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 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 18, 2010 12:33 pm UTC No Comments
We love our ARCA racing On Pit Row. Today’s show will feature visits from Kenny Shrader and Matt Crafton. Both NASCAR stars will compete in the ARCA race here on Sunday. It will be a blast.
Steve is doing TV broadcast duty for the race. I will just lurk. And enjoy the day off and ARCA action. If you have a chance, come on over and watch for yourself.
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 4, 2009 9:46 am UTC 1 Comment
The On Pit Row Pit Crew will be there. Wouldn’t miss it. Don’t be surprised if Ken Shrader and Frank kimmel are bangin’ fenders at some point tonight. Both are big ARCA crowd favorites and, as in the spring race at Toledo, they are usually up front somewhere.
Mike Brudenell, motorsports writer for the Detroit Free Press has a preview of the ARCA RE/Max 200 in his regular Spin Doctor column. Check it out. Mike will co-host On Pit Row next Tuesday with Steve Wronkowicz while I take a week off. And if Steve thought I make him look like an idiot….
Watch young Joey Coulter tonight. He’s in the no. 16 and he’s due.
Photo credit: Tracy Stack
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 @onpitrowFebruary 5, 2009 7:55 am UTC No Comments
NASCAR bloggers come in many flavors. They tend to come and go too. When I first started checking out the NASCAR blogosphere, one of the names that kept popping up in my searches was this Diecast Dude guy. So I sent him an email. Cold. I asked for some advice on blogging. He explained some things – told me about “link-love”. And gave us some. I’ve owed him ever since.
Jerry Wilson was a guest ON PIT ROW Tuesday. He knows his stuff when it comes to auto racing. You can listen to that interview here. But it’s a little different than what follows. Seven questions for Jerry Wilson – the Diecast Dude. Enjoy.
OPR – What came first for you – your passion for racing or writing?
Jerry Wilson – Writing. I’ve always loved racing, especially open wheel. My Dad was a huge car buff, and having grown up in Indianapolis the Indy 500 was as much a part of the sports world in my house as baseball or football. NASCAR I got into later in life, during the late ’80s. Writing I’ve always loved.
OPR – Ken Schrader was the first person on the scene after Dale senior’s fatal crash. What went through your mind, when you saw Schrader look inside that wrecked Goodwrench Chevy?
Jerry Wilson – Mostly disbelief when Schrader started frantically calling the trackside assistance crew to the car. How could anything be wrong? This was Dale Earnhardt. He’d walked away from wrecks far worse-looking than this one. Within the disbelief there was the sudden realization he must be hurt for Schrader to be acting this way. But mostly disbelief.
OPR – I know that you are a Jimmy Johnson fan. Why? And why does he not get the props that his success deserves?
Jerry Wilson - We California kids have to stick together. Seriously, aside from the immediate reason for liking him, namely his being a protege of my main man Jeff Gordon, I appreciate his calm relentlessness and total aversion to distraction. Johnson is pure focus and drive. We should all be so dedicated to our pursuits in life. As far as the lack of appreciation, the era of people either loving dynasties or loving to hate them has ended with the latter firmly in control. We live in an ADD society. We want someone new in the spotlight every fifteen minutes without fail. Johnson, by dint of being better than everyone else, isn’t allowing that to happen.
OPR – Describe your feelings about traditional NASCAR journalists. Terry Blount, for example.
Jerry Wilson – It’d be more interesting to hear what he thinks of me!
My feelings about the trad reporters covering NASCAR… it varies from reporter to reporter. I’ve long since abandoned the “you’re in MSM, therefore I as the big bad blogger am obligated to call you out and take you down whenever possible” mindset. It’s ludicrous to think that way. The reporters aren’t going anywhere and neither am I. As the years have rolled along and I’ve come to know some of the reporters — for example, Matt Crossman from the Sporting News and I are good friends — I’ve seen a shift in attitude by most members of both sides. For lack of a better term I’d call it a truce. The two sides still don’t see eye to eye, but there is at least acknowledgment of each others legitimacy.
Beat writing is a tough gig. It’s your job to report the news. That means gathering facts, verifying them, and putting them in print. This is always done under tremendous time pressure. The information beast wants everything five minutes ago. Blogging, whether it cares to admit it, is utterly reliant on the media for its source material to which it adds observation and comment. The other side is the media, whether it cares to admit it, envies the blogosphere for its ability to freewheel without concern for being shut out of news sources. Unless NASCAR Media decides to kick us all out. I don’t believe I’m off-base in stating the work I’ve done since 2003, along with other longtime bloggers such as Bram Hume at Backstretch Motorsports, went a very long way toward convincing NASCAR of our legitimacy. They admitted as such last year when they let us in. There is the thought that part of NASCAR’s motivation was hoping to keep us a bit more in check, but that’s nothing I can prove.
Back to the original question. There are good reporters and bad reporters. In my opinion Blount is a bad reporter. Too much opinion in what should be straightforward news stories, too much presentation of speculation and/or rumor as fact, and I believe he’s a plagiarist.
OPR – You can change one thing – and only one – in NASCAR. What will you change?
Jerry Wilson – Allow crew chiefs far more freedom to massage the new car and hopefully make it something not so prone to running loose all the time.
OPR - You recently left a great blogging gig – RestrictorPlateThis.com, for a big traffic sports site – to return to being TheDiecastDude. How tough was that?
Jerry Wilson – Brutal in the extreme. When I left, SportsBlogs Network which owns RPT had just finished putting together a team of investors including some heavy hitters in sports and sports media. SBN has the best of the best sports bloggers on its roster. It is going to be a major player in online sports blogging, reporting and analysis. The people running SBN are like the bloggers there — the best of the best. You don’t walk away from that without a lot of thought and in my case prayer.
There were several factors going into my decision to leave SBN, but the primary one was the ever-increasing pull on my heart to get back to being, again for lack of a better term, Diecast Dude. There were and certainly are now far more popular NASCAR bloggers than I in terms of readership. However, what I brought to the table was the ability to mix what I had to say about NASCAR, my goals in this being to present entertainment and opinion about the sport, with going off on tangents about different topics. These usually reflected my faith. I couldn’t do that on SBN. Not because I was told not to; no one there ever censored or disapproved of a word I wrote. Rather, it was because it would have been inappropriate of me to use SBN as a platform for such things. That’s not what they’re there for and that’s not what they asked me on board for. To follow what I had been called to do required me to leave SBN.
OPR – You are not just a digital author. You’re published as well, with the book, Restrictor Plate This and another, upcoming release. Tell me about the difference between writing a book and blogging.
Jerry Wilson – Blogging is far easier. Pick a topic, hit it, done. Writing a book requires far more planning and the ability to simultaneously monitor the here and now — the words you’re writing at any given point in the manuscript — and maintain full view of the overall picture you’re trying to create. A blog says “look at that flower” and then immediately moves on. A book doesn’t so much stop to smell the roses as it does plant the seed, cultivate the bush, and when the flower finally blooms make sure you’ve described it along with every step along the way in loving, full detail so the person who knows the rose solely from your words knows its fragrance as well as the person who actually gets a chance to take a whiff.
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 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.October 29, 2008 8:04 pm UTC 1 Comment
This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the third to last race in this year’s Chase for the Cup. By this point, all but the 12 Chase teams are in preparation mode for 2009, experimenting with new setups and personnel. Many drivers with limited Sprint Cup experience are attempting to make starts this weekend in preparation for next year, including Joey Logano, Bryan Clauson, and Brad Keselowski.
However, one of the most intriguing driver-team combinations attempting to make the race this weekend is Max Papis and Germain Racing. Papis, a former CART competitor who made two starts for Haas CNC Racing earlier this year, will drive a No. 13 GEICO Toyota for Germain in 18 Sprint Cup races next year, and possibly attempt up to 25 depending upon sponsorship. Papis will also attempt to qualify at Homestead, regardless of whether he makes the race this weekend or not.
This is the next natural step in Germain’s progression from a Truck Series-only team up to NASCAR’s top level. Formed in late 2004, the No. 30 truck has consistently been one of the series’ best, winning the championship in 2006 with Todd Bodine. The team added a second truck in 2005 and a Nationwide Series team in 2007, experiencing success with both.
Currently, Mike Wallace has that No. 7 Nationwide team 8th in series’ points. Bodine has the No. 30 in 3rd in the Truck Series, and Justin Marks has impressed in the No. 9 truck, winning a pole at Texas and finishing 8th at Daytona. Bodine also made one Nationwide start for the team in a second car this year, finishing 4th at Darlington. In other words, the brothers Germain – Bob, Stephen, and Richard – have managed to make all of their cars competitive, regardless of who’s in them or how often they compete.
With its expansion into Cup racing with Papis, Germain has picked the optimum time to move up the ladder. With many teams pressed for sponsorship in a difficult economic climate, the Sprint Cup field should be shrinking next year, making it much easier for a team that doesn’t plan on attempting all 36 races to make the most of its limited schedule.
Germain also has never expanded beyond its means to be competitive. While the 2005 season was a trying one for the second truck, much of that was based on Shige Hattori’s lack of stock-car experience. While Ted Musgrave only won one race in the No. 9 truck in 2006 and 2007, he also had 28 top-10s in 49 starts for the team and two top-10 finishes in points.
The team only moved up to the Nationwide Series after establishing a strong foundation with Bodine last year. In five races, the team had an average finish of 17.8 (negatively affected by a crash at Homestead that led to a 37th place finish) and led 15 laps at Gateway. They also waited to move up until finding the right driver (Wallace) and sponsor (GEICO), and the team has carved its niche in the series despite most of the wins and top finishes going to Cup “claim jumpers” running in both series.
Even with the recent trend of open-wheel flameouts, don’t expect Papis to disappear in the first year of his four-year contract with the team. Papis, unlike some of the other open-wheel drivers to give NASCAR a try recently, has been successful in many different forms of motorsport. He won a handful of CART races in the late 1990s with Team Rahal and has driven for Corvette Racing at Le Mans. He also won the 2002 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
Papis has also had his share of remarkable and memorable drives in other series. He nearly won the 1996 24 Hours of Daytona in a car that had been damaged by collisions. After unlapping himself in the final stint of the race, Papis pushed his car to the max, only losing by 64 seconds at a track in which fast laps can take nearly 2 minutes.
In other words, though we’ve all heard this before, Papis has the talent to succeed in a limited schedule with Germain. And unlike drivers like Villeneuve, Carpentier, Hornish, and Allmendinger, he has the team behind him to do it.
Before the green flag drops on this weekend’s festivites, here are this week’s Quick Hits:
5. A few interesting notes from Motorsports Authentics’ sell sheets for 2009 die-cast:
At Stewart-Haas Racing, Burger King is featured on the B-pillar of Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet. Also, DirecTV is featured on the B-pillar of Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet. It is no longer on the No. 07 Chevrolet of Casey Mears.
At Gillett Evernham Motorsports, McDonald’s has vacated its post on the lower quarter panel of Elliott Sadler’s No. 19 Dodge. Allstate is also gone from the lower quarter panel of Kasey Kahne’s No. 9 Dodge.
Finally, Scott Speed will run a No. 82 Red Bull Toyota next year, as opposed to a No. 84. No word on why the change occurred.
4. A recent rumor suggests that Wood Brothers Racing is looking around the garage for a new partner after JTG Daugherty Racing’s defection to Toyota for 2009. That partnership could come in the form of a deal with Hall of Fame Racing, which currently fields Toyotas for former Wood driver Ken Schrader. Hall of Fame would also bring a top-flight sponsorship, in the form of Texas Instruments, and a bona-fide driving talent in Brad Coleman to the partnership. Hall of Fame’s current deal with Joe Gibbs Racing expires after Homestead.
3. An interesting note: No Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender has finished in the top 10 all season. Sam Hornish Jr.’s 13th at the Coca-Cola 600 is the best finish for any contender. Aric Almirola’s 8th at Bristol does not apply, as he is not registered for the award. Regan Smith’s win at Talladega, had it been upheld, would have been the only top-10.
2. While Kyle Petty has been unable to lay down any serious Sprint Cup plans for next year, he may have a full time Rolex Sports Car Series deal in place for 2009. Petty will run the No. 45 Orbit Racing BMW Prototype at next year’s 24 Hours of Daytona, and potentially beyond. No word yet on if the Wells Fargo sponsorship currently tied to Petty in Sprint Cup would transfer with him, remain in NASCAR, or both.
1. Kodak is leaving the sport after a successful sponsorship campaign that spanned over two decades and produced three Daytona 500 wins. Drivers like Ernie Irvan, Sterling Marlin, Bobby Hamilton, and most recently Ryan Newman piloted the gold cars for Morgan-McClure Motorsports and Penske Racing from the late 1980s to this year. Kodak will also abandon its sponsorship programs in all other forms of motorsports, including those in the Rolex Sports Car Series and Indy Racing League.
Finally, congratulations to Newman for winning last weekend’s Truck Series race at Atlanta, and Carl Edwards for winning the Nationwide race in Memphis and Atlanta’s Sprint Cup event.