Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NASCAR Nationwide COT on track at Daytona: Ford and Dodge are a hit while Chevrolet and Toyota are huge disappointments.

Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway, some of the NASCAR Nationwide Series teams took to the race track in practice in preparations for this Friday night’s Nationwide Series race. This is the first time that the new Nationwide Series COT (I call it the Car of Tomorrow just like the Cup Series COT) has hit the track for a real practice (session) and Friday night will be the first race for this new car.

I have to admit that in the beginning, I had my doubts, but after really looking at these cars and looking at what the Cup Series COT does for teams, not to mention safety, for the most part, I like what I see.

I have to hand it to Ford for bring the Ford Mustang on board in NASCAR and to Dodge for bring the Dodge Challenger, both pony cars look a lot closer to what the street car is, namely what the consumer can buy in the showroom today.

However in every party, there always has to be a few people or in this case, two car manufacturers that don’t want to give what the fans want and that would be Chevrolet and Toyota. Now I have to admit that while Toyota isn’t a surprise that they brought the standard Toyota Camry to Daytona as maybe the only car they could have used is the Scion tC, Chevrolet is an entirely different story.

I’m sorry Chevrolet, but I don’t accept your reasoning why you don’t want to use the Chevrolet Camaro in the Nationwide series and possibly in the Cup Series in the future. I mean there had to have been something you could have brought besides the boring and terrible looking Chevrolet Impala SS in this format. Both Car manufacturers have slapped NASCAR fans in the face with ring the Camry and Impala SS to the party.

And considering Dale Earnhardt Jr. is racing the #3 Wrangler Jean Chevrolet in honor of his father Dale Earnhardt in a one-time deal, this doesn’t work period. Of course I will say despite Chevrolet running the impala SS, I’m still excited about seeing Dale Jr. race these Wrangler colors on Friday, that looks cool.

Photo Credit: Motorsports Images and Archives and NASCARmedia.com.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Reed Sorenson retaliates on Juan Montoya as Jimmie Johnson wins in New Hampshire and the first Race to the Chase race.

New England playing host to NASCAR, this one is a little bit personally to me considering this is my neck of the woods and even though I didn’t attend this weekend’s racing in New Hampshire due to simply no extra money, I still love it when NASCAR comes to New Hampshire.

With that said, today’s Lenox Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway which is also the first Race to the Chase race was a continuation of basically what NASCAR fans have been seeing more of this season, unpredictable racing. But even more so, the season has also seen more drivers self policing each other on and off track.

This self policing policy among drivers and hard, competitive, side-by-side racing brings me to three key points of the race:

1. Aggressive driving: So far in 2010, the words “unpredictable” and “aggressive” have been used regularly, but so has “retaliation or payback”. More drivers this season have been making statements or policing themselves on and off the racetrack. However why is it that Juan Montoya and Jeff Gordon are getting away with what others haven’t, knocking others and racing other drivers with no respect?

Of course if you were watching the race today, then you noticed that one driver, Reed Sorenson looked to have had enough with Juan Montoya and with 20 laps or so to go, Sorenson delivered his version of payback (at least in my opinion) we he drove into turn 3 and turned during into Montoya’s rear quarter and put him into the outside wall.

I have to admit and I know that some readers are going to be upset with me, but I clapped and cheered that Montoya finally got what he deserved, but even more from an unlikely driver. I wonder what Reed Sorenson was really thinking at that moment?

2. Hard racing: Despite that fact that the three announcers in the TNT booth wouldn’t shut up, I still enjoyed the racing including drivers really racing hard for each position. Now that’s what NASCAR is supposed to be all about. Even the racing for the lead had its moments when Kurt Busch moved Jimmie Johnson with 6 laps to go, but if a driver is going to make a move like that, run… Johnson came back to return the favor to Busch and moved him to retake the lead and that opened the door for Tony Stewart to steal a second place finish.

3. Which brings me to the man, Jimmie Johnson, I liked listening to his post race comments in victory lane, I hadn’t heard him so much like that before. He admitted his want to get back to Kurt Busch and return the favor sort of speck. I don’t know what it is, but since Dale Earnhardt Jr. joined Hendrick Motorsports, I have become more and more of a fan of Jimmie Johnson.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate the whole corporate imagine deal that’s one reason why I’m a fan of Dale Jr., Tony Stewart and now Brad Keselowski, but Jimmie Johnson is starting to come around more and that is cool to see. Now of course I like to see Jimmie Johnson win races and championships, it’s entertaining.

But before I end this one, here are the notable the start and park teams, but what happened to Max Papis out on lap 13?

37 - 71 Andy Lally Chevrolet TRG Motorsports 52/0 142 Brakes
38 - 46 J.J. Yeley Dodge Whitney Motorsports 49/0 84 Brakes
39 - 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota FrontRowJoe.com 46/0 68 Brakes
40 - 164 Todd Bodine Toyota Little Joe's Autos 43/0 31 Transmission
41 - 55 Michael McDowell Toyota Prism Motorsports 40/0 24 Electrical
42 - 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 37/0 20 Power Stearing
43 - 13 Max Papis Toyota GEICO 34/0 11 Brakes

Any ideas?

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

1970 Road Runner "The Hammer" hammered down at $175,000 at 2010 Barrett-Jackson Orange County.


Earlier tonight, if you're an automobile enthusiast, a movie lover and a MOPAR guy, chances are you know this big-blocked 1970 Plymouth Road Runner named "The Hammer". The Hammer which is a custom built by the people at Pure Vision Design with an all aluminum 526 HEMI big block, was featured on RIDES, in Hot Rod magazine, at SEMA and of course in the movie Fast & Furious 3 and 4, what an incredible looking muscle car, there's nothing like it. It is for sure a ground-pounder.

Even more, The Hammer actually has an 1/18 GMP scale diecast as well. I have been looking for this decast, if you can't afford the actual car, go for the diecast, at least a dream car right in front of you. Of course that diecast (if I even got it) would go around my 2008 Ford Mustang Roush Stage 3 diecast signed by Jack Roush himself.

Photo Credit: Barrett-Jackson

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NASCAR at Infineon equaled Fast, Furious, Ambrose contending, Gordon making no friends and Johnson in victory lane, but will it transfer to New Hampshire…

As the NASCAR Cup Series drivers and teams are practicing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, I wanted to touch on last weekend’s Cup Series race at Infineon Raceway. In my opinion, last weekend at Infineon was one of the most exciting and bold road course races in years that I’ve seen. And if you didn’t, damn you missed a good one and a complete opposite of two weeks ago at Michigan which was a sleeper.

Last Sunday was one of those races that produced some exciting, door to door, competitive racing, however the race for some also produced some aggressive moments that just left many drivers and fans saying “what was he thinking making that move?”

Like I said in the title of the article, the race was Fast and Furious with drivers making no friends.

Here are a few points from the race itself:

1. Jeff Gordon made no friends during the race, however the funny thing is, I’m not surprised. Jeff Gordon has always driven aggressively. He’s always driven like he did on Sunday even when he was winning races and his four championships. But even with Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Juan Montoya, David Ragan, Elliott Sadler just to name a few, he will continue to drive that way until someone really gives him payback in a big way.

2. I felt back for Marcos Ambrose, like he said I gave it away. However NASCAR made the right call. But one question, doesn’t NASCAR normally give a warning before a major penalty like that? Nevertheless, this rule that reads: “In section 10-4 of NASCAR rule book “Cars must maintain a reasonable speed considering the conditions that exist on the track. Determination of a reasonable speed is a judgment call and will be made by NASCAR officials.” says it all.

But I have no doubt that Ambrose will win a Cup Series race especially considering we are going to Martinsville, Bristol and Watkins Glen and those three tracks are good for him.

3. Joey Logano needs to stop talking about the incidents and deal with the drivers of Kevin Harvick and Juan Montoya even if that means payback. NASCAR created “Have at it, Boys!” and now they are. Until Logano who won last June at NHMS (which I attended), he will continue to get run over and taken out and yes both Kevin Harvick and Juan Montoya took him out/dumped him.

4. I believe that Jimmie Johnson on that final restart had something for Ambrose if he was leading on the restart. But we will never know.

I will say that I have a lot of respect for Jimmie Johnson, the 4-time champion and 51 Cup Series wins put him in an elite group. Winning on Sunday just capped off his impressive resume, not to mention that entire #48 team. Hats off to Jimmie Johnson, he is definitely one of the best in NASCAR.

5. Sunday also reminded me of the movie Days of Thunder and that famous quote during that pit stop…

Harry Hogge said “All right. While we're still under a caution, I want you to go back out on that track and hit the pace car.“
Cole Trickle said “Hit the pace car?”
Harry Hogge” Hit the pace car.”
Cole Trickle said “What for?”
Harry Hogge said “Because you've hit every other goddamned thing out there, I want you to be perfect.”

And I award that quote to Jeff Gordon. Jeff Gordon on Sunday hit everything including so many drivers on the road course except the pace car, if he would have hit the pace car, he would have been perfect. What a perfect quote for Jeff Gordon and that race.

Will everything that took place at Infineon Raceway transfer over to New Hampshire Motor Speedway?

Yes and no.

1. I don’t see Elliott Sadler or Martin Truex Jr. getting payback on Jeff Gordon. Neither driver is that type of person for such payback, although if they’re push, anything can happen.

2. Joey Logano might get his payback on Harvick and Montoya if he is motivated.

Drivers, what goes around, comes around…

This weekend should be entertaining, I just wish I was going to be at NHMS, sorry no money and it’s too hot for me. And I really wanted to see Danica Patrick in action on Saturday, damn!

Related Posts:

- New Hampshire Motor Speedway vs. Loudon, NH – Both parties are taking advantage of each other and NASCAR fans will loss in the end.

- NASCAR: Is New Hampshire losing a Cup Date over security costs or is this just an excuse for Bruton Smith to get his Kentucky Speedway Cup date?

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Friday, June 25, 2010

New Hampshire Motor Speedway vs. Loudon, NH – Both parties are taking advantage of each other and NASCAR fans will loss in the end.

Last Friday heading into Infineon Raceway, I first wrote about Bruton Smith and New Hampshire Motor Speedway vs. the town of Loudon, NH in an article called “NASCAR: Is New Hampshire losing a Cup Date over security costs or is this just an excuse for Bruton Smith to get his Kentucky Speedway Cup date?”.

In that article I basically blasted SMI’s Bruton Smith for wanting something for nothing. Since then I received a comment from a reader “JT Stally” that said:

“This is the first I've heard of the actual threat to move a race from NHMS, although critics (especially in the south) have often questioned the Granite State hosting two races a year. I was interning with WNTK radio in New London, NH, last month when this became an issue. We were able to talk to Jerry Gappens, and it sounded like his hope was to cut back on some of the coverage on Friday and Saturday since that was no longer as popular as it once was.

I do agree that $100,000 (more than 50%) is too much to cut, but I also understand the ownership's point of view in that NHMS is the only one of seven venues where they need to pay for security. However, even as a former Fraternity Social Chair, I understood that it was the requirement of the group putting on the event to hire the security. NASCAR and/or NHMS should pay for this, as that should be part of the $80 ticket I'm planning on buying for this event! Those two parties make significantly more profit off of this race than the Town of Loudon, especially now that most people just attend Sunday's event.

I'm looking forward to this upcoming Sunday. It should be a good time. Hopefully, it won't be the last June race in the 603.”
After thinking about it and doing a little bit of research including looking back at what I’ve seen at the speedway since NHMS is my home track, I have come to the conclusion that Loudon, NH’s police Chief and the town of Loudon, NH itself is taken advantage of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, highway robbery is the term I would use. I can understand half of the bill for the police and fire coverage. However making the speedway pay for everything is wrong.

NHMS shouldn’t have to pay for:

1. NHMS shouldn’t be paying for the police chief’s $50 an hour rate. The town of Loudon, NH pays him a salary, I believe making NHMS pay for his services could be illegal.

2. The town of Loudon, NH and the city Concord need to take part of this bill away considering the economical benefits they get.

3. NHMS shouldn’t be responsible for traffic once race fans get past Route 106 and onto I-393. I see police all the way down I-393 and right onto I-93. NHMS shouldn’t have to pay for that, that’s overkill.

4. 85 police officers, really, this is overkill and do they really get $43 hour or is the town taking half of that?

However I want to see police officers on duty at NHMS when I’m attending a NASCAR race.

However NHMS must pay for:

1. NHMS should have to pay for Route 106 and the start of I-393,

2. The entire speedway including out front.

3. Overnight in the camping grounds on speedway property as well as the speedway itself – parking, track activities, grandstands, behind the grandstands and etc...

Bottom line, the town of Loudon, NH (State and city of Concord, NH could be a part of this) is taking advantage of NHMS and should cut this bill down.

On the flip side, SMI’s Bruton Smith and New Hampshire Speedway are dreaming and looking for something for nothing when it comes to a cap of $65,000 to $75,000 on police and fire coverage. NHMS is looking at a minimum of $100,000 for the 100,000 plus race fans that attend especially on Sunday.

As a result of this, I believe that Bruton Smith will use this as an excuse to move one date or both dates from NHMS to Kentucky and/or Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I also believe that New England race fans and Canadian race fans as Canada residences in the northeast who come down to NHMS are about to be screwed.

And consider this, NHMS just landed the IRL IndyCar Series, why would you land another date when you are making threats like this and put it at the end of July?

The only winner I see will be Bruton Smith, a man who has so much including 8 speedways with Cup Series dates with the All-Star race, but is never satisfied.

Now it’s NASCAR’s turn, they need to tell SMI to fix this, and that SMI can’t move either date from NHMS, otherwise they lose the dates. Then NASCAR might want to consider a Cup Series date at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. For Lime Rock, with some additions, this track would be cool for a Cup Series date and it’s not too far away from New York City, or New Hampshire.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

6 ways to lower your car insurance bill

Last December I wrote an article called “Can you really afford not to check your auto insurance policy regularly?” were I took you step by step on how to buy car insurance in your state and what information you need to fill out the application. Today I am continuing this series with a second article on how to lower your car insurance bill.
This post is brought to you by Allianz.com.au.
“Get a car insurance quotes from one of Australia's leading providers.”
1. Shop around:

Shopping around to find the best deal for car insurance in your state (if you live in the United States, each state has their own list of companies that you can do business with) or country is one the best piece of advice I can give consumers. Each company has their own system for handing out a car insurance quote. You would be surprise just how much of a difference each company’s quote can be.

But keep in mind that just because a quote is lower than all of the rest, that doesn’t mean you should sign up, instead check out the company online with several sites first, you want to go with a trusted company. What good is a quote if the company doesn’t have the customer service to back it up.

2. Buying a new or used car, check for a quote first:

The make and model of your automobile will affect your premium or your car insurance bill, but one way to lower the bill is your choice of vehicle. Muscle cars are different from trucks, trucks are different than passenger cars and so on and so is the premiums. The same can be said for the engine size, drivetrain (FWD, AWD, RWD, 4WD), they make a difference and etc.

A consumer that is trying to decide between two vehicles could use this option to decide between the two. If one car costs $1200 to insure, while another costs $900 that could be a real good point in buying the car. By the way, if you fall into this category with using the quotes as factor, you might want to also check online and with the dealership to find out what the maintains costs will be as well as the warranty. The total cost including insurance is what sells the car.

However if you buy a older car, you might be able to lower the cost by working with an agent on dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage’s if the car isn’t worth that much. Check out Kelly’s Blue Book for the value of your car. I would go to an agent to see exactly what you can do here and keep in mind, I have never done this before on my car insurance. Weight this option carefully before you sign.

3. Change your deductable:

Working with your deductable can make a difference in your premium. For example, instead of a $250 deductable, you might want to consider either a $500 or $1000 deductable. But be careful that you don’t put yourself into a financial pinch if you have an accident, meaning you need to have to that deductable (money) set aside in a savings account or something if you have an accident to cover what the insurance company doesn't cover. And don’t depend upon a credit card, that’s not a good idea, you want to save money, not pay interest on $500 or $1000. The most common deductable is $500 and is pretty reasonable for most consumers.

4. Put Teens on Parent’s insurance policy:

A teenager in this day and age in most cases whether you live in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, or just about any other country shouldn’t have their own car insurance policy, nor an expensive car. It’s really too expensive for them to neither handle nor spend the money on it. This could cut you as much as half the bill and I’m not kidding depending upon where you live especially in the UK.

5. Bundle/combine your homeowners insurance and auto insurance with one company:

Bundling seems to be a good idea depending upon the company. Each company is different, but generally if you bundle, you can get a discount from them for having more than one type of insurance on one bill. And let’s be honest here, this bundling works on your cable/internet/phone bill as well.

Plus having one company handle both your homeowner’s insurance and car insurance can make it easier for you when it comes time to pay the bills. If you really want to bundle and save even more, you might try buying your car insurance, homeowners insurance and life insurance with one company. This can be done, but I don’t know anybody who does it, however like everything, make sure it all fits for you.

6. Check for discounts:

You would be surprised with what extra items that are already on your car could save you money in the long run as well as how you got your driver’s license.

- More than one car on a policy, Air bags, low annual mileage (how far you drive in a year, if you’re under the average mileage per year, can save you money), anti-lock brakes, good driving records, security system and more. The biggest thing, ask, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

And of course, a good credit report makes a difference as well. Yet again, the credit report comes into play, it doesn’t matter if you’re getting a mortgage to buy a home, rent an apartment, buy a new or used car, get a job, your credit report makes a difference at least here in the United States it does.

Friday, June 18, 2010

NASCAR: Is New Hampshire losing a Cup Date over security costs or is this just an excuse for Bruton Smith to get his Kentucky Speedway Cup date?

As not only a NASCAR fan, but a NASCAR fan that actually attends NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, I’ve read about the this security costs that Loudon charges for a while now.

Last month in the Concord Monitor, it was said that the speedway and the town of Loudon, NH were $100,000 apart on security costs for the upcoming NASCAR race weekend (late June) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The town is charging $174,000 (which includes $134,000 of that for police coverage and Chief Fiske’s hourly rate of $50), while Bruton Smith wants to cap costs at $75,000.

It’s worth noting three things:

1. After 9/11, the former owner of NHMS (NHIS at the time) increased security.
2. NHMS paid $263,000 for police and fire coverage in June 2009, so the price has already been reduced to $174,500 to provide the same level of coverage.
3. That NHMS is the only SMI track that pays for police and fire coverage. Jerry Gappens, the speedway's executive vice president said state and local officials provide coverage for no charge in recognition of the boon to the local economy.

However yesterday in an article on WMUR in New Hampshire is reporting that the owner of New Hampshire Motor Speedway said Thursday he will consider moving next year's summer race if Loudon's police chief doesn't cut the cost for providing safety details. NHMS owner Bruton Smith said that if he can't reach a compromise with the town on security costs, he may move next June's race from New Hampshire.

"The dates are scheduled year to year with contracts with NASCAR," said Jerry Gappens, NHMS vice president. "There is the option of doing that. Let's hope it doesn't come to that option."

While Loudon Selectman Roger Maxfield said "No, we're not prepared to do that," "The answer is no, we won't." Maxfield went on to say he thinks $170,000 to cover an influx of 100,000 people is reasonable, as is Fiske's hourly rate. "He's also in control of 80 full-time officers, so that's a large detail," Maxfield said.

After reading both articles, I think this is terrible on a number of levels and I can’t believe that a town or city would be asked to cover the cost of the police and fire coverage for an event..

As a person who attends the races at NHMS, I want real police officers and fire people on hand to cover whatever situation comes up and not just some people off the street. When walking around the speedway, you do see several police officers around you and they are checking everything and that’s exactly what I want when attending an event. I have no problem opening up my bag for them to check.

I also believe that NASCAR fans and the town of Loudon, NH are seeing some of the makings of the situation that Concord, NC had back in late 2007 when Bruton Smith made the same comment but instead of just moving a Cup date, Smith said he would consider moving Charlotte Motor Speedway to the city of Charlotte if Concord didn’t approve his drag strip.

Now of course CMS has a drag strip and $60-80 million dollars in incentives for staying and to help with upgrades. Of course there is move to this story, but I’m not getting into it because I don’t discuss lawsuits.

If that wasn’t enough, I would say that SMI owner Bruton Smith might just follow through and use the security costs to justify moving a Cup Series date from NHMS to his newly bought Kentucky Speedway if he doesn’t get his way. That would be a huge mistake on both SMI’s part and NASCAR’s part if they were to approve it considering NASCAR only has two Cup Series dates in New England and NHMS sells tickets and sells out several of the Cup races yearly.

By the way, the Cup Series date at New Hampshire also caters to Canadian residences as they come down for the race too. And NASCAR should know that.

However I don’t see a sellout crowd for next weekend’s Cup Series race considering the economy. Of course if Smith were to get his way and move a Cup Series date from NHMS to Kentucky Speedway, that would open the door for Smith/SMI to also consider moving a Cup Series date from Atlanta Motor Speedway to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a second date at that track. He would get exactly what he want despite that fact that there is already too many Cup Series dates out west for the economy to handle.

Finally I believe that the town of Loudon and NHMS need to come to some agreement, but cutting $100,000 for police and fire coverage is ridiculous to ask for. So is the concept of cutting police and fire coverage. I wonder, what type of coverage did NHMS have before 9/11 and what would be the cost today?

I surely hope this gets resolved, but I don’t see (or believe for that matter) that Loudon, NH should have to cut or cover the cost on their end. There are other ways for NHMS to cut costs, but police and fire coverage isn’t one of them.

Sources: WMUR New Hampshire, the Concord Monitor and Jayski.com

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Video: The NASCAR Gillette Young Guns are at it again – NASCAR Wedding Crashers anyone?

As a blogger (who owns RaceDriven.com), I get a lot of emails from other bloggers, webmaster, PR firms and etc. regularly and while most emails will get the same response from me “wow, that’s interesting, good to know” and then delete. However when something makes me laugh, especially if it involves NASCAR drivers who let’s be honest have been taught to show no emotion, then you have my attention.

So earlier today when I received a tip from Summer Dreyer from Frontstretch.com that Gillette is wondering what video (there are six videos) from the latest NASCAR Gillette Young Guns series NASCAR fans think about them, I figured I would have a little fun with it and introduce them to you.

Below you will find my favorite pick entitled “NASCAR Wedding Crashers”



You can go to http://twtpoll.com/r/f8mq8y to view all six videos and vote. So far, the NASCAR Wedding Crashers video is leading, but not by much. After you vote, feel free to leave a comment below on what you thought of the NASCAR Gillette Young Guns videos, and should I continue to feature more videos here on RaceDriven.com?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Voluntary Foreclosure Generation Now Walk Away From Car Leases.

Have you ever walked away from a car lease before?

Over the course of the average week, I get tons of emails from bloggers, webmasters, PR firms and more and considering there is just so much I can do, most emails I will read get the same response, “wow, that’s interesting, good to know” and then delete. You see I just can’t work every email/press release into an article nor do I just publish press releases, this is a blog, not internet newspaper.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that people know I’m here and they thought of me, but like I said, there is only so much I can do.

However when an email comes across my desk that just leaves me saying “Are you kidding me” or "what were they thinking”, or in the case of this email/press release with the headline “Number of People Voluntarily Walking Away from Car Lease Contract has Tripled”. The email just left me saying, I’ve heard of voluntarily walking away from your house, but a car lease. That I figured my readers would want to read about.

I mean this is first for more, I mean can understand a house considering typically a house have a good value, but a car losses some of its value once you drive it off the car dealership lot. Most cars now are worth less than the amount left on the loan or owed.

Not to mention, I would think that there is a stiff penalty for walking away from a car lease and a big black mark on your credit report. Your credit report is what gets you a mortgage, car loan, and yes even a job. Employers do look at your credit report and that could make or break you. But in this tough economy with people not only losing their jobs, but even more, long-term unemployment on the raise, I guess I see it. I mean you can’t make the car payment you can’t make it without any money.

MIAMI – (June 16, 2010) – More people are voluntarily foreclosing on their houses, but are they also voluntarily walking away from their car contracts? Online car lease website LeaseTrader.com says the number of people voluntarily walking away from their car lease contract has tripled in the last 12 months.

Since the recession began in early 2008, more than two thirds of all lease swaps were from people in financial distress from job loss or skyrocketing bills. But over the last 12 months a growing percentage of people are opting to escape their auto lease even though they’re fully capable of paying the contract.

"There are plenty of people out there looking to exercise their own personal financial pruning," said Sergio Stiberman, CEO and founder of LeaseTrader.com. "The trend began with homeowners underwater on their mortgage walking away from their homes. But today there are other areas of a person’s finances where they’re making the decision to walk away from their obligation."

To be fair there are differences between walking away from a mortgage and car lease. LeaseTrader.com helps people find a credit-qualified car shopper willing to adopt the remaining portion of the leasing contract with no harm to credit. Voluntarily walking away from a mortgage may entail financial and litigation penalties from the lender.

Nevertheless, a third type of customer has now entered the LeaseTrader.com marketplace. In years past LeaseTrader.com catered to people that wanted out of a lease to upgrade their vehicle or because financial distress forced them to seek transfer. Today a third class is represented by those that can still afford to make their car lease payment yet simply want out of the lease contract with no plans to replace the vehicle. Many of these people simply downsize to shed excess cars accumulated during more profitable times.
The only thing I hate about these press releases are the person who writes them mentions one there company and/or site several times in the piece, but nobody or site else. So what do you thinking of people walking away from a car lease and/or have you ever walked away from a car lease?

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Competition cautions, Phantom cautions: Is NASCAR playing god again in the Michigan 500…no.

Well ladies and gentlemen, here we are again as NASCAR has made headlines once again. Not for Denny Hamlin mind you winning his fifth Cup Series race in the last 10 races, but for a so-called phantom caution in the last stages of yesterday’s race.

Honestly I can’t believe that we are really talking about phantom cautions, but for some reason when the littlest thing in NASCAR is off, the conspiracy theorists come out in full force to not only blame NASCAR, but call it a phantom caution or show business move.

Now for anybody not up to speed on just what happen yesterday in NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan, the race was a sleeper that saw few cautions and a few drivers dominate the race including the winner Denny Hamlin, who picked up his fifth victory in the last 10 races.

However in a race that also saw dueling Red Bull teammates where Mears spun out Scott Speed with Mears going to the garage area, it was with 17 laps to go that an untimely caution flag came out for debris on the racetrack. The caution flag wiped a 10-second lead away for Denny Hamlin and once again bunched up the field for a double-file restart with some pit strategy included.

Now even though Hamlin was able to win the race on cruise mode, it still brought up the fact that some say NASCAR created a caution to make the show better. But from what I have read, NASCAR fans who were using TNT RaceBuddy said they saw a piece of rubber or something on the track and that brought out the caution flag.

Even more, Kasey Kahne said after the race “It was a big piece of debris back there. I saw it,” in relation the 17 laps to go caution flag.

On the flip side, I can’t say very much considering I really wasn’t paying much attention to the race especially the late race caution nor did I see TNT show the debris, nor I didn’t think anything much of it anyway.

Basically I agree with what Jenna Fryer of the AP said “Personally, I believe there’s too much at stake right now for NASCAR to so flagrantly jeopardize its credibility.” (Her Article on Yahoo!)

I fully agree with Jenna Fryer, I too believe that NASCAR has too much at stake right now to jeopardize their credibility and even more, with the exception of a few races this season including this particular race in Michigan, the 2010 Cup Series season has been amazing to watch and some of the best racing in years. Drivers are getting up on the wheel and racing and putting on a good or great show period.

Bottom line:

1. I don’t believe NASCAR threw a phantom caution in yesterday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan (that name is a mouth full), nor do I think they should start now. NASCAR just needs to play it down the line and that’s it, let the chips fall where they may. The racing isn’t always going to be perfect, but NASCAR just needs to let it play out period.

2. TNT, ESPN and FOX need to continue to show the reason for the caution point blank, otherwise you get this. All fans want to see is the reason why for the caution flag, otherwise the networks are not doing their jobs right.

Furthermore while we are on the subject of the networks, all the network that carry NASCAR need to start or continue depending upon which network you are talking about need to promote the next race even if it’s not there race. And I’m talking about ESPN mainly, start promoting the races, the race is on TNT at 1pm, FOX at 7:30pm, it’s not hard, this is your sport too, get with the program.

3. And if NASCAR wants to schedule a competition caution in the early stages of the race, I would be in favor of it and it could be used for safety reasons away to check the track and tire wear.

By the way, in Jenna Fryer’s article, she asks what is going on in Kentucky with relations to the speedway getting a Cup series date. Personally I’m not in favor of it, SMI already has enough dates especially in that area of the country. However what about going to the road course in Portland, Oregon, they need a NASCAR date badly up especially around Seattle.

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Should American’s boycott BP gas stations or not considering BP hasn’t capped the leaking well yet?

Two days ago I wrote an article called “No sympathy or business for BP until BP plugs the well and begins to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf.” where I stated that until BP caps the well in the Gulf that is leaking millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, they wouldn’t get any sympathy or business from me.

In specking on that, I was talking more about BP not getting an sympathy from America’s especially me considering after 50 days, BP has yet to cap the leaking well. However it is actually the “no business” part that has touched off a debate especially after what I wrote (said) in the last paragraph of that article:

“The point is, until BP caps the well and really begins to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf and where ever the oil goes, BP will not get any sympathy or business for me and I can imagine some U.S. citizens as well. I don’t even have to boycott there gas stations, there gas prices are making it automatic for me as the prices are 5 to 10 cents higher anyway. See, taxpayers are already paying for this oil spill at the pump. I will say it once and say it again, “plug the damn hole.””

After publishing the article, I received two comments that got me thinking, should American’s really boycott BP gas stations or not? And the “or not” part actually has to do with the fact that BP only owns about 10% of the gas stations with BP on them. The rest are private local business owners.

I know that here in Massachusetts, several stations all over the state has changed from one Gasoline Company to BP gasoline. Now I should also mention that since the oil spill in the Gulf, BP gas stations are 5 to 10 cents more expensive then another station in that particular town. (Picture on the right if on RaceDriven.com was taken by me 30 minutes from my home in Massachusetts a few weeks ago)

The first comment was against the boycott, where the person said “It's unfortunate Americans can't differentiate the corporate entity from their own local gas station owners. Not shopping at BP gas stations only hurts independent owners here in the states. BP owns barely 10% of its gas stations.”

On the flip side, the second comment said “I see that British Petroleum's corporate shills have been very busy. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of the profits from gasoline go to the oil companies, not the station owners. Besides, those station owners have a responsibility to switch to another oil company.”

Basically I understand what the first commenter said and I agree with the second commenter, so the way I see it is, each local gas station somewhat chooses what brand of gasoline they want. Meaning each gas station owner can choose between Shell, BP, Mobil, Hess, Gulf, Sunoco, Discount Gas and so on of what gasoline they want to sell. And the way I understand it, in most cases it’s the corporate company like BP that sets the prices and pockets most of the profits, so in a sense, you are buying gasoline at a BP gas station from BP, so a boycott right now what effect BP.

So I believe that American’s should boycott BP, that’s what we are doing in my family. However it’s worth mentioning again that “there gas prices are making it automatic for me as the prices are 5 to 10 cents higher anyway” And if gas station owners don’t like it, they can change companies.

So should American’s boycott BP gas stations or not, what’s your take?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Column: No sympathy or business for BP until BP plugs the well and begins to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf.

Some 54 days ago (April 20, 2010) on a semi-submersible offshore drill rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, an explosion happened. The explosion killed 11 workers and injured 17 more. Four days later, it was discovered that the wellhead was damaged and leaking oil into the Gulf.

Now as we in the United States sit, the company BP has been working on the well for about the last 50 days now and while progress has been made and a camera has been mounted nearby with a live feed by order, the oil still continues to leak out of the wellhead at a large capacity of an estimated 39+ million gallons already.

However during that time, citizens here in the United States especially in effected states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are growing more and more frustrated with every passing moment and day that BP has yet to cap the well to stop the oil leak. And now that oil has already come ashore in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama or close to it, most citizens are blaming BP and even threaten to boycott the company. Right now the talk is “plug the damn hole.”

This is now the worst U.S. disaster in own nations history and this surpasses the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker tragedy that spilled 11 million gallons of oil into the ecologically sensitive Prince William Sound. But even more, the Exxon Valdez tanker only held just so much oil, however considering this well is located in the deepwater, it has a far bigger capacity and must be capped in order to stop the leak.

And second, the effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker oil spill at Prince William Sound are still being felt today, 21 years later and people can not only say there is still oil around, but can pick up a rock and see black water, now I can’t even imagine what we will see 21 years from now in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond, that gives me chills.

When it comes to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, people first want the well capped and that’s why people are mad. I really don’t know anything about deepwater drill rigs or how to cap a well, but it seems to me that there have been so many mistakes and 50 days is just too long to cap a well, give us a break.

If that wasn’t enough, now we have some elected officials and politicians who are defending BP include Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and even two of them are going so far to say taxpayers should pick up the tab including the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tom Donohue, and even House Minority Leader John Boehner said he believes taxpayers should help pick up the tab for the cleanup. "I think the people responsible in the oil spill--BP and the federal government--should take full responsibility for what's happening there,"

That’s ridiculous, there just covering BP and yes even Great Britain has gotten in on the act by defending BP. Great Britain should put themselves in our shoes, if this happened in their coast, they would be mad too and blaming BP.

I believe that it’s time for the federal government to step in with independent experts and cap this well once and for all. Even more I also believe that BP is trying to save the well and not just cap it.

Now I have to wonder just how much more U.S. citizens are going to take of this and I don’t see the problem in blaming BP, it was there well that exploded, so they made the mess, they pay to clean it up period. But make no mistake; the United States will pay for a longtime to come as this spill poses a serious threat to wildlife, over 400 species in that area along and more.

Plus as the current flows and storms come through, the oil will move down to Cancun and all over the Gulf to the coastlines of Texas and Florida. Some believe that the oil could even come up the east coast up all the way to New England.

The point is, until BP caps the well and really begins to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf and where ever the oil goes, BP will not get any sympathy or business for me and I can imagine some U.S. citizens as well. I don’t even have to boycott there gas stations, there gas prices are making it automatic for me as the prices are 5 to 10 cents higher anyway. See, taxpayers are already paying for this oil spill at the pump. I will say it once and say it again, “plug the damn hole.”

Sources: Google – Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, The Huffington Post, New York Times

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Add Front Row Motorsports to teams penalized by NASCAR for unapproved parts or modifications – found with “unapproved valve stem cap”.

Especially ever since 2007 when NASCAR introduced the Car of Tomorrow in the Cup Series, NASCAR has been getting more and more aggressive on their penalties on teams that are found to have violated NASCAR’s rulebook for versa issues like unapproved parts or modifications to the racecar.

In the latest round of penalties, teams that have been penalized due to violating NASCAR’s rulebook, add Front Row Motorsports to the list after they were found to have an unapproved valve stem cap in the NSCS race at Pocono.
According to the NASCAR press release: On June 9, 2010, NASCAR has issued penalties, suspensions and fines to the No. 38 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rules infractions committed during last Sunday’s event at Pocono Raceway.

The team was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-10.7J (unapproved modification to valve stem hardware) of the 2010 NASCAR Rule Book.

As a result, crew chief Steve Lane has been fined $100,000, suspended for the next 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup events, suspended from NASCAR until Sept. 15 and placed on probation until Dec. 31. Car chief Richard Bourgeois and tire specialist Michael Harrold have also been suspended from the next 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup events, suspended from NASCAR until Sept. 15 and placed on probation until Dec. 31.

Driver Travis Kvapil and owner Doug Yates have been penalized with the loss of 150 driver and 150 owner points, respectively.
Honestly in looking at this penalty, this is really in line with what I would expect NASCAR to penalize a team that was found to have an unapproved part or modification on this new NASCAR Car of Tomorrow. NASCAR has said in the past that they will penalize teams for making unapproved changes period.

This once again should be a warning to teams that if you’re caught with an unapproved part or modifications, you will be penalized. And teams should never touch fuel, engines and tire especially. However I will say one thing, after Carl Long’s penalty last year, I thought NASCAR had boxed themselves into a corner, but this is NASCAR and things change, of course that’s NASCAR’s problem in the first place, they change too much.

Here is a list of most of the penalties NASCAR has handed down to teams over the past 4-5 years:

- NASCAR penalized Kurt Busch for last weeks Dover pitroad incident, not suspended.
- Was NASCAR’s penalty issued against Robby Gordon after Daytona fair?
- Everybody loses with NASCAR’s one size fits all penalties for COT infractions.
- Did NASCAR just hand #44 Peyton Sellers and Andy Santerre Motorsports the stiffest penalty in NASCAR’s modern era?

Carl Long three-part epic series:
- "NASCAR: Should we expect that this record penalty against Carl Long will be the normal penalty for everybody?”
- "NASCAR and the appeals board gets it wrong with the Carl Long penalty."
- "Carl Long’s penalty reduced to 8-race suspension, but NASCAR still in danger water."

Need I go on? What do you, my readers think of this penalty?   

Sunday, June 6, 2010

NASCAR: Kahne touches off last lap multi-car wreck and it’s Logano vs. Harvick once again in Gillette 500 at Pocono.

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, if you missed Sunday’s (today’s) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 presented by Target at Pocono Raceway, you missed a boring long drawn out green flag run, pit stop strategy, fuel economy runs and an ending that simply left people say “what were they thinking?” And no I’m not talking about Denny Hamlin in victory lane, that’s not the big story of the race.

And you also missed the continued saga of Kevin Harvick vs. Joey Logano and the newly format problem between Kasey Kahne and teammate A.J. Allmendinger. Like I said, what were they thinking?

∙ Harvick vs. Logano:

The incident: During the final laps of the Pocono 500, Kevin Harvick was trying to get around Joey Logano for a top 5 position and when both drivers came through the tunnel turn (turn 2), the two were side-by-side, but it looked like Joey Logano, who on the outside got ahead. Logano was going for the patch in turn 3, meanwhile Harvick was inside and also went for the patch in turn 3, Harvick hit Logano’s left rear quarter and spun Logano out.

I believe that as much as the announcers in the booth want to say it was a racing incident, I believe otherwise. Meaning, Logano had the outside line and the patch is the outside line. Harvick should have gone to the bottom in turn 3 and he didn’t complete the pass, instead Harvick took out Logano plain and simple.

Of course after the race, both drivers along with crews came together and had words. It would have been better if crews would stay out of it and only have two NASCAR officials in between the two drivers (this case Harvick and Logano), that way nothing is going to happen. And if it does, a driver hit an official because a driver would have to go through the officials to get through to the other driver.

The crews only make it worse and so does fathers in the way…Logano’s father should have stayed out of it and don’t hit #20 crewmen neither. But the funny part was Logano’s comment: "I don't know what [Kevin Harvick's] deal is with me," Logano said. "It's probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do. It's probably not his fault."

Personally Logano is going to have to get to Harvick, otherwise he is going to continue to get run over. I think retaliation is a last resort, but a resort that maybe needed considering Harvick is a hot head and still doesn’t get it. This will continue, but I wonder what the next shootout will be? By the way, Kevin Harvick finished 4th while Logano finished 13th.

∙ Kasey Kahne touches off last lap multi-car wreck on back straightaway:

In what can only be described as a Kyle Busch move, Kasey Kahne was trying to make a pass on his teammate A.J. Allmendinger heading down the back straightaway, A.J. moves Kahne down straight towards the grass. Now at this point, I much mention that Kahne isn’t even at A.J. quarter panel, it was the same as Kyle Busch trying to pass Hamlin in the All-Star, Kahne wasn’t along side, instead Kahne drove off into the grass and then comes back across the track to collect several cars sending him airborn. What a huge, multi-car wreck and with the track blocked, cars just kept piling in.

In watching the incident, first I believe that Kasey Kahne was at fault period. Kahne wasn’t along side of A.J. and A.J. didn’t have to give him room. Think of it like this, Kahne should have followed A.J. up to the tunnel turn, A.J. wasn’t going to make the turn that would have made room for Kahne to make the pass safely.

On the flip side, A.J. Allmendinger needs to watch how he drivers and blocks against other drivers especially his teammates, otherwise he might find himself getting no respect back. You drive the way you want people to drive against you. By the way, A.J. Allmendinger finished 10th.

∙ NASCAR on TV – TNT broadcast:

Over the past week or two, the talk in the NASCAR community and among the media and fans have been TNT needs to bring it for these six summer races and today have to say TNT came in with mixed results. One blogger has already wrote “NASCAR on TV: Sorry TNT, that wasn't a good first impression” and gave the TNT broadcast a grade of F.

Now I have to say that TNT has been promoting the hell out of there TNT coverage of the six summer races and with the addition of Adam Alexander in the play-by-play role in the booth and Lindsay Czarniak moving into the host position, all was looking good. However it was the addition of Phil Parsons as a pit reporter set some fans including me off. NASCAR fans were not interested in seeing Phil Parsons in a pit reporter role and one reason is that it could be explosive.

You see Phil Parsons is the man behind Prism Motorsports, the two-car start and park team and some NASCAR fans including me hate start and park teams. And if his start and park teams got in anybody’s way, the results with driver or owner to Phil Parsons during an interview could be huge.

But the concern was right on target as Phil Parsons simply would have been better just being in the Camping World Truck Series announcers booth and not in a pit reporter position. I thought that Phil Parsons there was a huge downer for the TNT crew.

However on a positive note I thought that Adam Alexander in the play-by-play role in the booth was a good touch and Lindsay Czarniak as a host was what the telecast needed. I believe that with what the TNT broadcast crew had to work with namely a long drawn out Pocono race and the rain delay, I believe they did good. Even most of the pit reporters stepped up nicely. I would grade TNT with a C, not an F. But Phil Parsons needs to go back to the Truck Series booth period.

And on that note, my last comment is simply Pocono 400 sounds really good right now especially after today’s 500 mile race.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Picture Perfect: Jamie McMurray and Dario Franchitti win two of the biggest races of 2010.

Chip Ganassi Racing wins 2010 Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in the same year.

What a photo that was taken last Monday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Jamie McMurray on the left next to his 2010 Daytona 500 trophy, owner Chip Ganassi in the middle and Dario Franchitti on the right next to his 2010 Indianapolis 500 trophy. Credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Facebook page.

Let me state the obvious right from the start, while I’m not a Chip Ganassi fan, however I am happy to see Jamie McMurray win the Daytona 500 and to see Dario Franchitti win his second Indianapolis 500. Here are my thoughts on each race:

- New Green-White-Checkered rule changes outcome of 2010 Daytona 500 for the better.
Caption: Jamie McMurray beating out Dale Earnhardt Jr. by .119 seconds to win his first Daytona 500

- Spectacular last lap crash saves Dario Franchitti as he wins his second Indianapolis 500.

And I also congratulate Earnhardt-Chip Ganassi Racing and Ganassi Racing on two incredible victories, now can Jamie McMurray make the chase for the championship and can Dario Franchitti win back-to-back IRL IndyCar Series championships this season?

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