, cars flying everywhere, Bobby Labonte in the #43 and #77 taking some hard hits to the inside after hitting Gilland hard, all of this because of what both #38 and #00 described as a racing incident??? Oh brother, I think both drivers need to go back and watch that, Gilland may have looked like he was coming back down on McDowell and then McDowell lost his car sending the both of them into the outside wall, all I can say is, that was nasty to see, where’s the photo and both drivers are to blame…

In the end, I have to give it to Marcos Ambrose and the Wood Bros., a third place finish for a struggling team is huge, I hated seeing the Wood Bros. not qualify for several races so far this season, what a run for the both of them on Sunday, that was a victory in my book hands down.

One question, did anyone read an article called “The Detroit Three get down to the business of NASCAR.” By Peter M. De Lorenzo that was published on Autoextremist.com which goes into detail about just what various Detroit auto company executives in attendance at the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis talked about with NASCAR, according to the author, it’s the Detroit Three NASCAR “wishlist”, the wishlist has some serious proposals on all three of NASCARs major series? I did and I’m still thinking about it...

Ironically enough, the photo below of Reed Sorenson drives away after being one of nine cars involved in a wreck that halted the race, bringing out the fourth caution at lap 84, describes both the wreck and the article mentioned above, because if all goes into effect, NASCAR will not be the same and it will not be the NASCAR of old neither.


(Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

- Racedriven

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What a difference in the racing between the Brickyard 400 and the Pocono 500 using the same Goodyear tires.

Since the Friday before the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (or Brickyard 400), the talk around NASCAR has been mainly focused on tires, the tire wear seems to be a problem. Let’s be honest, so far in the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series season, the subject has been mainly focused on the tires vs. NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow, so the tire issues were nothing new to hear, however the powder was.

So far this season, NASCAR fans have seen mixed results in the racing from COT, on one hand you saw good racing at Phoenix race, Talladega, the Daytona 500, Darlington, the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte (despite the blowing right fronts), Bristol, and even the Richmond race in general, however on the flip-side, the racing at Atlanta, Texas, California, the Sprint Showdown and more were terrible and mostly due to the tires. So when you look at the days leading up to the Brickyard 400 with practice and qualifying, NASCAR, the drivers, teams, owners and the fans have seen tire problems, but I wonder, how extreme see to extreme for NASCAR to say stop?

Looking at the Brickyard 400: One of the biggest races I look forward to all season in the Cup Series besides the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, Darlington and the night race in August at Bristol is the Brickyard 400, the yard of brickyards, the racetrack in which the famous Indianapolis 500 is run every year and the Brickyard 400 is huge every year.

However, last weekend’s running of the Brickyard 400 was simply a nightmare, sure NASCAR fans got to see some racing including the last 7 laps of the race for the victory, but it was 10-12 lap heat races and that wasn’t what anyone expected, not NASCAR, Goodyear or the fans and I was surprised to see that NASCAR didn’t even try dragging tires around the speedway or I wonder if the teams should have been given the Pocono tires to run on, of course that might not have helped, considering I heard that the Pocono tire and the Indy tire are the same. I wonder if the sideways rearend had a hand in the tire wear too?

Following the race, on Tuesday, I read the NASCAR Teleconference with Robin Pemberton, where he started with by saying how sorry they were, nice, but I wasn’t looking for an apology, I wanted to know what NASCAR, Goodyear and Indianapolis Motor Speedway plan on doing about this tire issue so this does not happen again. It was good to hear that NASCAR this:

Q. I wanted to ask there has been some talk about Goodyear possibly making a radical change to the wider tire. So is that possible without changing the car and the body of the car? I mean having a much larger tire made forcing a change in the car?

ROBIN PEMBERTON: “ I'm going to answer that the best I can, your phone was breaking up. We had a bad connection there. We're working with Goodyear. As far as evaluating a wider tire, a tire that is a larger circumference that allows it to have a larger volume of air in there and helps its durability. I think part of your question was about the tire width and size versus the body. I think I got that out of it. If we come to a place that Goodyear needs to be to help the performance help the tires and help the feel as far as the body goes, and the sheet metal, those type of things can be changed in a matter of days or weeks or months with proper planning. We're looking at some different things with Goodyear. You know, we'll follow their lead on what they need to help the performance and durability of the tires.”

The way I look at this is, if you want to put blame out there or even more, what should each be doing to following the Brickyard 400 heat races, I believe blame should be shared by NASCAR, Goodyear and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR - they should have done more research on this car before it hit the track, they changed mostly everything on this car, but not the tires.

That’s like going from a four-door sedan to a Jeep Liberty and using the same tire, that’s not going to work, you need a new wheel and tire to accept the additional load. Tires are a big part of the car, they make the contact with the road or track, for example, our Jeep Liberty had skinny tires from the factory on it, yes they worked, but not all that well, so we upgraded to a taller and more wider tire, what a difference just looking at them, results, they corner, handle and drive much better including in the rain, the tires cost more, but worth it.

I heard one person say adjusting the front splitter, the suspension seems to be an issue, what about a smaller rear wing, and BTW, that’s safety issue too. I’m not an expert, but listen to the driver’s, this car is not working in its current form, do the testing and then come back and make changes now.

Goodyear - You have a problem, the racing tire is a hit or miss, expand the testing with more teams, tell NASCAR you need to increase not only the tire size, but the wheel size, work with on it. Personally, I would like to see more than one tire at each track, a soft compound and a hard compound, yeah I know, it’s a long shot.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway - First I didn’t like comment made by Tony George, "The problem is solely theirs, and by that I mean it's theirs to figure out. It's not going to come with anything we do to the track. Figuring it out will only come with getting the car and tire combination right, and that requires actually spending the time and effort to do something about it. The track won't change next year, so if they want to come back, they better figure it out because I don't think the fans want to come back and see that."

One race fan told me that Tony George is at fault too, my first reaction was what? He said along with not accepting NASCAR apology, he said: “Indianapolis Motor Speedway diamond cut the racetrack, causing the tires not only to wear quickly but turn to a powder. Diamond cutting didn't work at Charlotte and it really didn't work at Indy. I blame the officials at Indy for making this race so bad, turning 400 miles into 10 lap heat races. I'll go to the local short tracks for heat races, not Indy. Re-do the track surface, making it smooth and raceable. Also, put a companion race, like ARCA or Indy Lights, at the speedway on Saturday.” He went on to say “Take some responsibility Tony George. I think NASCAR should pull the plug on Indianapolis if this problem is not fixed next year.” – From 8racingfan.com

What a statement, does he have a point? In my opinion, yeah, he does, before passing judgement though, read his entire post, read DW latest column on what he learned from Indy, and also read the Pocono part of this piece. All I have to say is NASCAR now knows they has a problem, the question now is, what are they going to do to fix it and when?

What about the Pocono 500: Like the title says “What a difference in the racing between the Brickyard 400 and the Pocono 500, using the same Goodyear tires”, last weekend’s Pocono race was a good one to watch despite the short rain delay in the middle of the rain, but once the racetrack was dry, the racing was still good and much better than the Pocono race 5 or so weeks ago.

The patch finally equaled out somewhat in turn 3 (or turn 6 if that’s the way you count it), the racing was much better considering what we all watched last weekend at Indy and yet the way I understand it, they ran this race on the same tire or basically the same tire, if that’s the case, maybe the diamond-cutting is one of the problems.

In the end, this race ended on fuel millage and for some, no dice, but for the winner Carl Edwards, this victory gives him 10 more bonus points in the chase and puts him as a serious contender, 2nd place Tony Stewart, what a rebound there, he gets his best finish of the year, hard to believe that stat, they are due for a victory, for 3rd place Jimmie Johnson, they have arrived, with a victory last weekend at the Brickyard which was overshadowed by the 10 lap tires and this finish, he moves up to 4th in points, only -200 points out and Kevin Harvick gets a much needed 4th place finish and he and his teammate Clint Bowyer are fighting to get into the chase . On the flip-side, Matt Kenseth is now 13th.

Overall, fans saw a good Pocono 500 race, but a terrible Brickyard 400 that hopefully will result in COT changes by NASCAR and a better, stronger tire by Goodyear.

- Racedriven

Saturday, August 2, 2008

NASCAR Nationwide Series makes history racing on rain tires at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as Ron Fellows wins.


Photo by Gregory Shamus
Getty Images for NASCAR
One part of NASCAR that I enjoy is road course racing, whether it’s at Watkins Glen or Sonoma (the course layout needs to be updated…) and that goes for racing in Montreal and for the second straight year of the NASCAR Nationwide Series going north of the border to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, I was left surprised. Last season, it was Robby Gordon vs. Marcos Ambrose which ended with Ambrose turning Gordon and then Gordon returning the favor by taking out Ambrose with nether driver winning (Kevin Harvick won).

However, with that all said, nothing would have prepared me for what type of racing we saw earlier today, according to ESPN’s broadcast, it was history in the making as for the first time ever, the NASCAR Nationwide Series would run a race on rain tires.

It’s been a long time since I have seen NASCAR in any series race (more like practice or qualify) in the rain, the first one that came to mind was years old back when the Cup Series raced in Suzuka, Japan and had to qualify in the rain or the second was at Watkins Glen when the Cup Series again would have to practice in the rain, but even with that, racing in the rain is completely different.

Interesting specs on these rain tires, Goodyear produced them back in 2002, they are the same type of tire Goodyear used in the Sports Car Series and other series, it’s a full rain tire, but the question before the race was, would this tire work?

In watching the race on ESPN, I was surprised at just after 8 laps, the rains came and everyone would find out just these tires would do and the tire worked for awhile. I was impressed with the race itself, whether it was Marcos Ambrose leading most of the race and at times pulling out to a huge lead over the rest of the field while there was a lot of passing behind them, to the Nationwide Series regulars staying on track. Surprisely the race was entertaining, a lot of passing on a road course and you know after last weekend’s Cup Series race with tire nightmare of pitting every 10 laps, because the tires were going to the cords, this was a welcome treat to watch. In some cases, it made the road course racing at times, better to watch.

In the end, fans saw the victory slip away from one driver (which was a lot like the Grand-Am race yesterday with the #01 getting “What goes around, comes around” as he was a pinball, while in a fuel economy race, the # won it after the leader ran out of gas 100 yards from the finish line and the #16 couldn’t pit a line and both got passed for the victory) Marcos Ambrose, to a road course ringer that now has 4 career victories in the Nationwide Series, Ron Fellows driving the #5 Godaddy.com Chevy for JR Motorsports/Hendrick Motorsports won a rain-shortened race (48 laps of 72 laps) after pulling pit strategy and passing just about every car in sight, what a win for Ron Fellows and that #5 team.

One thing to mention, I agreed with some of drivers that NASCAR should have red flagged that race sooner, because some drivers just couldn’t see and where hydroplaning, unfortunity for Joey Lagono, the red came to late, of course when I saw Jacques Villeneuve front end after he rear ended I think the #98, the first thought was “Boy, that Toyota isn’t built like rock”, take that comment at face value.

With the NASCAR Nationwide Series not returning to Mexico in 2009, should NASCAR be racing in Canada?

Some fans have told me NO, however in this NASCAR fans opinion, yes, I believe the racing up in Montreal is good, they draw a good crowd and the Nationwide Series should continue to go north of the border racing at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal at least though 2010. Its good racing in front of a huge crowd. Comments.

- Racedriven