Tomorrow marks the beginning of another NASCAR season so time to see how far I can take this blog into 2013! The Sprint Unlimited (formerly Bud Shootout) is tomorrow night on FOX. Tune in if you like wrecks – Daytona is famous for them.
This off season I haven’t been following NASCAR as much as normal; instead focusing on the IndyCar silly season. I’m crushed that the pole sitter for last years Indy 500 doesn’t have a ride. Ryan Briscoe is apparently looking into running some sports car races, but he’ll definitely be missed on the track.
As I’m writing this I stumbled across a report on first practice for the Unlimited. Apparently 5 car pile up a few laps into practice and this will send Kurt Busch, Edwards and Martin to back up cars. Kensenth and Montoya are repairing their rides. Who do I put my money on? Not sure – again, haven’t followed closely enough to make predictions. But I will throw my overall predictions into the ring for the next Sprint Cup Champion. We’ll revisit halfway through the season, but my top three are: Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards.
There’s a couple of new parents in the racing world! Over the break the following drivers welcomed new additions to their families: Denny Hamlin, Ed Carpenter, Ryan Hunter-Reay and most recently Jamie McMurray. Also in the drama department, Dario Franchitti and Ashley Judd announced they were divorcing, while Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. confirmed they were dating. As these two are competing against each other for Rookie of the Year honors can’t wait to see how this pans out!
If you haven’t already, sign up for the Super 7 Sweep fantasy racing from Speed and WindTunnel here. Join the league “As The Cars Turn” and compete against me and others.
I’m finally getting around to writing this week. Cam’s off to Grandma’s for a few days so we can go downtown for our anniversary. We did this last year and had such a great time we’re going it again. Spending the night at the Mokara Hotel and getting a couples massage, followed by dinner at Boudro’s. Hopefully the next day we’ll get to try The Esquire Tavern. I’ve heard great things about it and it was nominated for a James Beard Award! So during my day alone today, I’m going to try my hand out at a paint-by-numbers kit I got. I’ve always wanted to paint, but kinda suck at it, so we’ll see if a little guidance helps. I’ve also gotten into genealogy lately. I did it mostly to trace Tim’s dad family, since he really doesn’t know much past two generations. I’ve run into a brick wall there, so I’ve been doing everyone else I can think of
It was the first of two off weeks for Nationwide, we’ll focus on the Sprint Cup series. The old Bristol is my favorite track, the one I say I will go to one day for a race, but Martinsville is a close second. Ryan Newman ended up winning the race on the second Green-White-Checkered finish. GWC is used when there’s a late race caution and when all the clean up and getting in position is completed there would be less than three laps to go. So when they restart they see the green flag. One time around and then they see the white flag. Another time around then the checkered flag. Now if on the first lap they see the caution flag before the white flag, another GWC attempt. They are allowed up to three attempts. If they see the white flag (second lap) the next flag will end the race, whether it’s the checkered flag or caution flag. I love GWC finishes, especially on short tracks. Makes it all come down to the last minute. For instance, on the first restart Newman was 5th and ends up winning the whole thing.
The incident that cause the GWC finish was when David Reutimann’s car stopped on the track. Apparently they had issues for the last several laps with something broken inside the car and Reutimann never came down pit road to either fix it or go to the garage. So his car just shuts off on the front stretch causing a late race caution. Reutimann drives the #10 car when Danica Patrick is not in the car. I’m not going to pretend I understand everything about that, but basically when Danica’s driving they get their engines from Hendrick Motorsports (because she’s racing for Stewart-Haas, even though her technical ownership is with Tommy Baldwin racing, because they traded or bought points so she was guaranteed in the top 35 points for her first race). When Reutimann drives the car they have a different engine supplier (I believe ECR) but the goal is to still stay in the top 35 in points so Danica doesn’t have to qualify on time when it’s her turn in the car. Reutimann said in the post race interview that he was told to stay out with the car as long as possible to keep their hopes of staying in the top 35 alive. Unfortunately, since he brought about the caution, the two Hendrick cars leading most of the race ultimately crashed out on the first GWC attempt, meaning Rick Hendrick is still chasing his elusive 200th Sprint Cup Series victory.
Finally on to Barber Motorsports Park and the IndyCar race! After being denied going to the Fast 6 in qualifying for not heeding a red flag, Will Power started from ninth and his teammate Helio Castroneves started from the pole. This race was like night and day from the race at St. Petersburg broadcast by ABC last week. I was trying to keep up with Twitter during most of the race, and I love reading the tweets from everyone with their different views and snarky comments. I can’t remember who said it, but the gist was – we saw more passing the first lap televised on NBCSN than the entire race on ABC. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of road & street course, but that was a great race to watch. There was a lot of passing and even some bumping with the new cars. In the end, Will Power drove through the field and caught a bit of a break when there was a small issue with Scott Dixon’s last pit stop and he came up to the lead and finished first. For the third year in a row a Penske car won and Scott Dixon finished second. “It’s not Barber if Scott doesn’t finish second” was another tweet I can remember. Hopefully all races on NBCSN are televised with this much energy and maybe ABC can learn something by paying attention to their competition.
I’ll start with Nascar results from over the weekend. Nationwide race went off without a hitch on Satuday and Joey Logano picked up a victory. Same couldn’t be said for the Sprint Cup race held on Sunday. All week, the twitters were ablaze saying the race wouldn’t start, let alone get all the way through, without rain. But Sunday morning arrived and clear skies were shown on TV. That didn’t last long, and soon the track was completely under shadows and the rain drops started to fall. Tony Stewart was leading at that point. Then pit roads opened and what does he do? Fakes like he’s going in and stays out! I don’t have a degree in meteorology, but even I could tell that the rain wasn’t going away anytime soon. So once they went around the tracks a couple more times, the race was put under a red flag (meaning cars either stop on the track or are brought down to pit road and stopped, and no work can be done on the car). Tony Stewart was declared the race winner when it became obvious the rain was not letting up. I saw a lot of confused tweets asking why they didn’t wait longer to call the race concluded. But reporters that were still there hours later say it was raining just as hard and there was never a long enough window to dry the track (expected to take around two hours) and complete the race. So I believe the right call was made. Mostly uneventful racing, although Jimmy Johnson’s car started smoking under the rain caution. He was able to maintain pace car speed and picked up a top 10 finish. And third place went to Dale Jr!
And the moment our household has been waiting for since October – IndyCar!!! It was a beautiful Sunday in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the prerace show because our local ABC station has a contract with a church on Sunday mornings from 11-noon and apparently NOTHING interrupts it (we know, we threw up a fuss last year when the same thing happened). At least we got to see the green flag and double-file restarts…if you can call them that. What I don’t understand is you say, ok now we’re going to have double file restarts, but only on road and street courses this year. But then you really don’t. Because if only the first three rows are double file does that really count? I don’t know whether to blame the drivers for hanging back and not getting double file, or the flag man who throws the flag when they’re obviously not in formation. NASCAR would, and has, called off the restart. But I suppose when you have cautions that last forever you need all the green flag laps you can muster.
Now, since IndyCar is my husband’s favorite sport, we had the TV on, were watching timing and scoring on the computer, and had my IndyCar Twitter up following reporters and race teams. Using all this technology I believe we had a good overall understanding of the race. However, if you were just watching on TV you probably saw a pretty parade of cars with the occasional mechanical malfunction. What you missed was hearing what happened to Sebastien Bourdais (we just happened to notice he went red on T&S) and apparently there were lots of passes being made in turn one, but only one was played on TV, and that was the pass for the eventual win. Helio Castroneves took the top spot on the podium, along with Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay. As expected, several Lotus powered cars fell out of the race, and Chevy engines were victorious. ABC coverage left a lot to be desired, so hopefully NBC Sports Network will be better next weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.
I just got back from watching The Hunger Games! Short blurb to come about that later!
If I could attend just one NASCAR race ever, it would at Bristol. “Thunder Valley”, half mile track in Tennessee. It’s the fourth-largest sporting venue in the United States and eighth in the world. And this past weekend I could have had my dream; there were a bunch of empty seats very visible on television. So of course as soon as the race is over the Twitters are aflutter about why this is. General thinking is that when the track was reconfigured a few years ago it changed the racing dramatically. Before it was all bumping and trading paint, and this year the wrecks were not as frequent as they used to be. So it basically depends on which type of racing you prefer: clean but hard, or a wreck fest. Me, I generally like the wrecking, but on Sunday the racing was good. Different leaders, different pit and tire strategies, and the big wreck in the beginning of the race that took a few different top-10 cars out of the running. Dale Jr. and Jeff Gordon did a little bumping, and just happened to do it in a way that immediately cut down Gordon’s left rear tire and made a third place car finish more than 100 laps down. Not good for teammates. Another big reason this year given for the attendance was the high cost of hotels in the area added to the price of gasoline. Finally the weather played a role; while it did not delay the race there was a rain shower early in the morning. That hurt walk-up ticket sales and perhaps caused 8,000 sold tickets to go unused.
I’m a little late this week posting results from the weekend because the final appeal hearing for the 48 team was to be decided today. Since I don’t completely understand the technical reason behind the initial problem I won’t go into it, just Google “Johnson C-post penalty” and you’ll have all the information. Basically, a part of the car did not pass inspection before the race at Daytona and the following penalties were placed: Johnson was docked 25 drivers points, crew chief and car chief were suspended for 6 races, and crew chief Chad Knaus was fined $100,000. Team owner Rick Hendrick immediately requested an appeal, which was held last Tuesday and all penalties were upheld. So Hendrick requested the highest appeal possible, which is just one person who happens to be a former GM executive (Hendrick cars are all Chevy). The final appeal was held today, and the original penalties were overturned, except for the $100,000 fine. So Johnson gets 25 points back, which puts him in eleventh place in the standings, and there will be no suspensions. While the appeals were happening at the NASCAR R&D center, there were several members of the media sitting outside waiting for the announcement. People started speculating which person would be the one to break the news. According to my feed it was Jenna Fryer. I’m working on my Twitter lists to make them more concise, but for right now feel free to subscribe to either my NASCAR or IndyCar lists. I’ll let you know when they get updated.
Family time! Camden’s allergies have been acting up the past few days. He’s got watery eyes, runny nose and a cough. He sounds so pathetic talking with his stuffed up nose. He didn’t really talk the last time he was sick, so this is new. He gets so mad when his nose is running – really, crying and throwing himself down. We’re working again on him blowing his nose, which he had down last time, but can’t seem to blow hard enough. When I told Tim about the result of the NASCAR hearing today, he said “Well I guess it’s NASCAR’s turn to have inconsistent officiating now.” Our house has started a countdown to the start of IndyCar season – 5 more days!!!
Good question. As you can probably glean from the headline, it’s a take on “As the World Turns.” We were watching a NASCAR race with an old friend of ours and he commented (like most people that don’t watch racing) “How is this exciting? It’s just a bunch of cars going around in a circle.” My response went off on how it wasn’t just that; it was teams of cars, with different owners and alliances and rivalries. It was about what happened last race, and last year, and what’s happened off the track. It’s about following drivers, spotters, crew chiefs, officials and fans on Twitter and finding out about their lives and what makes them tick. My husband turned to me and basically said I enjoy watching racing because it’s like a soap opera. Sure enough, that’s exactly why I like watching racing…that and the crashes. But you have to really get into it enough to understand all the drama and interactions. You have to follow as many people as you can on Twitter; you have to read Facebook; you have to watch the cable shows about racing to have an idea about the drama. Sure, you can pick up some things watching the hour prerace show, but isn’t it better to know about it when it happens, and be able to form your own opinion after hearing different sides? Of course, racing’s also about how the cars handle and brake bias and cambor…but whatever I don’t really follow that too much.
So that’s what I hope this space will be about: my take on things that are happening in the racing world. I follow NASCAR and IndyCar primarily. Every so often we’ll watch a F1 race or ALMS. Also I’ll probably work in rants about my family to get it out of my system My husband’s name is Tim and we have a 2 1/2 year old son named Camden. He just started pointing out and saying “race cars!”. He was a little slow to talk, but he’s trying to catch up! He’s saying so many wonderful things now that I’m sure they’ll make there way here. Hopefully you like the things I’ll bring to light and you’ll share your thoughts and opinions with me.