Monday, September 30, 2013

Jimmie Johnson Bests Petty-Allison Record!

DOVER, DE – Well, he did it again. Jimmie Johnson won his record-setting eighth win at Dover International Speedway with a 0.5 sec margin over pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. This was also Johnson’s fifth win of the season and 65th Sprint Car career win. The record that Johnson broke was not low-lying fruit as the record for the most wins at the monster mile was held by NASCAR legends Richard Petty and Bobby Allison. "It's incredible," Johnson said. "To do anything Bobby or Richard has done is quite an accomplishment. We've had a few sneak away from us here, too, over the years. I'm just happy to get that done and be the sole leader of race wins here. It's a very special day."

Though Johnson led the most laps by far, 243 to Earnhardt’s 80, the win seemed dubious when Earnhardt’s crew chief, Steve Letarte, decided to put Dale Jr on four fresh tires versus Chad Knaus who went with only two for the final 25 lap stint. Money was that Earnhadt’s rubber would give hi the edge needed to catch and pass Johnson. But the strategy failed as Dale could manage only closing the gap to 0.5 sec. “I felt as we got through traffic, Jimmie was struggling the last couple of laps,” Earnhardt said. “My car got better and drove better the longer I ran. It did what I needed it to do in the corners and was starting to come around. The difference in the tires was about to show, but the race is 400 laps and that’s the way it is. If I could have gotten to him, I think I would be been able to get by him. If I had, we were going to have a helluva party.” 

Earnhardt has been winless for 48 straight races. Winning the pole at Dover has energized his fan base. Some might say too-little, too-late, but this may prove to be a turning point for the struggling team. Also, snafus like the one on lap 119 missing the pit entrance on the previous lap cost him the race lead, need to stop if Little E expects to be in the winner’s circle again.

The win also moves Johnson into second place in the Chase and only 8 points behind points leader Matt Kenseth who only managed a 7th place finish at Dover. Earnhardt moved up 1 place to 10th. The biggest move in the standings was made by Jeff Gordon, who’s 4th place Dover finish moved him up 3 places, tied with Kevin Harvick in 4th.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"..the most exciting day of all of our lives..."

SAN FRANCISCO, CA  - Sorry for another sail boat story, but the America’s Cup races in San Francisco have made history with the regatta going longer than any Cup race ever.  It looked dim for the American Team Oracle when after being penalized 2 points for a cheating incident in the AC World Series and being spanked by Team Emirates New Zealand in the first few races.  When Team Oracle found themselves losing 8-1, they had to make some major changes.  First was replacing tactician John Kostecki, one of the most successful and experienced tacticians in the world with Sir Ben Ainsley, a 4-time Olympic Gold medalist helmsman.  Then the engineering design team made some impressive adjustments to the boat and essentially found a way to “supercharge” the boat.

Now the boats being essentially even the races have come down to sailsmanship with Jimmy Spitell, the Team Oracle skipper making some brilliant starts getting the jump and staying ahead of New Zealand in several races.  Also, team New Zealand found some bad luck having two races in which they had a dominant lead postponed due to weather conditions, and one due to the race taking more than the allotted 40 minutes.

Race 18 looked like it would finally break for the Kiwis with Dean Baker making an aggressive move at the star and in the lead rounding the first mark.  But Team Oracle now appeared to have twin-turbochargers blazing past the Kiwis on the upwind leg and decisively winning the race with a 54 second margin.  After yesterday’s two wins for Team Oracle, the score is tied up 8-8, with the Cup going to the winner of this one race.  In Oracle’s Jimmy Spitell’s words, “this will be the most exciting day of all of our lives, and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!”  Stay tuned and go USA!  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

So Hoist Up The John B's Sail

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -   Recalling the old Beach Boy's tune, I felt like taking a bit of a break from motorsports this week.  With the craziness of NASCAR surrounding Michael Waltrip and gang, and with the near flawless performance of S. Vettel and the Red Bull crew in F1, I thought a peaceful review of the serenity of yacht sailing would be in order.  Serenity!  If you have not had a chance to watch some of the America’s Cup Finals sailing races in San Francisco Bay, do yourself a favor and either catch it on TV or watch 1 or 2 races online at .

For a motorsports fan, sailing may seem to be a dull sport recalling images of oxford shirts and top siders sipping a cocktail while sailing at 15 or 20 mph in an “ultra-light.”  Well, get ready for seeing an amazing event.  Today’s America’s Cup boats are like nothing you have ever seen.  From the glistening carbon-fiber hulls, to 13-story carbon-fiber wing sails and hydraulically powered foils that lift these 72 foot catamarans several feet out of the water, to the 11 athlete sailors shod in the latest dry-suit technology, these America’s Cup regattas are a site for even a hardened gear-head.

Since 1851, when the schooner named America claimed the coveted 100 Pound Cup from England’s Royal Cup Squadron and successfully defended it for over 100 years, the renamed America’s Cup has become the oldest trophy in sporting history and “a perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations.”.  The America’s Cup is the most difficult trophy in sport and has only been held by four countries in its history.  America lost the Cup in 1983 when the Australians used a secret, innovatively designed winged-keel, beat the New York Yacht club entry skippered by Dennis Conner.

The rules of the race have changed over the years and have ranged from wooden schooners, to 12-meter sloops and multihull boats like this year’s AC72-class boats.  When Dennis Conner challenged the Cup in 1987, he won the Cup back in a small, multi-hulled, wing-sailed catamaran.  Legal battles ensued as to whether or not the American boat met the rules of competition, but the victory stood the battle in court as well.

Since 1987, various boat designs have been run, and after numerous legal battles, the multi-hulled concept of Dennis Conner has prevailed.  This year, the multi-hulled concept has been taken to a new level with the use of “foils which lift these mammoth boats out of the water giving them speeds in excess of 55 mph.  The boats travel so fast, that the course referees follow the boats in a twin-engined, off-shore speedboat making over 1200 hp.   The 72’ foot, twin-hulled boats have a maximum beam of almost 45 feet and though built of carbon-fiber, weigh over 12,000 pounds.  The “main-sail” is actually two fixed profile wings that can be positioned to provide varying amounts of “lift” to propel the boats.  The wings are as long as that of a 737! 

The boats are crewed by 11 men, each with specific jobs on the boats including a helmsman and a tactician who call the maneuvers during the race.  The boats are also equipped with two retractable foils which in the case of the American, Team ORACLE boat, are controlled by hydraulics, with pressure provided by the human “grinders.”  The boats are designed to literally fly over the water on the tips of retractable foils, a fixed rudder and a winged shaped section connecting the hulls. 

 The race format for this year is a best of 13 races.  Prior to the race, the American Team ORACLE was penalized for infractions in the Americas Cup World Series, resulting in a two win deficit and the suspension of one of their key sailors.  To win, the American’s must win 11 races to Challenger New Zealand’s 9 wins.  After the first 4 races last weekend, Team ORACLE only managed to win 1 race out of 4.  The American team was simply out sailed in almost every race.  On Tuesday, the American team experienced a humiliating defeat in race 5 forcing them to take a one-time postponement of race 6.  Before Thursday’s race, Team ORACLE announced a new crew with the hopes of changing their luck.

We hope that the American team can make a good show in the remaining races.