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 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 26, 2010 10:06 pm UTC No Comments
Was it Ryan Newman‘s victory in the 100-lap modified event, finally bringing home a victory for himself and team owner Bono Manion after years of frustration? Nah.
How about Kyle Busch‘s successful defense of his 2009 victory in the Nationwide Series, bringing to an end the track’s streak of 23 consecutive different winners and no repeat winners in the series? Better yet, his new record of most Nationwide laps led over a career, surpassing the series’ greatest of all time, Mark Martin? Nope.
Could it have been the lack of AT&T coverage at the track, rendering Twitter updates difficult if not impossible for some of us? No, although I would like a word with the folks at Sprint.
DING DING DING!!!
The past couple of days have been all about the return of the sport’s rental media darling, on loan from the IZOD IndyCar Series on her off weeks. Everybody has been hanging on her every word, her every lap, her every action all weekend.
The stated goal for the No. 7 JR Motorsports team this weekend was a top-15 finish, after three sub-30th runs in her first three races of the year. Two were due to wrecks that were not entirely her fault, if at all. Regardless of February’s foibles, however, today was meant to be a day for growth, and perhaps her first solid, lead-lap finish of her stock car career.
Of course, it only took until lap seven for that to go out the window. Morgan Shepherd got loose and slid into Patrick, putting her into the wall and off the lead lap. She would never regain lead-lap status, and she didn’t hesitate to show Shepherd her “appreciation” on the ensuing restart by bumping the back of his car.
To be fair to both sides, Shepherd may have driven too hard into the corner too early in the race. But Patrick could have also given him more room, allowing for the beating and banging inherent in the nature of stock car racing. And if Shepherd was a faster car at that point in the race, there’s no sense in making it difficult to get by; it’s only lap seven, after all.
Regardless, Danica went from 25th all the way down to 39th, recovering to finish 30th, five laps off the pace. But much of that gained position came from cars that fell out of the event entirely, or parked their vehicles. Of those still running at the end of the 200-lap event, she only beat one car, that of Charles Lewandoski, which only made the race because Peyton Sellers was disqualified for illegal fuel during qualifying.
The spotlight cast on Danica, however, may also illuminate the reason why so many open-wheel drivers have failed at stock cars in the recent past. Clearly, Danica’s driving style is going to be different after years of having no ability to bump and bang the other cars on track, lest somebody’s wheel go flying off the vehicle. As such, it is up to those in charge of mentoring her to acclimate her to a different driving methodology, as well as a different driving terminology – “loose” and “tight” versus “oversteer” and “understeer.”
Yet if you listened to Tony Eury Jr.‘s prerace interview with ESPN, he talked about trying to get his team to adapt to what Danica knows, and teaching them her terminology from the IndyCar. Therein lies the problem – not only do the physics of an 1800-pound open-wheel car not translate to a stock car about twice its size, the crew members aren’t pushing enough of the established way of doing things on their still-impressionable (at least in stock cars) driver.
If this is the way that the crews of Dario Franchitti, Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier, et cetera decided to do it, and not the way that Tony Stewart‘s mentors worked back in 1998, I think we’ve figured out the problem.
Certainly, Danica isn’t exempt from blame in this situation – if she’s going to moonlight in stock cars, she needs to do more to learn the system. She needs to do her homework – watch more races as a spectator, learn the lingo, start developing a second style of driving that has nothing in common with her IndyCar ways. But as much as some folks would have you believe, her lack of success and speed thus far does not squarely rest on her shoulders.
Unless and until things start to change in the No. 7 team all the way around, we’re going to see more mediocre and subpar runs out of them before any success is achieved. It’s a shame, really. I think all of us would like to see one of the Nationwide Series’ biggest stories turn out more like a fairy tale than a horror movie.
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 @onpitrowDecember 21, 2009 8:25 am UTC 2 Comments
What are the perfect gifts for NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and, yes, Danica Patrick?
Watch the 2009 holiday edition of the Monday Morning Crew Chief with Mindy Monday and find out.
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.June 2, 2009 6:49 am UTC 2 Comments
Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, called for a four tire change on the last round of pit stops while Darian Grubb opted to put only two on the Smoke-mobile.
Putting the two tires on Tony Stewart’s ride enabled the new Sprint Cup points leader to battle Greg Biffle for the lead. But that lead didn’t last long as Johnson was able to use his four new tires to run down Stewart and pass him for the lead with two laps to go.
Johnson dominated the race, especially through its middle sections as he led the most laps. As dominate as the #48 was, the biggest story of the weekend was the replacement of Tony Eury, Jr. as crew chief for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Lance McGrew was slated to take over the helm at Pocono, but when Brad Keselowski fail to qualify at Dover, McGrew started his new assignment a week early.
The combination of McGrew and Earnhardt got off to a decent start as the #88 was able to find its way to a top twenty finish after running as high as fifth early in the race. What remains to be seen is if the combination can stick for the long term. Earnhardt admitted that the dialogue between himself and his cousin was at times sparse and so far that dialogue with McGrew has been much more prevalent.
This week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW asks:
How will Lance McGrew be able to turn the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. team around?
Let us know what you think and we may use your comments on this week’s ON PIT ROW radio show. Or call the show between 5-7pm ET at 800-645-2946 and your call could win a Kevin Harvick bobblehead if you are the Shell Nitrogen Enriched Call of the Day.
photo credit: Icon Sports Media
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.May 29, 2009 11:07 pm UTC 4 Comments
I’m guessing Kyle Busch sadistically burned ants with a magnifying glass as a kid. I can visualize him squatting down in the driveway under the hot Vegas sun. Calmly and with fine adjustments to the magnifying glass, he focuses the sun’s rays. One by one he toys with the ants by applying a little burn here and a little burn there.
When it comes to Earnhardt Jr. and his legions of fans, Kyle may very well toy with them too via the same method- a little burn here, a little burn there. Earnhardt’s team was recently reorganized with a crew chief change (Eury Jr. out, Lance McGrew in). This change has been something than many fans (including a large portion of ‘Earnhardt Nation’) and media have said needed to happen.
During a media interview this weekend, Kyle was asked for his thought on the crew chief changes at the #88 team.
“You’ve got to make the most popular driver in the sport competitive, so you gotta do what you gotta do, I guess. You know it’s, uh, he’s [Earnhardt Jr.] the one who brought that crew chief [Eury Jr.] on. He’s the one who pulled so hard to bring Eury Jr. in. It looked like it was working there in the beginning, and uh, just hasn’t worked since summer of last year really. So, whatever makes them better I guess.”
Later in the interview Kyle was asked about Eury’s replacement, Lance McGrew (with whom Kyle has worked with in the past). Following some comments on McGrew’s past responsiblities with the team, portions of Kyle’s answers have been perceived as ‘burns’ to Earnhardt Jr..
“He’s [McGrew] got his hands full, I guess. You know, having to deal with what’s going on, and if Junior doesn’t run well, then he [McGrew] is going to be the ‘problem’ again. It’s never Junior; it’s always the crew chief.
Now, I watched the media interview and the tone of Kyle’s responses are quite different than what one may get from just reading the ‘hot points’ pulled out of the interview and quoted on blogs and forum threads.
So is Kyle just answering the questions with brutal honesty? Is he saying what many in the garage and grandstand are thinking, but are afraid or unwilling to say? Or is this just a thumb-to-nose at Hendrick Motorsports and Earnhardt Jr. after being let go to make room for Jr.?
I don’t know, but it could simply be that Kyle knows his role within the sport right now- the villain. As such, he finds opportunities to apply a little burn here and a little burn there as he polarizes fans and competitors alike. One thing is for sure, he refuses to be cast into NASCAR’s all too common politically correct mold.
What do you think?
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 29, 2009 10:13 pm UTC No Comments
The race was cut to just past half distance and the several rain-caused cautions gave the normal Wall-Bait feeders a break. The walls of Lowes Motorspeedway are mostly clean. But you can’t say that no one hit the wall in Charlotte.
The rain didn’t hide the continued futility of the Amp Energy No. 88 team. The combo of Junior’s, Earnhardt and Eury, had been nibbling at the crash bait for most of the fishing season. This week, the boss bit.
Rick Hendrick has decided that the experiment in NASCAR in-breeding has failed. The cousins Earnhardt didn’t get the job done. Dale Junior has a new crew chief and Tony Junior has….a respite from scapegoat-ism.
Dover will most assuredly see more sheet metal in the wall. But there may not be a bigger hit in NASCAR this year than the one Earnhardt fans have taken so far.