Saturday, August 22, 2009
Earnhardt also brings with him seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10s, to go along with the 743 laps which he has led while finishing in the top 10 seven of the last 10 events at the short track. In 19 races that Earnhardt has started at Bristol Motor Speedway, he has an average finishing position of 11.8, and has completed 98.4 percent of all the laps he’s attempted (9,365 of 9,513 total) at the short track.
And when you talk about consistency, Earnhardt has the best average finish — 8.4 — among all active drivers during the last nine races at Bristol. He also leads all active drivers with 366 green-flag passes during that timeframe. With numbers like these, its hard not to put all of his shortcomings aside while looking at a much brighter picture.
“We have been working hard as a team, and I want to carry the momentum from Michigan,“ said a very excited Earnhardt. He also added this about how he feels about tonight’s chances. “This is about as exciting as it gets for fans — night racing at Bristol. I enjoy short-track racing — it’s what I grew up doing. Hopefully we can have another good run.”
The last time Earnhardt raced at Bristol was back in March where he finished 14th with Tony Eury Jr as his crew chief. But tonight brings a whole different challenge with Lance McGrew calling the shot from atop the pit box. "For me, in general, the hardest thing about Bristol is just the noise. It is so difficult.”
McGrew talked about the challenges that he will be facing tonight once the green flag drops. “The laps happen so fast you can’t ever talk to the driver because you can’t talk to him while he is in the corner there, and he is always in the corner.”
McGrew also added, “It is so loud, and everything happens so fast that it’s just very difficult to get good information to the driver and get good information back from the driver to make changes on the car.”
McGrew knows that he has work cut out for himself, with not only dealing with the season that his star driver has been having. But also the with the quick decision making that Bristol is known for from all the crew chiefs. “It’s just impossible. And even under caution you are running around there in such a short amount of time. It’s difficult to get a plan before you even come to pit road, so communication there is very, very difficult."
Hopefully know with the fate of Keselowski out of Earnhardt’s hands, he can focus more on trying to salvage the rest of his season. There is still plenty of time to pick-up a win here and there, and quiet those who feel that he is not worthy to be driving in the series. Im Out
It is time for night racing at Bristol! What to watch for tonight...
- Will we get some classic Bristol racing or will we be counting our points?
- Who will lose more ground in the Chase and who will be in?
- Will we get another annoying cameo from Mother Nature?
- Who will need anger management at the end of the race?
- Who will get to kiss Vicky!?
And our over/under for the day - how many beers will Moseby put away for his birthday this weekend???
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOSEBY!! CHEERS!
1,5, YeeMum - Mark Martin
2,16, LeCrab - Greg Biffle
3,82, Frve3fan - Scott Speed*
4,66, SoCa24fan - Dave Blaney
5,17, Moseby - Matt Kenseth
6,33, HotfottLori - Clint Bowyer
7,07, Hanahan - Casey Mears
8,20, CR Racing - Joey Logano*
9,39, Tezgm99 - Ryan Newman
10,43, Gerrel - Reed Sorenson
11,42, Gunaquat - Juan Montoya
12,71, Speedbeagle - David Gilliland
13,2, RG Guido - Kurt Busch
14,83, Go-9- Car - Brian Vickers
15,18, Storkjrc - Kyle Busch
16,29, Volfan69 - Kevin Harvick
17,26, Jokerswild - Jamie McMurray
18,00, Tsfanpc - David Reutimann
19,44, Aero13 - A.J. Allmendinger
20,96, Klvalus - Bobby Labonte
21,48, Forensic2 - Jimmie Johnson
All eyes have been on the 25-year-old Michigan native since the beginning of the season, wondering which team would eventually sign him. The most obvious choice looked like HMS, or a team that was somehow affiliated with the most dominant organization in the sport today. Especially since Hendrick had already gotten approval from NASCAR, that would have allowed Keselowski to run a part-time schedule next season.
Keselowski wanted a full-time ride for 2010, and the part-time schedule was not what he was looking for, even though NASCAR was willing to make an exception. Keselowski was not willing to answer any questions about the reports that had already begun surfacing. "Ah, well, you know, I’m really not in a position to talk about any of that stuff right now. That’s probably my biggest response. And I’m really not prepared to address any of the rumors about next year right now.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who owns the Nationwide team that Keselowski drives for, was a little more flexible with his answers, when asked about the reports that he would be losing his star driver. “I ain’t got nothing to really say about it. We will just have to see what happens. I can’t say whether it is true or not."
“I haven’t heard anything for sure. I don’t know any more than any of you guys do.” Earnhardt also went on to say, “I am happy for Brad. He has done a good job for us. We have a lot more racing left this year and some races to win in the JR Motorsports car. We will see what happens next year, whatever it is; it will be good for him.”
Earnhardt commented last week if Keselowski would sign with Dodge, if maybe there was something that they could work out, and Earnhardt was asked if that still holds true? “I don’t think that would be any different for anyone else in the garage for anybody to cross-promote and drive one make and then drive another. It is just common sense.”
As a team owner to have a driver who is as talented as Keselowski and then all of a sudden realizing that he wont be around next season has to be difficult. “When I first got Brad, this was for him to have an opportunity to go to a Cup team was our ultimate victory."
This decision couldn’t have come all that easily for Keselowski, and in typical Earnhardt form, he had nothing but praise for the young driver. “Either way, we will be good friends. He did a great job for us and we have the rest of this year. We want to win some more races, and we will see what happens next year. "No matter was he does in the future, he’s done an awesome job for us and we’ve had a great time so far.”
Now that the last of the sport’s big free agents is already taken, does this mean that all the other rumors that are floating around will be put to rest? Because when you think about it, which driver would best fit in with Stewart Haas Racing if they were to expand to a three-car team?
The best option would be for Stewart to wait until after the 2010 season, when Kevin Harvick will most likely be the most sought after driver once his contract expires with RCR. And what happens to JR Motorsports after Keselowski packs his belongings and heads over to Penske Racing? Could we possibly see another Earnhardt in the seat of the No. 88 after Keselowski departs?
Since Jeffrey is ready to come up to the next level, what better team to have him hone his skills at than one that is owned by his uncle? And of course we all know that Mark Martin’s contract expires after the 2010 season. Without Keselowski, who will fill Martin’s seat once he is gone, especially since HMS has no up and coming driver racing in the Nationwide series? Im Out
Friday, August 21, 2009
FENWAY LOVE: BY THE TIME I GET TO ARIZONA
It was upon old haunts we came upon again and again, the foliage in full flush, breathtaking scenery not quite captured in a hush.
Familiar jaunts down memory lane, beside the burning bush and exquistely manicured lawns stretching for what seemed like miles... weary eyes staring back through dotted window frames. Blank and scattered, hurried, lost in mileage backing up the physical form. Present but not accounted for. One hurling mass darting glances at irridescent flashes from message machines that light the skies. We pass by pigeons pecking the ground; ever on watch, picking at crumbs...vigilance a common dependent of surivival...hunger.
Creative power points to projections of clear consciousness and communication without hesitation.
What is this non physical form?
Certainly not to have and hold, but rather to cultivate and coax. It was the eve of McCartney @ Fenway; internal soil oils bubbling liquid overflow...when news came down from the wire...
Call me. Think you have good news coming....
Whatever could this mean?(Sox were in the Bronx...which proved to be the end of the Smoltz experiment...in Boston.)
Like the precious jewel, hidden and long since hoarded, was about to be
revealed. Had synergism, or the joint action of agents grabbed hold of reason? Or worse still...blind emotion run amuck? With a little luck...we Could all be ridding toxins along a disjointed way...
Snake eyes! That's it! This could be a disguise. Tread lightly...
What would he want me to do? Thinking of course, the set of skills would be sharpened and ready for most anything a night in the city ken bring a sailor of these 7 seas...including, but not limited to a midget pleading for assistance at the bottom of a barstool, the characters in no condition...
"...ah...little help here!"
This same wingman on a road full of kicks...tricks run like Prince at the Palladium: The Tiny Purple Dot. We managed to rustle balcony seats in the last row behind all the beautiful people so the chipped ceiling was well within pickin' reach, though we did manage to keep a pre-show appointment with a friendly pharmacist, who turned out, afterall, to be a friend...before exciting post haste.
"Ya gut 30 minutes...if that! On your way boys."
Then it was at Dylan in the same city of Woosta tolerating rampart jabberwackey inside the parking lot jamboree...from a man/boy, ________, the not so closet Dylan freak.
"Those are the exact socks he wore in Hartford!"
Peak into the eye of the animal and an element of surprise may be duly attained by the observer within a shadow of a doubt.
Many mouths dropped open in surprise at that one but by now I had grown past the point of eager...ready was willing to be informed as citizen to justly determine what this here hullabaloo was all about.
I yearned for what had yet to be revealed and decided to take a stroll.
Outside the sun was shining and there was music in every direction. Birds were singing in trees with no leaves barely concealed. "It Aint Easy" blaring from a Chevy. The original "Signs", coming from the postman's trolley truck saddled by the side of the curb.
I passed a neon coloured kite held captive in a naked tree. The tails of the kite, a bright yellow and lime green, tangled and torn...left to bake in the sun (aging as we go in the know)fallen leaves appear to be nothing more than a kite contained, restrained, not allowed to fly...only to wonder why dreams do die...knowing all the while it comes from the smile.
...but where did it go? By the time I get to Arizona...I'll havata buy a new hat!
I'd need more than that...it was time to go back. Returning to the funny farm it came to be the mind was wide open so I made the necessary adjustments.
What was hombre gunna say?
Yes, this is a bit south of sanity, maybe even casually corrupt, but if only to interrupt a mania mind of mazes frying in the desert.
"You sure you don't know? I thought-"
"With the prelude building by the moment, I'm sure I don't know Frantastic!"
Wait...strike that! We've run amuck once or twice...
Once fuss and reflectivity came to be, it was determined 4 brothers were to be duly engaged in harmony at the aformentioned Fenway for sunday night baseball against the Yanks in addition to Paul McCartney the following evening. Could this be true?
Less than one hour later:
1. The McCartney countdown had begun
2. Reality was beginning to settle.
3. Two Fenway treks
a. with a band of brothers.
b. Mom, Pops, Jr.
The voicemail eye turns red. It was my blood brother Lenny (not his real name!). No really. Everyone has called him Lenny since about 8 or 10, being a pet project of a relative on my creative side...though we do digress....
It seems by his message, Lenny is packing free airfare and a ticket with his big brother's name on it to the USC/ASU game in November. Keep in mind I have never been to Arizona; hence the mantra, By The Time I Get Arizona! (He has lived out there for 8 years).
Each experience, McCartney (Aug 6th, the Sox/Yanks , and finally, Arizona to see his condo and meet the black lab in person, have come strictly through goodwill. By the time I get to Arizona, I may need to rethink my stance on scorpions! Forget counting your change...always check your shoes!
Most people say enough for tons of men. Then again, there are those who don't say much...looking...listening...learning....deep in touch with the sands of faraway lands. Perhaps that one understands strife and struggle, borrowing the physical form to be considered lucky.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Mark Martin summed up the changes in three easy words during his weekly press conference this past week. “There’s so much” he said. While looking back at just a couple of them that have probably had the biggest impact are the C.O.T., and the chase for the Sprint cup championship by far have taken center stage. And then of course there are the subtle changes which didn’t have such a big impact, but none the less they still slowly but surely crept their way into the sport.
Now looking back to one of these subtle changes that are still being refined to this day, are the drivers introductions. Back in the day, drivers had a great deal of fun during pre-race festivities as they introduced themselves to the fans in attendance. While at the same time showing some of their own individuality into the way they addressed the crowd.
NASCAR has really gone out of their way to make sure that our sport is keeping up with today’s high demands, as far as the entertainment aspect is concerned. What was once a simple way of introducing the drivers, along with a short prayer, and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. Has now turned into a full fledged production complete with fireworks, a pre-race concert, and of course a stage from where the drivers come walking out and are introduced.
NASCAR is continuing to let the sporting world know that they too can bring that same type of excitement, which other sports bring before the green flag is ever waved. When you take in all the hype and excitement that the N.F.L. brings to its fans before the superbowl, why should NASCAR be any different? After all this is one the most high energy, breath taking, colorful, and exciting sports that is out there today.
We already know how colorful and exciting some of the drivers can be, just by watching the pre-race shows while they are being interviewed. And with the different personalities that each driver posses, I’m sure that it also shows in the music that they listen to. Whether it is country or hard rock, their musical tastes are just as diverse as the paint schemes on their cars.
So don’t be too surprised for this Saturday night’s Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, when the music you hear sounds more like a battle of the bands is taking place during driver introductions. Bristol Motor Speedway will be turning back the hands of time by not only asking the drivers to introduce themselves, but they will also walk out to the song of their choice. When you look at the diversity in music that our drivers enjoy, it’s easy to see why NASCAR racing has become so popular during the 21st century. So far the lineup includes;
Tony Stewart- “Bawitdaba” by Kid Rock
Mark Martin- “For Those About To Rock” by AC/DC
Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson- “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC
Matt Kenseth- “The Enemy” by Godsmack
Kurt Busch- “Going The Distance” by Cake
Kyle Busch- “Amazing” by Kanye West
Carl Edwards- “Jump Around” by House Of Pain
Jeff Gordon- “Start Me Up” by The Rolling Stones
Jeff Burton- “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns And Roses
Kasey Kahne- “Life On The Run” by Dierks Bentley’s
Michael Waltrip- “As Good As I Once Was” by Toby Keith
Ryan Newman- “Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy” by Big & Rich
Clint Bowyer- “Enter The Building” by Elvis Presley
Reed Sorenson- “Billy Jean” by Michael Jackson
So as we get ready to take the green flag, on what should be another exciting evening of racing under the lights? The battles that will be taking place should fall nothing short, especially by looking at the list of songs that our favorite drivers have chosen to represent themselves. If there was one song that could best portray what our drivers mean to not only us fans, but also the sport as well. It would have to be AC/DC’s, “ For Those About To Rock, (We Salute You).” Im Out
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Mike Vick joined the Philadelphia Eagles and vowed he's a changed man. Here's a newsflash, a dude in prison found Jesus! Well, that's gotta be a first. Mike faced the punishment that was handed out for operating an illegal (and immoral) dogfighting outfit and served his time, and now he's preparing to make a splashy return to the NFL. Except for the fact that people seem to forget Vick wasn't all that great as a QB before his troubles with the law. He's extremely athletic, no doubts there, but he relies on that athleticism too much - and that's probably hurt his development as a pro quarterback. In my humble opinion all the Eagles accomplished was to disrupt their training camp and disturb their calm for a back-up QB who doesn't bring alot of positives to the team. Not exactly a blockbuster deal.
Speaking of newsflashes, here's another shocker. The Sprint Cup race at MIS was a fuel mileage race! Can you believe it?! Once upon a time I tried to come up with a nickname for Brian Vickers, but I'm still not completely sold on one in particular. Some of the options were Darth Vickers, the Red Brian (or maybe the Red Baron Brian), Vicks Racing Rub, and Brian Whiskers. If you've got any good ideas for nicknames, drop 'em on me. When the exciting factor of a particular race is wondering if/when the cars will run out of fuel, then it's possible the race needs some tweaking to make it just a wee bit more entertaining for the fans. Shorten the race distance. Or lengthen the race distance. Or scatter clowns around the track, and hitting a clown earns 50 bonus points. I don't know, but waiting for cars to run out of fuel is about as fun as watching the grass grow or listening to Rusty Wallace talk race strategy.
And finally, the Minnesota Vikings have added Brett "Firing Blanks" Favre. I guess old QB's never really retire they just keep holding press conferences. Doesn't anyone remember the disaster the NY Jets went through with Favre Beans last year? Just to recap ... the team missed the playoffs and Favre bailed on them, saying he'd never play again (again), and then the entire coaching staff got fired. That doesn't sound like a banner year to me. And yet here are the Vikings who actually have a good team, ready willing and able to venture down that road with Grecian Formula Man #4 steering the big purple bus. Oh boy, nothing spells reality tv show quite like an old drama queen QB ruining a team's chemistry.
Well, there is the ongoing Mayfield saga too. That could be a pretty wild reality show too I suppose.
As I sit here, watching the replay of the Michigan race on Speed, while playing Mafia Wars and reading blogs, I find out that today is a busy day for NASCAR. Starting at 4:30, ESPN2 will air the festivities when the NASCAR drivers' travel to the White House where Jimmie Johnson will be honored. The 2008 Chase Drivers will be included along with other NASCAR personalities. Missing, however, will be Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth because of schedule conflicts. I'm sure Kyle would have been on his best behavior if he had been there.lol Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace will be participating but ESPN chose Brad Daugherty and Nicole Manske to speak with the President live on NASCAR NOW. Maybe it's because of DJ's and Rusty's limited vocabulary, kind of like Forrest Gump meeting Lyndon Johnson!lol
Then onto the truck race! SPEED will start it off at 7:00 tonight with Mike Joy and Dick Berggren. Bob Dillner will be down on pit road. The pre-race show starts at 8:00. Kristen Voda will follow up on Johnny Benson and how he is doing after his horrific wreck back in June.
The truck race starts at 8:30. I'm usually getting ready for bed around 9:00 and I won't be too disappointed because I just can't sit through a race with Michael Waltrip calling it!LOL Rick Allen and Phil Parsons will be with him but I'll still pass. It's as bad as listening to his brother.lol
Qualifying starts at 4:40 this afternoon. Thirty-nine drivers have entered. It's quite a group. Brad Keselowski owns his Chevy truck that he will be driving with no sponsor. Delana Harvick's truck will be driven by Ryan Newman and Pringles is the sponsor. Ken Schrader is in his own Federated Auto Parts truck. Hermie Sadler is driving a Victory Junction Gang sponsored truck. Let's see who gets in and who goes home! Go, Kenny!
The kicker is according to the Weather Channel, there's a 40% chance of rain. I hope you enjoy the race.
When watching the Saints defense in their first pre-season game against the Bengals last Friday all the talk of a new attitude and aggresive style of play wasn't just that, I witnessed it first hand. For the past two seasons while Shaun Payton has been able to creat one of the most potent passing games in NFL history the defense has been a sore spot. Enter Greg Williams a defensive coordinator who has had varied degrees of success in the NFL. Payton took a pay cut just to make sure the Saints would have the money to make such a hire. So far from the looks of training camp and their one pre-season game played, this may have been a wise decision.
The whole unit seems to have already bought into what Williams is selling them and has fans of the team dreaming big this season. The local thought is if Williams can get the defensive unit somewhere in the teens as far as rankings go, then with such a deadly offense they should be serious contenders for post season play. Of course limiting the amount of injuries that plagued the team a year ago is a must but there's plenty of depth this year unlike the previous three.
During the off season the Saints not only got the defensive coordinator it was seeking but was also able to re-sign MLB Jonathan Vilma and also bring in a vet. FS in Darren Sharper, a player who fits Williams scheme and plays a very important role in it. Both Vilma and Sharper had huge plays in limited work during Fridays game. Vilma had an interception and fumble recovery, while on that fumble recovery Sharper was the one who laid the hit down that caused the fumble to happen.
Having your two main players on the defense lead by example in the first game can only bode well for the younger players and the moral of the unit as a whole. There were quite a few mistakes shown by the defense but just the attitude and hustle from every player like DE Charles Grant running down Bengals WR Ocho Cinco or DT/DE Anthony Hargrove who's trying to resurect his career run the field to get Vilma the last block needed to score on his interception is something not seen in the "Back N Gold" since the days of coach Jim Mora Sr. and his Dome Patrol, which was rated by the NFL network as the best linebacking group ever.
Every team looks good and feels good about where they are at this time of year, however with a little luck,some hard work and a gris-gris this just might turn out to be the year Saints fans have been praying for!
P.S.- I wanted to take the time out to thank Kristen for inviting me to contribute to her blog. I like the rest of you met her on foxsports.com just after she won a contest as the next great sports writer, or something similar to that. Eitherway she's been a great friend to me ever since the first time I either commented on her blog or vice-versa. So merci beaucoup ma chere, you are a great writer but an even better friend.
P.S.S. Also want to say hello to a few of you all here. Aero,tophatal,degraff,forensic2,boltbacker,the ever so beautiful hotfootlori,hanahan and last but certtainly not least my boy B@O that dude there is to damn funny. If I missed anyone else who knew me from fox then I appologize and hello to you all as well. Hope things are going great for you and yours. Look forward to reading some very good post from some pretty talented folks.
Good luck to you all!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Unfortunately, there is some bad news. The weather from Bristol isn't looking too condusive for racing this weekend: 50% chance of rain tomorrow and Thursday; 40% chance of rain Friday(Cup qualifying and everything Nationwide); and a 10% chance for rain on Saturday(looking better than earlier reports, but we all know what the weather said last week at Michigan). Added to all of this is Hurricane Bill which is expected to hit the outer banks of North Carolina this weekend.
On to the races--
Up first is the Camping World Truck race Wednesday(8-19). The green flag drops at 8:46pm ET(6:46pm PT).
Next is the NASCAR Nationwide race Friday(8-21). The green flag drops at 8:13pm ET(6:13pm PT). You must pick a driver for this race who DOES NOT run full time in the Cup Series.
Finally, we have the NASCAR Sprint Cup race Saturday(8-22). The green flag drops at 7:43pm ET(5:43pm PT).
The last few weeks, there have been some questions concerning deadlines for driver changes. You may change your driver for a race anytime up to the posted time for the green flag. As long as your change is time stamped BEFORE the start of the race, the change will be accepted. Since this blog time stamps in Pacific Time, I have provided those times as well.
Next week is an off week for the Cup drivers; however, there will be a Trifecta next week.
Good luck and let's go racing!!!
God Bless and lets go racing.
Some fans said that because of the way he was treated, that he chose to take his frustrations on any Hendrick driver that would get in his way of getting his first victory. So as the story goes, Johnson who was just getting ready to pull along side D.E.I. driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the last lap for the lead. Vickers, who had been drafting with Johnson, seized the moment and clipped Johnson on his right rear quarter panel, which turned Johnson into Earnhardt knocking them both out of the race.
"I got into Jimmie and I hate it," Vickers said. "The last thing I wanted to do was wreck either one of those guys, but what happened, happened. It wasn't intentional." Jimmie’s crew chief Chad Knaus seen it another way. "I just don't think (Vickers) has the talent to understand what he has underneath him."
The last lap move didn’t settle to well with the fans, as well as Jimmie or Chad. After Jimmie climbed out of his wrecked car, he was not too pleased with the way his teammate raced him at the end. "I had a great chance to make up some points, and I end up getting wrecked by a teammate…"It's absolutely uncalled for, completely out of line. I'm racing for a championship, OK? The only way to win [the race] was to crash us both."
Now here we are almost three years later, and all the frustrations from that somber day for the 48 team are all forgotten. It was evident as Vickers and Johnson were interviewed together during the rain delay, while talking about a career change becoming meteorologists. While the joking was going on during the delay, little did they know that in a couple of hours they would once again be battling at the end of the race for the win. But this time it would be Vickers who would desperately need the win instead of Johnson, to keep his chances alive of making the chase for the Sprint cup championship.
Johnson, who took the lead on lap 166 from Vickers already knew that fuel would once again be an issue as it was back in June. This was when he and Roush Fenway driver Greg Biffle were battling their fuel tanks for the win, during the waning laps of the race. But in the end they both fell short on the last lap, giving the victory to Johnson’s HMS teammate Mark Martin. Who was also conserving fuel while watching the drama unfold from the third position.
Vickers who had Johnson in sights during the final green flag run, used a lot more patience as well as better judgment, while drafting behind the 48 in order to save as much fuel as possible. “I don’t know how hard he (Jimmie Johnson) was pushing his car. I definitely had a little bit left – I was trying to push him to use more fuel. I felt like I was comfortable where I was using my fuel.”
As the laps wore down, so did the fuel that was in Johnson’s tank and once again the reigning Sprint cup champion would run out of fuel. But this time he would fall two laps short, while dominating the race once again leading a race high 165 laps. "I'm certainly frustrated," Johnson said. "We've won one race on fuel mileage, ever. It's just what we're not good at. I think it's a little too risky for us to even try it. We got lucky once in Phoenix. Outside of that we always come up short."
Meanwhile Vickers would go on to win the second race of his Sprint cup career, while giving Toyota its 17 win overall. With the win Vickers would also become only the sixth Toyota driver to win a Sprint cup race, giving Red Bull their first victory as well as Toyota‘s first victory at Michigan. Vickers was asked if he felt that he had conserved enough fuel to win the race. “Yes and no – we went through it several times and he (Ryan Pemberton, crew chief) was asking me to give him two laps and I gave him five.”
After Johnson ran out of fuel, Vickers talked about what was going through his mind while watching Johnson pull down to the apron. “It was tough – there was part of me that was terrified because I knew there was a chance that we would run out, but there was a part of me that was kind of excited because I felt like I knew what we needed to save and we went through the exact same thing last time.”
How much of a morale booster does a win of this caliber do for a team this late in the season, especially now that Vickers is sitting 13th spot, just 12 points out of the chase? “It does a lot for the morale. I think everyone has been very proud of the accomplishments we've had over the past several years, leading laps, sitting on poles.”
When you begin to look at some of Vickers accomplishments? The biggest one has to be the respect that he has gained from not only his fellow drivers, but also the fans that supported this win. Unlike the controversial win back in 2006, this win very easily overshadowed any doubt that the fans may have had about his driving abilities.
Vickers not only maintained his composure under pressure, but most of all he showed a level of maturity that should see him back in victory lane before the end of the season. “Today I think we obviously learned how to win. It's an exciting day.”
And then all of a sudden one day when you least expect it, that’s when it all comes together and everything that has been happening begins to make a lot of sense. Now I’m not talking about some magical joyride, or entering into a realm that is not unforeseeable. But instead reality kicks in, and you realize that you are not in some far off dream.
Dreams are where championships start from, and it’s usually by one mans dream where a championship run begins to take shape. Dream seasons and championships usually go hand in hand with another, and it’s not that difficult to see that Rick Hendrick has easily fallen into that category.
As Rick continues to mold and shape his dream into reality. Its not hard to see that his reality has come in the form of having five of his six engine and chassis packages, within the top 12 hoping to do battle for the Sprint cup championship once the chase begins. When you begin to take a deeper look at where Rick’s dream began. All you have to do is look at his cast of drivers, and that right there tells the whole story.
Rick by far has the most dominant team, as well as the most powerful engine and chassis package that NASCAR has ever seen throughout its 60+ year history. With the addition of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin, Rick solidified himself as an owner who would go to any length to make sure that he has the cream of the crop, as well as the sports most influential drivers.
To go along with the eight championships that his drivers have already won for him, he can also boast of 181 wins, 160 poles, 703 top fives, and 1,156 top 10’s. Rick even went a step further while adding Stewart Haas racing to his already powerful arsenal, and that alone is paying back some pretty big dividends.
So far, Tony Stewart has won three races to go along with leading the point standings. Stewart has also locked himself into the chase while running Hendrick engines along with their chassis package.
Jimmie Johnson, who has won the last three championships in a row, can make NASCAR history if he can add the fourth one this season.
Mark Martin at the age of 50 can make history if he can win his first championship. The oldest driver to ever win a championship was Bobby Allison at the age of 45.
Jeff Gordon can put himself within two championships of Dale Earnhardt Sr, and Richard Petty by adding number five this season.
Tony Stewart is a very strong candidate to become the second driver/owner to win a championship, while putting himself next to Alan Kulwicki who holds that title all to himself.
This season has to be one of his most productive, and the most well put together in Rick’s 25 year history while being a team owner. Once this season is over and all the awards are handed out, you have to wonder what Rick Hendrick will do for an encore. Im Out
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
If the race today is anything like the race on Saturday in the Nationwide series we were in for a show and that is exactly what we got.
Check out this week’s winners and losers in Michigan.
On Saturday, Brian Vickers in post race remarks reminded us that the Nationwide series is not the Kyle Busch show, and on Sunday Vickers was the show as well. Well, at least the supporting actor to Jimmie Johnson dominating performance.
Vickers won the pole for Sunday’s race and although he lost the lead early, he never really fell out of contention.
Vickers and his team lost the handling a bit mid-race but they were able to adjust on the changing conditions and keep with the race track.
As the race went on Vickers though got better and faster and when it came time for fuel conservation Vickers was able to conserve just enough and hold off Jeff Gordon for the win.
Vickers who is only 12 points out of the chase now, put on a show this weekend, dominating in both races. Vickers who has series leading six poles this year finally was able to close the deal and win his second career race.
Vickers was the show this weekend. Period.
There was lots of talk this week of Gordon’s back, whether he should even show up at Bristol or if he could even get in the car this weekend. Well Gordon not only showed up but also quieted some critics who had written off this team as not contenders for the championship, finishing second.
Gordon had an early draw in qualifying and found himself starting 21st. They quickly began moving forward and when the rain moved in and moved out Steve LeTarte called Gordon in and took just fuel and gained track position.
Gordon fought the same conditions that everyone else did. Track conditions changed sometimes lap to lap, but Gordon and his crew were not only able to gain positions on pit road but were able to pass on the track.
Gordon has run well on mile and half tracks this year, and they have said thye are saving there best cars for the chase.
If this wasn’t their best car and they weren't able to move through traffic like they did, the rest of the competition might want to keep an eye on the 24 crew when the Chase starts.
I don’t think you could wipe the smile off the face of Gordon after the race, unless you asked him about his back.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
It hasn’t been a great year for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and as well documented as it has been recently there has been signs of life with this team. Michigan has always been a good track for Earnhardt, being the track where he won his last race in June of 2008.
Earnhardt started off the race struggling back in traffic; he was having trouble with a loose race car and also with traffic. They brought the car in and worked on it, but it wasn’t making much head way.
During a green flag run, they had to bring the car on pit road because of what Earnhardt thought was a vibration, so they changed all four tires. When it all cycled out, Earnhardt remained on the lead lap and soon found himself in the lead late.
He lost the lead when he had to pit, but was able to make a furious run through the top 10 and finished third.
It was a great sign to see him able to move forward and to make positive gains on the car throughout the race.
Junior nation nearly had themselves a win, and if the race was 206 miles he might have won.
It didn’t take long for Bobby Labonte to know that today was going to be a long day. As soon as the green flag waved, Labonte could hear engine issues and quickly dropped to the rear.
When the caution came out for the rain and then the red flag the team huddled together and made a game plan. They thought it was loose spark plugs so they intended on changing them as soon as it went back to yellow.
They stayed on pit road to give themselves enough time to change the plugs while the rest of the field prepared to make pit stops. Those changes did not work—they pulled to the garage and worked on the second cylinder and had Labonte back on the track though 21 laps down.
They went to the garage soon after, falling out of the race.
It hasn’t been an easy year for Labonte, he has struggled adapting to his car and the switch of manufacturers also hasn’t helped him.
He is one of the drivers who may be driving for a ride in 2010. Finishing 43rd on Sunday didn’t help.
Labonte should ask his sponsor ask.com, where is that Yates engine power?
For Kurt Busch, he should be glad he was sitting in the top five in the standings, so an accident like this won’t end his chase hunt, but you can bet they sure didn’t need a hit like this that puts them dangerously close to the danger zone.
Busch and David Ragan and Carl Edwards were racing on a restart, Ragan got loose and came down on Kurt Busch who then slammed the inside wall hard, headed for the garage.
His team was furiously making repairs to get him back on the track with points so important, even though a win was not a possibility.
Busch had a great car today. He was struggling with an electrical issue but was able to keep his car in the top 10.
He finished 36th.
Busch should hope this was his mulligan before the Chase begins.
Okay, so it is a bit ridiculous to put him on the loser list after leading a race-high 134 and finishing 33rd. They didn’t have mechanical issues and they didn’t have an accident but they did run out of fuel, again.
Johnson had a fast car all day long as they were up front and had the best car for most of the day. When they did get stuck in traffic Johnson was able to work it perfectly and quickly made his way into the top five.
With the race coming down to fuel mileage Johnson was in conservation mode, but the problem is he didn’t conserve.
Racing hard to take the lead on the final restart and then battling Vickers hard before he ran out of gas once again short of the checkered flag.
Now I do not doubt that Chad Knaus wasn’t telling Johnson to conserve but Johnson couldn’t conserve enough and once again lost a race with a dominating car to fuel mileage.
You’d think instead of racing so hard early in the run, Johnson would have been willing to ride along in second.
Sam Hornish Jr.
Well it’s been a tough couple weeks for Sam Hornish Jr. After a hard wreck at Watkins Glen, Hornish was looking for a solid run. Well it didn’t start out so solid, he got penalized for fueling twice on pit road.
He was held a lap, and then had to fight back getting the lucky dog on lap 116. Hornish though was able to rebound and top off for fuel and battled for a top five finish in fifth. This was a great run by this team.
While it didn’t look very good early they were able to adjust on the car.
Top five finish, check, car in one piece, check, check.
So many people say they should take a race away from this track. Two races in two months, seems a bit much, they question what changes between June and August. Well for one the weather, rain pounding this track changes the grip in a short amount of time.
The heat also affects this race track, and the drivers have found this the track hot and slick.
I like Michigan, it’s big and wide and the drivers can use multiple lanes. The passing happens all around the track and tires are not as important when the speeds level off only a handful of laps into a run.
What a race out there today, every driver was racing 110% out there for every point and every position. Some drivers risking a spot in the top 12 for a good finish others, going all out for a win not worrying about what was at stake.
Next up is the racing world’s version of the Coliseum, Bristol Motorspeedway
RIGHT NOW NASCAR.COM IS SHOWING ABOUT 86 AS THE TEMP. AT THE RACE TRACK AND EVERYONE IS WORRIED ABOUT THE HEAT.
THEY BETTER BE GLAD THEY ARE NOT RACING AT TEXAS THIS WEEKEND, IT'S 95 HERE IN OKLAHOMA RIGHT NOW AND I AM ABOUT 200 MILES NORTH OF DALLAS, NOW FOLKS THAT IS WHERE IT IS HOT TODAY.