Ragan Sips Victory From The Coke Zero 400 Cup


(workingonmyredneck file photo)

If it is the Fourth of July weekend, then NASCAR must be racing at “The World’s Center of Racing”, Daytona International Speedway.  On Saturday night David Ragan was fast, he was furious, and he finally broke through the barrier to won his very first Sprint Cup race for Roush-Fenway Racing.

After “wiffing” in this year’s Dayton 500 in February, Ragan was leading the race on one of the final “green-white-checkers” restart, when he crossed into another lane of cars before the start/finish line, thereby getting black flagged.   The effects of the black flag caused him to be put at the end of the longest line, and consequently the nets results was losing the Daytona 500 from an inadvertent error of judgement.  However, on Saturday night race the driver of the Roush-Fenway #6 UPS Ford redeemed himself!

The victory in the Coke Zero 400 was the first victory of the season, as well as the first victory for Ragan in his Sprint Cup career.  This victory couldn’t have came at more crucial time in Ragan’s Sprint Cup career.  Up until Saturday night Ragan was batting a blistering 0 fer 162!  The young man who Roush thought had all this potential as a Sprint Cup driver, was starting to look like a flower who wasn’t going to bloom.  The garage rumor mill had started to swirl about Ragan’s future with the Roush-Fenway Racing organization.  But is one victory enough to silence that rumor mill?

With the Coke Zero 400 victory under his belt, and his present position in the standings, David Ragan is posed to be #12 seed wild card entry in the Chase.  However, there are now nine more races before the seeding for the Chase is announced after the Richmond race, and as we all are well aware of, racing happens!

As far as the overall evaluation of the Coke Zero 400, the drivers were well mannered until the very end.  “The Big One” was a phantom for 157 of the 160 lap race.  However, there was a wreck that triggered the first of two green-white-checkers restart.  On the first restart the middle of the pack got all wadded up just as the pack was heavy on the gas and accelerating up through the gears as they were approaching the start/finish line.  Pieces and parts were flying everywhere!  That constituted a second attempt at the green-white-checkers restart, after the cleanup was finished.

That restart was much better.  However, the racing intensity was ratcheting up rapidly, as the green flew once again!  All was well with the angry swarming hive of bees, better known as the pack of race cars, until the cars came out of turn #4 heading down the short shoot that leads to the tri-oval and the the checkered flag.  The second round and final bound of carnage was about to begin!

As David Ragan took the checkered flag for the win, the cars mid-pack began beating and banging on each other, trying to get all that they could get, and the sheet metal began crumpling!  The cars began slipping and sliding away. careening in all different directions, in the grass, up into the outside retaining wall, as well as into each other!  The carnage was unraveling right in front of the start/finish line!

So it would appear the boys back at the race shops have a lot of work on their hands this week, mending the crumpled pile so sheet metal that some of their race cars became.  I guess that could be thought of as job security for the fabrication shop!

What are your views on David Ragan possibly make a bid at the Chase with this victory?  Did this victory give Ragan a little job security with RFR?  We will see if either of the seat manufacturers show up at RFR with new seats for the #6 UPS Ford anytime soon?

See the unofficial results of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.


Could Lightening Strike Twice At Daytona?


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Despite the sudden stardom that thrust Trevor Bayne into becoming the darling of NASCAR, with his unlikely victory in the biggest race of the year for NASCAR, the Daytona 500, Bayne’s future is anything but certain.  Nevertheless, one thing is very clear, the youngest winner of the Daytona 500 wants to race full time in the Sprint Cup series next year.  As Bayne returns to the Daytona International Speedway this weekend, he acknowledges that he is keeping one eye on Carl Edwards’ impending free agency.

Edwards has been coy about his contract situation at Roush Fenway Racing and there has been speculation he could move to another team in 2012.

”I don’t know what he’s going to do, but obviously I love having him as a teammate,” Bayne said. ”I want him to stay. On the other hand, if he leaves, it’s an open seat.”

Just the kind of opportunity Bayne is looking for.

Bayne drives for Roush in the Nationwide Series and is running a part-time Cup schedule with the Roush-affiliated Wood Brothers team. If Bayne were to make a full-time move to Cup next year, Roush would be the natural place to do so.

But Bayne says nothing has been decided and he’s getting a little antsy.

”I just talked to my dad about it,” Bayne said during a break in the Nationwide Series race weekend at Road America. ”I was like, ‘Man, it’s about time for us to start talking about next year.’ And we haven’t yet at all. Hopefully that’ll be the next conversation that we have.”

On the track, Bayne is confident going into Daytona – if only because he knows other drivers will be more willing to work with him in the draft. Bayne doesn’t want to get cocky, because that’s not how he got to Victory Lane in February.

”I went in there with the mindset of just finish the thing, just go out and survive and whatever happens, I’ll be there at the end,” Bayne said. ”You’ve got to hold yourself back because if you go in there thinking ‘I’m going to win this thing,’ you might get in trouble trying to lead every lap or whatever. I think I’ve got to just go there and think, ‘All right, let’s just ride and wait until the end like last time and we’ll be all right.”’

Winning Daytona was an emotional high for Bayne, but it didn’t last long. He soon found himself in the Mayo Clinic being treated for what he now believes was Lyme disease.

”They treated me for Lyme disease,” Bayne said. ”Those kinds of things are hard to diagnose. They treated me for that and hopefully if that’s what it was, it’ll be fine.”

Bayne hopes he’s in the clear, but can’t be sure.

”You’re never in the clear,” he said. ”The first time it comes around, you don’t expect it, you feel great. I went hiking the day before and went jumping in waterfalls, and I wake up the next morning and I’m messed up. It could come back at any time. I don’t think it’s supposed to, but hopefully it doesn’t.”

After taking several weeks off, Bayne returned for the Nationwide race at Chicagoland but felt run down.

”Sitting in a hospital bed for that long will really put you down and I felt it,” Bayne said. ”I came back at Chicago and I was like, ‘Man, this is harder than I remember.’ I’ve really been trying to get back after it.”

If anything, winning Daytona and getting sick has taught Bayne how to deal with the highs and lows of a career in NASCAR.

”Now I kind of feel numb,” Bayne said. ”I was talking to somebody the other day, I’m like, ‘Well, dang, no matter what happens I’ll just feel numb because it doesn’t feel as high or as low as what I’ve been through.’ It’s tough to maintain that, but then again, I’m not really defined by that. It’s great to win a Daytona 500 and it stinks to get sick, but at the end of the day, racing’s what I do, it’s what I love to do, but it’s not everything I’m made of.”

Bayne has turned to fellow drivers for advice, including five-time champion Jimmie Johnson.

”He said, you’ve just got to stay hungry and stay after it,” Bayne said. ”And don’t think that you don’t have to work hard because you’re good. Because there’s somebody down the road that’s working harder than you are, they might be better than you are eventually if they keep doing that. So you’ve got to keep working harder than the next guy, and I think he does a good job with that.”

Bayne took Johnson’s message to heart.

Trevor Bayne is such a refreshing young man.  He is the type of young man that every parent hopes that their children grows up like.  He is honest, determined, and hard working at his profession.  He has all the potential to become a very good race car driver, given the proper opportunities and equipment.  Bayne did strike gold in his first opportunity.  Can he now capitalize on, and ride the crest of, this new found stardom?

The question begs to be asked, “Could Trevor Bayne repeat his feat and pull off a victory in the Coke Zero 400 Saturday evening?

What are your thoughts?


Could A Road Race Be In The Chase’s Future?

(photo courtesy Harold Hinson)

Traction has been given to the idea that there is an ongoing discussion that could lead to a road race possibly being put into the Chase for the Cup sometime in the future.  That idea has really come to light during the Infineon race last weekend.  As we all know, the Chase consists of only ovals, albeit ovals of different lengths, shapes, and different concepts, but nevertheless only ovals.

However, with the Sprint Cup drivers getting more comfortable with the twisty, left and right turns of a road course, it would appear that those same drivers are becoming more amenable to the inclusion of a road race course as part of the Chase in the future.  In light of the fact that last weekend fans saw some fantastic and thrilling racing at both the Sprint Cup race at Infineon Raceway, as well as, the Nationwide race at Road America at Elkhart Lake, WI., the fans seem open to the idea of bringing a road race course into the Chase, as well.

Jeff Gordon, one of the better road racers in Cup, said he would love to see a third road event in Cup and, yes, in the 10-race Chase.

“Sure, that would be great,” Gordon said. “I love the road courses. I love the two that we have and I guess if you want to look at a complete championship – we have short track, superspeedway, intermediates and why not have a road course in there.”

Asked where he would like to see a third road race, Gordon said, “I’ve always dreamed about racing at Laguna Seca and that’s one of the premiere road courses in the country, but I don’t see that happening. That’s more of a dream.”

By adding a road race course to the Chase, it would include all the various types of tracks that the Sprint cup drivers race upon throughout the entire race season.  Inclusive in the Chase presently is a short track, Martinsville, a superspeedway, Talladega, mid-size tracks, Texas, Charlotte, however, there is not a road course in the Chase.

By adding a road course to the final 10 races, the Chase for the Cup, it would give credence to the Sprint Cup championship.  The road course addition to the Chase would validate the overall picture as to which team can perform at the highest level throughout all of the various types of racing facilities that comprise the total race season.

What is your thoughts on adding a road race course to the Chase?


Is Aggressive Driving On The Increase?


(workingonmyredneck file photo)

If you thought that some of the double-duty drivers were busy this weekend, it will not compare to the hustle and bustle that will be happening this week in the NASCAR race teams fabrication, body, and machine shops.  All the kings horses and the the kings men are trying to repair all the damage done during the Infineon race.

Prior to the carnage at the weekend of NASCAR’s first road race of the season, here are some words regarding the increase of aggressive driving that appears to be happening this season.

Tony Stewart, #14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet: “I can promise you there will be a lot of guys that will just crash each other just because they think they can. I’ll bet anything I’ve got in my pocket that in the last two or three laps, somebody dumps somebody just doing something stupid. So there’s no doubt in my mind that’ll happen.

“It’s getting worse every year. Every time we come here, guys are getting worse about it. They put themselves in holes that puts everybody else in bad positions and just wreck each other for no reason.”

Carl Edwards, #99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford: “I think the aggression has ratcheted up across the board. I think in these road courses it has gone through the roof.

This has become a fairly common sight at Infineon Raceway.

If you leave anything open, guys dive in and door slam you and they are really going for it. If we don’t get that long green flag run at the end. If we get caution after caution with like two laps to go on the race, it is going to be insane. We could wear out the green-white-checker here for sure.”

Jeff Gordon, #24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet: “It’s just different kind of aggressiveness.  You’re talking about aggressive braking and driving into the corner hard and really getting the car slowed down and out-braking other cars with the down shifts.  In that sense, you have to be aggressive when you’re passing somebody or trying to prevent somebody from being passed.  The rest of this track is about not being aggressive.

“This is a very finesse race track.  There is just a couple areas that you can drive deep in the corner.  The rest of them it’s about not making mistakes.  I think coming into turn 11, yeah, you can be aggressive there, but other than that you have to be careful being aggressive here.”

Did Jeffy learn this the hard way?  I mean after his race last year at Infineon, the only car that he didn’t hit was the pace car!  Even though Gordon is the most successful road race driver in NASCAR, last year he failed to show his road racing prowess at all.

What are your views on the apparent increase in aggressive driving this season?


Sprint Cup Races Moving To SPEED Channel?


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Fox has held informal discussions with NASCAR about a new TV rights agreement that would allow the network to put some of its Sprint Cup races on Speed. David Hill, Fox Sports chairman, said Fox would like to see some of the 13 regular-season races it televises on Speed. A Fox source said the company could ask for as many as six races for the network.

Fox is five years into an eight-year, $1.76 billion contract with NASCAR that mandates Fox televise all of its Sprint Cup races on its broadcast channel except for two non-points, specialty events – the Sprint All-Star Race and the Gatorade Duels from Daytona, which air on Speed. If it wants to move regular-season Cup races to Speed before its contract expires in 2014, it would have to amend its agreement.

Fox sources were skeptical such a move would be made before the contract ends. The move would allow Speed to use live NASCAR broadcasts to increase the license fee that cable and satellite operators pay each month, which is currently around 30 cents, according to sources.

In addition to talking about putting Sprint Cup races on Speed, Fox has raised the possibility of making NASCAR a stakeholder in Speed and turning it into a joint-venture project. Sources familiar with those conversations said that they have been ongoing for several years. By partnering with NASCAR on Speed, Fox could avoid competing with the property if it decided to launch its own channel.(Sports Business Journal)

Even though Fox confirmed recently it was considering moving some of its races to Speed, NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said Sunday at Infineon Raceway that the question is still open. “We’re having a lot of discussions right now,” France told Sporting News before the Toyota/Save Mart 350. “We’re unsure where that’s going to go. We’re having good discussions, and they’re our partner for a long time. We’ve got to make sure that all of our interests get met. We’re not at that place (of moving the races to Speed). There are going to be a lot of discussions. That’s just not a direction we’re going right now.”

As to the Cup schedule itself, France says there won’t be as many big changes as there have been over the past two seasons. “I’m not anticipating any significant changes,” France said. “There are always requests and always tweaks-but nothing like we’ve done in the last couple of years, when we made some significant changes, so I don’t anticipate that.”(Sporting News)

What are your views on the possible impending changes from FOX to SPEED for some Sprint Cup races?


Kurt Busch Wins First Road Course Race

(photo courtesy Alan Marler)

When you think of very good road racers among the NASCAR drivers, you might think if Jeff Gordon, Jun Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose, even Tony Stewart.  However,it is safe to say that Kurt Busch is not the first driver that comes to mind.  However, Sunday the Penske Racing #22 Shell/Penzoil Dodge driven by Kurt Busch thoroughly dominated the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, leading 75 out of the 110 laps at the first road race of the 2011 season.

This was the first win on a road course, the first win of the 2011 season for Busch, and the 23rd win in Kurt Busch’s career.

“It was an unbelievable setup,” Busch said. “Once we got into the groove with this car, it seemed to get better after lap five or six. Our cars have never done that before.  I’m real proud of this Dodge team, everybody from Shell and Pennzoil.  If that doesn’t inspire you to go get a SRT8 Dodge Charger, I don’t know what will.  That was an awesome handling Dodge. I’m so proud of these guys for really stepping up after what we’ve been through.  Man, we’ve been on a high these last few weeks.”

“That’s been big on my list over the years,” Busch said. “I really want to get one of those plate wins.  We had a good Speedweeks at Daytona, now I want to go there and get the big July 4th win.”

It used to be that the road races were boring, with little passing or racing action on the track.  Not anymore, for at least two years the two road course, Infineon and Watkins Glen, have produced as much on track action as Bristol, Talladega, or Daytona.

Sunday’s race at Infineon was no exception.  The track action included passing at places that do not normally allow it to happen, passing at the normally accepted places, side-by-side racing, pushing and shoving, as well as beating and banging Bristol-style.  All of this race track action led to feelings being stepped on and hurt, tempers flaring, tempers lost, and sheet metal being wadded up in a crumpled useless pile.

There were many drivers who were driving very aggressively.  Many of those drivers who were driving aggressively Sunday were drivers who normally do not have that attribute in their portfolio.  It was like a communicative disease that spread like a wild fire, and most likely may have its root in last year’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.  Last year, it was Jeff Gordon who hit everything that moved, except the pace car.  However this Sunday, it was a wide spread disease that manifested itself with almost all of the Sprint Cup drivers, yielding a large amount of unusable sheet metal that were once race cars.

All of this on track aggression has a significant amount of Sprint Cup drivers angry and their feeling smashed and hurt.  Fortunately, drivers move forward.  However, at some race later in the season, there will be payback!

Hopefully all bruised egos, hurt feelings, and general anger, will heal before the drop of the green flag next Saturday night at Daytona.

What are your thoughts on the Toyota/Save Mart 350?

See the unofficial results from the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.


Red Bull Is Leaving NASCAR After 2011


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Now that the news has broken that the owner of Red Bull has announced that they will be leaving NASCAR at the end of the 2011 season as a car owner, there leaves many questions still unanswered.

What will happen to the two car team that it presently runs?  Who will take this opportunity to test their hand at NASCAR ownership?  What will happen to all the people that are presently in the NASCAR Red Bull Racing organization?  Will Red Bull stay in the series as a sponsor, or withdraw entirely?  Is Red Bull like so many other entities in the past that were “flashes in the pan”?  Just  how, when. where. why, and who will fill the Red Bull Racing void that is going to occur?

Where does Red Bull Racing’s abdication from NASCAR leave Brian Vickers?

It appears that Jay Frye, Red Bull Racing’s general manager, is in hypersonic mode trying to line up possible investors that would be interested in purchasing the rights to this race team.  One interesting note is that Mark Martin, who is leaving Hendrick Motorsports at the end of 2011, and Jay Frye are very good friends that go back to Martin’s days with Ginn Racing.

Here is an intriguing idea.  Could Mark Martin possibly be interested in pursuing ownership in this race team? After the 2011 race season, the GoDaddy.com sponsorship could be up for grabs.  It has been announced that the Hendrick Motorsports #5 Chevy will have a new primary sponsor, Farmers Insurance, when Kasey Kahne takes over this ride in 2012.

If Martin were to become a partner in this organization, and if he were to successfully bring the GoDaddy.com sponsorship with him, would it also be possible that he might be interested in offering Danica Patrick a ride in the second team car?  After all, she is the big GoDaddy.com spokeswomen!

Think about this proposal, it could happen!

What are your thoughts on Red Bull Racing?


Logano Wins The Pole At Infineon

(photo courtesy Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

On Friday Joey Logano won the pole position forf Sunday’s Toyota Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in the heart of California’s wine country.  He posted the fastest lap speed of 93.256 MPH.

It was his first road course pole and the second pole of his career – the other came at Bristol in 2010.

“I was surprised it was as fast as it was,” Logano said. “I felt like the car had a lot more grip in it, and I felt like we fixed the car, but personally I felt like I screwed up about three times in one lap.  I didn’t feel too good about myself after it and I thought I screwed that one up.  It was good, car was fast.

“We’ll work on our stuff in race trim a little bit more tomorrow and see if we can get our Home Depot car fast.  This is place is so – you can have a fast race car here and it doesn’t mean a whole bunch here.  Obviously your strategy is going to be a big deal and I think the real big deal is staying out of trouble, which is where I need to work on the most than anywhere else.”

For the complete starting lineup see this.


Ambrose Panning For Gold At Infineon


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Marcos Ambrose is known to go prospecting for gold in his spare time.  However, this weekend Marcos will panning for gold in California while working at  his day job, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.  This weekend NASCAR rolls into California’s wine country, Infineon Raceway, for the first of two road course races on the venue for 2011.

Remember a year ago, it looked like Ambrose was going to get that first Cup victory at the Sonoma, Calif., track. But, while trying to conserve fuel while leading with the laps winding down, he shut down the engine, had trouble restarting it on the uphill leg to turn #2, and saw a group of contenders drive past as he sat still on the track.

He came back to finish sixth, behind winner, Mr. Five Time, Jimmie Johnson, but it was as frustrating a finish as anything he has faced since coming to NASCAR in 2006 in the truck series.

“I have lost enough sleep on (that decision),’’ Ambrose said as he contemplated returning to Sonoma this week. “Racing is all about split-second decisions. That one just didn’t go our way.’’

Ambrose, whose RPM #9 DeWalt Ford will be among the favorites on Sunday, doesn’t want to put too much pressure on himself. So he’s planning to spend some time this week on his newest hobby, panning for gold.

And what better place to do it than Northern California, home of the famed 1849 gold rush?

“I really enjoy just driving over to a few local areas near the racetrack that have some gold history and stuff like that,’’ Ambrose said. “It’s a good hobby to have. I can do research on the racetrack and then get out in the field when I travel around the country.”

Nevertheless, Ambrose’s primary focus will be to log his first Sprint Cup victory, especially since in 2010 he had this race in his hip pocket, until a gaff on his part occurred late in the race.

So Sunday, if Ambrose plays his cards right, he may strike gold in the state that started and fueled the greatest historic gold rush in US history!


Newman Secretly Fined?


(workingonmyredneck file photo)

NASCAR officials wouldn’t say Monday whether #39-Ryan Newman secretly was fined $50,000 for allegedly punching #42-Juan Pablo Montoya during a meeting last month at Darlington. The two drivers were summoned to NASCAR’s at-track office on May 6 to discuss their ongoing feud, and NASCAR said afterward that the meeting “did not go as well as we had hoped it would.”

Commenting on a meeting inside the hauler was unprecedented for NASCAR, which promised a further review of the incident. No fines were ever announced, and NASCAR said the issue was closed.

But rumors of the penalty began to leak on Monday in response to NASCAR fining owner Richard Childress $150,000 for attacking Kyle Busch after Saturday’s trucks race at Kansas Speedway. Newman, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp also refused to comment on whether Newman was fined.

If true, it’s the second time NASCAR secretly has fined Newman. He was fined in April 2010 for comments he made about the style of racing at Talladega. It was not made public until the AP learned last July that Denny Hamlin had been secretly fined $50,000 for criticizing NASCAR on Twitter. Newman then admitted he, too, had been fined.

What is up with NASCAR secretly fining drivers?  If the sanctioning body levies a fine, it should be transparent for all to see.  What is the benefit of secretly fining a driver for apparently conduct unbecoming of NASCAR?

What is you views?