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This is the archive for February 2007

Just wave the damn flag

I was going to write a blog about NASCAR's first race using unleaded fuel or how yet another driver, Matt Kenseth, swept both races this weekend. Or if I was really desperate and if I liked the guy, I could even write about Junior's common problem of being in a big points hole with the start of the season.

But instead, today's blog is dedicated to the five things NASCAR is doing to make their races and the sport in general more lame, boring or just fucking annoying. The list is not sorted or ranked in any particular order.

1) The pre-race concerts being televised. I honestly have never had the pleasure of attending a race, with none in close proximity, so I can't say whether they've always had them and just not televised them. But enough is enough. We can forgive you one pre-race concert with the Daytona 500... but are you seriously going to start airing a pre-race concert every single fucking time? We don't tune in to watch two hours of pre-race and a music concert. We tune in for you to drop the fucking green flag and let's go racing. If we wanted to listen to music we'd tune into MTV and VH1 between the hours of 1am and 6am.

2) Repeating tracks Yes, we understand there are some tracks that you have been going to over and over again. But do us a favor and get rid of the repeats and bring in new courses. Spread out the love, even to tracks where you don't own a controlling share. You'll still make plenty of money in merchandising, selling ear plugs, etc. Spread the love out to more states and cities and grow your fan base even larger by letting those in states who have never lived near a track have one in driving distance.

3) The lack of road courses! And bring on the road courses! Why we love going hard, fast and left.. we as fans do love the occasional break and love to see it when the guys go right! Give us more road courses to break up the season.

4) A break between races TWO fucking weeks into the season. Even sitcoms wait three or four weeks before bringing in the first break, but with NASCAR we only get two races before you already schedule a break. That's just really obnoxious.

5) Darrel Waltrip -- Okay, he is the most fucking annoying thing about NASCAR. Boogity, Boogity, Boogity go fuck yourself. We are sick of your annoying intro and cannot wait for ESPN to take over the coverage because you're so damn annoying. And your ability to call a race is like Michael Irvin's ability to call a football game -- just because you've participated in the sport doesn't mean you'll make a good announcer. Do us a favor, find a new hobby.

Zis Boom Bah

Daytona 500, 2007

Kevin Harvick and Mark Martin fly towards the finish line, neck and neck as sheet metal and other debris flies in their wake, to give us one of the most exciting finishes to a race in a long time. A race that Clint Bowyer finished going upside down and with his car on fire.

Now, I know that a lot of NASCAR bloggers and journalists out there don't care for the crashes and worry about someone getting injured. But as a fan, I love the crashes. I love the tension. Don't get me wrong, I don't want anyone to get hurt or die in these injuries, but that feeling inherently contradicts my love of the crashes and the exciting finishes, and seeing Kevin Harvick beat Mark Martin by 2/100 of a second to win the 49th annual Daytona 500 was one of the most exciting finishes I'd seen in a while, making it all the more exciting with the big wreck flying behind them.

Now, there is a big argument going on about favoritism in NASCAR, and the lack of penalties that Jeff Gordon received, and a second argument about NASCAR not throwing the caution flag soon enough and these two things go together.

First--NASCAR showed a lack of favoritism by not throwing that caution flag until after the leaders had crossed the finish line. The wreck behind them would not have affected the leaders outcome of the race. What was Mark Martin doing looking in his rear view mirror instead of ahead him? Now, don't get me wrong, I was cheering for Mark Martin to win that race as much of anyone, but he lost it fair and square. Harvick beat him out and Mark Martin finished second (his best finish ever in the 500). If NASCAR would have thrown that caution flag with Martin still ahead--that would have shown NASCAR favoritism. So, maybe next time Mark. I'm sure you won't be able to fully give up racing any time soon.

Second--Jeff Gordon's punishment was fair. The car being too low... it happens frequently in post qualifying. And the punishment is usually the same--sent to the back of the field and your qualifying time doesn't count. Jeff's team's crime was nothing compared to what went down with Waltrip's or any of the other teams. Though, I must say Kahne, Kenseth and the rest of the Evernham Dodge's punishments were too harsh. But I guess NASCAR has decided that the longstanding policy of "if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying" is officially over.

Either way, things are off to a very exciting start. And while controversy and dramatic finishes may overshadow wins (congratulations Kevin Harvick) they do bring more fans to the sport. And in the end, that has to make NASCAR happy.

Valentine's Day Masacre for Waltrip

So, as mentioned the past few days, NASCAR wasn't quite convinced that Michael Waltrip's car had an oil leak. And where there's smoke, NASCAR has found fire. Waltrip's team has been found guilty of violations "12- 4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing), 12-4-Q (car, car parts components and/or equipment not conforming to NASCAR rules) and 20-15.2C (gasoline must not be blended with alcohols, ethers or other oxygenates)." In simple speak, it means that apparently Waltrip's crew chief may have confused the Toyota for a rocket and used some rocket fuel to speed Waltrip up.

As a result, NASCAR provided Waltrip with the following Valentine's Day spankings, and clearly Michael is a masochist:

- Penalized 100 Driver and Owner Championship Points

- Both Crew Chief Hyder and VP of Competition Bobby Kennedy have been ejected from the Daytona 500 and suspended indefinitely.

- And Michael's Crew Chief has been fined $100,000.

Oh, and for good measure, to show Michael Waltrip how much they love him, his primary car has been confiscated.

Clearly, NASCAR intends on giving out some harsh spankings this year. So, crew chiefs.. best not to push your limits this year, unless you're looking for an extended vacation to sit at home and watch the races instead of being part of them.

The car's manufacturer, Toyota, has announced that Waltrip's team has used up two of three strikes. And any team reaching the third strike will lose manufacturer support.

Alright, and in another bit of NASCAR news -- Roush has sold half of the team to Fenway Sports Group, to form Roush Fenway Racing. Jack Roush will maintain control over competitive operations and Geoff Smith will continue on as President and control over business operations.

Time to Unpimp Zee Autos

As first reported yesterday, some of NASCAR teams were behaving naughty at this year's Daytona 500. And while we were sure to mention Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne, we were unaware until today that the entire Evernham Motorsports Nextel Cup team was a naughty bunch at qualifying and they're now paying for it.

Robin Pemberton, VP of Competition at NASCAR, announced the penalties today as he asked the boys to line up for their spankings. Both Kasey and Matt, whose violations were due to "air improperly ducted into the car," suffered the harshest punishments. Both Kenseth and Kahne's teams will be without their crew chiefs for four races, each are being fined $50,000, and the creme da la creme of their punishment is they start the season 50 driver and owner points in the hole.

But the beatings didn't stop there for Evernham Motorsports, as Kasey's teammates Scott Riggs and Elliot Sadler were found with illegal "modifications to the fasteners that hold the rear spoiler to the trunk lid to leak air out of the trunk." Both Riggs' and Sadler's teams will each lose their team crew chiefs for two races apeice, were fined $25,000, and will be docked 25 driver and owner points.

While the teams can appeal their punishments, honestly, what good is it going to do them? And would it be worth appealing it? Or do they hope that they'll get blessed with whatever blessed Jimmy Johnson last year after he lost his crew chief starting at Daytona for illegal modifications? But while they won't be getting a reprieve likely from any part of their sentence, an appeal would allow the crew chiefs to participate in the 500. But is it better to get your punishment over quickly or delay it for a race? That's really the question for these teams now.

There is still no word on Waltrip, whose vehicle is still impounded, but from the sounds of it Mikey didn't have an oil leak in the manifold. It leaves one to wonder what the land of the rising sun will think about illegal modifications on their cars. Will they have their own sanctions for Waltrip? We'll just have to wait and see.

And onto the Duels!

There's only six days, twenty minutes and twelve seconds left until the Daytona 500, but that doesn't mean that Speedweeks at Daytona didn't begin last week. And there is plenty of news to share, especially after yesterday's Daytona 500 qualifying.

First, Robert Yates Racing must be doing something right, because the only two positions determined by yesterday's qualifying went to both David Gilliland, who will sit on the poll and Ricky Rudd who will join Gilliland in the front row when the flag flies at the start of the 500 on Sunday.

Happy times, on the other hand, are not being had by three drivers at the moment. Both Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne's cars failed post-qualifying inspection and their times have been thrown out. So, for the Gatorade Duels on Thursday both Kenseth and Kahne will be forced to start from the back of the field of the second race group. Apparently, both vehicles had holes where there normally should have been seals. Or in "technical rule book, get your crew chief suspended" jargon "unapproved aerodynamic devices." Officially, no crew chiefs have been suspended yet, no fines imposed, but that word should come down later today for both Kenseth's and Kahne's racing teams.

The third driver, Michael Waltrip, has not had his time disqualified, but his car and manifold have been confiscated and impounded following qualification. His original manifold was actually taken before his qualifying run because NASCAR officials discovered what Waltrip's team said was an oil leak in the manifold, but they couldn't find the source of the leak. NASCAR after the race decided to take the car since they don't quite believe that it was an oil leak, and they're not even satisfied that it was even oil. So far, we do not know how long they plan to impound Waltrip's car for -- he's hoping to get it back before Wednesday's practice for the Gatorade Duels. He's also hoping that nothing is found to be in violation, anything that would prevent Waltrip from missing his first Daytona 500 in two decades. During the Duels he'll still need to finish first or second among the drivers who have to race their way into the 500 based on speed.

Most likely James Hylton, age 72, will not be making the Daytona 500 as he had the slowest qualifying time of anyone but Mike Wallace. But the guy still had fun and maybe he'll get lucky in the Duel, but don't put your money on it.

Also, at the moment Team Red Bull and the other Toyotas are desperately seeking something to help them out in their NASCAR debut. And while they may be floundering at Daytona, don't worry, Toyota will throw money at their teams until they do win.

Despite Rich's best hopes, no one was disqualified for drinking and driving on the track, or in Martin Truex, Jr.'s case, drinking and pissing on the track. Sorry Rich, better luck next time.

So, beyond that there isn't much more to report -- most people are still harping on Jr. wanting majority ownership, finally not covering up the fact, anymore, that Teresa is an absentee (though I prefer Kenseth's term of deadbeat) owner. They're going to be using smaller fuel cells. Nothing incredibly exciting, but we'll keep you posted on what the penalties are for Kenseth and Khane -- and if any come down for Waltrip.

Jr. gives his demands for 2008: Majority control of DEI.

Yes, the Worldwide finally gets the story that even Stevie Wonder could see happening. That's right, Teresa's biggest nightmare comes true. Jr doesn't want cash, he wants control. He and sister, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, filed for majority control of DEI. After many pep talks from Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon, the boy finally realizes that he is the fucking man. Unfortunately, Teresa still doesn't have a damn clue.

Jr. stated for the record that, "I want majority ownership, basically." Simple and to the point to where even Scoop Jackson and Jemele Hill have a clue on Jr's intent. As us NASCAR folks here at Sports Bastards would like to say, congratulations for finding your balls again, Dale Jr. We know even though Dad loved boning ol' Teresa many times in life, he'd be proud of you getting your balls back.

To top off the entire cake, negotiations are so screwed, DEI isn't letting the current owner near the table to negotiate. In fact, Teresa isn't involved in anything related to the contract with Jr. Instead DEI's new President of Global Operations, Max Siegel, is running the negotiations. Surprisingly, Max knows how to run a business. Who'd have thought that one? Also the Director of Motorsports, Richie Gilmore, is front and center with Mr. Siegel.

Both men realize Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the cash cow of DEI. In fact, even Jr. himself realizes that he's the cash cow. Teresa's comments, and various digs at her ownership style by other drivers, caused the negotiations to go straight to hell. All involved in the mess, including Richard Childress, are waiting to see if Teresa fucks it up even more or stays out like DEI has recommended she do.

Time will tell if Jr. and Kelley get what they want.

Come on Daytona!

And yet another NASCAR themed update from your girl who just loves things that go fast and go hard.

- NASCAR officials are looking for 30 million dollars for the sponsorship of the soon to be former Busch Series. NASCAR's second series garnered 15 million dollars the last time the series was up for sponsorship, but with the new television deal with ESPN and increased popularity, NASCAR is doubling the price. Companies rumored to be expressing interest in sponsoring the series include Walmart, Subway, Samsung, Allstate and the sponsor that would provide the series with coolest possible name -- Dunkin Donuts.

- Goodyear and NASCAR agreed to a five year contract extension that'll keep NASCAR in Goodyear tires through 2012.

- Only 11 days, 16 hours and 31 minutes and 52 seconds to go until the Daytona 500 at the time of posting.

- Championship provisional may only be used six times during the season now.

- The schedule for Speedweeks has been posted.

- The new design for has officially been launched with lots of snazzy new features. The site is much improved from the previously cluttered design. (And if you didn't notice, the site has also been redesigned.)

- Tony Stewart continues to be a great guy off the track, because while NASCAR still lacks any pension plan for former drivers, Tony Stewart donates out of his own pocket to help out former racers.

- This just in, Tony Stewart still a hypocritical asshole on the track.

- Lacking any other exciting news, everyone is still debating where Dale Jr. will end up next year. (No, at the bottom of a bottle of Budweiser is not an option).

- Remember to comment with your email address if you want to participate in the SB fantasy racing game.