Wednesday, August 31, 2011

TriStar Crewman Burned In Shop Explosion

Tristar Motorsports crewmember Mike Cluka is recovering at his home in Kannapolis, NC, today after suffering severe burns in an accident at the team's shop last week.

Cluka was working on the team's #19 NASCAR Nationwide Series Chevrolet driven by veteran Mike Bliss last Tuesday, preparing the car for Friday night's race at Bristol Motor Speedway when a spark from a cordless electric drill ignited gasoline fumes. "I was simply tightening a hose clamp on the fuel cell vent when the drill motor sparked and ignited vapors, causing a huge blue flash and fire," said Cluka, who also serves as shock specialist for the team. He is a longtime familiar face in the NASCAR garage area, having previously served as shock specialist and front-tire changer for the late Dale Earnhardt.

"I got severely burned, receiving second-degree burns to my face, arms and neck," said Cluka. "I'm very lucky to be alive today. I want all crew members to be very aware of cordless drills and impacts."

Cluke is resting comfortably at home this week, and there is no timetable for his return.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Listener’s Guide To Sirius XM NASCAR Radio

Used to be, race fans would go days or weeks at a time without getting any real information on the sport they love. Those days are gone. Today, fans are inundated with NASCAR information virtually 24/7 via the internet, television, and terrestrial and satellite radio. Sirius XM NASCAR Radio alone provides a minimum of 15 hours per day of live programming, and for some, the sheer volume of information, statistics and NASCAR talk can prove overwhelming.

In an effort to guide potentially befuddled fans through the morass, the humble host of four of those daily broadcast hours offers these helpful hints to navigating the satellite radio landscape. These tips are offered for entertainment purposes only, and resemblance to any individual -- living or dead -- is strictly coincidental.

When listening to Sirius XM NASCAR Radio, there are certain facts that simply must be accepted.

FACT: People say the same thing, over and over again.

“Mel from Muskegon” has a simple point to make; he doesn’t like the new NASCAR points system. Rather than simply stating his case and moving on, however, he insists on paraphrasing, repeating and restating that point until the average listener is ready to poke out his ear drums with a barbeque fork. If allowed to continue, “Mel” will repeat his assertion – with only slightly modified verbiage – until (A) the show ends, or (B) the host graciously thanks him for his insightful analysis and hits the “DROP” button, sending him back to caller purgatory.

Listeners also doggedly insist on repeating what others have said. Three minutes after “Ed from Oklahoma” delivers an impassioned expose’ on why Kyle Busch should be drawn, quartered and dragged through the village behind a mule for his blatant take-out of Elliott Sadler last week at Bristol Motor Speedway, “Todd from Illinois” will chime in to suggest that Kyle Busch be drawn, quartered and dragged through the village behind a mule for his blatant take-out of Elliott Sadler last week at Bristol Motor Speedway. This phenomenon occurs because NASCAR Nation is not a single, cohesive entity. It is, in fact, a series of parallel universes; each with its own space-time continuum and schedule of events. Sirius XM NASCAR Radio is the “worm hole” through which these universes collide; each with no conscious knowledge of the others.

In a related story, Kyle Busch is the five-time and defending champion of “Todd In Illinois’” universe, and is roundly criticized for being “too vanilla.” Dave Blaney is highly controversial and currently serving a sixth-month NASCAR probation for calling Mike Helton a doody head on national television.

Listeners are not entirely to blame for their tendency toward repetition. Truth be told, there hasn’t been anything really new in NASCAR since the early `70s. Kyle’s a loud-mouthed jerk today, just like Darrell Waltrip was back then. Think you’re sick of seeing Jimmie Johnson win? Talk to someone who lived through the 1967 season, when King Richard won 27 times in 49 starts, including 10 in a row.

Hosting a show on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio is akin to serving as the town proctologist. You’ve seen everything there is to see, and have little or no chance of stumbling across anything new, anytime soon.

“Gadzooks! Nurse, look at this! I’ve never seen anything like this!”

“Doctor, that’s a burrito.”

“Oh, right. Thanks very much.”

FACT: How you feel depends on who you like.

Most fans base their opinion of a race on one simple fact: how their favorite driver finished. In 2000, Jeff Burton led all 300 laps en route to Victory Lane in the “Dura Lube 300” at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was, without any possible debate, the single worst race in the history of motorsports, much less NASCAR. But to Jeff Burton fans, it was a hum-dinger. Great show. Loved every minute of it.

By contrast, a 77-lead change slugfest at Talladega can be the worst race EVER, if your driver dropped out early with a blown engine.

FACT: Everyone’s cheating, except my guy.

My driver is indisputably the greatest driver in NASCAR, and when he loses, it’s never his fault. His crew chief made a rotten strategy call that cost him track position, Goodyear stuck him with a crappy set of tires, his engine builder sold him a dog of a power plant that made him look like was tied to a stump all day, they ruined this race track when they paved it seven years ago and the guy who won the race was CHEATING! NASCAR turned a blind eye to his blatantly illegal car because he’s John Darby’s “Teacher’s Pet.”

And for the record, my guy’s going to whup `em all… next week.

FACT: Everyone has an inside source.

Drivers change teams. It’s a fact of life. And whenever a driver announces plans to move at the end of the season, the rumor mill explodes with speculation about who his new sponsor might be. In the search for “inside information,” any source will do, no matter how obscure it might be.

Host -- “Mike in Missouri, you’re on the air…”

Caller -- “My brother balances tractor tires at the Goodyear store in Poughkeepsie, NY, and his manager told him Goodyear’s going to sponsor Dale Earnhardt, Jr., next season. Don’t tell anyone you heard it from me, though, because I don’t want him to lose his job.”

Host -- “Greg in Alaska, welcome to the show…”

FACT: When in doubt, talk about track position.

“Track position” is NASCAR’s catch phrase for the new millennium. In the first 50 years of the sport, “track position” was an unknown quantity. We accepted the fact that the driver with the best track position at the end of the race won, every single time. We didn’t need to remind ourselves of that fact. It was obvious, a no-brainer.

Now, however, “track position” has become the end-all and beat-all of the sport; something to be gained at all costs and protected at all times. Lousy finishes are no longer attributable to poor handling, crappy strategy, or a driver who fell out of the seat with 50 laps to go, Track position is now exclusively to blame.

“We just weren’t able to get the track position we needed there at the end,” said Driver A. Well, no kidding! That’s almost certainly why you finished 23rd!

FACT: NASCAR is to blame.

In the world of talk radio, there is an endless supply of problems to be solved and issues to be rectified. There is, however, just one source of these myriad problems and issues: NASCAR.

Brian France and his Daytona Beach minions are to blame for everything that goes wrong with the sport, as well as a few things that haven’t gone wrong yet, but almost certainly will. They’re to blame for the traffic jam coming into the speedway. They’re to blame for high ticket prices, $6 bottles of water and lukewarm weenies at the concession stand. They’re responsible for the uncomfortable seat that chafed my wife’s tushy, and for the fact that my driver hasn’t won a race since the Eisenhower Administration. They’re to blame for having too many commercials in the TV broadcasts, and for the fact that the analyst doesn’t talk correctly and has funny looking hair. They’re to blame for this cockamamie points system that over-emphasizes the importance of winning, and the previous cockamamie points system that over-emphasized the importance of consistency. They’re to blame for those empty seats in the grandstands, and the crummy economy that produced them.

When in doubt, repeat after me: NASCAR is to blame.

FACT: Not all trolls live under bridges.

The most feared creature in all of talk radio is not the snake, the spider, the shark or the lion. It’s not even Godzilla! The most feared creature in all of talk radio is the troll. In radio terminology, a troll is a caller whose sole purpose in life is to get on the air and say something so provocative, so inflammatory, so downright obnoxious that people will talk about him for days and weeks to come. And sadly, it’s not that difficult to do.

Host -- “Louise in Louisiana, you’re on the air.”

Caller – “I think Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is an overrated hack who would be working at a 7-Eleven right now if it weren’t for his daddy. When is Rick Hendrick going to smarten up and start worrying about championships instead of T-shirt sales?”

Host -- “We’ll be right back, after I swallow this handful of sleeping pills.”

If your sole reason for living is to stir up a steaming load of crap, bypass the Sirius XM hotline and get yourself booked on the Jerry Springer Show. He LOVES that stuff!

FACT: If I don’t understand it, it doesn’t exist.

Clint Bowyer got busted for a rear body height violation in last year’s Chase at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The violation amounted to less than 1/16th of an inch -- about the thickness of a nickel – prompting many fans to declare the infraction too miniscule to bother with. I’m not good with figures myself, and I understand the logic involved.

If I don’t understand it, I don’t want to hear about it.

FACT: Everyone speaks for everyone.

Callers to Sirius XM NASCAR Radio do not speak only for themselves. They speak for all of humanity. “Everyone they know” feels exactly the way they do. “Everyone they talk to” shares their opinion on every topic, and there is no need for anyone with an opposing point of view (flawed as they may be) to be heard.

There is only one acceptable opinion on this topic. Mine.

Thanks for listening! Tune in tomorrow.

Hyder Released, Carrier To Do Double Duty For KHI This Weekend

Kevin Harvick Inc. has announced changes to the organization’s NASCAR Nationwide Series program. Effective immediately, Chris Carrier will serve as crew chief for the #33 team, replacing David Hyder who has been released from his position. This weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Carrier will continue to work as crew chief of both the #8 Camping World Truck driven by Nelson Piquet, Jr., and the #33 Nationwide Chevrolet, driven this weekend by Harvick. A new crew chief for the Piquet’s Truck team will be named at a later date.

KY Speedway, State Announce Traffic Improvements

Officials at Kentucky Speedway announced a number of projects today, designed to avoid a repeated of the traffic and parking issues that left thousands of fans stranded in traffic July 9, forcing many to miss the track’s inaugural Sprint Cup Series race entirely. Speedway Motorsports, Inc., CEO Bruton Smith sparred with Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear in the days following the debacle, with Smith blaming inadequate state highways for the tie-ups and Beshear faulting inadequate parking at the speedway

Today, the track announced a multi-phased program aimed at improving traffic flow and parking for its 2012 Sprint Cup Series race. The project is headlined by the purchase of a 143-acre parcel of land that will expand parking capacity by approximately 35 percent. The track has also hired a new, more experienced company to manage traffic and parking; the same group enlisted by Daytona International Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

The state of Kentucky has earmarked $3.6 million from its contingency fund to improve Interstate 71 and the southbound Exit 57 off-ramp; changes that will allow three lanes of traffic to exit KY Highway 35 and directly access speedway entrances on race days. Approximately one mile of KY 35 and .6-mile of KY 35 will be widened to five lanes with full-width shoulders, effectively providing seven lanes of two-way traffic to speed access and egress on race days. A tunnel will also be constructed beneath KY 35 to accommodate pedestrian traffic. Work on all projects is expected to be completed before next summer’s race.

“We learned meaningful lessons during our inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend,” said Speedway GM Mark Simendinger, “and we committed that the traffic congestion that occurred on race day would not happen again. It was important for us to act quickly and I am thrilled to report this solution, which was formed in only seven short weeks.”

NASCAR President Mike Helton expressed happiness with the announcement, saying, “We’ve been in close touch with the track and its management since July, and the significant commitments announced today support the common goal of hosting the most successful events possible at Kentucky Speedway next season. We believe improvements like these are necessary in order to ensure that our fans have the opportunity for an enjoyable race experience. We appreciate these efforts and will continue to monitor the progress that is being made.”

Atlanta Offers Multiple Clinch Scenarios

Just two races remain before the final, 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set. This weekend's "AdvoCare 500" at Atlanta Motor Speedway offers a number of drivers an opportunity to clinch their spot in the 20111 Chase; too many, in fact, to outline every one. However, there are some likely clinch scenarios worthy of notice.

Five drivers have already punched their ticket to NASCAR's postseason. Kyle Busch and five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson are tied at the top of the current point standings, and have already locked-in a spot in the Chase. Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards also cannot fall out of the Top-10 before Chase time. Sunday's "Advocare 500" will further clarify the Chase picture, since any driver who leaves Atlanta with a 49-point margin over 11th place will automatically be locked into the Chase.

Drivers with opportunities to claim guaranteed Chase positions at AMS include:

Kevin Harvick -- Three regular season victories have already earned the Budweiser Chevrolet driver at least a Wildcard berth in the Chase. However, with a 93-point advantage over 11th place, he will likely cement a top-10 points position Sunday. All he needs is a finish of 40th, 41st with at least one lap led, or 42nd with the most laps led.

Jeff Gordon -- Like Harvick, the four-time series champion currently stands 93 points ahead of 11th place. His Top-10 clinch scenario is identical to Harvick's, needing only to finish 40th, 41st and at least one lap led, or 42nd with the most laps led.

Ryan Newman -- The Rocketman is currently stands 73 points ahead of 11th place, and can guarantee a Top-10 points finish with a finish of 20th or better Sunday. He can also finish 21st with one lap led, or 22nd with the most laps led.

Kurt Busch -- Currently 60 points ahead of 11th place, the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver can lock-up a Top-10 points finish with a finish of seventh Sunday; an eighth-place finish with one lap led; or ninth with the most laps led.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- Earnhardt could clinch a Chase berth Sunday, but with only a 39-point edge over 11th place, he does not control his own fate. There is no specific finish that will guarantee the AMP/National Guard team a clinch, and they will likely need to go to Richmond next weekend to punch their playoff ticket.

Tony Stewart -- Stewart can clinch a Chase spot Sunday, but he can also fall out of the Top-10 if red-hot Brad Keselowski continues his torrid, late-season surge. Stewart's margin over 11th place Keselowski is just 21 points, and in order to clinch at Atlanta, he'll need Keselowski to have a bad day.

Brad Keselowski -- His three regular-season wins make him a virtual lock for a Wild Card berth, but the Miller Lite Dodge driver wants more. If he is able to unseat Stewart and claim the final spot in the Top-10, Keselowski will put himself in line for nine postseason bonus points; enough to send him to the Chase just three points out of the championship lead.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Who's Hot, Who's Not With Two Races To Go

Just two races remain until NASCAR culls its championship herd and selects the 12 contestants for the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. With the preliminaries now all-but completed, a handful of drivers have stepped forward as favorites to hoist the championship trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.

Others, unfortunately, have established themselves as candidates to be watching those festivities from home, on television. In an effort to separate NASCAR’s wheat from the chaff, here’s a partial listing of who’s hot – and who’s not – on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Hot: Brad Keselowski. The Miller Lite Dodge driver has ripped off two wins, a second and third in the four weeks since suffering an avulsion fracture to his left ankle in a testing crash at Road Atlanta. A championship afterthought just 30 days ago, he is now within a stone’s throw of the Top-10 in points and the nine bonus points that will come with it. If he succeeds in bumping Tony Stewart from the all-important 10th position – and the way Smoke’s running lately, he is a solid bet to do so – he’ll enter the Chase second only to Kyle Busch in the championship standings.

Not: Tony Stewart. By his own admission, the two-time Sprint Cup Series champion is a long shot for title number three this season. Stewart’s familiar midsummer surge has not materialized, with a season’s best finish of second at New Hampshire Motor Speedway more than a month ago. He is clinging to the tenth and final Chase spot by his thumbs, and admitted last week that even if he makes the Chase, he and his Mobil 1/Office Depot team are unlikely to compete for the championship. Where there’s Smoke, there is not always fire.

Hot: Kyle Busch. Love him or hate him, NASCAR’s MVP (Most Volatile Performer) at performing at his peak right now. He’s tied with likely championship nemesis Jimmie Johnson at the top of the Sprint Cup standings, and even after struggling to an uncharacteristic, 14-place finish at Bristol Saturday night, his average finish in his last four starts is 5.0. If he can maintain focus and not become distracted by the senseless feuds he seems determined to embroil himself in, Kyle could finally establish himself as something more than a regular-season only threat.

Not: Clint Bowyer. If Richard Childress Racing really wants Bowyer to sign a new, multi-year contract, cars like they gave him Saturday night will not help. With their backs firmly against the playoff wall, Bowyer and his Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team laid an egg at Bristol, running in the second half of the field all night long en route to a 26th place finish. He hasn’t recorded a Top-15 finish in over a month, and while he’s still 12th in championship points, if the regular season ended today, he would not a part of the Chase.

Hot: Jimmie Johnson. Cool, efficient, methodical and peaking at just the right time. Sound familiar? Johnson’s Lowe’s Chevrolet team may not be the jugular-stomping juggernaut they were a year ago (or two, or three...), and two Top-5 finishes in their last five starts do not strike fear into the hearts of the competition. But the five-time defending champions will not be unseated without a fight. Ask Kyle, Carl or anyone else in the garage who they fear most in the Chase, and if they don’t say Johnson, they’re lying.

Not: Denny Hamlin. What a difference a year makes. Just 12 months ago, Hamlin was the heir apparent to Johnson; the best bet to unseat the (then) four-time champion from his throne. Today, he’s clinging to the final Wild Card slot and praying that nobody with just a little bit of momentum drives to Victory Lane in the next two weeks and bumps him from the playoff roster. He has been the walking, talking embodiment of inconsistency in recent weeks -- reeling off finishes of 14th, 6th, 42nd, 4th and 20th in the last five races – and has shown none of the title worthiness he displayed a year ago.

Hot: Andy Lally. How can someone who finished 25th at Bristol be classified as “hot?” If that finish pushes him to a comfortable, 49-point lead over 36th place in the all-important owner points battle. Steady – if unspectacular -- performances over the last five weeks have given Lally’s TRG Motorsports team a one-race pad with 12 to go, making him a solid bet for a guaranteed starting spot in the 2012 Daytona 500.

Not: Robby Gordon. The veteran driver is apparently not selling enough of that SPEED Energy drink to keep his #7 Sprint Cup Dodge running. As a result, he announced this week that he will start and park in all but three of the remaining 12 races. He ran just 10 laps Saturday night before making his way behind the wall, and fans can expect him to make full race day efforts only at Chicagoland, Kansas and Texas the rest of the way.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Keselowski Now Primed For Title Run

Don’t look now, but Brad Keselowski is a lock for the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He’s also looking like a sure-fire contender for the championship.

Just days after a respectable -- if unremarkable – ninth-place finish in the “Brickyard 400’ at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Keselowski rode out a savage testing crash at Road Atlanta that left him with an ugly avulsion fracture of his left ankle and an injured lower back. A virtual non-factor in the postseason discussion, he languished 21st in championship points coming out of the Brickyard and showed little sign of being able to improve his position significantly.

If there ever was a driver going nowhere in a hurry, it was Brad Keselowski.

Since then, however, the Michigan native has suddenly become the hottest driver in NASCAR. Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, he claimed a fairytale victory at Pocono Raceway just four days after his Road Atlanta crash. That Cinderella win pushed him back into the “Wildcard Eligible” Top-20 in championship points, and the following week, he delivered another ironman performance, finishing second to Marcos Ambrose at Watkins Glen International. A third-place finish on home turf at Michigan set the stage for his third victory of the season – and second in the last four races – Saturday night, when he outslugged the best in the business on one of NASCAR toughest short tracks to win the “Irwin Tools Night Race” at Bristol Motor Speedway. Keselowski led seven times for 89 laps in the race and was never headed in the final 80 circuits, despite a pair of double-file restarts in the late going.

In four short weeks, Keselowski has surged from 21st to 11th in Sprint Cup points. His three wins make him a virtual lock for the post-season Chase, assuming he is able to maintain his Top-20 status for two more weeks. He also stands just 21 points behind a fast-fading Tony Stewart for 10th place in the standings, and if he is able to maintain his torrid pace into the postseason, Keselowski could mount a serious challenge to Jimmie Johnson’s bid for an unprecedented sixth consecutive series title.

He climbed onto the roof of his winning Miller Lite Dodge in Victory Lane Saturday, thrusting his fists into the air before leaping to the ground amid an exuberant knot of crewmembers. A grimace of pain crossed his face as he landed, evidence that his troublesome left ankle is still far from healed. But that stab of pain was quickly replaced by the thrill of victory and the knowledge that he and his Penske Racing team have suddenly become true championship contenders.

"Wow! The night race at Bristol!" said a beaming Keselowski in Victory Lane. "I used to watch Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt win this race. This is a race of champions. I can't believe it! There are races that pay more. There are races that have a little more prestige, but this is the coolest damn one of them all!"

The second-generation driver attributed his recent competitive surge to "a team that starts to click and believe in each other. I believed in (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) since we started this year, and we’ve made good adjustments to our cars over the last few months. We made good adjustments to our car during (tonight’s) race and found ourselves in Victory Lane. I can't believe it; I just can't."

Keselowski now has four Sprint Cup victories in just 77 career starts, and is peaking at a time tailor-made for title contention. “Those guys are on a roll,” said third-place Bristol finisher Jeff Gordon, a man who knows a thing or two (or four) about winning Cup championships. “They're running strong and if you put them in position at the end of the race, they're going to pull off the wins. To me, they’re as strong a team as is out there right now. We have to keep an eye on him.”

“We've definitely got things going for us right now,” admitted crew chief Wolfe Saturday night. “It's weird, because we’re not really doing anything different. It's been a lot of small things over the past couple months just starting to add up. We've got fast race cars, the driver is doing his part, the pit crew is doing their part, and we're making good calls on pit road and adjustments. We continue to bring good race cars to the race track every week (so) Brad can go out there and do his part.”

Like Johnson in each of the last five seasons, Keselowski and his Miller Lite team have caught fire when it matters most, and while a lot can change in the next 14 races, they may give team owner Roger Penske his best chance yet to claim the NASCAR championship that has eluded him for decades.

“I think we have the potential (to win the title),” said Keselowski. “It's an honor just to be in the Chase and I'm going to have fun with it. At the start of the year, it was certainly one of our goals. And to come in on a high note is just great.

“Past success does not guarantee future success, and I'm a big believer in that. But it sure as hell doesn't hurt.”

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bristol Driver Intro Music Choices Released

Bristol Motor Speedway has released the list of entrance songs chosen by each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver for Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race at Thunder Valley. The now-tradition "Choose Your Intro" promotion has proven to be wildly popular in recent seasons, and it remains to be seen whether the speedway will continue last year's practice of allowing the drivers to salute the crowd on the public address system. Last year, Brad Keselowski sent the crowd into a frenzy with his now-famous "Kyle Busch is an ass!" declaration, and it remains to be seen if more jewels will be uttered tomorrow night.

Some drivers have chosen not to reveal their picks until show time, while a handful of others -- our own Mike Skinner included -- simply haven't gotten around to making a decision. But here are the picks, as they stand right now...

■Marcos Ambrose – "Land Down Under" by Men At Work
■AJ Allmendinger – "Down With The Sickness" by Disturbed
■T.J. Bell – TBA
■Greg Biffle – Theme from "Sanford and Son"
■Dave Blaney – "Better Now" by Collective Soul
■Mike Bliss – TBA
■Clint Bowyer – "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?" by Waylon Jennings
■Jeff Burton – "Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns N Roses and "Coal Keeps The Lights On" by Dolly Parton
■Kurt Busch – "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix A Lot
■Kyle Busch – "Kyle Busch Show" by Raytona 500
■Dale Earnhardt Jr. – TBA
■Carl Edwards – "Run This Town" by Jay-Z
■David Gilliland – "Living The Dream" by Yatta Da Kaptain
■Jeff Gordon – "E.I." by Nelly
■Robby Gordon – TBA
■Denny Hamlin – "Bad Meets Evil" by Fast Lane
■Kevin Harvick – "Show Me What You Got" by Jay-Z
■Jimmie Johnson – "Don't Mess Around With Jim" by Jim Croce
■Kasey Kahne – "Made In America" by Toby Keith
■Matt Kenseth – "Indestructible" by Disturbed
■Brad Keselowski – "Jackson, Mississippi" by Kid Rock
■Travis Kvapil – "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" by New Politics
■Bobby Labonte – "Come Monday" by Jimmy Buffett
■Terry Labonte – TBA
■Andy Lally – "Otep" by Battle Ready
■Joey Logano – Theme from "SportsCenter"
■Mark Martin – "La Grange" by ZZ Top
■Michael McDowell – "On Fire" by Rawsrvnt
■Jamie McMurray – "The Distance" by Cake
■Casey Mears – "Burn It To The Ground" by Nickelback
■Paul Menard – "Gypsy Road" by Cinderella
■Juan Pablo Montoya – "Enter Sandman" by Metalica
■Joe Nemechek – "Cheap Sunglasses" by ZZ Top
■Ryan Newman – "Big Green Tractor" by Jason Aldean
■David Ragan – "I Am From The Country" by Tracy Byrd
■David Reutimann – "Pretty Fly For A White Guy" by The Offspring
■Mike Skinner – TBA
■Regan Smith – "Second Heartbeat" by Avenged Sevenfold
■Scott Speed – "Power" by Collective Soul
■David Starr – "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi
■Tony Stewart – "Throw The Hammer Down" by Derek Miller
■David Stremme – TBD
■Martin Truex Jr. – "Country Song" by Seether
■Brian Vickers – "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana
■JJ Yeley – "I'm Sexy And I Know It" by LMFAO

Here's What's Wrong With Bristol Motor Speedway

Here’s a helpful hint for those attempting to quantify what’s wrong with the “new” Bristol Motor Speedway.

Not a damned thing.

Since the storied Bristol oval was resurfaced back in 2007, media and fans alike have debated whether the racing is better or worse. Without question, it is different. The old Bristol was a single-groove racetrack that specialized in freight-train racing. Everyone lined up single-file on the bottom of the racetrack in true “follow the leader” fashion, doing their best impression of a 110-mph conga line. Straying -- even momentarily -- from the bottom lane brought a sure and swift trip to the back of the pack. Once there, there was just one way for a driver to make his way back to the front: the infamous Bristol “Bump and Run” where you whack a man in the rear bumper, shove him up the race track and run like hell, least you receive the same treatment in return.

The new Bristol is a multi-groove affair that features plenty of side-by-side – and occasionally even three-wide – racing throughout the pack. Cars run two-abreast for laps at a time, and a driver with a good-handling car can race his way from the back of the pack without leaving a trail of twisted, smoking metal in his wake.

In the old days, a driver would spend 20 laps bottled up behind a much-slower car, unable to pass until his temper finally reached the boiling point and he harpooned the poor bugger out of his way. Today, he simply slides into the outside groove and drives around his slower opponent with no harm done.

At the old Bristol, multicar crashes were the order of the day and caution flags flew with maddening regularity. There was no such thing as pit strategy, since the race stopped every 15 laps for another round of flatbeds and fisticuffs. The fastest car rarely finished, much less won, and millions of dollars worth of high-tech racing machinery went directly to the scrap yard after every race.

It was little more than a County Fair demolition derby, with fancier paint schemes and better-known drivers.

Lots of people say they miss the old Bristol Motor Speedway and the excitement it used to generate. Listen to them long enough and you’ll realize that by “excitement,” they really mean “wrecks.” They miss the crashing and banging, the smoke and fire and twisted sheet metal, the frayed nerves and post-race shouting matches. They miss the late Dale Earnhardt, winking at the camera and swearing on his momma’s heart that he never meant to wreck Terry Labonte. Just rattle his cage.

That’s all well and good, I guess. But personally, I prefer a stock car race to a demolition derby. I prefer green-flag laps to those run under yellow, and I enjoy taking a shower after the race without finding half a bag of oil dry in the drain. That’s not just me talking, either. The drivers seem to agree.

“We’re out there racing two (and) sometimes three-wide now,” said Kurt Busch this week. ”It gets three-wide pretty quick when you’re in traffic and the leaders don’t want to yield and give up time around those lap cars. It’s exciting to me. I think a lot of the drivers agree it’s a place now where…you have to have a little bit of finesse mixed in if you want to have success.”

“The track is perfect and fine,” agreed Dale Earnhardt, Jr. “There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s as good -- or better -- than it ever was.”

So enjoy the race Saturday night. And hold the oil dry.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

No Role For NASCAR In Busch/Sadler Incident

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s Camping World Truck Series clash between Kyle Busch and Elliott Sadler, the call is being raised in some corners for NASCAR to get involved. That call is both ill-advised and unnecessary.

Busch clearly stepped over the line Wednesday. The initial incident happened only after he crowded Sadler to the wall in an attempt to finish off one of his patented “slide jobs.” Busch said he was given the all-clear by his spotter, but admitted afterward that “maybe I was too late” in moving up the track when Sadler already had his foot in the door.

Busch’s bout with the frontstretch wall was the kind of thing that happens every day at tracks like Bristol Motor Speedway. “Driver A” misjudges a pass and crowds “Driver B” toward the fence. “Driver B” chooses not to yield – or is unable to do so -- and somebody ends up in the fence. Welcome to NASCAR, everyone. It’s a contact sport.

What happened after the initial crash, however, was something entirely different. Despite having only himself to blame, Busch decided Sadler was in need of punishment. In a fit of anger, he waited for the #24 Chevrolet and right-turned Sadler at the exit of Turn Two, sending him spinning. He then put the bulls-eye on Sadler a second time for good measure, hitting him in the left-rear corner as he spun.

By virtually any reasonable yardstick, Busch’s move was a cheap shot. Cheap shots are not unprecedented in NASCAR, however, and the sport has a long and storied history of drivers policing themselves. Stick me in the wall this week, and I’ll return the favor next week; tit for tat, an eye for an eye. Rough riding and poor sportsmanship are two-way streets, and NASCAR knows it. That’s why they washed their hands of situations like these more than a year ago, with their now-famous “Boys Have At It” decree.

Given time, situations like Wednesday’s always seem to work themselves out. A year ago, it appeared that Carl Edwards would be satisfied with nothing less than Brad Keselowski’s head on a pointed stick. They exchanged take-out moves for a number of weeks, culminating in a horrifying, upside-down pummeling of the Atlanta Motor Speedway wall by Keselowski that had many fans (and some competitors) screaming for Edwards to be suspended. NASCAR stayed out of it, allowing the two combatants to figure out – on their own – that their feud was doing nothing but destroying race cars, ruining their championship hopes and endangering their lives. Today, they race each other cleanly and with respect, with sanctions or threats from the sanctioning body.

They may not always act like it, but NASCAR drivers are adults; generally reasonable despite the occasional outbreak of ill manners in the heat of battle. Busch and Sadler can mend their own fences without NASCAR assistance.
“Boys Have At It” continues to work well.

Danica To NASCAR In 2012

It’s official, Danica Patrick will be a full-time stock car racer in 2012.

Alongside CEO and founder Bob Parsons, Patrick ended months of speculation Thursday with an announcement that – while official at last – offered little or no detail beyond what was already widely known. She will run the entire Nationwide Series schedule next season for JR Motorsports, in addition to running 8-10 Sprint Cup Series races for Stewart-Haas Racing.

"The (NASCAR) experience was something I've really, really enjoyed," said Patrick today. “The time is now. The opportunity is now. Bob and GoDaddy have made that possible (and) I want to do it. I don't want to wait years. I want to do it now, and I'm lucky enough to have a sponsor that will stand behind me and allow me to go."

Patrick did not confirm reports that she will make her first career Sorint Cup Series start in next year’s season-opening Daytona 500, saying, "We're definitely considering that, but the schedule for the Sprint Cup races next year is not set. It'll probably be about 8-10 races, but the actual races themselves have not been chosen yet."

Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart said Patrick will likely spend only on season in nationwide before graduating to NASCAR’s senior circuit. “We're very excited to have Danica Patrick and Go Daddy join Stewart-Haas Racing for a limited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule in 2012,” said Stewart, “with the intention of us running her full time in Sprint Cup in 2013.”

Patrick made her stock car debut in last year’s ARCA opener at Daytona International Speedway, then followed with a limited schedule of 13 Nationwide Series races. She appeared tentative and hesitant in that first season, and posted a disappointing best finish of 19th. As her confidence grew, however, her finishes have improved. This season, she has made seven Nationwide starts in the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, with a best finish of fourth in the “Sam’s Town 300” at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March. She also led the July race at Daytona with just four laps remaining, before being swept up in a crash not of her own doing en route to a 10th place finish.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said he believes Patrick is ready for the rigors of a full-time NASCAR schedule, saying, "Danica has shown solid improvement in NASCAR and we believe her decision to run full time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, with additional races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will be exciting for our fans and a great challenge for her.

"We are pleased (she) has chosen to race full time in NASCAR in 2012," said France. "She has demonstrated a strong desire to compete and NASCAR provides the best opportunity to race against the top drivers in the world with the largest and most loyal fan base in motorsports on a week-to-week basis.

Kyle Continues To Court Controversy

Kyle Busch’s pursuit of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship will clearly not lack for excitement.

One day after pleading guilty to speeding and "no contest" to careless and reckless driving from a 128 mph traffic stop back in May, the resident “Peck’s Bad Boy” of NASCAR added another item to his lengthy list of distractions Wednesday night, wading hip-deep into an on-track controversy with Elliott Sadler that somehow swept-up Sadler’s Nationwide Series car owner, Kevin Harvick, as well.

The dust-up began midway in the Camping World Truck Series “O’Reilly 200” at Bristol Motor Speedway, when Busch slid up the track and across the nose of Sadler while battling for position near the front of the pack. Contact between the two turned Busch into the wall, doing significant damage to the right-front corner of his Dollar General Toyota. Busch limped his damaged machine around the track for a lap or two until Sadler attempted to pass, then harpooned Sadler’s Joe Dennett Motorsports Chevrolet in retaliation. As Sadler spun, Busch swerved and hit Sadler again, for good measure.

Busch pulled no punches after the race, either, blaming Sadler for the initial crash. “The spotter said I was clear,” he said. “I was clear at the time. Maybe I was too late (moving up the track), but he hooked me anyway and wrecked me. I’m not going to put up with it.” Busch admitted wrecking the Virginia native in retaliation, and dragged race winner and longtime rival Harvick into the fray as well. Asked if he believed Sadler had wrecked him intentionally, Busch said, “Yeah, I’m sure he did. Where does his paycheck come from?”

“He wrecked himself, to be honest with you,” countered Sadler in a measured, post-race interview worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. “His spotter actually came to us and told us it was his fault, (saying) he didn’t let him know we were there. I’ve never had any issue at all racing with Kyle Busch. He’s a heck of a racecar driver.”

“I understand his frustration,” said Sadler, who rebounded from the mid-race fireworks to finish ninth. “When I went into Turn 1, I was kind of waiting for (retaliation) because I figured he was upset and frustrated. It cost us a chance to win, but it’s OK. I was mad (and), I was frustrated because I don’t think he understood the circumstances when he spun me out. “I was like, ‘Man, don’t spin me out. Watch the tape first.’ But it’s all right. I know he’s a very competitive driver and a good race car driver. We’ve never had any issues before at all. Just tonight.”

He bristled at the implication that his KHI connection played a role in the crash, however, saying, “I race for me to race. I don’t get caught up in this hoo-boo for Kyle Busch.”

Harvick also scoffed at Busch’s conspiracy theory, saying, “That shows you how smart Kyle Busch is. Elliott wasn’t even driving for us tonight. Joe Denette owns that truck, and those guys came here tonight to do what they had to do.” He also made it clear that his on and off-track rivalry with Busch will continue for the foreseeable future, saying, “We can race as dirty as Kyle Busch wants.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Patrick Will Announce Tomorrow, Instead

OK, we'll do it tomorrow.

The much-anticipated news conference concerning Danica Patrick's future plans will take place tomorrow (Thursday) at noon ET. The announcement was originally expected to take place today, but was postponed after sources said logistics could not be worked out to bring all the involved parties together.

Patrick and CEO and founder Bob Parsons will now announce their plans at noon tomorrow at GoDaddy's Phoenix, AZ, headquarters, confirming that Patrick will compete full-time in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports, in addition to as many as nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts for Stewart Haas Racing.

In 20 Nationwide starts to date, Patrick has an average finish of 23.8, with one Top-5 and three Top-10 finishes. She will leave the Andretti Autosport IZOD IndyCar Series team to jump to NASCAR. Patrick's announcment will air live on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 at 12 PM ET.

Evernham Returning To Cup Garage

Former championship-winning crew chief and Sprint Cup Series team owner Ray Evernham told Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that he will return to the NASCAR garage next season in an unofficial capacity with Hendrick Motorsports.

Evernham has spent this season away from the NASCAR garage, working as a consultant for the Hendrick Companies overseeing strategic initiatives for Hendrick's auto dealerships and aftermarket retail business, while driving his own Sprint Car in a limited schedule of events, He said his driving career could come to an end int he near future, however, as he transitions back to NASCAR in 2013.

"I've got six or seven more Sprint Car races before the end of the year, then I'm probably going to have to make a decision about how much I'm going to race next year," said Evernham. "I'd like to get back to the (NASCAR) race track more in 2012, so I think my Sprint car racing is going to suffer."

Evernham said he has no desire to return to the crew chief ranks, saying his role will be unofficial and undefined. "I will have no real official capacity, other than being a part of Hendrick Motorsports," he said. "I want to help if I can, and advise here and there. Kasey (Kahne) is going over there next year, and I think I might be able to help with some of the transition."

Evernham said his relationship with Kahne -- for whom he fielded cars at Evernham Motorsports beginning in 2003 -- remains strong. "I feel a responsibility to Kasey Kahne to make sure he's got a shot at winning the championship," he said. "I believe in him, and it'll be good to be back at the track a little bit more next year. But honestly, there will be no official capacity. I will just be a part of that Hendrick team, doing whatever they need and being friends with Mr. Hendrick."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Norris In, Andrews Out As Bayne's Crew Chief

Chad Norris has been named crew chief of the #16 Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford, driven by Trevor Bayne. Norris will assume his new position immediately, and will be atop the pit box this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. Norris, who has been with Roush Fenway since 2005, led Marcos Ambrose’s winning Nationwide Series effort last weekend in Montreal.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with Trevor Bayne,” said Norris. “Trevor is obviously one of the most talented young drivers in the garage and I’m looking forward to working with him starting this weekend at Bristol; a track that I know means a lot to him.”

Norris takes over for Chris Andrews. Andrews’ role in the organization will be announced at a later date.

Baxter Fined $5K For Wallace Hair Pull

NASCAR has penalized Jerry Baxter, crew chief for the #99 car driven by Patrick Carpentier in last Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, for his actions following the completion of the race.

Baxter has been fined $5,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31 for violating Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing – involved in an altercation on pit road after the completion of the race). Baxter reached into Steve Wallace's car after the race and grabbed him by the hair, chastising him for his role in a crash that eliminated Carpentier.

Busch Fined, Loses License For 45 Days

Kyle Busch is $1,000 poorer today and will forfeit his North Carolina driver's license for 45 days after pleading guilty to speeding and no contest to reckless and careless driving in North Carolina District Court in Iredell County today. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader was also sentenced to 30 hours of community service and given one year of unsupervised probation.

Busch was clocked at 128 mph in a 45 mph zone May 24m driving a borrowed, 2012 Lexus sports car valued at nearly $400,000. The sanctions will not impact his ability to race in NASCAR.

Richmond Track Undamaged By Tuesday Quake

Richmond International Speedway President Dennis Bickmeyer told Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that his facility suffered no apparent damage in the magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 90 miles south of Washington, DC.

"It shook things up a little, but we're fine," said Bickmeyer. "The walls shook, but we didn't even have pictures falling or anything. We've had people out giving the grounds the once-over this afternoon, and it doesn't appear we suffered any damage at all." Bickmeyer said RIR will hire a structural engineer to examine the facility this week to ensure that its buildings, grandstands and facilities are all safe and secure for NASCAR's regular-season finale on September 10.

Tuesday's earthquake was felt as far south as the Carolinas and north into New England. Phone service, air and train traffic was all disrupted -- at least briefly -- across the region, and the Pentagon, White House and Capitol building were evacuated as a precaution. NBC is reporting that the quake broke a water main inside the Pentagon, flooding parts of two floors. Two nuclear reactors near the epicenter were undamaged, but taken offline as a precaution. Memorials and monuments on the National Mall were also closed. No injuries were reported.

Toyota To Pace 2012 Daytona 500

The 2012 Toyota Camry will serve as the Official Pace Car for the 54th running of the Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 26; the first time the manufacturer has provided the Pace Car for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway and the fourth different manufacturer to have pace a race at the “World Center of Racing” since 2010.

“Toyota has a successful track record of manufacturing in the United States and they have built upon that success in NASCAR’s top three national series,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “The 2012 Camry is a sharp, sleek vehicle and it will look great at the head of the field in the 54th running of the Daytona 500. We’re proud to have the 2012 Camry, built by great American workers, pace the ‘Great American Race.’ ”

“We’re thrilled to be able to feature the new Camry in Daytona at the season’s biggest race,” said Ed Laukes, TMS corporate manager of motorsports marketing. “We think the Daytona 500 is the perfect place to showcase the all-new Camry, which will go on sale this fall. We knew when the opportunity arose to partner together with Daytona that it would be an extraordinary way to highlight our new Camry, as well as reinforce Toyota’s commitment to NASCAR and its fans.”

Yeley Adds New Sponsor For Atlanta

J.J. Yeley will drive the #38 Front Row Motorsports Ford in the September 4 "AdvoCare 500" at Atlanta Motor Speedway with sponsorship from Vampt Beverage Corp. The deal will mark Vampt's first foray into NASCAR sponsorship, showcasing the company's two agave-infused, ready-to-drink malt beverages: Vampt SMOOTH TALKER™ and Vampt MIDNIGHT WARRIOR™. Vampt beverages are currently sold in Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico and Montana through grocery outlets and independent liquor stores, with Georgia and Colorado to be added this fall. Yeley said they feature less sweetness and more alcohol content (eight-percent by volume)than other malt beverages.

Yeley has seven Sprint Cup career starts at the 1.54-mile Atlanta oval, with a career-high finish of 15th in 2006. He will replace Travis Kvapil in the #38 Ford on a one-race basis, before returning to the team's #55 Ford at Richmond September 10. "It'll be great to have the Vampt brand on the No. 38 Ford Fusion at Atlanta," said Yeley. "They're a cool new company with a refreshing, ultra-premium product. We're looking forward to introducing it to NASCAR fans. Atlanta Motor Speedway is a great place for their debut. It's fast and intense and a great place to race. It's one of the big holiday-weekend races that will have a huge viewing audience, so it will be great initial national exposure for them."

"We're always willing to help new companies get into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series," said FRM owner Bob Jenkins. "We're still a young team, still building, and new partnerships are important to us. Vampt and Genuine Partners have been great to work with thus far and it would be great if J.J. can give them a strong debut run in Atlanta. We look forward to growing our relationship with everyone at Vampt."

Keselowski Out Of Bristol Nationwide Race

Brad Keselowski will be sidelined from the NASCAR Nationwide Series for at least one more week, with Parker Kligerman replacing him in Penske Racing's #22 Discount Tire Dodge in Friday night's Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Keselowski has sat-out the last three Nationwide Series events while recuperating from a broken left ankle suffered in testing at Road Atlanta earlier this month, and Penske Racing President Tim Cindric announced today that the team will continue to err on the side of caution for at least another week, allowing Keselowski to concentrate his efforts on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

"Parker Kligerman will drive the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge this weekend in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway," said Cindric. "Brad Keselowski is still healing from an ankle fracture and strained back... and his condition will continue to be monitored on a race-by-race basis."

Sam Hornish, Jr., subbed for Keselowski in the U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway August 6, finishing 24th after qualifying on the inside of the second row. Kurt Busch drove the #22 Dodge to Victory Lane on the road course at Watkins Glen International rwo weeks ago, while Jacques Villeneuve qualified on the pole last weekend at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve before crashing out of the race en route to a 27th place finish.

The time off has clearly benefited Keselowski, who has finished no worse than third since being injured. He won in his first outing since the crash at Pocono Raceway three weeks ago, then finished second at Watkins Glen behind winner Marcos Ambrose. He was third Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, trailing only winner Kyle Busch and runner-up Jimmie Johnson. He has surged from 21st to 12th in championship points during that three-race span.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Michigan Repave Underway

The asphalt is still warm from Kyle Busch’s victory burnout following Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, but that hasn’t stopped Michigan International Speedway from moving toward next season.

Crews are hard at work today removing the SAFER barriers surrounding the two-mile D-shaped oval in preparation for a complete repave of the speedway; a project that will be completed in time for next June's return of the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. Pit road was repaved following the June NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend, and now, nearly 5,600 feet of SAFER barrier are being removed from the outside wall. Inside-wall barriers, pit-in and at pit-out barriers will remain in place during the resurfacing.

Beginning Tuesday, approximately 646,000 square feet of asphalt will be removed by specialized milling machines, in preparation for 22,000 tons of new asphalt. The uppermost 3/4 inch of pavement will be removed before two new coats are applied; a 1.5-inch leveling course and another 1.5-inch final wearing course. New asphalt will be laid in September.

A laser survey of the existing track surface has charted approximately 100 million data points, allowing engineers to replicate the original pavement almost exactly, while still removing and dips and bumps that have occurred over time. Interestingly, that laser mapping revealed that MIS actually has variable banking in its 18-degree turns, allowing cars to carry more speed through the turns and utilize multiple racing grooves.

This will mark the fourth time Michigan International Speedway has been repaved since being constructed in 1968. Prior resurfacing projects took place in 1977, 1986 and 1995. “We had some great racing this year; most recently with 20 lead changes and three- and four-wide racing throughout the Pure Michigan 400,” said track President Roger Curtis today. Drivers love this racetrack, so it’s exciting to start another chapter for MIS – a new racing surface.”

The $7 million project will be done by Ajax Paving Industries of Troy, Mich., which has extensive background in paving high-speed, high-banked ovals. Previous projects include Phoenix International Raceway, the Chrysler Corporation test track in Chelsea, Mich., and the five-mile, high banked Ford Romeo Test Track.

Sieg Suspended For Violation Of Drug Policy

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Shane Sieg was suspended indefinitely suspended from NASCAR today for violating Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 19 (violation of the substance abuse policy) of the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rule book.

Sieg is currently ranked 24th in the Truck Series championship standings, after competing in 12 of the 15 events so far this season. He did not compete Saturday at Michigan, with driver Casey Roderick driving the #93 Chevrolet usually driven by Sieg to a 29th place finish. Sieg, the older brother of fellow NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ryan Sieg, has not commented on his suspension.

NASCAR also reinstated NASCAR Nationwide Series crew member Denise Harmon-Mixon following successful completion of NASCAR’s Road to Recovery Program. Harmon-Mixon was suspended July 5 for violating the sanctioning body’s Substance Abuse Policy.

Germain Forming New Team With Native American Businessman

Sirius XM NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that Germain Racing majority owner Bob German will form a new NASCAR National Series team in conjunction with Naples, Fla., resident O.B. Osceola, Jr. The team, to be called Germain-Osceola Racing, hopes to field an entry in 2012 on the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series in 2012 for a still unnamed driver, with backing projected to come from from a number of Native American tribes.

Osceola is President of Pro Investment Group International and CEO of Pro Games, LLC, and has been instrumental in constructing and managing a number of large-scale projects for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, including fundraising and construction for Florida’s Immokalee Casino, and overseeing the tribe’s ownership of the worldwide Hard Rock and Hollywood Hotel/Casino franchises. “O.B.’s grandfather was Chief of the Seminole tribe for many, many years, and O.B. is active on the Seminole Tribal Council,” said Germain. “He has a lot of pull with Seminole Gaming, which owns all the Hard Rock Cafes in the world and many other casinos and resorts. The tribes have casinos all over the country, and for some reason, even in a down economy like we’re in right now, they’re remain very consistent (financially). They seem to be doing very well.

"O.B. is the first Native American NASCAR team owner, and he’s going out and soliciting all these tribes around the country. O.B.’s a cool guy, he loves racing, and the tribes have been very, very supportive of what we’re trying to do. Everybody’s wanting to see proposals from us. The reception has been great.”

Germain said the new team operate as a subsidiary of Germain Racing, with sponsorship flowing – at least for now -- into the existing race team, which fields Sprint Cup Toyota Camrys for Casey Mears, Mike Skinner and TJ Bell, and Camping World Truck Series Tundras for former series champion Todd Bodine, Brendan Gaughan and Max Papis. “At least initially, Germain Racing will build cars for Germain-Osceola Racing,” he said. “The tribes tend to support each other’s business ventures… (and) we’re talking about fielding a car that will be sponsored by all the different tribes to promote their casinos around the country.”

He said Germain-Osceola Racing will make its NASCAR debut later this season, fielding a Hard Rock Vodka-sponsored Nationwide Series entry in the 2011 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “That will be done as part of a launch for a new, Hard Rock-branded Vodka that’s coming out,” said Germain. “There are a lot of good things going on there, and I really think we’re onto something. It’s something new for NASCAR, and I think we’re going to see a lot of good things come out of this program.”

Baxter Apologizes For Wallace Hair Pull

Pastrana-Waltrip Racing crewchief Jerry Baxter apologized today for his post-race pull of rival driver Steve Wallace's hair Saturday at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

The skirmish followed an on-track incident involving Wallace and Pastrana-Waltrip Racing driver Patrick Carpentier in which Wallace made a three-wide move in the track's first turn, resulting in a crash that sidelined Carpentier's NAPA Auto Parts Toyota. Baxter approached Wallace while the third-generation driver was still strapped inside his race car after recording a career-best fourth place finish, grabbing him briefly by the hair.

"I got underneath (Carpentier), I tried to out-brake him and he crowded me," said Wallace afterward. "I got loose and I spun him out. Obviously, Baxter was upset. I'd be upset. Only girls pull hair, (though), so I don't know what to say about that."

“I’m sorry for what happened after the race on Saturday and I take responsibility for my own actions," said Baxter in a written statement today. "I called Steve today and apologized. I was just very frustrated and let my emotions get to me. That was Patrick’s last race and we wanted to make it special. We really thought he had a shot for the win and everything boiled over when that chance went away in the wreck. Everyone was just racing hard and there was no intent to wreck anyone. There’s no excuse for what I did after the race and I apologize to everyone.”

Pastrana Waltrip Racing co-owner Michael Waltrip also commented on the incident, saying, "Pastrana Waltrip Racing prides itself on racing hard, but we always want to be good sports. Jerry Baxter is very passionate about our race team, but what he did after Saturday’s race was wrong and he knows it. I talked to him about it that night and again today. I understand how emotional you can get behind the wheel or up on the pit box, I’ve been there. But you have to draw a line, and Jerry crossed that line. It’s not what we are all about. I apologize to Steve Wallace and all his fans as well as all NASCAR fans.”

NASCAR has not commented on the incident. Penalties, if any, are expected to be announced Tuesday.

Kyle Locked Into Chase, Hamlin Staggering

Kyle Busch will chase a championship in 2012.

The Las Vegas native became the first driver to qualify for the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Sunday, with an impressive win in the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Busch chased down and passed leader Jimmie Johnson in the race’s late stages, then survived a green-white-checkered flag restart to claim his first career Michigan win, the fourth victory of his 2012 Sprint Cup season and a guaranteed place in the championship Chase.

The win was a statement-maker for Busch and his M&Ms Toyota team. They prevailed in a head-to-head clash with Johnson, claiming the victory laurels in a race that appeared to belong to the five-time and defending series champion. Johnson has traditionally begun to round into championship form at this time of year, but Busch’s show of late-race strength denied the Lowes Chevrolet driver an opportunity to claim his second victory of the season. It also sent a clear message that this may not be the same Kyle Busch who wilted at Chase time in each of the last two seasons.

Sunday's win also earned Busch a berth in the Sprint Summer Showdown and a shot at a $1-million bonus at the AdvoCare 500 Sept. 4 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He joins Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose as drivers eligible for the payday, and said he is already thinking about claiming the bonus cash. “I hope we get a chance to run up front, win the thing and bring home some extra money for charity, for a fan and for all of us here at Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Busch. Drivers have one more opportunity to qualify for the Sprint Summer Showdown by winning this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

While Busch thrived at Michigan, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin saw his 2012 Chase hopes dealt a serious – and potentially fatal – blow. Hamlin’s Fed-Ex Toyota slapped the Turn Two wall midway in Sunday’s race, then spent 15 laps in the garage repairing damage en route to a 35th-place finish. With just one Top-10 finish in his last eight races, he has now plummeted to 14th place in Sprint Cup points. He still holds the final Wildcard entry to the 2012 Chase, but his grip on that spot is tenuous at best, and there are serious doubts whether he and crew chief Mike Forde have what it takes to contend for the title, even if they do manage to make the Chase.

“When things don’t go right, it’s hard not to press the panic button,” admitted Hamlin Sunday. “I think I’ve done a good job of not doing that in my career, (but) the last five weeks, I can’t necessarily say that’s the case.”

Hamlin said he may have pressed too hard at Michigan, trying to push a mediocre car to the front of the pack. “You want to salvage a good day. Sure, I could have finished 15th or 20th or whatever, but I was trying to push. I’m not going to settle for finishing 15th or 20th. I want to go out there and win, and I’m going to push as hard as I can do that. If I step over the edge, that’s what I did today. It happens.”

Asked about his decision to utilize Toyota Racing Development horsepower (rather than a Joe Gibbs Racing engine) for the first time at Michigan, Hamlin called the move, “a big favor to ask (of) a manufacturer. It's a lot of manpower (and) a lot of work had to be done within JGR… to get this engine imported into our car. I was behind it 100 percent,” he said. “Ultimately what matters is results. If we are going to make the Chase, we cannot afford DNFs because of engine failures. On top of that, we can’t afford to keep starting in the back every week because of engine failures. That's just too hard to overcome.”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Official Sirius Speedway Photo Album...

Dave and one of his few heroes in the sport, the great Shirley Muldowney.

Listeners frequently make Angie laugh.

Ned Jarrett poses with The Godfather, moments after being voted into the NASCAR Hall Of Fame in 2011.

Dave chats with Bobby Labonte during the JGR/Interstate batteries days.

Dave poses with James in Alabama and The Redhead (aka Glenda) at Talladega.

Suzy Q. Armstrong, Dave Moody and Marty Hough broadcast live from the 2005 New York international Auto Show.

There are worse things to be called, I guess.

Dave and Tony Stewart break it down at Watkins Glen a few years ago.

Dave and Marty Hough spend some quality time with the Brut Girls. Oh yeah...

Dave Moody, Official Pastry Gopher of a (then) EXTREMELY pregnant Stephanie Hamilton.

Suzy Q., multi-time NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car World Champion Gary "Wild Thing" Scelzi and their love child, "Little Scelzi." Miss ya, Gary!

Dave gets his first -- and so far ONLY -- pedicure, to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.

"Trouble In Turn Two!" Dave calls the action from high above Phoenix International Raceway.

Dave and John "The Masked Marvel" prepare for their upcoming WWE World Tag Team Championship match.

Angie met The Marvel, too!

Dave stops by "Moody's Bar and Grill" in the infield at Watkins Glen.

TNA wrestling star Jeff Jarrett and NASCAR On FOX analyst Jeff Hammond, after Jarrett cold-coked Hammond with a guitar in a Lumberjack Match in Martinsville, VA, a few years ago.

This is what got Hammond angry to begin with!