Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The 2018 Xfinity Series Grand Finale at Miami—Non-Fatal 4-Way

This Saturday four men will enter, but only one man will leave victorious.  Four trained combatants will do battle in the 1.5 mile squared-circle with thirty-plus lumberjacks prepared to throw them into the wall if they get out of line.  Here’s a look at the championship contenders in this non-fatal 4-way:

Christopher “Ring My” Bell—from Norman, Oklahoma (so you just KNOW JR is gonna push him to the moon).  Member of the TRD (Tyrannical Racing Dudes) Faction.  Finishing move is the Bell-Ringer (flying headbutt).  Catchphrase is “And after that we want the gold—Denny Hamlin, we comin’ for YOU, FedEx!”

“Young King” Cole Custer—from Ladera Ranch, California (and its a planned community, so don’t put a cowboy hat on him).  Youngest member of the SHO (Stewart Haas Order).  Finishing move is Custer’s Last Stand (bearhug).  Catchphrase is “Don’t cross the boss…because he’s my dad!”

Daniel “The Kannon” Hemric—from Kannapolis, North Carolina (nickname runner up was HemRic Flair).  Valet to the track/ring is Kenzie Ruston.  Just inducted into The Dillon Family stable.  Finishing move is the No-Win Situation (sharpshooter).  Catchphrase is “Who’s Next?  I hope its me…”

Tyler “Big” Reddick—from Corning, California (do ya think that’s next to a town named Owens?).  Recently defected to The Dillon Family stable from The J.R.M. Squad.  Finishing move is the Tyler Defiler (camel clutch with theatrics).  Catchphrase is “Red…In…Peace.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Nascar Truck Series Championship 4: A Closer Look

Friday night will see the best of the Nascar Camping World Truck Series compete for the final NCWTS championship, as the series transitions to the cool-looking NGOTS championship in 2019.  Before we move on, let’s take a Gander Outdoors at the four drivers who can win it all this week (sorry for that pun):

Next year's logo.  The rectangle is
likely to convey squareness.
Brett Moffitt—#16 Toyota for Hattori Racing Enterprises (5 wins).  Brett’s made his mark this year by scraping together enough sponsorship to take this small team all the way to the final race, simultaneously making himself look good and Ryan Truex look bad.  Moffitt enters on a high note after winning last weekend at ISM Speedway, formerly Phoenix International Speedway, formerly Stan Barrett’s Demolition Derby.  Another win for Moffitt could finally sew up that elusive Curds & Whey sponsorship.

Noah Gragson—#18 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports (1 win).  Noah has put together a consistent season for KBM, which has become the preeminent developmental team for Hendrick Motorsports.  Gragson, who will be leaving for the Xfinity Series in 2019, would be able to leave on a high note, joining such luminaries as Austin Dillon and James Buescher.  If it rains and he’s in the lead, prepare for 40 days and 40 nights of Noah’s ark puns.

Johnny Sauter—#21 Chevy for GMS Racing (6 wins).  Johnny’s the only former champion in this quartet, having won it all in 2016 in his first year for GMS—no joke here, that’s just really impressive.  A seasoned veteran, Sauter is a good reminder of the series’ roots as a place for longtime short-track aces to ply their trade, as well as a good reminder that AOL used to be a thing.  Fun fact: 1 out of every 12 Wisconsinites is related to a Sauter.

Justin Haley—#24 Chevy for GMS Racing (3 wins).  The nephew of NBS 24/7 legend Todd Braun, Haley has proved to be a friend in the draft and a FOE on the hood (again, sorry for THAT pun, too).  He is not to be confuses with J.J. Yeley, Cameron Hayley, H.B. Bailey, or Hailey’s Comet.  The youngest of the four at just 19 years old, he is not, despite popular belief, just there to make you feel old.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Wanted: Race and Alive

Good afternoon citizens. As members of NASCAR Nation it is our civic duty to be on the lookout for crime. This Sunday a quartet of quarrelsome criminals will attempt to pull off the heist of the year—apprehending the NASCAR Cup trophy!
These men have been dubbed “The Miami Four”. Also known as “The Big Three Plus One”, “The Homestead Hoard”, and “Brian’s Kids”, they’re easily spotted by the distinctive “Winner” decals on their getaway vehicles. Here’s their dossiers:

Kevin “The Spoiler” Harvick, aka “The Bakersfield Basher”— sought in conjunction with 8 counts of illegal modifications to race cars against their will. 

Kyle “Rowdy” Busch, aka “Chocolate Thunder”—charged with 8 counts of bowing without a license. 

Martin “Jersey Boy” Truex Jr. aka “The Colorado Connection”, wanted in connection with 4 counts of operating a notorious “Clam Scam” without the proper kickbacks. 

Joey “Sliced Bread” Logano, aka “Double Deuce”, jumped bail on 2 counts of stealing steering wheels in a cloud of tire smoke. 

If you spot any of these men at Homestead Miami Speedway notify the authorities immediately. No reward is being offered for their capture other than being criticized endlessly online for ruining their season, Denny. 

Do your part—and we’ll see YOU on Sunday!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Furniture Row Racing: A Look Back

Next weekend will be the final race for Furniture Row Racing, a team which rose from obscurity to become the 2017 Cup Champions on the backs of driver Martin Truex Jr., crew chief Cole Pearn, and team owner Barney Visser.  Here’s a look back at the team’s major highlights:
From ugly paint scheme...

2006: The team competes full-time for the first time.  While a team running out of Colorado was seen as bizarre at the time, they did manage to fit in by doing what all first-time teams do—failing to qualify for about half its races and running a hideous paint scheme.

2008: FRR runs with a single driver for the entire season for the first time as Joe Nemechek pilots them to a 42nd place points finish.  Highlights include three top 20 finishes and resisting the urge to hire Kevin Conway.

2011: Furniture Row has a breakout year with driver Regan Smith posting the team’s first-ever win at Darlington.  He beats out Carl Edwards for the feel-good win, something it seemed like EVERYBODY did that year.

2013: The hiring of Kurt Busch provides clear dividends as the team posts several top-five finishes, contends for wins, and comes home 10th place in points.  Furthermore, Busch provides plenty of laughs around the sport with repeat viewings of “The Outlaw” documentary. no paint scheme

2015: Martin Truex Jr. returns the team to victory lane at Pocono and finishes an amazing fourth in the final points standings.  Fans have to be reminded constantly that, technically, FRR was a satellite team of Richard Childress Racing, and not the other way around.

2017: Furniture Row Racing peaks as Martin Truex Jr. wins the Cup championship on the back of eight wins.  Meanwhile, Erik Jones shows promise in a second car, coming home 19th in points in his rookie campaign.  Equipment provider Joe Gibbs Racing, embarrassed at being outperformed by a “satellite team”, ominously puts “Project Kvapil” into effect.

2018: 5-Hour Energy announces it will depart FRR, setting in motion a chain of events that would lead to the team’s demise.  Nascar experts pretend to be surprised that something as small as losing millions of dollars in outside sponsorship would cause a team to shut down.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Overhauling Nascar’s Penalty System: Pros and Cons

Nascar’s recent penalty of Kevin Harvick for using an unapproved spoiler setting has, as usual, set up a firestorm of criticism towards Nascar.  Oddly enough, some are claiming that Nascar was too strict in penalizing Harvick 40 points and not allowing his win to count towards playoff advancement, while some felt that Nascar didn’t go far enough.  With Nascar reportedly looking at changing its penalty system for failing inspection next season, here’s a look at the different ways the sanctioning body could go, with the associated pros and cons of each plan.

STAY THE SAME—things stay exactly as they are, with drivers being penalized points and wins not being allowed to be used for playoff advancement, while race victories stand in the record books.
Pro: A measured response allows for nuance and understanding amongst the fanb—sorry, I can’t even type it anymore.
Con: Reminds everyone of the year of encumbered wins (shudder).

GO LENIENT—wins by cars that fail inspection are still not counted for playoff advancement, but with no points being deducted, a driver in Kevin Harvick’s situation would still be able to easily “point” his way in.
Pro: Awesome when its your favorite driver who’s innovating in the gray area to gain a competitive edge.
Con: Horrible when its your most-hated driver who’s blatantly cheating to gain an unfair advantage.

GO STRICTER—wins are taken away when a car fails inspection, no exceptions.
Pro: Excitement of tuning into Nascar America on Wednesday to find out if the winning car made it through Nascar tech.
Con: Being reminded a dozen times each post-race “…now these results are unofficial”.

GO STRICTEST—if a car fails pre-race inspection, that car is not allowed to race that weekend.
Pro: Well, qualifying coverage would finally be interesting again.

Con: Just think of how angry sponsors like Tennessee Shine Co, Bully Sticks, and Dustless Blasting would be.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

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

Haha!  I have taken the lead over Mystery Picker!  It just goes to show you that if you stick anything out long enough with grit and determination, you’ll wind up winning in the end!
Its just like at work—I had to work a bunch of overtime last week that I *DON’T* get paid for thanks to my management position.  There seemed to be no end in sight as I was stuck putting the seemingly endless finishing touches on our holiday setup.  And then, there it was—I eeked out a win in my fantasy football league to earn our halfway point bonus!  Then, right after THAT, I come home and realize that I didn’t have to pay my rent—I already paid it a few days earlier by mistake!  Yep, its a pretty good run lately for ol’ Uncle Max, and I hope to see it keep going right through to the championship weekend next weekend!
(and yes, my win last weekend with Kevin Harvick STILL STANDS)

Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 (4 wins)—Johnny Sauter: Gonna keep riding the Sauter wave.

Xfinity Series Whelen 200 (5 wins)—John Hunter Nemechek: Staking his claim for a full-time ride in 2019.

Cup Series Can Am 500—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Martin Truex Jr.  Favorite (5 wins): Kurt Busch—Why outpoint a guy when you can just win the race?  Next Favorite (5 wins): Joey Logano—Keeps the Playoff drama back in the pack.  Dark Horse: Jimmie Johnson—Power of Pride.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Unboxing and Unwrapping: Parts 23 & 24

23. Limited Edition “Pole Position” and a war of attrition

OVERVIEW:  I’m not gonna lie—its been pretty tough coming up with 24 different rhymes for each title in this series.  Guess I made the right move by not pursuing that free-style rap career.  Anyways, another nice combo of current talent here…and Reed Sorenson.
BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  “BK” apparently went to the cliche store for his quote here—“They’re 500 miles, and a lot can happen”.  Guessing he said how he’d take it one race at a time shortly afterwards.
PICK OF THE PACK:  How do you write about a backmarker driver for a backmarker team?  Well, in Reed Sorenson’s case, you talk about how friendly you are with the team owner.  Really—what was he going to say?  “I can’t stand that guy, he never buys the kind of soap I like for the raceshop bathrooms”?
BONUS:  Dale Jr’s pole position at Daytona in July 2017 gets a fitting “Pole Position” card—one of only 99.  I wonder if this set was around when Ryan Newman was winning every-other pole—would they have about ten different cards for Mr. Friday?
FINAL RATING:  8 paint schemes out of 10

24. A middling run, some Menardburn fun, and we’re DONE

OVERVIEW:  The last pack is nothing special, though its nice to see Hershel McGriff get some love.  Both Dillons get some attention in this pack, as well as twice the Jamie Mac.
BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  Casey Mears’s card includes an Auggie Vidovich reference—what are the odds?  Let me see…ah yes: 1 out of 1,434,509.
PICK OF THE PACK:  Paul Menard’s Daytona performance in 2017 is nothing to sneeze at with a pair of top-fives.  So there’s no explanation why his facial expression on his card could be best-described as “witnessing your favorite car get run over by a tank”.
FINAL RATING:  3 primary sponsors out of 10