"I Don't Watch Races": A Spade Racing Investigation

You've seen their comments on message boards.  You've seen their gripes on race day chats.  You've heard them complain on talk radio.  They all say the same thing, that they DON'T watch races.  But how can they know so much about races if they don't watch them.  Spade Racing sent intrepid reporter Scott Wilson out to investigate.

We listened to talk radio, scanned message boards, reviewed chat logs for weeks.  It led us to two conclusions: That Dale Earnhardt Jr. is either the greatest driver of all-time or somewhere between Bobby Hillin and Billy Standridge, and that certain complainers never watch races.  Of course, this begs the question of how someone could know what was going on in the sport, or even bother to follow the sport, without watching the races on TV.  We set up a sting operation to find out.
While listening to "RaceFans Radio", a weekly show on SportsTalk WRDX, we heard a caller identified as "Earl from Greenville" say that he hadn't watched a race since the Car of Tomorrow was introduced.  "Earl" then proceeded to complain about Darrell Waltrip focusing too much on Dale Earnhardt Jr., which piqued our interest.  Thanks to the good folks at the radio station, we were able to contact "Earl" through the radio station's website, where he had posted frequently about how much Dale Earnhardt Jr. "sux".
Posting regularly as "JunyaH8REarl", he appeared to have a working knowledge of the sport today, despite repeated claims that he never watched races.  Through a number of private messages, we gained "Earl"'s trust, and finally were able to track down his home address.  The trap was now set.
On a recent Saturday Night we noticed that "Earl" was posting online about how much the All-Star Race "sux" because of drivers hanging back after winning segments.  We asked in a private message if he was listening on the radio, he replied "No man".  At this point our camera crew and I burst into "Earl"'s house, where we found him watching the race on Speed Channel.
We attempted to ask "Earl" (whose name we weren't able to confirm) how he could claim that he doesn't watch races when he actually does, but he refused to comment, instead screaming "Who the hell are you?", and "Mom, some guys broke into our house!" repeatedly.  "Earl"'s mother then chased us out of the house with a broom.
In the days following our meeting, we attempted to contact "Earl" several times to no avail.  Eventually, he did reply, stating that "…yah, I watch the race but i dont pay attention".  However, he posted comments about how there probably really wasn't debris on the track during that caution period.

Thank you Scott for that incisive investigation.  Next time, a look at drivers who CLAIM to go "all-out", when they actually go "all-in".

Landon Cassill Top 20 Apparently Less Impressive Than Danica Patrick 30th Place Finish 5 Laps Down

Nascar media was abuzz with Danica Patrick's 30th place finish in today's Coca-Cola 600, completely ignoring Landon Cassill's 18th place finish for a vastly underfunded team.
"Wow, to see what she did out there, she made it to the end!" said local reporter Steve McCall.  "Running almost every lap, only hitting the wall once, that's MUCH more impressive than a guy running a lap down despite not really having a sponsor."
"Did you see how she kept her composure the whole race?", mentioned writer Byron Holden.  "I mean, she didn't flip out or punch her steering wheel at all!  Its waaaay more interesting than a guy who was almost out of the sport fighting his way back with a scrappy group of outsiders!"
Patrick's run was heavily featured on Fox's telecast, with frequent updates and pit reports.  Such exciting stories as "Danica keeping hydrated" and "Danica running 900 laps this weekend" were discussed in detail, instead of "Team that was virtually closed stays in contention" or "Driver who needs exposure gets it."
McCall, unable to interview Patrick due to the throng of national reporters, explained that "…she (Danica) has sponsors who already advertise with incredibly sexist and annoying commercials.  We should focus on THEM, not a driver who desperately needs more exposure and funding to compete on a high level."
Cassill, exhausted after the long race, was left alone in front of his trailer, although one reporter asked him what he thought of Danica Patrick's performance.

Charlotte "News" and Notes

--Yes, its time for the 2nd-biggest day in racing (the biggest being when the K&N East Series overlaps with WRC practice--classic!).
--The Coke 600 is the longest race held by any series that doesn't involve multiple drivers per car.  Its a good thing too--I hear that Greg Biffle sweats like a waterfall.
--I'm passing up the chance to go to a friend's BBQ to watch all three races.  Knowing my luck, there'll be a beautiful woman there who's "…just looking for the insecure wiseass racing-fan of (her) dreams".
--Dr. Dick Berggren will be retiring from full-time pit reporter duties after next weekend's race at Dover.  Here's wishing for a long, full retirement--unless he's replaced by Michael Waltrip or Jimmy Spencer, in which case I hope he comes back more than Sugar Ray Leonard.
--Matt Kenseth "spontaneously" decided to introduce himself at a press conference on Thursday, after no Nascar officials were available.  Yeah, right.  If he's anything like me, he probably begged the PR rep to let him do this, and was giggling to himself all day about the opportunity to do so.
--Fans were ANGRY about drivers winning early and dropping back during the All-Star race.  Well, Nascar's been trying for years to be like the "Big 4" sports, and having an All-Star race that nobody cares about is just one more step to greatness.
--Is it just me, or is Brian France's head growing in size while his face stays the same?

Spade Racing's Early-Summer Movie Preview

Its getting hotter outside.  Family's coming over.  And Jimmie Johnson's winning again.  Sounds like a good time to see a movie.  Here's the racing-themed filmed coming soon to a theater near you.

Men in Black III--Nascar's mysterious memory erasers visit fans who refuse to go along with the story.  Rick Hendrick never went to jail.  He never broke laws to get a leg-up over smaller dealers.  His 200th win is a good thing.
Moonrise Kingdom--A look at the legendary infield inhabitants of Talladega Superspeedway.  No, not during race weekend.  Amongst those featured:  The guy who cuts the grass, and a guy who thinks that Phil Parsons is Governor.
Chernobyl Diaries--A camera-crew follows the man with the most-difficult job in Nascar--getting radioactive Kurt Busch a ride in 2013.
Battlefield America--Formula 1 tries for the fourth or fifth time to kinda-sorta become popular-ish in the USA.
Lola Versus--Wally Dallenbach Jr. is replaced by a new announcer who looks like a woman and talks like a man (that's Lola.  La-la-la-la-Lola).
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding--We go back to the 70's to tell a young basketball phenom from North Carolina that, in addition to dominating a "video game" called "NBA Jam", he'll become famous for talking about "haulin' the mail".
Dark Horse--When his jockey gets sick the day of the Belmont Stakes, I'll Have Another takes on a man who knows how to race for about two minutes--Joe Nemechek.
Rock of Ages--Fans from 8 to 80 come together and realize, "You know what?  Rockingham was really kinda dull."

Brian France Lauds "Perfectly Anti-Climactic" All-Star Race Finish

While Jimmie Johnson won tonight's Sprint All-Star Race, arguably the happiest man in the garage was Nascar Chairman/Miranda Cosgrove fan Brian France, who said that the race played out exactly as he wanted it to.
"This was great, just great!", an ecstatic France told reporters.  "I mean, you had it all--Junior winning, followed by a personality-less driver winning the first segment.  Then, there were plenty of artificial stoppages in the race, just like we like 'em!"
France then continued, "…and what made it even better was that, after 80 laps of hard racing, everybody was ready for a fight-to-the-finish.  But instead, we got what everybody REALLY wanted--a driver who sandbagged for three segments driving away with the win!  And it was even somebody who had already won an All-Star Race before!"
France, who at this point was chasing down reporters as they wandered away from the media center, added, "…come on, guys, how great is it to see a guy who wins all the time giving a congratulatory ride to his shady car-dealer owner?  A millionaire helping out another millionaire guys, that's the best way for our sport to relate to our fans!"
France, at this point talking to himself, said that he hoped that the Coca-Cola 600 would feature a driver either lapping the field or zero caution laps, but he'd sell his Ke$ha concert tickets if he could get both.

All-Star Race "News" and Notes

--Unlike baseball's All-Star Game, Nascar's Sprint All-Star Race stays in one location.  Unlike baseball's All-Star Game, people actually care about the All-Star Race.
--Chevrolet's next Nascar entry will be a rebadged Holden Commodore called the "SS".  Better prepare yourselves now for the inevitable anti-Australian backlash.
--Jimmy Spencer has said that he is retiring to Pennsylvania, thus becoming the first person to ever retire to Pennsylvania.
--Jacques Villeneuve will run two road course Nationwide races for Penske in Yeah that sounds about right.
--Uh-oh--there's only a two-week turnaround for the Truck Series until their next race.  Hope they can handle it.
--I'd put my money on the Furniture Row Racing team winning the Pit Crew Challenge at Time Warner Cable Arena.  Not because they're particularly fast, but because the visiting team has DOMINATED this year in Charlotte.

Probation AFTER Judgement

Well, our old friend Kurt Busch had a meltdown.  Again.  And he got into a scuffle.  Again.  And he got put on probation.  Again.  But what exactly does "probation" mean in Nascar?  We got a hold of the Nascar Rulebook to find out the specifics
--Kurt is forced to write "I will not say I hate my job when so many people would kill to do what I do" 500 times on a blackboard, a la Bart Simpson.
--Kurt must remember to thank his primary sponsor, White Paint.
--Kurt must remember to thank his secondary sponsor, Red Paint.
--Kurt cannot have anymore cosmetic surgery, no matter how much he wants that butt implant.
--Kurt must refrain from any of life's vices, excepting the smooth, rich flavor of Winston brand cigarettes. (I'm assuming they forgot to take this out.)
--Kurt will be strapped into a chair and forced to watch ALL of Clint Bowyer's commercials (this might take a few weeks).
--Kurt must go back to Phoenix and agree to take that "gay-ass sobriety test".
--Kurt will be force-fed 10 shots of rum, then will be allowed to be pushed down a flight of stairs by Ryan Newman.
--Fans will no longer be forced to act surprised when something like this happens.  The media, however, will still be forced to act surprised.

Hendrick Wins 200th Cup Race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins Fan Vote

Hendrick Motorsports celebrated a rare double-win tonight, with Jimmie Johnson claiming the team's 200th Sprint Cup win, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. clinched the Sprint All-Star Race Fan Vote.
"This is really a proud, proud moment for this team", a relieved Rick Hendrick said from the 48 team "war wagon".  "To see one of our cars go to victory lane at such a historic track, and know that Junior's gonna make the All-Star Race via the fan vote, its a relief."
Darlington's Mother's Day Weekend date makes it the final chance for a driver to "win" their way into the All-Star Race.  By virtue of not winning, Dale Jr. clinched the fan vote going into next weekend's Sprint All-Star Race.
"Well, you know, we're gonna go out there, try and win the Sprint Showdown, but, well, if we can't, well, we, well…", Earnhardt Jr. then continued to mutter while looking down at the ground.
"We know that we'll have all four of our cars in the All-Star Race, which really says something about the depth of this team", Hendrick said while unloading a huge bag of commemorative hats.  "It just goes to show that if you go out there and win races, you'll get into the All-Star Race where you belong.  Well, either that, or just be really, really, REALLY popular."
Nascar Executive Mike Helton reminded the media that, in theory, Dale Jr. COULD miss the All-Star Race if he doesn't win the fan vote, which could, theoretically, happen.  When asked how anybody could beat Dale Jr. in popularity when Derrike Cope is not an eligible driver, Helton simply winked.

Darlington "News" and Notes, Special Numbers Edition

Since "The Lady Too Tough to Tame" is one of the biggest crap-shoots in Nascar, lets instead take at look at the rumored new sponsor for Matt Kenseth.  Supposedly this will involve "…a new number on the car" (likely only for the All-Star race).  So what sponsor is so attached to a number that they'd request a change?  Lets see…

Dr. Pepper (23)  Dr. Pepper frequently advertises how it has "23 flavors" in its secret formula.  Even though none of those flavors are "pepper".

Baskin-Robbins (31)  The ice-cream shop has long promoted its "Thirty-Onederful Flavors" (one for each day of the longest months).  Yes, 31 is already used by Jeff Burton, but Mr. Roush has some, shall we say, "embarrassing" photos of Mr. Burton and an ostrich.

Heinz (57)  Heinz has used the number 57 in its advertising for years, and has sponsored in Nascar before.  If this is the sponsor, expect Matt Kenseth to say that the team needs to "ketchup" to the competition, followed by everybody going on and on about how funny he is.

Phillips TropArctic (66)  Really, when you've already sponsored Derrike Cope, how can anything possibly compare?

84 Lumber (84)  Thank my dad for this suggestion.  Fun fact: 84 Lumber is named after the founder's hometown of Eighty Four, Pennsylvania.  Thank goodness he wasn't from the Pennsylvania towns of Blue Ball, Bird-in-Hand, or Intercourse.

Talladega Announces Figure-8 Reconfiguration

After numerous complaints from fans and drivers alike, International Speedway Corporation (ISC) has announced that it will renovate and revamp Talladega Superspeedway into a "Figure-8" Layout in time for the fall race.
"Much like our corporate brethren at Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI), we've decided that the only thing better than a measured, open approach is a rushed, knee-jerk reaction.  So rather then work on the track itself, we've decided to completely re-do it.  Figure-8 racing, here we come!"  said SMI executive/Selena Gomez fan Brian France.  "Excitement is what fans want.  And what's more exciting than 43 cars trying to avoid crashing into each other for 4 hours?"
Bulldozing of the massive infield has already began, with contractor representatives saying that the laying of asphalt should begin by early June.  The highly-banked turns will not be affected, nor will the start-finish line located at the end of the tri-oval (as mentioned about 50 times every televised race).
France explained.  "In this sport, you have to listen to two constituencies--the competitors and the fans.  We obviously heard what former champion Tony Stewart had to say.  And when I approached fans after the race, I got all sorts of reactions.  Some went 'Woooo!', while others went 'You suck!'.  But the overriding request was to '…please lower the cost of going to a race', which means one thing--change the layout now!!!"
Costs for the changes are expected to be incurred by fans, who will now be forced to pay a $20.00 Please Stop Complaining Surcharge on all ticket purchases.  In addition, all drivers who make it through a race without wrecking will have 10 percent of their winning donated to the Jimmy Spencer Let Idiots Race Fund.
When asked for comment, Stewart responded "DON'T YOU KNOW SARCASM WHEN YOU HEAR IT?!?", then was promptly fined for actions detrimental to stock car racing.

Brad Keselowski Arrested for Stealing Win from Junior Nation

In a chaotic scene inside Talladega's Victory Lane, race winner Brad Keselowski was led away in handcuffs for grand larceny of a race win from Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"What the hell--I won that race fair and square!" an obviously bewildered Keselowski said to JNBI (Junior Nation Bureau of Investigation) Agents as they handcuffed him upon exiting his car.  "You can't do this!  Junior never wins--you don't have jurisdiction here!"  Crew Chief Paul Wolfe, meanwhile, was charged with aiding and abetting the thievery of a race win, but was allowed to walk free.
"Um, yeah, I guess we, uh, shoulda had that one", an unenthused Dale Earnhardt Jr. said after the arrest, while looking down not making eye contact.  "We, uh, we usually run real good here, but, uh, wasn't really our day.  I guess, uh, it was s'posed to be our day though."
JNBI spokesman Warren Coleman explained that, "…as the world center of Dale Jr. fans, we feel that Talladega is sacred ground.  It was obvious that Dale Jr. was pre-ordained to win here, thus allowing Mr. Hendrick to finally stop dragging around that bag of hats.  Junior Nation depends on merchandise sales to support its economy, and we're expecting our GDP to recover quite nicely."
Keselowski, obviously miffed, began kicking and flailing at JNBI agents, then was forcibly tased before being tossed in the back of a JNBI police cruiser.  Keselowski was then heard begging the agents to break his ankle for good luck.
Nascar, meanwhile, had no comment on the situation, though they were reportedly looking at disqualifying Keselowski for using his hand for aero advantage.

Talladega "News" and Notes

--Furniture Row Racing has been talking with Kurt Busch about a possible second team in 2013.  It makes sense, since Kurt could bring his past champion's provisional and bitter, repellent personality into the fold.
--No, you're not seeing double--the 1 and 39 cars will be running near-identical Bass Pro Shops paint schemes on Sunday.  Unless you really ARE seeing double, in which case, seek help immediately.
--Mike Skinner is teaming up with Jimmy Means for a few races.  Uh, Mike, let me spare you the disappointment later--"Smut" is just a nickname and has nothing to do with porn.  Boy, did I find THAT one out the hard way.
--Saturday is the Kentucky Derby, nicknamed The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.  The Most Boring Two Minutes in Sports?  That would be Joe Nemechek's normal raceway.
--Speaking of Kentucky, if you went into the vestibule of the Louisville Slugger headquarters, would you be standing in the Slugger Lobby?

One Hit Wonders of Talladega

Talladega ('Dega) Superspeedway ('Way) has produced more than its fair-share of one-time race winners.  The way I see it, these guys are only HALF the man that Derrike Cope is, but its still worthwhile to look back on their moment in the sun, and see where they are today.

RICHARD BRICKHOUSE (1969)  The winner of the inaugural race at the then-Alabama International Motor Speedway, Brickhouse was mighty-mighty, and let it all hang out.  He beat a field comprised mostly of field-fillers and lower-series drivers (including a then-unknown Richard Childress), with the sport's starts boycotting the event due to safety concerns.  NOW--spends his days on the phone, split between taking calls looking for JACK Brickhouse, and taking prank calls from a very bored Richard Petty (calling looking for Scab E. Racer).

DICK BROOKS (1973)  A former Rookie of the Year (joining such luminaries as Jimmy Hensley and Kevin Conway), Brooks was a fan-favorite long after his single win at 'Dega.  He spent the bulk of his career running for Junie Donlavey, who seemed to only hire guys named "Dick" for awhile.  NOW--Brooks passed away in 2004, but not before racing one last race in 1985 for Rick Hendrick.  Basically its the "I want you to race my car, Cole" scene in Days of Thunder, only with somewhat older guys and the word "Dick".

LENNIE POND (1978) Another ROTY winner (joining such luminaries as Jody Ridley and Andy Lally), Lennie Pond set a world-speed record in his win, back when men were men, cars were unrestricted, and drivers were completely insane.  NOW--Lennie is now retired, after a career as a car salesman.  I'm guessing he was fired for spending all his time filling out his Wikipedia page (look it up if you don't believe me).

RON BOUCHARD (1981) Winning the race in his own ROTY season (joining such luminaries as Mike Skinner and, uh, Ken Bouchard), Ron infamously passed the dueling cars of Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte, who both believed that Bouchard was a lap down.  Perhaps as karmic payback, DW would get PLENTY of experience running laps down at the end of his career.  NOW--Ron owns a chain of car dealerships in New England, where you can buy such rarities as the 1983 Plymouth Horizon Allen Bestwick drove to the prom.

BOBBY HILLIN JR. (1986) The then-youngest winner of a Cup race, Hillin won driving for the Stavola Brothers, which I always thought would make a great name for a pizza shop.  Hillin blamed his later lack of success on the reluctance of other drivers to help him out, because they didn't want him to beat them.  Yeah, that was it, he was TOO talented.  NOW--Bobby is a businessman in Texas, running several companies called "T-Rex", which in theory specialize in the banging of gongs, get it on.

PHIL PARSONS (1988) If not for his win, Phil would only be known as The Other Parsons Brother, and The Other Other Skoal Driver.  Parsons recently admitted that the only reason for his victory was a clandestine deal with the devil.  NOW--Phil is stuck paying off his deal with a lifetime of purgatory, also known as "Working with Michael Waltrip".