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Holding A Pretty Wheel

Three Shots Heard ‘Round the World: NASCAR’s Defining Week

Three Shots Heard ‘Round the World: NASCAR’s Defining Week

It’s the unofficial start of Summer, but things heated up weeks ago in the NASCAR world. Much of the swirl of discussion has been predictable-what driver will go where, who is living up to expectations, when will Junior win-the same things that go around every summer. But there are a couple of stories that came to light just this week that have me scratching my head. While the other happenings and musings are interesting, what happened this week will have repercussions for the remainder of 2008 and, in two related cases, far beyond. Read More »

Ken Schrader: A Lot Like a Rock

Ken Schrader: A Lot Like a Rock

It was very nearly perfect. Stock Car racing returned to the too-long-silent Rockingham (formerly North Carolina) Speedway last week on a picture perfect early summer day. All eyes were on Joey Logano, the rookie phenom who won easily from the pole in his ARCA/Remax Series debut, but it was a veteran who truly epitomized the day-and the track itself. Ken Schrader in a way, WAS Rockingham Speedway on Sunday, or perhaps Rockingham Speedway was Ken Schrader. Coming from a 31st-place starting spot to finish second, Schrader passed cars by using the track to his advantage. It was a brilliant performance by the veteran driver with the reputation of being one who will race anything, anytime. At one point late in the race, Schrader took the lead and proceeded to school Logano in the finer points of holding a lead-switching from the bottom-hugging low line in the turns to the high line-the only place where Logano was really able to make his best moves. It didn’t work forever, but it was great, clean racing-the way Schrader has run for most of his 53 years. Read More »

Boring?  What Race Were You Watching?

Boring? What Race Were You Watching?

You had a driver on the radio, nerves plain in his voice in the closing laps despite his lead. The driver may be a champion, but he needs the win badly-and he's a nervous sort, anyway. You had a crew chief talking his driver through those laps, knowing they had to run smart-any other way, and the car closing in the rearview would snatch the victory. There was no guarantee he wouldn't snatch it anyway. It was this close-would the worried leader going to eke out a win? Or would the hungry competitor roar by to take the race? Until the moment they took the checkers, it was uncertain-either driver could take it. Read More »

The More Things Change

The More Things Change

It seems as if all I have to say about NASCAR these days is negative _(well, okay, but give me some credit-it's all anybody else talks about either.)._ My opening line to most racing conversations is akin to, "Is NASCAR touched in the head…" followed by a complaint: "What do they mean, they wont give a Busch Series regular a provisional just because he drove a Cup car last year?!" "Let me get this straight, it's been policy to fine drivers for profanity on TV or radio interviews for years, unless said driver wears a red suit and has the word "Junior' attached to his surname?!" "The new points system is an invitation to wreck anyone in the way of a teammate in the Top t10!" There's always something new to fuss about, so when one gripe session has run its course, there's a new complaint waiting to take over. Convenient! _(Okay, the complaints are different now. So is Junior's uniform color-who'd have thunk THAT? Well, there IS the "the Chase stinks" part-some things will never change! Also, in 2004, fans were just trying to process the change for Winston Cup to Nextel-and now we have Sprint Cup AND the Nationwide Series. But it's still easy to complain, and 2008 brings a whole bevy of new complaints-the Top 35 rule, even MORE cookie-cutter tracks, the Nationwide Whacker problem…oh, and how, well, WRONG ‘Nationwide Whacker" sounds…)_ Read More »

Convenient Crashes: Karma or Coincidence?

Convenient Crashes: Karma or Coincidence?

How many times did your mother tell you to treat people the way you want to be treated? You probably laughed and stuffed your little brother in the laundry chute anyway. Maybe you went outside to play in the yard a few days later, and stepped right where the same brother walked the family dog after a particularly large dinner. Ever see something like this happen to our favorite driver? He gets a little rough with some guy and runs over debris a few laps later, popping a tire and losing a lap fixing it. Maybe he gets caught with some "creative engineering" and spins out in qualifying two weeks later. You sometimes have to wonder if greater forces are at work. Karma really bites. Read More »

Fan’s Reactions to Junior, Jeff, Jimmie and Jack-Not What You Might Expect

Fan’s Reactions to Junior, Jeff, Jimmie and Jack-Not What You Might Expect

It may be only five races into the NASCAR season, but there have certainly been a lot of things to think about: Toyota's surge from backmarker to contender to winner; last year's absolute domination of Hendrick Motorsports turning into not even being a serious contender to win in '08; the Car of Tomorrow; Robby Gordon's overturned penalty; Carl Edwards' uncontested penalty; and Jack Roush's accusation of Toyota stealing a "proprietary part," to name a few. The list is long and interesting. What is even more interesting is the fans' reactions to each of these stories. Read More »

Change is Both Necessary and Evil in Today’s NASCAR

Change is Both Necessary and Evil in Today’s NASCAR

The winds of change have blown strong in NASCAR lately, and, judging by the uneasy grumblings, race fans don't take kindly to change. The character of the sport has changed dramatically over the last decade, and many people are unhappy with the speed, or the degree of the alterations. And, in some areas, NASCAR went too far. But some change is necessary for the health of the sport. Read More »

Wallace, Vickers and Andretti  Are The Best Story of Speedweeks So Far

Wallace, Vickers and Andretti Are The Best Story of Speedweeks So Far

It's easy to get blinded by the big picture. Especially when the big picture points out what is wrong with NASCAR today--the top 35 rule, the Chase, and all the other contrived little gimmicks. There's just so much that is so easily fixable. Some days it's hard to see what's right. What's right is Kenny Wallace racing on heart and a Hendrick engine to make the Daytona 500. Last week, I talked with Kenny on the phone and he said this: "Our backs are against wall, but I am prepared to make it--I will make the Daytona 500. It's time for the underdog. The underdog won the Super Bowl and it's time for the underdog to make it in the Daytona 500 and that's me! I've been inspired by the New York Giants!" Read More »