Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Let's Go Racin', Boys!


My God, how the weekends drag during the off-season! I've read books and written blogs and talked on the telephone. I've cleaned house and made cakes and polished the silver. I programmed my new Iphone and hooked up my new printer. 

Christmas took up a little time but now that's over and done with. I'm going to Florida to visit my kids in January so I have that to look forward to. By the time, I get back, I'll only have a couple of weeks until NASCAR stuff starts happening in Daytona. Let's go racin', Boys!

In the meantime, I have kept up with the NASCAR websites so I know about Kyle Larson's baby (a son, Owen Miyata),  Ty Dillon's wedding and all the nitty-gritty details of Kurt Busch's court hearing. (I think that boy has some serious issues but it's not like Gene Haas didn't know about them going in).

I've read all the predictions (Carl Edwards thinks he's going to win ten races and the championship, Now, that's what I call a bold prophesy). I watched Jimmie and Matt on the new Gatorade "50" commercial. Very cool to see them in such great company. I've seen all the new paint schemes and memorized all the new car numbers and driver/crew chief pairings. I read what grades the NASCAR reporters gave teams for 2014 although I didn't necessarily agree with all of them.

My grades:

Harvick - A+ - of course, you can't win the championship in the dominant fashion he did without earning an A+.

Newman - B - would have been a A if he'd won a race.

Logano - A - great performance for his first time in the Chase.

Gordon - A - super year all the way around.

Earnhardt - B+ - terrific season except for that little run of not-up-to-par performances.

Johnson - B - a record many drivers would be thrilled to have but the old 48 mojo just wasn't there.

Hamlin - C - lucked into the Chase but average for the season was so-so.

Keselowski - B - counted on the clutch one too many times.

Kenseth - B - looked good a lot of the time - kept waiting for him to get that win but it never happened.

Kyle Busch - B - some races he looked on it but his bad Chase luck still hasn't changed.

Kahne - D - made the Chase by the hair of his chinny-chin-chin and that was all he had.

Allmendinger - B - based on performing above expectations and equipment

Almirola - B - ditto

Stewart - D - not a good year but not surprising considering circumstances.

Kurt Busch - D - as always, his own worst enemy

Carl Edwards - D - just looked out of it a big part of the time

Kyle Larson - A - for winning Rookie of the Year by a mile and running with the big dogs a lot of the time.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Do We Know?


What have we learned during the off-season?

- Well, we know that Jimmie isn't great at saving gas on or off the track.

- We know that Kevin Harvick is the Driver of the Year - as well he should be....and that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is The Most Popular Driver - what a shock that was!

- We know that we'll have to remember to say Xfinity series next year instead of Nationwide and the following year, Sprint will be placed by we don't know who yet. Guesses anyone? Just please don't let it be Walmart.

- We know it will be like old home week at ABC next year with Rick Allen, Steve LeTarte, Jeff Burton, Dave Burns, Mike Massaro, Marty Snider, Krista Voda, Kyle Petty and most recently, Rutledge Wood. Familiar faces all.

- We know Kurt Busch testified in court regarding the domestic violence charges alleged against him and also had surgery for inflammation in his foot. I expect Kurt is anxious for the off-season to be over and a brand new year to start.

- But not so much for poor Brian Vickers who had to have a hole in his heart repaired, and will miss the beginning of 2015. Brian has become NASCAR's hard luck kid.

- We know there will be lots of new sponsors and teams and crew chiefs and paint schemes to get used to,  starting with Daytona. For instance, JGR changed things up a lot. Darian Grubb will be Carl's crew chief, Dave Rogers will go with Denny Hamlin and Adam Stevens, from Nationwide, will be Kyle Busch's man on the box. The 20 car will remain the same with Matt and Kevin Ratliff. 

- We know Sam Hornish, Jr. will take Marcos Ambrose' place at RPM. He's lucky to get another chance but this will probably be his last bite at the apple. We also know we'll see Bobby LaBonte again next year. More power to him. I really like Bobby but I'm not sure, I'd want to keep racing for progressively lesser performing teams. 

- We know they changed the Sprint Unlimited...again. Twenty-five drivers including all the 2014 Chase drivers, 2014 pole winners, Daytona 500 pole winners (Danica!), past Sprint Unlimited winners. Of course, after next year, it will be the Blank Something Race. Will the company replace the Sprint Girls, do you suppose? I hope so. Cutesy little girls is rather a thing of the past.

- We know Hendrick re-upped with Kasey for three years so it isn't his place Chase Elliott will take when he comes to Cup.

- We know there is a Mrs. Sliced Bread now. I hope someone told Joey that you can't do with a wife like you do with a dog and just shit-can them if they turn out to be too much bother.

- We know that any changes to the racing and to the Chase will be minor but sometimes, even minor things can throw a team off for a while so who was good last year may not be so good next year...and vice versa. (Of course, in my heart, I'm hoping this means the 48 will get its mojo back). 

Anyway, we have to settle for learning these little bits and pieces of NASCAR news for now to somewhat quench our desire for the real thing.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas to you all (or whatever holiday you may celebrate). Positive thoughts going to Brian Vickers and Steve Byrnes.


Monday, December 1, 2014


DATE      RACE NAME                SITE            TIME (ET)   T.V.
----      ---------                ----            --------    ----      
Feb. 14   Sprint Unlimited         Daytona         TBA         FOX
Feb. 19   Duel 1                   Daytona         TBA         FOX SPORTS 1
Feb. 19   Duel 2                   Daytona         TBA         FOX SPORTS 1
Feb. 22   Daytona 500              Daytona         TBA         FOX
March 1   NSCS at Atlanta          Atlanta         TBA         FOX
March 8   NSCS at Las Vegas        Las Vegas       TBA         FOX
March 15  NSCS at Phoenix          Phoenix         TBA         FOX
March 22  NSCS at California       Fontana         TBA         FOX
March 29  NSCS at Martinsville     Martinsville    TBA         FOX
April 11  NSCS at Texas            Texas           TBA         FOX
April 19  NSCS at Bristol          Bristol         TBA         FOX
April 25  NSCS at Richmond         Richmond        TBA         FOX SPORTS 1
May 3     NSCS at Talladega        Talladega       TBA         FOX 
May 9     NSCS at Kansas           Kansas          TBA         FOX SPORTS 1
May 16    NSCS Showdown            Lowe's          TBA         FOX SPORTS 1
May 16    NSCS All-Star Race       Lowe's          TBA         FOX SPORTS 1
May 24    NSCS at Charlotte        Lowe's          TBA         FOX
May 31    NSCS at Dover            Dover           TBA         FOX SPORTS 1
June 7    NSCS at Pocono           Pocono          TBA         FOX SPORTS 1
June 14   NSCS at Michigan         Michigan        TBA         FOX SPORTS 1
June 28   NSCS at Sonoma           Infineon        TBA         FOX SPORTS 1
July 5    NSCS at Daytona          Daytona         TBA         NBC
July 11   NSCS at Kentucky         Kentucky        TBA         NBCSN
July 19   NSCS at New Hampshire    New Hampshire   TBA         NBCSN
July 26   NSCS at Indianapolis     Indianapolis    TBA         NBCSN
Aug. 2    NSCS at Pocono           Pocono          TBA         NBCSN
Aug. 9    NSCS at Watkins Glen     Watkins Glen    TBA         NBCSN
Aug. 16   NSCS at Michigan         Michigan        TBA         NBCSN
Aug. 22   NSCS at Bristol          Bristol         TBA         NBCSN
Sept. 6   NSCS at Darlington       Darlington      TBA         NBC
Sept. 12  NSCS at Richmond         Richmond        TBA         NBCSN
Sept. 20  NSCS at Chicagoland      Chicagoland     TBA         NBCSN
Sept. 27  NSCS at New Hampshire    New Hampshire   TBA         NBCSN
Oct. 4    NSCS at Dover            Dover           TBA         NBCSN
Oct. 10   NSCS at Charlotte        Lowe's          TBA         NBC
Oct. 18   NSCS at Kansas           Kansas          TBA         NBC
Oct. 25   NSCS at Talladega        Talladega       TBA         NBCSN
Nov. 1    NSCS at Martinsville     Martinsville    TBA         NBCSN
Nov. 8    NSCS at Texas            Texas           TBA         NBC
Nov. 15   NSCS at Phoenix          Phoenix         TBA         NBC
Nov. 22   NSCS at Homestead-Miami  Homestead-Miami TBA         NBC

It is fitting that the Sprint Unlimited is on Valentine's Day, since the start of the season is the "sweetest" day for NASCAR fans. 

Here's what I'm thinking about in the coming year:

* I am seriously hoping to see the 48 car team get its mojo back. Come on, Jimmie and Chad!

* I'm curious to see how Carl fits into JGR and if Matt returns to his 2013 form.

* I looking forward to seeing Kyle Larson win a race....or two or three.

* I'm anxious to see how Chase Elliott does in the Cup races he'll run...and who he will be 
driving for - surely, it will be Hendrick.

* I'm interested in seeing how all the personnel changes work out, especially drivers and crew chiefs, especially Dale Jr. and Greg Ives.

* I want to see Danica running in the top ten on a regular basis. And if not, what then? She's in a contract year. 

* Can Kevin and the 4 team and the two Penske drivers maintain their superior 
performance into 2015? Can Jeff Gordon? Will Kasey Kahne get it together with a new crew chief?

* What is going to happen with Kurt and the investigation into his alleged domestic violence 

* How long will it take me to learn to say Xfinity series instead of Nationwide?

* Will the rookies in 2015 do as well as those in 2014? Who all will be in that class?

* Sam Hornish, Jr. has one more chance. Will he make the most of it?

* Will Roush be able to up their game with two young drivers and an almost-past-his prime 

I am champing at the bit to find out all these things. February 14 can't come too soon!