Rookie Seasons

Since there is no NASCAR this weekend, I was trying to get my NASCAR fix so to speak.  After channel surfing on Friday night, I came across the show “NASCAR The List” airing on NBC Sports Network.   I love watching these kinds of shows.  I don’t care if it’s about football, baseball, or NASCAR.  It’s fun to see where those in charge put events/people on a list.  I also was looking for something NASCAR to write about it as well.  As I was watching the episode “Rookie Seasons”, I thought, OMG, this would make a great post for The Park!  The episode ranked the best rookie seasons in NASCAR.  My inner numbers geek kicked in.  I began researching on how these top ten did in NASCAR.  So let the green flag fly, and let’s discuss these top 10 rookie seasons!

Who are these drivers who had a sensational rookie season?  Where do they rank according to what you think?  That’s the great thing about lists of these kinds, it always creates a great debate among NASCAR fans.  Let’s look at the group collectively by the numbers.

  • Overall total wins = 352
  • Total wins (rookie season) = 18
  • Total poles (rookie season) = 23
  • Rookie of the Year winners = 8
  • Shortest time from Rookie year to Champion = 1
  • Longest time from Rookie year to Champion = 13 years
  • Average finish in final standings (rookie season) = 9th
  • Highest finish in final standings (rookie season) = 3rd
  • Lowest finish in final standings (rookie season) = 20th
  • Total Daytona 500 wins = 10 (3 have multiple wins)
  • Total Xfinity (aka Busch/Nationwide) Championships = 5
  • Total Cup Championships = 18
  • Multiple Cup Championships = 3
  • Active drivers (as of 2015 season) = 8

When looking at these drivers as a group they are very impressive.  So who are these drivers?  Well, I won’t keep you waiting any longer.  Their rookie year is listed in parenthesis.

  1. Tony Stewart (1999)–3 wins; 2 poles; final standing = 4th
  2. Jimmie Johnson (2002)–3 wins; 4 poles; final standing = 5th
  3. Denny Hamlin (2006)–2 wins; 3 poles; final standing = 3rd
  4. Kevin Harvick (2001)–2 wins; 0 poles; final standing = 9th
  5. Kyle Busch (2005)–2 wins; 1 poles; final standing = 20th
  6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2000)–2 wins; 2 poles; final standing = 16th
  7. Davey Allison (1987)–1 win; 1 pole; final standing = 11th
  8. Dale Earnhardt Sr. (1979)–1 win; 4 poles; final standing = 7th
  9. Matt Kenseth (2000)–1 win; 0 poles; final standing = 14th
  10. Ryan Newman (2002)–1 win; 6 poles; final standing = 6th

I am thinking these drivers didn’t do half bad after their rookie seasons.

The boys are in the Lone Star State this weekend!  So to all my friends and family in the DFW area…BOOGITY, BOOGITY, BOOGITY!

TV Guilty Pleasures

I love to watch television.   I watch all kinds of shows from comedies to sports to yes, even reality shows.  Why I watch certain shows over others who knows.  I know what I like to watch and therefore choose those shows.  Sometimes I like a show because someone said, “You HAVE to watch this show!” like I am some kind of freak if I don’t.  That’s how I found shows like Scandal and Blacklist.  Of course this hasn’t happened with shows like “The Walking Dead”.  It’s really not about the show, it’s about the genre.  I just don’t find shows about zombies, vampires, and such interesting.

I LOVE all kinds of crime shows…CSI, Law & Order, Blue Bloods, NCIS, and so on. One of favorites over the years has been NCIS. This show has wonderful story lines and BRILLIANT written characters (i.e. Leroy Jethro Gibbs).  Gibbs has so many layers that he always keeps you guessing throughout each show.  Of course, it’s no wonder I like NCIS, it is from the same person who created JAG and Magnum P.I.  NCIS spun off two shows, NCIS-LA and just this year, NCIS-New Orleans.  I never could get into NCIS-LA even though it has LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell.  But the newest spin-off, “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler” translation…Let the Good Time Roll!

The Law and Order franchise has produced some of my favorite shows as well.  The original L&O can stand on it’s own.  I stopped watching it for awhile after Jerry Orbach died.  In my opinion, he made the show, along with Sam Waterson and S. Epatha Merkerson.  Of course, if you watch the original, you probably love L&O: SVU.  I miss Christopher Meloni.  I haven’t watched since he left the show.  Sorry SVU, I just can’t watch without him.  I did like Criminal Intent, very different compared to the other two shows, but worth watching if you catch it in reruns.

I have been watching this genre in some form or fashion for as long as I can remember.  There were some great shows from the 70s (Kojak, The Rockford Files, Columbo) and then the grittier shows like Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue.  Of course, I could not leave this genre without mentioning the one and only Jessica Fletcher.  Yep, I believe she was the real killer in Cabot Cove.  I mean come on people, everywhere she went, and I mean everywhere she went someone was murdered.  I find that odd.  I think she needed material for all the books she was writing.  That’s all I’m sayin’!

I love to laugh!  My favorite right now is The Big Bang Theory!  I love the premise of the show and if you have seen the show, how can you not love Sheldon.  In fact, I based a professional conference presentation on Sheldon and his inability to adjust to change in his life.  I really don’t watch as much of the newer comedy shows of today.  I have caught a couple of episodes of Modern Family, it’s funny, but it just doesn’t appeal to me as much as other comedies.  One of my favorite comedies is The Golden Girls.  I swear I am turning into Dorothy everyday.  When it was first on back in the 1980s, I didn’t fully appreciate the humor of it all.  Now, OMG!!!  It’s even funnier!  This show tackled several topics that would be nothing special today, but back then, very groundbreaking.  No matter what, they always found the humor in life and loved each other no matter what.  That’s some life lessons anyone should take away from this show.

Reality shows can be somewhat stupid.  And to be honest, I have watched a lot of these shows both good, bad and ugly. When you watch these shows, you have to remember, these are scripted and edited.  They are entertainment.  Sure they involve supposedly normal, average people, but in reality (look how I did that) some are a little off the beam.  I cannot even imagine a camera crew following me recording EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of my life.  Of course, my life is boring, it wouldn’t make for great television.  I guess they could use me as an example of WHAT NOT to put on television.  I will still, however, on occasion watch to see who gets voted off the island.

Finally the point of this rambling…I have discovered two new shows of late.  One just premiered this week called “Younger”.  The premise, a woman who is 40ish returns to the workforce after stepping out to raise her daughter.  She can’t seem to get a job because they want someone who happens to be in their 20s.  So what does her friend tell her to do…lie about your age or as she explains it.. “People will believe anything you tell them”.  Sure enough she jumps right in with the charade. Being someone who is 40ish I can relate.  But to be honest, I don’t know if I would want to relive my 20s.  They weren’t all that great.  The other show is called Bloodline currently airing exclusively on Netflix.  What drew me to the show, to be honest, it really wasn’t the storyline, it was the fact that Kyle Chandler was one of the stars.  That’s right, you heard me, Kyle Chandler.  If you don’t know who this gorgeous man is well, crawl back into your cave.  This show is good!  It’s BRILLIANT!  If you have a NETFLIX account, check it out.  I am down to the last couple of episodes and I can’t wait to see what happens!

That’s about it.  Of course, you can catch me this weekend catching up on all the shows I have on the DVR since there is no NASCAR on this weekend.  I will be watching the NCAA Basketball games on Saturday.  And I will be continuing the annual Easter tradition of watching The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston.   With that I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend!

I’m Back

I have been contemplating what to do with The Park over the past several months.  Should I just let it go by the wayside?  Should I delete the blog and start over?  Revamp?  Retool? What should I do?  Then I thought about it…I am going to keep The Park.

At some point in my life back on April 7, 2005, I started The Park.  I wanted a place where I could write about anything I wanted.  I love to write and I am very opinionated about many topics.  The Park morphed into a place where I could talk about my love and passion for NASCAR without fear of ridicule.  Along this journey I met other NASCAR fans who I have come to call my friends.  But since the death of both my parents in 2011, I lost my passion for lots of things.  The tremendous grief over losing both of them within 8 months of each other is difficult to understand unless you have been there.  I lost quite a bit of who I was during that time including my love for NASCAR.  I would still watch, but nothing seemed right.  Part of who I was died with both of them.  I was uninspired and frankly, I just didn’t feel like writing.  I have slowly and deliberately traveled down this road of grief to find myself again.  The journey is still ongoing and it will for the rest of my life, but I am a place now where I can begin writing again.

Now for the good stuff…I will still continue to discuss NASCAR, but I want to write about other things.  These “other things” will cover mainly topics about sports, but I will also write about things that inspire me or frankly, piss me off.  I will not discuss my political views, religious beliefs or moral beliefs.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good discussion about things, but The Park has never been a place fo those kind of volitile discussions.  I will on occasion post things that will be deemed private.  Only those who are given permission will be allowed to view them.  You might say, then why post them, well frankly, writing is therapeutic for me.  I have saved thousands of my hard-earned dollars by writing.  I encourage people to comment on my posts whether you agree or disagree.  I love a good discussion.  All I ask is you keep things respectful.  Sometimes it is better to not comment than to comment.  Always ask yourself before posting, would you say this to someone in person?  That’s my guideline on anything with regards to social media.  If I would not say it to someone to their face, I don’t hit the submit or send button.

So with that, WELCOME TO THE PARK!  And to get things started, let’s take a look back at one of my favorite posts from March 30, 2006…“The Big Green Book Bag”

Tony Stewart

Before I start with my  post, please remember, what I say here are my opinions, my words.   I always invite comments to my posts, but if you are coming here to be judgmental, to troll, or to be downright nasty,  YOU ARE NOT WELCOME!  All I ask is to keep an open mind.  You don’t have to agree with me, but you can respect what I or others have to say.

I haven’t been vocal about the tragic accident that took Kevin Ward Jr.’s life.  Here  what I posted back on August 12 on Bad Groove.

“I haven’t been vocal about all of this on Facebook or elsewhere.  One I am still in shock about this past weekend’s events.  The more stories I see about it, the angrier I get.  I am angry with media outlets who have no clue about what they are talking about.  They want to vilify Tony Stewart.   All they show are the angry outbursts of this man. I don’t have blinders on when it come to Tony.  He has a history of anger management issues.  You can’t judge who he is as a person by those snippets.  We have all had times where we have blown up in the heat of the moment.  Those are just a fraction of what Tony Stewart is as a person.  He is a loving and caring person with one of the biggest hearts around.  Last year I read an article about the crash that left him with a broken leg.  He made a last-minute decision to turn his car to avoid hitting another competitor.  A move that cost Tony a broken leg, but saved that man’s life.  That’s why when I hear people say he turned intentionally to hit Mr. Ward, I just get angrier and angrier.

People have asked the question should Tony Stewart be racing at these dirt tracks? My answer is yes (please note, my initial post said no, I hit submit, before I could edit it).  Tony is a racer.  Dirt racing is his passion.  It’s his baby.  How can you ask someone to give up something they love, something that is part of who he is.  I am sure Tony is asking himself these very same questions.

I can’t even begin to understand what Tony is going through at this point in time.  Yes, he was behind the wheel of his race car when he struck a fellow driver which resulted in the death of Kevin Ward Jr.  That will always be with Tony.  He will always wonder if I had this or that, would it have made a difference.  I don’t know and we will probably never know.  This incident has not only changed Tony in a profound way, but the whole racing community 

All I ask from people who know me, as well as you (Amy from Bad Groove), take the time to ask questions.  Ask me about Tony Stewart the person.  Ask me about what happened.  Ask me about my loyalty to Tony Stewart.  I will try to help you understand so you can feel compassion for a man who is devastated and heartbroken.  This is not a time to judge.  Even thought I do not know Tony Stewart personally, my heart aches for him.  One last thing, Dale Jarrett is a class act.  We should all take a page from his book.”

That was pretty much the only time I have commented about the tragic incident involving Tony Stewart until today.

I just finished watching the press conference during my lunch hour.  This would be the first time since the accident we would see Tony Stewart.  Before he even said a word, I could tell he was still shaken up about the events from that night.  You don’t have to be a race fan to know this accident has greatly affected him and will for a long time.  I don’t know where he found the strength to sit in front of the media and speak from the heart.  I am sure there will be those who will criticize him for not answering questions about, but I didn’t want him to.  The investigation is still open and as he said, he is respecting the process of everything.  If that sticks in your craw then so be it.  His remarks were genuine.  They didn’t seem forced, contrite, or arrogant.  I believe he is truly sorry for what happened.

Some of you may ask how can I be objective, you ARE, after all, a Tony Stewart fan.  I have tried to remain objective–trying to understand and respect everyone’s viewpoints.  However, it has been difficult. Part of it has to do with those who don’t even understand the sport of NASCAR.  Frankly most people don’t care and won’t take the time to learn.  Ask someone who doesn’t follow the sport what NASCAR is all about.  You get the usual, “all they do is go in circles” or “all they do is make left turns”.  NASCAR is just full of ignorant rednecks.  Of course my personal favorite is, “you just love to watch because of the wrecks”.   That’s fine–it’s their opinion.  I have been known on occasion to rant about my love for NASCAR here in The Park.   I am a NASCAR fan and a Tony Stewart fan! I will never apologize for it. I have been following Tony in NASCAR since about 2006.  I chose Tony Stewart.  He is the driver I cheer for each week during NASCAR season. I have shelled sums of my own money to buy souvenirs and autographed items. And some special people out there have shelled out money as well to buy me Tony Stewart gifts.   I will continue to support Tony Stewart.  I will continue to watch him race every year in NASCAR until he, dare I say it, retires.

I believe it is time for Tony to return to racing.  He needs it to continue the healing process.  Grief has no time-table.  It has not set pattern.  We all grieve differently.   I still grieve for both my parents who I lost in 2011.  The pain of that loss will never leave me, but I have learned to cope in order to live my life.  I believe that is what Tony is trying to do this weekend.

I leave you with words from Tony Stewart (spoken today at his press conference)…”This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one has to experience in their life.”

2014 Season

I can believe the start of the 2014 season is upon us.  There are so many story lines that have come out of the off-season.  It has been one of the busiest off-seasons I have seen in a few years.   Here are some story lines coming into the 2014 season.

The Chase–new changes are here! 16 drivers, a win gets you in the Chase if you are in the top 30 in points, eliminator rounds in the last 10 races and a 4 car shoot out at Miami.  Not sure what to think about the changes, I will just have to wait and see

Qualifying–You will have three rounds at 1.25 miles or longer and 2 rounds at tracks less 1.25 miles.  Round 1 = 25 minutes to post qualifying time-after which the 24 registering the fastest will advance to 2nd round. Those not advancing to Round 2 will be sorted based on 1st round times in descending order. Round 2 = 10 minutes to qualify, 12 fastest in this round will move onto the final round, those not advancing will earn positions 13-24 based on time.  Final round = 5 minutes, fastest times from this session will determine 1-12 positions.  There will be a 5-minute break between each round where teams can make adjustments.  They will not be allowed to jack the vehicle or raise the hood and once the car enters the garage, it will no longer be permitted to return to the track for additional qualifying attempts. Of course is you are at tracks 1.25 or less, drivers will only have two rounds to get things done.  Did you get all that?

Jimmie Johnson–Will he or won’t he get to that magic mountain of 7 championships this season?  I haven’t heard much chatter about it, but it is still early in the season.  But I am sure somewhere down the line, it will be mentioned.

Stewart Haas Racing–I think this is the team that you need to watch our for in 2014 (of course I am a little biased).  SHR went from a three-car team to a four car team.  SHR added new drivers Kevin Harvick (who replaced the departing Ryan Newman who is now in over at Richard Childress Racing) and Kurt Busch driving the #41.  Danica Patrick will be starting her 2nd year in Cup.  But all eyes I think will be on Smoke, aka, Tony Stewart.  More about my thoughts on Tony later.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.:  I am interested to see how Dale Jr. will fare this year.  It was announced that his crew chief, Steve Letarte, will be leaving at the end of the season to join NBC when they take over the final part of the NASCAR season next year.  I am sure the good folks over at Hendrick Motor Sports have started looking at who will replace Letarte.  Letarte has done good things for Junior since becoming his crew chief.  I don’t cringe every time Dale is interviewed.  He looks more relaxed and upbeat.  Steve Letarte will be missed, but I am looking forward to him in the broadcast booth next year.

The #3–It is time.  It has been 13  years since the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr.  Richard Childress has been very respectful about bringing back this iconic and revered number iconic back to the Cup level.  Dale Sr.’s legacy to me is more than just the number.  That’s what I focus on when I look back at his career.  Is Richard Petty’s legacy diminished because someone else drives the #43?  I know there are some small faction who would like to not see the #3 back on the track and that is ok.  But I am excited to see it back on the track and I think Mr. Dillon will do the #3 proud.  Note to those crazy loons who wear the aluminum hats–there is no conspiracy with the #3.  Are you kidding me?  You know how many people you would have to involve to pull off that kind of thing?  You guys need to stop drinking that “special Kool-aid”.  If you really want to scream NASCAR is on the take and fixed, how come Junior hasn’t won a championship or for that matter multiple championships?  RCR has always had fast cars at the restrictor plate tracks.  So take your aluminum hats and black helicopters and go back to figuring out something more important, like why do hot dog packages come in packs of 10 and buns in packs of 8!

Sprint Unlimited–I liked the racing even after the 9 car crash that took out some of the major players in the race.  There was side by side racing.  Denny clearly had the car to beat it seemed.  He won all three segments and stood in victory lane for the first time in the Unlimited since he won the thing back in his rookie year.  Of course, the weirdest part of the night was when the pace car caught fire!  You heard me, the pace car caught fire!  I mean two years it was a jet dryer up in flames!  At one point, I was waiting for the mayhem guy from the All State commercials to pop out!

Thank goodness this race occurred AFTER Valentine’s Day.  It looked like Danica Patrick was going to make it thorough the big crash, but only to be hit by her boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  It never saw her.  I would have loved to been a fly on the wall in that trailer home to hear the conversation.

I’m telling ya, it had to be the full moon that was hovering over the race track.  That would explain so much!

Tony Stewart–It has been a long off-season for us Tony fans.  I mean, we haven’t seen our driver in a car since August.  I for one am pumped to see Tony back in his #14!  He seems very upbeat about getting the 2014 season underway.  That was clearly evident on Saturday night.  He looked great out there.  It was if he had never been gone.  But my excitement was short-lived thanks to that 9-car pile up courtesy of Matt Kenseth. Saw this quote on Twitter from Tony, “I’ve waited for 7 months to race, I damn sure wasn’t going to sit there and ride around.”.  Now that’s the Tony I love!  I am hoping 2014 is the year of #14.  I want to see him win the Daytona 500 this year.  Of course if he does all those crazy conspiracy loons will come out of the lead line caves screaming CONSPIRACY!  But you know what, let them cry all they want.  Just like Dale Sr., he has won everything he can at Daytona.  He knows how to get around the place.  But that just goes to show you how tough winning the Daytona 500 can be.  Some of NASCAR’s best drivers, have never one a the 500.

Hope that has caught you up to speed for Daytona.  Now here are a few house keeping things I need to take care of.  If you are in Raiderland or listening outside the boundaries of Raiderland, check at That Dang Ol’ Show.  You can listen to the show on Monday nights from 6:00-8:00 pm on The Red Dirt Rebel (105.3).  If the wind is blowing just right and the sun is setting in the west, you might just hear me call in and talk a little racing.  Plus, you might learn a thing or two in the process.

And finally….since there are only 5 days until Daytona (February 23, 2014)…I need to put the disclaimer out there for everyone.

Attention to all of my family, friends, co-workers and complete strangers, NASCAR season is upon us.  I will NOT be available for family functions, outings, or get-togethers on Sundays.  If there is an event on said Sunday, you will have to understand they must be held prior to the start of the race or after the race.  If you must schedule things during the raced be aware I may not attend your function or request that I have access to a television set.  This also applies to races that are held occasionally on Saturday nights.  If you wish to spend time with me, you must understand the topic of conversation will be predominately about the upcoming race, the previous Sunday’s race, Tony Stewart, or anything in general about NASCAR.  This is the time of the year all projects are put aside unless they involve a NASCAR related event.  Please don’t be offended if I ignore you on Sunday or the occasional Saturday…it’s nothing personal…IT’S NASCAR!

SMOKE YUMMO.CHARLOTTE COKE 600.2010

The Week That Was

This was written last night, but due to technical difficulties with my internet, I was not able to post until today.

I have been trying all week to write something about all that happened last Saturday night at Richmond. I have gone back and forth on several of the issues that have arisen over the past few days. I am still not sure if this is really happening or we are all part of an elaborate “catfish” scheme. Either way, as a NASCAR fan, the events of this past week have made me think about the sport I love.

On Saturday night at Richmond, the field of 12 was set. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon who had been on the outside looking in. Newman was leading the race with Clint Bowyer spun out very late in the race. Because of this spin, Carl Edwards took the lead and well, Newman along with Gordon was out and Martin Truex Jr. was in. As well all know, accusations flew that Clint Bowyer spun intentionally in order to help his teammate get into the Chase. Also afoot were Clint and Brian Vickers pitted late which allowed Lagano to get a few more spots and get a spot in the Chase. Monday NASCAR announced penalties for MWR. Truex was out and Newman was permitted his rightful spot into the Chase. Also Clint, Brian, and Martin were docked 50 driver points. These deductions were applied after the Richmond race, not before the reset. This is the reason Truex was no longer in the Chase and Newman was in. I thought NASCAR got part of this right. I had issues with allowing Clint Bowyer to remain in the Chase. He was the one who intentionally spun out and started this brouhaha. I know he had already earned his spot in the Chase prior to Richmond. I get that. But NASCAR essentially was saying, we know something happened, but without clear and definite evidence we don’t want to go down this road. If you wanted to penalize Clint, moved him to the 12th spot in the Chase and move everyone behind him up one spot. Make him start at the bottom. Jeff Gordon, in my, opinion on Monday, should have been allowed to be a driver in the Chase. Prior to all the shenanigans (this was the word of the week), he had earned his spot. To put it bluntly, he got screwed! I know he didn’t win a race and yes he was on the outside looking in, but he busted his tail on Saturday to get where he needed to get into the Chase. But due to others who wanted to manipulate the outcome, he was out!

Just when I thought all of this was over and we could get to talking about the start of the Chase, news came out there was shenanigans afoot between Joey Lagano and David Gilliland’s teams. I thought here we go again. Unfortunately, they didn’t get a chance to do it. It was at this point the infamous spun occurred on the track. In an unprecedented move by NASCAR, it was announced today Jeff Gordon would be the 13th driver in the Chase. That’s right. I am glad NASCAR made this decision, a few days too late, but nonetheless the right decision.

I love this sport. I love watching these amazing drivers do things on a race track that keep me coming back week after week, year after year. But as a long time fan, I am disappointed and angry. Members of three organizations chose, that’s chose, to cheat. They chose to manipulate the outcome of the race as well as the championship. I can’t even begin to understand the type of pressure drivers and race teams are under trying to get into the Chase each and every year. There are millions of dollars at stake for everyone involved from drivers to owners to sponsors and even to the upper echelon of NASCAR. But when the integrity of the sport is placed in jeopardy, those at NASCAR need to make a stand. There is a meeting scheduled at the track tomorrow where NASCAR will what I assume is a come to Jesus meeting for the drivers and teams. Mr. France needs to put it in clear concise words, this kind of behavior will not be tolerated. And if this kind of behavior happens again, you are out of this sport. That’s what I believe should happen to those who try this again. I felt cheated and betrayed as a fan. I am now looking at the sport I love differently. I know drivers allow teammates or other drivers to pass them to lead a lap or give them a spot ahead of them to get a point. I get that. Drivers who are laps down allow the leaders to pass them because they are faster. But this was different, there blatant manipulation happening on the track. That to me is unacceptable. Now when a driver spins by him or herself, am I going to wonder is it a legitimate spin or is it intentionally?

I am hoping after everything is decided at Homestead in November, NASCAR takes a good hard look at what happened in Richmond. Does the pressure of the Chase cultivate this type of manipulation? Should the Chase be tweaked again in order to prevent this type of cheating from happening again? When

I have been trying all week to write something about all that happened last Saturday night at Richmond. I have gone back and forth on several of the issues that have arisen over the past few days. I am still not sure if this is really happening or we are all part of an elaborate “catfish” scheme. Either way, as a NASCAR fan, the events of this past week have made me think about the sport I love.

On Saturday night at Richmond, the field of 12 was set. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon who had been on the outside looking in. Newman was leading the race with Clint Bowyer spun out very late in the race. Because of this spin, Carl Edwards took the lead and well, Newman along with Gordon was out and Martin Truex Jr. was in. As well all know, accusations flew that Clint Bowyer spun intentionally in order to help his teammate get into the Chase. Also afoot were Clint and Brian Vickers pitted late which allowed Lagano to get a few more spots and get a spot in the Chase. Monday NASCAR announced penalties for MWR. Truex was out and Newman was permitted his rightful spot into the Chase. Also Clint, Brian, and Martin were docked 50 driver points. These deductions were applied after the Richmond race, not before the reset. This is the reason Truex was no longer in the Chase and Newman was in. I thought NASCAR got part of this right. I had issues with allowing Clint Bowyer to remain in the Chase. He was the one who intentionally spun out and started this brouhaha. I know he had already earned his spot in the Chase prior to Richmond. I get that. But NASCAR essentially was saying, we know something happened, but without clear and definite evidence we don’t want to go down this road. If you wanted to penalize Clint, moved him to the 12th spot in the Chase and move everyone behind him up one spot. Make him start at the bottom. Jeff Gordon, in my, opinion on Monday, should have been allowed to be a driver in the Chase. Prior to all the shenanigans (this was the word of the week), he had earned his spot. To put it bluntly, he got screwed! I know he didn’t win a race and yes he was on the outside looking in, but he busted his tail on Saturday to get where he needed to get into the Chase. But due to others who wanted to manipulate the outcome, he was out!

Just when I thought all of this was over and we could get to talking about the start of the Chase, news came out there was shenanigans afoot between Joey Lagano and David Gilliland’s teams. I thought here we go again. Unfortunately, they didn’t get a chance to do it. It was at this point the infamous spun occurred on the track. In an unprecedented move by NASCAR, it was announced today Jeff Gordon would be the 13th driver in the Chase. That’s right. I am glad NASCAR made this decision, a few days too late, but nonetheless the right decision.

I love this sport. I love watching these amazing drivers do things on a race track that keep me coming back week after week, year after year. But as a long time fan, I am disappointed and angry. Members of three organizations chose, that’s chose, to cheat. They chose to manipulate the outcome of the race as well as the championship. I can’t even begin to understand the type of pressure drivers and race teams are under trying to get into the Chase each and every year. There are millions of dollars at stake for everyone involved from drivers to owners to sponsors and even to the upper echelon of NASCAR. But when the integrity of the sport is placed in jeopardy, those at NASCAR need to make a stand. There is a meeting scheduled at the track tomorrow where NASCAR will what I assume is a come to Jesus meeting for the drivers and teams. Mr. France needs to put it in clear concise words, this kind of behavior will not be tolerated. And if this kind of behavior happens again, you are out of this sport. That’s what I believe should happen to those who try this again. I felt cheated and betrayed as a fan. I am now looking at the sport I love differently. I know drivers allow teammates or other drivers to pass them to lead a lap or give them a spot ahead of them to get a point. I get that. Drivers who are laps down allow the leaders to pass them because they are faster. But this was different, there blatant manipulation happening on the track. That to me is unacceptable. Now when a driver spins by him or herself, am I going to wonder is it a legitimate spin or is it intentionally?

I am hoping after everything is decided at Homestead in November, NASCAR takes a good hard look at what happened NASCAR announced the two wild card positions I wasn’t too thrilled. I liked the fact there were just 10 drivers in the Chase. Maybe that’s what NASCAR should do. If you are in the Top 10 you are in and no wild cards! That’s it. Keep the bonus points for the wins. Yes, the battle for the wild card keeps me interested late in the year, but did it cause unintended consequences? Should they go back to the old system? The one, they still use in the Truck and Nationwide series’. Since they changed the point system, the points standings are competitive and close. It is fun to watch every week to see who is leading and who is battling their way to get to the top. I know NASCAR wants to keep fans interested once football season starts. But is it worth it, if it puts NASCAR’s integrity in jeopardy?

I want to believe those who run the sport will take a serious look at what a few individuals have done to the integrity of the sport. I am still going to watch every week. I can’t just abandon a great sport just because of a few individuals. NASCAR is an exciting sport and these drivers are some of the best athletes out there. But if NASCAR doesn’t reign in this kind of behavior, I don’t know if I can continue to watch.

Some final thoughts…

  • I am excited about the fact that Kurt Busch has made  the Chase. Furniture Row Racing is a one car team based in Denver, Colorado. It has to be difficult not to be in the heart of NASCAR country in North Carolina. FRR has proven they can be successful. Kurt Busch has worked all season long to get into the Chase and I for one am looking forward to watching him in the next 10 races. I know FRR is disappointed Kurt will be leaving at the end of the year to head for Stewart Haas Racing.  Considering where Kurt was two years ago, this is definitely a one of the      best comeback stories this year.
  • I feel bad for Martin Truex Jr. I know it’s not fair.  His team wanted to get him into the race, but in the end it has to end with the driver. Martin did what he could for the first 26 races to put      himself in a place to get into the Chase. But in the end, he is out. Plain and simple.
  • I have lost respect for Michael Waltrip. I just  finished watching the Truck race. I can’t listen to him. He has lost credibility in my eyes. How can I respect his analysis of the sport, when I know what happened? As I am in the middle of typing this post, Fox Sports Live on FS1 comes on. The lead story, NASCAR. They go to the Truck race broadcast crew which includes no other than Michael Waltrip. Really? I know they are all trying to be professional, but for me I just don’t see how I can believe anything he says. I found myself yelling at the television. That’s how angry I am at all of this. Sorry, it’s the way I feel.
  • Update–NASCAR had a meeting with drivers, owners, and crew chiefs today.  Here’s what came out of the meeting.  Drivers/teams should give 100% in the race.  Only one spotter for each team will be allowed up on the spotter’s stand.  No more digital radios.  Spotters can use two analog radios, scanners, & Fan Views.  A video camera will installed on the spotters’ stand. NASCAR will be monitoring the spotter’s stand.  If competitors who try to “artificially alter” the race will be penalized which can include, but not limited to “disqualifcationa dn/or loss of finishing points and/or fines and/or loss of points and /or suspension and/or probration to any an all members of the teams, incluing any beneficiaries of the prohibited actions.

The Chase…in case of those you didn’t know the Chase begins Sunday in Chicago. I am not sure who I will be rooting for this year. My driver is currently sidelined. I am not worried though, he will be back in 2014. Just remember #SmokeWillRise. You have to look at Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch. Between these three drivers you have 8 wins. Even though these guys have this many wins between them, you can’t count any of the other drivers. One just has to look at 2011. No one really thought Tony had a chance. He went on a tear that year, won 5 races and took the championship! I hope once the green flag falls on Sunday, we can put all this controversy behind us and concentrate on the racing. Good luck to all the racers, even though I hope some have a not so good Chase.

SHR and That Dang Ol’ Racing Show

I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about the new addition to Stewart Haas Racing.  I have read several articles about Kurt Busch coming to SHR as well as other media sites about the story.  I just don’t know if there is a need to write another story about it.  I have not been quiet about my dislike for Kurt Busch over the years.  He is a hot-headed and quite frankly he can be a complete a-hole.  He has tangled with Tony Stewart along with other drivers on his new team.  He is a polarizing figure in the sport.  Every time he is announced at driver introductions, he gets more boos than cheers. So why would you want someone like this on your racing team?

The man can drive a car and he knows how to win.  Why wouldn’t you want the man on your race team?  Was he the driver I would have loved to seen go to SHR?  One word-NO (and I believe Tony wasn’t on board right way).  Think about the make up of the 2014 Stewart Haas Racing Team (prior to the addition of Kurt)–Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Danica Patrick.  These drivers have been known to say what they think and make no apologies about it.  They can be a little hot-headed at times.  One just has to look at the last Saturday’s race at Bristol.  Kevin thought he was wronged by Denny Hamlin.  He went over to his car while on pit road to discuss the matter further with Denny.  Or who could forget last year at Bristol, Tony throwing his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s car.  If you need any further evidence, just check out You Tube.  Now throw in Kurt Busch…wow!  Some of the commenters out there believe Kurt Busch has anger management issues.  Who doesn’t on some kind of level?  Some are better than others at controlling their anger.  Tony is no stranger to anger management issues.  I think he has “mellowed” a little over the last several years.  I contribute this to getting older and being a team owner.  But don’t make this mistake in saying this mellowing means his passion for the sport has changed.  It hasn’t.  I think Kurt has proven he can still be upset about things, but he has done some mellowing himself this year.  Despite his past shenanigans, I still believe this is a good move for SHR.   With Kurt Busch you get a driver who has 24 wins, 95 top fives and 185 top 10s not to mention he won a championship in 2004.  He was the first driver to win a championship under the Chase format.  He is currently sitting 12th in the standings on the bubble of making the Chase this year with a one-car team.  And I have to admit I like that fact he isn’t afraid to race his brother, Kyle.  I mean look what happened in the 2007 All-Star race.  Of course I for one would take out my own grandmother for a million dollars.  I believe the brothers didn’t talk to one another until their grandmother stepped in.

I am ok with Kurt Busch becoming part of SHR.  With that being said, I am did not like how it all came about.  I know Gene Haas was the one who wanted Kurt in the SHR stable.  That’s fine and dandy.  NASCAR is a business and it is all about making the most of your investment.  Tony Stewart understands all of this.  Gene Haas is a co-owner of SHR along with Tony.  I get all that.  But in the end, Tony Stewart elevated his racing team.  He won a championship within 3 years of creating SHR.  It was just weeks ago, Ryan Newman was let go because there was not going to be enough for a fourth team.  You have to wonder if Mr. Haas wanted to keep Newman around on SHR.  During his time at SHR (this also includes his time this year through 24 races) Newman has 4 wins, 28 top 5s, 70 top 10s.  He has won 7 poles and qualified for the Chase only twice since joining SHR in 2009.  Compared to Kurt Busch over this time with Roush/Penske/Phoenix and Furniture Row, Kurt has 6 wins, 34 top 5s, 70 top 10s, 6 poles, and qualified 6 times for the Chase.  It can be compared they both look similar on paper.  But I guess Mr. Haas wanted Kurt Busch on the team.  I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Mr. Haas and Mr. Stewart discussed this matter.  I bet it was an interesting conversation and I am sure it didn’t sit well with Tony.  I just think the timing of it all is rather hinky.  Was there another team entertaining Kurt an offer besides Furniture Row and Mr. Haas wanted to pinned down Kurt while the iron was hot?  No matter what any of us think Kurt Busch is now a member of Stewart Haas Racing.

How happy will I be to watch all four members of SHR next year?  Happier than a camel on Wednesday!  (sorry, for the shameless use of a Geico commercial)

Some final thoughts…

If you missed last night’s That Dang Ol’ Racing show, you must have had something more important to do last night.  I was able to win free pizza from Domino’s by winning last week’s Dang Ol’ Racing Challenge.  Thanks to Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, and Jimmie Johnson for racking up some serious points for me.  Does this mean I have to share my pizza with them?  I hope not, because I am not good at sharing.  This week the boys are headed to Atlanta and I have chosen Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, and Matt Kenseth.  Let’s hope these boys get it done, so I can be a two-time winner!  As I mentioned in previous posts here in The Park, I was excited to hear about this new show.  For years now I have been posting about NASCAR and looking for those of you out there who are willing to banter with me about the sport.  I have those who tolerate this obsession of mine.  I have tried to explain things to hem and even invited them to watch a race or two with me, but to no avail.  Now I have a place I am able to share my thoughts on NASCAR.  For my friends and family, you should send on Mr. Ryan Hyatt a thank you.  I don’t have to bother you as much or subject you to this thing I love called NASCAR.   Well, if you want to catch That Dang Ol’ Racing Show, just tune into 98.5 Real Country every Tuesday from 6-7. You can also find the show on Facebook (That Dang Ol Racing Show,) or on Twitter (@dangolracing).  You can find that show blog on my blogroll, just go over to the right side under Infield and click and boom…there you are!  So join the show next week,  you can have a chance to win free pizza from Dominos and who doesn’t like free pizza!  Please note I am not a paid spokesperson or am I compensated in any way shape or form.  I just like the show and want others to join in on the fun!