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Archive for January, 2014

Cut To The Chase; Insane Rain; Plus Deportation Hysteria

January 31, 2014 1 comment

NASCAR is officially changing the format of The Chase, and it is pretty much as I had mentioned in a previous post-16 drivers, four drivers eliminated after every three races, and four competing for the championship in the last race of the season. At that time I did not think NASCAR would change the points of the “Final Four,” but that is exactly what is going to happen. All four drivers will enter the Homestead race with the same points, meaning the first driver to cross the finish line is the champion.

While it may not happen, a driver who has been dominant all season, who has absolutely dominated the first nine Chase races can get caught up in an early lap mishap caused by a back marker and end up being relegated to 4th in the Chase. Theoretically, a driver who was fourth and did not win a Chase race could be champion. Maybe they can name the championship trophy after Derrick Cope. Cope will be forever known as a Daytona 500 champion, winning the 1990 race when Dale Earnhardt had a late lap flat tire. Without that flat tire, Cope wouldn’t be known for much of anything.

One thing the format change means is that a Chase driver cannot have a bad race and expect to win the championship. With four drivers being eliminated from the championship after every three Chase races, it doesn’t appear there is any way to recover from a bad day at the track.

I rarely agree with anything that Carl Edwards or Brad Keselowski say, but check out the link below. Both drivers actually make sense.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/drivers-differ-proposed-nascar-format-170148048–nascar.html

Once again, rain in Florida led to postponing the NeSmith crate late model races at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala. As of this writing, races at BRP and East Bay Raceway Park near Tampa are still scheduled for tonight. Keep your fingers crossed. I would like to check in on both on XSANTV, but would settle for watching racing from even one track.

Did you sign the petition to deport Justin Bieber? I would gladly sign this petition if the BBC-Bieber Back to Canada-people would sign three of my deportation petitions. I am writing petitions to deport both Steve Pederson and Bill Callahan to the Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean. This French possession has no airport and to reach the Kerguelens requires a six day boat trip from Madagascar. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if both were incommunicado? Nebraska fans neither forgive, nor forget.

I am also starting a petition to deport the entire Roush Fenway Racing organization to Greenland. I would have said Canada’s Northwest Territory-home of several thousand polar bears, but if the Canadians have to take back Bieber they should not have to take Edwards-Biffle-Stenhouse-Roush-etal. There are still polar bears in Greenland too. And no, I am not mentioning these carnivores just because they have a thick layer of fat.

If any of you want to sign these petitions, let me know.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Redneck Ball (Of Confusion)

January 30, 2014 Leave a comment

I have been invited to participate in http://www.DirtonDirt.com Top 25 balloting again this season. I thought that doing this in 2013 kept me more in tune with what was happening in the dirt late model world, and hopefully the same will be true this season. The first poll will come out early next week-no, Arizona and Texas don’t count. Call them spring training I guess. This ballot will be “preseason.”

I will publish my ballot in Monday’s blog, but I already did a preliminary spreadsheet. Of course my top ten will be mainly veterans-I am over 60, so of course I am going with old-timers. There are some young guns on my ballot, including one that might surprise some. No, it isn’t Tony Jackson Jr. Sorry neither the 2013 MARS and MLRA champ, nor the 2013 CBC champ Chad Simpson is making the cut. Maybe next time. Or maybe not.

I did a quick check of my site stats to see how well my spam software is working. While it has kicked out almost 7,000 spam comments, it also has got rid of 172 comments it calls “ham.” I have no idea what the difference between computer spam and computer ham is, though I assume ham is not quite as bad as spam. Or, it could simply be the number of comments I receive from residents of Auburn and Lincoln, Nebraska who enjoy “hamming it up.”

Rain continues to dampen the spirit of racers and fans in Florida. Last night’s practice session at East Bay Raceway Park has been moved to tonight and racing for UMP Modifieds and Florida Mini-Sprints will be Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon.

The Bubba Winternationals race scheduled for tonight has not been cancelled. At least not yet. I checked the XSANTV event page, the Bubba Raceway Park site, and the NeSmith Crate Late website and for now tonight’s race is on. I’ll cross my fingers. I also checked Ocala weather and there is a 40% chance for rain tonight. Even if it doesn’t rain, it will be a chilly night. It was only 38 in Ocala around lunch time. Break my heart-the temperature in Fremont when I drove to work was 45.

Why do I think that Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans should flock to the Bubba Winternationals? Because it sounds like a redneck Woodstock. If Junior raced on dirt like Tony Stewart did(or does?), there is no question he would race at BRP, aka Burp. Hey, Nebraska Raceway Park-NRP-was known as Nerp during its Craig Kelley heyday, so BRP has to be Burp.

My mind photos of tailgating at BRP show kids eating watermelon while toothy-or not so toothy, tattooed Tar Heels toss toilet seats in one of the many redneck Olympic games. Another game would be beer can to the forehead smashing. A prerace car show would feature 10’ tall rusted out pick-ups with Confederate flags flying from antennas-no Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance at BRP.

Yes, I do realize there is a little inconsistency in me bashing rednecks given that I will be watching racing from BRP tonight if weather in Florida permits. And Jane and I did live in a trailer when we first got married. Heck, we lived in trailers twice-my Yuppie son spent the early part of his life being raised in a trailer. I never owned a pick-up, but my dad owned a ’48 Chevy pick-up that he called Teddy Roosevelt (because it was a rough-riding sob). I spent more than a little time in the Dug Out bar in Fremont-blue collar, I was too young to recognize redneck. I do have all my teeth, though my dentist wants to pull a wisdom tooth and we will be arguing about that this afternoon when I visit. So, it’s not just inconsistency, I’m a ball of confusion.

Or like The Tempations sang:

Air pollution, revolution, gun control,
Sound of soul
Shootin’ rockets to the moon
Kids growin’ up too soon
Politicians say more taxes will
Solve everything
And the band played on
So round ‘n’ round ‘n’ round we go
Where the world’s headed, nobody knows
Just a Ball of Confusion
Oh yea, that’s what the world is today.

But I still am going to watch races tonight at TROTD Speedway.

Thanks for stopping by.

No Burp-Not Even After Eating Popcorn, Little CBC, Plus Sprint All-Star Changes

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

TRODT Speedway was open for business last night. The concession stand was stocked with popcorn and Diet Coke and the grandstand was packed with fans. I do not need any comments coming from Lincoln about it being packed me because I take up a lot of space.

I Googled “XSANTV,” went to the site ready to log in for some racing and found that Mother Nature beat me to the punch. Due to rain the first two nights of the Bubba Winternationals at Bubba Raceway Park, aka BRP-pronounced ‘Burp’ were rescheduled to Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I ate the popcorn and drank the Diet Coke anyway. Saturday will be four basketball games for me, and Sunday is the Super Bowl.

The Iowa based Corn Belt Clash has only 12 races scheduled this season. The CBC season kicks off on April 4th and 5th at I-80 Speedway, and will visit the Nebraska speed plant again on June 27th for the Alphabet Soup Race. On June 28th the CBC will be in action at Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa. All of these races are co-sanctioned with the MLRA.

I have heard rumors in the past of the CBC becoming another Forrest Lucas asset, merging with the MLRA. In 2014 the MLRA has two races scheduled in prime CBC territory, one in May in Independence, Iowa and the other in June at Oskaloosa. Perhaps that is exploring how well the series performs in the Hawkeye State before a possible deal-and that is pure speculation on my part. If the two do combine into a mega-Midwest series, it seems like super late model racing in the region has come full circle. Races would be held in Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Iowa-a lot like the old NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour or Jim Wilson’s WDRL.

“In this ever changing world in which we live in” Charlotte Motor Speedway is altering its Sprint All-Star weekend. The Sprint Showdown-the race in which non-winners vie for the final two spots in the Sprint All-Star race-will now be held on Friday night instead of on Saturday preceding the All-Star soiree. The Friday night show will also include a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.

Pole position qualifying for the Sprint All-Star race will be held on Saturday, just ahead of the race. Positions will be determined by a three lap run that includes a four tire pit stop. As of now, 18 drivers are entered in the race. Two more will come from the Sprint Showdown and fans vote for one more driver to race-I call this the “Dale Earnhardt Jr. provisional,” and yes I do know he did not need it last year. He may this year, though any driver winning a Sprint Cup point race prior to the Charlotte event will be added to the starting grid.

I am OK with the changes. I have never been a big fan of the Sprint Showdown. It is like a NASCAR version of an NCRA late model race in Belleville, Kansas-cars go fast, but no name drivers. I don’t like time trial qualifying either, but with the best NASCAR drivers and best pit crews involved, it is more exciting than watching Travis Kvapil, J.J. Yeley, Landon Cassill, and David Gilliland run around CMS for 30 laps with Darrell Waltrip hyping the action like it was the final laps of the Daytona 500.

Now, what I really would like to see is to make the All-Star race something more than a $1,000,000 contribution to the Jimmie Johnson Get A New Jet Fund. Actually, I wouldn’t care if Johnson did win, if it would be a three-wide photo finish with a half dozen cars just behind.

Thanks for stopping by.

Busch, Badger, Youngsters At BRP-That’s Pronounced ‘Burp’

January 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Kurt Busch stated there is a 70% chance he will run in both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 over Memorial Day weekend. His commitment is obviously with his new NASCAR team, but his car owner Stewart Haas is interested in being a part of the Indy effort, so that makes racing both more feasible. I am thinking that for Busch to race Indy Cars he will have to bring sponsorship money. The novelty of racing 1,100 miles on the same day at tracks several hours of helicopter and private jet rides apart should bring in $$$, and of course Haas isn’t exactly short on cash.

Wisconsin is a more populous state than Nebraska and it shows in its ability to maintain a high profile sprint car series. While the Nebraska 360 Sprints have 15 races at 7 tracks in 2014, the Wisconsin based IRA Outlaw Sprint Series-a 410 sprint car series-has 29 events scheduled at 15 different Badger State tracks. I realize that more races are not always a good thing, but in this case more does seem better.

Yes, I will be watching XSANTV tonight as the NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series opens its 2014 season at the Bubba Winternationals at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida. BRP? I guess that would be pronounced “Burp” and isn’t that fitting for a redneck race track? Last year 72 cars appeared in this event.

Mostly I do not know who the NeSmith drivers are, though I have heard of Ronnie Johnson, Tait Davenport, and Johnny Stokes. Ray Cook is also rumored to be racing, so there is no shortage of good drivers on hand for the crate late models. One interesting story coming out of Florida is the youth movement gone insane. Tyler Clem, son of BRP track owner Bubba ‘The Love Sponge’ Clem and Michael Lake will both attempt to qualify for feature races over the next five nights. Young Clem is all of 11 years old, while Lake is ancient at 12 years old. Both have won late model races, so I suppose my “tsk, tsk, they should be racing go-karts” is unfounded.

XSAN’s shows begin at 6:00 p.m. Central Time through Saturday. The first four nights will have 40 lap, $2,000 to win features, while Saturday’s feature will pay $3,000 to win and will be a 50 lap race.

Obviously there will be support classes racing this week, but I can’t confirm which ones and when they will race. I suspect hobby stocks and the track’s thunder stock class will be on hand though. From an earlier race I recall the thunder stocks seem to be a cross between a late model and a modified, and they race like B-mods.

Also on hand will be track announcer Joe Dirt. Of course the track announcer at “Burp” would have to be known as Joe Dirt. I have no idea if Joe Dirt is related to Shelby County Speedway and I-80 Speedway announcer Joe Proctor aka Stroker.

Thanks for stopping by.

Late Models In El Paso, PPV’s From Florida, And Sprints At Australia and Arizona

January 27, 2014 Leave a comment

I enjoy watching Mr. Smooth in action. NO, I am NOT talking about any of my readers, so I don’t need an email from Lincoln thanking me for mentioning someone I did not mention. I am talking of Billy Moyer.

Moyer led about half of Friday’s Battle of the Border late model feature and appeared to have the race well in hand when one of what I call the desert rats or NCRA Desert Division, actually known as the CDM series brought out a caution in the middle part of the race. This put John Blankenship on Moyer’s rear bumper for the restart. Moyer held off the 2013 World 100 winner for several laps, but Blankenship managed to get around the 21 to become the seventh winner in seven nights of NDRL/CDM racing in the southwest US.

Blankenship followed up his Friday victory with a close win over Indiana driver Kent Robinson on Saturday. Terry Phillips finally overcame a string of bad luck to win Sunday’s feature and take $5,000 back to Springfield, Missouri. Robinson again finished second.

A number of drivers have to be pleased with their results from the weekend. Blankenship will have momentum going into the start of the Georgia-Florida Speedweeks races with two wins and a 4th place finish. Robinson started poorly on Friday with a 21st, but his two second place finishes could have been wins just as easily. Moyer had a 2nd, 8th, and a 3rd, while Moyer Jr. had an 8th, a 3rd, and a 6th-their switch to a Longhorn chassis has paid early season dividends.

Terry Phillips started slowly-he had a 14th on Friday, but finished 5th on Saturday and won on Sunday. Jimmy Mars continued his early season success with a 7th place finish on Friday, a 6th on Saturday, and a 5th last night.

One driver that did not fare especially well on his January journey was 2013 MLRA and MARS champion Tony Jackson Jr. His average finish in Tucson was 16th, and in El Paso he finished 17th-14th-22nd. I suspect I won’t be lobbied to put him in my Top 25 when balloting starts in February. Jackson needs to have a long talk with chassis builder Darrell Lanigan before the NDRL point races begin.

Watching last night’s feature reminded me of one of my pet peeves. The 911 car driven by Cliff Hansen was lapped repeatedly by leaders. Late in the race he was being lapped seemingly every 3-4 laps, meaning he was way off the race pace set by Phillips and Robinson. To me, the driver should have been black flagged as going that slow presents a safety hazard to all cars on the track. You can argue the driver needs seat time, but he needs seat time racing weekly, not at specials running against national caliber drivers. How did he qualify for the feature if he was that slow? There were only 24 cars on hand on Friday, so everyone qualified. On Saturday 26 cars were on hand, but two cars scratched from the feature. Last night there were 25 late models in the pits, but one had mechanical difficulties and scratched for the night.

XSANTV is the place to get your racing fix this week. Starting tomorrow XSAN will be showing the Bubba Army Winternationals from Ocala, Florida and later in the week the site will show crate lates from Ocala and UMP modifieds from Tampa’s East Bay Raceway Park. Action will begin at 6:00 p.m. Central, Tuesday through Saturday.

I have mentioned sprint cars in far too long. Californian Tim Kaeding won the 42nd Lucas Oil Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic at Sungold Stadium in Warrenambool, Australia. The race is Australia’s version of the Knoxville Sprint Car Nationals, and paid $30,000 Australian to win (approximately $26,100 when converted to US dollars). I love the Australian city names, and this race is on my “if I ever win the lottery” bucket list. Check out the link from National Speedsport News that includes Kaeding’s victory celebration which may be the wildest anyone has ever done:

http://www.nationalspeedsportnews.com/category/sprints-midgets/

I have to admit I enjoyed the above video, and not just Kaeding’s Kraziness. Maybe it is that I didn’t have to give up and hour of my life watching race cars be pushed to start.

Closer to home-well, heck, pretty much any track I write about is going to be closer than one in Australia-USAC Sprint raced three nights at Canyon Speedway Park near Phoenix. Brady Bacon won on Friday, while Dave Darland, “The People’s Champ,” won A features on both Saturday and Sunday. IMCA modifieds were the support class at Canyon Speedway Park. Ricky Thornton Jr. did a Darland, winning on Saturday and Sunday, while Friday night’s victor was none other than Jason Noll, subject of a well-written Dirt Modified article several months ago.

Finally, Jimmie Johnson was named the Nationals Motorsports Press Association’s Richard Petty Driver of the Year award at the NMPA’s annual convention held in Concord, North Carolina over the weekend. This event is also on my “if I ever win the lottery” bucket list as I am an NMPA member and would like to visit with some of the famous race writers who are also members. Mainly I mentioned this because my friend Tony Anville is a big Richard Petty fan, and has told Matt and me numerous times of meeting “the King.”

Thanks for stopping by.

Sprint Cars vs. Late Models. What I Write When I Have Nothing To Write About.

January 24, 2014 2 comments

Yes, as a matter of fact I have purchased the three night Battle of the Border PPV on http://www.DirtonDirt.com and I will be logging on at 5:40 p.m. Central Time for the pre-race show. How could I pass when the program includes X-Mods (another name for B-Mods) all three nights AND 305 Sprint Cars on Saturday?

I’m not sure how I found it, but I went to a site promoting the Great American Think-off yesterday. Apparently this event has been around for years and involves amateurs debating philosophical questions like “is mankind inherently good or inherently evil?” Right away I changed the question to “are auditors inherently good or inherently evil?” but there is no debate on that-everyone already knows the answer.

Almost as easy to answer would be the question “are sprint car fans inherently good or inherently evil?” I did think of posing a serious question though: Which division is more important to the future of dirt track racing, late models or sprint cars? A healthy debate would be interesting. Unfortunately I know how few people respond to my invitations to contribute to the blog and I figured all I was likely to get was trash talk from the Dennis Rodman of winged wonders, Randy Palmer.

It is an interesting question though. At one time sprint car racing could lead to an Indy Car ride, but that has not been the case for years. However, a number of exceptional sprint car racers have transitioned into the NASCAR version of stock cars, including Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. Is providing future NASCAR drivers the most important objective of dirt track racing? I think not. Putting butts in the grandstands is.

Which division is the feature class at more tracks? Include super late model spin-offs crate late models and GN’s, but also include the 305 and 360 sprints with the 410 sprint cars. The answer would be none of the above, as modifieds and their bastardized version B-mods head the program at many tracks.

Who are the most loyal fans? Lots of fans travel hundreds of miles to watch super late models, but series like the WoO 410 divas have a caravan of motor homes trailing them to every race too. Late model hall of famer Joe Kosiski has a ton of sprint car races on his I-80 Speedway schedule in 2014. That tends to suggest he sees sprint car fans as more loyal and a profitable group to cater to. At the rare sprint car events I attend, 95% of those same fans don’t seem to be more than a few steps away from the beer concession, so that might contribute to so many sprint shows at I-80 this year.

As far as aesthetics, I am totally biased. I absolutely without question, 100% hate the time wasted having to push start the open wheeled cars-for hot laps, for heats, for re-starts, for features, for everything. To me, watching sprint cars being push started is like having a root canal on tooth after tooth after tooth. The single file “racing” and wild show stopping wrecks I can tolerate; push starts I cannot. I think of how many months of his life Steve Kinser has spent waiting for a push and can only say “wow.”

Both classes are expensive-for drivers and for promoters. Both classes greatly entertain their fans. Most sprint car fans dislike late models, and most late model fans hate sprint cars. Sprint car fans think late models are dinosaurs, and late model fans wish sprint cars would wherever those creatures went thousands of years ago. The debate has been going on for decades, and me not having anything else to write about for my blog today won’t change much either.

So, which class is more important for the future of dirt track racing? Being a great thinker I will leave it as the success of both classes are needed to ensure a future for dirt track racing. However, if I receive any replies regarding the number of teeth fender loving fans are missing, I can change my thinking quickly.

Thanks for stopping by.

NASCAR Qualifying Plus Sunset Speedway Reunion

January 23, 2014 Leave a comment

NASCAR is changing qualifying yet again. According to Yahoo Sports the change will occur after Daytona. On tracks of 1 ¼ miles or greater, three time sessions will be held. All cars will run the first 25 minute session, and the slowest cars, positions 25-43 will be determined in this session.

The remaining 24 cars will run a 10 minute session with positions 13-24 determined. The top 12 cars will run a final 10 minute session with the pole position through 12th being decided.

On tracks shorter than 1 ¼ miles there will be just two time sessions. The first will last 30 minutes and positions 13-43 will be determined. There will be a 10 minute session for the fastest 12 cars, again determining the pole through 12th.

I have not watched F1 qualifying in years but I am told the new NASCAR format is similar to F1. The above is for the Sprint Cup series, but the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series will have similar formats.

I have never been a great fan of one car on the track for two laps-not in NASCAR, not on dirt tracks, so I would give the change at least one thumb up. If I am at the track, I would much rather see a lot of cars on the track running hard, than just one ala NASCAR or a handful of cars as with some of the dirt tours. If I could see Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, and others on the track for 30 minutes going as hard as they can, that is almost like a mini-race.

According to Lee Ackerman, the Sunset Reunion at Quaker Steak Lube was a big success, with a standing room only crowd. I still wonder how much interest a book on the track would get. Several years ago I thought of possibly doing an “oral history” with dozens of short chapters on the characters the track produced over 6 different decades ala the Chicken Soup series. Add 100 good photos to the book and throw in a CD of races from the Final Sunset and it seems like a good package, one that would make a helluva Christmas gift for local race fans.

The trouble with such a book isn’t in the writing, it is in the publishing. Some think that self-publishing can be done cheap and with little effort, but I will introduce you to a hundred writers who will tell you those people are full of something Nebraska farmers used to use to fertilize fields. To do things right would likely cost an outlay of $20,000-$25,000. Could 1,000 books at $25.00 each be sold, recouping expenses? Perhaps, but there is no guarantee, and I know of one 401(K) that isn’t going to be touched to find out.

The project would need an “angel” willing to fund up to $25,000 to work with a consultant like Concierge Marketing to take the book from concept to writing to editing to publishing to promoting and marketing-with a vague hope of getting his money back, but not much of a return. I don’t know where any such angels live.

Yeah, I know this sounds like I have given the matter a lot of thought. Circumstances would have to be much different for me to sign on though. Craig Kelley is my friend, but the thought of us working together on a book sends a mind picture of the old TV commercials showing two bighorn sheep butting heads-in this case two butt heads butting heads.

The track deserves a book, but every year that passes increases the odds of it never happening.

Thanks for stopping by.