User-agent: * Allow: / CH on Track: August 2009


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Great race at Bristol Motor Speedway

As expected, another good race at Bristol. I'd like to make several observations:

Congratulations to Mark Martin who started his 1000th race tonight at Bristol. As an Arkansan, I am very proud of Mark. The pre-race show on Speed that told his story was moving. Mark drove a great race tonight. He led the most laps and came so close. His second place finish is nothing at all to be ashamed of. It is just too bad he couldn't have made it to the front one last time.

Congratulations to Kyle Busch, who seemed a little bit humbled (even if it was an act, I am buying it). He pulled off a great win tonight. While he is still not in the chase, it is just a matter of time.

Congratulations to Ryan Newman who proved with his 6th place finish in tonight's race that this week at Bristol had no effect on his precarious 9th points position. It is nice to see him prove this point and to allow me a little 'I told you so' by moving up two spots in the points race - to 7th. Good job Ryan!

Kurt Busch did a magnificent job, finishing in 7th place after all the adversity he had to overcome.

Poor Tony Stewart - did they give him Ryan's race car by mistake? I have a funny feeling that Tony will rebound by winning the next race, or maybe even the next several races or perhaps the championship. Tony can do just about anything. He is that good!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ryan Newman capable of four-peat

I just read a citizen journalist's story that was picked up by a blogger. I refuse to provide the links because no one else should waste their time reading either.

But the headline was:

Ryan Newman could risk NASCAR Chase spot by attempting four races at Bristol

I responded to both posts just as I will respond to this headline here:

That is just baloney! Ryan isn't risking any more by entering other races than he would without them. Bristol is a crapshoot for all the drivers. Staying out of trouble, usually cause by someone else is the real risk. And that has nothing to do with driving in other races. One race has nothing to do with another. Besides two of the races are tonight. One is Friday. How does that affect Saturday night?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sprint Cup Race at Michigan

Whew! What an interesting race. I don't know how much of the actual race I saw. I was so busy monitoring points, positions, and times on's live leaderboard that I probably missed some of the action on the track.

The early part of the race was disheartening as I watched a very frustrated Ryan Newman struggle with an ill-handling racecar. I have to hand it to his crew, however, because they pulled together to get the car drivable again. And the two-tire strategy to get track position was just what the doctor ordered. It was enjoyable to watch Ryan start picking off positions once again. This race could have been a total disaster for him in the points standings, but they pulled it out, leaving him with a no-gain, no-loss scenario. The way this race started today, that is good enough for me. Ryan remains 9th in the points standings. The pressure is really on, however.

A few of my other observations in this race include:
  • Congratulations to Brian Vickers. He deserved to win one. He fought hard, especially when considering his run yesterday when he was so close.
  • If I were Jimmy Johnson, I wouldn't listen to Chad Knaus next time he wants to try the fuel strategy game. Johnson finished 33rd. That marks twice at Michigan that he led most of the laps of the race and came up short at the end.
  • Good run for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. However, even though it has been some time since he ran well enough to gush over, it was disgusting to hear the ESPN guys, especially Andy Petrie rave over how Dale Earnhardt, Jr. could win this race, even though he was running sixth. Yes he was the fastest on the track at the time, but that has happened before only to see him lose it and smack into the wall. Can we not have a little reality check boys? They actually put up a graphic showing Jimmy Johnson, Brian Vickers, and Dale Jr. as the commentators talked about the amount of fuel each had left. Trouble is they were running first, second, and sixth at the time. C'mon! They were practically salivating over the possibility that Jr. could win this race, totally discounting the other drivers ahead of him, not to mention those behind him who could have come from behind to win it. This Dale Jr. thing is just a wee bit sickening!
  • Kyle Busch was not a factor in today's race. And I'll bet he wasn't happy about Vickers' win after the way the two behaved in yesterday's Nationwide race.
  • Poor Kurt Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya. They were doing great until lady luck bit them where the sun doesn't shine.
All things considered, that's racin'. So now -- it's on to Bristol.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Nationwide Race at Michigan

I am really becoming a fan of the Nationwide races. They have been fun to watch, and at times, more enjoyable than the Cup races. Ouch! Did I say that?

Today's race at Michigan was no exception, especially the ending. Congratulations to Brad Keselowski, not so much because he won the race, but the way he won it. He just sneaked in there, pretty as you please, pissing off Kyle Busch in the process. It always seems to be a good day when NASCAR's bad boy comes up short.

Funny, I'm really enjoying Kyle -- he has spunk. He's every inch a competitor. He is Popeye's Bluto. I'm waiting for him to tie a competitor to a railroad track or grow a mustache he can twirl. Kyle is necessary to the sport. He brings real life to it. I like how he handles the fans' boos. And, you can't take away from him, the fact that the boy can drive.

I had to laugh when Brian Vickers said he didn't know this was the Kyle Busch show. I really don't like Vickers' style. I saw that little sideswipe he gave to Keselowski as the #88 went around him. I don't think he is a clean racer. He was fast though. And the fact that he kept it out of the wall is certainly testament to his skill. His car was obviously loose, but he ignored it and hung on.

Ryan Newman being in the race is always a draw for me. Ryan had a decent finish. I was hoping for more though. I feel cheated, since I couldn't hear his radio transmissions. Why doesn't NASCAR allow Nationwide races to be on Race Day Scanner too? That would be awesome. Truck races too for that matter.

Tomorrow is going to be a good day - race day!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Race at Watkins Glen

While the road race at Watkins Glen today was anything but boring, it was rather hard to follow. Just by the nature of the race, it is impossible to know where all drivers are at all times and just what they are doing. To be able to comment on 43 drivers, their crews, and 11 different corners all at the same time has proven to be just about impossible for the media.

I am grateful for NASCAR's raceday scanner. I love the technology that allows me to keep track of the #39 car. There were times today, I wish I didn't know what was going on. Ryan Newman was lucky -- in that he didn't lose points today.

From the moment he started the car, there were problems. The alternator was apparently malfunctioning. And although Ryan wanted to have it changed, the process would have been too complex, so batteries were changed instead. For the entire race, Newman ran on less than optimum power. Since there are two batteries in the car, the driver can switch from one to the other. Newman was advised to do that every ten laps. Imagine trying to concentrate on hitting your marks, driving at about 120mph through curves and corners, with 43 other drivers doing the same thing, at the same time as having to play with switches on the dashboard?

Newman also had to turn various fans off and on throughout the course of the race. That includes the fan inside his helmet that keeps him cool. He went through numerous bottles of water -- not just to drink, but to pour on his face and into his fire suit. It was hot today. Most drivers, stopped after the huge wreck on lap 60, complained about the heat because they had to turn off their engines, which meant their fans. In comparison Ryan ran that heat equivalent magnified by the what heat the engine put out for the whole race with only minor relief when he turned on the fans intermittently. The burning fuel also emits fumes.

On top of all that the car was "wicked loose," according to Ryan's radio transmission. I may be mistaken, but it didn't sound to me like there were many adjustments made to the car during its multiple pit stops. Tires, gas, and batteries took up most of the crew's time and attention.

But that is where the luck came into it -- he didn't lose any points in the race for the chase. He remains in 9th position. In fact, he even passed several cars in the final laps of the race.

Other than Ryan Newman's issues, the race was quite eventful. It was good to see Sam Hornish, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton walk away from that crash on lap 60. It was probably the most violent wreck I've seen.

Congratulations to Tony Stewart for a job well done. He ran a pretty much flawless race and it paid off.

Next week is Michigan, Ryan Newman's home track. That can only be good. I wish him well, both on the track and wherever he decides to plant his fishing pole.

Today is race day, again

Well, let's try it again -- Race Day at Watkins Glen -- after it was rained out yesterday.

As much as I love rainy days, and I do love rainy days, how can we get it across to the rain gods that NASCAR races as well as qualifying and practice is off-limits?

Hey, interesting news about Ryan Newman saying races should be shortened. Perhaps he read that here at CH on Track. Sprint Cup Race at Indy was boring

Only kidding. I'm sure I picked up that idea from something Ryan said earlier -- certainly not the other way around. The timing was coincidental however, since I only wrote that post Sunday, July 26 after the Indy race. Then a week later, Ryan said just what I wrote. I'm not fool enough to believe that he was influenced by CH on Track. But what it does prove is that I am in complete agreement with him on many philosophical issues. That is probably why he is my favorite driver.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New race day tradition!

Happy Race Day!

I think I'm going to start a new tradition. Every race day, I am going to watch this video: to serve as inspiration for every upcoming race.

The video is my favorite NASCAR moment -- the 50th running of the Daytona 500 in 2008. Even for those who are not Ryan Newman fans, though I can barely believe anyone would fall into that category, this win was special on so many levels. It is my answer to why I am a NASCAR fan.

It was the first Daytona win for the Captain, Roger Penske, after so many victories seemed to elude him. There was a built in bias favoring whoever won this race because it was the 50th running on the historic racetrack, filled with pomp and ceremony for the entire week preceding it. Has there ever been a better feel-good moment as when Greg Newman, Ryan's father who also serves as his spotter, knew his son was going to win?

As a Ryan Newman fan, I recorded the moment on our Dish Network DVR. All of the interviews were there. I recorded the final laps. I watched often, just to relive that heart-stopping moment when I saw the #12 which I had coveted for several years, cross the finish line in the biggest race of the year. But, our DVR bit the dust. It was all lost. It had been a while since I was able to watch again, until this morning. I just happened to see it, even though I wasn't looking for it. That is when I decided -- for me, a tradition is born.

Good luck today on the road course, Ryan. May you have many more of these moments.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

NASCAR at Pocono

I learned first hand Monday, about the difference between actually being at the track, and watching the race on TV. As a real fan of the sport and all its nuances, I have always considered watching at home to be superior, in terms of following the action, to watch racing from the living room, rather than live from the track. I know the sacrifice is the experience -- the smell of burning rubber and race fuel -- the electricity of being with other fans, and the sense of how fast 205 miles per hour really looks like when a pack of 43 cars whizzes past. But I figured that with the help of commentators, the in-car radio, live leaderboard, and control of the mute button on the remote during mindless talk and endless commercials, generally provides a good picture of what is happening as my favorite driver -- Ryan Newman -- makes his way around the track 200 times.

But, I'm starting to wonder if being there wouldn't provide more of a sense of just what happens. I may never know the other side of the equation, however, because I've never been to a race. I don't see myself going to the track anytime soon, for many reasons, not the least of which is the distance I live from a track.

It appears there was some major action on the track that was completely lost in the shuffle.

All of a sudden, I watched in horror as, with virtually no explanation, Newman, who had been driving in or around the 7th position for most of the day, was suddenly in 28th place. I heard tidbits of an angry Newman on the radio mention the #33 car of Clint Bowyer causing him to hit the wall, but it was never mentioned by the ESPN crew. That is nothing new. They rarely talk about Newman unless he moves mountains. I'm not sure why. He is funny, engaging, and intelligent. Over the years he has gotten more comfortable with a camera too, so he does a good interview. I have to admit that he is less ignored since he is driving for Stewart-Haas racing, but he doesn't get the air time that some of the other drivers do.

It was exciting to watch Newman come from behind to finish 14th. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough since he dropped two positions in the Race for the Chase standings. He is dangerously close to that precarious 12th place cutoff. I'm confident though, that he will not only remain in the top 12, but will better his position. Still, it is a little more pressure, and that is never fun -- for Newman, his team, or his fans.

I'm not sure why his team didn't use one of a couple of different opportunities to lead a lap for the five extra points. That would have put him in eight place with Montoya in ninth, rather than the other way around.

Congratulations to Denny Hamlin. I'm sure his first win of the season was a great comfort, despite his grief over the death of his grandmother.

And how about Jimmy Johnson? It looked like he was done at first, but to go from three laps down to a 13th place finish was nothing short of incredible.

And isn't it nice that we didn't hear much burbling over Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I imagine the poor runs he's had of late, at least give him some relief from the mindless gushing he has to endure. I doubt anyone could live up to all he's received.

It seemed as though Juan Pablo Montoya had his mind set on retaliation over being robbed last week, even though from all accounts, it doesn't appear he was robbed. It appears that he attempted to speed on pit road to increase his lead and he got caught. Still, he played the victim, practically running down everyone in his way. It paid off for him because he gained positions in the standings, putting him solidly in 8th place.

All-in-all, waiting for the race at Pocono to finally commence on Monday following Sunday's washout, was worth the wait. It was a sharp contrast to last week's race at Indianapolis, which was boring.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Well, this was a mighty disappointing Sunday afternoon. We were all settled in, getting ready for a great race, ... Mother Nature must not be a NASCAR fan.

Let's hope tomorrow will be an even better day. Bring it on ...