NASCAR, Sports

Best Weekend of the Year

Ok, this morning I am going to  be an unabashed American.  Why, because I truly believe we, in the United States, live in the best country in the world.  No place else is even a close second.

Memorial Day weekend is awesome.  Sunday we saw the Indianapolis 500, the 100th running.  It was amazing.  It wasn’t just the racing on the track but it truly is a spectacle.  350,00 people gathered at the track in the heart of the midwest to watch the greatest racing event on the face of the earth.

The Coca Cola 600 was run in the evening.  It too was an awesome race, perhaps the best race of the year in NASCAR.

Now, you might be thinking that the winner of the 500, Alexander Rossi, came across the line at 50mph and won on fuel strategy.  You may also be thinking that Martin Truex Jr. stunk up the show in Charlotte by leading 392 or 400 laps and that the race was over almost as soon as the green flag dropped.

You would be right on both points.  However, I contend that the greatness of those events, and any number of events that day and all weekend, can’t be measured by the competition or who won or lost.  They are instead measured by the fact that we can have them.  Both events did a very nice job of recognizing the Military and most importantly those who gave all in defense of our Country.  This is exactly how these events are measured.  We live in a country that is defended by brave women and men who watch over us while we go to races, baseball games, hockey games, etc.  Without them there wouldn’t be any of the things we enjoy.  Simply having the events makes them great and we should never, ever lose sight of that fact.

I want to thank my fellow Veterans and especially those who have fallen for allowing me to watch the races this weekend.  I want to thank them for allowing me, and all of us, the freedoms we enjoy each and every day.  Thank them for the best weekend of the year.

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Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR, Sports

600 Prediction

This is the greatest weekend of the summer as far as I am concerned.  I am not a big F1 fan but I am an early riser.  I will be watching the Grand Prix of Monaco at 7:30 on Sunday morning.

I wasn’t a motorsports fan growing up but we always watched the Indianapolis 500.  It is an American institution and I won’t miss it this year.

Both of these races lead to one of NASCAR’s best events of the summer.  The Coca Cola 600.  The longest race of the summer.  Starts in the daylight and ends at night.  It is a true test of driver, crew chief, and equipment.  So who will win it this year?  Yesterday I wrote about Ford’s recent resurgence in the sport.  So will a Ford be in Victory Lane at the end of the race, no but they will be close.  Here is my top 5.

5.  Chase Elliot

4.  Carl Edwards

3.  Kyle Busch

2.  Joey Logano

1.  Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The sport’s most popular driver will get his first win of the season.  Hendrick Motorsports has been working hard this season to catch and keep up with JGR and this weekend will show they have done it.

Enjoy the racing.

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Ford, NASCAR, Sports

Ford

Did you notice who won the two All Star Race Showdown qualifiers this past Saturday?  Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne.  Who won the All Star Race?  Joey Logano.  What do these three drivers have in common?  All three race Fords.

Ford is making a comeback, a strong comeback.  Team Penske has ben carrying the torch for the Blue Oval since making the switch after Dodge left the Series a few years back.  Joey and Brad have won multiple races and Joey may have been the Cup champion last year if he hadn’t had it taken away from him in Martinsville.

Roush Fenway, who at one time was the king of the 1.5 mile tracks, has disappeared over the last several years but now are making a comeback.  Now don’t get me wrong, they haven’t exactly been contending for wins but they are at least in the mix.  Stenhouse and Bayne are 18th and 19th in the standings and Biffle, while 24th, is running much better.

Lets not forget that Ryan Blaney is running a Ford for the Wood brothers this year as well and may be the most exciting Blue Oval driver, at least the best story, this year.  He is currently inside the chase grid at 15th giving Ford three drivers in the top 16.

Next year, as is well known by now, Stewart Haas Racing will make the move to Ford.  Harvick and Kurt Busch are locks every year for the chase and don’t be surprised to see Clint Bowyer right up there once he gets to SHR.  I think at least one RFR driver makes the chase this season and probably two next season.  So what does all of this mean.  If my math is correct there will be maybe 4 Ford chase drivers this season and next season there could be as many as 7!

This is a huge turn around for the Ford Motor Company.  Ford has clearly made a concentrated effort to strengthen their spot in the sport.  RFR’s stronger showing, I would have to bet, is directly linked to more support from the manufacturer.  Look no further than the fact that they acquired SHR to know they mean business.

I love it and you should too.  Chevy has dominated the sport for years and now with Toyota and Ford stepping up their game it will mean better racing and competition.

Thanks for reading.  Please check out my novels on the Home page.

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Kyle Larson, NASCAR, Sports, Uncategorized

Kyle Larson

Here is what I am going to say about the All Star Race format this past week.  Nothing.  Here is what I am going to say about the racing this past weekend, wow!!!  Thank you very much NASCAR, Kyle Larson and Chip Gnassi Racing.

NASCAR has created a new package that has led to better racing.  Gnassi has clearly stared fielding better equipment.  Giving Kyle Larson better equipment should worry the rest of the Cup field.  Larson put on a show this past Saturday.  He and Chase Elliot, who I recently put in my top 5 and still do, raced each other hard in the Showdown.  I am an unapologetic HMS fan but I have to admit that I was happy to see Kyle win, in part because I was pretty sure Chase would make it on the fan vote.   Kyle’s racing was spectacular and he finally showed the type of aggression he should if he wants to win.  Matt Kenseth should be glad he didn’t come to his senses at Dover.

Then in the All Star race itself Kyle put on a show tracking down Joey in the final laps of the final section.  He came up just short when he scraped the wall.  Why did he scrape the wall?  Because he was driving the car to the limits, a level that would have been way past the limit for a lot of drivers.

I have never been more excited about the racing in the Cup series.  These aggressive young guys, the new downforce package, and the chase format are to me a perfect storm that will keep the racing great for years to come.  I want to see Kyle Larson win a race this year and I think he may as long as the folks at Gnassi, don’t forget about the infusion of money brought by Rob Kaufman, keep pushing ahead to make sure their equipment keeps pace.  If I were Chip I would do whatever I had to do to keep Kyle there for a long, long time.  I can’t wait for the 600.

 

 

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NASCAR, Sports

Jim and Choc

When my career was winding down, I found myself behind a desk, I hated it.  I had spent a lifetime either working in the field, training others to work in the field, or supervising that training.  So when I found myself staring at a computer screen and going to meetings I wasn’t happy, not at all.  I counted the days until I was eligible to retire.  Trading Paint got me through it.

Thanks to Sirius/XM I was able to listen to NASCAR radio through most of the day.  I would listen to the Morning Drive with Pete and the Bagman in the morning.  In the afternoon and during the ride home it was Dave Moody.   However, it was Trading Paint that got me through the bulk of the day.  It’s the best show on radio.  When I first started listening it was Chocolate and Rick now its Choc and Jim.  I love their show.  I did then and I do now.

I think these two guys have a natural relationship that comes across over the air.  I also think, although it comes from two different perspectives and backgrounds, that they are two of the most insightful analysts of NASCAR in the business.  Jim Noble is a sharp guy who has unwavering opinions based on what he sees and what he has seen in the sport.  What I like most about Jim is he states that opinion sticks with it and will admit if he was wrong.  He also handles the fans that call in with great care, even when he doesn’t agree with them or when maybe they are not really deserving of that great care.

Chocolate is the best in the business, bar none.  He has the unique ability to reference his long history in the sport without being one of those guys who has become stuck or lost back there.  He is a progressive guy who frequently references “back in the day” but usually to show that it (the sport and the racing) is better now than it was then.  His greatest asset, in my opinion, is his rapport with people in the sport.  Everyone knows Chocolate and everyone will talk to him.  Not many people in any sport or walk of life who have the respect that Choc has in NASCAR.  He is, as far as I can tell, universally respected.

I also think they have the best guests every week.  I always look forward to Monday’s when  Earl Barben, the spotter for Jimmie Johnson, joins them.  I love Wednesday when Dr. Dick Berggren comes on.  Their interaction with guests and the valuable information they get from them is great.

These days the desk is becoming a distant memory.  I listen to Jim and Choc while I write and while I do yard work.  I still love listening to them and hope that they stay together for a long, long time.  Of course I would be remiss not to mention how much I miss Fridays with Buddy Baker.  The great man brought a great, great perspective to the show and his voice and kindness I miss very much.

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Chevrolet, Ford, NASCAR, Toyota

Sell Everyday Race on Sunday

When I was a kid, a long time ago, and it was time for our family to buy a new car we went to the dealership and bought one.  I don’t mean that we shopped around and bought one I mean we went to THE dealership and bought one.  There was only one place we would go, in our case it was a Chevrolet dealership where we always bought our cars.  I am sure my family had been buying Chevy’s for years.  It was the only make my grandparents ever had too.

When I graduated from college and got my first job my, friend’s parents were nice enough to let me stay with them until I got set up.  When I showed up at their home they wanted to show me something in their garage.  They had a new car, a Toyota Camry.  A what!  I clearly remember my friend’s dad going on and on about how great, and reliable, the car was.  It was the first time I even considered that someone might own something other than an American automobile.

Thirty years later it is clear that the American made car is no longer thought of the same way that it was.  It is also clear that Toyota has used their popularity among the masses to begin to dominate NASCAR.  Chevrolet has won the past 13 NASCAR manufacturer championships.  It is beginning to look as though that streak may be snapped.  Here is my take on how it happened.

Toyota consistently out sells other makes of automobiles in the United States.  In 2015 the Corolla was #2 selling over 306,000 and the Camry was #1 with over 361,000.  The highest selling Ford was the Fusion at #6 (255,000) and the the Focus was #9 (180,000).  The highest Chevrolet was the Cruz #8 (193,000).  Toyota is riding its popularity amongst US consumers right into the NASCAR.  Its great for the sport because the money they are pouring in has made the racing better and more competitive.  It wasn’t long ago that they were the third make and were struggling to compete.  Not anymore.  Chevy has let a team get away and Ford seems to be making a run to become relevant again in the Cup Series.  If Chevy isn’t careful they will go from the top to the bottom in a hurry.

I am really hoping that Chevy does something in the off season to infuse more money into the sport, maybe bolster one of the teams that already represent their brand.  Do something to combat the loss of SHR and the onslaught from Toyota.  Why?  Because I am a Chevy guy.  I also think they should go back to racing a car that we at least occasionally see on the road.  Has anyone ever even seen an SS?

Look, this has nothing to do with American v Foreign manufacturers it has everything to do with those trips to the Chevy dealership I referenced in my opening paragraph.  Chevy means something to me because it reminds me of when I was young and of all the cars I have owned since then.  Not too many things remain consistent in our lives right?

Thanks for reading!!

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NASCAR, Sports

Top 5 after 12

As the Cup Series heads into All Star Weekend they have completed 12 of the scheduled 36 races, one third of the way through the season.  I thought this would be a good time to write about who I thought were the top 5 drivers at this point in the season.  So here we go.

 

5.  Matt Kenseth

OK, I know he got his first win of the season just this past weekend.  I am also aware that he may not have won then if it hadn’t been for the big wreck on the late re start.  However, he did win and he is in top notch equipment.  Look for Matt to win at least three more times this season.

4.  Carl Edwards

Sensing a trend here, another Toyota/Gibbs driver.  Carl has notched two wins and just like Matt he is in the best equipment in the series.  He will ride the momentum into the second third of the season and notch at least two more wins this season.

3.  Kevin Harvick

Sure only one win but he has 9 top 10’s and 5 top 5’s.  He has been the fastest Chevy in the field this year and the most consistent.  Look for Pit crew changes at SHR and then look for several more, maybe three, more wins this season.

2  Chase Elliot

I know, I know how can I put a rookie who hasn’t won yet at number 2.  Because he is just too cool to not win this season.  He is running with the big boys and not flinching. 8 Top 10’s and 4 top 5’s.  I’m going to make a big prediction here.  Chase Elliot will win the 600 on Memorial day weekend.

1   Kyle Busch

3 Wins and 9 top 5’s.  Lets face facts the current Sprint Cup Champion is probably the most talented driver in the series driving the best equipment in the series.  Makes him the easy choice for number 1.

 

This is NASCAR and how many times have we seen things in the garage turn around almost overnight?  It could happen tomorrow and some or all of these drivers may fall out of my top 5 by the end of the second third.  That’s one of the many reason I love NASCAR.

 

Please see my Novels on the Home Page.

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