There is only ONE Oklahoma

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Golfing at EMS

Owner Ray Evernham did some personnel shuffling last week by placing Eric Warren ‘on leave’. Warren was responsible for the aerodynamic simulations for EMS’
Engineering Department. Competition director Sammy Johns, will take over Warren’s responsibilities in the interim.

So Ray publicly wants to use a ‘mulligan’ for the poor performance of his three teams, and there are good reasons for this. EMS still has not finalized its partnership with Montreal Canadians owner George Gillett. Compounding this problem, is the yet to be determined full sponsorship for the 9 and 19 teams next season. While ‘Jayski rumors’ of Budweiser and even M&Ms moving over, one has to wonder if those established companies would justify the risk/reward going to a team in such disarray.

There are a couple of problems that would need to be addressed before such a move as well. I am not sure Bud would go to any team unless they were sponsoring the ‘flagship’ car. Kahne could be a natural fit for this, but the problem may lay with M&Ms and the parent company Mars. With they way Sadler bailed out of a contract last season, no matter how ‘graceful’ he did it (as he claims), there simply has to be some ruffled feathers in the Mars hierarchy.

BTW, Josh Browne should also get a mulligan if the whole team gets one. If he was the ‘right person’ for the CC job last fall and the beginning of this season, he should get another shot soon.

Greens in regulation:
Once again, ‘spotterman’ Brett Griffin delivers on race day. Indy has to be on of the most difficult tracks to spot and while he couldn’t keep the 19 car out of every jam, there were some great spotter to driver communication.

Out of Bounds
The newest, latest great website the ‘Southern Gentleman’ and his posse are touting is the ‘MVP Club’ (http://www.vlpclub.net/). While it is a bit different from the other ‘social website’ mistakes such as MySpace or InfieldParking, it is another example of not thinking about how websites such as this can expose that very personal life many are trying to protect. Look for the latest ‘Southern Gentleman’ update on FaceBook or some other site in the near future. Of course it is 'cool' this month, but most likely will be replaced in the coming months.

Where is the Cart Girl?
So Evernham has finally admitted what most of us all knew a year ago that it is probably a mistake to be ‘dating’ one of your drivers. Not only for the obvious reasons, but it can lead to dissension with other team members and also hurt that driver’s career in the long run. I guess Ray really does want all the ’06 cars back from the ARCA team!

Winter rules:
So with the recent revelations that Evernham has admitted, one has to see the rest of the season as a wash, a learning experience. But the problem with that is next year it may very well be ‘back to the drawing board’ with the C.O.T. used 100%. So hopefully the 9, 10 and 19 teams can improve their lie as much as possible between now and speed weeks next February.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Train Wreck

Michael Vick had his first day in court yesterday and one has to wonder if this is already a train wreck in the making. Of course Vick should have the right to a fair trail and such, but his first public statement on the matter has more holes than a sieve.

Here is the text of a statement by Vick, as read outside U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., on Thursday by his lawyer Billy Martin:

"Today in court I pleaded innocent to the allegations made against me. I take these charges very seriously and look forward to clearing my good name. I respectfully ask all of you to hold your judgment until all of the facts are shown. Above all I would like to say to my mom I'm sorry for what she has had to go through in this most trying of times. It has caused pain to my family and I apologize to my family. I also want to apologize to my Falcon teammates for not being with them at the beginning of spring training."

A few notes:
1) Of course he should plead innocent at this point.
2) He wants to 'clear his good name', does he mean 'Michael Vick'? Or his other name, 'Ron Mexico'?
3) I am sure you mom is upset, but that doesn't deflect any of these charges.
4) 'Apologize' for not being with his team? That is fine as well, but 'spring training' is a baseball term. Football commonly calls this time period as 'training camp'.

Micheal, are you sure you actually wrote this statement, or it is simple damage control by your attorney?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mergers, Buyouts and Closures…. Oh My

Today’s Nascar is looking more like the trading floor of the New York Stock exchange as teams are attempting to gain any financial advantage as possible. This past week was a banner week for Jayski and team owner rumors.

Not to try to be Nostradamus, but the many Nascar experts that felt that DEI would become DIE without Junior may have to use their mulligan. It seems that the ‘wicked step mother’, Teresa just might have a little more savvy and knowledge of how to run a race team than many wanted to give her credit. Not only did she keep 51% ownership of the race team, she has now acquired much (if not all) of the extra technology and equipment that Junior was complaining about DEI not having. The only real question that remains is how Nascar will handle the ‘trading’ out of owner points.

Robert Yates has hinted for almost a half decade that he would ‘get out’ of ownership if the right opportunity arose. His main obstacle was his loyalty to his son and Doug’s job security and well-being. Insert Champ Car conglomerate Newman/Hass. Newman/Hass may or may not bring a positive change to the on going turn around at RYR. But at this point in Robert’s life, just about anything to help relieve some of the day-to-day responsibilities of a Nascar owner shouldn’t be a bad thing. The real question is what role (if any) Robert will have after this buyout. Robert has said numerous times that he would prefer to just focus on the RYR engine program.

Lastly, with all this moving around of race teams and owners, there will be some poor single car team that will be forced to shut their doors. Of course the naysayers will blame the governing body for this, but in reality, weeding out the field fillers can only make the sport more stable in the long run.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Tin Foiled Hat Theories

This past weekend was at best what one could call a ‘low water mark’ in terms of TeVee and sports broadcasts. But that doesn’t mean I spent a lot of the weekend doing lawn work! Here are a few observations:

The British Open
Before Tiger Woods had even finished the front nine of the third round on Saturday, he had pretty much taken himself out of any realistic contention to win the Open, but one thing struck me. EVERY (yes every) shot of his for the remainder of the tournament was broadcast and it was usually live. For years we have heard the complaints about Nascar broadcasts and how that ‘even if JR is running in the mid 30s and a lap down’ that the networks will give him coverage over other drivers. The reason for this is pretty simple in both cases. Both are arguably the most popular figure in their respected sport and increased coverage of either will help ratings, which also helps advertising. One can’t blame the networks or governing body for that.

Speaking of Networks though. The British Open was broadcast on ABC and because of the needed play-off ran while over the scheduled allotment. What was ABC's solution? Move the regularly schedule IRL race to ESPN. While on the surface it was probably the best decision but I wonder what might happen when ABC/ESPN take over the race broadcasts and the two traditional 'Saturday Night' races at Bristol and Richmond are effected by the late afternoon college football schedule that they both televise. Talk about a powder keg ready to explode. 'Heidi' anyone?

‘Fixed games’ in the NBA?
So, NBA referee Tim Donaghy is being investigated by the FBI for betting on games that he was an in game official. Maybe the worst black eye any sport can have is some sort of scandal that involves ‘fixing’ or altering the outcome of games under the grounds of biased officiating. Now there is speculation that the NBA was questioning this official’s ‘gambling habits’ over a year ago, yet was still allowed to officiate games. How many times over the recent years the conspiracy theorists propose that ‘Nascar is fixed’, yet in the history of the sport, not on person has been investigated or shown to have had personal gain from such actions? And more important, no ex-official has made that claim that they saw someone else intentional make a call to alter the out come of a race. Looks like the NBA is going to have to answer some hard questions in the near future about the integrity of their league. Just look at who was officiating game 3 of the San Antonio/Phoenix series and the ‘calls’ in that game, and more importantly, the official making those ‘questionable calls’. Chances are (and this will all come out if true) Donaghy had the ‘Spurs –4 and the OVER 201 points’.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Off Week

Hurry, hurry, step right up, See the sideshow

It became official after the latest episode of Trackside Live. The “Southern Gentleman” has now fulfilled his destiny of becoming a sideshow act. Now, before the email/hate machine goes into full force, one should first take a deep breath and realize that being labeled a ‘sideshow act’ is not always a bad thing.

There have been numerous other drivers who have made a nice living doing very much this same thing. Kenny Wallace comes to mind, but I am not sure if the Sadler faithful would like their driver being compared to the ‘Herminator’, especially considering that in 17 years of racing, he does not have a win, and only 6 top 5s. Then there is Michael Waltrip, another driver with spotty at best success on the track, but his antics off the track have enabled ‘Jetfuel’ to own a race team. So I guess things are not all that bad.

Now the first question I asked after this latest TeeVee stunt the Southern Gentleman performed was this ‘another set-up like the now infamous stage dive’? Of course it was. We all know that Sadler has an accurate arm from the All-Star Helmet Throw a few years back, but it was obvious (from the ‘batter’, Jeff Hammond, being in full catcher’s gear, to the ‘warmed’ up arm of the driver of the 19 car.) that the ‘bit’ was to intentionally bean Hammond. But desperate people many times need to resort to desperate actions. It has been painfully clear that the actions of the driver of the 19 on the track has not warranted much attention, with the glaring stat of only finishing on the lead lap on 37% of the time this season. We wonder why some Nascar fans are getting tired of the WWE style of racing shows that seem to be popular with such networks as TNT and Speed Channel. (Frankly, ESPN is not much better)

Where are the ‘For Sale’ signs now?

After totaling the primary 19 car in the final moments of Happy Hour, one has to wonder just what is going on with the 19 team? Many wrongfully pointed the finger at former Crew Chief Josh Browne, but even a ‘miracle’ worker like owner Ray Evernham is having troubles not only fielding a competitive car ‘off the truck’, but seems to be ‘guessing’ at in race chassis changes as well. (Something Browne was crucified for in the past. One point of interest I did notice however, listening to the in-car feed was that Ray’s methodology yesterday was to ‘learn’ about how the chassis changes were reacting. There were a couple of instances where Sadler wanted trackbar adjustments, along with the air pressure changes and was over ruled by the owner/emergency CC. (yes, I do realize that there is an interim CC, but Ray was the one over the scanner making the calls yesterday) Evernham must have realized somewhere in his very successful CC career that making too many adjustments each stop can many times only compound the overall problem. Just how does one really know what changes helped and what changes did not?
Ray’s ‘plan’ was to ‘work with air pressure’ combinations much of the day, in an almost ‘learn to walk before your run’ approach. It was not something that was realistically going to earn the 19 car a top 20 finish, but it was something that may pay off down the road. Heck, for the first time that I can recall in Sadler’s career, a call for an inner liner pressure change was made (ala Chad Knaus). Maybe that is insignificant, but I took it as something new for Sadler, borderline innovative! I’m thinking some photo shopping of the original ‘for sale’ picture might be in order. I can't help to think that in a selfish sort of way, that Browne was getting a chuckle watching the 19 make chassis changes much of the day, and find little success.

Do as I say, not as I do

Then there are the loyal paying fans of SFC. While they have many reasons to be frustrated and to feel almost let down by the high hopes attributed to this season, there seems to be another ‘sickness’ that many have to deal with recently. It seems that ‘Sybil’ has once again returned to the SFC forum after months of hiatus and has almost demanded that others agree with her ‘persona of the week’.

I guess it wouldn’t be so bad to want everyone else to wave their pom-poms and cheer the same cheer but when you see that same person’s condescending attitude on other fan forums, it just make you wonder what control issues this person is having. What’s next, picking on the “Southern Gentleman’s” girl friend? Even I won’t go there as her life is her own and she seems to want to keep it that way. There is nothing wrong with that.

Irony alert

It is most definitely the silly season. Not only for drivers, but Crew Chiefs, and even sponsors have not seen such turmoil since the likes of the 2001 season. You have to get a giggle reading the reactions concerning some of these ‘rumors’. When there is a ‘rumor’ being floated around by a member of the media (be it print or TeVee/Radio) that the consensus of the driver’s fan don’t want to happen, an immediate reaction is to call the source of this rumor non-credible. When Pete Piston wrote a few weeks ago, and later wrote a second time, that he is hearing rumors that Sadler will not be running the 19 for Evernham next year, less than an hour after the article was posted, the lack of credibility claims were fired off by some of the Sadler faithful.

Flash forward to last week, and the Jayski like rumor that M&Ms maybe ‘interested’ in moving their sponsorship to the 19 and Sadler next year. What is interesting is the reaction by the majority of SFC fans, and the lack of questioning of the source. I guess the benchmark for credibility has more to do with simply agreeing or disagreeing with the content or claim over the track record of the person claiming it.

Even “Spotterman” has felt the need to chime in with a few denials but has been strangely silent with this last possibility. I am not saying that either of these rumors have more or less credibility than the other, just saying that the perception of each is textbook psychology.

How does he do it?

Now pretty much everyone who reads this blog, understands that I will criticize many of “Spotterman’s” PR decisions and plans, but week after week Brett Griffin ‘delivers’ on the spotter stand. This week at Chicago was not different.

The job of spotting is difficult enough but when a car almost a half a straight ahead spins and gets tangled up with another car, almost immediately the eye in the sky not only saw the wreck, but correctly identified the cause. In this case a tire coming of the rim. Maybe he heard Nascar race control with their observations, maybe not, but the point is that once again the 19 spotter is one of the best (if not the best) at his race day job.

In all honesty, one of the few bright spots this season for the 19 team has been the exceptional performance of the spotter.

A week off

With the off week, and with me actually having to ‘work’ the past few weeks, here are some things we won’t have to hear.

* Sometime after the cross flags we don’t have to hear Sadler tell his CC, ‘This is by far the worse the car has been all day’.

* On lap 30 or less, Spotterman letting his driver know that the car directly behind him is the leader.

* The ‘time waste’ of a 2 plus hour pre race show (and that is after a two hour ‘morning pre race show’ on Speed Channel.

* The question of just which team will land the Bud sponsorship. (nevermind, there is a pretty good chance we will hear something about it)

And lastly, ‘LOST’ began filming season 4 this week! Woohoooooooooo!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Soggy but still around

While the seemingly endless rains have not dampened my spirits, the end of a fiscal year and the preparations of corporate financials has. I should be back and up and running after Daytona with some interesting stuff.

Fantasy island is getting a reality check almost daily these days. De Plane!!! De Plane!!!

"film at 11"