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 @onpitrowMay 24, 2010 9:46 pm UTC No Comments
Are NASCAR drivers athletes? What stopped Kevin Harvick’s divorce? Why is Office Depot dumping Tony Stewart a good thing?
It’s all about relationships. Except for that athlete thingy. Mindy Monday’s latest Monday Morning Crew Chief video is up. Watch it now. Then tell her what you think.
by Clance' McClannahan, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and CharlieFebruary 27, 2010 12:04 am UTC 1 Comment
How much does luck really have to play in NASCAR? Auto Club Speedway was a perfect example of both good luck, bad luck, skill and strategy.
Race Day at ACS started out cloudy, with the threat of rain looming overhead in in the future. Lovely Katharine McPhee, Season 5 American Idol runner-up, performed the National Anthem, after stating “I’ve never watched a NASCAR game before.” Personally, I am really glad she said that prior to the first inning, or it might have been embarrassing for her later.
Andy Garcia was able to give the command. “ Gentlemen, start your engines!” and still be politically correct.
Pole sitter Jamie Mac led the race for about 5 seconds, and then Juan Pablo Montoya politely said “Excuse me?”, and took the lead. If you would reach far back into your memory…(I mean, it’s a stretch for me), you will remember that JPM led 60 laps at ACS in October, and in one truly horrendous moment, lost that race. Juan Pablo Montoya meant serious business and opened up a lead of more than 3 seconds by Lap 12. By Lap 29, Jimmie Johnson’s good luck began to show, and the 42 car’s not so good 30th lap, gave him a brush with the wall. Soon after…it was Good vs. Bad for JPM, Kasey Kahne and a few others. Namely Dale (**NOTE to Jr. Nation: Dale doesn’t want to be called Jr. or June Bug, anymore).
In the meantime, a war was beginning to rage. Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson had begun the battle that would continue throughout the race, which culminated in one of the finest moments in NASCAR History.
Lap 97 began to get a little more interesting. Now we will get into the good luck, bad luck, strategy (?) syndrome that happenedthat day.
Martin Truex Jr. loses power. Later, Martin Truex Jr’s engine blows.
JPM begins to battle with Jeff Gordon for 5th position. Harvick and Johnson continue to dance the Flamenco (to impress Juan Pablo Montoya) for 1st and 2nd, not being able to decide who would lead and who would follow.
In one of the most endearing and heart breaking moments of the race, Kasey Kahne, being conscientious of the bleak economy, decided he would help out some poor souls, who needed to make some money to feed their kids, by making sure they had jobs replacing the sod he tore up.
Ryan Newman’s engine blew up. DNF. Again. JPM, looking very competitive, was out of contention once again, after a great 140 laps. It also, was due to another kaboom of a large quantity of moving parts, critical to the car continuing to run..
Kevin Harvick discovered that one of Jamie Mac’s pit crew has a part time job with Cirque du Soleil. Scary.
Then there was Dale Earnhardt Jr. It seems like the last few years, if it’s going to happen to someone it will be Dale Jr. Personally, I don’t think he has any better or worse luck than many driver’s. I think his worst luck is the scrutiny he is constantly under. Much more than other driver’s. Broken Axle. Axle Broken. Race over for the 88.
Jimmie Johnson seemed to be going backwards for a small moment in time. Then… From out of the blue…comes JJ again. Jamie Mac, startled, said “”How can he be leading? “He was on pit road, wasn’t he?!!”
Why yes, he was. Double J won. 48/48.
Luck? Strategy? All of the above?
Kevin Harvick , at the end of the race, summed it all up, in one sentence. Possibly one of the finest quotes in NASCAR History. I am honored to have been able to do small tribute to that little quip at The Church.
“They have a golden horseshoe stuck up their ass.”
…And that, Dear Fans, was the finest finish to a race I have seen since the Daytona 500.
*What wondrous events shall LVMS bring us this weekend? Aw…the suspense is killing me!
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: @mattmercerJune 17, 2009 11:49 pm UTC 3 Comments
Fast Laps is back, with a new writer hoping to continue what Charlie and The Idiot have started here. I’m Matt Mercer, a contributor to Bench Racing and I’ve got the green light for some Fast Laps on the way to wine country. The road course “ringers” have become less of a factor than in the past. Only cars concerned with the top 35 are turning to them now. One that will enter the race, Ron Fellows in the #09, could be a sleeper if it’s one of the Hendrick Chevys and not a Finch Dodgepodge. Patrick Carpentier will try and put the Napa Toyota near the front, which is ironic since in his open-wheel days he was considered an oval specialist. Go figure.
Let’s get to the questions and comments, but be warned I’m going to have some different rules. Instead of 100 words or less per question, I’m limiting your responses to 100 words to answer all 4 questions. Got it? 100 words or less or I’ll beat you with Steve’s microphone.
Also, don’t forget to answer the new Checkered Flag question: there’s no word limit at the checkers, so get creative and follow up on your answers. All of us at On Pit Row enjoy debate so bring it on.
1. Is this the year that Mark Martin wins that elusive championship?
2. Brian France talked about more foreign manufacturers entering NASCAR, provided they have production facilities in the United States. Those companies are Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, BMW, and Mercedes. Which of these companies would dedicate the efforts necessary to compete in NASCAR?
3. Will the Camping World Truck Series survive? Could the series “merge” with the Nationwide Series or disband altogether?
4. Can a US-based Formula One team achieve any real success?
Checkered Flag: What is Marc Davis’ future? Will he solidify a competitive ride or will his career follow Bill Lester’s trajectory?
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.June 14, 2009 7:39 pm UTC No Comments
It’s old news now, but last week’s suspension of Nationwide Series crew chief Bryan Berry for allegedly yelling a racial slur at African-American driver Marc Davis certainly turned a lot of heads around the sport. NASCAR is still having issues with diversity, with virtually all of its drivers still white males, the lingering effects of the Mauricia Grant case, and even a weak rumor of an NAACP boycott of the sport due to the continued presence of the Confederate flag on motorhomes.
So when Davis took out Berry’s driver, Brendan Gaughan, at last week’s Nationwide race in Nashville, and the alleged war of words occurred, it was no shock that NASCAR handed out an indefinite suspension to the offender. Racism is a touchy subject in NASCAR, and racial epithets are not okay, nor should they be, especially when the sport is trying to grow out of its Southern roots and attract a diverse crowd.
What was shocking, however, was Harry Davis, the father of Marc Davis, calling Gaughan’s owner, Rusty Wallace, to apologize – for Gaughan’s actions. Davis told Scene Daily yesterday that Gaughan’s anger, as well as commenting that Georgetown University (Gaughan’s alma mater) was superior to Howard University (a historically black college that sponsors Davis), “inflamed” the situation.
Certainly, a bigger deal was made out of the situation than was necessary. Gaughan wasn’t on the lead lap or contending for the win, although he was still in the top 20. He and Berry could have done better to restrain themselves after the incident, as heavy as the damage to their car was. Certainly, Wallace won’t tolerate team members who don’t conduct themselves as professionals (even if the 1989 Winston attests to his crews having a history of scuffling).
But Harry Davis placing the entirety of the blame for the incident on Gaughan crossed a line. It implied a lot of things – first and foremost, that Davis was completely free of blame in the wreck. Watch the incident – that’s not the case.
Gaughan was still in the race, and while a lapped car, still contending for points and a championship. Davis was pulling into the garage and is running a limited schedule. The right of way should have gone to the competitive car. Davis should have let Gaughan by before turning. It wouldn’t have caused a jam on pit road, as there were no cars within a football field behind them. Especially if there are multiple turn-ins to the garage, the fault – at least on track – goes completely to Davis.
Second, it implied that Harry Davis is willing to continually cite race (as in skin color, not cars driving in circles) in reference to his son’s career, and therein lies the bigger problem. The best way to make the issue of race in NASCAR go away is to brush off and forgive the ignorant comments, rather than use them to attack the character of those who make them. That phone call did nothing but prolong the conflict, one that should have ended right when NASCAR handed down the suspension.
Now, if everything that’s alleged to have been said was really said, there’s no excuse for the conduct of the No. 62 team. But saying his apology was for Gaughan’s actions only will hurt Harry Davis, and in turn it will likely hurt the racing career of his son. Owners will probably think twice now before giving Marc a shot, knowing that if another similar incident goes down, his defense of his son may cross similar lines. Sponsors, believing that the issue of race will continue to be a factor in Davis’ racing career, may not want to back him, seeing their names on TV if another conflict breaks out.
This is an incredibly touchy subject, and I don’t want to be taken the wrong way. I am in no way defending anything that Berry or Gaughan said. If Berry used a racial epithet, then he deserves a forced break from the sport. Gaughan, too, might have deserved a suspension. I also believe that in the right equipment, Marc Davis will be a solid Sprint Cup driver someday, and that he simply made a rookie mistake. But Harry Davis’ actions were out of line – not as much as Gaughan’s or Berry’s, but out of line nonetheless.
Let’s hope that in the future, all parties will do a better job of conducting themselves – at and away from the track.
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 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 12, 2009 10:40 am UTC 9 Comments
Seventeen racers are vying for just four spots in The Great American Race.
The Daytona Seventeen are for the most part are all start up teams with limited or no outside sponsorships. The first Duel on Thursday will have seven drivers looking for the two openings available in the 500. Joe Nemechek, Scott Riggs and Brad Keselowski look to be the favorites to fight for the pair of move ups. Also in that first race are longer shots; Kirk Shelmerdine, Tony Raines, Mike Skinner and Carl Long. The three favorites all have the advantage of owners with some sort of success in that role.
Nemechek has fielded cars in the Cup series before, full time with himself behind the wheel in 1995 and 1996, but many times using ringers at Watkins Glen with sporadic success. Riggs is driving for Tommy Baldwin who has had success not only as a Cup crew chief but also as the founder of a Nationwide team in 2004 that he later sold to Ray Evernham that formed the foundation for Evernham Motorsports. Meanwhile Keseloski will be in the James Finch ride that has one hundred starts on the Cup circuit on a part time basis since Jeff Purvis first jumped into one of his cars in 1990.
The second Duel has ten cars looking to make the 43 car field for Sunday’s race. Again only two will move up. Half of those ten have to be consider as legitimate contenders to make the 500. Regan Smith, Boris Said, AJ Allmendinger, Jeremy Mayfield and Mike Wallace show the most promise. Smith is driving a part time schedule for Front Row Motorsports, an organization that has run through drivers at a prolific rate.
Said will be looking to make the race that seems to allude him. His No Fear Racing team has merged with Rick Clark Motorsports, a minority owner who to the best of recollections has never put a car on a NASCAR track. Said does have a way of being fast at Daytona however. His biggest nemesis over the years has been the weather. Allmendinger is running the fourth car for Richard Petty Racing and has been fast in cars from that stable since he got into them at the end of last year.
Jeremy Mayfield put together his race team in early January and plans on a full season with All Sport energy drink returning to big time auto racing as co-owner and sponsor. Mayfield seems to have gotten the fire back in his belly. Wallace will be in a TRG Chevy. TRG has been successful in sports cars and have been making appearances on the stock car circuits to gain some experience. Wallace is another driver who seems to find ways to make the field if given any kind of decent equipment.
Those with little chance of making the big jump into Sunday’s race are Mike Garvey, Derrike Cope, Kelly Bires, Geoff Bodine and Norm Benning. Bodine’s attempt is interesting because his car is owned by Phil Parsons, but probably lacks the resources to make the race.
photo credits: Icon Sports Media