Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Replay Trevor Bayne's surprising Daytona 500 win

   Race fans can re-live Trevor Bayne's upset win in the 2011 Daytona 500 and get a glimpse of never-before-aired footage by watching a NASCAR Media Group-produced special on Thursday night.

   The one-hour documentary, titled "Daytona 500: The Inside Story," will air on Discovery's HD Theater at 9 p.m. Eastern.

   The show includes highlights from the week of tributes to the late Dale Earnhardt, who died in a last-lap wreck in the race 10 years earlier, as well as Bayne's improbable victory which made him the youngest winner in the history of the event.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hard liquor about to hit the NASCAR sponsorship road

   What was once a sponsorship boon in NASCAR appears set to disappear.

   When NASCAR lifted its long-standing ban on hard liquor sponsors beginning with the 2005 season, it produced an influx of several lucrative deals from Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Crown Royal, among others.

   On Tuesday, Diageo, the parent company of Crown Royal, announced it was ending its sponsorship relationships with NASCAR and Roush Fenway Racing's No. 17 team driven by Matt Kenseth following the 2011 season.

   Crown Royal is the last remaining hard liquor sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series following the infusion of new sponsors six years ago.

   "We have developed strong relationships with the people at both organizations - they have not only been fantastic business partners, but have also become our friends. We thank them for working with us throughout the years to showcase the importance of our social responsibility initiatives," said Yvonne Briese, vice president of marketing for Diageo.

   "We look forward to a strong finish to the 2011 season and like the many fans we’ve gained along the way, we’ll never stop rooting for the No. 17 car on its way to Victory Lane."

   Prior to the 2005 season, NASCAR teams were allowed to advertise beer and malt beverages such as Smirnoff Ice but not hard liquor. The ban was in place in part because of an agreement then among major television networks to turn down hard-liquor commercials.

Can Stewart get revenge and a title?

   Obviously Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers may be seeing more of each other on the track given their run-in at Sonoma, Calif. From his comments, Stewart doesn't plan and letting anyone get away with much of anything in the coming weeks.

   Is that necessarily the best position for Stewart considering he still has a lot of work to do to secure a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup?  Jeff Gordon isn't so sure.

   "The only thing I'll say is if you're going to try to win a championship, those types of situations are, in my opinion, going to hinder you from doing that. If you start getting into a battle with a guy, especially if it's somebody that is not in championship contention, you know, then what happens is you're not going to win. It's going to be a lose for you and everybody," he said. "If it's somebody that's in the championship, then you guys have to figure out how to settle it, whether it happens on the track or off the track.

   "If you're that upset at what happened, and you see that guy again before the race is over, you're still upset, depends on how your fuse is. Some people have short fuses and some people have long fuses. I got into a battle with Tony Stewart before. That's not a guy I battle with anymore. We had our situation. I'm so glad that we resolved it fairly quickly. Nobody has more respect for one another out there than me and Tony because I've been on the other side of it with him when he can get mad. He's not a guy that you want to have gunning at you. He's a great race car driver, he's smart, he can get really mad. We'll see how this one turns out."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hamlin wins 1st of season

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Denny Hamlin won for the first time this season as he edged Matt Kenseth in Sunday's Heluva Good! 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.

Kyle Busch, Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, was third. Paul Menard was fourth and points-leader Carl Edwards was fifth. Edwards now has a 20-point lead over Kevin Harvick.

Hamlin, who finished second in the Chase for the Sprint Cup last season, hadn't won since Texas in November 2010, 16 races ago. -- David Scott

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Edwards takes Michigan Nationwide race

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Carl Edwards won Saturday's Alliance Truck Parts 250 at Michigan International Speedway, outdistancing second-place and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the process.

"We needed about a 15-lap run at the end going green," said Stenhouse, who takes over the points lead with the second-place finish. "We just weren't fast enough for Carl."

Reed Sorenson, who was the points leader entering the race, finished 11th.

Kyle Busch was third and pole-sitter Paul Menard fourth.

The Nationwide Series heads to Road America at Elkhart Lake, Wis., next week. -- David Scott

Friday, June 17, 2011

JGR teams changing oil pans

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Joe Gibbs Racing's three Sprint Cup teams -- Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano -- didn't submit their oil pans for approval earlier today at Michigan International Speedway.

The JGR cars changed their oil pans to something legal by 12:30 p.m., when Cup practice started for Sunday's Heluva Good 400.

NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said the oil pans will be looked at early next week at the R&D center in Concord and that the teams could face penalties. -- David Scott

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kyle Busch the center of attention?

   Is this a surprise? Kyle Busch had been the center of attention during this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series broadcasts.

   Interviewed longer and mentioned more frequently than any other driver on the circuit during the first 12 event telecasts of 2011, Busch parlayed the spotlight into $28.4 million of exposure value for his sponsors, $6.5 million more than the next most sponsor-potent driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    According to research conducted by Joyce Julius & Associates, Inc. -- which has monitored every NASCAR race telecast over the last 27 seasons -- Busch’s sponsors were monitored for eight hours, 30 minutes, 39 seconds (8:30:39) during live and replayed coverage of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 through last month’s Coca-Cola 600. Additionally, Busch and the Fox TV crew verbally mentioned his sponsors on 95 occasions.

         Driver, Sponsor Exp., Driver Interviews, Value

1) Ky. Busch

2) Earnhardt Jr.

3) J. Johnson

4) K. Harvick

5) J. Gordon

6) C. Edwards

7) T. Bayne

8) T. Stewart

9) M. Kenseth

10) C. Bowyer

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yarborough, DW highlight '12 HOF class

Cup Drivers Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip, modified driver Richie Evans, owner Glen Wood and crew chief Dale Inman will make up the NASCAR Hall of Fame's classic '12.
Yarborough was the first driver to win three straight Cup titles and finished his career with 83 victories.
Waltrip won 84 races and three titles.
Inman was Richard Petty's long-time crew chief and had 193 victories and eight titles, both records for a crew chief.
Evans won nine NASCAR modified titles in 13 years and eight consecutively from 1978-85.
Wood, part of the Wood Brothers Racing team, which has 98 victories.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Guess what? Probation's over!

   NASCAR had to issue a warning to drivers Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch early in Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway when the two couldn’t seem to get out of each other’s way battling for position.

   The two were on probation through this weekend for a post-race incident on pit road last month at Darlington, S.C.

   “It seemed like he was trying to make it awfully difficult on me,” Busch said of Harvick. “There’s a couple times where I just had to back off and wait, got back to him and tried to pass him again.

   “Maybe that shows his character and who he is, how he feels he needs to race on the race track. It’s not my fight. He’s trying to turn it into one.”

   "He knows he's got one coming," Harvick said when he was asked about the run-in. "I just wanted him to think about it."

   Did Harvick think Busch had?

   "Of course he did. It's all a free game now. Probation's over," he said.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Three straight poles for Penske Racing

     LONG POND, Pa. - Is the key to qualifying well spinning out in practice?

    Kurt Busch seems to be setting a trend. For the second consecutive week, Busch spun in practice on Friday and ended up winning the pole during Saturday qualifying.

    Busch’s lap at 171.578 mph was good enough to hold off Paul Menard for his second pole this season and first at Pocono Raceway in Sunday's 5-Hour Energy 500.

    “To go out there today, if it was raining, we’d be starting last in a backup car. Instead, we’re starting on the pole,” Busch said.

    “It’s a matter of knowing where the edge is and not stepping over it. It bit me. But today I went right back out there to get after it.”
    Sunday’s race will also mark the third straight week a Penske Racing driver has started the Cup race from the pole. Busch started from the pole last week and his teammate Brad Keselowski won the pole at Charlotte.

   Jeff Gordon qualified third, Denny Hamlin third and Regan Smith fifth.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stewart pleased with Eldora race

   Clint Bowyer won Tony Stewart's annual dirt track charity race at Eldora Speedway this week - an event which once again raised funds for four children's hospitals across the country.

   Stewart was asked Friday at Pocono Raceway to give an update on how the race went and the response from the drivers involved this season.

   Stewart: I thought it was good. I wish I would have ran a little better but its good seeing another first-time winner there and everybody had a good time. That’s what it’s all about.

   Stewart: The hard thing is with the HBO/Pay-Per-View side it takes months to get those numbers in. That’s the hard part because we never know right away. I checked with everybody I knew and they all ordered it. There were people that ordered it and went and watched it somewhere else too. I think everybody was trying to do everything they could to do their part.

   Stewart: “I was still getting text messages this morning from drivers. They’re the ones that make it so big. It’s hard to get that many guys together and get their schedules all coordinated like that. They’ve always done a great job for us there. That’s the best part and highlight to me, giving a lot of money away to kids and making sure that these guys are having a good time. When I know they’ve had fun then it’s all worthwhile.

Richard Childress Statement No. 2

    Richard Childress gave a public statement on Friday morning at Pocono Raceway regarding his fine and probation for striking driver Kyle Busch in the garage area last weekend following the Truck race at Kansas Speedway.

   According to the press release announcing the media availability, Childress was also supposed to take questions and answers but elected not to at the last minute.

   Here is his complete statement:

   Childress: Here is the deal. I am going to make one statement on this deal. I appreciate everyone’s patience during the last week when I couldn’t talk to everyone. The main thing is I take all the responsibility for my actions last week. I am very passionate about this sport. I am passionate about my race teams, our fans and I let my emotions get…come in front of my passion. But that is behind us.

   “I guess the next thing is the fine that was levied against me, I’m going to pay it personal. I agree that NASCAR should have done something with me. I don’t agree that they didn’t handle the situation that happened on the cool-down lap.
   “With that said, we had a lot of fans to send in donations last week toward our fine, I am going to pay it personally. All that money that has been sent in, that is still coming in, we’re going to take and donate to the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. At least in every bad situation, something good will come out of it.

    “Hopefully Kyle (Busch) and myself will both end up learning something from this. Thank you all very much. Talk to you later. That’s it.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jimmy Spencer backs Kyle Busch?!?

    Add this to the "What I didn't expect to hear from a driver category." In a recent interview with Speed Channel's public relations staff, former NASCAR driver-turned-analyst Jimmy Spencer was asked where he came down on the Richard Childress vs. Kyle Busch debate.

   Spencer's answer to that as well as several other questions related to the incident following last Saturday's Truck Series race at Kansas will likely surprise you. At one point, Spencer claims Childress' assault on Busch "gave the sport the biggest black eye it has had in years."

   Q: What’s your take on the Richard Childress/Kyle Busch ordeal?
   Spencer: Richard Childress stepped over the line. The biggest problem I have with his actions is that he’s representing major corporations with thousands of employees and he let his temper lead him to assault someone. That’s a big black eye on the sport. The fans and others in the sport may think it’s funny but these major companies cannot be happy having a car owner represent them who assaults another person. I’d be willing to bet there are some additional actions behind-the-scenes to punish Childress for what he did.

   Q: Did the penalty fit the crime, so to speak?
   Spencer: I don’t think NASCAR did enough. The $150,000 fine was fine but a three-week suspension would have been more appropriate. He took responsibility for what he did but never apologized for it because he’s really not sorry.
   I admire Kyle for not fighting back and I admire him for staying in the car at Darlington when Kevin Harvick came up to his car. He’s the most exciting driver in our sport right now. Yes, he ruffles feathers but so did Dale Earnhardt. But Earnhardt didn’t attack people. I admire Kyle for respecting Childress enough, although he got punched, to not strike him back. It takes a strong person not to hit back. I consider Kyle a strong person for not returning the punch.
   Childress’ actions gave the sport the biggest black eye it has had in years. NASCAR did the right thing by fining him but should have come down on him harder. I’ve been involved in a situation like that and know from experience that it affects the younger generation a lot, especially the kids watching the sport, to know Childress struck a driver.

   Q: How would you have viewed the situation if it had been Joey Coulter who had punched Busch?
   Spencer: I could have handled Joey Coulter attacking Busch better than Childress doing it. I do not condone fighting at all and don’t think a person should ever touch another human being. I did it to Kurt Busch and I was wrong. In today’s society, you do not touch or physically confront people. You can argue with them, call them names, yell at them but you do not touch them. There are other ways to handle these situations.”

   Q:This took place in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage. Richard Childress owns the truck of Joey Coulter and Kyle Busch owns the truck he was driving. Should an owner-to-owner confrontation be permitted or do you simply take issue with the owner-to-driver scenario?
   Spencer: No, a physical owner-to-owner confrontation is not okay. If Childress had simply verbally argued with Busch, I would have been okay with that. NASCAR’s policy is to police the garage area and the sport. The late Bill France, Jr. said you should not touch another driver. That’s where NASCAR comes in. People can say it’s owner-to-owner and try to make it seem okay, but it should have been a discussion or screaming match only.

   Q:Was Kyle Busch out of line in bumping Joey Coulter’s truck on the cool-down lap?
   Spencer: What I saw Kyle do was not out of line. If Kyle hadn’t lifted, he would have wrecked Joey Coulter. They were putting on a hell of a race for fifth place and Joey finally slid up in front of Kyle and Kyle lifted and let him go. What Joey did was wrong because he could have wrecked both trucks if Kyle hadn’t lifted. Give Kyle credit for lifting but Kyle bumped him to get his attention and teach him a lesson. Sure, he did a little damage to the quarter panel of Joey’s truck, but he also did the same to his own truck. I think NASCAR took that into consideration, as well. That’s how you teach younger drivers and that’s just part of racing.
   I don’t care who the owner is. If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen. Childress had the worst driver in the garage area for beating the hell out of competitors’ cars in Dale Earnhardt. I loved Earnhardt and he was an awesome driver but he was the worst about putting tire marks on you and dinging your fenders. Come on, Childress. I wonder if Childress would have grabbed hold of Ryan Newman or Rusty Wallace or Jimmy Spencer.

   Q: It’s surprising to hear this viewpoint from the man who famously punched Kurt Busch, Kyle’s older brother:
   Spencer: I went over the line with Kurt Busch. I made a better person out of Kurt by punching him but I also know I shouldn’t have touched him. I’ve been in many brawls and nobody benefits from it. Kurt learned his lesson but so did I and if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have hit him.

   And there you have it, straight from "Mr. Excitement" himself.

Monday, June 6, 2011

What gets you suspended in NASCAR?

   So, team owner Richard Childress assaults driver Kyle Busch in the garage area, repeatedly striking him with his fist, and doesn't get suspended. He received a $150,000 fine and placed on probation through the end of the year.

   What exactly does get you suspended in NASCAR? Here's a list of some recent suspensions and another list of things for which NASCAR participants did not receive a suspension.

   NASCAR suspends people for:
   -Violation of its substance abuse policy (numerous examples).
   -Using an engine which is too big (Carl Long)
   -Rigging a fuel tank to appear full when it wasn't during qualifying (Crew chief Todd Berrier)
   -Using a racial slur (crew chief Bryan Berry)
   -Using an unapproved additive in fuel (Crew chief David Hyder)
   -Having a car chassis that does not meet specifications (Crew chief Shane Wilson)
   -Having air improperly ducted into the car for qualifying at Daytona (Crew chiefs Kenny Francis and Robbie Reiser)

   NASCAR will not suspend you for:
   -Physically assaulting a driver (Team owner Richard Childress)
   -Convictions for driving while intoxicated (drivers AJ Allmendinger, Scott Wimmer)
   -Reckless driving; speeding (128 mph in 45 mph zone) (driver Kyle Busch)
   -Repairing a wrecked car to return to the track to intentionally wreck another competitor (driver Carl Edwards)
   -Physically assaulting another competitor in the presence of NASCAR officials (Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman)
   -Physically assaulting a member of the media (driver Tony Stewart)

   Make sense?


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Q&A with NASCAR President Mike Helton

   MIKE HELTON:  Good morning.  Let me just make a brief statement and take a couple of questions.
   Obviously after last night's incident, we began looking into it through the evening, and as recent as 15 minutes ago, meeting with different parties.  We concluded that the driver of the 18 truck, Kyle Busch, did nothing to provoke or to cause the reactions that, in our opinion, would have violated probation.  Did nothing that would have warranted the actions of Richard Childress.

   And so we'll have to ‑‑ once we get today's race concluded, which is the focus of today, we'll have to decide what NASCAR's reaction is to Richard Childress as a member of NASCAR in an action against another NASCAR member.

   The biggest topic today, certainly, through the conversations outside of the incident itself was to be sure that today's event went on correctly and safely for everybody involved, and both the Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing organizations, we have made it clear to them that our expectations is that both Joe Gibbs and Richard Childress meet with their teams to be sure that nobody from their organizations felt like there was anything that needed to be done from their side.

   So we'll focus on today's race now, and then quickly, maybe more quickly than normal, come back with our reaction as it relates to NASCAR member Richard Childress.

    Q.  What was NASCAR's perception of what happened on the cooldown lap between Joey Coulter and Kyle?

    MIKE HELTON:  That kind of falls under the statement that I made that we don't think Kyle did anything to violate his probation on the racetrack yesterday.

    Q.  Obviously one of the things in the rule book, states that you guys can do is an emergency action and can eject an individual, one of the things it says you can eject for is for fighting.  Can you explain why you didn't eject Richard, and does this not fall under fighting with what you've been able to uncover?

   MIKE HELTON:  It does.  And we do have that ability, and incidents even beyond fighting, to feel like if we needed to do that, we could, and that was considered in this case.

   And what will happen today is that Richard will operate as the owner of Richard Childress Racing with some restrictions attached to it as to where he may go or not go.

   But we decided to let Richard stay, because there does need to be leadership of an organization represented, which, you know, historically we rely on crew chiefs.  But since both organizations have multiple teams, we decided that it would be better if there was an authority from the team here.  And there's not a second level authority present this weekend from his organization; Joe Gibbs is here from Joe Gibbs Racing, and we chose to allow Richard to participate today.

   Q.  You said what Kyle did on the track is not a violation of his probation, but what goes on in the garage, does that not have any factor ‑‑

   MIKE HELTON:  Unless you know something we don't know, I'm not sure what he did in the garage that would have been in question.

   Q.  What have you been told went on in the it garage?

   MIKE HELTON:  I'm not to go into all of the details.  I'm just saying we have not seen anything that indicated Kyle violated his probation on the racetrack yesterday or even in the garage areas yesterday.

   Q.  Are we looking at Kyle as Kyle Busch driver, rather than Kyle Busch owner, because Kyle Busch driver does have a history with the RCR company that dates back to Darlington.  I think that's kind of where it hit the crescendo when he was put on probation.  So are we looking at Kyle Busch driver, Kyle Busch owner, Kyle Busch competitor in general?

   MIKE HELTON:  We look at him as members of NASCAR.  Kyle Busch is a member of NASCAR, other drivers, crew members, car owners are members of NASCAR.  Our authority is around NASCAR members and that's the way we look at them as NASCAR members.

   Certainly we investigate to get the totality of everything we need to make a decision.  The reaction from NASCAR is focused on what happened yesterday.

   Q.  Has fighting in the garage as something that used to be part of NASCAR, people would scrap it out all the time, has that changed with the current era in sports, that you simply have to look at the bigger picture and can't allow what you did years ago?  Because a lot of that went on.

   MIKE HELTON:  I think throughout the history of NASCAR, we have gone through cycles of everything, including tempers in the garage and on the racetracks, and I think our responsibility lies in reacting to those trends, and if it is a trends that we feel like escalates, then we have a history of stepping in and turning those trends around.

NASCAR places restrictions on Richard Childress; clears Kyle Busch

   KANSAS CITY, Kan. - NASCAR on Sunday placed a variety of restrictions on team owner Richard Childress and he will face additional penalties for his involvement in a post-race fight with driver Kyle Busch following Saturday’s Truck series race at Kansas Speedway.

   NASCAR President Mike Helton on Sunday said he considered ejecting Childress from the track but decided a leader of the Richard Childress Racing organization needed to be on hand for Sunday’s STP 400.

   However, Childress was prohibited from going on pit road, attend the pre-race drivers’ meeting and was relegated to watching the race from the top of his team transporter.

   “We concluded that Kyle Busch did nothing to warrant the reaction of Richard Childress,” Helton said. “Once we get today’s race concluded, we will have to decide what NASCAR’s reaction is to Richard Childress as a member of NASCAR in an action against another NASCAR member.”

   While NASCAR typically announces penalties from the previous weekend on Tuesday, Helton suggested it may come as early as Monday.

   Helton also emphasized Busch did nothing, either on the track in the race or in the garage, to cause a violation of his NASCAR probation, which stems from a post-race incident last month with Kevin Harvick at Darlington, S.C.

    In an interview with Speed prior to Sunday’s race, Busch was asked if the altercation was the result of something brewing between himself and the RCR organization.

    “That’s not something I can answer. I wasn’t the aggressor or the instigator here,” he said. “So, all I can say is I was just trying to head back to my hauler and handle my business.”

   According to a member of a Truck team who asked not to be identified, Childress took off his jewelry before approaching Busch in the garage area and struck him with his fist.

   The two were separated, traded insults and then Childress grabbed Busch in a headlock and struck him again before the incident was broken up.

   The crew member said Childress initiated the incident.

    “We have met with all parties involved and have determined what happened (Saturday) is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by NASCAR,” a statement from the sanctioning body read.

    “Richard Childress’ actions were not appropriate and fell far short of the standard we expect of owners in this sport.”

    Busch said he would try to put the incident behind him while he awaits NASCAR’s response to the incident.

    “It may be a thought on everybody’s else’s mind but when you get a helmet on and get back behind the wheel of a race car, you get down to business and that’s what matters most,” he said.
   The cause of Childress’ frustration was likely tied to the conclusion of the race, during which one of Childress’ drivers, Joey Coulter, and Busch bumped each other battling for fifth place on the final lap.

   Coulter ended up with the position but on the cool-down lap, Busch ran into the right side of Coulter’s truck.

   “I learned a ton (riding) behind (Busch) and I know why those guys keep saying what they do. That was really awesome racing him,” Coulter said after the race. “I hate we got together on the last lap. I had never gotten tight next to somebody so I was underneath him expecting to get loose and I get tight and we kind of got together.”

   In interviews on pit road, in the media center or on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio following the race, Coulter didn’t indicate any animosity with Busch.

Full text of NASCAR statement regarding Richard Childress and Kyle Busch

   "NASCAR has reviewed the incident involving Richard Childress and Kyle Busch after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday at Kansas Speedway. We have met with all parties involved and have determined what happened yesterday is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by NASCAR.

   "Richard Childress’s actions were not appropriate and fell far short of the standard we expect of owners in this sport. We have met with Childress this morning and made our position very clear to him. Further, we expect he will make it clear to all in his organization to ensure this situation does not escalate any further. We will announce our actions regarding this incident Monday.

   "Kyle Busch remains on probation with NASCAR and we continue to watch his actions carefully. However, we have determined that Kyle’s involvement in this incident does not violate his probation and no further action is required."

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Chevy pleased with engine dyno results

   Tony Stewart may believe everyone is “bringing a knife to a gun fight right now” when it comes to competing with Ford engines, but that is not necessarily the view of Chevrolet officials.

   “I have seen the (chassis) dyno numbers and we are pleased with them,” said Alba Colon, the GM Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup series program manager.

   “We have seen the numbers. We have discussed the numbers with our teams. I am pleased so far; we just have to keep working on it.”

     NASCAR tested engines from each manufacturer following last month’s race at Dover, Del., on its chassis dynamometer, which measures rear-wheel horsepower.

    Colon pointed out in the 12 Cup races so far this season, Chevrolet drivers had won six races and five poles. “We want to win them all but we are constantly working on our parts - us and the teams,” she said. "We are constantly looking to get better.”

    On Friday, Stewart was asked how engines at Stewart-Haas Racing (which come from Hendrick Motorsports) stack up with those from Ford.

    “I think Ford definitely has an advantage right now over the whole field,” Stewart said. “They’ve been working on this motor for a long time and we’re still on about a six-year old model.”

     Ford was the last to complete an upgrade to its engine, which debuted in the Cup series last season.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cup added to qualifying changes

   Earlier this week NASCAR announced it was changing the way qualifying order is done in the Nationwide and Trucks series beginning this weekend in Kansas and Chicagoland.

    The Sprint Cup series will also adapt the change beginning next weekend at Pocono, where the qualifying order will be set with every car ranked slowest to fastest based on their first practice session speed only.

    In theory, the change should allow teams not locked in the field by owner’s points a better opportunity to win the pole each week.

    If for some reason the first practice does not take place, NASCAR will use the second practice to set the qualifying order.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Biffle's 600 was one hot night

   There was certainly a lot going on with Greg Biffle during last Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His problems with the cooling unit in his No. 16 Ford were well chronicled during the race, including the tirades over his team radio. He held the lead late in the race but was forced to pit for fuel and finished 13th.

    As it turned out, there was a lot more going on with Biffle than what he shared over the radio. Biffle was a guest on Claire B. Lang's show "Dialed In" on Wednesday night on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio and went into deep detail about what he was experiencing in the car and the after effects he was still feeling on Wednesday afternoon.

    Here are some excerpts from Biffle's interview:

    "The cool box malfunctioned somehow and it was burning up and it was heating the air so the air blowing in my helmet was really burning the side of my head, my ear and my face. I could feel my face turning orange. It was so hot. ...

   "It showed 155 degrees inside the car. With about 40 to 50 laps to go, my eyeballs started hurting from the carbon monoxide and exhaust. I had pretty bad carbon monoxide poisoning and I was on oxygen for a while. My hydration level was really OK. Why it took half the race to fix it - things begin compiling to where your frustration level starts to escalate. We should be better than this. ...

   "The side of my head is red. It felt like I had a rubber band around my forehead and above my ears and around the back. They call it a low pressure headache. I checked my blood pressure and it was 90/48. I probably should have gone to the hospital. I've never seen a blood pressure that low. My blood pressure started coming back (up) about 3 a.m. I killed a few brain cells, made it through it, almost won. ...

   "They were going to have to tow it to pit road and taking me to the infield care center unconscious if I wasn't in the car any more. That was the only way they were going to get me out. I wasn't going to give up. I was not going to leave voluntarily. We were laps from winning that race. ..."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

NASCAR precedent is nothing to tout

   When a multi-car wreck erupted on the next-to-last lap of the Coca-Cola 600 and NASCAR decided not to throw a caution, there was an outcry from many fans and media.

   But there were a group of defenders who were quick to point out, “NASCAR has done this before.”

   Indeed it had.

   Unfortunately, NASCAR’s track record with precedent isn’t something to tout.

   Rewind to October 2008. Regan Smith dove below the yellow line to complete a pass of Tony Stewart at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway to win his first Sprint Cup race.

   Why would he do that? Because in February 2007, when media questioned how a three-wide finish in a Truck race could stand with one truck below the yellow line, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said, “When the drivers can see the checkered flag, you can get all you can get.”

   But NASCAR disallowed Smith’s pass anyway.

   Soon afterward, NASCAR President Mike Helton issued this edict: “To be clear, as we go forward, there will be no passing under the yellow line at any time during NASCAR races at Daytona or Talladega, period. This includes any passing below the yellow line near the start/finish line on the final lap.”

   One wonders why Helton needed to be “clear” if as NASCAR officials claimed at the time of the Talladega race the rule was common knowledge to all. But I digress.

   Now fast forward to February 2010. NASCAR announces a new policy of using up to three green-white-checkered overtime periods in a race if necessary. Why would they do this?

   We want to do all we can to finish our races under green-flag conditions. The fans want to see that, and so do the competitors,” Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, said at the time.

   The accident Sunday night occurred on the first lap of the first two-lap overtime. Had NASCAR thrown a caution, it still – under its own rules – would have two more attempts to finish the race under green.

   Instead, it held the caution flag. Why? To ensure a green-flag finish.


   Rule changes are announced but not written down. Some rules – the yellow line rule for instance – aren’t written down anywhere. Rules are added then not utilized for the circumstances for which they were designed.

   The problem isn’t with NASCAR trying to have it both ways.

   It’s NASCAR trying to have it every way.