Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Interesting Times"
  • RIP Paul Newman--The Newman in Newman-Haas Racing lost his battle with cancer yesterday. Paul Newman died yesterday in Connecticut, surrounded by family. He was testy at times when you tried to interview him...but once he figured out you wanted to talk about racing, he'd open up. I saw him at Watkins Glen, Long Beach, Indianapolis, Daytona; you get the picture. He used to opine that acting was what he did to pay bills; racing was his passion. He is already missed by the racing community.
  • What will the "bailout" do for the already weak auto racing sponsorship hunt?--When discretionary capital dries up (as in the case when brokers make margin calls, credit card issuers want the entire balances due, no short term loans available) belts get tightened very quickly. Business owners, for a while, may not have the funds to sponsor at the levels the teams are accustomed to. I wonder how much the belts can be tightened in big league auto racing, and whether the owners and sanctioning bodies have the stomach to do so. They may have to find that stomach sooner rather than later.

Your comments on these issues are always welcome, as well as your e-mail entries to our 20th Anniversary Contest.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Engine Failure Causes Kalitta Crash, so says NJ State Police
The New Jersey State Police released their findings from the investigation into Scott Kalitta's fatal qualifying crash at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, in Englishtown, NJ back in June. The engine suffered a catastrophic failure (speed at the 1/4 mile was 300.73 miles per hour), which in turn blew the body off his Funny Car at speed. That failure caused the parachutes not to deploy fully, Kalitta jammed on the manual brakes, and the car hit a boom on a television truck at the top end at what was approximated at 125 miles per hour. New Jersey's State Police investigates all fatal accidents at auto racing facilities as part of their regulation of the sport. The report also says Kalitta had .02 BAC in his blood when the autopsy was performed. That contravenes NHRA and New Jersey auto racing regulations. For the record, New Jersey's legal limit for alcohol intoxication is .08 BAC. Did the .02 BAC contribute to the crash? The State Police report lists that as a noteworthy/contributory item, but not as the major cause of the crash. I'll suspect Graham Light will read the riot act at the next driver's meeting.
The timing of this report is especially noteworthy, since the NHRA is racing this weekend at the Texas Motorplex at Ennis, Texas, where John Force suffered major injuries last September. That he is even racing, let alone in the Funny Car Countdown to One, speaks volumes about his determination. I think Mr. Force has some unfinished business in the Lone Star State this weekend.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"ZMax Dragway No Go; Schumacher Breaks Top Fuel Win Record; Biffle Wins at the Magic Mile; ESPN With Egg on Face with Hornaday Tempest in Teapot"

  • Due to unforseen circumstances I did not get a chance to make the trip to ZMax Dragway at Lowe's Motor Speedway. From everything I can find out--it is a palace for the straight line guys, and yes...someplace I'll put on the 2009 schedule.

  • That meant that I didn't get a chance to see Tony Schumacher win his record breaking 53rd Top Fuel final--that's one more than Joe Amato at 52. The person who succeeds Alan Johnson as Tony's crew chief in 2009 will have some big shoes to fill.

  • You gotta be in it to win it--Greg Biffle picked the right time to break a victory drought...he nipped Jimmie Johnson at the checkered flag at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a/k/a the "Magic Mile". Johnson and "Cousin Carl" Edwards are in a flatfooted tie in points atop the standings...the tie breaker goes to Edwards with 6 wins to Johnson's 4.

  • The Shaun Assael story at on Ron Hornaday's use of a steroid cream and the auspices under which the interview was obtained will strain relations between drivers and the ESPN beat reporters. You might want to check another Blogspot blog, The Daly Planet, for reactions positive and negative to this story.

  • Don't forget to enter our 20th Anniversary Contest.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

20th Anniversary Contest
I get to do this once every 20 years. It's my little way of thanking listeners and blog readers for listening and reading. In 1988, while going back to school at Ithaca College, I started "Race-Talk" on WHWK-FM, Binghamton, NY to cover local and regional auto racing in the area (while covering national racing for radio clients around the world). In 1993, I began "Radio-Road-Test", and moved "Race-Talk" to the type of program it is today. In 2006, I stood up this blog. Thanks for your readership, listenership, and comments.
Here's a link to the official contest page. There you will find a e-mail link for entries and a list of prizes. The grand prize package will help you get your holiday shopping done, or outfit you in fine style. Our random prizes (anything from a racing hat to a Shell gas gift card) are nice as well. You may want to read our rules, too. The contest will run until December 6, 2008; the Grand Prize will be drawn on December 8, 2008.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

"JJ, 'Smoke' Battle to the End; Bowyer Makes Chase, No Dodges In the Post Season"

  • Jimmie Johnson won the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 by .365 seconds over Tony Stewart here at the "Action Track" Johnson officially took the lead for good on lap 391 of 400...and battled with Stewart over those 10 laps. Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin rounded out the top five.
  • Clint Bowyer finished 12th; Kasey Kahne 19th, and David Ragan 32nd. That jumped Bowyer to 12th in points. Bowyer drives a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Impala SS. Kahne missed the Chase, as did Ragan. No Dodge is in this year's Chase.

Here are the drivers in the Chase. All 12 have had their points reset to 5,000, and received 10 bonus points for each win. In the case of ties, the tie breaker was best finish beyond race victories (which means top 5s, 10s etc.).

  1. Kyle Busch/5080--8 wins
  2. Carl Edwards/5050--5 wins, less a 10 point penalty from Las Vegas
  3. Jimmie Johnson/5040--today's winner
  4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr/5010
  5. Clint Bowyer/5010
  6. Denny Hamlin/5010
  7. Jeff Burton/5010
  8. Tony Stewart/5000
  9. Greg Biffle/5000
  10. Jeff Gordon/5000
  11. Kevin Harvick/5000
  12. Matt Kenseth/5000

David Reutimann led the most laps in the race--104 out of the 400, and finished 9th.

We'll rejoin you from Zmax Dragway in Concord, NC for the first race in the NHRA's "Countdown to One" next weekend...and later this week with details on our 20th Anniversary Contest.

"Short, Soggy Takes from the 'Action Track' "

  • Joey Logano's much hyped Sprint Cup debut is put off until Loudon +/-

  • Greg Biffle, Kevin "Happy" Harvick are in the Chase when this afternoon's green flag flies.

  • Clint Bowyer is sweating bullets now...he has the last place (12th) and needs an exceptional finish and bad luck from 13th (David Ragan) and 14th (Kasey Kahne) to secure that spot.

  • If Kahne does not make the Chase, Dodge will not be represented. That can't please Chrysler boss Bob Nardelli (formerly CEO of Home Depot).

  • NASCAR gets style points for putting the public safety above their pocketbook, and cancelling action here yesterday. As I drove in this morning, I saw the aftermath of a heavy rain. Something to think about: Fans at any gathering don't think so much about this...but the cops and firemen have their back, in case something happens. The weather in the Tidewater area could have put people in danger...and that's what we pay our cops and firemen to help with. They needed to be ready to deal with any threat in any part of the Commonwealth, thank goodness that didn't happen. Only a selfish lout would say that the race should have gone on once the rain moved through.

  • Helio Castroneves will have to settle for second in the Indy Car championship...a qualifying penalty puts him in the back of a 28th car field. Pointleader Scott Dixon starts 2nd, and needs to finish 8th or better to win outright. Helio needs to win and lead laps, since he trails Dixon by 30. That battle will go virtually unnoticed, because of the festivities here at Richmond.

We'll join you after the race, after the winner claims this trophy in Victory Lane.

Monday, September 01, 2008

You DID See A Picture Like This in Late July

Jimmie Johnson dominated the Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway, and with served notice that he and Chad Knaus (crew chief) do indeed have something for the Chase. Domination=leading228 of 250 laps. That puts him in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.
Top Finishers:
Johnson--Top Chevy
Greg Biffle, 2nd--Top Ford
Denny Hamlin, 3rd--Top Toyota
Kasey Kahne, 8th--Top Dodge
Other Notables:
Point Leader Kyle Busch--7th
Carl Edwards--6th
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.--11th (clinches a spot in the Chase)
Jeff Burton (500th career start)--17th and joins Busch, Edwards, Johnson and Earnhardt, Jr in the Championship Chase, which begins on September 14, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
See you later in the week at the Action Track.