by BethAnne, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I am the field producer/photographer of the syndicated radio show/website ON PIT ROW. When Steve and Charlie ask me to 'jump', I say "Yeah right."September 20, 2011 9:25 am UTC No Comments
Exclusive NASCAR driver photos from Sunday at the GEICO 400
We were there, and we got wet, but it was still fun and I did get some really interesting shots of the non-race NASCAR action at Chicagoland Speedway Sunday. Tell me what you think in the comment section and please share these with your friends on Facebook too.
Photo credit: BethAnne Heisler – OnpitRow.com
by BethAnne, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I am the field producer/photographer of the syndicated radio show/website ON PIT ROW. When Steve and Charlie ask me to 'jump', I say "Yeah right."September 4, 2011 9:59 pm UTC 1 Comment
Exclusive NASCAR photos from Sunday at Michigan Speedway
Michigan is always hot on race weekend at MIS. Sunday was no different. Hot weather and hot action on the track too.
Photo credit: BethAnne Heisler – OnPitRow.com
by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.February 27, 2009 12:10 pm UTC No Comments
Once the guaranteed entrants finish jockeying for pit selection, real qualifying begins.
Fifty-one cars are on the entry list for the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and fifteen of them have to literally fight their way into the race and can make for the best drama of the weekend.
Predictions were that once NASCAR left the season opener at Daytona the number of cars trying to make the race could fall below the forty-three that constitutes a full Sprint Cup field. The general consensus that the “under funded” teams would not follow the circus west has not held true. Several of these teams including Tommy Baldwin‘s and Jeremy Mayfield‘s said all along that they had every intention of racing the entire season.
Mayfield picked up a sponsor and co-owner in the All-Sport brand of thirst quencher. Baldwin has been sponsored by Red Bank Outfitters in the first three events and have added the third race at Vegas as well. The Yates Racing no. 28 driven by Travis Kvapil had Golden Corral Restaurants on the car at Daytona and they will be back on the car for at least three more races starting in Sin City.
So with the entry lists bigger than expected by NASCAR and many experts; does that go against the business model projections that these start up teams anticipated? Baldwin told ON PIT ROW that the primary reason he felt they could make a go of it in the Cup Series was because there was no testing in the off season and the size of the fields trying to qualify would be smaller.
There are sixteen teams in Vegas looking to fill eight spots. One of those spots will go to Tony Stewart because of his guaranteed provisional. Qualifying is set for 3:30pm local time (pacific), but the real excitement won’t start until the go or go home cars hit the track at approximately 5:00pm. That is when the true knock out qualifying starts as fifteen cars vie for seven spots. That type of knock out qualifying is what made “Bump Day” at Indy in May so exciting and what has the potential for being the best part of the show at each race track.
Just imagine if instead of thirteen drivers having to qualify in; twenty-eight needed to fight for a spot. Changing the Top 35 to the Top 20 would give NASCAR their certified stars in the race and make the rest of the field fight for the privilege to race on Sunday. NASCAR will never abandon the Top 35 rule; we can only hope that they amend it.
Qualifying is an important piece of the NASCAR experience; both at the track and to the television viewer. Therefore, every effort must be made to qualify at least the Cup cars every week. It is fine to schedule qualifying on Friday, but NASCAR has to have a Plan B,C and D ready in case of rain. Qualifying CANNOT be rained out. If it takes until Sunday morning to get cars qualified, then that is what has to be done. It is too important to the Tommy Baldwins, Joe Nemechecks, Jeremy Mayfields, James Finchs, Bob Germains and Bob Jenkins of the world to not make every attempt to get it in. Scrapping qualifying is no longer a luxury that NASCAR can afford; team’s ultimate existence is at stake.
photo credit: Icon Sports Media
by Matt Mercer, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I'm the former blogger of The Catfish Show NASCAR Blog and a contributor to On Pit Row. Follow me on Twitter: @mattmercerNovember 13, 2008 2:10 am UTC 3 Comments
Sometimes, I can’t tell if the Ford 200 is a race or a fight. An active tradition for the last several years in the Trucks has been for championship teams to double their efforts. The trend has had some high points and very low points, and it looks to continue Friday night as the razor-thin margin between Ron Hornaday and Johnny Benson will make for some intense racing.
Three years really set the trend for this action: 2002, 2003, and 2007.
In 2002, Mike Bliss ended up winning the championship over Rick Crawford and Ted Musgrave by 46 and 51 points respectively. In that race, it was Ron Hornaday driving a second IWX truck and taking the win, thus taking possible points away from Crawford and Musgrave. Bliss finished a comfortable 5th and won the title.
2003 set the bar from gang mentality, as each championship team (with the exception of Dennis Setzer and Morgan-Dollar) entered at least 1 extra truck in the race, with Jim Smith and Ultra Motorsports throwing 5 – count ‘em, 5 – trucks in the race, and sure enough one of them played a huge part in the outcome of the championship battle. Smith had entered his 2 full-time trucks with Ted Musgrave and Andy Houston behind the wheel, along with hired guns Marty Houston (Andy’s brother), Tracy Hines, and P.J. Jones. Marty took out championship leader Brendan Gaughan in the race, creating championship chaos that allowed Travis Kvapil to win the 2003 title over Setzer and Musgrave.
Last year, Bill Davis and Kevin Harvick participated in the fight, and what Harvick lacked in trucks he made up for by piloting the second truck himself. Davis entered his championship contender Skinner, Johnny Benson, Jacques Villeneuve, and Cup driver Dave Blaney in the field. Skinner of course finished 35th and allowed Hornaday to secure the title.
Adding the trucks in the finale could prove to be a smart decision, like it was in 2002. It could take out a championship contender by hiring a crappy driver, like 2003. Or, it could be a non-factor, like it was last season. Harvick is driving the #2 truck again this weekend and Davis has entered ’09 driver Taylor Malsam in an extra truck to go along Skinner, Brian Scott, and Scott Speed to flank Benson. Will it be a factor? We’ll find out Friday. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if the Phoenix race turned out to be the PG version of the battle.
Photo credit: Icon Sports Media
by Chris Leone, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I do weekly Fantasy Pick'Em columns here at OPR, as well as the occasional opinion and analysis piece. I also provide the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage. For more on that, head to my site, OpenWheelAmerica.com. My Twitter handle is @christopherlion.November 5, 2008 10:39 pm UTC 1 Comment
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series enters the second-to-last race of the season at Phoenix with many teams still unsure about their 2009 plans. In recent years, most teams have already set their lineups for the following season by this point. However, plenty of drivers are still searching for employment, and plenty of teams are still attempting to put together the right packages to allow them to go racing next year.
A good amount of the field still lacks sponsorship for 2009 and beyond, and even top-tier teams are feeling the crunch. Longtime stalwarts such as Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing are having problems inking long-term deals in a crumbling economy. Four cars between them next season is a possibility, despite the teams running seven this year. Even Hendrick Motorsports recently had a modest round of layoffs that sent Stevie Reeves, Jimmie Johnson’s spotter, packing.
At last count, 35 full-time Sprint Cup seats have been filled by drivers for next season (not including Max Papis’ limited schedule with Germain Racing). Of those 35, cars for David Reutimann, Aric Almirola, Reed Sorenson, Ryan Newman, Juan Montoya, Bobby Labonte, and Chad McCumbee have either partial sponsorship or none altogether. Assuming that two open seats with full sponsorship (the No. 21 at Wood Brothers Racing and the No. 41 at Chip Ganassi Racing) are filled, and assuming the worst in regards to all other unsettled teams, we could only see 36 full-time cars attempting the race at Daytona.
This week’s Quick Hits is, in effect, a premature analysis of cause of death for some cars that may not be around come February. Be prepared to say farewell to any of the following next year:
5. No. 28 or 38 Yates Racing Fords: Yates has full-time sponsorship for Paul Menard from his family’s hardware store chain for one car next season. While team owners Doug Yates and Max Jones have suggested that they will add a third car for Menard, rather than replace either Travis Kvapil or David Gilliland, the team cannot afford to patch together limited sponsorships as they have this year.
The two current drivers have combined to run eight races with blank cars, and the majority of the rest with very limited sponsorship. Had Ford not filled in some holes earlier this year, the team would have run 15 of 72 races unsponsored. With many of those companies probably not returning in 2009, the team may only have enough sponsorship for one of its current drivers next year.
4. No. 22 Bill Davis Racing Toyota: With rumors of a buyout by Gillett Evernham Motorsports at a standstill, not much is known of the fate of this team. Bill Davis has entered this car in NASCAR competition since 1993, and whether Maxwell House, MBNA, or Caterpillar was on the car, it has never been unsponsored. Davis has had these issues with other cars before, but never with its mainstay Cup team.
Right now, the team’s best hope is that Toyota decides to move up its sponsorship from the Truck Series to this car, but that’s iffy at best. If the team puts Michael Annett in the car, they may attract sponsors based on his raw talent and potential, but the deals might be similar in nature to what Yates has been doing this year. Those life-support deals won’t be enough to sustain a team for too long.
3. No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota: This is a team in disarray under a relatively new owner partnership. The team has no alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota past this season, no bona fide driver (with Brad Coleman getting the shaft in most of the team’s recent deals), and less than a full season’s sponsorship from DLP HDTV.
Recent reports have had the team switching to Ford and partnering up with the Wood Brothers for 2009, reuniting the Woods with Ken Schrader, who currently drives the No. 96. The Woods claim that their sponsorship for 2009 is all set, meaning the two could collaborate on finding deals for the No. 96. Regardless, rest assured that without some sort of alliance, this team will not be around in 2009.
2. No. 77 Penske Racing Dodge: Rumors keep swirling that Sam Hornish Jr. is going to return to the IndyCar Series with Penske for 2009, possibly to replace Helio Castroneves, who is currently facing tax issues. Regardless of Penske’s potential need for its IRL team, however, the results haven’t been there. The best American open-wheel driver of this decade hasn’t been able to translate his skills to the heavier stock cars.
If Hornish stays, look for Mobil 1 to stay with him. Mobil has been a longtime Penske sponsor and had been looking to expand to a full-time primary for a couple years before Hornish’s arrival. If Hornish departs, however, they may replace Kodak on David Stremme’s No. 12 Dodge.
1. No. 01 and 15 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolets: No one can say they didn’t see this coming. The No. 01 has had minor partners at best all year, and the No. 15 has neither driver nor sponsor for 2009 with Menard’s departure. Regan Smith’s win (cough) at Talladega has drawn some interest, but most agree that Aric Almirola has more promise than Smith, and any sponsorship attracted would probably go there.
The team may be merging with Chip Ganassi Racing, which would afford Smith a shot at the No. 41, Almirola’s needs permitting. J.J. Yeley has also stated that $12 million in sponsorship would land him in one of those cars for next season, but given his underwhelming performance this year, it might be a longshot.
On a more positive note, however, congratulations to last week’s winners at Texas: Ron Hornaday, Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards in the Truck, Nationwide, and Sprint Cup races, respectively.
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowSeptember 19, 2008 9:20 am UTC 1 Comment
Did a broken two dollar bolt really cancel out a season of NASCAR dominance like we’ve never seen before?
Maybe and maybe not. Kyle Busch’s run and pout act after the New Hampshire Motor Speedway Chase kick-off didn’t help. The guy seems to handle success just fine. It’s the little bumps in life’s road that challenge him. That doesn’t make him unusual. But it may not make him a champion either.
Dodge’s NASCAR status is seeing some of those bumps as well. Dodge announced they were dumping the Craftsman Truck Series last week. And now they may be going from dumper to dumpee, as the team that brought them into the Sprint Cup Series, may be jumping ship.
If the rumors turn out to be true, and Gillette-Evernham Motorsports buys Bill Davis Racing and becomes a Toyota team, is it a good thing for NASCAR and the sport?
Charlie: Well, it would weaken the Dodge presense in a serious way. On the other hand, it would probably strengthen GEM and save Bill Davis Racing’s No. 22 team – which has been pretty good for the most part. With Dodge pulling out of the Truck Series, the future of their involvement in NASCAR’s other series is cloudy. Dodge needs to show that they are in this thing to compete for the long haul, on a level with the other three manufacturers. Not sure they have everyone convinced of that right now. You can’t blame GEM or BDR for making a move like this. I say, what’s good for the teams – and competition on the track – is good for the sport.
Bruce: Though technically, GEM switching to Toyota would weaken what Dodge presence there is, would it really? The Dodge teams are all struggling, per se, with the highest spot they hold in the standings right now at 13th, (Kahne) then Newman in 17th. GEM has to lookout for itself and that’s that. More fans could balk at more Toyota’s in the field, but it would seem that Toyota has proven itself sufficiently. Dodge needs to show they are in it for the long haul, but even a little thing like pulling out of the Truck Series can’t help that endeavor. The economy just isn’t there for them any more. Maybe they should have already put more into NASCAR… too little, too late?
That’s what we think. What do you think? Let us know your opinions on this topic and Bruce’s own query…
If NASCAR insists on limiting the year end competition to top performing drivers, are 12 drivers too many?
Photo credit: Icon Sports Media, Inc.