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 @onpitrowJuly 10, 2011 10:26 am UTC No Comments
Fans, and even a driver or two, got caught up in a long, hot, frustrating jam on the roads accessing (sort-of) Kentucky Speedway for the first ever Sprint Cup race there.
In the track media center, there was more tweeting about traffic than anything competition related.
Denny Hamlin was caught up in it all. No chopper ride for Denny.
Atlanta Motor Speedway’s president was supposedly out there directing traffic.
Bruton Smith blamed it all on the Governor of Kentucky, saying sic “the Guv knows that I71 sucks”.
And @Kenny_Wallace, who always tells it like it is tweeted this:
My thoughts on the Traffic Jam: “This is the way it used to be” back when tracks were SOLD OUT.
And Kenny’s right. The Quaker State 400 was a sellout. 100,000 NASCAR fans paid to be there. It was tough to get to the track, and that needs to get better. You know that it will too. But I bet you that Michigan International Speedway longs for the days of the MIS mess. So do all of the venues.
Would have been a boring day in the media center if not for that traffic jam. Slow news day today.
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 @onpitrowOctober 2, 2008 1:05 pm UTC 3 Comments
Mindy didn’t think much of Hall of Fame – or Shame – Racing’s decision to dump Joey – Sliced Bread – Logano from the No. 96 seat. She liked Carl Edwards big move at Kansas and apparently, she approves of the Aric Almirola in a fire suit.
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 1, 2008 5:56 pm UTC 2 Comments
As the Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega for the fourth race of this year’s Chase for the Cup, many teams have already shifted their focus from running well this year to preparing for 2009. Most teams have already set their driver lineups for the future and are already trying to add their new drivers to the mix this year. It seems that to everybody but the 12 Chase drivers, the 2008 season no longer really matters.
Already, Team Red Bull has pulled A.J. Allmendinger from the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota for this weekend. Allmendinger had the best finish of his career at Kansas last week, a 9th place run, but was removed from the car for Talladega and Charlotte in favor of Mike Skinner. Red Bull’s driver of the future, former Formula 1 driver Scott Speed, will take over the car at Martinsville and beyond, in preparation for a Raybestos Rookie of the Year run in 2009.
This leaves Allmendinger unemployed for the last month and a half of the season, meaning that his future employer has a shot at acquainting him with his 2009 team right now. Rumors point to Allmendinger moving to a Dodge team, either the No. 41 at Chip Ganassi Racing or the No. 45 at Petty Enterprises, next year.
As Reed Sorenson is leaving the No. 41, there’s the slight possibility that Allmendinger could replace Sorenson there by next week at Charlotte, or even the week after at Martinsville. Sorenson would then be free to join Gillett Evernham Motorsports, where he will replace Patrick Carpentier in the No. 10 Dodge next year.
In the past, drivers have finished out the season with their lame-duck teams before moving on. However, more and more owners have moved towards ousting lame-duck drivers towards the end of the schedule in recent years, and more and more departing drivers are asking for an early release.
Kurt Busch was forced out of the No. 97 Ford for the last two races of 2005 by owner Jack Roush after being detained for reckless driving before a race at Phoenix. As 2006 replacement Jamie McMurray was unavailable, as he was still under contract to Ganassi, Kenny Wallace drove the car that weekend, finishing 16th. Wallace’s solid performance, despite his lack of practice time in the car, contributed to Furniture Row Racing’s decision to enter him in a full Cup schedule in 2006.
Elliott Sadler was granted an early release by Robert Yates Racing in August 2006. Sadler moved to Evernham Motorsports, which had just booted Jeremy Mayfield from its No. 19 Dodge. Granted, Mayfield had made some acrimonious statements about owner Ray Evernham, but the team wasn’t planning on retaining him anyway after a major dropoff in performance.
While it’s not positive to think that drivers and owners are now more inclined to abandon contracts towards the end of the season, it’s starting to become a trend in Sprint Cup. When next season becomes the focus, teams will do whatever they can to build momentum that they can carry into Daytona.
If cutting a lame-duck driver is the solution, owners won’t hesitate as much anymore. If asking for an early release is the solution, the driver will go ahead and do it. The driver doesn’t have as much to lose because he’s already guaranteed employment for the future, but with a recent emphasis on driver development (and a lot of other talented drivers, such as Mayfield, currently unemployed), owners don’t need to scramble for solutions as much anymore.
Prepare for more driver musical chairs – here are this week’s five Quick Hits, all dealing with other rumors around the garage area:
5. Despite a 12-race sponsorship commitment from Wells Fargo, Kyle Petty is no longer wanted at Petty Enterprises in the No. 45 car, according to wife Pattie. She says that the team’s new management told Petty before the race at Watkins Glen that they didn’t want him in the car anymore.
She hopes that Chip Ganassi will consider taking Petty on for a part-time schedule next season, perhaps in the No. 40 Dodge that currently sits dormant. Petty drove for the former incarnation of the Ganassi team, Sabco, from 1989 to 1996, posting six wins and a pair of 5th place finishes in points.
4. Michael Waltrip Racing is entering a partnership with JTG Daugherty Racing for 2009, which will switch to Toyota power from Ford. Marcos Ambrose will drive the No. 47 Little Debbie/Clorox Toyota for JTG, which will be run out of Waltrip’s sprawling RaceWorld garage.
Waltrip is also looking to sign Dow Chemicals to co-sponsor David Reutimann’s No. 00 Toyota with Aaron’s Rent for next season. Granted that both deals go through, and that Waltrip puts together a sponsorship program for Michael McDowell, four cars in-house at MWR for 2009 is a realistic possibility.
3. If Allmendinger doesn’t join Ganassi, Mayfield is a candidate for the No. 41 ride. Mayfield tested the No. 41 at Lowe’s last week and ran one race for Ganassi this year as a substitute for the injured Dario Franchitti. The car’s Target sponsorship is secure, as the company has been a Ganassi partner for over a decade.
2. Paul Menard will abandon the sinking ship that is Dale Earnhardt Inc. after this season, bringing his Menards family sponsorship over to Yates Racing. Menard will likely drive a third car as a teammate to Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland. Currently, Menard ranks 28th in points, with Kvapil 24th and Gilliland 26th. The car will likely carry No. 32, No. 90, or No. 98: the first relates to Yates’ current numbers, 28 and 38, and the second and third are other numbers Yates has used in Cup before.
1. Here’s a wild one: 1989 Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace is reportedly considering joining DEI to replace Menard, according to his brother Kenny. After watching Mark Martin announce a comeback to full-time Sprint Cup racing with Hendrick Motorsports next season, Kenny Wallace said to the Speed Channel that it’s “really tugged on Rusty’s heartstrings.” Rusty has denied the rumor, citing a long-term contract with ABC and ESPN, but the possibility is still there.
Finally, congratulations to last week’s winners at Kansas: Denny Hamlin in Nationwide, and Jimmie Johnson in Sprint Cup.
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 @onpitrowJune 7, 2008 8:41 pm UTC 3 Comments
I can’t decide if it would be good to have more events like Tony Stewart’s Prelude to the Dream. If there were too many, it wouldn’t be as special, I guess. But it’s a shame more fans can’t get there to experience it live.
23,000 some fans did make it though. According to the track announcer, people from 46 states ordered tickets to the ’08 Prelude as did fans from Denmark, Germany and Australia. For a race on dirt in the middle of a bunch of cornfields in western Ohio, that had about a fifty percent chance of getting rained out. Amazing.
OK, not just any dirt race. Darrell Waltrip didn’t drive the water truck this year but he did do a half dozen laps in a dirt late model with a lucky young fan along as passenger.
Eldora veterans – from their younger, pre-superstar days – were there. Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Dave Blaney, Ryan Newman, David Reutimann, Matt Kenseth and Ken Shrader. Others with lots of experience on the dirt raced as well. Clint Bowyer was fast. Kenny Wallace and old-timer Red Farmer made the trip and were quick. Mark Martin, J J Yeley and Aric Almirola wrecked. Bill Elliot had mechanical woes.
Kyle Busch and Jimmy Johnson brought there own late models. Robby Gordon drove a Scott Bloomquist-prepared car to second place. Johnson and Robby G have plenty of time driving in the dirt. Johnson in motocross and Gordon off-road.
During the driver intros, homeboy Tony got the loudest cheers. But Jeff Gordon had plenty of fans too. Even Kyle Busch heard more cheers than boos – until he stoked the booing with his “I can’t hear you” pose. From then on, the only cheers Kyle got were when he either hit or broke something. Both of which happened a lot.
Our seats were in turn three – which was the down-wind corner – so by the time the cars got to us, the twenty mile an hour breeze had brought the dirt kicked up in turn one to us and we got a double dose of dirt track in our faces each lap. I’ve got to get a pair of those yellow plastic goggle/glasses they were selling before next year’s race.
I wouldn’t miss it if I were you.
Photo credit: Split Second Sports and Panther Creek Design & Photo
by Charlie Turner
Boris Said is an ON PIT ROW favorite. He said yesterday that he’s either going to get his 7 Eleven – Spurpie – No Fear Racing Fusion into the Daytona 500 or it’s going home in a basket. Boris will be racing with six other go-or-go homers for two spots in NASCAR’s Super Bowl.
Warren Wallace’s other second cousin, Kenny Wallace, Red Bull twins Brian Vickers andA J Allmendinger, Awesome Bill Elliott, Daytona winner Sterling Marlin and Carl Long are the competition for Boris in race number one of the Gatorade Dual 150′s.
The wild card in that race is Kurt Busch. Busch’s owner’s points were transferred to teammate Sam Hornish Jr meaning Kurt has to either qualify on time or use his champion’s provisional to race a Sunday. In typical, stupid, Top 35 Rulefashion; if Busch is slow, he and two other drivers will transfer from this race. If he’s quick enough, it will leave just one other spot for someone else. I think Boris will edge the Toyotas and put another Ford in the big race.
Race two also has two starting spots up for grabs. Patrick Carpentier was the fastest of the bubble boys and he looked good in pole qualifying Sunday, using a driving line different from most everyone else. He’s up against fellow Canadian open wheel refugee Jacques Villenueve, veterans Dale Jarrett, Ken Shrader and John Andretti, Eric McClure and Stanton Barrett Jr.
Michael Waltrip said Sunday that Jarrett was getting all the best stuff from the MWR garage. If they had one car that was better or an engine that ran stronger, DJ was going to get it. Then Wednesday, they found that DJ had one of the engines that needed to be replaced. He’ll start at the back of the field and that won’t help. Shrader’s telling anybody who’ll listen how slow his Dodge has been. Andretti, McClure and Barrett are big underdogs. This one looks like it’s all Mapleleafs to me but Jarrett is next in line to use the champion’s provisional should Kurt Busch race his way to a starting spot.
To quote Warren – or is it Lauren – Wallace “the schooling starts right now.”
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 14, 2008 7:45 am UTC 6 Comments
Congress needs to step in and right this wrong that’s being perpetrated on the sporting public.
In the midst of hearings to determine whether baseball players used steroids and if a certain football team taped practices of other teams, there is one topic that is much more important to look into. And its being ignored completely. Our esteemed members of congress need to convene to revamp the national holiday schedule.
As the culture of the United States changes, no longer can people relate to Presidents Day. Many US citizens don’t have the faintest clue about Lincoln or Washington. Labor Day–forget it–not much of a work ethic these days.
Congress needs to change these National Holidays, and we could probably add a couple of those “bank holidays” as well; to something that the average American can relate to. National Sports Days.
The National Sports Days plan would give every American six days off work, for sporting event patronage. Need to have the day off after the Super Bowl? That Monday could be one of your NSD days. I know that translates into “National Sports Day day”. Do you work the night shift and your team makes it to the World Series? Use your NSDs to watch, or attend.
Later today two of my favorite races will be televised by SPEED, live, and I will not be able to watch. I love The Duels. The format for qualifying for The 500 is unique, a bit convoluted, but unique, none the less. There have been many years where the results have had little interest to me, as far as who made the race and who didn’t. My guy would be in; but it was just a lot of fun to watch as desperate people had to resort to desperate measures to make THE race.
Tuesday ON PIT ROW, I picked Boris Said to win the 500. Yeah, I know, there was no gaurantee he would even be in the race. That’s what makes seeing this race so important to me. I want to see what Boris, and Herman, and Sterling, and all the others do to try and get themselves, their cars and their sponsors into The Great American Race.
Hello–Ted–I won’t be into work today. Write me up for a NSD. Oh and I’ll take one on Sunday too, if you have the unmitigated gall to schedule me to work. I’ll be watching the Daytona 500 and talking about it via live blog.
Be sure to log in to onpitrow.com on Sunday starting at 2pm ET. We had a great time with the live blog during the awards banquet. This will be even better.
Photo credit: Robert Leberge/Getty Images/NASCAR