Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Guide to the Many Home Tracks of Martin Truex Jr. (Plus a BONUS Pick)

Editor's note: Due to that pesky little thing called "Real Life", there'll be no post-race "Burnout" article this weekend.  Instead, enjoy this handy guide.  ALSO, Uncle Max has said he's picking Ryan Newman for the mid-week Eldora Truck Series race.

Dover—closest track to his birthplace on the Jersey Shore

Pocono—closest track to his birthplace on the Jersey Shore by driving distance (Truexes never take the Cape May-Lewes Ferry)
Hometown Hero

Watkins Glen—first time at a race was in the mud bog (literally—he got thrown in by some Jimmy Spencer fans)

New Hampshire—its in a state with “New” in the name, just like New Jersey

Richmond—closest asphalt oval track to his birthplace on the Jersey Shore

Martinsville—hey, its got his name in it! (Note: may be replaced if the proposed track in Truexopolis, Oregon ever gets built)

Charlotte—home track of his former teams, DEI and MWR, both of which went OUT OF BUSINESS without him, so there

Darlington—the future birthplace of his Dick Passwater tribute paint scheme

Bristol—Bass Pro Shops sponsors the night race there, don’t they?

Atlanta—Bass Pro Shops used to sponsor the race there, didn’t they?

Daytona—birthplace of Nascar (come on, isn’t that good enough?

Homestead—has a nuclear power plant nearby, just like his birthplace on the Jersey Shore

Kentucky—race is sponsored by Quaker State, which is named for Pennsylvania, neighbor of his home state of New Jersey

Talladega—let’s just chalk it up to a kiddie pool, a case of reasonably-priced beer, and a package of factory-second Nilla wafers

Indianapolis—just always liked the place, even after he discovered that the “Clabber Girl” wasn’t a real person

Chicagoland—Chicago is mob-controlled, just like his birthplace on the Jersey Shore

Michigan—in Brooklyn, just like the borough of Brooklyn, which is near his birthplace on the Jersey Shore

Kansas—really quick McDonalds nearby

Texas—nothing prepares you mentally for the drain of a 500 mile race like trying to promote foreign cars in The Lone State State

Las Vegas—closest track to Furniture Row Racing

Phoenix—closest track to the closest track to Furniture Row Racing

California—home track for Toyota

Sonoma—closest track to his birthplace on the Jersey Shore if you go in the opposite direction around the globe

Thursday, July 12, 2018

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

In honor of this Tripleheader Weekend, here’s some advice from Uncle Max on how to handle things at work when you can’t get a day off for far too long:

Make sure your supervisors know of your sacrifice for the company.  Whether its making sure you push the merchandise past him every chance you get, or checking in her office to let her know you’re working even though you technically don’t have to be, make your presence known.

Cut out any outside interference.  This doesn’t mean don’t have a life—it just means to make sure all your bills are paid, your pets are taken care of, and your meals are ready in advance (in fact, chicken tacos taste better once they’ve marinated in the fridge for a week).

Take time for yourself.  Even if you don’t smoke, take a minute or two every hour to stay in contact with the outside world, but try to avoid stressful situations, like trying to engineer a nine-player, three-team fantasy baseball trade.

Have an outlet.  We all get a little angry, especially when we’re working.  So make sure you have a pillow to punch, a car to scream in, or a light tube to bash against a dumpster when your World Cup picks fall apart.

Truck Series Buckle Up 225 (3 wins)—Justin Haley—pretty nice consolation prize after last weekend’s screw-up.

Xfinity Series ALSCO 300 (2 wins)—Kyle Busch—because of course.

Cup Series Quaker State 400—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Ryan Blaney.  Favorite (2 wins): Martin Truex Jr.—the master of the intermediates wins out over Mystery’s reach.  Next Favorite (2 wins): Kyle Busch—2nd straight win for JGR comes in a walkover.  Dark Horse: Ryan Newman—gas mileage in effect!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Rated Rookie: Ranking Nascar Cup’s All-Time Rookies of the Year--Part 2

"Rookie of the Year”.  Its a term that can portend future success—or flash in the pan.  Sometimes its a fierce battle between several talented drivers—sometimes a walk-over by a single person.  So looking back, how have the overall careers of Nascar Cup’s various Rookies of the Year stacked up against each other?
That’s where I come in!
While a “Rookie of the Year” award has been given out in Nascar Cup since 1954, its only since 1974 that some sort of points system was implemented—prior to this it was merely agreed upon by “the media”.  So we’re going to only count ROTY award winners from 1974 onward.  Also, the previous three Rookies of the Year (Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, and Brett Moffitt) are not going to be considered since their careers are so young.  Drivers will only be judged on what they did in the Cup Series, with added weight toward “major” races and season championships.
Now, on with the rankings!

(*—active in Cup; win totals through Chicago 2018)

11. Ricky Rudd (1977)—23 Cup wins.  “The Rooster” beat out a thin crowd for his Rookie of the Year award, but that was just a preview of the success he’d find in his Cup Series career.  One of the greatest drivers to never win a championship, Rudd’s biggest Cup Series win was likely the 1997 Brickyard 400, which he won driving his own equipment.

12. *Joey Logano (2009)—19 Cup wins.  It would be hard to find anyone who came into Nascar with expectations as high as Joey “Sliced Bread” Logano in 2009.  Logano would enter the history books as the youngest-ever driver to win a Cup Series race during his rookie year for Joe Gibbs Racing, easily winning the ROTY honors over Scott Speed.  After a lull in his career, Logano would see his fortunes revitalized after moving over to Team Penske, including winning the 2015 Daytona 500.

13. Geoff Bodine (1982)—18 Cup wins.  After setting the Modified racing world on fire, Bodine came south and got his first major shot in Cup with Cliff Stewart.  After winning the ROTY award, Bodine would see his greatest success with Hendrick Motorsports, posting his biggest career win in the 1986 Daytona 500.  Bodine’s greater racing career included winning the IROC championship in 1987, six Xfinity Series wins, and a key role in the Winter Olympics as the co-founder of Bo-Dyn Bobsleds.

14. Jeff Burton (1994)—19 Cup wins.  “The Mayor” beat out a crowded field (including future race winners Joe Nemechek, John Andretti, Jeremy Mayfield, and brother Ward) to win the 1994 ROTY award for the Stavola Brothers.  In 1996 Jeff Burton would move to Roush Racing and, combined with his later run with RCR, would become one of the most consistently successful drivers of his time, including four straight top-five Cup Series points finishes.

15. *Ryan Newman (2002)—18 Cup wins.  After developing his career in a variety of lower series, Roger Penske brought Newman up to Cup in 2002.  Newman didn’t disappoint, posting a rookie-record six pole positions and scoring wins both points-paying (New Hampshire) and non (the All-Star race).  Somewhat controversially, Newman was named Rookie of the Year despite having less wins than future legend Jimmie Johnson, with consistency winning out.  Newman has gone on to successful runs with Stewart-Haas Racing and RCR and remains a race win contender.

16. *Kasey Kahne (2004)—18 Cup wins.  The popular young driver beat out a crowded field in 2004 to claim 2004’s ROTY honors for Evernham Racing, soon becoming the team’s lead driver.  However, the departure of Dodge from the sport, coupled with the collapse of new owner George Gillett’s finances, saw Kahne’s career derailed, only for a comeback to occur upon signing with Hendrick Motorsports.  Despite winning his first “major” in 2017 at the Brickyard, Kahne was transferred to the backmarker LFR team in 2018.

17. Sterling Marlin (1983)—10 Cup wins.  Marlin won his ROTY award in a relatively thin year despite posting only a single top-10.  Although Marlin would not notch his first Cup Series win until 1994, he made it count, winning the Daytona 500—then repeating the feat the following year.  Later, Marlin would go on to help lead Dodge’s return to Nascar’s Cup Series, winning the make’s first race in its return, then contending for the 2002 series championship.

18. *Jamie McMurray (2003)—7 Cup wins.  Jamie Mac had an auspicious debut—already planning to debut full-time in 2003, he was named a substitute for an injured Sterling Marlin late in 2002, stunning the Nascar world with a win in just his second Cup start.  Although he’d win the 2003 ROTY award over Greg Biffle and teammate Casey Mears, it would take until 2007 (and a move from Ganassi to RoushFenway) for McMurray to visit victory lane again.  Since then he has returned to the Ganassi team, notably winning the 2010 Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400.

19. *Kyle Larson (2014)—5 Cup wins.  Coming to Cup with a number of lower-series wins to his name—particularly in sprint cars—Larson beat out a crowded field, most-notably Austin Dillon, for the 2014 ROTY award.  Since then he’s gone on to become one of Nascar’s brightest young stars for team owner Chip Ganassi, with five Cup Series wins to his name so far.

20. Ken Schrader (1985)—4 Cup wins.  Arguably best-known for his versatile racing style and willingness to compete in almost any type of motorsport, Schrader won the 1985 ROTY honors on the strength of three tenth-place finishes.  Schrader’s greatest successes would come upon leaving Donlavey Racing for Hendrick Motorsports, posting four career Cup wins and three consecutive Daytona 500 pole awards.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Scott Pruett Tired of Being Harassed

Recently-retired road racing ace Scott Pruett revealed today in an exclusive interview with Spade Racing that his life has been turned upside down, mostly due to the similarity in his name to recently-retired EPA head Scott Pruitt.
“I saw that clip online of that woman confronting the other Pruitt in a restaurant in DC—well that’s nothing compared to what I went through”, Pruett explained.  “I can’t tell you how many tire tests I’ve been to where I’ve had to deal with protesters trying to scale the fences of the tracks.  Not to mention the fact that I’ve had to remind people on Twitter pretty much daily how our names are different, we look nothing alike, and that I’ve never bought tactical pants.”
Pruett made his mark in endurance racing, posting wins in such prestigious races as the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 24 Hours of Daytona.  However, he is now better-known to the general public—erroneously so—as being the embattled former head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Sonoma was Hell for me”, Pruett explained, referring to his experience as the grand marshall for the recent Nascar race in Sears Point, California.  “People were screaming at me the whole time, throwing garbage at the pace car, and blaming me for ruining the environment.  Sure, I drive a race car—not the most energy-efficient method to make one’s living—but this is taking it way too far.  Then I remembered that some people are simply angry about the state of the country, and are looking to take it out on a guy they think is in charge.  Well the NAME IS SPELLED DIFFERENTLY, people.”
Pruett joins a long line of other Nascar drivers who are frequently mistaken for others—Jimmie Johnson (with former football coach Jimmy Johnson) and Ryan Newman (with actress Ryan Newman) being just two of them.  However, the vitriol directed at Pruett over the past year or so appears to be some of the worst the sport has ever seen.
“Just last week I had someone smear my daily driver with Tide liquid detergent”, Pruett lamented.  “Of course, Ricky Rudd fans have been doing that to me for YEARS, so maybe that one was warranted.”

Thursday, July 5, 2018

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

Well, it SHOULD be good to be back, but unfortunately Murphy’s Law seems to be in effect for me.  First I come back to a disaster at work—it seems that you can have a college degree and STILL not know how to properly do an inventory check.  Then on one of the hottest days of the year, the power goes out all through town!  Nothing quite like working in 95 degree heat, then coming home to 90 degree heat.  And then just when the power comes back ON, you find out you’ll be working on the Fourth of July.  I have to tell you, its not a very fun start to the month of July for me.

Xfinity Series Firecracker 250 (2 wins)—Tyler Reddick—TR goes back-to-back at Daytona.

Cup Series Overtons 400—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Paul Menard.  Favorite (2 wins): Kyle Larson—redemption for KLar and myself.  Next Favorite (2 wins): Jimmie Johnson—because this is about the only place Chevy CAN win.  Dark Horse: Michael McDowell—ya gotta go REAL dark at Daytona!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Rated Rookie: Ranking Nascar Cup’s All-Time Rookies of the Year--Part 1

"Rookie of the Year”.  Its a term that can portend future success—or flash in the pan.  Sometimes its a fierce battle between several talented drivers—sometimes a walk-over by a single person.  So looking back, how have the overall careers of Nascar Cup’s various Rookies of the Year stacked up against each other?
That’s where I come in!
While a “Rookie of the Year” award has been given out in Nascar Cup since 1954, its only since 1974 that some sort of points system was implemented—prior to this it was merely agreed upon by “the media”.  So we’re going to only count ROTY award winners from 1974 onward.  Also, the previous three Rookies of the Year (Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, and Brett Moffitt) are not going to be considered since their careers are so young.  Drivers will only be judged on what they did in the Cup Series, with added weight toward “major” races and season championships.
Now, on with the rankings!

(*—active in Cup; win totals through Chicago 2018)

1. Dale Earnhardt (1979)—76 Cup wins, 7 Cup championships.  Dale Earnhardt Sr. never had anything easy coming up, and his rookie year was no exception, as he had to beat out future stars Terry Labonte and Harry Gant for the ROTY honors.  The following year the future “Intimidator” would go on to win the first of his record-tying seven Cup Series championships and would wind up as arguably the greatest driver in Nascar history.

2. Jeff Gordon (1993)—93 Cup wins, 4 championships.  After beating out future Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte for Rookie of the Year honors, Gordon would go on to post his first-ever Cup win the following year.  While his career is filled with accomplishments—three Daytona 500 wins, five Brickyard 400 wins, six Southern 500 wins, and three World 600 wins, just to list the “majors”—arguably his biggest impact has been off the track, helping Nascar to transition from a regional Southern sport into a national phenomenon.

3. Tony Stewart (1999)—49 Cup wins, 3 championships.  Coming into Nascar with plenty of sprint car and Indy Racing League experience, “Smoke” posted a trio of late-season wins in his rookie campaign, running away with the ROTY award in the process.  That season served as a launching pad for one of the most-successful racing careers of the modern era, one that Stewart would punctuate with three Cup Series championships.

4. Rusty Wallace (1984)—55 Cup wins, 1 Cup championship.  After an auspicious start to his Cup career with a runner-up finish at Atlanta in 1980, Wallace won the Rookie of the Year award in his first full-season in 1984.  Soon after Wallace would sign with Raymond Beadle’s race team, winning the 1989 Cup championship, then signing with Roger Penske (who, ironically, served as his car owner for his first race) in 1991.  Still winning races late into his career, Wallace retired as one of the most-successful drivers of the modern-era.

5. *Kyle Busch (2005)—47 Cup wins, 1 championship.  Though controversial for his brash persona and domination of Nascar’s lower series, you can’t say that Rowdy’s career has ever been boring.  Busch won two Cup races in his rookie campaign for Hendrick Motorsports, winning the ROTY award easily over closest competitor Travis Kvapil.  Since then he has gone on to win at every level of Nascar at almost every track, capping things off with the 2015 Cup Series championship for Joe Gibbs Racing.

6. *Kevin Harvick (2001)—42 Cup wins, 1 championship.  Harvick was originally planned to make his ROTY run in 2002, but the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. in the 2001 Daytona 500 forced his promotion to the Cup Series a year early.  Harvick had a sparkling rookie year, winning twice and beating out future Cup champion Kurt Busch for the award (despite missing a race).  Since then Harvick has gone on to a fantastic career, winning numerous major races and the 2014 Cup Series championship.

7. *Matt Kenseth (2000)—39 Cup wins, 1 championship.  Kenseth entered full-time Cup competition in one of the biggest Rookie of the Year battles in memory, beating out Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the 2000 award.  Kenseth would go on to become a star in the Cup Series, posting wins for Roush Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing, reaching the sports’ pinnacle in 2003 with a series championship.  He recently returned to now-RoushFenway Racing for a part-time schedule.

8. Alan Kulwicki (1986)—5 Cup wins, 1 Cup championship.  Despite having to switch to running his own equipment mid-year and missing six races, Kulwicki was still named Rookie of the Year over the full-season efforts of future Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip.  The fiercely-independent Kulwicki would pull off one of the major upsets in Nascar history by winning the 1992 Cup championship as an owner-driver, only to perish in a plane crash the following year.

9. Davey Allison (1987)—19 Cup wins.  Davey Allison’s rookie season was the stuff of legend, winning twice and starting on the front row in the prestigious Daytona 500.  Allison would go on to win such “majors” as the Daytona 500, World 600, two All-Star races, and nearly captured the 1992 series championship.  Tragically his career was cut short in a helicopter crash in 1993.

10. *Denny Hamlin (2006)—31 Cup wins.  Starting out as a substitute for the fired Jason Leffler the previous year, Denny’s Cup career started out like wildfire, winning the Rookie of the Year award on the back of a season sweep at Pocono and a record-high third-place championship points finish.  Hamlin has gone on to win a number of “majors” and post a number of close championship finishes, arguably becoming the greatest driver in Cup to not win a season championship.

Next Week: Positions 11-20

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Nascar Announces Plan to Tout Shrinking Fanbase as "Extremely Exclusive Club"

Having dealt with sinking television ratings and plummeting attendance numbers for several years, Nascar has attempted to deal with the problems in a number of controversial ways—introducing a playoff system, the introduction of stage racing, and more.  However, in an apparent pivot away from such “gimmicks”, Nascar has stated that starting next weekend, a new marketing initiative will promote the sport’s dwindling popularity as an “exclusive opportunity” for fans.
“Everyone wants to get into an exclusive club—well, what’s become a more-exclusive club than the ranks of the Nascar fan?”, Nascar chairman Brian France said from his Daytona Beach offices.  “Anybody can be a pro football or baseball fan, but only a select few can be a Nascar fan, and the time is now to join in on this exclusive opportunity.”
Nascar will roll out the new marketing program starting with Saturday Night’s race, airing a number of commercials promoting the sport’s select clientele of remaining fans.
“One commercial shows a really high-end club in Manhattan—and boy do I know about those—with only about a dozen or so people inside”, France said while standing next to a “The Few, The Proud, The Racefans” sign.  “We then fade to black and these words appear: ‘Less people than the most exclusive cocktail parties in New York—a Nascar race.’  Now who wouldn’t want to join a club that is THAT exclusive?!?”
Commercials will also air during a number of other sporting events, including one that shows a person being crowded at a Major League Baseball stadium, then lounging in comfort at a race.
“Not just anybody can be a race fan, and we’re finally playing up that fact for the first time”, France said proudly.  “We’re the not-so-secret society, the platinum club of platinum clubs, the 1% of the 1%.  So join now, while you still can.”
France went on to point out how such future innovations as mid-week Cup races will do even more to narrow down the fan base’s “exclusivity”.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

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

Editor’s Note: Uncle Max is on his annual summer vacation week, so he texted me his picks yesterday—he should return as usual for next weekend.  Also, a heads-up that Spade Racing will be running a month-long mid-week series throughout July.

Truck Series Overtons 225 (3 wins)—Johnny Sauter: tough to go against the master of the 1.5 milers.

Xfinity Series Overtons 300 (2 wins)—Paul Menard: right about that time for a pointless Penske win.

Cup Series Overtons 400—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Aric Almirola.  Favorite (2 wins): Martin Truex Jr.—hey Mystery—don’t overthink these things.  Next Favorite (2 wins): Denny Hamlin—the march to the ever-elusive championship starts now.  Dark Horse: William Byron—can you say “gas mileage”?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

NBC Sports’ 2018 Innovations for Nascar Coverage

NBC and NBCSN return to cover the second half of the Nascar Cup and Xfinity Series schedule this weekend, kicking things off with 2/3rds of a Chicago tripleheader (…unless it rains).  Here’s some innovations that fans can expect to see on their screens:

—Rutledge Wood to be replaced by a CGI-animated groundhog at random on-camera intervals.  Viewers who can correctly tell them apart win a lock of Kyle Petty’s ponytail.

—Zip-Line Cam, a state-of-the-art camera that will run over the racing surface, capable of reaching speeds of up to 160mph when it snaps and crashes into Kevin Harvick’s roof.

—Heat-Vision, a heat-sensing technology that will allow fans to see just how how a pan of Smithfield-brand bacon gets whilst being cooked.

—New locations for Steve LeTarte to report from, including the flag stand, on top of Dover’s Miles the Monster statue, and in an underground bunker.

—Oh, and some former racer apparently is joining the team.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Denny Hamlin Announces He’s Done with Negativity from Online Idiots

Denny Hamlin came out strong against so-called “Twitter Trolls” this past week, stating that he is no longer willing to engage in negativity online with morons, jerks, and dummies.
“There’s far too much negativity in this world—especially in our sport right now”, Hamlin said in an exclusive followup with Spade Racing.  “I think we all need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and realize that these buttheads are just jealous cretins typing from their parents’ basements.”
Hamlin has been the subject of much online ridicule, for reasons ranging from petty (his ongoing feud with Joey Logano) to Petty (kicking Bubba Wallace Jr. off his rec basketball team) to both (his long ago argument with Kyle Petty at Dover).  But Hamlin now claims to be beyond all that.
“Not to sound naive, but the world really does need more happiness and positivity—not whiny drivel from some pinhead who’s never turned a lap in his lifetime”, Hamlin said.  “From now on I’m refusing to give these nincompoops an audience—its just ‘scroll right by those twits’ and move on.”
Hamlin’s placid attitude towards blockheads may help him in his pursuit of an elusive first-ever Cup championship.
“This season is all about winning—stages, races, and a championship”, Hamlin forthrightly explained.  “And we’re not going to let any simpleton, dolt, or dimwit stand in our way.  The only thing that’s going to stop us is another driver outperforming us on the track—well, that or my back flaring up again.”
When asked for his comments, Hamlin’s teammate Kyle Busch—a lightning rod for criticism both online and otherwise—had this to say: “Hey, if someone wants to criticize me, I’ll debate ‘em online—thanks to Nascar’s limits on Cup drivers in lower series I got plenty of time.”

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Sonoma/Gateway

Back from the off-week and its time to rock and roll!  Not just with Nascar picks but with work as well—I got a week jam-packed with stuff to do before I go away on my annual summer vacation.  That’s right, nothing but sun, sand, and BBQ’s for almost a whole week while I get to stay for a price that’s next to nothing.  How, you may ask?  Well, for all you guys out there, you might not want to learn how to cook, but you at least should know how to BBQ—once word gets around you’ll be invited to every party just to make your almost-famous burgers.

Truck Series Villa Lighting Eaton 200 (3 wins)—John Hunter Nemechek: Dang Xfinity Series regulars always ruining races.

Cup Series Toyota/SaveMart 350—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Ryan Blaney.  Favorite (2 wins): Kyle Busch—Proven road course race winner over some guy from Ohio.  Next Favorite (1 win): Martin Truex Jr. (1 win)—One of his many many MANY home tracks.  Dark Horse: Bubba Wallace Jr.—RPM uses wacky pit strategy and a stroke of luck to break through.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Nascar K&N Pro Series Racing vs. Cup Racing: A Spade Racing Comparison

On Saturday I attended the Nascar K&N Pro Series East race at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP).  Wondering what a regional developmental series race is like compared to big-time racing?  Glad you asked!

THERE’S MORE ACCESS—There’s a “fan walk” for fans before opening ceremonies—Cup races usually have this as an add-on, but the K&N Pro Series provides this to all fans for no additional charge.  Fans also have much easier access to the drivers themselves for autographs and pictures, although this is because…

YOU WON’T KNOW ANY DRIVERS—Unless you have a personal connection to one of the drivers—or you’re the hardest of hardcore fans—you’ll have difficultly recognizing any of the drivers in the race. Unlike, say, ARCA, the K&N Pro Series is populated almost solely by young up-and-coming drivers.  While there’s a chance you’ll know a driver, it’ll likely only be a second-generation legacy kid with a famous father.

LOWER PRICES, LESS SELECTION—Similar to minor league baseball, the K&N Pro Series is a lower-cost alternative for race fans.  Tickets themselves were reasonably priced while premium add-ons (indoor seating, food/drink included, etc.) wouldn’t break most banks.  One downside to this, however, is that there’s far fewer spending options—don’t expect to find driver/team concession trailers, as most of these drivers have no merchandise to speak of.

TOUGH TO FOLLOW—New Jersey Motorsports Park is a road course, and the lack of TV coverage made this race particularly difficult to follow.  There was no camera feed to show, and no scoreboard on-site to track the leaders.  One silver lining, however, was not being bombarded by constant ads.

LESS OF A HASSLE, BUT STILL A HASSLE—There’s far less fans at K&N Pro Series races, which means less trouble getting in and out of the track.  However, as usual, all it takes is one jerk to ruin it—the woman who was in charge of directing traffic through the gates was obnoxious and rude.

LESS DRIVERS—There were only 17 cars entered in Saturday’s race—one withdrew prior to arrival and another withdrew the day of the race.  With only 15 cars on the track, action could get a bit thin, although this was likely exacerbated by the road-course format.

In summary, if you like your racing to be close to the roots of the sport, with less bells-and-whistles and more drivers with potential to be future stars, get yourself to your nearest K&N Pro Series race.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Iowa Off-Week

Editor’s Note: Its a busy week around Spade Racing, as I will be covering the Nascar K&N Pro Series East race at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Saturday.  Meanwhile, Uncle Max just sent me his picks for the Iowa races:

Truck Series M&Ms 200 (3 wins)—Noah Gragson: Leading a charge of young guns this weekend

Xfinity Series Enogen 250 (2 wins)—Cole Custer: Back to no Cup drivers (which is to say, entertaining).

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Nascar Workout

Unless you’re unenlightened, you probably know that most Nascar drivers are in amazing physical shape to deal with the rigors of the sport.  But we’re not here today to talk about how drivers get into shape—we’re here to show you how you can get into shape by being like a Nascar driver!
Using the Nascar Workout you can become as physically fit as a stock car racer in no time!  Small stature!  Powerful physique!  Crippling back pain!  And it’s all possible with The Nascar Workout patented program.  Just take a look at this sample seven-day schedule:

Sunday: Spend a morning pretending to like corporate toadies.  Sit in a 140 degree metal box for four straight hours to achieve peak weight loss and dehydration.  Get a microphone shoved in your face immediately after exiting.

Monday: RECOVERY DAY—lay in bed for 18 hours wondering what you’re going to do if your sponsor abandons you.

Tuesday: Hour of autographing diecast cars to work out your forearms and shoulders.  Simulated “team meeting” to provide inner-zen.

Wednesday: Media tour simulation—provides fine motor skill training by attaching and removing tiny microphone to your collar.  Finish it off by sitting in an uncomfortable director’s chair waiting to be interviewed by Parker Kligerman for Nascar America (no, this isn’t a simulation—Parker Kligerman will actually interview YOU!)

Thursday: RECOVERY DAY—simulated private jet travel.  Build inner confidence and interpersonal skills by simulating sitting on a plane for five hours with six guys who have the same schedule you do but make 1/10th of your salary.

Friday: Core body workout via practice run simulation—getting in and out of a car with no windows does wonders for your abs.

Saturday: Guest Broadcaster Roleplaying—build self-discipline and inner peace through mediation in order to not punch Michael Waltrip lookalike who constantly elbows you.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Michigan/Texas

You know, there’s nothing like getting a new car to throw you off your game.  I mentioned a while back that I got a sweet deal on a new sedan, and while its great to not have to worry about power steering fluid anymore, its strange having to “recalibrate” all my routines.  I mean, before it was easy to know where to reach for my bottled water—now, its a few inches off.  And the keys dangle down jussssst enough that I can feel them scraping against my knee.  Not that I’m afraid of change, however—I was the one who suggested that we go to a 4-day, 10-hour-a-day workweek at work for all our hourly employees.  And someday, they’ll realize that its a change worth making.

Truck Series Rattlesnake 400k (2 wins)—Johnny Sauter: no Cup interlopers?  Go with the veteran on the big track.

Xfinity Series LTi Printing 250 (2 wins)—Kyle Busch: CHALK!  AGAIN!!!

Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Kyle Larson.  Favorite (2 wins): Kevin Harvick—oh yeah, Mystery Picker?  Well lets see you break through domination.  Next Favorite Kyle Busch (2 wins)—see previous entry.  Dark Horse: Alex Bowman—a pretty strong track for the ol’ 88 car.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Spade Racing Movie Previews: Summer Blockbuster Season

Its that time of the year again—temperatures are rising, the storm clouds are gathering, and everyone’s celebrating mother nature by hiding out in their local multiplex movie theater.  Here’s a look at the upcoming motion pictures with Nascar themes:

Hereditary—watch as Chase Elliott wrecks half the field in pursuit of his first win—then watch as his fans explain how its OK if he does it, but Kyle Busch needs to be banned from the sport for tapping someone one time.

Ocean’s 8—Dale Earnhardt Jr. reveals the real reason why he never raced the 8 car again—the last time he did, he had “Caribbean Queen” stuck in his head.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?—What’s it like to live in one of the Charlotte Motor Speedway condos?  Its time to find out!!! (SPOILER ALERT: its pretty boring 49 weeks out of the year)

Tag—A member of Nascar’s Driver Council has their annual meeting with the sport’s rising stars, explaining how body sprays such as Axe and Tag are highly flammable and, typically, act as Pit Lizard Repellant.

Jurassic World—Morgan Shepherd vs. Derrike Cope in a thrilling battle for 38th place!

Uncle Drew—Former Xfinity Series substitute driver Drew Herring tries to figure out what happened to himself.

The First Purge—Tony Stewart gets thrown out of the Nascar Hall of Fame before his induction.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Nascar on Fox Season Finale Rumors

Fox is mere weeks away from wrapping up their 2018 coverage of the Nascar Cup and Xfinity Series.  Here’s some rumors on how they plan to end things this season:
What a stunner in the final episode
of IndyCar on ABC!!!

—Darrell Waltrip finally catches the One-Armed Man who framed him for killing objectivity and professionalism in broadcasting (presented by Toyota).

—Jeff Gordon leaves in a helicopter, looking down at white rocks arranged in the infield by Larry McReynolds that spell out “LET ME BACK IN THE BOOTH”.

—Michael Waltrip wakes up in bed next to Buffy, realizing that the past twenty years have all been a bad dream—he’s still a happily married also-ran who is disliked by hardcore fans and ignored by others.

—In a shocking reveal, it turns out that the entire season was imagined by Chris Myers staring at a snow globe containing the Hollywood Hotel.

—Mike Joy sits at a restaurant while Journey plays in the background (NOTE: this is how most people picture Mike Joy during the offseason).

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

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

Well I’m glad that my Cup pick came through on Sunday night (and that Mystery Picker wound up in DFL 40th place!) but Memorial Day weekend wound up being kind of a downer overall for me.
First, we had rain.  Lots of rain.  More than enough to ruin the BBQ I was supposed to go to.  Then My one day of work—Sunday—we had our roof leaking.  And guess who had to mop it up every half hour when the buckets overflowed?  Monday was a waste as well, as my plans to get together with some old coworkers for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals fell apart because apparently one of them got food poisoning over the weekend.  This is as good a time as any to remind you that the less you know the person running the cookout, the more well-done you should have them cook your burgers.

Xfinity Series Pocono Green 250 (1 win)—Kyle Busch: CHALK!

Cup Series Pocono 400—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Aric Almirola.  Favorite (2 wins): Denny Hamlin—just too tough to pick against the Pocono master.  Next Favorite: Martin Truex Jr. (1 win)—yep, its still the Toyotas (and SHR Fords) dominating.  Dark Horse: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.—for the record I’d have picked AA if Mystery Picker hadn’t.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Say it Loudy and Say it Proudy: The Accomplishments of Rowdy

On Sunday night Kyle Busch managed to score a points-paying win at the last remaining track that he hadn’t—Charlotte—allowing him to claim that he has now won at every track currently on the circuit.  As well as with his personal goals of accumulating a voluminous number of wins in all three touring series, here’s a look at some other accomplishments Kyle Busch has achieved in his career:
"Sorry about taking your job, Kyle"
"Its fine--things worked out pretty
good for me"

—Most all-time wins in the Xfinity Series

—Least amount of races needed to win a Cup championship

—Good end of the worst transaction in Nascar history (being released in favor of retaining Casey Mears)

—Fastest time from race finish to leaving the track facility

—Successfully ripping off Rasheed “Both Teams Played Hard” Wallace with “Everything’s Great"

—Making more money in a single year than all the people who criticize him online will make in their lifetimes combined.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

1,000,000th Article Written About the Decline of Nascar

An important milestone was reached in motorsports media today, as the 1,000,000th article, column, or think-piece about the decline of Nascar was penned, edited, and uploaded onto a major website.
“Wow, I knew there were a few other articles about the subject, but I had no idea mine was the one millionth”, said Katie Kelley, a lead motorsports columnist for The Motorsports Review, a longtime home for online racing coverage.  “I’m just glad that the readers of our fine website will be informed that Nascar is, in fact, in trouble, having lost numerous fans over the past ten or so years.”
The article, titled “Why Nascar is Losing its Luster”, reviews numerous issues Nascar has at the moment, such as an aging fanbase, falling TV ratings, and half-full race tracks, all of which have been discussed previously hundreds of thousands of times.
“Nascar really needs to take a hard look at itself in the mirror if they want to survive into the next generation”, Kelley’s column finishes.  “If not, nobody will be crying about the loss, because nobody will care”.
The column, which claims to “not just bash current leadership”, lays most of the blame at the feet of current chairman Brian France, as have roughly 930,000+ of the million articles written on the subject.  Following in tradition, Kelley’s article also mentions the retirement of recent popular drivers, the prevalence of “cookie-cutter” 1.5 mile ovals, and uses the phrase “the dreaded aero-push”.
Kelley appears to have reached the milestone mere minutes before general sports columnist R. Edward Morriss’s article “The Future of Nascar—Why There Might Not Be One” was uploaded to the website of newspaper The Whig-Herald.
Neither article, nor any of the now-1,000,000+ articles on the subject, offered any ideas on how to reverse the decline.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

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

Well, I’m back at full strength for picking time!!!  I finally got some loose ends tied up—the work schedule is finally settled on, I got my vacation all picked out for the summer, and just renewed on my town house lease for another 11 months.  But best of all, no more car troubles for me—I got a new car!
That’s right, good old Uncle Max just got the deal of a lifetime from a local dealer.  Unlike gambling, I’m not one to give away secrets on how to get a great deal on a car—the more people you tell, the less impact they’ll have when YOU need them.  But lets just say that sometimes it comes in handy to know how to act both pathetic and needy at the same time!

Xfinity Series Alsco 300 (1 win)—Christopher Bell: right about that time for a breakthrough win.

Cup Series World 600—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Kevin Harvick.  Favorite (1 win): Kyle Busch—Seriously—is Mystery Picker ACTUALLY Kevin Harvick?!?  Next Favorite: Brad Keslowski (1 win)—complete with a post-race interview that’ll put us to sleep.  Dark Horse: Chase Elliott—kinda weird to have him listed as a “Dark Horse”, but hey—he’s still winless and he’s driving a Chevy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Rain Pain—Possible Impossible Solutions

What will we have more of this year:
Rain delays or Harvick wins?
2018 in Nascar Cup has had two overarching themes—Chevrolets sucking and plenty of rain disrupting races.  While people often complain about how rain will shorten, delay, or completely postpone a race, little is offered in the way of solutions.

That’s where I come in!

Pros: Tarps stored under the SAFER barriers could be deployed within minutes of the first raindrops (especially at smaller tracks) either by track personnel or an automatic system.  And once the rain stops, you have a dry track ready for action.  
Cons: How many races would it be until someone wrecks and the tarp accidentally deploys?  And you just KNOW Kenny Wallace would do a “rain delay slide routine” and act like he’s never heard of Rick Dempsey.

Pros: Theory goes that if cars keep going around it will dispel the moisture in the air, essentially “splitting” the storm around the track.
Cons: Besides the whole matter of science proving that it doesn’t work, would anyone want to hear Darrell Waltrip even MORE emboldened to share his “wisdom” with us?

Pros: By putting a roof over the track, racing would be able to occur no matter the weather—rain, snow, or otherwise.  Fans would be protected from the elements, and the infield could be used for multiple other non-racing events.
Cons: Running a car in an enclosed space is usually how people kill themselves.

Pros: Grooved tires would allow the rain water to be wicked away from I can’t even pretend that this is a viable option.  
Cons: Tires need to be ungrooved (“slick”) in order to stick to banked tracks.  Banking would cause the water to pool on the apron and in the pits.  Any other moisture would be splashed onto fans.  And who the heck wants to watch a race in the rain anyways?  Well, besides weirdo sports car fans?

Pros: The most-sensible solution is the one we have now—waiting out the rain, drying the track, and in a worst-case scenario, waiting until the next day.
Cons: But I have work tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

“Off-Week” Update & A Truck Series Pick by Uncle Max

"Buy my book!"
Due to that pesky little thing called “real life” this will likely be the only article this week—hey, its an non-points event so its not like its a heartbreaker.  This is as good a time as any to remind you all that I have my first-ever book available for purchase on Amazon (paperback or Kindle) via

And now here’s Uncle Max with his pick for Friday’s Truck Series race:

Truck Series NC Education Lottery 200 (2 wins)—Kyle Busch: And I’ll make some bonus non-points picks for the All-Star race too: Chase Elliott, William Byron, and Ty Dillon advance from the Open, Bubba Wallace gets the fan vote, and Brad Keselowski wins the All-Star race.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Brian France Puts Nascar For Sale on Ebay

Responding definitively to rumors that Nascar would was being shopped for sale, CEO and Chairman Brian France confirmed that he has placed the sanctioning body for purchase on popular online auction website Ebay.
“We’re always looking at possible business opportunities at Nascar, be they sponsors, supplier, or even purchasers”, France said from his offices in Daytona Beach.  “Ever since the rumor was floated that Nascar could be sold, we’ve seen a lot of interest from people wondering if Nascar would be sold.
“I felt that the best way to properly gauge interest, not to mention to get a proper valuation, was to let the open market decide on Ebay.”, France said.
France appears to have placed the multimillion-dollar property—which would entail Nascar’s brand, intellectual property, various sanctioning agreements, and lucrative broadcasting contracts—for sale as a traditional auction sometime late Tuesday Night.  France, using the user name of “BFRacer”, has a feedback rating in of 89, with most of his positive comments coming from various diecast collectable sales over the past few years.
“We believe heavily in the free-market enterprise here at Nascar”, France said.  “So what better way to see what we’re worth than to let the free-market decide?  That’s what makes this country great—that, and any buyer would be able to take advantage of local municipalities offering tax breaks for race dates.”
Currently no one seems to have reached France’s minimum asking price, although there was briefly a bid placed from “F1DaddyBern” which turned out to be a hoax.
When asked if Nascar chose to use Ebay due to Ebay Motors’ heavy presence during Nascar on Fox broadcasts, a surprised-looking France responded “They do that?  All the better then!”

Thursday, May 10, 2018

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

EDITOR’S NOTE: Uncle Max informed me privately that he was unable to provide his usual write-up due to ongoing car troubles.  He texted me his picks late Wednesday night.

Truck Series 37 Kind Days 250 (2 wins)—Johnny Sauter: GMS keeps rolling…well, in racing at least.

Xfinity Series OneMain Financial 200 (1 win)—John Hunter Nemechek: Just call him Concrete ‘Chek.

Cup Series KC Masterpiece 400—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Kyle Larson.  Favorite (1 win): Kyle Busch—The Chevys just don’t have it this year, M.P.  Next Favorite: Kevin Harvick—The drive for five is a remarkably short one.  Dark Horse: Aric Almirola—first win in years comes at the track that broke his back.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Stupid Opinions on Popular Sports Through the Years

"Baseball in the major leagues, its really not that different from the sandlot game.  To be honest, anyone with the right attitude could make a big-league club and succeed, were the chances right.” —Glenn “No-Hit” Mills, 1928, career minor leaguer who earned his nickname as a batter.

“Golf is the same no matter what the level of play.  Its always going to be eighteen holes, be it Pebble Beach or your local municipal course.  The difference isn’t that big.” —Chester Aston, 1959, club pro who failed to qualify for a single PGA event.

“I’ve played the college game, and I’ve played the pro game, and let me tell you—the NFL is not all its cracked up to be.” —Marcus Hook, 1980, first player cut from NFL team rosters five years in a row.

“They make the Olympics out to be this big deal, but really?  Its about as easy as it gets, no matter the event.” —Ben Salem, 2004, “winner” of the rarely awarded tin medal for lack of athletic success.

“All the IndyCar fans out there might find this warm and fuzzy, but everyone would always ask me if I had a hard time driving those big old stock cars and if they were really physical, and I’m like, ‘No, they are way easier than an Indy car to drive.’” —Danica Patrick, Nascar driver who failed to score a single win in over 250 national touring series starts.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Mother Nature Admits She Doesn’t Like Nascar

Spade Racing was able to obtain an exclusive interview with one of Nascar’s biggest enemies this year, reaching Mother Nature at her home palace in the sky above the earth.  In her brief on-the-record statements, she affirmed that she simply doesn’t really like stock car racing.
Mother Nature (file photo)
“I’ve never been a big Nascar fan”, Mother Nature told us this afternoon.  “As the sole controller of weather on planet Earth, I let my disdain be known from time-to-time, but I’m really showing it this year.”
When asked why Mother Nature had expressed her anger towards Nascar so far this spring, she offered to elaborate:
“Well, its not one thing, but its a bunch of things.  As you might guess, I’m a bit of an environmentalist, and Nascar’s never been the greenest sport.  But at least before they didn’t try to hide their disregard for me, but now they’re shoving those Nascar Green commercials down our throats—come on, Nascar, we know you don’t really care.
“And another thing—Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. was my favorite driver”, Mother Nature explained, “he seemed like a pretty nice guy, so when I would catch a race every once in a while—my husband Father Time is a big racing buff—I usually cheered for him.  But with Junior gone, what’s the point?”
Mother Nature also appeared to have little respect for Nascar’s recent attempts at trying to outsmart her.
“Moving up races’ start times, huh?”, Mother Nature said, glaring at us as her voice rose.  “Well, I’ll just move up the precipitation numbers on you.  I can make it snow in the springtime in Virginia, and that was on a day when I was in a GOOD mood.  And by the way, feel free to let Darrell Waltrip know that that stupid Vortex (theory) thing doesn’t work at all.”
We were then shown the door and told not to return, as Mother Nature was preparing to put water in every race fan’s fuel lines on Monday morning.