Friday, December 22, 2017

Danica - An Admirable Role Model


Whatever you think about Danica Patrick and I know a lot of NASCAR fans don't like her, she will always and forever be one of my heroines. I like pushy pioneers, the ones who won't let life tell them no. Trailblazers always have to be able to take a lot of crap, shrug it off and keep going. The Suffragettes were that way, the civil rights warriors, the gay marriage proponents. They were scorned and beaten and jailed but they fought on. I realize Danica never had to worry about being beaten or jailed but scorn, oh, yes, there was plenty of scorn over her racing life. And maybe she didn't become a multiple winner but she held her own with plenty of men who were full-timers, in both IndyCar and NASCAR.

I read where Danica and Ricky are ending their relationship. Someone asked in a comment whether we thought Danica or Ricky initiated the break-up. On the one hand, I always thought Danica invested a lot more in their affair than he did. I saw her say once that she'd marry him if he asked which he obviously didn't.

I always thought of Ricky as in that group I think of as the Spoiled Boys. Young males like the Dillons, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, and, yes, in his younger years, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Fortunately, most of them outgrow their casual arrogance but in the early years, they take their privileged lives for granted.

(My heart always goes to the Jimmie Johnson's and Kyle Larson's, whose parents would have gladly funded their sons' rides if they had been able to afford it. Instead, their kids had to scratch and claw to reach the top rungs of NASCAR).

So I think Ricky was just along for the ride with Danica. He took the path of least resistance and it was good for him while it lasted.

I still think though that Danica was probably the one who called a halt. She is such a driven person, I can't imagine her settling for being a partner who simply trailed her man around from race to race. She'll find something more challenging for herself.

Much of the criticism of her in the beginning was about being a Go Daddy Girl who posed for sexy photos in skimpy outfits. "Oh, my," the holier-than-thou NASCAR fans sniffed, "she's using her beauty and feminine wiles to get where she's trying to go," like that wasn't acceptable.

Oh, no, so much better to be born into it. That's the proper way to get a seat in NASCAR. Inherit it.

I remember talking to two of my bosses once. One of them came home from the military and said, "I'm going to be a fireman." And, voila, he applied and he was a fireman. Another one came home from the Army and said, "I'm going to be a cop" and, voila, he applied and was a cop. Both of those were good paying jobs on which you could raise a family.

At about the same time, I was a single mother. There was no hope of being either a fireman or a police officer back then so I did what most women did, became a secretary which barely paid the bills.

It's always been so for women. They have to take a different route to get where they are going and then they have to take heat for it.

How many other girls wanted to be racers and either could't find a sponsor or another path into the sports. I suppose there are probably lots of them. And Danica helped the younger ones have more confidence in their own abilities and possibilities.

She will always be an icon in NASCAR history for the fact that she leaped over the obstacles. I hate it that she's leaving. I hope she succeeds at whatever she does next. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The "Waitin' for Next Season" Blues

Don’t miss tonight’s NASCAR Cup Awards show, special edition of NASCAR America

I watched the 2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Awards Banquet after the fact because I was trying to put off the end of the season  No matter how long you wait though, you finally have to let it go. I always enjoy the red carpet as much as anything - the dresses and the hair styles. All the gals looking so sleek and chic and the men so suave.

It was okay with me that the banquet was cut down to a more manageable size. I always thought most of the comedians were pretty lame and I don't much care for singing. I just want to see the NASCAR stuff.

I have to admit, although I'm not a particularly sentimental person, I shed a few tears when Dale Jr. introduced Martin. It was very moving to see both Sherry and Martin tearing up too. I have said before this championship was a feel good story and the banquet highlighted that. Not just the driver himself but the crew and the owner as well. They didn't exactly come out of nowhere and, even though they improved steadily year by year, I doubt if anyone thought they'd ever be championship material. But, by gosh, Barney and the Colorado Gang proved everyone wrong. Hurray for them!

And not only did they win the championship but they won the Rookie of the Year with Erik Jones - who becomes the first driver to win Rookie of the Year in all three NASCAR series in three consecutive seasons.

To no one's surprise, Dale Junior won the Most Popular Driver of the Year for the 15th consecutive season. Who do you suppose will take his place in 2018? I'm kind of betting on Chase Elliott but it is possible that Junior Nation will remain with Alex Bowman in the 88 car.

I felt so sorry for Matt Kenseth. He looked pretty grim all night, like he was just trying to grit his teeth and get through the evening. Dale Jr. was all smiles but there is a big difference between retiring voluntarily and getting booted out.

I'm sorry, even though a realize that businessmen have to think like businessmen, I have never been a Joe Gibbs fan and his decision about Matt didn't help me warm up to him.

And what was the deal with Brian France? Was he sick or something. He flew off the stage like a scared pup.

So, let's see, next year, we will have a ton of changes and newbies to watch out for. I'm hoping Bubba Wallace has a great year. RPM may have a little catching up to do since they are switching from Ford to Chevy but forming an alliance with Richard Childress is bound to help - and changing manufacturers didn't seem to hurt Stewart-Haas too much.

Chevrolet drivers will be driving Camaros next year which is great. Camaro actually is a sports car. (Incidentally, I love Jimmie's new black paint scheme and can't wait to cheer it on!) Brad says Ford will behind the eight ball if they don't retool as Toyota and Chevy have done and I think he's probably right.

We still don't know for sure about Kurt Busch but he seems to indicate that he'll remain at Stewart-Haas. That is kind of a weird deal. I always though Kurt was Gene Haas' pet driver so I was surprised when his contract wasn't automatically renewed.

Tony Stewart is finally engaged and we have lots of babies coming. I don't know if I can remember them all - Dale, Kevin, Matt. I know I'm forgetting at least one.

So, I guess it is time to settle in to an off-season holding pattern. Come on, Daytona!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hoisting the Championship Trophies


First, I'd like to tell you a curious little factoid about this blog that might surprise you. I write four blogs - politics, NASCAR, writing and cancer. My blog host has been since I first began blogging. They provide interesting information like how many hits each blog got yesterday, last month, as well as the total since it first started. For instance, this blog had 661 hits in October. That certainly doesn't make me one of the most popular bloggers, some of whom gets 100's or 1000's per day.

Blogspot also tells you where your readers are and this is where the surprise comes in. The majority of my readers come from the U.S., which is what you'd expect, but after that, in the second position, is Russia, followed by Ukraine, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia, France and the U.K.  I think I could have been given 50 guesses for Number Two and never come up with Russia. Who knew?.

Okay, now to the race. It was very touching to see Junior come down pit lane to the accolades of all the crews and then to take his final lap. And it was kind-hearted and generous for Dale to invite Matt to drop to the back with him, although that gesture is what I would have expected from Junior.

I thought the race would be stress-free for me since I didn't really have a favored dog in the hunt but toward the end, I was rooting hard for Martin. It is fun to see so much joy expressed by driver, crew, family and friends. Martin cried as he accepted congratulations from everyone. It was sad that Barney Visser couldn't be there for his first championship due to a heart attack but I wouldn't doubt if he wasn't crying too. Every team member is thrilled and triumphant when they win a championship but I have to think your first one is extra-special.

And Martin hasn't always had a smooth ride through his career although he did win two Xfinity titles (although it wasn't Xfinity then). He's always been on decent Cup teams but not an elite one until now. And I don't think we'd have called Furniture Row an elite team until this season, although we began to see the potential when Kurt Busch took over that spot. I really think Kurt was instrumental in showing the 78 how to be a winning team.

But after various trials and tribulations, including his girlfriend's battle with cancer, the 78 put together a perfect season and all the hopes and dreams of so many came to fruition. So many congratulations to Martin, Cole Pearn, Barney Visser and all the crew. You definitely earned the this championship.

So, it's onward and upward to 2018. I've heard that Danica will run in both the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500. I'm glad to see she's still keeping her hand in even if it is only two races. Of course, I always watch Daytona but I usually don't tune in to the Indy 500. Next year, I will.

Congratulations also to William Byron and Dale Junior. Winning the Xfinity championship bodes well for his future in Cup. Congratulations also to Christopher Bell on the Camping World Truck series championship. And to Erik Jones for being named Rookie of the Year. I think we'll be hearing a lot from these three young men in the future.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Enjoy Sunday - A NASCAR-less Winter Ahead.

                                                   Matt Kenseth Takes Home the Win at Phoenix

It was heartwarming to see Matt Kenseth in Victory Lane at Phoenix after his next to the last race (so far as we know). I never considered Matt one of "my" drivers but I always liked him a lot and it seemed that most people did. By sharing his final year with Dale Earnhardt, he got left out of most of the celebratory kudos - the giant "thank you" banners and good-byes painted onto the grass. .Of course, I guess in a way that was sort of fitting since low-key was always Matt's style. That lack of public outpouring was also contributed to because Matt's departure was not voluntary. There was no big announcement as there was with Jeff, Tony and Junior. We didn't know until the last that there would be no chair left when the music stopped. I'm especially sympathetic because I think he got a raw deal. This season wasn't especially good for the 20 but I don't think it had anything to do with the driver's ability.

I don't usually think this way but it was also satisfying to see Chase bump Denny into the wall, spoiling the 11's championship hopes. What goes around, comes around, Denny. And you certainly didn't endear yourself to all those Junior fans who'll probably make Chase the Most Popular Driver next year.

The Phoenix race was rather blah during the first two-thirds but it got exciting nearer the end with some hard racing.

My favorite track is Homestead. It brings back good feelings because I saw Jimmie win his fifth championship there but no matter if the results please you, it is a gorgeous place to be in November.

I have mixed emotions about Homestead this year. On the one hand, I want to see Martin Truex, Jr win because he's the only one of the four who doesn't already have a championship. I always root for the underdog unless my guy is still in it (and yes, I know that's called hypocrisy!) On the other hand, I'd sort of like to see Ford win because they put so much into NASCAR and they've had a crappy last few years. And I'm also somewhat hypocritical in that I always root for the American car companies even though I know that no car company is strictly American or Japanese anymore. But I'm old and in my glory days, the great cars were Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Plymouth, Chrysler, they still have my heart.

Seems as if the NASCAR sites are really pushing the Kyle Busch/Brad Keselowski feud. Even though Kyle said, "you just don't like some guys," meaning Brad, I doubt if this will amount to anything. They are both running for a championship, the ultimate prize, and I doubt if either of them would be stupid enough to get in a tangle with one another and risk that trophy. .

I've decided after this year that I don't particularly care for stage racing but I think I'm in the minority and no one really cares what I think. Again, it is probably my age that makes me prefer a single race - start to finish.

So we're down to the last race and after Sunday, we are in to a long, cold NASCAR-less winter. Yuck! I hate this time of year! 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Same Story, Different Day

Emergency personnel respond to a fatal shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. (KSAT via AP)

I listened to almost none of the coverage of the Texas mass shooting, just as I listened to very little of the Las Vegas massacre coverage. I've decided I'm not going to wallow in this stuff if we're not going to do anything about it. I've heard all the sad stories I can bear to hear when they are only followed by the sanctimonious spoutings of politicians who only intend to fall in line behind the N.R.A.

What pious hypocrites they are.

"Oh, we mustn't politicize this tragedy."

Why not? If my child had been killed in Texas or Las Vegas, I'd want it politicized to hell and back. Because a political answer is the only answer and our "leaders" (ha!ha!) are afraid to take on even the tiniest element like bump stocks.

"A good guy with a gun is the only thing that works against a bad guy with a gun."

And there was a good guy with a gun in Texas. Unfortunately, he was way too late for the 26 killed and 50 wounded. It would have been a lot better if the shooter had never had access to his guns in the first place. And he shouldn't have, seeing as how he was convicted of domestic violence in the Air Force but our national records regarding guns are hardly reliable.

So, if we've decided that all these victims are simply collateral damage about which nothing can be done, then don't cover it as we do. A short 15-minute piece, followed by even shorter updates will be enough.

Then we'll just say, "hey, another mass shooting" and go on our merry way.

Youth and Diversity in NASCAR


Congratulations to Kevin Harvick for punching his ticket to Homestead by winning in Texas. We only have one spot left to be decided next week. Texas was a sad race for me, watching Jimmie wallow around toward the back, without the speed to contend. I think his season is over. Other Jimmie fans have told me that is blasphemy. You do not give up until there is absolutely no chance. But I'm a realist. I haven't seen anything from the 48 in the last many races to indicate that he might come alive and win at Phoenix, which is what he'd have to do. Naturally, I'd be positively ecstatic to be proven wrong.

I don't hold out much hope for Chase either although he's had enough really good races that he has a decent shot.

But if those two go out, even though I'll certainly watch Homestead, I'm no great fan of any of the remaining drivers. I'll root for Martin Truex, Jr. mainly because he's had such an impressive year and has never won a championship.

Next season, we will be watching what will practically amount to a different series in terms of drivers. The youth movement will truly take over in 2018. We've lost Tony and Jeff. Junior will be gone after this year and it appears that Matt will no longer be on the track either. Danica will be off the grid (which I, personally, hate). We're not sure yet what is going to happen with Kurt.

You have to wonder how long Jimmie and Kevin will keep driving. They'll practically be the Granddaddies of the sport. I guess in this line up, Kyle B and Brad and Denny and even Joey have to be considered the "middle-agers". We'll be watching lots of newbies like Chase and Kyle L and Ryan and Alex and Eric and William. I hope my elderly brain can make the transition. It will be interesting to see which one or two break out of the pack to become our new superstars.

Stewart-Haas is the only team not to rely on a young'un to carry their banner on to the future. Instead they chose Aric Almirola to replace Danica Patrick. That seems rather strange to me - a mid-pack driver to replace a mid-pack driver but maybe they see something in Aric that I don't. (And maybe it is Smithfield Foods).

Ah, NASCAR and diversity. They try, I admit they try with their Drive for Diversity program and it is slightly better than it used to be. We have a Mexican driver and a half-Japanese driver but now we are losing a female driver and gaining our first African-American driver in decades and that is about as diverse as it gets in NASCAR. Part of the problem is, of course, that it is expensive to get into NASCAR. You can't go to college on a NASCAR scholarship to prove your value. And NASCAR is a legacy sport so the white young men who are children of white old men who are household names in NASCAR have a head start. But hopefully, that will all gradually improve. Gradually is probably the key word.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Bad Blood at Martinsville


At the moment that Chase's car hit the wall, my heart broke. Not that I haven't had my heart broken many times before and I've always lived through it. I'm sure I will this time too. Being a sports fan can often be heartbreaking but this one hurt a little more than usual. At first, I jumped up and yelled and cussed "Dirty Denny". Judging by the boos, a lot of other fans must have felt the same way.

After my initial reaction, I calmed down a little and tried to figure out if I was especially angry because of who was involved. I adore Chase and have never been an especial fan of Denny. Does that make me biased? Would I have felt the same way if, say, Jimmie, had knocked Austin Dillon into the wall? Well, probably not but I can't quite remember Jimmie punting a fellow driver deliberately. Maybe he would if, as in this case, winning meant an automatic entry into the final race? That's not Jimmie's style but a championship trophy is a powerful incentive.

I watched the incident several times and in my mind, it was a purposeful decision on Denny's part. Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think so.

Does Denny care? Probably not very much. Everyone likes to be liked and you don't want to piss off your fans but, on the other hand, NASCAR racing isn't a popularity contest. The goal is to have Champion in front of your name, especially if you don't already have one. It's what your owner wants and your team wants and your sponsor wants. So on the balance scale, I thinking being a Winner weighs way more than a few boos.

If this sounds like I'm giving Denny a bit of a pass, I guess I am.

Over all, Martinsville was a fun race with plenty of bumping and grinding and passes for the lead and drama and a huge melee at the end. I think this is what NASCAR wants and what fans want. Of course, Chase was mad at Denny when it was over and Ryan was mad at Harvick. The media will probably try to play those up as serious feuds.

With Chase and Kyle Larson, I console myself that both of these talented and charismatic young drivers will have plenty of opportunity for wins and championships in their future.

I don't really expect to see Jimmie standing on the big stage this year. He did great coming from the back after starting last but he always seems to get in that 5th to 12th spot and just can't get enough speed out his car to get any farther.

I still think it will come down to Martin and Kyle B. If so, I'll root for Martin because he would be a first time champion but my heart probably wouldn't be in it to any great degree. .

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Eight Down and Eight To Go!

                                        Image result for nascar

I didn't get to watch the race until Wednesday because I was out of town but I knew the main results. In a way, that was rather nice. Had I not been told that Jimmie made it through, I probably would have been devastated when he spun....twice. It looked like the end of his championship run right there. As it was, I was cool, calm and collected in the face of chaos.

This doesn't make me feel much better about the eventual outcome of the championship because Jimmie has sort of stumbled into the final eight. I don't think he can pull this off clear 'til the end (although that is sort of how it turned out last year). Martinsville might tell the tale.

I also knew that Kyle Larson was out. That was a heartbreaker. And not over a mistake or a wreck but an engine failure. I have thought all along that Kyle was the only one who had a realistic chance against Martin Truex, Jr. and Kyle Busch. And I also hated seeing Matt Kenseth flame out over what I believe is a rule that is too harsh for the violation. Of course, that happening to Matt is what got Jimmie in so.....

I was glad to see Chase Elliott make it for the next go-round. And Ryan Blaney too. The rest I don't care much about one way or the other.

And Martin Truex, Jr. He really has been the class of the field this season. I can't help wondering what the 78 has found that no one else has caught on to.

I heard people bitching about the way Nascar treated Kenseth's pit road violation versus Jimmie's. Yes, Jimmie had seven men over the wall for a few seconds, long enough for a tear off, and then he went back. The seventh guy is allowed to service the driver and that's all, so the 48 was within the parameters NASCAR set out.

Congratulations also to Bubba Wallace for getting the ride in the 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports. It will be good to see him at the track every week.

Who do you suppose is going to take Danica's place at SHR next year? I've heard rumors of Aric Almirola but I sort of doubt that's true. I'd rather see Kenseth.

Next week at Martinsville, the pit stalls will be allocated according the the finish at Kansas. I'm sorry but this seems like a dumb ass rule to me. It automatically gives Martin Truex, Jr. a huge head start since pit road is so important at Martinsville. He already has a huge head start. He doesn't need NASCAR to give him another one for free. Why can't they use practice times instead? It would make more sense.

Oh, well, as they say, it is NASCAR's sandbox and we just play in it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Monkey Wrench

                                              Image result for nascar talladega 2017

What the hell was that? It might be entertainment of a sort but you can't really call it a race, unless you call a Demolition Derby a race. I know, I know, lots of people love the excitement of the super speedways but it has always been my least favorite type of racing. I didn't like it when it was pack racing; I didn't like the two-car tandem and I don't care for it now. I don't want to ban it but I don't think it has a place in the championship play-offs.

Championships are supposed to pit the skill and strategy of one team versus the others. There is no skill or strategy in being in a line you can't get out of. There is no skill or strategy in dodging wrecks. That amounts to pure luck. Not dodging them and ending up on the hook is pure luck too....pure bad luck. Fate shouldn't have such a huge role in determining our champion.

For some, like Jamie McMurray, Talladega likely killed any chance he had of ending up in the top eight after next week. Other drivers were luckier (there's that word again) in that as, although they wrecked out, there were other mangled contenders caught up in the melee along with them.

I offered the racing gods a choice of six drivers I would have been happy to see win - Jimmie, Kyle L, Chase, Junior, Jamie Mac or Ryan B. I thought that was a pretty generous offer on my part but evidently, the gods didn't agree. One by one, I watched them head to the garage until only Junior was left with a real chance to win but it didn't work out.

Despite Junior not winning, he had to have had a heartwarming weekend. The governor of Alabama named October 15, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Day. He was presented with his father's old car, the number #3 and drove it for laps around the track. And then on top of that, we found out yesterday that he and Amy are going to have a baby girl. Life seems pretty good for Junior even without another Talladega trophy.

There were grumbles from some drivers about who caused what wreck but I never saw anything egregious, anything that wasn't simply typical Talladega. Jimmie was disgruntled about his penalty for starting to fix his car while the red flag was still out but his spotter, Earl Barban, took the blame for that. These things happen under tense conditions. There was harm but I don't think there was any foul.

I have lost respect for Clint Bowyer these last few years. He was crappy to his "interim" team before coming to Stewart-Haas, like he was lowering himself to race for them. Then he said, more or less, "watch me now that I'm with a team that deserves me". It hasn't turned out exactly as he planned and Sunday, he yelled at his crew in public before leaving the track. Yes, I understand how disappointing this season has been for him when his expectations were so high but taking it out on your team seems to be a habit he's gotten into...and it's not an attractive one. Where is that funny, smiling guy we used to know and love?

Congratulations to Brad for cashing his ticket into the next round of play-offs.
All of this jumbling up in points, of course, makes Kansas for suspenseful than ever.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Have Cars Lost Their Glamour?

Here are the points after Charlotte. Read'em and weep or cheer depending on where your driver stands.

1. Martin Truex Jr.: 3,106
2. Kyle Larson: 3,072
3. Kevin Harvick: 3,069
4. Chase Elliott: 3,059
5. Denny Hamlin: 3,056
6. Kyle Busch: 3,055
7. Jimmie Johnson: 3,051
8. Jamie McMurray: 3,044
9. Matt Kenseth: 3,043
10. Brad Keselowski: 3,042

Is anyone surprised to see any of these names in the top ten?

I'm beginning to think I should bow out for the rest of the year. I seem to be a jinx to the drivers I root for. There were Jimmie and Kyle L, both running near the front, when suddenly the pit stop before last (I think it was) went haywire and sent them back to the middle of the pack without enough time to recover. At least, Chase Elliott did well.

And even though I'm sick of watching him win, I have to give major kudos to Martin Truex, Jr. who was not in his usual dominant position from start to finish but managed to make it to the front by the end.

Poor Kyle Busch. Just goes to show you what one screwed up race can do. And speaking of screwed up races, next week is Talladega. I imagine that has most of the teams avoiding black cats, hunting frantically for four leaf clovers and rubbing all the fur off their lucky rabbit's feet.

I read an interesting article Paul Newberry, of AP Sports, wrote and I think he may be on to something. Newberry says he believes a big part of the reason NASCAR has lost fans is that Americans are just not as into cars as we used to be.

I'm 71 and I know that to be true. When I was young, every boy's dream (and some girls too) was his first car. Of course, they all hoped for something sporty but even if it was only a clunky old 1953 Buick, they babied it and  kept it polished to a high shine. They worked on it in their garage at home.

Cars were the thing. When I was a sophomore in Tipton, Indiana, our main source of entertainment was "riding around" (we didn't call it cruising then). If you had to, you went with your girlfriends but if an older car god like Doss Dulworth pulled over beside you and invited you into his candy apple red Ford with the fins and the bubble skirts, that was the most prestigious thing that could ever happen to 15-year-olds in Tipton.

My own first car was a 1955 Ford Victoria, pink and white. I loved that car, whose name was Poochie, because it represented freedom. (With me, loving a car did not necessarily mean keeping it clean).

In fact, I've had several cars I loved - a 1964 1/2 red Mustang, a 1968 red Chevelle Super Sport that had been customized for drag racing. a blue Mercury Marquis I called the Dutchess. She looked so proper and elegant but she had a 427 engine. She shocked the hell out of sports car drivers who pulled up beside me at the red light. When we both stomped the gas, the Dutchess won going away.

Then came the beautiful muscle cars - Dodge Chargers in turquoise and yellow and lime green. Camaros and Mustangs and Trans Ams and of course, Corvettes. My husband had a Corvette he called the Gray Ghost. Of course, men never outgrew their love of cars. Older more stable men simply had different desires. They wanted Cadillacs or Lincoln Continentals.

During my son's era, it seemed like most males wanted pick up trucks that got about 3 miles per gallon of gas.

You could always tell cars apart in my youth. They were all different and unique in their own way. That's not the case so much anymore. I can't tell what model most cars are by looking. I see the commercials for the luxury cars like Infinitis and Mercedes and BMWs and they all look pretty much the same. And there are fewer colors to choose from. About every third car is gray.

And now everyone wants an SUV. I'm sorry but there's absolutely no pizazz to an SUV.

We don't really glamorize cars the way we used to and NASCAR racecars aren't anything like street cars even if they have the same names. Boys who aren't trained can't work on their own cars anymore. They've gotten too complex and we depend on highly paid specialists now.

Bunker Hill Raceway was our hangout when we were young but their audiences and participants have gone down hill too for the same reasons.

Those were the "good old days" but they're long gone and I don't think they are ever coming back. .

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Hard Rain's A'Gonna Fall

                                              Image result for nascar 2017 dover

Damnation! I really, really, really wanted Chase to win that race! That's not to say, I don't think Kyle Busch did exactly what he needed to do. After all, he has quite a bit of skin in the game too, like more points to take into the rest of the championship races. A real racer wouldn't have done anything else.

And it's not like I don't think Chase won't collect plenty of trophies in his career. He is sort of like Kyle Larson in his sophomore year. Remember how people said Kyle wasn't living up to his potential because he couldn't close the deal? Well, this year, he hit his stride and headed into an upward trajectory. That's what I think will happen with Chase. But him winning would have been the sentimental story and I'm so looking forward to that day when he finally does. I think a lot of people are. Even drivers.

So four are out and aren't they the four we probably would have predicted? Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne. None of the losers set the world on fire this season but they got a win or were consistent enough to get there on points.  I still think the top three are Truex, Busch and Larson. I'm leaving the fourth spot open, hoping for Jimmie to catch fire although it's getting pretty late to fan those flames.

And we have Talladega coming up before long. That could totally muddle the point standings.

After the race, Jeff Gordon got a little snarky with Ryan Newman, saying, "thanks for the help". He meant for racing Chase so hard, it gave Kyle B the chance to catch him. Nope, sorry, Jeff, but you're wrong. Ryan doesn't owe Chase anything. He had his own agenda, trying to stay alive in the Chase and he was right to race as hard as he could. Ryan called Jeff on it and he was right to do that too.

Two cars failed post-race inspection, Clint Bowyer and Erik Jones. Fortunately, only one lug nut was missing from each car and that's a lesser penalty so they don't lose their crew chiefs. And in another ultra-strict move, Jimmie got called to the hauler, missing part of practice, for speeding on pit road. Seems rather extreme to me but who am I?

Much sympathy to the family of Robert Yates who has been a part of NASCAR forever. He will definitely be missed.

And while I'm giving out sympathy, condolences to the family and fans of Tom Petty. I always thought his Chasing Down A Dream would make a good NASCAR theme song.

And last, but, certainly not least, our hearts go out to those killed in Las Vegas and those still suffering in Puerto Rico.

In the latest Outlander program, the song that epitomized the sadness of what was going on was Bob Dylan's A Hard Rain's A'Gonna Fall."  That song is also played at the beginning and end of the Vietnam series. It seems to reflect so much of what is happening in our world today.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bouquet for Dale Jr, - Brickbat for NASCAR Owners

Image result for Dale Earnhardt Jr tweet nfl

I guess I'll start with this, then if it pisses you off you don't have to bother with the rest. Hurray for Dale Junior tweeting his thoughts about NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem. Protest is as American as apple pie.

Without protesters, women still wouldn't have the right to vote. Without protesters, African-Americans would still be riding in the back of the bus. Hell, without protesters, the freaking Vietnam war would probably still be going on, like the Afghanistan War is obviously going to go on forever because I guess no one cares enough to protest that one.

Good old NASCAR. According to Fox Insider,  The "Star-Spangled Banner" was not protested by members of the NASCAR community during their Cup series race outside Concord, N.H. this weekend.

"Part of the explanation may come from the strict warning several team owners gave in the wake of both comments by President Trump and exhibitions by NFL players.
NASCAR icon Richard Petty, a former driver and current team owner, told the AP that he wouldn't accept any protest of our nation's colors.
"Anybody that won't stand up for the anthem ought to be out of the country," he said. "Period."
Additionally, longtime owner Richard Childress said that any driver or crew member protest will "get [them] a ride on a Greyhound bus."

That's the way to let people know we won't tolerate none of that anti-patriotic nonsense in NASCAR. Of course, probably no one much cares because we have exactly one, count'em, one African-American in the Cup Series...and he's part-time. And we treated the one before him like crap. And we will probably lose our only female after this year. And then I guess it will be back to the all-white, all-male series the good old boys prefer.

NASCAR has always been more dictatorial than other major sports.

Okay, as for the race, I found it rather boring. Maybe I'm just getting tired of the Martin Truex, Jr. show. At this point, it almost seems, the rest of the field could spot him 20 laps and he'd just drive through them to the front. Pit penalties don't slow him down; wrecks don't slow him down too much although he'd probably have won without that wreck. They have some magic, I'll admit that. I wonder what it is?

The announcers seemed to have a few drivers they concentrated on, like Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who doesn't have a prayer of winning the championship. Meanwhile, they barely mentioned Chase Elliott. They never bothered to tell me what happened to Jimmie when he was running about 6th or 7th in the latter part of the race until one of the final pit stops when he was suddenly about 16th. They don't have to dwell on it but maybe just mention what happened.

You can probably tell that I'm a grouch tonight. I'll try to do better next time...if you're still here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Bitch Session


                                                  Image result for nascar chicagoland 2017

* Well, the first race in the championship is under our belt and it ended in a totally expected way, as good as Furniture Row has been all year. Honestly, I like Martin Truex, Jr. I would not mind seeing him win the championship this year. But I've got to say, the superiority of the 78 is starting to make the races rather boring.

I agree to some extent with Brad Keselowski. When I first became a NASCAR fan, the honchos of the sport were all about "parity". They trumpeted this theme constantly. Most of the changes they made were in the hope of making the cars more competitive with one another.

That seems to have changed. In this part of the season, the Toyotas appear to have the most speed over all. That doesn't bother me. It happens. One manufacturer makes gains and gets an edge. Then the others catch up and it starts all over. Next time, another manufacturer zooms ahead. That's the natural course of events.

But what doesn't seem natural is that one team is consistently faster than everyone else. So far ahead that they can get two huge penalties for pit road violations and it's like it never even happened. Start at the back twice and in no time, they pass all the other cars and they're back up front.

The 78 is so far ahead in points from winning races and stages, barring  a catastrophe, I don't see how anyone else can hope to catch up.

What makes them so much faster? Does NASCAR know? Do they care? Inquiring minds want to know.

I would say the same if it was Jimmie. I always root for him to win but I like the races best where he has to fight for it. A season where the same car dominates week after week loses part of the fun even if that car is my car.

* And, oh, for God's sake, the way the reporters handled the back and forth between Kes and Kyle B regarding Toyotas being faster showed their delicate sensitivities.

"Kyle's tweet was so foul," they simpered, "we can't even tell you what it was."

Really? STFU? I only see that on Facebook about a 100 times a day. Isn't the he-man sport being a little politically correct here?

* I absolutely hate it that Danica Patrick won't return to Stewart Haas. I hope she gets a ride somewhere. I don't care if she isn't at the top of the leaderboard, NASCAR needs a female presence to encourage all the young girls who dream of being race car drivers. She adds something to the NASCAR family portrait of all those white male faces.

* So many drivers losing their rides? Besides Danica, there's Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch (what do we know about Kurt Busch?), Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne and probably more I'm forgetting. I'm all for the youth movement but that's two past champions left by the wayside along with the winners of other races.

Hard on an old lady's memory. I keep getting the two new kids at Hendrick confused. It will probably take me a couple of months next year to get everyone settled in their places.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Sweet Sixteen

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There they are: our championship contenders. I say that but I think some of them are not really serious contenders. Austen Dillon is probably not going to be holding the trophy after Homestead. Or Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. or Ryan Blaney or Ryan Newman  or, I'm sorry about this one, Jamie McMurray or Kasey Kahne or Matt Kenseth or Kurt Busch or - don't give me the evil eye Chase fans but I don't think there's any way he can pull it off either..

If I were laying a bet, I'd put my money down on Martin Truex, Jr. His team's performance has been superlative all season and he has a pot load of points going in from winning stages and races. Second, I'd place Kyle Larson ahead of Kyle Busch. They've both been brilliant at times but neither have had Martin's season-long consistency. Jimmie can never be counted out and neither can Harvick although they'd both need to pick up the pace considerably to emerge as the champion. Keselowski? Yes, it's possible. Hamlin? Maybe. We saw in the Darlington race that he sometimes has the ability to practically carry a car on his back, especially if he's feeling guilty over making a mistake.

So, there's how I see it although I'm not adamant about it and I'd be thrilled if a dark horse came along and won, like Jamie McMurray or Matt Kenseth.

Other thoughts about the regular season:

*Poor Matt Kenseth - what a freaky accident following a freakily, un-Kenseth-like year.

*Too bad Junior didn't make it in last season. And Logano didn't make it because of an encumbered race.

* Numbers - there seemed to be quite a to-do on the Nascar threads about William Byron and Chase Elliott switching numbers but it seems perfectly logical to me. The 9 was Bill Elliott's number. Of course, his son would want to drive it. And as for William Byron, what driver wouldn't be thrilled to get behind the wheel of the 24?

Hendrick will certainly be a completely different team next year with Jimmie as the only old timer and then a bunch of kids. Let's see - it's Chase in the 9, Alex Bowman in the 88 and William Byron in the 24. I'll have to practice that a few times before next season begins.

* I will, as always, root for Jimmie. I'd like to see him win his 8th championship and at least one Monster Energy trophy, which, incidentally, I think is striking and beautiful. If not him, then Kyle Larson. I know that Martin Truex, Jr. has earned it but if he can't get the job done with that huge head start then oh, well....such is life.

* Why is the 78 so much better than anyone else? I wonder if it has anything to do with being based in Colorado? I've always heard you can't keep a secret in the NASCAR garage. If someone finds something, pretty soon they all have it. But Furniture Row can work in secret.

* One more time, I will say, I wish NASCAR would lighten up a little....two encumbered races, too many not passing final inspection for being slightly out of spec or having a loose lugnut, fines, crew chiefs sitting out races.....

And now, onward and upward to the championship!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Doin' the Bristol Stomp...Again

Image result for nascar busch sweeps bristol    

I won't deny I was rooting for a new winner at Bristol, especially Erik Jones since he led so many laps. But it could just as well been Chase, Junior, Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, et al. But that's not the way it turned out so congratulations to Kyle Busch for doing the Bristol Stomp for the second time. 

It is quite an achievement to sweep any three races in a weekend, though I think Kyle gets a little too much credit for doing something not many other drivers have tried to do. He's the only one who has ever pulled it off but it would be interesting to know how many others have participated in an attempt to sweep.

Still, I hope non-winners win the last two.

This Silly Season is turning out to be a sad season. I'm enjoying the heck out of seeing the kids come into their own. The last restart at Michigan with Kyle Larson threading the needle to take the lead was awesome. 

Still, our old favorites are falling by the wayside one by one. First, it was Tony and then Jeff. Then Junior announced this would be his last season. Now, we don't know if Kenseth has a place to land. We don't know if we'll still see Kasey Kahne on the track or not. Jimmie, Kevin and Kurt are the last of the "old timer" top drivers. I love that NASCAR has so many young up and comers but maybe it is all happening a little too fast for me. 

I think NASCAR should let the drivers fight it out on pit road - no cones. Trying to position yourself to guarantee a certain lane is just one more piece of strategy, and it's one that doesn't always work out for the best. I think NASCAR is already guilty of too much micromanagement. Leave this one alone. I'm also sick of hearing about loose lugnuts. I think the team should get a pass if only one lug is loose. You assume one is an accident while two or three would be purposeful.

I have an ulcer. I call it the Jimmie Johnson ulcer. It always flares up in the summer when Jimmie goes into his slump. I'm always thrilled in the spring - the 48 team gets three wins, guarantees themselves a championship berth - yay! Then, boom, they fall off the map. It's a relief if they get a top ten instead of a DNF. I begin taking antacids. Will they be able to hit the switch as they've so often done? 

One of my best friends is as obsessed by the Chicago Cubs as I am with the 48 team. When the games and races are in overlapping seasons, she says, "don't forget to root for the Cubs," and I say, "don't forget to root for Jimmie." We both make solemn vows of support. She could care less about Jimmie and I could care less about the Cubs but we both believe a little extra mojo never hurt. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Only Five To Go

                                                   Image result for nascar kyle busch wins at Pocono

Okay, I'm glad for Kyle Busch that he won at Pocono. He'd come so close so many times, he deserved to finally get his win. He's certainly one of our top Cup drivers and we like our best drivers to be in the Chase with a win. But having said that, I'm beginning to get a little sick of the Kyle and Martin Show. They have dominated in poles, stage wins and races. Even when they didn't win, they dominated.

Jimmie and Kyle Larson started out great guns but they've tailed off here lately with more wrecks to their credit than wins. This is as per usual for the 48 team. They always seem to have a mediocre spell at the end of summer and leave their fans sweating.

I still think those four - Martin, Kyle, Kyle and Jimmie - are most on track to win the championship, though it is possible a Penske team could do it maybe a Stewart-Haas team.

I don't see Kasey Kahne getting that hot. I don't think Austin Dillon has a prayer or Ryan Newman either. Probably not Blaney or Hamlin though either is possible. Unfortunately, I don't think Dale Jr. will get up there either though I'd love to see it. Him or Kenseth either one.

My bet is that previous winners will win at least four of the next five. Maybe someone like an A J Allmendinger will pull it off at Watkins Glen.

Starting with Watkins Glen, NASCAR is going back to the making the start/fnish line the overtime line. That makes sense to me. I never understood why they changed it in the first place. If there was a rationale, I never knew what it was.

And, finally, NASCAR is reacting to so many Cup drivers coming down to snatch wins in the Xfinity series. I've always thought they should put limits on the Cup guys and now they are. They aren't ending their participation, which I don't think they should. There is something to be said for young drivers learning from the old professionals but on the other hand, they shouldn't be able to walk off with most of the goodies and glory either. From now on, drivers with more than five years of experience will be limited to a maximum of ten Xfinity races. None of them can compete in the Dash For Cash and none of them can run in the final eight championship races. The maximum in the Truck  Series is seven. Some of the drivers are in a snit about it but ten races per driver sounds like plenty to me. And the young Cup drivers (Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Chase Elliott...can still race as much as they like in the two lower series.

This has been the Silliest Silly Season so far. We still have Matt Kenseth, a champion, standing at the side of the room like a wallflower. And Kurt Busch. What is the deal there? There's no way I think he won't still be at Stewart-Haas. I think Gene Haas and Kurt have always had a Mutual Admiration Society.

Speaking of Stewart-Haas, I don't know how much more time they'll give Danica but it seems like her last few starts have been a steady improvement.

At the last, condolences to family and friends on the loss of Harry Scott and to even things up, we'll soon we welcoming Denny Hamlin's new baby into the NASCAR fold.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Musical Chairs and Nit-Pickery

Image result for Denny Hamlin wins new hampshire                     Image result for Kasey Kahne wins the Brickyard 400

Well, Joe Gibbs finally won one in New Hampshire with Denny Hamlin. It's hard to believe but this was their first win of the season. Of course, I was rooting for Kyle Larson as I always do when he's one of the front runners. But, oh, well, 2nd is better than 41 other drivers did. Do you think the Louden winners really eat those lobsters? I don't think I'd have the heart. I'd probably let mine go back into the ocean.

Then the next week was my home track, Indianapolis. I've been to the race three times but to be honest, I much preferred Homestead, both because of the weather and the view all the way around the track. It is Indy's history that makes it so special, not its amenities.

The Brickyard began to seem like the never ending race by the time it was over. A rain delay, the Kyle and Martin Show until they wrecked each other out and then crash, crash, crash. In the end, Kasey Kahne was the last man standing. Hurray for him! He's in the Chase! (Do we still call it the Chase?)

I'm usually pretty neutral about Kyle Busch. He's not one of my favorites but he's not one of my unfavorites either. I'll tell you though, I'm beginning to feel sorry for him. It has to be torturous to be so good in so many races yet never make it to the checkered flag first. We know he's had some of the best cars and we know how good of a driver he is but he just seems to have a black cloud following him around. I want him in the Chase so I hope he wins one of the next few.

Silly Season has arrived with a vengeance. We found out last week that Alex Bowman will be taking Junior's place in the 88 car next year. I'm glad for that. He's worked for HMS for quite a while and he did a fine job as Junior's replacement. I think he deserves the chance to pilot the 88 into the future and I'm glad Mr H. was loyal enough to give it to him.

Also Ryan Blaney will be going to Penske and Paul Menard will head over to the Wood Brothers. I think that the Blaney/Penske pairing is a match made in NASCAR heaven. Penske will have three young, aggressive drivers and I think they'll rack up a lot of wins in the next few years.

As for Paul Menard, he's always been pretty much a middle-of-the-pack driver. Is that because he's never been with a really top-notch team? We've seen what Blaney has done with the Wood Brothers car so I guess next season will tell the story.

Erik Jones will take Matt Kenseth's place at JGR. I can see the philosophy behind grabbing onto new young talent but wow, tossing away a champion seems sort of harsh, even if this hasn't been Matt's best year. It hasn't been the best year for the rest of the Gibbs team either. I haven't heard where Matt's going or if Furniture Row is going to continue with two cars or go back to one so there's still some suspense to play out.

I'm getting sort of tired of the nit-pickery that is going on in NASCAR. The cars that don't qualify because they can't get through inspection because they're a millionth of an inch too high or 10,000th of an ounce too heavy. When it comes to lasers versus humans, lasers are always going to win the precision war. Drivers getting black-flagged because they beat the leader by a 1000th of a second. Geez, just fly the green flag and let them go. I don't think Joe Gibbs should have suspended two of the 78's crewmen for arguing with the 18 crew. Nobody got hit; nobody was hurt. It was just a typical case of tempers flaring in a stressful situation. At one time, during the "boys have at it" era, that's what we said we wanted.

Now we expect the cars to be perfect and I guess we want the drivers to be perfect too. Too much perfection is boring.