Sunday, June 17, 2018

Just Wondering Why....

Happy Father's Day to all the Nascar Dads!

I've been away for a while. I had Salmonella and I'll tell you that is some wicked stuff. I went to the E.R. with what I thought was the flu. They told me my kidneys were in acute distress and I was totally dehydrated. Ended up in the hospital attached to an i.v. pole for six days. Even after I got home, I still felt pretty puny.

While all this was going on, I watched the races but not with my usual vim and vigor (I might have summoned up a little more enthusiasm if Jimmie had won during that time).

I mostly only had enough energy to think and Jimmie is who I thought about, mainly how poorly Hendrick and especially the 48 is doing this year. It makes me wonder why. I'm pretty sure the Hendrick engineers haven't forgotten how to build cars; I'm pretty sure Chad hasn't forgotten how to set up cars; I'm pretty sure Jimmie, a seven-time champion, hasn't forgotten how to drive cars.

I wish a knew more about motor vehicles so I might have an inkling but as it is, I don't have a clue. Is it something with Chevrolet's new body style? Unlikely because Kyle Larson is racing at a competitive level. It appears that the 48 simply doesn't have as much speed as the Toyotas and Fords.

Ever since I've been a fan, Nascar has stated that their goal is to make the cars evenly matched but that has never worked. One manufacturer or one team always seems to be a step ahead of the others. How can that be? Nascar has put the crew chiefs in a tighter and tighter box. They made the rules ever more restrictive. They control everything - height, weight, width and so many smaller things. None of it makes a difference. Last year, it was Martin Truex, Jr. and this year, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.No matter how Nascar tries, someone always find something to get an edge.

Personally, I like that even thought my driver is paying the price right now. I like believing there is always something new to be found to make a car faster.

I'm sure if Hendrick knew the problem, they'd fix it a.s.a.p. but what could it be? It doesn't seem like there is much left once all Nascar's conditions are met. All Jimmie's fans can do is wait. Maybe toward the end of this season, they'll find the reason they are lagging behind. Maybe it won't be until next year but I have faith that it will come.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Gave Up and Went to Bed


I'll let the picture above speak for itself.

I'm ashamed to say I was tired and not feeling too well and I went to bed in the middle of the race. Something I have never done before. At that point, Jimmie was a lap down, Kenseth was a lap down. Harvick was leading. Only Larson was really looking good. (I also found out later than he wrecked). I'd thought to myself when I went to bed that I probably wouldn't bother to go back and and watch the rest if Harvick won....and well, you know what happened.

I despise these years when one team totally dominates. NASCAR always says that their modus operandi is to get the cars equal but they aren't equal are they? The NASCAR management would be better off to leave it up to the crew chiefs to work it out instead of leveling all these picayune penalties, suspensions and point losses. Call it cheating or call it creativity, I call it innovation. And once it is introduced by one the team, the other always catch on and catch up.

Of course, the big news this week has been that the France family is seeking buyers for NASCAR. That doesn't surprise me too much. First, I think the France's lost their passion for NASCAR after the last generation. Brian France, who sold his share long ago although he's still CEO, seems positively bored by it.

Secondly, I don't think one family owning a major sport is a good business model in today's world. It will probably end up being sold to a consortium and then to a division of owners like the NFL. We have to hope that changes that radical will come with new blood and new ideas. Owning a sport, or even just a team, or being a series sponsor, is simply beyond the capabilities of all but the richest people and companies.

Maybe when Donald Trump is done being president, he'll buy it. ha!ha!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What Does a Team Consist of?


Congratulations to Joey and his fans. (I'm just glad I didn't have to say Kyle B or Kevin H again!) I was happy to see Joey win.He broke a 36 race losing streak since after Richmond last year and that didn't really count because he failed inspection and NASCAR labelled his win "encumbered". That meant, although he still got the trophy, it didn't count toward the championship play-offs. That killed his season because he never won again in 2017.

But, not to worry, NASCAR has decided not to use that word again. Nothing else will change. If a car fails inspection, it will still mean that the race win will not count toward making the championship run. But it won't be  called"encumbered" anymore. Well, I'm glad that's settled!

I generally don't care much for restrictor plate races. That's mainly because I think of NASCAR as a one-on-one sport. I don't like seeing manufacturers or teams gang up together to get an advantage. Your "team" is back at the garage or in the pits, not everyone who drives a Toyota.

Chevrolet drivers have never been as likely to do this as Ford and Toyota drivers. I can see pitching a teammate as small break,  giving them a little room to get in line, for example. But all coming to the pits together so you can join forces back on the track, ganging up to shut another car completely out, nope, I don't like it.  Would Chase have scored higher than third at Talladega if he hadn't been blocked by all the Fords? We'll never know.

It seems to be the way it is a restrictor plates though so maybe it is just up to the Chevy drivers to get better at it.

I will be glad to see Matt Kenseth back at Kansas. At first, we thought that might have something to do with Trevor's health but it seems it was a matter of sponsorship. The rumor also went around that Matt and Mark Martin might be going to buy out Jack Roush but that seemed to get started as a joke.

I was really, really hoping it was true because, although there will always be an abundance of drivers, we basically, of our premiere owners - Hendrick, Roush, Penske, Petty and Gibbs are all getting old. (Ganassi and Haas/Stewart are younger). It takes a lot of money, passion and commitment to field a top-echelon NASCAR team and not many gazillionaires have all three. I always thought that maybe Jeff Gordon would take over for Rick Hendrick but I don't know if Jeff has that kind of CEO mentality. Maybe it will be Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He's used to owning teams.

I also read that there was a problem getting sponsorship for Bubba Wallace, Jr (although they have since signed a new sponsor). That surprises me because Bubba is the only African-American racing in the top series. There are many very wealthy African-Americans. You'd think one of them would step up to the plate to give a brother every opportunity to succeed.

Poor Spencer Gallagher - from the highest to the lowest in 48 hours. He wins the Xfinity series Talladega race then fails a drug test, losing a sure ticket into the play-offs. NASCAR won't say what kind of drug he took. He apologized and promised to enter the NASCAR recovery program.

Sympathy to James Hylton and his family.

My May wish doesn't have anything to do with NASCAR. I have my fingers crossed that Danica gets a good finish in the Indy 500!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Short Trackin' at Bristol


Congratulations again to  Kyle Busch and his fans. He's not who I wanted to win but it's not because I dislike Kyle, I just don't want anyone to win multiple races. (Unless, it is Jimmie, of course.  I admit it - ha!ha! - I'm partisan!)

This was my favorite race so far this season, despite it being kind of a mixed up mess due to the weather. I like the intensity of Bristol. I enjoy races where drivers and crew chiefs have to take tire strategy into account. I appreciate a track that changes frequently so teams don't know what they will be facing from one lap to the next. I like bump-and-runs and slide-jobs when drivers get up-close and personal better than the aerodynamics of "taking the air off somebody's nose."

There were a lot of outstanding performances at Bristol. The kids finally seem to be catching up and I believe they make the racing more thrilling. Ryan Blaney dominated the Sunday portion of the race until he got wrecked. Kyle Larson looked like his old exciting self until Kyle Busch bumped him out of the way and beat him to the checkered flag. Still, he made a terrific save when he spun. His car pirouetted like a ballerina, then, without hitting anything, settled back pointed in the right direction.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. looked really good and Bubba Wallace Jr. was masterful, leading his first laps in the Cup series. (Incidentally, the first African American ever to do so.)

I felt better after the race because Jimmie and Alex Bowman both got top five finishes. Maybe Hendrick is finally getting a grip on the new Camaro.

And speaking of car bodies, Ford will be bringing the Mustang to Cup next year! Hurray! Camaro and Mustang are the two cars Chevrolet and Ford should run in a racing series. Now if only Dodge would bring back one of its muscle cars. I don't really have any feelings one way or the other about Toyota. Does Toyota even have a real sports car?

I have been voting for Chase Elliott for the All-Star Race, although, there are several I wouldn't mind to see get it. Nascar has an abundance of new young talent, making it hard to choose just one favorite. Maybe NASCAR should have a Primary All-Star Race and a Secondary All-Star Race for those who are good but didn't quite qualify in the first go-round.

As has become usual, we had a plethora of pit road penalties. Kevin Harvick, once again, got caught up in an air gun problem and he's pissed about it. These guns are now being handed out by NASCAR and according to Kevin, they are inferior to the ones the teams built themselves. No one else seems to be having as much trouble with them.

Bristol was a very satisfying race and I look for more of the same at a short track Saturday night at Richmond.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Duel Between Two Masters of the Track


Congratulations to Kyle Busch on his first win of the season. That was an exciting ending between two of the most talented drivers in NASCAR chasing each other to the finish line. They certainly had different races. Kyle's journey to the checkered flag was relatively uneventful. He never put a tire wrong - just a solidly executed race.

Meanwhile, poor Kevin Harvick was plagued by trouble on pit road. He had to pass cars like a madman to get to second place but in the end, he just didn't have enough oomph to catch and pass Kyle.

It was fun to watch even though as usual none of my guys made it to the front at the end. I always cheer for Jimmie first, then any Hendrick driver (Byron did at least come in tenth), then Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray. I rooted for Erik Jones and Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola and maybe a few more so it's not as if I didn't give fate plenty of options but one by one they went down.

I'm beginning to think the Racing Gods have put a hex on me and it is bleeding down to my drivers.

Jimmie has had such misfortune this year - poor qualifying and when he does get a halfway decent starting spot, they get sent to the back because of problems with inspection. He's not the only one, of course. It seems to be becoming more of a problem for teams as the season goes on. When the 48 is  moving along in the race, they either blow a tire or get wrecked.

Lots of wrecks in this race that pared down the competition. Besides Jimmie, there was Hamlin and Truex and Larson and Keselowski and Newman and Almirola and  more. None of them seemed to me to be caused by reckless driving. It's just the speed and level of difficulty of Texas.

After the race, Chase Elliott's team was penalized 20 owner points and 20 champion points and losing their crew chief for two weeks - something to do with a misconfiguration of the window. That seems like an especially harsh punishment but I often feel that way about NASCAR's rules.

Well, we know that the NASCAR Cup series will be the Monster Energy Series again next year but they said they'd be unlikely to stay on after that so NASCAR will once again be hunting for a series sponsor.

All the rules have been changed once again for the All Star Race. I didn't read them very closely because I knew I wouldn't understand them anyway. Aerodynamics is definitely not one of my areas of expertise! There will be restrictor plates for the first time at Charlotte. What difference that will make I don't know. Some experts have said the race will be more competitive.

But before that, it's Bristol, Baby!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Clint Throws Off King Kong!


Well, my NASCAR season hasn't started out so hot. I missed part of a race (can't remember which one - Kevin Harvick won) because I forgot to set my clock forward and by the time I tuned it was a third over.

I missed Sonoma entirely because Fox had a glitch. Ironic, because I hate Fox and wouldn't care if all their stations went defunct...except for NASCAR. But that was the one I couldn't get. Figures. I probably could have live-streamed it but since I fell and hurt my eye, it is even hard to distinguish individual cars and read the crawl on the large screen.

I had mixed emotions about Clint Bowyer winning in Martinsville. I always liked Clint until he was such a whiny brat the year he was with a lesser team. Instead of putting his heart into helping HScott Motorsports improve like Kurt Busch did at Furniture Row, he sulked and acted like he was too good for the team. And he knew he only had a year to wait before going to Stewart-Haas.

Still, how can you not be happy for someone who breaks a 190-race losing streak (third longest in NASCAR)? That wasn't just a monkey on his back but King Kong. And he did do a hell of a burn out.

This was supposed to be the year the newbies took on the older drivers. So far, experience is proving to be the more valuable quantity. Austen Dillon, who won the Daytona 500, can't really be considered a young'un anymore. Other than that, the wise old drivers have won them all. And of the teams, Stewart-Haas looks to be the most advanced.

I hope Hendrick and I, heck, the Chevrolets in general, can get off the dime together next week at Texas. 

I voted for my Hall of Fame nominees. You could vote for five but I only voted for two - Jeff Gordon and Alan Kulwicki. I haven't been around NASCAR long enough to be well versed on the careers of the older guys so I'll let people who have more knowledge make those choices.

I got into an argument with a friend of mine who works for Lowe's. I told him I guessed I'd start going to Menards after this year because Lowe's is leaving Jimmie and NASCAR. My friend tried to make excuses - "their financial situation isn't as flush as it used to be" - "it costs millions to field a championship quality car" - blah, blah, blah. I wasn't buying any of it. Lowe's made Jimmie and Jimmie made Lowe's. They should stick together to the end.

I wonder who his new sponsor will be?

I'm really looking forward to seeing the race on the Roval road course at Charlotte this year.

No matter how much I may gripe about this or that in NASCAR, I absolutely hate off-weekends!

Monday, March 12, 2018

But I'm not Leaving.....


Oh, man, here we go again. This blog will be mostly negative. That may be colored by my personal life more than NASCAR but nevertheless, it comes out as disgruntlement and that's the way it is.

First, I hate it when one team dominates as Martin Truex, Jr. did last year and Kevin Harvick seems to be on track to do this year. I think I'd get bored with it even if it was Jimmie. (If I'm totally honest, maybe I wouldn't).  I'd prefer to see a different winner every week...or at least every other week. Go, Chase, Bowman, Byron, Blaney, Larson!

Second, I think stage racing contributes to this situation. To me, a race seems disjointed when it is divided up into segments. I'd rather just see them race and may the best man win. By stacking up so many stage points, Truex almost couldn't have lost the 2016 championship. Me, having always been so math-averse, I never can keep up with the points and how they were achieved.

Third, I really, really dislike the way Fox is doing the crawl this year, over to the side rather than on top. And they seem to constantly get to 20 and then start over. If your driver is stuck way back in the pack (which has unfortunately, often been the case with Jimmie this year), you're constantly monitoring the crawl more than watching to race to try to see where he is on the track. Hey, Fox, some of our teams are struggling along toward the back but it doesn't mean we don't still occasionally want to see what's going on with them.

Fourth, I have felt for a long time that NASCAR is too anal about the smallest dimensions. So many cars sent to the back for not passing inspection. Or missing a chunk of practice. Kevin lost points after his win last week. Something about the window not meeting specs. I may not want Kevin to win every week but if he loses, I want it to be fair and square, not because NASCAR took it. I think Phoenix was the first time Jimmie actually got to start where he qualified instead of at the rear of the field. I don't want NASCAR to go all loosey-goosey and let teams get away with murder but geez, a little more leeway please. We're talking about 1000ths of inches here. I wouldn't blame crew chiefs if some of them said, "screw it, they are restricting and regulating us to death, it's not worth it."

At least, Kevin had the satisfaction of knowing he came back and got the win this week after the penalties of last week but those points could prove to be crucial in the end. An encumbered race certainly messed up Joey Logano's 2016 season.

Okay, I'm done. Sorry about that. I don't want to be one of those people who are constantly threatening to leave NASCAR because they are pissed about this or that. I'll vent sometimes but I'm not leaving NASCAR, no matter what they do!