Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How obvious is obvious?

I'm going to borrow this from Jay Hart's article dated November 11.

Jimmie Johnson was questioned why Kyle got parked for the Texas weekend and, after some prompting, couldn't figure it out (not because he wrecked a title contender, not on probation and not because it was under caution). Jay felt it was because Kyle was too obvious about it: was wrecking Hornaday wrong? Absolutely. Did the punishment fit the crime? Yep. But the only reason Busch got parked was because he copped to it. Had he kept his mouth shut or simply played vigilante under green-flag conditions – you know, when they’re running full throttle – he’d likely have gotten little more than a slap on the wrist.

That’s the lesson NASCAR is teaching here: Boys, have at it, just don’t be so obvious about it.

Which raises a simple question then; why were James Buescher and Todd Bodine both allowed to race at Texas in the first place after their post-race shenanigans the week before at Martinsville...wasn't that just as obvious as the Kyle/Ron stunt was?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The 2011 'A&W Cruisin' the Dub 300'

Well, it took me five years after my first NASCAR sanctioned series race, but I finally managed to break my 'road course only' mould when the Canadian Tires Series (formerly known as CASCAR) made their one and only trek to BC last night at MotoPlex Speedway, just north of Vernon.

She's a long drive from where I live (left home at 9, checked in at the hotel around 2:30)...the things us racing fans do, right?

Anyway, I got a bit worried when I saw the 'no cameras allowed' sign at the entry to that track but apparently that doesn't apply for the race (good thing too or Kristen would probably have shot me!) as I certainly was not the only person taking photos. The track itself is a half mile tri-oval (banking goes from 11 degreees to 14 in the corners), has seating for about 9500 people but only from turn 4 to turn 2...there was no seats on the back stretch that I could see.

Qualifying for the race started around 5:30 with the race itself going at 8pm. DJ Kennington (the 2010 champ) looked the man to beat before Scott Steckly (the 2008 champ) pipped him at the end. The order gets drawn out of a hat (helmet maybe since it's motorsport) the announcers told us. From memory, Scott went around in 18.3, a few tenths off the lap record.

Lining up for qualifying (there were 21 cars in total).

Kennington looked like he'd start from the pole...

...but Steckly had something to say about that.

After qualifying, all the cars were lined up on the front stretch where they allowed people on the track for a autograph session (it went for about an hour). Then it was driver intros, with a bit of a twist. JR Fitzpatrick, who races in the Nationwide series some times, told the officials that he thought it would be fun to have the drivers walk through the gap between the main grandstand and the uncovered one before going on to the track via the opening at the flag stand on the start/finish line as that meant the drivers would meander their way through the crowd.

So that's what they did (no photos of that since it was kind of hard to see them until they were at the flag stand). The spotters based themselves in the back row of the second uncovered stand...I thought they'd be on top of the main grandstand but obviously not.

The spotters get in position to call the traffic shots.

The cars all lined up on the front straight.
The autograph session in full swing.

Looking at the race results, it seems like it was rather dull; Scott and DJ started 1-2, and that's how they finished at the end of 300 laps...but it was anything but dull. A spate of early yellows occurred before they were finally able to settle into a rhythm saw DJ looking like the man to beat. But after the first round of stops, that changed as Pete Shepherd (driving car 7) charged his way into the lead.

The race gets underway...the first double file start of many.

The first round of stops...mainly just for fuel since you can't do both.

But just as it looked we might see a bit of an upset with none of the usual suspects winning, the favourites upped the tempo. Steckly drove to the front from 11th in about 30 laps as he elected to stop the latest and had the advantage of fresh Goodyears. That saw the others leave him stranded when, yet another, yellow came out. The final 100 laps or so saw lots of squabbling over track position...but no one could challenge Steckly.

Steckly leading Kennington on the final restart of the race.

Steckly takes the win as DJ's car just wasn't good enough on a short run to challenge.

Kerry Micks and JR Fitzpatrick got into it bigtime, with Micks turning Fitzpatrick coming out of turn 4 (he later said that JR got loose and he couldn't avoid him). Well, JR wasn't that thrilled about it, and after the race they decided to duke it out until their teams, and officials, dragged them apart.

Alas, as I said in the trifecta, my camera wasn't able to keep up once the sun went down and so all the photos from about lap 160 on were quite blurry...sorry about that. I did try with the flash on, but that didn't work very well either.It was a long day for me as the race didn't finish until 10:30 due to all the cautions...but it was worth the five hour drive. I didn't even get sunburnt this time!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Aussies Are Coming...

...in 2013 anyway.

It was announced last week that the V8 Supercars have inked a five year deal to race on the new facility at Austin. At this stage, it looks like it'll be a two-race weekend, both races being 124 miles (which, in nice round Australian numbers, is 200 kilometers).

For a brief rundown on the V8's...hmm, I guess you could read the wikipedia page or check out some videos on youtube, but basically the formula is to take a sedan from GM and Ford (that may change soon...other manufacturers are sniffing about as a new style car is launched for 2013), chuck a 5.0 litre engine with 650hp in the front, make it RWD, add a rollcage and some slicks and put it on the track.

One of the most promising 'newbies', Shane 'The Giz' van Gisbergen doesn't do conservative.

I suppose they would be similar to the GT class in the Rolex series except without having to worry about those pesky Prototypes that zoom around the place at the same time. Yes, that means proper head and tail lights, wipers and doors (are you listening, NASC...oh forget it, they never do anyway) for us to enjoy.

My main worry is how you guys will take to the series. I mean, it's not like there's any shortage of motorsport currently available and the last time an Australian sport branched out over this way, it didn't pan out that brilliantly (the 1987 Rugby League experiment in Long Beach) so we'll just have to wait and see I guess.

I wonder if Marcos Ambrose will push for it to be on an off weekend for the Cup guys...

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Difficult Third Album...

Apparently it's hard to keep the success rolling so, for this (third time to this race for me, hence the title) edition of the 'Lugnuts hit Sonoma', I changed a couple things in the lead up (or forced to in some cases);

- gone was the quick gas and go to Lyndon a few weeks prior to pick up a cheap US cell phone as I changed onto a plan so I had global roaming this time.

- gone was the BART trip to meet up with Kristen as Orbitz changed my flights and had me getting in around 8pm Thursday...four hours at Sea-Tac was rather dull though, you can only walk by the same shops so many times before it gets old. Kristen said she'd just pick me up directly from the airport this time.

- gone also was my chance of getting sick (sore throat, blocked nose) at the hotel as I decided to do that the Friday before leaving...yes, I probably could have done with a session from our resident Doctor although she may have heard my frustrated screaming anyway.

- and last, but not least, gone was my trusty backpack that I bought about a month after I arrived in New Zealand back in January 2003...it bit the dust over Christmas so I got a new one when I was home. That backpack was very well travelled having been to the Australian Grand Prix twice ('05 and '07), Sonoma twice ('06 and '10), Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, BC, Alberta and Alaska, not forgetting the Can-Ams visit to NZ back in '07 at Teretonga Raceway near Invercargill and a few stages of Rally Otago since the company I worked for sponsored it back then.

But enough stalling, on to 'the weekend that was'.

I had been waiting a little while Thursday evening for Kristen who told me that she was stuck in traffic. Then some texts flew around, followed by a phone call or two asking me precisely where I was. I told her that I got spat out in front of the US Airway signs...of course, I did neglect to mention departures while she was doing laps in the arrivals a level below. After...how can I put this?...freshening up (a month at Googa in High School made me an expert of the deodorant shower), I just followed the people out of the airport, I didn't even think about what level I was on :S

The less said about bathrooms the better...right, Kristen?

Heading to the track Friday we bemoaned about the lack of a World Cup to listen to on the radio, how Marcos probably wasn't going to win due to the pressure (I agreed with that...my initial trifecta pick was going to be Menard but Kristen said how you all left me my boy, aww), how ticked the double deuce team were that Brad won a points race before Kurt this year, and the reasons behind just why someone would make off with Kristen's Dale Jr emblem that had been on her car last year but now wasn't...more to come on that later actually (no, I didn't have anything to do with it. Well I did, but not how you're thinking!)

As most of you probably saw, Ambrose was using a special paint scheme for the race; he had the name of one child from each State of the USA who had been in and/or are still in hospital for an extended stay. First thing I saw while wandering around after Kristen had rushed off to the garage had me thinking that 'The King' was on a seriously tight budget if this was their hauler.

But no, this had the demo car that was going to unveil the paint scheme in VL later that day. After scoping out exactly who had their merchandise here this year, I made my way to my seat to click merrily away while cars were put on the ramp and hopefully appease Kristen after what happened last year when none of us saw her pushing the car down pitlane on raceday as we were all at driver introductions.

The good thing about sitting there on Friday is you never know who might come out of the media room.

The last one was when Marcos came out for the deal in VL...won't put up many of it but I can say that on Ambrose's facebook album, in one of the photos, you can see me in the background!

After Marcos' time there, and after practice was done, the new inductees, Allison and Jarrett took center stage before Jarrett stayed to help David Ragan unveil his Brickyard paint job (the 6, not the 11 obviously...the 11 would never pass inspection *laugh*).

Kristen has already been over the issues that Kurt had before qualifying so I won't rehash that other than reiterate how much of a shock it was that Joey stuck the thing on pole...I don't think even he knew how he managed it. To the stage for 'Trackside' then where (can we just give it to him already?) the leading RotY, Andy Lally as well as Ambrose were the guests. They moved the stage around so where I was standing last year would have meant I'd be behind the stage for this one yet where Melissa stood last year meant she was in front this time...so I stuck with Melissa and hoping my trusty boxing 'roo flag could entice Marcos to visit after his segment was over.

It did (I think *laugh*), and in my attempt to remove the lid from the pen, I dropped the bloody thing and my "oh bugger" comment may have clued him into my nationality...the shiny new Ambrose shirt could have done it as well I suppose. Anyway, we had a little chat where he said it was great I was there and it was good to see me. Yes, you read that right, I thought that *I* was supposed to be saying that to him! Bottom line is he signed the hero cards that Kristen snagged earlier (one's heading your way soon, Indy!) and I left the track with a smile that rivals Marcos' usual one.

Saturday dawned and opting for the KTS (Kristen's Taxi Service) saw us at the track around 8:30 where we encountered the lawn mowers. Considering I moved from a place where sheep outnumber people by a significant margin, I can't say I was as enthused about it as Kristen was but, even so, it was pretty funny to see. I went down to turn 7 for both practices, you could tell who was 'on it' and who was cruising just by the how much kerb (same deal as 'tyre' I'm afraid) they were using...

...or by how much they messed up their braking point.

Not a whole lot really happened on the 'lazy day' I think Kristen said, but CR did show up between practices so we were able to get some good openwheel talk going before Melissa turned up (I *knew* I should have stuck with my Vettel jinx pick, grrr!) having been delayed by a slow pitstop for fuel I believe it was. Rest of the day we watched the Nationwide race in the hotel, then went to dinner with Kristen's inspection buddy...that sounds wrong, um, don't read it like that please...who explained things like what gears the teams could use this weekend and why Kurt's car didn't pass inspection before qualifying. Alas, he could not tell me exactly why Ambrose had to use the rookie stripe in 2009 while Keselowski didn't in 2010 when both were ineligible for RotY honours in those respective years having run too many races the year before. He thought it had something to do with Brad running more than half a season while Marcos didn't however.

To Sunday then, where, after a fair bit of deliberation and a lightbulb moment by Melissa, I went to the track with Kristen again since she would be taking me back Sunday afternoon...little did we know the events that were to unfold. For some reason, the nearest Starbucks couldn't get my name right and insisted on spelling it with a 'i' instead of a 'y'...I suppose that's how they roll in San Rafael, Kristen found it somewhat more amusing than me, have to say *laugh*

We got to the track earlier than the previous two days (by over an hour). Jeff Gluck was doing a 'tweet-up' at 8am just behind VL and his guest today was my (apparently, if the 'Trackside' thing was anything to go by) good mate; Marcos Ambrose. Kristen, being the legend she is, snapped a once-in-a-lifetime photo of 'us Aussies'...well, for me it was, Marcos probably not so much.

Why yes, this is now my laptop background...am I not that predictable?

After that was done, I went for a wander down pitlane and bumped into both CR and Melissa. I elected to skip going to the stage for driver intros this year and waited for Kristen's texts keeping me up-to-date over when the #22 would come rolling down the pits. Of course, when it did, she wasn't looking my way, so I have a shot of her going off at Tony (she probably was actually since he likes to tease her), one of the officials.

I then went back to my seat to watch the rest of the pre-race stuff...didn't miss the intros in the end so I snapped a fair few drivers this year and, with the aid of photoshop, I can bring you the Sonoma edition of Juan Smurftoya!

I believe that Kristen will have a blow by blow account of raceday from her perspective and it's highly likely that you guys watching it on TV could keep up better than Melissa, CR and myself so I'll close with seven more pictures before my final blurb.

Joey leading them off on lap 1.

Kurt taking off on a restart.

Kurt taking the win...and Kristen can finally breathe again!

Now, last year we took a group photo of the four of us but that didn't happen this year so you'll have to make do with me, Melissa and CR...

Three quarters of our group...Kristen wouldn't let me photoshop her head in place of Bobby's.

...as the final member of our group ditched us for a postrace date with 'Vicky'!

The new line of 'Where's Wally?' books featuring our very own Kristen! She's in that melee somewhere...

CR and Melissa left, leaving me the recipient of one of the biggest bear hugs I've ever gotten in my life when Kristen was able to tear herself away from the festivities (I told her to take as much time as she wanted). The drive back...I'm not sure I could do it justice really. Only word I can come up with is 'surreal' which is still pretty poor. For some reason I'm reminded of the movie 'Almost Famous'...which I've never seen but, from what I gather off the wikipedia page, it's basically about someone who is trying to bask in the glow of others. That's kind of how I felt, but not really...does that make sense?

In case you were wondering, yes, she did pilfer some victory confetti...and yes, she gave me some.

However, it was very, very, cool to share in her elation with 'her guys' finally winning a points race when she was there, and on her home turf no less!

So that was the race experience, but it's not the end of the story if you've been eagle-eyed and see only six photos, not seven like I said. For there is a hobby shop where I live that has NASCAR stuff from a few years ago so when Kristen said about her missing car emblem and not wanting any #88 Dale Jr stuff, I said I'd have a look when I got back. They had quite a selection and, hiding beneath a group of Tony Stewart #20's and Mark Martin #6's car doohickeys, was a lonely old #8.

Quite possibly the only piece of Dale Jr merchandise I'll buy in my life.

It's not a very fair trade though for everything she's done; driving me everywhere for the last two years here, got Marcos to siggie my flag last year, honoured our verbal (written?) bet over the NHL Conference final, got me into Gluck's tweet-up with Ambrose, dragged an inspector to dinner with us and nabbed some confetti from Kurt's win (along with, I'm sure, a gazillion other things)...and all I get her in return is, in her words; "HOLY CRAP!!! IT'S A PERFECT REPLICA!!!"

Yeah, I don't get it either...I'll post it down this week though, Kristen :)

I don't think the race itself was as good as last years but, personally, the overall experience was better (sorry Jon, wish you were there, mate!)...so thanks hugely to Melissa, CR and Kristen for making it possible. Nicking the NHL slogan; this is what we live for!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A slice of NASCAR hits Indycar?

And so, a day after his teammate knocked him out of the Indy 500, Ryan Hunter-Reay will take the green flag next week after all...with Bruno Junqueira being given the boot as Ryan slides into the #41 for A.J. Foyt after a dismal weekend for Michael Andretti's team that saw two of his five 500 bullets misfire (Mike Conway, who sits 4th in points, is still out by the way) on bump day.

Here is the article on Yahoo! sports for those interested.

The last time I recall something like that happening was a few years ago when Michael Waltrip did the same thing at, I think, Talladega.

Monday, March 14, 2011

TNQC and TNRC - Las Vegas

Alright, as I am currently on a lunch break, and we've had an off week, I reckon I can post this as we're three rounds into the 2011 season.

The points were explained in my post in January so here's how they stack up thus far:

All up, 29 drivers have registered point in the QC with 30 for the RC.

Tez's NASCAR Qualifying championship - round 3:

1 - Carl Edwards, 123 points (1 pole)
2 - Kurt Busch, 111 points
3 - Kyle Busch, 108 points
4 - Matt Kenseth, 99 points (1 pole)
5 - Regan Smith, 93 points
=6 - Dale Earnhardt Jr, 72 points (1 pole)
=6 - Jeff Gordon, 72 points
=6 - Joey Logano, 72 points
=9 - Greg Biffle, 69 points
=9 - Kasey Kahne, 69 points
=11 - Marcos Ambrose, 60 points
=11 - Martin Truex Jr, 60 points

Jamie McMurray sits three points back from 12th but hey, early days and all that. Jimmie Johnson is currently 27th with just nine points after three rounds...I expect that will change before we get to round 23 though.

Tez's NASCAR Race Championship - round 3:

1 - Carl Edwards, 132 points (1 win)
2 - Tony Stewart, 105 points
3 - Kurt Busch, 96 points
4 - Kyle Busch, 90 points
5 - Juan Montoya, 87 points
6 - Ryan Newman, 78 points
=7 - Trevor Bayne, 72 points (1 win)
=7 - Jeff Gordon, 72 points (1 win)
=9 - Dale Earnhardt Jr, 54 points
=9 - Jimmie Johnson, 54 points
=11 - David Gilliland, 51 points
=11 - Denny Hamlin, 51 points

Marcos Ambrose and Kevin Harvick are next up on 48 and 46 points each then we have four guys on 45 points (AJ, Kahne, Labonte and Truex)...I expect this could be similar story as we get closer to the Chase cutoff.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


It is, perhaps, the most important four numbers in sport...and yet, outside of a select few countries, no one has much idea of what they refer to.

The best of the best. It's a bold statement to make, certainly. There are many factors that go into deciding whether a sportsperson stands out beyond the elite. Names like Jordan, Nicklaus, Cobb, Petty, Ruth and even Earnhardt I'm sure you are more familiar with...but as I'm not American, I have to stick up for 'my' man; Bradman.

I never saw Bradman ply his trade on cricket pitches as his playing career stopped some 30 years before I was born, so I can only imagine what it would have been like. Newspaper headlines from England just had to say 'he's out!' and people instantly knew what they were talking about. His test match playing career spanned twenty years, broken up by World War 2, and he ended up just four runs short of averaging 100.00. But still, 99.94 is leagues ahead of the next best.

An excerpt from his cricinfo page says, "unquestionably the greatest batsman in the game, arguably the greatest cricketer ever, and one of the finest sportsmen of all time, Don Bradman was so far ahead of the competition as to render comparisons meaningless and to transcend the game he graced."

Mathematics agree with this; Sir Donald Bradman was the best ever...if you go by standard deviations.

Bradman rises up above the elite with his number being 4.4. To put that into perspective, MJ would have needed to average a further 13 points per game, Jack would have added another 7 majors and Cobb needed a 0.392 batting rating instead of 0.367 to match that figure.

So, I hope you may forgive me for being callous about the ten year anniversary of the passing of Dale but, in my eyes, the world lost a far greater sportsperson a week later.

Sir Donald Bradman...no one will ever come close.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

All Change for the TNC's

Well, not really.

Having looked into things since Homestead, I'm only going to do one major change which is get rid of the half points idea (mainly since it's a PITA to work out *laugh*).

So, for those who have forgotten (including me), here is the way it works:

- Both titles for 26 rounds use an old V8 Supercar points system which only awarded the top 17 finishers (72, 60, 51, 45, 39, 36, 33, 30, 27, 24, 18, 15, 12, 9, 6, 3, 1).

- Once the Chase guys are set, those 12 use the old CART points (20, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1). The remaining drivers use the V8 points, but these 12 are excluded from them (hypothetically, the 'winner' of a Chase race who isn't in the Chase could have actually finished 13th on the track).

- Washouts in qualifying don't count towards the QC.

- Bonus points for wins/poles are 4 x however many you start the Chase with (Hamlin, for example, started the '10 RC Chase off with 24 points since he had 6 wins). If a Chase guy wins a Chase race, they get an additional point (so 21 instead of 20).

- Leader after 26 rounds get 4 bonus points per round they clinched (eg: Harvick couldn't be topped in the '10 RC after race 23, so he got an additonal 12 points when the Chase started...not counting his wins).

Clear as mud? I'll try to remember to put the link for this piece in every update I do so people can check how it works fairly regularly.