Sunday, May 29, 2011

An incredible finish to the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 - JR Hildebrand crashes on last lap and Dan Wheldon wins.

(Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Take two on this Sunday, Memorial Day weekend triple header with the Indianapolis 500 that rolled off just after noontime here on the East Coast. The Indianapolis 500, one of the biggest spectacles in Motorsports today lived up to its name in the final 30 laps with an incredible finish.

The 23-year-old Californian, JR Hildebrand, a rookie in the Indianapolis 500 came in to Sunday’s Indy 500 as an unknown, but he is well-known now. Not for winning the Indy 500 because he didn’t, but for his teams strategy moves and his driving during the Indy 500 that put him into position to possibly win the Indy 500.

During the last 30 laps after the final restart that included several teams including Dario Franchitti and JR Hildebrand made a pit stop despite the fact that none of them could make it to the checkered flag without saving fuel. Franchitti would set off trying to make his way to the front while the rookie would hold back saving enough fuel early in the run so he could race hard in the final laps.

While the front runners would all have to pit for at least fuel, they several drivers would swap the lead around including Danica Patrick would lead several laps before pitting and that would pit the drivers who pitted on the final caution (if they saved fuel) in the drivers seat in the final laps.

For Franchitti, he would fall off the pass and would end up pitting on the final lap in order to make finish the race, that put JR Hildebrand into the lead. When he took the white flag, leading the Indy 500, you could see the fans on their feet and cheering for this rookie.

Down the back straightaway and into turn 3 on the final lap, it looked like the rookie was going to win it, but disaster struck as a lap car was on the bottom and JR Hildebrand would make a mistake that so many rookie’s have made in the past and go too wide coming out of turn 4 and nail the outside wall hard.

Coming down the front straightaway in a wrecked racecar, JR Hildebrand would get passed just feet from the finish line by Dan Wheldon and Wheldon would win the 2011 Indianapolis 500, but the rookie JR Hildebrand would come across in second place. What a tough way to finish this one, but one things for sure, fans now know who JR Hildebrand is now and hopefully he will get another shot at Indy next season.

Hats off to Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta Autosport for winning the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 and just think, Dan Wheldon doesn’t have a full time run for the remainder of the season.

Never count out anybody, even a rookie at Indianapolis, this race sure does do stand things and has seen rookie winners before. Now I can’t wait until next season. 

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.

Despite Sebastian Vettel winning again – Fans should remember the 2011 Monaco GP as an exciting race.

Take one on this Sunday, Memorial Day weekend triple header with the Monaco Grand Prix that rolled off early this morning here on the East Coast. Earlier today before the Indianapolis 500, the most famous race on the 2011 Formula 1 schedule, the Monaco Grand Prix.

When I hear the name Monaco Grand Prix, normally I think of a historical race, tight course and for the most part, a boring race, unless its wet. But when it came to the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix, this one had its moments for sure including some moments that left me scratching my head.

In the beginning stages of the Monaco Grand Prix, I thought, oh boy, here we go again, this is going to be the Sebastian Vettel once again, but unlike in several races this season, Vettel simply wasn’t able to pull away from 2nd place Alonso and 3rd place Button.

But one of the stories during this race had to be Lewis Hamilton who started mid-pack. Hamilton early on would have one of the most intense battles during the opening laps with of all drivers, Michael Schumacher. What a way to start out a race, you start mid-pack and now you have to battle a driver, Schumacher, that doesn’t give a centimeter to drivers all race long and you need to get by for position.

These two put on an intense show with Hamilton trying several times to make the pass, but on lap 10, heading up the hill, Hamilton would make a really tight move on Schumacher that even left me gasping for air, but he made the past. Of course this would be the start of a tough day for Hamilton as he would have to battle back from a drive-though penalty for contact in the hairpin with Massa to end up finishing 6th, the last car on the lead lap.

But as Vettel regained the lead from Button, the leaders in the final 10 laps would encounter traffic and right in front of Vettel, a battle between Jamie Alguersuari and Vitaly Petrov would end in a heavy crash with cars hitting both the inside and outside wall. This accident would bring out a red flag.

During the red flag, in Formula 1, under the stoppage rules (something that is illegal in NASCAR mind you) teams are allowed to change tires and in the case of Lewis Hamilton who received damage in that crash, his team would be able to change his rear wing without penalty.

Of course this F1 rule would all but take away Vettel’s disadvantage with him having very old tires (around 50 laps) and actually give Vettel an advantage considering his would get a new set of soft tires while 2nd place Alonso and 3rd place according to SPEED broadcast would have a used set of tires put on, I guess they didn’t have an extra set of new tires to put on.

And something new in Formula 1 this season, Formula 1 would restart the race and give these drivers 5 laps to decide this one among themselves and once the green flag came out, Sebastian Vettel would hold off Alonso and Button to pickup his first career Monaco GP victory and his fifth win in the first six races this season.

But if you’re looking for a silver lining in all of this Vettel season deal, think of this, in the Chinese GP earlier this season, that race were Lewis Hamilton chased down Sebastian Vettel in the closing laps and drove away to win the race.

That was the best race not only of the 2011 F1 season so far, but was one of the best races in recent years for sure and I have to imagine with what fans have seen so far with the addition of the KERS and DRS, we will see many more exciting races.

And hopefully a few of these drivers including Lewis Hamilton can take the fight to Vettel and challenge for not only victories, but for the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship.

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.

Heart broken as Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of gas with 500 feet to go in Coca-Cola 600 – Harvick wins.

Take three on this Sunday, Memorial Day weekend triple header in NASCAR’s longest night, the Coca-Cola 600 that rolled off just after 6PM here on the East Coast.

So far, this has been a long day for me when it comes to racing and that’s even with watching F1’s Monaco GP taped delay on my DVR which I started two hours before the start of the Indianapolis 500. Of course I did watch both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 live on television.

But who would’ve thought it (that the biggest part was yet to come), a normal Coca-Cola 600 would come down to the final laps on who can make it on fuel. But even more, Dale Jr takes the lead with 2 laps to go from Kasey Kahne who ran out of fuel and with 500 feet or so to go, Dale Jr. runs out of fuel coming to the checkers and finishes (unofficially) 7th.

While “the closure” Kevin Harvick comes out of nowhere and leads the last several feet to win the Coca-Cola 600 with David Ragan in 2nd and Joey Logano in 3rd.

In watching the post-race interviews, I have to say that Dale Jr. needs to give himself more credit, he had a top 5-top 10 racecar all day and night long. He and his team did an incredible job during this race and they were in position to win at the end. In order to win any of these Cup races, luck does have to play a role in it for sure.

And despite Dale Jr. trying to make it on fuel and not having an luck, Dale Jr. is still having one hell of a season so far, 4th in points and this is his best season in years. Hats off to Dale Jr., the #88 team for giving it one hell of a shot and hats off to Kevin Harvick and his #29 team at RCR, what a way to win it…right place, right time, right car.

Well as NASCAR on FOX continues post-race and showing replays of not only the end of the Coca-Cola 600, but the end of the Indianapolis 500, I say good luck and God Bless America on this Memorial Day Weekend.

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

NASCAR: Changing the All-Star race format doesn’t guarantee excitement, but I would support changes including an elimination format anyway.

Since last Saturday night’s NASCAR All-Star race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, some of the fans and the media have been debating whether or not the All-Star race format needs to be changed again to make the race more exciting and intense to watch.

One article that really caught my attention was Dustin Long’s last column.

In the article he discusses the All-Star race including Dale Jr. saying last week that he’d like to see the all-star race shortened from its 100 laps of racing to “make it a little more about the fireworks,’’

And he included comments back from the Fan Council Members, two of which nailed it by saying “Doesn’t matter how long the race is we all want some action” and “I’m not sure what would make it better. Sometimes events, games, etc, are exciting and sometime they're not. There is no guarantee no matter what you change it would improve it.”

But personally for me, a NASCAR fan who has been watching NASCAR for around the past two decades, I have to say that it really doesn’t matter how many laps the All-Star race is from 70 laps to 100 laps, there is simply no guarantee’s that the racing will be exciting and intense to watch, sorry to say it like that, but its 100% true.

However if NASCAR wants to continue to evolve the All-Star race, I do have a few suggestions. 

1. Keep the All-Star race between 70 to 100 laps, anything less or more would just be terrible. This distance already works for me.

2. How about going back to 3 segments that includes a green flag pit stop. Nothing challenging for drivers, media members and fans to remember mind you, but 3 segments is better, less caution flags for one. For example, 40 laps, 30 laps, 15 laps, total of 85 laps. You can include a mandatory pit stop before the final 15 lap segment like in the current 2011 format.

3. How about going back to a random inversion (6-12) before the second to last segment and mandatory pit stop.

4. How about adding a little bit more drama to the event with the art of an elimination format before the final segment. For example, only the top 12 or 15 drivers can race for the win in the final segment. That move would match what’s happening in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. If drivers can’t get themselves into the top 15 let’s say in 70 laps, they aren’t going to win the All-Star race period, its just not going to happen.

There is one more advantage to having an elimination format, this will either wake up or get rid of several teams that are using the All-Star race as a test session, instead of going all out. Several drivers last Saturday night in the All-Star race looked like they were testing flat out.

My favorite All-Star race format with or without eliminations:

I prefer have a 3 segments All-Star race that consists of 40 laps, 30 laps, and green flag 15 laps. The race would include a random inversion (6-12) before the 2rd segment and a mandatory pit stop before the final 15 laps. 15 laps gives somebody a chance to chase down a leader from a top 5 starting spot in segment 3. The Elimination is optional, but could be added after the 2nd segment leaving 12-15 drivers to race for the win.

But at the end of the day, nothing guarantee’s an exciting and intense race period, now its up to NASCAR.

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.

Indy 500: Pole day, bump day, checkbook bump and predictions: Tagliani on pole, Andretti bumps in, Hunter-Reay in as Junqueira got checkbook bumped.

Over the last few days, the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 took shape as the starting lineup was determined. Normally for just about any given race (except for a few including The Daytona 500), there is one qualifying session to determine the starting lineup for the race and normally no real drama.

However, there are a few races each Motorsports season that are so big that qualifying actually becomes a spectacle in its our right and that is an understatement when it comes to the Indianapolis 500. Both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IRL put a lot into the qualifying show itself.

For 2011, the Indy 500 features two fill days of qualifying.

On the first day, Pole day, the big story wasn’t who was locked in, but it was actually the fast nine drivers going head to head late in the day for who would win the pole and who would start where. I was a little surprised to see a few underdogs make the fast nine, but it wasn’t until the fast nine competition got underway that I was truly surprised.

One by one, each driver rolled out and logged times, I really thought that the front row would have be made up of Penske Racing and Ganassi Racing drivers.

However it was Dario Franchitti that made an impression when his crew missed the fuel calculations and Franchitti ran out of fuel on his final qualifying lap. It was definitely heart breaking to see Dario Franchitti walk to the garage after running out, but it was also funny because I didn’t think that any driver could run out of fuel on a qualifying lap, but you learn something new everyday.

But in the end, it was the underdog story of Alex Tagliani driving for Sam Schmidt Racing grabbed the pole for Sunday’s Indy 500. What a great story that is especially for all that Sam Schmidt has gone through in his racing career. Tag will have Scott Dixon and Oriol Servia along side of him on the front row come Sunday.

On day two, it was bump day. This is normally where 80% of the “drama” and storylines leading up to the Indy 500 happen. A lot of fans and media seem to love this day, personally it doesn’t really excitement me considering leap frog doesn’t excitement, but it does add drama. And so did the rain, that made it interesting as once again the final 20 minutes would determine the starting lineup.

In the end, it would be a bittersweet day for Andretti Autosport as Danica Patrick would finally bump her way in and in the closing seconds, so would teammate Marco Andretti would get in, but at the expense of his third teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay as he and his other teammate and Long Beach winner Mike Conway would both fail to qualify for the Indy 500.

Remember, there is no guarantees for starting positions when it comes to the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR should take note, anyone can be bumped and not make the race, race winners and champions included.
Now normally his would be the end of the drama until Sunday, however a third element creped its way in the Indy 500 and its called “Checkbook bump”(thanks Paul Tracy for giving that name and he’s dead on there, perfect name).

As on Monday, Andretti Autosport announced that they have bought Bruno Junqueira's ride at A.J. Foyt Racing for Ryan Hunter-Reay. And it turn, Bruno Junqueira would be bumped out of the 2011 Indianapolis 500.

Personally in the eyes of this Motorsports fan, this shouldn’t even be an option, once a driver makes the field, that driver should be locked in and that’s it. But it also makes Andretti Autosport, A.J. Foyt Racing, the IRL IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway look like idiots.

I feel really bad for Bruno Junqueira, he earned his spot in the 2011 Indy 500 and to have it taken away from him after he did all that work to make the race is terrible and a joke. But I’m not surprised here, this isn’t the first time “checkbook bump” has happened and even in NASCAR we have it too. It is terrible and you feel bad for the driver that is now pushed out, but that’s part of the game and until it can’t be an option anymore, it will continue to happen to a long time to come.

One note, despite many fans feelings, its not Ryan Hunter-Reay that I blame, but the rest of them.

Predictions for the Indy 500:

1. I believe that there are only five favorites and one wild car to win the Indy 500. Dario Franchitti  is the favorite, along with Will Power, Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan and Ryan Briscoe. The wild car starts on the outside of the front row, Oriol Servia.

This is a 500 mile endurance race and you have to be there at the end especially on strategy, fuel, tires, everything and that last pit stop needs to be perfect. That topped with luck might win you the Indy 500.
2. Personally I’m picking Dario Franchitti to win, he is a former winner and has the team to win proving they get the fuel calculations correct.

3. Watch for “the big one”, with so many drivers out there moving around for position, one bad move can trigger an accident and with the field so close together, one accident can become a huge car pileup. But I sure hope that this is a clean Indy 500.

4. Watch for an underdog to make a late race charge to the win. Alex Tagliani and Paul Tracy will play a factor in the final 100 miles if they make it.

5. The 2011 Indy 500 will be would many expected it to be, exciting and entertaining. 

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.

Monday, May 23, 2011

John Rich wins "The Celebrity Apprentice" - Raises over $1 Million Dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

As another season of "The Celebrity Apprentice" came to an end last night that featured one of the most drama-filled star-stunned cast of celebrities in series history (John Rich, Marlee Matlin, Meat Loaf, Lil Jon, Star Jones, La Toya Jackson, NeNe Leakes, Hope Dworaczyk, Gary Busey, Mark McGrath, Richard Hatch, Jose Canseco, Dionne Warwick, Niki Taylor, Lisa Rinna, and David Cassidy), the debate of who should win this seasons Celebrity Apprentice came to a head?  John Rich or Marlee Matlin

But I think that, that debate really ended once one of the cast member said it the best, Marlee Matlin won the final task, but John Rich had the best season and I have to fully agree with that statement. Marlee Matlin had no real issues that I could see in her final task. Marlee and her team put one amazing 7up retro event on with the harlem globetrotters as the main entertainment. She and her team did everything they could to win including meeting and greeting all of the people attending including Donald Trump himself at the door.

But I do have to say while John Rich did have a few issues including starting the event 20 minutes early which meant that he needed some entertainment because Def Leppard wasn't available until 7pm, Rich still had a cool event that feature John Rich himself taking the blame and putting on a 20 minute concert for the people in attendance and once Def Leppard came on, it still was a good concert event. I really like Def Leppard music for some reason.

And I also have to say that personally I preferred John Rich's 7up commercial and can design over Marlee Matlin 2 to 1. Rich's 7up retro can just popped, it would get my attendance in a heart beat on store shelves if I was drinking normal soda. Of course 7up doesn't have a zero calories soda, so its Sprite Zero for me.

However in the end, Donald Trump got this one right and announced that John Rich won season 4 of "The Celebrity Apprentice" and Rich raised more than $1 Million Dollars for his charity St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I believe the final number was something around $1.225 Million Dollars and that includes the $250,000 for winning the season.

And John Rich won his beat with fellow country music star Trace Atkins. Congrats to John Rich, that was one amazing fund raiser for St. Jude's.

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Carl Edwards gets checkers and wreckers in 2011 NASCAR All-Star race in Charlotte without fireworks.

Two days ago I made 8 bold predictions on what I thought would happen in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint All-Star race and I have to say that I hit the nail on the head with one of them. And no I'm not talking about Dale Earnhardt Jr. getting the fan vote, that was just a given if Dale Jr. didn't race his way in through the Showdown race.

No I'm talking about #8, The All-Star race wouldn't be what many expected and it will leave the announcers in the booth speechless except Darrell Waltrip, because he’s never speechless. I have to say that I was dead on and I really don't know what to say after that. Simple reason, nobody could understand or explain why Carl Edwards had a walkaway victory and they were speechless over Carl Edwards victory celebration through the grass.

Basically the All-Star race was all about Greg Biffle leading the first 50 laps and fading back after that, while his RFR teammate Carl Edwards took over and lead basically from there all the way to end as Edwards pickup $1 Million Dollars.

But there really was no excitement up front, but if I can put four hot points or spins on this race, they would be:

1. There was plenty of normal racing in the middle of the pact and drivers were really racing hard for each position.

2. Despite the fact that no driver put Kyle Busch into the outside wall, Busch didn't win neither.

3. I was taken back to a moment during the All-Star while under caution, I was watching Carl Edwards play with the pace car (Brett Bodine driving) and those moments reminded me of a scene in the famous movie Day's of Thunder. Here is the quote of Harry Hogge talking to Cole Trickle:

Harry Hogge: 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: Hit the pace car?
Harry Hogge: Hit the pace car.
Cole Trickle: What for?
Harry Hogge: Because you've hit every other goddamned thing out there, I want you to be perfect.
(Source for quote)

And believe me, Carl Edwards has hit a lot of things in the past two years, so I guess he's perfect...just having a little fun.

4. The biggest excitement of the 2011 NASCAR All-Star race was Carl Edwards wrecking his car's front end on the cool down lap. I guess the grass (drain) had the last say in Edwards' victory.

But I ask this, where's the fireworks? Where's the excitement in the final 10 laps? It was a walkaway victory for Carl Edwards. Well NASCAR fans, simply put Kasey Kahne winning the burnout competition and David Regan vs. Brad Keselowski in the Sprint Showdown race that was the most exciting parts of this one.

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.

Kimi Räikkönen Doesn't Disappoint in NASCAR Debut, ends up finishing 15th in a wild Truck Series race. Reports say Raikkonen to make Nationwide Series debut soon…

One of the reasons why I wanted to watch the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was because I wanted to see what the former F1 Champion and current World Rally driver Kimi Räikkönen could do in his NASCAR debut.

Now I have to say that I’m not much on this whole open wheel invasion deal that has been going on for the past several years, but I do support a driver from another series wanting to race in NASCAR. Its cool on a number of levels to see what drivers from other series can do and think of NASCAR especially “Bot’s, Have at it” and the contact racing.

NASCAR has seen several drivers over the last several years come in to NASCAR from other forms of racing including current drivers Juan Montoya, Patrick Carpentier (running in Nationwide Series in Canada) and Danica Patrick, just to name a few. While other like Dario Franchitti and more ended up leaving after a short time but it was nice seeing them try their hand at NASCAR anyway.
So I was curious to see what Kimi Räikkönen could do and I wasn’t disappointed. He practice from from the start of the day, he managed to keep his loose truck from being wrecked. He qualified ok but you could see the talent he has in the Truck race itself.

Räikkönen managed to keep the truck from spinning several times and only scraped the wall a few times, but brought the #15 truck home in 15th spot. For his debut race, 15th is a respectable finish. But I would have rather of seen him make his debut at a short track like Martinsville.

Räikkönen said after the race: "The racing was fun. Too many cautions. Every time that I would feel like the car would start to run better then you would have a caution and then it would take the track a long time before the handling comes back. You would rather be more high up, but how it felt this morning, now I was pretty pleased with how it felt in the race. For sure, there is still a lot to learn and improve, but I think when we have another race it will be better." – Quotes from KBM PR

But this Truck race was a wild one. These drivers were very aggressive to say the least and every driver was experiencing a loose truck all night long. Even Kyle Busch spun his truck at one point, but unlike Ron Hornaday and Todd Bodine, Kyle Busch would end up with a spin and win deal as Busch worked his way by Clint Bowyer in a KHI truck to win again in the Truck race.
Well at least Räikkönen was fun to watch and so were the other Truck Series regular drivers as well. What a wild race. And good job to Cole Whitt, he finished 3rd Friday night and he’s the points leader now.

If that was enough, is reporting that Kimi Räikkönen will make his Nationwide debut next Saturday in the #87 Toyota. According to the report, KBM is partnering with Joe Nemechek's NEMCO Motorsports to make this happen… (Read More…)

Personally I would like to see Kimi Räikkönen just race in the Truck Series several more times in 2011 and see what he could do and then make his way up the NASCAR ladder gradually and not make all of these jumps up early. Several drivers in the past have made the jump way to early and while a few are still there including Joey Logano, others are not even racing in NASCAR anymore. But only time will tell.

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup: 8 Predictions for the Showdown and All-Star Race. UPDATED

I truly believe that Steve Waid said it the best, The NASCAR Sprint All-Star race – “a special event that showcases NASCAR’s best competitors while, at the same time, offering stock car racing and its sponsors a unique marketing platform.”

But now, even though the NASCAR All-Star race has changed over the years, especially the format section, of course for 2001 being with four segments, in my eyes, its still one of the coolest events of the season and with no points on the line, the 2011 All-Star seems to be shaping up to have another good 100 lap race.

2011 All-star race format (Credit:

- Segment 1: 50 laps with a mandatory green-flag pit stop on Lap 25 at which time teams must pit and take on four tires. Following the end of Segment 1, the caution flag will be displayed for an optional pit stop.
- Segment 2: 20 laps with the caution flag displayed at the end of Segment 2 for an optional pit stop.
- Segment 3: 20 laps with a 10-minute break at the end of Segment 3. Teams may make normal adjustments to their cars during this break. The finishing order after the third segment determines the field’s lineup for the pace lap prior to the start of the fourth segment.
- Segment 4: Once the field takes a lap behind the pace car, all cars must enter pit road for a four-tire stop. The order in which the cars exit pit road is how they will line up for the 10-lap shootout with only green-flag laps counting

So with the Sprint Showdown and the All-Star race coming up this Saturday night and yes, you guessed it, live on SPEED, I figure that this is the perfect time to make my predictions to what I think is going to happen in both races.

In the Showdown, two things will happen:

1. A wreck will take out half the field.
2. Two drivers will drive away from the rest of the field, but in the second half, one driver will chase them both down and win the Showdown. A.J. Allmendinger, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be those three drives.

3. The Sprint Showdown will has a big impact on the fan vote. You see, for a driver to win the fan vote, them must finish on the lead lap to be eligible to be voted in by the fans. I would say that if Dale Jr. advances by the Showdown, the fan vote will go to Brad Keselowski, otherwise Junior will win the fan vote, unless he isn’t on the lead lap and then who knows.

UPDATE: NASCAR changes requirement for 2011, for a driver to be eligible to be voted in by the fan vote, the car must be race-able and but doesn't include finishing on the lead lap like in previous years.

And top 5 revealed in fan vote (On Friday after I originally wrote this post): The top five drivers in alphabetical order are: A.J. Allmendinger, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano and Brian Vickers.

The All-Star race:

4. One driver will have a hand in Kyle Busch hitting the wall and not winning the All-Star. I believe that this wouldn’t be a surprise to many considering two factors. First, Over the last few years, Kyle Busch has pissed off several drivers including the latest being Kevin Harvick and some of them want to get back at him. And second, just watch last years All-Star race, Busch throw it all away when he misjudged turn 2 following Denny Hamlin (BTW: Hamlin didn’t do anything wrong in that incident, it was all Kyle) and hit the outside wall.

5. Juan Montoya will cause the “Big One” during the All-Star race. The Big One will take out a quarter of the field including Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and more because Juan Montoya doesn’t give enough room to another driver.
6. Regan Smith will be the wild card in the All-Star race, but it will be a duel between Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson for the victory with Johnson winning the race and $1 Million Dollars. 

After the All-Star race:

7. Kyle Busch and crew will have a war of words with another driver, but no fight will break out. Sorry CMS, but at least you get to keep your money.

8. The All-Star race wouldn’t be what many expected and it will leave the announcers in the booth speechless expect Darrell Waltrip, because he’s never speechless. 

Now that’s a prediction list that could very well come true on Saturday night. But before I go, I just want to wish Trevor Bayne a speedy recovery and I hope to see him back at the track real soon, but only when he and his team know he’s ready. Good luck Trevor.

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

NASCAR Split-Screen commercial break format: First TNT at Daytona, FOX at Dover and now ESPN goes Non-stop for all 2011 Chase races – That’s a good start.

Every since ESPN started going “side-by-side” for the commercial break format in the IRL IZOD IndyCar Series races years ago, NASCAR fans have been repeatedly asking and wanting NASCAR to put the same format in, in all NASCAR broadcasts for at least the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

A few years ago, TNT introduced there “wide-open” coverage at the July Daytona Cup Series “Firecracker 400” race and it was meant with mixed results. The coverage was interesting and while it wasn’t ESPN’s side-by-side break format, TNT still gave fans the race feed including ticker on the bottom for fans to follow several times during the race. The format also included the wide-screen effect.

Personally I found the new format to be a step in the right direction, and at least TNT made that available to viewers, unlike everyone else who just stayed with the traditional commercial break format.

Fast forward to last weekend at Dover (5/15/2011), FOX was televising the FedEx 400 for the Cup Series race and for the final commercial break, FOX did a preview of there own “side-by-side” commercial break format.

A lot of NASCAR fans who watched the race on television and also followed the race on Twitter where asked on @NASCARONFOX, “Your favorite moment of the FedEX 400 @MonsterMile was _____?#NASCAR #DOVER

Most fans responded back by saying it was the split screen.

I have to agree, my favorite moment of the FedEx 400 at Dover was FOX’s Split Screen. I believe that it gives fans hope and a preview of what should come in the near future to all Cup Series race televised on FOX.

I mean that was actually a surprise to me as well and something that I liked. I really didn’t think that FOX would ever bring that side-by-side commercial break format considering NASCAR simply didn’t want it. But now even NASCAR is saying they support it. Well even grumpy old men come around, just takes time.
But the big news today comes from ESPN, ESPN announced that they are “Going “NonStop” With NASCAR Commercial Format.” All Chase for NASCAR Sprint Cup Races to Feature Second Half Split-Screen Breaks.

That second piece of headline is the key, all 10 chase races that will be broadcasted on ESPN (and one on ABC) starting Sunday September 18, 2011 at 2 P.M. ET. 

When going to break during NASCAR NonStop, ESPN will utilize a screen wipe tied to an advertiser, with that advertiser occupying the wipe for the rest of the race. NASCAR NonStop will take effect at or near the halfway point of the race, with the first half of the race presented in the traditional commercial break format. – From ESPN press release (video here)
Personally from this NASCAR fans point of view, I like the fact that finally NASCAR, FOX, TNT, and now ESPN are listening to fans and seeing just what the “nonstop” coverage or “side-by-side” commercial break format could do for them including there ratings. I can tell you that I do watch the IndyCar Series on TV and the side-by-side coverage is a welcome treat.

And if you think about it, this is a win-win for fans and advertisers. When a commercial break comes on, I either change the channel, take a walk around the house, go to the fridge or just get up and NOT watch the commercials. Now advertisers actually could have fans stay in front of the TV and see the companies that sponsor and support the race.

Now only time will tell what this new ESPN commercial break format will do for fans/viewers and will TNT and FOX follow ESPN? Good job ESPN, now you need to work on your internet streaming of NASCAR races for fans that don’t have cable television. This could be good for internet viewers too.

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

NASCAR: Drivers just can’t handle “Boy’s Have at it” and “I’ve had it” with this “hook racing”, time for some real rules from NASCAR.

Welcome readers, today I want to discuss one of the biggest debates in NASCAR, the “Boy’s Have at it” attitude that NASCAR created back in January-February 2010 that has proven to be mixed results.

As a NASCAR fan for almost the past two decades, I’ve seen a lot of racing and its been interesting and exciting at times. I have a real passion for the sport.

But when the “Boy’s have at it” came along back in 2010, the 2010 and the first 10 races of 2011 Cup Series season’s racing has been even better in terms of more competition on-track especially with the intro of double-file restarts, G-W-C, the re-intro of the rear spoiler, a new front molded splitter, and more.

It has been a real boost to the Cup Series races for sure. Even more, in a series that once saw mainly a few drivers dominate and win races, now fans are seeing changing, namely drivers are getting up on the wheel and there is 10 to almost 20 different drivers on any given weekend that can win one of these Cup Series races.

A classic example has to be 8 different winners in the first 10 races of the 2010 NASCAR Cup Series season.

The “Boy’s have at it” attitude also has drivers willing to mix it up more, but in that, that lies the problem. Now I have no problem with drivers mixing it up on track with a little beating and banging on each other. Using eight tires instead of four tires and even a little bumping, you know what I mean.

But there is at least in my opinion a line in the concrete that drivers shouldn’t cross before it goes from real racing to very aggressive or dirty driving and so far since the start of the 2010 NASCAR Cup Series season I have seen several drivers cross that line and most of the time, its a driver that has re-developed the famous no-no move of hooking a driver in the left or right rear and sending the other driver into the inside or outside wall.

This move in my opinion is a safety issues, mean some drivers are getting airborne because of it as well as being sent into the wall and causing a huge pileup.

For NASCAR, a sanctioning body that prides themselves on safety, this is now a safety issue and needs there full attention.

A few classic examples of this over the top or over the line racing and actions are:

1. Carl Edwards wrecking Brad Keselowski at the spring race Atlanta in 2010 which Edwards hooked Keselowski in the left rear, sending him airborne, lucky Brad walked away.

2. Same deal as one, Carl Edwards wrecking Brad Keselowski at Gateway in 2010 which Edwards hooked Keselowski in the left rear, sending him into the inside wall and causing a huge pileup. Personally if NASCAR was playing fairly, Edwards would have been parked the next Cup race.

3. Kurt Busch vs. Jeff Gordon at Martinsville in Fall 2010. Gordon bumped Busch out of the way going into turn 3, but instead of simply returning the favor in turn 1, Busch hooked Gordon in the left rear, sending Gordon hard into the inside wall. Busch claims to have given Gordon that move for all of Gordon’s BS with the #2 Miller Lite Dodge over the years including the Rusty Wallace days. Of course to me that was total BS and Wallace handled that himself, that’s also for another day.

4. Juan Montoya vs. Ryan Newman at the spring Richmond race in 2011, Newman either didn’t give Montoya enough room off turn 2 on to the back straightaway or Montoya didn’t give Newman enough room and Montoya ended up into the outside wall with backend damage. So Montoya hooked Newman in the right rear, sending him spinning into the outside wall.

5. Kevin Harvick vs. Kyle Busch at Darlington in 2011 (last weekend depending upon when you read this). Busch bumped Harvick, then Harvick bumped Busch back, you would think that would be the end of it, but no, after coming off turn 4 three wide with Harvick and Bowyer to the inside, Bowyer gets bumped sending him into the outside wall and then Busch drivers down the race track and hooks Harvick in the right rear sending him into the outside wall.

And by the way, this one received a 4 race probation and $25K for both Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, but the penalty was just for the pit road incident after the race, not on track. Personally, Kyle Busch should have been been given a 25 point penalty for sending Harvick’s un-maned car into the pit wall on top of the $25k and probation.

Those are just a few examples of the over the line racing that has been going on on-track and why NASCAR needs to do any with “Boy’s Have at it” and replace it with simple and better rules, basically a real defined line that I might add Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kevin Harvick and more drivers are asking for.

I truly believe that since some NASCAR drivers just can’t handle “Boy’s Have at it”, these drivers have turned a good thing into a bad thing very quickly, NASCAR now should change this “Boy’s have at it” policy and insert a clear line with rules for all drivers to follow as soon as possible before another incident happens.

And believe me, once 4 weeks have passed (after Michigan), Busch vs. Harvick will be back on for sure.

NASCAR your turn! Fans what do you think, comment below and keep it clean.

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

NASCAR: SPEED shines in broadcasting the Bubba Burgers 250 at Richmond race, but Denny Hamlin spoils the show with domination.

Welcome readers, for the last few years, the NASCAR Nationwide Series have been exclusively televised on the ESPN and ABC network. The TV broadcasts have for the most part been in question by the fans. The broadcasts have been entertaining at times, while others have been simply boring to watch. So far in 2011, the broadcasts though haven’t been the issue, so much as its been the Cup Series regular drivers like Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and more coming down into the second series and using it as there own play ground, but that’s another issue all together.

However NASCAR fans last Friday night received a few unexpected treats sort of speak. You see all of the ESPN networks including ABC were busy on Friday night with the NFL draft and I believe the Royal Wedding coverage and highlights. I don’t know, I really didn’t play any attention to the whole deal.

So since ESPN was full, SPEED (Channel) was given the chance to televise the race live on SPEED and they used there own people both in the announcement booth and on pit road, not to mention behind the scenes as well.

I have to admit that heading into Friday night’s race, I was excited about watching the race for three reasons.

1. Simply put Kyle Busch wasn’t racing this weekend. I have made it a point to find something to watch elsewhere when it comes to Busch and Nationwide races for several races.

2. I was interested in seeing just what SPEED could do and would they handle the TV broadcast just like they handle the NASCAR Camping World truck Series.

3. It was Richmond, Friday night under the lights short track action at its finest, need I say more.

Anyway, SPEED in my opinion didn’t disappoint. They had two-three pit road reporters and three guys in the booth. Of course in the booth, they had Rick Allen, but he had his hands full with the Waltrip Brothers. Yes I said the Waltrip Brothers, it was Mikey and Darrell going at it sort of speak for airtime while Allen calling the action from the booth.

But while SPEED was doing a good job giving the fans the right details, covering the action on pit road (what there was of it because of lack of caution flags for drivers to make pit stops) and on-track, the race itself was simply almost a run away with several long green flag periods that ended up putting the field as a long strung out feel with the leader Denny Hamlin leading the most laps.

Richmond normally doesn’t happen like this, but for some reason long green flag periods were the theme this past weekend for both the Nationwide and Cup Series races.

However that didn’t stop the Nationwide Series regulars from trying to make a show out of it as they shined especially Kenny Wallace. I don’t know what got into Kenny Wallace, but the veteran was on his game at least for the first 100 laps of this race as he raced his way up through the field and got as high as second at one point during the race.

It was good to see Wallace mixing it up with some of the Cup Series regulars, not to mention some of the Nationwide regulars too. Personally it would be great to see Kenny Wallace win one more race this year especially in the #09 low budget team.

But even SPEED couldn’t save this Richmond un-normal green flag race as Denny Hamlin even with a late race caution and a fuel economy run would hold off the hard charging Paul Menard (yes, I said Menard, yeah I know where did he come from or where has he been all these years) to win his first race of the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series and put the #20 back into the lead in the owners standings.

Now before you write off this race, keep four things in mind:

1. SPEED did a good job broadcasting this race and with a lot less in the announcers to do so than ESPN normally does. I mean two or three on pit road and three in the booth, but no in-field booth, which is good. SPEED put it all in the hands of Rick Allen and he delivered.

2. Nationwide regulars fill in 6 of the top 10 positions in the final results

3. Kenny Wallace shined, but could only get a 13th place finish.

4. The Nationwide Series points standings is a close battle with the top 6 are only separated by -17 points with Justin Allgaier leading the points.

But as I close this article, I have one question, how does NASCAR fix the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series to make them more entertaining?

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.