Tag Archives: NASCAR

Best sports quote of 2013

From the Associated Press

It was a product of dramatic, side-by-side racing with the new Gen-6 car that Bowyer credits with creating “more of what we love about NASCAR.”

And if tempers flare sometimes, so be it. Bowyer doesn’t think it’s gotten to the point where change is needed.

“We haven’t reached that,” he said during a trip promoting next month’s Talladega race weekend. “Obviously Denny got hurt, but that wasn’t an intentional crash. We’ve all seen intentional crashes. Jeff Gordon was an intentional crash. Now, if I would have crawled out of that thing or got helicoptered out of that situation, it would have been a game-changer, because that was an intentional crash and if it would have hurt me the repercussions would have been bad.

“What I saw was good racing in California, and that’s healthy. It’s side-by-side racing and oh by the way they were going for the win. You can’t ask for a better situation on a two-mile race track than to be coming off of four with three cars going for the win. And if they can have that on a two-mile race track, what’s Martinsville going to be like this weekend? Look out.”

Bowyer jokes about last year’s incident, which he calls “just one of those deals.”

“We’re not the smartest people in the world,” he said. “We go down the straightaway and turn left. That’s literally what we do.”

Life as an underfunded NASCAR team

I was watching the start of the Nationwide race at Bristol on Saturday and at the start Jennifer Jo Cobb just got out of her car and quit.  The details were sparse and the story got old pretty quickly as ABC moved on to the cars that were actually racing.  Here is what happened.

“Five minutes before the race, she took her crew and left. We had a crew meeting here on Friday morning and I explained to everyone what our purpose was here this weekend. In Vegas we destroyed a car through Kyle Busch’s accident. We only had one car, so had to have the body completely replaced on the car except for the roof, decklid and rear bumper, so without a sponsor the total of about $16,000 about broke me to get this car together. We already had our entry in for here and California, so rather than try to roll this and lose this, we decided we’d come up here and I let everybody know we were here in a conservative mode. We would practice smart.  We would qualify and we would make a few laps and then we would park the car and save it for California.

While I am a long suffering Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, I am always fascinated by the lower rung teams that seem to eek out a living at the bottom of the standings with a combination of pulling a start and park, scraping by with no primary sponsors, and the odd top 20 finish when it all comes together.  It’s a tough way to make a living and as the article showed, it’s not that clear cut.  I can understand Jennifer Jo Cobb wanting to race, I can also see how her owner with only one car wants to avoid running in the chaos that is Bristol.  After taking a look at the 2nd Chance Racing website, the team has only two sponsors which isn’t going to pay many bills, especially when one of them seems to be a web hosting deal for $65/month.

As for the driver, you have Jennifer Jo Cobb starting a clothing line to support her racing ambitions.  Running a business is hard enough but running a business that needs to be profitable enough to fund a racing team is even harder.  While Nationwide teams have lower budgets than Sprint Cup teams (in 2009 Dale Earnhardt said it would cost $150,000 to build a Nationwide car plus crew, driver, tires, transportation, and overhead costs), it is an expensive hobby and while teams like Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing make a lot of money, not a lot of other teams are and at the bottom rung of teams, it’s almost impossible.  It sucks for teams like 2nd Chance Racing an makes it really hard for drivers like Jennifer Joe Cobb.  At the same time, these owners know what they are getting into and without sponsorship, starting and parking seems to be the only option available.

I am 60% that I don’t like Tony Kornheiser. No, make that 100%

I have never been a Tony Kornheiser fan.  I thought he was a waste of booth space on Monday Night Football and Pardon the Interruption seems to be totally devoid of any serious reflection or research.  Here is Kornheiser on NASCAR

Did NASCAR rig things so Dale Earnhardt Jr.could win the pole for Sunday’s Daytona 500?

That’s the accusation Tony Kornheiser made Tuesday on ESPN’s "Pardon the Interruption."

"Someone I talked to who covered auto racing for a lot of years, said she believed there was a 60 percent chance that Junior qualified with a car not quite up to code, and people looked the other way," Kornheiser said.

Well, there you have it. Kornheiser talked to someone who’s "60 percent" sure the fix is in, so it must be true. Never mind that he doesn’t mention who said reporter is or offer what evidence — if any — she provided to back her claim.

Of course Kornheiser has some credibility issues with his coverage of the NFL so maybe he is just looking for a new sport to cover.

No wonder Jimmie Johnson keeps winning and winning

Jimmie Johnson's Transformer 3 setup

Check out Jimmie Johnson’s 2011 NASCAR setup… actually its a promo shot for Transformers 3 but I like it a lot.  With Saskatoon’s traffic getting worse, this may help me get home from work a little faster.  Of course that last sentence was just a segue so I can link to The Gladiator, a 1986 movie about a vigilante and his Dodge Ram with a harpoon in the back of it that he uses to take out irresponsible drivers.  I don’t remember it that well but even Transformers 2 was better than it.

What to do in Saskatoon during the summer of 2010

With Wendy working at Safeway and her shifts being all over the map, we need to plan ahead as a family if we are going to enjoy all of what Saskatoon has to offer this summer.  While we won’t get to all of these events this summer, here is my list of why I think Saskatoon is a great place to spend the summer.

  • June 24 and 25th :: Broadway Art Encounter :: This is done in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival so there will an interesting selection of art and some great jazz to see.
  • July 10th :: Regina Red Sox vs. Saskatoon Yellow Jackets ::  Wendy and I have been meaning to go to a minor league baseball game since the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets came to Saskatoon.  They are a Western Major Baseball League team and I am told it’s not bad baseball to watch.  $8 per ticket.
  • July 18th to July 25th :: Arlington Beach Family Camp and 50th Reunion :: I am taking the entire week off work and spending most of it at the cabin with the boys.  Wendy will be out for part of the week while she works a couple of shifts at work.
  • July 23rd and 24th :: Rotary Club Dragon Boat Festival :: Not sure if we will be back from the lake but if we are, we will take this in along with the Taste of Saskatchewan.
  • Taste of Saskatchewan July 20th to July 25th :: Taste of Saskatchewan :: I really like the idea of Taste of Saskatchewan but in reality, I don’t really enjoy going.  The food can either be good or mediocre, it’s a really crowded event, the music is too loud to have a conversation, and parking can be brutal.  My honest feeling is that it would be a better event with fewer (but better restaurants), a larger venue, and a sound stage that doesn’t feel the need to blow out your ear drums.
  • July 29th to August 7th :: Saskatoon Fringe Festival :: Good food, lots of stuff made of hemp, hundreds of people smoking pot while the police look the other way.  I don’t generally take in the plays but instead just enjoy myself on Broadway Avenue with the boys.
  • Saskatchewan Roughriders July 31st :: Hamilton Tiger Cats vs. the Saskatchewan Roughriders :: It’s the Riders Centennial which means like all Saskatchewan Roughriders fans, we must make the mandatory pilgrimage to Mecca and take in a game.  We are choosing to see the Riders lay down a smackdown on the Hamilton Tiger Cats.  There is a reason why we have a cabin that is only an hour away from Mosaic Stadium.
  • NASCAR Canadian Tire Series August 4th :: NASCAR Canadian Tire Series :: 250 laps of NASCAR goodness at the Auto Clearing Motor Speedway.  Oddly enough, Pierre Bourque of Bourque Newswatch is also in the series.  Sadly, the Conservative Party is no longer sponsoring his ride, maybe because NASCAR drivers only turn left.
  • August 8th :: Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan :: I know it goes all summer but what could be a better way to spend a Sunday night than taking in some Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice) and then head to a place with a patio for coffee and dessert.
  • August 10 15 :: Saskatoon Exhibition :: This is the highlight of Mark’s summer and is fun to go with Wendy and Oliver as well.
  • September 3-4 :: Saskatoon Fireworks Festival :: After years of taking in really lame fireworks shows in Saskatoon, the Saskatoon Fireworks Festival changed everything.  It is a world class, must see event that is perfect for River Landing.  Let’s just hope the Traffic Bridge doesn’t collapse before that weekend is over.
  • Calgary Flames logo September 29 :: Calgary Flames vs. New York Islanders :: I know I broke up with hockey a couple of years (I said some things, hockey said some things… you know how it is) but we have been checking out each other on Facebook and I may grab a thing of nachos and see how hockey is doing.

As you can probably tell by the links, I am a big fan and user of Yahoo!’s Upcoming service.  I’ll keep adding events to my profile as I see them coming up.

Flu

Oliver has had the flu all week.  He recovered yesterday but I have it now.  Fever, funny nose, ear ache, and sore throat.  I am fine if I don’t swallow or move.  Earlier this week he would just sit motionless beside me.  Now I feel like he does.

I had some plans to go out tonight to a steak night.  Wendy and I bought some tickets but she had already booked off last night and couldn’t get tonight off.  Meanwhile I am at home tonight and watching the NASCAR – The IMAX Experience.  It’s a little Dale Earnhardt, Jr. heavy and Mark asked me, “Where’s your Dale Jr. watch?”  I replied, “The watch band is broken.”  Mark quipped, “That happens quite a bit for him doesn’t.  You should have gotten a Jeff Gordon watch.”  Of course Mark was the one that gave me the watch.  I feel like he set me up somehow.

Danica

Danica Patrick in her Indy Car uniform I have to admit, I couldn’t stand Danica Patrick when she was just racing Indy cars.  I thought she was a whiny, over-rated Diva that as much a product of those creepy GoDaddy commercials as she was of her one win (a fuel consumption win that had no impact on the points race).

I was looking forward to her flunking out of the Nationwide Racing in NASCAR quite a bit but over the last three weeks of watching a fair amount of her on Speed (the network, not the drug), I have come to appreciate her.  Danica has been a lot more humble, a lot less whiny, and even enjoyable to listen to as she describes what she is learning while running NASCAR.

I don’t know if she is just overwhelmed by the NASCAR learning curve or if someone at JR Motorsports has gotten her to tune her attitude down a bit. I wonder if the fact that she has done very poorly so far has helped a bit as well (for qualifying for California, she qualified 36th (and was slower than even the go of go home qualifiers") and finished 31st (three laps back).    In losing today, even on the radio, she was totally different than she is in an Izod IndyCar Series race.  No temper tantrums, no rants… in other words, totally different than she is normally during a race.  Going slow and temper tantrums don’t go that well together so maybe she realizes that she needed to tone it down.

A summary of her race from Yahoo! Sports

Danica Patrick in the ARCA 88 car Patrick repeatedly said this week that the difficult part for her is not knowing for sure how things are supposed to feel in a stock car. It was clear she was trying to figure that out and she accomplished what she has to do— focus on running laps and gaining experience.

“You progressed a lot in this race, girl. I’m proud of you, what you’ve learned,” crew chief Tony Eury Jr. told her over the radio more than two-thirds of the way through the race.

Patrick originally was supposed to make her NASCAR debut at California, but went a week earlier than planned after finishing sixth in an ARCA race at Daytona. She also will race next weekend at the 1 1/2 -mile Las Vegas track before getting back in Indy cars for a stretch.

After five laps Saturday, Patrick was 41st of the 41 cars still on the track after two had already parked for the day. Fifteen laps later, she was still last on the track (of 40 cars) and had already been passed by seven cars.

When the 57th lap ended, Patrick had moved to 35th ahead of four other cars on the track and her lap times were improving.

At the halfway point, she was up to 32nd, though two laps down.

Either way, I am appreciating her guts as she learns to race in NASCAR and actually found myself rooting for her.  I don’t know how long the new and laid back Danica is going to last but it makes it a lot easier to cheer for her.  Let’s hope that Tony Eury Jr. has better luck with her than he did with Dale Jr.

Jay Hart has this to say about her time in the Nationwide Series.

Though Patrick’s wasn’t a stellar performance, it certainly was respectable. After dropping to the back of the field just two laps into Saturday’s race, she settled in and began picking off a handful of cars. By the end of the race, she had cut the lap-time differential between herself and the leader by three quarters – from around four seconds at the start of the race to around one by the time the checkered flag flew.

Despite the apparent improvement from Lap 1 to Lap 150, Patrick was anything but satisfied. After getting out of her car, she stormed to her hauler in the Nationwide garage, clearly agitated with her result.

“She doesn’t like finishing where she is,” Eury Jr. said outside Patrick’s hauler. “She feels like she should be better than she is right now, and I’m just trying to keep her pumped up and tell her it’s all right.

“It’s a tough sport. There’s a lot of competition over here, and there’s a lot of guys who came from the same series she did [who] tried to do it and some of them have been successful, some of them have not. But she’s going to make it; it’s just going to take time. She’s just got to be willing to sacrifice that time.”

After a 15-minute cool-down period, Patrick emerged from her hauler to give her take on the day.

“I’m a competitor and I’m used to running up front,” she said. “So it’s shocking when you’re that far back. But you know what? This is a whole new ball of wax for me, and it’s all different. And I have to disconnect from the results for quite some time, I think, because they’re probably not going to be what I’m used to.”

And so begins the waning portion of Danica-mania.

Stay Classy Coach

Michael Silver has a great column on the lack of social skills shown by many in the Bill Belichick coaching tree.

It’s the latest testament to Mangini’s apparent lack of tact and people skills, personality traits he honed under his estranged mentor, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Like two other Belichick disciples, new Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and neophyte Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, Mangini has marked his arrival at a new organization this offseason by alienating established leaders while projecting a self-assuredness that borders on arrogance.

With three Super Bowl titles as a head coach and a prior record of success as a brainy defensive coordinator, Belichick, a future Hall of Famer, can get away with his power trip. Whether Mangini, Pioli and McDaniels are able to pull it off will depend upon how many football games their respective teams win, something that often depends upon the men in uniform buying into the program.

In the meantime, in Cleveland, Kansas City and Denver, the new guys in charge seem to be consumed with winning mind games, a strategy I’m not so sure will serve them well over the long haul.

In Denver, McDaniels’ sloppy handling of his interactions with Jay Cutler after an unsuccessful attempt to trade him at the start of free agency led to the loss of a franchise quarterback, largely because the 33-year-old coach was obsessed with demonstrating his unquestioned authority.

In K.C., Pioli’s arrival as the all-powerful general manager after years as Belichick’s right-hand personnel man was soon followed by a less-publicized incident involving a star player. According to Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock, perennial Pro Bowl guard and locker-room leader Brian Waters  asked to be traded or released after becoming offended by the arrogant attitudes of Pioli and his newly hired coach, Todd Haley.

Waters, a source told Whitlock, flew to Kansas City in February specifically to meet with the new GM and coach in an effort to become familiar with their leadership plans. The source said Pioli told Waters he had no interest in meeting and that Haley began a hallway conversation with the player by proclaiming that 22 guys off the street could win two games, as the Chiefs had in ’08.

Mangini, fresh off a 1-4 finish with the Jets that got him fired after three seasons – he had a 23-26 overall record (including a playoff loss) in New York – arrived in Cleveland with a similar swagger. One of his first moves was to orchestrate the firing of director of pro personnel T.J. McCreight, the highest-ranking personnel man remaining after Lerner’s dismissal of general manager Phil Savage, and one of the people who’d interviewed to replace Savage. (Mangini, hired while the GM job was still open, successfully lobbied Lerner to choose Ravens personnel executive George Kokinis.)

McCreight, a source said, was called into the office of team president Mike Keenan, who pulled out cell-phone records showing that McCreight had engaged in conversations with reporters – an act frowned upon by the paranoid Mangini. McCreight explained that speaking with the media was among the duties with which he’d been entrusted by Savage, but he was nonetheless terminated; he has since been hired as the Cardinals’ director of pro personnel.

I hate defending Bill Belichick but he has always treated players well.  Before he learned how to do this, he flamed out in Cleveland and left there with not many Christmas cards from the organization or the players.   It may work in the short term but players play for a coach they respect and who they think respects them.  Witness the success that Mike Smith had in Atlanta doing the exact opposite that the Belichick coaching tree is trying to do.  He respected the veterans, listened to their input, and when the going got tough, they believed in their coach.

Looking outside football, contrast this with how Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports treats people

In 25 years of racing in NASCAR’s top series, Hendrick has built a powerhouse organization of 500-plus employees who have a fierce loyalty to their boss. They love working for “Mr. H.” and put 100-percent effort into job performance. If the grass is possibly greener elsewhere, few ever bother finding out.

Steve Letarte started as a high schooler stocking the parts room and grew up to be Jeff Gordon’s crew chief. Gustafson came aboard in the chassis shop when he was 24 and was Busch’s crew chief six years later. Chad Knaus started as a tire changer on Gordon’s original “Rainbow Warriors” pit crew, left briefly for a bigger job elsewhere, then returned to build Jimmie Johnson’s three-time championship-winning team from scratch.

Even Tony Eury Jr. has come full cycle. He spent childhood summers sweeping floors and polishing cars at Hendrick with his grandfather, Robert Gee. When Earnhardt chose HMS in 2007 over every other team in the industry, Earnhardt used this example to demonstrate his affection for Hendrick: When Gee, one of the first employees at All-Star Racing (now Hendrick Motorsports) had aged well past his ability to perform as a fabricator, Hendrick let him continue to work.

He treats his employees as family – firing Casey Mears, a close friend of Hendrick’s late son, Ricky, was a gut-wrenching business decision – and goes out of his way to offer a helping hand.

Sidelined several weeks with a fast-spreading sinus infection that kept him away from the track, Hendrick returned for last week’s All-Star race on a scaled-back schedule. Thursday, he was still making his rounds at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, reconnecting with people he had not seen in several weeks. When an industry veteran updated Hendrick on an ailing family member, Hendrick said to him, “Tell me if there’s anything I can do to help.”

That kind of attention is what separates Hendrick from the other car owners. Of course Joe Gibbs and Richard Childress and Jack Roush have good employee relationships, but none have established the kind of companywide adoration that Hendrick receives from his race team, his automotive organization and virtually everyone inside the Cup garage, including his competition.

Who would you rather work for?

I’m moving out of Junior Nation

Dale Earnhardt Jr.For years I hated NASCAR but then Mark got into it and then for Father’s Day bought me a Dale Jr. watch which by default made me a member of Junior Nation.  Every Sunday after that we watched a race and spent our fair share of time watching practice and qualifying as well (great background noise when you are trying to work).  Having endured now two full seasons of a) heartless racing b) excuses and c) only one win, I have decided to declare myself a NASCAR free agent and am on the lookout for a new team and driver to cheer for.  Mark recently decided to cheer for Jeff Gordon which frees me up from having to cheer for Dale Jr.

My leading candidates so far are:

  1. Rowdy
  2. Tony Stewart
  3. AJ Allmendinger
  4. Carl Edwards
  5. Sam Hornish Jr.

I am partial to the open wheelers and while I like Mark Martin, another couple of years he will be racing motorized wheel chairs.  I would cheer for Jimmie Johnson but it is kind of like moving to America from Europe and cheering for the New York Yankees.  Would you want to hang out with that guy?  Neither would I.

Don’t Check Up

Don't Check Up As a NASCAR fan, you lose perspective over how many job losses hit the sport this year but there has been 700 highly educated mechanic, fabricators, and engineers who have been laid off.  Don’t Check Up is a job search website just for NASCAR employees who have been let go during the recession.  The back story is here.

The site is part of an unemployment task force, founded by former Lowe’s Motor Speedway president Humpy Wheeler and the North Carolina Motorsports Association, that attempts to assist displaced workers as well as keep them in the state.

“We’ve actually been working with the biotech industry, which has connections to fabrication jobs. Things in the medical device industry are real similar to racing, with the precision and time constraints and all that,” said Shawn Stewart, marketing and membership director of the NCMA. “We’re trying to promote these workers and what kind of value they might bring to a company that’s non-motorsports. Either they stay in another career path or come back to racing, but either way, if those jobs don’t come back, they’re still in the area and still employed.”

Bandwagon Jumping

Dale Jr. #88 Amp Energy Car I was shopping with Mark today and we were in a sports collectible place.   He saw some NASCAR replica cars and asked me if I liked the #24 (Jeff Gordon) car.  I told him yeah but I am a #88 (Dale Jr.) fan.  Mark goes, “I think you should change to #24”.  I told him that the reason I watch NASCAR with him is that he bought me a Dale Jr. watch last year and that was his favorite driver.

Mark’s reply cracked me up.  “Yeah but he isn’t that good this year and I don’t think we should be cheering for a loser.  Dad, it’s time to move on and pick a different car. #24 is the way to go.”