Sunday, September 15, 2019

Spade Racing’s 2019 Playoff Preview

PROGRAMMING NOTE: We’re shaking things up for the Playoffs here at Spade Racing!  Rather than doing a “Burnout” post-race article (which I haven’t been able to do much lately anyways), there’ll be “Lap Zero” posts during the pre-race through to the end of the season.

The Playoffs.  Formerly The Chase, It’s Nascar’s way of determining a champion.  But why wait until Homestead to figure out who’s going to win it all—here’s Spade Racing’s preview of the 2019 post-season.

Ryan Newman—a prompt exit from contention will allow him to devote more time to building towards 2020, working on his “rescue ranch”, and spreading conspiracy theories about the moon landing.

William Byron—the official “Gets Eliminated, Then Goes On a Tear” driver of 2019.  Expect to see him contend for a win or two before the season it out with the pressure being off.

Alex Bowman—the only driver with a win to go out in the first round, Bowman will quietly sink to the back before failing to win at the Roval.  On the plus side, being out of the Playoffs will allow him to connect on a deeper level with Jimmie Johnson

Aric Almirola—needing a strong finish at the Roval, expect to see him come up jusssst a few points short, followed by an outburst.  Although for someone as even-keeled as Double-A, expect that “outburst” to be a slight shaking of the head and possibly blaming everything on Brian Scott.

Erik Jones—with the safety of a future contract with JGR in place, Jones will go into the offseason relaxed and ready to come on strong in 2020.  Then again, I give it five minutes at Speedweeks before he starts getting asked if he’s going to swap rides with Christopher Bell in 2021.

Kyle Larson—sneaking past the first round, Larson will be in a “Win or Go Home” scenario at Kansas.  Then he’ll scrape the wall, develop a vibration, have to pit, and wind up finishing the first car a lap down.  As usual.

Joey Logano—how can this be?  I’ll tell you: a bad day at Dover caused by a poor qualifying effort and a bad setup, followed by being caught up in the “big one” at Talladega.  Joey comes up a little short at Kansas and is left with nothing.  Well, besides his loving family, steady ride for one of the sport’s best teams, dozens of accolades and millions of dollars.

Ryan Blaney—Blaney is a point or two short after Kansas and is forced to look forward to next year.  Which, granted, is a pretty good philosophy overall.

Clint Bowyer—after racing his way in at Kansas (leading to accusations that the race was fixed), Bowyer will have a rough day at Martinsville and never really recover.  Somehow, people will say that one of the sport’s most-engaging drivers being eliminated is ALSO fixed.

Kurt Busch—quietly strong runs throughout the first two rounds aren’t enough momentum to overcome a bad day at Texas, putting him in too deep of a hole to come back at Phoenix.  Then again, his mortal enemy is behind bars for a year and a day, so there’s that.

Brad Keselowski—a tough pill to swallow at Penske as all three of its drivers are eliminated before Homestead.  They start work post-haste on a strong 2020 program with a name like “20/20 Vision” or “Mustang Momentum” or “Menard is Finally Gone”.

Martin Truex Jr.—does “so much adversity” get brought out again by Rick Allen?

4. Chase Elliott—the lone Chevy sneaks its way through the first round, then wins a Talladega Sweep, followed by three strong runs in the penultimate round.  Then he has a crummy day at Homestead and people claim that it’ll lead to the death of the sport.

3. Kevin Harvick—a Playoff win and top-15s in all but one race have him as a favorite at Homestead, only for pit stop issues to sink their day.  Kevin Harvick responds by firing his pit crew mid-race, forcing him to try and use a manual jack on his own car.

2. Kyle Busch—the odds-on favorite coming in has a spirited battle but comes up just a little bit short.  So of course we get a smirking post-race interview and a vague threat to shut down his Truck team.

Denny Hamlin—only one win in the Playoffs but its the only one that matters—Phoenix.  Then he finishes runner up at Homestead to clinch his first championship in the Cup Series.  Oh, and who wins Homestead?  William Byron, of course.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Spade Racing Picks: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Las Vegas

Something strange is going on lately, and I’m not just talking about Mystery Picker’s pick this weekend.
Last weekend I got eliminated from my “knockout pool” for football—a week one knockout!  Then I find out that I lost in my main fantasy league on a freaking tiebreaker.  And on top of all of that I get a “Need Service Now” light on in my car.  I tell ya, its not a fun time to be Uncle Max.
On the plus side it looks like Mystery Picker is getting desperate to eek out a win over me to keep their identity a secret.  Keep trying—I’ll know who you are by season’s end!

CUP SERIES South Point 400: Mystery Picker (1 win) picks Paul MenardFavorite (4 wins): Kyle Busch—hometown track, hometown performance.  Next Favorite (3 wins): Kevin Harvick—guessing he would love to spoil Rowdy’s fun.  Dark Horse: Aric Almirola—seems about time for an out of left field non-upset surprise.

XFINITY SERIES Lilly 250 (7 wins): Justin Haley—here’s hoping they pass inspection with no issues.

TRUCK SERIES World of Westgate 200 (8 wins): Ross Chastain—hey, did you know that he’s a watermelon farmer?  No one every brings it up!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Opening a Sealed Box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards PACK 20

Recently I got a sealed box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards—24 packs, 8 cards per pack.  Join me as I go through the entire case, pack-by-pack, to see what awaited me. (Click any picture to enlarge)

PACK 20 OF 24: Kyle is Rowdy, DW’s Dowdy, and 48’s Proud-y

OVERVIEW: A lot of champions in this set, as well as a father-son combo of Bill Elliott (finally wearing his Coors gear!) and Chase (limited edition, too).  Jimmie Johnson, meanwhile, looks very satisfied with himself—something that was pretty rare in 2018.

SPECIAL SPECIAL: Kyle Larson’s Originals card shows how he grew up around the race track.  With such a laser-focused life, it makes me wonder how he could make such tone-deaf comments about doing autograph signings.  Or maybe it explains it better.

IN FOCUS: I don’t know WHY this Chase Elliott card is limited.  I don’t know WHY its limited to 299.  And I don’t know WHY the picture of the back turned out so blurry.

SPOTLIGHT: DW’s Retro Rated Rookie card shows off his love of the number 17 in honor of David Pearson.  Later in his career he’d show his love of number 43 by starting there in as many races as possible.

SCORE: 6 commercial breaks out of 10

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Brickyard 400 Regular Season Finale Drinking Game

Due to unforeseen circumstances I won’t be able to watch today’s race.  Instead, enjoy this pre-race post-race article.

The Brickyard 400, one of Nascar’s four Crown Jewel races…or so they tell us.  Anyone with some experience watching the sport will tell you that Nascar’s annual trip to Indianapolis is typically one of the dullest races of the year.  And while making it the “regular season finale” was an attempt to add more drama, it seems to have mostly just added more tedium for those watching at home.  So if you find yourself bored out of your mind and getting sick of the storylines being pushed by NBC, enjoy this drinking game from Spade Racing (please drink responsibly—that’s why “fuel mileage” isn’t included in this game).

Take a SIP when…
—anyone says the words “drama”, “cut-off” or “bubble” (this is why you should drink responsibly)

—Paul Menard and/or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are mentioned as drivers who could “win their way in”

—Ryan Newman doesn’t let someone pass him

—any awkward transition to a promo for tonight’s Sunday Night Football is made (example: “Speed on the track, and we’ll see some speed on the football field tonight!”)

—Jeff Burton and/or Dale Jr. and/or Steve LeTarte talk over each other

Take a DRINK when…
—JGR’s dominance is mentioned

—anyone tries to politely state that Jimmie Johnson’s best days are behind him (example: “And with so many races, so many wins, how many more are left for this seven-time champion and has he maxed out?”)

—Rutledge Wood talks about fishing that damn brick out of the water

—any commercial caution (side-by-side/nonstop doesn’t count)

Take a GULP when…
—any “win-and-they’re-in” driver goes on a different pit strategy

—any broadcaster shoehorns in a reference to Antonio Brown (example: “Erik Jones getting his contract situation sorted out, unlike a certain wide receiver who was in the news yesterday”)

—two or more drivers fight on pit road

—anyone manages to justify holding next week’s race on a SUNDAY NIGHT

—a fan manages to get on camera ranting about Jeffrey Earnhardt


—the track sells out the grandstand

Friday, September 6, 2019

Spade Racing Picks: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Indianapolis

Well I won’t be able to watch the race this Sunday.  And no, its not because I’ll be immersed in football—its because I have to work!
Usually I’m able to beg off Sundays (especially during football season) or at least work the early morning shift.  But this week there was no getting out of it.  Corporate’s sending some people to visit us on Monday so its “all hands on deck” from the local management team, including yours truly.  So here’s hoping nothing insane happens on the track OR on the gridiron.

CUP SERIES Big Machine Vodka 400: Mystery Picker (1 win) picks Chase Elliott.  Favorite (4 wins): Denny Hamlin—going into the Playoffs with Big ‘Mo.  Next Favorite (3 wins): Kyle Busch—or we could just have Rowdy asserting his dominance.  Dark Horse: Clint Bowyer—or someone “Pulling a Mayfield”?

XFINITY SERIES Indiana 250 (6 wins): Kyle Busch—naturally.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Opening a Sealed Box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards PACK 19

Recently I got a sealed box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards—24 packs, 8 cards per pack.  Join me as I go through the entire case, pack-by-pack, to see what awaited me. (Click any picture to enlarge)

PACK 19 OF 24: Larson, Dillon, and the Wrong One

OVERVIEW: We get a healthy mix of the past and present here with some bonafide legends.  Also, double the Harvick as he gets both the TOP TIER and the limited edition treatment.

SPECIAL SPECIAL: Again—why use a picture of Bill Elliott in his McDonald’s firesuit for his RACE KINGS card?  He did next-to-nothing in the 94 car and did MUCH better when he had Coors or Dodge Dealers sponsorship.

IN FOCUS: Mark Martin says that flying an airplane is “…almost like having your own private spaceship”.  Except the whole “not going to space” thing, Mark.

SPOTLIGHT: Here’s something I’ve always wondered—do you think sponsors get irritated when drivers put their sunglasses over their logos on their hats?  And has anyone thought to put their logo on sunglasses themselves in any way?

SCORE: 4 pole positions out of 10

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Throwing Back to 69—The Number, Not the Year

Because the weather won't cooperate
In honor of the throwback race that may or may not happen tonight (well, not for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., spoil-sport) let’s take a look back at one of the least-used numbers in Nascar Cup history—69.


OK, now that we have THAT out of the way, let’s do a Q&A on the history of this relatively-unused number.

JUST HOW LITTLE-USED WAS THE NUMBER 69?  Cars bearing the number 69 have only been run 104 times in Cup, the second-least-used number in the series 70+ year history (only ahead/behind of number 65).

Note the misspelled name
WHO’S THE MOST-FAMOUS PERSON TO RACE NUMBER 69?  Probably a toss-up between LeeRoy Yarbrough and Hershel McGriff.  Oddly they’re at two different ends of the longevity spectrum—LeeRoy having posted one incredibly successful year in (ironically) 1969, while Hershel raced in Cup sparingly from 1950 through 1993 and has continued to make cameo appearances in developmental series to this day.

WHO WAS THE MOST-SUCCESSFUL DRIVER OF THE 69?  Johnny Allen, who posted a pole and a runner-up finish (amongst other top-tens) during a part-time run in the 69 from 1960-61.  The last top-ten posted by a driver in a #69 car was the aforementioned Hershel McGriff in 1977.
The last run for number 69

WHO WAS THE LAST DRIVER TO DRIVE A CAR NUMBERED 69?  Road racer Denny Wilson, who did so at Watkins Glen in 1992.

WHY HASN’T ANYONE RUN THE 69 SINCE?  Well, its likely the reason you think.  Sponsorship drives Nascar and few traditional companies want to associate with such an innuendo-laden number.  Meanwhile, Nascar both controls number assignments and reserves the right to block offensive sponsorships, so even if someone DID come in wanting to use the number, Nascar could put a stop to it (as was rumored when Big Johnson sponsored a Busch Series car in the 90’s).

WHO RUNS IT TODAY?  Will Kimmel runs the 69 car for his own team in the midwest, most-notably on occasion in the ARCA Series.  the Kimmel family has a history of using number 69—in fact, Bill Kimmel Sr. ran it in Cup at Daytona in 1969 and 1970.