Monday, September 27, 2010

“You can’t win a pissing contest with a skunk.” Richard Childress

DOVER, DE – In only the second race, The Chase is firming up to be a competitive contest in 2010. After Clint Bowyer’s win at Las Vegas last week, NASCAR impounded the car and was concerned that the rear left was out-of-spec. Following a meeting at RCR last Wednesday, NASCAR imposed some strict fines on Bowyer and RCR including a deduction of 150 driver points (dropping Bowyer from 2nd to last place in the Chase), 150 owner points, a $150,000 penalty, and 6-race suspension of Crew Chief Shane Wilson. Car Chief Chad Haney was also suspended for 6 races. RCR has appealed the decision. But the excitement didn’t end there. During a press conference on Friday, Denny Hamlin commented on the integrity of the RCR organization. “Everyone has known it for months… they knew it was wrong” stated Hamlin. He continued, “They are lucky to be in The Chase.” In a seemingly retaliatory move, Kevin Harvick, clipped Hamlin’s rear bumper and cut him off in practice resulting in both cars return to the garage area for repairs. Tempers flew as Harvick and Hamlin exchanged curse words. Commenting on the incident, Richard Childress stated "When you're talking about comments, you can't win a pissing match with a skunk," Childress said in obvious reference to Hamlin. "There are two things I've learned. One thing is that. The other is that you don't throw stones if you live in a glass house."

On Sunday, it appeared that the incident may have affected Hamlin as he was only able to finish ninth. Good enough to remain in first place, but only 35 points of race-winner Jimmie Johnson. AJ Allmendinger ran an impressive race leading 143 laps until a leaking rear tire knocked him from the lead and sending him two laps down and a 10th place finish. Clint Bowyer had a bad day with a 12th place finish. Tony Stewart incurred a pit-speeding penalty and a pit strategy error dropping him to 21st place.

But the real story was Jimmie Johnson. It seemed to be a picture-perfect weekend. Qualifying for the pole, Johnson was never out of the top tem positions. “Qualifying went well,” Johnson said of his Dover weekend. “Our goal was to come in and qualify well. It starts the ball in motion. It starts kind of the trend for the team, just the arc of what the team is going to deal with. If you qualify badly, you're in such a hole from pit-road pick to what takes place on track, its stuff to overcome. We met our goals this weekend, moved up a lot today.”
Denny Hamlin remains in the Top of The Chase 35 points ahead of Johnson. Kurt Busch is in third place followed by Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Next week should be exciting with Denny Hamlin in the sights of Jimmie Johnson and the other Chase contenders.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

US National - Dixon, Force-Hood, Stanfield, and Tonget

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – An exciting week at Indy culminating in the Pro finals on Sunday. Larry Dixon, #1 qualifier, ran against Cory McClenathan in the final on Sunday and emerged victorious with a 3.83s, 319.6 mph blast vs. Cory’s 3.87s, 319.82 mph run. Dixon has had an extraordinary year with Al-Anabi Racing. I guess it is hard to beat a team that has an oil-dynasty backing it!
In Funny Car, it was another family feud with John Force going up against his daughter Ashley. After being the first female Funny Car winner, Ashley again topped her Dad at the start. “This has been an amazing day.” Ashley continued, “Maybe people don’t believe this, but the pressure really is off when you run against a teammate… We were going up there and having fun.”

Greg Stanfield pulled an upset in Pro-Stock. The four-time Super Stock national champion didn’t have an easy path to victory driving his Nitro-Fish Pontiac past Warren Johnson, Jason Line, and finally Allen Johnson in the semi finals. Greg then faced Pro-Stock champion and #1 qualifier Mike Edwards on Sunday. Stanfield pulled an impressive 0.020 s hole shot compared to Edward’s 0.084 s, beating the champ with a slower 6.665 s et – Mike’s et was 6.627 s. “We were struggling a lot earlier in the season,” Greg commented, “but I had promised Kenny that I’d get him at least one Wally this season, and I’m going to give him the trophy right after this race.”

LE Tonglet also pulled an upset beating Andrew Hines in the final round. This was somewhat of a miracle as Tonglet seriously hurt their only motor while running at Brainerd last week. But the team and engine builder – Vance and Hines coincidentally – worked hard to repair the damage. As history is a witness, they did a great job. Tonglet ran a 6.86s, 195.22 pass against Hines’ 6.96s, 194.13 mph. This was Tonglet’s first Indy win.

The other interesting story of the weekend was the Mopar Hemi Challenge on Friday. Always a crowd pleaser, the 24 AH/SS ‘cudas and Challengers raced to claim the title of the “world’s fastest Hemi.” After 2 qualifying rounds on Friday, Charlie Westcott earned top qualifier with an 8.413 s ET. Gary Wolkwitz was second with an 8.546 s time with Charlie Westcott Sr. rounding 3rd place with an 8.59 s run. Saturday was a different story with the Westcott cars nowhere in the pits. The Westcott’s apparently hurt both motors during Thursday’s qualifying. Charlie probably decided that he has said “’nuff” with his dominating run and would fight another day. The final round pitted Dave Barton against his customer Jim Daniels. Both ran impressive times, but Jim Daniels took the win with an impressive 0.018s light.