Monday, March 22, 2010

That's Bristol, Baby!

I think it is clearly evident that we now have a great driver that defines the NASCAR era since the year 2000.  That driver is, ladies and gentlemen, none other than Jimmie Johnson.

Fifty wins.  That’s a lot in the decade of parity in stock car racing.  Why is Jimmie Johnson not NASCAR’s most popular driver?  I’ll leave the answer to that question to you, the ultimate experts.  What?  No, I’m not being facetious by saying that.

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re a NASCAR fan.  You may have been a fan for 6 weeks, or for 40 years.  You may not know much about the sport, but if you watch the races every week, you already know more than a lot of people who should know better.  Fans drive this sport, and always have, and if you’re a fan, you’re the dude or lady in the driver’s seat.  You, the fan, have the ability to call the shots simply by making your voice heard, and NASCAR is listening.

Getting back to Jimmie Johnson, because I digress, which I often do, I’d like to say that JJ is a great driver, and he and the science project named Chad Knaus, who is Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief, are truly achieving magic numbers in the sport of NASCAR.  Jimmie has won 50 races in only a few over 200 starts.  OK, maybe more than a few, but you get my point.

Personally, to me, Jimmie Johnson is just a blank page, in terms of personality.  He is the perfect driver, because he always quotes the company line, always praises his sponsors, and never says much of anything to start arguments.  Yes, and I’ll say it here, Jimmie Johnson is the greatest boring driver ever.  He really is.

In this sport, boring is not a bad thing, because Jimmie Johnson is married, has a child on the way, but he’s apparently never cheated on his wife, had a child out of wedlock, never did drugs, or beat up a hooker.  Actually, I’d say he’s probably a pretty good guy, though I don’t know him personally.  But, in a world where celebrity is everything, Jimmie Johnson is pretty boring.  That’s where we are as a culture, I suppose.

Give us some meat to chew on, and we’re happy as fans.  Do something to prove that you’re human.  I laugh at the detractors of Jimmie Johnson because what they hate can be explained simply.  He’s just a nice guy.  Don’t you just hate that?

A tip to the wise:  Buy some Jimmie Johnson merchandise.  It’s the cheapest it will ever be, and if you don’t, one day you’ll be sorry.

News of the day:  Tiger Woods gives an exclusive interview to ESPN.  Enough already.  Tiger Woods didn’t sleep with my wife.  He doesn’t owe me an apology.  Get over it, people!  Tiger said he screwed up, and he admits to it!  What else does the world of golf want?

Why does Jimmy C know that his wife didn’t sleep with Tiger Woods?  It’s simple.  Jimmy C doesn’t have a wife, and if he did, he doesn’t know where she is.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Off Week Reflections

Though this space is not devoted to Dale Earnhardt Jr, I have never been shy about being fan of Dale’s, and I can definitely say that I  am a proud member of the Junior Nation.  OK, maybe not the various websites or message boards out there, but I am a proud Dale Jr. fan.

That being said, what the heck is going on with the 88 team this year?  After a little show of brilliance at Daytona, Dale Jr. appears to be mired back in the back once again in 2010.  Business as usual, you could say.

As a fan, it’s terribly disappointing.  The Junior detractors gleefully say that the 88 team’s 2010 performance just backs up what they’ve been saying all along, which is that Dale Jr. is overrated, and basically has way less talent than the blind Junior followers think he has.

I still say, and will continue to say that any driver with 18 Cup wins and two Nationwide (Busch) series championships under his belt has to have more going for him than having a famous daddy.  Folks, you simply don’t get those numbers without talent as a driver, and there’s no way you’re going to convince me that I’m wrong about that.  I would say the same thing about Jimmy Spencer, if he had the numbers to back him up.  But Jimmy Spencer doesn’t. 

I like Kyle Petty too, but he does not have numbers as favorable as does Dale Jr.  The fact is, Dale Jr. has just had some really horrible luck, and there are obviously still some major problems on the 88 team as a whole.

It’s beginning to appear that the move to Hendrick Motorsports just isn’t working out for Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Perhaps I will be proven wrong in the next few weeks, and no one could be happier about proven wrong than I would be.

Speaking of drivers needing to turn their fortunes around, how about Kevin Harvick?  Kevin his charging hard, getting good finishes, and currently leads in points.  The only thing left in Kevin’s turnaround is a win, and that can’t be too much longer in coming.

This weekend the NASCAR traveling show moves on to one of my favorite tracks, Bristol.  With little to watch over the weekend but basketball and the F1 face in Bahrain, or where ever the heck it was, I’m ready to seem some good, hard short track racing.

Taking The Good With The Bad

There has been a tremendous amount of controversy concerning the incident at Atlanta between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski.  The details have been reported many times in many other places, so I won’t bother going over the details.  Suffice it to say, Carl Edwards punted Brad Keselowski, and Brad wrecked in spectacular fashion, with the car flipping upside down, and Brad was obviously peeved at his colleague for his efforts.

The wreck was eerily similar to Carl Edwards’ wreck at Talladega last year, which, of course, occurred at the hands of Brad Keselowski.  I’m not talking about who was at fault there, because we all have opinions, but it appeared that Brad had the line at Talladega, and Carl was trying to block on the last lap of the race.  Remember, however, that last year we saw this spectacular crash on the last lap of the race, with both Edwards and Keselowski going for the win.

At Atlanta last Sunday, the crash occurred near the end of the race, but not on the last lap.  Carl Edwards was 150-something laps down, with no hopes for a win, but he definitely was trying to take Brad out.  In that, Carl Edwards was hugely successful.

Carl Edwards was parked for his part in the wreck, but he basically had nothing to lose.  Brad was driving a lead lap car, so Carl’s actions cost Brad quite a bit.  Had this incident happened last year, Carl would likely have been parked a race, fined, what to most of us would have been a huge amount of money, and placed on probation until the Chase portion of the season, if not for the entire year.

This year, of course, is different.  NASCAR has said they were going to relax the rules, and we, as fans, for the most part cheered.  We were all happy to see NASCAR letting the drivers race, and that’s pretty much what we’ve seen so far this year.  Carl Edwards’ actions at Atlanta were a little over the top, and he got penalized, a little bit.  Three weeks of probation?  In a way, I don’t see much wrong with that.

In other ways, however, I see a lot wrong with this situation.  Carl Edwards, many, many laps down, used his car as a weapon to take out a lead lap car.  I doubt that even Carl envisioned Brad’s car flying through the air, possibly ending up in the catch fence as did Carl’s car did last year at Talladega.

Remember the fall race at Talladega last year?  We were introduced to a young woman who happened to be sitting in the front row at ‘Dega in the spring race, and caught a piece of metal in the face when Carl Edwards’ car shredded itself in the catch fence.  Drivers getting hurt is one thing, but fans getting hurt is NASCAR’s worst nightmare.

We wanted to see a kinder, gentler NASCAR as the rule makers in the sport.  We apparently have been given exactly what we wished for.  Now, we all have to live with the bad as well as the good.  We’re seeing better racing, but at what cost?

Hopefully, NASCAR’s new attitude won’t cost a fan’s life.  I applaud what NASCAR is doing, but risking hurting fans by relaxing the rules is in no way going to help this sport.  I know, any one of those 43 cars could have flipped upside down during the Atlanta race, because NASCAR still has those stupid, dangerous wings on the cars, but hopefully that will all change at Martinsville.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cautious Optimism

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first pole position since 2008 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and the Junior Nation is jacked up.  They ought to be, because maybe this means the 88 team is finally getting the wheels back on the track.

Poles do not make race wins, however.  Dale Jr. has won at Atlanta before, so he knows how to do it.  For all of those who think Dale Jr. is a shoe in to win the race today, I would advise against it.  Not that cautious optimism is wrong, but don’t be horribly disappointed if Dale Jr. gets a top 5 or top 10 finish today.  Either of those would be fine.

Dale Jr. needs a good finish today, because even though he finished well in 2 out of the 3 first races of the season, he needs to finish consistently in the top 10 if he’s going to be a contender this year.  Whatever handling problems seem to plague the 88 team need to go away, and they need to go away fast.  Hopefully, the return of the spoiler will alleviate at least some of the handling problems.

Personally, even though he’s starting from near the back of the field, Kevin Harvick is one of my favorites for a win at Atlanta.  Harvick has been there basically in all three of the first few races, and he’s due, and you can tell he wants it pretty bad.  Of course, I wouldn’t count out either Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, or Mark Martin, because they’ve all looked pretty good in practice this weekend.

Even though Greg Biffle is going to a backup car, he showed that he has maybe the winning line down, and that’s up high on the race track.  Greg could win this race as well if they can get the backup car working right.

This might be the week that Martin Truex Jr. breaks out of the doldrums as well, because in Happy Hour on Saturday, Martin seemed to have something going on with the car.  Personally, I’d like to see Truex get his first win for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Today’s going to be exciting, folks.  Atlanta always is.  I pray we have a good race and everyone walks away safely today.

Answering Reader's Questions

As part of the routine of writing on this site, I often am asked questions by readers.  Sometimes they come as comments posted here, but more often than not, they come in the form of an e-mail, which, of course is OK by me.  My e-mail address is

I’m not an expert on anything, and I can only tell you that anything you read here is purely my opinion.  With that in mind, I decided that maybe I should put some of the questions and answers here, where all can read.  I only use the reader’s name and location if they consent.  So far, all the folks I’ve corresponded with have not had a problem with that.

So here goes.  If you like this type of stuff, let me know, and I’ll be happy to do more of it.

Jayson from Milford, Delaware asks “I saw on TV that Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya were friends.  What was that stuff at Vegas all about?”

I can only say that I don’t know exactly what kind of relationship that Jamie and Juan have, but I think it was a racing deal.  Jamie would never have taken out his teammate on purpose.  Jamie McMurray not only took out Juan as a contender in the Las Vegas race, but he also took himself out.  I think it was a total accident, and Jamie apologized for it.  It was a big blow to the Earnhardt-Ganassi team, but they will recover and both will probably be strong contenders at Hampton, GA this weekend.

Sarah from Lansing, Michigan asks “What is going on with the 24 team?  I thought Steve Letarte was supposed to be a genius, but that last call for 2 tires instead of 4 hurt Jeff (Gordon’s) chances of winning.  I’m so sick and tired of seeing Jeff lose races because the team can’t get it together.”

Sarah, all I can say is that Steve blew that call.  They had 35 or so laps to go, and they needed most of a full tank of gas, so they had time to put on 4 tires.  I know that Steve Letarte is beating himself up over that call, but he was trying to keep Jeff out front, and he did, but we all know what happened after Johnson, Knaus, and company put 4 fresh Goodyears on the 48.  When I saw that the 24 only took 2 tires, I knew that the race was pretty much over.

Steve Letarte is a good crew chief, and the fact that he’s been with Jeff Gordon for so long says a lot.  Chad Knaus, on the other hand, has an almost paranormal ability to make the right calls in the pits.  Is Chad a better crew chief than Steve?  Statistics sort of prove that, at least over the last few years.  Jeff will win more races.  He should have won on Sunday, but he didn’t.  Jeff Gordon will win some races this year.

Jonathon from Gallup, New Mexico asks “Do you think the COT (Car Of Tomorrow) is good for NASCAR?  If so, why?”

Jonathon, my personal jury is still out debating that particular question.  The COT is a safer car, for sure, and I’m always for safety.  As dramatic as crashes are, I never want to see a driver get hurt, or God forbid, killed.  I think all true fans of the sport feel the same way.  I do think that the COT has made for some lousy racing lately, however.  The wing was a horrible idea, and the sooner we get back to the rear spoiler, the better.  Personally, I’m not a huge fan of NASCAR’s penchant for evening up the playing field to the extent that they have.  I’d like to see innovative crew chiefs figure out ways to beat the competition on the track, just like they used to do back in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s.  To me, the COT was NASCAR moving one step closer to the old IROC series, where each competitor was given a car that prepared just exactly like all the others.  IROC is dead.  There’s a reason for it.

Bring back the spoilers, relax the rules a little, and NASCAR will be just fine.

LJ from Medford, Oregon writes:  “You stupid redneck Dale JUUUUUNIIIOORR  lovers are idiots.  That boy can’t drive a racing car.  The sooner you stupid (expletive deleted) figure that out, the sooner you will find a driver who ACTUALLY can drive a tractor, much less a racing car.  All this love for the Jr nation is totally stupid, dude”

LJ, you know what?  I’d like to find out how many tractor races you’ve won.  If you’ve won 2 championships in the 2nd level tractor racing series, and 18 tractor races in the premier tractor racing series, you and me can talk.  You don’t win the races that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won without the ability to drive.  He’s won the Daytona 500, dude.  He’s won at Bristol, Richmond, Atlanta, Phoenix, and Chicago.  LJ, that dude knows how to drive a tractor!  Go fix your mommy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and have a good day, dude.

Finally, Rich from my home state of South Carolina asks:  “Why do you write?”

It’s really simple, Rich.  I don’t know how to do much of anything else.

Let me know what you think, or ask me your own questions either by commenting here, or you can leave me an e-mail at