There is only ONE Oklahoma

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Racing God never forgets

Jimmy Spencer used to be considered the racer who “doesn’t forget”, but after listening to his dribble over the past couple of years on the Speed channel, its pretty clear his memory is fading. But last Sunday we got to see the ‘Road Course Racing God’ in full retaliation mode.

Before we get into the minutia, lets preface a bit that I feel that road courses by nature are as much of a crap shoot as a plate race or even a Bristol race. There are just so many things that can happen that the driver cannot control which affects the final outcome of races. I am glad that NASCAR has the foresight to not add a road course to the Chase.

It took the Racing God about a year to repay Juan Pablo Montoya back for his multiple rough driving win at this very track last year, but with the help of a similar hard charging Aussi making his very first Cup start, the Racing God lashed back. JPM was clipped and spun costing him several positions and it looked to be something that JPM might not rebound from. However, the Racing God did show mercy to JPM by throwing a caution as well. Marcus Ambrose was attempting to pass (and had the line) of the 26 car, Jamie McMurray when JPM took a lower line in the hairpin turn 11. Who knows is Ambrose saw JPM, but never the less, the contact was enough to send the 42 car for a spin. Seems though afterwards, both Ambrose and JPM were able to works things out, with little harm or little foul.

Flash forward a handful of laps, and Ambrose would feel the wrath of the Racing God via a ‘dive bombing’ Elliott Sadler. Much to my dismay as a fan of Sadler, he showed no remorse at all for his ‘Stuka’ tactic, whether it be on the scanner or in his post race interviews. I would have hoped that Sadler would have directed a comment and an "I'm sorry for ended your day" to a former employer who gave him his career big break, he expects that when it happens to him. To date, it is almost like it never happened at all. (I am sure Dave Moody will be happy to lob some softballs Sadler's way and not touch on this racing incident later today) Now this may not be such a huge deal, but Sadler (and some of his fans) have demanded apologies from others this season when they felt they were ‘wronged’ and ruining a good effort with a great car.

While, Ambrose showed all weekend, that the 21 Wood Brothers Ford was a ‘great car’, by leading two of the three practices, qualifying in the top ten and running in the top ten much of the day. But the post race interviews from Ambrose, were ones of class, and satisfaction of the effort given by the 21 team for the whole weekend. No finger pointing at some other driver, ‘ruining’ his day, just a lot of excitement from an up an comer in the Cup series. I remember someone else who used to be that way too!

The Racing God didn’t forget either, and decided to will upon the offender, a slow leaking right rear tire. While not ruining the 19’s day, it surely did put a damper on a fine effort. Adding insult to injury, the 19’s tire finally exploded as the 19 crossed the start/finish line, which resulted in another car making some solid contact pretty much destroying the 19’s rear end. No one likes to see a good car wrecked after the fact, well, maybe the Racing God does.

But all of these on-track incidents could have been worse as I was reminded of the 1991 Sonoma race when Ricky Rudd also tapped a car from behind and ‘moved’ them out of his way while on his way to what we thought would be a checkered flag finish. History shows that NASCAR, and not the Racing God stepped in and stripped Rudd of the win. My how times have changed. But the Racing God still never forgets.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Look for NASCAR TeVee ratings to rise even more!

A report on the Golf Channel, citing unnamed sources, said Woods would have surgery on his ACL. It also said he suffered a small stress fracture in his left leg about two weeks before the U.S. Open. Tiger is not expected to return to the PGA tour until the 2009 season.

One less distraction (or TeVee competition) on Sunday for NASCAR broadcasts.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Putting the Tin Foil Hat on

Going to try my best and put the tin foil hat on and share some deep thoughts.

What happened to the end of the longest line penalty?
Why was the 88 car allowed to not once, but twice, pass the pace car while conserving fuel on the last caution? Maybe Junior was just 'contesting' his position after the last green flag scoring loop and felt the 88 should restart on front of the pace car!

Why didn't NASCAR admonish Richard Petty?
In 2006, Richard Petty publicly spoke out against 'women in NASCAR'. "I just don’t think it’s a sport for women,” Petty can be quoted in an AP interview. I wonder if King Richard's ever greeted or commented about Mauricia Grant in the same manner that he did about Janet Gruthrie by saying, "She’s no lady. If she was she’d be at home. There’s a lot of differences in being a lady and being a woman."

Elliott Sadler speakith with forked tongue!
From his post race quotes:
"We had to start in the back and pretty much drove our way to the front to finish ninth." So I guess Elliott Sadler is saying he 'drove' up to the front, meaning that the cars they passed for position were done on the track? I might agree but there is one problem, What Sadler says later on in his post race quotes. "Strategy, that’s what it should be about. That’s why crew chiefs make the big bucks; you have to know when to stay out, when to take two or when to get gas only." Last time I checks, 'driving to the front' and use 'race strategy' are two different things. The 9 and the 19 cars were basically equal most of the race, the 9 chose to pit and stretch the fuel window(as the 88 did), the 19 chose to stay out. 'Good luck', probably gave the 88 a win, the 9 about 10 or so spots, and the 19 5 or so spots. Yes, it was good strategy on all parts, but not 'driving up to the front'. Driving up to 15th or so maybe (and remember, the 19 started in the mid 20s), but you would have never known listening to the 'give up' by Sadler with about 30 or so laps to go. Lets just call this on of those 'good luck' weekends, and Sadler was due for one of those. (and don't forget, the 19 'gave up' 5 bonus points by choosing to pit when they could have run just one more lap and inherit the lead)

In Defense of Sadler:
com·mu·ni·ca·tion Listen to the pronunciation of communication
a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior

Now I have often criticized Sadler for has lack of clarity with his communication to his crew chief, but when he asks a question as simple as "How long till we pit?" One would expect a simple answer. What Sadler got was 'We are on lap xxx and we will pit on lap yyy'. Understand we are dealing with a college dropout who is doing his best to make a 3500 lb missile go as fast as it can in a circle. All the while dealing with 42 other 3500 lb missiles. Making him 'do the math' is just one other unnecessary thing for a driver to do. Thankfully, Brett came to the rescue after a moment and said "15 more laps buddy just keep hitting your marks". Maybe GEM can add a calculator to the dash in the future!

Just shut up and drive:
So NASCAR puts the clamps down on driver criticism of the C.O.T. I have seen that some feel that this was not NASCAR's place as the drivers "don't work for them". Well if not for NASCAR most of these guys would stroking their craft of some local track for pennies. Don't bite the hand that feeds ya!

Be thankful that Michigan does not produce a lot of cautions:
As the final round of the U.S. Open broadcast was looming and Tiger was going into the round leading the field. We all know what that does for TeVee ratings. Speaking of Tiger, did anyone else notice that most of the time he winced in pain from his bum knee was after a 'bad' shot?

Taking that tin foil hat off, it gives me a headache!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lawsuits, complaints, and crying wolf, Oh MY

It has been an interesting week for NASCAR and let the spin begin.

Lawsuit: $225 million in damages for racial and sexual harassment file by an ex-official.
We all have read the accusations or at least a summation of them filed by former NASCAR employee Mauricia Grant and if what she says is true, someone has some ‘esplanin’ to do.

From a fan’s perspective, all of this is very disturbing; although this fan is not surprised of the possibility that much of this could be true. Just speaking from experience of attending races, one does not have to search very hard to see and hear this kind of despicable attitude from the atypical NASCAR race fan. HOWEVER, I don’t think we, as average fans would have enough day-to-day access of the inner workings of the race weekend garage to pass a judgment of gran't claims.

The challenge faced by Grant (and her attorneys) is actually proving beyond a reasonable doubt that these accusations really took place. Marc at Full Throttle brings up some nice points concerning the ‘language’ of the suit. Personally, I still think there is something more to all of this, than just ‘lawyer speak’.

David Scott tried a couple of times to prove his claims of racial discrimination and neither time received a favorable judgment. It should be noted that his accusations did not include any NASCAR race officials, but rather against other team’s hauler drivers. (Whom btw NASCAR reprimanded pretty severely) So NASCAR does seem to have taken a stand against such behavior. But one may have to ask the question if NASCAR used some sort of double standard when it comes to their own employees?

But this is not the first time a high profile sport or organization has had to answer in court to similar accusations. The University of Arkansas had former (and fired) head coach Nolan Richardson file a similar suit of racial discrimination. Again, on the surface, these accusations did not seem that unbelievable considering the mantra/perception and location of where the alleged incidents took place. However, when it came time for Richardson to take the stand, his accusations appeared to be more mere misunderstanding of perception. Richardson also was not successful in his claim as well.

Is Grant’s suit frivolous? That remains to be seen, but what I am finding interesting is the common theme among the majority of NASCAR fans voicing their opinion over the innerweb. That opinion is that this is just a disgruntled ex-employee trying to make a quick buck and that all of this is B.S. Understand that these are many of the same fans that claim NASCAR fixes races, ignored violations and other tin foil hat conspiracies. One would think that if those conspiracies could happen, Grant’s accusations could as well.

One thing for sure is that Grant was involved with both pre and post race inspections, and pit officiating, and there has been ZERO mention in the suit of such directives substantiating these theories. One would think that if she were aware of such things, it would be mentioned prominently as NASCAR’s credibility is at stake. I am sure that Grant is not the only disgruntled ex NASCAR employee, but for some reason they are in hiding just now. The NBA has one disgruntled ex-employee and is having to answer some questions, but to date, NASCAR does not have this problem.


Elliott Sadler made a most interesting scanner comment at the conclusion of the Pocono race last Sunday. He asked crew chief Rodney Childers if ‘there was any possible way they could go to Michigan like the 9 (car)’? Childers responded with ‘it is all the same stuff except the front end stuff YOU don’t like’. Sadler came back with ‘ Well, forget what I like, and just make it the same as his’.

This maybe a genius move by Sadler, or it maybe the beginning of the downfall. ‘Equal’ equipment should be associated with equal results. Jeremy Mayfield made similar claims towards the end of his career with Evernham as well and that didn’t work out to well for him.

I am just not sure that Sadler wants to be compared to his teammate in an apples to apples sort of way.


Also late in the Pocono race, Sadler made the claim after just being passed by most the field that he ‘had a tire going down’. This can happen to EVERY driver but how many times do we hear ‘my motor is getting ready to blow up’ or ‘something is wrong with these tire’ and such. We actually heard BOTH just last Sunday. Over time, this has to wear on the psyche of the crew chief and the crew over-all. You could almost hear the ‘here we go again’, coming from Brett Griffin when he mentioned that ‘you are not racing anyone, just stick it out and hope for a caution’. I am sure the buzz at the GEM shop is the latest round of 'phantom phlatz'.

Needless to say, history will show that all the tire pressures were up and there was no flat. Aesop would be proud.

Like the news teases used to say; film at 11. There will be more to say on all these topics as time goes on.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Summer is here in Dallas, and its getting hot. Might even hit triple digits this weekend. But that didn't stop me from making it to the track last night to see the CTS running at TMS. Here are a couple of random thoughts.

The Candy Man:
I decided to listen to Kyle Busch on the scanner most the night and first and foremost, his channel is not 'family friendly'. Be prepared for numerous 'F'-bombs and other words on George Carlin's '7 words your can't say on TeVee'. But once you filter through that, one can see and hear that this driver has 'it'. 'It' being that unique combination of skill and daring that sets them apart from the field. Early in the race, he (yes he, and not his CC) chose to give up track position and make major changes to the front end of the truck, under a caution by opening the hood and adjusting the front suspension. The 51 team not only did this once, but twice under the first two cautions. Both times falling back to the rear of the field.

One of my main complaints over the years with 'my driver', Elliott Sadler, is when the car 'stinks' early in a race, many times the choice is to not to try to fix the car, but to 'go for track position' with a two tire stop or even by staying out. More times than not, this strategy does not work. And last night, watching the 51 truck only solidifies my opinion.

What a difference a spotter makes:
I am not sure if Busch's spotter was his regular CUP spotter, but after listening to Brett Griffin for 9 or so years, Brett should be offering a school on how to be an effective spotter. From the drop of the first green flag, where the 51 spotter said; 'pace car is off.......hold...hold....there he goes...' to 'car high......car high.....almost.....almost....you got him', I was dismayed at the lack of precise spotter to driver communication. It will be refreshing to hear Brett and his immediate 'clear' or 'green flag' tomorrow. On race day Brett, you still da man! (Now if we can just work on that Monday thru Thursday 'PR' stuff)

Where is David Hoots when you need him:
I think last night was the first NASCAR event I have attended live and with a scanner where Race Director David Hoots was not in control, and it showed. Cautions, especially late in the race took an eternity to go back to green, and I don't think it was because of the severity of the wrecks or the cause of cautions. It just seemed to be a reactive attempt on the part of RACE CONTROL to get the track race ready and not proactive. From finding debris 4 or 5 laps into caution, or deciding to bring 3 jet dryers on the track to blow stay-dry that had been placed on the apron. Note to who ever was in the tower; and Kyle Busch said it best. "We don't race down there." And then after all of that, finally taking account for the Lucky dog, thus losing one more green flag lap. I guess it just gives you a greater appreciation for the job David Hoots does and has done over the years. I know someday David will retire, I just hope there is someone waiting in the wings to take the ball and go to the mound.

Dirt is for Farming!!!!:
I just read Steve Wronkowicz' blog from On Pit Row about the Prelude to a Dream race held earlier this week. He thinks and others agree that the CUP series should run a race on the dirt and I agree as well. But I do have a different spin from simply running a race at one of the ARCA dirt tracks. Many years ago, I wrote a commentary on CatchFence.com concerning this very issue. So hear me out.

If Bristol can cover a track with 36 degree banking with dirt and run sprint and modified cars, then why couldn’t some other track do that? This track would have to be at least (or close to) a mile in length, and have a long enough pit road to accommodate up to 43 cars. I am thinking that a track that is currently not on the Cup schedule should be used in this venture. A track that is wide, relatively flat, and in a pretty large ‘market’ area.

The perfect track that fits this bill just might be Gateway International Speedway near St. Louis, Mo. The flat, egg shaped oval would offer some great challenges to all CUP teams and some great racing to boot.

Of course, there would be some other logistics other than simply putting a dirt surface on the track. Would you also cover pit road with the same surface? For safety reasons alone, I would leave pit road alone as I wouldn’t want to put the over the wall crews in any more danger with a slicker surface than what is already being used.

Could NASCAR and some savvy engineers make this work? I really don't know, but what a sight and spectacle it would be. I'd go for sure.

On to the IRL race tonight and Danica Mania'

Friday, June 06, 2008

Countdown to the 'BIG MOVE'

Yes, there will be racing at Pocono this weekend come rain or shine. No, NASCAR has not accepted Goodyear rain tires for this weekend's racing. But whether it rains this weekend or not there still will be some of the 'best' racing and strategy seen in all of NASCAR.

This 'racing' is what the locals in the Pocono infield call the 'BIG MOVE'.

The 'BIG MOVE' in a nut shell, is a mad dash in the middle of the night for RVers and campers much like an Oklahoma Landrun, to stake their claims in the open infield area near Turn 1 and the Long Pond straightaway. These areas are gated shut till an unannounced time in the middle of the night, early Sunday morning of race day. There is little or no warning, but those wishing to get a prime spot must be on the look out from about midnight to about 4 in the morning. One just never knows when the lone gate will be opened.

RVers and campers will stealthily try to park their RVs near or have easy access to this gate. Some might think there is more strategy for the BIG MOVE than a Dega race and I probably would agree. From 'drafting partners' to spotters to blockers, you can see it all. Once opened, the dash begins and what a sight it is to see. RV drivers for some strange reason (may have something to do with the consumption of alcohol much of the night) all of the sudden feel that they now are in all terrain vehicles and go bounding sometimes 4 and 5 wide over the 'moguls' of the Pocono infield.I had the wonderful opportunity to witness this event first hand in 2004 and it probably is the most idiotic 'plan' I have seen at any track. But like most train wrecks, I stood from a semi safe distance, watched in awe and got a huge kick out of it. It is a sight to say the least.

I guess the track doesn't have a problem with this, and I am sure they have good justifications for it, but it is something unique. If you ever get a chance to see the 'BIG MOVE', it is worth staying up late the Saturday before a Pocono CUP race. Good luck BIG MOVERS, and hope everyone stays safe and may the best RV win!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Tommy had a summer camp/barn party too!

Catch this other clip from the Rock opera, ‘Tommy’ that was sent to me this morning. (I really need to brush up on some of the great ‘60s classics), while it is not an event such as the Barn Party, there are similarities. Just a note, the following scene of the Rock Opera is titled “We’re not gunna take it”. Where the faithful get fed up with the chosen one's actions. (sound that irony alarm)

Since I have been allowing ‘anonymous’ comments I do sometimes not post them usually for language, or because of the ‘junior high schoolyard rhetoric, or because the comments simply are not applicable. The other day I received a comment on the blog “He’s a pin ball wizard” from ‘TrueFan’. In actuality, “ TrueFan’s” name is Kim from Louisiana and last time I was told, an officer in the Plaid19 Inc. What is ironic is that fact that I was actually taking up for Sadler in that particular blog (as well as Brett).

Here is her comment:

“You are a ******* . [edited due to vulgar content] You do not know what you are talking about most of the time. Who died and made you nascar god? You know, with fans like you, Sadler does not need any because you are far from what classifies as a fan. You try to talk like you know everything about all the tracks but you have no clue, especially since you haven't been to all the tracks. Why don't you try talking about another driver, do true Sadler fans a favor and become a non fan of Sadler and choose another driver to be a fan of so you can criticize them. Why are you always talking about Kool-aid, what is wrong with Kool-aid, it happens to a very well liked drink among kids and adults. I do not know why I wrote this because it will not be shown to the public because it actually expresses an honest opinion opposite of your own. You do not publish those that like Sadler, you only publish those that criticize him.”

Well, for starters, we now know the last paragraph of the clack attack is not a truthful statement. But I have been asked a few times from others about the ‘fanship’ of my driver, Elliott Sadler. I have stated numerous times and rarely criticize the on track performance of Sadler. His on track driving style and the way he races others is one of the primary reasons I became of fan of his in the first place over 10 years ago. However, I do draw the line in the sand and will point out errors or issues that have been made with Sadler’s off-track life styles. Yes, that also includes the way I perceive the treatment of his fans.

I don’t place an invisible force field around ‘my driver’ and turn a blind eye just because I claim to be a ‘true fan’. (What the heck is that anyway?) If one scans the innerweb, there are 100s of sites/blogs that also point out other’s perception of issues when it comes to ‘NA$CAR’ the ‘cheater 48 team’, FRANCECAR, or ‘the gay Jeff Gordon’ but for some reason, these people are still considered ‘fans’ and as long as one agrees with them, everything is fine.

The person making the comment above surely understands where the term drinking the Kool-aid comes from, as seen from this picture posted on their private message board. A board where they have plenty of mud to sling, but they hide behind the vial of secrecy, which of course is their right. This message board has even gone so far to have a complete section of their forum dedicated to this blog, while having other sections with similar views concerning the off-track stuff of Sadler. (someone that irony alarm again)

Remember this picture?
Yes, it originated from the same site, but also remember that it was this blog that pointed out that Josh Browne may have not been the real issue with how poorly the 19 car was running at the beginning of the 2007 season and no reason to use him as the scapegoat. Judging from the revelations GEM made midway in that season, it appears at the very least I was on the right track. Some where I have to think that Josh has a little snicker every time he looks at the points standings and see one of his cars is just 197 points from making the CHASE and seeing the 19 just 144 points from dropping out of the top 35 in owner points. Its just a feeling.

I don’t hide behind a double secret message board to express my views, whether they are positive or negative. My contact information is clearly stated, and Brett has even more of my personal information available to him due to a security breach from the Texas Motor Speedway. (Mr. Gossage was not very happy about this when he was informed as well). There has been a standing offer to the powers that be to submit any type of rebuttal to blogs posted here, but none have been received.

Not sure I have ever claimed to be an expert or a ‘God’ of Nascar, but like 99% of other NASCAR fans, I have an opinion. The majority of time that opinion is based upon my observations, be it TeeVee, print or live at the track just like anyone else. It may not always have a popular opinion with Sadler fans, but that doesn’t make that opinion less valid. I also wasn’t aware of the prerequisite of attending EVERY NASCAR track in order to have an opinion of them or even the drivers who race them. If that is the case, there are only a handful of people who should ever be able to opine about this sport.

Frank Burns from M*A*S*H fame said it best and it must apply to what Kim considers a ‘true fan’.

“Unless we all conform, unless we follow our leaders blindly, there is no possible way we can remain free.”
I refuse to conform, and follow blindly, yet I remain free and a fan.

One of the biggest and longest Dallas Cowboy 'homers' is WFAA's Sports Director, Dale Hanson. Judging from this rant below, and a few others, I guess he is not a 'true fan' for speaking his mind.

Someday the 19 (or what ever car Sadler is driving) may win a race again. I will cheer him on and hopefully I might even see this take place live. And if he continues with the treatment of his fans, make excuses for poor performances, blame others, or make poor PR choices, I will comment on those as well. As I don't ever want to show up at a race looking like this

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

He’s a Pinball Wizard!

I couldn’t help being reminded of the ’69 rock opera 'Tommy’ and it’s signature song when watching the results of lap 19 at Dover last Sunday. I am sure that Tony Stewart was thinking ‘there’s got to be a twist’ as well after his tongue and cheek comments as well. Scanning the innerweb, the finger pointing has commenced among the race fans and the Kool-aid is flowing. But who really is to blame?

I regress to ‘Tommy’ first and the ‘Overture’ from the rock opera for a better explanation.

Some of the most obvious finger pointing for both the initial wreck and the aftermath are being laid upon the ‘eyes in the skies’; the spotters. I have listened to Brett Griffin for close to ten years now, and have much respect for his in race duties as a spotter (and will must likely continue to do so). Some say that Griffin was ‘asleep’ and didn’t warn Sadler early enough when the 19 car was changing its line and moved to the bottom of the track. Frankly, I disagree with that line of thinking.

Understand that the events leading up to this wreck started less than a couple of seconds before. Exiting turn 2 (note, this was also an area of the track the in the pre-race conversations, Brett had mentioned to Sadler that he ‘would have trouble clearing’ because of lack of a clean line of site) the 40 car ahead of the 19 seemed to be a little loose on exit and enable the 19 to close at a pretty high rate. During this time, the 19 was ‘clear’ and Sadler made the decision to change his line and move down the track to attempted to get around the slower 40 car.

I wonder if the 19 car may have lifted slightly or not got on the gas as much as normal during this time (in order not to run into the back of the 40 car) thus allowing for the 38 car to also close from a 3 to 4 car length, to the eventual contact. But all three cars were coming off the corner at significantly different speeds. Just about the time of contact, Griffin announces that the 38 was ‘looking low’, followed by ‘inside’, and we all know the result. My point is, that the time it took for all this to happen was about the time it takes to say ‘That deaf, dumb and blind kid’. Not a lot of time at all.

Some are saying that the 38 should have ‘slowed’ when the 19 came down, and again I disagree. At no time does it appear that the 38 changes his lower line exiting the corner (frankly, he was as low as he could go without driving on the apron, which at Dover is not a good idea) The 38 had a run on BOTH cars and when the 38 ‘stuck his nose’ under the 19, he was simply driving his line. At no time was there a ‘3 wide’ situation and isn’t ‘racing’ taking advantage of an opportunity to pass a slower car? Now had the 19 actually ‘got a nose’ under the 40 car and we would have heard Griffin mention ‘car high’, this 3 wide theory may have some validation. But we all know that Griffin never said this.

There are some pretty high forces on the rear wheels of cars when exiting such a high banked, high speed corner seen at Dover and like we saw, it does not take much contact at all to force the back end around. To me, had this contact occurred just a moment later the results may have been very different. But unfortunately we all know it didn’t.

I have never really been a fan of Tony Stewart but after the past few weeks, one has to get a giggle out of his post wreck comments. I realize that some are taking what he said literally but it is sarcasm at its finest. Lets face it, Sadler has been a thorn in Tony’s side the past month or so and had the roles been reversed, the fireworks would be booming. Heck there are still actually some Kool-Aid drinkers that think ‘Almendingergate’ was an intentional act. Now multiply those feelings times two and the fact that the Chase is looming around the corner.

Bottom line, make all the excuses you want, this was just another example of one of the ‘racin dealios’. It happens, and will happen again. Of course had this happened on corner entry and not corner exit, all bets are off.