Monday, November 30, 2009
Patrick promotes, Johnson takes care of fans
Patrick has created quite a buzz with her impending entrance into the stock car arena. She is reportedly close to a deal with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Nationwide Series team, JR Motorsports. The details have yet to surface, but her potential move into NASCAR is already creating a stir.
How well she will perform is anybody’s guess. But if history is any indication, it won’t be an easy transition. The only driver who has been able to make a seamless switch from IRL to NASCAR is Tony Stewart. It took Juan Pablo Montoya three years to become a top 10 driver, a Chase driver. It chewed up and spit out Dario Franchitti. Sam Hornish Jr. is in the way more than he is out front these days.
Patrick will have her struggles in NASCAR, even at the Nationwide Series level. But unlike Hornish, Franchitti and even Montoya, Patrick will draw attention. Even if the curiosity level is to see when she crashes and who she takes out, the interest will be there. Montoya is starting to draw that kind of attention, but it took time to build. Patrick has that already established. She will be a topic of conversation, on TV and in cyberspace, every time she gets in a stock car.
As for Johnson, he is doing some pretty amazing things this week. It must feel like Groundhog Day to him, this being his fourth time making the NASCAR championship rounds. His week started today with a visit to Crest Elementary School in El Cajon, the elementary school he attended.
He will make visits to the Camp Pendleton Marine base and a Lowe’s store in Santee to visit with fans and supporters before heading out to Las Vegas for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series awards banquet this weekend.
He will also mix in visits to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and Las Vegas Motor Speedway before Friday’s award ceremonies at Wynn’s Las Vegas.
It’s a lot of pomp and circumstance, but Johnson is making an effort to give back to his community and his fans. His visit to Crest Elementary will end up doing more good than any NASCAR race Patrick decides to enter.
As much criticism as Johnson has received since taking the lead and winning his fourth Chase in a row, he deserves the same amount of praise for going out of his way to do some good deeds this week.
Photo: Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson holds his Tiffany-made Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup trophy 103 floors and 1,454 feet above Manhattan on Tuesday -- Jimmie Johnson Day -- in New York City. (Photo Credit: Empire State Building)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
How Dale Jr. Got the Bird: A One-Act Play
How Dale Jr. Got the Bird
Opening scene: It’s Thanksgiving day at the home of Rick Hendrick. There are two tables set for dinner. The adult table has places for Rick Hendrick, Jimmie Johnson, his wife Chandra, Jeff Gordon, his wife Ingrid, Mark Martin and his wife Arlene. The kids tables has three seats, one for Matt, Mark’s son, Ella, Jeff’s daughter, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Everyone is seated except for Dale Jr. who hasn’t arrived yet.
Rick: Everything looks great. What did everyone bring?
Jeff: I wanted to put together this great cranberry relish recipe I found, but it looked a little too fattening to Ingrid. You have to add so much sugar to cranberries to make them taste good.
Rick: No cranberries, then?
Jeff: Nope. We were looking for something healthy and easy to make. I can’t believe NASCAR has us racing until the middle of November. We’re not machines. It doesn’t give us any time to put together something nice for Thanksgiving.
Rick: So what did you make?
Jeff: Celery sticks. And carrot sticks.
Rick: Oh! Well, that’s nice. Definitely easy.
Jeff: And nutritious. You know, you actually burn more calories chewing celery than the actual calories in the celery. At least that’s what Ingrid told me.
Rick: That’s good to know. How about you, Mark? What did you bring?
Mark: Pies. Lots of pies.
Rick: Ooooh! I love pumpkin pie.
Mark: I didn’t bring pumpkin. I brought a custard pie.
Rick: Custard? That’s nice.
Mark: I also brought an apple pie, a cherry pie and a sweet potato pie.
Rick: But no pumpkin?
Mark: Everyone loves pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. But you know what? Custard is good too. It might be the second favorite pie for Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t mean it’s not good. Just because it’s second-best doesn’t mean people hate it.
Rick: If anything, custard pie is the second-best Thanksgiving pie.
Mark: That’s right. Nothing wrong with being No. 2. For some people, custard pie is No. 1. I like custard pie. I like it better than pumpkin pie. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Rick: Yes, Mark, you’re probably not the only one.
(Ding-dong! The doorbell rings. Rick gets up from the table to answer the door.)
Rick: Hi Dale. Glad you could join us.
Dale: Sorry for being late. I got held up shooting an Amp Energy drink commercial.
Jimmie: You’d think by now you’d get tired of coming in last.
Dale: I was never last.
Jimmie: Oh, that’s right. You were 25th. It went one (pointing at himself), two (pointing at Mark), three (pointing to Jeff), 25 (pointing to Dale). How was the view from there?
Rick: That’s enough. Did you bring anything for dinner, Dale?
Dale: I was supposed to bring something? Nobody told me.
Rick: Don’t worry about it, Dale. There’s plenty for everyone. Besides, it’s not the first time you haven’t brought anything to the table.
Dale: Where do I sit?
Rick: At the kids table.
Dale: The kids table? I’m not sitting there.
Rick: At this point, you’re lucky to have a seat in my house. Maybe next year we can find a better place for you.
(Dale Jr. reluctantly takes his seat at the kids table. Rick returns to his seat at the adult table.)
Rick: So what about you Jimmie? What did you bring?
Jimmie: Mashed potatoes.
Rick: Spicy mashed potatoes? With little jalapenos in them? I love peppers. I hear that’s how they make them down where you grew up.
Jimmie: No. No jalapenos.
Rick: Garlic mashed potatoes? With little pieces of the peel left in? Those are good too.
Jimmie: No. No garlic. Just mashed potatoes.
Rick: How ‘bout gravy? Did you make some gravy? Turkey gravy? Or maybe mushroom gravy? I love gravy.
Jimmie: No gravy. Just mashed potatoes. Plain, white mashed potatoes.
Rick: Well, ummmm, that’s nice.
Jimmie: And look, they’re in the biggest bowl on the table.
Rick: Yes, that’s a lot of mashed potatoes. A lot of flavorless, boring mashed potatoes.
Rick: Nothing. They look great. Everything looks great. Let’s cut the turkey. Dale, would you please come here and do the honors? Everyone, we had a great year. Jimmie’s fourth Cup championship in a row was awesome. We finished 1-2-3, the first team to ever do that in the history of NASCAR. Next year, we’ll have Dale Jr. in the mix. Until then, let’s enjoy Thanksgiving and our time together. Dale, it’s a shame you weren’t in the Chase this year. That shouldn’t happen. We can make you better. It’s going to be better next year. For now, Dale, the best I can do for you is let you have first crack at the turkey. This bird’s for you.
(The scene closes with Dale Jr. cutting the turkey and Rick handing out plates to everyone at the table. Jeff makes a plate for Ella and Matt walks over to stand next to Dale Jr. as he cuts the turkey. Everyone is happy, except for Dale Jr., who sheepishly grins while cutting slice after slice of turkey.)
Monday, November 23, 2009
The NASCAR top 10
He is one of the great ones now. He probably was one before his fourth Cup championship in row. He was asked after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway how his streak stacks up among the greats.
“I think it’s up there,” Johnson said. “You know, the fact that nobody has done this, I think it puts me near the top. I certainly look at the seven championships by both Earnhardt and Petty, their race wins, their being in the sport for the number of years and all that they’ve done, those two guys are kind of at a draw at the top.”
You won’t get much debate from anyone that Richard Petty is No. 1 and Dale Earnhardt is No. 2.
From there though, it gets a little dicey. Here’s a look at how I would rank the top-10 NASCAR drivers off all-time.
1. Richard Petty
2. Dale Earnhardt
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Cale Yarborough
5. Jeff Gordon
6. Darrell Waltrip
7. Junior Johnson
8. Bobby Allison
9. Neil Bonnett
10. Harry Gant
Petty and Earnhardt’s seven championships separate them from the rest of the field. Johnson has four and is tied with Gordon for No. 2 on that list. Yarborough’s three championships in a row are incredibly impressive considering who he was racing against at the time.
Waltrip is on the list because he has become the most recognizable voice in NASCAR. His racing career has almost taken a back seat to his commentary.
Junior Johnson was pardoned by President Ronald Reagan for a moonshining conviction. If that doesn’t scream NASCAR, nothing does.
Allison is one of the founding members of the Alabama Gang. That alone puts him among the NASCAR elite.
Bonnett only won 18 races in 18 years of NASCAR racing. One of them was the Los Angeles Times 500 in 1977.
Gant was the Mark Martin of his day, known for finishing second in NASCAR championships. He does have one of the more impressive records in NASCAR though. He won four races in a row in 1991. All totaled he won six races in September of 1991, four in Cup and two in the old Busch Series.
Jimmie Johnson has a chance to move up in this list. So does Gordon. It will all come down to championships. But both Gordon and Johnson have a lot of work to do if they want to catch Petty and Earnhardt.
“Hopefully my stats and win totals and championship totals can rival theirs,” Johnson said. “But it puts us up there, it really does. And the cool thing is we’re not done yet. We’ve got a lot of racing left ahead of us. So hopefully we can improve on that."
Photo: Jimmie Johnson holds up four fingers to signify his unprecedented four consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Friday, November 20, 2009
Schumacher vs. Johnson: It's no contest
Brad Keselowski is supposed to be the newest NASCAR super villain and all is right with the NASCAR world.
But what has Keselowski done? Won one race? Become the most avoided driver in NASCAR?
NASCAR doesn’t need a super villain. Jimmie Johnson needs a worthy adversary, a rival, a challenger.
After spending the weekend covering the National Hot Rod Assn. Auto Club Finals in Pomona, it is clear that a rivalry does exist there and it’s fueling the top fuel class.
Tony Schumacher and Larry Dixon have a great rivalry brewing. Schumacher has won six straight top fuel championships. Dixon has finished second to Schumacher three times in that span. The latest showdown between the two came down to the semifinals of the last race of the year. Schumacher won by two points, the closest margin of victory in NHRA history.
“It was a classic example of a bases loaded, bottom of the ninth situation,” Schumacher said. “We needed to come up with the big hit and that’s exactly what happened.”
Add to the rivalry that Schumacher’s crew chief, Alan Johnson, left to lead Dixon’s team, and the intrigue increases.
Schumacher has dominated the top fuel class the same way Johnson has dominated the Sprint Cup Series. The only difference is Schumacher has done it longer and under more adverse circumstances. One year Schumacher had to win out in the season finale and set a national record to win the top fuel championship. He did both.
Johnson has not had to perform under such conditions. It’s no fault of his. The rest of the Sprint Cup Series field is just not good enough to challenge Johnson. This year, like most years in the Chase, is over before the season finale in Miami because Johnson built up such a huge lead.
He had one bad Chase race, won four Chase races, and no one else even came close to matching him. His one bad race came at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago, and Johnson is trying to sell that race as a reason for not celebrating too soon.
“Luckily Texas is still really close in my mind and something that I think about,” Johnson said. “And because of what happened in Texas I’m just not letting my guard down. I’m not letting my mind wander and think about the ‘what ifs.’ I'm trying to keep the same focus and mindset that I had in Phoenix. Things obviously went really well there for us.”
Johnson needs to finish 25th or better at Homestead-Miami Speedway to win the Cup championship. Even though he’s not admitting it, he should have no problem being in the top 25 at Miami.
“I am just dying to get in the race car,” Johnson said. “I’m pouring through my notes. I’ve driven hundreds of laps in my mind before I go to bed each night, worrying about qualifying trim, worrying about race trim, all the things I can do to prepare myself on my side. I’m there.”
Schumacher has won his championships with Dixon close on his heels. He’s done it with a different crew chief, having to break records and making clutch runs in the most pressure-packed situations.
“Of all of the championships, this one ranks pretty far up there,” Schumacher said. “Nobody expected us to win a race no less a title. Boy, did we prove them all wrong. I'm already looking forward to the 2010 season.”
The interesting things is, the NHRA could manufacture an element of the Schumacher-Dixon rivalry, but either haven’t noticed it or choose not to notice it.
Schumacher is sponsored by the U.S. Army. Dixon’s team is funded by a sheik from Qatar. There has never been a better time for a natural rivalry between the United States and an Arab nation. But the NHRA isn’t going there. It doesn’t have to. Schumacher and Dixon have a great rivalry without any added manufacturing.
Keselowski is not the savior NASCAR is looking for. He’s not good enough to challenge Johnson. But that’s not a knock on Keselowski. No one in the Sprint Cup Series is good enough to challenge Johnson.
Photo: At top, Tony Schumacher has won six straight NHRA top fuel championships. (NHRA)
At bottom, Jimmie Johnson celebrates winning the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil at Phoenix International Raceway, his seventh victory of 2009. Johnson is on the verge of winning his fourth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Schumacher earns another championship -- latimes.com
Seeing Tony Schumacher wearing one of his National Hot Rod Assn. top-fuel championship leather jackets during breakfast Sunday morning didn't look too much out of place. It was a pretty chilly morning for the NHRA season finale at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
Had it been 100 degrees, Schumacher probably still would have worn one of his six championship jackets. Schumacher, with a hint of premonition, a sprinkle of confidence and proudly donning a reminder of his drag racing dominance, addressed friends and sponsors in the garage area before driver introductions.
Schumacher added to his championship collection and his wardrobe by winning the top-fuel championship by the slimmest of margins.
Schumacher earns another championship -- latimes.com
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Photo: Tony Schumacher celebrates his seventh NHRA top-fuel championship at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
Brown wins NHRA top fuel final at Pomona
Antron Brown beat rookie Spencer Massey in the National Hot Rod Assn. top fuel final at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona on Sunday. It was his sixth top fuel win of the season.
Mike Neff won the first NHRA funny car race of his career, defeating Ashley Force Hood in the final race.
Greg Anderson won the pro stock final race, beating Kurt Johnson.
Eddie Krawiec beat Doug Horne in the pro stock motorcycle final.
Brown wins NHRA top fuel final at Pomona
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Is it time for John Force to put it in park?
John Force is in the twilight of his career. But he says he won’t retire from drag racing before his team bus retires from the road.
Make no mistake, his bus is on its last wheel. It leaks oil, the refrigerator door handle is broken, the generator under the toilet doesn’t always work and Force isn’t even sure how to fix it if he could find it.
But when a reporter suggested it's time for Force to pass the torch, he took offense. Force said it was the first time he was mad at the media. Force is a pretty excitable fellow. It’s hard to tell when he’s mad because most of his interviews and conversations are dominated with shouting bursts about everything from his partnership with Castrol to his drag racing daughters.
After Force posted the top qualifying time at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona on Friday, he came into the press box to talk about his run and his season.
“The credit goes to the brain-trust Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly. John Medlen came over to work on our car. We had Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas help Jimmy Prock and then Jimmy came over and helped us,” Force said. “What we created was a group that worked together. They got me out of my embarrassing situation.”
He couldn’t help but laugh at himself. The only times he’s been in the press box to talk to the media this year has been when Ashley Force Hood, his daughter, or Robert Hight, his newly crowned funny car champion driver, set a top qualifying time or won a race.
Force Hood and Hight have done their share of winning this year. Hight added a 16th NHRA championship to Force’s collection as a driver and owner. Force has won 14 of those NHRA championships as a driver.
But the wins are few and far between these days for Force. Even though he captured the top qualifying time for a day, he called his 2009 season one of his worst. Statistically speaking, it was one of the worst seasons of his career. For the first time in 22 years, he did not win a race.
“Right now there is a lot of focus just trying to get me back in the game,” Force said. “Castrol pays good money. This is the second worst season I have had since I started.”
His worst season is actually one of two. He ran only five races and won only one round in 1980. He ran five races, did not qualify for two of them and won only two rounds in 1981. Both were equally bad.
He made the Countdown to One playoffs in 2009, but he was hardly a factor, a distant ninth place in the final standings.
Force says he is working on a deal that would keep him in his funny car for another five years. The 60-year-old driver says he has no intention of retiring anytime soon.
There’s no doubt his team puts together quality cars for its drivers. Mike Neff, the fourth driver at John Force Racing, broke through with the first win of his NHRA career Sunday at Auto Club Raceway Pomona. Hight and Force Hood are testaments to how good the John Force Racing cars can run.
How well John Force can run is another question.
Photo: Ashley Force Hood won two races and finished second in the NHRA funny car standings in 2009. Her dad, John Force, did not win a race for the first time in 22 years.
Larry Dixon finishes second in NHRA top fuel standings
Larry Dixon finished two points behind Tony Schumacher in the NHRA top fuel standings.
He said he was "disappointed" to be the runner up in the top fuel standings, but he is optimistic about racing in 2010.
His new team, Al-Anabi Racing, won five events in 2009. Dixon said his team will be in good shape for years to come.
Don Schumacher says qualifying led to NHRA championship
Don Schumacher, the owner of Tony Schumacher's NHRA top fuel team, said his son's qualifying run on Saturday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona was the difference in winning a sixth straight top fuel championship.
Tony Schumacher won his seventh top fuel championship and his first with crew chief Mike Green.
Tony Schumacher wins NHRA top fuel championship
Tony Schumacher won his seventh National Hot Rod Assn. top fuel championship and his sixth in a row at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona on Sunday.
While waiting for his semifinal run against Antron Brown, he watched from his car as Spencer Massey beat Larry Dixon in the other semifinal race. Dixons loss secured the championship for Schumacher, who won by two points.
Schumacher took over the lead in the top fuel standings on Saturday. He posted the top qualifying time and earned three points in the top fuel standings. That gave him a two-point lead heading into the elimination rounds at Pomona.
Schumacher and Dixon won their first two races, but each lost in the semifinals.
Hight eliminated in NHRA funny cars at Pomona
Tim Wilkerson beat Hight to advance to the semifinals. Wilkerson will face Mike Neff.
The other semifinal will pit Ashley Force Hood, the top qualifier, against Ron Capps.
Hight eliminated in NHRA funny cars at Pomona
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McClenathan out; Schumacher, Dixon advance to NHRA top fuel semis
Robert Hight completes unlikely run to funny car championship -- latimes.com
Ashley Force Hood moves on to second round of NHRA finals at Pomona
She will face Del Worsham in the second round.
Ashley Force Hood moves on to second round of NHRA finals at Pomona
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Tony Schumacher, Larry Dixon advance to second round of NHRA finals in Pomona
Tony Schumacher, top, has a two-point lead over Larry Dixon in the NHRA top fuel standings. Both drivers won their first-round races at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona on Sunday.
Tony Schumacher, Larry Dixon advance to second round of NHRA finals in Pomona
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Saturday, November 14, 2009
Robert Hight wins NHRA funny car championship
Robert Hight won the NHRA funny car championship during qualifying on Saturday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
He was the last driver to earn a spot in the Countdown to One playoffs. He went on to win three of the first five of the NHRA Countdown to One playoff races.
He was the third-fastest qualifier and will face Jerry Toliver in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
During his post-qualifying interviews, Hight made reference to Eric Medlen, his one-time teammate at John Force Racing. Medlen was killed in a crash preparing for a race.
Ashley Force Hood bumps John Force out of top spot in NHRA funny cars
In the tightest qualifying session of the day, Ashley Force Hood knocked her dad, John Force, out of the top qualifying spot on the fourth and final session at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona on Saturday.
Force Hood and her dad had identical elapsed times of 4.059 seconds, but Force Hood won the top qualifying spot with a top speed of 310.55 mph, a track record.
Force Hood will face Bob Bode in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
Mike Edwards wins NHRA pro stock championship
Mike Edwards won the NHRA pro stock championship after the first qualifying session at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona on Saturday. Edwards went on to clinch the top spot in qualifying. He will face Larry Morgan in the first round of eliminations.
Hector Arana top qualifier in NHRA pro stock motorcycles
Hector Arana set a track record in elapsed time and top speed in NHRA pro stock motorcycle qualifying at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona on Saturday. He will face Bailey Whitaker in the first round.
Arana is the leader in the NHRA pro stock motorcycle standings. Eddie Krawiec in second in the pro stock motorcycle standings and qualified fourth for the elimination rounds.
Krawiec will face Steve Johnson in the first round.
Mike Edwards wins NHRA pro stock championship in qualifying
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Mike Edwards won the National Hot Rod Assn. pro stock championship during qualifying. His time of 6.575 seconds from Friday’s session held up during today's qualifying round. Ron Krishner and Jason Line posted identical 6.587 second runs, the second-fastest efforts in qualifying.
NHRA driver Chris Karamesines not showing his age
Chris Karamesines started drag racing in 1952. That much is certain. He celebrated a birthday on Nov. 11. Which birthday exactly is anyone’s guess.
According to National Hot Rod Assn. records, it was his 79th birthday. It could be his 81st. When asked about his age, Karamesines said it’s probably best to go with the oldest. He’s not about to reveal his real age.
While his age remains a mystery, his place in NHRA history is cemented. He was the first drag racer to break the 200 mph barrier back in 1960. It was nearly four years before Don Garlits and Frank Cannon, legendary drag racers, were able to go faster than 200 mph. Karamesines has three career runner-up finishes in nearly 60 years of NHRA drag racing, but has never won a race. In 2001, he was named one of the top 50 drivers in NHRA history.
Karamesines was the 10th fastest top fuel qualifier on Friday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. He laid down a lap at 308.57 mph and 3.897 seconds.
After the run, a piston burned up in his car and his team had to push it back to the garage area for repairs. Normally his crew consists of three guys. He has a little more help this weekend, but not enough to keep Karamesines from rebuilding his own engine on Saturday morning.
His hands were covered in grease and oil as his replaced the pistons in his car’s engine. He doesn’t shake hands, preferring to fist pump. It is a greeting formed out of necessity, quick and seamless as he returns to working on his engine.
“It was good to come out here and make a good run in front of all my friends,” said Karamesines, a driver from Chicago. It was much better than Thursday’s run, when he didn’t even get on the track.
Karamesines said his goal is to make it to the first round and see what happens from there.
“I’ve done it so long, it’s in your blood,” Karamesines said. “I enjoy going to the races and I enjoy racing.”
Larry Dixon sets Pomona track record in NHRA top-fuel qualifying -- latimes.com
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Larry Dixon set a track record at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona and took over the lead in the National Hot Rod Assn. top-fuel standings.
Dixon has a one-point lead over Tony Schumacher after recording the fastest top-fuel time in qualifying Friday for the season-ending NHRA Finals. His speed of 318.99 mph was a track record and his time of 3.801 seconds was 0.008 of a second better than Spencer Massey, the second-fastest qualifier.
"The last time I was in Pomona, I didn't race on Sunday," said Dixon, a Van Nuys High graduate and two-time NHRA top-fuel champion. "We definitely got a better start to the weekend. I'm excited to see how it turns out."
Friday, November 13, 2009
Larry Dixon takes over lead in NHRA top fuel standings
Larry Dixon took over the lead in the NHRA top fuel standings and set a track record in qualifying on Friday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
The last time the NHRA was in Pomona, in for the season opener in February, Dixon did not qualify for the elimination rounds on Sunday. For the time being, he has the fastest car with one more day of qualifying to go.
He is also in pursuit of his third NHRA top fuel championship. He holds a one-point lead over Tony Schumacher, a six-time NHRA top fuel champion and winner of the past five top fuel championships.
NHRA funny car driver John Force has plenty left in the tank
NHRA funny car driver John Force was the top qualifier on Friday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
The 14-time NHRA champion talked about being near the end of his career and if he is considering retiring. He was asked if one of his John Force Racing drivers wins the funny car championship this year, will he pass the torch and retire. Robert Hight leads the funny car standings. Forces daughter, Ashley Force Hood, is second the funny car standings. Both are drivers for John Force Racing.
The 60-year-old Force took exception to the question. He is not ready to retire and said he is working on a deal that would keep him in a car for the next five years.
Jack Beckman racing for second place in NHRA standings
Jack Beckman came into the NHRA races at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona with a mathematical shot at winning the funny car championship. He is in fourth place and would need a lot of help to leap frog his way to the top of the funny car standings.
He said realistically, he is racing for second place. The driver from Norco was the eighth fastest qualifier after Fridays session. John Force was the top qualifier, followed by Robert Hight, the leader in the funny car standings.
Beckman, a driver for Don Schumacher Racing, said he has a car that can win the season finale at Pomona, but he is concentrating on staying ahead of Ashley Force Hood and Tony Pedregon, the two drivers ahead of him in the funny car standings.
Mike Edwards stays on top of NHRA pro stock qualifying
Mike Edwards improved his top time in the NHRA pro stock qualifying on Friday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. His time of 6.575 seconds was 0.36 seconds better than the second fastest qualifier.
Edwards has a comfortable cushion, but he said he thinks he needs to go even faster on the final day of qualifying to maintain his top spot.
Allen Johnson was second in qualifying at 6.611 seconds, followed by Rodger Brogdon in third at 6.621 seconds.
Edwards, the leader in the pro stock standings, added three points to his lead for being the fastest qualifier.
Karen Stoffer remains top qualifier in NHRA pro stock motorcycles
Karen Stoffer remained the top qualifier in NHRA pro stock motorcycles on Friday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. She did not best her time of 6.982 seconds set on Thursday, but no other riders were able to set a faster run either.
Four riders are in the 6.98 range after the second day of qualifying. Andrew Hines is the second fastest qualifier at 6.986 seconds. Larry Cook is third at 6.987 seconds and Douglas Horne is fourth at 6.989 seconds.
Stoffer, a graduate of St. Genevieve High School in Sun Valley, is seventh in the NHRA pro stock standings.
NHRA leaders post top qualifying times
It was a good day of qualifying Thursday for the leaders in the National Hot Rod Assn. top fuel, funny car and pro stock standings.
Tony Schumacher doubled his lead in the top fuel standings. Don’t get too excited. His lead went from one point to two. Schumacher was the top driver on the first day of qualifying for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
"Seriously, this is an intense deal going on right now,” Schumacher said. “Every lap we make this weekend carries so much importance. We want to leave nothing on the table."
Larry Dixon was the second fastest qualifier, followed by Doug Kalitta. Schumacher earned three points for being the top qualifier. Dixon, a Van Nuys High graduate, earned two points and Kalitta earned one.
Cory McClenathan, who is third in the top fuel standings and within striking distance, 51 points out of first, was the fourth fastest qualifier.
In funny car, Robert Hight added to his 105-point lead with the top qualifying run. He has a 108-point lead over John Force Racing teammate, Ashley Force Hood. Mike Neff, another John Force Racing driver, was the second fastest qualifier, followed by Jack Beckman of Norco and a driver for Don Schumacher Racing.
“We need to stay focused,” Hight said. “This is what we have worked for. We’ve earned it and we deserve it. It is not over yet. He wants us to get out there and work hard but have some fun. That is what we are doing now.”
Force Hood was the eighth fastest qualifier.
Mike Edwards, the leader in the pro stock standings, was the top qualifier. But he was only able to extend his lead by one point as Greg Anderson, the second place driver in the pro stock standings, was the second-fastest qualifier. Roger Brogdon was the third fastest qualifier.
The biggest surprise came in the pro stock motorcycle qualifying. Karen Stoffer, a graduate of St. Genevieve High School in Sun Valley, was the top qualifier in pro stock motorcycle. She is seventh in the pro stock motorcycle standings.
"Were looking for a win," Stoffer said. "There's no question about it. A victory would be the best way to go into the off-season."
Andrew Hines was the second fastest qualifier, followed by Hector Arana, the leader in the pro stock motorcycle standings.
Photo: Tony Schumacher doubled his lead in the NHRA top fuel standings after recording the top speed on the first day of qualifying on Thursday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Three out of four NHRA drivers ain't bad
National Hot Rod Assn. drivers Tony Schumacher, Cory McClenathan and Robert Hight spent Wednesday at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Pasadena talking about this weekend’s drag races at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
Larry Dixon, a Van Nuys High graduate and two-time NHRA top fuel champion, was supposed to be at the luncheon too, but his plane was delayed and he did not make it on time.
Schumacher, who holds a slim one-point lead over Dixon in the top fuel standings, was asked if he thought it was God’s plan to have Dixon’s plane to stay lost until Sunday.
“That’s my plan,” Schumacher said. “That’s not God’s plan. I don’t think he does that to anybody.”
The tightest NHRA championship race is in the top fuel division. Three drivers are still in contention. In addition to Schumacher and Dixon, McClenathan is in the hunt, in third place and 48 points out of the lead. McClenathan and Schumacher are teammates at Don Schumacher Racing.
“We’ve won two championships coming back that far,” Schumacher said. “It’s definitely not out of reach. It’s wide open. It’s going to be a stout battle. He’s got two good cars ahead of him. But he can be assured that these two cars ahead of him are going to be going for it on Sunday morning, and all kinds of things happen. If we can’t get it done, we sure hope he does.”
McClenathan has been the runner-up in the top fuel division four times in his NHRA career, but has never won a top fuel championship.
“But it is one of those things where you come back to a race, the final of the season, and it’s going to be the last race, and Tony has been here before, too, and won the whole thing, set a record to do it and went on to win the championship that day. So anything can happen,” McClenathan said. “I mean, I don’t wish anything bad for my teammate, but if something goes on, I’d sure like to know that he’s got my back, too, and I know he does.”
Hight has a comfortable 105-point lead in the funny car standings. His John Force Racing teammate, Ashley Force Hood, is in second place in the funny car standings.
“You know, Ashley Force, my teammate, she’s had a great race car all year long, and then they just stumbled last weekend, and it ended up being some parts problem,” Hight said. “That’s the kind of stuff that can keep us from winning this weekend. So we’ve got to stay focused and just worry about every run and do our best because it’s not that easy. These cars are tough. There’s a lot of tough competition, and just do our best to try to get qualified. That’s No. 1 for us right now.”
Photo: Tony Schumacher has a one-point lead over Larry Dixon in the NHRA top fuel standings entering the season-finale event at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. (NHRA)
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Ashley Force Hood's five favorite songs
Here are her five songs:Gavin Rossdale: "Adrenaline"
Foo Fighters: "Best of You"
Garth Brooks: "The Dance"
Sting: "Fields of Gold"
Thomas Newman: "Orchard House"
To listen to the broadcast, download the podcast and hear the songs, go to KCRW 89.9 FM.Photo: Ashley Force Hood was a guest DJ on KCRW 89.9 FM. She will be racing at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona this weekend in the final event of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Credit: NHRA
Ashley Force Hood's five favorite songs
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Little payoff for auto racing playoffs
Playoffs are not good for auto racing. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase has been dominated by Jimmie for four straight years. It probably cost Tony Stewart a championship this year. It cost Jeff Gordon at least two since the Chase started.
The National Hot Rod Assn. Countdown to One playoffs aren’t much better.
Sure, it’s created what can described as a winner-take-all weekend in the top fuel division at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. Tony Schumacher leads Larry Dixon by one point with one race remaining.
The other three divisions, funny car, pro stock and pro stock motorcycle, lack that kind of suspense.
Robert Hight has a 105-point lead in the funny car standings over Ashley Force Hood. Mike Edwards is safely in the lead in the pro stock standings, 139 points head of Greg Anderson.
Hector Arana has some work to do in the pro stock motorcycle division, but still holds a 54-point lead over Ed Krawiec.
The one NHRA driver who should be the biggest critic of the Countdown format is funny car driver Ron Capps.
He won five funny car events, the most of any funny car driver, and had the lead in the funny car standings in the first 18 regular season races. But once the Countdown started, he dropped to fifth place with little chance of winning the funny car championship.
“Obviously, the opportunity to win a championship this year is pretty slim,” said Capps, a driver for Don Schumacher Racing. “But, I have to tell you, I am focused on ending the season like we did last year at this event. We went to the final round and had the quickest car. We also won here in the first race of this season, and now we have a very good chance of finishing No. 2 in the points.”
Hight has put together one of the best Countdown runs, winning three of the first five races, but he has little business leading the funny car standings at this point in the season.
“To have a 105 point lead going into Pomona it gives you a lot of confidence,” Hight said. “It is still not over. I think the only (teams) that really has a chance are Ashley along with Tony (Pedregon) and (Jack) Beckman.”
The chances of one of those three drivers, Force Hood, Pedregon or Beckman, catching Hight in Pomona are remote. In the history of the Countdown, no funny car driver has lost his lead heading into the finals at Pomona. It’s unlikely it will happen again.
Auto racing playoffs create paper champions. The winner of an auto racing championship should be rewarded for an entire season of success, not six or 10 races at the end of the year.
Johnson has done amazing things in the Chase.
Hight put together one of the best Countdown runs in the history of the NHRA.
But neither had stellar regular seasons. Hight’s was near disastrous and qualified for the Countdown by the skin of his teeth.
Yet, both are on the verge of winning auto racing championships. It doesn’t reflect well on the auto racing season when only a handful of races at the end are all that really matter.
Photo: Ron Capps won five NHRA funny car races, but is fifth in the Countdown to One standings with one race remaining. (NHRA)
Monday, November 9, 2009
22 is magic number for Hornaday to be No. 1 again
Ron Hornaday Jr. needs to finish 22nd or better in his last two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races to win the championship.
Given that he has 18 top 10s in 23 races in 2009, finishing 22nd or better shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.
Still, Hornaday said he is taking nothing for granted.
“To me right now we are just focused on two more races,” said Hornaday, driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado for Kevin Harvick Inc. “I don’t look at the championship until Homestead. The No. 33 team is not only racing for the driver’s championship, we want to make sure Kevin and DeLana win the owners championship as well. I don’t go into it looking at how many points we are ahead. I know that we just need to win the last two races. That’s what I want to go do and then the points will take care of themselves.”
While Hornaday has a commanding 197-point lead in the Truck Series driver standings, Kevin Harvick Inc. holds a 75-point lead over Billy Ballew Motorsports in the owners standings.
Kyle Busch, winner of the past five Truck Series races he’s started, is the driver for Billy Ballew Motorsports. He will be in the truck for the final two races of the Truck Series season at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
For the Phoenix race, Hornaday will be driving the truck that finished second at New Hampshire International Speedway in September. Hornaday led the most laps in that race, but finished behind Busch, winner of a Truck Series best seven races this year.
“I have been pretty successful at Phoenix International Raceway over the years,” Hornaday said. “I have had a lot of great races there and have two wins there in 1998 and 1999. It’s a flat race track for the most part. It has a little more banking in turns one and two than in turns three and four. We have been really good this year on the flatter, shorter tracks. Phoenix is a place that I have been running for a number of years and I really like going back to one of the roots of the Truck Series.”
Photo: A heated battle between Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 51 Miccosukee Resort/Graceway Toyota, and Ron Hornaday Jr., driver of the No. 33 VFW Chevrolet, in the closing laps of Friday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino 350 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Busch went on to win the race, while Hornaday Jr. finished third. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chase tightens, but too little, too late
Like a twister in a trailer park, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway proved to be a disaster for Jimmie Johnson.
But don’t worry if Johnson and his team will recover. They will. By the end of the month, they will have another Cup championship.
Johnson saw his lead in the Cup standings trimmed to 73 points and all of sudden there’s intrigue in the Chase. At least that's what NASCAR and some writers would like you to believe. Seventy-three points is still a huge lead with two races remaining.
Mark Martin is the driver in second place in the Cup standings, 73 points out of the lead. No one is more deserving than Martin to win a Cup championship. But it looks like the four-time runner-up is going to come up short for a fifth time.
As for Johnson, he was collected in a crash caused by Sam Hornish on the third lap of the race at Texas. He ended up in 38th place. Martin came in fourth, the biggest benefactor of Johnson’s misfortune, and cut into Johnson’s lead.
“You know it’s still a respectable lead. Seventy-three with two to go is still a good position to be in. I hate that we gave up all these points tonight,” Johnson said after the race on Sunday. “Sam just lost it inside of me and I wish he would have waited a little longer to lose it. I saw he lost it later on in the race and he can do that from time to time. I just wish he would have waited a little while longer and didn’t take me out in the process. It was just one of those things. There’s not much we can do about it. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Kurt Busch won the race at Texas and moved up two places in the Cup standings. He is in fourth place, showing how insignificant winning a race means at this point in the season.
Not that Busch should be rewarded any more for winning one race when Johnson has won three in the Chase. But even with the win, Busch needs a lot more help to climb in the Cup standings before the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“It’s very competitive, no matter who is in the lead, who is behind trying to gather points,” Busch said. “We hope it always goes to Homestead and there’s five, six guys eligible, like the first year, 2004.
“Jimmie Johnson, they’ve won an incredible amount during this Chase. A couple years ago we thought the Chase format needed adjusting, so we gave more points to race wins. Now he’s so far ahead, we’re thinking we have to adjust it again. We can’t keep doing that. They’re that good. For them to stumble today puts everyone back in the picture, within a reasonable amount.”
Not really. Making up 73 points, or in Busch’s case, 171 points, is unreasonable. Johnson would have to have another poor race, which more than likely isn’t going to happen, and Martin, or Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart, would have to have two spectacular races. The way things have gone this year, it is unlikely any of that will happen in Phoenix or Miami.
Johnson even said he feels fortunate he built up such a huge lead early in the Chase so he could afford to have a bad race.
“It was definitely not the day we wanted,” Johnson said. “We did not want to lose points like that. Luckily we had a big margin. We’re going to two great tracks for us here and we’ll just keep racing. We’ve been saying all along that anything can happen, I just wish that Sam could have waited a little while longer before he hit something. Instead, he lost it and hit me and off we went.”
Photo: At top, Chad Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, pushes the car into the garage after Johnson was involved in an incident on the third lap with Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 77 AAA Dodge, during Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Johnson returned to the race on lap 115. Hornish went back on track, but later hit the wall to bring out the caution again, ending his day. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
At bottom, Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, celebrates by performing a burnout, followed by a reverse lap with the checkered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday in Fort Worth, Texas. This is the first win at Texas Motor Speedway for Busch, who outran -- and out-gassed -- his brother Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota. Busch gained two positions in the Chase for the Sprint Cup to fourth, 171 points behind points leader Jimmie Johnson. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Friday, November 6, 2009
Gordon returns to Texas, site of lone Cup win in 2009
Jeff Gordon is 1-for-the-NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. That one win came at Texas Motor Speedway in April.
The Cup drivers are back in Texas for Sunday’s race. Gordon was asked about having only one win 33 races into the season.
“I’m a little disappointed in that,” said Gordon, who won the pole for Sunday's Cup race at Texas. “We’ve had a bunch of second-place finishes this year, so we’ve been close. But it is disappointing we haven’t been able to get more victories. It gives us something to work on for next season.”
Gordon was also asked how his team is approaching the last three Cup races of the year. It looks like Jimmie Johnson is well on his way to his fourth Cup championship in a row. Even though Johnson won’t talk about having it all but wrapped up, Gordon said the Chase is a race for second place at this point.
“Those guys are tough,” Gordon said. “They’re solid. They’ve really done their job. All we can do is go out and focus on our race team, our race cars, and get the best finishes that we possibly can, try to end the season on a positive note. We still have a great battle going for second in points. If for some crazy reason, those guys had trouble, we have to make sure we capitalize on it. I think our focus right now is winning races and trying to get to second in points.”
Finally, Gordon was asked about Danica Patrick making the move to NASCAR next year. It has been reported that Patrick, the only woman driver to win an IndyCar Series race, will make her NASCAR debut with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Nationwide Series team in 2010. Gordon said he is a fan of the move.
“I think it would be great if that’s the case,” Gordon said. “I think that she obviously has a great presence and fan base. There could be a lot of excitement that could be built around it. I think she has a steep learning curve, so I think everybody’s anxious to see how she does. The only way she’s ever going to really know is to get in there and do it. It’s a big step. You got to give her credit for making that kind of a commitment. We’ll all just kind of wait and see.”
Photo: Jeff Gordon has won only one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in 2009. That came at Texas Motor Speedway in April. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Hornaday has more than racing on his mind in Texas
But he had more than racing on his mind after qualifying.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people at Fort Hood,” said Hornaday, whose No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado is sponsored in part by the Veteran of Foreign Wars.
Fort Hood was the site of a deadly shooting Thursday. An Army major gunned down at least a dozen people and wounded more than 30 others in a deadly rampage at the Army outpost in Texas.
Clearly, Hornaday's thoughts are on a bigger picture as he prepares for the race at Texas. He is the leader in the Truck Series standings and he can pretty much wrap up his fourth Truck Series championship with a solid finish in Friday night’s race.
“We have to finish this one,” Hornaday said. “We have to finish up front. We know the truck runs good here and we know we have to get a good finish. The last time the oil pump belt came off but we won the two races before. We just have to have Lady Luck on our side and be optimistic and hopefully we will get a good finish out of it.”
Matt Crafton, who is in second place in the Truck Series standings and trails Hornaday by 202 points, won the pole for the Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Our truck is very, very good,” Crafton said. “It is obviously the best thing I have ever driven here. I don’t say that very often. I can honestly say that. I have had good trucks in the past but this is the best truck I have ever driven, especially on a mile and a half track. Hopefully, it will be as good tomorrow night. Hopefully the demons won’t come out that we always joke about.”
Photo: Matt Crafton (center), driver of the No. 88 Menards/McGuire-Nicholas Chevrolet, talks with Brian Scott, driver of the No. 16 Albertson's Toyota (left) and David Gilliland (right), driver of the No. 98 Menards Chevrolet, in the garage area during Thursday's practice for Friday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino 350 at Texas Motor Speedway. Gilliland, who split practice time with Crafton in the No. 98 during the first practice, had the fastest time for most of the final practice (179.766 mph) until Crafton eclipsed his time with a posting of 180.180 mph. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Monday, November 2, 2009
Hight's one race away from unlikely NHRA championship
Robert Hight continued his run as the most unlikely of drivers to win the National Hot Rod Assn. funny car championship. He won at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday and increased his lead in the funny car standings to 105 points with one race remaining in the Countdown to One playoffs, at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona starting Nov. 12.
“That is what Cruz Pedregon did last year," HIght said. "To have a 105 point lead going into Pomona it gives you a lot of confidence. It is still not over.”
Hight’s NHRA postseason is akin to a 16-seed in the NCAA basketball tournament making it to the championship game. And not any old 16-seed team, but the winner of the play-in game. Hight was the last driver to qualify for the Countdown, posting a runner-up finish at Indianapolis in the U.S. Nationals to earn a berth in the playoffs and knocking out the reigning funny car champ, Cruz Pedregon.
“My Auto Club Mustang’s performance gives you a lot of confidence," Hight said. "You don’t have to go out there and do dumb things trying to pull wins out. I did that earlier in the year when we were struggling. I got lucky since I never red-lit. I was trying to do too much because I knew the car needed little help. It doesn’t work that way. You have to do what you know how to do. It is all about confidence.”
He has gone on to win three of the first five NHRA funny car Countdown events. He won at zMax Dragway in North Carolina, Texas Motorplex and Las Vegas.
In the Las Vegas race, he beat John Force Racing teammate Ashley Force Hood in the first round. Force Hood came into the Vegas races in second place and 13 points behind Hight in the standings. She left Vegas still in second place in the standings, but has a 105-point deficit.
“My goal going into this year was to finish fourth or better I would be pumped with that," Force Hood said. "To be fighting for first or second this year has gone better than I ever expected it to. When you are right in the middle of it you get greedy and you want everything. Really if you take a step back I never expected to be running for first. Now after this year we will be gunning for first. That is not to take away from my team we are only three years in. It is not something I expected to happen. The sky is the limit for us next year. If we can have a team like we did this year next year sometimes luck plays a part in it. We will just do the best we can.
"Either way if we can be celebrating in Pomona everything that builds up the stress and the anxiety doesn’t matter. In Pomona if one of our teams is on that stage in first place that is all that matters. That is what we have been working for all season.”
Hight beat Jack Beckman in the final in Vegas and is one race away from capping an unlikely and unexpected championship run.
“It’s a tough pill to lose one when you run that good,” said Beckman, a driver for Don Schumacher Racing and a North Hills resident. “But there’s nothing to do but take your hat off and congratulate the other team. I walked over and I congratulated Robert and, for all intents and purposes that run probably was and is going to be the championship. We’re going to win Pomona and race for second place unless a miracle happens.”
In top fuel, Larry Dixon advanced to the final at Las Vegas and lost to Spencer Massey. However, Dixon closed to a point behind Tony Schumacher in the top fuel standings.
Schumacher lost in the second round and almost saw his lead in the top fuel standings disappear.
Massey won for the second time this season.
Larry Morgan won the pro stock final at Las Vegas. He defeated Mike Edwards, the leader in the Pro Stock standings, in the second round. Edwards has an almost insurmountable 139-point lead with one race remaining.
Andrew Hines won the pro stock motorcycle final, but it will be Hector Arana and Eddie Krawiec battling for the pro stock motorcycle championship in Pomona.
Arana has a 54-point lead over Krawiec in the pro stock motorcycle standings.
Photo: Robert Hight won the NHRA funny car portion of the races at Las Vegas and extended his lead in the funny car standings to 105 points. (NHRA)
Newman a victim of boredom at Talladega
Ryan Newman, he of the spectacular, end-over-end, rooftop slide and crash at the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, said it was boring.
Not so much the crash, but the race.
Boring for 490 miles. The last 10 miles of the race were pretty exciting. Newman crashed and about half the field was left in ruins. Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski got together on the green-white-checker finish and caused another crash that sent a car airborne. Mark Martin ended up flipping down the race track and made for some pretty entertaining racing or crashing, depending on your perspective.
Newman said after the race it was a ridiculous race and blamed NASCAR for making up and adding more rules for the drivers and teams to follow. In particular, NASCAR told the drivers before the race not to bump draft.
“The more rules, the more NASCAR is telling us how to drive the race cars, the less we can race and the less we can put on a show for the fans,” Newman said. “As I said, I will go back in the day, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, all those guys, they respected each other. In the end there were some big accidents, but geez, we don’t need the cars getting upside down like this. This is ridiculous. There is way more technology than that to help us out.”
Jeff Gordon didn’t quite agree with Newman’s assessment that there are too many rules in NASCAR these days to make it a safer sport. He did however say that the races, particularly at Talladega, might be a tad too long.
“I mean we know what we’re up against. And why go out there and beat and bang and turn one another sideways in the first 100 or 200 miles?” Gordon said “You want to make this a really exciting race for the whole race, make it 200 miles. That’s why the truck races and other races when they come here are so exciting. To me, our sport is about strategy, it’s about longevity, it’s about pacing yourself. I thought it was a great race. But unfortunately the rules that we have are going to play out. The cars suck up too much. And they need to change that for this race track or it’s just going to happen every single time.”
Newman added that if the Cup race was only 100 laps, it would have been a better race.
“Whether it is a speed issue, a roof flap issue, whatever. I said it myself in the media center after the spring race here, and now to be the guy standing here trying to live it all out again, I'm just happy I am living it out,” Newman said. “But it is ridiculous situation. It is a shame that not more is getting done. I don’t know. I guess maybe I expect NASCAR to call me. I am the only guy out there with an engineering degree. I would like to have a little respect on my end.”
Photo: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers race side-by-side at Talladega Superspeedway during the AMP Energy 500 on Sunday in Talladega, Ala. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Crafton can't take advantage of Hornaday's misfortune
Ron Hornaday was collected in a late wreck in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, but it didn't hurt him that much in the Truck Series standings.
Matt Crafton, the second-place driver in the Truck Series standings, couldn't take advantage of Hornaday's hit and finished 10th in the Talladega race.
Hornaday ended up 17th after returning to the race for the final laps with a badly damaged truck.
“It’s Talladega,” said Hornaday following the race. “I’m not really sure how we were involved in that wreck. Before I knew what was happening we were in it. I’m really proud of this No. 33 Copart team for never giving up and working to get the truck back out on the track to finish with so few laps left. We will just go to Texas next week and try to get back what we lost.”
Hornaday has a 202-point lead over Crafton after the Talladega race.
Kyle Busch won the race and his Billy Ballew Racing team has a slim chance of winning the owner's championship. Busch's teammate, Aric Almirola, finished second, followed by Todd Bodine in third.
"I owe everything to Aric Almirola today," Busch said on Saturday after the race. "From that last pit stop to the end, I told him that, if he just stayed with me, they wouldn't be above to beat the 15 (Almirola) and the 51 (Busch). Awesome job to Aric. He can take half of my pay after today."
DeLana Harvivck, the owner of Hornaday's Kevin Harvick Inc. team, has a 100-point lead over Ballew in the owner's standings with three races remaining.
Photo: Rick Crawford, driver of the No. 14 Circle Bar/International Truck Engine Ford, gets caught up in an incident with Mike Skinner, driver of the No. 5 PC Miler Navigator Toyota, during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday in Talladega, Ala. (Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Door-To-Door: Denny gets it
Door-To-Door: Denny gets it
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Photo: Denny Hamlin celebrates winning the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, his second career win at the Virginia short track. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)