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Archive for January, 2011

No Dirt Knights, But Something Better

January 31, 2011 4 comments

Because of the NHL All-Star game there will be no Dirt Knights tonight on Versus. That is a disappointment, but more than making up for it is something I’ve been hinting at for some time. The USMTS modifieds will be a part of the Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway on July 22nd and 23rd.  Having some of the best late model and modified drivers in on hand means the show has the potential to be the best July dirt track show in the country.  For right now I will leave it as has the potential to be.  I did not like MLRA sanctioning being added and while I am hoping promoters will just leave well enough alone I am fearful they will continue to mess with the show and make it something less than it could and should be.

An anonymous party asked me which sanction I thought was bigger, MLRA or USMTS.  I answered USMTS.  He asked if that made the modifieds the feature class at the Silver Dollar Nationals.  Obviously not, but  it does add to my point about not understanding the MLRA sanction of what is supposed to be a big dollar national event-what does a regional sanction offer to the event, especially when the MLRA tour is already going to be at I-80 five other times in 2011.

Anyway, the USMTS mods will have complete shows on both the 22nd and 23rd, with each paying $2,000 to win. Since it is a two day event and the USMTS has only four races scheduled in August, I am hoping for a good car count.  Late model drivers like Terry Phillips and Jeremy Payne have raced against the best of the USMTS in the past, and Phillips definitely likes I-80 Speedway.  Hopefully, both will be at the Silver Dollar Nationals with their late models and modifieds.

There remains an August 14th TBA on the USAC Sprint Car schedule.  I still have hopes that a track close to home will be what is announced at a later day as the wingless 410 sprint cars put on a great show, and draw large crowds.  If it doesn’t happen it won’t be because of reasons suggested by representatives of another track.  There are mitigating circumstances that I will not discuss on this site, for the same reasons Dave Cook announced they will not be discussed on dirtdrivers.com.  Please don’t try to work around this with a comment, because I will simply delete the comment.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Sunset Speedway-I Mentioned It, You’ll Just Have To Search For Where

January 28, 2011 10 comments

“This year is the year to kick Jimmie off that throne. It’s going to be RCR. I feel certain,” Richard Childress said Tuesday during a stop at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s annual media tour.

After a poor 2009 season, RCR came back strong in 2010, with all three of its drivers in The Chase.  Most people would say Kevin Harvick is the most likely Childress driver to race to the 2011 Sprint Cup championship, but don’t discount Clint Bowyer.  Personally I would like to see Jeff Burton capture the Cup if a Childress driver is going to win it all, because I am all for underdogs and he seems to be the least likely of the three to win the big trophy.

Some bright marketer could sell some t-shirts if he came with a good “Anyone but Jimmie” design.  I would want an “Anyone but Jimmie, Carl, and Kyle” t-shirt, but to any other driver I would say, please just win it.  Enough of Jimmie Johnson being the champion.  It is not a good thing for any team in any sport to be champion year after year-except it would be OK for Nebraska football and Duke basketball to be champions every year.  Other than those teams it is a bad thing.

Yes, Tony I do know that RCR has four teams this year.  I didn’t mention the other one to irritate you, though Start and Park Joe Nemechek is as likely to win the Sprint Cup championship as the fourth Childress driver Paul Menard is.  I don’t think I’ll have to eat my words either.  Anyway, the last time RCR won a championship was with Dale Earnhardt in 1994.

I don’t see Earnhardt Jr. winning a championship in 2011.  I am sure NASCAR and Earnhardt Jr. car owner Rick Hendricks would just like to see the car in Victory Lane a few times this season. Speaking of Jr., both he and Hendricks agreed with Fox Sports that many of the races are too long.  I say that other than a handful of the traditional races, cutting laps should be a discussion on the table at every race track.  No, you should not have a Daytona 450, but 500 miles at Pocono is a joke, and 400 miles at a lot of venues is a bore.   

NASCAR has changed the over the wall rules, allowing only six team members to work on a car during a pit stop.  With the advent of a self-venting gas cans, the catch can man has been removed from the over the wall gang.  What makes this interesting is that the catch can man was the one making wedge or track bar adjustments to the car during pit stops.  Apparently this responsibility will now fall on the shoulders of the gas man.  He better have strong shoulders because he is holding a can that weighs 90 pounds when it is full and he’ll need to be part acrobat, part contortionist as well to get the gas tank full and adjustments made.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the first few races.  As creative as NASCAR crews are, someone will figure out a wrinkle to make it easier than it sounds, and everyone will copy them

There is life racing from Irwindale, California on Speed TV tonight and tomorrow.  Tonight’s coverage begins at 10:00 p.m. Central time, and tomorrow night starts at 9:00 p.m. Central time.  Don’t forget to watch the fascinating Dirt Knights on Versus on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. Central time. The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona will also be televised at various times this weekend on Speed TV.

Notice I didn’t talk about Sunset Speedway today.  Well, yeah, I am now, so I should delete that first sentence.  Anyway, I may not be talking about it much today, but I am still thinking about it, and hopefully in a few weeks a lot of people will be able to get together to talk about the Wrigley Field of Midwest auto racing. Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. I just read on Facebook that Dirt Knights won’t be on this week because of the National Hockey League All-Star game.  It will be back next week.

Add Funny Headline Here

January 28, 2011 3 comments

Between a meeting in Omaha, discussing the meeting with someone who couldn’t attend, and being unable to connect to the internet, I didn’t have much chance to come up with a blog topic today.  Wanna talk about Sunset Speedway?  Nah, I have already talked about it too much today.  Should we talk about my sore knee or aching elbow?  Nope, I am more concerned about friend Randy Palmer spending the day in the hospital yesterday-OK, so I did send him a message asking if they did a brain scan and found nothing.  I feel a little guilty about that. I hope you are feeling better Randy. What should we talk about?

Well, we could talk about Mark Martin.  Martin stated that despite his contract with Hendricks Motorsports being up after the 2011 season, “I’m absolutely without a doubt going to be driving race cars next year.”  I think Martin represents NASCAR as well as any Sprint Cup series driver, and I am glad to see the 50 something driver hanging around a while longer.  After his beloved New York Jets lost last weekend, I am sure this makes Tony Anville a little happier too.

www.bleacherreport.com has NASCAR going too far with its new point system-basically what I reported previously, with a three point bonus for winning the race.  ESPN.com calls the system flawed, saying it rewards consistency, not winning.  Well, how about this?  Just give points for winning and tell the other 42 drivers “Sorry, try again next week.  If you don’t win you’re nothing.”  

ESPN.com does give its approval to the new Chase qualifying system, with the 10 in points being joined by two “wild cards,” the drivers with the most wins who had not already qualified for the Chase.  I don’t have a problem with the new format, but I didn’t have a problem with the old format either.  I am just an easy too please.

FoxSports.com says Richard Petty is hot for Danica Patrick.  Now that would be a good story if it was the real story.  Of course the real story is that RPM money man Andrew Murstein sees Danica as an intriguing candidate to drive one of the team’s Fords in 2012.  Clint Bowyer also intrigues Murstein, though I don’t think Bowyer looks as good in a bikini as Patrick.  I am no money man-Dept. of Revenue auditors make me look poor-but I would suggest that a driver who was in the 2010 Sprint Cup Chase might be of more value to the team than someone who has never finished in the top ten of a Nationwide series race, no matter how good she looks in a bikini.

Enough damage for one day.  Back to work talking with people about places I have already talked about too much today.

Thanks for stopping by.

Points And Pointless

January 27, 2011 1 comment

According to David Newton of ESPN.com, if the proposed 43-1 NASCAR Sprint Cup point system had been in place in 2010, Jimmie Johnson would have finished 1 point ahead of Kevin Harvick to claim his 5th straight championship, and Harvick would have finished 1 point ahead of Denny Hamlin. This presents a far more compelling case for the new system than anything said to date.  It makes every position at every race more critical than in past years.  And, if NASCAR wants its final race of the season to have Super Bowl like drama, the top three drivers being just a few on track positions apart in standings certainly would do it.

Also per Newton, NASCAR will be implementing a new system for qualifying.  In the past, if qualifying was rained out, spots on the starting grid were determined by current point standings.  In 2011 it appears this will only be the case if both practice and qualifying are rained out.  If practice takes place, top practice speed of each driver will determine the starting grid. 

Finally, Fox Sports Chairman David Hill would like to see shorter races from NASCAR.  Wouldn’t we all?  Hill stated that for his TV network ideal programming would include 40 minutes of prerace coverage, three hours of race coverage, and 20 minutes of post race coverage.  He talked about all the other entertainment opportunities fans now have, and if that finally becomes a serious consideration for TV, perhaps 30 minutes of prerace coverage, 2 hours and 15 minutes of race coverage, and 15 minutes of post race coverage would be enough.

Despite a clamor from fans for a change, I don’t see much change happening as to the length of a race.  The longer the race, the more commercials the networks sell..  The more commercials sold the more money the network makes.  The more money the network makes, the more money NASCAR can command for televised rights.  Do you think Brian France wants the networks to offer less for TV rights? 

Of course the flip to that is with the large drop in ratings fewer companies want to advertise during Sprint Cup races, and the companies that do advertise don’t want to pay as much money as they once did.  Meaning when the TV contract expires in 2014 networks will either not want to bother with NASCAR or want to pay less for rights.  SO, if we are going to end up in that spot anyway, how about making the races shorter Brian?

As for Mr. Hill, worry about the quality of the program instead of how long it is.  Give fans credit for having half a brain.  Start with getting rid of the idiot cartoon character-I am talking about the animated gopher, not Waltrip or McReynolds, though on second thought…..

Anyway, to sort of quote NASCAR Real Time from yesterday’s blog, “2 ½ hours of s—t, or 3 hours of s—t.  It’s still s—t.” So Mr. Hill, if you make the program better, we will watch.

I didn’t want to spell out the word s—t today.  Randy Palmer gave me a lot of s—t yesterday for doing so. He says it is because sprint car elitists know their s—t.  I say it is because most sprint car fans are full of s—t.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mention Sunset Speedway

January 25, 2011 7 comments

Mention TV coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup races and you are liable to hear what I heard today-I received a Tweet from NASCAR Real Time saying “Bottom line- If the coverage is SHIT… It doesn’t matter how long the race is. 2 1/2 hrs of shit is the same as 3 hrs of shit.” Obviously he is already thinking of the months of Sunday afternoons race fans can spend with Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds.

If you mention NASCAR CEO Brian France to a race fan be prepared to be bombarded with negatives.  I don’t think there is a race fan alive that doesn’t have at least one complaint about the third generation of NASCAR’s ruling family and most blame France, not the economic downturn for stock car racing’s woes.  Count me in with the majority.

Mention the World of Outlaws, and the response will be varied.  Some race fans will call WoO drivers the cream of the dirt track racing crop.  Others will call them prima donnas. I couldn’t argue with either response about the sanction’s sprint car or late model drivers.

Mention a typical Saturday night grass roots race track, and you’ll hear a hundred different responses ranging from “the promoter is a no good SOB,” to “the promoter is better than Santa Claus.”  I know the first thought has been central to many of my blog posts, but there are tracks that I believe the latter idea is correct.

Sunset Speedway is one of those tracks.  Though the Final Sunset took place over 10 years ago, my memories of the place remain vivid and poignant.  Several months ago John Ferguson brought me a dusty foot long section of wood plank that came from the Sunset grandstands.  Yes, I was thrilled to receive it.  At the December meeting of the Sunday Night Irregulars, Tom Schwartz gave me a framed poster from the Final Sunset.  Not only is the section we used to sit in quite visible on the poster, you can actually pick out Matt and I watching a late model parade lap sometime in 2000.  The poster is a memento I will always treasure.

The biggest thread on dirtdrivers.com in several years was one on Sunset Speedway.  I drive by the track several times a year despite the fact the only recognizable feature is the Sunset Inn.  The grandstands and lights are long gone. Parking and the outside pits are farm ground, though housing additions are creeping closer with each passing year. I am not the only sentimental slob who makes this brief, bittersweet journey to the past.

Mention Sunset Speedway to a fan and you will be dazzled by superlatives.  Fans still remember, fans still care, fans long for the golden age of Midwest late model racing. Yesterday I mentioned I was in need of photos of the track, of cars and drivers who raced there.  Given the way people still feel about the grand old dame of racing, I was not surprised when my email box started filling up with replies to my request.  I appreciate the response, though if you have photos I still need them.  If you can scan them and email them to me, that would be great.  If you can’t, send them to me and I will scan them and return them.  My email address is:  brutonnb@yahoo.com

Obviously something is up, but I am going to let rumors fly for now.  I will just say that 2011 is going to be a good year for Sunset Speedway fans.  That I can promise.

Thanks for stopping by.

Categories: January 2011

Snow, Jealousy, Fantasy, and Irregularity

January 24, 2011 3 comments

After shoveling another six inches or so of snow, much to the displeasure of my left knee, back, and right elbow, I came in the house to get warm, logged on to my email and discovered a flyer for the 40th Annual Dirt Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida.  From February 4th-19th dirt track fans can feed their addiction feasting on sprint cars, late models, UMP modifieds, and the big block DirtCar modifieds.

If I wasn’t so polite-see post from several days ago-I would wish cold and rainy weather on everyone in central Florida those days. I am insanely jealous of those who can take the time and who can afford to go to Florida for Speedweeks.  I would love to see the super late models and big block mods double headers.  Watching them race at Volusia is on my bucket list.  Heck, I wouldn’t even mind watching sprint cars this time of year. Head over to the big track in Daytona at least for the Sprint Cup series Twin 150’s and in my opinion that is a dream vacation.

Alas, alack, and aw shit, I don’t write for any publication that pays expenses to cover all the action.  The Rest of the Dirt does not generate enough income to even consider spending a night in Florida, so two weeks isn’t possible, and unlike Messer’s Palmer and Anville, I am not independently wealthy.  Oh, Messer’s isn’t a French abbreviation for Mister, Tony and Randy are people who have a lot of money and try to mess with your mind. 

Actually, my fantasy has always been to go to with a group of the Irregulars to the four nights the late models and big blocks race, and go to the Twin 150’s too.  That may happen one day, but this year I’ll watch from afar, wishing I was there.

At least I can watch Dirt Knights tonight so I won’t have to suffer from DTWS. No, that is not Dancing With The Stars, it is dirt track withdrawal symptoms.  Dirt Knights and no snow forecast for several days will have to get me through this week.

Sorry about no post on Friday.  I had no time to write anything early, and in the afternoon I went to Omaha for an important meeting with Craig Kelley.  Interesting, huh?  Later I met with a group of the Sunday Night Irregulars at very noisy Sortino’s Pizza.  One of the mainstays of our group, Steve “Belleville 100” Basch missed the event, but Rick Bradley and Randy Palmer insulted me enough to replace my being “Basched.”  Others there were Mike Pierson, Craig Kelley, Stan Cisar, my son Matt, and Tom Gutowski-who is headed to Phoenix for a week of IMCA modified racing. Anyway, the Omaha trip is my excuse for no blog.

Thanks for stopping by.

I Wish I Could Be More Sarcastic-I’m Just Too Polite

January 21, 2011 4 comments

Gregg Doyel is a writer for CBSSPORTS.com.  He is what I call ironically funny-others probably use the term smart ass.  He wrote a column last week pleading for the New England Patriots to shut up the coaches, players, and fans of the New York Jets.  Unfortunately the Jets won and he has been taking some lumps from his readers who are Jet fans-Doyel keeps the words real simple when he writes about the Jets so their fans can understand.  Matt sent me a column in which he replies to his “hate” mail, and I have to admit to envying him for having an attitude that allows him to smite his detractors.  Me, I am just too polite.

Here are just a few of his witty replies:

From: The Sunks

Great call in asking the Patriots to shut the Jets up. How’d that work out for you?

Sometimes the good guys lose, and by good guys, I don’t mean the Patriots. I mean me. Starting to get angry here …

From: Brian Lawson

You SUX and I would imagine your boyfriend and mother do, also. But I for sure you Sux.

Well done. Most people need several paragraphs to prove how stupid they are. You pulled it off in 18 words — and I had a pretty good idea after two.

From: Scott Truong

I think you should shut up Gregg Doyel. Hahahaha.. lol GO JETS!!!

I must admit to wondering why you would type “hahahaha” and then “lol.” Or why you would type “lol” at all. I’m guessing Scott Truong isn’t your real name, because you write like a teenage girl. Or like Shaquille O’Neal.

From: Inochi T. Lofton

EPIC FAIL!!!! EAT CROW GREGG ADD SOME KETCHUP!!! YOUR ARTICLE WAS A HUGE WASTE!!!! KEEP WRITING DUMB PREDICTIONS!!! YOU DID THE JETS A FAVOR!!!

All caps. Tons of exclamation marks. Silly taunting. Congratulations, Inochi — that’s the douchebag triple crown.

I should have saved comments like these for comments from sprint car fans, but as I mentioned above, I am just too polite.  Sometimes I wish my mother hadn’t raised me to be such a nice guy.

NASCAR may be announcing a change in The Chase tomorrow.  Instead of the top 12 drivers in point standings qualifying for the Chase, only the top 10 will qualify.  The other two qualifiers will be drivers outside the top 10 who have the most wins.  I call this the “Keep Kyle Busch From Whining All Fall” rule. 

Check out Mike Pierson’s comments about my blog post yesterday.  Interesting.  Others are calling for NASCAR to down size the Sprint Cup starting grid from 43 cars to 34 cars and to eliminate automatic qualifying.  Yes, it would be hilarious for a Jimmie Johnson or Carl Edwards to not qualify some week, but what it would really do is get rid of the “start and park” cars and I think that is worth a rule change. 

Sprint Cup qualifying at Pocono will be held on Saturday this year. I like that.  NASCAR may be doing away with a lot of Sprint Cup drivers running Nationwide races, and having qualifying on Saturday will give fans who come to the Saturday race a chance to see the top names in the sport anyway.  I hope more tracks follow the Pocono lead.

I am looking forward to pizza at Sortino’s in Omaha tomorrow night with all the Sunday Night Irregulars.  Anyone who wants to do some bench racing should show up at 5:30 p.m.

Thanks for stopping by.