Sunday, October 14, 2018

Chad Knaus to Reunite with Stacy Compton for 2019


Just days after the blockbuster announcement that Hendrick Motorsports was breaking up the vaunted pairing of driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus, new details have emerged.  As of 2019, Knaus will be reunited with his first driver, journeyman Stacy Compton.
“I feel like my whole career with Jimmie has led me to this moment”, Knaus said earlier today in a press conference.  “Back in 2000 I was nowhere near ready to work with such a singular talent as Stacy.  Now, with seven championships under my belt, I feel I finally have the talent to crew chief for ‘The Man from Grit’.”
Knaus crew chiefed for Compton in 2000 with Melling Racing.  While the results weren’t there, Knaus has readily shouldered the blame for that.  
“It was all on me”, Knaus said.  “I was just a young kid out there, I didn’t know how to harness such pure driving ability.  Those two pole positions that year weren’t just plate racing flukes—they were glimmers of brilliance.
“I mean, you’d think that those dozen or so races working with Darrell Waltrip would’ve prepared me for working with a two-time Truck Series race winner, but I guess it wasn’t enough.”
Knaus also cleared up confusion over his supposed reassignment to crew chief for current Rookie of the Year leader William Byron.
“Look—William is the future, there’s no denying that”, Knaus explained.  “But a young kid like that can learn SO much from watching a talented veteran like Stacy tear it up around the track.  Once Hurt, Virginia’s Finest is ready to hang up his helmet, I’ll be ready to impart all my knowledge to William Byron, and we’ll all be the better for it.”
Reaction around the garage was mixed, with most drivers assuming that Melling Racing shut down after they lost the Cartoon Network sponsorship.  

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Talladega


In honor of this weekend’s edition of “Restrictor Plate Roulette”, here’s how to play REAL Roulette the Uncle Max way!
—ALWAYS look for “European Style” roulette over the more-common American style—one less zero and the chance to put your bet “en prison” (incidentally, this is a great chance to show off those three years of high school French you took).
—Play it low and play it slow—put small outside bets down and try to do them roughly once every other betting series.  That’ll help you kill some time.
—Work the cocktail waitresses!  You could wind up with a handful of free drinks if you act like you know what you’re doing.
—Fiddle with your chips.  Not for any luck-causing reasons, but because it’ll help distract you from the fact that you’re putting your hard-earned money on the spin of a random wheel.
—If anyone tells you about THEIR method, feel free to tune them out.

Truck Series Fr8Auctions 250 (3 wins)—Brett Moffitt: The magic season continues.

Cup Series 1000Bulbs 500—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Favorite (4 wins): Chase Elliott—The Chase train keeps on rolling at the most appropriate place possible.  Next Favorite (5 wins): Kevin Harvick—Retribution for last week.  Dark Horse: Austin Dillon—Since Mystery already picked my original Dark Horse.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Unboxing and Unwrapping: Parts 15 & 16


15. Black-and-white, a down-under delight, and an insert—tight!

OVERVIEW:  One of the widest selections in a single pack so far—four former champions (two of them still active) weighed down by Trevor Bayne, Brennan Poole, and a Kasey Kahne car that isn’t being run anymore.  On the plus side My Main Man Marcos Ambrose makes an appearance.

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  Tony Stewart gets the “Studio” treatment, but gets referred to as “The People’s Champion”.  Um, I’ve literally NEVER heard anyone refer to Tony by that nickname.

PICK OF THE PACK:  Clint Bowyer, looking like he’s debating between $1,000 cash back or 0.9% APR, gets big ups from Kevin Harvick.  “I’ve known him since the first time that he sat in a car”, Happy says, making him seem less like a supporter and more like a stalker.

BONUS:  Another swatch, this time of Kevin Harvick’s firesuit!  Its worth pointing out that occasional packs will have a blank thicker card (same thickness as the memorabilia cards), which has to be incredibly disappointing to the average pack buyer.

FINAL RATING:  7 boys back at the shop out of 10


16. Bad hair, a stare, and Mikey don’t care

OVERVIEW:  Five Cup champions on six cards in this set, along with a recent winner (Chase) and an up-and-comer (Bowman).  Really the only downside (besides no cool inserts) are the poor photo choices—Bobby Labonte looks like Jim Carrey in “Dumb & Dumber”, Michael Waltrip looks bored out of his mind, and Bill Elliott is trying to stare into my soul.

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  Ricky Stenhouse Jr. optimistically says the team “turned the corner” in 2017.  Well, going downward can still be around a corner, I guess.

PICK OF THE PACK:  Alex Bowman’s 2017 Cup Series recap fits entirely on the back of his card.


FINAL RATING:  8 pit stalls out of 10

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Alternate Race Tracks: The Pros and Cons


Last weekend saw a momentous occasion in Nascar history, as for the first time ever a race was held on a Roval (part road course, part oval), bringing rave reviews and a rare uptick in TV ratings.  Naturally, talk has shifted to how other tracks could replicate Charlotte’s success.  Here’s a look at the pros and cons of some of the suggestions in the works.
The way harness racers sit is pretty much
the opposite of how Ryan Newman sits

DOVER—Horse Track
Pros: The track is already there inside the concrete oval, so its not like they’ll have to relocate all 20,000 fans who still show up to another location.  Also, something-something Brad K’s teeth something.
Cons: Nascar already has enough criticism over being “fixed”—does it really want to be associated with harness racing?

DAYTONA—Beach/Highway Course
Pros: While it might seem inconvenient and impossible to run a modern race on a beach and a highway, it makes about as much sense as running a race where cars are artificially slowed down on a tri-oval.
Cons: Far too many people will think that its just a tribute to the “Expert” course on Daytona USA.

Wow, such a beautiful place...for
Jeffrey Earnhardt to wreck
MICHIGAN—Belle Isle
Pros: It’ll give Nascar the chance to prove they can run a temporary street course better than IndyCar, namely by making sure their grand marshall doesn’t wreck the freaking pace car (note: make sure Brett Bodine knows what the heck he’s doing).
Cons: Belle Isle is in the shadows of GM’s headquarters—it might not be wise to put all the pressure on Chevy’s road courses ringers like Chase Elliott and Justin Allgaier.

LAS VEGAS—Parking Lot Course
Pros: Caesar’s Parking Lot would join Watkins Glen and about 60% of Indy as the only Nascar courses to have once held Formula 1 racing.
Cons: When you’re looking at ways to reinvigorate your sport, “the place where they had Wrestlemania 9” probably isn’t high on the list, brother.

INDIANAPOLIS—Infield Road Course
Pros: Nascar’s road courses tend to provide the most drama and highest ratings—why exactly has this not happened yet?  OK, besides the fact that Bruton Smith’s trademarked the term “Roval”.
Cons: You could have dozens of daring passes for the lead, wild beating and banging in the pack, and a photo finish for the win, and “fans” would still complain that the race wasn’t held at IRP/ORP/LORP/BLERP/BOING.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Dover


(Editor’s Note: Uncle Max texted me his picks a few hours ago along with the message “crazy busy at work this week, sorry!")

(Another Editor's Note: I had a GREAT time at the Roval race AND touring the various race shops for my other website.  Updates on both coming in the following weeks!)

Xfinity Series Bar Harbor 200 (5 wins)—Ryan Preece: Celebrating his new Cup ride.

Cup Series Gander Outdoors 400—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Paul Menard.  Favorite (4 wins): Kyle Busch—Battling Brad K for the win.  Next Favorite (5 wins): Brad Keselowski—Battling Rowdy for the win.  Dark Horse: Jimmie Johnson—Has it been THAT bad of a year?  Yes.  Yes it has.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Unboxing and Unwrapping: Parts 13 & 14


13. More Proof, a TV goof, and Kyle’s doof

OVERVIEW:  Things stay mostly in the here and now as we get a good mixture of up-and-comers, current stars (punctuated by a smiley Kyle Busch), and recent retirees.  Alex Bowman appears in Press Proof form, which is to say shinier than in his other cards.  Also note the lack of a horizontal “car card” in this pack.

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  In the future its probably best not to associate as “race king” with NEARLY winning a pole at Atlanta.

PICK OF THE PACK:  Michael Waltrip appears in a card celebrating his final Cup Series race.  Say, do you think he had to request to have “2-Time Daytona 500 Champion” embroidered on his firesuit, or did Simpson just do it automatically?

FINAL RATING:  3 roll bars out of 10


14. Larson, Dale’s son, and a Young Gun

OVERVIEW:  This is an…odd selection.  While its nice to have the reigning Cup champion at the center of it all, the rest are a grab bag of random drivers (less Kyle Larson).  Cole Custer gets the “Rated Rookie” treatment, and Kenny Wallace appears to be wearing a bootleg Nascar hat.

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  A surprising miss by Donruss/Panini on the Dale Jr. card, referencing his seventh place starting and finishing position at Dover.  The place has a casino, guys—7!  Casino!  Lucky!

PICK OF THE PACK:  Hey, photographers—when your subject is developing “landing strips” in his scalp, do NOT take his picture to emphasize the fact that he’s starting to lose his hair.  I speak from experience on this one.


FINAL RATING:  1 playoff race out of 10

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Charlotte Roval Drinking Game

Good news!...well, for me at least—I’m attending Sunday’s Roval race at Charlotte Motor Speedway!  Unfortunately that means no post race “Burnout” article this week, but instead, please enjoy this Roval race drinking game (responsibly)...

SIP:
—whenever a car goes off course
—anytime an announcer raises his voice
—any utterance of the word “first” in reference to the race
—mentions of this being a “must-win race” for Denny Hamlin

DRINK:
—any contact/wreck-instigated caution flag
—references to Daniel Suarez or AJ Allmendinger being a “potential spoiler”
—any slow motion shots of a car catching air over a curb
—when Rick Allen alludes to Dale Jr’s less-than-stellar record on road courses

GULP:
—when Steve Letarte mentions “running the race backwards” in reference to pit strategy
—talking about how Jimmie Johnson “used to own this place”
—if Rutledge Wood shows up on Big Hoss (either a camera shot or literally sitting on the top)
—any stretch of green flag pit stops where nobody has a penalty

FINISH THE GLASS/BOTTLE/CAN:
—any references to this being Justin Marks’ final Cup race
—any Chevy besides Kyle Larson or Chase Elliott finishes in the top three
—a post-race scuffle
—“Through the Field” makes it back to Timmy Hill
—you see me on TV

BREAK IT OVER YOUR HEAD

—you see me getting arrested on TV