Rolling Out The "Welcome Matt"

Now that Matt Kenseth has announced he's leaving Roush-Fenway Racing after this season, speculation has turned to what team he'll be going to for 2013.  Meanwhile, obsessives everywhere want to know what the chances are that Matt "No Nickname" Kenseth is going to their favorite team.  Here, Spade Racing Analytics gives you the odds (from best chance to worst) on where Wisconsin's finest is going next year--with some real-life comparisons.

Joe Gibbs Racing--JGR seems to be the early favorite for reasons nobody really knows.  Gibbs is a sponsor-magnet, and produces hundreds of motors every season, some of which actually don't blow up.  It remains to be seen if he'd go to the current #20 car, or if he'd get his own fourth team (with a bunch of old Jason Leffler stuff, but still).
Kenseth Quip: "From baseball owners to a football owner, we'd better score a touchdown"
Odds:  3:1  Equal to chances of me: …getting brand-new tires for my car, then getting a flat within two weeks.

Mystery New Dodge Team--Rumors abound that Michael Andretti is looking to move into Nascar, working off his success in moving to Formula 1…wait, scratch that.  Matt would probably feel right at home, with an owner who has a racing background and a personality that people generally don't like.  He also brings his valuable Past Champions Provisional to the table, aka "Doing a Texas Terry".
Kenseth Quip: "Any new team has some obstacles to DODGE, but we're going to RAM ahead"
Odds:  5:1  Equal to chances of me: …succeeding in my diet plans to avoid having a "Foyt-like" physique when I'm 40.

Penske Racing--Roger Penske has the money, the power, and the resources to either put Kenseth in the 22 car or a revived 77 car, carrying on the great traditions of Sam Hornish Jr. and Travis Kvapil.  With Penske moving back to Ford, however, Matt might want to go to a team that won't be embroiled in a boring, pointless war of words with his old boss (just look how it turned out for Yates).
Kenseth Quip: "I'm joining Bad Brad to be Mad Matt"
Odds:  8:1  Equal to chances of me: …seeing the Baltimore Orioles win a World Series in my lifetime (yeah, they won one in '83, but I was 1 year old at the time and far more interested in my own spit).

Stewart-Haas Racing--The defending champs may have a ride open in the 39 car if additionally sponsorship can't be found for Ryan Newman.  Then again, he and Matt basically have the same damn personality, so its not like the money would start pouring in immediately.  Also, Smoke might just decide to move up the 10 car full time, if only he could find a driver for it.
Kenseth Quip: "GoDaddy?  More like GoGRANDDaddy in a few years"
Odds:  10:1  Equal to chances of me: …making it through a whole ESPN Nascar Live chat without making a Jeremy Mayfield joke.

Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates--The Long Name Legends could be getting impatient with Juan Pablo Montoya, who has yet to come through on the massive promise he had when he came to Nascar (well, except in constantly pissing people off).  Also, Target could be looking for a more "Middle America" face for their brand, along with their 451 associate sponsors.
Kenseth Quip: "Looks like I got the bullseye on my back"
Odds:  15:1  Equal to chances of me: …finishing my action-movie screenplay, "Tetris The Motion Picture".

Michael Waltrip Racing--Nascar's hottest team (in that they've won a race) has said that their infrastructure can handle a fourth team, and Michael Waltrip has proven to be one of the best sponsor recruiters in the sport.  Thankfully he found his true calling after decades trying to be someone he's not (you know, like a racer, a broadcaster, a likable guy, a sober driver, etc.).  No word on if Mark Martin would be OK with this, since Matt still asks him "Hey, aren't you supposed to be retired?" every week.
Kenseth Quip: "(In Ricky Ricardo Voice) Vickers!  You got some 'splain' to do!")
Odds:  25:1  Equal to chances of me: …fulfilling my lifelong dream of punching Joe Theismann in the face.

Richard Childress Racing--I'm sure that "RC" would love to get his fourth team going again, but right now this team has greater things to worry about.  Like, finally setting up an intervention to stop the Dillon Bros. from wearing any more cowboy hats.  Not to mention the fact that Jeff Burton's unlikely to be fired, for reasons nobody really understands.
Kenseth Quip: "Finally I might be able to meet The Menards Guy"
Odds:  50:1  Equal to chances of me: …getting Delaware to make Stock Car Racing the Official State Motorsport (replacing the more popular "Nothing").

Richard Petty Motorsports--Its unlikely that this team expands beyond two teams, and its connections to Roush and Ford would be enough to make Kenseth think twice.  But just think, Matt, about all the great stories The King could tell you, like the time he won at Raleigh lapping the field, or the time he won at Raleigh lapping the field.  (Yes, I'm assuming that Matt Kenseth is reading this).
Kenseth Quip: "From the Cat in the Hat to The King in the Hat"
Odds:  100:1  Equal to chances of me: …confirming that Matt Kenseth actually reads my website.

Some Single Car Team--The Furniture Rows and JTG-Daughterys of the world probably don't have a real good shot at landing a former champion.  Then again, just look at Bobby Labonte.  Then again again, looking at Bobby Labonte would probably be enough to make Kenseth reconsider.
Matt Kenseth quip: "What the hell happened?"
Odds:  1,000:1  Equal to chances of me: …publishing a book and having someone not named "Mackler" buy it.

Roush-Fenway Racing--We still have to include them, even though Matt Kenseth's mind is probably already filled with dreams of no more lame NHRA stories.
Matt Kenseth quip: "Haha fooled you!"
Odds:  100,000:1  Equal to chances of me: …seeing Miss Sprint Cup naked and not getting arrested for it.

Kentucky "News" and Notes

--I can't be the only one who was completely surprised by the big announcement this week.  I mean, what a move--Scott Wimmer back to the Nationwide Series.
--Last year's Cup race at Kentucky was beset by traffic problems, but owner/chairman Mr. Magoo has promised to fix them.
--Whose idea was it to put the Dillon brothers in cowboy hats on pit road?  They're sons of North Carolina's monied class, not ranch-hands from Texas.
--I'd love to know how Joe Nemechek was able to make money out of driving a hauler from North Carolina to California and back, while also sending a hauler from North Carolina to Wisconsin and back.
--If Michael Andretti comes to Nascar, he should really consider hiring Kurt Busch.  After all, Kurt's not HALF as bad on the radio as Marco.

Kevin Conway, ExtenZe to replace Matt Kenseth in Roush-Fenway #17 Ford

After today's shocking announcement that Matt Kenseth--despite leading the points standings--would be leaving Roush-Fenway Racing, attention quickly turned to who would be replacing him in the #17 Ford Fusion.  Shortly after the Kenseth announcement, however, RFR officials confirmed that driver Kevin Conway would be stepping into the car in 2013, maybe sooner.
"There was all this premature talk about Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but the truth is that we're looking to bring HIM up to the old #6 Cup team", said Roush-Fenway spokesman Blake Calvin.  "We needed a solid sponsor for the 17 car, and Kevin Conway brings that with ExtenZe."
ExtenZe, which claims to use herbal "science" to increase the size of a man's genitalia, has previously sponsored Conway for other such teams as NEMCO Motorsports and Robby Gordon Motorsports.  Additionally, ExtenZe was on the hood for Conway when he beat a crowded field to win the 2010 Raybestos Rookie of the Year award, winning so convincingly that Raybestos immediately stopped sponsoring it.
"It brings me great pride to bring such a vaunted, experienced driver to the Roush-Fenway Family", Calvin continued.  "Not to mention the fact that ExtenZe is coming along with him.  We have lots of experience in dealing with products that affect sexual performance , from Viagra to Crown Royal.  ExtenZe now joins such valued partners as Ford, 3M, and the 20 or so companies that sponsor Carl Edwards."
ExtenZe's PR department issued a brief statement via Twitter, saying "NeW sPONSOR rUSH FENWAAY fREE HERbel Suppliments TRY 20 DAY SUPPLIES!"

Clint Bowyer wins Bizarro Race at Sonoma

In the first race Nascar has held in the Bizarro Realm, Clint Bowyer came away with a Bizarro win in the Toyota/SaveMart 350.
"From the win by Michael Waltrip Racing to a 2nd-place finish by an unsponsored car, we were very pleased by our first Bizarro race", said Nascar Chairman/Carly Rae Jeppsen fan Brian France.  "Up was down, day was night, Kurt was humble in post-race, and Brian Vickers didn't spin anybody out.  Talk about Bizarro!"
Bowyer's win, while not unexpected, does play into the Bizarro storyline of Michael Waltrip making a genius move (signing Bowyer in the offseason) while Richard Childress made a bonehead one (holding onto Jeff Burton and Paul Menardburns).
"Even our Nascar officials got into the Bizarro spirit today", France continued.  "We didn't call a phantom caution for the first 80 laps--when was the last time we did that?  And get this--the 88 car got spun out and we DIDN'T red-flag the race!  How kooky can we be?"
The Bizarro-ness continued in the post-race, with Clint Bowyer running out of fuel on his burnout, forcing him to walk to victory lane.  Additionally, Tony Stewart made it through his post-race interview without making any snotty or sarcastic remarks, believed to be a first.
"Of course, we realized that all this wackiness could be strange for our fans, so we kept a few things the same", France added.  "That's why we had TNT miss the final restart by showing the back of a building, then have technical problems in victory lane."
France stated that they fully expect Nascar to return to the normal world next week, with a win by a Hendrick driver in a relatively uneventful race.

Sonoma "News" and Notes

--Robby Gordon makes his triumphant return to Sprint Cup racing this weekend, allowing him to pursue his dream of keeping Kevin Harvick a lap down.
--Maybe I've been missing something, but I'm very disappointed in the lack of lame taxi-cab jokes about the 43 Medallion Financial car.
--Nascar's making more changes to the side skirts and sway bars.  Is it just me, or does a "Sway Bar" sound like the kind of place a guy would go to to hit on some "Side Skirts"?
--I'm starting to think that the easiest way to tell that its Father's Day is to listen for Kyle Petty's annual claim that he didn't get "The King" (oh, sorry--"Th' Keeeng") a gift.
--The Nationwide Series runs its annual race at Road America on Saturday, the Lets Not Run Out of Fuel on the Last Lap AGAIN Grand Prix.
--On a serious note, lets welcome Eric McClure back to racing, as he has been medically cleared to run at Road America.

"Scuffs and Stickers", this fall on Spade Racing Network TV!

After the ongoing Michigan debate of scuff tires versus sticker tires, it gave me an idea for a buddy-cop TV show.  Let me pitch it at you…

TITLE: Scuffs and Stickers

PREMISE: Two mismatched guys solve racing-based crimes while keeping their day jobs as Nascar officials.

TAGLINE: Their crime-fighting methods don't fit the standard template.

MAIN CHARACTERS: Gary "Scuffs" Scufowski, a longtime Nascar inspector with a sarcastic temperament and a long list of enemies.  Thankfully his list of sources is even longer, as he knows everybody from the movers-and-shakers to the guys who glue on the lugnuts.  He tries to put up with his energetic young partner, but the only thing Scuffs is quick with is an insult.  Deep down, however, he sees his partner as a real friend (even if he is a real pain!)
Keith "Stickers" Stieg-Kirst, a fresh-faced newcomer to the world of Nascar.  His experience is as short as his temper, as he looks to make every wrong right, no matter what the cost.  Paired with Scuffs, he tries to make the world safe for racing, and doesn't mind tweaking a few noses along the way.  He also fancies himself a ladies man, though he's been slapped by Miss Sprint Cup more times than he'd like to admit.

RECURRING CHARACTERS: William Goodyear, the head of Nascar's race inspectors crime-fighting unit.  As a by-the-book chief, he's often annoyed with Scuffs' lack of decorum and Stickers' disregard for procedure.  But, as much as he says, "That's it you two--YOU'RE OFF THE CASE!", he just can't get rid of his most-successful pairing (no matter how many times Scuffs calls him "Billy").
Jimmy Hugh Schur, a frequent help to Scuffs and Stickers and an expert at infiltrating "the establishment".  A master of disguise, he's equally known for his speed AND blowouts.  Not much is known about him, other than that he comes from a small Indiana town, and seems to know everybody on the grass-roots level.

Dale Jr. Reveals Self as Batman in Winning Race

Nascar fans and crime-buffs everywhere received a shock in today's Nascar race, as superstar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed himself to be the legendary Batman at the Quicken Loans 400.
"Well, this is as good a time as any to give my secrets away:  I am Batman", a happy but stoic Dale Earnhardt Jr. said in Victory Lane.  "I know this might hurt my chances at crime-fighting, but there comes a time when a man just has to win a race, even if it means giving away my secret identity."
The Batman-logoed car was seen at the track all week, but it was assumed that Batman (previously thought to be either George Clooney or Val Kilmer) was driving the car in place of Dale Jr.  However, Dale Jr. was the one to take his helmet off to take a cell phone call from Rick "Alfred" Hendrick.
"I really couldn't have done this without my crew chief, Steve LeTarte", Junior said to various reporters.  "Now, I'm not SAYING that Stevie is Robin, but lets just say that he knows a lot about 'Holy 12-Second Pit Stops, Batman!'"
Junior explained that it was a long day at Michigan International Speedway, both racing AND fighting crime simultaneously.  First, he had to defeat the villain who dominated Daytona, The Rain Man.  Then, he had to hold off his oldest, wiliest foe, The Smoker.
"I can't tell you how hard its been fighting crime and trying to win a race for all my fans", Junior continued.  "Its been tough leading a double-life, but now I don't have to anymore.  If someone else wants to put on the mask, be my guest!"
Later on, Dale Jr. explained that Danica Patrick is NOT Catwoman, and that she is actually an imprisoned villain known as "The Spinout".

Michigan "News" and Notes

--Michigan has a reputation for being a rather boring race on TV.  Well, with the repave yielding speeds averaging 200mph (and peaking at around 218mph), it will most-likely still be a rather boring race--but quicker!
--Brooklyn Michigan is quite different from Brooklyn New York.  Unfortunately there's far less pizza joints, historic sites, and diversity of residents.  Fortunately, there's FAR less hipsters.
--Kyle Busch will run the Snickers colors this Sunday.  Meanwhile, his brother Kurt will have a Snickers bar in his unsponsored car this Sunday in case he gets hungry.
--By my count Aric Amirola's 43 car has run 13 different paint schemes this season…SO FAR!  Bobby Labonte, your move.
--While its nice to see Tony Raines get another shot in the 10 car, doesn't it seem like David Reutimann has the worst luck in Nascar?
--Remember, this is the second race of the year on TNT.  That means clear, concise play-by-play from Adam Alexander, insightful humor from Kyle Petty, and bumbling muttered analysis from Wally Dallenbach Jr.

Personality Lost: A Spade Racing Investigation

Soul transference--the process of moving one person's soul to another's body.  Its supposed existence has been discussed for centuries.  But what about PERSONALITY transference?  Could it happen, accidentally, in a wreck?  And could it explain everything about a certain nascar champion?  Spade Racing sent intrepid reporter Scott Wilson to investigate.

Our search began with two seemingly unrelated stories.  First, the fact that five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson is, you know, kinda dull.  Second was a spate of reports over the past 12 years of a "Talking Wall" at Watkins Glen International.
With the help of some grainy YouTube footage we made the connection.  Jimmie Johnson was involved in a hard, head-on wreck at "The Glen" in 2000, before his Cup career began.  His Busch (now Nationwide) Series car hit the wall with great force--and this was the SAME WALL that fans had reported as the "Talking Wall".
We went to a local for some insight into the wall.  "Well, folks've been hearing voices from that wall since 'bout 2000", said local farmer Steve Dixon.  "'Course we (the locals) figured it was just a buncha drunks, but I heard the voices too.  Strange thing is how personable and humorous the voice is, too.  Oh, and I dunno if this has anything to do with the story, but (local driver) Geoff Bodine's a jerk."
The theory that Jimmie Johnson's personality left his body and went into the wall in 2000 was, at first, discounted by his triumphant post after the wreck.  But Johnson (who refused to comment for this story), stated in an earlier interview that he was "…just stretching after being in that cramped car".  Could it REALLY have happened?
"Soul transference is something we've studied for years", said Dr. Chris Byron, Professor of Metaphysical Science at Seneca Lake Technical College.  "Personality transference?  Well, while its not something we've seen discussed as often, is a possibility.  The driver's personality would have to be dislodged by some great force, like a hard crash into a wall.  By the way, I don't know if this has anything to do with the story, but (local driver) Geoff Bodine is a jerk."
But what about the wall itself?  When we went to interview it, we heard a string of jokes and interesting stories, but the wall wouldn't confirm or deny that it was speaking from the personality of Jimmie Johnson.
"Hey, I've seen LOTS in my time here, everything from a Canadian contending to an Australian winning!  But what I'd really like to see is a chance for me to re-enter my old body, get a run on this track, show people what I'm REALLY made of.  Hey, I don't know if this has anything to do with the story, but (local driver) Geoff Bodine is a jerk."

Thank you, Scott.  Next time, an investigation into the guys who say "GREEN GREEN GREEN" on restarts.

Joey Logano Charged with Elder Abuse on Mark Martin

Despite winning his second career Cup race, not all is well for Joey Logano.  Shortly after his victory lane interview he was served papers by the Pennsylvania Dept. of the Aged and Infirm for possible elder abuse on Mark Martin.
"We saw that young kid push around that older gentleman", said department agent Steve Ryan.  "I don't know how they do things in North Carolina, but we do NOT tolerate that here in Pennsylvania."
Logano appeared confused and bewildered by the charges, hand-delivered in victory lane.
"Wait, what?" Logano said to no one in particular.  "We were just racing!  He was in my way so I smacked him!  Plus he had his left turn signal on the whole time!"
Agent Ryan explained that "…abuse isn't always apparent, you have to look for it carefully.  We've already seen evidence about Mark Martin's boss leaving garbage in his car, so we felt it necessary to protect Mark for himself."
Mark Martin himself was not available for comment after the race, though a spokesman for Michael Waltrip Racing stated that "Mark did not hear about the charges before his afternoon nap following the race.  We will get his reaction as soon as possible, but he's very grumpy right after waking up, especially if his evening newspaper isn't there."
Agent Ryan was later cited for speeding, having entered Victory Lane too fast.

Paint Scheming--The Greatest Paint Schemes of All-Time--NOMINATION TIME!!!

Now that Nascar has a Hall-of-Fame, all its greatest drivers, owners, crew chiefs, and even cars themselves are being enshrined (why they insist on leaving out Bobby Hillin Jr., I have NO idea).  But what about the paint schemes?  The look(s) of a car, the interplay of colors, a combination of paint, decals and wraps?
Well, lets honor them here!
As a project for the summer, I'm putting together a definitive list of the greatest paint schemes of all time.  I have my own ideas, but I'd rather hear some of yours as well.  First, a few guidelines:
--We're talking about the appearance of the paint, decals, and/or wrap on the car, so we're not taking the shape of a particular car model into consideration here.
--We're limiting it to regular and semi-regular paint schemes only, so NO SPECIAL PAINT SCHEMES.  It has to have run at least three races to qualify.
--Also, we're limiting this to the top series ("Cup") only--Sprint Cup, Nextel Cup, Winston Cup, Grand National--so no Nationwide/Busch or Truck schemes.
The criteria beyond that?  Well, its up to you.  You can choose based on…
--Pure aesthetics, color scheme and visibility on the track
--Identification with a certain driver, team, or sponsor
--Cleverness, ingenuity, and originally
Whatever made a certain paint scheme stand out (positively) for you, that's all that matters.
Post your nominees over at the Spade Racing Facebook page.  I'll see what kind of response we get before I know when to "close the voting".  For best results, "show your work" by listing a brief explanation (just a few sentences) on why you feel that your particular scheme is one of the best.  And try to post a picture or a link of the paint scheme too.
Lets see where this thing goes!

Pocono Resurfaced "News" and Notes, Slightly Early Edition

--Kyle Busch won this week's "Prelude to the Dream", a name that confused him as he normally dreams about being naked and late for a science test taught by the brown M&M.
--TNT takes over coverage of the Sprint Cup Series this weekend, promoting that they have a new "interactive touch screen" for on-air personalities to use.  What an age we live in.
--I just realized that since Ward Burton is sponsored by State Water Heaters, wouldn't that make him a Ward of the State?
--This will be the first race at Pocono with its newly repaved surface, which should put all the drivers on an even keel.  Well, except for Mike Bliss.
--This will also be the first race at Pocono with the new, shorter 400 mile distance, which means much shorter naps for us fans.
--There's yet ANOTHER sponsor for the 43 car this weekend, putting them in the running for the Bobby Labonte Most Primary Sponsors award.

Kurt Busch's Excuse List

Kurt Busch is a tough guy.  Oh yeah, he's trained hard.  He even took a year of super-secret karate.  Kurt knows 32 ways to kill a man with a coffee mug.  But he can't beat the (crap) out of you because…

--He's on probation
--His "trick shoulder" is acting up
--His girlfriend's there
--He doesn't want to make you look bad
--His boss is, like, right over there
--He doesn't think "you're worth it"
--The last time he beat somebody up, he hurt him so bad that, well, he can't tell you the rest
--He doesn't want you to embarrass yourself
--Fighting is against his religion
--He'll wait till you least suspect it
--He knows you'll fight dirty
--He's a skinny little wuss who's all talk…wait, he didn't mean to say that

Jimmie Johnson Tries to Change Image with "Wacky" Rainbow Wig

Jimmie Johnson didn't shock anybody by running away with today's Dover race.  But he DID attempt to shock everybody with his "wild" rainbow wig, seen in pre-and-post-race activities.
"See, its a rainbow wig!  Its rainbow-colored!  And big and curly!  Its totally out-of-character for me!" said an overly excited Johnson in Victory Lane.  "I made sure that all 7,000 fans saw me in the pre-race, and now all 500 fans who stayed can see me here!  Its wacky Jimmie Johnson!"
"There's no need for anybody to call me vanilla anymore!", Johnson continued.  "Unless you call me vanilla with RAINBOW SPRINKLES!  Get it?  Rainbow!  Sprinkles!  Vanilla Ice Cream!"
Johnson, renowned for his dominating performance overshadowing his cool demeanor, has said that showing "…more of (his) wild side" was an important goal of his.  His "nutty" summer plans include wearing huge sunglasses, sticking his tongue out at a camera man, and making a prank radio call to Chad Knaus looking for a "Mike Rotch".
"This isn't your slightly-older-brother's Jimmie Johnson, this is the crazy, exciting, thrill-a-minute Jimmie Johnson!  Heck, I might even legally change my middle name to Danger!"
While placing a rainbow wig on the Miles the Monster trophy in Victory Lane "…because its so craaaazy!", Matt Kenseth pointed out that his car was the "Worst Buy" of the day, leaving the assembled media in stitches.

Dover "News" and Notes

--Robby Gordon is starting a stadium racing series.  I'd put my early moony on Invesco Field at Mile High, they're bad-fast on long runs.
--David Ragan welcomes "8-Hour Alert" as a new sponsor, with a paint scheme reminding us that "8>5".  Gee, thanks for reminding us of that, guys.
--Nationwide Series mavens--if you thought that Austin Dillon had a big face, wait till you see his brother Ty!
--If you're able to catch the Truck race, keep an eye out for Brian Scott, who takes his DNF's Around The USA tour a new series.
--Its been a bad year for the number 7--first, Robby Gordon dramatically scales back operations, then Red Horse Racing shuts down John King's truck.  What's next, a Nationwide #7 car that runs only on hype and cheesy commercials?
--Its time to say goodbye to Fox, as TNT takes on the next six races.  So goodbye Michael Waltrip, Hello Wally Dallenbach Jr.!