User-agent: * Allow: / CH on Track: 2015


Monday, November 2, 2015

It always helps to sleep on it

Image result for Kenseth photoImage result for Joey Logano
I wonder what Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth woke up thinking this morning. No doubt Matt probably has a few pangs of remorse. While he is likely replaying and even possibly second-guessing his actions yesterday on the track at Martinsville, when he ran his race car into Joey Logano for payback for Logano's previous infractions, I imagine his feelings fall far short of regret. Justifying his deeds are probably more to the point. He may even have a few queasy moments about what NASCAR will do to him tomorrow. 

Logano on the other hand, probably woke up still seething, since Matt Kenseth ruined his day. He was going to win the race. He deserved to win the race after dominating and leading laps, not to mention winning the three previous races. He probably feels as if he was unfairly robbed of the win, not to mention earning the achievement of four-time consecutive winner during the Chase for the NASCAR championship. Logano probably thinks he was a shoe-in to win the Championship. Now, because of Kenseth he went from first to last. While he still isn't worried because he knows he can fight his way back in the next two races since he likely believes he is just that good. We'll see!

I woke up this morning still chuckling over the fact the incident happened at all. Personally, I like Matt Kenseth. Matt is a seasoned, respectable veteran that has paid his dues in the sport. He is skilled, he is usually even-tempered, and he is a credit to the racing community. I don't like Joey Logano. More than once I have called Logano reckless. He drives with no regard for anyone but himself. Granted, he has had some real success of late, but I credit that to the race cars he drives and not necessarily his driving skills. Penske cars have run upwards of five miles per hour faster than other competitors. Give that speed to any driver on the track and they could win too. I don't know what they are doing, but more power to them.

I see Joey Logano as immature. His actions insight anger in others, but he never follows through. Instead, he lets his father fight his battles for him. I'm sure that will change as time goes on, but for now, he needs to grow up and pay his own dues in the sport. 

That said, I'm not normally vindictive, nor do I believe in violence or retribution of any kind. Yet, I admit I was humored at yesterday's track melee. It wasn't just because of the personalities involved, although certainly that played a part. If Joey thinks about this, he may learn a lesson or two. I'm all for that. 

In addition, I hope NASCAR learns from this as well. They push the envelope every time they make an inconsistent call, which is most of the time. They don't treat drivers fairly. They have their favorites and it is very obvious. As much as I enjoyed seeing Jeff Gordon win at Martinsville because he is truly deserving, I predicted long ago that Jeff would win the 2015 championship as his last hurrah before he retires. That is what NASCAR wants. Who can blame them for wanting to have a decent guy like Jeff to be their poster child? And if that happens, no matter who wins in the future, they can always resurrect their shining example through carefully edited video. That is good marketing and NASCAR craves it. I believe NASCAR has and will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure that Jeff wins the title. There are enough rules on the books already to exercise some control over the outcome of races. And we have seen as recently as last week in Talladega, new rules are always forthcoming. 

"It all depends on whose name is above the door on whether or not you're allowed to do it," said Kyle Bush this morning. He added, "NASCAR is very consistent in being inconsistent on calls." I couldn't agree more. 

I think Matt Kenseth's actions against Logano told NASCAR that perhaps they can't control everything. Kenseth's actions were also a culmination of all the dirty things Logano has done to other drivers and gotten away with it. All actions have consequences. That is why I woke up this morning still smiling.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ryan Newman, Contender

Oh Ryan Newman, you never make it easy on us devoted, B31IEVE in you die-hard fans.

You ran hard in the regular season. Then, you dazzled us at Chicagoland when you finished 4th; you tickled us at New Hampshire with a top 10 finish; you drove us to distraction at Dover when you just couldn't get any more out of your race car.

Your uncharacteristic 19th place finish was enough, barely enough, but enough to pull off a swift advance to the Contender Round of the Chase for the Championship. Lady Luck never treats you well, but she had her sites on some of your competitors this time--especially Jimmy Johnson--who is no longer a threat with his aim for seven. There had to be some heads shaking over his demise. A mechanical failure--worth five bucks--how did that get by Chad Knaus?

We watched breathlessly during the race, each time Kevin Harvick got behind you. Then all hopes were dashed each time he passed by. Even though we knew you were in good shape, starting the race 6th in points, but as the laps ticked by, our worries commenced. We held our collective breaths as the points were revealed, perhaps one too many times.

I just wanted to scream, "I know, I know!"

It seems you were completely "noticed" by the commentators, who generally pay you no mind. Then, at the anti-climactic ending, when you were in sitting-duck mode, the only car a lap down with no potential to race for points, Lady Luck once again concentrated on the other guys.

When we learned you made it to the next round, and with a point to spare. Whew! That was a squeaker. I'll thank you to not do that again!

With the first round behind you, you are back on an even playing field. As I write this, I'm hoping you and the guys are all back at the shop, tweaking, refining, reviewing, and planning how to get that #31 back to being as fast as she will go.

Good luck Ryan. You sure do make this fun for us. I hope I speak for the rest of us when I simply say, thank you for letting us spend our Sundays with you. You are the most enjoyable driver on the track and we just love to watch, even though you make us sweat a little, each and every week. Good luck to you, contender.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ryan Newman's consistency pays off in first Chase race

Who wasn't proud of Ryan Newman on Sunday? He finished in fourth place at Chicagoland Speedway to start the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship as he showed purpose, determination, and his signature consistency.

It was that consistency that nearly won him a championship last year.

NASCAR engineered the Chase for the Championship to give stock car racing an exciting playoff to end the season, not unlike other sports. Their most recent version of the Chase was billed as 'all about winning.'

Newman proved that isn't quite the case since he didn't win a single race last year, yet came nearly a hair's breadth from becoming the sports' champion.

Winning used to be everything in racing. It was a drivers' sport. But the rules have changed since a generation ago when all the decisions were made by the driver and his race team. There is more of an emphasis today on racing being a spectator sport. I don't see it that way and I admit it galls me a little when they call races a show for the fans. But this way, there is more money in it. While still a sport, racing now emphasizes it is more of a business.

Today, NASCAR is in complete control of the cars, the drivers, the tracks, the television viewing, the commentators; everything.

In an effort to create a greater spectacle, NASCAR has brought the latest adaptation to the sports' version of its championship playoff, with the Chase for the Championship. NASCAR thought they had the best of both worlds in their latest points system that awarded a point for each position gained on the track, a point for leading a lap, leading the most laps, and three points to the winner of the race. They advertised the new and improved Chase as having an emphasis on winning. Yet, Newman proved them wrong. Let's face it, as long as points are awarded, a mediocre or inexperienced driver who gets lucky and wins one or two, shouldn't be considered a champion. But consistency is also rewarded with points. That is where Newman excels, as he proved last year. There wasn't much NASCAR could do about it either, because he played by their rules. Race car drivers and his fans recognized that Newman worked hard to earn every point he got for which he was rewarded in the end.

Everyone had an opinion about the non-winning driver in championship contention. Comments at the end of last season were as varied as a Presidential race with Democrats and Republicans sniping at one another. And some of those comments were just as ugly. There were the Newman supporters, such as myself, who often faced off with fans of other drivers who didn't finish so well, who were flat out against a non-winner being eligible for a championship. There was a virtual war of words slung on social media and attached to magazine articles over Newman's being in the final four of the elimination round without winning a race. For those of us who follow Newman, we know he earned it. Announcers and even NASCAR knew he earned it.

But for those race fans who rarely saw Newman on the track, never saw him interviewed on television, or hardly ever even heard his name, they saw Newman as a johnny-come-lately who didn't deserve to be contending for a championship. For that, I blame those TV analysts that ignored Newman all season for whatever reason. I have my own ideas about why that is. In fact, I wrote a blog post last year that called Newman NASCAR's Rodney Dangerfield, because like the late comedian, Newman gets no respect.

NASCAR seemed to have it in for Newman too because he doesn't kowtow to them. He plays by the rules for the most part and uses the system to his advantage wherever he can. Basically, in my view, he outsmarts them and they don't take kindly to that. They also don't like that he is his own person and is not easily controlled. So when Newman bested two of the four drivers in the final heat of the Chase last year, coming in second, less than a half-second behind Kevin Harvick who ultimately won, some pretty nasty things were said.

The bottom line on Sunday, was that Ryan started the race in sixth position--based on the results of the first practice speed when qualifying was rained out. On on the last restart, Newman showed his championship potential. He restarted in 14th, after getting shuffled back in the prior restart. But during those closing six laps of the race, Ryan powered his car past ten others to finish fourth. It was amazing! It was a very good way to start the Chase for the Championship. As I've always said, Newman is the one to watch!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

No regrets

Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, IL
It isn't often that I regret no longer living in Illinois. I love my home in the Ozarks, living among the hardwoods and enjoying the scenery and watching birds and other wildlife right in my own backyard. Ah, retirement. 

Yet this is one time I'd consider sacrificing it all to be back in Illinois, where I used to live, not far from Chicagoland Speedway. I'd gladly dust off my press badge and would thrill to write about the weekend festivities at the track for the first race of the Chase for the 2015 Championship.  

I watched the Chicagoland Speedway being built. In fact I wrote about it once or twice for the paper I worked for in those days. I even recall a huge controversy about locating that track a few miles further east. I was against it, as were so many other folks; it really was the wrong location. That was the early 1990's, long before I ever watched a race or knew much of anything about NASCAR. My, how times have changed!

If I was still there, I would love to watch the first race of the Chase. I'd be there for practice and qualifying and I'd take lots of pictures. I'd have to put on my reporters' hat, so I'd have to balance coverage for the entire process and to all of the teams. Perhaps I could write a story about how the two Richard Childress teams--#31 Ryan Newman and #27 Paul Menard feel about being eligible for the 10-race Chase by making it in on points rather than conventionally, with a win. Perhaps I could write a first person story about being at the track for the first time. I'd undoubtedly find some way to meet my favorite driver and to interview him. 

Ryan doesn't get interviewed often, but I can guarantee I'd do him proud. After all, I'm a fan. 

But wait, that was my old life. And I don't believe in regrets. So, I will be content to just watch the race on TV, perhaps making a little snack--Race-Day Guacamole--. I always keep an eye on NASCAR's Live Leaderboard and listen to Ryan and Luke on the radio.

I have high hopes that Ryan will get all the resources necessary to make his race car fast enough to compete. If the car is good, there is no doubt Ryan can wheel it right to the front. 

Ryan knows his way around Chicagoland Speedway. He won in 2003 and has had three top-5s and eight top-10 finishes. He's led 182 laps there. 

While he raced his way into the Chase on points, he's proven once again that winning a race isn't the only prescription for success. His consistency has been outstanding, except perhaps for Richmond. Not sure what happened, except that the handling of the car just wasn't there. It was a nail-biter, as I watched his points total stuck failing to add up. But as always, Ryan pulled it off, securing enough points to remain in the Top 16.  This is the second time he's made the Chase without winning a race to get there, but he knows what he has to do. His team is willing to do their part to put the #31 in Victory Lane. 

So, I plan to just enjoy the race. 

I don't mind at all that I don't have to work on the weekend, take notes, photos, and put all the words together to come up with a story. There will be no traffic, no sunburn, no expensive ticket price, no missing aspects of Ryan's race because I'd have to concentrate on the job done by all the drivers. I rather enjoy being a no pressure spectator with a focus on just one driver. And as always, I have very high hopes.  

Friday, September 4, 2015


It is time to say something nice about NASCAR. I haven't done that in a while.
I know, I've been a bad blogger; I haven't written a thing here in several weeks. Thing is, as a retired journalist, I relish the fact that I no longer have to meet deadlines, so I write when I am inspired. I just haven't felt like it lately, but there was something I wanted to say after watching some of this afternoon's practice at Darlington.

I think #NASCAR did a good thing, by getting NBC to cover the sport. Adding Jeff Burton as an analyst has been a real plus. I enjoy his coverage of the races. Burton is intelligent, experienced, and he explains what is going on from a drivers' perspective. 
Ryan Newman - Quicken Loans Racing
Burton is fair in his treatment of all the drivers, not singling out any one of them. He is honest about them and isn't so syrupy that it is nauseating. I'm especially impressed at how Burton has spoken honestly about Ryan Newman's performance, specifically citing Newman's potential to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship this year. Burton has been there; in fact he used to drive Newman's car, prior to Newman's joining Richard Childress Racing. Other commentators have avoided coverage of Newman as if he is contagious; especially those from FOX and ABC. I think they are intimidated by Ryan's intellect and skittish about what he might say. Ryan speaks his mind and isn't going to be controlled by NASCAR or anyone. I don't think they get his dry sense of humor either. 

I have seen more interviews of Newman in recent weeks on NBC, which is heartening, since he does have a fascinating story to tell. He is a championship-caliber driver who makes the most out of what every situation. Whether it be a crash not of his doing, a poor performing race car, or even making a mistake himself, which he has no problem owning up to, Newman does the best he can with what he's got. His performance last year, finishing less than a second behind Kevin Harvick for the championship, should have shown the kind of stuff he is made of. Yet it was so often ignored. Instead, so much was made of his not winning a race last year, or this year either, for that matter, that what he has done has been ignored. Burton gets it, however. He understands the challenges of race car drivers, because he's done it for years. 

Burton respects Newman recognizes that Newman is not reckless, nor does he retaliate against other drivers. He has his own race to run and doesn't let pettiness get in his way. When he is wronged on the track, he doesn't focus on retaliation as some drivers have done. He has better things to do. Newman can think his way out of a situation and now seems to have the team to back him up. He and Crew Chief Luke Lambert seem to work very well together--in fact as well as Newman and Matt Borland from those early days when he drove for Roger Penske. 

With the Chase for the Championship nearly upon us, I have no doubt that Newman will participate. I'm hoping for nearly as much excitement as last year, which was a nail biter. 

So, way to go NASCAR, you finally did something I can agree with.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ryan Newman consistent, even in criticism

I'm a blogger, but as a retired writer, I have afforded myself the luxury of writing when I feel like it. Today, I definitely feel like it after reading way too many disparaging remarks aimed at Ryan Newman who was critical of NASCAR after Sunday night's race.

I haven't posted lately because I've just been a little disgusted with NASCAR.

First there was that whole controversy regarding Ryan Newman's penalty that left him without a crew chief and several of his seasoned crew members for weeks. NASCAR penalized the #31 Richard Childress Racing team for tinkering with tires. Since then there have been other "cheating" incidents, but no one has had the proverbial book thrown at them as Newman has. Typical!

I cannot remain silent as Newman is defamed by so many NASCAR fans who seemingly enjoy bashing him. The comments I've read are positively ugly, mean-spirited, off-base, and in the view of anyone who has followed Newman, completely wrong.

Numerous ignorant comments have responded to Newman's remarks after the last lap crash at Daytona that started Sunday night, July 5 and finished early Monday morning, July 6 at 3 a.m. eastern time. I'm lucky to live in the central time zone, so it was only 2 a.m. for me.

Following the wreck which sent Newman's teammate Austin Dillon into the catch fence upside down and wrecked nearly every remaining car left in the field, Newman was quoted as saying, "NASCAR got what they wanted." He went on to criticize restrictor plate racing when he said. "Cars getting airborne, unsafe drivers, same old stuff. They just don't listen."

Fortunately Dillon wasn't seriously injured. A few fans in the grandstands were hit by flying debris, but none were seriously hurt.

Congratulations to Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who won the race after dominating the entire night.

First of all, as pointed out by Kyle Petty the following day, Newman spoke not long after the wreck occurred. Petty explained Newman's words as being said in the heat of the moment, intimating that emotions have to be taken into consideration when analyzing what Newman said.

When the wreck happened, Newman could see his teammate, Dillon, flying through the air just past his own rear quarter panel. Newman had been riding around in the back of the pack for most of the race, which is common practice for him, just to stay out of the melee that always ensues at restrictor plate tracks. The strategy paid off too, because Newman dodged three big wrecks Sunday night.

It is no secret that Newman has never been a fan of restrictor plate racing. As a race car driver, he wants to be the one to wheel his race car, to be in complete control of it. At Daytona and Talladega, there are plenty of times the driver is not in control of his own race car. Rather drivers are at the mercy of other drivers, some which aren't always very experienced. Let's face it, when 40 plus cars are driving nose to tail in three-wide conditions at 200 mph plus, one miniscule move can affect them all and often does.

Newman has been involved in numerous incidents at those two tracks that are just as horrific as the most recent wreck. Customarily, the wrecks are not of his own doing. Ryan Newman has certainly 'flown' before. See this story. To see other related stories, just type Talladega into the search box. 

Newman has consistently been outspoken about restrictor plate racing.

Back in the Fall of 2009 at Talladega, Newman's car was launched backwards into the air, did a back-flip onto the hood of Kevin Harvick's car, skidded upside down into the wall, where it rolled several times, finally coming to rest in the grass, on its roof.

This incident was the return to Talladega when just that Spring, a last lap crash caused Carl Edwards' car to flip into the catch fence. Newman was involved in that incident as well, as Edwards' airborne car flew into Newman's windshield as he raced for the checkered flag.

"It's just a product of this racing and what NASCAR has put us into with this box and these restrictor plates with these types of cars," Newman said after that Fall race. "The more rules, the more NASCAR is telling us how to drive the race cars, the less we can race, and the less we can put on a show for the fans."

"I will go back in the day, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, all those guys, they respected each other. In the end there were some big accidents, but geez, we don't need the cars getting upside down like this. This is ridiculous." Newman, who holds a degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue University, said, "There is technology available that can help." He said it was a shame that not more is being done.

Following Newman's remarks, NASCAR levied a $50,000 fine against him for speaking out "against the brand." The fine was only made public after reporters discovered it. There have been no other 'secret' fines since that time, that anyone is aware of.

Newman has been consistent in his criticism of NASCAR as it relates to flying race cars. So, it is within this context of his experience and education that his comments must be considered.

In the closing laps at Talladega in 2013, when Ricky Stenhouse misjudged the distance to take his car four-wide, numerous cars were sent spinning, Kurt Busch's car flipped over and landed on top of Newman's car. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

"They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls," Newman said at that time. "But they can't get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the race track, and that's pretty disappointing. I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y'all can figure out who 'they' is," Newman said. He was critical of NASCAR, citing poor judgement for starting the race in the dark and letting it continue when it was clearly raining.

Rain seems to be a real issue for NASCAR. That was the case Sunday night as well. The Daytona race was delayed because of rain. When it finally did begin, it started at about the time it normally would have finished. The race ended in the early morning hours, which might also have contributed to the plethora of bad crashes.

Even commentators acknowledged prior to the race that the lateness of the hour could cause more mistakes than usual.

Surprisingly, few comments have been made about the late hour. I can't help but wonder how many Newman haters even watched the entire race, or were they merely reacting to what others said. There definitely seems to be a trend lately, where comments are geared toward other comments, rather than in response to real facts.

I suppose the most galling for me is that when Newman criticized NASCAR about safety issues, he wasn't referring to overall safety issues. He has been very supportive of the work NASCAR has done in regard to safety.

After his own crash at Talladega in 2009, when he landed on his roof, it was recognized that more support was needed. NASCAR added an additional forward roof bar to the center roof support bar that intersects near the front center of the roll cage. The bar has been dubbed the Newman Bar.

While raucous fans are eager to spread their vitriol toward Ryan Newman, his remarks have been well-placed. Television news has started talking about restrictor plate racing. NASCAR is on the defensive, as they have gone out of their way to defend their efforts to make racing safer for drivers and fans alike. They speak about all that has been done since the 2001 crash ended the life of Dale Earnhardt.

It is amazing and wonderful that Austin Dillon walked away from what years ago could have been a life-ending wreck. So, yes, safety is being enhanced. But is it good enough? A different angle; a different speed? Safer barriers and the reinforced catch fence are better, but are they good enough? Flying debris should never hurt a race fan. Perhaps Newman is right, in that cars are still going airborne into the catch fence. For now, injuries have been relatively minor. But when planning for the protection of people's lives, there have to be what-if scenarios. Every angle must be considered. Good planning starts with asking all the right questions. Newman is asking them. It is time someone at NASCAR listens and uses its vast resources to act.

Monday, April 20, 2015

There's cheating and then there's cheating

So what exactly is cheating?

NASCAR tires
NASCAR tires (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It seems the answer to this question depends on who you ask. In essence, cheating is in the eye of the beholder.

More and more it seems that once-perceived black and white issues, really are anything but. I have always seen varied shades of gray when I have to make up my mind about how I feel about things. I tend to put careful thought into all my decision-making processes before I consider passing judgement.

Such is the case with the "cheating" allegations in NASCAR.

Image result for ryan newman nascar
Huge penalties and fines were levied against the #31 team team following the California race held March 22. Crew Chief Luke Lambert was fined $125,000, and was suspended for six races, including the All Star Race next month. Also suspended were Tire Technician James Bender and Engineer Philip Surgen. The three would be on probation for the rest of 2015. Both owner Richard Childress and driver Ryan Newman were docked 75 points each.

The penalty hit Newman hard, dropping him from sixth in the points standings to 26th. A board of appeals dropped the fines for Newman and Childress to 50 points each following a ruling that NASCAR had no written policy for pre-race inspections. The suspensions were deferred during the appeals process and Lambert's fine was reduced to $75,000. Restoring Newman's points put him into 20th place in the points standings. A final appeal is pending.

The #31 team has been accused by NASCAR of altering their tires in an effort to improve their performance on the race track. The technical explanation, according to my inexperienced understanding, relates to how tire pressure builds during a long green flag run. Apparently it is enough to alter the shape of the tire, which results in less rubber coming in contract with the race track. By bleeding off some of the pressure buildup, the tire remains consistent. Problem solved. Well, not according to NASCAR.

Whether or not the #31 team altered their tires remains a question. Apparently NASCAR thinks so. The appeals board apparently thinks so. The outcome of the final ruling on the appeal is as yet unknown.

When I first heard about this issue, I was shocked that Ryan Newman, a driver who I respect as being honest, thoughtful, and diligent would ever engage in such an activity. At the same time, I also entertained the idea that it wasn't a big deal since NASCAR removed rules on tire pressure this year. I don't claim to completely understand all the gazillions of rules NASCAR attempts to enforce, but it seemed to me that if they were relaxing the minimum tire pressure rules, altering the tire pressure during the race would be no big deal. Apparently I was wrong. 

That brings us to the cheating allegation.

If the #31 team manipulated the tire pressure by inserting minuscule holes in the tires, and we really don't know if that was done, was that cheating? And was it a bad thing? NASCAR says it is. Yet, other drivers, including Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, and Kenny Wallace, to name a few who have clocked thousands of miles on the NASCAR circuit, have gone on the record to say cheating is necessary to win races. If you aren't cheating, you aren't trying hard enough, they say. 

First of all, 'cheating' has occurred as long as the sport itself. Personally, I dislike the term, since 'cheating' has very negative connotations. Technically, bending arbitrary rules and taking best advantage of what you are given is not cheating. It is working smart. Trying to excel at your sport isn't negative. It is what teams are paid to do. Being the best is their job. 

Consider that what NASCAR calls 'cheating' is merely a non-compliance of their rules from their perspective. NASCAR is attempting to downgrade any team that doesn't comply with their view; a view they are hell bent on imposing. 

NASCAR has done everything in its power of late to regulate, manipulate, and control racing. They want to limit all advantage, yet want good racing, refusing to realize that such a juxtaposition isn't possible. If all their rules were followed, races would resemble a high speed interstate highway traffic jam much like the kind of racing at Daytona and Talladega where cars lined up one behind the other, unable to pass. They would finish in the same position in which they started. The only variable would be when there is a caution. And NASCAR has been accused of manipulating those as well. NASCAR has a hand in nearly every aspect of the sport, from the race tracks, the cars, the vendors, the sponsors, and most of all the marketing and public relations. They have even tried to regulate driver personalities by controlling what drivers can say. Remember the secret fines against Ryan Newman and Denny Hamilton after the two spoke out about safety at Talladega? 

All I can say about this 'cheating' scandal is that it should be called something else. This is only cheating to NASCAR. To the teams and the fans, this is just another aspect of racing. It would be nice if teams could go back to regulating their own behavior, using their own tires, doing away with restrictor plates and mandated tire pressures. Keep only safety rules and standards. Now that would be fun to watch--a real boys have at it. 

I finally reached a conclusion. It has taken me a long time to think about all this and with lots of study, but I'm convinced that Ryan and the #31 team did nothing wrong, except maybe piss off NASCAR. To me, Tiregate is just one more made-up controversy like mystery cautions and secret fines, bogus rules and other questionable actions.

One more thing--to really be guilty of cheating, there has to be a motive. There is no negative motive here, just like there is no negative action here. The desire to win is exactly what a race team is supposed to do. NASCAR on the other hand--its motive is to look good and make money. There was lots of egg on its face when they proclaimed that winning was the only way to become a champion. Then along came Newman who nearly won it all without winning a race during the regular season. Ryan Newman used the system to his advantage, being consistent throughout the season. Winning was merely a way to keep score, but it is consistency that determines real driving prowess. 

So there is one more appeal before we know how Ryan and the #31 team will fare in NASCAR's Tiregate controversy before it can be put to rest. 

Personally, I have already moved past this. The reality is that with a fifth place finish at Bristol Sunday, Newman has worked his way back up to the 16th place in points, up ten since he was initially charged with the Tiregate penalty. He will be in the Chase, whether he wins a race or not. Of course, it would be superior for him to win races, but if not, he's still a damn good driver.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Just one more day...

NASCAR tires
NASCAR tires (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We only have to wait one more day before we learn the results of the Richard Childress Racing appeal following NASCAR's heavy-handed penalties for tire tampering against Ryan Newman and the #31 team.

The team was accused of altering their tires, possibly with one or more minuscule holes in the tires in an effort to bleed off some of the pressure that naturally builds up during long racing runs. 

Huge penalties and fines were levied against the team following the California race held March 22. Crew Chief Luke Lambert was fined $125,000, and was suspended for six races, including the All Star Race next month. Also suspended were Tire Technician James Bender and Engineer Philip Surgen. The three would be on probation for the rest of 2015. Both owner Richard Childress and driver Ryan Newman were docked 75 points each.

The penalty hit Newman hard, dropping him from sixth in the points standings to 26th. 

NASCAR has been confiscating tires from various teams, but the #31 team was the only one penalized.

According to NASCAR, the violations included three infractions of its rule book.
  • 12.1 - Actions detrimental to stock car racing
  • 20.16 Any device, modification, or procedure to the tire or wheel, including the valve stem hardware, that is used to release pressure, beyond normal pressure adjustments from the tire and/or inner shield, will not be permitted.
  • 20.16.2 Modifications to the tires, by treatment or any other means, will not be permitted.
These infractions are considered very serious by NASCAR. On a scale of 1 to 6, this violation ranks fifth. 

An appeal will be held Thursday. NASCAR complied with RCR's request to defer suspensions, (but not points), pending the outcome of the appeal. If RCR wins the appeal, the points would be reinstated or they could possibly be reduced.

"We feel confident we have a very compelling case to present to the appeals panel," Childress said in a press release. "We strongly believe in the intent of the rules and integrity of our own teams while following those same rules." 

Childress was mum however on any further explanation in an effort to "respect the appeals process."

NASCAR has also said nothing more, which makes it difficult to know just what the case is against the #31 team.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Go Danica!

Image result for danica patrick imagesIt seems NASCAR now has not just the golden boy--Dale Earnhart, Junior, but it also has a golden girl in Danica Patrick.

There seems to be an emphasis lately on Danica, underscored by the almost gushing praise from Darrell Waltrip. Ya know what though--I have to agree.

Danica has run well this season, finally achieving a top 10 finish. She has even tempered the high testosterone level of her all-boy workplace. And she has proven that she can handle the pressure of dating a co-worker. I like her sense of humor, her ability to communicate, and most of all, that the girl has attitude. 

As a woman myself, I recognize that NASCAR's glass ceiling is a little thicker than most. It is nice to see a few cracks in it. Danica appears to be fearless. The remainder of the season will be interesting to watch as she closes in on Chase eligibility. Currently, she is 17th in points, just out of range, but there is lots of racing to go in the 2015 season. If Danica continues to clock fast speeds, finish races, and either stay consistent or score a victory, she would be eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. And wouldn't that just be a hoot?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Ryan Newman #1 in practice

Ryan Newman's Quicken Loans #31 Chevy

I couldn't have said it better myself.

"Ryan Newman waited until the last minute to become the fastest driver Friday in an abbreviated first Sprint Cup practice session of the weekend at Martinsville Speedway," said Jerry Bonkowski at NBC Sports.

He added that Newman covered the .526-mile bull ring in southern Virginia with a top speed of 97.835 mph.

Rain delayed the start of practice. If qualifying, which is scheduled later in the day, is rained out, Newman would start on the pole for Sunday's race.

Newman fans have been waiting on the edges of their seats--anticipating Newman's first win of the season. Could it come at Martinsville this weekend?

So far this season, with the exception of Daytona where a wreck ruined his day, Newman finished 10th in Atlanta, had two back-to-back 3rd place finishes at Las Vegas and Phoenix, and pulled out a 5th place finish last week at California. He now stands solidly in 6th place in points.

The #31 Richard Childress Racing team has been on fire with quick pit stops, good pit calls, and some pretty awesome driving. This is definitely a continuance of last year's chase performance that saw Newman right on Champion Kevin Harvick's heels, as Newman finished a painfully close second.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

While I haven't written a word since the 2015 NASCAR season began, it isn't for a lack of interest. My husband had a stroke in January and we are working to regain his strength and mobility. Things are progressing nicely, and we haven't missed a beat with our race viewing.

A little confusion about the Daytona 500

When I tweeted that I wanted a repeat of the 50th running of the Daytona 500 this year, I didn't mean that I wanted Penske Racing to win; I meant that I wanted Ryan Newman to win. Perhaps I just didn't make myself clear enough.

Daytona wasn't a total loss for Ryan Newman fans, yet it was hardly what we were hoping for. The take away is that this was not a DNF, though points were scarce 19 laps down. It is impossible not to sum up this year's experience as "that's Daytona!" Still, the #31 team is all about teamwork and hard work as they managed to repair Newman's wrecked race car and eek out 6 points for the effort.

Another hit at Atlanta

Sunday's race in Atlanta fared much better, despite another late race wreck. While it is always exhilarating to write about Ryan Newman's grit and determination which is always evident, a shout out has to go to the whole #31 team. During the race, the pit crew's performance was stellar, with fast enough pit stops to gain positions. They outdid themselves when they repaired Ryan's wrecked race car following his getting caught up in Denny Hamlin's dust up. Luke Lambert and his crew managed to keep the #31 on the lead lap while making repairs where possible, giving Newman the chance to race his way to a top 10 finish.

If this is a window into the 2015 season, it appears this will be marked by strength and determination. An obvious continuation of last year's hard-fought conclusion that was just a whisper away from a championship, a racing season is made up of many moments. Points are not the end-all be-all. They simply keep track. It is the strength and determination that win championships. Given the teamwork, and grit that has already been shown, the start of this season shows great promise.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The magic number is 40!

Or is the magic number really 31?

The green flag will drop to start the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season in just 40 days!

Oh how long it seems since that gut-wrenching moment in Homestead, Florida when Kevin Harvick crossed the finish line with Ryan Newman just a half-second behind him. What a season for the two of them, after seemingly switching rides. It appears that both made the right decision; Harvick to Stewart-Haas Racing and Newman to Richard Childress Racing.

For me, the best part of Harvick's win was when Newman came up to him in Victory Lane, wearing that characteristic smile Newman Nation has come to know and love, congratulated his friend on winning the race and the championship that Newman wanted so badly he could taste it.

The best part of Newman's season was his stellar performance in the Chase, as he raced his way to the season climax. Some of the ugly remarks during the controversy that surrounded Newman's nail-biting upset to make the final round without winning a race during the regular season was galling, but in the long run may prove the point Newman fans have always known; Newman is a top-notch driver who is capable of winning a championship. Now, everyone else knows what we know!

In the past, little has been said about Newman during the course of a race. Sure, his performance was talked about during career extremes, like when he won the Daytona 500 or the Brickyard 400, but rarely does he fly on the radar screen of television analysts. Someone should compare the times his name is mentioned in comparison to that of Dale, Jr. or Jimmy Johnson. The difference would be stunning. Even as a Newman fan, it is sometimes difficult to follow his progress on the track because the guys and gals in the booth don't follow him. Without gadgets like in-car radio and cameras, it would be next to impossible to follow Newman's progress during a race. Instead of unbiased coverage, certain TV personalities simply gush over their favorite drivers.

As an example, Newman was pretty much written off by them in the first elimination of the chase. Hah!

Newman Nation know what Newman is capable of. His driving prowess came as no surprise to us. We knew how hard he was driving his race car, every single lap. We heard the frustration in his voice when things went awry during a pitstop for example, or in the rare instances when he made a costly mistake. We paid attention when Newman was three laps down yet finished the race on the lead lap in the top 15. So, when it looked like Newman was surprising everyone with his awesome run during the Chase, those of us that have followed him were not surprised at all. We were just pleased.

So to say that there is great anticipation for the 2015 season, is putting it mildly. So, on to February 22, 2015, the first race of the season--the Daytona 500.

It is just 40 days away. It won't be long now!