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No rain tires on tap for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Posted by Digory Kirke on August 10, 2009

Goodyear officials have a rain tire that can be used on road courses in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Goodyear officials have a rain tire that can be used on road courses in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Jeff Gordon remembers the NASCAR Sprint Cup practice on rain tires in 2000 at Watkins Glen.

“I went down into Turn 1 and my windshield wiper went off into the kitty litter down there,” Gordon said Friday.

With that memory, Jeff Gordon wasn’t begging NASCAR to put rain tires on Sprint Cup cars in order to get the Sunday road-course race run at Watkins Glen International. NASCAR postponed the Cup race to Monday, the second consecutive week the Cup event was postponed because of rain.

NASCAR had rain tires available for the Nationwide race Saturday at Watkins Glen – it ran part of the road-course race at Montreal last season in the rain – but has opted not to use them at the Sprint Cup level.

The race at Montreal eventually had to be stopped because of visibility.

“For the level of competition that we have in the Sprint Cup Series and as the stakes continue to rise from a competition standpoint, a sponsorship standpoint, a championship standpoint, we’d be best served to run the Sprint Cup Series on dry race tracks,” NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said Sunday after the rainout was announced.

“We feel like that would be better for competition, that would better for the level of racing that the fans are accustomed to seeing.”

During the Nationwide race a day prior to the Cup race, teams had one set of rain tires mounted because of the threat of rain.

“I think that in bad weather NASA sends up smaller space craft instead of the big space craft and it is pretty similar,” driver Ryan Newman said. “You don’t want to risk a lot. I don’t think it would be an ideal situation for all the fans. … I have never raced in the rain. It would be a disadvantage to me.

“I think it is still racing. As far as the fans, I don’t think it would be as good of a race in the rain as it would be if it is dry. That I think is the hesitation more so for Sunday than it is on Saturday.”

Gordon said he watched the race in Montreal and figured if a driver such as Carl Edwards had to clean off his windshield with a hand-held wiper he kept inside his car, that racing in the rain was definitely less than ideal.

“We have enough challenges trying to stay on the track when it’s dry and I can’t imagine what it would be like in a Cup race if it was wet,” Gordon said. “I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching it rain up there in Montreal … That was highly entertaining, but I was very glad that I wasn’t inside the car.

“One of the biggest reasons, I think it would be fun to actually drive the cars in the rain if you get a consistent rain and you can feel the grip level, but as you saw, the windshield wipers don’t work, the de-fog doesn’t work.”

Another issue why the Nationwide Series uses rain tires is because with a rain date Monday at Watkins Glen was not cost-effective for the teams.

“There’s a little more flexibility to rescheduling a Sprint Cup Series race as opposed to a Nationwide race,” Tharp said.

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Drivers Ponder Speedometer in Cars

Posted by Digory Kirke on August 4, 2009

Unlike a driver nabbed going 70 mph in a 55 zone, Juan Pablo Montoya couldn’t talk his way out his speeding ticket.

Not when NASCAR‘s the traffic cop.

Busted at the Brickyard for speeding on the final pit stop, the penalty cost Montoya his shot at winning on the historic track.

Perhaps the result would have been different if Montoya had a speedometer instead of relying on a tachometer that monitors engine RPMs. Or maybe he would finished 11th anyway.

Still, some drivers would like a speedometer added to their cars, or have NASCAR’s electronic timing system that records the pit row speeds refined to cut down on possible error.

“I have wondered why we don’t have speedometers,” veteran driver Mark Martin said Friday. “The tachs are not quite as accurate as a speedometer might be. But the system works. It’s just really devastating when you have one of the races of your life slip through your fingers.”

Montoya led 116 laps and was on the brink of his first Indy stock car victory to go with his Indianapolis 500 win when he was flagged for speeding. NASCAR allows a 5 mph cushion on pit road, where the speed limit Sunday was 55 mph.

Montoya was caught driving 60.06 mph in one spot and 60.11 in another.

“We checked ourselves after the race. It seemed OK, and everything seemed to be in the right place,” Montoya said. “For some reason, they said we were speeding, and that’s what it is.”

Could NASCAR make the switch from RPM to mph on the dash? Not so fast.

Sprint Cup Series director John Darby said the tachometer was the most reliable factor in determining pit row speeds.

“They get multiple usages out of a tachometer as an engine meter as well, without having to bother with the expense and the troubles of adding another piece of equipment to the car,” Darby said at Pocono Raceway. “The tachometers today are so sophisticated that teams can actually program their pit road speed into the tachometer.”

Most teams have even added a lighting system to the tachometer. A green light means a driver’s speed is in the clear, yellow signifies he is pushing the limit and red means the speed is over the limit.

“In NASCAR’s defense, the system that they have, you can’t dispute it,” four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon said. “I would dispute the person that feels like they’re in the wrong, because their system is very accurate.”

There have been 75 speeding violations in 20 Cup races this season, Darby said. NASCAR does not warn teams when they’re on the edge of speeding or give them a chance to plead their case. Speed once coming in or out of the pits, and a penalty is instantly assessed.

“The teams know exactly where they’re supposed to be,” Darby said. “They know where the threshold is.”

Darby also said there are no plans to reveal pit road speeds to fans or the rest of the field during a race.

“If you have put your combination together and you’re real confident in your driver and you’ve got him set to where you think he can run 3½ miles over all day long without getting caught, that’s their business,” he said. “We shouldn’t display that to the other 42 competitors to let them figure out how they did it.”

NASCAR switched from a stopwatch system to electric timing in 2005 to provide a more legitimate way of assessing pit road speeders.

“It’s way better than it has been, way better than guys up there with stopwatches,” Carl Edwards said. “There’s enough moving parts there and potential for error that can be improved, and I think NASCAR will improve it.”

Montoya’s penalty baffled some of the top 12 drivers in the points standings who wondered why he risked a penalty when he had such a commanding lead.

“There’s no sense of pushing it that close if you have that big a cushion on the track,” Kurt Busch said.

Gordon, who was punished for speeding once earlier this season, said he trusted NASCAR makes the right call.

“What they’ve got is very accurate. What we’ve got is 90 percent accurate,” Gordon said. “It would be nice for us to find something that works a little better. As long as the gas pedal is our control unit, it’s going to be consistent.”

Montoya, 10th in the race for the Chase for the championship, is done griping about his lost victory.

“Who cares? I moved on,” he said.

MY WORD: It’s about time you whining, sniveling little bitch.

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Johnson Overcomes Setback

Posted by Digory Kirke on August 4, 2009

Monday’s rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Pocono Raceway was full of setbacks for Hendrick MotorsportsJimmie Johnson.

Jimmie Johnson's pit crew works on his car during the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania

Jimmie Johnson's pit crew works on his car during the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania

But as he does so often, the defending three-time Cup champion found a way to bounce back.

Johnson fell three laps down in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 only to get all three back courtesy of the free pass and finish 13th, on the lead lap.

“We dealt with a lot today,” Johnson said. “I have to thank my guys for working so hard and troubleshooting some different things. … We were three laps down and able to get some cautions there at the end. For a while there I thought we would get a top-10, but I pounded the wall off [Turn] 2 and tore up the right side of the car and lost a couple of spots. Just a lot of fight in this race team. I’m very proud of them.”

Johnson led the race’s opening 22 laps and continued to have one of the fastest cars on the track before coming to pit road for an unscheduled green-flag stop just past the midway point of the 200-lap race.

The team first worked to see if Johnson’s car had a plug-wire issue, but after making a change that turned out to not be the case. The team later changed the carburetor and a spark plug on subsequent stops, losing significant time during the visits to pit road as the group attempted to diagnose the problem.

The spark plugs ultimately appeared to be the source of what ailed Johnson, as he immediately began moving forward again once some of those had been replaced.

“I assume it was a spark-plug issue,” Johnson said. “That’s the last thing we started changing. The car started running better, so it’s just crazy how sometimes a little part like that can go wrong. I know our guys will lookclosely at it to make sure that something like that doesn’t happen again. I’m just so proud of the fight this race team has.

“For us to come back from three laps down and get back on the lead lap and salvage a 13th-place finish means a lot to me. I think we are going in the right direction, and it shows to me what my team is capable of and I know what I’m capable of going into the Chase [For The Sprint Cup].”

Johnson got back on the lead lap under the race’s ninth caution with under 30 laps to go and lined up 25th for the final restart with 13 to go. He gained eight positions on the first lap under green.

Although Johnson failed pick off many more spots, he was still pleased with his team’s ability to make the most of a tough situation.

Teammate Jeff Gordon was among those who took notice of the group’s effort.

“These guys, you can never count them out and that’s what makes them a championship-caliber team, and Jimmie’s a great driver,” Gordon said. “So, it’s unfortunate that they had a car that was probably capable of winning, or at least battling up there for the win, that it kind of took them out of it there. But they fought back and still had a pretty decent day out of it.”

MY WORD

Yesterday’s  performance was incredible by Jimmie and his crew. To end up 13th after being 3 laps down at one point is just incredible. Sure luck had a little bit to do with it but the way his team pulled together and didn’t give up is a testament to the dedication of this team. They could have pulled it into the garage but instead they used the time cautions gave to systematically check one thing after another until they finally found the likely culprit of a bad spark plug or plugs. When it first happened I was so mad I felt like not watching the rest of the race but I’m sure glad I did because the last 20 laps made my day.

When Johnson made it back to the lead lap and quickly moved from 25th to 10th and one point and finished out with a solid 13th keeping his place of 2nd in the points when it could have been a disastrous day.

This just shows what an AWESOME job the team does as a whole….from driver to crew to chief!! Even the way Chad had the crew “fix” their pit area; shows they are 100% in it and that’s why they are champions!!!! (Hope the guy that fell changing the tire is ok)

Today increased my confidence that my favorite driver will hopefully be heading for championship number 4!

HMS Point Standings after Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500.

2nd-Jimmie Johnson-48
3rd-Jeff Gordon-24
10th-Mark Martin-5
23rd-Dale Earnhardt Jr.-88

HMS Results-Sunoco Red Cross Pennslyvania 500.

7th-Mark Martin-5
9th-Jeff Gordon-24
13th-Jimmie Johnson-48
28th-Dale Earnhardt Jr.-88

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Glad to Be Here

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 31, 2009

rpm_e_martin01_576Mark Martin

is a dynamo running on gratitude. He can overwhelm you with it. Make you tired of hearing it if you’re not careful — if you don’t understand that gratitude is his life force.

After any race, no matter where he has finished, he no sooner catches his breath than he says into somebody’s microphone, “I’m grateful …”

When Rick Hendrick signed him for this season, I couldn’t quite understand why.

That’s because I didn’t understand gratitude as energy. Had no idea Martin would light up the whole Hendrick Motorsports compound all by himself.

The guy was turning 50, which didn’t seem so much a physical drawback — he’s the all-time leader in fitness fanaticism among NASCAR drivers — as an age for cemented habits, such as steadfast courtesy to others on the track.

Usually when an owner signs a settled driver like that, the boss is hedging his bets for a championship, hiring the steady runner in case the younger hot dogs falter.

But Murphy’s Law has governed Martin’s 21-year quest for a championship, leaving him runner-up four times and finishing in the hunt four more times with no Cup to show for it all.

So had Rick Hendrick gone into the business of handing out last chances to nice guys? Was that it?

Martin’s gift season started as a roller coaster — two engine failures, and then, in the eighth race, at Phoenix, his first win since 2005. And then Talladega slapped Martin down again in another wreck.

rpm_e_martin-gustafson01_200

Mark Martin and crew chief Alan Gustafson have won four times this season, the most in Sprint Cup.

By the time he got to Darlington in May, Martin had resigned himself again. He said he’d stopped thinking about points altogether and was just driving for the love of all-out driving. He went out and won that race but then reiterated that it was all for the thrill now.

However, that made two wins, and by June, Hendrick had convinced him it would be a shame to waste those potential seeding points by not making the Chase. So at Michigan, Martin was points racing again, saving just enough fuel to finish, when Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle dueled and ran each other out of gas, and left Martin coasting into Victory Lane.

That made three. A win at Chicagoland made four, most on the tour so far.

And if the Chase began today, Martin would be the top seed.

Even after Johnson won the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday by holding off a ferocious charge from Martin and Martin dubbed Johnson “Superman,” that made only three wins for the HMS team star.

So the old man has emerged as the team leader. Hendrick’s move has been anything but a handout, and he already has reaped a tidy return on his investment.

Johnson, asked whether he had a reciprocal nickname for Martin, said, “I don’t know what to call him. ‘Bionic Man’ or something …

“The way he is, what he asks of his team, the way he interacts, his dedication — it’s contagious, brings out the best in all of us on the race team. I could see [Jeff] Gordon, myself, [Dale Earnhardt] Jr., all of us looking at ourselves in the mirror, doing a better job, pushing ourselves harder.

“Look at Mark. The guy is nonstop.”

“Race in, race out, he’s energized all of us,” Hendrick said.

Mark Martin made sure to congratulate Jimmie Johnson in Victory Lane after Johnson's win in the Brickyard 400.

Mark Martin made sure to congratulate Jimmie Johnson in Victory Lane after Johnson's win in the Brickyard 400.

Martin is a predawn riser, a workout machine, a fast walker through the shops and garages, an obsessive weight watcher even with his diminutive frame. He could do commercials for Energizer. All they’d have to do is follow him with a camera.

He got Hendrick himself back on the kind of fitness program Hendrick hadn’t tried since his bout with leukemia a decade ago. Martin was the example Hendrick used to get Earnhardt into running shoes and the gym this spring.

Martin’s gratitude flows from deep and distant in his past. He arrived in NASCAR in 1981 under the assumption he would set this world on fire, hard-drinking, temperamental, self-assured.

That of course didn’t last long. After his first full season, 1982, he slid and then plummeted off the Cup tour. Not until 1988 did Jack Roush lift him out of limbo, and after those two forceful personalities found harmony in 1990, they contended with Dale Earnhardt for the championship.

Bionic Man.

Whence cometh his energy?

“He’s appreciative of the opportunity,” Hendrick said.

And there it is. Gratitude. The driving force, old-fashioned as it might be.

From any postrace interview, but from the latest one for instance: “I’m actually just grateful that I had a chance to race for the win” … “I’m grateful to have had a chance at it” … “I’m grateful for it.”

Mark Martin's had so much influence in a short time at Hendrick Motorsports, he even got Dale Earnhardt Jr. into the gym.

Mark Martin's had so much influence in a short time at Hendrick Motorsports, he even got Dale Earnhardt Jr. into the gym.

Martin’s gratitude flows from deep and distant in his past. He arrived in NASCAR in 1981 under the assumption he would set this world on fire, hard-drinking, temperamental, self-assured.

That of course didn’t last long. After his first full season, 1982, he slid and then plummeted off the Cup tour. Not until 1988 did Jack Roush lift him out of limbo, and after those two forceful personalities found harmony in 1990, they contended with Dale Earnhardt for the championship.

Martin has lived on gratitude ever since.

And that’s what Hendrick has harnessed.

I’m weary of the word “visionary,” from its overuse in racing. Besides, Hendrick deserves better than that.

He is a seer. He saw the dynamics of gratitude in Martin as surely as he saw the uncanny ability to drive a loose race car in a kid named Jeff Gordon in a mediocre car with a shoestring team in 1991.

Now I see what Hendrick wanted with Martin and why he wants him back next year.

After Indy, Hendrick’s voice broke as he said, “Mark was a gentleman. He came to Victory Lane.”

What choked up the top team owner in NASCAR?

Gratitude, I suspect.

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Chase Spots Still Up For Grabs

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 31, 2009

As the cutoff to set the field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup nears, the pressure is ratcheting up on drivers and teams to crack the top 12.

Sunday’s Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway will be the 21st of 26 races in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup regular season, with the Chase participants locked in after race No. 26 at Richmond International Raceway in September.

Here’s how the top 12 breaks down heading into Pocono:

1. SURE THINGS — Barring a catastrophic collapse, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch are all locks to make the Chase. Busch, the fourth-place driver in points, has a 247-point lead over 13th-place David Reutimann. For him to fall out of the Chase would probably require three to four DNFs over the next six races, and the odds of that happening are virtually nil.

And given that Stewart, Johnson and Gordon have even bigger cushions, the top four are in great shape to contend for the championship.

Busch said that he wants to concentrate on race victories over the final weeks of the regular season to try and amass bonus points for the Chase.

“What we’re hoping to do is have a big enough points buffer built on 13th after Watkins Glen (on Aug. 8th) that we can really go after the wins – and the important bonus points for the Chase – in those four races,” said Busch, driver of the No. 2 Penske Championship Racing Dodge Charger. “It would be a great position to be in, using fuel mileage and pit strategy – whatever it takes — in going after wins and bonus points.”

2. SOLID — Carl Edwards (195 points ahead of 13th place), Denny Hamlin (+157) and Ryan Newman (+145) are by no means locks for the Chase, but they are each in excellent position. Realistically, all they have to do over the final six races of NASCAR’s regular season is average finishes of 15th or better and they’ll probably be fine.

Newman said he knows it’s show time.

“I guess I kind of look at it as having two races that we are attacking right now, each weekend, as we get closer to the Chase,” said Newman, who is enjoying an excellent first season with Stewart-Haas Racing. “Our No. 1 goal is to win the race we are at that weekend. Our No. 2 goal is to put ourselves in the position to be in the top-12 so we can be in the Chase for the Championship. Hopefully, one of these will take care of the other, meaning that a win or even a good finish will bolster us in points and help us to solidify our position in the Chase for the Championship. In the end, our ultimate goal is to win the championship and you can only do that by being in the top-12 at the end of the first 26 races. So, that being said, we just have to stay focused on that and put ourselves in a position to capitalize on those last 10.”

3. UP FOR GRABS — Here’s where it gets interesting. Eighth-place Kasey Kahne is just 121 points ahead of 13th-place Reutimann. Behind Kahne are Mark Martin (+110), Juan Pablo Montoya(+100), Greg Biffle (+84), and Matt Kenseth (+68). None of these five drivers can afford any mistakes or DNFs over the next six races, but one or more probably will slip up.

“We’re still growing,” said Martin, who leads the Sprint Cup Series with four victories and finished second in last week’s Brickyard 400. “I feel more momentum now than I did in the first five races. I feel like we’ve really got some forward momentum in understanding what we need to do to get these cars from a top-10 team to a contender. It seems like we’ve been real successful at that over the past few weeks.”

4. KNOCKING ON THE DOOR — David Reutimann (13th place, -68 points from 12th) and Kyle Busch (-82) are outside the top 12 right now, but they still have plenty of time to make it back in. Both have won races this year, both have fast cars, but both have been erratic. Brian Vickers (-120) remains a decided long shot, though he still could make it if he gets hot.

Busch, who has had a hugely disappointing season despite three victories, said it’s time for change.

“For me, we need to try something different,” he said. “ … The bad races aren’t just bad, they’re horrible. Whether that’s my fault or not, you need a common denominator. There’s no common denominator as to why a bad day goes bad and gets worse. If it was me who kept my head in the game and stayed focused, which I feel like I’ve done, but maybe I give up a little bit and don’t tell my team exactly what we need on fixing the car.”

5. STICK A FORK IN ‘EM — Richard Childress Racing teammates Clint Bowyer (-151) and Jeff Burton (-228) both made the Chase in 2007 and ’08, with Burton also making it in ’06. But barring an incredible hot streak by Bowyer or a miracle by Burton, they will not make it this year. If either one of them finishes outside the top five at Pocono, you canconsider them out of the Chase for 2009.

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Jimmie Johnson’s Record at Pocono

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 30, 2009

JJ Pocono

Johnson Finishes 7th in Pocono; Maintains 3rd in Point Standings

LONG POND, Penn. (June 7, 2009) —  Jimmie Johnson was slated to start third in Sunday’s Sprint Cup event at Pocono Raceway after Friday’s qualifying session was canceled due to rain.

But when pole-sitter and points-leader Tony Stewart wrecked his primary racecar in Saturday’s practice session, Johnson’s inside row moved up, allowing him to start from the top spot.

Johnson led 31 of the first 38 laps before falling victim to Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. The Lowe’s Chevrolet continued to run in the top-five for the next 65 laps.

On Lap 104 of 200, as Johnson was entering pit road for a green-flag stop, the caution flag came out for debris. Johnson continued to his pit stall and took four tires and fuel but as a penalty for pitting too soon was forced to start at the tail end of the longest line when the green flag waved.
“It was an exciting race,” said Johnson. “We were in a great position and unfortunately, coming to pit road to pit and the caution came out and I couldn’t see a flagman or lights or anything. But luckily, we rebounded from that and had a great car and drove up to the top five.”

Johnson restarted 25th, but quickly drove through the field, reentering the top-10 by Lap 123 of 200.

By Lap 170, Johnson had moved to third-place, just 1.5-seconds behind leader Stewart. Biffle was running second. By Lap 190, most of the top five cars slowed their lap speeds in order to save fuel, including Stewart, second-place Edwards, and Johnson.

“At the end we were just playing a fuel game,” explained Johnson. “I didn’t play it well enough. I had to run too hard at the start of that run to stay ahead and I just used up too much gas and I ran out coming into the tunnel turn.”

On Lap 199 of 200, Johnson caught Edwards for second place, but ran out of fuel in Turn 3, dropping to the bottom of the track. Johnson coasted to the finish line and was credited with a seventh-place finish. Stewart won the race.

“I tried,” said Johnson “And it was funny. I was just kind of riding and wondering who was going to go and when because everybody was about half-throttle. I was trying to get to the end on gas and I thought Carl (Edwards) ran out on the front so I got in the gas and got by him and I went down through (Turn) one and came down the backstretch and I ran out. And I’m like, oh yeah. Figures. So it was one of those days. But a big congratulations to Tony Stewart and Stewart-Haas Racing. Those guys have been doing a great job.”

The result allowed the three-time Champion to maintain the third spot in the driver standings, 103 points behind leader Stewart. Jeff Gordon is still second, 71 points back. Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch round out the top-five.

The top five-finishers at Pocono were: Stewart, Edwards, David Reutimann, Gordon and Newman.

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Jimmie Johnson puts another brick in the wall

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 29, 2009

While Jimmie Johnson celebrates a third Brickyard win, Darrell Waltrip thinks it might signal a fourth straight Sprint Cup title.

4 GONE CONCLUSION

By Darrell Waltrip

You know folks, the results that came out of Sunday’s race at Indianapolis got me thinking, so I looked back at the other 15 previous races. What’s interesting is out of the 16 races run there, 14 of them have been won by champions. The only two races not won by champions were won by Ricky Rudd and Kevin Harvick. That’s pretty impressive.

To take that a step further, seven times the winner of the Brickyard race has gone on to win the Sprint Cup championship. I think it’s the importance and stature that race has in our sport now. Drivers will tell you that next to the Daytona 500, racing at the Brickyard every summer is our second-biggest race of the year.

I think that’s why a championship-caliber driver and team rise to the occasion with a race of this magnitude. Lots of people run well there, like Juan Pablo Montoya on Sunday, but as history has proven out, it’s our champions that rise to the occasion.

Speaking of Juan, I felt so bad for him. Man, what a heartbreaker for him. He could have written his name in the record books by winning Sunday because he has also won the Indy 500. That would have been an amazing feat. He started on the outside pole and really never looked back all day long. He had a dominating car and led 116 laps. He really was in a league of his own. Unfortunately Juan broke one of my golden rules — “don’t beat yourself.”

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why a guy like Juan with a five-second lead on the field, not being pressured by anyone and gets caught speeding on pit road. Only thing I can think is it had to be a miscalculation on his tach. Juan was the only car the entire day caught speeding on entry. A few other cars got nabbed for speeding on exit which is common.

I really was pulling for Juan with his retro paint scheme. He also was my dark horse pick to make the Chase. I think he’ll make the Chase alright but winning Sunday could have gone a long way in guaranteeing it.

I agree with what Chad Knaus mentioned after the race. The teams have timing and scoring for cars on the track, but they don’t have it for when the cars come on pit road. If that information is available and if you are going to nab people for speeding on pit road, quite honestly, the teams need to have access to it. To me it seems like it would make it a lot easier for the teams to regulate their speeds on pit road if in fact they could see the speeds they were running up and down pit road. What’s wrong with giving the teams the information to do a better job?

Also, while I was thinking about how it always seems that our champions win at Indy, it got me thinking of driver/crew chief combinations and the chemistry they have. There’s no question in my mind that Jimmie and Chad are at the head of the class when it comes to chemistry.

In my mind, they are also right up there with the greatest driver/crew chief combinations in the history of our sport. Think back to the Petty/Inman era. David Pearson/Leonard Wood, me and Jeff Hammond, Earnhardt and Kirk Shelmerdine, Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham … and the list goes on and on.

There really have been some amazing pairings across the history of NASCAR, but I have never seen a combination and team like the No. 48 bunch that is so well put together from top to bottom. They lack nothing. That’s why they win the big races and that’s why they are going for a history-making fourth consecutive championship. Certainly on Sunday Jimmie and Chad put another brick in the wall towards No. 4.

This team knows how to peak at just the right time. It truly is phenomenal to watch. Jimmie gives excellent feedback. Chad takes that and he and the team make the right adjustments at the right time. They did it again Sunday and showed why across the board in NASCAR, they are the team to beat.

Everybody’s been making a fuss over these double-file restarts. Listen, for the most part, all the restarts until you get cars laps down have been double-file restarts. The difference now is they mean something. You are racing people for position now more then ever before. This new rule certainly has added another twist and added excitement. It’s just another element that has been added to the race and I don’t see a thing wrong with it. I am a big fan of them.

What’s interesting to note is the use of the outside groove since the rule change. It’s being used more than ever before because it seems to be the faster line. There seems to be a little more grip and more traction there. You are seeing with this new car that when you go down in the corner and if there is a car on your outside, it pins you down, gets you loose and the car on the outside drives off and leaves you.

So we now have six races to go until the Chase: Pocono, Watkins Glen, Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond. Kyle Busch has just had a terrible run of luck. I know you think I am wild about Kyle Busch. I am wild about the way he drives. I am not a big fan of how he treats the media and fans when he loses.

If you remember last year, I talked about that it is consistency that makes a champion. This year has been more realistic than last year when he was winning everything in sight until the Chase started. He’s won three races this year in the Cup car, but he isn’t having the luck he had last year. He’s winning consistently in the Nationwide series and running pretty good in the truck series.

I don’t think he is out of the Chase yet. He and that team are capable of racing their way back in. However, they simply can’t afford, again with only six races left, to have any more bad weekends. You have to admit, when Kyle has a car that is capable of winning, he sure is fun to watch.

On the plus side, Kyle even seems to be working on his attitude. He even admitted that this weekend during an interview. If he can get his arms around that area and gets a handle on his emotions, then look out because he could be a contender. We will just have to wait and see.

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Are Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus unbeatable?

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 29, 2009

Johnson 2009 winner of the Allstate Brickyard 400 at Indy

Johnson 2009 winner of the Allstate Brickyard 400 at Indy

Even the best drivers and team have their weaknesses.  Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Bobby Allison all encountered off-seasons.  Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, and Tony Stewart deal with struggles from time to time.  That does not seem to be the case with Jimmie Johnson and the 48 group.  Ever since Johnson’s rookie season in 2002 they have been as solid as any driver and team in recent history, as they own three titles and forty-three wins.

Johnson won his third Brickyard 400 on Sunday, as he continues to add to his legacy.  Over the past four years, a few drivers and teams have challenged Johnson and the 48 group.  Since 2006, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Greg Biffle have posed threats to Johnson, but to no avail.  The No. 48 team continues to show no signs of passing the torch.

It appears as if the No. 48 bunch is immune to any valleys.  Most teams have their peaks and valleys.  Johnson is on a constant peak. Why does this seem to be the case?

Hardcore Jimmie Johnson fans staunchly agree that the driver makes the difference.  Others will contend that crew chief Chad Knaus is a mechanical mastermind, and his mind is gateway to Johnson’s ascendancy.  Most levelheaded observers agree that the combination of Johnson and Knaus is the reason for their recent dominance. Remember, prior to the 2002 season, Johnson and Knaus were relatively unknown to most NASCAR fans.

Johnson remains composed while enduring adversity.  He rarely loses his cool.  Many drivers lack this quality nowadays.  He provides adequate feedback as to the handling of the car.  On the rare occasion that he has an ill-handling car, instead of losing his head and trying to physically drive the car at an impracticable pace, he bides his time and relays to Knaus how the car is reacting to current track conditions.  That is when Knaus takes over.  He analyzes every angle and scenario, and eventually comes up with the perfect fix for an ill-handling car.

In most cases, opposing teams and drivers eventually figure out a balance, making some setups out of date.  Johnson and Knaus never settle for the same balance.  They constantly strive for a better feel for the car, even if they have an eight second lead on the competition.

As the Chase for the Championship approaches, it looks as if Jimmie Johnson is in prime position to earn an unprecedented fourth consecutive championship.  Of course, it is too early to crown him, but this is a typical Jimmie Johnson-type season.  Others take center stage throughout the regular season.  In 2007, it was Jeff Gordon.  Last year, it was Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards.  This year, it has been Tony Stewart and Mark Martin.  Once the Chase begins, it becomes the Jimmie Johnson show.

Who can dethrone the champ?  Tony Stewart seems to be the best choice.  Stewart, as well as Jeff Gordon, have displayed systematic consistency throughout the season.  Kurt Busch and Mark Martin could emerge as potential threats.  If Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards qualify for the Chase, they are streaky drivers capable of surging that the perfect time.

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Kurt Busch said…

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 29, 2009

after the Chicago race on July 11th that Jimmie is not showing championship driving, typical Busch flapping his gums over something that cost him a race or incident that was (Kurt’s) own his fault.

So I wonder what he thinks now after the Brickyard 400, did he notice who won the race? He needs to go and remind Jimmie he is in question on his driving skills. I guess he was to far back to see what was going on in the race.

HMS Results-All-State 400

1st-Jimmie Johnson-48
2nd-Mark Martin-5
9th-Jeff Gordon-24
36th-Dale Earnhardt Jr.-88

HMS Point Standings after All-State 400

2nd-Jimmie Johnson-48
3rd-Jeff Gordon-24
9th-Mark Martin-5
22nd-Dale Earnhardt Jr.-88

Let’s look at the whole race standings and see just where Kurt finished. Hint look at row twenty seven:

Allstate Brickyard 400

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Juan “Hot Sauce” Montoya vs. NASCAR and their Conspiracy

Posted by Digory Kirke on July 28, 2009

I have toured the comments sections of racing websites and I’m here to tell you many, many fans have gone Jim Garrison (if you don’t know the significance of this reference and or person Wikipedia him) over Sunday’s Brickyard race vis a vis Juan Pablo Montoya.

I have seen the idiotic blogs coming from the ill tempered NASCAR Fans, its range knows no bounds. Their saying NASCAR screwed the Colombian driver by slapping him with a late-race speeding penalty which probably cost him the victory.

I have seen/read everything from conspiracies to you guessed it racism and everything in between. So before I tear these apart and or debunk them I decided to take this one step further, let’s have some fun. Here is what really happened at the Allstate Brickyard 400.

My Conspiracy List

NASCAR favors any driver that is or was a champion; therefore all other drivers are not even qualified to run on the same track.

I watched as several cars were getting in the way of my driver, therefore NASCAR allowed them to try and deter my driver (Jimmie Johnson) from winning.

I also watched as each Driver that was announced shake the hand of the Sprint Girl, she was actually slipping them some magic beans that made Jimmie and his team win.

The flag man was holding way too many flags, and was waving them in an un-ordinary fashion, which created chaos with in the other teams, that did not win.

Someone slipped a mickey into Jr.‘s gas tank, which made his engine blow up.

All the fans actually had Mark Martin on a bungy cord which they only gave him just enough cord to almost win.

If Martin was still driving the Viagra car, he might have gotten his front end acrosss the line before Jimmie.

24+24 equals 48…that’s it! Johnson has two Jeff Gordon’s racing with him, Montoya had only two 21`s

NASCAR lowered the speed on pit row for Juan because he was too good.

Jr took a dive, blew his motor so that he could put oil on the track….which Juan picked up on his tires , thus preventing him from catching back up and winning instead of Jimmie, who just happens to be Jr’s team mate! JR probably got quite the little bonus for that “DIVERSION”

If you take the letters that spell INDIANAPOLIS you have: Indian OIL PS. And everybody knows that PS is short for Pit Strategy. The oil was at the entrance to pit road! See! See! I knew it! Way to go JR, you clever boy helping Jimmie win.

The announcers were in on it too; they had to have something to do with it. Rusty Wallace even said it was Jr’s oil on Juan’s tires! UH OH! Rusty almost blew it for Rick! Gees, Rusty hasn’t anybody told you loose lips sink ships, button it next time.

The most incredible part nobody caught was that IMS was set up with dual grandstands to confuse the young guns. They couldn’t find their pits or knew which way to turn.

FACT: anybody can make up incredible crap, I just did it. It doesn’t make it true. ALL YOU CONSPIRACY THEORY THINKING FANS….NO MORE SOUP FOR YOU!!!!

Now let’s get down to real business shall we and pick apart some items I will show that fans did write.

Here’s our first little gem from one fan: I hope NASCAR sale’s drop because they screwed Juan because if it’s not Jimmie or Jeff or JR in first then they make up there own rules just so one of them can win.

My Answer:

Where have you been all year? There have been other drivers other than Hendrick drivers to win in 2009. NASCAR has only let Jimmie, JR, or Jeff win races this year. What have you been watching, JR hasn’t even won a race this year, JR hasn’t even won a race since, oh never mind.

Let’s see the following drivers have won this year: Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon (2), Kyle Busch (4), Matt Kenseth (2), Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, David Reutimann, Joey Logano, Mark Martin (4), Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart (2 + the All Star Race), Jimmie Johnson (3), and Sam Hornish Jr.

So my next question for you is, would you care to retract your statement? You really must not be too big of a Nascar fan to hope that sales drop. Come on, think about it.

Here’s our next little gem, concerning the speeding issue: NASCAR knew no one could catch JPM, so they black flagged him saying he was speeding. Juan was robbed. They don’t black flag other drivers. It’s a conspiracy. He even swore he didn’t on his wife and kids.

My Answer:

Guess what a cop can stop me on the road and say I was speeding, just because I swear on my mother, brother, sister, kids, wife, father, grandparents, my dogs, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Pope, and the bible doesn’t mean I wasn’t speeding.

You’re right, it must be a conspiracy. Let’s get the x-files pair in here to investigate. Better yet let me help dawn light on marbled head.

Maybe you forgotten how Kyle Busch, Jimmie, Harvick, Burton, Bowyer have gotten penalties this year. Along with JR and Gordon, JR earned his share at Daytona. Even Carl Edwards, hell Carl got three; in one race and two of them were back to back – One penalty issued while serving the first penalty! All were penalized, or have you conveniently forgotten those?

NASCAR checked the system and he was speeding. JPM got caught speeding in 2 segments on pit road, so take your lumps like everyone else. It was his race to win or lose and unfortunately he lost. Has anyone read his interview in Scene magazine? He claims that he is a asshole and doesn’t care if the fans or anyone else likes him. Got to question his priorities and if he knows how he actually gets paid. No fans, no dollars. I have never really cared one way or the other about him, but his own comments just solidified my opinion. Sometimes it is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

Memo to JP: you have a 5MPH error-window… you need to fire whoever set your gear to be right-at the max-error. If you had your gear set to play by the rules and eat the second-extra that the error allowed for YOU STILL WOULD’VE HAD A 4-SECOND LEAD! Jesus your team was stupid still-maxing-out your pit-speed when you should’ve been dialed-in right-at the speed. Your team screwed you along with yourself!

One final thought before we move on. What happens to the wife an kids, since Montoya swore on them he was not speeding, maybe someone in the Latin nation could shed some light on what happens when you swear on your family and are wrong? Does he get a divorce and give the children up for adoption? I really want to know and I think we the NASCAR Nation are OWED an answer!

This next one really PISSES me off and burns my ASS!

Here’s the best gem out of all of the bullshit flying our there: I email Allstate about scam NASCAR pulled on them on Sunday and the fans….and so did a bunch of my NASCAR friends! Looks like Allstate 400 is no more; is pulling out! They have their reasons being political correct…lets see who the next suckers will be for their sponsorship will be? Maybe it was ESPN’s doing? Never heard the Allstate 400 once, does anyone remember what ESPN called it? When you steal a win from someone you better make sure your right. A lot of angry Latinos out there who saw the ugly side of NASCAR and so did Allstate Insurance! Good day Gil.

Good day indeed! This bastard out and out lied about the reason Allstate has decided not to sponsor this race any more. I have the real scoop which I have already posted, you can read it here:

Allstate not renewing Brickyard title sponsorship.

I encourage you to read that blog and find out the REAL reason and issue behind the decision. Now to tear this bastard a new asshole!

MY ANSWER!

So according to you Nascar or ESPN made up the fact that JPM was speeding. Are you saying NASCAR has to let Latino drivers speed on pit road? You need to get over it, he was speeding. Show me your evidence. Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart the list goes on and on were caught speeding earlier in the year so should all white people throw a fit because NASCAR is cheating against whites, or is it possible they both were speeding on pit road.

The thing with pit road speed limits is if the speed limit is 50 MPH drivers can go 54.9 MPH without getting in trouble, why did Juan even push the limit to begin with? He should have been going 52-53 and kept his 5 or so second lead, he made the mistake. Let’s not turn this into any racial thing. So quit playing your LATINO and or RACE card!

But, the verdict on NASCAR here is: Innocent on all counts.

Don’t like the fact well look at this.

I like the way crew chief Brian Pattie put it post race.

“It’s electronic,” Pattie said. “It’s not like there is a lot to discuss. It’s not like the old days where everybody is doing handheld (stopwatches). It’s black and white. It is what it is. They did their job. Now we go back and do ours.”

Pattie said that at some point, he will see the graphic proof of the infraction, but, he said he is pretty sure what he will see is Montoya speeding.

However I’m not done with Mr. Montoya just yet. You all want to chase shades, ghosts, and conspiracies but you’re avoiding the one solid, hard and true fact.

Juan Pablo Montoya’s Comment

Sunday during the race, JPM made a comment while serving his pass through penalty. He said, “If they do this to me, I am going to kill them.”

I was shocked, surprised, and appalled by him and that comment. I was also greatly concerned from everyone on pit road as he drove down its length, especially the officials that are down there. At that point I believe NASCAR should have red flagged the race until both he and his car were removed from the track. I think NASCAR should also fine him and the owner as well as suspend Montoya from the rest of this year’s series to include placing him on probation for the first four months of next year’s (2010) series.

If he made any kind of threatening comment to anyone during said time NASCAR would then ban him for life. I may sound harsh however I couldn’t care less how it sounds. Threatening to kill someone is a big time no-no, as well as against the law in every state, disgusting, and kids heard that, so what did those kids just learn, you tell me that?

I think I’m being soft, because as far as I’m now concerned Montoya is now nothing more than a terrorist driving an extremely fast and powerful machine ready to kill anyone for anything. I would have banned him for life right then and there if it had been my choice.

THAT’S A FACT & THE BOTTOM LINE!

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