Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Nascar to Provide Fans with Optional “Full-Immersion Throwback Experience” at Darlington


The vintage “throwback”-themed Southern 500 race at Darlington has emerged as a highlight of the season for Nascar fans, with vintage paint schemes, tv personalities dressed in the clothes of the time, and stars from the past returning for the event.  Interest is so high, in fact, that Nascar will now offer a “Full-Immersion Throwback Experience” for fans throughout the weekend:

—The race will only be available on a handful of tv cable services and “Big Ugly Dish” satellite providers.  Cable subscribers will get constant ads for local Pontiac dealers, while satellite customers will get in-commercial coverage of cameramen focusing in on pretty girls in the crowd.

—Fans will have their internet coverage suspended from Friday night through Monday morning.  The only coverage available will be from Winston Cup Scene and a local newspaper AP preview banal enough for a six year old to find it pandering.

—For fans wanting the “Deluxe 90’s Experience”, however, a dial-up service will be available to provide links to fan-curated websites bashing popular drivers, as well as 240x240 JPEG images from qualifying (estimated load time of five minutes).

—Meanwhile, fans who attend the race itself will be able to purchase t-shirts and hats from a bevy of gray-market and bootleg purveyors.  Be on the lookout for the blue-and-white car with the “Junior’s Last Run 2017” lettering above it, sold by a guy in a horse trailer.

—“Glamping” will be strictly prohibited.  Instead, fans will be required to sleep either in their own passenger vehicles or in pop-up tents, with beer being the only cooling agent allowed.

—While tobacco use will be encouraged, fans will also be required to buy a life-insurance policy with sky-high premiums, as well as agreeing to give at least one of their kids lifelong asthma.

—The race itself will be run twice—the throwback version will feature none of the recent “enhancements” to the sport—no stage racing, no free pass under yellow, no wave-arounds, and no double-file restarts.  In short, the race will be expected to finish under yellow with about five cars left on the lead lap.

—The modern version, meanwhile, will feature the usual changes to the race format, and produce a thrilling last-lap battle for the lead.  Fans who did not participate in the throwback experience will witness this, cheer, then go back to bashing how boring Nascar is these days.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Spade Racing’s 2017 Darlington Throwback Fortnight (and a BONUS Uncle Max Pick)

 

Bristol’s in the rear view mirror, and that means two things—a seemingly pointless off-week, and its time for the 2017 Darlington Throwback celebrations!  We’re starting the festivities a little early here at Spade Racing, with the unveiling of the 2017 Spade Racing throwback paint scheme—a tribute to the great Derrike Cope’s 1990 Daytona 500 Championship car.  And here’s Uncle Max’s special off-weekend pick for Road America:



Xfinity Series Johnsonville 180 (6 wins)—Austin Cindric—an auspicious debut for Team Penske’s top family member—er, I mean, developmental driver.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Get A Veteran Driver a Cup Ride--The Home Game!!!

No post-race Burnout article tonight due to real life getting in the way--amuse yourself with this board game instead!
CLICK TO ENLARGE


Orange Card Deck
Inadvertently Criticize Dale Jr.  Lose 2 points.
Blow off fan who runs a popular Twitter feed.  Lose 1 point.
Yell at your pit crew over the radio.  Lose 5 points.
Stare at potential sponsor’s bald spot.  Lose 2 points.
Steve Letarte pronounces your name wrong.  Lose 1 point.
Wreck during a commercial.  Lose 2 points.
Leave pit road with loose lug nut.  Lose 3 points.
Show up at practice with “flu-like symptoms”.  Lose 1 point.
Say Winston, Nationwide, or Busch.  Lose 2 points.
Blown tire.  Lose 3 points.
Pit road speeding penalty.  Lose 1 point.
Sneeze in your hand right before meeting Fortune 500 CEO.  Lose 4 points.
Yell at your crew chief post-race.  Lose 2 points.
Jeff Burton doesn’t like your strategy.  Lose 1 point.
Three laps short on fuel!  Lose 3 points.
Win a race…but fail inspection.  “Encumbered”.  Lose 1 point.
Bristol intro music get no reaction.  Lose 2 points.
Criticized by one of three remaining Nascar writers.  Lose 1 point.
Get caught in “The Big One”.  Lose 3 points.
Potential sponsor goes Chapter 11.  Lose 2 points.

Blue Card Deck
On the pole.  Get 3 points.
Old sponsor contacts you on Facebook.  Get 1 point.
Win the race!  Get 5 points.
Random guy at bar is a marketing agent.  Get 2 points.
Reporter takes pity on you and gives you a long interview on the pre-race.  Get 3 points.
Influential Twitter writer calls your situation “an injustice”.  Get 2 points.
Your situation is correctly explained by Rick Allen.  Get 1 point.
Post-race argument you won goes viral.  Get 4 points.
Pull a Brian Vickers and wreck five different guys at Martinsville.  Get 1 point.
Gain 100 new Twitter followers this week.  Get 2 points.
Jump the restart and don’t get caught.  Get 3 points.
Mention you’re sponsor less in post-race interview.  Get 1 point.
Your PR rep spends a whole day cold calling.  Get 2 points.
Cameraman focuses on your family during National Anthem.  Get 1 point.
Lose photo-finish race, but shake the winner’s hand afterwards.  Get 3 points.
Old sponsor’s CEO winds up at new company.  Get 2 points.
Come in first in some website’s weekly power rankings.  Get 1 point.
Positive rumor on Jayski.  Get 4 points.
Sub-12 second pit stop.  Get 1 point.

Narrowly avoid a wreck.  Get 3 points.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Uncle Max: Bristol Week(end) Picks



Weekly picks from Spade Racing’s writer/webmaster/janitor Mike Mackler’s uncle.

Well, I’d just like to start out by apologizing for the Xfinity and Truck Series race picking slump I’ve been in lately.  Wether its my beginners’ luck wearing off, my inexperience showing through, or just too many bad breaks, its been a while since my last win.  Here’s hoping you readers haven’t been hurt too bad by following my advice…
But wait!  If there’s one thing I know how to do, its break out of a slump.  From bad picks in sports to having your wife leave you in the middle of the night, I know how to bounce back.  Here’s what you do—stick with doing exactly what you’ve been doing before.  Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but quit now and you’ll never recoup your losses.  Then, you make one major change to your strategy.  Its worked for me in horse racing (picking by jockey instead of by trainer), its worked for me in NFL pick ‘em (go with warm-weather teams in December instead of September), and it’ll work in Nascar, gersh dernit—and THAT’S why I’m not picking any Cup drivers for the Truck and Xfinity races this week(end).
Anyways, here’s my picks for the upcoming race week(end) at Bristol (total wins in parenthesis):

Truck Series UNOH 200 (3 Wins)—Christopher Bell—the hottest young driver not moving up to the Cup Series states his case to join that group.

Xfinity Series Food City 300 (6 wins)—William Byron—youth continues to be served.

Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race:  FAVORITE (4 wins)—Brad Keselowski—sandbag THIS, Toyota.  NEXT FAVORITE (1 win)—Kyle Busch—sometimes he even wins meaningful races.  DARK HORSE—Ricky Stenhouse Jr.—the most-random three-race winner in decades?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Nascar SummerSlam 2017: The Hottest Non-Throwback Party of the Summer


Here’s a rundown of Nascar’s annual summertime slam-fest, SummerSlam
(Card Subject to Change)

Pre-Show
Christopher Bell vs. Noah Gragson—winner gets a part-time Xfinity Series ride with JGR once Kyle Busch throws his hissy fit and shuts down KBM

Main-Show: Preliminary Matches
Kurt Busch vs. Matt Kenseth—retirement match

Jeff Burton vs. Steve Letarte—loser gets relegated to Xfinity Series coverage once Dale Jr. arrives

Back of the Pack Fury Match—Landon Cassill, David Ragan, Danica Patrick, Aric Almirola, Corey Lajoie, INSERT #83 DRIVER HERE, Reed Sorenson, and Matty Di compete in a no holds barred brawl for the most-coveted prize in racing—a solid multi-race sponsorship

Jamie McMurray vs. Trevor Bayne—forgotten teammate match

Championship Matches
Intercontinental Championship Match—Daniel Suarez vs. some random Canadian fan picked at random from the Watkins Glen crowd

Tag Team Triple Threat Championship Match—The Kolorado Kids (Martin Truex Jr. & Erik Jones) vs. The Penske File (Brad Keselowski & Joey Logano) vs. Team JGR (Kyle Busch & Denny Hamlin)


World Championship Match—Kyle Larson vs. Jimmie Johnson (with “Starmaker” Sammy Straker) in a Panic Button Rules Match

Friday, August 11, 2017

Uncle Max: Michigan/Mid-Ohio Weekend Picks



Weekly picks from Spade Racing’s writer/webmaster/janitor Mike Mackler’s uncle.

Ouch—ol’ Uncle Max is working injured this week.  I guess its true what they say—when you come back from vacation, you have to take it easy or your body will take it hard on you.
I remember it like it was yesterday—I was reaching up on one of the risers to take down some back stock, when I felt a twinge in my left shoulder.  I didn’t think much of it until the next morning, when I woke up feeling like I’d pitched a doubleheader with my left-arm.  So its Advil and more Advil for me for the next few days, at least until I can get a day off.  Figures I would get hurt when the other assistant managers are mostly on vacation and I can’t afford to leave!
Anyways, here’s my picks for the upcoming race weekend at Michigan and Mid-Ohio (total wins in parenthesis):

Truck Series LTi Printing 200 (3 Wins)—Kyle Busch—yeah, yeah, I know.

Xfinity Series Mid-Ohio Challenge (6 wins)—Brendan Gaughan—the guy likes road racing.  And picking on Brandon Jones.  And being the son of a billionaire.  But mostly road racing.


Cup Series Pure Michigan 400:  FAVORITE (3 wins)—Kyle Larson—the king of the two-milers continues his dominance and ends his media-created “slump”.  NEXT FAVORITE (1 win)—Joey Logano—unencumbered.  DARK HORSE—Jamie McMurray—finally restarts his way back into victory lane.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Spade Racing’s 2017 Early-August Silly Season Update


Two former champs with nothing set for 2018
Due to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s pending retirement, a soft sponsorship market, and events set in motion in the previous offseason (I’m looking at YOU, Carl Edwards), the 2017-18 Nascar “Silly Season” has been arguably the wildest on record—and its not even over yet!  For those of you who’ve lost track, here is where we stand as of now, team-by-team—and what everybody needs:

Hendrick Motorsports needs…sponsorship and a driver—and some future stability would help.  The latest domino to fall was the release of Kasey Kahne effective the end of this season.  While the 48 and 24 teams are set, the 88 gets a new/familiar face with Alex Bowman stepping into Dale Jr.’s former ride next year.  The long-suffering 5 car needs a new driver AND sponsors, with both Farmer’s Insurance and Great Clips leaving the team.  To make matters more-shaky, it seems like every current sponsor’s contract expires after 2018, leaving Nascar’s powerhouse team with less-than-usual stability.

Joe Gibbs Racing needs…sponsorship.  The 11, 18, and 19 are all locked-in with drivers and sponsors.  Erik Jones is replacing Matt Kenseth in the 20 car next year but sponsorship is unknown—the 20 car has run the dreaded “Toyota Racing” scheme a few times, and Jones’ current primary sponsor, 5-Hour Energy, was grandfathered in due to Monster Energy’s entitlement sponsorship, meaning it must stay with Furniture Row Racing.

Stewart-Haas Racing needs…sponsorship, and lots of it.  The 4 team of Kevin Harvick is covered.  Annnnnd that’s about it.  The 41, 14, and 10 cars have all run with in-house sponsorship from Haas Automation (although in the 41’s case, that was planned), and the lack of funding has put Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick in situations where they have unsure plans for 2018.  Busch has officially been made a free agent, while Patrick is said to be on a contract that only “renews” if sponsorship is present.  Meanwhile, Clint Bowyer’s car still needs more sponsors to fill out the season.

Team Penske needs…a charter (and sponsorship).  Locking up Brad Keselowski took a possible major player off the market, and the Miller Lite relationship with Penske appears to be iron-clad.  There’s no changes in store for the 2 car, but Ryan Blaney will be coming over from the 21 car to the revived 12 team.  The Captain had said that he would only do so if sponsorship made sense, so one would have to figure that he has something on tap.  However, they WILL need to get a team charter in order to lock themselves in for the 2018 season.

Richard Childress Racing needs…clarity and sponsorship—but mostly clarity.  While the 3 and 31 cars of Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman seem to be set for 2018, the 27 is losing both its driver AND its full-season sponsor.  This puts RCR in a confusing spot—do they bring over Ty Dillon from the satellite 13 team and try to find sponsorship?  Do they merge with another team?  Do they simply shut down the 27 team?  Or do they move up a driver from their Xfinity program?


Roush Fenway Racing needs…to keep improving.  Roush has fallen from its days as a five-team juggernaut, but in the midst of this Silly Season’s craziness, things are pretty stable, with both the 6 car of Trevor Bayne and the 17 car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fully-funded and, in Stenhouse Jr’s case, winning races.  The team still has Chris Buescher out on loan to JTG-D (see below) and will be able to shuffle their third charter for another year next season, but one would have to think that continued improvement on the track is the team’s biggest goal for next year.

Chip Ganassi Racing needs...sponsorship.  Despite Kyle Larson developing into one of the sport’s brightest young stars, longtime sponsor Target has gone ahead with its plan to withdraw completely from motorsports at the end of the year.  While Jamie McMurray’s 1 car seems to be on solid footing, Larson’s 42 car could have some gaping holes in its funding for 2018, although a new “multi-race sponsor” is due to be announced soon.

Furniture Row Racing needs…a clear path forward.  You’d have to be a fool to mess with what Martin Truex Jr. has going on this year, but the team IS losing its loaned-out driver, Erik Jones, from the 77 car next year.  The team is in a unique spot as it not only owns a charter, but has a captive sponsor in 5-Hour-Energy that can’t leave for another team.  While the 77 is, in theory, the most-competitive ride available beyond the HMS 5 car, one has to wonder what owner Barney Visser would rather have—a solid championship contender with outside funding in the 78, or to continue to try and cement their status as a two-car team in 2018.
JTG-Daugherty Racing needs…on-track performance.  Unlike most of the other teams in Cup, JTG-D is on rock-solid footing with their sponsorship situation.  Meanwhile, AJ Allmendinger is signed into the future, and Chris Buescher is due to return on another loan from RFR.  Still, the team has struggled on intermediate tracks and rarely contends outside of plate races and road courses.



Richard Petty Motorsports needs…something to hold on to.  RPM’s downsizing from a two-car to a one-car team was supposed to solidify things.  However, an injury to driver Aric Almirola, the wild Silly Season around them, and expiring driver and sponsor (Smithfield) contracts at the end of the year have the 43 car in a very precarious spot for the future.  Speculation runs the gamut from expanding to a second team with Bubba Wallace Jr. all the way to the team folding into another, continuing in name-only.  The coming months should show what shape the 43 (and possibly 44) team(s) will take next year.

The Wood Brothers need…a charter.  Signing Paul Menard and his family’s sponsorship puts the Wood Bros. on solid footing for the near future.  All the team is missing now is a charter, having leased the one they are currently using.


The rest of the teams are pretty tough to figure, with deals usually being announced days before Daytona Speedweeks.  There’s also rumors of teams shutting down (BK Racing) or moving up (GMS Racing).  What does the future hold?  Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Nascar Spokesman Admits They Have No Idea What To Do If More Than 16 Drivers Win


The Nascar Cup Series has seen ten different winners in ten straight points paying races, joining three other drivers with non-encumbered wins for 2017.  This spate of wins has caused many to ask what would happen if more than 16 racers qualify for the upcoming Playoffs with wins, which, according to Nascar, is a situation they have not prepared for.
“Well, I asked around Daytona (Beach, Nascar’s corporate headquarters), to see what would happen if we get more than 16 points-paying race winners in the regular season”, said Nascar spokesman Nelson Michaels.  “And, to be honest, I couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone.  So I guess we just got to hope it doesn’t happen then?”
Michaels stated that Nascar never anticipated having more than 15 winners in the 26 race “regular season”, only to have such a thing become a possible reality this year.
“At Nascar, we’re constantly looking for ways to level the playing field and create more winners”, Michaels explained, “but when we tweaked our format and rules package to level the playing field and create more winners, it actually worked.  Oh well, guess there’s a first time for everything?  Or maybe this is more like a broken clock, I dunno…”
Michaels explained that he went to Nascar’s rules-making office for clarification, only to find that the thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters had the day off.  He said he even went straight to Brian France’s office, only to be told by his personal secretary that “1pm to 3pm is nap time around here”.

“Nascar is an ever-evolving sport, and we’re always willing to make changes to improve our on-track product”, Michaels said.  “Even if there’s a problem that we, ourselves, created, we will figure out a way to solve it, creating several other smaller problems in its wake.  That’s the Nascar way.”

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Uncle Max: Watkins Glen Weekend Picks



Weekly picks from Spade Racing’s writer/webmaster/janitor Mike Mackler’s uncle.

Ahhh-its great to be back!  I had a great, relaxing week of vacay over at my friend’s beach place.  Nothing like just kicking back with a few cold ones and some hot babes.  Granted, the hot babes were missing, but you take what you can get.
Its it just me, or is the first week back at work after vacation one of the weirdest experiences a person can have?  On the one hand, your stress level is almost nil thanks to the R&R.  On the other hand, things you might have done a thousand times before seem like you’re doing them for the first time ever!  I mean, I know how to check in a delivery at the loading dock, but my first day back?  I was hitting the red button a dozen times before I remembered that the computer guns we use now don’t even HAVE a red button!
Anyways, here’s my picks for the upcoming race weekend at Watkins Glen (total wins in parenthesis):

Xfinity Series Zippo 200 (6 wins)—Justin Allgaier—The Little Gator is sneaky-good on road courses.


Cup Series I Love New York 355 at The Glen:  FAVORITE (3 wins)—Kevin Harvick—doesn’t it seem like one of those weekends where everyone (else) predicts a first-time winner?  NEXT FAVORITE (1 win)—Denny Hamlin—JGR: Right Result, Wrong Driver.  DARK HORSE—Chris Buescher—the student defeats the Dinger.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Jimmie Johnson Given Obnoxious Pro Wrestling Manager to Boost Public Image

Longtime Nascar superstar Jimmie Johnson has won seven Cup Series championships, countless races, and yet still remains one of the most-successful drivers around without a discernible fan base.  Hendrick Motorsports hopes to remedy that with the addition of “Starmaker” Sammy Straker, a well-known professional wrestling manager on the independent circuit.
Selfie of "Starmaker" Sammy
Straker taken in a Hendrick
Motorsports bathroom
“Hahaha, its 2017, and the Nascar world is finally gonna get a taste of what the Starmaker has bakin’ in the oven for Jimmie Johnson!”, Straker said upon being introduced pre-race at Pocono Raceway.  “Jimmie’s already got the gold—seven championships.  He’s got the money—solid sponsorship and an iron-clad contract.  Well now he’s gonna be a STAR, thanks to the Starmaker himself, Sammy Straker!”
Johnson, seated next to the screaming Straker at the press conference, appeared uncomfortable for the duration, though when asked to speak on the new relationship, he was complimentary.
“Well, I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished here in Nascar”, Johnson said while Straker stood next to him, punctuating Johnson’s comments with spastic finger pointing.  “I’ve never been one to toot my own horn, and maybe that’s why we don’t have the rabid following that a Dale Jr. or a Matt Kenseth has.  I’m hoping that having Mr. Straker here will let me keep my focus on the driving side of things, and he can focus on some of our fan-base building initiatives.”
“‘Fan-base building initiatives’?!?”, Straker interjected, stealing the microphone away.  “Oh no, we’re not about toeing the company line here with the Starmaker—we’re all about getting in those fans’ faces, and making them REALIZE that they are in the presence of greatness each and every time Jimmie sites in that race car!”
Little is known about Straker’s personal or professional life, although his pro-wrestling managerial career is well-documented online.  Most-recently Straker worked simultaneously for First State Wrestling Alliance under his traditional “Starmaker” character, while also moonlighting as the masked “El Managerio” for the Philadelphia-based Lucha Launchpad Legion.