Sunday, March 29, 2009
The 2009 Formula 1 season is under way - Jenson Button in the Brawn GP Mercedes wins the Australia Grand Prix.
(Photo Credit: Yahoo! Sports)
Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, it’s a late for me, I haven’t even gone to bed yet, by this time, it’s early morning here in on the east coast of the United States and I am up watching the season opener of the 2009 Formula 1 season and judging by this first race, the unusual looking F1 cars and the new names, faces and even teams, this is shaping up to be an already unpredictable season to say the least.
Personally for me, I really wasn’t planning on watching, let alone covering Formula 1 this year, for the first time in several years, there will not be a Formula 1 race in North America, no F1 race in the United States and now no F1 race in Canada, Formula 1 needs to be in the United States if not in Canada and the manufacturers know it, this is a huge market and yet nothing, but you know as not only a NASCAR fan, but Motorsports fan, I love it, I live for the green flag and enjoy most forms of racing and even without a date in North America, new F1 cars and more drama that shouldn’t be in Formula 1, I still am going to check it anyway.
As we kick off the 2009 Formula 1 season down under in Melbourne, Australia for the Australian Grand Prix, there are already so many questions that will most likely take most, if not all of the season to answer, let’s start with what is Brawn Mercedes? This team use to be the Honda teams, but where bought out, they sure don’t act or look like the old Honda teams, boy those cars are powerful. More importantly, what is the new tires, the new F1 car, the new rules changes going to do in 2009, is the racing going to change or is it going to be the same all over again? Who is going to win the World Championship? Is 2009 going to be a duel between Ferrari & Mercedes?
One thing about this new car that has me scratching my head is, a core system for an extra boost (80 horsepower), a diffuser on the back of the car, let alone the super soft tires vs. the hard tires, I know F1 is the technology motorsport, but damn.
With that said, let’s kick the 2009 Formula 1 Season off in style, tighten those belts up, there goes the light and the 2009 F1 season with the Australian Grand Prix is under way, man I hate that first corner and someone has to give, and of course one of the Mercedes is out, but boy those cars look so different, are so fast and yet you have to that sound when they go full throttle down the straightaway.
In watching this race, I have to say that there was a lot of passing during the race (for Formula 1 anyway), but at the same time, all it takes in Formula 1 is that one pass, and this one battle with 3 laps to go for 2nd place changed everything, when Vettel and Kubica were battling and went into a corner, hit and both cars ended up wrecking hard, which ended the race.
However the highlight of this race had to be the underdog team if you will, Brawn GP Mercedes, this team was the former Honda team that was bought and what a change as Jenson Button dominated and wins the race with his teammate Rubens Barrichello coming home in second for a Brawn Grand Prix 1-2 finish, over Jarno Trulli, Lewis Hamilton (who started in the back) and Timo Glock in 5th, and yet no Ferrari in the points, how long will that last?
What a good start to the 2009 F1 season and hats off Brawn Mercedes, they got a 1-2 finish in their debut race, good job, who would have thought it. I love these types of stories.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Hello, my name is Brian Vermette, I am currently 29, living in Massachusetts, US and have been an automobile enthusiast since I was five, a NASCAR fan since around 1992 and a Motorsports fan after that. Back in 2005, after graduating from college (in December 2000) with an associate’s degree in Internet Communications Technology (not in journalism), I was looking for a way of having my voice heard, but in a soft tone by many on my passions in life, but at the same time, building a project site for my portfolio, since writing is a passion of mine, not to mention is a good therapy for everyday life and thanks to some online friends, an article on blogging and a television show called “The Screen Savers”, I founded RaceDriven.com on March 12, 2005.
Since then, RaceDriven.com has become more than just a project site for my portfolio, the site is where I discuss my passions in life mainly being on NASCAR, Motorsports and Automobiles. Over the years, the site has expanded as my passions in life has expanded too, to include listening to country music, writing and a little on my life, of course blogging is given your opinion, otherwise your building a news site, however the only topic that is not discussed is the workplace and unless the boss approves it, it wouldn’t ever be.
When it comes to RaceDriven, with the exception of the hosting, I handle everything from the site design and layout, of course working the CSS/HTML to achieve this, the content being writing the articles, developing relationships with other bloggers and companies, answering emails, handling all direct advertising, customer service and anything else related to the site.
What is the future of RaceDriven.com? That’s simple, continue what I am doing and expand the site even more starting with photography and going from there.
An Interview: A few question for the founder of RaceDriven.com, Brian Vermette.
1. How did you become involved with Automobiles and Motorsports?
First, the passions automobiles, cars came when I was just around five years old, seeing an amazing vehicle or hearing an amazing engine always got my attention, as a kid I use to jump up on the coach in my house, look out a picture window after hearing an interesting engine to see what vehicle was coming down the road. Since then, I always love different vehicles.
Second, when it comes to motorsports, I started watching NASCAR back somewhere around 1992 with my father and just fell in love with it, the adrenaline rush is amazing, not only when you watch the action on television and see your favorite driver race for the victory, but at the racetrack itself and from there, I started getting into other types of Motorsports including open wheel, drag racing, sports car racing and beyond. As for the media part of the sport, that was thanks to Shell (that explained in the third question), that race in September 2007 got me into NASCAR media site, however I’m still a fan first.
2. Who are some of your favorite drivers and why?
Since I started watching NASCAR back somewhere in 1992, I had two favorite drivers, first, Rusty Wallace who retired in 2005, and second, the late, great 7-time champion Dale Earnhardt. While being a fan of Dale Earnhardt, I started getting into watching his son Dale Jr. back in 1998, very impressive by what Dale Jr. could do with a racecar, the same way Rusty and Dale Sr. drove in a sense, he won the Busch Series championship in 1998 and 1999. As a NASCAR fan, you can have more than one favorite driver as I have shown above, of course Dale Jr. is the man, but over the past several years, I’ve become a fan of the outspoken, down to earth, Tony Stewart. Smoke is not afraid to speak his mind, even if it goes against NASCAR and he can back it up on the racetrack. As you can tell, when it comes to Motorsports, I’m really a Chevrolet guy, but when Ford or Dodge wins, it’s cool to depending upon the driver at least.
Outside of NASCAR, ever since I meet John Force in 1996 at Racearama in Springfield, I’m been a huge fan his him and John force Racing including Ashley Force in NHRA drag racing and I will watch Formula 1, Indy cars, of course including the Indianapolis 500 and road racing (24 hours of Le Mans, 24 hours of Daytona and 12 hours of Sebring come to mind, all three are amazing races with a lot of history.
However make no mistake, when I go to the racetrack to take in the NASCAR experience, I continue to wear my #3 Dale Earnhardt tribute hat or now my #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard hat, while I am watching Dale Jr. and Tony Stewart on the track.
3. What is your most memorable NASCAR experience?
Looking back, there are several, the first one in my life was back in 1995-96 (I think) at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut where then the Busch Series drivers where signing autographs, it was a motorsports show, that’s where the real passion comes from.
However the most memorable came in September 2007, after I started working with Edelman PR on behalf of Shell-Pennzoil, both my father (who is also a blogger) and I were invited as a bloggers to take in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at what is now New Hampshire Motor Speedway as part of Shell’s Best Seat in the House program. The program allowed both of us to attend the Cup Series race with Hot Passes that gave us access to the garage area, media center and parking, and be on pit road before, during and after the race and the program gave us a seat on top of Kevin Harvick’s pit box during the race.
What an experience, there is nothing like walking through the tunnel and up into the NHMS infield and looking around at the grandstands on the other side from an area I never imagined where I could go, to walking into the garage area, taking pictures, seeing the drivers and the teams working on their cars, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth and crew members walk by and see just what goes on in the morning before the race, it is breathtaking.
Even walking into the media center was a treat, of course with full access, we walked on to pit road, we must have walked the pit road three or four times for pictures and just to see what was going on, it’s a sight like you have never seen. But I have to say, sitting on top of the pit box for a little over 100 laps and just seeing what these pit crews do during a race was perfect, what a tight area. If that wasn’t enough, when we were leaving, we got cut off by Matt Kenseth’s hauler coming out of the tunnel, it wasn’t the drivers fault, we both we being told to come into the same area, can you say, reach out and touch a transporter? What a sight and even more, being in that pack down through the driveway, onto the main road with fans lining both sides of the street and down to the highway.
Amazingly enough, the next June, we both got to attend the race the same way one more time, this time was even better because we know the rules and what to expect, incredible.
4. With all of the blogs out there dedicated to Motorsports including NASCAR and Automobiles why do you think yours has become so popular?
Racedriven.com is popular because I give my opinion on varies of topics including Motorsports (NASCAR) and Automobiles, I tell it like it is, I’m honest and I believe the variety and my honest opinion is what brings the visitors in, people want to read what others (including fans) are saying whether it’s on NASCAR, cars, motorsports, television, music or anything else.
5. What are your favorite cars?
While I don’t have a favorite, I would love to own any of these classic or modern cars: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS, 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback, 1969 Dodge Charger with a HEMI, 1987 Buick Grand National, 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, yeah, I love cars ever since I was four years old and that includes a Black 2007 Ford Mustang Roush Edition and a 2008 Chevrolet Corvette, it’s nice to dream. Of course, a 1930’s-1940’s Ford Coupe Custom would be cool too.
6. Have you read any comments on your blog?
Two comments come to mind:
- Racedriven.com - Brian is a mixture of NASCAR and pure car knowledge…with a dash of reality TV. Now, I start to feel a little boxed in by my co-Junyah and Smoke fans…but he’s another blogger who refrains from obsessive Junyah writing. His love of autos...is brutally clear and intelligent. Honestly, every time I read him..I learn something new.
- Great articles dealing with NASCAR. Very well written, a must to visit.
Enjoy RaceDriven.com. Comments.
However, in this episode, there were three thing I didn’t expect to see, first, Team Corvette winning this series of legs, wow, were did they come from and in those boots. You have to love it, Team Corvette finally came in with a victory in a leg and who did they put in, why Team Avalanche, no surprise there.
The second is seeing Bill Goldberg with a rocket launcher of course you have to expect explosions in challenges. What an interesting challenge, an off road course, a paintball gun, fire, Team Avalanche, Team VW and Team Dart, what a combination for any challenge. Now going to the challenge, I really wanted to see Team VW vs. Team Avalanche with Team Dart winning the challenge, boy I sure didn’t get what I wanted, instead (of course) Team Avalanche even with losing 15 psi in the right front tire, won the challenge. I have say, I wouldn’t be surprised if this Chevrolet Avalanche wins the $200,000 dollars, of course Team Lexus could be the wildcard here, there two cute girls in a white Lexus, who’s going to put them in a challenge?
Now with Team Avalanche winning their third challenge in a row, this setup a Team Dart vs. Team VW, but when you make one mistake on the course and there is only a 2 second gap between 2nd and 3rd, your going home and for Team Dart, sorry boys, you are out of here. Who would have know that a VW bus could have done that course so quickly, it’s a VW bus with low ground clearance, who know.
Now with just six teams remaining, Team Corvette, Team VW, Team Avalanche, Team Shelby, Team Solstice and Team Lexus, who’s next to be sent packing?
(Photo Credits: Team Dart via CarDomain
Thursday, March 26, 2009
We are five races into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and unlike last year which described as survival, this season is more described as a topsy-turvy season at least to begin with, so when I look at the drivers through the field so far, what are the success stories?
This must be a season for brothers, the Busch series if you will (thanks Darrell Waltrip for that idea), that would be Kyle Busch and his older brother Kurt Busch. First, most people know that Kyle Busch, how talented he is was and is going to be a contender not only weekly for victories, but a championship contender after last season, however the surprise here is Kurt Busch. Kurt has really come on in 2009, of course you have to include his dominating performance and winning the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta a couple weeks ago, which included his unwind lap, a victory lap in reverse and this from the man who made a snow angel at Bristol a couple years ago, it snowed at the track, get it.
Anyway Kurt has come on strong in his final year under contract at Penske Racing, is he staying or leaving too? At any rate, I guess some of these Dodge’s have finally gotten up to speed, let’s see how he does. Oh boy, when you talk about what shouldn’t be a surprise, but is, one name, Clint Bowyer, I saw him get his first cup series victory at New Hampshire in 2007, I completely underestimated Clint this year because he was with a new team, that does mean anything with this guy, what a run so far in 2009 and he’s third in points with a whole new group of guys to work with, I’m not afraid to admit when I am wrong, what a start to 2009.
Now, if you want to call this next one a surprise, you can if you want to because he is an owner/driver under the Chevrolet banner, yeah I’m talking about Tony Stewart. Smoke has even gotten my attention over the years, I’m even a fan of his, what a driver, so here in 2009, Tony has gotten off to a good start, he is contending for victories weekly with three 8th place finishes and is 7th in points. Of course smokes comments at Daytona about Goodyear were interesting too.
Here is one surprise going into the sixth race of the season, David Reutimann, 11th in points, running strong every week, what, say that again and do it with a smile please, he has four top 14 finishes including one 4th at Las Vegas, it’s good seeing MWR finally running good and hopefully on a weekly basis from here on out.
The top 35 battle and the struggles basically go hand in hand, if a driver and team is struggling, chances are, they are only just a few spots from the top 35 bubble spot (35th), so who makes the list?
There are some success stories here with the top 35, David Gilliland in the #71 TRG car is now locked in to the top 35 at Martinsville, he’s in 35th, but that’s huge, however one name when it comes to top 35 battle and success has to be A.J. Allmendinger, give it up for this guy, he was released from Rud Bull Racing last year, doesn’t have a full season sponsor yet, but is now locked in to the top 35 in points and is 16th in points, what a run, and this guy was a go or go home driver in the first 5 races and driving for The King, what a spot, there’s your success story after five races hands down.
Unfortunately, there are three names that come to mind right off the bat and not in a good way, first is Mark Martin that is now driving the #5 for Hendrick Motorsports and the second is Ryan Newman, who in a sense, is driving for the same organization, Stewart-Haas Racing, which runs Hendrick equipment. Both Martin and Newman before last week at Bristol found themselves on the top 35 bubble, there seasons have been filled with blown engines and blown tires. Newman’s blown tire a Daytona received huge headlines because when he blow a rear tire, he took his owner/teammate Tony Stewart with him, resulting in a Goodyear firestorm, enough said there, however there is some good, after Bristol, both drivers are starting their climbs back up the points standings with goods run at Bristol, hopefully Martinsville and Texas will work too. The third, the rookie last year, Scott Speed, he now finds himself outside the top 35 in points, 36th, so for Scott Speed, he will be a go or go home driver.
Before I end this first edition of success, top 35 battle and struggle stories, there are two drivers that really I feel need to be mentioned in some way, first is Joey Logano, in his rookie season driving the #20 Home Depot Toyota for JGR his now 34th in points, but Joey is doing a good job, he is logging laps, still making races and just trying to stay out trouble, he’s right on track despite being thrown into the deep end, the cup series.
The second driver is Dale Earnhardt Jr., I have to say, you can’t put him in either category, he is 19th in points after some bad finishes, but is picking it up. Normally this would be a good season for some, however not for Dale Jr.. It’s interesting, yesterday I stated clearly I am fully supporting Dale Jr. and I stand by that, but I also added a few tips, first, start from scratch with this COT car, second, it wouldn’t hurt if Dale Jr. put Tony Eury Sr. & Jr. both on top of the pit box every week, remember Tony Sr. was Dale Jr’s crew chief in the cup series years ago and third, work with your teammates. Tony Jr. is a good crew chief, but the team needs help, make changes, work with your teammates and one suggestion from another fan, put Tony Sr. on the pitbox for a couple of weeks and Tony Jr, on the #48 pitbox to watch what Chad Knaus does (Knaus is the best active crew chief in NASCAR), what a better person to learn from.
Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. win a NASCAR Cup Series championship in his career? YES period.
Monday, March 23, 2009
There are two critical parts needed in a competition like Bullrun, first picking a co-driver/navigator that can find their way from one checkpoint to another. From what is shown on television, it’s always interesting seeing how some of those teams find their way to that next checkpoint with just a simple card that in a lot of cases now doesn’t even list an address or even a state.
Of course the second critical part needed in these competition and that is just as important as a co-driver, I’m talking about the vehicle you bring, which in a lot of ways could mean the difference between winning and losing, so it is kind of interesting that once Team Dart got their car fixed after the victory rollover last week, with a lot of help from the other teams, there was a couple of inches of snow on the ground. An extra element if you will.
That made things interesting at the start of the challenge, I always wondered what some of those cars, whether it’s a Pontiac Solstice, a Shelby GT500 Super Snake or a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro could do in the slick conditions, but those vehicles where nothing compared to watching the outspoken guys of Team VW, I honest can’t grasp why a team would bring this VW wagon to Bullrun at all, no heater, no windshield wipers, what’s next, they didn’t bring a knife to a gun to a gun fight, they came unarmed, of course they might even win this competition.
Now in watching this show, it’s not uncommon to see a team argue in a car before, Team Ferrari was entertaining to watch, Team Evo had their moments, of course there 15 minutes of fame was up when there car went up in a cloud of dust last week after coming in last in the “break in” prison challenge and of course Team Avalanche’s fun with finding those special routes that in most cases didn’t lead them anywhere near the finish line.
However while you can now add Team Solstice to that list, it’s not in an entertaining way, I really don’t care much for seeing or listening to a married couple argue, whether it’s in a car or where ever , at any rate, it wasn’t entertaining, however what was entertaining was seeing Team Solstice fall apart due to the pressure from Team Avalanche, Solstice put Avalanche into the challenge last week, so Avalanche decided payback was a good idea, personally just putting the pressure on them was enough, no other action required.
Unlike last week, this week showed Team Avalanche sticking to a normal route which paid off big time, some of which they just followed Team Solstice around for most of the leg including fueling up together, what a way to get into someone’s head.
Right above now, I’m still thinking about Team Avalanche’s journey here from finding a local that just says follow her, Team Avalanche’s trip to jail, winning the leg for the first time, well people say that there is always a first time for everything, but this one was unique and then of course Team Avalanche choosing Team Camaro to put into the challenge after Team Solstice put themselves into the challenge by coming in second to last, of course right behind the strange, yet entertaining Team Corvette.
At this point, I have to say, I try not to judge a book by its cover and goes for people too, so the same can be said when it comes to Team Corvette, I didn’t know what to think, but the Roswell bit there was entertaining and yet different, nice touch.
Anyway, that challenge, putting Team Camaro in the challenge on surface was a bad idea, why not put the Lexus girls into the challenge or the VW guys, but if you look at the leaderboard, Team Camaro was just coming in under the radar so far this season.
Now the goal here is to not come in last in the challenge, so now you have Team Corvette vs. Team Solstice vs. Team Camaro. I loved this challenge, it just tested these teams in the way it should be, the challenge tested the driver’s skills, the co-driver’s skills and what the cars limits are from starting off driving through a slalom course, stopping in a box, hitting a drag strip, stopping at the end, swapping drivers and going back through the drag strip and the slalom course and what a time.
But in the end, for a second there, I thought Team Solstice was going home, no, sorry, a sad ending seeing Team Camaro (pictured above, picture from CarDomain) send packing, now I wonder with seeing the previews for next week, what’s next Goldberg?
Friday, March 20, 2009
"I Told You So" duet with Randy Travis on American Idol (Video from Carrie Underwood's MySpace.)
Although I am not an American Idol fan and have only watched two or three episodes in its entire run, I had to put this video from this past week's American Idol on RaceDriven.com, it's too good not to display.
Personally, music is one of passions in life, its a perfect way for me to relax, its amazing listening to music, I buying both CD's and digital downloads, but while I don't classify myself as a country music fan fully, most of the music I listen on my chocolate (MP3 Player) is country music, mainly of course being Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and Garth Brooks.
I love listen to this song "I Told You So", not only do I have both versions of it, first being Carrie Underwood, the best I have ever heard it and the second being the writer himself Randy Travis, but I love the music video now playing on both GAC and CMT of Carrie Underwood singing the song on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, what breaktaking performance.
About the only thing I haven't gotten into is Randy Travis's music, some great songs, but I am slowly now getting into it. Hope everyone enjoys the video and hopefully I can find some more.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Sights set on Bristol Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Legends races.
"Shell’s Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline commercial featuring Kevin Harvick” Personally, this commercial isn't quite the showdown you’d see in a good Western, but it is quick and to the point for NASCAR fans, however, I love cars, and a nice burnout or donut every now and then, so even though I didn't publish that commercial, I still like the donut commercial from a while back. (From Matter-Edelman PR).
Finally the boring NASCAR off weekend is over and we can now get back to some racing and I can’t think of a better place than Bristol Motor Speedway with an unusual triple header weekend. Yeah you heard me right, of course the main focus will be on Sunday’s Food City 500 for the Cup series, however before I get into that one, personally while the Nationwide Series race on Saturday will be good, of course most racing at Bristol is good, however my focus is more towards seeing what this Saturday Night Special race is all about with celebrities racing and then pro drivers racing in the same cars.
Let’s see, a Saturday night Special race, a shootout if you will, under the lights at Bristol where the celebrities like Ray Everham, Andy Petree, Brad Daugherty, former NFL star Mike Compton, Frank Beamer, Terry Bowden, David Akers, Bill Jordan, Riki Rachtman, Doug Herbert, Ron Capps and Greg Anderson will run first, for 15-lap or 10-minute heats to help determine the starting position for their pro driver teammates, what a list of pro drivers, it’s the who’s who in NASCAR like Junior Johnson, Harry Gant, Jimmy Spencer, Jack Ingram, Rusty Wallace, L.D. Ottinger, David Green, Terry Labonte, Sterling Marlin, Phil Parsons, Larry Pearson (subbing for David) and Cale Yarborough who then will run 35 laps.
This one will be interesting considering I didn’t start watching NASCAR until 1991-1992 when I was 12 years old, I have never really seen Cale Yarborough, Harry Gant or Junior Johnson race before, of course I have watched classic races from Bristol, Martinsville, Daytona, Talladega, North Wilkesboro and more, but this should be cool, however due to Fox sports commitments, one Bristol multi-time winner, Darrell Waltrip had to pull out, I was looking forward to seeing DW and Rusty Wallace trade paint a little.
However, Sunday is the dawn of a new day, a new race, a country music star (Ashton Shepherd) singing the national anthem, I like her song "Sounds So Good", I have it on my Chocolate (MP3 Player), a chase for a top 35 in owner’s spot before the next race at Martinsville, I don’t know if NASCAR had every thought that when they created the top 35 rule, that this would be the story five races into the season and at one of the toughest, tightest racetracks on the schedule, Bristol. Right now, there are some big names sitting down 28th or lower right now in the owner’s points and some of those big names either next week at Martinsville or on another weekend might find themselves on the outside of top 35 looking in as a go or go home driver.
While go or go home drivers provide some excitement on qualifying day, granted not like the rocketman Ryan Newman was years ago in qualifying,( I remember watching qualifying in the grandstands at New Hampshire and Newman was either the last car or near the end of the grid and he went out, his first lap didn’t take the pole, however I’m just said “give him a minute” and sure enough, the rocketman grabs the pole the Sunday race.) there still is a chance that one of those drivers could go home.
So who’s on the top 35 bubble?
27. #43- Reed Sorenson with Richard Petty Motorsports: +77
28. #47-Marcos Ambrose with JTG Daugherty Racing: +75
29. #7-Robby Gordon with Robby Gordon Motorsports: +56
30. #34-John Andretti with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing: +59
(All things considering, Andretti is in a good spot right now even though its 30th, at least in the top 35 going into Bristol)
31. #77-Sam Hornish with Penske Racing: +51
32. #39-Ryan Newman with Stewart Haas: +47
(Here’s a team that has just had no luck at all with blown engines and blown tires)
33. #20-Joey Logano with Gibbs Racing: +44
(Not surprised, Logano is running well and is still learning)
34. #71-David Gilliland with TRG: +24
35. #5- Mark Martin with Hendrick: 286
(Bad luck in first four races with blown engines and blown tires)
------------------- Out of Top 35 ------------------------
36. #8-Aric Almirola with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing: - 9
(Trying to find sponsorship for the rest of 2009)
37. #82-Scott Speed with Red Bull Racing: -30
38. #98-Paul Menard with Yates Racing: -48
39. #28-Travis Kvapil with Yates Racing: -72
(Didn’t qualify at Las Vegas, I do wonder if Bristol or Martinsville is the final race for the #28 due to no sponsor. If the #28 is closed, that puts Yates Racing with just one car, #98-Paul Menard and an alliance in the same shop with #96-Bobby Labonte owned by Hall of Fame Racing)
40. #78-Regan Smith with Furniture Row: -80
You know as much as the drama of a top 35 spot is something, but the main focus should be on the racing itself, I just wish this race was run on Saturday night under the light just like the end of August race is, but hay it’s still Bristol. One more food for thought item, in this race last year, Richard Childress Racing made a good piece of history when RCR finished 1-2-3 with Jeff Burton passing a slow Denny Hamlin for the lead, holding off his teammate’s Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, could we see this again or at least a RCR winner?
Five drivers to watch at Bristol, first and second are the Busch brothers, they both have won here at Bristol and Kurt Busch is on a role in the first four races. Third has to Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is looking to continue his climb up the standings after a tough start, fourth is concrete Carl Edwards, Edwards won last August (on my birthday, what a gift he gave me, beating Kyle Busch and then after Busch hit him in the door a couple of times, Edwards spun him out, nice touch), and of course, fifth, a dark horse and top 35 guy, Mark Martin, this is it, the bubble man, if the tires and the engine can stay in tune, I believe Mark will be fast at Bristol.
As I leave you on this Thursday afternoon, I want you to ponder this question, how has the racing at Bristol changed and do you still or now like it?
Monday, March 16, 2009
After a very boring and long off season, it was perfect to kick off the 2009 NASCAR Cup Series season with seeing the green flag wave at Daytona and hearing those famous words “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity, Let’s go racin’ boys”, now we are four races in or four weeks into the season, I’m still excited, but what happened over the past four weeks in NASCAR? What five drivers to watch starting this coming weekend at Bristol, Martinsville and beyond?
First what a group of races we have had so far in 2009, we started the 2009 season off with none other than the 51st Daytona 500, a race that I describe in three parts “First Keith Urban, second rain, third NASCAR declares Matt Kenseth the winner of the 2009 Daytona 500.” not including “The Big One” on lap 124 which was both Brian Vickers and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fault, but three questions came out after the 500, one, Did NASCAR make the right call in NOT handing a penalty to either or Both Brian Vickers and Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Yes, there was no penalty needed here, it was not intentional.
Two, Did NASCAR make the right calling the race early? Yes, but and I mean but, starting the Daytona 500 at 3:20PM or 3:40PM is ridiculous, what happened to 1:30pm?
Second and third combined, “What a difference: California Speedway to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Cup Series racing.” You can say that again, the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway was boring and where were the fans? This brings up last year’s discussion “Should the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana be converted into a high-banked, restrictor-plate track?” Staying with the California Speedway for a moment, one event that I look forward to hearing about every year is Shell’s Eco-marathon Americas, the 2009 event is set to take place in Fontana, California on April 15 – 18 at Auto Club Speedway (California Speedway), so in honor of the students from Mater Dei High School of Evansville, IN, the school was featured on the deck lid of Kevin Harvick’s #29 Shell-Pennzoil RCR Chevrolet Impala SS.
(Photo Credit: Edelman PR)
Last year I wrote: In a world were more and more people are trying to achieve better fuel economy, its always cool to see that it is possible to achieve very high numbers in fuel economy especially in this case where the 2007 winner, California Polytechnic State University, they achieved nearly 2,000 miles per gallon (1,902.7 gallons) and won the Shell Eco-marathon Americas challenge that year.
This sure does gives the rest of hope that are cars are more capable of better fuel economy then just 18-20 mpg like the family Jeep gets. (Read More…)
Like the article title says, what a difference between California and Las Vegas, and it was because at the next cup race, the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that was won by Kyle Busch, the racing was good and the track had a near sellout crowd, but it’s still a tossup on the second Cup date to me.
Fourth, the Atlanta race can simply be summed up by saying “History told us that the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta would be exciting, but where were the fans?” And “NASCAR Atlanta race debate continues: Gas Man suspended for four races and 94,400 at Atlanta race on Sunday.” Interesting seeing Kurt Busch dominate and go to victory lane, more so, I agreed with suspending the gas man four races and I think Atlanta is going to lose one cup date, but not to Kentucky. Personally, that market is too saturated with races and doesn’t need one and we don’t need another cookie cutter 1.5 mile speedway added to the schedule, ho about Iowa or Montreal, another short track or road course would be a plus on the schedule.
That about does it for the first four races of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, however who are the five drivers to watch from here on out?
Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart (Smoke, really?, because he is an owner/driver in 2009) are surprises in the first four races, no Jeff Gordon is not a surprise period, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t as bad as some thought, he is rebounding and climbing up in points, but Dale Jr. and his crew chief Tony Eury Jr. need to find that sweet spot to this COT to win races. Mark Martin is on the bubble of the top 35 in owner’s points going into Bristol next week, Bristol is the five race cut off, the last race the 2008 Top 35 Owner’s Points is used before going over to the 2009 (current) Top 35 Owner’s Points and he is one of many drivers in danger of being on the outside looking in.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
1. The shaky economy is one of the biggest topics right now in NASCAR, on one hand in the Cup series, some teams are seeing new sponsors come in, but on the other hand, while the Cup Series has seen growth, the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series haven’t and has forced some teams to close down due to lack of sponsors, so in light of this, what can NASCAR do with the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series?
First, here in 2009, identity for any series is key, so What should the identity of NASCAR’s Nationwide (formally Busch) Series be? The Nationwide Series needs to have its own identity, NASCAR has the Truck Series, the Cup Series and what? One suggestion is Nationwide Sportsmen Series.
Second, thinking more long term, in this article called “What would you do with the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Truck Series?”, I talk about merging the two series into one using the Truck Series rules for good racing and originally thought that using the Nationwide COT would be a good idea, however for cost-saving, NASCAR should use the Race Trucks, they are already built with several hanging around, a safe race truck and even without manufacturers support, would still work great. Two series in NASCAR would be better than three series in these tough times.
2. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Schedule, the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series schedules all are in need of reorganization in the future, well, welcome to the future ladies and gentlemen, first, what about Should NASCAR consider one Cup date per track for the future NASCAR Cup Series Schedule?
Or a more direct route using the current Cup Series schedule, first, what about two cup races at (starting in the northeast and heading south, then out west) New Hampshire, Dover, Richmond, Charlotte, Bristol, Michigan (tossup for either one or two, it is near Detroit), Phoenix, Daytona, Talladega.
While one Cup date at Montreal, Watkins Glen, Pocono, Martinsville, Darlington, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Chicago, Iowa, Kansas, Homestead (I don’t know about the finale being here, but its NASCAR choice and it has good racing), Texas, Las Vegas (Not sure if adding two dates is good here, second would be perfect for preseason race in January), California, Sonoma, Portland or upper northwest.
Total races on the Cup Schedule: 33 races (includes Iowa, Montreal and a future Portland or upper Northwest area cup date), then you have a preseason race “What should NASCAR do before The Daytona 500? Shootout at Daytona or a preseason race.” Where I think a preseason January race should be held at Las Vegas and the All-star race in Charlotte. as for the Nationwide and Truck doubleheader weekends: Nashville, Memphis, Kentucky, Gateway.
3. Very simply, NASCAR needs to set a consistent start time for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, not TV special time. First, starting the Daytona 500 at 3:20PM is ridiculous, what happened to 1:30pm? Just give us a normal start time for all day races and all night races and both Bristol and Charlotte races should be night races.
4. The owner’s points is getting out of hand, I understand why NASCAR has the top 35 rule, but one, swapping points outside of a team is terrible, if one team that has four cars going into the offseason with three in owner’s points, they have three in owner’s points the next season, not four, check out this article “NASCAR and Penske miss use championship provisional and owner points.”, that was just the beginning.
5. Finally and the biggest when it come to survival of this sport considering sponsors are needed to go racing, The exclusive part of being the title sponsorship of one NASCAR’s national series. This is a huge issue in NASCAR and has been for years now, I know that this clause has been in NASCAR since Winston came in to NASCAR, but its 2009 already, time for change. When Winston was the title sponsor, this issue didn’t really come up, however once Nextel, now Sprint entered the picture as the new title sponsor of the Cup Series back in 2004, clause really started to be noticed, first it was Verizon Wireless and Motorola trying to sponsor Robby Gordon’s car back on March 20, 2007 at Atlanta, on the Friday before the race, NASCAR told Gordon to remove the decals because it had to do with Verizon Wireless, then NASCAR on Sunday then told Gordon he could have the Motorola back only as its Digital Audio Player (Read more here…), but the biggest debate which lead to be a court fight between Cingular, the new AT&T vs. Sprint and NASCAR.
I still don’t understand this one, I can't even imagine when Cingular signed a sponsorship deal with RCR and NASCAR back in 2003, that they would be fighting for their identity a couple years later back in 2007 just to put there AT&T sponsorship (AT&T purchased Cingular and the rights to the sponsorship) on the #31 RCR Chevrolet, this was wrong.
Ironically enough, this same thing could have happened with Verizon Wireless (meaning the court battle) after Verizon bought/merged/acquired Alltel Wireless, however I have to believe that after watching the AT&T battle, Verizon thought the better of it and this story here has drown huge attention from several sites online about Verizon Wireless and Penske racing’s brilliant marketing, all three of these articles illustrate working the rules that really should be in the first place from Verizon and Penske have worked around the sponsor ban, Workin' Within The Rules to Penske, Verizon succeed with new business model
The first photo is Justin Allgaier #12 Verizon Wireless Dodge in the Nationwide Series and the second is David Stremme #12 Penske Racing (a.k.a Verizon Wireless Dodge) in the Cup Series, because of the title sponsorship with Sprint in the Cup Series, VZW can't be on the Cup Series car, but it sure does look like it. Photo(s) Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR via NASCAR PR.
Of course, don’t forget about Nationwide vs. GEICO that made little headlines.
As far as the chase format goes, 10 races works right now, NASCAR has 26-races for the regular season, then the top 12 drivers and teams transfer to the 10-race chase for the Sprint Cup, I’ve adjusted to it and after a couple of years, there is really no issues with it.
One last article for everyone to read, I wrote this article last year “High gas prices vs. this race fan going to watch NASCAR at New Hampshire Motor Speedway once or twice a year.”, and it still holds true more than ever today.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Let’s start right from the word go, after last week’s episode where I still believe something weird went down with Team Ferrari going home instead of Team Evo solely based on time and penalties during the not only the challenge, but where were the time penalties for speeding? I will never know, I guess in Bullrun 2, you only get a penalty if you get a ticket, so I guess its drive at your own risk, anyway, it’s a new day and let’s go.
The idea that using a current map seems to be foreign to some teams because for the second week in a row, Team Avalanche took another short cut that ended up getting them lost, but at the same time, leave it to Team Avalanche to add some humor and some dram to the whole thing and no I am not talking about using an Georga Football t-shirt that Goldberg gave him as a rag to check the oil and clean tires, damn that hurts…but to take one of the most hated teams out with them, Team Evo, what a shame!
Well not everything is about time in this world, but this game is, it’s getting there the fastest that counts. You can tell that this game is getting harder by the legs when Bullrun will not even give them a full address or state to go by, let alone sending the teams to Santa Fe, now teams find that prison? Well, you almost got that right, welcome back Team Solstice, they got it right and they used an updated map win the leg. So at this point you know that life is about to get interesting as Team Evo came in last, yeah, why leave it up to the other teams, when you can just put yourself directly into the challenge anyway, but in the same, Team Dart enters the challenge as they took got lost too.
Game play is huge right, its coming down to it and who Team Solstice, the winners of the leg choices can very well mean sending someone home or getting a giant target on your back and well, welcome a giant target on our back, we pick Team Avalanche. Ok team, now “Break into’ prison, oh man, who came up with this one, ok, drive into the prison, break your teammate out and race around the course on dirt with two cop cars following you and turn left when you break through the gate, ok, go…
Like I said in the beginning, oh brother! First Team Evo flips on the dirt mode for the Evo and races through, breaks his teammate out of prison, but wait don’t go straight…busts through the gate, goes straight, gets air born and slams into a concrete barrier, what a hit, airbags deploy and that frontend and underneath is destroyed period, even I felt sorry for the owner of the Evo, of course he wasn’t driving, the other guy that will not keep his mouth shut drove and wrecked the car, no driving this one home. Although, hats off to Team Avalanche, they did it right as did Team dart.
What, no way, Team Dart, what were you thinking??? Victory, man I love driving on dirt, next think you know, victory donuts and he rolls the Dodge Dart, two wrecked cars., but in the end, oh yeah and the right way I might add, Team Evo, you are out of here and your 15 minutes of fame is up! Team dart, if you don’t get the car fixed, Team Evo might have a chance to get back in this game, say what?
(Photo Credits: Team Dart and Team Evo via CarDomain
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Around four years ago, I was introduced to the world of blogging though some online friends, a televisoon show called "The Screen Savers on Techtv with Leo Laporte, Kevin Rose and more" and a blogging article, blogging in my eyes is a good way to express yourself, in a since, it’s voicing your opinion, but in a soft tone and yet can still being heard or read by many. Blogging is publishing your opinion on any given subject, like for example, from my passions in life like listening to country music, writing itself or Motorsports, NASCAR and Automobiles.
Back on March 12, 2005, I started this blog called RaceDriven.com. The name basically comes from first, being a huge Motorsports and Car enthusiast and second, being driven in life to succeed, with that, RaceDriven.com was born. In creating and developing RaceDriven.com, I’ve learned and developed my writing skills, working with CSS/HTML coding on blogger to develop a better design and layout, and developed relationships with several bloggers and companies which in some cases, included handling all direct advertising (ex: text links, graphics and etc.)
What’s next for RaceDriven.com? I will continue blogging here on RaceDriven, the blog is getting advanced and stronger by the day and so are the topics, I an expanding to a wider range of subjects, anything from Motorsports, Automobiles, & Music to Life in general and more, except, this is the exception, being too deep into my personal life (something’s have to stay private) and of course the workplace and not too much politics (I am not expert when it comes to politics nor claim to be).
Beyond the writing subjects, I also want to combine BrianVermette.com with RaceDriven.com, first, I am currently in the process of developing Brian Vermette Online into an advanced online portfolio for my career. One of my career goals is to become a professional blogger and writer, its a sound career move for me and I do have alot to offer an employer, my blogging and writing articles specks for itself.
Second, in combining BrianVermette.com with RaceDriven, I will be keeping RaceDriven.com as my official blog, develop a better layout, design and theme for both sides and most importantly enjoy blogging and writing, plus, I use blogging and writing as therapy in my life.
To all of my readers, supporters and advertisers, thank you for four great years, here’s to more great years.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
NASCAR Atlanta race debate continues: Gas Man suspended for four races and 94,400 at Atlanta race on Sunday.
A picture is worth a thousand words and this picture shows both discussions in details with #47 gas man chased after his driver's loose wheel, some empty seats on the front straightaway during the Cup race and Clint Bowyer in the #33 BB&T Chevrolet racing at full speed, wow what a picture. (Photo Credit: NASCAR.com via Yahoo! Sports)
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway this past weekend debate lives on with two key discussions.
1) Marcos Ambrose’s crew member did what during Sunday’s Cup Series race? In case you didn’t see what happened, here’s the NASCAR.com video, basically, on lap 67 during a round of green flag pit stops, the #47 car made a normal pit stop, during the stop, a tire got away, so the gas man of the #47-Marcos Ambrose’s team, chased the loose tire which was halfway to the flag stand on front straightway by the time he caught it and rolled it back, because he went out to get the tire during green conditions, NASCAR called for a caution for safety reasons, which put all, but six cars a lap down. By the way, the gas man was ejected for the rest of the race. As a result of this, on Tuesday NASCAR suspended the gas man for four races.
(From NASCAR PR): Jimmy Watts, a crew member for the No. 47 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been suspended from the next four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events (until April 22) for rule violations during last Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.Watts was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 9-15-U (crew members must not go on the race track for any reason while the cars are racing or while the cars are running under the yellow flag or the red flag, unless otherwise directed to do so by a NASCAR official). Watts has also been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.In addition, Frank Kerr, crew chief for the No. 47, has been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31 for violating Sections 12-1 and 9-4-A (crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of the team).What a statement made by NASCAR, of course just about any penalty issued by NASCAR is a statement, however what message it sends is different each time, with that, did the penalty fit the crime?
One, this has to be a first in NASCAR at least that I can remember (of course if I am wrong, please leave a comment here on RaceDriven.com) that there really isn’t anything I can go off of except for other (or basic) penalties, two, four races gets the garages attention, it’s not the first time NASCAR has passed down a four race suspension before, three, keep in mind, Bobby Labonte spun in that same area 5 laps before this happened.
So yes I think suspending him for four races does fit the crime, look the gas man made a huge mistake that I bet he nor anyone else will make again, or so we hope.
You know, following this action and penalty, I wonder if NASCAR might be thinking about requiring the pit road to be separate from the race track, currently Las Vegas, Texas, Charlotte, Atlanta, Talladega, just to name a few have the pit road open sort of speck to the racetrack, unlike Richmond for example that has a wall and grass between its pit road and the track, with a wall, a loose tire will NOT get onto the racetrack, unless of course it jumps the pit wall. This could be an issue, but a temporary pit wall can be built and removed in a weekend, only a thought because I also don’t remember a tire going on to the racetrack before either, well, maybe once, but where and when?
2) How many NASCAR fans did the Atlanta Cup race have in attendance? Now let me state the obvious right from the start, one, I like watching racing from Atlanta Motor Speedway, the speedway has produced several great races and some of the closest finishes in NASCAR history (of course the closet finish in NASCAR history happened back in 2003 at Darlington, Ricky Craven beating out last weekend’s Atlanta winner Kurt Busch by .002 seconds.)
Two, if it wasn’t before, now in 2009, the attendance question will be an issue for a long time to come because in NASCAR, a Cup Series date is worth a fortune, there are very few dates to go around, there is no more room to add to the Cup Series schedule anymore, and as a matter of fact, the schedule for most people is already too long at 36 races now.
Three, every racetracks wants at least once Cup date if not two and for SMI and Smith, they want two more Cup dates on top of what they have already. The first cup date they want is at the newly bought Kentucky Speedway (which in my opinion isn’t going to happen before 2011 at least, because of the pending lawsuit with the former owner, there are already too many cookie cutter tracks on the schedule and the track is located in an already saturated market), if you want more on Kentucky Speedway, check out this article, it’s on a good blog I read.
The second cup date they want is at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which unlike Kentucky has a chance and could be positive for NASCAR (I want good racing period, I don’t care who owners it whether its SMI, ISC or private owned), the track could be near to a sellout for both races. Las Vegas for a second date could work, of course I would suggest getting rid of California Speedway’s first race, the 2nd race of 2009, there are way too many Cup dates on the West coast now and California speedway is 244 miles to Las Vegas Motor Speedway and for that matter Phoenix (PIR) is only 368 miles from Las Vegas too.
Why do I bring this up, according to a NASCAR.com article, “NASCAR and track officials announced attendance at 94,400, but critics say the actual number of people there was far less”.
Atlanta Motor Speedway currently has 124,000 seats, above says that there were 94.400 in attendance, but where do they come up with this number, are we talking just grandstands? Or does that number include all fans in the venue like campers and the infield? Either way, I will say this, when I was watching the race, there did look like there were a lot of empty seats on front straightaway, but one area off turn 3 was packed, I don’t know, but in defense of Atlanta, in this economy, 94,400 is a good number depending upon where they got it from and yet the grandstands still looked empty in some spots (picture above).
So now does Atlanta Motor Speedway (like California, Martinsville and others over attendance issues) deserve two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series dates? Personally, I would hate to lose a cup date at Atlanta Motor Speedway, however there are other racetracks that do get a near sellout crowd that could prove they should get a second cup date or just add another track to the schedule in a good market. Either way, target is now on Atlanta for its fall, Labor Day Weekend, Sunday evening race to sell better, now what will be the ending for this one?
By the way, I travel from my home in Massachusetts (down by the RI and CT border) to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for a day trip to see NASCAR, one way is 116 miles, I don’t use I-93, it’s better that way, so 244 miles is a lot, personally I would get a hotel room in Las Vegas if I were traveling 244 miles one way for a race, just thought that that was a interesting piece of information, and even more, one reader on another blog said he travels from Kentucky to Talladega in 6 hours for a race, wow, that’s far, but it’s a weekend with friends and family. So how far does everyone else travel?
Monday, March 9, 2009
So when I read a release in my email box, first I am happy that I am even considered to be on their list, however not all releases I can work with, only a handful of them I will publish to be specific, while reading a release, I look for a way to adapt the subject into either a current article I am writing or a completely new article that I can create, but I don’t just publish releases, like I said blogging is giving your opinion on an given topic, otherwise it’s just another news site period.
With that said, I just received this release from an advertising agency promoting Cherry Bomb with a new unique looking truck.
Loudon, TN (March 5, 2009)... Cherry Bomb, the leader in high quality aftermarket performance exhaust, is pleased to announce Project D-100, a 1964 Dodge D-100 Short Bed Stepside truck. This vintage beauty was spotted in a barn in Georgia and purchased for only $300. After clearing out the pine needles and dirt dauber nests from the original wood bed, Cherry Bomb began the task of turning the truck into the ultimate hot rod.What a look, personally the Dodge D-100 Pickup truck wouldn’t be my first choice, nor would keeping it looking the way it is, paint wise, of course I also try and stay away from so much flash at the same time, I prefer a sleeper vehicle, something that most people wouldn’t take a second look at, looks stock inside and out, hidden audio, but a good ride height with a simple wheel (chrome or black) and tire combo, color black and etc., at the same time, a powerful engine under the hood, fueled by gasoline, diesel, propane, hydrogen, natural gas, something green with lots of power, of course a big block V-8 works too.
The first order of business was to drop in a Mopar 526 crate motor Hemi with aluminum heads, dual carburetors and long tube headers. Then came 4 in 1 dragster style Zoomies, Wilwood Brakes, and a Viper T-60 60 6 speed transmission. The drive train was installed by Matt Delaney of Delaney Automotive. The truck sports a vintage Cherry Bomb patina style logo by Brian Papa Studios that embellishes one of the most iconic and nostalgic brands ever to influence the heyday of the muscle car. The addition of Cherry Bomb Glasspacks complete both the look and sound of this totally “pushed to the limit” project truck.
Stacey David, of Stacey David’s GearZ™ got in on the action and added a ladder bar style rear suspension that was needed for increased traction due to the huge horsepower increase of the Hemi engine and a Lokar shifter and gas pedal. Stacey also chose vintage Radir drag slicks on wide whites for the rear and Coker Tires for the front.
Cherry Bomb began manufacturing the Cherry Bomb Glasspack in 1968. With less backpressure, the muffler increased horsepower and produced an unmistakable sound that embodied the power under the hood. Forty years later, Cherry Bomb manufactures a full line of high performance mufflers, in addition to a large number of cat back systems, accessories, and custom kits, all of which create fuel savings due to improved engine efficiency. Cherry Bomb is located at 2400 Maremont Blvd., Loudon, TN. For product information visit http://www.cherrybomb.com/.
(Photos and release from Zan Martin, President, Martin & Company Advertising and Cherry bomb release)
Hopefully this truck will be featured on Gearz, Gearz is the angle that made this project and release work for me, I love that show now on SPEED, Stacy does a great job, of course he did a great job on Truckstv too, including project like Crazy Horse, one of my favorites along with Copperhead, so this project D-100 is cool, check it out, what does everyone think?
Sunday, March 8, 2009
When it comes to NASCAR fans talking about memorable finishes and victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway, three come to mind right from the start, ironically enough, all three would come in the spring race at Atlanta, the first one extends all the way back to March 20, 2000, the Cracker Barrel 500, a race that was dominated early and often by Mike Skinner in the #31 with Larry McReynolds on top of the pit box, Skinner would lead 191 laps and was closing in on the finish, however disaster struck the RCR driver when his engine blow with just 20 laps to go, I felt so bad for both Mike Skinner and Larry McReynolds, they really wanted this one bad.
So with his teammate Michael Skinner out of the race, Dale Earnhardt held the lead coming down to end of the race, but Bobby Labonte in the #18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac kept closing the gap fast, and on the final lap, Labonte closed in off turn 4 on the bottom within a bumper, but it wouldn’t be enough as Dale Earnhardt would win by .01 seconds at the line, the victory would be Earnhardt’s 75th career victory and Earnhardt’s 9th victory at Atlanta, the most of an driver.
One year later on March 11, 2001, only three weeks after the death of Dale Earnhardt in a last-lap crash in the Daytona 500 and two weeks after Kevin Harvick was named the new driver of the #29, NASCAR and the fans really needed something and they got it in a big way, in the Cracker Barrel 500, a race that would be a repeat of the previous years where Kevin Harvick would be in the lead with Jeff Gordon closing on Harvick, on the final lap, Gordon would close coming off turn 4 on the bottom line, at the line, Kevin Harvick would win his first Cup series race in his third start by .006, that would be the closest finish at that time in NASCAR history. On the cool down lap, Harvick would celebrate with a burnout on the front stretch with three fingers outside the driver’s window, what a sight to see. Both photos came from Atlanta Motor Speedway via NASCAR PR.
On March 20, 2005, another NASCAR Cup Series rookie would make history, this time around, Jimmie Johnson was leading the race, Carl Edwards had fresher tires on, sliding around just about every lap, moved to the high line and was closing on Johnson in the final laps, lap after lap, Edwards would keep closing, on the last lap, coming off turn 2, Edwards drew to the back bumper and going into turn 3, Johnson went down to the bottom line, while Edwards would take the high line, when they came off turn 4, Edwards and Johnson were side-by-side, they touched, at the line, it was Carl Edwards beating Jimmie Johnson by 2-hundredths of a second to win the Golden Corral 500.
What a weekend for Carl Edwards, Edwards not only pulled off his first NASCAR Nationwide (formerly Busch) Series victory in the Aaron's 312 the day before, but in winning his first Cup Series race, Carl Edwards joined an elite group in not only being a rookie in both the Busch Series, with running for rookie of the year and in the Cup Series where he was a rookie and winning in all three of NASCAR's major races series, In 2004, in the Trucks Series and now, in the Nationwide (Busch at the time) & Cup Series.
However on March 8th, 2009 (today), fans would get a typical Atlanta race, Kurt Busch would dominate the race early and often, leading 235 of 325 laps, (by the way, Jeff Gordon lead the second highest laps – 46), but unlike previous races, a late race caution, and having three drivers fighting for the lead, Kurt Busch passed Carl Edwards with two laps to go and held off a last lap, last corner charge by Jeff Gordon to win the Kobalt Tools 500. Kurt Busch celebrated by driving backwards all the way around the race track holding a checkered flag out the driver’s window. I have to say, Kurt Busch earned this one. This race was like running at Darlington, it chews it up, cars where very loose, on the edge of wrecking.
During the FOX telecast, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said something on the radio like if one of these tires comes off, I will hit you guys with a hammer, (I don’t get the exact quote) so Jeff Hammond brought a Kobalt Tools Hammer in to the Hollywood Hotel, no Jeff, this a Kobalt Tools Hammer, my hammer! (Photo Credit: RaceDriven.com -- Brian Vermette
Was it a near or a sellout for attendance? Not even close, when did the Spring Atlanta race look like California Speedway two weeks ago by way of attendance, at least the racing was better, Smith can say what he wants about having Atlanta as the Cup Series finale, but this race was terrible when it comes to the attendance period, Atlanta most likely will loss this Cup date, wow that is disappointing.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Would you believe it, last night was the first time I have ever watch CSI: Crime Scene Investigation for some reason or another, I hate the sight of blood and dead bodies, some people are scared of spiders, snakes, I am hate the sight of blood and dead bodies, so I rarely watch these types of shows from NCIS, Grey’s Anatomy (Which was on at the same time last night) and CSI (unless I am with someone who does want to watch it, you know part of a date or being with someone), so why did I watch last night’s CSI? I was curious, no not with where CSI was, nope, last night was the acting debut of one of my favorite country music artists, Taylor Swift, what a dream, well she always wanted to not only be on the CSI, but die on CSI, so in a rare move by me I watched it and almost throw up by the sight of the body up in the crawl space above the hotel room (you know what I am talking about if you watched the show).
I got to say, all of the hype that I have seen on television and read online on her acting debut was right on. Last night’s CSI had Taylor Swift playing Halie Jones, the so-called daughter of some motel owners in Las Vegas, what a way to show her off, an episode that showed Halie over the course of one year going from moving in as a sweet girl to turning before one detectives very eyes into something dark screaming my life is over become people are so nasty online, that was killed 365 days later at that same motel.
In the end, in all of the ways Halie could have been killed or died, why death by scissors, her so-called mother was chasing her with scissors to change her hair or cut it off, Halie stopped, turned and the scissors went into her, killing her when she hit the ground, what a way to go, oh brother, at least it interesting to watch, although personally I have seen this from her before in her music videos, “Teardrops on my guitar”, “Picture to burn”, “White Horse” comes to mind, a little something different in each video from tears to getting even to completely crying over a cheating boy, but great job Taylor, what will she do next?
Bullrun season 2 is already off to a huge start, new cast of characters, new vehicles and new format which all makes the show even better to watch, the something that the show was missing before that I mentioned in one of my previous posts has been found, I don’t know what it is, but the Bullrun 2 works for me now.
With that said, I will keep this one short, what was the deal last night with Team Evo? Team Evo should have been sent packing, first speeding on camera, last season two teams where busted for speeding and given time penalties, this season should have been the same.
Second, in the challenge, driving blindfolded, are kidding me, Team Ferrari was slower than Team Evo, a team that hit a lot of water barrels, went off course and screwed it all up and yet Team Ferrari goes home, no way, no, no, what, that’s my reaction and I am sticking to it.
So now, how long will Team Evo be around for, you know just about every team is now gunning for those two I guess actors looking for their 15 minutes of fame, there the team you love to hate, well they are on television at least, who’s next I ask?
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
What a difference: California Speedway to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Cup Series racing.
The start to the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this past weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images via NASCAR PR)
What a difference from last weekend’s Auto Club 500 race at California Speedway to this past weekend’s Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, wow, that statement is putting it loosely, where do I start?
First, in the eyes of this NASCAR fan and writer, one of the biggest noticeable differences had to be the near sellout crowd in Las Vegas vs. whatever that was at California Speedway. There has been a lot of discussion online as to why California Speedway has two Cup Series dates while other tracks, either has one or none?
Let me state the obvious right from the start, I have nothing against the state of California hosting one, two or three Cup Series dates, including one Cup date in Sonoma that draws a great crowd on the road course, that isn’t the issue here, however it is about California Speedway and their lack of attendance and good racing. I will give California Speedway credit, before 2004, the Speedway drew a great crowd even on Friday and Saturday’s with their one Cup date, but once the track received two dates, it all went downhill. Keep one thing in mind, California Speedway’s second cup date was in the heat of the summer and not ever race fan wants to roast (or bake) sitting the grandstands, but the first Cup date two weeks ago, wasn’t all that hot and to add even more, the racing at the end was entirely bad.
I remember writing about a possible redesign of speedway last year, personally that might be the only hope in keeping the Speedway with two Cup dates entitled “Should the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana be converted into a high-banked, restrictor-plate track?”, otherwise NASCAR is wasting their time having two Cup dates at this Speedway. Oh yeah, two weeks ago, the Academy Awards were held on the same day, at the same time as the race, but with the exception of some celebrities, it shouldn’t have made a giant difference, so now it’s time to find a new venue for one of their two Cup dates and I don’t care if it’s another ISC track like Kansas (although they don’t need it), a SMI track like Las Vegas, but not Kentucky Speedway or a Cup date for Iowa Speedway for one year, it might just work.
Second, the racing itself, like I said above, the California Speedway race was terrible, with the exception at the end, it upgraded to not bad, however when it comes to the racing at Las Vegas, personally when you fact out the record caution flags, the racing at Vegas was good, I rather enjoyed it and keep in mind I live in Massachusetts and go to New Hampshire, so this opinion is about as bias as I can get, no east coast or west coast basher here, however one note for Las Vegas, the pit road entrance stinks, in the future, have the drivers come on to pit road by way of the back straightaway going into turn 3, that is where the commintment cone should be.
Some notes from the Auto Club 500, one, good battle at the end, nice seeing Jeff Gordon back in the hunt, battling for a victory, you can never count him out, but after Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500, he was pretty much right on his game and so was his crew, however two, FOX, no more Drew stories, just let him be the crew chief. Three, damn, engine wows for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin, Martin has a good car, he just needs to have that engine last.
Some notes of Shelby 427, one, ok, the name, I don’t know why, but I like the idea of a twist with a race, New Hampshire has the 301, going the extra mile, Las Vegas now has 27 extra miles which does give the sponsor and the fans something more, I wish more race tracks would do this, it’s that extra item to draw the fans attention, simply, it’s that one extra piece to the puzzle known as a Cup Series race. Two, ever race has its good and bad and at Las Vegas, the good was seeing Dale Jr. finishes 10th, the start to the top 12 in points begins here, however the bad, Matt Kenseth blow an engine and oh boy, heartbroken for Mark Martin again, please, I don’t want to write this again, he has the car to win.
Anyway, third in this lineup seems to be the big picture for drivers and teams, some are getting better, while others find themselves in real trouble, three bad races puts big names on the outside of the top 35 looking in and with just two races to the cut off starting at Martinsville Speedway, Mark Martin is on the bubble of the top 35, not what I expected, but it’s not for lack of effort…, so what is the Biggest NASCAR Cup Series surprise after three races?
One would be Mark Martin with two blown engines, however two names that have popped up are Tony Stewart, which shouldn’t be a big surprise at all, Tony does not settle, if something isn’t right, he is going to fix it and right now Tony Stewart is 8th in points, but one surprise is Michael Waltrip Racing and David Reutimann, 5th in points, where did he come from and can he stay there, good runs and finishes do get noticed.
Can you say all eyes will be on the Atlanta Motor Speedway this Sunday…