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 22, 2012 8:28 am UTC No Comments
Bob Pockrass has what is probably the definitive story on the changes at JRM. Here is a quote from Pockrass’ article at SportingNews.com
“It has been difficult to see these changes and it was not easy at all to sever the working relationship with Pops (Eury Sr.) or Tony Jr., but we’re a company that wants to improve over what we’ve been doing and we’re making some changes to see if we can make that happen,” Earnhardt said.
We talked about this On Pit Row this week. Here’s the highlight with video.
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 @onpitrowNovember 5, 2011 11:29 am UTC No Comments
Danica Patrick is a helluva driver. She’s also a marketing person’s dream. Funny too. Now she’s officially a ten. No more argument.
Photo credit: Getty Images for NASCAR
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 2, 2011 12:57 pm UTC 1 Comment
The news that Rick Hendrick has agreed to extend the contract of Dale Earnhardt Jr for five more years is no surprise. It should be music to the ears of Junior Nation as well, since there is no place else where NASCAR’s most popular driver has a better chance to get back to winning than at Hendrick Motorsports.
But can he?
Junior has one win – and that on a fuel strategy gamble at Michigan Speedway – in his HMS, Sprint Cup career. He currently sits ninth in Sprint Cup Series points, a precarious spot to be in, without a win or two. If he falls from the top ten, he won’t make the Chase. Again.
Everybody likes Junior. Well, most everyone. For fans, he brings an honest, down-to-earth air to the sport. You don’t get much “Driver Speak” from him. And he wears his frustration where we can see it. Kind of vulnerable. Chicks dig that, I’m told.
Owners dig that they don’t have to worry about sponsorship on Earnhardt’s car. Every team is looking for money. But that won’t be an issue on the #88. Ever.
And NASCAR still seems to peg their popularity to the success of that #88. Early this season, when TV ratings were up a bit, we heard many anecdotal opinions that said – “No wonder. Junior’s doing well…”. I have doubts about that being the reason. But it sure isn’t because of the economy.
So here’s to five more years. Go get ‘em Junior.
Photo credit: Glenn Bure – 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.July 2, 2011 9:54 am UTC No Comments
It had been twenty-three years since Penske first brought the sponsorship to his Indy car team. Busch has shown great success through the first half of the season with one win, four top five’s and three poles in the first sixteen races of the season. Busch’s win at Infineon Raceway was done in dominating fashion; leading fifty-two laps of the 110 lap event.
Pennzoil first joined forces with Roger Penske in 1983 along with premiere Indy car driver Rick Mears. The combination would go on to capture victory at the Indy 500 just one year later. Over a five year period Pennzoil cars would win the 500 four out of five years. In 1984, Mears in the Pennzoil Z-7 Special would post a record-winning speed of 163.612 mph. Danny Sullivan would win in 1985-the famous spin to win race. Also in 1985 Mears, in the Pennzoil car, sets Indy’s fastest lap ever-204.937mph and Al Unser wins the CART PPG Indy Car World Series Championship.
In 1996 Pennzoil would enter NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series for the first time with Bahari Racing and 1995 Busch Series champion Johnny Benson. He would go on to become the Winston Cup Rookie of the Year and drive the car for two years. Also in 1996, Pennzoil became the official oil of both the Brickyard 400 and the Indy 500.
The Pennzoil sponsorship moved to Dale Earnhardt Incorporated for their inaugural year in the Cup series in 1998 with Steve Park behind the wheel. Park would pilot the Pennzoil Chevys for all or part of five years and pick up his only two Cup Series wins. Park finished in the top ten 35 times and won four poles. Kenny Wallace would be behind the wheel of the ride in 2002 while Park recovered from injuries. Following the 2003 season Pennzoil would diminish their role in NASCAR; becoming a part time sponsor, utilizing several brand names for several teams.
Richard Childress Racing would bring Pennzoil and Shell back to the Sprint Cup Series in 2007. In the season-opening Daytona 500, Kevin Harvick claimed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory in a restrictor plate race with a dramatic final lap pass over Mark Martin by .020 seconds in a green-white-checkered finish. It was the closest margin at the 500 since electronic scoring started in 1993. The race was on the sixth anniversary of the death of his predecessor at Richard Childress Racing, Dale Earnhardt.
Four days after Harvick won the Daytona 500 in his inaugural race with Shell-Pennzoil as a primary sponsor, Team owner, Richard Childress, was asked by NASCAR to downsize the Shell logo on the car and on Harvick’s fire suit; making the Pennzoil logo more prominent to avoid conflict with official NASCAR fuel sponsor Sunoco.
Harvick would go on to win three more times with Pennzoil and Shell; while capturing thirty-two top-five finishes in four years.
Pennzoil got its start in racing in the early 1930′s at the Indianapolis 500 as a sponsor of the highly successful car of Russell Snowberger. In the next five years, he finishes every Indy race he enters-always in the top 10. Amazingly, 27 other race drivers voluntarily select, and run on Pennzoil as well. Pennzoil had made an impressive beginning, and over the years became the lubrication of choice for drivers in all forms of racing.
With drag racing in its infancy in the 1950′s, Pennzoil representatives furnish oil to up and coming race drivers. The familiar Pennzoil oval is seen on many early dragsters throughout America, most notably on the winning machines of teenage driving prodigy Eddie Hill. In 1958 Pennzoil officially sponsors the fastest rising star on the NHRA circuit, Don “Big Daddy” Garlits.
The 1960′s saw NHRA drag racing grow as fast as quarter mile speeds, a growth to which Pennzoil was a principal contributor. They were the first major oil company to develop a racing oil exclusively for cars running on exotic fuels. Throughout the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s Pennzoil lubricated machines dominate top fuel, funny car and pro-stock categories. Pennzoil has used by many top names in drag racing including Garlits, Connie Kalitta, Bill Jenkins, Jimmy Nix and Don Prudhomme.
Jim Hall and Al Unser blow the crowd away with the revolutionary “ground effects” Chaparral at the brickyard in 1979. Painted bright Pennzoil yellow and with Pennzoil in its veins, it leads the race for 100 laps before retiring with a broken water pump. The next season Johnny Rutherford is behind the wheel of the Pennzoil Chaparral and drives to an impressive win at Indy and goes on to win the national championship and is named “Driver of the Year.”
As the second half the Sprint Cup season gets under way and the quest to make it into The Chase for a Sprint Cup Championship heats up Kurt Busch, Roger Penske and Pennzoil look for more wins and more championships to add to an, already impressive resume.
Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR
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.April 26, 2011 8:17 am UTC 1 Comment
The Nationwide Series has become a mockery of itself and it was no more evident than what we saw this past weekend at Nashville. Again two high profile Sprint Cup drivers stole the show from those drivers looking to win a championship.
There have been a ton of excuses as to the reasons that Cup drivers are tolerated and encouraged in the lesser series.
The arguments are well documented with t he most prolific being; if Cup drivers don’t participate then no one will show up/watch on TV. That mindset seems to be held by track promoters and television rights holders and does not seem to hold water. Look at the empty stands at Nashville and look at the pathetic ratings on ESPN for the NNS and you’ll see that nothing was gained by having Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch in the field.
If you believe that the NNS needs Cup drivers to succeed then the next logical step would be to assume that the more Cup drivers present the more attended the race will be and the higher the TV ratings. But the TV ratings for the feeder series don’t waver much from race to race and those showing up to the race tracks have more to do with the proximity to and bundling of tickets to the Cup event.
The two man show that ESPN presented to the viewers did a dis-service to those who are in the Nationwide Series on a week to week basis and especially to those who are running for the championship. ESPN did ittle more than mention the championship drivers as an aside throughout the race, instead concentrating on Edwards and Busch.
Banning Cup drivers from the NNS isn’t the answer. Finding a better way to integrate those drivers into the series is. If Jimmie Johnson’s five consecutive championships in Cup is bad for the sport then, Kyle and Carl are just as bad for the sport of second-fiddle NASCAR.
Limit the number of races that full-time cup drivers can participate in. If Cup teams want to operate in the minor leagues let them do so with a group of drivers from their Cup stables. This gives the promoters and TV execs the star power they are looking for with some intrigue as to whether this weeks Cup driver can figure out the ride.
There was a time when it was as fun to watch a Nationwide race as it was to watch a Cup race. Those days are long gone. The mix of up-and-coming drivers and never-quite-made-its was a series to hold fan interest; not so much any more.
photo credit: BethAnne Heisler/ON PIT ROW
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.April 7, 2011 2:43 pm UTC 3 Comments
He retracted his statements on Tuesday after reviewing NASCAR’s evidence against him. The timing loop that he sped through was not the loop he thought he was being accused of violating. Regardless of whether NASCAR or Johnson were right or wrong; questions about the sanctioning bodies transparency arose.
Johnson; along with some media and fans have called for real time posting of pit row speeds for all teams at every trip for service. Cries of conspiracy have again permeated the NASCAR world. “They are hiding information from us,” was the lament from the grandstands. NASCAR has stated they don’t feel this is information that needs to be disseminated to the fan base.
I have to agree with NASCAR on this one. As I stated on this week’s ON PIT ROW show on ustream.tv; there still needs to be some intrigue within the races and maybe just a little bit of trust from the fans that NASCAR really is a fair and benevolent organization. NASCAR has nothing to gain by issuing false speeding penalties especially to the guy that has dominated their sport for the past five years.
There is enough information available to the fans and teams on a real time basis that there doesn’t need to be more graphics on my TV screen or video boards at the track. NASCAR’s radio communication with the teams, which is available on all scanners, is sufficient to notify them of a penalty when one has occured.
No other sport has the transparency of NASCAR and quite frankly I think fans have come to expect too much from the sport. Being able to not only listen to team strategy, driver and crew chief thoughts but also the sanctioning bodies communication should be enough.
Johnson’s complaint was not the first in regard to speeding penalties and it most likely won’t be the last, but I’m okay with not having to see every teams pit road speed displayed in front of me. There comes a time that it’s better to just watch the racing.
photo credit: BethAnne Heisler/ON PIT ROW