User-agent: * Allow: / CH on Track: January 2014


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Honesty is what Ryan Newman is all about

Ryan Newman Quicken Loans ChevyIt is always good to hear Ryan Newman's perspective. I relish it. I know I will hear honesty because this is a man of integrity.

There are big changes coming to NASCAR, apparently geared more to the entertainment side of racing than racing itself.

In this interview with WSOCTV Ryan Newman talks about some of those changes in NASCAR's 2014 Sprint Cup series. From my perspective it sounds like he is conciliatory about the the new qualifying format and the new winner take all Chase for the Championship, but is far from enamored with them.

Let's face it, Ryan Newman has a history of setting track records with his qualifying prowess. He has a stellar history of earning the pole position, but I'd be willing to bet NASCAR never considered asking his opinion on the subject before they changed the qualifying format.

In this interview, I heard disappointment as he talked about the new format, but I also heard resolve. Newman is not so set in his ways that he would forgo his own success just because he works at a sport where the rules change like the wind. Fortunately, he is adaptable and takes on new challenges with a fervor.

One of the best things about Newman, in my view, is the way he answers questions of reporters. He is always candid; he is always honest. He pulls no punches as he tells it like it is. That is so refreshing in a sport that caters to the "tell 'em what they want to hear' crowd. It may also be why Newman isn't interviewed all that often. That's OK. His words may be limited, but they are generally powerful.

Newman's opinions are not without controversy; he has paid for speaking his peace, so I am glad to hear him answer questions honestly, no matter what.

Newman is a great ambassador for racing. He obviously loves what he does and he's good at it. I can't wait to watch how this season progresses. It will be exciting to watch him conquer all the new challenges set before him--with a new car, new Crew Chief, new owner, and new rules.

It won't be long now, as the Daytona 500 will kick off in 24 more days.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

New qualifying - jury's still out for me for now

(Photo credit: rogerblake2)
Before making any pre-judgement, I want to see how the new qualifying format changes set for this year actually play out on the track.

I used to enjoy watching single-car qualifying on Friday night. I think it will be much more exciting to watch actual racing determine the qualifying order for races.

That said, I can see plenty of room for interpretation in this new format. For example, what if there is a wreck? NASCAR says  the wrecked car is done because only pit road repairs will be permitted--pretty black and white--I like that. But what about scoring loops, throwing a caution, stopping the field, re-starting the field, all the other issues that go on week after week during a race. Controversy almost always surrounds decisions made by NASCAR as to when and how to interpret the rules. I'm not sure how this will be any different.

When a race is stopped, what the order of the cars are, when times are calculated--it is all open to interpretation. The grey area seems to be when NASCAR has problems.

Some say this change is just another gimmick to entice fans.

That's OK, but I want to know how it will help the racing. That is the most important part. After all, this is supposed to be a race, not an entertainment venue. Extra efforts to turn racing into strictly entertainment is wrong-headed. Racing is entertaining. It doesn't need any more than that to entice racing fans. Ironically, many of the gimmicks have chased real racing fans away from the sport.

If this new format means that Jimmie Johnson will start every race on the front row, I'm going to hate it.

That isn't because Johnson isn't a good driver, but mostly it is because Chad Knaus is a really good Crew Chief who isn't afraid to push any envelope to put speed into the car. That is a given. But to me, winning races shouldn't be only about just speed. It has to be about the overall effort of the entire team with an emphasis on the driver's skill at wheeling the race car around the track better than anyone else. There needs to be less emphasis on the engineering skills to turn out the fastest race car.

Again,  I plan to stay on the fence for now. I lean toward liking this new idea, but I won't hesitate to wave a red flag the minute NASCAR favors one driver over another in that grey area.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

Daytona 500 coming soon
Daytona 500 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Happy New Year!

The time line in my mind is set on February 23. The way I see it, Christmas is over; the new year has begun. That means the next event on my calendar is the Daytona 500 -- just 52 days from the very moment that I am writing this.

Oh, I can almost feel the excitement. I will make guacamole, a race day tradition. I have a new tablet now, so I will be able to follow Twitter along with my usual computer accoutrements that aid in my race coverage. As a Ryan Newman fan, I'm all about Ryan's race. Generally I am only marginally aware of what else happens on the track.

When Race Buddy is available, I watch it. Otherwise, I am tuned into NASCAR's live leaderboard. I like to monitor Ryan's speed, lap times as well as the times of other competitors near him. I can glean the separation between his car and those directly in front or behind him, so I can pretty much tell when he is about to pass another car or if another is about to pass him. My suspicions are usually backed up by the race day scanner, which will always be tuned to what will now be the #31 team at Richard Childress Racing (RCR).

It is a bummer knowing I won't hear the familiar voice of Matt Borland, Ryan's crew chief both at Penske Racing and more recently at Stewart-Haas Racing. Luke Lambert will take over that role at RCR. Recognition of his voice and style will take some getting used. What is even more important than the sound of his voice though will be how he and Newman relate to one another. Of course, Ryan's voice on the radio will be easily recognizable. He doesn't say much on the radio, but there is generally enough to tell the story. He is always clear and concise about his concerns as he communicates concerns about handling issues and the car's aerodynamic behavior.

With Newman having a three-year contract, this first year will be an interesting learning experience. As the time for Speed weeks draws closer, the excitement level will undoubtedly escalate. For now though, I remain in anticipation mode.

Looking at the new year ahead is going to be so much more enjoyable than looking back at the last season.

The new diecast cars are available to purchase. Check this out--purchase a new diecast of the Quicken Loans #31. The Caterpillar car is also available for purchase at

So fellow race fans, it won't be long now...
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