Saturday, May 31, 2008

Nationwide Versus Cup Drivers?

Where's the respect? Or why should there be, might be a better question. Today, during a long, drawn out rain delay at Dover, Delaware, ESPN2's crew basically asked practically everyone in the garage about Denny Hamlin's and Brad Keselowski's latest unpleasantness at Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte. Drivers weighed in on both sides of the issue, but one has to wonder that just because a driver has driven previously in the Cup, that no longer does makes him qualified to make that decision. Nationwide is considered to be a developmental series, or a stepping stone, as it were, to the Cup series. Every week, Nationwide drivers, and I mean full time Nationwide drivers, compare their skills with those of the Cup drivers that sometimes drop down to the Nationwide series to scoop a little extra pay, or a little more attention to their sponsors.

In my not so humble opinion, there does not need to be a caste system in Nationwide. Just because a driver races full time in the Cup series should not entitle him to any benefits in the Nationwide series. There are as many as 43 cars out on the track, every Nationwide race, and to me, to ask the full time Nationwide drivers to step aside for the fragile egos of the Cup drivers is not only ridiculous, but is completely asinine.

Cup drivers in the Nationwide series help prop up struggling ticket sales for the series, and also help to improve TV ratings. Therefore, Cup drivers are a somewhat necessary evil in the Nationwide series. I do not think that any Nationwide driver, whether it be a one race deal, or if he's been racing full time in the series for years has to move over just because a Cup driver, often with vast resources of cash and crew talent, wants a nice smooth ride around the track. Drivers like Denny Hamlin need to understand that racing is racing. If you can't take the heat of young drivers messing with you, get out. Go back to the big show of Cup racing, and let the hard racers in Nationwide race without you. My advice to anyone like Denny Hamlin, who apparently feels that drivers like Keselowski should not race him hard: Go lie in your $300,000 hauler, and watch the race on TV, if you can't take the heat on the track.

I know people have been worrying for years about how to fix the problem of having Cup drivers win most of the Nationwide races. Here's my answer. If you are a Cup driver, you can only race in the Nationwide series if you are the owner, or at least the part owner of a Nationwide team. That automatically lets Cup drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick have access to the sport. If drivers like Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and several others think that full time Nationwide drivers should show more respect to all of you 'veteran' drivers, put your money where your mouths are. Invest in the series. Don't just take the winnings. Put your money where your collective mouths are, and invest in the series.

Or shut up.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dale Jr. An Okay guy.

Tonight I just got through talking to a fellow race fan, but she travels the world, and has seen races in Le Mans, and other important places in Europe, but I don't remember all of them. Ok, Monaco was mentioned too. Whatever.

She said that as an open wheel fan, she liked Dale Jr. She thought he was ok. I couldn't argue with that answer, so I let it go and we talked about other things, which were much more boring.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. seems to have made a name for himself, even among the open wheel ranks around Europe. I'm not cultured enough to be happy about it or even know if I'm supposed to be ticked about it. I'm guessing it's probably a good thing though. At least I hope so! If I should be ticked about it, I hope one of you loyal readers will tell me quick so I can get ticked!

In all actuality, it's somewhat amazing for a guy like Dale Earnhardt Jr, who has only driven stock cars on pavement, is talked about overseas. Tony Stewart is the guy that has won every thing with wheels, but for some reason, Europeans are talking about the boy from Kannapolis, North Carolina. I don't know exactly what they're saying about Dale Jr, but I assume at least some of it is flattering.

I think we all knew a long time ago that our boy had gone nationwide, but I don't know that we suspected that he was not only bad, and nationwide, he was also world wide too.

From what I'm seeing, Dale Jr. is not only an icon in the USA, his face is recognized in places like England, France, Germany, Hungary, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and a myriad of other countries. Unlike my face, which is also read in some of those countries, Dale Jr. is the crowd pleaser that never refuses to please. Actually it's not my face that's read, it's my blog. But if I was 11 years younger, I'd whup that boy's butt. But never mind.

The fact is I write, and Dale Jr. drives. He's a better driver than I am, so that's why he's got that job. He's probably a better writer too, but that would entail me threatening to whup his butt all over again, and I'm not sure that I could do that, even if I was 11 years younger. Therefore, you're going to have to take my word for the fact that Dale Jr. is not just a major name here in the USA, but he's made a name for himself overseas too. I could not be prouder of the man that Steve Hmiel and Pops (Tony Eury Sr.) still call 'Junebug'.

Steve and Pops will eventually both be on the pit box, or in the spotter's stand for Junebug. I just feel it, and I know it's going to happen one day. Ty Norris will be there too, and it will be interesting to see who wins out on the call to "Crank it up, June."

Clute, Texas.

It's ok, it's really ok. I get bored sometimes, and read who is reading my blog. I had a reader today from Clute Texas. I had never heard of Clute, so I decided to check it out.

It turns out that Clute is a town of a little over 10,000 inhabitants on the gulf coast of Texas. Houston is not far away, but If I lived in Clute, I'd be proud to live there. I'm guessing Clute is my kind of town. You've got a Jack in the Box, and Cactus Grill Steakhouse, which according to one person was great, but according to another had good food but smelled bad. That's my kind of town!

You've also got some other very good restaurants in town, so the next time I hang my hat in Clute, Texas, I'm in for a treat. I'm sorry to say that if you came to my humble home town, you might not find the same hospitality or service in the food preparation. Mostly here, you'll find fast food, and not so good an attitude while you get it. We do have some good restaurants in the Williamston/ Anderson area, but you've got to drive somewhat to enjoy them. We've got great steak houses, and some good meat and 3's, but none very close by where I live though. Clute seems to have us beat here. I congratulate you, Clute, Texas.

I might do this from time to time, just to congratulate readers and small towns all over the map. I would travel more if fuel prices were lower, but Clute, Texas is a place I'd truly like to visit. Maybe one day I will.

The Two Dales.

If you've read my blog at all, you probably recognize this site in my links section. I hope you have checked it out, because this young lady has done some magnificent work. (Here in the South, we call all ladies "young ladies". It's a term of respect and admiration.) The Two Dales site features news and pictures and a lot of just good web craft from one of my good friends. Though we've never met face to face, she is indeed one of my best friends, and I can't tell her enough how much I admire her skill as a webmaster. I deeply appreciate her displaying one of my most read blogs as well.

Fans of Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are as varied as the leaves blown around by an autumn wind. My friend lives in Hollywood, California, and I live in the country, outside of a small town called Williamston, South Carolina. If you search this town in Yahoo maps or Mapquest, you will find it. I live about 10 miles away to the North West. I love it because it's peaceful here. I own a couple of acres of land, and the lady across the road keeps horses. Down the road, there are goats, and even geese. Rabbits are common in my front and back yards, and I see a fox or even a coyote now and then. Deer are no strangers to my land either, to the consternation of my neighbor who tries to grow a garden each year. He's a transplanted New Jersey resident, but I don't hold that against him. He's fed me with vine ripened tomatoes and green beans, and for a southerner, this is pure gold! Tomato sandwiches, slathered in a bath of mayonaise..... MMMMM! You just can't get better living than this, if you are a Southerner.

Can you imagine me, dear reader, wearing my Boston Red Sox cap, driving my old pickup truck through Hollywood, California? My mustached Jeff Foxworthy face, my unkempt hair, my old jeans, and my old Nikes taking to the sidewalk in Hollywood? Speaking in my thick, southern brogue. (Ever listen to Dale Earnhardt, or Dale Earnhardt Jr? I talk just like them) With luck, I might not be thrown into the nearest jail!

Two worlds apart. My friend has done one of the best sites I've ever seen, and I want you to go check it out. My Beverly Hillbilly's expedition is not going to start soon, but one of these days, I'm going to have to go meet two dear friends, one in Hollywood, California, and the other in a place called Semmes, Alabama. I'd just like to get a hug from each of these two nice people.

Once again, Check this site out!

I mean it!

Until next time, Thanks for playing along.

Jimmy C

So, let me get this straight. It's now Illegal to Race Denny and Kyle?

I had to laugh this morning when I saw the penalties that were handed down to JR Motorsports for the post race altercation on Saturday. Denny announces on the radio that he is going to wreck the 88 car, and does so under caution. A brawl ensues after the checkered flag, and the JRM fellows mix it up with the Gibbs fellows. JRM gets penalized, but Denny and the "Don't you dare race me hard" crew comes out smelling like roses. And then on Sunday, Kyle has a problem with Jeff Gordon racing him. Kyle, winner of how many championships? Oh, that's right, Zero, gets in Jeff's face and lectures him about racing. Last night, Nascar sent a clear warning: Don't race the Toyotas anymore.

Nascar might as well put it in the rule book. When you see a Toyota approaching your rear bumper, you should move over and slow down. If that car happens to be a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, you are not to race it at all, and you must allow that car to go by unscathed. More to the point, that rule apparently does not apply to the 20 Joe Gibbs car, but only to the 18 and the 11 cars. Is it any wonder that Tony Stewart wants out of this kindergarten that JGR has become this year? Everyone used to complain about Tony's antics off the track, but even Tony can't hold a candle to these two babies, especially in terms of pure immaturity.

Over the years, Joe Gibbs has built his team slowly, first with Dale Jarrett, and then Bobby Labonte. When Smoke came along, he was considered a brat at times, but obviously a very talented driver. When Denny came along, he seemed like a nice kid, but last year the brat emerged from the all American kid persona that most saw in the young man from Virginia. This year, Denny has been overshadowed by the new brat on the block, who's talents include supposedly being able to wheel a loose race car, but who has definitely proven that his true talents also include wrecking a lot of other cars, including his own from time to time, and the ability to shoot off his mouth at the drop of a hat. Kyle has made quite a few snide remarks about the man who replaced him at Hendrick Motorsports, and has claimed more than once that it's apparently unfair to race Dale Earnhardt Jr. The truth is, Kyle, that you don't like it when anyone races you. Jeff Gordon raced you hard, and you blamed him for costing you a shot at winning the race? Boo Hoo. Denny Hamlin thinks he should only be racing Cup drivers in a Nationwide race? Boo Hoo. If Denny Hamlin wants to only race Cup caliber drivers, stay the heck out of the Nationwide series!

It is heartening to notice some of the youngest class of Nascar drivers that seem to thrive on their on track performance, rather then their post race comments or sarcastic bows. Kasey Kahne has had quite a special 2 weeks at Charlotte, winning both the All Star race and the Coca Cola 600. Kasey is smart enough to let his racing skills do the talking for him, and he seems about as controversial as an altar boy. My hat's off to this quiet, polite young man who achieved two spectacular victories that unfortunately were overshadowed by the antics of two of his less well behaved contemporaries. David Reutimann as well has been quietly putting together some solid on track performances this year. Regan Smith, David Ragan, and veteran but still young drivers Casey Mears and Martin Truex Jr. quietly go about their craft, without having to mouth off to the entire world about their driving prowess or whatever it is that Kyle and Denny keep yapping about.

I suppose part of the problem for me is the non-stop love affair that FOX broadcasters Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds, and Jeff Hammond have had this year with Kyle Busch. We all know that Kyle reminds DW of his early days. I remember those days as well, and even though I was just a kid at the time, I remember what an idiot that guy Waltrip was. He wrecked a lot of cars, and he won some races, but the mouth just never stopped. Young DW had the audacity to call out Richard Petty and announce that the old man was over the hill. When a rookie named Dale Earnhardt came along, he questioned whether Dale could read or write.

Only time could heal some of the wounds that a brash young kid named Darrell opened back in the 1970's and early 1980's. DW drove for some of the greatest teams in the sport, then began running as an owner and driver of his own team, and soon the wheels began to fall off operation DW. Darrell struggled, and eventually gave up owning his own team, and went back to the position of driver. Darrell eventually won 3 championships, and 84 races, and became a respected man in the garage. In the waning days of his career, he even helped out his old nemesis, Dale Earnhardt, driving the 1 car while an injured Steve Park was on the mend. On the day that Fox Sports kicked off its coverage of the Daytona 500, in 2001, Darrell's voice trembled with emotion as he said "I hope Dale's ok" after the tragic accident in turn 4.

All of this teaches us a lesson, and that lesson is that even humility can be learned with the passage of time. But as the old song says, "Time goes by, so slowly, and time can do so much." Eventually, even Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin will be old, respected men in the garage, if they hang around long enough. Someday, years ahead, young, eager drivers will seek out the old men's advice, and hopefully they will be told to drive hard, don't complain, and don't ever mouth off to the public, or to the fans that make this sport so great.

Stock Car racing. It truly does turn full circle.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

That's Jimmie with an 'ie' to you!

Just some random thoughts today. I laugh when I see accomplished writers and journalists misspell Jimmie Johnson's name. I just have to laugh. But then it was pointed out to me yesterday that I misspelled the name of Dale Jr.'s club, which apparently is Whisky River, not Whiskey River. I don't know, I haven't been there, but shame on me, I've read the press and even seen some of the pictures. My apologies to all.

We're awaiting the fate of the 66 and 70 car teams penalties. I'm guessing 100 points, $100,000, and 6 weeks gone for the crew chiefs will be in order. I hate that for one of my favorite crew chiefs, Robert 'Bootie' Barker. Apparently the 66 and 70 cars were both confiscated by Nascar last week, and if what happened to Dale Jr. and Tony Jr. last year is still in effect, Bootie and Dave Skog will be absent from the track for the next several races.

I have to congratulate Kasey Kahne for his win at the Coca Cola 600, if I haven't already done so. Kasey drove a smart race, stayed out of trouble, and was the benefactor of Tony Stewart's blown tire, with less than 5 laps to go. Kasey seems like a very nice young man, and I'm glad he became one of the few to win the All Star Race and the 600 all in the span of a week or so. Kasey is serving Budweiser proudly, and I know they are proud of him. Kasey just doesn't seem as much of a Bud man as was Dale Jr., but he seems to be doing a pretty good job.

Hats off to one of my favorite drivers, Kenny Schrader, who drove the 33 Camping World Chevrolet for Richard Childress in the 600. Kenny was amazing, starting 33rd in the 33 car, and finishing 33rd as well. That's a lot of 33's there, Kenny! It's good to see you in a Childress car, but I know that won't last too long. By the way, who will be in the 33 next year? Still lots of rumors flying around about that, but supposedly we will find out by around the middle of June, according to some sources.

I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day. I didn't really post much on the subject over the weekend or yesterday, but my hat's off to the men and women who serve around the world, protecting our freedoms. I did get the chance to bump into a young man in uniform yesterday at the grocery store, and I patted him on the back and shook his hand, and thanked him for his service. Memorial Day isn't the only day we should be thanking these brave men and women. We should do it every day, and every time we meet one of them, we should thank them personally. I will.

This week we're going racing at the Monster Mile at Dover, Delaware. This one mile concrete track is a challenging event for even the most experienced driver. Martin Truex Jr. won his first Cup race here last year. Dale Jr. won in the first race run after 9/11/2001/ How fitting, especially in his new National Guard colors! Hope springs eternal for our guy Dale Jr. He's a threat to win at practically every track he's on this year, and that's a nice feeling for Dale Jr. fans.

I've had a challenging week or so here. I've got a friend who is going through some horrible times. I can't go into much detail, but it has meant me being away from home quite a bit, and missing a lot of exciting racing on TV. I've caught bits and pieces here and there, but mostly I've read stories in the Internet, and have been piecing together my blogs mostly from that. If I've erred, let me know, because I am very much outside the loop right now.

Nascar is getting ready to make it's North East run now, with Dover, Pocono, and Michigan coming up in the next 3 weeks. I know, I know, Michigan isn't North East, but it's still in that general direction from Charlotte. Hopefully cooler temperatures and cooler heads will prevail at the tracks coming up.

Denny Hamlin's bizarre behavior at Charlotte in the Nationwide race is still very much in the news. I still can't figure out his comments after the race. I'm wondering why he thinks that only Cup drivers should be allowed to race in the Nationwide series. If Nascar is going to ramp up it's drug testing program, maybe they should start with Denny Hamlin. I have to admit, when he first started racing, I liked Denny. As time has gone by, I've begun to wonder just why I liked him in the first place. Arrogance is one thing, but just plain stupidity is another. Joe Gibbs and J.D. Gibbs have to be wondering what they've gotten themselves into with the Hamlin/Busch combination. They thought Tony was going to be hard to handle, but now look at what they've got!

I think it's a shame to see Joe Gibbs Racing populated by pompous, arrogant, and quite frankly, immature drivers such as Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. I keep thinking back to the old days when Joe Gibbs first became a successful team owner with drivers such as Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte. My, how times have changed.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Denny Hamlin. Auditioning to be the new Bad Boy of Nascar?

It would certainly seem that way. Brad Keselowski drove up and bumped the 20 car the other night, but Denny responded with an outright shot to the left front fender of the 88 US Navy car.

We're talking Nationwide Series here folks. The old Busch Series. Cup drivers populate this sport for a good reason. Nationwide needs them.

Without the Cup guys involved in the races, TV and track attendance would drop like the blood pressure of a man bleeding to death. Nationwide relies on the Cup guys to have some fun and race in the 'lesser' series.

On Saturday night, we had beautiful weather at Charlotte, NC. The skies were clear, the breeze was from the southwest, a normal Carolina night. A young driver named Denny Hamlin showed himself to be a total fool on this wonderful Carolina night.

Near the end of the Nationwide race, Brad Keselowski in the 88 Navy car, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the 83 Navy car followed the 20 car of Denny Hamlin under a late caution. The 88 bumped the 20, and then headed uphill to clean off his tires. Brad Keselowski did nothing that I had not seen other drivers do. Suddenly, the 20, piloted by a supposedly sober Denny Hamlin shoots up the hill and caves in Brad's left front fender. This was as obvious an act of retaliation as has ever been seen in this sport. Kyle Busch goes on to win. Nothing special about that. In that same caution, car owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., owner of JR Motorsports, took offense to the actions of the 20 car and bumped the 20, still under caution. Dale Jr. is the owner of the 88 car that the 20 had just taken out of action.

After the race, the 88 crew had a problem with the 20 driver and crew. Shoving ensued, and so did a little fist swinging. None of the drivers were involved.

The meat of the story is this: Denny Hamlin complained about the lack of driver talent, namely the lack of Sprint Cup talent...... In the Nationwide Series! Brad Keselowski is not a Sprint Cup driver. Denny is comparing his experience with Brad's? Denny also made a comment about not being able to race JRM cars. Denny, Denny, Denny..... It's not fair for Nationwide drivers to race Cup drivers in the Nationwide series? If you don't like it, don't ever race Nationwide again, Denny. We won't mind. Neither will Brad. Neither will a lot of Nationwide drivers. I guess you don't get the point, Denny. This is the NATIONWIDE series. It's not a practice race for the Cup series. These drivers are driving for their lives here, not like you, who just wants something to do on a Saturday night. Get over yourself, Denny. Nationwide doesn't need you, and in the future, I hope you just lie in your hauler and amuse yourself, well, however you want to. If you want to insult every driver in the Nationwide series, who races full time in that series, well, guess what. You just did.

Congratulations, Denny Hamlin. I hope you're proud of yourself for insulting everyone that ever helped you become what you are now, which is a pompous ass.

Dispelling some Earnhardt Myths

It seems as time goes by, more and more myths are circulated about Dale Earnhardt Jr., as a man, and as a driver. Some of them are down right funny, and some are just created out of jealousy. Let's examine a few.

Myth Number One: Dale Jr. whines and cries when things don't go his way.

This has been a popular myth, on both the message boards and on the comments section after posted blogs or articles about Dale Jr. I find it hilarious at best that people can say this about Dale Earnhardt Jr. I have been following Dale Jr. his entire Nascar career, and never once have I heard him whine or cry about anything. Dale Jr. has rarely publicly disputed a call that Nascar made, nor has he disparaged another driver publicly. For his relatively young age, Dale Jr. is garnering a reputation as a gentleman, both in the garage and with the press. His recent incident at Richmond with Kyle Busch more than proves my point. Dale gets in an accident that takes him out of the race. I saw Kyle Busch wrecking Dale Jr., maybe not on purpose, but because of Kyle's blatant disregard of where other drivers are on the track. You may see it differently, but Dale Jr. was very restrained in his comments after the race. Dale Jr. was obviously frustrated, but he did not disparage Kyle Busch or his actions on the track. Kyle, however, basically criticized Dale Jr. for being the driver that can't be raced with, because he gets mad, or his fans get mad. Message to Kyle: You can race Dale Jr. or anyone else on the track. My question to you, is why do you get mad when people race YOU hard? Maybe drivers that live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Myth Number Two: Dale Earnhardt Jr. actively seeks out publicity and photo ops.

This one is really easy to dispel, because anyone who has ever watched Dale Jr. for more than 30 seconds on camera will realize he does not have an extroverted personality at all. Dale Jr. is basically a very shy person, and I have a good reason for realizing this, because I am and always have been much the same way. My job makes it impossible to be a total introvert, so I have learned to smile and slap backs with relative strangers in order to be accepted and be thought of as a 'regular guy'. The truth is, I keep to myself most of the time, and don't really enjoy being in a crowd of people. Dale Jr. strikes me much the same way, relying on a very close group of friends and family for companionship. Dale Jr. has stated that it takes a long time for him to really trust someone, and he needs to be around that person for at least a couple of years before he really trusts them. I can identify with that. Dale Jr. is on TV so much because of sponsor demands, and if it weren't for sponsors, we would probably see Dale Jr. publicly very rarely. Dale Jr. is the most popular driver in Nascar, and his popularity leads to a ton of appearances and commercial shoots. If you've ever read Dale Jr.'s book, you will realize that he doesn't not particularly enjoy the publicity, but he learned early on that a race car driver has to do those things in order to succeed. His dad taught him that it's important to show up for appearances when scheduled, and to wear his sponsor's hat or tee shirt. Dale Jr.'s public persona is a result of what he is, a race car driver.

Myth Number Three: Dale Jr. is overrated, and he's not as good as everyone thinks.

I especially like this myth, because this is where we get into the pure jealousy aspects of why some fans hate Dale Jr. so much. Although it is certainly possible that had Dale Jr. not had his father and both grandfathers involved in racing, and might have chosen a different career path, Dale Jr. is who he is, and he can't help who his father was. Dale Jr. wanted to be a race car driver since he was a child, and that is not uncommon for children of racing dads. Just look at Kyle Petty, Dale Jarrett, Chrissy Wallace, Sterling Marlin and others. Many of today's Nascar field is made up of drivers who are sons of drivers, whether they made it to the big time or not.

Dale Jr.'s credentials as a driver simply speak for themselves. Of his 17 Cup wins, 15 came after his famous father was killed at Daytona in 2001. Much of that time, he was not driving with the best equipment in the field either. Many drivers with many more years in the sport would love to have Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s record. Dale Jr. won the Winston in his rookie year, and has a Daytona 500 win to his credit. All that's lacking is a championship, and in his first year at Hendrick Motorsports, he is well on his way to contending for that championship. Overrated? Look at your own driver before you try to hang that label on Dale Jr. Dale Jr. is a winner, and he's got more talent than a lot of drivers out there.

Myth Number 4: Dale Jr. is spreading himself too thin with all his different business interests.

This one has been brought up a lot over the last few years. Jr.'s interests are wide and varied. He has appeared in Rolling Stone magazine. He did a video with hip hop artist Jayzee. He has his own satellite radio show. He is the owner of JR Motorsports, and even has a video production team following him around a lot, part of his own crew, who's work has been and will be shown on ESPN. Dale Jr. has a popular new night club in Charlotte, Whiskey River. How can one young man have his hands in so many places at one time?

The answer is simple. Jr. hires people he trusts to work out the details, and he gets out of the way. Take the bar, for example. Dale Jr. hired a professional staff to manage the enterprise, and mostly his involvement is to come in and hang out with a few friends from time to time. Sure, Dale Jr. controls the purse strings, but that won't take up much of his time. His radio show takes the time it takes to actually do the show, and he lets other people worry about the details as to how and when the show is broadcast. Sister Kelley runs the day to day operations at JRM, and who could be better qualified to do that than another of Dale's kids? When Dale Jr. straps himself into the race car on the weekends, he's just like any other driver. All he's concerned with is getting the most out of that car that he can. He's not worried about whether or not there is enough vodka at Whiskey River. He isn't worried who his guest on his radio show will be next week. He's not worried about JRM, because Kelley has it covered. Dale Earnhardt Jr. exhibits all the qualities of a successful business man. He hires good people into positions of authority, and gets out of their way so they can do their jobs. Oh, if all bosses could be like that!

I wonder who he learned that trait from?

By the way, the ESPN shows and the DVD's he's made? Dale Jr. sums it up quite well. It's for his fans. Just giving a little back to the fans who have supported him all these years.

Myth Number 5: Dale Earnhardt Jr. only wins on restrictor plate tracks.

This one is idiotic by anyone's standards. All you you need to look at are the statistics. Though seven of Dale Jr.'s wins were at Talladega (5) and Daytona (2), 10 have come plain old circle Cup tracks. Dale Jr. has won at Texas, Richmond, Dover, Phoenix, Atlanta, Bristol, and Chicago. He won at Richmond 3 times, and Phoenix twice. That's a guy that can only run RP tracks, huh?

A lot of fans conveniently forget that Dale Jr. is a two time Busch series champion as well, winning a total of 22 races so far. Dale Jr. has won at places like South Boston, Indy Raceway Park, and even Watkins Glen. Get over it folks, the dude knows how to wheel a race car.

Myth Number 6: The Earnhardt Nation can find no wrong with Dale Jr.

Dispelling this myth is possibly more subjective, but it's complete bunk. I consider myself a member of the Earnhardt Nation, and from comments I've received on this very forum, and from what I've read on the Pit Board and other sources, some of us are the harshest critics of all. First we discussed and some of us criticized his move from DEI to Hendrick. We really had a wild time discussing that one. We questioned his thinking in bringing Tony Eury Jr. with him to be his crew chief at Hendrick. We wondered what kind of a mess he might be getting into with sworn enemies Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson as teammates. (Turns out they are good teammates, so far!) We questioned why, why, oh why would he ever leave the company that his dad founded? (I've answered that question in other blogs here.)

Do we trust Jr.'s judgment on things? Of course we do, most of the time. If you want to see the Jr. nation at work, just read the link above, and you will generally find someone with differing opinions on just about any subject. Do we love Dale Earnhardt Jr.? You bet. There's a lot to like, and a lot to admire about what many consider to be the most down to earth driver in Nascar.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Coca Cola 600

This is the longest race of the year, in terms of miles run. Lowes Motor Speedway is a fast 1.5 mile track in the middle of Nascar's traditional racing country. Virtually all the teams are based within 30 minutes or so from the track, so old home week for Nascar finishes up with a fantastic spectacle the promises exiting racing, very tired and hot drivers, and probably some engine failures as well. Tires promise to be an unknown as well, from what we saw in last week's All Star race.

Jimmie Johnson has been a dominant driver at this track in the last few years, and the Fords of Jack Roush have always run well here. This year, we will see just how well the Toyotas will run in a virtual marathon for racing engines. Last week, the Toyotas of Joe Gibbs Racing did not fair too well, but supposedly that was a new, untried engine package, that apparently needs some more work before it's ready to race.

Speaking of Toyota, my hat is off to Mark Cronquist, the head engine guy for JGR. Mark seems to have pulled off quite a feat this year, because the Toyota engines appear to have quite a few more horsepower than do the other manufacturer's engines. No one is publicly crying foul here, at least among the teams, so I assume everything is on the up and up.

I imagine the first part of the race will probably be the Kyle Busch show again, since he will once again be starting on the pole. As he did last week, I expect to see Kyle out in front by several seconds before many laps have gone into the record book. I also expect to see America's favorite driver to hate overdrive his car early in the race, since Kyle's plan always seems to be to drive every lap like it were the white flag lap. If JGR and Toyota can put a car under him that will last for 600 miles, it will truly be a feat of engineering that has never been seen before in racing. It will also be an extraordinarily boring race. TV ratings will drop, fans will begin to leave the event before halfway, and if Kyle were to get the checkered flag, he will probably do it before a few thousand people, instead of 170,000.

I doubt that this is going to happen though. Kyle's talents also seem to include tearing up good equipment, and making mistakes. Kyle's biggest fan, Darrell Waltrip had a great deal of talent for that very same thing early in his career as well, and it wasn't until he had been driving for Junior Johnson for a while that he got to the point that he could win without hitting everything but the pace car. With that consistency also came a lowering of the internal thermostat, in other words thinking instead of opening his mouth, and driving smart instead of trying to lead every lap of every race. Most young drivers start out thinking they are the greatest driver in the history of the sport, but most of them get over it by the time they've been in the series a couple of years. With some others, it takes a bit longer, I suppose.

I'd like to belatedly give thanks to one of the last of the true gentlemen in Nascar, Dale Jarrett, who drove his final race last week. Dale has always showed a tremendous amount of class, and is someone who should be looked up to by all young drivers in the sport. Dale Jarrett will be truly missed on the race track, and I'm looking forward to listening to him in the booth when ESPN takes over the final portion of the season. Dale's class and graciousness will be missed.

This weekend marks another milestone in Nascar, and the end of another era. Humpy Wheeler, long time promoter and track president at Lowes Motor Speedway is retiring, and apparently he doesn't have much say in the matter. Humpy has done so much for so many drivers over the years. Humpy was the guy that convinced Rod Osterlund to take a chance on a brash young driver named Dale Earnhardt, and we all know how that turned out. Humpy has helped many drivers get in the show over the years, and he will be greatly missed.

Lowes Motor Speedway is a very special place to watch a race. I've been to several races there, and the excitement when the green flag drops is contagious. If the sound of 43 screaming racing engines doesn't get your blood pumping, nothing will. For a driver to win a race here in front of the home town crowd is a jewel in their crown. There are a lot of tracks at which drivers especially want to win, and to win at Charlotte is special.

Sunday looks to be warm and sunny, with the high nearly 80 degrees. Temperatures should cool somewhat after sunset, but it's still going to be very hot in the race cars. This will be a test of not only the cars and the engines, but of the drivers themselves. The drivers will need to be in peak physical condition, and they will need to keep themselves hydrated throughout the afternoon and evening. Something as seemingly trivial as a hose slipping off the helmet leading to the cool box could make things really unbearable for a driver. Feet will be blistered without the proper protection, and then of course there will be the dreaded Turn 2 itself, which has proven to be a very difficult corner for the drivers to negotiate.

The Coca Cola 600. There's not another race quite like it, and it will be a true test of man, machine, and race strategy. Let the games begin, and may the best man win!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Memorial Day wishes from readers

I don't normally do this, but I got an e-mail at , which you may also send your thoughts and suggestions to. I do not reveal names or e-mail addresses, so your privacy is guaranteed. I will occasionally share what I think is an interesting thought on the blog though. I hardly ever do this, but I couldn't help it under this particular circumstance. Here goes:

Dear Mr. Jimmy C,

You like Dale Eernhart jr because he supports the milatary of this country, and therfor I cant support him because of that. He has the navy and the nat. gard on his car, and they all kill and rape babys all over the world. The usa shold not be killing all those people, and I know what Im talking about, cause my dad was in the navy and he told me so. I am 45 yeers old, oder than you, so you need to lissen to me. The usa should put everone on the milatary in prison for crimes aganst humanty. Juuuuuunior is gilty to, cause he suports the milatary, and he shold go to jail to. Kile BUSH is the best driver out ther, and you konw it but you wont amit it. Kile only sells candy which is good, juuuuunior wonts to kill peeople and rape babeys and you know it. I AM a Professer of LAWS at ................... Universty. You can look it up cause its true.

You know im right, you just wont admit it



Wow! What Can I say?

I answered as such: Dear Professer ..................., Thank you very much for reading my blog. Your insight and raw power of reasoning overwhelms me, and obviously you are right, and I am wrong, since you make such a compelling argument in your favor. Who am I to argue with a Professer of LAWS? Since I'm obviously out of my league here, both by my choice of driver, and also in sheer intellect alone, I will acquiesce to your rock solid points, which destroy everything I've ever said about Dale Eernhart Juuuuuuunior. I suspect that you wrote to me in an undercover role, as even though I'm stupid, and you are smart, I still suspect that you might indeed be the true President of the Kile Bush Fan Club. Also, being a supporter of the troops in the US 'Milatary', I will now go to the nearest police station and turn myself in before I do something bad to 'babeys.' Thanks for straightening me out on that one, Mr. President!


Mr. Jimmy C

I know, I know. But it's the first real e-mail I've ever had from an avowed 'Kile Bush' fan!

Being an Earnhardt Fan, Part 2

Fans of both Earnhardts are alike in one way. Both are unshakable in their faith and belief in their driver. There are many who are fans of both, including me. Over the years, I have found myself defending both Earnhardts, Dale because other fans said he drove 'dirty', or deliberately wrecked people. I've defended Dale Jr. because he supposedly has no talent, or that he's overrated.

Often, we as Earnhardt fans find ourselves in an 'us versus them' mentality, because at times we feel like the rest of the Nascar world is against us. At times, that seems to be true. Dale and Dale Jr. have drawn controversy in the fan world ever since both drivers began their careers. Dale came from basically nothing. His father Ralph was a successful race car driver, but Dale was largely a self made man, and a self made race car driver. Dale practically starved to race. Dale suffered through 2 failed marriages, gave up the custody of 3 of his children, and was flat broke many times in his life before he hit the big time. When he did finally achieve success, he married Teresa Houston, who was a stabilizing force in his life. Due to a catastrophic fire, Dale was given custody of Dale Jr. and Kelley, and the Earnhardts settled down into as close to a normal family life as was possible.

Apparently, as we now know, things weren't always fun and games for the two Earnhardt children and their new step mother. Teresa took over a lot of the duties raising the two children, while Dale spent most of his time at the shop or at the track. Although Dale Earnhardt now lived better than he had ever dreamed he would, he did not foolishly waste his hard won money. Dale created a series of businesses, including Dale Earnhardt Inc. Dale also pioneered the marketing of driver themed merchandise. Over the years, Dale Earnhardt single handedly changed the face of Nascar more than any driver in it's history.

The fans of Dale Earnhardt saw a man that was simply unstoppable. Dale never, ever gave up. If the cars had 4 wheels and an engine that would start, he would drive it just as hard, even if he were laps down after an accident. To us, Dale Earnhardt was The Man, the great one, the man that was just too tough to beat. To me and many others, Dale was ten feet tall and bullet proof. Over the years, we saw Dale crawl out of horrible wrecks, and painfully wave at the crowd. It wasn't until much later we found out just how badly he had suffered from his injuries. Dale Earnhardt would climb into another race car a week after breaking bones, and go on an compete for, and often win races.

The day that Dale Earnhardt died was one of the toughest days I've ever endured. I, like many fans, walked around in a fog for days, even weeks afterward. It was just impossible to believe that the greatest driver ever, our hero, was gone. The outpouring of grief from fans was something that I have never seen before, and as touching as it was, is something I hope to never, ever see again.

On that same day, the boy that had been Dale Earnhardt Jr. became a man. Dale Jr.'s emotional interview from the hospital after the 2001 Daytona 500 was heart rending. "I know he'd want us to keep going, so that's what we're gonna do." The following Sunday, FOX Sports showed us a somewhat subdued Dale Jr. sitting on the pit wall at Rockingham, between teammates Steve Park and Michael Waltrip. Steve and Mikey are both talking to him, and Dale Jr. stares gamely ahead, a small, brave smile on his face. In the early laps of the race, Dale Jr. gets spun into the wall, a low speed re-enactment of the horrible wreck we had seen just the week below. This time, all of the Nascar world held it's collective breath.

Dale Jr. limped from the car, and we all were concerned. Dale Jr. later said that basically his foot was going to sleep, mostly because he had drawn his belts tighter than he had ever drawn them before.

I have been a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan since it was first announced in 1997 that he would be driving in the Busch series. I had never seen much of Dale Jr. before that, usually only in a few victory lane celebrations with his father. I remember the young blond kid with the big smile mostly. When Dale Jr. started the 1998 Busch season, he was a young man on a mission. Winning the 1998 and 1999 Busch series championships, Dale was set to roll in the Cup in 2000, with a fantastic sponsor, Budweiser.

Dale Jr. charged out of the box in Cup, much like he had in the Busch series. He won is first race at Texas, his second at Richmond, and he won the Winston in 2000, all in his rookie year. Earnhardt fans everywhere were ecstatic. After the tragedy of February 18, 2001, Dale Jr. went on to win 15 more Cup races, as well as several more Busch races. In 2006 and 2007, we watched the 8 car struggle more and more, and we began hearing more and more about how overrated he was, and how he had no talent, etc. We as the Earnhardt Nation closed ranks around our driver, and when he announced that he was leaving DEI, most of us were happy. Some were not, but in the process we found out who the real fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. were. Some folks could not fathom Dale Jr. driving for anyone but his dad's team, and especially not Rick Hendrick. Those folks were fans of the team, not a fan of The Man, the New Man, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

I suppose the Dale Earnhardt fans forget that early on, even after winning his first championship with Rod Osterlund, Dale moved around a bit too. He drove Bud Moore's Fords for a while, and though he won a few races there, he hated the Fords. When Dale reunited with Richard Childress, the two forged more than a team, they forged a bond, and they excelled in a way that has rarely been seen since. As I've said many times before, Dale went to where the racing was. Dale Jr. did the same thing when he moved to Rick Hendrick Motorsports. The racing simply wasn't at DEI anymore.

So far in his first season with Hendrick, Dale Jr. is the class of the team. Dale Jr. sits 3rd in championship points, and is consistently better than even champion teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Though Jimmie has won Hendrick's only points race so far, it has been Dale Jr. that has kept the Hendrick name consistently in the running. Dale Jr. did win his very first race in his new 88 Hendrick Chevrolet, the Bud Shootout, and went on to win his Duel qualifying race. Though Dale Jr. has yet to win a points race this year, his team is beginning to come together, and every race, he and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. seem to be clicking together better and better.

Why are we Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans? I can only speak for myself. Besides his great racing skills, I see a man who has integrity, and who is honest, both with himself and his fans. He takes responsibility for his mistakes to a fault at times. I find myself yelling at the TV "Junior, that was NOT your fault!", as I'm sure do many others. I like Dale Jr.'s complete sincerity, and his honesty. I like him because what you see is what you get. I like him because of his touching concern for his fans. I think that every race he doesn't win, he feels more disappointed for letting his fans down than he does personally for not winning the race. I'm a fan for Dale Jr. because he shows a tremendous amount of class and graciousness, when so many other drivers seem so totally lacking in that capacity. My being a fan of Dale Jr. has practically nothing to do with who his father was, though I was a fan of his too. I am a fan of Dale Jr., because of who he is, and I'm proud of him for who he is, not who his father was.

Dale Jr. will never let me down. Even if he were never to win another race, which he will, Dale Jr. is my favorite driver, and always will be as long as he's behind the wheel.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Being an Earnhardt Fan

Being an Earnhardt fan means many things to many people. There are people that were fans of Dale Earnhardt, but couldn't care less about Dale Jr. There are people who never even saw Dale Earnhardt race, but are die hard Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans. There's no right or wrong when it comes to Earnhardt fans.

Reason's why people are Earnhardt fans are much more diverse. Some like Dale's old school, wreckers or checkers style of racing. Others like Dale Jr.'s more finessed style. Some people argue that Dale Jr. does not have the same talent or the same drive that his father had. I would have to disagree.

Dale Earnhardt was a great race driver who could put his car in impossible situations and still pass other cars. Dale was rough at times, but he usually made his reckless style work. Dale would beat and bang on other cars, back when that was more acceptable than it is now. If Dale was behind you, and you didn't get out of his way, Dale would 'move' you out of the way. Some drivers and many fans thought that Dale's style was too rough, even back in the day. The thing about Dale was this: Dale didn't care what you thought about him on the track, he was going to go for the win, even if he was two laps down. The win was always everything to Dale. If Dale came driving up behind you, even if he was two laps behind you, he was going to push you out of the way if you didn't move over. In the old days, that was perfectly acceptable. Today, that behavior will get you black flagged.

People say that Dale Earnhardt Jr. just doesn't have the drive or the willingness to win that his father did. I say bunk to that. Due to recent advances in technology, even we at home can listen to drivers on their radio conversations during the races. As one who listens to Dale Jr.'s radio conversations, I can tell you one thing: Dale Jr. is just as driven to win as the old man was. As far as Dale Jr.'s aggressiveness on the track, I don't think Dale Jr. is any less aggressive. I have seen Dale Jr. put his car in impossible places on the track and still pass cars as did his father. Dale Jr. is just a little more refined. He charges hard, all the time, and really, when you measure raw drive and talent, I see very little difference between the two Earnhardts.

If through a time warp, Dale and Dale Jr. had been able to race every race together, I think we would have seen basically the same show every week by both drivers. Both would have been hard chargers, both would have bumped and banged, and both would have spun cars out on the way to victory. Both would probably have been booed loudly early in their careers, but both would have been cheered late in their careers.

To tell you the truth, I don't see that much difference except the generational thing. This is now a kinder, gentler Nascar than it was in days of old. Dale Earnhardt made Nascar history, and now Dale Earnhardt Jr. is making some more history, but in his own way.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What's going on with JR Motorsports?

The rumor mill is once again in high gear this silly season. First Tony Stewart announces that he'd like to take a crack at team ownership, and that will not be an option with his current team, Joe Gibbs Racing. Tony has driven his entire Cup career in the fabled 20 Home Depot car, with the same crew chief. With two Cup champions and numerous wins under his belt, Tony is likely to be welcomed as an investor as well as a driver for many teams out there. Stewart did stipulate that he would like to return to Chevrolet though, so that will narrow the field somewhat.

Rumors abounded that Martin Truex Jr. would leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. as soon as the end of 2008, and has been rumored to be driving next year, or sometime in the near future, for teams such as Richard Childress, Joe Gibbs, and I've even see Jack Roush's name thrown in the pot. The latest rumor that concerns Truex though, is that he will be a driver for JR Motorsports new Cup program, which will be owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Last week, Dale Jr. said in an interview that having a Cup team next year was a definite possibility.

The reasoning behind this move makes sense, and Dale Jr. has thought it out well. Next year, the Nationwide series, in which his cars currently run, will move to a new car, much like the Car of Tomorrow. Dale Jr. has said that it doesn't cost much more to run a Cup team than a Nationwide team these days, and sponsorship will probably be easier to find in the Cup. Dale Jr. thinks that if he's going to have to re-tool his shop to produce the COT, why not just roll out a Cup program? In my opinion, that makes perfect sense.

During the interview, Earnhardt Jr. was asked if Martin Truex Jr. would be a part of the new cup team. Dale Jr. answered in the negative, and expanded by saying that Martin would be better off staying where he was, because a brand new Cup team invariably experiences some problems, and that it just wouldn't make sense for Truex to be a driver for JRM, at least not right out of the box. I think that makes sense as well, because whether Truex stays at DEI or not, there are plenty of other established teams out there that would be more than happy to give Martin a ride.

Tony Stewart might be a different scenario, however. Tony has expressed an interest in team ownership, and I don't know Dale Jr.'s feelings about having another driver buy into his team, but I imagine that even if you have as much money as Dale Jr. has, you still don't want to spend more on your business ventures than you have to. Two owners sharing the costs is cheaper than one owner footing the entire bill. Business is business, and I imagine Dale Jr. is at least thinking about having an investor, and old friend Tony Stewart might just be the perfect business partner.

Stewart, as a driver, is still as competitive as ever, and badly wants to win more races and championships. However, Tony is at a point in his career where he no longer has to prove anything to anyone, and if he's willing to take on the challenge of hammering out a brand new team, especially if he's got a stake in the ownership, I can't think of anyone better to take on the job. It would fulfill two of Tony's wishes, in that he would be back with Chevrolet, and he would be an owner. JRM will have the advantage of running Hendrick engines and other equipment as well, so a JRM entry into Cup racing will have a spring board that most fledgling Cup teams don't have. A Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart partnership would attract the best sponsors as well.

Will we be seeing an Earnhardt-Stewart Motorsports in the future? I think it's a definite Maybe!

Looking back at the All Star race, I'd like to congratulate Kasey Kahne for doing what no driver has ever done before by getting into the race by the fan vote, and then winning the entire show.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chips on shoulders do not entitle one to win.

Today I break the Kyle Busch embargo. Go Kyle Busch! Go! Prove to me that you're a worthy stock car driver, and I'll always be your fan. Ok, I'm waiting.

Kyle Busch just announced that he's going to test a Formula One Car in Japan later this year. At age 23, I'm glad Kyle is branching out. He also told at least one person in the media that he was planning to retire by age 30 from Nascar stock car racing. That's great news, Kyle. I hope your competitors survive your inane antics for that long.

I said "inane". I didn't say "insane". There is a difference. Kyle Busch basically exhibits a total lack of respect for every one else on the track with whom he's racing. Kyle does not qualify as "insane" though.

Smart is as smart does, I suppose, and Kyle has shown us all how smart he can be. He's currently 1st in Cup points, with 3 wins to his credit. Kyle has not shown much class in the way he's kept his points lead, but he's still got the lead. Numbers matter, and Kyle's got the numbers that count.

Nascar, by the way, could not be happier over the recent unpleasantness between Kyle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Rivalry equals ratings, and Nascar understands that. Kyle Busch Vs. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a rivalry that is guaranteed to generate ratings on TV. Nascar could not have had a more perfect wreck, even if it were written into a script.

We've got a non points race coming up tomorrow night, and both drivers will be in the race. If I were Dale Jr., I'd put the little punk from Las Vegas into the wall on the pace laps. But then, there is probably a reason why I write about this stuff, and don't actually drive the race cars.

Friday, May 16, 2008

May is a special time of year in Nascar

Ah, May! Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming, leaves are turning green, and Nascar is having fun. Nascar is always about fun, but for the next two weeks, our favorite folks in the Nascar world can have their friends and families around them. Lowes Motor Speedway is the home track for the majority of the teams.

Most of Nascar's teams are located in the greater Charlotte, NC area. Most are specifically located in Mooresville or Concord, or places like Huntersville. Ray Evernham's shops are located in nearby Statesville, and Richard Childress Racing is located not far away in Welcome, NC. Racing in Concord is a rare home stretch for Nascar. For two straight weeks, the drivers and crew and all the folks involved in the world of making cars go fast get to sleep in their own beds at night. They get to sit down with their families and friends and live like normal folks for a change, instead of nomads on the road.

These two weeks are especially good times for the long haul drivers that spend much of the year out on the road, driving race car haulers, team haulers, souvenir haulers all over the country every week. Think about how many people are involved in all these tasks. Also getting a needed break are the drivers of the motor coaches, who move the drivers' and owners' portable homes around the country.

Nascar racing is not only a big business, and a sport, but it's a way of life for the folks that make it all happen every week. Think about all the officials at every track every week. This is a rare chance for them to be in one place for two weeks straight in the middle of a busy season as well. It's not so much time off as it is time just to be home. Though the next two weeks will be busy ones, a lot of people will get to go home at night, instead of sleeping in a motel, or a hauler, or on an airplane going somewhere else.

I think one of the best aspects of May Days in Charlotte is the fact that a lot of family and friends will get to see their loved ones doing their jobs at the track. May is Nascar's 'bring your kid to work' day. Kids get to see their parents doing their jobs, which usually takes them out of town for a few days.

When you arrive at Charlotte this weekend, or next weekend, you'll probably be aware of somewhat of a holiday attitude around the track. It's old home week, and the racing will be as good as it gets. Tomorrow night, we will see a race that will pit all the drivers against each other as true competitors. There will be no saving the car when it comes down to the final laps. There is nothing to lose but pride. It's going to be a lot of fun.

The Coca Cola 600 is Nascar's marathon. 600 miles is a grueling race for all of the drivers and crews. The race will start in the daytime, and end late at night. Track conditions will change very much as the race unfolds. Loose will become tight, and crew chiefs will be scrambling to keep up with the changing track conditions to keep their drivers happy. Anyone who stays for the entire race will be exhausted when they leave the track. Drivers, crews, officials, and yes, even the fans. I've been to three 600's, and you will be worn out by the time you leave.

My best advice to anyone going to the 600 is to bring plenty of water and make sure you've got adequate protection for your ears. If you have kids, I would recommend that you have wax ear plugs as well as ear muffs. If you've never been to a race, you cannot appreciate just how loud these cars are. 43 cars going by at nearly 200 miles per hour will damage your hearing if you don't have protection. Even if you have premium sound connected to your TV at home, and you crank it up, you still will not appreciate the sound of 43 screaming racing engines. Take hearing protection. Trust me.

If you have kids with you, I would suggest that you sit in one of the non alcoholic sections, if at all possible. You will see fans who have imbibed a little too much, and will probably be shouting profanities at certain drivers. That might happen in the non alcoholic sections as well, but probably not as much. For the most part, Nascar fans are the nicest people you could ever meet, but there are always a few bad apples that spoil the cart for the rest of us.

Racing is fun, and tomorrow night should be about as fun as it gets. The 600 will be fun too, but there's way more on the line for the drivers and teams involved. Like I said, it's a marathon, the longest race of the year, and we will see who has been doing their homework, and who hasn't. Engines will blow, tires will let go, and drivers will hit the fence. You will see good racing at Charlotte, always.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Earnhardt Army soldiers on

So much has changed for Dale Earnhardt Jr. since last year. He's got a new team owner, he's got new cars, he's got new crew members, new sponsors, and a new number. And he's running consistently good races.

Dale Jr. still does not have a points win in 2008, but the Earnhardt Nation expects one at pretty much any time. Jr. has been a factor to win in most of the races in 2008. Dale's day is coming, and what a celebration it will be when that day finally gets here.

In spite of recent famous setbacks on the track, Dale Jr. has remained positive. He seems happy with running in the top 5 and top 10 every week, although he would very much like to be in Victory Lane, and soon. His performance so far has kept him in 3rd place in Championship points. As our young friend Lauren Wallace likes to say, Dale Jr. is a hundred miles away, and ready to strike, son.

I believe that the overriding virtue of Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr. is his personality. He's very easygoing, and though he does possess a temper, he remains cool under pressure, and that's a trait that is currently not exhibited by the arguably hottest driver in the sport right now. Dale Jr. doesn't have the wins, but he does have the class, and the ability to think calmly under pressure. Just because Dale Jr. has not won a points race doesn't mean he's not running well. Other drivers have won races this year, but are mired behind Dale Jr. in points because they've made crucial mistakes on the track or in the garage. For a brand new team, with a brand new driver, and a brand new crew chief, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the class of the Hendrick stable so far this year. His teammate Jimmie Johnson has won a race, but bad setups have prevented Jimmie from his usual dominating style this year. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been consistent, and that counts in the race for the Chase.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. carries more pressure on his back than any other driver, in my humble opinion. Dale Jr. is the most popular driver in the sport, and carries a very demanding schedule of appearances between the races. The man literally is always moving, even when he's not on the track, it would seem. Dale appears to have his famous father's business skills, and carries the weight of not only his driving duties, but his own racing team, JR Motorsports on his shoulders. He owns a wildly successful bar in downtown Charlotte, and he hosts his own radio show on a weekly basis.

Spread too thin, you might ask? Not at all. Although Dale Jr. is busy, he's put good people in key positions in his life, and in his business interests. Most importantly, he's put people he can trust to make decisions for him. Dale oversees the variety of operations, but he counts on his trusted associates to run them for him. That's being smart, if you are running a business. Put good people in the right positions, and get out of their way. Dale Jr. understands that business acumen.

As fans, we have probably reacted as one would expect when an impudent punk or even two manage to change the outcome of a race. Some us of have looked at things philosophically, and tried to move on. Others of us have just been angry and have stayed that way. Certain names will not be mentioned on this forum, at least not today. They've already received too much press, in my opinion. They're not getting anymore from me, at least not today.

My driver is Dale Earnhardt Jr. I like him because he's got really good skills on the track, and he's a most likable person off the track. Dale Jr. represents the grown up "young" driver in the sport now. He's a successful race car driver and a successful business man. He has legions of fans that follow his every word, and his every move. At 33 years old, Dale Jr. has accomplished more than most people will ever accomplish in a lifetime. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a role model to many, and a hero to millions.

If Dale Jr. never wins another race, I would still be a fan of his. He's overcome a lot in his life, and yet he can still smile and laugh about things, good or bad that have happened to him. But I know Dale Jr. will win, and win a lot before his days behind the steering wheel of a Cup car are behind him. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has the drive and determination to get the job done, and his fans will be behind him, 188 per cent.

Dale Jr., it's good to see you smiling. Racing for Rick Hendrick must be an awesome experience, and Brad Keselowski and your other drivers must be making you proud. Dale Jr., you make us all proud to be your fans. But one thing I hope you know, is that your dad is looking down you, and he's seeing what you've accomplished in your life so far.

Daddy's proud, Dale Jr. You can bet on that.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's Showdown Time!

This weekend, we will get to witness a spectacle only promoting genius Humpy Wheeler could dream up, and did back in around 1985. It's lived it's life under various names, as the Winston, the All Star race, and now the Sprint Showdown. There will be a qualifying race for drivers who have not won in the last two years, or are not past Champions, or who are not previous winners of the race within the last 10 years. Fans will also be able to vote in a driver as well. It's a race like no other in Nascar, and being held in most of the team's backyard at Lowes Motor Speedway, in Concord, NC, There will be family and friends for all the drivers and crew members at the track.

The name "Showdown" is very appropriate, as this will be a non points race, and will basically be run much like a short track feature at your local track. There will not be much conservation of equipment, and you can bet that there will be some wrecked cars and some bruised feelings by the end of the race. Some things never change, and you can count on this weekend to provide some of Nascar's finest racing all out, with nothing to lose.

Reactions to the last two races are still being reported, and some have expressed outrage that Kyle Busch possibly flipped the bird to a crew member for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Saturday at Darlington after the driver introductions. I've also read that Kyle flipped off booing fans as well. I just have to say that I'm not really surprised if Kyle did any of these things. Kyle Busch does not draw any emotion from me anymore but sorrow. I hate to see a young man become so cynical and so adoring of hatred, that I really just wish he would go away somewhere and grow up. Kyle's attitude is going to hurt people one day. I just hope he doesn't end up getting anyone killed.

Kyle does seem to have figured out the best way to drive the new car though. Kyle admitted that he bounced the car off the wall at Darlington at least 5 or 6 times, and some of those were violent impacts. At Darlington, it appeared that if you drive a Toyota hard off into the corners and smack the wall to the point that the right side of the car is as flat as a basketball court, you can win races. Kyle's done it 3 times this season alone with the new car. Supposing that Kyle's car control skills are all they are made out to be, I'm assuming that Kyle is 'adjusting' his car by hitting the wall hard. A driver with his skills couldn't be doing that by accident, could he?

The haters of Kyle Busch are alive and well, and so are the haters of many other drivers. This is actually a healthy thing to be happening in the sport right now. Hate isn't good, but it happens, just because of human nature, and I think most of us have at least one driver we love to hate at times. Even though I never want to see a driver get physically hurt, I don't mind seeing some them looking a little down in the mouth sometimes.

I think one of the things that we, as fans, need to remember is that fans probably take the hard losses worse than the drivers do. The drivers have been doing this kind of things for years, and they all expect someone to wreck them on the last lap, or to bump them when the time looks right. We as fans sometimes seem to expect clean racing, but in reality, there is not really anything like clean racing anywhere. Drivers drive to win. Crew chiefs and crew members do what they have to do to get their driver that extra second on the track. When it comes right down to it, there's not much new under the sun as far as stock car auto racing.

Racers will keep on racing, heroes will keep on being heroes, and jerks will keep being jerks. Except when jerks become heroes. That happens too, from time to time.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Kyle Busch Fan Club

Yeah, there actually is one. Actually, there's more than one, if you do a quick Google search. And it's understandable.

Drivers don't reach the levels that Kyle Busch has in racing by having no talent. Kyle has talent, and there are always fans that appreciate raw talent. I don't happen to be one of them, but there are some.

Kyle Busch hit the wall a ton twice last night, but managed not to hurt his car much. He still had more horsepower and better handling than the other cars out there. For that, I say congratulations. Kyle, you found something that nobody else in Cup racing has been able to find, and that's the magic car. You wrecked it twice, you burned up the brakes, but you won the race by a hefty margin, and whatever you and your team found, you deserve all the accolades that accompany such a dominating win.

Can you really win a race with pure, raw talent? Of course you can. What I saw last night was a guy that was wrecking loose all night, but he managed it. Does Toyota enjoy an advantage in Nascar? Nascar says they don't, and so far, mostly it's been Joe Gibbs Racing cars that seem to dominate not just the Cup series, but the Nationwide and Craftsman Trucks series as well. Michael Waltrip Racing runs Toyotas, and though they've been running better, they haven't been a threat to win a race. Bill Davis runs Toyotas as well, but Dave Blaney had a fast car, but never threatened to win last night. Tony Stewart drives for Joe Gibbs in the 20 Home Depot Toyota, but he is willing to give all that up just to go back to Chevrolet and his own team. Huh. I wonder why?

Tony has run well at times, and on Friday night, he won the Nationwide race at Darlington. In Cup, Tony has not enjoyed a lot of success. His new teammate Kyle Busch has won 3 times, and Denny Hamlin should have won Richmond, before a tire, and a bad decision took him out of the race. Is Tony experiencing the Dale Earnhardt Jr. syndrome at JGR right now? Maybe they know he's leaving, so he's driving the test car, much as Dale Jr. was at DEI last year.

Getting back to Kyle Busch. I once knew a man who hated Dale Earnhardt so much, that he became a Jeff Gordon fan back in 1995. He didn't like Jeff, called him a member of a certain sexual persuasion of which he was not a fan, but he didn't care too much as long as Jeff finished ahead of Dale on the track. Jeff is now happily married with a beautiful daughter, and the man I knew is still a Jeff Gordon fan, but he still claims that Ingrid and even baby Ella are Jeff's "beard." I think this is nonsense, but if you read carefully, I don't claim that this man is a friend, he's just someone I know. He now claims that he's rapidly becoming a Kyle Busch fan, because "everyone hates him, and I like that in a driver."

I guess that's reason enough.

I'm willing to rent out my old tree house from when I was a kid for the Kyle Busch fan club get together. I really am.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More Thanks!

I'm simply overwhelmed by the range of the readers on this site. If you look carefully, at the bottom left hand corner of the page, you will see a number. That's my stat counter, and you folks have really been generating numbers lately.

I don't know your names, or your addresses, or anything personal about you, but the stat counter does allow me to see your general locale. From Fairbanks, Alaska, to Los Angeles, California, to Miami, Florida, to Goose Creek, South Carolina, you've all been checking in, and I appreciate it. I also appreciate our Canadian neighbors who check in often, as well as our friends in England, Ireland, Germany, Korea, and other places overseas.

I post regularly on the Dale Jr. Pit board, and that's where a lot of hits are coming from. A lot of hits also come from Google, Yahoo, and AOL. I don't advertise on this site, and have no plans to do so, but you folks make me feel like I must be doing something right, so I'm going to keep going. As always, criticisms and comments are welcome, all you have to do is leave a comment below. I don't moderate them, within reason. I might edit out a few bad words if you choose to use them, but I'll leave your thoughts intact.

Back to racing. Darlington promises to be a wild race, with very fast track speeds, and some very likely Darlington stripes on the right sides of a lot of cars. Greg Biffle will start on the pole, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. starting 2nd. I don't know how much of a difference starting position makes, because Carl Edwards started on the pole for last night's Nationwide race, and elected to start on the outside, which was his right. Carl hit the wall on lap one, and then hit it again within a couple of laps and severely damaged his car. Darlington is going to take it's share of paint off the sides of the cars tonight.

I imagine when it's all over, You will not be able to read any of the lettering on the walls at the track. There will be black streaks basically all the way around the track. I noticed crews out painting the wall this morning, and they'll all be out there doing it again after the race is over.

The new pavement is making for some wicked fast speeds, and great grip, which is something that no one driving the race has ever experienced at Darlington. If last night's Nationwide race is any indication, tonight's Cup race is going to be an old fashioned barn burner. Tempers will likely become a factory tonight, as they were at Richmond last week. It will take a lot of control of both the race car and emotions to be successful at Darlington Raceway tonight.

I'm going to say an early prayer for all the drivers and crew members tonight. I hope they all walk away from their cars under their own power tonight, and I pray that all the fans at the track stay safe as well.

Racing at Darlington. It's about as good as it gets!

Wink and Nod.

Kyle Busch blew down a track today under a red flag. That's good sportsmanship, isn't it? Who cares that he might have killed someone. That's just who Kyle Busch is, isn't it?

If Kyle Busch wants to be Dale Earnhardt, he's got a long way to go. He just doesn't have the class yet, or the experience, or the maturity. Dream on, Kyle!

Kyle, part of who Dale Earnhardt was, was to take responsibility for his mistakes. Have you, Kyle Busch ever taken responsibility for any of yours? Not really. Have you, Kyle Busch, ever apologized for driving like a total idiot? No, you have not. Have you, Kyle Busch, ever admitted that you're an idiot? No, you have not.

Kyle, do you think driving into blinding smoke with your foot pegged on the gas was going to get you noticed? Bingo. You're right, it did. Because after you left Texas in a huff, Dale Jr., the guy you wrecked, got into your car and finished the race. Dale Jr. had the grace and the class to not leave in a huff, but I guess You never even thought about that fact, that you would look like a complete idiot, because you were missing in action at a race track. Way to go, Kyle.

By the way, Kyle, the car you nailed was Jr.'s car. He had enough grace and class to stay and finish YOUR race, while you flew away. Nice move, Kyle.

If you have a problem with getting released by Rick Hendrick, get over it. Dale Jr. has about 100 times more class in his little finger than you have ever shown in your life.

Kyle, quit being such an idiot. You've got so much raw talent, but you've got so little maturity, it's pathetic.

Grow up, Kyle Busch.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thanks, Folks.

You've all been my rock lately, and I appreciate it. I've had a bad couple of days, but it's getting better now. Thanks for the kind e-mails you've sent, and I apologize from not sticking to the subject lately, like I should.

Nascar has not changed much over the years. You've got a few good teams, and you've got some also ran type teams. Mostly the teams to beat are now Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush, Hendrick, and maybe Richard Childress Racing and possibly Dale Earnhardt Inc.

The DEI cars have been running well as of late, as have the RCR cars. Roush has been stinking up the race as well, with Carl Edwards. Hendrick has only one win so far, but they're cruising for more. You can't really count Chip Ganassi out of the race or GEM racing, with Ray Evernham. Lots of things can happen between now and the beginning of the Chase for the Cup.

The Silly Season is become even more heated. Where will Martin Truex Jr. drive next year? How about Tony Stewart? Time will tell, I suppose. It's now looking like Bobby Labonte will stay with Petty for a while, and I think that's because he's working on trying to turn that operation around. Bobby Labonte is a class driver, and he could most likely driver for RCR, or DEI or even Rick Hendrick next year, if he wanted to. Bobby apparently has chosen to stay at Petty, and I think he's a great guy for doing it.

I can't wait for Darlington because it's one of my favorite tracks. The racing there is always intense, and this weekend promises no different. Will Kyle Busch get his first top 10 ever? Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally break the winless streak? Will Jeff Gordon win number 8 at the Lady in Black? Almost anything could happen.

Thanks, folks. You put up with a near breakdown by me yesterday, but I'm much better now. I'm ready to serve you again with what I do best, which is write about Nascar. Bear with me, and we're going to have a lot of fun this year.

Until next time,

God Bless you all,

Jimmy C.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Faith

Is what keeps me alive sometimes. I believe there is a God, but beyond that, you don't need to know.

I pray, daily, and sometime many times a day. It's all a part of life. I do it. You might consider doing it too.

I've prayed for my buddy, who just lost his mother. I felt bad because I couldn't be there. My truck broke down on the side of the highway near Hendersonville, NC.

When LA3Fan says her prayer, right before all the races on the Dale Jr. Pit board, I'm there, and I say Amen. I never want to see a driver hurt, or killed. I don't care who my least favorite drivers are, I never want to see them hurt or killed. I just don't want to see it.

I'm spiritual in a weird way. I don't cling to any particular religion, but I pray. I pray that ever single driver in every single race walks away. I pray for that every single weekend.

I don't care whether you're spiritual or not, but I'd ask you to say a prayer, to who ever you might pray to. These guys are going fast, and they need your help.

God Bless.

Random Thoughts heading to Darlington

I write because I can, and not because I'm good at it. I write to get better, each and every day. I'm at somewhat of a disadvantage, because I'm white, southern, and male. Some folks can spout off almost anything and get noticed. I can't. So I write.

I try not to be controversial, because I'm not one to stir up the muck. I like to please people, but I know that I can't please everyone all the time. And when I irritate you with my words, just remember, they're words. I don't have enough bullets to kill everyone that disagrees with everything I say! Not that I'd want to do that anyway.

I found it interesting to note that I got a lot of readers on my recent post about Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Some actually responded and were very kind. What you don't know is the number of people that e-mailed me and told me some horrible things would happen to me if I keep bashing Kyle Busch. I'm guessing that this was maybe one or two people with multiple e-mail addresses that e-mailed me over and over. Most of the messages were the same: "Kyle Busch is GOD!" "Kyle Busch will kill you." You guys keep it up. You're hilarious. I hope your Mommy doesn't find out that you're sending hate mail and death threats.

In a way, I guess I'm getting noticed the way Kyle Busch is, but saying a few things that I believe are true and getting hammered for them. I know the e-mails are a bunch of bunk, but they still make me feel somewhat sad, like the kids in this country can not be educated more poorly than they are. I know deep down that I'm just doing what I was born to do. You, as the reader, have the option to read or not read. If you read, great. If you don't read, I don't mind.

I would ask this though. Mothers and fathers, check out what your kids are doing on the Internet. This can be a dangerous place, and you need to monitor what your kids are doing. I've got some ip addresses that I can hand over to a federal investigator, and he will move on them, because these are death threats. I'm not going to do that, because I know these are kids, but please know that eventually they will end up in a lot of trouble, if their idea of fun is to send death threats to an author.

Moving on, I have read many stories over the last few days about the Earnhardt/Busch incident at Richmond. The press seems to be divided pretty much evenly about who's fault the accident was. There are Jr. haters and Jr. lovers in the press, so objectivity is out the window here. Some claim that Dale Jr. should have stayed high, because if he gets wrecked, people will blame the other driver. What drivel. Jr. has the same right to race where ever he damn well pleases. Excuse my language, but I'm starting to get tired of the press bashing Jr. for racing hard. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a man, and he's willing to own up to his mistakes, when he makes them. That's something that cannot be said for Kyle Busch.

As far as I can see, Dale Earnhardt Jr. did not make a mistake at Richmond. He gave Kyle plenty of room on the bottom of the track and then Kyle got loose, and turned his steering wheel RIGHT, into the 88 car of Dale Jr. I'm beginning to think that Kyle belongs back on the dirt tracks, where hanging the tail out is just fine. That's NOT what you do on an asphalt track though. I don't think Kyle knows the difference. He drives a sloppy loose car all race long, and he doesn't care who he hits. That, my friends, is not talent. It's being a jerk.

If you can't drive the race car in a straight line, it might be time to get off the track. Kyle Busch deserves every hate mail he's getting not just from the Earnhardt fans, but from all fans of racing, everywhere. What Kyle did is a rookie mistake, but I notice he's not a rookie anymore.

Kyle, grow up. Dale, just keep doing what you do.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Lady in Black has some new duds

With brand new pavement, and a new tunnel into the track, Darlington Raceway once again promises an exciting race on Saturday. Speeds of up to and possibly beyond 200 mph are possible there, and we will likely set new records in qualifying.

Darlington has always been the site for some of stock car's most exciting racing, and Saturday night promises to be some of the best racing ever at the legendary track.

Darlington Raceway is one of the oldest tracks in Nascar, and the tradition of hard fought racing carries on, this year with the fastest speeds ever.

Several drivers have had success here, including David Pearson, who holds the track record with 10 cup wins. Dale Earnhardt is second in the record book with 9 wins. Strangely enough, Darlington was never one of Richard Petty's best tracks, because even though he finished in the top 5 in 25 out of 65 starts, the King only won here 3 times in his career.

Among current drivers, Jeff Gordon has one 7 times at Darlington. Bill Elliot has won here 5 times, and just retired Dale Jarrett has won 3 times. Jeff Burton, Sterling Marlin, and Greg Biffle have each won 2 times. Mark Martin and Bobby Labonte have each won 1 time at the Lady in Black.

After a controversial finish at Richmond, Denny Hamlin must be looking forward to Darlington, having finished an average of 6.0 in his first two races at the track. Jimmie Johnson has an average finish of 6.8 in his 9 starts. Ryan Newman has finished on average 9th out of his 9 starts.

Darlington often proves to be a very challenging track for young drivers. Quite a few rookies have learned the hard way why Darlington is often called "The track too tough to tame."

Darlington also proves to be challenging to many veteran drivers as well. Kyle Petty has started 50 races at Darlington but has never had a top 10 finish.

Darlington would certainly be on the list of practically any driver to add to his win list. A win at Darlington looks good on anyone's resume.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

"Security, we have a problem."

Last night's race at Richmond looked like it was going to be a flag to flag romp for Denny Hamlin, but that was not to be. With only laps to go, Denny cut a right front tire, and tried to stay out for the finish, even though he was rapidly losing spots. When the tire finally went, Denny got into the wall, a little, and stopped on the track. Nascar had little choice but to bring out the yellow flag. Once the caution was out, Denny drove to the pits for fresh tires. Nascar was not pleased, and parked Denny for 2 laps for intentionally bringing out a caution. Nascar does indeed frown on that, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. found out a few years ago when he admitted on the radio that he had looped his car to bring out the yellow flag. We all live and learn, I suppose, but what happened after the restart was proof that not all drivers learn.

When Denny Hamlin cut a tire, it allowed Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch to pass Denny. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the lead, and was driving away by about a tenth of a second gain per lap. When Denny brought out the caution, Jr. had over a full second lead over Kyle Busch.

Throughout the Earnhardt Nation, I think hearts began to sink. I don't think anyone who has been watching Nascar more than a few races doubted that Kyle Busch was going to do something, either on the restart or immediately afterwards, and we didn't have to wait long to find out that we were all right. Kyle was trying to pass Dale Jr. on the inside in Turn 3, and got into Jr.'s left side and spun out Dale Jr. Kyle was passed during that scuffle by Clint Bowyer, who eventually won the race, after charging through the pack all day, just biding his time. Kyle Busch finished second, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 15th.

The predictable cans came flying over the fence after Dale Jr. got spun. My friends, I'm as passionate about this sport than anyone, but I really hate to see this, because it has become almost standard practice now to label fans of Dale Jr. as drunks and people that willingly endanger the lives of not only race car drivers, but the safety of other fans. I go to all the races I can, and I have been known to partake of adult beverages at times, and in some cases way too many. I think it's a shame that because of the not so smart actions of a few, the entire fan base of one driver gets labeled as a bunch of drunks. I know that all the fans throwing debris over the fence are not Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans, because a couple of years ago, we saw a fan decked out in Jimmie Johnson colors being led away in handcuffs, long before Dale Jr. and Jimmie became teammates. What does concern me is perception. A few people in the media blame it all on the Earnhardt Nation, so that gives all it's members a bad name in the eyes of a lot of casual fans.

Kyle Busch, when interviewed after the race, was seemingly sarcastic about the entire affair. He seemed more concerned with the one finger salutes that he was receiving from Earnhardt fans even before the accident, than he was about the accident itself. Kyle made somewhat of a half apology, but was not very sincere about it. One suspects that Kyle was probably disappointed that he did not win the race, but he appeared to be not very sorry about wrecking the race leader. One comment, in his half apology, was the observation that now he, Kyle Busch, was going to have to "deal with it," meaning the fallout from wrecking a guy who hasn't won in 71 races, and who happens to be Nascar's Most Popular Driver for several years running.

Did Kyle Busch wreck Dale Jr. on purpose? It's possible, but only Kyle knows the answer to that, and he's not going to admit it if he did. Friday night, in the Nationwide race, Kyle got into a little dust up with Steven Wallace, which led to Kyle putting his face right in Steven's after the race, while Steven was still in his race car. Something was said about bulls, and horns, but I suspect that Kyle's biggest threat is not the horns on a bull's head, but what the bull leaves on the ground. Steven grabbed Kyle by the helmet, and Kyle backed up in a hurry, but came back to the car as team members arrived to break up the possible fight. Kyle did not get wrecked in the action on the track with Steven Wallace, and after only momentarily losing a position to Steven, hit Steven in retaliation, and regained the spot.

I've been reading certain fan's comments about Kyle Busch being the new "Intimidator". I have to laugh at that, because Kyle's main claim to fame is that he is willing to slide his car all over the track, and hit people. If he wins, great. If he wrecks himself, he throws a temper tantrum and storms away, but not before making outrageous statements in front of live microphones and cameras. Kyle does have a reputation as a hard charger, and other drivers probably do hate to see him in their mirrors, but not because of Kyle's intimidation factor, but more likely because they know he's a wreck waiting to happen. As a long time Dale Earnhardt fan, I find the comparisons between Dale and Kyle to be insulting, at best. Dale drove rough, and he drove hard, but he also drove smart. Kyle just drives rough and hard, and there are countless examples of that behavior during his Nascar career.

In Texas last year, a car spun in front of Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jr. lifted to slow down as he drove into the smoke. No one could see for a few seconds, and Dale Jr. wisely slowed down to miss the accident. Kyle did the opposite, by driving blindly into the smoke with the accelerator pegged to the firewall. Naturally Kyle hit Dale Jr. a ton, wrecking both cars pretty badly. Back in the garage, cameras showed Kyle climbing from his car, roughly shoving past his crew members and storming away. As it turned out, Kyle left the track.

Near the end of the race, the 5 team of Kyle Busch got the car drivable again, but just barely. They went looking for their driver, but he was on his way home. Dale Jr., the driver Kyle had just taken out of the race, climbed into the car and finished the race. In that instance, Dale Earnhardt Jr. showed his class, and Kyle Busch showed his ass.

I think that Kyle Busch still stings from being released from his Hendrick ride last year to make way for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Some of the remarks he's made since the announcement that Dale Jr. would be joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2008 led me to believe that he still harbors some resentment. Though Kyle has done very well at Joe Gibbs Racing, there appears to still be somewhat of a chip on the young man's shoulder.

Last night, Dale Earnhardt Jr. handled the disappointment with his usual class, not placing blame on Kyle, stating that he had not yet seen the replay. "If I do want to talk to him, I'll have to stand in line," he quipped. When he was being interviewed, he was asked if Kyle Busch was going to need extra security. "We all will," Jr. answered.

Though Dale Jr. remains 3rd overall in Cup points, Kyle Busch now is in first place. I have to admit that I was glad that Kyle Busch ended up not winning last night, because if nothing else, it was a mistake he made, if not an outright low blow to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kyle races in all 3 of Nascar's top series, and he's made quite a few enemies in all 3. I hope this young man will eventually mature and gain the respect of not only the fans of the sport, but his fellow drivers as well.

On a side note, Michael Waltrip was parked by Nascar in the latter stages of the race after colliding with Casey Mears, and then standing on the gas, pushing Casey's wrecked car down the backstretch. I knew Michael was having a bad day, but I didn't know he was having that bad of a day. Oddly enough, older brother and FOX commentator Darrell Waltrip for once had nothing to say about it.

Strange, huh?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Richmond is a special place

For a lot of drivers, Richmond is a special place. Quite a few current drivers have won races there, some have won more than once. I always enjoy watching races at Richmond because it's a unique track, 3/4 mile in length, and has seen some wild races in the past.

Drivers who have won at Richmond include Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Kyle Petty, Ryan Newman, Jeremy Mayfield, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, and Joe Nemechek. Each have a win at Richmond. There are a lot of other winners at Richmond, but these are some of the current drivers who have wins at the track.

Some current drivers have more than one win at the track, and with two wins each would include Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett. Dale won't be driving Richmond this year, so we can safely count him out on a third win this year.

Two current drivers have won 3 times at Richmond, and they were both important figures in last week's Talladega race. I'm talking, of course, about Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Richmond has been a great track for both of these drivers, and as strong as both drivers have been running lately, that trend is likely to continue for the Richmond race. Toyota teams have been strong right out of the box, and Chevrolet teams are getting better and better, especially the Hendrick team.

I can't rule out another rogue win by Carl Edwards this week, or a win by one of his Ford brethren, but I'm looking mostly at what the Toyota and Chevrolet teams will be doing. Dodge might make a run at it too, so who knows what will happen.

Right now the top rated teams by driver, and by manufacturer would have to be Chevrolet's Jeff Burton, Toyota's Kyle Busch, Ford's Greg Biffle, and Dodge's Ryan Newman. I'm just looking at total points here, not wins or anything else.

Will Richmond be another win for Toyota? Personally I hope not. I'm beginning to believe the talk that Toyota is enjoying a horsepower advantage, after the dismal performance they showed in 2007. Toyota has either really brought their game to the track, or Nascar allowed them some extra HP. It's that simple. The fact that Joe Gibbs Racing converted to Toyota for this season helped a lot, but I find it hard to believe that it helped that much. Toyota has to be making more horsepower than any other engines out there. I'm just saying!

And finally, in a new idea to include into the blog, I delve into the mailbag, or actually the e-mail bag, and take a question. And I'll try to answer it. Honest, I will!

Jason L. from Omaha, Nebraska asks "Why does Nascar pull out the yellow flag so much? Most of the time, we don't even see the stuff on the track! Do they do that to try to help certain drivers who need a pit stop?"

Jason, my best answer is that Nascar will always throw a yellow flag if they are concerned about safety. Debris on the track usually means cut tires and a car goes hard into the wall. Metal debris on the track will cut tires like you or I cut into a steak. As for do they do it for certain drivers? I doubt it. When certain drivers complain about debris, they probably listen more than they listen do over drivers, but there is not much objectivity in Nascar, it would seem. Certain drivers get more attention than do others, but there's not a whole heck of a lot we can do about it. If Jeff Gordon starts screaming about debris all over the race track, Nascar probably pays attention. If Regan Smith starts screaming about it, they probably don't pay as much attention. It's not really fair, but that's most likely the way it is. Nascar does monitor the communications between driver and spotter and crew chief, and I'm guessing that Nascar probably has thrown the yellow several times over the last few years, based on what a driver or spotter says. I don't think it's right, but it probably does happen.

I hope that answers your question, Jason. I'd like to make this a weekly feature, and if you'll just send your questions to, I'll be happy to answer, either publicly, as on this blog, or privately, at your discretion. I'm not an expert, but I've been watching for a long time, and I study the science of Nascar. All opinions are MY opinions, but if you ask, I will answer.

Have a great race weekend!