Wow. That didn’t take long. The “big one” before the “big one” season starting Daytona 500 even got the green flag. The testing of the new Gen-6 car went wild during draft and group testing at speed…

Apparently, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. discovered a “draft fact”, that is if his post run comments were on the mark. Marcos Ambrose went loose setting off a chain of events that left a eleven cars in a state of insurance headache. Ambrose’s Ford went sideways after a rear clip from Earnhardt, Jr.’s Chevy which apparently lead to his comments. (more…)

The “Chase Across America” made a stop in Martinsville, Virginia on Tuesday, September 11th, as was the case at Sprint Cup race cities filling the schedule for the remainder of the season.

The “Chase Across America” is one, a NASCAR promotion for upcoming races for the championship. It also gets the drivers out and away from the tracks, closer to the fans and highlights their activities out of the race car.

For example, Jimmie Johnson made rounds in the Big Apple. Brad Keselowski spent some time with firefighters in Chicago. Jeff Gordon did fan Q&A in Phoenix. Drivers were all over the place with causes, fans and fanfare, including Martinsville High School which hosted Greg Biffle and Miss Sprint Cup, Kristen Beat.


Rain… It is as necesary as air…

However, on race day for NASCAR Sprint Cup, it is as unwelcome as a Bud hat in a Miller campsite…

The entire season blew the storm of the Chase into Richmond with wildcards and points on the line. That storm was put off as another storm blew in and kept the race in the garage for almost two hours. NASCAR and RIR staff kept things tight as the rain moved out. After all, the plan was to run under the lights. The weather was watched and the decision was held. Jet dryers and utility vehicles did a number on the track to dry it out but even then they ran the first few laps under caution.

Finally they went green on a green track with any rubber from qualifying and the Nationwide race the day before  thrown to the inner wall. The crowd braved the rain to watch Jeff Gordon blow by pole sitter Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Dale, Jr. to regain the lead shortly after. (more…)

Racing at Pocono shook things up a bit. Early crashes, points lead change, pit road police…

Good racing at Pocono with Joey Logano taking the pole and the win for the day… Seventeen lead changes… Greg Biffle had some engine issues with a lazy cylinder and fell back off the points lead after finishing midpack.

Early laps saw loose cars in turn 3. The new surface at Pocono raised questions on set-ups, speed and handling and the start of the race saw turn 3 serve up some free tickets to a slip-n-slide.

Landon Cassill went for a slide and AJ Allmendinger was caught up on the first lap. At the 13th lap, J.J. Yeley, Reed Sorenson and Tony Raines took the ride and beat up some sheet metal.

However, it was pit road that made for many surprises until drivers began to bite the brake and just roll with it as best they could. The re-surfacing at Pocono also did a number on the speed markers along pit road and caught many drivers with penalties. It was as if they set a speed trap just outside of town after a big party at the local hot spot… (more…)

You would think the folks from MUFON should be getting calls from Southside Virginia as the area just east of Danville and a rock throw from the North Carolina line was occupied by “greys” and UFOs. The UFOs, or “Unidentified Fast Objects”, were hypothetically occupied and operated by NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series drivers. The “greys”, in this particular context, were often seen moving about in the larger groups of UFOs…

An invasion it may have been but it was not extraterrestrial. For several years, NASCAR teams descend on Virginia International Raceway and take over the rolling, countryside road course to test their ability to build cars that can, amazing as it may sound, turn right as well as left. This visit to VIR has become somewhat of a tradition as the season winds close to the road courses of Sonoma and Watkins Glen. NASCAR rules and regs do not allow teams to test set-ups at “sanctioned” tracks (as in the ones they will be racing on) except on specified times and days associated with the race schedule at that venue. However, there is no such rule concerning testing at a facility that is, in many ways, very similar to the sanctioned and scheduled  raceways.

Open the gates and man the flag stations, we’re making right turns in 750 horsepower machines that have the handling characteristics of a lead-lined brick. (more…)

We were at Richmond International Raceway for a weekend in April for some pit cruising and fast left turns. While there, we made a discovery. We sat on it for a few days to make sure we weren’t being tracked by a geek squad in black and white checkered helicopters…

We wandered about the garage and saw any number of things we likely shouldn’t have. We took notice of Team Mechanics holding up clipboards while looking over them at what the team in the next stall was doing. We saw the “cheat sheets” drivers use to remember what town they are in, who their sponsors are and which hat to wear. We found the plastic storage bin where NASCAR keeps the yellow Krylon for the lug nuts.

However, it was during qualifying we made our “discovery”. It brought to mind the adage “hide in plain sight” as it was obvious yet so inconspicuous. Everyone is so focused on times and speed and there is so much color on the cars and uniforms that the scene blurs together.

But we saw it. Or should we say… We saw her. (more…)

NASCAR and President Obama. OK, fine… The President of the United States takes some time to recognize the Chase Drivers. Presidents have been welcoming persons of sport accomplishment to the White House for a long time. It’s nothing particularly new.

But what of the timing…?

President Bush (the second one) invited NASCAR drivers to the White House either following the season or before the next season started. The first Bush and Ronald Reagan attended an event or two. Bush honored Richard Petty and Reagan pardoned Junior Johnson on moonshining convictions. The internet search for President Clinton and NASCAR doesn’t reveal much. Apparently, he tried campaigning at Darlington… It didn’t go well. Although, Rick Hendrick did receive a pardon from Clinton on charges of some sort of mail fraud concerning Honda Motors dealerships. Jimmy Carter apparently maintained a friendship with Cale Yarborough.

But mid-season invitations to the White House…? To honor the drivers and champion of the previous year…? We don’t get it.

Everyone is focused on “now”. The next race… What went wrong on the last race… Setups, practice, strategy, logistics… Leave Texas and go to Kansas. Get what we need sent out from Charlotte. Oh, and the hottest drivers in contention drop the fire suits for jacket and tie and head up to Washington, D.C….

Would it be too difficult to get the guys after the awards banquet or maybe leading up to Daytona…? You know, when the season is not in full swing… It really is just a thought.

OK… He did make a call from Air Force One for congratulations during “Champions Week” and the awards in November at Las Vegas.

It’s not as if the President is less busy in April than in December or January… Is he…?

Greg Biffle just won at Texas and is currently leading the season points. He wasn’t a “Chase” driver in 2011. He was gearing up for Kansas on Tuesday. The press will be all over the ten drivers who went to the White House with questions likely further distracting from the upcoming race at Kansas. We’re fairly certain Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (currently 3rd in points) would rather focus on his car than the suit he wore while meeting President Obama…

2011 Champion Tony Stewart is currently in 7th place but had to go. He skipped an invitation last year in September due to schedule conflicts.

Again, September… as the drivers and teams are focusing on making every point count to make the “Chase” for the year they are running. There was, at least, some kind of connection as the Richmond race was honoring heroes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and D.C. is just up the road.

But April…? Tax deadlines… Racing schedule… Focus….

Campaigning…? Oops… Did we type that out loud…?

The meeting did go well. It was light and pleasant with some laughs and some praise. Notably, the President humorously referenced Tony Stewart’s media history.

“I was hoping Tony would give me some tips for dealing with the media because he has the quiet and reserved personality, and I figured I could stay out of trouble if Tony would give me some advice.”

President Obama was also very gracious while referencing his wife’s visit to the Homestead race last year. He made mention of NASCAR’s efforts in honoring the military and their families but did not reference the disgrace of the crowd “boos” that were reported on her introduction.

“You look out for military families, the Gold Star families and you make regular visits to Walter Reed Hospital to raise spirits there. For you guys to give that much back to folks who have given so much to keep us safe, I want to thank all of you.”

Carl Edwards was also referenced as a member of the President’s Fitness Council.

“He’s an outstanding representative of NASCAR and has a lot of class…”

Overall, mid-season as it is, the White House visit went well. The drivers were welcome, the President was charismatic and personable, and NASCAR received some attention in circles that would usually turn their noses up.

The same can be said for the President in an election year… Hmmmmmm…