Monday, October 15, 2007

History At Lowe's Motor Speedway

While we saw Jeff Gordon go a long way toward his 5th NASCAR title with the Saturday night/Sunday morning victory #81, we note, with some sadness, the final public appearance of our favorite attraction--Robosaurus--the metal munching robot. Robo is going on sale to the highest bidder.

This will force the Speedway Motorsports Inc. braintrust, led by Humpy Wheeler, to find another attraction for their pre-race entertainment at Lowe's, which, for the forseeable future, will remain comfortably ensconced on Highway 29 south of Concord, NC.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Championship Braintrust in NASCAR Nextel Cup
Rick Hendrick (l), Jeff Gordon (center) Steve Letarte (r)
Jeff Gordon and crew chief Steve Letarte take their first win at Lowe's Motor Speedway for owner Rick Hendrick since 1999. It comes at the expense of Clint Bowyer (2nd, .579 seconds back on a green-white-checker overtime finish) and Kyle Busch, 3rd. Gordon now has a 68 point lead over Jimmie Johnson (he finished 14th after a small crash), and has 78 points on Bowyer.
Top 10:
Jeff Gordon
Clint Bowyer
Kyle Busch
Jeff Burton
Carl Edwards
Dave Blaney
Tony Stewart
Kasey Kahne
David Stremme
Michael Waltrip
The Chase after 5 of 10 races:
Jeff Gordon/5880
Jimmie Johnson/5812
Clint Bowyer/5802
Tony Stewart/5682 (198)
Carl Edwards
Kyle Busch
Kurt Busch
Kevin Harvick
Denny Hamlin
Jeff Burton
Martin Truex, Jr.
Matt Kenseth/5438 (442)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Halfway Through the Chase...and Robosaurus is STILL Hungry!
Our metal-munching robot is hoping for a snack...but won't have any tasty morsels after tonight's Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, which is still in Concord, North Carolina for the time being.
George Martin of the New York Football Giants visited this afternoon...the retired defensive lineman still looks like he could wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Martin is walking from New York to San Francisco to raise $$ to help the heroes who are now suffering after their efforts on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center.
Seems as though half of Concord's police force is here at the track...and it seems as though the Concord City Council is backing down, and even proposing a tax break for Speedway Motorsports (whose chairman is Bruton Smith) to build the drag racing facility for a proposed NHRA Powerade Event for 2008 (The TBA on the 2008 schedule). We'll update you with the winner and points reset after the race.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Is North Carolina selling its soul to the racing industry?
Here for the Bank of America 500 in Cabarrus County and Concord, NC, you doubtless know about a flap concerning Speedway Motorsports, Inc. and the Concord City Council about rezoning part of the Lowe's Motor Speedway property so a drag strip cannot be built. Our host, Google, can help you get background.
In Mooresville, Iredell County, Penske Racing's plans to build a short oval/road course test track near its mega-headquarters have hit a snag--residents have raised serious and reasonable concerns about noise, and balanced growth. So much so, that the Iredell County Commissioners will decide its fate on November 6. Google can help with the general background; the specific concerns of the residents can be found at .
There are two different issues here: if you build near a race track--and if that race track has been in existence for 40 years--you should realize that noise is going to happen. Business and good manners on both sides of the issue will keep the conflicts to a minimum.
If a facility comes to a residential area that has been a residential area for about the same length of time, or longer, then the needs and concerns of the residents must be paramount.
Penske Racing has a reputation for dotting i's and crossing t's that is unparalleled in the business--from what we see, there are a few that need dotting and crossing in Mooresville. The facility houses all of the Captain's racing teams--which need to test. Creative architecture and the placement of baffles would reduce most of the noise to Interstate traffic levels. If there is any organization that can come up with a solution that will satisfy the needs and concerns of the residents, while allowing the ability to test for limited time, it is Penske Racing. Once the Captain decides to do something, it is done right--these plans need to be redone.
UPDATE as of 11/6/2007
Penske Realty has, for the moment, taken their proposal off the table with the Iredell County (NC) County Commissioners. The plans may be resubmitted in six months. What's likely to happen, is that the Captain's men will retool their plans--as if they didn't have enough on the plate with trying to get Sam Hornish into Nextel Cup Races.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Robosaurus and Rocketman Ryan Newman tame "The Beast of the Southeast"
Penske's Ryan Newman took his familiar place on the pole for Saturday's Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway; Robosaurus, the car-eating robot, munched on some tasty morsels after Newman's pole run of 189.394 miles an hour--his 42nd Pole of 219 career starts. You might not realize it...this is Newman's 5th pole of 2007...for a few breaks, he might have been in the chase. Jimmie Johnson starts 2nd...Bobby Labonte 3rd...and point leader Jeff Gordon takes the green from 4th.
Robo will also entertain the crowd on Saturday in pre race festivities for the 1/2 way point in NASCAR's 10 race Chase for the Championship.
Robo could make the Chase more interesting...he could eat the first car that is out of contention on Saturday night. No cars of tomorrow for our metal muncher...we wouldn't want to give him anything that anyone would have to be vaccinated for.
Aside: What in tarnation was the House Homeland Security Committee thinking of when they had their investigators get full vaccinations against everything except the bubonic plague before they came to NASCAR races?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Random Musings/NHRA/NASCAR/IndyCar

One of the last (if not THE last) auto racing pioneers died, when Wally Parks passed away at 94 last week. Parks founded the National Hot Rod Association which, in terms of rank and file members, is the world's largest auto racing sanctioning body. Its Powerade Pro Drag Racing Series has better attendance than all other series, except for NASCAR. The organization was founded to get racers off the street. It is the most fan and media friendly (big deal--media friendliness and $2 gets a cup of high end coffee somewhere) auto racing series in the world.

Dario Franchitti is not going to defend his IndyCar driving title and Indy 500 win in 2008. He opted to join Chip Ganassi to take the place of David Stremme in a second Ganassi Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup entry, and is on a fast track to NASCAR's top division, in much the same manner as Juan Pablo Montoya--who will likely be the last Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year (the series changes names to the Sprint Cup in 2008). Ganassi will wax folks at Daytona (think about a Daytona Prototype with Montoya, Scott Pruett, Scott Dixon and Franchitti in the 24 hours) in that part of Speedweeks.

And the sanctioning body itself has been busy, with the signing of Nationwide Insurance as the title sponsor for its Triple A series (Busch Series until the last race); and Coors Light as the official beer of NASCAR. The Aflac Duck will likely get plucked; Allstate's Good Hands will likely get slapped, and the Good Neighbors of State Farm won't be as welcome...Brian France is already making noises about giving Nationwide a preferential position as the official insurance provider of NASCAR--he hopes to avoid the black eye situation with at&t v Nextel/Sprint with the new seven year sponsor.

There are always unintended consequences to actions...and with freezing out sponsors with money...the chill will ultimately fall on the teams.