Vito Pugliese · Thursday November 21, 2013
One of the most storied careers in motorsports came to an end Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After 882 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Mark Martin has (presumably) competed in his final race – and done so on his terms. Ready to move onto the next chapter of his career, the owner of 40 Cup Series wins, 5 IROC Championships, 4 ASA titles, and the fastest 500 mile NASCAR race in history will not be seen regularly in competition going forward, following over 25 years of service in North America’s premier racing series.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday October 3, 2013
Well, looks like my big mouth got absolutely nothing accomplished with regards to the 2014 Sprint Cup Schedule. No-go for Road America, and Bruton Smith seemed to shoot down any notion of The Southern 500 moving back to Labor Day weekend, trading with Atlanta. I mean why would you want to do that, anyway? Next thing you know we’ll be telling surviving WWII Veterans they cannot attend their own memorial, in the autumn of their years. Might still end up with a road course Chase race – I just fear it will be the wrong one.
I’m the biggest road racing honk for NASCAR you’ll find in print (or radio – they won’t let me on TV yet), but I’m just going to throw it out there – if you don’t like it, send it right back: Sonoma sucks in its current configuration.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday September 26, 2013
A few topics have been making the rounds the last few weeks, and have otherwise dominated the discussion of NASCAR’s not too distant future, instead of the 2013 Chase — which we’re now already 20% through.
First of which, is the notion of Cup drivers competing in the Nationwide Series. Yes, NASCAR needs a feeder Series. The Nationwide Series was traditionally seen as that venue, where aspiring drivers would be able to learn how to handle NASCAR-style cars, speeds, tracks, rules, and learn from the few veterans who would be sprinkled throughout the field in companion events. That changed around the 2004-2005 seasons, when suddenly it was all Cup, all the time, with drivers flying cross-country to make it in time for what was once something to watch before Happy Hour practice.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday September 19, 2013
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With the revelation this week that Juan Pablo Montoya will not be assuming the seat of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, but rather returning to the IZOD IndyCar Series with Roger Penske, NASCAR’s biggest ride remaining for Silly Season has been blown ride open. Now, pure speculation surrounds who will replace Kurt Busch for 2014 at the only single-car operation to make the Chase. Since Busch and crew chief Todd Berrier have arrived at the Colorado-based team, Barney Visser’s operation has been riding a Rocky Mountain High that it hasn’t seen since Regan Smith won the 2011 Southern 500. With Busch exiting at season’s end, they must now find a wheelman to replace The Outlaw.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday September 12, 2013
Prior to the start of Saturday night’s Richmond race, NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton reminded drivers to not put NASCAR in a position to make balls and strikes calls, as they would likely not go in their favor.
On Monday evening, NASCAR not only called a strike but ejected them from the game, as Martin Truex, Jr. was removed from Chase contention following a 50-point fine brought about by the coordinated efforts of Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 15 and 55 teams to manipulate the outcome of the race. Their actions affected the winner of the race, and the Chase fates of three drivers. With NASCAR on the precipice as it has been the past five years, it was not something that could have – nor should it – let go unpunished.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday September 5, 2013
So while the entire world was complaining about nothing really happening for silly season about a month ago, you sure got your fill the last four weeks. The latest move have Jeff Burton exiting RCR and the No. 31 Caterpillar team who he has driven for since 2005. Burton joined RCR midway through the 2004 season, after vacating the No. 99 Roush Fords he had piloted since 1996. Burton has been winless since 2008, when he won two races and finished sixth in the point standings. Since then it’s been one uninspired season after another: 17th, 12th, 20th, 19th, and 22nd in points with no wins and a smattering of Top 5 Finishes.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday August 29, 2013
Amid the Stewart-Haas Racing revelation that Kurt Busch will be joining the fray next year, one voice has been conspicuously silent – and invisible. Tony Stewart was last seen being loaded onto a stretcher and into an ambulance to tend to his broken leg. But since then, Stewart has not made any appearances or interviews. Which leaves many wondering: why? I remember Ernie Irvan and Geoff Bodine speaking from their hospital beds after coming perilously close to punching out permanently, while Stewart has been silent – perhaps for the first time ever – for over three weeks now.
The #SmokeWillRise thing is cool and a nice gesture, but why the reclusiveness? Come on bro; it’s a broken leg, not polio.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday August 15, 2013
For a season that was not so silly thus far, things sure have gotten crazy the last week or so. First it’s made official that Newman won’t be back at Stewart Haas Racing, then coincidentally Smoke snaps his twig in a sprint car crash. Max Papis is tabbed to sub for him, then Austin Dillion is announced as his replacement for Michigan – just as probably the biggest domino to fall thus far, Juan Pablo Montoya after seven seasons in the No. 42 at Earnhardt Chip Felix Ganassi Sabates Racing Franchise Team – is out for 2014. Meanwhile at MWR, the worst kept secret in racing was confirmed when Brian Vickers got the nod with a two-year, fully sponsored season in the No. 55 Toyota.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday August 8, 2013
So everybody is jumping all over Tony Stewart’s soda cookie-swilling backside over his unfortunate and untimely injury at Iowa while driving his sprint car Monday night. Funny, I don’t remember people leveling the same skepticism towards Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress tumbling down a mountain, or Harry Gant working on a roof all summer long.
Not that there’s an opportune time for snapping a twig, but considering his precarious points position (11th, five points removed from the all-important 10th position despite a win), the momentum being gained in recent weeks by SHR, and the meat of the summer stretch when Stewart typically saves the day, the No. 14 team and the company will surely be tested by these chain of events. However more importantly, is how Stewart will respond.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday August 1, 2013
Well, it’s the week following the Brickyard 400, and what is everybody talking about? Right, that dirt track Truck race from Eldora.
It’s appropriate that the Brickyard 400 followed ESPN’s announcement that they are bailing on the sport they built from the early 1980s through 2000, and then again starting in 2007. They cited an aging demographic, and difficulty finding sponsorship for the races. The latter I can believe; despite recent inflated economic figures that contradict startling reports such as the manufacturing hub of the western hemisphere going bankrupt, and 4 out of 5 Americans near the poverty level, things still aren’t that great when it takes $20 million a year to show up to the track and not make a fool out of yourself.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday March 28, 2013
Much has been made of Joey Logano’s actions at Auto Club Speedway this past Sunday. From his “take no prisoners” dive into Turn Three on the final lap, to going Ivan Drago with his “that’s what he gets” blast after Denny Hamlin went careening into the inside wall – and out of the Series for the next six weeks, Sliced Bread has sliced right into the center of NASCAR attention. Granted, Logano didn’t know the extent of Hamlin’s injuries. However, as of Wednesday afternoon he had yet to reach out to Hamlin to discuss the incident – or wish him well. That changed Wednesday afternoon, finally although Hamlin said that while Logano had reached out to him, and they had exchanged texts, things “didn’t go well. It was unproductive.”
What's Vexing Vito
Vito Pugliese · Thursday March 7, 2013
So Jimmie Johnson is still miffed two days after getting smoked on a restart by Carl Edwards. I think JJ’s reaction reeks of sour grapes, considering that the No. 48 has had its share of questionable calls in the inspection area during the past 11 seasons and five championships. That being said, I’ve never really understood the restart rules anyway. Lines on wall, cones jammed in a fence, a restart area, a start/finish line, can’t pass a guy unless it’s on the right before the start/finish line, leader has to get to the line first, but what if he’s slow or spins his tires….enough already. You have a guy with a green flag, standing in a thing called THE STARTER’S STAND. Have him wave the flag and the race starts. If that doesn’t work, use the caution lights. When they go out, it’s go time – just like in Formula One. Last I checked, they don’t seem to have an issue at their races with knowing when to accelerate.