Saturday, September 22, 2018

Ryan Newman One More Team Away from Free Hat from Nascar.com


With tonight’s announcement that Ryan Newman would be departing Richard Childress Racing for Roush Fenway Racing in 2019, the “Rocket Man” will have raced for his fourth team in Nascar’s Cup Series, leaving him one team away from earning a free hat on Nascar.com.
“The chance to sign with Roush Fenway (Racing) was a natural move for me”, Newman said.  “A shorter commute to work, less pressure, and more importantly it gets me another stamp on my “Frequent Team Changer” card I got when I started in this sport.  Just one more team left and its a free hat for Mr. Friday!”
Newman has raced, so far, for Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing, and RCR, with RFR due to become his fourth team.  Nascar apparently instituted the “Frequent Team Changer” program shortly before Newman’s rookie year, although rumors persist that such a spiff was actually a practical joke from Rusty Wallace.
“A free hat?  Well, maybe losing my ride at JTG-D isn’t so bad at all”, A.J. Allmendinger said when reached for comment.  “Who’s gonna turn down a free hat?  As a matter of fact, who’s gonna turn down anything free that someone gives you?”
Newman is reportedly already looking at a hat-winning fifth team to race for post-Roush, considering such options as Richard Petty Motorsports, GoFAS Racing, and whatever it is Obaika is planning.
“I plan on staying full-time in the Cup Series for the near-future—I think I still have some good years left in me”, Newman said.  “Besides, the bar’s been set so low by Trevor Bayne, all I have to do is get some top-20s and I’m golden.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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


I love autumn—football, meaningful baseball, more football, the Nascar Playoffs, and most importantly, lots of football.  This always reminds me of my time on the high school football team.
Oh what, you didn’t know that ol’ Uncle Max played some high school ball?  Well I did…sorta.  I was the varsity football team manager my Junior and Senior years—and DON’T call me a “Water Boy”, I never once handled a single bottle.  I was really in charge of keeping the statistics during the games and making sure all the equipment was back on the bus after a road game.  Sure I wasn’t the most athletic teenager in the world, but at least I got two varsity letters.

Xfinity Series Go Bowling 250 (5 wins)—Tyler Reddick: Another young gun makes himself visible for a Cup ride.


Cup Series South Point 400—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Ryan Newman.  Favorite (4 wins): Denny Hamlin—I’m picking a mild surprise to win, but Mystery might need to be drug-tested.  Next Favorite (5 wins): Kevin Harvick—a recovery from last week’s tire disaster is in order.  Dark Horse: Alex Bowman—been awhile since we had an real oddball winner, eh?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Unboxing and Unwrapping: Parts 9 & 10


9. The #2, Danica deux, and a pill that’s blue

OVERVIEW:  Not too much success beyond the 1990’s in this set, although we do get a nice shot of Kevin Harvick’s car.  Its worth noting that pretty much every pack seems to come with one “horizontal” card showing a car rather than a driver.  This is the time to make a “I’d sure like to get Danica horizontal!” joke, so do so if you’d like, weirdos.

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  Speaking of Danica, according to Clint Bowyer’s card-back “…Tony Stewart assembled an all-star cast in 2017, grouping Clint Bowyer with Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick”.  Um, right.

PICK OF THE PACK:  We get a nice shot of Mark Martin in his second-most famous sponsor’s gear—why not Valvoline?  I’m guessing someone at Donruss/Panini has the maturity of a 12-year-old by choosing Viagra colors.

FINAL RATING:  3 annoying commercials out of 10


10. Happy, sappy, and a legend who got “lappy”

OVERVIEW:  A nice collection of talent here—even with two each of Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch, there’s some real star power in this pack.  The only two outliers are Brandon Jones and Ned Jarrett—while Ned is no doubt a champion, holding the record for largest margin of victory in Nascar history, its odd that they chose what appears to be a wax figure of him for his picture.

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  Brandon Jones gets the lame descriptor of “baby-faced”…hey writers—pretty much any young driver is going to look “baby-faced”.  And we never get the opposite.  I’d love to read at least once, “Matt Kenseth, whose face looked like the surface of the moon crossed with an old wallet you’d find at a Goodwill store…”

PICK OF THE PACK:  Brad Keselowski gets in a shout-out to his hometown on the back of his Race Kings card.  Here’s a point to ponder—if the “trophy” they give out at the end of the race is in no way a trophy (grandfather clock, live lobster, etc.), is it really a trophy?

FINAL RATING:  6 sponsors out of 10

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Double-Back—What Tracks Need to Do to Get a 2nd Cup Race


Nascar’s Cup Series made its first-ever second trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway today as the 1.5 miler earned a second date on the schedule this year.  Here’s what Nascar’s other once-a-year Cup tracks need to do to get themselves that coveted return trip:

Atlanta—Figure out a way to prevent it from raining like it seems to do at EVERY DAMN RACE they have.

Auto Club—Let more people into their precious “Auto Club”—just because a guy doesn’t live in California doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to get that 10% off coupon at Jiffy Lube!

Chicagoland—1.) Invent a time machine.  2.) Go back in time.  3.) Let the track architects know that having a racing surface with no true straightaways doesn’t make it cute, it makes it incredibly dull.

Darlington—Force every race fan who says they’d go to a second race here to actually buy tickets to said second race.

Homestead—Run the race in the heat of the summer during the day and promote it as an endurance race.  First driver to pass out from dehydration gets a stage point.

Indianapolis—Have half the field run as usual and the other half run the road course.  Include a few barrels on the track and some oil slicks for fun.

Kentucky—Redo the track layout so that instead of the track and garage spelling out “DW”, it spells out “BF”.

New Hampshire—Dismantle the track and reassemble it in the greater New York City area.

Sonoma—Just run the second race at “Sears Point” and add a chicane or two—most people won’t be able to tell the difference.  Oh, and water the damn grass.

Watkins Glen—Free admission to anyone named “Glen” should keep the track’s sellout run going.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Las Vegas


And now, for your gambling pleasure, here’s Uncle Max’s Nascar Playoff Preview:
Round of 16 Eliminations: Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney
Round of 12 Eliminations: Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson
Round of 8 Eliminations: Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr.
Round of 4 (Homestead) Eliminations: Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski
2018 Nascar Cup Champion: Kevin Harvick

Truck Series Westgate 200 (3 wins)—Matt Crafton: if anyone knows how to “flip the switch” in the playoffs, its him.

Xfinity Series DC Solar 300 (5 wins)—Christopher Bell: making it harder and harder to keep him in Xfinity next year.

Cup Series South Point 400—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Joey Logano.  Favorite (4 wins): Kevin Harvick—time for The Closer to start closing in on his second championship.  Next Favorite (5 wins): Kyle Busch—it IS his hometown track, after all.  Dark Horse: Jimmie Johnson—pretty much ANY Chevy is a dark horse on a 1.5 miler this year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Unboxing and Unwrapping: Parts 7 & 8

7. Jamie’s jaw, Tyler raw, and breakin’ the law(?)


OVERVIEW:  Nice mix of the slightly-old and new in this set, though one has to wonder what went through the minds of Donuss/Panini when they selected that picture of Tyler Reddick.  He looks sick to his stomach in that shot—maybe he just caught a glimpse of some of Greg Biffle’s “security footage”?

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  Steel-jawed Jamie McMurray gets some nice compliments on his card, at least that was the intent.  “Second-most top-10 finishes of his career”?  “finished seventh”?  Talk about damning with faint praise, guys.

PICK OF THE PACK:  Race King Jimmie Johnson gets the individually numbered treatment here, and this card was easy as pi.  Sorry.

FINAL RATING:  6 stage wins out of 10


8. Cale, Dale, and alluding to a fail


OVERVIEW:  A pretty great selection of former drivers with three Cup champions and a darn fine racer in Harry Gant to boot.  No idea why Donruss/Panini chose to make their “CLASSICS” series cards look like the infamous Billy Ripken, um, “Ford Face” card of the late-80’s.

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  A nice reminder on the back of the Dale Jr. card of just how lacking he was in the qualifying department.  Just another connection between Dale Jr. and Matt Kenseth, who entered the sport together, left full-time racing together, and have equally insufferable fanbases.

PICK OF THE PACK:  There’s always going to be some “common cards” in any set.  Case in point: Michael Annett.  I don’t know how you can call “six top-10 finishes during the regular season” a “successful return”, but what do I know?

FINAL RATING:  7 trophies out of 10

Monday, September 10, 2018

Missing the 2018 Nascar Cup Playoffs—What’s YOUR Excuse?


The field for the 2018 Nascar Cup Playoffs has been set, and as usual there’s more than a few drivers left angry, disappointed, or worse.  Spade Racing obtained some exclusive interviews with these disappointed drivers to figure out why they didn’t make it this year:

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: “I was starting to wonder about my abilities as a driver, but then I saw how crummy the 6 car ran when they put (Matt) Kenseth in there for a few races, which kinda made me feel better.  Its kinda like getting a bunch of C’s on your report card, then finding out that your older sister got waitlisted for community college.”

Ryan Newman: “We had a challenging year at RCR, but I think we did as well as we could with what we had.  And by ‘we’, I mean ‘anyone at RCR who doesn’t have ‘Childress’ or ‘Dillon’ as a last name.”
Menards going to the Playoffs...in a manner
of speaking

Paul Menard: “I knew that going to a team with Penske power would prove my driving skills to everyone, and sure enough it has.”

Daniel Suarez: “Everybody was talking about the difficulty I would have living up to the standards of Carl Edwards, but I really wanted to focus on the example set by OTHER drivers in the 19 Cup car in the past, guys like Loy Allen Jr. and Gary Bradberry.”

Chris Buescher:  “I didn’t really contend for wins this year, I was an afterthought in the points standings, and I have no idea where I’ll be racing next year.  But at least I got a cameo in the Nascar on NBC intro package.”

Ty Dillon: “Just tell (Ryan) Newman I heard what he said about my family, and I look forward to swapping rides with him for 2019.  Let’s see how HE likes having people quote Geico commercials to you all day long.”

Landon Cassill: “Running with a new team like StarCom Racing, making the playoffs was really an unrealistic expectation.  But I’m glad with all we’ve accomplished in such a short time, and I’m hoping that I can save up enough money for a haircut sometime this fall.”

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Death of Stroker Ace


One of NASCAR’s most flamboyant heroes has passed away, with former champion Stroker Ace dying this past Thursday from natural causes. 
“Mr. Ace was a true legend, both on and off the track”, acting NASCAR communications director Mary Nelsne said in a prepared statement. “Whether it was destroying his old team owner’s car, driving in a chicken suit for the infamous Clyde Torkel, or his memorable scraps with his mechanic, the late Lugs Harvey, Ace was a real force of nature.”
Ace’s battled constantly with team owner Torkel, who also owned his primary sponsor at the time, The Chicken Pit. The two reportedly made peace with each other in recent years. 
“Today is a sad day at Chicken Pits everywhere”, Torkel said in a brief press release. “We may have had our differences, but Stroker and I won a championship together, and there’s nothing that can take that away. In memorium, I’m ordering all flags flown at half-staff at all participating locations for ‘The Fastest Chicken in the South’”.
Ace’s career seemed to stall after losing makeshift crew member Arnold from his team. In his later years he attracted attention for his forays into the worlds of adult films, low-cost collision repair, and his frequent sparring with Alex Trebek on Celebrity Jeopardy. 

Nelsne’s statement mentioned that in Ace’s honor, the sport would retire his mustache at the end of the season.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

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


Here’s my predictions for this year’s NFL season:
Division Champs: Cowboys, Vikings, Panthers, Rams, Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars, Chiefs
Wild Card Teams: Eagles, Saints, Texans, Raiders
Biggest Good Team Surprises: Panthers and Cowboys dominate the regular season, Browns nearly post a winning record, Giants come on strong to finish
Biggest Bad Team Surprises: Washington falls through the floor, all non-Pats teams in the AFC East struggle to reach .500, Seahawks take a dive as “the window” closes
Conference Championship Games: Saints over Eagles, Patriots over Jaguars
Super Bowl: Patriots 35-Saints 28

Xfinity Series Lilly Diabetes 250 (5 wins)—Elliott Sadler: its about time that young kid broke through.

Cup Series Big Machine 400—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Ryan Blaney.  Favorite (4 wins): Kyle Busch—hey Mystery, what’s up with your above-average but not contending driver obsession?  Next Favorite (4 wins): Brad Keselowski—these things really DO tend to come in bunches.  Dark Horse: Daniel Suarez—something something “it runs like a road course” something something “fuel mileage”.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Unboxing and Unwrapping: Parts 5 & 6


5. The maiden fair, Chase is there, and facial hair
 


OVERVIEW:  This is a beard-a-riffic pack, with half the cards featuring some kind of stubble.  We also get a random appearance by Ward Burton, double the Chase Elliott, and a helpful reminder that you can call Jimmie Johnson “JJ”—maybe Mr. Yeley should consider legal action.

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  Nice use of the “backhanded compliment” by Donruss Panini on Chase’s “Race Kings” card, pointing out his three consecutive runner-up finishes at Michigan.  Why don’t they just put a picture of Cal Naughton Jr. on the front and be done with it?

PICK OF THE PACK:  Danica Patrick makes her first appearance in this pack, touting her, um, “success” at Dover.  Maybe they could’ve cut out the “first top-10 finish in two seasons…” part?

FINAL RATING:  5 post-race fist fights out of 10


6. Chase is merry, Bill looks cherry, and for some reason, Kerry
 


OVERVIEW:  Bit of an odd combination in this set—an unusually happy-looking Chase Elliot is “TOP TIER”, which I guess means he’s the best kind of gasoline to put in your engine.  Perhaps someone could explain to me why Kerry Earnhardt, a journeyman who hasn’t raced in years, was included in this set?

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  Bill Elliott explains that he still went back to work on his car after winning the Winston Million.  I understand how its supposed to make him look like someone who never rested on his laurels, but it kinda comes off as depressing.  “Well, I won the championship in 1988—guess that means there were about 30 years when I didn’t win it though”.  (note: not an actual quote from Bill Elliott)

PICK OF THE PACK:  Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gets a pun explained on the back of his card.  Really, “Fast and all” sounds like it should be followed by something negative, like, “He’s Fast and all, but his race team peaked about a decade ago”.

FINAL RATING:  3 victory lane hats out of 10

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Nascar Introduces New “Turn Ahead The Clock” Promotion


Since its introduction a few years ago, Nascar’s “Throwback Weekend” at Darlington has turned into one of the most-anticipated races of the year.  Now, building off that success, Nascar will introduce a “Throwforward Weekend” at Dover, introducing the sport’s first-ever Turn Ahead The Clock promotion.
“We’re glad to say that we’ve partnered with Nascar on this exciting new program”, said Dover Motorsports spokesperson Katie Kelley.  “Nascar’s about more than just looking backwards—its about looking forwards.  After all, you see much more out of the windshield than you do out of the rearview mirror—oh wait, that’s a great slogan!”
As with Darlington’s current Throwback Weekend, teams will be left to choose which years and eras to come they will be honoring.  However, the track itself will be getting into the spirit as well.
“Instead of a giant check going to contingency award winners, we’ll show credits being deposited into their accounts”, Kelley said.  “Our concession stands will offer the bold flavor combinations of the future, such as chicken-fried ice cream and beef-infused beers.  And because we’re located near the coast, we’ll make sure to flood the surrounding area to simulate the effects of global warming.”
For its part, Nascar itself has said they will play up the “futuristic” feel of the event too.
“We’re going to have a futuristic Nascar Cup presented by Soylent Green logo on each car”, a Nascar spokesman said.  “Beyond that, expect a few surprises that you might not have predicted to see on your favorite Toyota Prius, Chevy Volt, or Hyundai Ioniq.”

Fans are also expected to get in the spirit of a race taking place in the future by not showing up.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Nascar Pick Challenge: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Darlington Throwback Weekend


The football fantasy draft is in the rear view mirror!  In case you’re still having yours (a good move since you never know who’s going to get injured in the last round of preseason games), here’s some draft hosting advice:

—Make sure there’s ample parking at your place—even if this means letting your neighbor into the league just so you can use his driveway (just kidding Chuck, we love ya!).

—Finger foods and snacks are always a good idea, but have plenty of candy and soda on hand if your draft goes long.  Never hurts to have an emergency supply of sugar handy.

—Have a fun “double-whammy” if someone selects a player who’s already been selected.  Suggestions include having them chug a beer, text an insult to their boss, or make the rest of their picks in a funny accent (for Nascar-flavor, have them do picks as Ward Burton!).

—Print up the player name cards large enough that everyone can see them.  Sorry, but not all of us have 20/20 vision.

—Above all else, have fun, good luck, and don’t take checks for payment (learned THAT one the hard way).

Xfinity Series Sport Clips VFW 200 (5 wins)—Denny Hamlin: spoiling the fun just like Mark Martin used to do back in the day.

Cup Series Bojangles Southern 500—MYSTERY PICKER (4 wins) PICKS Erik Jones.  Favorite (4 wins): Martin Truex—TruJu ruins the throwback fun.  Next Favorite (4 wins): Kevin Harvick—who knew that Busch had so many beer can designs in the 90’s.  Dark Horse: Jimmie Johnson—no better way to solidify the future (well, besides picking up steady sponsorship for 2019).

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Unboxing and Unwrapping--Parts 3 & 4


3. Junior pontificates, Brad radiates, and where The King rates


OVERVIEW:  The best selection by pure-talent so far, with a nice mix of current stars with some legends thrown in for good measure.  Speaking of which, obviously Richard Petty is a legend—but he’s included in the same “legends” category in this set as Derrike freakin’ Cope.  I think you’ll find this example in the dictionary as an example for the phrase “watered-down”.

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  Aric Almirola is still listed as driver of the 43 RPM car here, showing the issue with coming out with a card set in time for the 2018 season.  When you factor in design, marketing, and bonus insert selection on top of the already-lengthy production/printing process, its easy to see how these problems are difficult to avoid.  Maybe they could have included a small marker or pen to allow collectors to alter the cards as necessary?  “NOTE: Aric left RPM prior to the start of the 2018, making Petty fans everywhere suddenly hate him”.

PICK OF THE PACK:  You’d think it would be impossible for someone to look morose when wearing a brightly-colored M&M’s outfit, but here we are.  Nice touch by the photographer getting the start-finish line reflection in his shades—makes up for the use of the “printing error” letter style for his name.

FINAL RATING:  7 tire sets out of 10.


4. Spencer don’t care, DW’s hair, and sorry ‘bout the glare


OVERVIEW:  A pretty eclectic selection here with drivers from both the Cup & Xfinity Series, as well as a few legends thrown in.  Although, again, I don’t know how Kenny Wallace, a guy who never won a single Cup race, qualifies as a “legend”, unless you include his ability to kill time during a rain delay.  Oh, and you can tell I didn’t take photography in high school.

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  Apparently Kyle Petty “could very well call himself the king of Rockingham”.  Wow, I sure some someone communicates this info to Kyle—it could very-well change his life!

PICK OF THE PACK:  Spencer Gallagher is the first “RATED ROOKIE” to appear in this set, and they strangely chose a shot of him looking as nonplussed as possible.  I’d like to think he’s thinking at that moment “I’ve survived dozens of Allegiant Air flights in my life, I can afford to party a bit”.
BONUS:  Darrell Waltrip with 1970’s news anchor hair!  Nice use of the card number “C4”, which could apply to the explosive nature of DW’s racing talent and brash personality, or the fact that listening to his broadcast these days makes fans want to blow themselves up.

FINAL RATING:  6 windshield tear-offs out of 10


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Unboxing and Unwrapping--Parts 1 & 2


1. Outta the can with The Rocket Man and a Cubbie Fan

OVERVIEW:  Our first set is oddly situated on two different teams: Four of these drivers drove or drive for RCR (five if you count Bobby Labonte’s brief Xfinity stint for them) and three raced at one point for Roush-Fenway Racing.  In other words, this would have been an awesome pack to open in 2009.

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  Note the use of not only major team logos on the cards, but in Austin Dillon’s case, also his “personal logo” (which I should probably hate for possibly stealing from my site, but that is neither here nor there).  Thankfully we don’t get Kurt Busch’s old “OUTLAW” logo, which was simultaneously hilarious and sad.

PICK OF THE PACK:  I swear on the ever-changing Nascar rulebook that these packs were chosen at random—and yet here we are with a Derrike Cope card in my first shot.  By the way, the card is numbered 110 out of 199, which is fitting since there’s a 110% chance that Derrike did NOT “…go out on his own terms”.

FINAL RATING:  4 lug nuts out of 10.


2. A swatch, a botch, and two guys like to watch


OVERVIEW:  TWO Cope cards in this pack (seriously, I had zero to do with this selection), but besides them and a Corey Lajoie card, seven other high-quality drivers.  With that being said, its slightly creepy how Alex & Denny appear to be intently watching Dale Jr., perhaps trying to figure out which track it is that he is the master of.  Oh, and Rookie of the Year is “ROTY”, not “ROY”, you dimwits.

BACK OF THE CARD BONUS:  BK Racing gets some love for giving Corey Lajoie “…his first opportunity to run a full-time schedule in…Cup.”  To be fair, its easy to give someone an opportunity when you’re not planning on paying them.

PICK OF THE PACK:  More Cope love from Donruss/Panini in this pack, getting a little backstory on Derrike’s pre-racing days as a baseball player.  Anybody else imagining him boring his pit crew with stories of the time he hit a five-run homer for the win?

BONUS:  It’s our first memorabilia piece!  Denny Hamlin’s firesuit gets the cut-up treatment here.  I wonder how they prepare these things for card-mounting—do they wash them first?  If not, ew.


FINAL RATING:  8 laps out of 10.