Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Martinsville: Make Sure You Try Out the Hot Dogs

Martinsville is famous for its hotdogs.  Go eat one.  It's pink, but it won't kill you.

I love Martinsville, because it's two drag strips connected by two U turns.  Oh, wait, I'm pretty sure someone else has already said that.  Believe me, it's not easy being original in a world where it seems like everything has been done, said, or written at least once.

I love the short tracks.  I always have.  I love Martinsville, Richmond, Bristol, Dover, Phoenix, and even Darlington, even though Darlington technically doesn't qualify as a short track.  I love the fact that the drivers have to really crank that steering wheel around like they don't do on 1.5 mile tracks.  It's fun, it's awesome, and oh, did I mention the great pink hot dogs?

Expect to see a hot dog wrapper or two on the front grills of some of the race car.  That's a tradition at Martinsville too.  Somehow, some of those pieces of paper end up on the track, and when one gets hung in front of the radiator of a race car, overheating can occur.  It's just part of the game at this wonderful track in southern Virgina.

Martinsville is the oldest, I think, track currently on the NASCAR circuit.  It's a wonderful example of how racing used to be.  I love it, and if you're a NASCAR fan, you should too.

I really don't care who wins this weekend, but I'm very happy that we're racing on one of the greatest tracks in the series this weekend.  I'm going to eat a hot dog in celebration.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Great Race at California. Say What?

It's seems strange to say it, but the last 10 or so laps of Sunday's California race were among the best I've seen so far in the 2011 season.  Just when it looked like Kyle Busch was going to complete another sweep weekend, he falls from first two third in just a couple of laps.

Kevin Harvick came seemingly out of nowhere and passed first Busch, then Jimmie Johnson, who only himself had just passed Kyle for the lead.  Kevin put his front bumper to the rear of Jimmie's Chevrolet, got Jimmie loose, and passed on the outside.

But wait, this really happened at California?  Indeed it did.

I will admit, the first 190 laps or so were not very exciting.  I was about ready to quit watching the race altogether when JJ and Kevin began to close in on Kyle.  I'm glad I hung around to watch the end.

I already had said to a friend how much I liked the paint scheme on the 29 Chevy of Kevin Harvick.  At California, he had Jimmy Johns as his primary sponsor, and the car, at least from the side, was white.  It reminded me of his cars during his rookie Cup season in 2001, when he won his first cup race in only his third start at Atlanta.  (Oh, how I missed Atlanta this spring, but more on that at another time)

Congratulations to Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress, and all the RCR guys in a great win in Kevin's home state.  That win will probably rank up there with some of Kevin's favorite wins, considering who he passed in the final laps to take the checkered flag.

Friday, March 4, 2011

On Monday Morning, Everyone's an Expert

I listen to sports talk radio quite a bit.  Most of the time, the coverage of anything related to NASCAR is severely lacking, but I do perk up when events occur that catch the attention of even the most diehard stick and ball radio guys who would rather talk about college basketball RPI’s than they would even mention any kind of automobile racing, especially NASCAR.

Trevor Bayne’s win at Daytona on Sunday changed all of that.  I didn’t listen to the radio all day, since my paying job requires most of my attention between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm.  I do listen on the way to work, while I’m at lunch, and on the way home, however.  Early this morning, I listened to one talk show host who kept referring to the Daytona 500 winner as ‘Trevor Payne,’ or sometimes ‘Travis Payne,’  and I was yelling at the radio, which turns out to be a very productive exercise.   It’s productive if you’re trying to roughen up some already scratchy vocal cords anyway, which I have, due to a recent cold.  Unfortunately, it’s not very productive for much else, except making the cats give me one of those ‘he’s losing his mind again’ looks.

This particular host had a caller who tried to correct the last name of the driver in question.  The host quickly ignored the caller’s attempt to correct a mistake, and announced that he basically watches all the races, and he knows what he’s talking about.  Interesting, because I watch all the races that I can, but sometimes not all of them.  For instance, I did not get to watch the Craftsman Truck race on Friday, nor did I catch the Nationwide race on Saturday, nor did I see the Twin 150’s on Thursday, because calling in sick just to watch two qualifying races just didn’t quite outweigh my need for a paycheck,  but even I knew who Trevor Bayne was.  I know more about him now than I did Sunday morning, but even I knew his name was ‘Bayne,’ and not ‘Payne.’

I just finished watching Trevor’s appearance on ESPN’s NASCAR show on Monday evening.  The young man is nearly impossible to dislike.  His enthusiasm is contagious.  He’s a very real, excited young man with a very personable and engaging personality.  If I were the Wood Brothers, I’d make darn sure this guy doesn’t get away.  He reminds me of the son I never had, but wish I had.  The guy prayed over the radio on his pace laps before the green flag dropped.  He was 20 years and one day old when he won the Daytona 500, in only his second career Sprint Cup start.

Several talk show hosts today have repeatedly talked about how Trevor won the biggest race in only his second race, as if he’s only been in a race car one other time in his life.  That, of course, is not true.  Trevor has been racing since he was knee high to a grasshopper, and achieved much national acclaim racing carts as a boy.  He’s been around the Nationwide series for a while.  In other words, the kid has been driving competitively most of his life.  The talking radio heads don’t seem to grasp that, and I actually heard one guy today try to make the argument that this is just proof that NASCAR is all a farce, just a sham, because some kid who has no idea what being a race car driver is all about just won the biggest race in his sport.  This gem of a host made a comment that Trevor probably doesn’t even know how many wheels there are on a stock car, because he’s never raced but one time before.  No, I’m not talking about ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, either.  This was some guy who typically engages mouth before brain, and since in his mind, NASCAR isn’t a sport anyway, why waste the time to actually research a subject on which you are about to pontificate?

Those you who listen to sports talk radio can probably tell me some even better stories than the couple I’ve shared with you.  As a NASCAR fan, I take a little pride in listening to these experts on all things sports, and knowing that even I know more about my sport than they do, no matter how well connected they try to appear to be.  One host I listened to today made the usual comments about Trevor being a ‘novice racer’, but when a caller who actually was a fan called in and set the host straight on Trevor’s pedigree, the host quickly admitted that he doesn’t actually watch NASCAR, he just scans the headlines.  I give this guy his props, he admits when he knows he’s delved into an area that he really doesn’t know anything about.  Unfortunately, many taking radio heads won’t admit that they’re wrong about anything.

I suppose just to prove a real expert knows what he’s talking about, Trevor Bayne will have to change his last name to ‘Payne.’