Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bullrun 2: Episode 2 – No dice for Team Pantera.


Image Credit:
Team Pantera (CarDomain site)
Time seems to be the key in Bullrun season 2, time for the teams to get up to speed, time to get from one checkpoint to the next checkpoint, best time in the challenge to stay in the game and yet more time for the fans of the show to get use to the new format and new unique cast of charactors and vehicles.

As a fan of the original Bullrun almost two years ago, I have to say that the new format is really starting to grow on me. Back in the original season, there really was little to no chance for a team that made a slight or huge mistake in the legs, getting from checkpoint to checkpoint to dig out of the hole and not be elimated, however for this new format in season 2, the format allows a team that made a slight mistake in the legs to have a second chance at survival and at the same time not pon off the bad time on another team, does “poison arrow” ring a bell from the original Bullrun, not in season 2, even if you get lost in a leg, you still have chance at survival in the challenge.

Besides the new format for this season, I’m more noticing and trying to warm up to the new unique cast of characters and vehicles, unique characters, that’s putting it loosely, so far after two episodes, there are those four teams that really stand out for one reason or another, first is Team Lexus, the all girl team that is driving and navigating through the legs well and in episode two, won the leg, which brings me to the second stand out team, yes, Team Evo, Team Lexus said that this team is a threat, no, Team Evo is not a threat, there players, they play games with the other teams, play for the cameras to become famous and have gotten most teams attention including one team saying there cheating.

Team Evo are players period, which bring me to the third team, Team VW, what is wrong with the team, they bring a knife to a gun fight, they are running their mouth on just about every team from what the producers choose to show, yes I do notice, including saying Team Evo is cheating and they also can’t navigate through there own hometown of Las Vegas. Team Evo will most likely be around for a few more episodes so long as they either win legs or don’t come in last in the challenges, don’t be surprised if another team wins the next leg and puts Team Evo in the challenge no matter what. Team VW will be the target if Team Evo is already in the challenge and could find themselves out of Bullrun.

Team Lexus is running smart and is one to watch, however one to watch is Team Ferrari, this team is entertaining to watch, she (the navigator) just seems to always yelling at the driver and the marriage chapel in Las Vegas, don’t ask, I don’t know, but you knew that one team is going home and that Team is Team Pantera hitting the road after just no dice, broken car, misdirection in the legs and just wasn’t fast enough in the challenge, good Team, no luck.

I can’t wait to see what happens with Team Lexus (and most of the other teams) vs. Team Evo, this fight should be interesting to watch, but when is the 15 minutes of fame for Team Evo going to be over?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What is Honda's Dream the Impossible Documentary Series?

About a week ago, I received an email asking me if I was aware of Honda's latest campaign, DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE Documentary Series featuring Danica Patrick, and many others and if I would check out what turned out to be three short films. First, no I was aware of Honda’s campaign, second, would I check them out? I get these types of emails every now and then and mostly I will check it out, but not write on it, however something do peak my interest with one of these three short films, it hit home, sort of...

The title of the first short film is unique, “Failure: The secret of success”,

Failure: The secret of success is true even to me, I lived my life mainly using logic and by trial and error, trial and error is either success or learning from your mistakes, if you don’t try in life or take control in life, you are never going to know. Two classic examples are, one, in a person’s personal life by asking in my case a women out on a date that is completely out of my league or second, on the professional side, by thinking and developing something outside the box, being creative, trying something new. In both cases, you are never going to know, unless you do the best you can and if you success, that’s perfect, however if you fail, you now learn from that mistake and try again, this time making each step just a little bit better.

This one is about Honda’s (and there is not easy way to say this, failure on track with their engines and in the same light, one creative designer trying to introduce the color orange for the color of a car), in both cases if you don’t try, you are never going to know, case in point, the engines now in the IRL are reliable and long lasting, they have done their homework and done it by trial and error, second, the color orange, you have the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard.

Personally, I enjoyed the fact that this short film included Danica Patrick, a driver that I have been a fan of from her early Toyota Atlantic Series days to now driving in the Indy Racing League for Andretti-Green Racing and what she puts herself though and what her thoughts were after a crash at her first race in the IRL at Homestead.

The title of the second short film is “Kick out the ladder”,

While this short film is more geared towards creating a good, safe product the first time, rather than just putting something together and improving upon it little by little the next time, I felt it was more of advertisement, promoting Honda’s vehicles.
However the third short film which is featured below called “Mobility 2088”, features a question that I have been asking for a while, not for 2088, but right now. We all know that times are tough right now and I live in Massachusetts, you can see where I am going with this, a state that has made national news, were the Governor is talking about Mass toll hikes and raising the gas tax, however even before that, I have been one person who is very interested in getting away from gasoline and diesel, at the same time finding away to get me from point A to point B and yet still be the driver in a high performance car to get there, but how do we do that?, Mobility in 2088?, Any ideas?

I will touch on this subject in the future, but until then, ask yourself that same question, Mobility in 2088?, how about now in 2009?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is this drawing a 1930's Ford 5 window coupe or 1930's Willy's coupe?

As I sit here watching NASCAR on television in my bedroom late on a Saturday night, I've noticed the drawing below hanging in a document's frame on the wall above my cabnet and every since I meet Chip Foose last month at the 2009 World of Wheels in Boston, I've been asking this question, what is the vehicle in the picture below?, I was thinking about finding a diecast of it and later buying the real thing to drive around town, so is it a 1930's Ford 5 window coupe or a 1930's Willy's coupe? If you know the answer, please leave a comment.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bullrun 2 on SPEED - One Helluva Ride hits the streets: Team Porsche is sent packing.

As I sit here watching the first episode of SPEED’s new series Bullrun for the second time after last week’s sneak peak which was the full first episode, I remember watching the first season of Bullrun on Spiketv back in 2007, what a distance to season 2, however if you want to caught up or your new to Bullrun, below is the recap on final three episodes of Bullrun season 1: Final four: Team Lotus goes home, Final three: Team Charger goes home, setting up Team Trans-Am, Team F-150 and Team Olds, the run to the Border, And the winner of Bullrun is: where Team Trans-Am winning, a 2002 Pontiac Trans-am WS6, driven by the father (Mike)/daughter (Morgan) team…)

So with that said, Bullrun season 2 seems to be starting out almost right where they left off almost two years ago, however while the cars are different, so is the format. In Bull season 1, the format originally was teams would race from the starting point to a check point taking either My Way (Goldberg’s way) or the Highway. Then two teams would play in a challenge with possible swapping times, winner gets the better time. From there, the teams would race from the challenge check point to the finish line with the team with the worst time being sent packing.

Problem with that format was, Team Lotus created operation poison arrow, an interesting way to eliminate a team by lagging behind (creating a huge time gap) on the first leg, automatically going into the challenge, of course they have to win the challenge, in turn giving the losers the worst time and a gap that in most cases can’t be overcome. Most cases, in this case, it was after Team Lotus couldn’t find their way, lost and was sent packing. Second issue was on the finale with Team Olds going for a brake job, winning the challenge and dumping the time on Team F-150, in turn, the race to would be down to Team Olds vs. Team Trans-am, by the way, Team Trans-am won (thank you).

However, for season 2, Bullrun now eliminates that loop hole by racing from the starting point to a check point, racing from the check point with what looks to be just passing through the check point and racing to the finish line. Three teams then would play in the challenge, the two worst times and a third team chosen by the winners (team with the best time), play the challenge which is just like last season, loser is sent packing.

What a group of people and vehicles, 12 teams, 12 completely different vehicles and the first impressions are unique. At first glance, some teams (Team VW, Team Pantera, Team Avalancho, Team Dart) look like they brought a knife to a gun fight, however on closer inspection, it seems that could be wrong, but close.

Team VW – driving a 1976 VW Bus custom, Team Dart – driving a 1970 Dodge Dart, Team Pantera – driving a 1971 Detomaso Pantera, Team Lexus – driving a 2008 Lexus IS250, Team Camaro – driving a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, note, they build custom cars for a living and this Camaro is equipped with a rear wing, they must think their running in NASCAR.

Team Ferrari – driving a 2004 Ferrari F360 Spider, Team Avalanche – driving a Chevrolet Avalanche, note, last season, the Ford F-150 was written off in the beginning, but finished 3rd overall, don’t underestimate this truck, might surprise everyone, even its owner, does this one have two fuel tanks?

Team Solstice – driving a 2006 Pontiac Solstice, Team Evo – driving a 2008 Mitsubishi Evo, Team Shelby – driving a 2008 Shelby GT500 Super Snake, Team Corvette – driving a 2001 Chevrolet Corvette and eliminated in leg #1, Team Porsche – driving a 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera.

From Episode #1: Here are a few notes that caught my eye, first, Team Shelby, really a GT500 Super snake, that car has already broke once, thankfully depending upon the way you see it, there was Shelby plant right there in Las Vegas. Second, Team Ferrari is fast, but fights a lot, could become an issue, Team Evo looks to be on the show for money and to become famous, they show off for the cameras, now the question is, can they drive and win challenges? Team VW looks to be the 57 Chevy of last season, they take forever to study a map, however once they get going, they are quick, of course this is a Las Vegas team, how will they do in foreign land?, they could meet the same fate as the 57 Chevy…

However for Team Porsche, this would be the only leg for them as they were sent packing, eliminated because they were slow and got a speeding ticket, what a way to exit, yeah in style and in front of the camera.

What would I bring if completing on Bullrun? A 2008 Ford Mustang GT, easy to get parts for, v8 power right out of the hole, although a V6 version with a supercharger might be better for its fuel economy on the highway, but lots of power in the challenge. The same can be said for taking a 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T, 5.7-liter V-8 with good highway fuel numbers, HEMI power during a challenge and somewhat ready parts. A 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX, good power, fuel ecomony and ready parts, see where I am going with this, a Bullrun car needs to be good power balanced with good fuel economy, of course that;s only my opinion, but a 2002 Pontiac Trans-am won last season and a Ford F-150 came in third, that one had two fuel tanks, good idea. What about an Audi A4 sedan? Reliable engine, all wheel drive, fast, powerful…

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines and let’s see who wins this one.


(Image Credit: Bullrun.com)

Related Article:
February 2010 - Bullrun 3 – One helluva ride hits the streets as Team VW is sent packing.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

First Keith Urban, second rain, third NASCAR declares Matt Kenseth the winner of the 2009 Daytona 500.

The title of this article says it all, first, it’s always cool to see NASCAR turn to country music for someone to rock the prerace Daytona 500 party, last year, they had Brooks & Dunn, this year it was Keith Urban. I’ve got to say that I’ve been a country music fan for a long time and I’ve really gotten into it in 2005 when I was introduced to Carrie Underwood’s music, so to see NASCAR continue that with Keith Urban on stage was good. Nice set by Keith Urban, I believe I heard three songs from him, I might consider getting a couple of those songs. By the way, Sweet Thing, the music video has a sweet, black 1969 Ford Mustang in it and that to me is sweet thing for sure.

Country star Keith Urban performs a pre-race concert prior to the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images via NASCARmedia)

Second, for one of the most hyped up races in recent history, the 2009 Daytona 500 lived up to most of the hype, I mean having Martin Truex Jr. grabbing the pole last Sunday with Mark Martin on the outside of the front row was even better.

Third, seeing a sold out crowd in the grandstands was a huge plus, for Daytona International Speedway, the track doesn’t need to put an ash trick next to the 2009 sold out because they lowered some ticket prices down to $55, to all racetracks, $55 to watch a NASCAR Sprint Cup series race is what is going to draw the fans in, in these tough economy, sold outs in 2009 will be a challenge, but racetracks have been living high for years, it’s time to thank the fans, and reasonable tickets prices is one way, another, good prices on hotels and food.

Fourth, you know before the race (during the preshow), I watched most of the 1979 Daytona 500 and 30 years later, while most of the drivers and teams have changed, the racing hasn’t, Daytona is still Daytona, who would have thought and since Daytona is known for wild wrecks and wild finishes, on Sunday, fans got one of those, but in some unique ways.

Telling the drivers that rain is on the way, we can win this, go, go, go, dig, dig, dig, get everything you can get and those words surely will set off an driver on a mission to the front and do some crazy moves and of course, big moves, crazy moves can lead to good racing and yes, the dreaded “The Big One”. It’s been a while since we have not had the “The Big One” in either Daytona races, but this one started going down the back straightaway, Brian Vickers one-lap down racing another lap-down car Dale Earnhardt Jr., Vickers blocked Dale Jr., running him down below the yellow line with Dale Jr. on his quarter panel, Dale Jr. then came back up trying to blend in, in the process clipped Vickers, which sent Vickers into the outside wall triggering “The Big One” and no penalty for either driver which I agree with, need to look at more video (if that’s possible).

Unfortunately, the rains came, the red flag thrown just after 6:30pm, and NASCAR declared Matt Kenseth (DeWalt Ford Fusion) the winner of the 2009 Daytona 500 (380), with that, the checkered flag has flown on the final race of the 2009 Speedweeks at Daytona and now it’s off to California for race #2 of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup series regular season, the green flags flies at 6PM.

By the way, first starting the Daytona 500 at 3:20PM is ridiculous, what happened to 1:30pm? Second, I get it, Ask.com is the official search engine of NASCAR(.com).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

NASCAR shows zero tolerance in Nationwide and Truck series races at Daytona, will this continue?

I’ve been watching NASCAR for over 17 years now, and in that time, I have seen a lot of things go down, amazing drivers retire, new drivers come into the sport, stock cars changing, racetracks come and go, attendance, tickets, and diecast prices highs and lows and more, however in my opinion one of the most talked about areas in NASCAR really has to do with both on-track and off-track calls made by NASCAR. NASCAR has not always made the best calls or consistent calls from the tower or the NASCAR hauler, one of the most classic examples has been the judgment calls on the yellow line rule at both Daytona and Talladega, did a driver push another driver below the yellow line or did a driver just go below the yellow line to advance their position, which isn’t allowed and the calls are mixed.

Another move with the inconsistent calls is on rough driving, the art of making pass cleanly, payback on track or off and more through all of NASCAR. As of the end of 2008 NASCAR season, NASCAR had made some classic calls that no one is going to forget, for example, in April 2008, NASCAR stripped #44 Peyton Sellers of his victory in the NASCAR East Series race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, he was dropping to 30th place, along with suspending the crew chief for three races and probation until the end of the year (Read Here…) which I still believe is one of the stiffest penalties in recent years I can remember, staying with the East Series, Mike Olson was stripped of the 2005 Toyota All-Star Showdown victory, I do remember that race, Olson's right rear wheel was too big and don't weight the at least the min. weight.

Other penalties in NASCAR history were Rudd vs. Allison at Sonoma 1991, basically on the last lap Rudd following Allison into the final corner, a hairpin (turn 11) and Rudd spun Allison around from the center out and NASCAR decided to black flag him with a 2 second penalty and that put him second, another penalty, Dale Jarrett stripped of his Busch victory at Michigan, a couple hours after the race.

In 2007 and 2008, the infractions on COT in the Cup Series were getting bigger after each penalty, Dale Jr. at Darlington 2007 for rear wing brackets, Carl Edwards at Las Vegas in 2008 with an oil lid cover, same 100/100 point penalty, 100k for crew chief, plus a new one, 10 bonus points in the chase (Without that penalty, Carl would have been very close to Johnson for the championship in 2008) (Read More…), not to mention Charlotte Haas Racing two-car penalty, 150/150 and more, those only touch on a few of them that I can recall.

However, it seems that NASCAR might be changing the way they police the sport as the 2009 NASCAR season begins, first with the 2009 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Race at Irwindale, NASCAR stripped Joey Logano of his victory after a last lap, last corner dive bomb move on leader Peyton Sellers that put Sellers into the outside wall and was unable to finish, while Logano managed to save it and cross the line first, but the victory moments later went to 2nd place Matt Kobyluck. (Read more…) One note here, I had said in an earlier article that NASCAR didn’t stay consistent on their call moving Logano to last, my mistake, they did the same with Peyton Seller in 2008 above.

Now fast forward to yesterday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona, two yellow line calls right off the bat, first in the opening laps, Todd Bodine made a questionable pass on leader Colin Braun, received the black flag, no argument from Bodine on the radio, just asked what it was, pass through penalty, whatever happened to just give the spot back, he should have been told to fall back to 15th, Braun went back to 15th, a pass through, but several laps later, Terry Cook made somewhat of the same move on another driver, he received the black, pass through penalty for him too.

The Truck Series race ended up being a barn burner as most races at Daytona do with Kyle Busch trying to mount a last lap pass on leader Todd Bodine, only to get loss and Bodine would win his second straight Truck Series race at Daytona (Fourth-straight superspeedway victory), just one thing, no sponsor on the truck, that’s sad to see.

In the Nationwide series race, NASCAR made a great call in my opinion (see NASCAR, I can agree with your calls or say at least they are consistent when they are, plus can admit when I am wrong too), Steven Wallace racing down the back straightway moved up right in front of Jason Leffler (not touching him, at least that I could see), so Leffler moved down to pass and then came right up into the left rear of Steven Wallace, spinning him out and into the wall. The move was similar to one in one of my favorite movies Disney’s Cars Movie, early in the movie at the Speedway, Lightning McQueen moves past Chick Hicks off turn 2 down the back straightaway, then Hicks goes back to the inside, hits McQueen’s left rear, spinning him it the grass, however back to real life, Wallace was out of the race. Jason Leffler on the other hand would receive a five lap penalty, nice touch.

What a Nationwide Series race, same thing as the night before in the Truck Series race, Kyle Busch in second tries to mount a charge again leader Tony Stewart, pushing Stewart down the back straightaway into and through turns 3 & 4, getting Stewart loss, but Tony Stewart managed to save it and hold off Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer to win in the #80 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet, great finish.

As I sit here writing after the Nationwide Series race, I am beginning to think about tomorrow’s Daytona 500 with Martin Truex Jr. on pole and Mark Martin in second, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman going to back up cars and starting in the back for the 500, and more… however the question is, will NASCAR continue to make these consistent calls from the tower? Only time or races will tell.



Tony Stewart (No. 80) takes the checkered flag ahead of Carl Edwards (No. 60) and Clint Bowyer (No. 29) on Saturday in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Camping World 300. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images via NASCARmedia.com)

Joey Logano: 2009 NASCAR Cup Series prediction and Home Depot commercial.



With Joey Logano set to make his debut in the #20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing tomorrow in the Daytona 500, I have come up with a few thoughts and a little humor, first, in watching all of SPEED, FOX and ESPN's coverage, I've noticed that just about every media and fan has huge expections for this kid, so hear our my expections for Joey Logano in his rookie season in the Cup Series...

Joey Logano will be watched by many including me as I have picked him to be the rookie of the year in 2009. In my opinion, nobody really should expect so much for this driver, the goal in my eyes is simple, stay in top 35 in owner’s and drivers points, make all 36 races in 2009 and start to become a contender week in and week out for victories. Logano will not be a hit right out of the box, however he does have the skills to win races this season with a good crew chief and guys behind him.

Just about everybody knows this kid can drive, but I will be interested to see where he is in points and finishing positions at the Spring race at Martinsville, the 6th race in and halfway through the season at Daytona. Watch for Logano to be good at New Hampshire as well, he knows that race track and has won there in the NASCAR East Series. (Read my full article...)

Second, how about some humor on the eve of the Daytona 500, in watching the Home Depot commerical with Joey Logano (that premiered during Speedweeks at Daytona), I came up with a few thoughts of just what I would say if I were in this commerical, so first, when Joey and the Home Depot guy round the corner and he says you'll need one of these, at least, (looking at the #20 Toyota), I would say "I guess a Toyota Camry will do, but do you have this car in a Chevrolet Impala SS?", second, the Home Depot guy says you'll need an owner, I recommend this one, I would say "I guess he will do, however he's a football coach, what Rick Hendrick or Richard Childress?", and third, how about fans?, how about 200,000, I would say "Hi everybody, we will have autographed photos for all of you, thank you for your support!"

Just a little bit of humor to kick off the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season, so to repeat what Kevin James said at the 2007 Pepsi 400 in Daytona…"God Bless America, God Bless NASCAR, Gentlemen start your engines!"

Friday, February 13, 2009

NASCAR 2009: Will this season be the year of change and surprises due to the economy?

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been a huge NASCAR fan since 1991-1992 and in that time, I have seen a lot of change go through the sport from the 7-time champion Richard Petty retire, the sport loss one of the best, Dale Earnhardt, to Jimmie Johnson win three-straight NASCAR Cup Series Championship and Dale Earnhardt Jr. leave DEI and join Hendrick Motorsports.

I’ve also seen a huge change with the stock cars from once a stock car that looked like something you could buy on the showroom floor to something that at least looks like something on the street to now a car of tomorrow that is prototype, but at least is safer. And yet see the sports hasn’t change in other way, NASCAR is still NASCAR and unlike what some say, the racing on track is good at times, just with new drivers and teams.

In reason years, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a season to start, mainly because there was first, a very business off season with mergers and alliance from Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Stewart-Haas Racing, and Richard Petty Motorsports to name a few, and second, there was no preseason testing.

There is a lot of questions going into the 2009 NASCAR season in all three national series, some in which we have already answer, but most will not be answered until at least September after the Richmond race, if not until after the finale in Homestead in November.

How about the 2009 Budweiser Shootout and did it live up to the hype and what would the race be? Going into the shootout, the main focus wasn’t really on the format, but was on who’s in and who’s out and the fact that this was a manufacturers race and the yet the race it, was full of surprises and turned out to be a good race at that. Daytona seems create wild finishes and yet wild wrecks at the same time and the shootout had that including a last lap slingshot move by Kevin Harvick with help from Denny Hamlin around the leader Jamie McMurray to win the Shootout. Never underestimate Kevin Harvick and that goes double for him at Daytona, he is known for being there at the end to win, 2007 Daytona 500 for example, he won by inches over Mark Martin.

One question after the Budweiser Shootout, what should NASCAR do with the Budweiser Shootout? I touched on that very subject at the end of last month (Read the article here…)

Who is going to win the Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Truck Series Championships? Three names, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Ron Hornaday Jr.

What about double and triple duty drivers? Kevin Harvick is running several races in the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series, Kyle Busch is running the full-time in Cup and Nationwide Series and a few races in the Truck Series, Carl Edwards is running full-time in Cup and Nationwide Series, along with other drivers running in a few races in the Nationwide Series, how will they far.

Who to watch in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2009? #20-Joey Logano, #14-Tony Stewart, #5-Mark Martin, #43-Reed Sorenson, and #07-Casey Mears.

Who will win NASCAR Rookie the Year in the Cup Series? Joey Logano or Scott Speed to name a few.

Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year? The rookie of the year is widely contended between six driver, however two drivers really do stand out, first the 2008 ARCA Series Champion and now the driver of the #12 Verizon Wireless for Penske Racing, Justin Allgaier. This is the one driver to watch in 2009, not only to be the 2009 Rookie of the Year, but in winning his first Nationwide Series race in 2009. Allgaier made headline last season in his first Nationwide race by qualifying and racing good most of the race at Charlotte, only to get caught up in a wreck on just past halfway and while 2008 didn’t go too well, for 2009, he will be the break out star.

Second Brendan Gaughan will move up from the Truck Series, to take over the #62 (formerly #64) ride at Rusty Wallace Inc. after David Stremme who moved up to the Cup Series with Penske Racing. In my eyes, Brendan Gaughan should have been the Truck Series champion back in 2003, what a finale at Homestead for the Truck Series that year with Gaughan being taken out by Ted Musgrave’s teammate, then Musgrave losing the championship because of a NASCAR penalty, ultimately, Travis Kvapil won the championship that year by 9 points over Dennis Setzer. For 2009, Gaughan will now have a chance in a ride that has been just outside victory lane last season with David Stremme.

Who will make the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2009? In no particular order, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman. (Read Articles with details…)

Who will be NASCAR’s “Most Hated Driver”? (thanks RevJim for this idea) Kyle Busch already has this honor in the Cup Series, however after watching the ARCA finale last year, Scott Speed should be considered on this list, as well as David Starr.

Will the mergers and alliance work? Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Stewart-Haas Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports (formerly GEM), Yates racing with Hall of Fame Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing and JTG-Daugherty Racing just to name a few.

Will Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman make the chase and win race?

How will Ricky Carmichael do in 14 races in the Truck Series?

Finally, I wonder just what is the future of both of the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series with the economy is right now, drivers, teams, sponsors are all cutting back, unemployment not only in the Cup Series is big, but in these two series are huge, some teams like Roush-Fenway Racing is only running one truck this season and there isn’t 35 trucks on the list running the full 2009 schedule in the Truck Series, let along with lack in the Nationwide Series and this brings me to a subject that I have touched on a few times including last month, What would you do with the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Truck Series?

This was just a few questions going to the 2009 NASCAR Series and I can’t wait to see what happens, now let’s go racing, the Daytona 500 is this Sunday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who to watch in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2009?

Welcome ladies and gentleman, with the upcoming 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season upon us with the biggest race of the season this weekend at Daytona international Speedway, the Daytona 500, I am going to touch on the top 5 drivers and team to watch this season.

Now when it comes to the upcoming 2009 season, you have your odds on favorite drivers to watch from Jimmie Johnson who might just be going for four straight Cup Series Championships or a four-peat, Carl Edwards who had 9 victories last season from race #2 at California Speedway to the finale in Homestead and finished second in the Cup Series championship, Kyle Busch, who dominated in the first 26 races of 2008 with 8 victories, only to have troubles in the chase and finish 10th in points to my favorite, Dale Earnhardt Jr. who moved from DEI to Hendrick Motorsports in 2008, drive the #88 National Guard/AMP/Mountain Dew Chevrolet, won last June on Father’s day at Michigan, was between 3rd and 4th in the points during the first 26 races, but had troubles in the chase and finished 12th in points.

However for 2009, there are five drivers that I will be watching closely to see what their season will shape up to be, first, yes “sliced bread”, Joey Logano in his rookie season driving one of the best rides in the past several seasons that was vacated by the two-time champion Tony Stewart. Joey Logano will be watched by many including me as I have picked him to be the rookie of the year. In my opinion, nobody really should expect so much for this driver, the goal in my eyes is simple, stay in top 35 in owner’s and drivers points, make all 36 races in 2009 and start to become a contender week in and week out for victories. Logano will not be a hit right out of the box, however he does have the skills to win races this season with a good crew chief and guys behind him.

Just about everybody knows this kid can drive, but I will be interested to see where he is in points and finishing positions at the Spring race at Martinsville, the 6th race in and halfway through the season at Daytona. Watch for Logano to be good at New Hampshire as well, he knows that race track and has won there in the NASCAR East Series.

Second, the man they call Smoke, #14-Tony Stewart with Old Spice/Office Depot on board. Leaving Joe Gibbs Racing in 2009 to start Stewart-Haas racing from the old Haas Racing is a huge move, Stewart-Haas racing is running Hendrick Motorsports equipment, and I can’t wait to see not only what Tony Stewart can do, but also his teammate and defending Daytona 500 champion Ryan Newman can do. I will say that Tony Stewart will win a race and make the chase in 2009, beyond that, he needs to get into the top 35 in points, making all 36 races and stay there. I don’t know about everyone else, but he will be interesting to watch especially in the Daytona 500 coming up this weekend as he has never won the big race.

Third and I don’t know how to put this any other way, but Tony Stewart’s half teammate Mark Martin. Yeah I know, I could have worked on that one, anyway #5-Mark Martin has already started 2009 off in a big way, grabbed the outside front row for the 2009 Daytona 500, he is a favorite to win both the Daytona 500 and the 2009 Cup Series Championship, in which both he has never won in his career, but finished 2nd in a couple of times. Mark has been doing part-time schedules in the Cup Series for the past two seasons and is ready to go full-time in 2009. Don’t doubt him to win in 2009, I sure don’t, Mark is rested, is in Hendrick Motorsports equipment and has three great teammates including Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., the Hendrick Motorsports dream team if you will and I would say all four Hendrick cars will make the chase in 2009.

Here’s a driver that has basically has been lost in the garage for years, but has found a new and famous home at the newly formed Richard Petty motorsports (formerly GEM), #43-Reed Sorenson. Sorenson is taking over the famous #43 ride and I do have to say he’s an underdog in 2009, but after leaving Ganassi Racing at the end of last season, I wonder what he can do now driving for The King, in good equipment and under the Dodge banner. Sorenson hasn’t won a Cup race yet, but I think late 2009 could be his year to break out and win in the Cup Series.

Specking of second chances, #07-Casey Mears, who was released from Hendrick Motorsports last season, now finds himself still in the Chevrolet camp, but at Richard Childress Racing. Mears takes over the #07 ride with Jack Daniels on board, after Clint Bowyer was moved over to RCR’s fourth team, the #33. For Mears, in taking over the #07 at RCR, he gets a championship caliber team and race winners including the team that Clint Bowyer scored his first Cup Series victory with at New Hampshire in September 2007 and gets some good teammates as well, Kevin Harvick and of course the mayor of the garage, Jeff Burton. I will say that RCR has a good lineup for 2009, this should be an organization to watch, not to mention that they have already started off 2009 with a bang, Kevin Harvick has already won the 2009 Budweiser Shootout with a last lap slingshot pass to win.

For Casey Mears, I don’t know what to say, he was at Ganassi racing a couple years ago and then moved the #5 at Hendrick Motorsports, some say that this is a make it or break it year for Mears, then again, 2009 is that way for most drivers not only in the Cup Series, nut in all three NASCAR National Series.

One last note, 2009 will mark the final season for the Roush-Fenway racing five-car team, which means one driver and team will find themselves out at Roush-Fenway Racing and that might just be either David Ragan or more towards Jamie McMurray. For both drivers, 2009 will be a make it or break it season for staying at RFR, of course my own thinking here is they will just move one team and driver over to Yates racing which has one full-time team, one part-time (…not sure) team with an alliance with Hall of Fame racing with Bobby Labonte running out of the Yates racing shop, that’s a new way to do it.

So many people of marked both Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray as one’s that have to set it up in 2009, both have been given the chances and equipment to win, who knows what the outcome will be when NASCAR reaches Homestead in November, any thoughts?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

RaceDriven.com picks Jimmie Johnson to win the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship - The Four-Peat.

With no preseason testing at Daytona, which is not needed away, it’s restrictor plate racing, however preseason testing at another race track like Las Vegas is needed, I guess that’s where a preseason money race would be perfect (Read More…), I am really ready to get the 2009 season under way, first the Budweiser Shootout this Saturday night will have a different look, it’s all about the manufacturers, this one will have fans attention, then the Duals at Daytona qualifying races and then the 51th running of the Daytona 500 a week from Sunday, so in light of this, how about predictions for the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season.

Well, first, who will win the 2009 Cup Series Championships? I have heard and read what most of the media has said and who they are picking to win the championship, the odds on favorite has to be Carl Edwards or Kyle Busch for most media members and while both are good picks, I mean Kyle Busch (from objective point of view) had 9 wins last season in the first 26 races, while Carl Edwards was strong throughout the entire season, however I am a numbers person, I use logic in everyday life, so as much as Carl Edwards is a real good choice and I understand why, I have go with a team that no one seems to be able to beat, yes, the three time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, Jimmie Johnson will win the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, making him the only driver to win Four-Straight Cup Series championships.

Why? Look at the numbers, three-straight Cup Series Championships, 40 victories including 7 last season, 10 in 2007, had only one DNF last season (four DNF’s on 2007), has kept basically the same team as last season, there is no better crew chief in the Cup Series right now (in 2007 and 2008) then Chad Knaus and I have not seen a better team in the last two season that can beat them period.

Final top 12 predictions: In no particular order, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman.

Most of the drivers on the list above are from last season’s chase and are the odds on favorites to make the chase again in 2009, however I have chosen all six Hendrick Motorsports drivers, which including both Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman over at Stewart-Haas Racing, Tony Stewart is given, I don’t see him missing this, Ryan Newman is in the same equipment and Tony Stewart and is the defending Daytona 500 champion. And of course, Mark Martin, he is ready to go this season, I am pulling for his, he will be a wild card to win the championship, going up again his new teammate Jimmie Johnson, he has been running a part-time schedule for the last couple of seasons.

On the other hand, I left off Matt Kenseth, Kenseth just doesn’t have any luck right now, second, I normally would put Bowyer in, however he has gone to a new team, granted he now has top 35 owner’s point (something I will get into before the Daytona 500), but he doesn’t have the same team as last year where he finished 5th in points, it will take time to adapt, like most drivers do.

Wild Card drivers to watch that most likely will not make the chase, but will contend hard for it, first, David Ragan, he has talent, I predict a victory in 2009 for David Ragan, second, Kasey Kahne. Kahne seems to be the odd man out of most lists, he will win in 2009 for the new Richard Petty Motorsports (formerly GEM), but I’m not sure what to think beyond that.

Will Jeff Gordon win in 2009? I have seen this question on some racing sites and heard it in the media, personally while I am not a Jeff Gordon fan, he is a champion and he will win in 2009.

Finally, Joey Logano will win the 2009 Raybestos Rookie of the Year award, was there any surprise on the rookie of the year? Now, let’s go racing at Daytona with the unofficial kick off for the 2009 Cup Series Season, Budweiser Shootout, Saturday Night under the light.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cash for junk cars – Tips on what to do.

Even the notion, let alone the idea of possibly getting rid of a junk for cash doesn’t cross most people’s mind at all, normally when someone who owns a junk car and wants to get rid of it comes around, the first though and in most cases only thought is to give the car to a charity and claim the deduction on their tax return, second thought is too give the car to a teenage who can fix it up (parent’s permission if not yours first), however with the tough economy, making ends meet whether its paying the rent or mortgage, putting food on the table, buying gasoline or diesel for your daily driver or generally just paying the bills off, we all could use the extra money right now, so one of the new trends in the past year or so is getting cash for your junk car.

This is the very subject that had come up last summer in my family household, at that time, we had to make a tough decision of just what to do with our 1995 Nissan Altima. The Altima was a good car, however having it sitting over time with little use and the fact that the car was built in 1995, had 130,000+, the car did need several things fixed on it and after a few estimates came in on how much it would cost to fix the car, some interesting rust underneath and a repair bill that just started at $1500-$2000, not covering damage to the undercarrage with rust and a lack of use, we made the decision to junk the car and save for another used car that has less miles. By the way, if the car is registered and on the road, removing the car will save on insurance, registration fees and cost of ownership fees including inspection sticker, just to name a few.

So if you find yourself in this position and you know that you are going with cash for your junk car at a junkyard like we did, here are a couple of tips and one experience, ours.

First, is the car registered and can you drive it? If your junk car, case in point, our Altima was still registered with clean title, registration and was drivable was a plus, having this option saved us a $50 tow fee and yes if you are going this option, expect a $50 tow fee at least if the car can’t be driven there. If not, your other option is too either have the junk car pick it up with a tow truck or hire a tow truck to deliver it, no AAA isn’t an option at least to my knowledge. However one thing is, if you or someone around you has a pickup truck and you can get a trailer for the car that will save you $50, gas or diesel for the truck not included.

Second, finding a junkyard to either drive the car too or have the car picked up and get cash for the car. Believe it or not, this is where calling around to several local junkyards for pricing using commercials on television, the phone book and some research on the internet will come in handy, it did for us.

Without saying any junkyards by name, we started out by calling one that advertised on television regularly with a commercial. In calling around, that first junkyard offered $100, they didn’t want the make or model, just drive it in and that’s it. If you live in Central Massachusetts, you know exactly what commercial I am talking about and the commercial is really terrible, but caught our eye nonetheless and so does the billboards on highway.

With one offer in, here’s where taking five minutes pays off, second one, now we were up to $200, that works, just different location, third, fourth call, now we are up to $220, now don’t expect this to happen all of the time, it all depends upon the year, make, model and miles, however after a couple of calls, I thought of a place nearby and checked it out online, bingo, called, $250 offer, if we drive the car to the junkyard with all of the paperwork or have it privately towed or $200 if they have to pick it up.

Remember at this point, distance is a factor because you not only have to drive or privately tow the vehicle, but have another car follow you to bring you back, that’s double the gas, sure we could have gotten $300 or maybe more at a further out location that was up to a hour out, but it might have cost us a half of tank of gas to get up for the following vehicle, in our case, an SUV.

Third, once you have chosen the junkyard, drive, tow or pull the vehicle in with title and registration in hand, ask for some help taking the plates off, get your check and that’s it.

However one little side story here, while my father was taking the plate off and filling out the paperwork, (I am not afraid to talk to people or ask questions) I was talking to a guy in the yard that was buying bumpers, frontends and even more parts, he asks me about the vehicle and how much I was getting for the vehicle, then he shocked me by saying “bring the car down the street and I will give you $350”, damn, two minutes too late and that was it, oh well.

That’s basically it, however would I recommend it? Depends upon the quality of the car, our Altima should have brought more money for sure, a quick check on craigslist or even better, an ad on craigslist detailing the problems with the car and having them pick it up might have saved a little bit of time and resulted in $500-$1000, again just a guess (time is money though), but this way took a weekday morning of cleaning out the car, a family member or friend to follow you up, someone needs to bring you to the bank and back home again, it works, personally charity would have been better hands-down.

Just remember, don’t settle with just one phone call, the first junkyard was $100, by the fifth junkyard, it was $250, that’s $150 more, just for taking five minutes and calling around, again results vary, good luck everybody.