Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shell sponsored driving game contest is over.

Just a quick note: It's official, all of the hats are gone and the “Shell sponsored driving game contest” is over. A special thanks to Matter-Edelman PR on behalf of Shell-Pennzoil for the autographed Kevin Harvick Hats.

- RaceDriven

Saturday, May 30, 2009

OCC builds the first Natural Gas powered chopper.



With the ever changing gasoline and diesel prices at gas station all over the United States and the talk of raising the gas tax from both Federal and State levels (Massachusetts for one), I believe that more vehicles whether its cars, muscle cars, trucks, SUV's, delivery vehicles and Mack Trucks could all be running on alternative fuels. The alternative fuels could be ethanol, E85, bio-diesel, natural gas, hydrogen (hydrogen might just be the United States best bet for the fuel), and even electric cars like a Tesla Motors, I love to see what people can build that uses an alternative fuels and in this case, Orange County Choppers first build an E85 chopper, now they have build what some are saying the first Natural Gas Chopper.

No details where released, however feel free to watch the video and more so, what do you think? If they were available, would you buy a natural gas powered chopper? I would consider it, especially if I could fill the tank in my garage.

(Source: Hat tip to Autobloggreen.com and CNet.com's CarTech Blog for the link to the video)

Monday, May 25, 2009

The US Postal Service should cut Saturday mail delivery instead of raising fees.

Let me state the obvious, I am not an expert on politics nor want to write on them, however when it comes to certain subjects within politics that effect your everyday life like mine, sometimes something just have to be said, so welcome to “My Take” on off-topics.

One of the most talked about subjects in the United States right now is the economy and here in the United States, it has hit us hard. The economy has brought everyone right down to reality, home prices are down, gasoline prices are once again raising, food prices are going up and the overall cost of living is going up while more and more people including me are unemployed. Even now, companies like banks and other business are raising fees to cover budget gaps.

So it should be no surprise that even the United States Postal Service is once again raising fees, however I am not the only one that has a few suggestions for the Post Office and what they should do. While surfing the internet, I came across a site called Thatsthepits.com that discusses NASCAR racing, Massachusetts Politics and more. One of the articles touches on this very subject, the article in part reads:

With the latest US Postal Service rate hikes, the question is how much more will the public take. It may be time for drastic service cuts that have been long awaited.

So now the price of a first class postage stamp is up to 44 cents, unless you purchased the Forever Stamps back at 42 cents. It might be a good idea to purchase ahead at 44 cents, since the Postal Service is keeping the Forever Stamp, for now! Postcard stamps have also gone up from 26 cents to now 28 cents. But just how many people are even using the Postal Service on a regular basis. I think it's time for drastic cuts.

I believe that everything, about 98%, should be done weekdays only. That means drastic cuts that must be premium pay to Postal Employees. So, except for mail being moved by truck, train, or airplane, nothing should be done on the weekends.

1. Close all Post Offices on Saturdays and Sundays. Distribution Centers could have a small staff for accepting truck loads of mail, but it can be processed on weekdays. Building closings could save on heat, air conditioning, and electric for those days. Security may also be an exception.

2. No Saturday Mail Delivery. What do we really receive for mail on Saturday? Junk! Most postal workers could now have weekends off, eliminating any premium pay if offered… (Read Entire article)

I completely agree, but I do have to say that I don’t use the Post Office that much, but I would like to add a few things, first I use PayPal for my advertising on RaceDriven.com as one of two acceptable forms of payment, the other is money orders including Post Office money orders US funds only, so what about the Post Office creating a PayPal type service? If the fees are lower, good service and convenience is there, why not?

However the main item here is like the title says, the United States Postal Service should cut Saturday mail delivery, I am the one in the house that gets the mail everyday (except Sunday’s of course) from waiting on packages to going to the mailbox and while that is good exercise, going to the mailbox on a Saturday to get junk mail is a waste of time for me and a waste of time and money for the Postal Service, so instead of raising fees, try cutting service on Saturday’s instead? That means no Saturday mail delivery, no Post Offices open and only trucks, trains and Distribution Centers open with light staff.

This would be a huge help with the budget gab, not to mention having to make sure I get the mail on Saturday even though I may be busy on the weekends, think about it, does Saturday mail delivery mean all that much to you and what do you get every Saturday in the mailbox? Comment below.

Helio Castroneves wins Indy 500; Button leads Brawn 1-2 in Monaco GP: Which race was the more entertaining?

Welcome back ladies and gentleman, as I sit here writing, its Monday early morning, its Memorial Day and yesterday was one of the biggest Motorsports days and the longest with the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600.

However, it was the day that while I had looked forward too for months now, it wasn’t what I expected, as a matter a fact, it was a little disappointing, between not feeling well, a rained out Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Cup Series that was postponed until later today (no fault of NASCAR), a sleeper Monaco Grand Prix and an ok Indianapolis 500, I didn’t feel it.

I think all racing fans have heard the slogan “races can’t be won on the first lap, but sure can lost on the first lap”, well that slogan does hold true in most cases, however that one can be up for some debut when it comes to what I watched early this morning, namely the Monaco Grand Prix.

Let me state the obvious, even though I am not a huge Formula 1 fan and only watch a few races a year, a Motorsports fans, I love watching the Monaco Grand Prix. The race is the most historical race in F1 (at least in my opinion), I don’t know what it is about the circuit, it could be the history, it could be the venue itself, I mean Monte Carlo is an incredible sight to see, that would be one place that I would love to visit in my lifetime, what a place or it could be the precision driving that the tight course takes to not only compete on, but win on.

Like I said, the Monaco circuit is the tightest and toughest racetrack on the F1 calendar, everything from the tightest hairpin that these drivers have to drop to a mere 30 MPH to make it, the close quarters that the circuit looks like you can only be single-file and of course the tunnel going under the Monte Carlo hotel and yet at times, it’s one exciting race.

However like I said in the beginning, “races can’t be won on the first lap, but sure can lost on the first lap”, and while that slogan does hold true, but in Formula 1, if you jump to the lead on the first corner or first few corners in the race, chance are no one’s going to caught you, because they are too busy trying to get around other drivers or your F1 car just doesn’t work in traffic or even better, you don’t have an diffuser or KER’s system that gives the drivers an extra 80 horse power (can I get one in my street car, that would work), whatever the reason, it makes the race a runaway victory.

On Sunday though, there were a few of those moments that just leave you saying damn and while I don’t watch racing for the wrecks, two of them just had damn written all over them, first when Vettel’s car hitting the wall just 17 laps into the race, it was interesting to see that while the corner workers where lifting the car, another F1 car came right under it with at least right side of the car, with the camera angle, that was close, I got a picture of that one off the tv.
And the second had to be the hard crash just before the entrance to pit road when Kovalainen’s car stepped out and smacked the inside wall hard, that nose was gone and yet no safety car, why, there was debris everywhere.

But like in so many races so far in 2009, the headlines read the Brawn GP cars start in the front, jump to the lead and can’t be touched all race long and Jenson Button wins his first Monaco Grand Prix and more so (that might be sweet to a few fans including me), Brawns GP 1-2 finish tops Ferrari’s 3-4 finish”, isn’t that sweet, someone other than Ferrari is winning. Wow, Ferrari is just going to go for victories now. So basically the Monaco Grand Prix was a sleeper. I remember watching last year’s Monaco Grand Prix, for some reason if it’s slightly raining during the race, it adds just that more excitement to it, driving now have another element to deal with and it really brings out the precision driving, it was a better race and it was Lewis Hamilton’s first Monaco Grand Prix victory.

Once the Monaco Grand Prix was over (keep in mind I DVRed it and watched it a 10am), it was only just over 1 hour before the start of the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500. In the Indy Racing League, the IndyCar Series if you will, all of the cars are basically the same, no design differences, all the same engines from Honda, same everything, so there IROC cars if you will, so it’s in the drivers hand and for open wheel racing that is not always good, if you have the same as everyone else, it’s hard to have an exciting race. An exciting race has to include a lot of passing not only throughout the field, but for the lead.

The 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 wasn’t one of the more exciting races I’ve seen this year, let along Indy 500’s that I’ve seen either, I know it’s the greatest spectacular in racing, but in 2009, it didn’t live up to all of the hype. However just like Monaco, the race did have its moments starting with lap 1. This is exactly what I meant when I said in the beginning, “races can’t be won in the first lap, but sure can lost on the first lap”, I guess Marco Andretti or Mario Moraes got together in I believe one of the corners. Marco was trying to go to the outside of Mario, Mario must not have heard high and they both hit the outside wall hard. This is a case of both drivers needed patients…Marco needs to relax, it was his fault too, he should have settled in behind Mario until the frontstretch.

Two of the most bone chilling hits I’ve seen in recent years had to be first the Tony Kanaan crash on lap 99, going down the backstretch alone, a part broke somewhere on the car and the car just went dead right (no fun intended) hit the outside wall, then went down into turn 3 and hit the wall harder again, what a hit, glad he is ok.

Even more, with 24 laps to go, Vitor Meira and Raphael Matos touched rear wheels and just went straight into the turn 1 wall, Meira slid on his side alone the outside wall, I heard both drivers are ok.

You know even after all that, I have to say that I was thrilled to see Helio Castroneves take the lead in the final laps, pull away and win his third Indianapolis 500 victory that was a great sight to see. A few notables, Dan Wheldon grabs second for National Guard and Panther Racing, Danica Patrick finishes third and Will Power, a man that is driving for a job with Penske Racing finishes 5th, all three were great runs.

Note: According to Robin Miller, Brian Barnhardt told security to hold Helio in his car, don’t let him get out on the frontstretch to climb the fence and instead go straight to victory lane, if this is true (which on video it did look like security was originally trying to keep him in his car), what is wrong with this picture, the last thing you want to do is hold a driver from celebrating with the fans, you know the fans that paid all that money for a ticket to go and watching the Indianapolis 500, that was joke to see that happen, Helio just not only won the Indianapolis 500, but he won the Indy 500 for third time, of course he want to be Spiderman, leave him alone and let him celebrate period.

By the way, which were the more exciting races? The Indy 500, but not by much…


Helio Castroneves wins his third Indianapolis 500,
Helio climbs the fence in victory. (Image by Michael C. Johnson)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

NASCAR: Should we expect that this record penalty against Carl Long will be the normal penalty for everybody?

NASCAR has hands down a record penalty to driver Carl Long, the owner and crew chief of the #46 in the NASCAR Cup Series that in my eyes was warranted, but too extreme.

First let me say that on the other issue in NASCAR right now, I am not going to comment on the Jeremy Mayfield vs. NASCAR issue which will most likely turn into a lawsuit, I don’t comment on lawsuits. Second, as for NASCAR’s substance abuse policy, as a fan of this sport, I believe NASCAR needs to come clean, be straight and crystal clear with everybody on what NASCAR is looking for (banned substance list), the process, everything, transparent if you will.

With that said, so far in 2009, most teams have gotten the message that when it comes to the NASCAR COT racecar, it is a black and white issue, you are either green for good to go or red for infraction, if you found to have a car infraction, you should expect penalties (fines, docked points and/or suspensions) either now or next week.

Over the past couple of years, NASCAR has handed down some heavy penalties to teams for car infractions, some that have included $100,000 fines, docking 100-150 driver and owner points and if several enough will include something like a six-race suspension for the crew chief, car chief, however this past weekend at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, before qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Showdown, the low budget Carl Long #46 team had a blown engine, and when you change engines NASCAR inspects the old engine.

“NASCAR discovered an issue and sent the engine to the Research & Development Center for more tests, which determined the engine exceeded maximum cubic inch displacement specifications.” – AP

As a result of what NASCAR found at the R&D Center. “NASCAR has issued penalties, suspensions and fines to the No. 146 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rules infractions committed during last weekend’s event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

The car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-I (any determination by NASCAR Officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-5.4A (engine exceeded the maximum engine size of 358.000 cubic inch displacement) of the 2009 NASCAR rule book.

As a result, crew chief Charles Swing has been fined $200,000, driver Carl Long and owner Danielle Long have been penalized with the loss of 200 driver and 200 owner points, and all three has been suspended from the next 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship events, suspended from NASCAR until Aug. 18 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.” – NASCAR PR

The first time I read the press release above stating the penalties I don’t know why, but I was shocked, in I couldn’t believe that NASCAR had reached this dangerous level and with a car infraction that was not blatant cheat in my opinion. NASCAR’s slogan should be expect the unexpected, any way what a penalty…

First, the crew chief gets $200,000 fine, the highest has been $100,000 for #99-Edwards and #66, #70-Haas racing crew chiefs. Note: Robby Gordon’s $150,000 fine (after appeal changed it) after Daytona in 2008 isn’t the same, the appeals board penalized Gordon $150,000 fine for wrong Dodge nose, no other penalty.

Second, Driver Carl Long and the owner have been docked 200 driver and owner points, the highest has been #66, #70-Haas racing at 150 driver owner points after Lowe’s Motor Speedway for wing mounting locations. So far both are where NASCAR said they would go, $200,000 double the fine for a crew chief is high, I would have expected $150k and the docking 200 driver and owner points is 50 more points since last year.

However the third part of this penalty is also the biggest part, a 12 race suspension of driver, crew chief and owner, the highest is six-race for only the crew chief and car chief, not driver or owner.

Basically I understand with this NASCAR COT racecar there is a black and white rule, it’s either, green or red, no yellow here and if you are found to have broken the rules, you will be penalized no matter how little the infraction is.

And I understand that NASCAR needed to hand down a penalty here, that’s the way NASCAR has stated it in the past, so a penalty was warranted here (a must if you will), but this penalty is too extreme, since when did NASCAR start suspending drivers and owners for a car infractions?

This is dangerous waters that NASCAR has put themselves into with suspending drivers and owners for car infractions, most of the time, the driver doesn’t even know about it and if it’s a simple mistake like the wrong rear mounts, this going to be huge and NASCAR doesn’t want these results.

So I ask this again, Should we expect that this record penalty against Carl Long will be the normal penalty for everybody? Let me put this into prospective for everyone, even me, first if Chad Knaus (I choose him because he has had penalties in the past) had a car infraction it would be driver Jimmie Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus, car chief, and the car owner Jeff Gordon being suspended for 12+ races?

Or Tony Eury Jr. (I choose him because he has had penalties in the past) had a car infraction it would be driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., crew chief Tony Eury Jr., the car chief and the owner Rick Hendrick being suspended for 12+ races? Both crew chiefs have been suspended before for another from changing the COT to wrong rear wing mounts.

Wow, I don’t care who you are, that’s huge right there. Bottom line, I believe this penalty was warranted, but is too extreme and I hope that the appeals board (BTW: there’s appeal fee too) lowers this penalty, but make no mistake, there has to be a penalty hand down here, there was a car infraction.

But more so, NASCAR has entered dangerous waters and when that day comes when a top driver and team and owner have an infraction, NASCAR has to stay consistent and suspend the driver, crew chief, car chief, and owner and when that day comes, it’s going to hurt hard.

And, first, it doesn’t matter that this was a All-Star race infraction, an infraction is a infraction and I’m not surprised that docked points and suspended people, but second, drivers and owners shouldn’t be suspended for car infractions.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What are the top 5 biggest races in Motorsports? The Indy 500, Monaco Grand Prix…

It’s a beautiful Tuesday evening, 70 degrees outside and sunny up here in Massachusetts and yet I am already thinking about the weekend, but not just any weekend, Memorial Day Weekend. Memorial Day Weekend is the biggest weekend in motorsports especially for me, on Sunday, two of the biggest race in motorsports will get the green flag, the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 and history shows that both races should be exciting.

This weekend also marks NASCAR’s second biggest and longest race of the season and ironically enough it is on Sunday as well, the Coca-Cola 600. Think about for a moment, I know I have, every year Motorsports fans sit down to watch one, two or even three (counting the NASCAR race) including me of these races in one day, damn that’s cool.

Since this is the biggest Motorsports weekend, I figure that this is the perfect time to ask, what are the top 5 biggest races in Motorsports? I have been thinking about this question for a little while now and while the list will most likely be among the same for just about everyone by way of what races should be on the list, the order and maybe even one exception might be different and to me it’s no different.

I got the idea for this article after watching “the grid” not too long ago where they highlighted there list. However after thinking about it, because I am a huge NASCAR fan and not a big Formula 1 fan, the order is different, is it for you?

It’s only right for me to count you down, so in 5th is the Dakar Rally for the Dakar Series, the Inaugural race was in 1979 in Africa, however the race was moved in 2009 to South America with a distance of 9000 km (2009).

In 4th has to be The Monaco Grand Prix for Formula 1, this race was first run in 1929 at Circuit de Monaco with a distance of 161.9 miles and continues today. “The race is held on a narrow course laid out in the streets of Monaco, with many elevation changes and tight corners as well as a tunnel, making it one of the most demanding tracks in Formula One. In spite of the relatively low average speeds, it is a dangerous place to race.” - From Wikipedia

Note: The Indianapolis 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix is considered the Triple Crown of Motorsports.

In 3rd, The Daytona 500 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This is one of my favorite races all season long, when it comes time for the Daytona 500, yeah know it. The race marks the beginning of the NASCAR season. The 500 was first run in 1959 at Daytona International Speedway with a distance of 500 miles, is NASCAR’s super bowl and still continues today. The 2009 Daytona 500 winner was Matt Kenseth.

In 2nd, 24 Hours of Le Mans, a 24 hour endurance race around a tough circuit. The first race was in 1923 and run at Circuit de la Sarthe with a distance of approx 5000 km. “The 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans was a great race between the Audi R10 and the Peugeot 908. After 24 hours of racing, the Audi managed to win the race by a margin of less than 10 minutes. For the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans, Peugeot will introduce a new energy-recovery system similar to the KERS used in Formula One. Aston Martin will enter the LMP1 category, but still racing in GT2 with private teams.” – From Wikipedia.

I can’t wait until next month (June 13-14) to watch the Audi R15 TDI via the Peugeot, that one should be amazing to watch, but I wonder if the in the Audi will include a roof, enclosed cockpit.

And the number 1 race in Motorsports is The Indianapolis 500 for the IRL IndyCar Series. The 500 was first run in 1911 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a distance of 500 miles. In watching the Indianapolis 500 every year, I always seem to ask whether or not this race is still number one in Motorsports and the answer for me anyway it is. For 2009, the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 will have a Penske Racing 1-2 start with Helio Castroneves on the pole, his teammate Ryan Briscoe in the middle and of course the return of Dario Franchitti from NASCAR for Ganassi Racing. Can Dario Franchitti repeat as winner of the Indy 500, he won this race back in 2007 before leaving for NASCAR.

Do you agree? Is the Indianapolis 500 still the biggest race in Motorsports? What’s your list look like?


(Image From Wikipedia)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

J. Andretti & Hunter-Reay bump in and Tagliani is out of the Indy 500 field in final moments.

Let me state the obvious, the Indianapolis 500 in my eyes is not only one of the biggest races all season long in Motorsports, but the biggest. When it comes to the month of May, I always look forward to seeing who will be in the Indianapolis 500 and of course watching a damn good race. Of course, on that same Sunday, I am watching the Monaco Grand Prix in the earlier morning hours and after the 500, its NASCAR turn for the Coca-Cola 600.

But this time it’s the “Month of May” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its one week before the 500, so that means to race, you must first qualify and since this is not NASCAR with its top 35 being locked in, any driver whether you are a past IRL champion, Indy 500 winner or race winner, you must qualify your way in to the Indy 500 field on speed.

For the 2009 Indianapolis 500, there is four days of qualifying, first last Saturday or what is commonly referred to as “Pole Day”. Pole Day sets only the first 11 spots on the grid and showcases the battle between the big teams from Penske Racing and Ganassi Racing to Andretti-Green Racing all trying to get into the field. Each driver gets three attempts per day and in some ways, they used at least two of them.

I never understand the four laps equal’s an average speed nor the three attempts, but by the end of the day, it was a Penske Racing 1-2 start with Helio Castroneves on the pole, his teammate Ryan Briscoe in the middle and the return of Dario Franchitti from NASCAR for Ganassi Racing. A few surprises had to be Mario Moraes in 7th, Will Power in 9th and Alex Lloyd getting in right in the last spot.

Day 2 of qualifying locked in positions 12-22 with Paul Tracy finally getting in. Here is a guy that even I have been waiting to see if he was going to race at in the IndyCar Series at all this season and yet he used two attempts to get in. Paul was originally safe, however wanted to improve his position, so he had to withdraw his time and requalify and ended up in the 13th spot, of course nice to see Sarah Fisher in as well as Davey Hamilton in the final spot. Day 3 is one thing, but day 4 “bump day” and on bump day you are never safely in the field until the gun sounds at 6pm EST.

Bump day to me is interesting, however from what I saw was a complete nightmare to watch in the final hour. I never understand why some drivers and teams wait until the final hour on bump day to post at least one time, let alone defend their position. While watching the nightmare on pit stop is joke, watching the qualifying laps on the racetrack at the end is exciting. You always have that one or two drivers that are out and are threshing trying to get through tech and on to the qualifying line to go out.

I kept watching John Andretti struggle to find speed, at one point I’m thinking he is complaining that he can’t get turn 1 right, I’ll never get in, of course I think Tony Stewart’s advice to try another line into the corners and him holding his breath not only got him in, but put him 28th on the grid.

But you know it isn’t bump day without the last second drama of who’s in and who’s out and that last run was priceless. Once John Andretti got in, that put Alex Tagliani on the bubble and with only room for one more qualifier, it was Ryan Hunter-Reay’s last shot to get into the field. I have to give it Ryan Hunter-Reay, he gave it all he had and it wasn’t until that last second on the last lap that Ryan Hunter-Reay averages 220.597 mph bumping his way in and Alex Tagliani is out of the Indy 500.

It is what it is and for Alex Tagliani, he just didn’t have to speed is out.

Picks for the Indy 500, I have to give it to Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti with Will Power as a dark horse, so basically its Penske Racing vs. Ganassi Racing for the victory.

That’s what it’s all about, but I think the “Month of May” qualifying process is a nightmare and I would hate to go through that. The IndyCar Series needs to retool this process for 2010, the display I say on television was a result of this process and thrown out, it’s a waste of money period.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The history continues in the 25th NASCAR All-Star race as Tony Stewart wins $1 Million Dollars.

Armed with soda, chips, chicken breasts, BBQ sauce, snacks and a one seat, it’s a night to sit back, relax, leave the remote alone and just watch a sprint race on television, yes I am talking about the only night that there is no points on the line (not counting the Shootout at Daytona) the NASCAR All-Star race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

While I can do without the Shootout at Daytona, in my eyes, the All-Star race is a must have. This is a night that there are no points on the line, no points racing, it’s an all out sprint race and the winner, the one who survivors wins a $1 Million Dollars.

What I really can’t believe is that this is the 25th NASCAR All-Star race, the first thought is NASCAR actually kept this race all this time, of course time changes most events in life, and the All-Star race is no different. In 1985, the All-Star race had a simple format, around 10 cars started, 70 laps that included a mandatory pit stop and winner takes all.

I watched the highlights of the 1985 race earlier this week, that reminded me of the racing now, but you choice when you pitted, not NASCAR. Harry Gant pitted when his pit window opened, while Junior Johnson had his guy Darrell Waltrip and crew chief to wait, wait, wait, ok now pit, classic move, but what difference, once Darrell Waltrip had new tires and words from Johnson, he was off, chased down Harry Gant and on the last lap passed him and won the race and $20,000.

Of course this was also the race where Darrell Waltrip’s engine blowup just past start-finish line, oh yes, controversy, it wouldn’t be DW without it, however I don’t believe that DW would drive a car knowing it was going to blow up going into turn 1 on the cool down lap, especially when DW had his hand out the window pumping his fist in victory.

Looking back, what a history the All-Star race (formerly known as The Winston) has had, more importantly, what moments, how about 1987, better known to NASCAR fans as “The Pass in the grass”. That one was classic Dale Earnhardt. In the final 10 laps, Earnhardt traded paint with Bill Elliott and Geoffrey Bodine, but Elliott got tired of Earnhardt and bumped Earnhardt on the frontstrength, which sent him into the grass, of course with some luck and some skill, Earnhardt not only saved it, but came back on to the racetrack, keeping the position and winning the race.

How about the 1989 classic between Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip... It was a classic battle with two laps to go, but coming off of turn 4 to get the white flag lap, the young gun Rusty Wallace running second gets a good run off the corner, but spins out the veteran Darrell Waltrip into the grass. Rusty Wallace may have won the race, but I like what one announcer said in a round table, that one moment changed both of those drivers in the eyes of the fans, the young gun Rusty Wallace became the bad guy and Darrell Waltrip was now being compared to the likes of Petty, Pearson and Johnson.

Those were only three classic All-Star race, how about in 1992 when Dale Earnhardt and Kyle Petty was battling on the last lap for the victory, Earnhardt raced Petty down to the white line on the backstrength, went into turn 3 and Petty made contact with Earnhardt sliding up into the wall, Petty slows and Davey Allison running in second then came up right next to Kyle Petty, and edged Petty for the victory or in 2000 when the rookie Dale Earnhardt Jr. passed Dale Jarrett on the final lap to win the race.

Now we come to the present (2009) and NASCAR’s All-Star race. While the names, faces, teams, racecars and especially the format has changed, the racing in most cases (expect last in 2008) hasn’t changed.

In watching this 3 hours All-Star event and writing this article, I have been comparing the differences, in 1985, the format was one segment, 70 laps with a mandatory pit stop, but key there was, the pit stop had to made during the race when you wanted to.

Now compare that to 2009, 100 laps broken up into four segments, 50 laps with a mandatory pit stop on lap 25, 25 lap segment, 25 lap segment and a good edition, a final 10 lap segment. I don’t care about the mandatory pit stop, but don’t tell the teams that they have to pit on lap 25, they just have to pit by the white flag lap and that’s it.

I’m surprised that NASCAR hasn’t done a 70-lap, 20 lap, 10 lap format, anyway the jury in my eyes is still out on this new format except for the final 10 lap segment, keep that one.

With that said, what about the 2009 NASCAR All-Star race? Of course with the winner of the showdown a surprising Sam Hornish Jr., second place is Jamie McMurray and the winner of the Sprint vote was the rookie Joey Logano. I was surprised to see that that many fans included me voted in Joey Logano to the All-Star race.

The way I look at it, the first 50 laps is trying to figure out your racecar, get a good pit stop with no mistakes and stay on the lead lap. Segment two is 20 laps, it gives you another pit stop and another adjustment, segment 3 is really important, your racing to position yourself in the best place possible, hopefully in the top 3 spot, but the final segment, 10 laps, winner take all, $1 Million Dollars.

However now we come to the final 10 laps, and we are…3 wide coming off of turn 2, but Jimmie Johnson got spun and we will try it again (same order as before). So we try it again, this time Kyle Busch goes to middle, makes the pass in the middle, 3 wide, that was just funny (I know it was Kyle Busch, but it was funny especially since on the previous restart he went to the outside of Matt Kenseth and DW predicted it), but where did Ryan Newman come from, at one point he was one lap down and now he goes around Kyle Busch on the outside to take the lead and Gordon gets squeezed and wrecks.

At this point, we know this one isn’t over yet and with 8 laps to go…Newman out, he hit the wall hard on that three wide, Kenseth in for the lead, now it’s Stewart in 3rd, I don’t like when a caution comes out, NASCAR goes back to the previous lap for the restart lineup.

What a classic duel with 5 laps to go, Kenseth vs. Stewart, but once Smoke got out front, no one could caught him and…Tony Stewart wins the 2009 NASCAR All-Star race, one hell of a victory, great job Tony Stewart and Happy Birthday, he wins as an owner/driver, damn what a final 10 laps, worth every bit. Damn what was that, now that’s what $1 Million Dollars on the line will do to a driver.

(Photos by (1989 Wallace vs. Waltrip) Lowe's Motor Speedway Archives via NASCAR media and (Tony Stewart in victory lane - great photo my the way) Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Southern 500 name doesn’t mean the same without the Labor Day date at Darlington Raceway, but still what a race.

The two headlines of the Southern 500: Joey Logano (a rookie) not only leading the Southern 500, but finished 9th and Mark Martin on not only picking up his second Cup Series victory of 2009, but signing with Hendrick Motorsports to drive the #5 full-time in 2010 as well. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images)

As I sit here one week later, the Southern 500 at the historical Darlington Raceway is still fresh in my mind, but I would like to talk about the name "the Southern 500" itself. To me, the name, the Southern 500 had always ranked in the top 5 best races of the NASCAR season alongside the famous Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600, the Brickyard 400 and the Firecracker 400 (Pepsi 400 – Coke Zero 400, whichever you prefer), of course now that list has changed over the years and should include the Sharpie 500 at Bristol.

However a few years ago when NASCAR took the Labor Day Weekend date away from Darlington Raceway and gave it to one of the worse racetracks on the schedule, California Speedway (of course in 2009, Atlanta will be on Labor Day Weekend) and removed the name the Southern 500, that move changed alot in NASCAR.

No longer was the Southern 500, nor Darlington Raceway on the top 5 ranking races of the season, now number 5 on that list is the Sharpie 500 at Bristol and rightfully so, however now in 2009, NASCAR and Darlington has brought back the name the Southern 500 to the raceway, the old font of Darlington Raceway on the wall, the red and white paint on the walls and of course you already have the character of the Darlington strip, so?

In this NASCAR fans eyes, the name the Southern 500 doesn’t mean the same without the Labor Day Weekend date, but its kind of cool to watch and its a piece of history, but like I said, it’s still not the same. It’s too bad that NASCAR wouldn’t put Darlington on Saturday Night Labor Day Weekend, that would be one historical race to watch judging by not only last year’s Darlington race, but this weekend’s as well which I will get into in a minute.

Should Darlington Raceway or Las Vegas Motor Speedway for that matter get a second Cup Series date? NO, let me explain. One, the only date Darlington needs is the Southern 500 on Saturday night on Labor Day Weekend or at least on Saturday night. Darlington with one date works great, the fans come out and yes even in this economy the fans do come out and fill the grandstands for a good race, why change it.

Two, a few months ago I though Las Motor Speedway should get a second date only if NASCAR removed it from California Speedway, however while the October date should be removed from California Speedway (it’s a boring race, we don’t need two dates there), Las Vegas doesn’t need two dates neither, but the current date should be moved, try at the end of the season either in the old California October date or at the end of the year, bumping Homestead-Miami to the 9th chase race of the season, personally the October date works better, that way it would still be a west coast race.

That move would be better for attendance at Las Vegas, because there is already too many dates so close together now in the first part of the season.

What about the Southern 500 race itself? Wow, what a race it was. Racing at just about any racetrack under the lights on either a Saturday or Sunday night is always fun and entertaining to watch both at the racetrack and on television or how ever NASCAR fans watch their NASCAR.

Last year before this race, Carl Edwards and David Pearson drove around the raceway together, however I found it interesting that the rookie Joey Logano and Cale Yarbrough drove around Darlington together this time, there has to be some good tips on just how to navigate Darlington there, the Lady in back hasn’t changed all that much in recent years, besides that was cool.

What a Southern 500, in watching NASCAR so far in 2009, I have even noticed that not only in other series, but especially in the Cup Series, the racing has gotten more aggressive, drivers are taking more chances, beating harder on each other and really just going after each position just a little bit more, however if you hadn’t noticed it before, you most likely did this past Saturday night when the aggressive driving was taken to a whole new level.

Darlington Raceway is a 1.3 mile, egg shaped oval that with high speeds and tight corners is very hard to navigate, let along race side-by-side, but damn, at one point I just said “how did he make that pass or on the flipside, what a stupid move. Case in point, Casey Mears, sorry Casey, but he was only 34 laps into the race, went down onto the apron and tried to make a pass on Brian Vickers and instead slides up into Vickers, spinning him out and setting off a chain reaction, I mean what was that…

There were moves like that all night long, but at the same time, there was a lot of passing, if you had the car to get to the front, you could make that climb, there was just a little bit of room to squeeze in there. It seens that over the past couple of years, survival has been one of the keys to victory or just a good top 10 finish at any track and this was not different.

There were two crashes where my heart just sunk. First had to be on Lap 75 when Michael Waltrip had an oil fire, sending Michael into turn 3 in a ball of fire, thank god Mikey climbed out, what sight to see and the second hard crash of night had to be on lap 222, Clint Bowyer, what a hard hit he took, going from inside wall to outside wall, back to the inside wall again, but glad to see Clint climbed out too.

In watching the late stages of the Southern 500, you had to know that it was going to be a Hendrick Motorsports or Hendrick Motorsports affiliated day, but whom? Once that #48 team got that #48 car fixed, Jimmie Johnson just looked like he was shot out of a cannon, but you know in racing, it isn’t about your age, 18 or over 50, if you got you got and right now for Mark Martin he is on his game, what a run he had all night long, but who would have known that with 46 laps to go, Mark Martin would take the lead and never look back to pickup his second victory of 2009, that’s cool right there, what a team. Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top 5, but one call here, what a run for Joey Logano.

A rookie leading at Darlington is big and he finished 9th, that’s a good hard fought day, congratulations to Joey Logaono for finishing 9th and to Mark Martin on not only picking up his second Cup Series victory of 2009, but signing with Hendrick Motorsports to drive the #5 full-time in 2010 as well.

What about #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.? I tweeted a few times on this in the last few weeks saying that first, Hendrick Motorsports should swap the #24-Jeff Gordon and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. crews with crew chief like Roush Racing is so famous and RCR just did with the Harvick and Mears, however I would say that this point, clean house now, you don’t need fire these guys, but put a whole new team together and start fresh right away, I believe that is the only solution and yes even though I don’t think Tony Eury Jr. is the problem, nor the spotter, they go too, so just Dale Jr. stays.

Hendick needs somebody like Tony Eury Sr. to crew chief for Dale Jr., a crew chief that will not talk Junior’s stuff on the radio, basically like Zippy does on the #20, you drive racecar and I will work the pits period.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What was the biggest story of the Crown Royal presents The Russ Friedman 400 at Richmond?



Runner-up Tony Stewart and third-place finisher Jeff Burton race for position in the closing laps of the CROWN ROYAL presents The Russ Friedman 400 at Richmond International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

As I sit here watching the NASCAR Nationwide Series racing on a green racetrack at Darlington, I want to put a cap on last Saturday Night’s Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway. After every race, I like to ask myself a question, what made the race exciting and more so, what was the biggest story of race?

Some NASCAR fans would say the biggest story of race had to be the pit strategy by the #18 team that not only got Kyle Busch out front during the race, but once out front, couldn’t by catch, and won the race, or the fact that his teammate Denny Hamlin after leading the most laps was once again denied victory at his home racetrack.

While those are two interesting stories to some, in my eyes, it wasn’t. The biggest story of the Crown Royal presents the Russ Friedman 400 had to be the “wrecks to riches.” What are wrecks to riches?

Wrecks to riches isn’t a television show, the term describes a driver or group of drivers that sometime during the race at one time or another wrecked, either was spun out and hit the wall or got hit by another driver and came back with a top 5, top 11 finish.

For some reason or another, several drivers fit this term perfectly, the first driver had to Jeff Burton. Burton had a busy night, of course so did just about every driver except the start and park one’s anyway. Jeff Burton got spun out and hit the turn 4 outside wall on lap 211 after contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dale Jr. looked like he got loss on the bottom and got up into to Burton. By the end of the race, Jeff Burton was chasing down the leader Kyle Busch, but ended up battling Tony Stewart and finished in the 3rd spot.

Second had to Mark Martin, during the late stages of the race, Ryan Newman bumped Mark Martin, which sent him spinning in front of the field, Martin would get in the driver’s door by Martin Truex Jr., Fortunity, Mark Martin would rally back for a 5th place finish.

The third driver had a rough night including at one point went a lap down, but on lap 167, Jamie McMurray spin out trying to avoid another wreck and hit his teammate Edwards who just had a bad night, Jamie McMurray would come back for a 7th place finish. Mark my works, that is going to get him into the chase for the Sprint Cup in September.

Fourth was Marcos Ambrose, Ambrose slammed the outside turn 2 wall after contact with Sam Hornish Jr. who had his best cup series finish in 6th, Ambrose would finish 11th.

With the old car, most of these stories wouldn’t be so successful, however just like so many times in the past few years, this COT racecar has shown that it is pretty strong and can take a good hit and yet keep going. Of course, last year at Darlington in the Dodge Charger 500 was a classic example when Kyle Busch had to have bounced off the walls several times and yet he won the race.

The COT car also seems to have created some even better racing on some tracks, (I didn’t even think that that was possible at tracks like Phoenix, Darlington, Richmond, Martinsville, but a prime example of a better race is New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Those two races have gotten a lot better, the racing is now exciting, thank god too.) I wonder what tomorrow night’s Southern 500 with Matt Kenseth on the pole (while Scott Speed didn’t qualify and went home) is going to be like?

At Richmond, Tony Stewart showed that he and his entire Stewart-Haas Racing is inching closer and closer to not only their first cup series victory, but Tony Stewart’s first cup series victory as an owner/drivers, ironically enough, as a NASCAR fan I remember the last owner/driver to win in the cup series, do you?

The last owner/driver to win in the Cup Series was Ricky Rudd, some NASCAR fans might remember RPM (Rudd Performance Motorsports), before Ricky Rudd sold his raceteam, his last victory as an owner/driver came back in 1998 at Martinsville Speedway. I remember that victory at Martinsville, “Rudd was dealing with high air temperatures and a faulty cooling system. As a result, Rudd suffered burns and blisters over most of his body, and gave his victory lane interview lying on the ground breathing from an oxygen mask.” - Wikipedia

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Take: What if NASCAR qualifying is cancelled and what about the 2009 All-Star race changes?

Whether it’s NASCAR, Motorsports, Automobiles or more entertainment here on RaceDriven.com, I bring you my opinion (because that is what blogging is – someone’s take on any subject) in style, so let’s get started.

In NASCAR, just about every day even in the off season, there seems to be a new discussion on just about any topic in NASCAR from on-track action to the off-track action and today is no different. As a blogger, writer and NASCAR fan, there are always issues facing NASCAR, every decision NASCAR makes is going to be meant with both positive and negative reaction and the latest discussions are just the tip of the iceberg from this past month.

1. How to set the grid if NASCAR qualifying is cancelled or washed out.

As a NASCAR fan, I hate to see qualifying get washed out due to weather or cancelled for any reason, right now, if qualifying is cancelled, NASCAR will set the starting lineup by owner’s points and for some drivers who are currently not in the top 35 and are go or go home drivers that is a real problem. Those drivers are sent home without even being able to even make an attempt to qualify and at the same time, it puts the points leader on the pole, which isn’t always the best either (depending upon speed, not driver).

Last month on NASCAR.com, an article touched on this very topic and suggested that the starting lineup could be set by either practice speeds or qualifying order.

In my opinion, I can’t imagine NASCAR setting the starting lineup by the luck of the draw, that’s not going to work for them, nor is it going to work for NASCAR drivers, teams, owners, media or the fans (including this fan), so how then?

First, if qualifying is awash, set the top 35 by practice speeds. The practice speeds are normally a good indication of who is going to be up front anywhere.

Second, for the go or go home drivers, NASCAR should make another attempt to have qualifying for just those go or go home drivers providing that there are 44 drivers or more going for 43 spots, but if that qualifying is awash too, then set it by the practice speeds too and your all set, that way the fast cars are in the race and then continue with the remainder of the weekend schedule.

2. The NASCAR Sprint All-star race changes.

Unbelievable isn’t it, another year, another change to the all-star race as if the major changes to the Budweiser Shootout wasn’t enough, well at least the All-Star race isn’t set by the which manufacturers banner your favorite driver is under. So, what are the changes to next month’s NASCAR Sprint All-star race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway?

Of course NASCAR will have the pit crew challenge and qualifying leading up to the big Saturday night event, however while Saturday night will still have the Sprint Showdown with two 20 lap races, with each winner advancing to the All-star race and NASCAR will keep the fan vote, good choice to keep the fan vote, keep the fans involved.

However here’s where the changes begin, the All-star race itself will now consist of four segments. The 1st segment will be 50 laps (mandatory pit stop on Lap 25 at which time teams must pit and take four tire). The 2nd Segment will be 20 laps with an optional pit stops.

The 3rd Segment will also be 20 laps with an optional pit stop, but here's where the big and right changes is made, 4th segment, this segment will be a 10 lap sprint for the cash. Cars will start this segment the way they finished the 3rd segment. Only green flag laps will count and $1 Million Dollars to win. sweet! There’s your 100 lap all-star race.

In my opinion, it works for me, I can’t wait to see the all-star race next month, however NASCAR, no more changes to the All-star race for awhile, that’s where the negative reaction mainly comes from.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Danica Patrick: Racing in the IndyCar Series for the rest of 2009 and NASCAR in 2010?

As not only a NASCAR fan, but a Motorsports fan, I watch the IRL IndyCar Series as well and have been watching Danica Patrick since her days driving in the Toyota Atlantic Series and then coming up into the now Indycar Series, running for Rahal/Letterman before joining Andretti-Green Racing a few years ago.

In that time, the subject of Danica Patrick leaving the IndyCar Series and moving to NASCAR has made headlines several times including her visiting I believe it was Chicagoland Speedway and talking to Roush Racing some time ago.

This past Friday, Boost Mobile and Motorola announced that they have Joins Forces as Title Sponsor of Racing Star Danica Patrick’s Andretti Green Racing IndyCar Series for the Indianapolis 500 and the rest of 2009, so we know where Danica Patrick will be driving for the rest of the 2009 season, however with her contract with Andretti-Green Racing up at the end of this season, once again, the famous talk of Danica Patrick moving to NASCAR has come to the surface and fans are left asking why!

Over the last few years in NASCAR, several open wheel drivers have not only expressed interested, but have made the just to NASCAR.

Let’s talk about the open wheel invasion for a moment or the struggles as I put it at the end of last season. What happened to the Open-Wheel Invasion, as of May 3rd, 2009, Juan Montoya is driving the #42, he has a road course victory a few years ago and is surviving races, Sam Hornish Jr. is driving the #77 for Penske Racing and as for now while he has had a few good runs, 2009 is a his make or break year, if he doesn’t show much, IndyCar Series fans may see him back in the IndyCar Series.

However when it comes to Dario Franchitti, he made the jump to NASCAR at the end of 2007 to run in the now the Nationwide Series at Memphis. In 2008, Dario made the climb to the Cup Series starting at the Daytona 500, but his half season in both series would be short lived as he was out due to injury after a weird wreck at Talladega in the Nationwide Series. Finally, Dario’s last race would be the New Hampshire 300 in June that I attended in person. Following New Hampshire, Ganassi Racing announced that they were shutting down the #40 due to lack of sponsorship and Dario would complete in the Nationwides Series for a few more races, but decided to move back to the IndyCar Series in 2009.

Dario would win his first race back, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Other open wheel drivers to make the jump including Jacques Villeneuve, that never got going, but for Patrick Carpentier, he qualified for a number races including taking pole at New Hampshire in June before being removed at GEM, and Paul Tracy drove a few races in the Nationwide Series, but just never was, so basically, only Juan Montoya has really showed some thing and is still here.

So what about Danica Patrick making the jump to NASCAR? Simply put, not going to happen for two reasons:

First, once she made the jump to the Cup Series after at least a season in the Nationwide Series or the Truck Series, compared to the IndyCar Series racecar that weighs in around 1,575ibs (don’t quote me on the weight) with races that mostly are 2 hours long, I don’t think she could handle the COT racecar that weighs 3450lbs for (and no, it’s not because she is a women neither, NASCAR has a few drivers in the Cup Series that can’t handle the cars either) the long 3-4 hours races, these NASCAR races are like in some ways endorse races with this new COT racecar, most drivers, if not every driver at the end of these races looked like they are cooked.

Believe it or not, she is marketable in NASCAR, so I will say that even in this tough economy, I do think she could get a sponsorship for a little while, but just like most drivers (there are those few) in NASCAR, she will have very little time to show what she can.

Second, it is just not going to happen, why would Danica Patrick want to leave the IRL IndyCar Series without being the best in the series. What I mean by best is, winning multi-races and the becoming the IRL IndyCar Series Championship, she drives herself to be the best, so it is only naturally that she succeed in one series before moving on, it’s like Kyle Busch leaving NASCAR before he wins a championship, just not going to happen, but at the same time, Formula 1 could come a calling.

In the same category, Dario Franchitti left the IndyCar Series only after he was the best in the series winning several races and a championship. Danica is in a series that she wants to the best in, why would she leave period.

In thinking about this, I basically feel that the talk weighs nothing and it is put out there about her making the jump to NASCAR just helps her land a new deal in the IndyCar Series with a race team, I have nothing against Danica Patrick moving to NASCAR, but I just don’t see it in the foreseeable future.

I will say that if she wants a new challenge, she should try driving in the American Le Mans Series first, those are heavy cars and they have both short and long races, that would be a better fit than NASCAR.



Boost Mobile and Motorola announced that they have Joins Forces as Title Sponsor of Racing Star Danica Patrick’s Andretti Green Racing IndyCar Series for the Indianapolis 500 and the rest of 2009, I don't know why, but I like the photo, there is nothing like a racecar vs. a commericial plane, its just a cool, speed sight. (Photo credit: AP via LEADER ENTERPRISES, INC press release I received by email.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Shell sponsored driving game contest – Win an autographed Kevin Harvick Hat.

UPDATE: Just a quick note: It's official, all of the hats are gone and the “Shell sponsored driving game contest” is over. A special thanks to Matter-Edelman PR on behalf of Shell-Pennzoil for the autographed Kevin Harvick Hats.

Racedriven.com presents, “Shell sponsored driving game contest”.

A few months ago, I ran a contest for my readers to win an autographed Kevin Harvick hat, since then I have received a few emails asking if I had any hats left, so after being asked to do a second contest, I jumped at the chance and here we are again, your chance to win another autographed Kevin Harvick hat. This time, it’s the “Shell sponsored driving game contest” that is on the ESPN Radio Mike and Mike website.

Basically, go here and play the game, users can select between two cars that match the personalities of the on-air talent – Mike Greenberg's flashy sports car or Mike Golic's rugged SUV. Points are accumulated as the racer navigates their way through a race course trying to avoid gunk and potholes that decrease the score and grab any Shell gasoline cans or Nitrogen Enriched fuel drops that add to the total points. It’s pretty addictive, and a great way to break up the day.

The person with the highest score wins an autographed Kevin Harvick hat pictured on the right courtesy of Edelman PR on behalf of Shell-Pennzoil.

The rules are simply:
Send an email to racedriven@gmail.com, please use “Shell sponsored driving game contest” in the subject line, the email must include:

1. A (screen shot) picture of your high score, just about everyone owns a digital camera or cell phone with a camera on it, if you don’t worry, just use a graphics program (or use a free graphics program like GIMP 2) and take a picture of the your computer screen with the highest score and email it to me either in the body of the email or as an attachment. I would like the picture to either 640x480, 800x600 or 1024x768 if possible.

- No files/pictures over 300k (I want to keep my email account)

2. Please include your mailing address. Your address will not be shared with anyone outside of Racedriven.com. (If you have sent in a contest entry with RaceDriven.com before, you must sent a new one to enter this contest, I don’t keep the entries once the contest is over and the winner receives there prize.

- We will email you if you have won the autographed Kevin Harvick hat to confirm your mailing address.
- Only one entry per shipping address, per email address per person.
- Contest is open to United States residents only.
- Contest starts Friday, May 1, 2009
- Contest ends Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 12:00pm.
- The person with the highest score wins an autographed Kevin Harvick hat.

Thank you and good luck to everyone. Please email me if you have any questions, concerns or comments.