Category:Auto Racing
Posted on: June 17, 2008 12:23 pm
 

Mikey and Michigan

First I would like to congratulate the Fans of Dale Earnhardt Junior for Juniors victory.  I know I an hard on these fans and most of us knew it was a matter of time for Junior to win and he now has.  The monkey is off is back at least for another 76 races (LOL) So enjoy your victory and celebrate because it was a long time coming.

Now for Mikey and Michigan.  Well, do to qualifying being rained out Mikey was guaranteed to be in the field and he started 38th.  At the drop of the green flag I was worried because here he was complaining how loose the car was and it was undriveable.  Then he moved to the top of the track and started to pass cars at an average of about 1 a lap for the first 30 laps.  In fact he lead a lap prior to the first pit stop.  Mikey ran consistently in the top 20 all day and after a pit stop he would fall to about 18th and then start climbing to the front.  At one point he was a solid 12th and again moving up.  When the caution with around 50 laps to go that is where he started to run into problems. 

Bobby Kennedy told Mikey he was about 2 laps short of fuel and that Mikey needed to conserve.  Well Mikey started to back down his lap times but the problem became clear that the other cars that were pitting for fuel and tires were catching Mikey and passing him while he was still conserving fuel.  When Sam Hornish spun with 3 laps remaining Mikey was still in 18th position so he didn't gain anything saving fuel, in fact he probably hurt his position,  So in my mind it was a bad call, good thought thinking they could gain a top 10 but a bad call in the end. 

Well when the caution came out it was 4 tires and fuel for the 55.  Mikey came out in the 18th position and was ready to fly.  At the drop of the green flag I guess the racing was going strong, anyway when the caution came out TNT showed the 10 sliding around and then I heard Mikey say it wasn't Patrick's fault.  Apparently, the 1 car of Martin Truex Junior got real loose and checked up and Mikey was right behind he checked up and the 10 hit him in the rear spinning both cars out.  So Mikey ended up finishing 23rd.  That is how his luck has run Mikey had a car capable of finishing in the top 10 and a questionable call by the pit crew and bad luck once again kept him from getting the finish he deserved.

But the good news is he is back in the top 35 and doesn't have to worry about qualifying at Infenion.  I know a lot of folks are saying it curtains for Mikey at the road course, after all he put Terry in the car last year.  But he put Terry in the car because he wanted to guarantee the car made the race and Terry is not bad on a road course.  But here is his stats and I have a good feeling he will do well again this week.

18 Starts, 1 Top 5, 7 Top 10's  Average start 20th, Average Finish 15.9

So to count him out is playing against the odds.

The biggest concern this week for MWR is how the 00 will do,  He is only 7 points ahead of the 66 who is bringing in a ringer to run the race in Max Pappis.  It would be great if Max didn't qualify and Scott Riggs did in the 70, to me it would be fitting for that to happen.  David while he didn't have a good run at Michigan is in 28th and in real good position of staying out of the go or go homers. 

Heres' to MWR and hopefully a very successful run for all 3 cars at Infenion.

Category: Auto Racing
Tags: MWR, NASCAR
 
Posted on: June 11, 2008 7:15 pm
 

Back to the Stress of Qualifying

Well, it finally happened, Michael fell back into the clutches of the "Go or Go Homers".  For those who were not listening to his radio or who missed my responses to post here is what happened at Pocono that cost him. Mikey was running around 27th when the last caution was over.  Mikey and Bobby Kennedy decided that they would short pit and come in when they new they could go all the way on one more stop.  So that is what happened.  They were about the 5th car in and changed 2 tires and went back out.  Well he remained on the lead lap and the strategy looked like it was going to pan out for them.  When the last of the leaders finally pitted Mikey had moved up to around the 13th position.  Well, they ran their 35 laps and with 32 laps remaining they made their final pit stop.  They were far enough behind the leader that they went a lap down but were just about ready to go back on the lead lap because Carl Edwards was coming in.  Well as his luck has been this year just as Carl Slowed down to come into the pits for his final stop, the caution came out and Carl narrowly missed passing the cones which means he would have had to come down pit road and Mikey would have gotten his lap back and been towards the front of the field after the others came in for their pit stop.  But instead Carl remained on the track and Mikey was caught a lap down. 

Well as we know Pocono is not known as a track where a lot of people go a lap down, so there 34 cars on the lead lap and Mikey was 1 of 3 cars caught a lap down.  So Mikey finished 37th which left him in the position to fall into the go or go homers.  But Mikey will be ok and I look for him to rebound and work himself into the top 30 prior to the end of the season. 

I posted the following on another thread answering my friend JustGreat and I'll stand behind what this says.

JG, you may be right about Mikey needing to step back but if you go back in history I think you will find that for any team that started out new it took at least 3 years for them to make a mark.  Why is JGR more successful that MWR with the toyotas, Experience and Resources that's why.  Yes they have more talented drivers but They have also been building cars a whole lot longer than MWR has.  They learned what worked and what doesn't.  Now that JGR is on board with Toyota I expect to see all the Toyotas benefit from this information as it gets passed around and new cars are being built.  This is a tough business to get into and even tougher to become competitive,  But when you look at teams such as BDR, BAM Racing, HAAS racing, I think for just being together for 1 and 1/3 seasons, MWR is doing remarkably well.  Yes, I was disappointed that Mikey fell out of the top 35, but I don't think he will stay there.  Him and his crew cheif are starting to hit on a few things.  Mikey is learning that when this car is just a little off you don't make major changes, i.e a pound of pressure in the tires, just maybe a 1/4 pound etc., because it makes the car worse.

Do I expect Mikey to be a chase contender this year or even next season,  No not really, I think David can and I think Mike McDowell can be a solid top 20 driver next season.  What I do expect from Mikey next season is to finish someplace between 15 and 20th in the points.  this year i expect him to finish within the top 35 hopefully between 25th and 30 or higher. 

I know a lot of people like to put him down, but except for the first couple of years with DEI Mikey never really had good equipment to run with.  So I am hoping that with Toyota's help he can get the equipment and start being competitive.  But first he has to learn this new car and i believe it is harder for the older drivers to adjust to than the younger drivers. And besides Mikey is only 45.  He has a few years left. 

 

I will say this if Mikey struggles next season and is at least not a top 20 car by the end of next year then I will be the first to say it is time for him to hang it up.  But as I pointed out no team has really come out of the box and been a top notch team.  Even Ray Everham struggled the first couple of years when he brought Dodge back into the sport and he didn't have to worry about "Go or Go homers".
Category: Auto Racing
Tags: MWR, NASCAR
 
Posted on: June 3, 2008 12:18 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2008 12:20 pm
 

Whats your favorite game time Snack?

I started a thread on the racing boards asking everyone what their favorite Appetizer or Snack was.  Well, now I want to know what everyone likes to have when it comes game time.  Is it Onion Rings, or Chips and your favorite Cheese Dip, Maybe fried Cheese Sticks, or Fried Mushrooms?  What type of Beverage, is it an Ice Cold Bud? or Maybe a Miller Lite? or for those who can't or don't drink is it a Coke, or Pepsi, or how 'bout lemonade?

So let your friends know what you like to have around at game time>

Me, if its at night a bowl of Popcorn and a Coke or if its a weekend game Cheese Dip and a Coke.

Posted on: June 3, 2008 10:20 am
Edited on: June 3, 2008 10:45 am
 

Is Kyle Busch Good for NASCAR?

In the mid 70's a driver appeared on the NASCAR circuit that had only one thing on his mind, and that was to win.  This driver learned real quick that television had a great impact on his competition and his popularity.  So everytime he saw a camera he would come up, interrupt another driver if he had too, to tell the world that he was the best and he was going to win the race.  He even went so far as letting his competition know if they got in his way he would move them out of the way on his way to the checkered flag.  This driver became very popular with a certain sector of the fans but was soon hated by most because of his mouth.  This driver of course was Darrell Waltrip.

In the early 80's another driver came along and although he didn't speak much he started winning races the same way as DW did.  If someone was in his way he would move, crash, or do whatever it tood to win the race.  This driver became very popular among those fans that did not like DW because he did not back down.  Again, you know this driver his name Dale Earnhardt Senior.

Now fast forward to today, 2008.  NASCAR had become basically bland the past few year, well since Dale Earnhardt Sr. Died at Daytona in 2001.  Everything has been geared and all attention has been given to Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jimmy Johnson and of course Dale Earnhardt Jr.  The only bit of controversy was basically when Tony Stewart had a scuffle with the press.  Then a lot of the fans hollared because Tony wasn't like Jeff, JJ or Dale Jr.

We all know that Dale Earnhardt Jr is also the most popular Driver and has a legion of fans, in fact the press has Nicknamed his fans "Junior Nation"  the problem with the "Nation" in my opinion is the press has messaged it so much that some, not all, of the fans feel they own the track when they show up. Well, again in my opinion, this is starting to catch up to the rest of the fans.  Most fans are getting tired of the beer cans being thrown on the track, they are getting tired of the middle finger being given to a driver because he passed Jr. or bumped Junior a year ago, or for thinking they can get rowdy drunk and do as they please.

In comes Kyle Busch.  Kyle is a throw back in a way to the Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt,  He just wants to win.  He doesn't care if he has any fans, he doesn't care if the "Nation" throws beer at him after the race, all he cares about is winning.  It doesn't matter how he wins, if he outruns his opponets or if he just pushes them out of the way or if he drives the car in deep under another driver and if the other driver trys to stay with him or pinch him down to gain an advantage, well lets just say 8 tires are better than 4.  No Kyle wants to win and when the press gets in his face and asks him what he thinks or how he feels about the fans who are booing him, his response is they can hate me all they want as long as I'm winning.

To me this is what NASCAR has been lacking, the typical "Bad Boy".  NASCAR kept Tony Stewart down for so long that his so called Bad Boy image is nothing compared to Kyle Busch's.  No Kyle has a "They can Hate Me" Attitude and what is it getting him?  It is getting him popularity.  Prior to the start of this season, I doubt that Kyle was among the top 25 most popular driver.  But after going to the 600 and seeing the lines at his souviner stand it is clear that Kyle is become very popular with the fans.  Why, because he is pissing off the "NATION".  Just like when Dale Earnhardt broke onto the scene and started to rough up ole DW and his fans, Kyle is roughing up the "NATION" and this is getting the fans excited.  Kyle has single handledly brought much needed attention to NASCAR this year with his "Bad Boy" attitude.  He is a driver that you will either like or you will hate but there won't be a middle ground like a lot of drivers. 

And what makes this fued so great is that it is between Kyle and the "Nation" not Kyle vs Junior or Kyle vs HMS.  No its Kyle verses the Nation.  Kyle upon introduction is now taking a bow to the Nation,  When he wins he wants to get up in front of the Nation and hold his hands in victory hoping to keep the crowd going.  I started a poll on the Racing Message board about how people feel about Kyle and as of this writing it is about 40/60 in the votes of people liking him verse not liking or don't care one way or the other.  I wish I had done the poll earlier as I would be willing to bet the numbers in favor of Kyle would have been a lot, lot less.  I will admit that I didn't particularly like Kyle but after the incidient at Richmond and the outcry from the "NATION" over a racing incident and then to hear Kyle say they could "HATE ME" I was one of those that he has/is winning over. 

One last note, If Kyle wasn't winning none of this would be happening, but the kid can drive and depending on his equipment he could be on top of this sport for a while. 

So Kyle is good for NASCAR, he has interjected a new love hate among the fans, he is bring in viewers to the sport and he is reminding us old timers of those days when there always was a "Bad Boy" in the sport that the fans could love or hate.  Welcome to the "Bad Boy" Club Kyle and lets hope your successful for a long time in your role, for NASCAR's sake.

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: May 27, 2008 3:06 pm
 

My observations of MWR at the 600

Well, I made it back from the 600 is good shape,  Got home around 2:15 AM after the race.  So here is what I observed during the race concerning Michael Waltrip Racing. 

First the Good:  David Reutimann had a great run.  He started 28th finished 10th and was up as high as 5th at one point.  The gas mileage game cost him a top 6 maybe a top 5 finish.  David is doing well in the 44 and hopefully, is convinceing UPS that he is the driver they need to stay with.

Next the Ok:  I give Mike McDowell the ok as he finished 31st, but despite the troubles I give him a pass because he is a rookie and this is the first time on this track.  I have faith that if he can stay in the top 35 that he will do much better in the second half and maybe even win the rookie of the year award. 

Last the Bad:  Michael is having problems with the COT.  I, as a big fan, am getting tired of him telling his crew chief week in and week out that "This is the worse car I have ever been in"  It can't be the worse car every week.  Thank goodness Bobby Kennedy has been with him long enough to brush off these remarks as Mikey and try to get as much information as he can from him to fix the car.  I blame most of Mikeys problem on him and here's why.  Mikey is telling the crew chiefs what he wants in the car prior to the race. The springs, Shocks, wedge, track bar placement, swaybar etc.  Mikey has a lot of say and it usually ends up his way.  But when the race starts and the car isn't right then you hear him whine about how bad the car is.  But Mikey it's your own fault.  What do I think he needs to do?

Well I'm not a racer, never have been, nor a mechanic, but if it was me I would take all three cars to the track, say Kentucky for a 2 day test.  I would set each car up the same and have all three drivers go 30 laps in the car reporting back every 5 laps what the car is doing in the turns, ie. loose in, center ok, tight off, etc. and record their lap times.  After the 30 laps, I would take the seat out of the 44 and put it in the 00, the 00 to the 55 and the 55 to the 44.  Put 4 fresh tires on the car and do it again.  after that 30 laps I swap seats again.  After that I  would check to make sure each driver kept his same complaints and if they did I have a baseline to work off of.  It wouldn't matter if David considered the car loose entering the turns and tight off and Mikey considered the car tight in and real tight off the base line would be set.  That way the three crew chiefs could make the changes for thier drivers report those changes and they should be able to help each other out.  Say the make a shock change to David and that gets him right, then if the make the same change to Michael he may now be netrual in and tight off, As adjustments are made to get the cars to the drivers liking they are recorded and after the two day session is over they would have notes to compare with.  This way MWR would take all three cars to the track with the same setup and as the drivers relay the information they make the changes and when one hits the right combination they tell the others and they should be able to find the right setup in no time.

Also, with this baseline during the race if David needs an adjustment and the other do too the crew chiefs can relay to each other what the changes are and they should be able to get all the cars right by the end of the race. 

Mikey needs to do something and do it in a hurry.  Right now he is 3 points from the go or go home position.  Another sub 25 finishing position will leave him battling with the go or go homers and we have seen that scene before.  So Mikey please get it together before its too late.  I have enjoyed not having to stress about you making the races. 

Category: Auto Racing
Tags: MWR, NASCAR
 
Posted on: May 22, 2008 9:12 am
Edited on: May 22, 2008 12:06 pm
 

Looking forward to Charlotte and the 600

Just a couple more days and the 600 will be here,  The beginning of the Dog Days in NASCAR, where the heat and the trek up to the Northeast occurs.  We have road a road course towards the end of June in California and trips to the Monster Mile and New Hampshire.  But it all kicks off with the 600 and what does that mean for MWR.  Well, IMO this is the start of the tell, tell signs if MWR is going to be a top 35 teams or are they going to fall within the clutches of the Go or Go homers.  Right Now the 44 is looking strong.  David has had strong runs all season and now that he has the 44 out of the Go or Go Homers he has been running in the top 20.  The 00 with Michael McDowell  is doing ok considering they have a rookie driver who hasn't been to any of these tracks before.  I know at Darlington he fell down 3 laps early but then maintained that for the rest of the race.  You get the feeling this kid may be the real deal and if he can keep his head above water, in the top 35, until the second half I believe you will see this kid have a strong 2nd half and believe it or not he has a real chance of winning Rookie of the year.  Why do I say that?  Because if you look at how the Rookie of the Year Standings are done and most of the Rookies this year have fallen within the Go or Go homers then Mike can score points where these drivers will miss races.

This brings me to Mikey,  Mikey needs a good race, not a great race, at Lowes Motor Speedway  this week.  I'm asking for a solid top 20 for 2 reasons,  1.  Mikey is within reach of falling into the go or go homers. and 2.  I'm going to be at the race and it would be nice to see him run well.  Also, a strong run will pull him further away from the go or go homers and could vault him into the top 30.  I know the top 30 doesn't sound like much but its a stepping stone and after last season to have his car in the top 30 would mean a lot for a new team. 

The question is can he have that strong run?  I think he can,  Bobby Kennedy seems to be able to handle Mikey and get the car to his liking.  Mikey and crew chiefs usually don't last very long with each other and is evidence with Paul Andrews this year and he went through what 3 or 4 crew chiefs last season.  He also went through a lot of crew chiefs at DEI so the problem appears to lie with Michael not so much the crew chiefs.  Why does he have problems with crew chiefs?  I believe its that Michael wants to play crew chief too.  He tries to tell the crew chief to make these adjustments and if the crew chief doesn't then Mikey quits driving or if his changes don't work then he trys to place the blame elsewhere.  So the crew chiefs get aggrevated with his antics and end up quitting.  However, Bobby is different.  Bobby has worked with Michael a long time in the Bush series and he has lead Michael to wins.  Bobby also, doesn't mind telling Michael to shut up and drive the car or no I'm not doing this and going about his business of fixing the car.  Bobby knows how he likes the car to driver and can set it up for Michael. 

So with a 1/3 of the season being done after the 600 it is going to be interesting to see how Michael and all of MWR fairs not only this week but for the next 1/3 of the season.

Category: Auto Racing
Tags: MWR, NASCAR
 
Posted on: May 15, 2008 7:43 am
 

Coming up on 1/3 point of the season

Well race fans here we are approximately 1/3 of the way through the season and there have been a few surprises, a few just so/so things going on and of course some disappointments.  So here is your chance to list your thoughts on the season so far.  I am listing my Surprises, So-So's and Disappointments this year in decending order.  In other words a countdown in each category and I invite you to do the same along with a brief statement as to why that item is in the column you placed it.

So here we go and I look forward to reading your comments:

Disappointments:

4.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Here we go, Mikeyfan bashing Dale Junior once again right?, No, Dale Junior is having a very, very good year right now, the disappointment would be that he hasn't won yet. (Don't worry Junior fans you will see this name again)

3. Yate Sponsorship - Robert Yates Racing is an organization that has been around for quite a while and with two young drivers are having problems with sponsorship and that's a shame.  Jack Roush promised Yates sponsorship help, but where is it?

2.  Everham Motorsports - This is an organization that came out of the box real fast when they first moved to Dodge, Now they appear to be just a solid top 25 team.  This organization need to get it into gear.

1.  Open Wheel Drivers - With the success of Juan Pablo Montoya, there was a lot of hype of the Open Wheel drivers invading NASCAR.  Penske even went as far as giving Sam Hornish a leg up on his competition by giving him the points from the 2 team.  Problem is Sam is now in the Go or Go home category along with the rest of the Open Wheelers.  So much for open wheel domination.

So - So's

4.  Red Bull Racing - I placed Red Bull Here because of the way Brian Vickers is running, yes Red Bull is having trouble with the 84 car but they did get the 83 into the top 20 at 17th so for that I have them on the verge of breaking into the Surprises.

3.  MWR - Yes, Mikey and company fall here, in my opinion.  You may of thought I would have had them in my surprises but alas I can't put them there because they are still on the verge of falling into the clutches of the "Go or Go Home".  I am happy they haven't missed a race but now I'm waiting for them to start making solid top 20 to top 10 runs.

2. Jeff and JJ - Who would have thought that Jeff would have been shut out so far this season and JJ is very up and down.  This disappointment led me to my most So-So performance so far.

1. HMS - Yes HMS is the most So-So performer this year.  The way they dominated the first part of last season and how they have run so far this seaason I think this is the proper place for them  Expections for this organization is very high and they just haven't reached that plateau yet.  And yes the 5 car is, well the 5 car.

Surprises:

4. Ryan Newman - I have Ryan here not so much because of the season he is having but who would have thougtht Ryan would win the Daytona 500?  I know I wouldn't have accepted a bet for his winning it all, would you?

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -  Dale Junior is a solid driver and is on a solid team, however, to say he would be in the top 5 in points at this time I think is surprising.  A top 10, say 8th to 10th maybe not, but his runs have been consistent and solid. 

2. Carl Edwards - Where did Carl come from this year.  He has dominated the Cookie Cutter Tracks and if it wasn't for my number 1 selection he would be far far ahead of his competition.  This leads me to my biggest surprise so far this year.

1. Kyle, you can hate me, Bush - (like the nickname?)  It was always known that Kyle was a good driver, maybe overagressive at times but a good driver.  His off track behavior has a lot to be desired but I don't think anyone can say they expected Kyle to be this good this soon at JGR, especially since JGR just moved from Chevy to Toyota. 

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: May 5, 2008 11:56 am
 

Are NASCAR fans getting tired of Junior Nation?

This is not to bash the Junior Nation but after the outcry this weekend and another beer chunking incident at Richmond because of a racing accident I'm wondering if the rest of the NASCAR fans are getting tired of the so called Junior Nation?  I ask this because there is a pole on Foxsports asking who was at fault for the wreck Saturday Night, the picks are Junior, Bush, or neither.  Surprisingly, out of 319,580 votes as of this writing 87 percent have said the wreck was Juniors fault.  Me I voted neither it was a racing accident.

But seeing that vote reminded me of how another driver gained his fame and popularity in this great Sport.  In the late 70's a brash young driver was emerging as an outstanding driver.  He was bold, brash and everytime he got in front of a camera he let it be known that he was going to whip the competition.  He even told COO COO Marlin once that Bristol was his track and not COO COO's even though Marlin was from that area of Tennessee.  Of course I'm talking about Darrell Waltrip, but his rise isn't the story, in 1979 the old Alabama Gang was worried that DW would finally win a championship, so they made a pack that they would do what they had to to keep that from happening and a young unknown by the name of Dale Earnhardt won his very first championship.  Now Dale was popular because he was from North Carolina and also because he wouldn't back down to DW and his talk, nor his pushing on the track.  Well for a few years after 79 Dale was not heard of again but then he teamed with Richard Childress and well you know the rest of his success.  DW on the other hand teamed with Junior Johnson and started to win races and dominate the circuit and was so bold that he brought T-shirts to the races to sell to his fans so everyone else could see how popular he was.  It became such a big deal in the stands that if you didn't have a DW T-shirt on they you were rooting against him.  It didn't matter who won the race to these fans as long as it wasn't DW.  After Dale Teamed up with Richard Childress the fans soon learned that Dale was ready to fight fire with fire and he would bump and bang his way to a win too.  So a lot of those fans who rooted against DW naturally starting rooting for Dale and wearing his gear.  Thus, the popularity of Dale Earnhardt, not because he was considered a great driver when he started out, but because he was a driver that didn't back down to DW and his threats.

Now the question of this blog, are the rest of the NASCAR nation getting so tired of the "NATION"  that they are going to start backing anyone that is willing to stand up to the NATION and keep their driver out of victory lane?  Could the Dale Junior fans unwittingly be pushing a driver like Kyle Bush to the forefront of NASCAR popularity?  I know there are a lot of people who dont' like Kyle, in fact Kyle has very few fans, but he is starting to gain attention and if he is willing to battle Junior for the win and he is not afraid to race him hard and if they both lose then so be it. I think you may see him become a favorite of those who don't like Junior because of the NATION.

Think about it.  History does have a way of repeating itself.

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