by JamesJ, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
Sundays of my youth consisted of NASCAR racing and cold bottles of Mountain Dew. Thirty years later not much has changed for me. However, nearly everything has changed in NASCAR.January 8, 2010 3:00 pm UTC No Comments
Over the next several weeks we’ll be featuring car numbers in NASCAR history. We started with #50 and are working our way down the line. With each car number we’ll take a brief look at a couple stats related to the featured car number, but we’ll primarily spotlight either a driver, sponsor, car owner, manufacturer or other significant subject closely tied to the car number of the day.
While looking at subjects to consider for today’s post I came across a driver who came into NASCAR Cup racing at an age out of the norm. The Cup rookies of recent years seem to be getting younger and younger. If I were comparing today’s subject to a young rookie referred to as “Sliced Bread”, I’d have to refer to this driver as “Sour Dough Bread.”
Stats for all cars running the #37:
- Number of Races: 403
- Number of Wins: 1
- Number of Top 5s: 16
- Number of Top 10s: 73
- Number of Poles: 2
Check out current NASCAR race statistics here at On Pit Row!
Spotlight Subject: Driver Tony Raines
In a time where most all the new Cup drivers are these young guys coming in, Tony got his break in to the top series of NASCAR when he was in his 40s. Tony will tell you, “Racing is a lot of luck, both on and off the track.” In 1998, luck off the track was with him. The story goes, “I was flying home from the Truck Series Race at Sonoma (Calif.). A guy came onto the plane and sat down next to me and asked me what I did. I told him I raced in the Truck Series. He told me he owned a Busch Series team called BACE Motorsports. I was looking for a job, and he was looking for a driver. Two weeks later, we signed a contract. It was pretty wild how it came together.”
And thus Tony Raines began his Cup rookie season in 2003 totaling 41 races for BACE Motorsports. His best finish for BACE was a 6th place at Rockingham and he finished 33rd in the championship standings. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year standings. The team managed to run the vast majority of the year without major sponsorship. At the end of the season, when BACE couldn’t secure sponsorship, they closed the doors on their Cup operation and the following year ran a part-time schedule in the Busch Series with Tony. During the 2004 and 2005 seasons Tony would bounce from ride to ride around from the Cup, Busch and Truck Series driving for numerous team owners. One such owner was John Carter and his #37 Dodge. While Tony was primarily running a Busch Series car for Kevin Harvick at this time, Tony was determined to take as much seat time in the Cup series as possible. Those 5 races in the #37 would add to his Cup level experience, especially in the draft at Talladega where Tony would start dead last, but finish 22nd. Since that race he has equaled or bested that finish position in each of the four times he has returned to Talladega.
The determination and seat time paid off finally in 2005 when he got the call from the newly formed Hall of Fame Racing. HoF was a new race team owned by Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. Tony met with HoF Racing and shortly thereafter was offered the job. Finally, Tony would have a team with major sponsorship to compete in the Cup series. Winston Cup champion Terry Labonte was also hired to assist Tony and the new organization to help ensure they made the first few races with the added security of his champions provisional. In 2007 Tony had an average finish of 25th, and his best finish of 9th came at none other than Talladega while driving for HoF.
Despite finishing 29th in the 2007 Cup series standings and thereby keeping the HoF Racing team in the top 35 in owner points, Tony Raines was released at the end of the 2007 season. In 2008 HoF Racing put JJ Yeley behind the wheel of the DLP Toyota. Tony ran only limited Cup schedule in 2008 and mostly “start-n-parks” in 2009.
On an unrelated note, take a look at the #37 Patron Tequila car above. One of the complaints about the Car of Tomorrow has been that they’re ugly. But in my opinion the last generation of cars have always looked pretty ugly in their own right too. There’s hardly any symmetry to them. The front fenders were warped differently on each side, and same goes for the rear fenders. The green house always looked odd to me and the nose looks off center too. Nothing pretty about those cars either.
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.September 4, 2009 10:05 am UTC 2 Comments
On Monday, the former Cup Series champion found out that, due to a lack of sponsorship on his No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Ford, Yates Racing (tasked with filling any sponsorship gaps on the car) was replacing him for seven races with Erik Darnell, who drives part-time for Roush Fenway Racing in the Nationwide Series. The move was unpopular with most in the garage, with some wondering how a former champion with a seemingly committed sponsor (Ask.com) could be replaced so easily – at Atlanta, a track he used to dominate, no less.
Now, that’s not a knock against Darnell, and nobody has any ill will for him. In limited Nationwide starts this year, he’s shown prowess on most tracks, scoring five top-10s in 10 starts with an average finish of 12.3. Last year he finished 4th in the Truck Series standings, with one win and 12 top-10s. The sponsors like him, and he can flat-out drive. He’s earned his shot.
But the way in which Labonte was replaced – especially the sudden nature of the move – left a lot of folks with a bitter taste in their mouth. Those cynics who used to scoff at open-wheel racing’s practice of hiring pay drivers are now faced with NASCAR teams ousting former champions to do the same thing.
Worst of all for Labonte, it looked as if his start streak of 568 consecutive races, second only to Jeff Gordon (569) for most consecutive starts by an active driver, was going to come to a close.
Luckily for Labonte, this story has a happy ending. Kevin Buckler, a prominent sports car team owner who put together a Sprint Cup team for this year, decided that Labonte was an upgrade over David Gilliland behind the wheel. He came calling, and by Thursday Labonte had a ride for the seven races he was previously scheduled to miss. He’ll drive the No. 71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet.
In this scenario, everybody wins in some way or another. Given the grassroots nature of Buckler’s team, putting a past champion behind the wheel accomplishes two things: first, it gives the team a shot at the past champion’s provisional in future races, and second, it makes the team more attractive to potential small sponsors.
If Labonte can attract one or two companies to support TRG, either by his resume or his on-track performance, it could eventually help Gilliland run full races instead of starting and parking. Gilliland has been a loyal soldier to the team’s efforts this year, running respectably when he’s been able to and refusing to bail on his team (a la Scott Riggs) during the tough times. He, too, deserves a shot at running well.
Kudos to Buckler for making a move with benefits for everybody. We’ll see how it works out in the coming weeks.
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.September 1, 2009 7:06 am UTC No Comments
NASCAR puts the final Cup SeriErikes off weekend behind themselves as the final push to make the playoffs begins.
But what have we seen this week? Kevin Harvick will remain at Richard Childress Racing for 2010 and Bobby Labonte will be out of the #96 Hall of Fame Racingride for seven of the final twelve races. Labonte was a guest ON PIT ROW last week and made no mention of the move. The sad state of the sport is that if there is no money to race; you don’t go racing. In the case of HOF Racing, their sponsor had only committed to the final five of twelve events and were not willing to fund the other seven races.
In steps Erik Darnell of Roush-Fenway Racing, who fields the cars for Yates Racing who partners with HOF, and brings sponsorship money with him. So while the number may be the same for those seven races, the car will not be a HOF Racing entry at all. In essence HOF Racing is loaning its number to Roush-Fenway to give one of its rookies and one of Ford Racing’s prospects some seat time.
This week’s ON PIT ROW will include an interview with Harvick, who had been rumored to be looking for a new ride. Harvick has made no excuses for the poor performance of his race team and the entire RCR effort. With the way things are in NASCAR today, Harvick may well have decided that knowing what he was dealing with was far less scary than entering a new and possibly worse situation.
This leads us to this week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW:
If a driver is out of the Chase and moving to a new team the following year; should he be allowed to move in the current season?
Let us know what you think and we could use your response on this week’s radio show. Listen live to ON PIT ROW every Tuesday from 5-7pm ET. Call the show with your opinion and you could win a Kevin Harvick bobblehead if your call is deemed The Shell Nitrogen Enriched Call of the Day.
photo credit: Icon Sports Media
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 @onpitrowMarch 5, 2009 9:07 am UTC 4 Comments
It’s been awhile for Bobby Labonte. I know, he finished 5th in the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday. That was great. But not since, maybe 2003 has the soft spoken ex-champ been dominant anywhere.
That year he led 238 total laps in two Sprint Cup Series races at the track he used to pretty much own. When the Cup Series went to Atlanta Super Speedway, Bobby was an almost automatic pick.
Labonte finished 1st and 5th in the 2003 Atlanta races. He hasn’t seen the top ten at AMS since. But I played a hunch in this week’s One and Done NASCAR fantasy game. I took the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion to win. I’m hoping those Doug Yates motors hold together for 500 miles. If they do, I like my chances.
Bobby and sponsor Ask.com are supporting the cause of safe Internet use for kids. Here’s what they have going for this weekend in Atlanta.
Before getting into the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion for his qualifying laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday, March 6, driver Bobby Labonte will give a deserving fifth grader a ride to school and present Cotton Indian Elementary, in Stockbridge, Ga., a computer donation on behalf of Ask.com and the Safe Search Schools program. The program – a partnership between Ask.com, Web Wise Kids and NASCAR – launched in the Atlanta-area last month to promote Internet safety education and awareness. Local Atlanta teachers and students participated in the program by visiting safesearchschools.com, conducting Internet safety lessons and submitting their own ideas for how to be safe online. Cotton Indian Elementary was selected from nearly 200 entries by a Blue Ribbon Panel, comprised of Jim Safka, CEO of Ask.com; Mike Helton, president of NASCAR; Judi Westberg Warren, president of Web Wise Kids and Bobby Labonte, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Ask.com will continue to raise awareness about the importance of Internet safety education throughout the season by taking the program to other areas.
by Art Almond, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
Awright y'all... I'm tha crazy dude that is known as... "Drawer-Dude" I draw funny pictures of this racin' cartoon character that I created... known as "PIT-ROAD-TOAD! You can see more Toad-Toons at my blog site... RACIN' RUCKUSFebruary 10, 2009 4:30 pm UTC 2 Comments
Hey everyone… the TOAD just wanted to talk a little bit about banked turns. Since we are on the subject, let’s talk about the “mac-daddy” of high-bank turns… Daytona International Speedway! This is where we’ll see the Daytona 500 this Sunday… February 15, 2009!
Each year the “World Center of Racing” is host to a two-week event that is dubbed as Speedweeks. In February of each year Speedweeks is concluded with the running of the Daytona 500.
Here are some interesting facts about Daytona.
It was built in 1959.
The banking in the turns is 31 degrees.
The seating capacity is 168,000.
The track length is a 2.5-mile tri-oval.
The front stretch is 1,900 ft (Measured from center of tri-oval)
Dale Earnhardt Senior won his first, and only Daytona 500 victory in February of 1998. Dale is still considered to be the best driver ever on this track.
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 @onpitrowJanuary 22, 2009 7:11 pm UTC No Comments
Driving a Fusion for Hall of Fame Racing? That doesn’t inspire me much. I am, after all, a J J Yeley fan too and Hall of Shame didn’t do anything for J J ‘s career.
But the car will be supported through a hybrid, satellite deal where Hall of Fame’s No 96 will be powered and pitted by Doug Yates’ Racing team, which also seems to mean support from Jack Roush and Roush-Fenway’s Ford factory team.
So given some of the scenarios I’d heard and read about concerning Texas Bobby, driving a car with solid support from one of the best organizations in the sport, is about as good as it could get I guess.
And that car will have full season sponsorship from NASCAR’s new “official seach engine“. Ask.com. Spiffy paint scheme too – flames and everything. He’ll get to debut the Ask.com no 96 Fusion in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway next month.
Maybe Labonte will relax a bit too, now that he isn’t “the Great Petty Blue Hope”.