It was a Toyota day in California for the Auto Club 400.

More or less…

A Toyota started on the pole with Matt Kenseth in the Dollar General #20. A Toyota won it with Kyle Busch in the Interstate Batteries #18.

Between these Toyota landmarks were 27 lead changes and 9 cautions. The final laps saw the caution that set in motion a green-white-checkered finish which also played out in the critical lead change.

It was Jimmie Johnson’s race to loose with a comfortable lead over team mate Jeff Gordon. Johnson’s tires, however, did not have the will to go on and the left front shredded under pressure. He managed to keep the #48 in a straight line and limped to the pits. (more…)

Interesting coincidence.

By now, it is quite publicly known that Denny Hamlin is in the garage for a while with a back injury. The injury resulted from the last lap wall crash following contact with Joey Logano in California.

Joe Gibbs Racing has announced the FedEx #11 Toyota will continue the schedule and be ready when Hamlin is released to race. In his absence, Mark Martin has been tagged to drive it.

Now, over at Michael Waltrip Racing, that leaves a little hole to fill for the #55. However, they seem to have some depth on the bench to run with until Martin can return.

Everyone at JGR, Denny Hamlin included, is pleased and excited to have Martin on board. His experience mixes well with the team of folks ready to race.

The coincidence, as it adds up, concerns car numbers… (more…)

Change. It is inevitable and often ironic. The calendar has changed to 2013 despite the best efforts by Mayans and “ancient aliens”. The wheel keeps turning. It’s round. That is its only real job, after all.

NASCAR, however, has thrown the wheels of change into a blender and hit the “All In” button. It wasn’t all “NASCAR”, per se, but the results leading to the first green flag of 2013 leave the previous season well in the shadows.

For instance, Brad Keselowski drives a Dodge with Penske Racing and Miller Lite to the championship. Fairly early in the 2012 season, Dodge introduced a 2013 version of the car. However, Dodge pulled their support for 2013 NASCAR as the “Chase” began to shape up. A Dodge wins the “Cup” and goes to moth balls. Ironic? Tragic? Economy of choice? (more…)

There has been a lot of chatter about football lately. The season is just a couple of weeks in without, apparently, the standard issue referees. The regulars are on strike. The fill-ins are, apparently, less than stellar.

No matter, really. The “Chase” is on. How can there be a comparison? Early season football or late season racing? I’ll go racing any day.

So I did, of a sort. Kyle Busch was at Martinsville Speedway to give a brief on the Tums Fast Relief 500. The manner of this briefing was from the cockpit of an M&M’s #18 Toyota Cup Car, modified a bit to carry a passenger. Also suited up was Speedway President Clay Campbell. Clay has his own experiences with driving so he was also on hand to run passenger laps behind the wheel of a Federated Auto Parts #52 race car. The cars were brought up to Martinsville by the folks from Fast Track High Performance Driving School in North Carolina.

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Tires. Generally you think about your tires when the number on your inspection sticker and the number on your calendar matches up. It is then you take a quick look at the treads and think they will sneak by one more time or you realize they would hardly be safe hanging from a tree. If the latter is the case, you then mumble some profanity and begin the search for the best deal. Internet, newspaper, friends… Ads and questions… Buy three get one free… all weather or performance…  tread life… Do you want the replacement warranty?

Race drivers don’t have most of these worries. The tires they get are sanctioned so they aren’t shopping the net for the best deal. They do, however, find themselves at some facility testing those very tires that are issued for race day. In some ways you could equate this to comparison shopping as the drivers are out all day with tire stats instead of doing fun stuff at home. (more…)

Audi is on the pole for the 24 Heures Du Mans (24 Hours of Le Mans). This is the showcase race that shares the name with the series for France, Europe and even the American Le Mans Series. This French race has been one of the centers of racing lore and history for decades.

These Germans have had a long history with Le Mans, including the pole and the win for 2011 at this race with their TDI R18. For 2012, they have taken the pole with a hybrid. A hybrid!! (more…)