Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I totally missed this....

That's right! I didn't notice it until today at work, but thanks to all my visitors (check the counter at the bottom of the page), this blog has been going for (a little over) a year now. Without you all, this blog might not still be up and running. I can't say this enough times, but.....


Earnhardt brings new paint scheme to Daytona

CONCORD, N.C. (June 30, 2009) -- Ronnie Sipka slid the palm of his hand down the hood of the sleek No. 88 National Guard "Serving America"/AMP Energy Chevrolet, smiled and shook his head.

If they only had time to sand it and recoat it, he said. Just one more time. Then it would really shine.

Although, he admitted with a laugh, then his group in the Nos. 5/88 team shop paint bay would be urging Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 team to race the wrapped backup car instead of the hand-painted primary one.

Sipka, Donnie Floyd, Scott Nicholls and Glen Bobo spent two days and used 14 coats of DuPont paint to prepare the No. 88 Chevy for Saturday's 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Race coverage begins on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT.

Click here for more shots of the ACU (Army Combat Uniform) special paint scheme.

During the process, the crew sandwiched two stencils between three colors – desert tan, olive green and light green – before applying a coat of black paint to the top half of the Chevrolet. Finally, they pulled the stencils off when the last coat of paint had dried. Each piece of stencil the group removed revealed another color and gave the Chevrolet its camouflage look.

Earnhardt will unveil the paint scheme on Wednesday to National Guard soldiers and fans during the 2009 Battle of the Bands at the Bandshell in Daytona Beach, Fla. The event, which is open to the public, starts at 5 p.m. ET.

Earnhardt said he is honored to run the ACU camouflage paint scheme, which pays tribute to the National Guard soldiers who dedicate a portion of their time serving their nation, state and local communities.

"Working with the military means a lot because they are a big part of our sport overall, and to carry them on my car every weekend makes you pretty proud."

Earnhardt happy with 13th place

LOUDON, N.H. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. had one of the most satisfying 13th-place finishes in his NASCAR career Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Gas strategies and a rain-shortened race probably cost the crowd favorite a better finish, but Earnhardt ran well throughout the day, spending most of the 273 laps in the top 10 and running quite a bit in the top five.

"We ran good today," said Earnhardt, in only his sixth race with crew chief Lance McGrew. "I want to thank Lance and the team. ... They did a good, man, giving me a good car. I had fun today. I hope we can keep this up.

"Being around fifth and looking at the top five, that was great," he added. "Seeing the leaders most of the day in your windshield is better than where we have been."

Earnhardt moved up one spot in the standings to 19th with nine races remaining until the start of the Chase for the championship, which will include only the top 12 drivers.

"We are inching so slowly up back in to where we need to run," he said. "It is taking a while but, hopefully, we keep moving forward."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lenox Industrial Tools 301

Qualifying was canceled due to rain so Dale started 20th. He ran as high as 3rd, and the race was called due to (what else?) rain. Brad drove the 09 for James Finch and finished 6th while Dale Jr finished 13th and has moved up one spot to 19th in the points. Congrats go to Joey Lagano on his first Sprint Cup Series win at New Hampshire. Joey is now the youngest driver to win a race in NASCAR history.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Track Details
Completed : 1990
Distance : 1.058 miles
Shape : Oval
Banking : 2°/7° turns
Frontstretch : 1,500 feet
Backstretch : 1,500 feet
Seating : 93,521
New Hampshire is one of the most unusual tracks on the Cup Series circuit.
How unusual? The track has been described as "Martinsville on steroids" and is considered by most drivers as one of the toughest ovals in motorsports.
The Bahre family opened New Hampshire International Speedway in 1990. Their roots in New England racing go back to 1964, when Bob Bahre acquired a track in Oxford, Maine, which he and his son, Gary, operated until 1986.
Efforts to bring a major racing facility took off in 1989 when ground was broken for New Hampshire International Speedway on a site about 10 miles north of Concord, New Hampshire's capital city.
The track opened its gates for the first time in June 1990 and hosted its first NASCAR touring series event, the Budweiser 300 for the Busch Series. The Cup Series followed in July 1993, with Rusty Wallace getting the victory.
Jeff Burton's list of multiple victories at New Hampshire International Speedway includes the Dura Lube 300 in 2000 in which Burton led every lap.
In 2004, the speedway played host to the first race in the inaugural Chase for the Nextel Cup. As it turned out, that race played a big role in how that battle for the championship played out.
This race starts the 10 races leading up to the chase, which is also called "the race to the chase."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Toyota/SaveMart 350

Dale had such a great run going, running as high as 9th, however a spin with 10 laps remaining landed Dale Jr with a 26th finish. Dale slides down two spots to 20th in points, and although he doesn't like road courses, I found out from Twitter that he talked to Mike Davis and he told Mike he had fun there!!!

Hendrick, Keselowski to meet about Cup future

Several options available; owner prepared for GM cuts

SONOMA, Calif. -- Rick Hendrick will meet with Brad Keselowski this coming week to discuss their 2010 options. Under consideration is placing the young driver with a team affiliated with Hendrick Motorsports.

Among the possibilities: a third entry at Stewart-Haas Racing, a full-time ride with James Finch's team, or staying put at JR Motorsports but moving that team to the Sprint Cup Series. Keselowski currently drives the No. 88 in the Nationwide Series for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who could move the team up to NASCAR's premier series.

"That's something that Dale and Kelley [Earnhardt, vice president and general manager of JR Motorsports] are looking at," Hendrick said before Sunday's race at Infineon Raceway. "That's a possibility."

After Keselowski drove Finch's car to his first Cup Series victory with a surprise April win at Talladega, he agreed to a period of exclusive negotiations with Hendrick about a long-term contract. Keselowski wants to run in the Cup Series next year, but NASCAR's four-car limit means Hendrick doesn't have an open seat for 2010.

"We're looking at different options with some of our external situations with other teams, and I told Brad that I want him to have the best opportunity," Hendrick said. "If we can't give it to him, then I want him to have the best. He wants to do something that is somehow associated with our company and we're working on it and hopefully in the next few weeks we'll have something sorted out.

"He'll be running Cup. Whether he'll be running them all or whether he'll be running 75 percent of them or what, I don't know."

Keselowski is running a limited schedule this season for both Hendrick and Finch, and could do it again next year. Hendrick believes NASCAR would allow him to field a fifth car next year for Keselowski in seven races.

Business is good

Hendrick Motorsports wasn't spared from General Motors' funding cuts earlier this week, but the team owner said he was prepared for the reductions.

GM cut all funding to its Nationwide and Truck Series teams, and it reduced its support of Sprint Cup Series teams as the manufacturer restructures under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Both Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing have acknowledged funding was reduced to its programs in meetings with GM earlier this week.

Hendrick had the same meeting, but had already made changes to his four-car organization in preparation for the cuts.

"I've been kind of, for a year or better, thinking that this could happen," Hendrick said. "We've been trying to address things and do things a little bit differently. We've been trying to cover our bases for about a year. Everybody is having to make adjustments, but it's not going to change the way we race or how we show up on the race track.

"I've been telling our guys the only way I could see GM surviving long-term was to go into bankruptcy. I've been saying that for over a year, so we've been kind of expecting it."

Hendrick also is in a unique position of potentially replacing the money through his leasing programs with other race teams. SHR buys cars and leases engines from Hendrick, and Stewart has said he's considering adding a third team next season -- which would give Hendrick even more business.

Another potential partner is Red Bull Racing, which is considering leaving Toyota for Chevrolet next season. If the team does switch, it would likely lease motors from Hendrick. Red Bull general manager Jay Frye had a similar arrangement when he ran now-defunct Ginn Racing.

"I'm going to stop racing and build cars and sell motors," joked Hendrick. "You don't turn down any business these days. Probably what I'll see, we'll convert some of the other programs if it comes to pass.

"We've worked with Jay Frye for so many years, and Tony and them, that's a seamless deal for us."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

War of Words cont.

Shrub just can't stop can he? This week he continued to bash Dale Jr, again commenting on the "Most Popular Driver" award, which Dale has won for the past six years.

When asked about the guitar smashing Busch said the following --

"I don't know, why are you asking the question again? Because it's Kyle Busch that broke the trophy and not Dale Earnhardt Jr."

(So of course he just couldn't let it at that, he had to keep going on and on, jealousy gets you no where Shrub.)

(Here's where the award bashing came into play...)

"It should be 'The Most Loved Driver Award' because he'll get the votes for being the most loved driver but it seems to me I've been the most popular driver here this year."

(Really? I haven't found that to be true.)

"'Most loved' (means) everybody likes you. The most popular is whether you're doing good, bad or whatever. They write about you and talk about you. You've got more people calling in to radio shows talking about me than you do Junior. You got more writers and everyone in the media talking about me than talking about Junior."

(Jealous, jealous, jealous)

"Seems to me there's a pretty big difference."

(Yeah, the only difference is that they are two different words.)

No comment yet from Dale, but I'll be sure to add them if I find any.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Infineon Raceway

Opened in 1968, then-Sears Point Raceway was constructed on 720 acres of property that was a working dairy farm in the early 1900s. The facility hosted its first official event, an SCCA Enduro, on Dec. 1 of that year.

Since then, the facility has grown and expanded into one of the premier motor sports venues in the country, hosting 340 days of racing activity each year, including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NHRA POWERade Drag Racing and the IndyCar® Series.

The twists of the 12-turn road course and the lightning-quick quarter-mile drag strip have hosted all of the biggest names and some of the most historic moments in racing history.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Junior has more on his mind than Kyle

Here is the whole article as I had said in the last post, Dale has bigger fish to fry.

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Kyle Busch was at it again Friday, bigger than ever, insulting vast new masses -- Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s whole fan base.

And Lance McGrew, Earnhardt's new crew chief, laughed loud and long at that.

It started when Busch was asked about the public controversy over his smashing a trophy guitar in Victory Lane after winning a Nationwide race at Nashville last week.

"It was fun and a lot of people enjoyed it and thought it was different -- the sport's not so vanilla," Busch said.

And then, as has happened every couple of weeks lately, Busch just couldn't help himself.

"A lot of people hated it and I guess those are the ones with '88' [Earnhardt's current car number] tattooed on their arms," Busch continued, his little smile growing ever more mischievous. "Or maybe still '8' [Earnhardt's old car number]."

His cannon thus primed and loaded, Busch fired: "I've got no issues with Junior -- it's his fans that are crazy, but that's all right."

Then Busch poured it on. With all the hoopla over the guitar smashing, "Sounds to me like the most popular driver award goes to Kyle Busch this year, right?" he said.

The obvious reference was to Earnhardt's perennial recognition -- by fan balloting, cheers in the stands and merchandise sales -- as far and away NASCAR's most popular driver.

At the very idea Busch would call out Earnhardt's legions, McGrew could manage only "That's pure Kyle" between spells of laughter.

McGrew, who replaced Tony Eury Jr. as Earnhardt's crew chief 15 days ago, once worked with Busch in the Nationwide Series when Busch was at Hendrick Motorsports.

"He's amazingly talented -- unbelievably," McGrew said of Busch. "But, boy, when he says something -- what comes up comes out. There's no doubt about it."

McGrew found the good laugh useful. He and Earnhardt had a lot more on their plates Friday than just the jab du jour from Busch.

Earnhardt is defending champion of Sunday's Lifelock 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Or, put another way in light of Earnhardt's dismal slump -- which led to his separation from Eury -- this weekend marks a full year since Earnhardt has won a Sprint Cup race.

Further, Earnhardt had to deal with the removal of cash support from Chevrolet from his own JR Motorsports, which fields Nationwide cars, due to Chevrolet's bankruptcy.

Earnhardt had so much on his mind Friday that he didn't understand my question -- or maybe I wasn't clear enough -- about Busch's latest shots.

I termed them "the latest Kyle-ism" to Earnhardt, and other journalists standing near us told me, after he'd returned to his hauler, that he must have thought I said "columnist" before I told him the latest.

But leave it to my ESPN colleague Marty Smith to point out that at least part of Earnhardt's answer was entirely applicable.

"My fans handle themselves well and they're good people," Earnhardt said. "So I think anyone who would be calling them out and stirring them up is causing problems not only for himself but everyone else in this sport."

Perhaps the driver who best understood how much Busch had bitten off this time was Jimmie Johnson, Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate.

"Kyle, I'm sure, at points, regrets stirring up the pot," Johnson said. "But at other times I think he thrives on it …

"He's already got the fans on him, but now I think he's getting them upset in a whole new wave," Johnson continued. "Who knows? He's probably loving it."

Clearly, Busch is. His latest volley came on top of his remark two weeks ago at Dover, Del., about Earnhardt's crew chief change, that "It's never Junior; it's always the crew chief."

That on top of "I'm proud of the fact that I'm outperforming a guy [Earnhardt] that replaced me at Hendrick," which Busch said at Martinsville in March.

And that on top of "There's probably too much pressure on one guy's shoulders who doesn't seem to win very often," which Busch said at Bristol, also in March.

Since Earnhardt replaced Busch at Hendrick Motorsports and Busch moved to Joe Gibbs Racing at the beginning of 2008, Busch has won 11 Cup races to Earnhardt's one.

But Earnhardt on Friday expressed hope that he could actually break his year-old slump here Sunday.

Isn't it too soon in the rebuilding process to think about an outright win?

[+] EnlargeDale Earnhardt Jr
AP Photo/Russ Hamilton, Jr.Dale Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Lance McGrew are feeling pretty good about their start together.

"Oh, no," Earnhardt said. "You show up every week thinking you can win and hoping you can win. So it's not too soon to think about that."

As for Chevrolet's cutting of funding to his Nationwide team, Earnhardt characterized the manufacturer's cash percentage of his budget as "small, very small. The sponsorships obviously are the biggest part of our budget. Our relationship with Chevrolet was more just about brand loyalty."

Earnhardt and McGrew were at first deeply disappointed in their 27th-place finish at Pocono last Sunday, their second outing together. But they were relieved to find the reason -- a broken suspension part -- when they returned to the Hendrick compound.

"When you get a call from Mr. H [team owner Rick Hendrick], obviously that's going to concern you," McGrew said. "He was curious about what happened last weekend, and so were we."

So they did a sort of autopsy of their car. "We found a little mechanical issue," McGrew said. "We feel like we nailed that down, and we understand what happened, and did some stuff to keep it from happening again."

Even the mechanical failure was a boost to Earnhardt's confidence in his midrace diagnostics.

"In the middle part of the race I'd commented to the engineer that I thought that part had failed," Earnhardt said. "It's pretty good to be able to point at something and say, 'Here's the problem.'"

As for Earnhardt's general state of mind, "I think he's fine," McGrew said, and broke into baseball pitcher rehab lingo. "We're working on getting his slider back, a little confidence back, and trying to stay on the same page. So far, so good."

Earnhardt had become notorious for grumbling to Eury on the radio during bad outings, but at Pocono, "He really didn't," McGrew said.

"He's definitely trying. There is no doubt about it," McGrew continued. "I can definitely tell. He wants to be more involved in the whole program. He's asking better questions. He's giving better feedback. He's definitely engaged."

So Busch has backed off Junior. And taken on his legions.

And just think: There are still 21 more Fridays left in the season for Busch to meet with the media.

Lifelock 400

I never, EVER want to hear anyone say that a race is boring again! The last lap of the Lifelock 400 was very exciting. It looked as though Jimmie was gonna take the race, however on the last lap, he ran out of fuel, so it looked as though Greg Biffle was gonna win, then he ran out of fuel, so in third was Mark Martin and he had just enough to cross the line and get back around to pit road. He then coasted the rest of the way to victory lane.

Dale Jr had another good run, finishing in 14th and moving back up two spots to 18th in points.

Michigan International Speedway

Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is the Great Escape, a venerable NASCAR national park where fans can get away and enjoy the very best in racing and camaraderie.

It’s the love of racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike.

Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., boasts a proud, 40-year history of hosting America's best racing action on its 1,400-plus acres in the scenic Irish Hills. With 18 degree banking and 73-foot wide sweeping turns, Michigan International Speedway provides drivers with three and four grooves to run around the two-mile speedway.

When Michigan International Speedway opened in 1968, the 12,000-seat center grandstand stood overlooking the new two-mile oval, a symbol of a new era for the Irish Hills area.

Today, the speedway seats 132,000 and home to the largest, single-day paid admission sporting event in the state.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

War of Words

Just so we get this all straight and you know me, I won't post anything unless it's said by Dale Jr, Lance, etc. We currently have a war of words going on between our man, Jr and who else but Vyle Kyle Busch. When he says something about Dale Jr, that's one thing, but when he says something about Jr Nation, that's quite another thing. Dale will stand up for his fans anytime anywhere and my feeling is that Kyle is just jealous. Why? Because here he is, one of the most talented drivers (and admit it people he is) in the sport today, and yet he doesn't have near the fan base that Junior has gained. Anyway, here are the war of words that have been spoken by both drivers since Kyle was asked his opinion on Tony Eury Jr being replaced by Lance McGrew. (and the reporter that asked that is a moron if you ask me - just for asking such a stupid question)

"If [Earnhardt] doesn't run well, then [McGrew's] going to be the problem again. It's never [Earnhardt]: It's always the crew chief." - The Vile One

Dale was asked what he thought of Kyle's comment -

"That doesn't really surprise me what Kyle says. He's always had a chip on his shoulder for me. I expect anytime he gets an opportunity to throw a jab in there he's going to do it. That's just his personality." - Junebug

Kyle was then asked if he felt there was a rivalry (again) between he and Dale -

"I've got no issues with Dale Jr. It wasn't him that kicked me out of Hendrick Motorsports; it was Casey Mears."

(Woah, hold the phone! What does Casey Mears have to do with all of this?? Casey and Kyle were with Rick the same year, so there's no way that Casey would have kicked Kyle out. That was just a cop out so he wouldn't have to answer that question honestly.)

"I really don't see how that argument really is that relevant to anything and I don't even know really what kind of problem he has or what kind of solution he wants. I don't really get into it" - Junebug

(Now you would think that statement would have settled things, but of course Shrub had to take it a step further when he was asked about his disgraceful guitar smashing at Nashville.)

"It was fun and a lot of people enjoyed it and thought it was different -- the sport's not so vanilla. A lot of people hated it and I guess those are the ones with '88' tattooed on their arms... or maybe still '8'."

One reporter commented with a laugh, "You and Dale." To which Kyle replied --

"I've got no issues with Junior -- it's his fans that are crazy, but that's all right."

Then just to add to the already immature amount of comments he had already made, he added this -

"Sounds to me like the most popular driver award goes to Kyle Busch this year, right?"

Dale, who has bigger fish to fry, (article on that to come later) simply replied with this statement in which he stood up for Jr Nation.-

"My fans handle themselves well and they're good people. So I think anyone who would be calling them out and stirring them up is causing problems not only for himself but everyone else in this sport."

(Thank you Dale!!!!)

I'll keep up with this "rivalry" and add in anything else if it happens to be said.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dale Earnhardt Jr Sees Progress

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday that he and his Hendrick Motorsports team are making progress in getting the No. 88 Chevrolet Impala SS back up to speed.

“You show up every week thinking you can win and hoping you can win,” said Earnhardt, who is working his third race weekend with new crew chief Lance McGrew. “So it’s not too soon to think about that and try to realize that is your ultimate goal. We seem to have good communication. … The communication seems to be going good and I hope to be realizing some success from it soon.”

Earnhardt qualified a disappointing 30th for Sunday’s LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway, race No. 15 of 36 on the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule and event that he won last year. Still, despite qualifying poorly, Earnhardt is convinced he and McGrew are on the right track.

Earnhardt finished 27th last Sunday at Pocono Raceway — his third finish of 27th in the last five races — but he was relieved to learn that the ill handling on his car was due to a mechanical failure.

“In Charlotte we ran so poorly we didn’t have a mechanical piece on the car to point at and go, ‘That broke,’ or ‘That fell apart,’ and you feel terrible and you have no answers,” said Earnhardt. “We had a really good car in practice at Pocono and when the race started it felt pretty good for about 20 laps and then it just got so loose and we couldn’t fix it all day. We came back to the shop and found that part in the front suspension that had failed. It was good and it totally made sense. Actually in the middle part of the race I commented over to my engineer that I thought that part had failed. It was pretty good to be able to point at something and go well here’s the problem. At least you can start forming better solutions when you know what your problem is.”

Earnhardt said he can see a difference in just a few weeks working with McGrew. The frustration that he and his cousin and former crew chief Tony Eury Jr. had permeated the entire team, causing a distinctly unpleasant environment.

“We’re just putting our foot down and trying to work hard,” said Earnhardt. “The guys have got a better attitude. The team was really beat down over the last several months and that’s gotten better. That affects me and affects everybody. We just really want to see some results and things like that in the next couple of weeks to give us an assertion we need to move forward and keep improving. I think we will.”

One boost to Earnhardt’s spirits has been the support he’s gotten from the entire organization. “We’ll just see how it goes,” he said. “I feel pretty good about it. I think Rick (Hendrick, team owner) has gone far beyond what I anticipated in trying to get us assistance and trying help me. More so I’m surprised by how much the crew chiefs and drivers are participating and trying to help us. Everybody is just really trying to help and it feels great. That kind of thing has got to give you some confidence going in because I see that they want it to work just like
I do.”

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pocono 500

Another rough day for the 88 team, as Dale Jr's car was way loose all day long. I believe they'll bounce back, but I'm not sure on Dale chances of making the chase this year. He started 18th due to rain here in NEPA all day Friday, which canceled qualifying. Dale got as high as 12th, but finished 27th. He's slide down two points in the standings to 20th. I really hope the defending winner of this coming weekends race (Dale Jr) will be able to bounce back from this weekend at Michigan.

**I found out that it was a mechanical failure which lead to Dale Jr's poor run at Pocono.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pocono Raceway

Pocono Raceway
Completed: 1968
Distance: 2.5 miles
Shape: Tri-oval
Banking: 14° Turn 1
8° Turn 2
6° Turn 3
2° straights
Frontstretch: 3,740 feet
Backstretch: 3,055 feet
Shortstretch: 1,780
Seating: 76,812
Pocono's unique 2.5-mile tri-oval has challenged NASCAR's best since the first Cup Series race was held there in 1974.
The Mattioli family, owners of the track, have been through some ups and downs while battling to make the triangular racetrack a success.
Soon after the first IndyCar race at Pocono, the Schaefer 500 in 1971, Hurricane Agnes hit the area. The ensuing economic crunch and energy crisis threatened Pocono Raceway's very existence and many other tracks didn't survive. Pocono Raceway owners Joe and Rose Mattioli considered selling out.
"We were almost bankrupt two or three times but were too dumb to realize it," Joe Mattioli said. "We were on the verge of selling the track when we received a telephone call from Bill France Sr., who asked us to meet with him in New York.
"At the meeting he tried to convince me not to sell the track, to stick it out and stay the course. He gave us moral support and a lot of good advice.
"He and his wife, Annie B., came to the race the next two years to show their support for Pocono Raceway. Shortly thereafter he and his son, Bill Jr., gave us our second NASCAR race and as they say, the rest is history.
"Had it not been for Bill France Sr., Annie B. and Bill Jr., Pocono Raceway would not be here today."
Since getting that second Cup date in 1982, the track has continued to grow. The Mattiolis welcome nearly 100,000 ticket holders to their home in the Poconos twice each year.

Pocono 500 Qualifying

Qualifying was rained out (and it's raining here where I live too) so Dale Jr will start 18th on Sunday. The weather is supposed to get better as the weekend progresses. This weather is the total opposite of the weather for last year's 500. It was very humid and muggy, and many of the drivers were more dehydrated than usual after the race. Hopefully the weather will hold up on Sunday and they'll be able to get the race in as scheduled. (If not and they reschedule it for Monday, I'll at least be home to watch it!!)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Thank you Chad Knaus!

I'm saying thank you to Chad why? Read on...

Eury's next task? To help Johnson win at Infineon

DOVER, Del. -- For Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Eury Jr., it's led to days of heartache and disappointment. But the separation of the No. 88 program's driver and crew chief worked out perfectly for one person.

That would be Chad Knaus, the crew chief for three-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, who will turn the No. 48 car over to Eury for a closed two-day test this week at a South Carolina road course. Knaus has a scheduling conflict, but Eury's new role in Hendrick Motorsports' research and development program will free him up to help Johnson get ready for Infineon Raceway.

In his first race with Lance McGrew as crew chief, Dale Earnhardt Jr. seemed to have a rapport he never developed with Tony Eury Jr.

The test at Carolina Motorsports Park, a 2.3-mile circuit located in Kershaw, S.C., had been scheduled for last week, but had to be rescheduled because of rain. Although NASCAR has banned testing on sanctioned tracks for the 2009 season, the sanctioning body has no such sway over an independently owned facility that does not host NASCAR events. Eury and Earnhardt were testing at another road course, Virginia International Raceway, the day before car owner Rick Hendrick announced the changes to their team.

Now, one of Eury's first big jobs in his new role will be to help Johnson win the June 21 event at Sonoma.

"From my standpoint it's actually been a blessing in disguise," Knaus said of Eury's move. "We had some poor weather last week at Lowe's Motor Speedway, so we weren't able to race on Sunday as everybody knows, and then there were some storms that came through South Carolina where we were supposed to be testing on Tuesday and Wednesday. We weren't able to go test, so we postponed the test until this coming week.

"So quite frankly, with Tony taking on a new role in the research and development department, I've called on him to go to South Carolina with the 48 car on Tuesday because I can't attend and help conduct that test and get everything going in the right direction for us there. They just tested last week at VIR, had a productive test, and I think he's going to help contribute, and hopefully we can get to Sonoma and have a better run than we've had in the past. For me, it helped me concentrate on Dover this week, because I didn't have to worry about next week."

Improvement on road courses, where he's never won at NASCAR's highest level, has been one of Johnson's primary goals the past two seasons. He finished 15th last season at Infineon.

"Tony is a great crew chief, a great man, and can come down and conduct the test, run the test, look at the things that Chad wants to work through in his test plan and matrix, and go from there," said Johnson, who won Sunday at Dover International Speedway to record his second victory of the year. "As Chad said, it's taken the pressure off of him to worry about the test and really focus on Dover and focus on Pocono. Testing takes a lot out of the guys and out of the crew chief for sure, because there's a lot of time and effort that goes into those things."

Eury also will work as crew chief in the remaining Sprint Cup events this season for Brad Keselowski, whose next scheduled race is at Chicagoland in July. Hendrick said he has spoken to
Eury daily since the changes on the No. 88 team were announced, and reports that the former crew chief is in good spirits and embracing his new role. The fact that Knaus is leaning on him, he added, speaks volumes.

"That means Chad's got total confidence in him, and that maybe Tony will come up with something that he hadn't thought about and try some things different," Hendrick said. "I've seen Tony really engage with simulation, and with no testing, you've got to depend on that. These crew chiefs have to depend on somebody that has been there and done that. His job now is to help us win a championship. And that's what's he's committed to doing."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My rant about drivers....

who ask why there are cup races run at Pocono. I know the track needs a total makeover, and the garage isn't the fanciest, (and to those drivers who feel it should be updated, why not ask the Mattioli's if there's some way you can help) To those of us who live in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, NASCAR at Pocono is a huge deal. (and when I say huge, I mean HUGE) It's as huge to us as the Little League World Series is to South Williamsport. It's seriously like a slap in the face to Pennsylvania race fans when a driver is quoted as saying something like that. What? Are we not good enough to have a NASCAR race in our home state or the two we currently host for that matter? When I hear someone ask that, I feel like saying, "Well then why do you race at any other track that is on the schedule?" To me, unique is better. There are so many race tracks that have the same shape. (Oval, "D" shape, etc) Pocono presents more of a challenge to the drivers, and a challenge every now and then is a good thing. Sure, Pocono isn't near or in a city, but who said a race track has to be near a city in order to have a race run there? We l-o-v-e having the drivers up here for three days. (six really, if you count the three in June and the three in August together) It gives us a chance to say thank you, good luck, you're my favorite driver, put Kyle Busch in the wall for me (lol, just kidding on that last one), but you see what I mean. The Mattioli's have fought hard to keep people (mostly ones whos last name end in Smith) from buying the track from them, and that's what makes Pocono a great place to race. It's a family owned and operated race track and there are seldom tracks that are like that anymore. Last year, I had an awesome time at the August race with my father, got to sit at the very end (right after the exit of turn 3), paid a very reasonable price for where our seats were located, (the family section at Pocono is at track level, which is where we sat) and although we couldn't see the start/finish line, (or Carl do his back flip), we still had fun. So are both races at Pocono worth it? You bet they are, even though it's mostly humid, the miles the drivers put in driving those cars is worth it. After all, the sport is driven by the fans..... right? So please drivers, quit complaining about the track, have fun on The Tricky Triangle, and above all, enjoy your time here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

An article on Pocono and Dr. Rose -- Five things about ... Pocono's Dr. Rose Mattioli

Monday, June 1, 2009


Yay, finally some worth posting!! (as you know by now, I will not post anything negative about Dale Jr) Here they are!!!

Earnhardt pleased with new crew chief

The Hot Pass: Dale Jr. takes positive first step

Earnhardt interim crew chief takes over at Dover

Unless there's others, and if there are I'll post them, that's all I could find for today.

Congrats Brad!!

Autism Speaks 400/Helluva Good! 200

What an awesome day for the 88 team (in both Nationwide and Sprint Cup). Saturday Brad took advantage of a miscue by Kyle Busch and Joey Logano to win his first Nationwide race of the year. (His brother Brian also finished an impressive 16th and was on the lead lap. I saw after Brad won, Brian drove by to congratulate his brother.) On Sunday, Dale Jr was optimistic and ran as high as 3rd. He finished 12th and moved up one spot to 18th in the standings. Congrats to Jimmie Johnson as he tamed "Miles the Monster." Next week the big boys visit my home state of Pennsylvania at Pocono Raceway. I won't be there in person, but I will sure attend in spirit!!!