User-agent: * Allow: / CH on Track: January 2012


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Let's go racing!

2009 Pep Boys Auto 500 Sept 6 (40)
Image by Hans J E via Flickr

As if it was not exciting enough to know that we are just 31 days away from watching the Daytona 500, I just read the transcripts of an interview with the teams at Stewart-Haas Racing at Charlotte's NASCAR-CUP: Stewart-Haas Racing Media Tour at Charlotte, day 1 Media Tour.

It sounds like every member of this race team is pumped--ready to strap on their gear and go racing.

With so many changes--good changes--like bringing in the most popular woman in racing, Danica Patrick, Tony's new Crew Chief Steve Addington, and Tony's best buddy, Greg Zippadelli as competition director--this group is fired up. In addition, Ryan Newman has just announced new sponsorship from Aspen Dental, which is completely new to NASCAR. That is quite a coup! The mood, quite apparent in the interview, is contagious!

The last days of this off-season will be painful, at best, but filled with anticipation. Let's go racing!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Looking forward to Daytona 500

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 19:  Ryan Newman, drive...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Oh boy, in just 35 days, I will be busy preparing for the debut of the 2012 racing season. Hubby and I have been counting down the days until the Daytona 500 since the off-season began.

We will forgo a usual Sunday supper for our favorite flavor of Tornados. I like the Cheesy Pepper Jack while hubby prefers the Cheese and Pepperoni. We like to show our support for Ryan Newman's sponsors wherever possible.

We are a Ryan Newman family after all.

I anticipate that while I make for the first course of our decadent race day dining delight, something I call race-day guacamole, with the hot peppers I have been growing from last year's plants, on the sun porch. While I'm in the kitchen and hubby is putzing with who knows what in the garage, the living room will be alive with familiar voices as Race Day on SpeedTV fills our not-so-high definition television screen. We have not yet acquired that flat screen TV we have been dreaming about. We just can't afford to replace a perfectly good television set, but when this one breaks, that will be the first order of business. I can't wait to watch Ryan strap into his race car on a big, high-definition TV.

My morning preparation for the Daytona 500 will also include cranking up the laptop computer. I want to make sure its Windows Vista is fully updated, spybot has checked for any nasty bugs, and the hard drive defragged. I want the computer to run at top speed, which isn't great to start with, and certainly want no surprises while listening to Ryan being directed by his spotters. I want to hear every word from Tony Gibson as he talks to Ryan who will be flying around the racetrack at speeds nearing or surpassing 200 mph.

I used to sew during races, but no more. These days, I don't want to miss a moment of the action on the track. I'm sure I will wear my t-shirt that bears Ryan's name and likeness, as well as the #39 hat. Anything I can do to steer a little good luck Ryan's way, I'm happy to do.

Good luck Ryan for a great 2012 season.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Daytona testing live on Speed

Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Seeing the race cars back on the track for Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona was a healing prescription for the off-season doldrums. Thanks for the very accommodating live video stream during the morning sessions and afternoon sessions televised for three consecutive days.

This little tease may make the next thirty-five days even more difficult as we wait for the first official race—the Budweiser Shootout on Feb. 18. The Daytona 500 is forty-three days from now, on Feb. 26.

NASCAR has implemented many changes for the 2012 season. One change that I don’t agree with has to do with radio communication. Drivers can no longer access other drivers, their teammates, or crew chiefs other than their own, during a race. As a fan, I admit it was often times difficult to monitor the action on the track, since I can access only one driver at a time. But I would gladly sacrifice my access in favor of safety. I have to agree with something tweeted Friday by Kenny Wallace when he called the change “dumb and dangerous.”

My only reference point here is when I listened to Ryan Newman--which I always do--talking to Denny Hamlin on the radio when the two of them were running in tandem. Newman, who was being pushed by Hamlin, gave Denny a heads up over the radio about what he was about to do, such as going to the inside or passing other cars on the high side. Since Hamlin couldn’t see through both his and Newman’s windshield, it was like he was driving blind. I think that information through communication made for safer racing overall. Without that communication, I think the driver in the rear will have a more difficult time of it. Oh there will be hand signals, but I’m not sure that is adequate or entirely safe.

This and many other changes were implemented by NASCAR, supposedly to make the racing better for fans and less costly for car owners. We don’t yet know how that will affect the racing. One of the goals though was to cut down on cars driving in tandem for 500 miles at Daytona and Talladega. Personally, I didn’t mind watching that style of racing, however, I can imagine it is frustrating for the drivers. Driving should be an individual activity, not reliant on someone else to make judgment calls and similar decisions.

The result of the changes so far, seem to be faster speeds, less tandem racing, and an overall better product. In addition to the radio communication, other new mandates include a smaller opening in the restrictor plate, a change in air flow through the radiator, shorter spoiler, larger shark fin, and electronic fuel injection engines.

We probably won’t know how the performance will change during the 2012 racing season based on this weekend’s testing. All we can hope for is that our favorite teams figure out how to take the best advantage of all they learned.

The rules were not the only changes. With all the team changes, it will be difficult, for example, to recognize A.J. Allmendinger in the Penske Racing’s #22 car. Former driver Kurt Busch is now in the Phoenix Racing #51 car. How strange will it be to see Kasey Kahne in the #5 car formerly driven by Mark Martin and Kyle Busch before that.

The first cup runs by Danica Patrick look really promising. How exciting it will be to see a woman running with the boys at the front of the pack. Go Danica!