Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gibbs Teaches By Example

Joe Gibbs has always been a great motivator and mentor whether coaching the Washington Redskins or molding young racers for future stardom. His newest ball of clay is young phenom Joey Lagano, who will be taking over the Home Depot #20 Toyota. He has taken this teenager under his wing as he has done with Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin. 

Tony has praised Joe for teaching him the business savvy needed to run his dirt track and sprint car teams, and now the biggest undertaking of his career, Stewart Haas Racing. Tony is using JGR as the model to assure his team has the necessary pieces to be competitive right out of the box. 

So, we know Gibbs is a good teacher when it comes to the business end of racing, but what is he teaching these young minds of mush about the art of driving a 3500lb missile. 

Well last Thursday night the fans at the Hampton Coliseum got to witness the driving techniques of Joe Gibbs when he was pitted against Interstate Batteries chairman Norm Miller during the intermission of the indoor Arena Racing USA series. The 6 lap race saw Miller leading from the pole until the final turn when Gibbs dove to the inside for a patented slide job, only to come up a bit short and T-boning Miller, sending the #18 rolling over into the outside wall

Now if that 'less than sportsman like move' looks familiar it does. Two nights later at the Toyota All Star Race at Irwindale Speedway, the very impressionable Joey Lagano is performing that very same move on nationwide TV.  The newest member of the Gibbs day care center made a desperate attempt to win the 250 lap Camping World series main event but over shot the final turn spinning race leader Payton Sellers straight into the outside wall. 

It appears Gibbs philosophy of leading by example is leaving an impression with his young toddlers. I think we now know where Denny Hamlin learned to drive like this and it makes you wonder what is in those inspirational speeches to have cultivated thoughts like these  in new team leader Hamlin. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chip And Dale Are Running Out Of Nuts.

I know times are tough these days in the Nascar world with teams joining forces in an attempt to stave off extinction. We've even seen the near collapse of the Kingdom of Petty and their rebirth
The joint effort of Hall of Fame and Yates Racing. But the most mind boggling situation has to be the union of Chip Gannasi Racing w/ Felix Sabates and that of the iconic Dale Earnhardt Inc.. 

In a seemingly crazy move Tuesday Earnhardt Ganassi Racing swapped it's Target sponsorship from the unmanned #41 to Jaun Pablo Montoya's #42 Chevrolet that supposedly already had full time sponsorship according to Martin Truex.  

What makes this bizarre is the fact that the # 8 car driven by Aric Almirola is completely unsponsored except for the the first race at Daytony on February 15. 

Now I'm no rocket scientist but if you have one car with full time sponsorship and no driver and another car with a driver and no sponsorship, it would make more sense to me to marry those two programs together and end up with one solid entry for the remainder of the season. But what do I know. 

The fact that that wasn't done has to lead you to believe that Target had no confidence in the young Almirola or any of the free agent drivers on the market today. 

With the 2009 season almost upon us it is becoming more and more obvious just how bad a situation EGR is really in. I wonder if Teressa spends sleepless nights reminiscing what was and regretting what could have been. 

Harvick / Carmichael Go From Two To Four

Kevin Harvick Inc. announced Tuesday that their Camping World Truck Series second entry will be changing it's number from last years #2, that Harvick and Ryan Newman raced to wins at Phoenix and Atlanta, to the #4 for 2009. Along with the change comes former Supercross superstar Ricky Carmichael who will pilot the #4 Monster Energy Chevrolet in at least 14 races for Kevin and Delana Harvick. Ricky will also drive for KHI in the season opening ARCA race at Daytona.
"....this is an opportunity I’m really excited about. I think this is my best shot to learn and the best chance to become a successful NASCAR driver. I’m going to give 110 percent to make it worthwhile for myself and the entire team.” said Carmichael.
The 29 year old Florida native, who has used the #4 his entire career, is a six time AMA Supercross champion and considered the greatest rider of all time. He has numerous Outdoor National Motocross titles under his belt along with two X Games gold medals. 

In 2008 Ricky raced for Ken Schrader in the Camping World East Series for 13 races, finishing 6th. at years end. 

Kevin Harvick feels his championship experience will be a benifit to his team:
“I like the fact he has the determination and the drive to have won multiple motocross championships,” said Daytona 500 champion, Kevin Harvick.  “I believe he will put the same effort toward his stock car career.  He knows how to race and he takes care of his equipment.  Every time I’ve seen him race, he has shown great promise.”
I have watched Ricky race for his entire career and have been impressed with his smoothness and control of whatever machine he was chosen to race. He's not the kind of guy that will bounce his race car off the walls and other drivers. He instead uses finesse to weave his way through the pack, if he ever finds himself in that position, to get back to the front where he is so accustomed to be. 

This is shapping up to be another exciting season in the CWTS. I have one of my sports heroes in Ricky Carmichael, racing for my hometown boy Harvick, in the most exciting series in Nascar. What more could a guy want? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Saturday Night Short Track Takes Center Stage

The Toyota All Star Showdown has been refered to as the "Daytona 500" of short track racing and is ready to fire up again this coming weekend. On January 23-24 the Speed Channel will be televising the action live starting at 7:00 PM Pacific Time on both nights. 

Three time Craftsman (now Camping World) Truck Series Champion Ron Hornaday Jr. will be competing for the first time in the All Star Race but is no stranger to the 1/2 mile oval in Irwindale, Ca.. 
"I remember like it was the back of my hand, because it was racing just like Tucson where I kind of made a name for myself," he said. "It’s a triple-groove race track, where you can run the top, middle and bottom." 
Hornaday raced at the speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, making 46 starts and narrowly missing the title in 1996. Ron expects the competition to be fierce this weekend in the 250 lap Nascar Toyota All Star Showdown with Camping World Series West Champion Eric Holmes and East Champion Matt Kobyluck in attendance, along with 2007 West Champion Mike David. 
Hornaday is from Southern California, having grown up in Palmdale, and is looking forward to meeting some of his old friends. 
"I’ve got a lot of friends that I grew up with and went to school with and some who have followed my career. It’ll be great to see them," he said.
 Joining Ron Hornaday at this event will be fellow Camping World Truck Series driver Matt Crafton who also hails from California. Crafton will be returning to Toyota Speedway for the first time in 8 years. His only race at the track was a mixture of highs and lows. Matt led 194 laps of the Nascar Camping World Series West season finale only to be beaten in a "Green, White, Checker" three wide finish by Bobby Dotter. The .024 second loss is still ranked as the most exiting finish of the series and garnered Crafton a Truck Series ride the following season. 

Also returning to this years event will be last years race winner and the new driver of the #20 Joe Gibbs Home Depot Chevrolet , 18 year old phenom, Joey Lagano
"I can’t wait to go back," said Lagano. "I’ve got the same car and that track is just a real cool race track. And we had a great time out in Southern California. I really enjoyed being out there."
Lagano's teammate Marc Davis will be in Satuday nights race along with past Camping World Series rookie of the year winners Jason Bowles, Payton Sellers, Jeff Barkshire, and Austin Dillon.

In addition to the Toyota All Star Race there will be a 150 lap Super Late Model event on Friday and a 75 lap Modified race Saturday. 

For more information contact Toyota Speedway at Irwindale

Have Nascar Fans Gone To Far?

I just read a letter from Eric from Pratt, WV. that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was a slap in the face to all those nay sayers and traditionalists, drivers and media that are constantly demeaning our great sport. Have fans become too critical of every detail and are harming this sport that we love? 

Eric makes an eye opening statement:
 "When was the last time you heard Brett Farve or Peyton Manning trashing their sport or the stadiums they play in?"
Should fans just accept the way Nascar is progessing with the COT and reaching out to a wider segment of the population, or do fans have the right to complain and demand a voice in the direction of the sport? 

With the tough times ahead for Nascar teams and tracks maybe a little more understanding, patients and support will help assure there is stock car racing for many years to come. 

Stremme Gets Unlisted Phone Number

David Stremme is replacing Ryan Newman in the Penske #12 for the 2009 season joining the Alltel circle of friends. But there seems to be a small glitch now that Alltel has been purchased by Verizon. Due to a 2004 ruling banning rival telecommunications companies of Sprint/Nextell from advertising on the cars, Stremme will be circling the track incognito for the next few years. Alltel has signed a long term contract with Penske but since Verizon has choosen to use it's own logo that violates the ruling and they will not be allowed to be displayed. According to Walt Czarnecki, the executive vice president of Penske Corporation, "The [Cup] car will be identified and branded as the Penske Dodge Charger". 

The #31 car of Richard Childress Racing had the same trouble when Cingular Wireless was purchased by AT&T terminating the grandfather clause allowed to Cingular. A court ruled that the AT&T Globe could be displayed but not the name and only for a limited time. Childress will have to remove all AT&T/Cingular logos from the car after the '09 season and or find new sponsorship. 

It looks like Alltel/Verizon is stuck footing the bill with little or no recognition. Off track indorsments are not affected and I would look for David to be very busy, where Ryan left off, stealing wheels and generaly harassing those other guys. 

One good thing about Stremme's situation is, he won't be bothered by relentless sales calls during dinner time. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nascar's Big Names Raise Big Bucks For Charity

The 2009 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Phoenix Arizona attracted some of the biggest names in Nascar to help raise awareness and collect some serious cash for several charitable organizations. With the Daytona 500 still a few weeks off Hedrick MotorSports owner Rick Hendrick and 7 time Nascar Cup Champion Richard Petty ventured out west to help some less fortunate people.

On Saturday Mr. Hendrick offered up for sale a slightly used Chevy Monte Carlo that just happened to be decked out in DuPont rainbow colors. This particular #24 Nascar stock car was a two time winner, at Chicagoland in July '06 and at Lowes Motor Speedway in October '07, along with four top fives and five top tens to it's credit. All documentation including race winning videos and photos went with the car.

All proceeds from the sale went to the Hendrick Marrow Program, started by Rick after he survived leukemia in 1996, which helps secure private resources for the National Marrow Donor Program. The enormous generosity of the automobile community shone bright as this Rainbow Warrior was gaveled out at $500,000.00.

That was only the second highest donation received as the King himself drove onto the stage in a 1970 Plymouth Superbird custom tribute recreation. The car was the result of the collaborative efforts of YearOne, Gillette Evernham Motorsports, Muscle Magazine, and former WWE superstar and avid car nut, Bill Goldberg. This was a street legal version of a Nascar stock car complete with an 800hp GEM Dodge spec. engine.

This one of a kind tribute to Richard Petty was donated by Bill Goldberg and the proceeds are to benefit the Darrell Gwyenn Foundation which helps spinal cord injury patients with services and equipment. Their Wheelchair Donation Program provides powered wheelchairs to children and young adults in need across the country. Once again the wealthy in attendance opened their wallets and pushed the winning bid to an astronomical $551,100.00

A 2007 Tony Stewart #20 Chevy Monte Carlo also went up for bid to benefit the Darrell Gwyenn Foundation on Sunday. Tony's three time winning ride garnered $181,500.00

Rick Hendrick wasn't through for the evening turning the tables and taking on the role of bidder on the very first 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. General Motors made the donation to benefit The American Heart Association. The bidding was at a fever pitch for the rights to create the first production model of the next generation Camaro, but Rick would not be out bid looking to give back what others have donated for his foundation. His winning bid for this soon to be collectors item was $350,000.00

Our buddy Rusty Wallace even got in the spirit pitching a 2009 60th. Anniversary Nascar Motorcycle built by Destination Daytona to the multitude if collectors and museum owners in the crowd. The one of 60 custom built motorcycles was auctioned off for $50,000 and all monies donated to the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

A total of fourteen vehicles were auctioned off to benefit a variety of charities. For a complete list of vehicles check out Barrett-Jackson.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gordon Makes Valiant Effort In South America

The 2009 Dakar Rally has finally reached it's destination in Buenos Aires after a 5,951 mile journey around South America. Nascar Sprint Cup driver Robby Gordon raced his Monster Energy Hummer into a third place finish in the car classification. Robby's time of 49 hours 57 minutes and 12 seconds was good enough for 5th. overall in the first ever Dakar Rally held in South America (threats of terrorism and civil unrest in Africa forced the change). Gordon had to overcome a violent crash on the 4th. stage of the event and only a 1/4 of the way through the rally. I don't know about you but after I just had my own head stuck up my butt I think I'd call it a day. 

The winner of the car class and overall Rally Champion was South-African driver Giniel De Villers in a Volkswagen Touareg in a time of 48:10:57 followed by American Mark Miller in another Volkswagon. This is the first Dakar championship for VW in the 31 year history of the race. Russians Kabirov and Savostin finished 1, 2 in the truck class and 3rd. and 4th. overall. 

If you would like to see some amazing photographs taken at this years rally, the Boston Globe has posted some on it's blog. You might want to read a few of the comments as there seems to be wide difference of opinion regarding the necessity of such a race. 

Robby Gordon is now off to the Nevada desert for a leisurely 2 day drive in his off-road trophy truck. More on that to come. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Change Is Everywhere

With the election of senator Barak Obama riding his wave of change into the white house, it seems the fever is catching on in the racing world as well. Budweiser has announced that it is changing the rules for the (not yet run) revamped Budweiser Shootout scheduled for Saturday night Feb. 7.

It appears that not having two time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart in the line-up was to much for Nascar and Budweiser to swallow. The rules have been modified to allow a seventh manufacturer's car to be illegible for the race. The new rule has two parts 1) if an owner is not in the top six cars of a particular manufacturer and that the driver is a past series champion, (insert Tony Stewart) and 2) the next car in owner points standings that is not a past champion after the top six of any given manufacturer, (insert Bobby LaBonte). Labonte will get the nod in the #96 HOF/Yates entry after points from the #38 car are transferred to it.

A very special thank you needs to go to president elect Obama for giving Budweiser the indirect encouragement to make the changes necessary to ensure no major sponsor is ever left out of any Nascar function. Nascar.com

Caution Periods Aquire Full Time Sponsorship

It seams our wish for shorter caution periods and decreased yellow flag laps has taken a turn for the worse with the announcement that ServiceMaster Clean has become the title sponsor for all caution periods at SMI and ICS speedways.That includes Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck series events around the country. According to Jayski;
"All cleaning and drying vehicles and equipment will feature the ServiceMaster Clean logo and colors, and the clean-up teams will wear bright yellow ServiceMaster Clean jumpsuits."
I have to tip my hat to the folks at ServiceMaster Clean for realizing that a vast portion of every race was going unsponsored. That's thinking out of the box folks. Of course for us that can only mean guaranteed caution periods for every piece of hot dog wrapper, water bottle (thanks Carl) and tissue from fans crying their eyes out from fewer and fewer green flag Racing laps.

What could possible be next? " This crash brought to you by the fine folks at Big Jims Towing, where our motto is You Crash It, We Snatch It." Oh this is going to be a looong year.

Welcome To All Sports Racing

I finally got off my rear bumper and decided to enter the 21st. century. Now I know all of you have been waiting ever so patiently to hear even more rambling nonsensical opinions from me so I've given you what you wanted. What? No, that's not what you wanted? Well I didn't get Heather Locklear gift wrapped under my Christmas tree either so I guess we're all SOL.

Seriously though, I will try to give you reports, updates, opinions and hopefully a bit of humor on what's happening around the motor sports world. I have a wide interest in all forms of racing so look for blogs on Nascar stock cars from Sprint Cup to the Camping World East/West series. I'll throw in some motocross and offroad desert racing along with Saturday night dirt tracks. And of course the newly sponsored Camping World Truck series.

So, I hope you find something interesting here that keeps you coming back. And if you find something we need to share with the rest of the gang feel free to e-mail me at allsportsracing@yahoo.com. Thanks for checking in.