Atlanta "News" and Notes

--People rag on Dale Jr. for not winning enough but still getting top-line sponsors and rides, but they're silent on Martin Truex Jr.  Um, why?
--Billy Ballew Motorsports returns to the Truck Series this weekend.  *INSERT "BEAR NECESSITIES" JOKE HERE*
--I'm starting to think that the tracks should just hire a military member to sing or play the National Anthem--that way we can avoid disasters like the Truck Race's anthem this weekend.
--Seriously, when Nascar plays its "Some sports let their younger prospects develop gradually" commercial, why the HECK do they show Elliott Sadler?
--Forgive me Richard Petty, for I have sinned--I've never taken Goody's Headache Powders in my life.
--To honor Labor Day, Mike Bliss will NOT be running Sunday Night.

Lets Blow it Up and Start Over: The Points System

In the second part of a moderately-ongoing series, I take a look at a particular aspect of Nascar (in this case, the points system), and give it a makeover from square one.

I think that the moment after Bill France Sr. introduced the idea of a Championship Points System for the Strictly Stock Series, people immediately complained that it didn't reward winning enough.  Since then, Nascar has gone through a slew of different points systems, none of which have pleased everybody.  Thankfully, in THIS article, I'm operating outside of reality and don't have to worry about everybody (or anybody for that matter).  So here's MY plan to improve the Sprint Cup Points System:
--First of all, the Chase stays.  Yes, its gimmicky.  Yes, its unnatural.  Yes, it seems to benefit drivers who excel at cookie-cutter tracks.  But you know what?  Its STILL better than the old system, where anybody who could avoid lots of DNF's could win a championship.  So sorry, old-timers--the Chase stays in the picture.
--Something I don't understand--if you manage to swing pit strategy so that you can stay out one lap later than the field, you can lead a lap and get a bonus point.  Meanwhile, if you dominate a race thoroughly to lead the most laps you get…another bonus point?  Lets make that "Most Laps Led" bonus worth two points (thus, the driver who leads the most laps would get three points--1 for leading A lap, and 2 for leading the MOST laps).
--A driver who wins would get 47 points.  That way, the most points a driver could accumulate in a single race would be 50, a nice, round number to shoot for.  By the way, this paragraph could be the closest the number 47 ever gets to winning in Cup.
--Second place gets 43 points.  Yes, its a steep step down from first place (47 points).  But what have we always wanted?  More emphasis on winning!  This way, we can have more drivers gambling on track, and more teams rolling the dice with set-ups off it.
--Going from 2nd place to 35th place would decrease by one point each, staying with the current system.  Thus, 3rd place gets 42 points, 4th place gets 41, etc., down to 10 points for 35th place.
--Anybody finishing below 35th place gets NO POINTS.  That's right--you want to start & park?  Fine, but you won't get any points for doing it.  You have to try to run the full race to try to stay in the top-35.  ***NOTE***--This assumes that we stay with the current rules for qualifying, which I'll tackle in a future article.
--I'd like to see prize money purses changed the same way--same money for each driver from 35th on back, so that way anybody with no legitimate intent to run the full race can get out of everybody's way on lap 1.
--At the end of the "regular season", the Top-10 drivers in points automatically qualify for the Chase.  They're then reseeded much as they are now, by wins (with each win counting as three bonus points).  This is an aspect of the current system that I love.
--As was brought up by a fan in an ESPN chat, the points leader at the end of the regular season should get something.  That's why I will gladly lift David Newton's idea that the regular-season leader should get first pit stall choice for the entire Chase.  Just a little something to give them "home field advantage".
--The current wild card rules stay (Points positions 11-20, first by total wins, then by total points).  But here's the new catch--a driver MUST HAVE AT LEAST ONE WIN to qualify for the Chase as a wild-card.
--My kookiest idea yet--The Wednesday before the first Chase race, allow the other 8 drivers in points positions 11-20 who didn't qualify to run a "Last-Chance Race".  The winner would qualify for the Chase as the 13th driver, with a significant points hurdle, but still with a shot.  The race would also be limited to two drivers per team, so as to not allow one team to gang up on the rest of the field.  It would be gimmicky, crazy, and entertaining as anything.
--The Chase drivers would be seeded as such:  Top 10 get a "base" 1,000 points, plus 3 points each for each win.  The two wild card drivers get 990 points each with NO bonus points for wins.  The Last Chance Race winner would get 950 points (again, with no bonus points).
--The Chase races unfold much the same as they do now--same points as the regular season (albeit with the new points system as described above).  The driver with the most points at the end wins, but MUST HAVE WON AT LEAST ONE RACE THAT SEASON (regular or Chase).
--And that's it!  I'll patiently wait for a phone call from Brian France.

Living in a Cereal World, and I am a Cereal Girl--er, I mean, Guy

On Saturday I went shopping at my local Target store and found the strangest thing.  No, not the Tony Stewart Workout Tape.  This:

Yes, its Kellogg's Vrooms cereal.  The only cereal endorsed by Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, AND Juan Pablo Montoya!  Now, I'm not sure if it comes with a miniature Jet-Dryer inside, or if you can mail away for a mediocre Ashley Judd movie, but I'm guessing its the start of a new trend.  Just think of the possibilities!

Jeff Burton's Cereal Runners-Up:  The perfect cereal for the consumer who contends for the championship in life, but always seems to come up short.  WARNING--some product may have expired in 2009.  Eating said-expired product may result in side-effect of talking like Ward.

Ol' Five Time's Gray Oatmeal:  The boring, calm, consistent choice for the constant winner in your life.  Comes complete with five unique shapes:  Circle, Sphere, Globe, Round, and Circle.  Be sure to sprinkle with Ol' Five Time's Crew Chief Sugar Suprirse, for when you want to CHEAT on your diet.

Start n' Parkers:  Some days you wake up at the crack of 11:30am and just don't want to face your customer service job.  Well, before you go back to bed, have a full serving (one spoonful) of Start n' Parkers!  You'll be calling in sick with a "vibration" in no-time!

Dinger Tablets:  The best source of energy in the world!

Kurt Busch's Generic Racing-Based Cereal:  Unable to find a distributor to sponsor its development, Kurt has chosen to release this independent cereal through such esteemed retailers as Ames and Jamesway.  Promising all the "full-flavored racing-based excitement" of the leading racing-based cereal, its perfect for millionaires who've destroyed their professional lives.

Dillon Brothers' Frosted Cowboy Hats:  Young?  Successful?  Popular?  Well, just try some cowboy hats on for size--you'll be looking like an idiot in no time!

Mark Martin's 100% Bran:  Perfect for the elderly racer in your family.  This will have him "moving" faster than a sponsor leaves Roush Racing!

Tony Stewart to Auction off Helmet for "Lets Give Matt Kenseth Driving Lessons" Charity

After a cooling-off period, Tony "Smoke" Stewart has decided to make some good come out of his helmet-throwing tantrum.  Starting tomorrow, he will auction off his tossed helmet to benefit the "Lets Give Matt Kenseth Driving Lessons" charitable foundation.
"We all saw what happened when Robby Gordon tossed a helmet at Michael Waltrip--they autographed it and auctioned it off to benefit a worthy cause", Stewart said, "Well, I can't think of anything the world needs right now than driving lessons for Matt Kenseth."
Stewart did not say how he got Kenseth to sign his helmet, though, upon closer inspection, it seemed to have been signed by one "Mutt Kensuck".
"Every race, we can see the need for Matt Kenseth to learn how to race", Stewart explained.  "Every week that goes by without the driver of the 17 getting lessons on proper racing style is another week lost.  We can only go so long without helping that cheese-headed moron."
Stewart said that, while "Lets Give Matt Kenseth Driving Lessons" would be the primary beneficiary of his auction, funds may also be donated to the "Regan Smith Ruined My Day" Victims Fund, as well as the "Seriously, Montoya, Again, Seriously" Alliance.
Stewart continued, "I honestly can't see how the world lets people not me, and people not associated with me, win races.  Its really a travesty of justice, reason, and me not getting my way."
When reached for comment, Matt Kenseth said that, while he didn't accept blame, he, "…would accept funds from Stewart, and maybe start (his) own charity, to help Tony NOT look 7-months pregnant".

The All-New Adventures of Bristol "News" and Notes

--Well, if Nascar wanted to redo Bristol so that someone who lead an entire race from start-to-finish, mission accomplished.
--Marcos Ambrose and Aric Amirola swapped rear tire changers and carriers.  This changes everything.  Everything!
--Front Row Motorsports is one of America's 5,000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies.  In a related story, I'm one of America's 500,000 Most-Eligible Bachelors Under 30.
--The difference between Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing is pretty obvious--when Mr. H cheats, he makes sure he actually WINS.
--How long until Nelson Piquet Jr. finally wins a Truck Series race?  Even Nelson Piket Jr. got a win before he did.
--We're now in that wonderful stretch where we don't have to deal with Jacque Villeneuve for about 9 months.  Ahhhhh :)

Oh How I Love My Flags of Many Colors

Nascar's gone with the same basic racing flags for the past few decades.  Don't you think its time that they introduced some new ones?  I mean, there's so many colors left to use--here's some suggestions for the rest of the color wheel:

(Already in use: White, Black, Checkered, Green, Yellow, Red, Blue with Stripe)

ORANGE: 1. Pothole in track, obey guy with STOP/SLOW sign.
2. Old guy from Albany bugging officials with long-winded Richie Evans story.
3. Nationwide Series Qualifying going long; IndyCar race moved to The Longhorn Network.

PURPLE: 1. High-Performance Synthetic Lubricant on track.
2. Tony Stewart wearing a violet sweatshirt at McDonalds; Being mistaken for Grimace.
3. Vikings and/or Ravens fans spotted at track.

BROWN: 1. Driver just radioed in, "Um, don't look in my drivers suit after the race."
2. Drunk fan re-enacting old Dale Jarrett UPS commercials.
3. Larry Mac annoyed at new Peanuts Special, "You're Announcing Nascar, Charlie Brown!"

GRAY: 1. Race is too boring; Prepare for debris caution.
2. Jeff Gordon needs to be restrained; Fan called him "old man".
3. Jimmie Johnson's name spelled wrong online.

SOLID BLUE: 1. Profanity overhead on radio; Report to pits for soap-in-mouth.
2. Pointless UNC-Duke argument between fans who dropped out of community college.
3. Derrike Cope spotted shirtless.

GOLD: 1. Race winner actually gets cool-looking trophy.
2. Paint/wrap on car costs more than engine under hood.
3. J.C. France needs bail money (again).

PINK: 1. Pit Lizards spotted in garage.
2. Terrible Philadelphia-area pop-rock singer spotted in area.
3. Fan claiming that "Dark Side of the Moon" syncs up perfectly with "Stroker Ace".

Jeff Gordon vs. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Tale of the Tape

In today's Pure Michigan 400, Jeff Gordon erupted on the radio Kurt Busch-style on Dale Earnhardt Jr. for taking him four-wide so early.  What if these two "take it outside" on Tuesday back at the Hendrick compound?  Well, assuming that the engines on their personal cars don't blow up, here's how they stack up against each other:

Dale Jr: About average
Gordon: "MAN is he short!"

Dale Jr: Depends on presence of beard
Gordon: "MAN is he tiny!"

Personal Life
Dale Jr: Everybody wants to know about it
Gordon: Everybody already knows about it

Sponsor Support
Dale Jr: Army National Guard soliders
Gordon: Old people

Connection to Danica Patrick
Dale Jr: Co-owns her Nationwide team
Gordon: About the same size

Dale Jr: Casual Braves fan
Gordon: "Wrigley Stadium"

Shares a Last Name With
Dale Jr: One of the sport's all-time greats
Gordon: One of the sport's all-time knuckleheads

Personal Superhero
Dale Jr: Batman
Gordon: DuPont Bio-Engineered Super-Soldier X-318

After the Fight, He'd…
Dale Jr: Go back to his house and play video games
Gordon: Go back to his house and play with his supermodel wife

Michigan "News" and Notes

--If I told you last year that, in 2012, Joey Logano would be the most-coveted free agent in Nascar, would you believe me?
--Has there ever been a less-congruent sponsor/driver relationship than Carl Edwards and Geek Squad?
--The Nationwide Series runs this weekend in Montreal on a "park-course" on an island in a lake.  Its just like the IndyCar race on Belle Isle, except people like it and its somewhat successful.
--Kid Rock is the Grand Marshall of the Cup race.  Place your bets on if he'll look drunk, high, hung-over, or all three.
--Thanks to the release of Jason Leffler, Kurt Busch will make his unwelcome return to the Truck Series on Saturday.
--I kind of expect Jeff Burton to show up behind someone in an on-air interview holding a sign that says "Hey, I haven't retired yet".

Lets Blow It Up & Start Over: The Schedule

In the first part of a possibly-ongoing series, I take a look at a particular aspect of Nascar (in this case, the schedule), and give it a makeover from square one.

So, everybody seems to complain about the Sprint Cup schedule.  And everybody seems to know how to fix it (more road courses, less cookie-cutters, absolutely no returns to Japan, etc.).  Of course, things like "contracts", and "tv rights", and "reality" get in the way.  But lets say that we could hit the big "RESET" button and start over from scratch.  Here's my plan:
--First off, only ONE CUP RACE PER TRACK, with a (very) few exceptions, to be covered later.  More demand per race should mean less empty seats in the stands.
--Get rid of the Budweiser (or whatever the heck they're calling it now) Shootout.  To this day, I have NO IDEA WHY THE SHOOTOUT EXISTS.
--Daytona keeps its two dates, but ONE IS RUN ON THE ROAD COURSE.  People want road courses, and people like racing at the World Center of Speed.  And hey, Brian France doesn't even have to spring for a Motel 6.
--Charlotte, as the "Home Track" for dang near everybody not owned by a Furniture Magnate, gets to keep its two points races, but the All-Star race (finally) starts to rotate around.  One caveat--the TRACK HOSTING THE ALL-STAR RACE MUST HAVE LIGHTS.
--Montreal gets a Cup race…provisionally.  I'd like to see ONE CUP RACE A YEAR IN CANADA, and if some Torontonians can make a wicked-fast road course, they might get the date.
--This, mind you, means that there are FOUR NON-OVALS on the schedule.
--The following markets are "RESERVED A DATE", pursuant to them building a track: Seattle, Denver, Greater New York City, and Northern Ohio (Cleveland area).  Also, the ever-boring Sonoma is put on notice that, if a better track is built nearby, they'll lose their date.
--If Sonoma IS replaced by an oval, ROAD AMERICA joins the schedule.
--Rotating the Chase races (which occasionally gets floated as an idea to drum up interest) doesn't really work from a fan's standpoint--some people take the same week for the same vacation so they can go to the same track year-after-year.  But perhaps we need to do some SLIGHT tweaking.  If a track hosts a Chase race and attendance is less than 75% full, another track may petition to replace them.
So, here's what the Spade Racing 2013 Nascar Sprint Cup Schedule MIGHT look like: (sn=Saturday Night)

2/9-10  Daytona Qualifying (Weekend after Super Bowl)
2/17 Daytona 500 (Prez. Day Weekend)
2/24 California
3/3 Las Vegas
3/10 Phoenix
3/17 Sonoma
3/24 Seattle
3/31 (off week for Easter)
4/6(sn) Bristol
4/14 Talladega
4/21 Denver
4/27(sn) Kentucky
5/5 (off week)
5/11(sn) Darlington (Mother's Day Weekend)
5/19 Sprint All-Star Race (rotating)
5/26 Charlotte 600 (Memorial Day)
6/2 Montreal
6/9 Pocono
6/16 Michigan (Father's Day Weekend)
6/22(sn) Iowa
6/30 (off week)
7/6(sn) Daytona Road Course
7/14 Northern Ohio
7/21 Indianapolis
7/28 New Hampshire
8/3(sn) Richmond (Last Race of the Regular Season)
8/11 New York
8/18 Chicago
8/25 Kansas
9/1 Atlanta (Labor Day)
9/8 Watkins Glen
9/14(sn) Charlotte
9/21(sn) Texas
9/29 Martinsville
10/6 Dover
10/13 Homestead (Columbus Day)

Well, there you have it!
(and yeah, I'm sure I missed something, so let me know on Facebook)

Bruton Smith Suggesting Having Oil on Track for Final 10 Laps of Every Race

(NOTE--Scroll down to the next article for my personal experience watching today's race)

Shortly after the thrilling ending to today's race at Watkins Glen, an unprompted Bruton Smith began contacting media members nationwide to suggest spreading oil on the track at the end of EVERY race.
"You saw how crazy that ending was--we should have that every week!", said Smith.  "If we put oil on every track for the last 10 laps of EVERY race, we'll have crazy endings to EVERY race!  Take it from me--I'm the guy who came up with night racing, celebrity racing, and the Kentucky traffic pattern."
Smith already formulated a plan to put the oil onto the track, at least according to him.
"Well, we'll already have cautions every 20-30 laps like I suggested earlier this year", Smith said, "so it'll be easy to have a truck run out there and drip some oil onto the track.  I can have a water truck turned into the zMax Track Lubricator in a matter of days."
Smith pointed out that, while Nascar has yet to get back to him on his Figure-8 Track Layout idea, he feels that they will respond much quicker to this one.
"Come on, who can say 'No' to excitement?  I'm the man who came up with racing stock cars, I know what I'm talking about here!  Hey, if Brian (France, Nascar CEO/Karmin Fan) doesn't want it, I'll just form my own racing series, like I've said I would do since 1950.

Me, the Marcos Ambrose Fan, at the end of this race...

Photo Courtesy Douglas Ladd

Aw man, Kyle's got this…is he slow?  Naw, he's got it…wait, Keselowski went by--AMBROSE by him too!  COME ON!!!  COME ON!!! Wait--STAY ON TRACK!  OH NO, WAIT…IS HE…WAIT, KESELOWSKI'S OFF!  COME ON!  COME ON!!! DO IT MARCOS!!! YES!!! YES!!!  YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!  WOOOOOOOO!!!!! HE WON!!!!  AMBROSE WON!!!!!!!!!!  HE DID IT!!!!!!!!  (Several Deep Breaths)  Woo!  WOOO!  Woo--nice, wow, Brad Keselowski congratulating the 9 crew, classy!  Love it!  Wait, Kyle went to his transporter? What a petulant little baby!

Watkins Glen "News" and Notes

--If someone handed ME a pill, I think I'd throw it away, then wash my hands for a good minute, then make sure they emptied the garbage where I threw it away.
--Could David Reutimann wind up at JTG Daughtery Racing next year?  Well, it all depends on how well he can haul the mail.
--Greg Biffle LOOKS like Nicolas Cage, but can he act CRAZY like Nicolas Cage?  Because if he can, Boris Said might just keep his distance.
--Good news!  No French-Canadian has-beens in the Nationwide race this weekend.
--If anyone tries to block in front of Tony Stewart this weekend, he might wind up giving them the "Middle Finger Lake".
--Well, Dodge is gone.  But at least we didn't lose another American-owned manufacturer.

Todd Bodine Blames Cup Series Wreck on Nelson Piquet Jr.

Though it appeared to be a loose 48 car that brought out the final caution of today's Pocono race, Truck Series driver Todd "The Onion" Bodine placed the blame squarely on fellow Truck driver Nelson Piquet Jr.
"Jimmie Johnson's a great, great driver--the second-best to ever run for Herzog Motorsports--but for some reason he decided to run like that idiot, Nelson Piquet Jr.", Bodine told nobody in particular.  "I have no idea why anybody would listen to that dolt, unless they want to know how to wreck a beloved unsponsored veteran like myself."
While Johnson and Kenseth were unavailable for comment, Bodine explained that, "…if Jimmie (Johnson) was here right now, I'm sure he'd be saying, 'Wow, I shouldn't have listened to that Piquet guy.  What was I thinking?', and Matt (Kenseth) would be saying, 'Yeah, Jimmie, what WERE you thinking?  I never listen to that Piquet guy, I only listen to guys from Upstate New York.'"
Bodine, who gave no reason for remaining at the track the day after his race, also placed several other maladies on Nelson Piquet Jr's shoulders, including the rain at the track, the sluggish economy, and Bodine's own baldness.
"Look at me--I'm a multiple-time champion in this (Truck) Series", Bodine continued, "and I don't even have a sponsor?  Why don't any of these stupid companies want to sponsor me?  I deserve respect!  These stupid drivers should realize how smart I am!  This is all Piquet's fault!!!"
In a related story, Brett Bodine joked about getting bonus points for leading the most laps for the 26th consecutive race.

Who Do the 22? A "News" and Notes Special Edition

Since we were just at Pocono, you know, a few days ago, I thought we'd take this chance to look at the odds on who would be in the 22 Shell/Pennzoil car in 2013.  (In order of best to worst chance)

Sam Hornish Jr., 2:1  The odds-on favorite to take this ride.  He brings everything AJ Allmendinger brought--marketable look, easy-going personality, and, most importantly, ZERO Cup wins.  Also, I don't know about you, but after I Dinger, I usually feel Hornish.

Joey Logano, 5:1  He was heavily-hyped, earning the nickname "Sliced Bread".  Then, after an early win, he went years without a sniff at a victory, earning the nickname "Burnt Toast".  Now he's not quite a superstar, but has shown he has quality, so lets call him "Crouton" for now.  By the way, I love how getting your first win in four years is a fluke for an unpopular driver, but is a sign that everything's coming together for a championship run for the most popular driver.

Ryan Newman, 12:1  Could Ryan go back to his first Cup team?  Hey, Jamie McMurray did it, and he won three races once he returned to Chip Ganassi.  So Flyin' Ryan could think about that, as long as he doesn't think about how Jamie Mac has done SINCE then.

Brian Vickers, 30:1  As the last man standing in last year's game of musical Cup rides, Brian has made the best of a bad situation, showing flashes of talent in a part-time ride for Michael Waltrip.  And still, he could've been stuck sitting in that rickety old folding chair that never really works right, aka David Ragan to Front Row Motorsports.

Trevor Bayne, 40:1  Trevor's situation is still up in the air for 2013, and if he doesn't get a quality full-time ride soon, he's in danger of becoming the Phil Parsons of our generation.  Hope he doesn't wind up working with the Michael Waltrip of our generation in 2035.

Regan Smith, 100:1  If Regan gets released from Front Row Motorsports, he could be worth a flyer by the Captain.  Besides, at least ***INSERT JOKE ABOUT COMMUTE FROM DENVER, CO HERE***.

Ward Burton, 1,000:1  OK, so its not like Penske would go looking for him.  But he could pull a George Costanza, show up for Daytona testing, and act like nothing's happened.  "Whut?  Ah always dwive thuh 22 cah."  I wonder if he's Penske material or not?

Kurt Busch, 1,000,000:1  You get the feeling that Roger Penske would rather put a trained chimp or Kevin Conway in the car first.  OK, OK, I was exaggerating a bit--not Kevin Conway.