Phoenix (PIR) To Be Reconfigured


(workingonmyredneck file photo)

Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan R. Sperber announced details related to the NASCAR facility’s first major track paving project since 1990. Construction will begin in March with the removal of the facility’s current racing surface and the subsequent installation of a new surface to go with a series of changes designed to promote side-by-side racing. While maintaining the integrity of PIR’s oval – including the 1-mile distance – the slight configuration changes will produce a racier track with average speeds that are expected to increase two to three miles per hour. The project is slated to conclude in September.

“When the time to repave PIR approached due to the life expectancy of our current racing surface, we wanted to make sure to take advantage of the opportunity to make a good thing even better for our fans,” Sperber said. “Our goal for this project was to not radically change a track that’s celebrated by fans and drivers alike, but to utilize new technology to ensure great moments in the next chapter of racing history at PIR.”

Aside from the installation of a new, four-layer asphalt and aggregate surface, PIR will make the following adjustments:

–          Widen the front stretch from 52 to 62 feet

–          Reconfigure pit road with the installation of concrete pit stalls

–          Push the dog-leg curve between Turn 2 and Turn 3 out 95 feet

–          Tighten the turn radius of the dog-leg from 800 to 500 feet

–          Implement variable banking to ensure the immediate use of two racing grooves, including 10-11 degree banking between Turn 1 and Turn 2; 10-11 degree banking in the apex of the dog-leg; and 8-9 degree banking in Turn 4

A rendering of the PIR Track Paving Project is available by clicking here.

Project leader Bill Braniff, Senior Director of Construction for North American Testing Corporation (NATC) – a subsidiary of PIR’s parent company, International Speedway Corporation – said the conclusion to tweak PIR’s layout came after spending hundreds of man hours on computer simulations. PIR’s pavement project will be the seventh of its kind for Braniff, including last summer’s high-profile repave at Daytona International Speedway.

“We’re very confident that we’ll have multi-groove racing at Phoenix from Day 1 because of the variable banking that will be implemented,” Braniff said. “All of the changes – including the adjustment of the dog-leg – will be put in place in order to present additional opportunities for drivers to race side-by-side.”

The project will include the removal of 684,000 square feet of asphalt from the current surface, followed by the installation of a new surface that will include 7,000 cubic yards of concrete, 600,000 pounds of metal reinforcement, 70,000 cubic yards of import fill and 23,000 tons of new asphalt. (PIR PR)

WOMR can’t wait to see how much more racier the new configuration will be when he makes his November trek to PIR!

What is your view on the resurfacing project at Phoenix International Raceway?


2011 Daytona Speedweeks, The Most Exciting In Memory

(photo courtesy Tom Pennington/Getty Image)

The 2011 Speedweeks will go down in NASCAR history as the most memorable. Drama was in all three of the elite series, real not manufactured.

Michael Waltrip won Friday’s truck race, on the 10th anniversary of his breakthrough Cup victory, which came on the same day Dale Earnhardt died. Waltrip did get a break as his rear spoiler obviously wasn’t meeting the rules, but series officials chose not to black flag him, and instead penalized his crew chief $25,000 four days later.

Tony Stewart surged ahead to score a photo-finish win in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, his fourth straight triumph in that event, which he seems to be able to win with ease unlike the Daytona 500, where he’s winless to date, a scenario that sounds an awful lot like much of Dale Earnhardt’s career.

And then on Sunday, a fresh-faced, clean-cut kid from Tennessee, Trevor Bayne, took the Wood Brothers back to Victory Lane for the first time anywhere since 2001 and the first time in the Daytona 500 since 1976.

The interesting thing about all three victories is that none of those three winners received any points.

The point is that points aren’t what makes racing exciting, racing make racing exciting!

This year’s Speedweeks racing was the most exciting that WOMR had ever witnessed from his seat high up in the Sprint Cup Tower!  Each race, the Duels, the Camping World Truck race, the Nationwide race, and obviously, the Daytona 500 were races that kept WOMR on the edge of his seat for the duration of each race!

For those of you who have never witnessed a race at either Daytona or Talladega, you owe it to yourself to add those to your “bucket list” of things to do!

What was your favorite part of the 2011 Speedweeks?


The 2011 Daytona 500: A Reflection


(workingonmyredneck file photo)

It has been almost a week since the “feel good” story of the 2011 Daytona 500 happened. As WOMR was preparing for the trip down to Daytona this year, the over whelming story line was the 10th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt, Sr.’s tragic death.  Most all of the media was focusing in on celebrating the life of “The Intimidator”.

However, coinciding with this 10th anniversary was the release of Michael Waltrip’s book, “In The Blink of An Eye”WOMR finished reading the before making the journey to Daytona.  It is a must read for the NASCAR fan.  Waltrip describes his early years and his desire to follow his older brother Darrell Waltrip into the racing world, his relationship with his family, specifically ol DW, his relationship with Richard Petty, and specifically his relationship with Dale Earnhardt, Sr.

Mikey relives the day that he broke his 0 fer 462 string, that is how he described his lack of wins in his NASCAR career up to that point.  That day was February 18, 2001, the day that he won the Daytona 500, also the day that his good friend and boss lost his life in the Daytona 500.  It was supposed to be the very best day of his life!  Unfortunately, it turned out to be the, self described, worst day of his life!

Notwithstanding all of the above, there were media writers with two other story lines.  One of which was what it would be like if Michael Waltrip would win the 2011 Daytona 500, a fitting tribute by Michael to Dale,Sr.  Other writers were giving credence to the fact that, because Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had won the pole for 2011 Dayton 500, “the prodigal son” could have an excellent shot at winning the 2011 Daytona 500.

But not one single writer had given any thought to the idea that the Wood Brothers Racing had any possible chance to score a Daytona 500 victory!

Nevertheless, reflecting back on Trevor Bayne, the Wood Brothers, and the happenings of this year’s “Great American Race”, the story was such a fairy tale come true.  The Hollywood movie script writers, in their wildest dreams, couldn’t have written this story, and made it believable!

The fact that the Wood Brothers, one of the oldest and most storied race teams in NASCAR, had not won a Sprint Cup race in ten years.  Secondly they hire, with the help of Jack Roush, a 19 year old race car driver that is relatively unheard of to drive their very famous Motorcraft #21 Ford in race 17 races for 2011.  This combination does not make for winning the Daytona 500 these days.

Nevertheless, that is exactly what transpired on February 20, 2011.

What a great story not just for motor sports, but for all sports!  This is the story of the ultimate underdog triumphantly over-coming astronomical odds!

What are your views on this 2011 ultimate feel good story in NASCAR?


Bayne Reins In The Florida Plains

(photo courtesy Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

History was made Sunday afternoon at “The Great American Race”.  A rookie named Trevor Bayne got one whale of a 20th birthday present!  He won the Daytona 500 in only his second Sprint Cup race, and his very first Daytona 500 attempt!  Additionally, his car owners, the Wood Brothers, have not won a Daytona 500 since the 1976 race with David Pearson.  Add to that, the Wood Brothers have not won a Sprint Cup race since Elliott Sadler won in their car at Bristol Motor Speedway ten years ago.

Back to Trevor Bayne.  Trevor who you are probably saying to yourself.  Well last year Trevor Bayne was driving in the Nationwide Series for Michael Waltrip Racing.  But prior to the end of the season, Michaela Waltrip Racing lost the sponsorship for Bayne and released him from his contract.

Before the the week was up, Trevor Bayne was signed to a contract with Roush-Fenway Racing to finish out the 2010 season.  Over the off season, Jack Roush worked out a deal to put his young driver into a few races with the Wood Brothers Racing, one of the pioneer racing teams of NASCAR who recently has seen some rather slim and rough times.

With the 2011 Daytona 500 with the Wood Brothers Racing win under his belt, young Trevor Bayne joins some mighty fine company.  The other great drivers to win a Daytona 500 for the Wood Brothers include, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, David Pearson, and Cale Yarborough, just to mention a few.  The only other driver to win his very first attempt at the Daytona 500 is Lee Petty, another great of the sport.

One last item of interest is that Bayne is now the youngest driver ever to win the Daytona 500, 20 years and one day.  In fact it was a mighty fine 20th birthday present that he gave himself on Sunday!

Trevor drove down to Daytona in his own pickup truck.  With his winnings from the Daytona 500 it is quite possible that he may joining the motorhome crowd with the rest of the Sprint Cup drivers!

So on February 20, 2011 it could be said that Trevor Bayne reins in the Florida plains!

It was not the “fairly tale” ending that the press was looking for.  There was buzz that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was looking like the team to beat in Daytona 500.  But nobody, absolutely nobody, would have , in their wildest dreams, put money down on the relatively unknown rookie,Trevor Bayne, as the prospective winner of the 2011 Daytona 500!

Fairy tales can come true.  They may even happen to you!

What is your impression of “The Great American Race”, the 2011 Daytona 500?


The 2011 Great American Race

(workingonmyredneck’s view of the festivities)

The excitement is building here at the track for, what is a sad but historic occasion, the tenth anniversary of the death of “The Inmidator”, Dale Earnhardt,Sr.


The story lines for the finish of today’s race could be the ultimate feel good stories The first possibility, can Michael Waltrip return to victory lane like he did on that fateful Sunday afternoon on February, 2001? The second story line, can Dale, Jr. win his second Daytona 500?


Either of those two results would result in a highly emotionally charged fan base celebration! In either case, all would be well in NASCAR country!


So from high up in the Sprint Cup Tower. I am still working on my REDNECK!
Sent from Leon Hammack’s smoking’ iPhone!

Posted via email from captainblowdri’s posterous

Sprint Cup Takes The Track

(workingonmyredneck’s track view)

It is the final practice for the Sprint Cup cars before the Daytona 500. They have paired up onto those”two car tangos” that become all too familiar this week!


The crews are making those last minute adjustments that they hope will get their cars faster. But one fact that prevails, two Toyotas together are not very fast! They need a Ford to push them!


This weekend has already produced a “feel good” story with Michael Waltrip winning in the Camping World Truck race Friday night! Could there be more stories like that to come?


Stay tuned to see….


Til next time, I am still working on my Redneck!
Sent from Leon Hammack’s smoking’ iPhone!

Posted via email from captainblowdri’s posterous

Preparing For The NextEra 250

It’s about 90 minutes before the green flag flies for the Camping World Truck race here at the Daytona International Speedway.

As you can see, they are preparing the stage for the driver introductions coming shortly.

The weather has been excellent today! It should make for a very exciting and fast race to open up the 2011 NASCAR season!

Til next time, I am still working on my REDNECK!

Sent from Leon Hammack’s smoking’ iPhone!

Posted via email from captainblowdri’s posterous

The Dichotomy of The 2011 Daytona 500


(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

This year’s running of “The Great American Race”, the Daytona 500, is filled with many story lines.  The dichotomies are abundant.  The stories range from triumph to tragedy, hope to gloom, happiness to sorrow, and everywhere in between.  Quite possibly, this race could be the key that unlocks one of the biggest sports stories in the first part of the 21st century!  “The prodigal son” returns and triumphantly reclaims redemption”.

The sports writers that cover the NASCAR beat have written every story imaginable, covered all the angles, searched every nook and cranny, on Dale Earnhardt, Jr. since Dale Earnhardt, Sr. met his untimely and tragic death on February 18, 2001.  Dale Jr. has been scrutinized, viewed under the microscope, and analyzed more than any other NASCAR race car driver over these last 10 years.

On Saturday, Dale Jr. won the pole with the fastest qualifying time of the day.  It has become very apparent that he and one of his teammates, Jeff Gordon, have very fast race cars for this year’s Daytona 500.  Could the 2011 Daytona 500 have a similar ending as the 2001 Pepsi 400?  That poses a very interesting story line for this year.  You do remember how the 2001 Pepsi 400 played out, don’t you?

Let WOMR refresh you memory!

NASCAR, and “the prodigal son”, returned to Daytona for the running of the 2001 Pepsi 400 in July, just a mere 4 1/2 months after the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr.  As the evening unfurled, and the laps wound down, “the prodigal son”, Dale Jr., weaves his way to the head of the pack.  The crowd of over 200,000 goes berserk!  With those maneuvers the entire grandstands were standing and cheering wildly!

The fairy tale was starting to unfold.  As Dale Earnhardt, Jr. comes off turn four, leading the pack, with his teammate Michael Waltrip’s front bumper glued firmly to his back bumper pushing him, “the prodigal son” wins his first race back at the track that claimed his father’s life just less than five months earlier!  Hollywood could not have scripted this movie any better!

Nevertheless, recent times have not been so good for Dale Jr.  The wins have been very scarce, just two victories since joining Hendrick Motorsports three years ago.  However, in  this past off season there has been some earthshaking movements over at the HMS complex.  From Saturday’s qualifying efforts it would appear that it has paid off for both Dale Jr. and Jeff Gordon, they comprise the front row for the 2011 Daytona 500!

In light of this, the 10th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt, Sr’s death, and in light of the scarcity of wins  for Dale,Jr. lately, and in light of all the media hype and articles that are and will be written, wouldn’t it be fitting, even though somewhat bittersweet, if around 5pm this Sunday evening, that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is being swarmed by all the media, full of smiles, and is hugging the Harley J. Earl trophy as he celebrates his second Daytona 500 victory of his career?

How fitting and bittersweet that would be for “the prodigal son”, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., to be the victor!  All would be good in NASCAR, as well as Junior Nation!  Could this be a reality Sunday?  Are the Hollywood script writers sharpening up their pencils?

What are your thoughts?


Junior Nation Celebrates With The Pole

(photo courtesy Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

The Earnhardt’s heroic/tragic relationship  with the Daytona International Speedway added another chapter to its fabled storybook as Dale Jr. won the pole for the 2011 Daytona 500 on Feb.20th.  This pole award comes on the 10th anniversary of his father’s untimely death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

This was first pole for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the annual Daytona 500, and only the second for the Earnhardt family.  Dale,Sr. only scored one pole in the Daytona 500 in all of his starts in February’s “Great American Race”.  That pole for Dale Sr. came in the 1996 Daytona 500, just five years before his untimely death.

For Junior, this was the first qualifying attempt after the earth-shaking shakeup at Hendrick Motorsports.  Maybe this is advance notice of what is come with the new team of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Steve Letarte as his crew chief.

Accompanying Earnhardt on the front row is his Hendrick teammate, Jeff Gordon.

“I feel great,” Earnhardt said in the media room after qualifying. “I mean, it’s hard for me to sit up here and do all the talking because I didn’t do anything today other than hold the wheel. The engine does a large majority of the work, and the body on the car has to be perfectly situated to get the most speed out of the car. Steve here has to plan the car out, get the attitude of the car just right for the maximum speed.

“Those three things right there are the biggest players. I’m only maybe, you know, 5/10ths of a percent of what happened today. So all the credit really goes to all those guys that built the car and built the engine, put the car together in the 8/48 shop.”

Letarte said, yep, good car.

“We’re happy the car had speed,” Letarte said. “It’s a test of speed. Racing is a test speed. Today we had the most speed.”

Jeff Gordon,too, put up some big speed in Sunday’s qualifying attempt, he will be looking for his fourth Daytona 500 win.

Sunday’s pole run by Earnhardt Jr. will surely add to the emotion surround this year’s 500 – the emotion generated by the 10-year-anniversary of the death of the man who had become the face of the sport.

His son said that he could not allow himself to get caught up in that emotion.

“I’m here to race,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I understand the situation. I’m looking forward to seeing how my father’s remembered and honored throughout the week. I’ll enjoy that. I don’t really get into the hypothetical, fairytale sort of stuff.

“I just want to focus on my job, what I need to do every single corner, every single lap, what’s best for me at this moment, what gets me closer to Victory Lane on Sunday. That’s all I’m going to concern myself with.”

Only Dale, Jr. and Gordon are locked in their starting positions for the Daytona 500. All the rest of the field will have their starting positions slated by either how they finish in their Duel 150 qualifying race or speed, it can be very complicated procedure.

The running of the 53rd annual Daytona already has many storylines, the two car drafts, the new racing surface, the 10th anniversary of the tragic death Dale Earnhardt, Sr., Dale Earnhardt, Jr. winning the pole, and quite possibility Dale Jr.winning this year’s running of “The Great American Race”!

So as you can see, all is well in Junior Nation today!


The Two Car Tango At Daytona

(photo courtesy Nick Laham/Getty Images)

After having the night to sleep on it, I found that the Saturday night Bud Shootout created a new twist to the “plate racing chess game” that is normally played out at Daytona and Talladega.  Unlike in the past years, when groups of 6-12 cars would line up and march their way to the head of the pack, Saturday night saw drafting in packs of two.  Saturday night’s Bud Shootout was “the two car tango”.

All in all, the race had its exciting parts, with 28 lead changes among 9 different drivers.  The main reason for all the lead changes Saturday was again that cars paired off in mini packs of two. These odd tandems were  working with each other to weave their way to the head of the line.  Sometimes it was teammates pairing up, sometimes it was not.  Sometimes it was two cars of the same manufacturer teaming up, and sometimes it was not.  It was odd at times to see Chevys and Fords working together, Chevys and Toyotas paired, in fact, a Dodge and Chevy stuck like glue to each other heading to the checkered flag!  That my friends was the winning combination!

And so that was the case for the eventual race winner Kurt Busch, driving the newly sponsored Penske Racing #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, who was pushed to victory by the Earnhardt/Ganassi Racing #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy driven by the 2010 Daytona 500 champ, Jamie McMurray.

As an ardent NASCAR race fan, WOMR finds that this “two car tango” poses a very interesting twist, to what has become a very calculating chess match, at the restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega.  It appears that, with the present package of rules governing these two tracks, the old style of “freight training” has been redefined and refined!  The two car break-away trumps the long held standard of groups of cars banding together and “freight-training” the rest of the pack.

Aerodynamically, for some strange and unexplained reason or reasons, it appears the rules of engagement for drafting at Daytona and Talladega have changed for 2011.  Therefore, the drivers and teams are in the process of redefining and honing their winning plans for the 2011 Daytona 500, next Sunday.

What is the best position to be in as you come to the checkered flag?  Do you want to be out front being pushed to the checkered flag?  Do you want to be in second place, pushing the leader, with the opportunity of “slingshotting” the leader to win the race?  Still yet, would you want to be in 3rd place, as Kurt Busch was Saturday night, the pushee in the second pack of “two car tangos”?  These questions and more abound now that the 2011 Bud Shootout has been completed and the results are there for all to study.

It is now time to define a new strategy for the hungry NASCAR restrictor plate racers!  It is not necessarily who has the fasted race car that will propel the driver to Victory Lane next Sunday in “The Great American Race”, the Daytona 500.  Quite probably it will be the driver who positions himself in a place, whereby, he may capitalized on the ability to snooker the other drivers!

That is exactly what happened in Saturday night’s Bud Shootout.  Kurt Busch did not have the fastest car in the Bud Shoot out, clearly, in the early part of the race it was Jeff Burton who had the car to beat.

Notwithstanding, the 2011 version of “The Great American Race”, the Daytona 500, will be a very good lesson for all you chess players.  The winning driver will have to have stamina, 500 grueling miles of intensity unlike those of races gone by, a reasonably fast hot rod, nerves of steel, and the willingness to take that rather risky, but calculated, chance that his dancing partner will get him through turn four of the final lap and allow him the opportunity to catapult himself to victory.

What do you think is going to be the winning strategy?

What are your views on the new “two car tango”?