Spade Racing's Dover Trucks Adventure

Yesterday afternoon I went with my dad to the Lucas Oil 200 Camping World Truck Series race at Dover International Speedway.  Here's the photographic evidence:

Pre-race festivities.  Circled is something I never really noticed before--it's a scoreboard-style electronic display that shows the number of a car that's been penalized, black-flagged, or disqualified.  So, basically, Norm Benning.

Case in point.

The Air Force with a pretty cool art installation--it was called "RAGE: Brad Keselowski, Martinsville 2014"

For those of you who don't live in the Delaware Valley, ACME is a local chain of grocery stores, NOT the guys who supplied the coyote with all those malfunctioning contraptions in Looney Tunes.

My tax (and speeding ticket) dollars hard at work.

Trucks preparing to restart--the outside line was the dominant line, so the leader (read: Kyle Busch) chose it every time.

Trucks coming around Turn 4 under green as Mason Mingus serves a penalty for not calling before he dug.

The view from the front row--Dover is so steeply-banked (even on the frontstretch) that you can't see the racing surface from here.  The concrete you're seeing is the pit lane, and the asphalt is the walking area for the fans.  Granted, this could also be because I'm a crappy photographer...

Matt Crafton (the only real threat to Kyle Busch) being towed to the garage after blowing a tire and wrecking on the backstretch.

Wreck between Gray Gaulding and Random Turner-Scott Truck Series Driver.

 Great on-track action, crappy action up-front, Kyle Busch wins.  Yep, sounds like a Camping World Truck Series race to me!

Bully in the smoke.

Dover "News" and Notes (The Early Edition)

--I'll be attending the Camping World Truck Series race on Friday (weather and beach-traffic permitting), hopefully returning with plenty of cool pictures.  I'd LIKE to come back with some cool stories, but Kyle Busch is entered in the race.

--Gene Haas is delaying his entry into Formula 1, shocking a grand total of nobody.
Click it or somethingorother

--Congrats to Jeb Burton, who picked up Estes Trucking as a sponsor for the rest of the season.  Always great to see the son of a millionaire ex-driver get a fair shake.

--It's good to know that my tax dollars (meager as they may be) are going, in a roundabout way, to sponsor Reed Sorenson in this weekend's race.

--Could Greg Biffle leave Roush-Fenway?  Yes.  Would it be a good career move?  Yes.  Would he get sued if he tries to take 3M with him?  Yes.

--Remember that Dover is one of the few tracks on the circuit that doesn't have an asphalt racing surface (using concrete) joining Bristol (concrete) and Kentucky (rumble strips).

--Brett Moffitt makes his Cup debut this weekend in the #66 car.  I'm hoping against hope that his seat is made by Toffitt Manufacturing.

Kyle Busch Announces Plan to Do IndyLights/Nationwide Double

Inspired by his brother's nearly-successful double, Kyle Busch has announced plans to run an IndyLights Series race and a Nationwide Series race in the same day.
"I wonder if NHRA still has
a sportsman's division?"
"We have to see how it works out schedule-wise, but it's something I definitely want to try", the younger Busch said shortly after today's Coca-Cola 600.  "My personal goal is to win 200 races across major national touring series, and the more series I run, the more races I can win."
Kyle Busch, who regularly runs Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series races to "gain track experience", has said that he sees similar benefits in running an IndyLights race at a common track.
"Well, let's say that we run at Pocono", Busch said, referencing the upcoming IndyLights race at The Tricky Triangle.  "And let's say that I have an early front-end wreck later in my stock car.  Well, if they peel off the front end, it'll look just like an IndyCar!  Not to mention the fact that it helps to see where the deer and drunks are congregating."
Busch is said to be trying to put together a deal with an IndyLights team, while the series appears to be receptive to his plan.
"We always love to see new talent here in IndyLights, though I honestly have no idea why Mr. Busch would want to run here", said an IndyCar PR rep.  "We told him that we can't offer much tv exposure or prize money, but he really wanted to do it.  Plus, any chance to increase our car count by 10% is great for us."
Kyle Busch also said that there are more intangible reasons for his desire to run two races in two developmental series in the same day.
"Sure, going out there and competing with the best in your sport is nice, but that's not what I want", Busch explained.  "To go out there and compete with drivers 10 years younger than you, teams that barely have any sponsorship, while you come in with first-rate equipment and completely dominate them, that's what really makes me happy."
When reached for comment, Nationwide Insurance replied with a press release: "Meh."

Charlotte "News" and Notes

--We're just a few hours away from the biggest day in racing on the calendar!  Monaco!  Indianapolis!  Charlotte!  And, um…Topeka?

--Kurt Busch attempts to "Do the Double" for the first time tomorrow, running the Indy 500, then flying down to Charlotte for the Coke 600.  Personally, I can't wait to see all seven IndyCar diehards try to rationalize away a great run by Kurt at Indy.

--Good news for Trevor Bayne--he's moving to Cup full-time!  Roush-Fenway announced today that Bayne will move up with his Nationwide sponsor (Advocare) and Nationwide car number (6) to Cup in 2015.  This means that we should have another four-car team in Cup next year--Joe Gibbs Racing.

--No word yet on who will move into the Wood Brothers car in 2015.  The 12-races (or so) of sponsorship that Ford provides hopefully means that they can sign someone deserving of the ride, and NOT have to go to John Wes Townley, who isn't deserving of a ride in a van to the track.

--Jeff Gordon is dealing with back issues (no, not of Winston Cup Scene) and will have Regan Smith standing by if necessary tomorrow.  Nascar insiders were stunned to hear the word "spaz" and not have it somehow involve Kyle Busch.

--Remember Jeff Burton?  Well, he's planning on running at least two more races in 2014--Kentucky and Michigan.  In theory, the 66 team will run MWR equipment in two other races as well, to allow co-owner Michael Waltrip to recreate his career by running 35th.

Doing The Double

Kurt's IndyCar, as well as the proper facial expression once realizing you have to deal with Kurt Busch

This Sunday Kurt Busch will attempt to "Do the Double"--racing 1,100 miles in less than 24 hours by running the Indy 500 and the Coke 600 in the same day.  Kurt's the latest to attempt this impressive feat--here's a history (and here's the main source):

Davy Jones press conference
1994: John Andretti becomes the first driver to compete in the Indy 500 & Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.  John runs a respectable 10th at Indy and a typical (well, for John Andretti) 36th in Charlotte with mechanical issues.  Arguably the most-memorable moment from this historic day was Kenny Wallace, working as a pit reporter for TBS, starting his interview by calling John "Jeff".

1995: Davy Jones attempts The Double, but fails to qualify in Charlotte in the Jasper Motorsports "race car".

1997: Robby Gordon attempts The Double, only to be thwarted by weather issues at Indy.  After crashing out at Charlotte Sunday Night, he returned to Indy, only to have the race rained out again on Monday.  After restarting on Tuesday, Gordon crashed AGAIN, suffered burns, and was forced to miss a number of Cup races.  The moral of the story?  God hates Robby Gordon.

A familiar sight in 1997
1999: Tony Stewart, in his first Cup season, has the best run to-date for any driver Doing The Double.  After a 9th-place finish at Indy, he came home 4th in Charlotte.  The second race of the doubleheader was a challenge, as Stewart became lightheaded during the latter stages of the race due to fatigue (he was even fed Powerbars during a late pit-stop).  Terrified at nearly crashing due to hunger, Stewart vows to never go hungry again.

2000: Robby Gordon becomes the first driver to attempt Doing the Double a second time, only to have his plans complicated by weather yet again.  A three-hour rain delay at Indy keeps Robby in Indiana past the start-time of the Coke 600, although he did manage a strong 6th-place finish in the 500.  Meanwhile, in Charlotte, P.J. Jones started the Gordon car, with Robby eventually subbing in before finishing 35th.  The moral of the story?  God still hates Robby Gordon.

I'm guessing that Smoke uses
his IRL trophies as doorstops
2001: Tony Stewart puts together the most-successful Double in history, competing for the win in both races.  After a 6th-place finish at Indy (and leading 13 laps), Smoke came home 3rd in Charlotte, becoming the first driver to actually complete all 1,100 miles.  Stewart's feat is not expected to be topped until John Wes Townley comes to Cup, in which case a late spin-out in a 34th-place Zaxby's car will bring out a Green-White-Checkered finish.

2002: Robby Gordon becomes the first driver to Do The Double for a third time.  After an 8th-place finish at Indy, Gordon battles issues both mechanical (handling) and physical (cramping) to come home 16th.  The moral of the story?  Maybe God just hates Robby Gordon's legs.

2003: Robby Gordon is the first driver to Do The Double four times, but has a typical Robby Gordon day (that is to say, disappointing).  Gordon has mechanical issues at Indy, coming home 22nd, then ran 17th in a rain-shortened race at Charlotte.  The moral of the story?  OK, maybe God's hatred had switched to Robby Gordon's cars by now.

"I'm worried I won't be dull enough
on the radio this year"
2004: Again, Robby Gordon makes history as the first driver to attempt Doing The Double five times.  In a reversal of 2000's weather issues, Gordon forgoes a rain-delayed Indy 500, forcing Jaques Lazier to run the car instead.  In the 600, Gordon has a mediocre day, finishing 20th.  The Gordon/Lazier IndyCar effort is officially listed as 29th--Lazier OUT (Axle/God's Will).

2014: After a Double-less decade (mostly due to scheduling issues), Kurt Busch revives the tradition of Doing The Double, attempting the Indy 500 and Coke 600 on Memorial Day Sunday.  Uniquely, this attempt combines aspects of the three previous "Doublers"--Kurt's IndyCar team is owned by Michael Andretti (John's Cousin), Kurt's Nascar team is co-owned by Tony Stewart, and Kurt's personality is patterned after Robby Gordon's.

Sad Sterling (again!)

Danica Patrick gets the Night Off

The problem with working with Mark Martin

Last night Danica Patrick was unable to race her way into tonight's Sprint All-Star Race.  More-shockingly, she was unable to win the Sprint Fan Vote, with DogeCoin-supported driver Josh Wise garnering the most votes.  With her first quasi-"Did Not Qualify" in her Nascar career, she's expected to spend her night as such:

7pm: Arrive at track, hoping that Josh Wise took her advice to "go out on top and retire".

7:05pm: Condolences from some of Nascar's elite, most of which can be summed up as, "At least your hauler doesn't keep getting stolen".

7:25pm: Ask Kurt Busch if anybody at Indy, you know, asked about her.

7:40pm: Kurt stops laughing.
"If there's one thing I remember from
my racin' days, it's not qualifying."

7:50pm: Dinner with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Hardee's.

8:25pm: Return to track; rejects offer to watch race from the Dave Blaney DNQ Suite.

8:30pm: Joins Nascar on Fox (Sports 1) broadcasting team for pre-race feature, "Girl Talk with Danica and Mikey".

8:55pm: Interview with Darrell Waltrip.

9:10pm: Files retraining order against Darrell Waltrip.

9:20pm: Wishes teammates good-luck.

9:25pm: Finishes apologizing to Tony Stewart for telling him to "break a leg out there".

9:30pm: Watches start of race from hauler.

9:35pm: Phone call.

9:35:05pm: Angrily hangs up after a caller sounding suspiciously like Kyle Petty asks her if "Mike R. Izzenfazt" is there.

Much Votes. Wow.

All-Star Weekend News and "Notes"

Since the mid-80's, Nascar has shown off its biggest and brightest stars in the most-convoluted way possible via an All-Star Race.  Confused?  Join the club.  Here's an explanation:
Unfortunately, Waltrips
speak louder than actions
--You can become locked-in for the Sprint All-Star Race one of three ways: Win a Cup race in this season or the previous season, Win an All-Star Race in the past 10 years, or Win a Championship in the past 10 years.  So you see virtually all of Nascar's brightest stars in this group--Stewart, Johnson, Kenseth, Gordon, …Ragan?

--The night before the All-Star Race (so, tonight), Nascar is holding the Sprint Showdown, which is open to any team with a driver who has not qualified for the All-Star Race already.  Qualifying for this event is just like any other race, except that Penske isn't there to dominate it.

--The Showdown features two 20-lap segments, in which caution flags are NOT counted in the second segment.  The top two finishers in the Showdown advance to the All-Star Race.

--Now that the Sprint Showdown is not to be confused with the Showcase Showdown, the final round of The Price is Right.

--The third and final entrant is Danica Patrick, formerly known as the Sprint Fan Vote winner.  The fan vote winner, announced immediately after the Showdown, is the driver with the most votes (Danica) who was not already locked into the All-Star Race (Danica), who also did not finish first or second in the Showdown (definitely Danica), whose car is determined to be in raceable condition (hmmm…).

This happened
--Then, on Saturday Night, the actual All-Star Race happens.  (Almost) immediately before this, qualifying occurs.  In-between, watch Michael Waltrip desperately try to be funny.

--Qualifying is pretty unique:  Cars make single-car runs for three laps, with a mandatory four-tire pit-stop occurring on the second lap--the qualifying time is the total of the three-lap run and pit stop.  Also note that there is no pit road speed limit, aka Kyle Busch's Dream.

--The race will be broken into five different segments.  The first four will each be 20-lap segments, with optional pit-stops between them.  Caution laps WILL be counted for when the inevitable TRD engine blow-up happens.

--After Segment 4, drivers will be repositioned by their average finishes in the previous four segments, with any ties based on finishing position in Segment 4.  Then, a mandatory, four-tire pit-stop takes place, with cars returning to the track for a 10-lap final segment in which caution laps are NOT counted.  Odds on Fox somehow screwing up the math are 2:1.

--Oh, and if a driver manages to win all five segments, they'll get $1,000,000 from Bruton Smith.  I don't know what's tougher--winning all five segments, or listening to Bruton Smith.

Spade Racing Lowbuck Team Tournament--Semifinal Results

Saturday Night's race at Kansas seemed to have it all--last-second drama (Harvick's charge for the lead), unexplained drama (the lights going out), and, seeing as how this is the 2014 season, extremely irritating drama (the weather delay).  But it also had Lowbuck drama, as the four remaining teams in the Spade Racing Lowbuck Team Tournament duked it out on the track for a shot at the finals.  Here's the results:
1. 51 (Justin Allgaier) over 4. 40 (Landon Cassill)--An early wreck seemed to take out half of the Lowbuck entrants, including virtually every fast-food sponsored team.  Landon Cassill was caught up, and had to settle for 42nd place.  Justin Allgaier, running in the top-20 most of the race, was able to comfortably cruise to a victory, even though a later crash relegated him to a 36th-place finish.
7. 7 (Michael Annett) over 3. 36 (Reed Sorenson)--Michael Annett's cinderella run continues!  Annett, while not in a contending car, was able to avoid most of the day's on-track trouble and finish a solid, if not spectacular, 25th.  Sorenson, meanwhile, gave a valiant effort, only to come up short in 32nd-place.
So it appeared that we had our Final set for Friday Night's Sprint Showdown:
1. 51 (Justin Allgaier) vs. 7. 7 (Michael Annett)
...however, the 51 team has announced that they are skipping the Sprint Showdown to focus on the Coke 600.  As a result, all Michael Annett will have to do is start the race, and he will clinch it.
Pretty anticlimactic, eh?
Well, such is life, and such is lowbuck racing.

Nascar on Fox Car Fails Pre-Race Inspection

After weeks of skirting the rules, Nascar finally came down hard on the Nascar on Fox race team, immediately disqualifying the car following a failed pre-race inspection.
"We try to give our teams a certain amount of 'gray areas' to work with, but what the Nascar on Fox team has done is way over the line", said Nascar President Mike Helton.  "We value our media partners, and have no issue with them participating in races, but they have to follow the rules--even if they're robots."
The Nascar rulebook (rumored to have been seen by up to seven people) does not explicitly prohibit robots--such as Nascar on Fox driver Cleatus--from participating in races.  However, several details in the robot's design did disqualify him/it from future competition.
"We allow our drivers to have a spotter on top of the race-track, but they can only communicate with the car through radio", Helton explained.  "We do NOT allow our drivers to be allowed to have messages appear in front of their visors, like 'GO LOW'--that has to be communicated verbally".
The Nascar on Fox race team was unavailable for immediate comment, but did issue the following press release:
"We at Nascar on Fox are proud of our race team, Cleatus, and the fact that we're the only car on the track with a sponsor besides Jeff Gordon.  We've tried to bring some robot-based excitement to the sport, and if we've gone over the line as far as the rulebook, we're willing to accept any penalties Nascar issues.  We just hope that our fans, specifically that one girl with the aviator sunglasses, will understand that we never aimed to knowingly break the rules."
Helton claimed that the team would be allowed to return to the track next week, as long as they can pass through pre-race inspection.
"As long as Cleatus has his Nascar license, we more than welcome the Nascar on Fox team back to the track.  However, we'll be watching to make sure that the car doesn't turn into a gigantic logo again--we're thinking that's what shorted out the lights on the backstretch."

Kansas "News" and Notes

--Remember that this weekend's race is a SATURDAY NIGHT race.  So not only would you realize "Oh man, I missed the race" around 1pm Sunday, but you'd realize "Oh man, I forgot about Mother's Day" around 1:05pm Sunday.

--Ryan Blaney makes his Cup debut this weekend in the #12 SKF car for Team Penske.  He'll have to go through the usual rookie orientation which, contrary to popular belief, does NOT include a lecture on how to avoid a spinning Danica Patrick.

--Speaking of spinning, John Wes Townley is increasing his Nationwide Series schedule, thus allowing the viewing public to cement the relationship between fast-food chicken and a legacy kid with a DUI on his record.

--Speaking of Nationwide, that series is off this week while the Camping World Truck Series runs on Friday Night.  For those of you keeping track at home, we're more than two months into the regular season, and we've only run THREE Truck races.  What is this--IndyCar?

--Joe Nemechek is back in the #66 car this week.  Last week Michael Waltrip got to relive his younger days by running at the back of the pack for the entire race.

Spade Racing's Lowbuck Team Tournament--Quarterfinals Results

Nascar's most-unpredictable track led to some unpredictable finishes in the Lowbuck Team Tournament's Quarterfinal Round--here's the results:
1. 51 (Justin Allgaier) over 8. 23 (Alex Bowman)--What was expected to be a blowout turned into a knock-down, drag-out fight between the two rookies.  In the end, The Boys from Brandt eked out a win over the Pepper Posse by a single position.
4. 40 (Landon Cassill) over 5. 34 (David Ragan)--Last year's Talladega Winner was not able to conjure up any magic in 2014, as Cassill's 11th-place finish easily beat Ragan's 35th-place run.  The KFC Go Cup had no comment on the loss.
7. 7 (Michael Annett) over 2. 38 (David Gilliland)--The cinderella story continues!  Annett scored a solid 16th-place spot, while Gilliland saw engine trouble relegate him to 40th.
3. 36 (Reed Sorenson) over 11. 33 (Stremme/Scott)--Even a switch in drivers, extra support from RCR (which nearly got them disqualified, by the way), and a pole position couldn't help Idaho's finest, who finished second-to-last, while Sorenson came home in 34th, albeit with no free food.
Here's the Semifinals (at Kansas Speedway this Saturday):
1. 51 (Justin Allgaier) vs. 4. 40 (Landon Cassill)
7. 7 (Michael Annett) vs. 3. 36 (Reed Sorenson)

Denny Hamlin's Hair Wins at Talladega

I saw Denny Hamlin doing
an interview in Vict'ry Lane
...and hair was perfect
Despite being attached to a driver with a tough run of luck recently, Denny Hamlin's Hair was finally able to find it's way to Victory Lane in the Aaron's 499.
"It's been a rough run lately", Denny Hamlin's Hair said in Victory Lane, "but I knew that we could do it as long as we stayed near the front.  Joe Gibbs Racing gave us a great helmet to run in today, gotta thank all the styling products, we did it, man!  Woo!"
Denny Hamlin's Hair is a longtime sports participant, previously collaborating with pro-wrestling executive Eric Bischoff.  Upon joining Denny Hamlin this season, a fast start at Daytona was impeded by a rough stretch of races.
"I'd like to dedicate this victory to my friend, Denny Hamlin's Eye, who's still recovering", an emotional Denny Hamlin's Hair said.  "We almost lost him at California, but he's been on the mend lately.  We couldn't do it without him!"
Denny Hamlin, meanwhile, was mildly disappointed, but gracious, in defeat.
"My hair has been the best teammate I've ever had--yeah, Joey, that's right", Hamlin said after exiting his car.  "You always want to win one of these things, but if I have to finish runner-up to anybody, I'm glad it's to my hair.  It's been through a lot and deserves all of this."
Meanwhile, the tandem of Michael Waltrip's Hair and Michael Waltrip's Jug of Hairgel ran near the back of the pack for most of the race.

Talladega "News" and Notes

--Fans seem to love plate races, especially the Daytona 500 and the sprint Talladega race…although that's most-likely because we don't have to deal with Michael Waltrip doing his "commentating".

--Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears were each fined ($25k & $15k, respectively) for their post-race fight last week.  In protest, Marcos will pay his fine in Australian dollars, while Casey will pay HIS fine in unsold Jack Daniel's Racing shirts.

--Nationwide Insurance will be sponsoring Dale Earnhardt Jr. for about a third of the schedule, starting next season.  Since it's very VERY rare for two competing companies to sponsor cars on the same team at the same time, this likely means that Farmers Insurance (bum-ba-bum-ba-bum-bum-bum) is leaving Hendrick.  While this leaves Kasey Kahne's status up in the air for 2015, it DOES guarantee about four months of "Will Chase Elliott move up to the 5 car with Napa sponsorship?" rumors.

--Nationwide's announcement also can't be good for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who was already running "Ford EcoBoost" paint schemes this year.  Personally, I wouldn't be surprised to see Chase in the 5 car, Kasey in the 17 car, and Ricky running in Whatever They're Going To Call The Nationwide Series next year.

--Eric McClure is back in the #35 car this week, continuing his Farewell Tour That Nobody Cares About tour.
--Even after the fireworks at Richmond last week, the sports world was instead focused elsewhere: