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


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Still complaining? Give me a break Jimmy Johnson!

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 04:  Ryan Newman, dr...
 (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
I couldn't believe Jimmy Johnson's initial response after the Texas race when he complained that Ryan Newman raced him too hard. It is even more amazing that almost a week later, Johnson is still in a snit about it.

Get over yourself Jimmy.

You didn't win because you made mistakes. Not only that, Greg Biffle, who actually won the race, was better than you. Newman raced him hard too, but he isn't crying about it!

You wanna be a champion again, act like one, Jimmy.

NASCAR drivers are said to be among the finest drivers in the world. So why is one of them being criticized for doing his job?

Must Jimmy Johnson and his fans be reminded that Newman won the race at Martinsville after being a lap down. Newman is the Bill Clinton of racing; he is a real comeback kid. It is not inconceivable that given the right circumstances, Newman could have ended up with a top-5 or top-10 finish. With 20 laps to go, anything can happen, and often does. With the surprise endings to races, often times with unlikely winners, numerous late-race cautions, and a performance-sensitive points system, every lap, every position is vital.

While it is true that Newman battled an unwieldy race car, throughout the race, it is his job to race. It is in his DNA to race hard every single lap. He should be praised for his fortitude, not criticized.

On a really sad note, I actually read one news item that said Tony Stewart, Ryan's boss and team mate, was in a tenable position because Jimmy Johnson has such a good relationship with Rick Hendrick. Hendrick supplies engines and parts for Stewart-Haas Racing. I couldn't believe my eyes when the writer suggested that Stewart would throw Newman under the bus to keep Hendrick happy. He questioned whether Ryan's job could be in jeopardy because of this incident. All I can say is, what a stretch! What an irresponsible piece of work!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two stereotypical forces come together at the White House

It was nice to see the top 12 NASCAR drivers hangin' at the White House. 

Both NASCAR and President Barack Obama have something in common. Both are misunderstood because of groundless, long held stereotypes. 

There is no question that President Obama has been viewed by some as a polarizing force, though not by his own deeds. Often times, President Obama is being judged by a perception of him--manifested by systemic racism and bigotry--as the first African-American to serve in the nation's highest office. He has undergone scrutiny from members of the black and white communities, progressive and conservative political bases, as well as by members of his own party.

NASCAR has suffered some of the same kinds of stereotypical misconceptions. There are some who believe NASCAR isn't even a sport. While admittedly racing around a track does not involve a ball or stick like baseball or football its players are athletes just the same. NASCAR can stack up with any nine-innings on a diamond or four quarters on the gridiron. It takes physical endurance to drive 500 white-knuckle miles on a short track, for instance. It is not an easy feat to change four tires, fill a car with gas, and make chassis adjustments in under 13 seconds, which is a typical pit stop. Yet, NASCAR critics claim the sport is nothing more than a bunch of rednecks  making left turns. They have obviously never watched a race! 

It is ironic that NASCAR and President Obama should be victims of stereotypes, albeit on opposite sides. 

The crowd that supports Obama likely consists of the same folks who know nothing about NASCAR, its drivers, crews, teams, or the rich history rooted in American ingenuity. 

Likewise, supporters of NASCAR, many of whom hail from the southern states, include tea party patriots who despise this president for no better reason than their own misguided sense of self-prescribed morality. An intelligent black man is just not in their level of understanding or tolerance. 

I happen to fall on the side that supports both my president and my favorite sport. I love NASCAR. I  voted for President Obama and plan to vote for him again. 

For me, it was a pleasure to see President Obama greet Tony Stewart and the other eleven of NASCAR's best drivers, on the south lawn of the White House Tuesday. While supporters of each may think these two have as little in common as the two sides of the aisle in Congress, that is not necessarily the case. They don't have to be the odd couple. In fact, perhaps we have witnessed history here. 

It was nice of the President to reach out to NASCAR just as it was when the First Lady attended last year's race at Homestead.

I challenge supporters of both President Barack Obama and NASCAR to reach beyond your own limitations. Consider that President Obama and Tony Stewart are symbolic of a country that is in dire need of coming together again; to reunite the United States of America.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ryan Newman not why Johnson failed to win at Texas

FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 12:  Ryan Newman, drive...
FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 12: Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 US ARMY Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 12, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
In the course of doing his job, Ryan Newman is getting some flack for ruining Jimmy Johnson's potential to win at Texas.

Johnson has already been quoted as saying he can't understand why Ryan Newman was racing him so hard when Newman was already a lap down and Johnson and Biffle were the class of the field.

I'll tell you why Jimmy...NEWMAN WAS RACING!

That is his job. That is why he was racing hard. He was trying to prevent going two laps down--a much more difficult thing to overcome if a caution came out. Don't forget, Newman was a lap down at Martinsville and came back to win the race.

Just because Newman was a lap down doesn't mean his race was over?

Give me a break. The reason Johnson didn't win the race is because he hit the wall while racing with Biffle. I do not want to hear any blame placed on Ryan Newman for Jimmy Johnson's coming in second.

It was nice to see Greg Biffle win the race. He has raced hard for so long and deserved the win.

I don't know what happened to Newman, except that he was unhappy with his car from the first lap to the last. The situation went from too loose to too tight to way too tight. It was a bad night for Newman--everybody has them. I'm sure he will rebound next week at Kansas.

Aside for this incident, there is little to say about Saturday night's racing at Texas. This was not one of the most exciting races of the year. With so few cautions, positions really didn't change much.

Generally, after a week off, I am anxious to see some really good, competitive racing. This race was far from satisfying. So, on to Kansas.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ryan Newman comes from behind to win at Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, VA - APRIL 01:  Ryan Newman, dri...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife
MARTINSVILLE, VA - APRIL 01:  Ryan Newman, dri...
 (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
MARTINSVILLE, VA - APRIL 01:  Ryan Newman, dri...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

MARTINSVILLE, VA - APRIL 01:  Ryan Newman, dri...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Ryan Newman added the exclamation point at the end of the Goody's Fast Relief 500 NASCAR race Sunday at Martinsville. 

It was an up and down day for Newman. It started on an up note with a decent qualifying effort. More importantly it ended even higher--with celebratory burnouts just before pulling into Victory Lane. The down side was in the middle.

Newman started the race in the third row after a decent qualifying effort. He had a fast race car that hovered in the top 10 during the first 100 laps. Then, after a caution was brought out by Kyle Busch, Newman sped down pit road, just about 2 miles per hour faster than allowed. The resulting  drive-through penalty put him back into the 21st position. He eventually went a lap down, but fought back handily. 

Newman never gives up. 

He eventually got his lap back and made his way back into the top 10. It looked like a good points day and a good finish until all hell broke loose in the last few laps. This is the point in the race where I always hold my breath. Anything can happen and usually does. 

The caution came out with a handful of laps left in the race when David Reutimann's car stopped in the middle of the track just past pit road. Reutimann was hastily and harshly criticized for not bringing the car down to pit road. No one was harder on him than he was on himself, however. He explained that he wanted to finish the race to stay in the top 35 in points. He shares the ride with Danica Patrick. Staying in the top 35 in owner points gives her an automatic starting spot in the select races she has decided to run this season in the Sprint Cup series. 

So, in what appeared to be the final restart, Newman was behind Clint Bowyer who tried to sneak past leaders Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Newman had told Crew Chief Tony Gibson before the restart that he was going for it. And that is exactly what he did. 

The two Hendrick cars had  more than 100 laps on their tires. They chose track position over pitting for fresh tires. Who can blame them? But, they knew they would be sitting ducks on the restart. From what I could see on the video,,  Bowyer, who had fresh tires was faster than Johnson and Gordon. Bowyer  came up on Gordon too fast so Bowyer swerved to the bottom. At the same time Brad Kezelowski who was faster than Johnson, ran into him. Johnson came down into Gordon's right side while Bowyer hit Gordon on the left. At about the same time Bowyer moved down to the inside, so did Newman, resulting in that tap into Bowyer. There just wasn't room for the three cars, so they all came together. 

While the three were wrecking, collecting Kezelowski in the process, with barely enough room, Newman just sneaked right past them all. 

The final restart saw a race between Newman and A.J. Almandinger. The two raced for the win, as Newman pulled ahead when it counted most. 

I am shocked at the negative comments from some race fans who felt Bowyer's and/or Newman's final maneuvers ruined the race. Say what?! 

As many times as I've watched the replay, I have to agree with Kyle Petty and Dave Despain, both of which concluded that no one did anything wrong, except perhaps for Reutimann. Put in the same position as either Bowyer or Newman, any other race car driver would have done the same thing. 

I feel positive enough about the ending to the race at Martinsville to make up for any negativity out there. The race was great! It wasn't too long; it wasn't boring; and the end was the best I've seen in a while. 

Ryan Newman and his crew deserved this win. They have fought hard. Congratulations to them.