BREAKING NEWS: Kyle Larson is a Dirt Racer

A recent investigation compiled by the Nascar on Fox crew has unearthed an earth-shaking fact that virtually no fans were aware of—that Kyle Larson, driver of the 42 Target Chevy, is a dirt racer.
Photographic Evidence
“That Kyle Larson, he’s a dirt racer!”, color commentator and former driver Darrell Waltrip said recently during a practice session broadcast.  “He’s gonna take that car on the high side as far as you can go, that’s what all those dirt racers do!”
News of the revelation has sent shockwaves throughout the racing world, with reactions ranging from surprise to shock to confusion.
“Wait—Kyle Larson is a dirt racer?”, said one fan in an online message board, “Well, why is this the first I’m hearing about it?  I mean, that WOULD explain why he always runs the highest line on the track, just inches from the wall.  I remember hearing somewhere that all the dirt track racers do that.”
“I KNEW IT!”, replied at least one race fan in the stands for the Coke 600.  “The way he runs with the car so loose in the turns, I could never figure out why, but then someone just told me, he’s a dirt racer!  I’m glad we have expert commentators like Darrell Waltrip on the job to unearth such ground-breaking information, and to then explain how it transfers into on-track performance.  Now if only someone would explain the difference between ‘loose’ and ‘tight’ for me.”
Larson could not be reached for comment, but his dirt-track racing exploits have been corroborated by multiple sources.  Also, while not yet confirmed, Larson is also said to be “so close to a win”, and “really showing what he can do out there”, and rumors have him possibly being “the future of our sport.”
Waltrip, who unearthed the shocking news, has said that delivering such original, surprising information to the public is just part of his job.
“Oh, I’m just saying what I’d want to hear if I was at home listening to a race”, Waltrip told us during a break in the action.  “I mean, you so rarely hear about Danica (Patrick) having a good run (in 15th) or the (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) guys dominating the race.  And don’t get me started about how exciting a Nascar race is—nobody else tells you about that!”

Upon returning to the on-air broadcast, Waltrip continued his hard-hitting investigations, opining that Larson is likely to better-know how to handle a racecar that’s a ‘scoche loose’ with his dirt-track racing experience, after which Jeff Gordon half-heartedly laughed, provided information on another car’s unique set-up for the race, then was interrupted by Waltrip pointing out a car with a number he used to drive.

Charlotte “News” and Notes

—It’s the greatest weekend in motorsports, as Formula 1, IndyCar, and Nascar all have marquee races on the same day.  No joke here, it’s just really REALLY cool.
Take a look back at my 2014 analysis/tomfoolery on drivers who “did the double” between Indy and Charlotte.
—One of the last Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest qualifiers will be held next weekend at Pocono.  You might think it’s odd that anybody would want to watch fat guys shove processed food into their mouths, but then again, people in THAT part of the country have been around Jimmy Spencer for years.

Enjoy the weekend, and remember that if you try to “do the TV triple”, have some eyedrops on hand.

Spade Racing Movie Previews: Early Summer Blockbuster Edition

It’s heating up outside, and that means two things: more meaningless baseball, and big-budget movies at the multiplex.  Here’s some coming up with a Nascar focus.

Popstar—Kyle Petty shops around his followup to his mid-80’s music career.  Early reviews have it as one of the best horror films of the season.

Me Before You—Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick try to figure out who should DNF first.

The Conjuring 2—A seance goes horribly wrong and now the spirit of Rusty Wallace won’t leave anybody alone.

Now You See Me 2—Rusty Wallace’s rebuttal to “The Conjuring 2”, wondering how he can appear as a spirit when he’s still alive.

From Afar—International Nascar fans barely conceal their rage when people on the east coast complain about there being “too many races nearby”.

Swiss Army Man—Larry McReynolds serves as a pit reporter, on-air expert, color man, and pre-race interviewer, all without stepping foot in the Fox booth.

Clown—The Darrell Waltrip Story.

Kyle Larson: “It’s Like I Have A Bullseye On My Back”

Joey Logano won tonight’s All-Star Race, but most of the talk was about Kyle Larson’s amazing performance in both the Showdown and the “main event”, which left the young racer feeling as though there was a target on him.
“It’s like I have a bullseye on my back”, a dejected Larson said post-race.  “It’s like every time I feel like we’re gonna take this 42 car into victory lane, we get taken out by something—a faster car, bad luck, something.  It’s almost like the racing gods are taking target practice with us.”
Despite a promising start to his career and a wealth of talent, Larson has been kept out of victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series.
“When we hit the wall tonight, I just thought, ‘Jeez, I’m sure the competition is doing Cartwheels watching us lose it here’”, Larson said.  “Then again, it’s not the first time a 42 car has lost this race with a wreck near the end.”

Joey Logano was unavailable for comment as he was reveling in ruining everybody’s good night.

The All-Star Race Explained: “News” and Notes

It’s time for the third most-confusing weekend of the Nascar schedule (after Daytona qualifying and wondering how the awards ceremony can be so terrible every year)—the Sprint All-Star Race!  Yet again there’s been a bunch of changes to the format so here’s a race-by-race, segment-by-segment guide to Nascar’s night of stars (aka “Dover Redux” or “Prelude to the 600”):

—Automatically qualified for the All-Star Race are any winners from 2015 or 2016 (so far), any past champions (Tony Stewart), and any past All-Star winners who are still running full-time (Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, and Ryan Newman) for a total of 15 drivers.  Personally, I miss the days when ANY former All-Star race winner could automatically qualify, leading to “What the hell is Geoff(rey) Bodine doing out there?” questions throughout the land.
The only thing that can spoil the followup
to a fantastic Cup race?  RAIN.

—Five (yes, five) other positions are filled via the Sprint Showdown and the fan vote:  The Showdown will have two 20-lap segments and one 10-lap segment with the winners OF EACH SEGMENT advancing to the All-Star race the next night (remember, the Showdown is on Friday).  Thankfully they automatically move on, and don’t have to pretend to keep competing by running around at the back of the pack.  Oh, and there’s a minimum 2-tire pit stop in between Segments 1 & 2 and 2 & 3, because, well, why the hell not?

—After the three Showdown drivers have advanced, the top two vote-getters in the fan vote who have not advanced otherwise also make the All-Star Race.  So, basically, Danica Patrick and Matt DiBurrito.

—The All-Star Race’s new format is being called the “Brad Keselowski Rule”, since it was BKes himself who proposed the changes.  Huh, is it even possible to get odds on when someone says “Hey—I’m surprised it doesn’t include going on Twitter!”?

—Qualifying will be held Saturday evening to determine starting positions for Segment 1—these qualifying laps will include a four-tire pit stop in which cars will run down pit road without ANY speed limit.  Finally, a pit road format that Denny Hamlin can excel at!

—Segment 1 is 50 laps long and must include a minimum 2-tire pit stop under green.  After Segment 1 there’s a break period in which another minimum 2-tire pit stop must be taken (under yellow).  Then in Segment 2 there’s ANOTHER mandatory pit stop under green, this time before lap 85 (or lap 35 of the segment itself).  Jeez, Nascar really wants to put focus on the pit crews, I guess.  Too bad they couldn’t do something like, oh, i dunno, maybe having the pit crews do pit stops in a big arena, using that “challenge” to determine starting position?

—After Segment 2 there’s a break period and a random draw determines if the first 9, 10, or 11 cars will be forced to pit road for a mandatory four-tire pit stop, with the rest of the field forced to stay out on old tires.  No idea how they’ll do the draw, but I’m hoping against hope that they bring back the old Winston Plinko-board.

—After the lead cars come off pit road, they’ll rejoin the field for a massive wreck, followed by 13 laps of green-flag pit stops.  The winner gets a cool million—no word on if Bruton Smith’s lukewarm million dollar bonus is still available.

Race Awesome

"Boy, we really screwed THAT one up"

People everywhere agree that today’s race at Dover was awesome.
“Man, that was AWESOME!” a number of fans simultaneously exclaimed upon seeing Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott try to chase down Matt Kenseth. “That was just AWESOME!”
“That was so much FUN!  That’s awesome!”, several experts were said to shout after Kenseth finally was able to win in the 2016 season, locking himself into the Chase.  “I mean it would’ve been great to see Larson win for the first time, but still, that was AWESOME!”

Nascar is expected to celebrate the win by the 20 car by changing the format of the upcoming All-Star race at least 20 times prior to the start of the race.

Dover “News” and Notes

—Well, after a surprisingly drama-filled Cup race at Kansas, it’s time for Nascar’s stars to take to one of Nascar’s most demanding tracks, Dover.  Unless it rains.

—No, I have no idea what’s going on with Eli Gold.

—Ryan Newman’s future appears to be up in the air, with his RCR contract set to run out after this season.  Now in most situations a good finish to your year would lock-in your chances at your current team for the future, but this is RCR—if your name ain’t “Dillon” and your daddy ain’t rich, its time to walk.

—Baseless rumors (are there any other kind?) have Kyle Larson reportedly moving into the 5 car next year, with Kasey Kahne running out his Hendrick contract in the dreaded #15 for HScott.  While it wouldn’t COMPLETELY surprise me to see this happen, I’d be less-surprised to find out that the rumors were from internet users ELK_GROVE, Driver42, & HighLineRyda.

Timmy Hill to Run Purple Stuff Car at Dover

Stuffy the Jug, Purple Stuff's Mascot
In response to the coming debut of Ricky Stenhouse Jr’s SunnyD-sponsored car, journeyman driver Timmy Hill has announced that he will be running a car sponsored by their longtime beverage rivals, Purple Stuff.
“Dover’s kind of like a ‘home track’ for me, so to get to represent such an iconic product there is really amazing”, Hill said in a press release.  “We’re still finalizing who we’re going to run with in the race itself, but we have plenty of interested parties, ready to give us a race-legal car to, um, ‘run’ in the race.”
Hill’s statement continued to explain how the deal came together.
“A representative from Purple Stuff reached out to my business manager, and once he got caught up on his prepaid cell phone, the deal came together pretty quickly.  They were very excited to partner with us, considering our success this year with Crispy Hexagons and the Washington Generals.  It’s good to know that we have a solid financial backer who has put, in writing, that they’ll reimburse us for the tolls to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.”
In addition to finding a ride for himself and his sponsor, Hill said that his main focus will be qualifying for the race, which could draw more than the current field of 40 cars.

“We might have to knock off a few of the big boys—your Josh Wises, your Reed Sorensons—but we’ll be ready”, Hill said.  “Purple Stuff has competed against the big boys for years—soda, OJ, even SunnyD.  But we’re out to prove that it’s not what’s on your label (or lack thereof)—it’s what’s on the inside that counts.  And what’s on the inside is sugary grape drink, and a five-year-old engine.”

Kyle Busch Announces Retirement from Xfinity & Truck Series

Another guy who dominated lower series,
its just that nobody hated him.
Fresh off his visit to victory lane tonight in the Go Bowling 400, Kyle Busch dropped a bombshell to the assembled media—he is officially retiring from racing in the Xfinity and Truck Series, effective immediately.
“It’s been a great run in the support series, but tonight finally proved it to me—I don’t need to run the race the day before to win in Cup”, Busch said in the post-race media center briefing.  “All the learning, all the testing for different lines, all the honing my skills against the likes of Norm Benning and Mike Harmon, turns out its all unnecessary—I’m good enough on my own!”
Busch didn’t say who would be running his Xfinity and Truck Series races for the rest of the season, though it is expected that Joe Gibbs Racing will pull Drew Herring out of biostasis at least for the road course events.
“I’ll have all sorts of free time now”, Busch continued.  “Finally I can work on my flag-catching skills, never really had the time to do that before.  And hey—I won’t have to blow off post-race interviews anymore—well, unless things don’t go my way.”

Denny Hamlin then showed up in the media center and was penalized by Nascar for too fast entering.

The Richmond Experience Part 2

Here’s some pictures from my trip to the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway--Part 1 in the previous entry (and no "News" and Notes this week).
Matt Kenseth/Kenzets getting
ready for driver intros
Marty Smith prepares to report on
Tony Stewart's comeback
Me, risking getting beat-up
My favorite pit board 
Say what you will about the driver, but the
18 team always has some cool looking stuff
The Phillie Phanatic has NOT aged well
Scuff tires
Me with Carl Edwards behind my Dillon-sized face
The start-finish line
A crew member for the 78 team, talking
about the lugnut controversy
Four lugs glued-up--this was the last
race before the five-lugnut rule was
put into effect

The Richmond Experience Part 1

Here’s some pictures from my trip to the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway--Part 2 coming soon (and no "News" and Notes this week).
Austin Dillon addressing the
fans on the track
One of the Air Titans--thankfully not
needed that day!
A fuel I can support
Carl Edwards pauses walking
towards the intro stage to
sign some autographs
Claire B. Lang--ALWAYS there
More Joonyah (and a handler) 
A mobile DJ car.  Yeah.
Paul Menard's car gets some adjustments
Yeah, I didn't have a Sharpie that day

Jimmie Johnson and his daughter on
their way to driver intros (that's Chad
Knaus on the right)
Kasey Kahne signs some autographs

Nascar Relieved to Return to Boring Racing on Saturday Night

After a tension-filled Geico 500 this afternoon at Talladega, Nascar’s best and brightest were relieved to be done with the excitement, preparing for a dull, boring race at a cookie cutter track like Kansas on Saturday.
Thankfully its back to single-file racing
on Saturday!
“Any chance you can take to get a win, you’re gonna take that chance, Mike”, winner Brad Keselowski told a reporter (apparently named Mike) in victory lane.  “But I’m glad that next week we can get back to real racing—follow-the-leader for 400 miles around a cookie-cutter 1.5 miler.  Anytime you can have a race track where aero is everything, you’re excited.”
Perhaps not surprisingly some of the drivers involved in wrecks today were also happy to look forward to next week.
“Hey, we have to get through this wild and exciting afternoon to get to what we really want—plenty of debris cautions and the only passing happening on pit road”, said multi-wreck victim Jimmie Johnson.  “That’s what the fans really want anyways—when you think of me, you think of dull, grinding consistency, not daring passes for the lead from nowhere.”
In fact, it seemed that only one driver could be found who wasn’t excited about going to Kansas, a track that has two dates thanks to Nascar’s relationship with the neighboring casino development.
“Well, it’s Kansas, and I don’t really like that.”, said driver Kyle Busch while sipping on a water bottle.

Busch then stared blankly at the reporter for the next 10 minutes.