Hurricane Hijinks

I'm happy to report that everyone here at Spade Racing is fine after weathering Hurricane Sandy (and by everyone, I mean me).  For the rest of you who live in a hurricane target zone, here's a few pointers on how to survive the next big one:

--After a hurricane comes on shore, it may stall over land, otherwise known as "Start and Park"ing.

--Be sure you have a Universal Power System backup for your computer.  That way, you can keep up-to-date with what FedEx depot Denny Hamlin is visiting on Wednesday.

--Always have a "to go" bag ready in case you are told to evacuate.  But only take the essentials--a change of clothes, necessary medications, and your Tony Stewart workout DVD.

--If the power goes out, take some quiet time to work on a long-delayed project.  Take me, for instance--I put the finishing touches on my false advertising lawsuit against Front Row Motorsports.

--You can still support your favorite drivers by patronizing their sponsors before the storm hits.  After all, what better time is it to buy a Caterpillar bulldozer than right before a natural disaster?

--If even an inch of water seeps into your house, climb on a chair to keep from drowning (Jason Leffler only).

--As always, stay calm, stay safe, and stay alert.  Or just do what I did and get really drunk.

Matt Crafton Ruins Denny Hamlin's Day With Diabolical Plan

After Denny Hamlin punted Matt Crafton out of the lead in yesterday's Truck Series race, Crafton swore that "…what goes around, comes around".  Today, it came around in a big way, as Crafton was able to destroy Hamlin's chances with a diabolical plan.
"Denny learned the hard way that you should NEVER cross a Crafton!", Crafton said from outside the track, twirling a handlebar mustache he appeared to grow overnight.  "That'll be the LAST TIME he comes down to our lower series and tries to increase fan interest!"
Crafton, who remains in contention for the Camping World Truck Series championship, was spotted inside the garage area earlier today.  Afterward (once the race started), he sat behind a large wooden desk in a parking lot, stroking a fluffy white cat.
"It was real weird, seeing him sitting in that swivel chair outdoors", said race fan Will Minton, who'd parked next to Crafton's "lair".  "I mean, he just kept petting that cat of his, and occasionally rubbing both his hands together like Paul Bearer used to do."
Crafton was said to have stayed up through the night practicing his "evil, maniacal laugh", refused to divulge the details of his scheme, pointing out that he may need to use it again in the future.
"True geniuses NEVER reveal their methods", Crafton cackled, "besides, a plan so dastardly and devious could never be properly explained to a mere mortal!"
When asked if he simply switched the Master Switch in the #11 car with a faulty one, Crafton complained that they were "…ruining it for him."

Martinsville "News" and Notes

--After a brief hiatus, Nascar's most popular driver is back behind the wheel of the #32 Federated Auto Parts car.
--Roush Racing makes its 3,000th Cup Series start this weekend, and Ted Musgrave plans to celebrate by yelling at his TV.
--Jeff Burton is already calling the 2013 season a "Make or Break" year for him.  Well, if he breaks, Austin Dillon gets his ride.  And if he makes, well, Austin Dillon still gets his ride.
--Brian Vickers makes his last scheduled start of 2012 this weekend.  Next year, why don't they just put him in the #47 JTG-Daughtery car?  Oh, yeah, that would make too much sense.
--If I at any point in my life date someone named "Lyn-Z", you have my full permission to shoot me.

Auction Action

This can all be yours!!!

After being in business for what seemed like two weeks, Robinson-Blakeney Motorsports (aka "That Israel Team") has shut down.  The good news is you can own your very own piece of the dream, as the team's entire inventory is being auctioned off on Tuesday.  Here's a preview from the auction's official website:

--Soap Dish Antenna--for those of you who like to catch Pakistani Westerns AND need a place to store your Ivory.

--Tungsten--help, I need Tungsten to live!  TUNGSTEN!!!

--Quick Releases--you mean like drinking, porno, and weeping?

--Fire Bottle--I can't tell you how hard it is to bottle fire.

--Four Tier Cart--Sick and tired of not having enough room on your three-tier cart?  Well have we got the item for you!

--Tin Snips--As in tin snips, tin snails, and tin puppy-dog tails.

--Carbon Fiber Breather--Breathe deeply through the cross-hatched interior that costs a bunch more.

--Bolt Bin--Maybe this is the best place to store used San Diego Chargers.

--Jack Stands--My dad has a cousin named Jack, and I think he can do a handstand.  Nah, probably not the same guy.

--Nuts & Bolts--I like the idea of going to a major live auction and walking away with a bunch of random fasteners.

--2-1/2 Sway Bar--The hot new sitcom from CBS that I won't watch!

--Wiggins Fitting--WARNING: Only works on fit guys named Wiggins.

Matt Kenseth Wins at Kansas, Drinks Entire Bottle of Zest

In a crash-filled race at Kansas Speedway, Matt Kenseth came out victorious in the Hollywood Casino 400.  Kenseth then celebrated in Victory Lane by drinking an entire bottle of Zest Body Wash.
"Wooo!  Yeahhhh!!!"  Kenseth yelled upon finishing the body wash, throwing the now-empty bottle into the air.  "We did it today!  Wooo!"
Kenseth then continued, "This just shows what this Zest Ford Fusion can do", Kenseth told Dr. Jerry Punch with bubbles coming out of his mouth.  "To be able to win a crazy race like this, car wrecking left and right, its just an amazing feeling."
"People have said Matt was a lame-duck driver, that's just wrong", said crew chief Jimmy Fennig, who looked on visibly horrified as his driver drank an entire 16 ounce bottle of soap.  "Matt's a true champion, he's gonna give it his all till the final checkered falls at Homestead."
Team co-owner Jack Roush congratulated Kenseth, remarking that he was "…very proud of Matt", and that his breath smelled a little bit like deodorant.  "Its been great having a driver like Matt on our team all these years, a real privilege", Roush said, after checking to see if Kenseth was vomiting.
"This is really what its all about", Kenseth added to reporters, most of whom were asking him if he needed an ambulance.  "We're all winners here, and I hope that next week I can drink a jar of change for Fifth Third Bank."

Kansas "News" and Notes

--People are saying that since being resurfaced Kansas Speedway has become a whole new track.  Great, ANOTHER cookie-cutter race that can't sell out.
--Our long national nightmare may be over:  Go Daddy is considering dropping Danica Patrick from their TV commercials.
--Geoff(rey) Bodine announced his retirement this week, 11 months since he last competed in a Cup Series race and 16 years since he was last relevant.
--To everyone who thinks that the Nationwide Series should cut its fields to 12 cars ("since that's how many drivers actually have a chance to win"), that's the way it's always been in the Busch/Nationwide Series.  Its not like Todd Kluever and Glenn Allen Jr. entered every race gunning for first.
--Regan Smith might be going to JR Motorsports next year as a teammate to Cole Whitt.  Hey Regan--listen to Cole, and he will tell you the secrets of moving up to Cup to start and park for a guy named "Little Joe".

Sly Like Fox

Fox Sports Media Group has announced that it had extended its TV rights deal with Nascar through 2022.  While most of the contract stays the same (first 13 races for Cup, the entire Truck schedule), here's a few changes both parties agreed to:

--Nascar will work to find more random out-of-the-way places to put Jeff Hammond during the pre-race.

--Rick Allen and Phil Parsons will be allowed to pursue their dream of forming a progressive-rock band, The Allen-Parsons Project.

--The 33% increase in rights fees will be paid for by fining Darrell Waltrip $50 for every time he says "Kenseths".

--Fox will still be able to farm out its crew for TNT's "Summer Series", where they can join an NBC Sports import who must have some VERY compromising pictures of Ted Turner.

--Pre-race coverage will be expanded to three hours to accommodate Michael Waltrip's sponsor plugs.

--Nascar's Hall of Fame will allow Mike Joy to campaign for Kevin LePage's induction.

Michael Waltrip: "Good Things Happen to Bad People!"

Celebrating in Victory Lane with driver Clint Bowyer, team owner/media personality Michael Waltrip admitted his good fortune, saying that he is living proof that good things happen to bad people.
"You know, after I sucker-punched Lake Speed on pit road, you figure I'd be marked for life as a jerk", Waltrip said amid a shower of 5-Hour-Energy, "but as the past few years have shown, I've been able to become a successful team owner AND an irritating tv commentator!
"I mean, really, after the first DWI I narrowly avoided (in 2007), I thought, 'OK, you're screwed', and after the SECOND near-DWI (in 2009), you'd think they wouldn't let me NEAR an automobile.  But not only do I get to run a successful race team, but people get to think that I'm a real success story for building my team up from 'nothing'!"
Race winner Bowyer was similar in his praise of bad-person Waltrip.
"I myself said that Mikey was the worst driver in Nascar", Bowyer said, "and we all remember when he cheated to beat out a 70-something-year-old to make the Daytona 500.  But heck, I guess some guys are just lucky.  I mean, REALLY lucky."
Waltrip, well-known for berating an ESPN reporter for mentioning his winless-streak, has pledged to enjoy this win "…as long as my Karma gets delayed.
"Whether its annoying fans with my constant sponsor plugs on TV, or using business deals with Cal Wells and Doug Bawel to keep my team afloat--oh, and Bill David too--I guess I'm just lucky!"
Upon hearing these comments, Robby Gordon reportedly punched his fist through a wall.

Charlotte "News" and Notes: Special Early Edition

A lot has happened in the past few hours, so lets see what changes you'll see on the track Saturday Night.

--Dale Earnhardt Jr. is sitting out the Charlotte and Kansas races while dealing with the after-effects of a concussion.  Dale Jr. thinks he suffered it after looking at the weird checkerboard pattern on his test-car at Kansas.
--Regan Smith will sub-in for Dale Jr. in the 88 car for the next two weeks.  Smith was originally going to be in the 51 Phoenix Racing car, having been released from the 78 Furniture Row Racing ride in favor of a driver with SEVERE brain damage.
--A.J. Allmendinger was tabbed to drive the 51 car this weekend at Charlotte, provided that he lays off the funny stuff, doesn't touch the wacky tabacky, and won't get hepped up on goof-balls.
--Kurt Busch, meanwhile, continues his quest for fun, stepping into the 78 car formerly driven by Regan Smith.  If you're keeping track at home, this is his fourth chance.

A Commercial I'd Like to See

(Open with images of the old "Red Bull Racing" shop sitting empty)

(Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" plays in the background)

"Spend all your time waiting, for that second chance, for a break that would make it OK"

(dissolve to shot of Sarah McLachlan sitting with Brian Vickers)

Sarah McLachlan: "Hi, I'm Sarah McLachlan.  Every year careless Nascar team owners negligently let drivers like Brian here go, with no place to call home, no car to drive."

(Images of Reed Sorenson looking mournfully into the camera)

"In the arms of the angel, fly away from here"

SMcL: "That's why I'm urging you to join me in supporting the APCMD: The Association to Prevent Cruelty to Millionaire Drivers.  Your donation will go straight to work, helping keep Nascar's former drivers of the future from winding up in an ESPN 30 for 30 special."

(Image of Michael McDowell holding 'Will Race for Food' cardboard sign)

"You are pulled from the wreckage"

(Image of Michael McDowell holding 'Very Funny, Sarah' cardboard sign)

"Of your silent reverie"

SMcL: "If you want to make a difference, if you want to stop today's millionaires from becoming tomorrow's hundred-thousandaires, give generously.  Any amount helps, though our favorite amount is 'A Lot'."

Brian Vickers: "Um, am I allowed to talk?"

SMcL: "Quiet you."

"In the arms of the angel, may you fiiiiiiiind some comfort heeeeere"

Tony Stewart Wins Good Sam 499.5 at Talladega

Just days after welcoming in a new sponsor, Tony Stewart had more good news this afternoon, claiming victory in the Good Sam 499.5 at Talladega Superspeedway.
"I was surprised just how clean the race was today", Stewart said in the Mobil 1/Office Depot Victory Lane.  "We got lots of help at the end from Michael Waltrip and whoever's in the 13 car, it was nice to have such a calm, cooperative race."
Waltrip, running a partial schedule in the 55 car, was ecstatic with his 2nd-place finish.
"This is just awesome to put the Aaron's Dream Machine in the top-5 today.  Running with these cats around this track, never wrecking and never pushing the issue, reminds me why I got into racing in the first place--to run good at the Good Sam 499.5."
Marcos Ambrose, who also found himself in the top-five, commented, "The CAH was real good today, and we just had to make sure we had our CAH at the front for the last 4/5ths lap."
Stewart continued, "And to think, we got out of here without a scratch on the car!  I figured this was the kind of place where you finish on your side, or on another car's hood, or both.  It'll just be great to go back to Charlotte and stare at the Good Sam 499.5 trophy.  Thank God they put the start-finish line right by Turn 1."

Talladega "News" and Notes

--If Dover was "Separation Sunday" (when drivers could position themselves to be Chase favorites), then 'Dega has to be "Screwed Sunday", when a blown tire can ruin a year's worth of work towards a championship.
--Tony Stewart has picked up Bass Pro Shops as a primary sponsor for 18 races in 2013.  The announcement would have been sooner, but Smoke was busy trying to figure out why the heck Lewis Hamilton had switched teams.
--With Bass Pro Shops leaving EGR, who will sponsor Jamie McMurray next year?  Hair gel companies of the world, this is your best chance to move into Nascar.
--I have no idea why Tayler Malsam was let go by Tri-Star Motorsports, but lets take this time to point out that "Tayler Malsam" sounds like a good name for a teenage actress on an ABC Family drama.
--Its a good thing that Kurt Busch moved on to Furniture Row next season--it sounds like his brother might need the #51 ride next year to "…get back to having fun".
--Someone might want to mail one of those "Honk If Parts Fall Off" bumper stickers to Matt Kenseth.

Lets Blow it Up and Start Over: Qualifying

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

Nascar's the only sport where you don't know if you're going to compete in the real event--its not like football teams need to run a 40-yard-dash to see if they'll play on Sunday.  So Nascar's issues are pretty well difficult for "stick-and-ball" sports fans to understand.  Lets see if we REAL fans can make it better.

--The Top-35 rule was great while it lasted (you know, when there were more than 25 teams with a legitimate shot to get a top-10.)  So lets get rid of it ASAP.

--The old provisional starting system (used before the Top-35 rule was put into place) was OK, but it was too damn hard to understand.  So let's make the NEW system a simpler version of the older system.

--Here's how it will work:  There'll be one round of qualifying to determine the starting order.  The fastest 38 teams (assuming a 43-car-field) will make the race.  This will put a premium back on qualifying, as right now its more of a leisurely Friday afternoon test session.

--The five teams highest in points that did not get in on speed will fill out the final five spots (again, assuming a 43-car-field).  This gives upper-echelon teams a "mulligan" if they spin out or have a poor set-up in their qualifying lap, but is far from an actual guaranteed starting spot.

--But what if a bunch of start & park teams just set up their cars for one good qualifying lap?  Well, teams will now be able to re-adjust their cars between qualifying and the actual race (with a Happy-Hour test session to allow for tweaking).

--The past-champion's provisional, aka The Darrell Waltrip Memorial Starting Spot, is a bit of a necessary evil left over from the days of Richard Petty struggling to make races.  However, Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte have shown how much the system can be abused.  So from now on, a past champion can only claim a past-champion's provisional if they've run at least 80% of the previous year's races.  Additionally, past champions may only use this way to qualify for a race five times a year.

--Obviously the 43-car field (rumored to be a requirement of the TV contracts) has become a joke lately.  I'd like to see a more "elastic" field size based on purse money and track size.  Maybe only 40 cars per race for tracks 1-mile long and shorter, which will help to free up room on the tight pit roads of Dover and Martinsville.  In that case, only the fastest 35 cars would qualify on speed (five provisional starting spots stay the same).
Well, there you have it--oh, and the best/worst side effect of this (if its implemented in all three national series) would be Jeff Green losing his main source of income.