Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More on the S2 stock car

The new S2 stock car that will begin racing at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in July received favorable reviews from drivers at the track on Saturday night.
One criticism, however, was why did it take so long to introduce it.
For Rich DeLong III, a driver from Santa Clarita in the NASCAR Super Trucks and Super Stocks divisions, said if he knew about the new division sooner, he might have considered racing in it.
The cost of the new S2 cars, described as an economy sportsman class, will run about $25,000 to start and around $12,000 to maintain for a full season, according to Jeff Schrader, the president of Race Car Factory which will be preparing and distributing the cars. By comparison, the cars in the Super Stocks division can cost as much as $40,000 and can run a team around $20,000 to maintain and service through the season.
Logan Henson, a driver from Valencia in the NASCAR Late Model division at the track, said the introduction of the new S2 series is about five years too late.
“All in all I think it’s a good idea,” Henson said. “It’s got the look of tomorrow. It’s definitely better than the Late Models. It’s a good idea going all spec like the trucks.”
Like the Super Trucks division at the track, the S2 series will be a spec division, meaning the engines and parts will be uniform. Theoretically, the cars, from the tires to the carburetors to the bodies, will be identical. Of course teams can make slight adjustments to the engines and set ups on the cars, but they will all be as identical as possible when they are built.
Schrader is anticipating anywhere from 10 to 20 cars to compete in the S2 series. There will be at least four, all from Tim Huddleston’s High Point Racing team, based in Simi Valley. Schrader said he has at least 10 other drivers and teams interested in the new car.
Other tracks have expressed interest in the new car as well. All-American Speedway in Roseville and the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway are two nearby tracks that are keeping tabs on how successful the new series is at Irwindale, according to Schrader.
The goal for the new series is to compete on a national level. Schrader compared it to the Legends class, which started at local tracks in North Carolina and is now a national series. Tracks across the country have a Legends division, mainly geared toward younger drivers under the age of 16.
It is where Kurt and Kyle Busch, drivers from Las Vegas in the Sprint Cup Series, turned some of their first laps in their racing careers.
The S2 division will make its debut at Irwindale on July 4 with an exhibition race. The first official race will be the following Saturday night, July 11, and kick off a seven-race schedule.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Good day for Kevin Harvick Inc. at Martinsville

It was a good day for Kevin Harvick Inc. at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. Kevin Harvick won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville on Monday. Ron Hornaday Jr., driver of the No. 33 Chevy Silverado for Kevin Harvick Inc., was second, his best finish at the track in 14 Truck Series starts.
The race was postponed because of weather. It was scheduled for Saturday night, but the race was rained out.
Harvick, who races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Richard Childress Racing and has teams in the Truck and Nationwide Series, won the fourth Truck Series race of his career.
“That was a lot of fun and our truck was really good,” said Harvick, a driver from Bakersfield. “I just want to thank everyone in the grandstands today. To come out here on Monday to watch a truck race. A brand new Triad chassis here and they built this truck in 10 days to come here and try a lot of new things out. It all worked out. The truck was pretty tight but in the end it was good enough to win.”

Hornaday, a three-time Truck Series champion who used to race at Saugus Speedway, moved into third place in the Truck Series standings after four races. His previous best finish at Martinsville was third.
“Like I said, I knew that the boss wasn’t going to do nothing to mix up the start,” Hornaday said. “When I looked in mirror to see where (Mike) Skinner was laying back I tried to lay back another second and the boss already took off. I didn’t let him have that one, I kind of ran in on him in the corner. One more lap I might have had to move him for the win.”
Ricky Carmicheal, another driver for Kevin Harvick Inc. making his first Truck Series start at Martinsville, finished 29th.
“Everything was really good until that first spin (on lap 91),” Carmichael said. “I learned a lot today – especially that it’s so tough to come back from a mistake. I was able to get to the finish to gain the experience. My teammates Harv (Kevin Harvick) and Hornaday have run more pace laps here than I’ve had total laps so I needed to learn a lot in a hurry when the green flag fell. We were able to hang on to the lead lap after the first crash, but then the second one (on lap 186) really jacked us up. After that, it was just hanging on by a thread and trying to stay out of the way of the other guys.”

Some quick notes from the NHRA and NASCAR Camping World Series West

Ashley Force Hood won her second NHRA Funny Car event of her career on Sunday.

It looks like the student became the master in the NHRA Funny Car division at Houston Raceway Park over the weekend.
Ashley Force Hood beat Jack Beckman in the finals of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series at Houston Raceway Park on Sunday.
She used to be one of Beckman’s students when he was an instructor at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
“It was great,” Force Hood said, “especially since it came against Jack. He taught me when I first learned to drive and it’s amazing that 10 years later, we’re both driving nitro Funny Cars.”
Force Hood won the second NHRA Funny Car race of her career. For Beckman, it was the best finish he has had so far this year.
“This is just what Denver was for us last year,” said Beckman, a driver from North Hills. “We got back into a final round and we were a tear from that point on. We’ve got a hot rod back underneath us.”
The runner-up finish moved Beckman into sixth place in the Funny Car standings. He entered the Houston races in 11th place and out of the Countdown playoff hunt.
“Ashley and her crew did an awesome job, but we’re right back in this deal again, and we’re going to win, and we’re going to do it next week," Beckman said with a smile.
Force Hood moved up to third place in the Funny Car standings. Ron Capps, Beckman’s teammate at Don Schumchacer Racing, leads the Funny Car standings.
“Today was just my day,” said Force Hood, the 2007 NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year and driver for John Force Racing. “Everything just fell into place for us. I was nervous about the lane because you saw what other cars had done in it. We knew the left (lane) might be a little bit better. I just wanted to go A to B and not make any mistakes.”

The NASCAR Camping World Series West will be in Roseville, Calif., on Saturday night for the second race of its season.
Greg Pursley, who won a NASCAR Weekly Racing Series national championship while racing at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, won the season opener at Thunderhill Raceway in Texas. Pursley, a Canyon High graduate, was making his first start in the West Series in nearly seven years. He has not raced a full NASCAR season since 2005. He won the Weekly Racing Series national championship in 2004.
There have been seven different winners in seven West Series races at Roseville. The West Series races at All-American Speedway now, but only since 2008. There was a 26-year gap between races in Roseville. Eric Holmes and Jason Bowles, a driver from Ontario, won the two races at All-American Speedway last year.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nick Joanides 2-for-2 at Irwindale

Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills won the NASCAR Late Model race at Irwindale. It was his second win at the track this season. He won the NASCAR Super Late Model race at the track last weekend on opening night.
Joanides is the reigning Super Late Model champion at the track. He was the runner-up in the Late Model standings at Irwindale last year.
Tim Huddleston, a driver from Agoura Hills, finished second in the Late Model race, followed by Andrew Myers of Carlsbad. Huddleston won the Late Model championship at Irwindale the past two seasons. Myers said he is only racing a partial schedule in the Late Model division at Irwindale. He also races on the NASCAR Camping World Series West.
For a video interview of Joanides after the race, click here.

S2 car unveiled at Irwindale

The new S2 race car was unveiled at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Saturday night. The will be built by Race Car Factory and will make its debut at the track in July.
High Point Racing has a four-driver team that will compete in the new division. Included in those drivers is Lee Ladd, an Irwindale veteran who will be 69 years old when he starts his first race in the new division.
The track released a seven-race schedule for the S2 division, basically a spec sportsman class. The first race will be an exhibition on July 4, the same night at the NASCAR Camping World Series West race. The first official race will be July 11.
The series is being introduced as an economy class. The cost of a new car is expected to be $25,000. All the cars are being prepared and distributed by Race Car Factory in Irwindale. The spec bodies are being prepared by Five Star Racecar Bodies of Twin Lakes, Wis.
Tim Huddleston of Agoura Hills, the owner of High Point Racing, said he is looking forward to the debut of the new series and his new drivers. For a video interview of Huddleston, click here.
Other drivers at the track said the new series will generate interest and attract new teams to the track.
For a video interview of Rich DeLong III, a driver in the Super Stocks division at the track, and Tommy Mason, a driver in the Classic Stocks division, click here.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bryan Herta feeling Le Bleu

The newly formed Bryan Herta Autosport has landed a primary sponsor for its Firestone Indy Lights team.
Le Bleu water has signed as to fund the team, owned by Herta, a Valencia resident and Hart High graduate, as it prepares for its debut on April 4 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“We at Bryan Herta Autosport are very proud to have Le Bleu join us as primary sponsor for Daniel Herrington and the No. 28 car for the full 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season,” Herta said. “The car looks fantastic in Le Bleu’s corporate colors, and we can’t wait to make our public debut at St. Pete in two weeks. We will be hosting almost 70 guests from Le Bleu at the race and look forward to kicking off this partnership in style with some great results on the track and off.”
Herrington, a driver from Winston-Salem, N.C., is the driver for Bryan Herta Autosport. The Indy Lights will be racing in the Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 19, their only visit to Southern California.

Rich DeLong III tackles two divisions at Irwindale

Rich DeLong III of Santa Clarita is going to be a busy driver at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale this year.
His plan is to race in the NASCAR Super Stocks and the Super Trucks divisions, plus, budget-willing, mix in a couple Late Model races too.
He started his stock car racing campaign on Saturday night at the track in Irwindale in the Super Trucks season opener. He finished 14th, but said he felt like his team is making progress and was happy with the result.
“It was a big improvement from last year where we were with the truck,” DeLong said. “Last year we were a second off the pace. Now we’re two-tenths, three-tenths off where we should be. We’re not in the way anymore. We’re getting where we can be competitive.”
The Super Stocks season opens Saturday night. Last year, DeLong finished second in the Super Stocks standings at the track. He wants to run for a championship this year and he has a car to do it. DeLong is driving the same car that Jimmy Sloan won the Super Stocks championship with in 2005.
“It’s a good car,” DeLong said. “We’re getting it figured out pretty good. Last year, we came up a little short.”

DeLong, Herta and Hornaday

Rich DeLong III of Santa Clarita has big plans for racing at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. Valencia's Bryan Herta lands a sponsor for his newly formed Indy Lights team. Ron Hornaday Jr., the winningest driver in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history, is 0-for-13 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, site of Saturday's race.

Read more in The Signal.

Jimmie Johnson, Martinsville and grandfather clocks

Jimmie Johnson has five wins at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, site of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Coming off a strong run at Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend, Johnson looks like he’s back on track after a slow start. The three-time Cup Series champion almost always has a good race at Martinsville. In addition to his five wins, he has 10 top fives in 14 career Cup starts at the track.
“We’ve had fast cars and it was nice last weekend to not only talk about having a fast car, but to deliver and show what we have,” Johnson said. “I’m fired up about this weekend and looking forward to everything that this track has to offer. Hopefully we can qualify. I’m excited to be here.”
Qualifying could be rained out today at Martinsville. Not that it seems to matter for Johnson, who has won more than a third of his Cup races at the track. The winners at Martinsville get a grandfather clock as a trophy. Johnson obviously has five of them.
“I have one in my office. And then I have kind of a warehouse I put together and I have the other four displayed there. They’re just awesome,” Johnson said. “I think the size of the trophy really gets our attention. It could be a $4 plastic trophy, but if it were eight feet tall we’d all love it. Just the size and taking a big trophy home is really cool. But it is a beautiful trophy that they’ve done a great job with. I’ve built a special spot for them and have lights shining on them and they look really good.”

Grading Ricky Carmichael

NASCAR driver and owner Kevin Harvick was asked about Ricky Carmichael’s progress before the races at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. Carmichael is driving for Kevin Harvick Inc. in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and will be entered in the race at Martinsville this weekend.
Harvick owns teams in the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series in addition to driving at the Sprint Cup Series level for Richard Childress Racing.
“When we started Ricky’s program, we took him to a couple of tests and kind of wanted to evaluate where he was from a drivers standpoint before we even started going down the Truck road,” Harvick said. “He got it; he gets it. He’s a racer and he understands what he’s doing and he’s very well motivated to do the things he needs to do. The good part about Ricky is you don’t have to teach him anything that comes with money, surroundings, life in general. He’s already got that figured out from his career and he has a great foundation for life in general, so the main thing we have to teach Ricky is to get him experience on the racetrack and teach him the things that come with driving the truck.”

The team started with Carmichael racing a limited schedule. But he has performed so well on the track that the team has added some races to his schedule. The Martinsville race was a late addition.
“He got up to speed right off the bat,” Harvick said. “He’s kind of sent us into a tailspin just because he’s been so good at all of the racetracks we’ve taken him to and he’s run in the top 10. Obviously, he’s been run over a couple of times and been in the wrong spot, but for the most part he’s gotten up to speed fast and performed well. We’re trying to fill holes now to try to finish the season. We started with 14 races and added a couple along the way and we’ll continue to do that as long as the sponsorship is found.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nick Joanides comments on Rip Michels and Travis Thirkettle

It wasn't that surprising to see Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills win the NASCAR Super Late Model season opener at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.
The drivers who finished second and third were a little unexpected. Luis Martinez Jr. and Matt Hicks, a couple of youngsters in the Super Late Model division, overshadowed a couple Irwindale veterans on opening night.
They finished ahead of Rip Michels, a driver from San Fernando and the winningest driver in Irwindale history, and Travis Thirkettle, a driver from Newhall and the runner-up in the Super Late Model standings at the track last year.
Michels finished seventh and Thirkettle was 12th.
To hear what Joanides had to say about their race, click here.

Rich DeLong III from Toyota Speedway at Irwindale

Rich DeLong III of Santa Clarita said before the NASCAR Super Trucks race at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale that thought he had a top-10 truck. Turns out he had a 14th-place truck.
All things considered, it was not a bad opening night for DeLong, a rookie in the Super Trucks division.
He will be racing in the Super Stocks division at the track this year and might even enter a few Late Model races. The Super Stocks season opens Saturday night at Irwindale. He was second in the Super Stocks standings last year.
For video of DeLong talking about opening night at Irwindale and racing in the Super Trucks division, click here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jack Beckman gets nostalgiac for drag racing

Jack Beckman, NHRA Funny Car driver for Don Schumacher Racing, will test his foot at the 28th annual Funny Car Fever at Sacramento Raceway Park on April 24-25. Beckman will drive one of Lee Jennings' nostalgia Camaros, pictured above, in the drag races in Sacramento.
"Ever since I was 7 years old I have always dreamed of driving a nitro Funny Car," said Beckman, a driver from North Hills and the 2003 NHRA Super Comp champion. "Next month I get to drive two of the best in the country: Don Schumacher's Vavoline/MTS Dodge Charger and Lee Jennings Sr.'s 'American Revolution' Chevy Camaro.
"Being a sportsman competitor for over 22 years, I have raced at Sacramento Raceway dozens of times. It will be awesome to come back and perform in front of some of the best drag-racing fans there. I’m crossing the days off until April 24."

Some quick notes…

Kevin Harvick, winner of last weekend’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motorspeedway in Tennessee, will be driving his own truck in the Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville on Saturday night. He will be in the No. 2 Chevrolet Silverado for Kevin Harvick Inc.
His Nationwide Series win at Bristol was the fifth of his career, the most of any NASCAR driver at the track.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of pressure that I’ve put on myself, probably more pressure than any of the guys wants to see at the shop over the last year, but it’s been well worth the reward,” said Harvick, a driver from Bakersfield and driver of the No. 29 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing in the Sprint Cup Series. “And I guess it’s kind of fitting that it came on what’s been my most successful track in the Nationwide Series (Bristol), and I'm just glad it all finally happened.”

NHRA Funny Car driver Jack Beckman is off to a slow start. Not a horrible start, but in comparison to his Don Schumacher Racing teammates, he is struggling.
He is 11th in the Funny Car standings and has only two quarterfinal appearances so far this season. His teammate, Ron Capps, has won two Funny Car events so far this year. His other teammate, Matt Hagan, made the semifinals at Gainesville, Fla., a couple weeks ago.
The NHRA is at Houston Raceway Park in Texas this weekend. Beckman is looking for better results.
“We’ve run OK this year, but we haven’t necessarily benefited from any racing luck,” said Beckman, a driver from North Hills. “It’s very early in the season and we have plenty of time to get back on our game, but you don't want to let too many races pass you by. And I’ve said before that there isn’t any reason that by the time we leave Vegas (the race immediately following Houston) we shouldn’t have a trophy in our hands. Hopefully, it will happen in Houston.”

Three high school students from San Bernardino received grants from Auto Club Speedway and the NASCAR Foundation.
Joseph Escobar, a senior at Chaffey High School, was presented a $1,000 check for a presentation on the 2008 U.S. presidential candidates and mock election with over 600 students participating. With the grant money, he plans to create a program that would encourage students to visit the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance.
AB Miller High School seniors Denise Magana and Melanie Martinez were also presented a $1,000 check which they will use to create a book filled with personal stories written by students at the high school. A copy of the book will be placed into the collections at the Lewis Library and Technology Center in Fontana.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Luis Martinez makes impressive run at Irwindale

Luis Martinez Jr., a driver from Long Beach, opened some eyes at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Saturday night.
Martinez finished second in the NASCAR Super Late Model season opener, rallying through the field and challenging race winner Nick Joanides in the closing laps.
No one's eyes were bigger than Joanides' when he saw Martinez in his rear view mirror on the last lap of the race.
If the race went a few more laps than the scheduled 100, Martinez had a chance to run down Joanides.
Click here for a video of how Martinez described the last laps of the Super Late Model race at Irwindale.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Joanides wins Super Late Model season opener at Irwindale

Nick Joanides won the season opener in the NASCAR Super Late Model division at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Saturday night.
The driver from Woodland Hills, the reigning Super Late Model champion at the track, overhauled his car after qualifying. In a way, he was a bit lucky. He qualified eighth, but an inverted start put him on the front row. He took the lead in the 100-lap race on the second lap and held on for the rest of the race.
Click here for a video of Joanides talking about the changes his team made to his car and how he won the race.

RJ Johnson struggles on opening night at Irwindale

RJ Johnson won the last two NASCAR Super Trucks races of the 2008 season at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. But he struggled in the season opener at Irwindale on Saturday night.
He finished 13th after running in the top three for the first part of the race.
Before the race, he talked about his hot finish last year and if he could carry that momentum into 2009.
Click here for a video of how Johnson prepared for opening night at Irwindale.

NASCAR Super Late Model season opener at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale

Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills won the NASCAR Super Late Model championship at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale last year. There were 34 cars that showed up for opening night at Irwindale on Saturday. It would be an understatement to say the competition will be a little tougher this year.
Click here for video of Joanides talking about returning to the track as the reigning Super Late Model champion.

NASCAR Super Trucks season opener at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale

Pat Mintey Jr. started his NASCAR Super Trucks season at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on a winning note. He won the season opener Saturday night, passing Todd Cameron for the lead on lap 29 of the 35-lap race.
Mintey, a driver from Quartz Hill, is the reigning Super Trucks champion at the track. He's won the past two Super Trucks championships and is the first two-time champion in the division.
Click here for video of Mintey before the race as he talked about being the reigning Super Trucks chamnpion and what it will take to repeat.

Opening night at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale

It's opening night at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.
The NASCAR AC Delco Super Late Models, King Taco Super Trucks, Justice Brothers Mini Stocks and Pick Your Part Outlaw Figure 8s. are on tap to race. It's a cool and overcast night, which should make for a fast track.
Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills is the reigning Super Late Models champion at the track. Pat Mintey Jr. from Quartz Hill won last year's Super Trucks championship. Rich Garver of Torrance won the Mini Stocks championship and Steve Stewart of Long Beach was the Outlaw Figure 8s champion.

Friday, March 20, 2009

From cheerleader to Ventura Raceway

When the junior midgets take the track at Ventura Raceway on Saturday night there will be one car that stands out.
It will be a black and pink midget driven by 15-year-old Michaela Stanton. She's a sophomore at Camarillo High School, a member of the color guard and a retired competitive cheerleader, at least for the time being anyway.
She gave up her pom-poms for clutches and roll cages. She'll start in the junior midget class, but her goal is to race in the sport compact class, one of the adult divisions at the tiny seaside dirt track at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.
In a couple ways, she's on the same path as Danica Patrick, the poster girl for the IndyCar Series. Patrick was a cheerleader in high school, but her passion was always in race cars. Michaela has that same love for racing.
"I just fell in love with the sound of the cars and everything," said Michaela. "I didn’t really know much about the group I was getting into until I actually went and drove them. I fell in love instantly. I follow along with NASCAR somewhat, but I’m not really into NASCAR. I’m really into World of Outlaws and dirt racing."
Michaela has found a second home on the dirt track at Ventura Raceway.
"There’s just something about the dirt," she said. "It’s a lot more fun. In dirt there is a lot more competitiveness, because you can try to move up spots. Whereas asphalt, it takes a while before you can move up a spot or get bumped back. It’s a lot more challenging.

Beckman takes time off to visit Air Force base

The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series has a week off before the teams and drivers head to Houston for the next event.
Jack Beckman, a Funny Car driver for Don Schumacher Racing, spent his time off catching up with an old friend. Maj. Anthony Puente of the U.S. Air Force and Beckman were in the service together back in the 1980s. Beckman visited his Maj. Puente's maintenace squadron at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamagardo, N.M., and talked about how similar it is being part of an NHRA team and a crew member on an Air Force squadron.
"The Maintenance Squadron Commander is Major Anthony Puente," said Beckman, a former Air Force sergeant who calls North Hills home, "and he and I served back in the 1980s together at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, N.M. We got talking and we discovered tons of parallels between the maintenance crews and being a part of an NHRA team.
"At this event they were presenting awards to the outstanding airmen, senior NCOs and officers throughout the squadron. The entire wing of the F117 Stealth fighter was decommissioned and they're currently ramping up with the new F22 Raptor, so there's been a lot of changes there in the last year. And they're recognizing now that they've outperformed the Air Force standards in switching the aircraft and getting up to speed."

Take that Fontana

Kevin Harvick was asked why the fans like watching races at Bristol Motor Speedway so much. His answer was a snipe at the crowds that show up at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
“Well, there are a lot more fans here than there are in California, so it has got to be more exciting to watch,” Harvick said.
Yes, the crowds at Auto Club Speedway pale in comparison to Bristol. How so many people can fit into a half-mile oval boggles my mind. But what else are you going to do in east Tennessee on a Saturday night in March? It's a rhetorical question. I don't really want to know the answer.
Never at a loss for an opinion, Harvick offered his thoughts on the Chase and how it affects how drivers race before the final 10 races of the year.
"I think that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard," Harvick said. "If it is about winning the most races, the other ones just don’t count? In my opinion, it is all about 10 races (the Chase) and when you have problems, it is all about the guy who can fix his car and it is about the guy who can come back and make something out of a loose wheel and make up two laps and to me it takes an element of the sport away because if you aren’t going to win and you are having a bad day, what the consequences of just pulling in?”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

One more for Carmichael

Ricky Carmichael will race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia in the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series on March 28, the team announced today. Oakley will foot the bill, and at this rate, Carmichael might race the entire season.
It's the second race Kevin Harvick Inc. added to Carmichael's schedule.
“I’m really pumped for Martinsville," Carmichael said. "This is the first short track for us in the Truck Series this season, so it’s the first time I’m going into a weekend with at least some sense of what to expect. I have some short-track experience, so I’m already ahead of where I’ve been before practice started for the first three races. It’s been completely new for me every week up until now."
Carmichael has started three Truck Series races this year, his best finish an eighth-place at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The truck he will be racing is one of Ron Hornaday's winning trucks. Hornaday is Carmichael's teammate at Kevin Harvick Inc. and the winningest driver in Truck Series history. The truck won a race at Memphis Motorsports Park and led 158 laps in the fall 2008 race at Martinsville.
“We tested at Rockingham and it went really well," Carmichael said. "There was a Cup team there the same day, and the team tells me we were running laps times that were very competitive with them."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bowyer and 'The Biggest Loser'

NASCAR Driver Clint Bowyer, center, and host Alison Sweeney get instructions from ‘The Biggest Loser’ Director Neil DeGroot. (Photo Courtesy Auto Club Speedway)

Clint Bowyer was at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on Wednesday to shoot an episode of “The Biggest Loser,” which airs on NBC. The show with Bowyer is scheduled for March 24 at 8 p.m.
Having General Mills as the primary sponsor on his Richard Childress Racing car gave Bowyer the opportunity to appear on the show.
“With a new sponsor like General Mills, a lot of opportunities are going to present itself,” said Bowyer of the show which challenges and encourages overweight contestants to shed pounds in a safe and recommended manner through comprehensive diet and exercise. “Being on the set of ‘The Biggest Loser’ really opens your eyes to how big this show really is. It’s a great honor to be here and see the sacrifices these guys have to go through to be part of this.”
It's a great idea to eat healthy and exercise, but using a NASCAR race track as the back drop might send some mixed signals. I have yet to find anything healthy to eat at the race track. There's plenty of good things to eat, especially if you ever wander through the infield on race day, but there aren't are lot of low-fat, fruit and vegetable type entrees being served.
However, the track is so big, it's hard not to exercise. Walking around the track all day at least makes me feel better about eating nothing but hot dogs and hamburgers when I'm there.
Wonder how hard it would be to set up a salad bar somewhere at the track.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pursley wins West Series opener

Greg Pursley, making his return as a full-time driver in the NASCAR Camping World Series West after a seven-year absence, won the race at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, Texas, Saturday night.
Pursley led only one lap, and it came on a green-white-checkered flag ending to the race. Pursley was in third place, behind Mike David and Eric Holmes, on the last restart of the race. David spun out on the white flag lap. Holmes got caught up in David's spin and Pursley was able to pass both drivers to win the race.
“You know what happens on a green-white-checkered,” said Pursley, driving the No. 26 Chevrolet for Gene Price Motorsports. “Mike David and Eric Holmes were running each other really, really hard. He (David) got into Turn 1 pretty hard and got up on Eric Holmes and I got under him. He turned down on me. That was it. It definitely wasn’t intentional. Me and Mike are good friends. We’ve always raced clean together. Hopefully, he’ll get over it after a while.”
It was Pursley's 17th career West Series start. The last time he was a full-time driver in the West Series was in 2002. He has made a handful of starts in the West Series since that 2002 season, but has not raced a full West Series schedule in seven years.
He won the 2004 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series national championship while racing in the NASCAR Super Late Model division at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.
“I’m definitely happy,” Pursley said after the race at Thunderhill. “We’ve got a great bunch of guys here and a great team. Racing is a lot of fun in this series.”
The next West Series race is at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., on April 4.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

From Pursley to Hornaday, Ventura to Irwindale

Greg Pursley returns to the NASCAR West Series. Ron Hornaday Jr. still doesn't like the new Truck Series rules. Ventura Raceway opens tonight. Toyota Speedway at Irwindale opens next weekend.
Read more in The Signal.

Friday, March 13, 2009

From 2 to 88

When the AMA Suzuki Superbike Challenge rolls into Auto Club Speedway in Fontana in a couple weeks, followers of the series might notice a significant change on Jamie Hacking's bike.
The three-time AMA champion will be racing the No. 88 Kawasaki for the Irvine-based Monster Energy Attack team instead of his customary No. 2.
Apparently Hacking had his number taken by another rider. He said he decided on the No. 88 because of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who races the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and has the No. 88 on his own stock car in the Nationwide Series.
“He lives close to where I do and I thought it would be a good way to represent North Carolina," Hacking said. "Also since our sport is now owned by the France’s, it seemed good to tie in NASCAR with motorcycle racing. I ran the No. 2 for 11 years and I’ve already moved on and really like the No. 88 better."

Sprint Cup drivers and their off weekend

After four straight weeks of racing, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers and teams have a weekend off. But that doesn't mean it's all R and R.
Michael Waltrip is going to be on an episode of "My Name is Earl." Kyle Busch is going to visit the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Scott Speed is going to hang out with his future in-laws at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series at the Gator Nationals in Gainesville, Fla., this weekend. Here's a look at what these drivers have to say about their free weekend.
“I am proud to be a part of this show as it always tells a great story about Earl’s need to do good things for people," Waltrip said about getting a chance be part of the "My Name is Earl" TV show. "How he gets to the resolution is absolutely hilarious. This experience is going to be a lot of fun for me. I play myself and I help Earl and his brother Randy get out of a big jam.”

Busch is going to Park City, Utah, and visiting some of the sites of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Amazing he didn't find a stock car race to enter. Still, he might find a way to sneak in a bobsled race or maybe even a super-G run in Utah.
“Me being the face of NASCAR isn’t what I’m looking for -- I’m just looking for reasons to fill up the record books and everything I guess, and put my name in it as many times as I can," Busch said. "It will still go on even when I’m not here later. We’ve proven that fact with a bunch of other drivers that have made this sport what it is today. I’m just fortunate enough to be another one of those guys to be a part of it.”
Speed's fiance, Amanda Mathis, has two family members racing in the drags in Florida. Her brother, Matt Smith, won the 2007 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship and races for Don Schumacher. Her father, Rickie, is a seven-time IHRA champion and will be entered in the NHRA Pro Modified division in Gainesville.
“Amanda and I are going to Gainesville this weekend for the NHRA race," Speed said. "Amanda’s dad and brother are both racing down there so we are going to check out a different form of racing this weekend.”

Ventura Raceay opens Saturday night

Ventura Raceway Association Sprints and IMCA Modifieds highlight opening night at Ventura Raceway at Seaside Park near the fairgrounds.

More in the Daily News.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pursley prepares for West Series opener

Greg Pursley is returning to the NASCAR West Series after a seven-year absence. He hasn’t raced a full season since 2005, when he was on the old Southwest Series.
Like many drivers, Pursley has not been able to secure any kind of sponsorship or funding to race regularly since the 2005 season. This coming the year after he won the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series national championship while racing at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.
“The sponsors I had kind of went by the wayside,” Pursley said. “Sponsors are hard to come by at this point in time. I didn’t have the money to race on my own, so I did what I could. That’s when I started crew chiefing Mike Price and helping those guys out.”

Price was racing at Irwindale. His dad, Gene Price, got behind Pursley and will provide him with the funds and support to run the entire NASCAR Camping World Series West season, which starts Saturday night at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, Texas.
Gene Price Motorsports has four cars, two old Cup cars from Richard Childress Racing, one of the old Hendrick Motorsports cars from the NASCAR Busch Series and a road course car from Kevin Harvick Inc. The team was testing in Las Vegas at the Bullring last week in the Hendrick car in preparation for the West Series opener.
The team brought both Childress cars to the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale in January, but Pursley crashed in qualifying on a wet weekend of racing. Persistent rain washed out the first day of racing at the track and created slick conditions on the track.
“I had high hopes for that race,” Pursley said. “We tested a couple times and our car was really fast. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t run the car the night before when they had the practices. We didn’t want to get into any trouble or have the possibility of getting into a wreck. In actuality, I wish we almost would have ran it just to see how the car was.”
Thunderhill opens a 13-race season for the West Series. The West Series teams and drivers will race at Irwindale on July 4.
“Mentally, I’m kind of going into it as it’s a brand new season, a brand new series for me,” Pursley said. “I want to be smart about it. I want to finish top three this year. I don’t want to be wrecking cars and doing stupid stuff. We going to go into it with excellent equipment and Gene’s backing me 100 percent. We have a really good group of guys. I can’t wait to start.”

Monday, March 9, 2009

NASCAR Camping World Series West opener

The NASCAR Camping World Series West opens at Thunderhill Raceway in Texas on Saturday night.
Eric Holmes of Escalon, Calif., comes in as the reigning West Series champion and the only repeat winner at the .375-miles track in Kyle, Texas.
Holmes won the races at Thunderhill in 2006 and 2008. Coincidentally, the years he won the race at Thunderhill were also the years he won the West Series championship.
Steve Portegna won the race in 2005 and Scott Lynch won it in 2007. This will be the fifth year Thunderhill Raceway has hosted a West Series race.
Other notes of interest for the West Series opener:
  • The race at Thunderhill opens a 13-race West Series schedule. This will be the only visit to Texas for the West Series drivers.
  • The qualifying record at Thunderhill was set by Mike Duncan in 2007. He turned a qualifying lap in 14.836 seconds (90.995 mph). The race record was set by Holmes on April 19, 2008 (1 hour, 1 minute, 57 seconds and an average speed of 54.479 mph).
  • In four races at Thunderhill, there have been four different pole winners. In addition to Duncan, Holmes, Mike David and Scott Gaylord have set fast times for a race at the track.
  • The race will be broadcast on Speed on March 25 at noon Pacific Daylight Time.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Jimmie Johnson and the luck of the beard

Jimmie Johnson was asked if his new beard was bad luck, given his slow start to the season.
Johnson is coming off his third straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, but has not been much of a factor in the first three races of the year.
He isn't about to blame his beard, not yet anyway.
“I’ve heard a variety of opinions from the fans," Johnson said. "Some love it and some hate it. But again, if momma likes it, it’s staying. I disagree on the unlucky thing. We’ve created most of the issues we’ve had. It hasn’t been the beard.”
The Cup drivers are at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile track, this weekend, then off to Bristol and a string of short tracks. Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee is the first of the short tracks.
“Maybe the beard will bring luck to Bristol,” Johnson said with a laugh.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Harvick happy with turnaround in Las Vegas

We'll never know if Kevin Harvick had a car that could contend with Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Harvick was running with the leaders, but his engine blew late in the race and brought out one of the few cautions for on-track incidents in the race.
Harvick and his Richard Childress Racing teammates, two of them anyway, put up some strong runs at Las Vegas. Two drivers, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton, were in the top 10. Harvick was 12th, but led some laps and said his car was strong after blowing an engine the previous week in Fontana.
“It was great," Harvick said. "The team led a lot of laps last week. Our car ran well. We had one run where we got off and then got caught on pit road under green. Came back and made something out of our day. Our car ran fine at California."
His car might have run "fine" in California, but engine problems plagued several drivers on several teams at Fontana. Hendrick and the Toyota teams are looking for answers to their engine struggles. Harvick said he was impressed with how the teams and Richard Childress Racing prepared for the Vegas race.
“The other three teams really turned their stuff around from California to Vegas and ran well," Harvick said. "Pretty impressive for what everybody did during the week in the parking lot or at Brendan Gaughan’s shop out there in Las Vegas to turn everything around. To make our cars as good as they were last week was pretty impressive for the guys. Just glad to see them use all the tools that they had to make the stuff better.”

Ford: 2-for-3 so far

When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season started, the Ford teams, led by Roush Fenway Racing, were expected to win some races.
What wasn't expected is that Matt Kenseth would win the first two races of the year. This from a driver who did not win a single race in 2008. This from a driver who won only one race when he won Cup championship.
Many believe because of that one-win championship the Chase for the Cup was implemented to determine champions.
One of the benefactors of Ford and Kenseth's great start is a fan from Bakersfield. Edward Dudley-Roby is a winner in the We Race, You Win national sweepstakes. After Kenseth won the race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Dudley-Roby was selected as the winner of trip to Ford Championship Week at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20-22. Every time a Ford driver wins a race, a winner is selected to be a guest of Ford for the season-finale Cup race.
The winners are also entered in a drawing for a 2010 Ford Fusion.
To enter the contest, go to

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kyle Busch adds Iowa

This is why it's hard not to like Kyle Busch. He'll race anywhere, anytime, against anyone. Reminds me of A.J. Foyt, unlike that other driver who is running his number and claims to be a Foyt fan.

Ashley Force and Reba McEntire

Because I can't get enough of Ashley Force Hood, and most of you can't either, here she is at the Cal State Fullerton Front and Center fundraiser at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday night. Force Hood, a driver in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car division and a Cal State Fullerton grad, got to introduce Reba McEntire and took part in some of the numbers.
“The event helped raise money for the scholarship program and they had a great turnout and packed the Honda Center with guests in support of Cal State Fullerton," Force Hood said. The school’s theater students did amazing song and dance performances including a song about me and my career and they all were dressed in our Castrol GTX uniforms! It was really neat and they did a great job. I got up onstage and spoke about the importance of my education and how it’s helped with my success in NHRA drag racing. Then, I got to introduce Reba! She came on and performed a concert that was fantastic. I got to meet her afterward along with some of her stage crew who are big drag race fans, and she is a really nice lady, and a great performer. I will definitely be a Reba fan for life.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

NASCAR, NHRA head east

NASCAR and the NHRA made their winter visits to the West Coast. NASCAR will be in Georgia at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend after racing in Fontana and Las Vegas. The NHRA heads to Florida for the Gatornationals in Gainesville.
I'm still trying to figure out how Matt Kenseth can win the first two races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and be third in the Cup standings.
Kenseth ended up 43rd and last at Las Vegas, barely completing one lap before having to withdraw. He was trying to become the first NASCAR driver to win the first three races of the Cup season.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever dropped out on lap one before," Kenseth said after the race in Vegas. "It’s never really easy. We didn’t even really get to race (Sunday) and we qualified bad, so it was a pretty long weekend for nothing. It’s disappointing no matter what. I’m glad we did great the last two weeks, but, really, you take it one week at a time and shift your focus to that race each and every week, so it’s always disappointing when something like that happens.”

Jeff Gordon, winless since 2007, is leading, with Clint Bowyer in second. Bowyer in second place might be the most bizarre thing about the Cup standings after three races. Seeing Michael Waltrip in the top 12 is a little surprising too. But what has Bowyer done in the first three races, except complain about his garage spot at Fontana?
Nothing against Bowyer, but it's not like he's been much of a factor in the first three races. He had a good run in Vegas, but that's about it.
As for the NHRA, Ron Capps came out as the surprise leader in the Funny Car standings. He won the first two events of the year, at Pomona and Las Vegas.
Capps said the great start to the 2009 season started in the 2008 season finale in Pomona when Ace McCulloch started overhauling his car.
"When we left Pomona, even though we ran good, he completely re-did the tune-up on the car, went back to basics, and started from scratch, redid the whole car," Capps said. "When we showed up in West Palm for our first test session, we were the quickest car every session. Then when we went to Phoenix for pre-season testing, we wanted to test a lot of things. When we rolled into Pomona, we were a little bit apprehensive but a little bit confident. We weren’t sure how the weekend was going to go. To win there, it just proved that a lot of hard work paid off."
Antron Brown is atop the Top Fuel standings. Jason Line leads the Pro Stock standings.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Add one more for Ricky Carmichael

Kevin Harvick Inc., added another race to Ricky Carmichael's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule after impressive runs at Daytona International Speedway and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
Carmichael, an AMA motocross rider turned stock car driver, will be entered in this weekend's Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“This is like a home race for me,” said the 29-year old Carmichael, who resides in Tallahassee, Fla. “Atlanta was always great to me when I raced here in Supercross, and I cannot wait to get on track at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I appreciate Monster Energy and Kevin and DeLana (Harvick, team owners) for adding this race to my schedule."

Carmichael finished eighth in the Truck Series race in Fontana, and was the highest finishing rookie in the race. He'll be racing the same truck he had at Fontana.
“I learned so much in the race at California, I was anxious to race again as soon as I could to put all of that into action," Carmichael said. "I wanted to race again that day if they would have let me. I was scheduled to wait until Kansas (Speedway in April) for my next race, so I’m excited and grateful to have any track time I can get and run an extra race.”