Pocono “News” and Notes: Special Business Edition

Here’s a quick rundown of everything that’s happened this week on the business-side of things, with a few predictions on what could happen

—Rob Kauffman, the majority owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, announced that he had bought a minority share of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.  To make things completely correct, next year that team will be known as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Rob Kauffman, Mimi Fitz, Eddie Bierschwale, and one of Kyle Petty’s Old Hair Ties.

—You might be wondering how someone else could be the majority owner of Michael Waltrip Racing.  Well, Kauffman is a multi-millionaire who has spent most of his free time uniting the sport’s owners.  Michael Waltrip has spent most of his free time annoying people on TV.  There you go.

—What this likely means is that the #15 team (driver Clint Bowyer, sponsor 5-Hour Energy, the 2015 owners points, and possibly the crew) will come over to Ganassi in 2016, switching to Chevy in the process.  Yeah, change can be hard to adapt to, but look what it’s done for Martin Truex Jr.

—Where does this leave Michael Waltrip and the #55 team?  Well, longtime sponsor Aaron’s has NOT re-upped yet beyond this season, leaving things in a huge state of flux.  If Aaron’s stays, that could complicate a possible merger with Furniture Row Racing (since the two companies are essentially competitors).  If Aaron’s leaves, there’s really no reason to retain Michael Waltrip, though that’s also true of Fox Sports.

Timmy Hill Signs Endorsement Deal With Crispy Hexagons

Strawberries not included
Sprint Cup driver and Port Tobacco Maryland (pop. 13) native Timmy Hill was announced today as the new spokesman for the cereal known as "Crispy Hexagons". 
"It's really an honor to join such a popular product in their marketing plan", Hill said in front of a "Crispy Hexagons: Endorsed By Someone" banner. "Almost every supermarket in America carried this delicious off-brand cereal, bringing a healthy breakfast option to budget-conscious consumers everywhere."
Hill will be featured on a single box of Crispy Hexagons, to be given away in the company's "Like us on Facebook and Win Something" contest. However, they'll be employing some "stealth marketing" on the track. 
"Crispy Hexagons doesn't need commercials, slogans, mascots, or even a consistent logo to spread its message", Hill said, "so they don't need a big decal on the hood of our stock car. Whenever you see a blank white car on the track, think of Crispy Hexagons."
Hill has had a varied Nascar career so far, with limited success in a number of underfunded rides.  However, he remains optimistic that with this new financial backing, his luck can (and will) change.

“We’re talking four figures here”, Hill explained, “so we should have enough to run more than just a few laps—maybe even several!”

Nascar Sprint Cup Team Logo Collection

NOTE: Due to today’s race inexplicably starting closer to 4pm than 1pm, here’s a pre-race article instead of a post-race recap.

The very nature of Nascar means that we see sponsor logos constantly.  But what we don’t always see so much at the forefront are the logos of the teams themselves.  From vintage to futuristic, from professionally designed to looking like they were slapped together in an hour, every team logo has a story to tell—the question is, is it one worth hearing?

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
A bit dull, with a definitely 1990's feel to it.  Very crowed, but still much easier to read than the old "Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates" logo.  The stylized "CHIP" seems a bit out of place (and wouldn't a chip be round?).  This team usually appends "TARGET" at the beginning for the 42 car.

Furniture Row Racing
This one looks MUCH better on its usual black background than just on its own, but it's still a bit too slap-dash.  While they had to factor in the "Furniture Row" logo, this one really looks (and feels) like it was thrown together last-minute.
Germain Racing
Pretty disappointing.  The team has had Geico as their sponsor for years now, but their logo is red and black?  The stretched-out checkered flag on the bottom looks like an original draft that was never fixed.  The drop-shadow is just slight enough to get lost, and just noticeable enough to make the whole thing look blurry.

Hendrick Motorsports
The gold standard on and off the track, the Hendrick Motorsports logo has changed very little since the team's second year (its first year, they were All-Star Racing).  The "speeding checker" is a very nice touch, and the red-and-black color scheme is decent.  The "Hendrick" letter-style is a carryover from the Hendrick family of car dealerships, but can't help but look a bit outdated in 2015.

HScott Motorsports
The somewhat oddly named "HScott" (are there other Scotts to worry about?) has a nice combination of the H & S in the logo.  The two-toned chrome color is a great touch and matches with almost anything.  The "Motorsports" is a little bit of an afterthought, but it's really just nitpicking an overall great logo.

JTG-Daugherty Racing
One of the more cumbersome names in Nascar today, they're represented by a 90's-ish logo.  The "everything in italics" look is a bit overdone, and the crescent around the top-left doesn't really serve much of a purpose.  Nice color scheme, but the "Daugherty RACING" portion is pretty crammed-in at the bottom.
Premium Motorsports
Pretty much what could be expected from a team that came together just before the start of the season.  Looks like a knockoff of an old ESPN graphic, and the generic name doesn't leave much room to work with.  The color scheme is a nice change, but other than that, let's hope the team sticks around long enough to do more with their logo.

Richard Childress Racing (RCR)
RCR's logo hasn't changed much since the days of Dale Earnhardt Sr., and it could be argued that this is the "most classic" logo in Nascar after the Woods Bros.  That being said, this is a decent logo, with a common color combination and a simple design.  The outline on the "RCR" is a tick too thin, and the full team name is in such a thin font that it's easily lost.  The red checkers are a nice variation.  Odd how the logo leans to the right, since all the RCR car numbers lean to the left.
Circle Sport Racing/Hillman Racing
Two teams that operate out of the same building, but with different names due to ownership & team alliance differences.  The #33 races under the Circle Sport banner, and what a banner it is.  The combined "CS" is something not really seen in Nascar, and the "Circle Sport" across the "dash" is a nice touch.  The color scheme pops, and even the letter-style is slick without being hard to read.
Meanwhile, the #40 car runs as Hillman Racing, with quite the unattractive logo.  The "H" looks like a History Channel knockoff, and the double checkered flags look like clip-art from an old-school CD-ROM.

Stewart-Haas Racing
Pretty much the best logo in Sprint Cup, and it's easy to see why.  A pair of vintage letter-styles set the old-school tone.  The "flying V" at the bottom blends in with the overall theme, and sticks out just enough to let you know its there.  The overall black, silver & chrome color scheme works almost perfectly, and the outlining (from the lettering to the logo itself) is a nice touch.  Tough to top this one!
Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR)
One of the dullest logos in Nascar.  The "crowded" letters (also known as the "kerning" of the font) sets it a bit apart from everyone else, but the rest is just plain dull--and dully plain.  The color style is seen almost everywhere, and the letter-style itself is clunky and outdated.  This one could really use an update.

Front Row Motorsports
Front Row has gone from a glorified start-and-park operation to a race-winning team.  Still, their logo--while serviceable--seems to be missing something.  The stylized "racetrack" on the left is a nice touch, as is the color scheme.  But the letter-styles are pretty generic, and they'd probably benefit from either an outline or some slight 3-D effects.

No review of Go FAS Racing's logo (aka the #32 car), as they don't have one, continuing to use the old FAS lane Racing and Go Green Racing logos

Richard Petty Racing (RPM)
Beginning as a new logo for the old Petty Enterprises, this logo-style has been through numerous ownership changes over the years.  The specific font is a great choice, as is the red-and-blue color scheme.  Yeah, the blue isn't Petty Blue, but that shade of light/sky blue wouldn't show up well on white.  The curves could probably use a refresh, and an "RPM" alternate logo would be great, but all-in-all, this is a great logo.

Roush Fenway Racing
What a great logo!  The letter-style is perfect for racing, and the curved and pointed shape is fantastic.  The green color scheme is a nice nod to the team's baseball roots and the black outline makes the "ROUSH FENWAY" pop, either in 2-D or 3-D form.  This is everything a Nascar team logo can and should be.

Team Penske
Another classic logo, with the added benefit of being used uniformly across Roger Penske's Nascar and IndyCar teams.  The "Penske font" is an almost instant identifier, carrying over to the team's Nascar numbers, but probably could stand a slight bit of refreshing after so many years of use.  The Captain's probably the only one who could get away without having "Racing" or "Motorsports" in a logo, but still have virtually everybody know what they are.

BK Racing
While the name doesn't make much sense (they're named after the team's quasi-sponsor?), the logo does.  The letter-style is great, and the extended K, while a little clunky, helps them stand apart.  The "Racing" is a bit tacked-on but doesn't stand out too much.  A good logo for a lowbuck team.

Joe Gibbs Racing
Joe Gibbs Racing is unquestionably one of the top teams in Nascar, but their logo is one of the worst.  The "JG" is vintage early-90's, and the "JOE GIBBS RACING" is in a bizarre font that always seems to look messed-up.  The fade-in checkered flag looks a bit like a Hendrick knockoff.  Not much to like here, and here's hoping they update ASAP.

Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR)

One of the newest power-teams has a modern logo to boot.  The heavily-stylized curved W is fantastic, and looks good in gold against black or white.  The skinny "MWR" is a nice touch, even though the team is essentially run by Joel Kauffman now.  A great look even if the team is in a slump.

Leavine Family Racing (LFR)

Leavine Family Racing might be new, and they might be part-time, but their logo is fantastic.  The font is consistent and just enough in-your-face.  The color scheme of red, white & blue is an old standard that almost always works.  They incorporate their Texas roots with the outline of the state and the "Lone Star" at the top.  The red-and-white of the "LFR" is a great stylistic choice.

Wood Brothers Racing

It's tough to top the Wood Bros. when it comes to anything classic.  The logo, while admittedly a bit dull, has remained almost completely unchanged since the 1980's, and does a great job of incorporating their classic #21.  Maybe a bit of sprucing-up could help a bit, but it's just polishing a gem.  Note that the team is using a retro logo for this, their 65th anniversary season.

Indianapolis “News” and Notes

—The hot new rumor has Robert Kauffman (the money-man behind Michael Waltrip Racing) either aligning or combing his team with Ganassi or RCR.  Furniture Row Motorsports would then move to Toyota, taking MWR’s place as TRD’s #2 team behind Joe Gibbs Racing.  No word on how this affects the future of Premium Motorsports.

—Sure, it’s kinda lame that stray water bottles are the big story in Nascar, but at least it’s not IndyCar, where the big story is how people should be worried about talking about big stories.

—Wednesday Night’s Truck Series race at Eldora featured wild on-track action, more than a few frayed nerves, and a relative unknown winner in Christopher Bell.  Be sure to memorize this, as you’ll never hear anyone on NBC mention it.

—Speaking of the Truck Series race, guess what?  If you’re doing free advertising for a billionaire, you’re a schmuck.

Brickyard Flashback Flashback

With Nascar’s annual trek to Indianapolis coming up, take at look back at MY look back at the inaugural Brickyard 400’s starting line-up: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Kyle Busch Wins in Hideous Paint Scheme

Kyle Busch continued his march to the top-30—and by extension, making the Chase for the Cup—with a win at New Hampshire today, pulling his hideously-wrapped car into victory lane.
“We did it, woo!  There’s no give-up in this team, no matter what they throw at us”, Busch said upon exiting his Zubaz-inspired car.  “Whether its missing the first third of the schedule, wrecking in the Xfinity race, or having a car so awful-looking that you need sunglasses to look at it directly, we can do it!”
Busch runs the terribly-garish-looking car in almost every race he has Interstate Batteries sponsorship for.  Interstate, a long-time sponsor of Joe Gibbs Racing, seems to have followed the “any publicity is good publicity” mode of thinking when designing the look of their car.
“It’s not just trying to get into the top-30, just like how it’s not just the Fruit Stripe paint scheme”, Busch said.  “We want to go out there every weekend and win, and we have two M&M’s stickers on the sides of the car that are bright yellow, clashing with the zebra-striped green.  It’s really amazing, and it’s really amazing.”

When asked for the second time what it’s like to drive such an ugly-looking car, Busch stared into the distance and sipped from his black water bottle.

New Hampshire “News” and Notes

—We’re looking at one of the shortest, quickest Cup races of the year on Sunday, with only 301 laps (and about as many miles) to battle for the win.  Unless it rains.  Again.

—Jeff Gordon’s just plain having the kind of season where his crew member backs him out of his garage stall into—who else—Clint Bowyer’s car.

—I h pe tha NBC N doe n’t have t e same a dio prob ems t ey had d ring the I dyc r ra e.

—While I’m always glad to see a smaller team pick up ANY sponsor, I wish TBR hadn’t signed up FW1 Wash & Wax.  Now they’ll have “marketing associates” bugging people to try out their products during pit stops.

—And finally, band Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr has changed its name to JR JR.  This won’t affect my cover band, Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr Jr.

Clerical Error Leads to Carl Edwards Supporting Mideon at Kentucky

Despite the best laid plans of Universal Pictures, a major gaffe occurred in Saturday’s Quaker State 400 Nascar race, as a proofreading error led to Carl Edwards running a special paint scheme promoting ex-WWF wrestler Mideon.
“We looked everything over so many times, I don’t know how this happened”, Universal spokesman Dan Whitlock said.  “Really, I think that if you’ve stared at these yellow guys (the minions) as much as we have, it starts to mess with your mind.  And that’s the feeling we’ve tried to impart with our marketing campaign, but now it’s ruined.”
Mideon was the ring name for Dennis Knight, who currently works as a chef in the Tampa area.  He also performed as Phineas I. Godwinn and briefly, horrifyingly, as Naked Mideon.
“I was pretty stunned when I saw our Comcast Business car covered in pictures of a guy with an eye tattoo, but you never know what we’re promoting”, Carl Edwards said post-race.  “I mean, I’m always more-focused on the races than the inner-workings of my sponsors.  So there’s no way I could know who is the spokesperson for what, and what those spokespeople are doing in their personal time.”
“I’d be lying if I tried to put a positive spin on this”, said Universal Pictures’ Whitlock.  “Our total-immersion marketing strategy has failed, and now we have no idea if people know our movie is in theaters.  Heck, I talked to a few fans who watched the race on NBC, and they asked me if Minions came with a biscuit and a big ol cookie.”

Kyle Busch Restrained by Security After Attempting to Smash Jukebox Trophy

Kyle Busch scored the second win of his abbreviated Cup season tonight, but it was not all happiness in Victory Lane—on-track security and Joe Gibbs Racing team members had to restrain him from attempting to smash the Crosley Jukebox trophy awarded to the winner.
I guess it only takes one person to
think its a good idea...
“Oh come on, I love smashing musical trophies!”, a dejected Busch said while being held back by crew chief Adam Stevens.  “We’re not even that far away from Nashville—come on guys, let me be cool again!”
Busch infamously smashed a custom Sam Bass-painted Gibson guitar trophy after winning a race at Nashville Superspeedway.  The “celebration” was roundly criticized by fans and members of the sport alike, and seemed to only be truly enjoyed by Busch himself.
“Let me at least throw some Crispy M&M’s at it, come on, guys!”, Busch said.  “I totally can pick it up—yes, even with my busted leg.  Hey, I got injured and came back with two wins, maybe tweaking my back would make me indomitable!”
Upon being calmed down (and promising Joe Gibbs that he would stay put), Busch was finally able to enjoy his latest win.

“Well, if I don’t get to smash it, at least I’ll get to listen to some tunes”, Busch explained.  “In fact, I’ll use it to drown out the media talk about a Danica-Dale Jr. rivalry.”

Kentucky "News" and Notes

--NBC gets the rights to NASCAR. NBC hires Jeff Burton as an announcer. Jeff Burton won a bunch of rain shortened races in the late-90s. NBC's first two race weekends are plagued by rain. Coincidence?  Read the novel.

--You know the weather is wreaking havoc with your sport when JJ Yeley is on the pole for a national touring event.

--Kentucky promoting its worn-out bumpy asphalt would be like the Steelers doing commercials about Heinz Field's crappy playing surface.

--Justin Boston is departed Kyle Busch Motorsports after a dispute over sponsorship and team personnel. Erik Jones, meanwhile, is being kept at KBM for his pissy attitude and whiny interviews.

Oh Scott, You Know Me ToWel

There’s pandering, there’s lazy marketing, and then there’s THIS, which might be the lamest attempt I’ve ever seen at courting Nascar fans.

400 First-Timers

The race's "unsponsored" original name, now used as part of the Xfinity Series race.

NOTE: Due to this year’s Coke Zero 400 running on Sunday Night, and due to my having a job, I will be unable to post a post-race recap.  Instead, enjoy this semi-original research.

The Coke Zero 400—formerly the Pepsi 400 and the Firecracker 400—has historically been Nascar’s halfway-point race, a summer extravaganza at The World Center of Speed.  While the better-known Daytona 500 has produced its fair-share of upsets, the 400 is even better-known for being the site of a number of first-time (and, in at least two cases, only-time) victories.  Here’s a look back at the wide variety of drivers who scored their first points-paying wins in Daytona around the Fourth of July:

Foyt's race-winning car
A.J. Foyt, 1964—Arguably the most-versatile driver in American motorsports history, “Super-Tex” posted his first Grand National (now Cup) Series win in just his tenth start, outlasting Richard Petty and Bobby Isaac.  Foyt went on to win six more races in his part-time Nascar career, including the 1972 Daytona 500.

Sam McQuagg, 1966—The only win for the usually-independent McQuagg featured a number of firsts—his Dodge Charger was the first car to feature a spoiler (now standard Nascar equipment), and he was also credited with being the first driver to bring a motorhome to Daytona.  After a pair of nasty wrecks at Darlington, McQuagg moved to local short-track racing, eventually retiring to work as an airline pilot.

Greg Sacks, 1985—Sacks, better known throughout his career as a “super-sub”, scored his only career Cup win under bizarre circumstances in 1985—circumstances that would lead to the collapse of his team, DiGard Motorsports.  Sacks had been an independent journeyman whose family team had come into ownership of a car formerly driven by Cale Yarborough.  The car was entered in the 400 with DiGard backing as a Research & Development car.  Instead of simply gathering information on race setups, the car went to victory lane.  Long rumored to have featured an oversized engine and/or a “gray-area” steering system, the car still passed post-race inspection.  Furious that DiGard was focusing time and resources elsewhere, full-time driver Bobby Allison (who’d won the 1983 Winston Cup championship with DiGard) yanked his Miller High Life sponsorship, leaving the team in a matter of days.  Within three years, the team was defunct.
Jimmy (red car) squeezes by Ernie
(black car) for the win.

Jimmy Spencer, 1994—“Mr. Excitement” scored the first of his two Cup wins in the 400, but it wasn’t easy.  Spencer was driving for Junior Johnson’s legendary team, but led only a single lap—the last one—that day, barely edging out Ernie Irvan.  Spencer would earn his only other Cup win later that year at Talladega, going on to a journeyman career with a number of mid-level teams.  The two wins in 1994 would wind up being the final wins of any kind for a Junior Johnson-owned team.  To this day, rumors swirl that Johnson’s car was less-than-legal, having been given extra leeway in order to get sponsor McDonald’s into victory lane.

John Andretti, 1997—Despite having one of the most-famous names in motorsports, John Andretti had a rough go of it in his early Nascar career.  Bouncing from ride-to-ride, he finally found success with Daytona master Cale Yarborough’s #98 car, winning the 1997 edition of the 400.  Andretti’s first win wound up being the only win for a Yarborough-owned car.  Andretti went on to win again at the polar-opposite Martinsville Speedway in 1999 for Petty Enterprises.

Greg Biffle, 2003—The winningest-driver on this list (in Nascar, anyways), Biffle won a fuel-mileage race in 2003 under the lights for his first-ever Cup win.  It was the first of 19 Cup Series wins for The Biff, all of which have come with Roush/Roush-Fenway Racing.
David Ragan celebrates in victory lane

David Ragan, 2011—The Roush-Fenway driver nearly scored his first career win in the 2011 Daytona 500, only to be penalized late for a lane-violation on a late restart.  After winning the non-points Sprint Showdown, Ragan continued his breakout year by scoring a win in the 400.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep his team (and sponsor UPS) together, and Ragan was released after the season.  He later went on to score an upset victory at Talladega in 2013 for Front Row Motorsports, and currently races for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Aric Almirola, 2014—The northern-Florida native had a rocky start to his Nascar career, leaving Joe Gibbs Racing after a driver-substitution incident at Milwaukee’s Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series race, and enduring a volatile sponsorship situation at a declining Dale Earnhardt Inc.  The 2014 edition of the 400 was much like his early career, with the race being delayed a day due to weather, then held under threatening skies.  Almirola was able to win his first career Cup race when rain came on lap 112, thus returning a Richard Petty-owned car to Daytona’s victory lane.

Daytona “News” and Notes

What I think of when I see the tire
—Thanks to Nascar moving this race to Sunday night (for some reason), there’ll likely be no post-race* recap here.  Instead, look for a pre-race story. (*—unless it rains.  Again.)

—Look—Nascar’s asking fans to refrain from flying the Confederate battle flag.  ASKING.  A-S-K-I-N-G.  Not forcing, demanding, or threatening.  ASKING.

—In a related story, there’s been a lot of controversy lately about “The Dukes of Hazzard”’s famed “General Lee” car, which features the Confederate battle flag on the roof.  My main problem with the show is the fact that the car’s name, when spoken, sounds like “Generally”.

—It’s good to see Nascar recruiting David Spade to act as the grand marshall for Sunday’s race, appealing to all the young people of 1998.


Starting with this weekend’s events, NBC Sports takes over Nascar coverage for the Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series.  Here’s a preview of what the National Broadcasting Corporation’s coverage will have to offer:
Victory Lap?  No wonder Wally
Dallenbach Jr. isn't returning.

—PonyTailgating—Kyle Petty visits a different group of fans every week and tries to avoid getting beat up.

—WhineLine—Playing the best from NBC’s complaint hotline, though it’s expected to be mostly “Why aren’t you airing the Truck race?!?”

—SomethiNg else—A look at other programming on cable network NBCSN, such as Nascar America, Back Pain Relief, Summer’s Blender Ninja, and many many MANY fishing shows.

—The Language Ward—A weekly contest where fans are tasked with trying to figure out what announcer Jeff Burton’s brother Ward is saying.

—To Xfinity and Beyond—Picking up where Fox left off, NBCSN’s Xfinity Series analysts focus on the Series’ non-Cup affiliated drivers who do a lot with a little by occasionally mentioning Ryan Sieg.