Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vegas Odds & Ends

Weird Happenings: Daytona had potholes; Vegas now has phantom caution lights. First, the lights did not go out when the race was ready to restart, then the lights came on without a caution being thrown by Nascar. What's up next week? Floods? Deer jumping the fence? The Pace Car stalling out on the track? More potholes?

Pit Row Shenanigans: Did Jeff Gordon's crew start gassing before the car was in the box? Was Nascar correct in ruling he did? Let the conspiracy theories begin...

Inter-company feuds: Jamie McMurray crashed into his new teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. Apparently McMurray didn't get the memo that JPM will carry a grudge. Montoya voiced his displeasure about the incident to the media immediately after it happened. Love to by a fly on the wall tomorrow at Earnhardt-Ganassi.

Don't drink the water: Do you think Dale Jr is worried about Danica in the garage? As a married woman, she shouldn't drink the water as a rash of pregnancies is going around. At this point in her career, a nine-month hiatus would likely be detrimental.

Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie is back to his winning ways. He usually does well at the beginning and the end of the year. Who is going to step up and challenge him?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Daytona 500 Predictions

I'm not big on predictions, because, well, generally, I'm not great at it. However, with a new season, I thought I'd give a shot at picking Daytona 500 winner and up the odds by choosing a new contenders.

1. Kurt Busch - Kurt runs well at both Talladega and Daytona. He regularly runs in the top 10 and has an average finish at Daytona of 17. The question is whether the Penske camp has made changes that will help Busch run more consistently. More importantly: How is Dodge helping (if at all) . If he can avoid a wreck, he may be able to pull it off. On the flip side, Busch's temper and impatience could get the best of him. And if things don't go well this year, I predict there could be a new driver in the Penske #2.

2. Tony Stewart - Stewart is a master at the plate tracks. This does not always translate to a win. If he doesn't win at Daytona soon, that monkey will have jumped off Dale Earnhardt's back onto Stewart's. Don't despair, Tony will comfort himself with his two Brickyard trophies. (It makes him crabby to mention the loses at THE 500 - Indianapolis, so don't. No _really_, don't).

3. Greg Biffle - Biffle's teammate Matt Kenseth won last year, and the Fords have really made strides at the plate tracks. Biffle has won at Daytona during the July race, so he knows how to run and win at Daytona. Biffle needs to pull off a win to keep his boss happy.

4. Pick a first time Daytona 500 winner. Face it; anything goes at a plate track. Sometimes being a strong contender at plate tracks works against you, as drivers look to help some (sucker) they think they can ultimately get around. This means someone like Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Allmendinger, Reagan Smith, or Brad Keselowski.

5. Worse case scenario, pick a Chevy. They have won five of the last seven Daytona 500. For an even better shot, pick one owned or helped by Rick Hendrick. I.e. 5, 88, 24, 48, 14, 39.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Welcome Change

New signage has been put up at Bruton Smith's track in Charlotte. Lowe's will no longer pay to have its name on the track, thus the track has reverted to "Charlotte Motor Speedway."

When Lowe's purchased the name several years ago, I hated the idea. It isn't that I dislike Lowe's, I dislike all corporate names on sporting stadiums or tracks.

Why? Well, there are several reasons.

One reason is that Nascar tends to rename every event from the inception of the sport with the corporate name. All Champions are now Sprint Cup Champions, even if they never raced under the Sprint sponsorship. Granted there is difficulty in referring to a name that no longer exists or that has evolved over the years, but the way to fix this is to keep the same name for the long term.

After the sponsorship is over, the public has to learn a new name for the event or venue. Why not just name it permanently and leave it alone. If venues are named after local heros or after people who contribute to have it built, great. But the name should not change with every market crash or upswing.

In any event, I am delighted to welcome back Charlotte Motor Speedway, which is exactly what I've tried to call it during its brief turn as "Lowe's." Curtis Turner must be smiling.