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There is only ONE Oklahoma
SOONERS
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Elliott Sadler, you're fired!

Remember when Marty Mcfly was ‘fired’ via a fax in ‘Back to the Future II’? One has to wonder if that was the manner in which GEM fired Elliott Sadler even though there was two years left on his contract. There is never a good time to let ANY employee go, and there is never a pleasant way to do it, but business decisions like this are made every day in the ‘real world’ and when I have been asked over and over via email and phone calls if I ‘was surprised by this move’, my answer has been the same every time. ‘Not really’

There have been many questions by the Sadler faithful of when and why the GEM management did this and I have a couple of theories (as speculation is pretty much all we can go by at this point until the principals speak up.)

Question #1; When was the Sadler camp informed?

OneLugNutShort’s theory: We pretty much all know that Elliott has been spending much of, if not all of the off season at home in Emporia (getting ready for his big date) and at his hunting camp(s) which are located near Emporia (which allows dog hunting). I would think that a decision of this magnitude would have to be done ‘face to face’ and at the GEM shop/offices. Tracking Elliott’s private jet in December reveals two possible dates. Dec 1st in which the jet made two trips before noon est between Statesville and Emporia. (1st trip to pick up Elliott at home in Emporia and the second trip to return him) Allowing for a little over two hours in Statesville in between leaving open for the possible ‘meeting’ time. The second possible date would fall on December 14th when Sadler's jet had spent the previous two days in Emporia only to fly to Statesville, where the plane set idle for almost 8 hours before flying to Greensboro, NC, where the jet has set idle since.

Just speculation but I think that Sadler was informed on Dec 1st personally (a Monday), and that the team would be ‘privately’ informed in Dec 15th (another Monday) thus allowing Sadler to ‘clear’ out his personal affects the day before on Dec 14th, a Sunday.

Question #2: Why did GEM do this?

The question of the week and there are many reasons. But I am reminded of a post by Brett Griffin on SFC that pretty much sums up the hirings and firings in the NASCAR CUP world as we have come to know it today.

“To quote Eddie Wood in 1999 when I first met him, "Brett, if this were easy everybody would do it".

Well, it isn't easy and that's why the best of the best survive -- drivers, crewmembers, owners and sponsors! (Hopefully if business managers and spotters fall into that saying I'll be around for at least a little while longer!) No one is exempt from that rule anymore. If you don't believe me just look at the lack of sponsors this year, look at the good ol' boys that no longer drive on a regular basis in the Cup Series or look at the teams who used to be around that you'll never hear of again -- the pioneer owners now down to a handful of smart business guys.”
Brett Griffin 3/10/08

I have read and seen some of the ‘excuses/justifications’ from some of the Sadler faithful going from ‘marketability and likeability’ to ‘equal equipment’ to the need to be with a more ‘loyal company’ and even ‘bad luck’. While these are factors that must be considered, they do not always carry as much weight, as the Sadler fan wants them to. Lets take a short look at each:

Marketability:
This can by a real touchy and unique subject and no matter how nice one is in front of the camera, if one doesn’t perform well and up to expectations on the track, the marketability can take a back seat. Looking back at the past couple of years, just where has Sadler ‘fit’ into his sponsor’s marketability plans? Other than the occasional cardboard stand-up at Best Buy in all honestly would it make any difference if it was A.J. Allmendinger or who ever. Sure Sadler lists his favorite fast food at the ‘Big Mac’, but I don’t see many add campaigns. There was the ‘Sonoco’ ad campaign but I think that was directed more towards the ‘likeability’ aspect (so below). Is A.J. as marketable as Sadler? On the short term, that answer is no, but when Sadler was cutting his teeth with the Wood Brothers, neither was he.

Likeability:
I have never been a fan of the ‘side show’ acts of Trackside Live, but there are many fans that do. That being said these appearances have to have added to his ‘likeability’ for many, but does that translate into sponsorship dollars and opportunity? Looking at that other ‘regular’ drivers on these types of shows, it appears to be more about shock value and an act, than the content of the show itself. Is A.J. as likeable as Sadler? Depends on your tastes, Ask me two years from now, but he is not unlikable at this point.

side bar: 2008 marked Elliott's Sadler's omission from the CHEX Most Popular Driver Award finalist (finishing in the top 10 in fan voting) after making the list in 2006 and 2007. Before 2006, Sadler had never been a finalist.

Equal equipment:
This has been an Achilles heal for a lot of drivers/fans when justifying poor performance. For the 2008 season, again I will fall back on a Brett Griffin quote from about 1/3 into the 2008 season.

“Are we getting the same stuff? Yes. Are there cars the same? No. And, they never will be. They have different teams and the reality is they may be similar but they'll never be the same... a round of wedge here, a track bar adjustment there, a degree more of right front camber on the right front, 50 pounds more spring in the right rear -- that's called racing man. And, that's what keeps us all coming back -- to see who will be the best next week
Brett Griffin 3/19/08”

Brett brings up some great points, which was further validated after the Spring Michigan race where Sadler asked to have ‘the same stuff as Kasey was getting’. Then crew chief Rodney Childers explained that the ‘stuff was the same, with the exception of the front end stuff the you (Elliott) don’t like’.

I think cutting to the core of what Brett was stating is that each driver gets different results from similar equipment. While that result may only be a quarter a tenth a lap difference over a fuel run, over the course of a race, that can be the difference between a top 10 and finishing a lap down. Is A.J. one of these drivers that can get that quarter a tenth? I honestly have no clue.

Loyal company/team:
Actually this is sort of amusing considering the history of GEM/Evernham and also considering Sadler himself. We are speaking of a driver with 10 full CUP seasons under his belt and raced for 3 different teams. Two of which Sadler broke existing and recently signed contracts to go to another race team. I have heard of one comment that Sadler did not burn any bridges when using ‘out clauses’ and such. Not sure, but I would be very surprised if Doug Yates has been waiting on Sadler’s door step to offer him his old job back. While time may have healed some open wounds with the Wood Brothers, even in their current state would they even consider Sadler again?

Bad Luck:
How many years is this one going to be used? It has been a staple since 2005. Lets just leave this one alone for now.


So what happens now? (Thanks Mr. Weber)
Is there a ride out there for Sadler? Of course. Will it be a ‘better’ ride than the 19? In the short term, no (there is a reason why the ride was open in the first place), but on the long run, who knows?

I think that Sadler puts his best seasons together when there are not high expectations placed on them. I don’t think he will ever be the ‘dominant’ driver of the tier one group (and there are only a handful of those), but he can still get the job done after ten years. When he focuses and has the drive, he is a smarter/better driver now than he was in the 2004 ‘chase’ season. And he will still have the best spotter in the business if he chooses.

The road is long, but I still believe there is ample time for a methodical return for the ‘Southern Gentleman’ on the track. You will bounce back, Elliott.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Elliott Sadler

One can't help wondering if recent conversations between Elliott Sadler and PR man Brett Griffin might have been similar to scene #5 from Andrew Lloyd Weber's, EVITA, 'Another suitcase in another hall'. In this 'silly' time, one can have a giggle now and then. After all, it is good for the soul!

"ANOTHER RIDE IN ANOTHER GARAGE"
(a parody of "Another suitcase in another hall")

ELLIOTT
I don't expect my rides to last for long
Never fool myself that my dreams will come true
Being used to mediocrity I anticipate it
But all the same I hate it--wouldn't you?
So what happens now?

BRETT
Another ride in another garage

ELLIOTT
So what happens now?

BRETT
Take your picture off a sponsor’s wall

ELLIOTT
Where am I going to?

BRETT
You'll get by, you always have before

ELLIOTT
Where am I going to?
Time and time again I've said that I don't care
That I'm immune to gloom, that I'm hard through and through
But every time it matters all my fans desert me
So anyone can hurt me--and they do
So what happens now?

BRETT
Another ride in another garage

ELLIOTT
So what happens now?

BRETT
Take your picture off a sponsor’s wall

ELLIOTT
Where am I going to?

BRETT
You'll get by you always have before

ELLIOTT
Where am I going go?
Call in three months time and I'll be fine I know
Well maybe not that fine, but I'll survive anyhow
I won't recall the teams and races of each sad occasion
But that's no consolation--here and now
So what happens now?

BRETT
Another ride in another garage

ELLIOTT
So what happens now?

BRETT
Take your picture off a sponsor’s wall

ELLIOTT
Where am I going to?

BRETT
You'll get by, you always have before

ELLIOTT
Where am I going to?

BRETT
Don't ask anymore

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Elliott Sadler...his name is A.J. Allmendinger

update 4:45 CST 12/28/08
Seems the Sadler faithful are getting a bit restless, and understandably so. They would like some answers or at the very least some words of wisdom from either the 'former' driver of the 19 or his PR man. Brett is still lurking but the cat has got his tongue so far. The questioning on SFC has even brought out some that swore they would never post there again. But like history has shown, the 'paying' Sadler fan is left out in the cold. At least so far.

update: 8:30 CST 12/27/08

Brett Griffin (aka spotterman) was lurking on the SFC message board a little more than an hour ago. There is little doubt that he saw the thread concerning this story yet made no denial or comment. It is a usual practice for Sadler's PR man, to normally squelch such a rumor. Maybe he is simply gathering his thoughts though.

I have to think there is more to this rumor than simply firing a driver. (but this is the 'Evernham way')


Remember when Elliott Sadler didn't have the courtesy to call a fellow CUP driver by name? Ego aside, it was a classless move and one that was criticized on this blog. Now there is a hard core rumor from what most call a very credible source that Sadler will be replaced this up coming season by good ole 'WhatHisName'.

This just 6 months after Sadler had signed a multi year extension to his existing contract. Can anyone say IRONY alert???? Seems there must be some pesky 'out clause' being used by GEM. Double irony alert.

Let the spin cycle begin and I am sure I will receive word from SFC and other Sadler opinion sites and will be happy to post the spin. And lastly, it was also just a few months ago that I jokingly said that Sadler would be the next driver in the 8 car at DEI. (well, I was close, just didn't get the car number right) Maybe my jokes are reality, maybe not. Can't wait to see A.J. on IRacing next time.

More to come on this story.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

A few things we, as Sooner fans, should know...

...about the Florida Gators. Having the benefit of CBSC (the college cable channel for CBS and hence, the SEC) and DVR, I have now seen multiple Gator games on tape. The first thing I have to say is, wow. They are damn good. Their O is multiple and dangerous, their D is fast, aggressive, and smart, and their special teams are special (to the tune of blocking 8 kicks this year, returning 2 punts for TD, and hitting 75/76 XP and 11/12 FG).

Things most of us already know:

Tebow is very athletic and very accurate, which could give us serious fits. He runs very well when he needs to, can hit most throws with ease, and when he's on fire, he will tear any D apart. He is like Zac Robinson in a lot of ways (remember the number of 'dead to rights' moments we had him in OU-OSU?) but better.

The top three options at RB for UF are not only fast, but very quick, can find the hole quickly, make a quick cut, a move, and be off to the races. That goes for Rainey, Demps, and Harvin. They are fast, to be sure, but that only counts after you make the first and second level miss, and they do that at least as well as any running back we have faced. All three of them.

Brandon Spikes is the real deal at LB. He is among the best LBs I have seen this year on tape. He plays very fast, has great instincts, and is dangerous for passers across the middle (4 INT, 2 returned for TD). He was absolutely brilliant against LSU. None of their other LBs (They've started 5 at the Will and Sam combined over the year) are much to write home about, but they are good.

Things most of us don't know:

Their front four are very, very good. Maybe the best we've faced. Their rotation is awesome. Dunlap isn't even a starter all the time, but he is a headhunter (12 TFL, 9 Sack). Cunningham and Trattou are the listed starters, and they are very, very good. Very much like Beal and Alexander in our last few games. Their interior is stout. Terron Sanders and Lawrence Marsh allow the ends to have some freedom. Sanders was the one that recovered that fumble against UGA and broke loose for 20 yards to set the score up (very athletic move for a 300 pound man).

Their secondary is among the best we've seen, again, maybe THE best. Black is a Ballhawk and so is Wright. Black leads the SEC in picks with 6 and has 2 TDs. Haden and Jenkins are lockdown cover corners. Both have three picks.

Their O-Line is big, agile, and strong. They average about 312. The Pouncey twins are damn good, and they're not even the best blockers on the team. Phil Trautwein probably takes that honor (although it's close). These guys grade out very high and pancake the hell out of D-Lines.

So... All things considered, we've got our work cut out for us. Is it NASCAR season yet??? I hope not.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

A (very) long statistical analysis of OU and Florida

Yes, I have been distracted from NASCAR over the past few weeks and after the new year I will offer my never ending opinions of the goings on with the sport and especially 'my driver' and the #19 GEM team. But it is not every day that your college football team makes it to a BCS champ game:


I know the prevailing wisdom seems to be that Florida is going to beat us 65-63, but I don't see it playing out that way. I have come to a different conclusion. One team may light up the scoreboard, but I don't think both teams will. I think it's either a blowout, or a very close game with a lower final score than people expect. The reason I believe this is OU and Florida's recipes for success are extremely similar. Dynamic offenses that are put in favorable positions by opportunistic defenses. Because I love my team, but more so because I'm a massive 'numbers cruncher', I've done some exhaustive investigative web-surfing to support this supposition. This is a very long post, and very stat-heavy, so go ahead and stop reading...right about....now.

An opportunistic defense creates turnovers and momentum-changing events like quarterback sacks and tackles for loss. I'll start there.

Turnover Margin

No surprise, Oklahoma and Florida are 1st and 2nd nationally in turnover margin. Oklahoma is +1.77 per game, Florida +1.69. This seems like a push, however if you dive a little deeper the statistics reveal a little more. Florida leads the nation in passes intercepted with 24. However, Sam Bradford has thrown just one interception since the Texas game, or one interception in his last 257 attempts. Tim Tebow has thrown 3 interceptions for the year on 258 attempts. It seems unlikely either team will gain an advantage in this department. OU may have an advantage in fumbles. We've recovered 17 fumbles on the year, while Florida has lost 8 fumbles. Conversely, Florida has only recovered 9 fumbles on the year, while OU has only lost two fumbles on the season. That in itself is amazing, and is the lowest total of any team in the country. The next lowest team has 4. For reference, OU has lost two fumbles on 1,036 plays for the season for an average of one fumble lost every 538 plays. Florida has lost 8 fumbles on the season on 800 plays for an average of one fumble lost every 100 plays. I would give OU a very, very slight advantage in the turnover department. If we can recover just one fumble in the game it may be the difference.
Verdict-Slight advantage to OU


Sacks/Tackles For Loss

OU is 3rd nationally with 42 quarterback sacks. Florida is 33rd with 32 quarterback sacks. OU averages a sack against the opposition once every 11.83 pass attempts. Florida gets a sack once every 12.57 pass attempts. Guess who numbers 1 and 2 are in sacks? Texas and TCU. In case you're wondering, 7 of the 11 sacks OU has allowed on the season were to Texas and TCU. We've faced 3 other teams on the season with more sacks than Florida: Cincinnati, Texas Tech, and Nebraska. Those 3 teams combined for a total of 2 sacks against us. OU has allowed a total of 11 quarterback sacks on the year which is 4th best statistically. Florida has allowed 16, which is 13th best. This is where it gets interesting though-OU allows a sack every 43.27pass attempts, Florida allows a sack every 18.68 pass attempts. Florida has also faced more defenses that are statistically weaker in quarterback sacks. I'm not sure how significant this will turn out to be, but it appears to be an advantage for OU

There is a pretty significant discrepancy in our advantage in tackles for loss. OU ranks 9th nationally with nearly 8 per game, Florida is 85th with just over 5 per game. Both teams are nearly identical in TFL allowed. OU 12th, Fla 14th, both allowing just over 4 per game.
Verdict-Advantage to OU

3rd down offense/defense

I believe this is one of the most overlooked stats in football. Converting 3rd downs offensively allows a team to sustain drives and retain momentum. Conversely, a defense's ability to stop the opposing team from converting 3rd downs kills momentum and gives the other team the ball back. Not surprisingly , OU and Florida both excel in each category.

OU is 7th nationally with a 3rd down conversion rate of 51.6%. Florida is 13th with a conversion rate of 49.3%. What's interesting is we've already faced 5 teams with a higher conversion rate than Florida. Texas-2nd 57.1%, Texas Tech-4th 54.5%, Mizzou-5th 54.4%, TCU-8th 51.5%, and Kansas 11th 50%.

Again, both teams are nearly identical in 3rd down defense. Florida is 15th nationally, allowing opposing offenses to convert 31.8% of the time. OU is 21st, allowing a 33.3 conversion rate. Something to consider about this statistic that lends itself in OU's favor-OU's defense has faced 5 of the top 11 offenses in converting 3rd downs. This would appear to be a good sign for us defensively. There's a common theme that manifests through these statistics-TCU and Cincinnati. These are very solid teams. TCU is 5th, Cincinnati is 6th in this category.
Verdict-Even


Defense

I'll attempt to dissect the defensive statistics a little now. FYI, I won't be breaking down the offensive numbers. Most of us know them anyway. Defense is supposedly an overwhelming advantage for Florida, but the statistics reveal some interesting things. I'll break this down in 3 categories-Rush defense, pass defense, and total defense.

Rush Defense

OU and Florida are nearly identical in rush defense. Florida ranks 16th nationally, OU ranks 18th. However, OU has a slight advantage in yards per carry allowed (OU 3.24-UF 3.33). Once again, we faced the top two defenses in these statistical categories this year: TCU and Texas. If you exclude quarterback sacks, we had identical yards per carry averages against Texas and TCU-2.43. What's encouraging is we're averaging 5.74 ypc since the Texas game. Florida averages 5.96 ypc on the year.
Verdict-Even

Pass Defense

This is where it supposedly gets ugly for us. A casual glance at the statistics would support this theory. OU ranks 99th at 253 ypg allowed. Fla ranks 19th at 174 ypg. However, once again, if you dive deeper there's more to the story...First off, a difference of only 79 ypg translates into a difference of 80 spots in the rankings. More interesting tidbits...OU has more pass attempts against than any other team in the nation (497). Florida averages 7 fewer pass attempts against its defense a game less than OU. OU's defense allows 12.01 ypc and 6.62 ypa. Florida allows 10.47 and 5.45. In pass efficiency defense Florida is 2nd nationally. One of the primary reasons for this is they lead the nation in passes intercepted. As discussed previously, you wouldn't think this would be a major factor against us. OU ranks 41st nationally in pass efficiency defense, and 1st in the Big 12. TCU ranks 4th nationally, and Cincinnati 28th. This area is obviously still an advantage for Fla, but its not as drastic as you would be led to believe.
Verdict-Advantage to Florida

Total Defense

The defensive rankings are really easy to be fooled by. It's been proclaimed over and over again by the media that the only team in the Big 12 that plays defense is Texas (50th in yards allowed nationally,). But Texas allows only 20 fewer ypg than we do. We're 2nd in the Big 12 in this category behind Texas, but only 65th nationally. The 3-game stretch of Texas, KU, and KSU earned us the reputation of having a terrible defense, and rightfully so. We allowed 438 yards to Texas, 491 to KU, and 550 to KSU . Now...can anyone tell me if anything might have happened in the Texas game that created this sudden inability to stop opposing offenses? A major upheaval in personnel, perhaps? Anyone?

Once the defense settled in and identified a suitable replacement for Reynolds we've allowed a respectable 350 ypg since the Kansas State game. For reference, that's against the 12th (Nebraska), 4th (Texas Tech), 7th (OSU), 6th (Mizzou), and 77th (damn you, TAMU!) ranked offenses nationally. We're not as bad defensively as everyone seems to think.

Florida allows 279 ypg, which is 9th nationally. They allow 4.4 yards per play on the season. OU allows 5.06 yards per play on the season. OU's defense has faced 922 plays this season, which is the 5th most of any team. Florida's defense has faced 826 plays on the season. Florida has played 4 teams this year that rank 97th or lower in total offense (!), not including a lower division team, The Citadel. The highest ranked offense they've played against this year is Georgia's, which ranks 21st. The second highest ranked offense they faced belonged to Ole Miss (37th), and we all know the result of that game. TCU is ranked 2nd in total defense, Cincinatti is 26th.

Just judging from the statistics I'm inclined to give the advantage to Florida, but not by a substantial margin.
Verdict-Slight advantage to Florida


Special Teams

This will be the last area I dissect. It's pretty bad...but maybe not as bad as you would think.

I keep hearing about how great Florida's special teams are, but the statistics I have don't back that up. I can't find statistics on blocked field goals/punts, which they may very well be proficient at. What I do have is a little surprising. We rank 107th nationally (not surprising) in kickoff return average defense with an average of 24.1 per return. Florida is not a whole let better though, they rank 90th with a 22.4 average. We're dead last out of 119 teams in kick-off touchdowns allowed (4). However, Florida has not ran a kickoff back for a touchdown this year. What's surprising is Florida's relative ineptness at returning kickoffs. You would think with all their (alleged) sub 4.3, Olympic team alternate sprinters they would be among the best in the country in this category. They rank 44th, with a 21.83 average. We rank 7th, with a 25.17 return average, which also surprised me.

They're better at punt returns, which may not benefit them significantly because we don't punt a lot. They're 8th nationally, with a 14.4 average and 2 td's. We're 70th nationally, with a 8.3 average and 1 touchdown. We're actually outstanding at punt return coverage, we've allowed a return on 9 punts for a total of 49 yards. Florida is equally impressive, allowing 63 yards on 13 returns for the season. Hopefully we won't have to punt the ball much, because we have the 5th worst average of all teams at 36.37 yards per punt. Fla averages 42.79 yards per punt. We have punted more than them, 51times for us, 42 for them.
Verdict-Advantage Florida, but not as bad as we thought

Final Analysis

Using all of this information, I'll go ahead and offer a prediction. I'll get to that in a minute. The statistics indicate a matchup between two very evenly matched teams. Some things I didn't include because it seemed like common sense, such as an OU advantage in total offense. What all the statistics reveal to me is if both teams play their A+ game, OU wins narrowly. However, both teams are so evenly matched and so similar in game plan that even a -1 in turnover differential could make all the difference. This is also with the assumption that OU's A+ team shows up. That is the key variable in the entire equation. What OU team shows up? Is it the team that went on the road to Stillwater and out dueled OSU's best team in a quarter-century, or is it the team that was by embarrassed in the Fiesta Bowl? That leads me to another troublesome observation...we've seen a team in the last year a lot like Florida...and that team was West Virginia. Except Florida has better athletes, and more of them. However, despite the media love affair with Tim Tebow I'm of the opinion he's less dangerous than Pat White. West Virginia probably had a superior running game to Florida, but Florida's offense is more diverse. Attempting to pick this game objectively I think it would be somewhat irresponsible to pick OU, given our recent history in bowl games. I won't make anyone happy with this, but if I'm picking with my head I'd be forced to pick Florida. But if this team plays like we all know its capable of, I do think we have the superior team and can therefore achieve victory.

Monday, December 01, 2008

All roads in the Big 12 South lead to.........

Three teams tied for the Big 12 South Division Championship in 2008. Shiny, new trophies now reside in Norman, Austin and Lubbock. Lubbock? Yes Lubbock, where Texas Tech claims just as much of the crown as Oklahoma and Texas. All are 7-1.

You remember Texas Tech. After 10 games and back-to-back wins over Oklahoma State and Texas, the Red Raiders were 10-0 and ranked No. 2 in the nation. The college football world was all awash with Tech's high-powered offense and obviously improved defense, and for good reason.

Then OU happened. Tech ran into a buzz saw on Owen Field and lost by 44 points. Mike Leach's program went from belle of the ball to the alternate at an eight-year-old's birthday party. Talk of Tech vanished faster than Michael Crabtree's short jaunt into the end zone, and the reasons for that aren't pretty.

Yet call up Big12Sports.com and there Tech remains, tied atop the Big 12 South and part of this triangle that has everybody's diastolic number well north of 100. PR campaigns aside, Tech is and must be part of the discussion. Tech is just as tied as Oklahoma and Texas.

Ties in sports were made to be broken, NFL games and at least one past MLB All-Star game notwithstanding. When available, the best way to break ties is through head to head match-ups although a quick look through the NCAA basketball bracket will reveal teams in the tourney that were beaten by teams that were left out. Still, head-to-head works pretty well until three teams tie, and each of the teams can claim a victory over one of the other three, but not both.

So here we sit, trying to find a South team to go to Kansas City for the Big 12 title game, and staring squarely into the eyes of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Let's talk about the BCS as a tie-breaker.

You can hate the BCS if you choose and Lord knows a lot of people do. But the fact remains that the BCS is the system we use to determine the participants for the national championship game and the most lucrative bowls.

When each college football season commences, the six BCS conferences have two clearly defined goals: 1) Get two teams into BCS games and, 2) Get one of the teams into the national championship game.

And that is why the Big 12 Conference implemented a tie-breaker plank that includes the BCS. Some want to argue that it doesn't belong, but like most arguments against the BCS or even a playoff, it is impossible to look at the circumstances in any one particular year, and think that a remedy for this season would necessarily work in subsequent years. Here's why.

Let's say that OU, UT and TTU all were tied just as they are now, but that instead of OU and UT holding down the Nos. 2 and 3 spots in the BCS they held down Nos. 2 and 4, respectively, with USC sitting at No. 3.

Now, if you're the Big 12 and you're in that scenario, which tie-breaker makes the most sense? Do you want to dislodge Oklahoma and forfeit a potential spot in the national title game? Of course not.

But ignoring precedent we're now getting a plethora of other tie-breaking suggestions, including one that recommends a point differential. For Heaven's sake, in the attempt to perfect a system let's not forfeit sportsmanship.

Remember the fallout from Oklahoma's 77-0 win a few years ago. What if that score had been 90-0 in the interest of breaking a tie? Think for a moment about the ugliness of a road team, already up by four or five touchdowns, punching in another as time expires.

And what about teams that win with defense rather than a high-powered offense. Is 60-20 more valuable than 35-0? I guess a point differential could be capped ala the NFL, but in college ball would that really solve anything?

Question the BCS all you want, but as long as the BCS is here, you can't question tie-breakers that are pointed in that direction.

Now, what you can question is posturing, politicking, etc. As an Accounting professional, I am all for advocacy and holding a standard while putting the best foot forward, and to be sure, OU did those things. But when one team goes to a rival's stadium to face a rival that is unbeaten at home and ranked No. 11/12 nationally, and wins by 20 points, then falls in the human polls, the human element has taken a turn that raises a lot of questions.

Tell you what, get on Google and find me the instances in which a ranked team has beaten another ranked team under those same circumstances and then dropped in the polls. It's not unprecedented but it is rare on rare.

Bottom line is this … three teams tied for the Big 12 South championship. Three. That tie is being broken in a manner that best maximizes a system, whether it's flawed or not, that determines college football's highest honor.

Here's to hoping that the process can play out with professionalism and the high road still intact.

BOOMER!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Paper beats Rock in Dallas.
Scissors nick
Paper in Lubbock.
Rock smashes Scissors in Norman…and keeps on rolling.

Sorry
Paper.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

THAT was Oklahoma Football!!!!

A post game Bob Stoops acknowledges the Sooner faithful after 'calling' them out the week before the OU/TT game


What a game, for sure, but I get the sense that something happened last night which is bigger than the standard undressing of Texas Tech we tend to do annually (the last two trips to Lubbock notwithstanding).

This sense I got reminds me in a way of the feeling I got after meltdown in the 2004 Orange Bowl against USC. I came away from that game with the fear,nay, knowledge,that something had changed. The Sooners were no longer bulletproof. Bob Stoops didn't walk on water after all. We could be blown out just like everyone else. Since that time the program hasn't been the same. The players have seemed as a whole not to have 'it', whatever 'it' is. Stoops seems to have lost an edge. Even the fans have developed what I'd describe as a cautious optimism about big games rather than the confidence we had before that night.

I think a switch turned off that night in Miami. And even after big wins of the Texas and Mizzou and more Big 12 Championships since that night, it still feels like the switch has been off.


But last night it's like the good old days all over again. We had two weeks of anticipation, of listening to talking heads rag on the Sooners, of hearing again and again how losing to Ole Miss at home is of much higher quality than losing to UT in Dallas. The whole world was watching and they saw OU play in a way I'm not sure they have since Mike Stoops was calling the defensive play calls.. They played smart, consistently seeming to be in position and creating big plays on D. The execution and want to by the O line was a sight to behold. The crowd and players and coaches seemed to be one group last night. The Whole nation saw what Sooner football is all about.

Maybe we'll win at OSU next week, and with some fortune we'll play and beat Mizzou in the Big 12 Conference Champ game.. And maybe we'll even play for and win all the marbles. And maybe we won't, we'll see.

But wouldn't it be nice to take a Sooner team to the scene of the crime in Miami and show the world that OU has turned the switch back on? Because damn, it sure felt like we did last night. And it can't be put it into words, but I wonder if there is some people in the college football world thinking that 'big game Bob' and the Sooners are back. I sure hope so! I am just thankful to be an active part of that game in the stands, a memory I will not soon forget. The whole college football world saw it and saw it on a big stage.

"OU never left and yet it feels like the Sooners are back."

BOOMER!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

HIATUS

hiatus
–noun, plural -tus·es, -tus.
1.a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.
2.a missing part; gap or lacuna: Scholars attempted to account for the hiatus in the medieval manuscript.
3.any gap or opening.

From the many emails I have received over the past month or so, it's clear that there are some people that have been wondering about my whereabouts. Rest assured that everything is fine, but I have had a few distractions that has taken away from the weekly grind of OneLugnutShort. From work, to Oklahoma football, to even making it to a few NASCAR tracks.

I have many stories to tell, and the never ending research has not stopped, and yes, there are some interesting developments. As the NASCAR and College Football season wind down, I will be back to more blogging.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

PLINKING and POP SHOTS

Here are a few little tidbits that have been floating around lately in NASCAR and Sadlerville. Nothing really mind-boggling but sometimes you just have to take a step back and ask ‘what is the deal here’?


The ‘tongue and cheek’ picture above is one that is linked from this blog by other sites more than any other picture for reasons that I have no idea. Literally, this blog receives over a 100 hit a day from this, but really that’s not important. We all have heard the engagement news and fall out by some from it, but I have to wonder something. According to Sadler, his future wife has in three weeks, already made all the wedding arrangements for a January wedding. Three weeks? I’m thinking that the Sadler PR Machine should employ Amanda to plan and get the details for the next ‘bigger than ever’ Sadler Barn Party. That way Sadler fans would not have to wait and wait and wait for the ‘more info coming soon’ excuses in order to make travel plans.


Speaking of the Sadler PR Machine, they have been working overtime the past few weeks and there are all kinds of ‘feel good’ fluff stories being written. Even going so far as Brett Griffin making a few token appearances on the Sadler Fan Club Message Board. While his presence is always welcome and insightful, this time Griffin dropped the ball on a few pending and direct questions. Griffin conveniently ignored questions concerning the demise of VLP. Frankly, the fans just want to know what happened, after all it was Brett and Elliott that less than a year ago, spoke of ‘how great and fun this is going to be’. But like most Sadler PR nightmares, just don’t speak of it and it will eventually go away.


Seems I am not the only one who is critical of the Sadler PR Machine and just how behind the times they seem to be. NASCAR INSIDERS recently blogged about the 'BEST and WORST' NASCAR driver websites and guess who was 'number two' on the worst list? Yep, it seems that they have also seen through the facade of ElliottSadler.com and the presentation there. Quoting the blogger:
"If I was a race fan searching out my favorite driver’s website, I’d want a slick place where I could hang out, get news, see some photos, or maybe catch a podcast or a blog. These five just don’t deliver........In today’s corporate NASCAR, I feel like it reflects badly on drivers who have a crappy website. I’m sure their sponsors are less then thrilled also. More and more, the first place most of us go for information is the internet."
Remember all the promises of 'exclusive' content and that Sadler himself would be 'stopping by for frequent updates'? These guys would like to have seen those claims actually become reality aswell.

Remember a few weeks ago the comments made by Elliott Sadler and his opinion concerning the Roush/Yates alliance and that Roush ‘never helped Yates and still doesn't’? I made it clear that he was simply doing the ‘Sadler Speak’ routine and made a small mention wondering how Robbie Gordon feels about his alliance with GEM. If you were listening to HotPass from the Watkins Glen race during the red flag you would have heard Robbie expressing his discontent to Larry McReynolds that ‘he wasn’t getting the same engines as the other GEM cars’. I received the normal hate emails not liking my comment to Sadler about ‘glass houses’, but it seems that it is justified in this case at least Robbie thinks so.


On to Michigan, and a pretty unusual promotion for the 19 team. It seems that Stanley Tools and Ace Hardware have pledged a million dollar donation on one condition. That the 19 goes to victory lane on Sunday. So Sadler jumps on the bandwagon and once again requests his fans to donate money by stopping by an Ace Hardware store and purchase a "Racing for a Miracle" icon. Again we see the ever growing trend of a multi millionaire holding his hand out to the masses whom many are living pay check to pay check. (more on this in a future blog) To his credit, Sadler did spend a couple of hours Thursday at Sparrow Hospital, the Children's Miracle Network area hospital in Lansing, Michigan and that was a good thing. But the premise of having a third party to donate a substantial amount of money to a charity for a win does lend to the ‘tin foil hat’ theories if they came to fruition. Chances are Lloyds of London has already ‘done the math’ and realized that the odds are pretty good to risk a million dollar payout on a driver who has one top 5 in 19 attempts and an average finish of 23rd.


And lastly, I have been cautiously optimistic about the way the 19 has been running over the past couple of months, and taking aside the ‘bad luck’ excuse weeks is the 19 really becoming a contender or an apparition? I have voiced displeasure in the past concerning how the 19 seems to be more concerned with ‘track position and two tire stops’ more than ‘fixing the car’ and making it better for the final 1/3 of races and I still think that displeasure is justified. Looking at the NASCAR scoring loop data, the numbers still tell a story that the 19 does significantly more ‘passing’ in the pits than on the track. The final results over the past few months also show the risk verses reward with relying too much on such a strategy. Is the 19 better than they were this time last year? Of course it is and things will only get better I think. But playing the strategy game week after week and rolling the dice is not the best way to prepare a race team to be a contender next season.



Time to reload the plinker!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

DID I HEAR THIS CORRECTLY?

I must admit that I didn’t and don’t watch ‘this week in NASCAR’ regularly, but I did catch some innerweb rantings concerning Michael Waltrip’s comments about the ‘big one’ at Watkins glen last week. So thru the greatness of Tivo, I was able to catch the show late Monday night.

In a nutshell, Waltrip accused the driver of the 38 car, David Gilliland of purposely causing this wreck. Now this is eerily similar to the claims Elliott Sadler made when he was knocked out of the All-star race. (Funny how thier careers mirror each other as well) We have all seen the replays and one just has to wonder what Waltrip is smoking!

Now I am not going to lay blame on either driver as both contributed in their own ways. Gilliland ‘maybe’ could have given a bit more room once the 00 stuck a nose under the left rear quarter panel, and McDowell ‘maybe’ could have showed a bit more patience and not tried to complete the pass in a single turn. (The 00 would have been in a good passing position on the next right hand turn number 1 if needed)

We all saw the result of ‘hard driving’ by BOTH drivers, but that is a product of the late stages of a road course race. I have seen some calling McDowell’s move a ‘rookie’ mistake, but I have seen worse road course Bonzai moves by such ‘ringers’ like Ricky Rudd or even Robbie Gordon. But Waltrip’s accusations are simply over the top, and his justifications are even more humorous. To say that Gilliland is ‘fighting to keep his job’ or ‘just trying to stay in the top 35’ is priceless, and the look of disbelief on co-panelist’s face, Greg Biffle was something out of a Saturday Night Live skit.

While host Steve Byrnes did question Watrip’s reasoning somewhat, like most hosts, he treated his weekly guest with ‘softball’ questions and skirted the real issue. This again was much how Dave Moody lobbed softballs at guest Elliott Sadler when Sadler was ranting about being wrecked at the All-star on Moody's Sirius radio show. My question to these hosts; Are you that afraid to ask the really hard-core questions for fear of losing a guest (or even your show). Maybe you guys should take a page from Tim Russert. He would not waffle simply to keep a guest, but would ask FAIR but hard questions of his guests, and expected at the very least reasonable answers. If he didn’t get that, he would call out his guest, and that’s what gave him much credibility.

Lastly, there is a right way and a wrong way to publicly voice your opinion about matters like these. One only has to look at David Gilliland’s post race comments and all his comments since, to see the ‘right way’. And this is coming from a driver with less than 3 seasons in CUP; maybe some of the ‘veterans’ should take note.

DID I HEAR THIS CORRECTLY part two:

Thru the greatness of the innerweb, many NASCAR fans aid their race day TeVee coverage by joining chat room and exchanging information such as scanner chat and ‘race view’ coverage. Frankly, it has enhanced that TeVee race day experience for many. However, some last Sunday seemed to fall victim to one of the oldest tricks in the innerweb books. That would be the ‘driveby’ post by some anonymous or unknown chat room member who claimed that MRN reported there were ‘team orders’ for the 00 car to wreck the 38. The 'claim' was that these team orders originated from the driver of the 55 (Michael Watrip) scanner chat. This ‘claim’ spread like wildfire in a handful of driver chat rooms, but little if any verification could be found. If one takes a peek at some of the driver’s message board they can see the fallout of this driveby even two days later.

I had MRN playing during the race, in addition to Elliott Sadler’s scanner along with the Official’s channel. I did not recall hearing anything about it, so I took the report with huge grains of salt. This week, I visited over 20 message boards, and there was absolutely no mention of the supposed MRN report. Frankly, it would be impossible for such a statement to be made, and not have it hit ANY of the other boards, including the NASCAR.com chat room.

Another blogger buddy, stayed up quite late Sunday night to listen to the MRN replay on Sirius. Even after the wreck there was no mention backing said driveby. To be clear, there was NO mention of ANY inter-radio communication between Waltrip and McDowell from any of the broadcasters on MRN. NONE!

I’ll file this one under another driveby that claimed a few victims, but those victims have fallen for stuff like this before, so I cannot say I am surprised.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I LOVES ME SOME DOCUMENTARIES

I love documentaries. And since this weekend's race is a road course and something that rarely peaks my undivided interest, this weekend maybe a good opportunity to rework my all time favorite documentary list.


Now from this list, I do eliminate all Ken Burns-type, historical, and educational documentaries. I love those as well, but those would automatically be rated higher than the silly, left of center types. This list is compiled entirely of the absurd, the odd, the weird, the uncomfortable, and the off-the-beaten path films. The documentaries that likely would never make the PBS cut, but surely are worth your time, and will have you talking about them with your buddies for years to come.

See here is the 'top seven' (so far)

#1
American Movie – 1999

The lives of Mark Borchardt and Mike Schank will amuse you as Mark has a quest to make a movie. Mike has a quest to tell stories of his unfortunate drug experiences and has awesome guitar skills. I really love it. Although the idea that they are two burnouts from Wisconsin no doubt affects my judgement.


#2
Grizzly Man – 2005

Without question, one of my absolute favorites. The Werner Herzog look at the incredibly odd Timothy Treadwell and his relationship with the Grizzly Bears in Alaska. They loved him, he loved them, they ate him. So crazy, that most think this is not a real documentary. But alas, it is. Note to self, never allow yourself to become a part of the food chain.


#3
King of Kong – A Fistful of Quarters – 2007

I wasn’t sure about this one, but when I gave it a chance it absolutely got a great review from me. Love Steve Wiebe, hate Billy Mitchell, love everything about Steve and Billy’s quest to out Donkey Kong each other. The amazing real people who surround the governing bodies of video game record keeping is too great to believe. A very solid film.


#4
Super Size Me – 2004

Morgan Spurlock’s amazing look at why America is fat..and getting fatter. His experiment of eating nothing but McDonald’s for 30 straight days may in fact shorten his life, but it was very entertaining. A very good job of experiments inside documentaries that proved solid.


#5
Okie Noodling

There is something just wrong with sticking your hands in underwater holes and trying to pull a fish out that would not fit as a carry on piece of luggage at the airport. This compeling documentary has you asking yourself over and over, 'why do they do it?' But like a train wreck, you keep watching wondering what will come out of the next hole.


#6
Trekkies – 1997

A good documentary to me is one that focuses on a corner of civilization that you would not otherwise see, and then just let the cameras tell the story. This film is about those who are obsessed with Star Trek and all things that go with it. I especially enjoyed the lady who wore her Star Trek uniform to her jury service for the Whitewater Trial. So many documentaries have basically used this as a template for their film, and it works quite well.

#7
Confessions of a Super Hero – 2007

This is a great look at the life of those who stand on Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood dressed as various comic book superheroes and the lives that go with them. Many are there because they are on the road to stardom (they hope) and it is the more realistic outcome of the “Hollywood dream”. It’s fascinating and wonderful all at the same time.

So if you get bored with the NASCAR right turn show, go ahead and give a couple of these a look see. Which leads to the next question. Surely someone has captured the oddities and amusement from the perspective of the RV race fan during a Dega week and weekend, or have they? It might make for a interesting time waster. Someone call Micheal Moore!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sarbanes-Oxley

Its the dog days of Summer, and time for another SOX audit. Thank you, Enron, Tyco International, Adelphia, Peregrine Systems, WorldCom and a few others.

Lots going on in NASCAR and Sadler, but it will have to wait till next week. And don't forget, the SOONERS started fall drills this week! BOOMER!

Monday, July 28, 2008

ELLIOTT SADLER @ INDY

Sadler's weekend would have made a good spaghetti western!


The Good:
I am not really going to go off on a TIRE-ade concerning the obvious problem with yesterday’s race, but will touch on the exceptional performance of the 19 team. “Team” being at an utmost importance.

In a race that in all honesty was about a dozen or so ‘heat races’, the 19 team’s success started near the end of the first practice on Friday. Stuck deep in the speed charts, the 19 team made some significant changes near the end of first practice and by the time the 2nd practice before qualifying was over, the 19 looked to be a pretty fast car. Sadler did indeed back up those practice runs with a solid qualifying effort, something that would prove to be beneficial on Sunday.

Come race day, after the first 10 laps, it became painfully obvious that this race was going to require a unique strategy. Like Sadler said in his post race interviews, track position was key. Now I don’t 100% agree with this statement (see the 88’s ability to move up through the field), I think for the 19 it was imperative to stay in touch with the leaders. The car simply was not ‘good enough’ to make wholesale passes ‘on the track’ with the exception of one 10 lap segment in the later stages of the race, but it was good enough to ‘maintain’ positions even when others behind had four fresh tires as opposed to the 19’s two.

The driver made few mistakes on the track (maybe once when the 19 get hung out and lost a half dozen spots, but Sadler later in the same run was able to make those spots back). The over the wall gang seemed to be flawless as well. The crew chief had a plan, and stuck to it for the most part (aside from going with Sadler on a wedge change, only to ‘change it back’ the next stop. TAKE A DRINK!!!)

All in all, it was a great team effort for the 19. Something that could fuel the flames of optimism for the remainder of the season, and build to 2009. It was an impressive day.

The Bad:
A while back I mention about the demise of the ‘Victory Lane Players’ (VLP) with no warning to the paying fans. It has been over two weeks since Sadler fans were cut off, and even though they have raised questions, not a peep from either Sadler, or PR dude, Brett Griffin. (In fact, neither have even logged into the fan club since the beginning of June) Leaving room for much speculation and even animosity. But what really happened to VLP? We may never know, but at the very least an explanation should be in order from the ones that pitched this deal to their fans in the first place.

I don’t lay blame on Sadler, Griffin or even VLP for this fiasco, but maybe it was just a deal that went bad. Or just making poor choices from the very beginning when VLP announced that they would be partnering with Power Play Development. Power Play Development’s stability (or lack there of) is well documented by simply tracking their stock value. That value started the downward trend at the beginning of 2008, and ended a few weeks ago with a value of zero. Thus the shutdown of VLP.

But for the ones that had their names imprinted on this deal, I would be very surprised if they had no knowledge of what was about to transpire. If they did know, that’s fine, but at least let your paying fans know after the fact of the circumstances. If they didn’t know, well that is just poor business and would lead to skepticism for any other deals. (See Sheridan Ridge?) I am not saying the Sheridan Ridge is a bad investment, but what I am implying is that there seems to be a long list of ‘its going to be great’ plugs from Sadler that after a year or so, simply get swept under the rug. Compound this with the fact that both VLP and Sheridan Ridge are represented by the Cox Group. If that name rings a bell with long time Sadler fans, it is because Cox represented Sadler when he was with the Wood Brothers and how Sadler and Brett Griffin met each other in the first place. Rumor has it that at the very least, Cox has been stepping up to the plate attempting to honor complaints from disgruntled paying members for their prizes and/or refunds. Too bad you had hear that from me, and not from Sadler himself. It is the least he can do, but enjoy the silence.

The Ugly:
Elliott Sadler, if you have a beef with Jack Roush, why don’t you just come out and say it?

Sadler on Yates Racing this past week;

"When I was there, they never helped us," said Sadler, who drove for the Yates organization from 2003 until the middle of the 2006 season. "And [RFR] still doesn't help them. I really feel for those guys [at Yates Racing].”

Be careful Elliott when using such extremes as ‘never’ as one can just flashback to the 2006 season to see the beginning of the Roush/Yates partnership in it’s infancy. Roush began providing chassis to Yates that spring, and it was at Chicago where Sadler drove a Roush chassis. You should remember that weekend Elliott, as you complained about the car from the moment you climb in it. Complaints from the pedal configuration to the seat height to lack of handling. The Roush-Yates engine alliance was formed during Sadler's tenure at Yates as well. In early 2006, he whined alot, about how bad the Yates built chassis's were, and how good the Roush ones were. So Robert got him a Roush chassis, and Sadler couldn't drive it for whatever reasons.

Was the real reason for the split with Yates and the ‘difference in philosophy’, the impending merger with Roush racing? The Sadler animosity towards Roush could be seen as far back is his Wood Brothers days when he also voiced concern about the lack of Roush support. Even though his lone win with the Wood Brothers was with a Roush motor and chassis.

The timing of Sadler’s statement is interesting and comes on the heels of Roush’s comments concerning next-door neighbor, Jamie McMurray’s lack of production, and Jamie’s future status with Roush. This could fall in line with the rumors of Jamie either leaving the Roush stable, or that he is the candidate of being the team that goes to Yates when the 4-team rule is in effect. Remember, even Robert said that once Sadler heard how much money Jamie was making, that Sadler lost his focus while at Yates.

I really think that Doug Yates and Max Jones are getting exactly what they are paying for. They are buying chassis, and with that purchase they receive the engineering help. I wonder though, because Doug owns part of the engine deal, we rarely see Yates cars getting sub-par powerplants, when compared to Jack's cars.

Roush also has helped in the marketing for both the 28 and 38 this year and been instrumental in many of the sponsorships seen on the Yates cars.

Do I think that the 28 and 38 are getting top of the line equipment from Roush? I think the obvious answer is NO, and frankly, that is not the deal. But I do think that Roush's second level equipment, if that is indeed what Yates is getting, is still far better than what many of the teams out there have in their stable, and especially better than what equipment we seem to see with other teams get with their ‘alliances’. I also have to wonder how Robby Gordon feels about the equipment he is getting from GEM these days.

It also should be noted the Sadler comment after the '600' at Lowes this past spring where Sadler was even questioning the equality of equipment compared to his team mate in the 9 car. CC Rodney Childers explained to him that he is "getting exactly the same stuff, except for the front end stuff that you (Sadler) don't like." Sadler then requested to 'forget the stuff I like, just give me the same stuff as the 9". Whether that has happened or not has never been clear. But it is safe to say that the problem may not always be equal equipment, but what Sadler likes and dislikes.

Glass houses Elliott, glass houses.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

EVERYONE HAS THEIR VICES, ONE OF MINE IS ONLINE RACING


Yes, I “online race” and while I don’t think I could ever see myself piloting some 3000 lb ‘weapon’ (and if I was to do it, ‘weapon’ would be the correct term for me) for real, I have learned to appreciate just what CUP drivers do with their skill week in and week out vicariously through online computer sim racing.

A little history;

It was sometime in the early 1990’s when I casually picked up a copy of a Papyrus game called “Indianapolis 500, The Simulation” that probably sparked my ‘racing career’. This 16-bit technology was pretty neat, but even then I came to realize that ‘racing’ against the computer AI was very predictable. A few years later, ‘NASCAR 1’ was born and shortly after the release, more importantly, ‘online racing’ came to fruition with the creation of ‘Hawaii’. Hawaii was a ‘dial-up’ host in which racers could log in and race using a long distance phone connection. Needless to say, for many, racking up triple digit phone bills was not uncommon.

But around 1996, something very unique happened in the on-line racing community that had never been seen before. The ‘Total Entertainment Network’ (TEN) was created and we saw an explosion of growth for sim racers. For 15 or so dollars a month, one could race online against others ultimately up to 43 car fields. Friendships, racing teams and on-line leagues were formed and this greatness continued till late 1999 with the emergence of ‘NASCAR 3’ which featured ‘online racing hosting’ capabilities. This ‘hosting’ capability was the end of TEN and also the end of the ‘sim racing community’ as we knew it. Leagues, race teams, and racers were now segregated into much smaller groups and this hurt online racing as a whole.

Yes there still were the very established leagues and race teams that continued on and even more sophisticated race simulations developed, but something seemed to be missing for many of us we enjoyed TEN. There was something to be said for ‘pay to play’ race networks that brought out ‘better’ racing for some reason. (If anyone experienced the chaos of a free Papy pickup race server, you probably understand where I am going with this)

So for many, sim racing online became something of a weekly ‘mundane’ event consisting of logging in to a league server, and spending a few hours racing in their league, then logging out. It sometimes became a blur and the numbers seemed to drop every year, even with better sims being offered.

Around 2004 rumors spawned of a ‘new’ development team pulling their resources to create a new and innovative online racing concept. With the backing of John Henry (yes, the same John Henry as in Roush/Fenway Racing) IRACING.COM was established. 4 years of ‘development’ and beta testing later, IRACING went ‘live’ with a limited release last month. I was given the opportunity and given an invitation for this limited release and while I had my doubts about the concept originally, I can safely say that I am hooked once again.

The IRACING concept is pretty simple. Start our as a ‘rookie’ in a ‘Legends’ car, and work your way through the ranks by obtaining higher licenses which enable you to drive in a more sophisticated race series. Something else that IRACING does is when joining a race; the software pairs you up with other drivers based on skill level, and ‘IRating’. Thus helping eliminating the ‘sand bagging’ that can go on in pick up racing.

Back in the ‘TEN’ days, I would occasional get in a race with Dale JR or T.J. Majors but those days have been long gone, or so I thought. In a recent race night, I raced against the likes of A.J. Allmendinger and Brad Keseloski, as there are a handful of NASCAR drivers who also enjoy passing some time on IRACING. While I see his stats a lot, my racing times are not nocturnal enough to see JR on the track yet.

Also, after less than a month of racing, many of the old ‘TEN’ names and friends have come out of the woodwork. It is truly amazing catching a name in one of the pre-race chat rooms and getting their on-line racing pedigree and where/what they have been up to since those TEN days. One common theme that has come up is the ever-growing ‘cheating’ theories that always seem to along with most online gamers. However, IRACING seems to have had this in mind with their presentation of the gaming platform. There was little downloading of software and all your gaming information and software drivers are hosted on their servers. Now I am not 100% sure this format is ‘cheat proof’, it is something that has not been seen in online racing ever.

This passed week, I ‘purchased’ a late model car in preparation for moving up from a ‘rookie’ license to a ‘class D’. So practicing with much more power under the hood, and a larger and heavier car to control is a must. While the Rookie Legends aren't so much of a handful to drive, they do require a bit of smoothness and tenacity to get the best from them. Be it ‘nerfing’ off the apron at South Boston, or feeling the tire spin or roughness of the NASCAR pit box at the Lowes ‘legends infield track’, these little cars are a blast to drive around the short ovals. In fact when I ramp up my Logitek G25 force feedback and 40 laps will have you feeling quite exhausted both physically and mentally as you lap 4 turns in 18 seconds or so with 11 other racers. The rookie models are rev limited but still pretty tail happy. The advanced rookie models really scream and feel quite wild. I have had to go back to my old set-up notes from the old days and that just adds more to the fun (Where is my race team's engineer when I need him? Maybe I can solicit the help of Josh Browne, wonder if he has some spare time for a sim racer? Probably not though, the 83 and 84 cars are running pretty good these days)

The heavily controlled race environment IRACING offers was something that I was skeptical about. Especially with the ‘pay to play’ and ‘World of Witchcraft gaining level after level’ theory, but I must say that the concept is very enjoyable and so far worth the 20 bucks a month (although I’ll probably soon change my subscription to an ‘annual’ membership that comes out to around $13 a month).

So after a little over a month of racing, I can safely say I am hooked on the IRACING concept.

My name is Phil, and I am an IRACER.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

CAT FIGHT!!!!!!!

Even the 'girls' have their issues on the track. Warning: Danica drops and F-bomb! Milka thinks Danica needs to cool off and gives her a great towel throw (twice).

UPDATE: This newer YouTube video adds a bit more to the story by showing some of the practice session and why Danica got her feathers ruffled.

Friday, July 18, 2008

ELLIOTT SADLER's "LEGAL" TROUBLE

According to 'NASCAR fan' Jonathan Lee Riches (inmate #40948-018), currently incarcerated at the Williamsburg, SC Federal Correction Institute, feels he is in imminent danger thanks to Elliott Sadler and Dave Blaney.
On April 10th, 2008, Riches filed the above in the South Carolina Federal Court claiming that Sadler and Blaney had conspired in an attempt to gain an advantage during the Pennsylvania 500 by giving other drivers 'left over' M&M's and Jack Daniels causing a 'sugar high and drinking high', and crashing. The motive given for Sadler and Blaney was not the obvious (winning a race), but more political in nature. Giving Presidential candidate Barack Obama an advantage by controlling the automotive industry. Riches seeks a restraining order against Sadler and Blaney. Somehow , I am thinking the neither CUP driver will be visiting the Williamsburg, SC Federal Correction Institute any time soon anyways. What a country.

Sadler was not alone on April 10th in the SC Federal Court as Riches filed nearly 70 claims on that day, including his team mate, Kasey Khane, and owner GEM. Other notables filed that day were Martin Truex JR, Scott Riggs, and even Cinco de Mayo (yes, the holiday).

At least this filing was not as detailed as "Riches v. Gordon et al" filed on Sept 12, 2007 where Riches alleged that defendant Jeff Gordon conspired with Barry Bonds, Michael Vick and others to drive his life insane, create madness in the world, and use #24 as a weapon of mass destruction. Riches further alleged in the 3 page filing that defendant tied him to the bumper during the Talladega race, took Kit from Night Rider, used his #24 car in illegal car fights at Jiffy Lube Express, and used the #24 to hit Juan Valdez's horse. Riches seeked a preliminary injunction to prevent defendant from driving off without paying at Sunoco stations.

Wikipedia has this to say about Riches:
Since January 8, 2006, Riches has filed over one thousand lawsuits in federal district courts across the country, some of which have received considerable press attention. Among the more famous defendants of his lawsuits are New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, U.S. President George W. Bush,entrepreneur Martha Stewart, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, entrepreneur Steve Jobs, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton,and pop star Britney Spears.

So what does Elliott Sadler (or Even PR dude Brett Griffin) think about this? Chances are he hasn't heard a word about it. (until now) The courts dismissed the case almost immediately and probably didn't notify Sadler or even send a note from them saying what happened.
Jonathan Lee Riches

According to the Federal Bureau of Prison's Web site, Riches' projected release date is March of 2012. It also states that the crimes that landed him in jail in the first place were mainly related to identity theft and fraud. Note to Elliott Sadler, you might want to stay away from South Carolina for a while in 2012!

Yes, July is a 'slow' month for racing!!!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Randomniss

Testing, Testing, One Two Three

Well, I had almost finished my thoughts on the new Nascar Cup testing proposal but when I glanced over to the 'Queen of NASCAR Physics' blog, I saw that a teacher could do a much better job of breaking these rules down. Stop by Stock Car Science for Diandra's 'lecture', it is worth the time.



R.I.P. VLP.NET
Seems the rumors over the past month or so have come true and VLP.net have closed their doors. No longer are the references to VLP on any of Elliott Sadler's official websites. Judging from the slowness in other updates from his sites, its pretty clear that the Sadler PR machine had much pre warning that this was going to take place, unlike the PAYING members of the site. I guess its just too bad for those paying SFC fans who were coaxed to play in a 'members only' tournament with Sadler himself that won a '30 day free membership', just a couple of weeks ago. Chalk this up to another 'failed' venture in which Sadler claimed was 'going to be great'. Maybe it was, but short lived and once again, it is the fan that is being slighted.



The Great American Lager?
With the sale of Anheuser-Busch to InBev for a reported 52 billion dollars. There are already the mumblings the the new owners will be scaling back their advertising campaigns. A-B is probably the most recognized sponsor in any sport, be it football, baseball or even NASCAR. In the short term I can't see how this would effect the GEM 9 car team, but one has to wonder if GEM maybe sponsor searching a couple of years down the road.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Let the Dominoes fall

With the news that Tony Stewart has been given the official okie dokie to leave Joe Gibbs Racing, the path has been cleared for the falling dominoes of this summer’s silly season. So the seat that has produced two CUP Championships is now open and it goes down hill from there. So lets put on the tin foiled hat and see what opportunities are out there for Elliott Sadler and see if another ‘plan’ is in the works. [insert music ‘Tempted by a fruit of another’, by Squeeze]

Now I realize that Sadler has just recently signed an extension to his contract with GEM which runs though 2010, but we all know that is just a piece of paper. I also realize that Sadler has also been quoted during the announcement that "This is the place where I want to race," when referring the GEM. But let’s be frank here, Sadler has been known to say one thing to the press while at the same time making ‘deals’ behind the scenes. [insert 2nd chorus ‘Tempted by a fruit of another’, by Squeeze]

Also during the announcement Sadler can be quoted; “I think what we are building here is special and something other drivers and crew members envy”. Ironically he said very similar things after signing his extension with Yates only to bolt less than a year later. Yes, the 19 team is running good, although the over all results don’t show it all the time. But when ‘Tempted’, Elliott Sadler has that wandering eye, no matter how happy he says he is.

PR Man/Spotter Brett Griffin has been AWOL for SFC for months now (something he also did in the ’06 silly season. Is a ‘plan’ in the works?) Lets get that tin foil hat on and have some fun (if Jayski can do it, why not myself)by starting at the top and look at some of the possible open rides.

Sadler to the 20 car?
The main problem here has little to do with on track performance or even off track fun. The real problem is that Sadler or his family does not own any Toyota dealerships, or do they? Not to mention that Sadler's ‘new’ house has just recently been completed, so there goes any chance of a “Home Depot’ home improvement advertising campaign.

Sadler to the 1 car?
If Truex leaves DEI [insert 3rd chorus ‘Tempted by a fruit of another’, by Squeeze] and if the rumors are true that BASS PRO is signed through 2010, for some reason I am thinking that Sadler would be the sponsor’s dream. Maybe even better than Purina when Sadler was in the 38 and having a gazillion dogs! I have always felt that Sadler would end up at DEI at some point in his career, may as well strike will the iron is hot.

Sadler to the 12 car?
Either Alltel or if the merger works out, Verizon should be on the 12 car in ’09. Since Sadler has been involved in an on and off ‘long distance’ relationship and now a date has been set, the chances for a no ‘family plan’ ad campaign could be in the works. Only one draw back might be for a driver who has a history of bad ‘driver/Crew Chief’ communication skills, shilling for a communications mogul might be a problem and nix the deal.

Sadler to the 21?
Just like ole times and little has changed. Sponsorship problems, low expectations, no pressure. Sadler could ‘work hard and play hard’ all he wants and the owners would just be happy to be there. Drawback is that the 21 would fail to make too many races, forcing Sadler to have to pay out of his own pocket to jetset from track to track.

Sadler to the 33?
Another DEI/RCR venture looking for a pilot. General Mills/Cheerios is the sponsor and there are some good possibilities here. ‘A WAFFLE MAKER?’ not being a ‘morning’ person Sadler could let us all know the importance of a well-balanced breakfast. Rutledge will have to been involved somehow.

So its Elliott Sadler to the 1 car in 2009, you read it hear first!!!
See? This Jayski thingy isn’t so hard!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Really, it has been a Goodyear

One of these tires will fail during the race for no reason, can you tell which one?


Having watched a plethora of plate races and it is rare that I sit back and say ‘Elliott Sadler has a really good chance to win this thing’. Now one might think that looking at Sadler’s plate finishes over the years that I haven’t been watching many of the efforts by Sadler at plate tracks. But in all honesty, there have only been two or three times when I felt that if Sadler could pilot his car to the lead in the final moments of a race, that he would be able to hold off the competition. Before Saturday night, the last time was at a fall Dega race 4 or so years ago where Sadler ended up rumbling and tumbling down the back stretch after a ‘Dale Jr fake’. But last Saturday night, I thought the 19 did have a car that could have held off the front-runners, it is just too bad we will never know if I was right.

It was truly an orchestration to listen to spotter, Brett Griffin help the 19 thru the field not once but twice in just over a 100 or so laps. I have said it before and will continue until I hear different, that there is not a better spotter in the business. The symphony played last Saturday was once of enjoyment, fulfillment and frankly, racing smarts. The 19 made smart moves on the track, worked with drafting partners (even though his team mate bailed on him a time or two) and showed a lot of patience when needed. Seems the 19 team did indeed have a plan in mind when they pretty much gave up their qualifying effort in order to have a better race trim car for a night race.

But the Racing God did raise his scepter and poked a hole in the 19’s right front tire ending any chances for a ‘good day’. It happens, and it is a part of racing, and it will happen again at some point.

This morning, I stopped by ElliottSadler.com to get some of the ‘exclusive’ content there. And boy is it ‘exclusive’ all right. It is pretty clear that in least the last few ‘race reviews’ have not been written by Sadler’s PR man, Brett Griffin, so lets get that observation out there from the start. Below are a couple of comments about who ever is writing this ‘exclusive’ content and the spin placed on it.

1) Note to Elliott Sadler; How about ponying up and giving who ever writes this exclusive content a subscription to at the very least NASCAR.com Trackpass Scanner. The week before, when Trackpass Scanner was FREE, there were some nice ‘exclusive’ scanner chat quotes, while this week and the weeks prior there have been none.
2) ‘Getting blocked’ in the pits? I guess that’s a nice spin on the dodge post race quote of ‘I made a mistake in the pits’. Honestly, it is okay to admit that the driver messed up, it happens.
3) ‘The Gillett Evernham Motorsports team attempted to fix the damaged car but the race’s laps wound down before it could return.’????? Maybe the writer turned off the TeVee and missed that the 19 did indeed return and picked up a whopping 3 points, thanks to the hard work of the team. It should also be noted that CC Rodney Childers gave Sadler the option of ‘coming in a few laps early’ because there was nothing to gain, points wise, and Sadler chose to stick it out and not have a DNF. Good for him!
4) Where is the ‘GARMIN’ love? If one is going to embellish Dodge Post Race Quotes, one might want to get a complete sponsor plug in as well. (side bar: I just purchased a Garmin GPS this past weekend, and while I did shop for it at Best Buy, I went with Amazon.com and it’s $100 less price tag. And there is no ‘15% restocking fee’ either!)

So it is on to Chicago and the 19 team really doesn’t have much to show in terms of results the past few weeks, but the team really has become a sleeper. While not completely over the hump, the 19 team looks to have turned the corner. Chicagoland traditionally is not one of Sadler stronger tracks but the way this season has gone, who knows where he will end up. I little birdy told me that she thought that Elliott's attitude was much better than in the past couple of a years. Listening on PitCommand I would have to agree.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Answer me this?

Looking at the qualifying speeds its clear the some race teams 'locked in' the top 35 are more concerned about qualifying during the heat of the day, and racing in the evening. Its pretty clear that all three GEM teams had a plan in mind. The 9 and 19 going with the 'lets make a good night race and handling car' while the 10 ( a go or go homer) needed to have a car that could qualify on speed during the day.

Because this race is an impound race, different strategies are needed and sadly NASCAR has made a huge mistake. Race in the evening? Why not qualify in the evening?

The 10 car, even though it made the race, will now have to make major changes early in the race. The question is , will they have the 'fiasco' that the 21 car and the Wood Brothers showed us at spring Dega? Lets hope not.

As for the 19, time will tell, but I have a hunch there was a 'plan' and knew their qualifying time would stink. Come race time, if the plan comes to together, the GEM headliners should be okay.


Of course,unless 30+ other cars had the same plan.

Have a good 4th and during this great day, how about thanking a one of those police officers or firemen doing 'damage' control on this holiday. They are heroes too.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Catching Up

The 2nd quarter is now behind us and financials have been submitted in preparation for the semi annual SOX. Audit. So the past couple of weeks have been spent more on the ‘real job’ end than the blogger end. So I have a few items that need catching up.


The Queen of NASCAR Physics:
Rumor has it that Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, fondly called by some bloggers as the ‘Queen of NASCAR Physics’ will be in Daytona this weekend shadowing the 19 team and driver Elliott Sadler for a postscript to her book in preparation for the paper back release. Chances are she will also be spending some time with former 19 crew chief, Josh Browne and giving us some insight to the success of the 83 and 84 Red Bull team. They have really turned things around and it will be interesting to his take on how things are going. And I am sure she will want to have a visit with Rodney Childers to hear how the recent surge for the 19 team has effected the team's attitude as well. Not the "Driver's Speak" quotes we read week in and week out, but the real nuts and bolts of how the team is doing.


Another charity scam?
Here we go again! Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has charged former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series owner Gene Christiansen and others with misuse of charitable funds, alleging that they diverted money from People Against Drugs Affordable Public Housing, Inc., to pay Christiansen’s salary, support the Green Light Racing Craftsman Truck Series team. Now I have read both the court filings and the Charity’s tax forms from the time in question and it will be interesting to see just how this suit plays out. Either Christainsen was ignorant of the law when it comes to charitable organizations or he was simply an idiot or arrogant, as he did little to mask where these charitable funds were going. This suit could (and should) be a wake up call to any charitable organization that ‘helps’ out even some poor local racer who also happens to be a member of the organization, in trade for of few privileges or peaks for the charity’s hierarchy. Charitable funds going for a ‘set of tires’, just might not be the most legal thing to do these days even though said organization’s logo is somewhere on the car (no matter how big or small). I wonder if the RED Cross is buying tires for Greg Biffle and the 16 team in exchange for a logo on the B post. Chances are, that answer is NO. More to come on this subject as it develops.


Anatomy of a ‘top 5’

It wasn’t 30 minutes after the ‘checkered’ flag of last Sunday’s Loudon race did my mail box begin to fill with the ‘how about that 19 finish’ emails. I think to be fair; one really should break down the race into a couple of different segments and the decisions made in those segments.

The beginning of the race, showed the 19 with a good starting position near the front of the field. ‘Track position’ was not a factor, but within the first 75 laps, the 19 car found itself falling back to the mid 20s. So much for track position, but more importantly, the 19 had missed something in the race day setup. Since Sadler first joined GEM over two years ago, the ‘two tire stop’ or ‘gas only stop’ has been a huge player. Now in some cases this is a good strategy, however too often the 19’s car handling before the stop was not to the driver’s liking. What seems to happen is that more times than not, is a two-tire stop along with some sort of chassis/air pressure change. The problem with doing that is now the 19 team has lost their baseline for latter four tire stops and chassis changes. When Sadler dropped into the mid 20s, the first words out of his mouth was ‘track position’, while CC Rodney Childers seemed to be leaning towards ‘fixing the car’. Childers lost that battle with Sadler, and went for the 2-tire ‘track position’ stop. The gamble didn’t pay off even before leaving pit road, as 20+ other cars had the same idea. Understand, I would have had little issue had the 19 been running good lap times, but this obviously was not the case. The result of this move, like so many times before, is the 19 falling a lap down before the 100 lap mark and no baseline for which direction to go with chassis changes. And 'take a drink' with the 'This is the worst the car has been all weekend' line from the driver.

But after the 19 fell a lap down, there was a change in strategy and one that seems to make the 19 car better with each stop. First, was the ‘communication factor’ between Sadler and Childers. Seems Sadler was self admittedly not being as clear as he could with his handling descriptions of the 19. (Where have we heard this before?) Once this communication issue seemed to be solve, the 19 made some changes that obviously improved the car (all four tire stops BTW). One other point needed to make, is that Sadler also changed his line coming out of turn four and as spotter Brett Griffin noticed, ‘you are killing them out of four’. After a few more cautions the 19 was able to get the Lucky Dog with 90 or so laps left in the race and now had a car that truly could run with the top 10. This was seen by marching through the mid-pack field with ease and the ever optimistic Griffin saying, ‘one a lap, go get em’.

At this point the 19 made the risky call of staying out (with a good car) and either hoping for a few race-ending cautions (not uncommon at Loudon) to stretch the fuel mileage out, or for the weather to shorten the race. Now some might think I am being hypocritical or short sighted because I feel this move was a brilliant move by the 19 team and condemning the ‘two tire stops’ from earlier in the race. The difference to me is that the 19 late in the race, was a ‘contender’ and it was not in the first 100 laps. Also the success of the 5 car staying out earlier in the race when they also had a good handling car didn’t hurt the decision either.

Did the 19 have enough fuel to go the 301 laps? Doesn’t really matter now. I guess if one can chalk up some of the recent ‘bad’ finishes to bad luck, one can chalk this one up to good luck. But I think that is a bit of simpleton thinking. There was much more involved with this finish than just luck. Next week’s plate race will have move luck involved in getting a top 5 than the one we saw at Loudon.

The Countdown begins:
Less than 60 days to the home opener for Oklahoma Sooners Football! This is going to be a very interesting year in College Football and maybe one with more balance among the top 25 than ever. My early prediction is the BCS NC game will feature both teams with one or more losses. But never the less, the countdown to football season has begun.

BOOMER!!!!!!