Posted on: July 28, 2008 6:12 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2008 6:13 pm
 

The NASCAR spin zone

You have to give NASCAR PR an A+ for attempting to put a positive spin on the unmitigated disaster at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

"With teams clearly responding to the challenges presented by tire wear during Sunday’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, the race produced a solid increase in green-flag passing compared to last year," the release stated.

Umm, yeah, nice try.

When a caution is thrown every 10 laps and the entire field is basically forced to pit for new tires each time, it does a couple of things 1) the pit stops oftentimes jumble the running order, putting slower cars ahead of faster cars as they use pit strategy in an attempt to gain an advantage and 2) the cautions bunch everybody back up into one group making passing easier, whereas with long green-flag runs, cars would be strung out leading, in turn, to less passing.

In almost all instances, excess cautions are going to lead to more passing during a race.

Here's a question for you though:

Would your rather have cautions thrown every 10 laps like we got at Indianapolis or an entire race without a caution?

 

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 27, 2008 10:59 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2008 11:05 pm
 

Tony Stewart loses cool at USAC race

In case you missed it, the irascible Tony Stewart was on full display during a USAC race at O'Reilly Raceway Park on Thursday.

Stewart was upset that officials wouldn't let his driver Tracy Hines back onto the track after a wreck. As he argued vehemently he knocked the headset off one official and then shoved another. It's nothing that NASCAR officials will punish him for, but I imagine he won't be able to attend any USAC races for awhile.

Click here to check out the video.

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 27, 2008 7:24 pm
 

Competition Caution 400

What a disgrace.

Anybody who tries to defend the debacle that took place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway needs their head examined. There is no excuse -- well no good excuse at least -- for the product NASCAR gave its fans on Sunday.

Having to throw cautions every 10-12 laps because the tires Goodyear supplied weren't up to snuff was utterly ridiculous.

Yeah, hindsight is 20/20. Well, you know what? When it comes to the second biggest event on the NASCAR calendar, foresight should be 20/20.

There are weeks and weeks of testing before the Daytona 500, how does the Brickyard, which had never hosted a COT race prior to Sunday, not warrant testing months in advance?

I put all the blame on NASCAR. Sure Goodyear failed to bring a tire that could hold up, but when it comes right down to it, it's NASCAR's show.  Officials shouldn't just shrug their shoulders and say this was a learning experience.

If I actually paid to attend that race  -- and there were 200,000+ who did just that -- I'd be livid.

NASCAR knows it dropped the ball. NASCAR knows intentionally throwing cautions every 10 laps is nowhere near what fans came to Indianapolis expecting.

It's one thing when there's weather or other extenuating circumstances out of NASCAR's control that leads to bad racing or a premature finish, but Sunday's calamity is all on NASCAR.

If NASCAR wanted to make amends -- and it should -- it would at least offer a partial refund (and not a discount off of next year's tickets) to any fans who paid witness to that disaster. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

Posted on: July 25, 2008 5:12 pm
 

Tony Stewart's new rides for 2009

So here are Tony's primary schemes for 2009. Not only is Stewart using the number of his childhood hero A.J. Foyt, but the font of the 14 is the same as what Foyt ran on his cars way back when.

Tony Stewart's Office Depot car (Getty Images)

Tony Stewart's Old Spice car (Getty Images)

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 25, 2008 2:03 pm
 

Cue the Duck! Carl Edwards' new ride

(Nobody out there wants to talk Batman I guess)

So I got a pic of Carl Edwards' new ride for 2009. I think it looks sharp, though all the black schemes starting to come out are wearing a bit thin. Hopefully, I'll be able to post a nice pic of Stewart's new ride later today or over the weekend.

Carl Edwards' car (Aflac Racing Media)

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 23, 2008 4:37 pm
 

How I spent my summer vacation

Well, I won't detail all the aspects of my break, but I did manage to catch a couple of movies, one kid friendly (Wall-E) and one of the adult variety (get your head out of the gutter, not that kind of adult variety -- The Dark Knight).

Let me start off by saying that I thorougly enjoyed and recommend both films, but TDK is now among my top 10 all-time favorites.

But first up, Wall-E

I've seen all the Disney-Pixar movies and can't say I've ever been disappointed. Wall-E was no exception. But I wouldn't go so far as to say it deserves a Best Picture nomination as some critics have asserted. Critics love artsy type films and I think this movie sort of falls into that category as it's able to tell a story with so little dialogue. I think it's great how the animators were able to convey emotions from the robots, but I felt the story itself was somewhat weak.

At the top of my Disney-Pixar favorites are the two Toy Story movies. After those two, I couldn't really separate the rest of the Disney-Pixar library, I pretty much like them all. The only one that I don't particularly care for is Ratatouille.

Now on to TDK. In my eyes it definitely lived up to the hype. From beginning to end I was riveted (at the expense of a much-needed bathroom break). 

I wasn't a big fan of Batman Begins. It was just so-so for me, but TDK was a different story. I felt the story compelling and Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker was phenomenal and his part well written.

THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE MAY BE CONSIDERED A MILD SPOILER, SO SKIP IT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE FILM

My only complaint was that they might have saved part of the Harvey Dent story arc for the next movie and that might have shaved about 30 minutes from the run time.

SPOILER OVER

Anyhow, I now move TDK to the front of the line of the Batman move franchise. I still like the original Batman, but Tim Burton's version now rings somewhat campy to me, with current director Christopher Nolan's vision more based in reality. It's the comic book version Batman vs. the graphic novel Batman if you get my drift.

Michael Keaton remains my favorite actor who played Batman however. I remember thinking how ridiculous it was when it was first announced that he had been chosen to play Batman. Mr. Mom as Batman how ridiculous. But he pulled it off.

I never liked Val Kilmer or George Clooney as Batman. Maybe it's because the movies stunk. Christian Bale does a solid job and probably is the best at portraying "playboy" Bruce Wayne. It we could meld Bale's Wayne and Keaton's Batman it would be perfect.

The two Jokers are written so differently. Jack' Nicholson's is practically mean to chew the scenery, while Ledger's is written in a more demented manner (picture Nicholson in The Shining). So I wouldn't pick one's portrayal. They were perfect performances for how they were written.

Batman favs:

1. TDK; 2. Batman; 3. Batman Returns and 4. Batman Begins

I prefer to pretend as if Batman Forever and Batman & Robin never existed.

And that is how I spent (part of) my summer vacation.

Category: General
Posted on: July 15, 2008 6:03 pm
 

Give me a break

With the Sprint Cup embarking on its final off weekend of the season (boy, those are the saddest words I've written this year), I too am taking a short respite, so I'll be MIA for the next week or so.

I used to think NASCAR should have an off week prior to the start of the Chase, but I've tweaked my thinking slightly and now feel the final off week should come could prior to the final week of the "regular season".

And I think the Brickyard should serve as the final race of the regular season rather than Richmond.

Here's my thinking ...

Being the final race of the Chase has neutered Richmond. It used to be a race of bumping, banging and hot tempers. But with Chase spots on the line, drivers have become much too cautious, knowing that there will be no more races to make up for any mistakes they might make. The win isn't as important as simply finishing and that has ruined the race in my opinion.

You wouldn't have that with the Brickyard. A win at the Brickyard is so coveted that you know teams and drivers are going to give it all they've got. They won't be simply content with a top 10. Plus the Brickyard doesn't have the reputation of tearing up cars (though it can definitely bite you).

Anyhow, by making the Brickyard the final race of the regular season and putting an off week before it, you have two weeks of build up not only for the event itself, but for the Race to the Chase as well. The importance of the Brickyard is magnified.

And then with the Brickyard as the lead-in, NASCAR should carry a ton of momentum into the start of the Chase.

The only wrench in my plan -- the dictatorship known as espn.

They want to launch their coverage with the Brickyard, which is why the race date was moved up a week last season. But once again, I'm smarter than everybody else, because they'd be much better off moving Richmond or Bristol to this date and launching with some Saturday night short track racing. With a short track race at this point in the season, I think drivers would be much more likely to throw caution to the wind and that's what fans want to see at these tracks.

The Brickyard is a high-profile event, but it's not a great showcase for stock-car style racing like Richmond or Bristol where you're more likely to see some heads butting.

I know, it's pure genius, please hold your applause.

 

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 10, 2008 5:11 pm
 

Tony Stewart fallout

So the long-talked about rumor proves true. Tony Stewart is indeed jumping to Haas CNC as a part owner in 2009.

Community member mikeyfan1599 has an interesting take on the situation. Some may or may not know that Haas receives engine and technical support from Hendrick Motorsports. Conspiracy theorist mikeyfan wonders if Hendrick will feed him inferior equipment.

My quicktake on mikeyfan's theory: If Hendrick was/is playing shenanigans with the equipment he shipped to Haas (and I for one don't believe that to be the case), with Stewart's arrival I actually think that type of behavior would end. 1. I think Hendrick has a lot of respect for Stewart and 2. Stewart would have the expertise to tell whether he was receiving junked up equipment.

Even more than that though, I think it's a more complicated process than Hendrick drops a bunch of engines at the door and leaves. There's some sharing of information involved. The problem with Haas in its current incarnation is 

1. Drivers: No offense to Scott Riggs and all the other who have passed through the Haas CNC doors, but for the most part these are journeymen. With Stewart, that excuse is out the door.

2. Money: It's not as simple as hooking up the engine and boom you're gone.  There's still testing and the technical engineering for the set-up of the car. Stewart's arrival will bring an infusion of cash from wealthier sponsors. Stewart also isn't going to be the only new face in that garage. There's going to be a lot of talented people in more technical roles who'll be making their way to Stewart Haas.

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But what about Joe Gibbs Racing? The assumption is that Joey Logano will take over the 20 car. If that's the case, that's a young crew they got there: Denny Hamlin 27, Kyle Busch 23 and Logano 18.

On one hand, that's great because they have a plethora of young talent. On the other hand, with youth comes immaturity, which Busch, even with six wins, and Hamlin have certainly displayed this season. Not that Stewart has been a prince his entire career, but he's definitely toned it down in recent seasons and has become a respected veteran presence.

We don't know enough about Logano to know how he'll react when times are tough, but Busch and Hamlin don't take it well and have been known to cause a fuss.

I think Stewart's influence at JGR will be missed. I'm not saying JGR will fall into dire straits without Stewart, but I think next year you'll see a dip in performance.

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And one final point, I don't buy the argument that now that it's official that Stewart is leaving, JGR will supply him with inferior equipment the rest of the season. Perhaps I'm naive, but I just don't see Gibbs treating him like that. Not only that, but they've got their sponsors, namely Home Depot, to support as well. As strong as the JGR Toyotas have been this season, I fully expect Stewart to pull off a win (perhaps even Saturday night) or two or three this season.

 

Category: Auto Racing
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com