Atlanta “News” and Notes

—In case you haven’t heard, the #44 car of Travis Kvapil was forced to withdraw from this weekend’s Cup race after the trailer it was in was STOLEN.  Hampering efforts to find the car itself were conflicting descriptions of it by witnesses—some said it was white and gold, while others said it was blue and black.

—For members of the “When Will The #9 Car Have Medallion Financial Sponsoring It” pool, well, I hope you picked early.

—In something of a shocker, David Ragan was chosen as the medium-term substitute for Kyle Busch.  David Gilliland was initially annoyed that he wasn’t asked, but then realized that he wasn’t very talented.

—Matt DiBenedetto is the latest driver to sign with BK Racing, so I hope he’s OK with working for free.

—Chris Buescher will be sponsored by Bit-O-Honey in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, which makes sense, since “BOO-SHUR” is the kind of sound a person makes when their teeth are stuck together with Bit-O-Honeys.

—Yeah, the Trucks are running two weeks in a row to start the season, but the early-season schedule is still pretty messed-up—three off-weeks afterwards, then Martinsville, then FIVE off-weeks after that.  It always seems like the entire series is procrastinating.

Austin Dillon Honors Legacy of the #3 By Screwing Up in Daytona 500

Having said last year that it would be tough to fill the shoes of Dale Earnhardt Sr., Austin Dillon has tried to carve out his own legacy with consistent finishes and a non-abrasive personality.  But today was a throwback day, as he did what the #3 car had done so many times before—wrecking on the final lap and ruining a possible great finish.
“You know, when my Pop-Pop gave me this ride last year, I told him I wanted the 3 on the doors”, Dillon said post-race.  “But I was well-aware of everything the 3 car had done—like running out of gas in 1986, and running over debris in 1990.”
Still the second-best driver of the #3
Dillon has proven to be a student of the sport’s history, bringing back such traditions as running at the back of the lead lap and wearing stupid cowboy hats on pit road.
“In 1997 I remember watching the 24 knock the 3 end-over-end—hey, that’s how they wound up with the ‘crash car’ diecast!”, Dillon said.  “Today we got a little payback I guess, and heck, the following year, the 3 won at Daytona!  So look out for us next year, after 35 18th-place finishes this year!”
Not everyone was happy with Dillon’s tap towards history, though.
“I’m not mad at Austin, I’m just disappointed”, a disappointed Jeff Gordon said after finishing 33rd in his final Daytona 500.  “The first reporter who found me after this race asked me, point-blank, if I was worried if I would win in my final year.  And then some idiot barged-in and asked me if I would be running the Indy 500 next year.  Ugh, I can’t wait till this year is over.”
Dillon said that he will not be riding anyone’s coattails going forward.
“Next week is the REAL start to the season, with the regular race package and usual strategies”, said Dillon.  “So next week look for me to do what I do best—run a conservative, boring race where nobody talks about me.  It’s good to have a guaranteed ride!”

Gordon, meanwhile, denied rumors that he was honoring Ken Schrader’s legacy by winning the pole and wrecking.

Daytona “News” and Notes

(This was typed up before the announcement that Kurt Busch would be suspended by Nascar)

Finally—it’s time to go racing for real!!!

Jeff Gordon has said that its unlikely that he will race at all beyond the 2015 season, reckoning that it would be too difficult to find a competitive ride for a single race.  Here’s hoping his next statement will put a stop to those idiotic Indy 500 rumors.

With Trevor Bayne having run too many Cup races, and Ryan Blaney not accumulating drivers’ points in Cup, Jeb Burton will be the default Kevin Conway Rookie of the Year Award winner in 2015.

A whopping 47 cars were entered in Saturday’s Xfinity (formerly Nationwide) Series opener.  Even better, at least 20 of them are expected to actually run the entire race.

25 years ago, Derrike Cope celebrated after winning the Daytona 500 by being unable to find victory lane.  This weekend, Derrike will celebrate after the Daytona 500 by not being able to find a ride.

Again—it’s finally time to go racing for real!!!

2015 Nascar Camping World Truck Series Preview: From Solid to Shaky

The Camping World Truck Series has always been a bit of a “niche” circuit for Nascar, appealing more to hard-core fans than casual ones.  While this often results in great on-track action, it can lead to some perilous off-track money situations for the teams and drivers involved.  With one top driver (Jeb Burton) already sidelined with financial issues, let’s take a look at the Truck Series and see who’s solid and who’s shaky—on AND off the track.
(listed in order of the TEAM’S predicted performance, from best to worst)

KYLE BUSCH MOTORSPORTS—the Truck Series mainstay returns as the Toyota racing flagship team, with three full-time entries for 2015, two featuring full-time drivers, and one featuring Kyle Busch “limiting himself” to just four races.
51 Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez, Matt Tifft (Toyota, Arris)—Sponsorship is MOSTLY SOLID, but the non-Rowdy drivers are a BIT SHAKY.
54 Justin Boston (ZLoop, BitPay)—Sponsorship seems PRETTY SOLID, and the driver, though a rookie, is REASONABLY SOLID, even if he really isn’t from Baltimore.
4 Erik Jones (Toyota)—Sponsorship is MILDLY SHAKY, but this driver’s talent looks INCREASINGLY SOLID.

THORSPORT RACING—Always contenders for the championship, veterans Matt Crafton (the smooth, calm one) and Johnny Sauter (the easily-riled, unpredictable one) continue their buddy-cop routine without Jeb Burton (the rookie, underfunded one).
88 Matt Crafton (Menards)—About the MOST SOLID sponsorship there is, and the driver is QUITE SOLID as well.
98 Johnny Sauter (Carolina Nut, Nextant, Smokey Mtn, Curb)—Sponsorship is COLLABORATIVELY SOLID, and the driver is DECENTLY SOLID as well.

BRAD KESELOWSKI RACING—Ford’s only factory team returns with its usual lineup of a full-time driver and a hodgepodge collection in a second truck.  Brad will resume reminding people that its NOT BK Racing, nor does he really even like Whoppers.
29 Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Austin Theriault, Ryan Blaney (Cooper Standard)—Sponsorship is REASONABLY SOLID, and the driver selection, while varied, SHOULD BE SOLID.
19 Tyler Reddick (Broken Bow Records, Cequent)—Sponsorship is MODERATELY SOLID, but the driver is in a put-up or shut-up year, he’s A BIT SHAKY.

RED HORSE RACING—Down a wrecking machine, up a well-connected rookie.
17 Timothy Peters (Valvoline)—Sponsorship for Timothy is always SOMEWHAT SHAKY, but his talent for contending is SOLIDLY SOLID (if that makes any sense).
11 Ben Kennedy (?)—Sponsorship is IRRELEVANTLY SHAKY (he’s already been confirmed for the full-season), his talent remaining SHAKY BUT PROMISING.

NTS MOTORSPORTS—Yes, this is where Joe Dennette’s team wound up.  And no, he hasn’t lost his lottery winnings yet.
20 Gray Gaulding (Gemini Southern, Krispy Kreme, TruMoo)—Gray’s sponsorship support is SOMEWHAT SOLID, but his talent remains RELATIVELY SHAKY.
9 ? (Qore-24, possibly more)—Sponsorship is SLIGHTLY SHAKY, but the driver lineup is undecided, therefore VERY SHAKY.

GSM RACING—Owned by Spencer Gallagher’s dad, this team expands in its never-ending quest to get people to mispronounce and misspell “Allegiant”.
33 Brandon Jones, The Dillon Bros. (Russell, Rheem)—Sponsorship SEEMS SOLID, and the talent SEEMS SOLID as well—lets see if the team can support them.
23 Spencer Gallagher (Allegiant, Alamo)—Sponsorship is BLOOD-SOLID, but talent remains RICHLY SHAKY.

NEMCO MOTORSPORTS—The father and son duo return in 2015, with John Hunter preparing to take over full-time once he turns 18.
8 John Hunter & Joe Nemechek (SWM, D.A.B., Wiley X, Valvoline)—Sponsorship is usually COLLABORATIVELY SOLID, and the talent is INCREASINGLY SOLID on this strongest of the single-truck teams.

SS GREENLIGHT RACING—This Truck Series stalwart seems to be returning with only one full-time team in 2015.
07 Ray Black Jr. (ScubaLife)—Sponsorship SEEMS SOLID, though the driver is an unknown quantity, rendering him ASSUMED SHAKY.

05 John Wes Townley (Zaxby’s)—Sponsorship is FAMILIARLY SOLID, but the talent?  That’s VERY SHAKY.

BILLY BOAT MOTORSPORTS—Just don’t call them the ship of fools (sorry).
15 Mason Mingus (Call 811)—Sponsorship appears to be CONSISTENTLY SOLID, while Mason’s on-track performance appears to be POSSIBLY A BIT SOLID.

JAY ROBINSON RACING—The longtime “money man” of a number of small teams decides to go Truck racing in 2015.
94 Wendell Chavous* (Vydox)—Sponsorship is UNKNOWINGLY SHAKY, and the driver is UNKNOWINGLY SHAKY as well.  (*—Travis Kvapil will run this truck at Daytona).

YOUNG’S MOTORSPORTS—The apostrophe in the team’s name says it all.
02 Tyler Young (Randco, Arthur Krenzel)—Sponsorship is IN-HOUSE SOLID, but the driver is a bit more SHAKILY SHAKY (if that makes any sense).

NORM BENNING RACING—The CWTS’s independent returns, finger held high.
6 Norm Benning (?)—Sponsorship is SHAKY AS USUAL, while the driver is SHAKY BUT CONSISTENTLY SO.

JJC RACING—At the back, as always.

10 Jennifer Jo Cobb (Driven2Honor, etc. etc. etc.)—Sponsorship is BASELINE SHAKY, and the driver is SHAKY as usual.

Giving Logano The Hook

After a heated discussion between Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick post-race, a member of Logano’s pit crew forcefully pulled Joey out of the argument.  What was this mystery man saying as he yanked on Logano’s fire suit?  Here’s some guesses:

“You can’t hear him anyways, his helmet’s muffling his yip-yap mouth”

“It’s a sponsor conflict—they use Pennzoil in the Jimmy Johns special sauce”

“Easy now, you’re supposed to be the calm one on this team”

“Let the wives settle this one”

“Nope, that ‘yo mamma’ joke was lame, so you’re getting the hook”

“Don’t get yourself penalized in a meaningless race”

“If you start ragging on his plugs, he’ll REALLY go off”

2015 Xfinity Series Preview: Caste Into Stone

Its shaping up to be another excitingly pointless season in the Xfinity Series, formerly the Nationwide Series, formerly the Busch Series, formerly the Busch Grand National Series, formerly the Budweiser Late Model Series.  With a cable company coming in to sponsor Nascar’s second-tier series, what better way to welcome them than with a cable-style class-system for its drivers and teams?

ECONOMY BASIC—These drivers will be lucky to make it through the season, much less a 100 episode order.
Currently airing on Fox Sports 3
0 Harrison Rhodes (?) JDM—a weird local channel you didn’t know existed until you flicked around and saw reruns of “Sports Gone Wild” airing for some reason.
03 Johanna Long (?) Affarano—WJZM, the plucky little station that’s trying its best to be different, with thoughtful local news and local off-beat programming.  Soon to be replaced by public domain rebroadcasts of Telenovelas.
8 Blake Koch (LeafFilter) TriStar—KYWM, the local affiliate of a network you’ve never heard of.
14 Cale Conley (?) TriStar—CSPAN-2 or 3 or something like that.
17 Tanner Berryhill (?) Vision—whatever local station plays round-the-clock local ads for lawnmower services and DJs for hire.
24 Eric McClure (Hefty/Reynolds) JGL—The Weather Channel.  Dependable.  Always there.  Easy to ignore.
25 John Wes Townley (Zaxby’s) Athenian—a local “station” that shows infomercials all day long for the same car dealership.
28 JJ Yeley (?) JGL—a loop of local weather with meteorologists in cheap suits.
39 Ryan Sieg (Pull-A-Part) RSS—“dude, are you watching channel 39?  It’s that old UHF channel that used to show reruns of The Ropers at 8—they’re doing some really off-the-wall stuff there!”
44 David Star (Zachry) TriStar—MeTV, showing all the classics that you had no idea were classic.
51 Jeremy Clements (?) JCR—one of those local news station replays that people only watch when they’re waiting for an oil change…or when word spreads that the sports guy had a nipple slip on-air.
52 Joey Gase (Donate Life, DB Sales, BBB) Means—static.
55 Jeffrey Earnhardt (Viva Auto, Fronius) VIVA—scrambled porno (sometimes you see Dick!)
70 Derrike Cope (Charlie’s Soap, Youtheory) Cope—KYSP, home of that hot weather girl.
74 Mike Harmon (?) MHR—color bars.
87 Joe Nemechek et al (DAB, Herbal Mist, etc.) NEMCO—public access.

STARTER PREFERRED—Drivers with the staying power to appear at every race, just like networks that appear on every cable box.
i sTiLL mIsS tHIs LOgO
01 Landon Cassill (G&K) JDM—TNT, in that you constantly think its going to be great, only to watch it get sabotaged by poor planning.
1 Elliott Sadler (OneMain) RFR—MTV, which you keep thinking was better 10 years ago when it really wasn’t that good in the first place.
2 Brian Scott (Shore Lodge) RCR—VH1, an embarrassment you can’t stand, but cannot avoid.
4 Ross Chastain (, Helena Chemical) JDM—A&E, getting its fourth or so chance to succeed.
16 Ryan Reed (ADA/Lilly) RFR—ESPN2, essential but greatly outshone by its more-successful team/channel mates.
18 Daniel Suarez (Arris) JGR—CNN: only there to watch when there’s a disaster.
20 Erik Jones and more (GameStop) JGR—Discovery Channel, which you feel like you should watch more, but you can’t bring yourself to care.
33 Austin Dillon, Brandon Jones, Paul Menard (Rheem/Menards) RCR—ESPN, and all we do is complain about it.
43 Dakoda Armstrong (WinField) RPM—TBS, which used to be a big deal in cable, but now its just kind of there (and yes, this would make Rodney Combs WCW Thunder).
60 Chris Buescher (?) RFR—SyFy.  Come on, you can’t pronounce either correctly.
62 Brendan Gaughan (South Point, Wix) RCR—GSN, putting off adulthood as long as possible.
99 James Buescher (?) RAB—USA Network, which you can’t be sure is still around.
Too bad they never featured
Tyler Walker

PREMIER PLATINUM—Some high-quality drivers sure to get some wins, and some high-quality networks that are sure to get your extra money each month.
3 Ty Dillon (Yuengling, WESCO, VF Image) RCR—Spike, consistant if not excellent with plentiful COPS reruns.
6 Darrell Wallace Jr. (?) RFR—ESPN Classic, a nice mix of change-of-pace and old-school, though you’re constantly worried that it’ll disappear.
7 Regan Smith (TaxSlayer, Unilever brands) JRM—NFL Network, successful yet occasionally dull.
9 Chase Elliott (NAPA) JRM—NBCSN, and you’re really hoping that neither of them screw things up.
85 Bobby Gerhardt (Lucas Oil) BGR—NFL RedZone, which only matters a few hours per year.

PREMIUM ELITE—You’ll have to pay extra…
As seen before every known showing
of "Mom and Dad Save The World"
22 Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney (Discount Tire, Hertz) Penske—Shotime, equal parts thought-provoking and irritating.
42 Kyle Larson, Dylan Kwasniewski (ParkerStore, ENOS) HScott—HBO: promising sometimes, disastrous other times (hello, Arliss).
54 Kyle Busch, Joey Coulter (Monster) JGR—Cinemax…well, Kyle’s wife looks like she could be in a Cinemax movie.

88 Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Ben Rhodes (Hunt Bros., Armour, and more) JRM—STARZ, with all the blockbusters and occasional early-morning showing of something you’ve never heard of.

WCW and Nascar—A (Usually) Non-Winning Combination

In the 1990’s pro-wrestling was hot.  And one of the top-two pro-wrestling organizations in the 1990’s was World Championship Wrestling, aka WCW.  As part of Ted Turner’s entertainment empire, WCW was given ample opportunities to promote itself via Nascar.  Inspired by the fantastic WCW Worldwide website, here’s a look back at when rasslin’ met racin’.
(Listed in rough chronological order by driver--click each drivers' name for a pic)

Billy Standridge—Cup, 1994-5.  The journeyman of journeymen ran a pair of races in each season, occasionally with Dura Lube co-sponsorship, thus launching hundreds of “lubed-up wrestler” jokes.
Rodney Combs—Busch, 1995.  Strangely, Combs ran the early part of the 95 Busch Series schedule with Petty Enterprises.  I guess once Kyle Petty got a taste of the old NWA at Starrcade 1984, he was hooked.
Steve Grissom, Bill Ingle, Greg Sacks*, and Elliott Sadler—Busch, 1996.  The Gary Bechtel-owned team delivered WCW its only Nascar wins in 1996, with Grissom at Daytona and Sacks at Talladega.  Jason Keller also ran a Slim Jim Halloween Havoc car at Rockingham—OOH YEEEAH!!!
Kyle goes to the dark side, brother
*—Sacks also ran three Busch Series races with WCW sponsorship in 1997.
Kyle Petty—Busch, 1996-7.  Honorary New World Order member Kyle Petty (there’s that name again) ran a part-time NWO Racing car for a handful of races.  Yes, the NWO was really a part of WCW.
Lance Hooper—Busch, 1998.  In 1998 Lance Hooper drives a WCW car.  In 2001, he rejects an empty juice box that my dad tries to throw away at Dover.  Coincidence?  Well, yeah, probably.
Nadeau's one-race
Goldberg scheme
Jerry Nadeau—Cup, 1999.  Promoting WCW on a part-time basis, this scheme was the last before WCW introduced its new logo, for which opinions ranged from “stupid” to “hideous”.
Steve Grissom & Stacy Compton—Cup, 1999.  After Jerry Nadeau left Melling Racing for MB2, Grissom and Compton each ran one race each with WCW livery, making them the Jerry Flynn and El Dandy of the Nascar scene.
Wally Dallenbach Jr.—Cup, 2000.  Driving for Galaxy Motorsports (which wasn’t made-up by Wally), the team rotated a number of Turner properties on the hood.  Today, such a marketing idea is commonplace, but at the time made no sense—compared to sponsoring Wally Dallenbach, which has NEVER made any sense.
Blaise Alexander—Busch, 2000.  After a single race with the nearly anonymous Matt Hutter, the late Blaise Alexander runs the full schedule in a Tracfone/WCW copsonsored car.  WCW uses the opportunity to run a number of wrestler-based special paint schemes, allowing Tracfone to co-brand itself with such legends as Vampiro and Jeff Jarrett.