Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Some thoughts and stats on Michigan

Michigan has been compared to California, but other than the length of the track, it's difficult to make a comparison. At 2 miles in length, it's long straights will mean fast speeds. Of the current field of Nascar Cup drivers, Bill Elliot is at the top of the winners list, with a total of 7 wins here. Mark Martin has won here 4 times, as has the just retired Dale Jarrett. Bobby Labonte has won at Michigan 3 times in his career, and the drivers who have won twice include Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Jeff Gordon.

Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Sterling Marlin and Jeremy Mayfield have each won a race at Michigan. Historically, David Pearson holds the record for the most wins total at this track, with 9. Cale Yarborough won here 8 times.

In this week's race, I look for current trends to continue. Kyle Busch will probably be good at Michigan. Kasey Kahne should be strong as well. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon should do well, and maybe Jimmie Johnson will finally win at Michigan. Carl Edwards , Greg Biffle, and Matt Kenseth should have strong Ford race cars.

In other words, Michigan is a tough track to predict a driver with a clear advantage. The current momentum that has carried Kasey Kahne makes me think he might be a favorite, having won here before. Conjecture is fun, and can be challenging, but if we could guess what's going to happen on the track, we wouldn't have to run the races, and that would take away all the fun.

I read somewhere a comment by the guy that most experts consider to be the next super star in Nascar, Joey Logono. After a 4 tire stop in Saturday's Nationwide race in Nashville, apparently Joey was disturbed, because that put him at the back of the field running with the "trash." Saturday was Joey's 2nd ever Nationwide Series race, and he's already referring to the back of the field as "trash?"

I know, Joey is supposedly the Second Coming of Jeff Gordon, but for an 18 year old to refer to other drivers in a series he was too young to drive in 3 weeks ago as "trash?" That's disturbing.

I don't know what they're putting in the water over at Joe Gibbs Racing these days. Joey is an up and coming driver for them, and he's already dissing his peers. Oh, but yeah, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch have been doing the same thing this year. Tony Stewart wants to leave. I wonder why?

Tony Stewart was once the latest, greatest thing in Nascar. He had won in every series he'd ever raced in, and he's certainly enjoyed great success in Nascar, with 32 wins and two Cup championships. Tony used to be criticized loudly for his sometimes brash behavior, but it's interesting to see Tony as the voice of reason and experience these days at JGR. I imagine that Tony Stewart could tell us all many, many stories about how quickly young, hotshot drivers can find grief, and it's usually of their own making. I hope Tony does get released from his contract at the end of this season, and I hope he does well in his business and racing endeavors in the future. After this year, I'm guessing he'll be tired of being the hall monitor in this Joe Gibbs owned kindergarten on stearoids.

Rumors have it that Bruton Smith has been approaching the Mattioli family about buying Pocono Raceway. Bruton just bought Kentucky Speedway, which has never had a date on the Cup circuit. I'm guessing that if Mr. Smith buys Pocono, at least one date is going to go away, and Kentucky will magically have a Cup race. I have mixed feeling about that, because although I am not a huge fan of Pocono, I don't know that we need another 1.5 mile cookie cutter track on the circuit, which is what Kentucky will most assuredly be. I know Kentucky has beautiful, up to date facilities, but do we really need another 1.5 mile tri-oval?

Personally, I'd rather see Mr. Smith invest his money in creating another bullring like Bristol, or Martinsville. Let's just do pie in the sky here. This is what I would love to see:

A 3/4 mile, high banked oval in rural New Jersey. Speeds and general racing excitement would rival Bristol. The kicker is this though. I'd put a roof over the track, and guarantee a race, rain or shine. I'm not talking about a totally enclosed arena, because the exhaust fumes would probably kill most of the crowd before the race reached the halfway point. Leave it open on the sides, or put in exhaust fans to vent out the fumes. An inventive mind such as Bruton Smith's could make this work like a charm, and the greater New York City metropolitan area would have a track, and that would fulfill one of Nascar's dreams.

I'm a South Carolinian, and I hated to see Darlington lose the Labor Day race date. I love the races at Atlanta and Charlotte. I love all the traditional old tracks. But I'd be willing to give up the fall race at Charlotte to see the spectacle of a race in the New York area, enclosed safely under a roof. It would be huge to know that you will never have a rain delay, and that the race will always run the featured number of laps. Think about it, a Bristol with a roof on it, in the biggest market in the country! The only things the fans would miss would be the fly over.

1 comment:

  1. The Mattioli family has said Pocono is not for sale and safe for at least another 30 years as it has been handed down to the grandchildren. I don't see it in Bruton's greedy little patties in the near future.
    Joey Logano expects to win in every race he's entered in. Why? Because he's used to winning. Have you seen the trophies that boy has? I wanted to like him, till he opened his mouth after his first Nationwide race. That did it for me; he's no better than the "trash" over at Gibbs (except for Smoke, I like him).


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