Monday, August 24, 2009
As for Brad and the rumor that he is going to run for Penske next year, I'll keep you updated as to whether the rumor is true or not. All I can tell you right now is that Mr. Penske asked for and received permission to speak with Brad about the posibility of him running for Penske full time next year. Brad would take the place of David Stremme and would be teammates with Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. Brad hasn't said whether he will definately go to Penske or not yet. If he would go, this would remove him from the 88 Nationwide car, and I personally don't want to see that happen. I personally have a feeling that Brad would not want to run in anything but a Chevy, and would hope that Tony Stewart would extend an invite for Brad to join he and Ryan at Stewart-Haas Racing. Like I said, I will keep you updated as to what happens with Brad and his future.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- For a guy who only two days earlier had been lambasting NASCAR for allegedly putting a poor product on the tracks much of this season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. sure looked like he was having a whole lot of fun Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.
And for a while, it looked like he might even win a race, too.
In the end, Earnhardt had to settle for third in the Carfax 400 -- but he was coming hard over the final laps and knew he had the fuel to make it. Eventual winner Brian Vickers and second-place finisher Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, weren't nearly as sure that they could make it to the checkered flag without running out of gas.
But while Earnhardt had fresher tires and more gas than the pair running in front of him, he didn't have the time to catch them.
"The way our luck has been, I wasn't sitting there thinking I was in the catbird's seat. I was thinking maybe I'll get on the podium [with a top-three finish]," Earnhardt said.
"I know every one of those guys is real good at saving fuel. We've all gotten smarter, I think, in the last year and a half on some of the tricks you can pull to do that, some of the things we can accomplish under caution to help ourselves."
Earnhardt should know. His last Sprint Cup victory came 43 races ago at the same MIS venue, when he gambled on fuel mileage at the end and barely made it to Victory Lane.
This time, others had to sweat out the fuel-mileage game. Some lost, too. Losers in that gambling affair included two of Earnhardt's other Hendrick teammates -- three-time defending points champion Jimmie Johnson, who ran out of gas with three laps to go; and Mark Martin, who won the Michigan race in June when Johnson and Greg Biffle both ran out of gas in front of him in the final lap and a half.
Johnson attempted to make it 51 laps between fuel stops this time, when in the June race he failed to make it more than 47. It turned out to be a bad gamble and he ended up with a 33rd-place finish to show for it.
As good as Johnson and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, have proven to be overall during the past several seasons, playing the fuel-mileage gamble game obviously is not their forte.
"I'm certainly frustrated," Johnson said. "We've won one race on fuel mileage, ever. It's just not what we are good at. I think it is a little too risky for us to even try it.
"We got lucky once in Phoenix. Outside of that, we always come up short."
Knaus added: "We had the fastest car by a bunch and I hate it for Jimmie and I hate it for all my guys."
Martin was running just outside the top 10 when he ran out of fuel Sunday, relegating him to a 31st-place finish.
Meanwhile, Earnhardt had no such concerns because he pitted earlier while the rest of the top cars stayed out on the track, hoping for a late caution that never came. Earnhardt said afterward that he had to talk crew chief Lance McGrew in letting him come to pit road to take on gas and four tires at the time, figuring it would pay dividends later.
"I knew we had to come in for fuel. Initially, he did not want to," Earnhardt said. "But I was like, 'You know what? Eventually we're going to have to pit and that's going to put us in the back, so why don't we go back there now -- instead of waiting until later when we'll only have a handful of laps to make it back up?' We made the right move."
The third-place finish was Earnhardt's best since grabbing second at Talladega in April. In the 13 races between that one and Sunday's, Earnhardt had finished no higher than 12th and came home in 26th or worse nine times.
He said he is hopeful Sunday's strong run is a harbinger of better times ahead for him and his No. 88 Chevrolet team. They began the season projected as a championship contender, but struggled so badly that team owner Rick Hendrick eventually replaced Tony Eury Jr. with McGrew as crew chief -- a move that hadn't paid many tangible dividends until Sunday.
"We just haven't had nothin' to smile about," Earnhardt said. "So I'm just real happy for Lance and real happy for my guys, my team. Hopefully, this will take a little of the load off of Rick and our sponsors. Hopefully, this will lift them up a little bit and help us build some momentum in the right direction.
"It was a good run [Sunday]. We've seen some other hints where we've been getting better at some other tracks over the last two months. But we finally put a race together where we can appreciate the finish, instead of just having a good car here and there."
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Most of the images of Dale that I find and post here come via daylife.com - I went there tonight just to look around and saw this headline from the site. I think every NASCAR fan, whether JR Nation Crew Member, Shrub fan, or even Hurricane Hamlin fan got teary eyed on Monday when Denny won. I know he wanted this one badly, no so much to end his winless streak, but more so to honor his grandmother. I read in the newspaper today that she was truely his biggest fan. She wore her #11 socks, held her #11 teddybear and watched every race. Even if she had to squint to see the TV, she watched Denny race on TV every week. Denny felt she knew how tough the competition is in NASCAR and knew how much she meant to him. Having said that, here is the picture from daylife.com
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Dale Jr ran great at both races, however problems on the track prevented him from having two great finishes that JR Nation has so been wanting him to have. At Indy, Dale qualified very well (in 3rd) despite having a bad flu bug Friday and Saturday. By Sunday he felt much, much better and ran the entire race. Brad was on standby (by order of Rick Hendrick) in case Dale relapsed and couldn't finish the race under his own power. Dale ran very well until right before halfway, he over-reved the engine while leaving his pit stall. He got to the back-stretch and the engine blew up. Dale had his 3rd DNF of this season and when interviewed said he knew what he did and knew it was his fault. Dale was very happy with his car and said the team planned to take the car to Pocono.
At Pocono qualifying was cancelled and per the NASCAR rule book, the drivers started by points. Dale was in the mid-20's for the majority of the race, but towards the end started to make his way forward. Running in 10th with 10 laps to go, Dale got a little nudge by Ryan Newman and slide his back left quarter-panel into the wall. This slowed him down quite a bit, and he finished 28th. Next week the big boys head to Watkin's Glen International for their second and final road course race of the season. This weeks finish has moved Dale down one spot in the standings.