Daytona “News” and Notes

—Well, it’s the first “return date” of the year, as Nascar’s best will strap on the restrictor plates at historic Daytona International Speedway Saturday Night on NBC!!! …unless it rains.

—From The “Blind Squirrel” Dept: Brian France will NOT be speaking at the GOP Convention.

—Good on Indianapolis Motor Speedway for building a dirt-track inside turn three as a “gift” for Tony Stewart.  Just think—something ELSE for the remaining 734 IndyCar “fans” to complain about!

—In somewhat-breaking news, John Wes Townley has withdrawn the #05 car from this weekend’s Xfinity Series race.  Just goes to show ya—you get into a fight with your daddy’s car, you lose driving privileges for the week.

—Oh, and David Starr is going full-time for RSS Racing in the 93 car.  This.  Changes.  EVERYTHING.

Spencer Gallagher vs. John Wes Townley: Tale O’ The Tape

(NOTE--not my video or edit)

Everybody was talking about the same thing on Sunday morning—the impending seven-month layoff from Darrell Waltrip.  Oh, and the fight the night before between Truck Series regulars Spencer Gallagher and John Wes Townley.  While the Truck Series is off this weekend, both drivers are entered in the Xfinity Series race at Daytona.  Just in case the two have another slow-dance/fight, here’s the Spade Racing Tale O’ The Tape:

Source of Daddy’s Money:
Gallagher—Really cheap flights
Townley—Really cheap chicken

Non-Family Sponsorship:
Gallagher—Alamo, a rental car company
Townley—Jive, a type of Soul Bro

Worst Thing He’s Done:
Gallagher—This fight
Townley—This fi—oh, wait, the whole “driving drunk” thing

Gallagher—Johnny Sauter, Kaz Grala, Ben Kennedy, Grant Enfinger

Where He’ll Be In 10 Years
Gallagher—“Business Development” for family business

Townley—“Business Development” for family business

Tony Stewart Back On Tony Stewart Bandwagon

Using fortuitous pit strategy and defensive driving from the lead, Tony Stewart won today’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma.  This was enough for Tony Stewart to get back on the Tony Stewart Bandwagon in his final season.
"Just keep me away from Ernie Irvan"
“I’ll admit it—I wasn’t following Nascar as closely as I usually do, what with my driver running so poorly for the season so far”, Stewart said from victory lane.  “But now that I have a win, I’m ready to be a fan of myself again, AND be a happy Nascar fan.”
Stewart has been a fan of himself since he entered the sport in the late-90’s, although his confidence in expressing this in public has waned since his last championship.
“The way we were able to hold off Denny Hamlin, man—that’s what I look for in a driver to root for”, Stewart explained.  “You hate to see a guy just running around the back of the pack in his final year and ruin his legacy.  Having waited so long for a win makes it all the more sweeter, and having waited so long for a win make it all the more sweeter for me as well.”
Stewart said that his focus will now turn to making the Chase for the Cup, although he is planning ahead for the future.

“I’m not gonna lie, I’m looking at some of the younger drivers to see who to follow in 2017”, Stewart said.  “I mean, Chase Elliott looks like the real deal, but something just doesn’t feel right.  Then again, it would be better than having to root for someone in a Ford.”

Sonoma "News" and Notes

--Well it's the last race of the season for Fox and the excellent, insightful broadcast crew of Mike Joy & Jeff Gordon.

--So is this "Hamilton" musical about Bobby Jr or Sr?

--Be prepared for a spate of "whine country" jokes

--Oh and there's a Truck Series race this weekend that nobody is promoting.

30 for 30 Shorts: The Montreal Shoejob

In honor of the recent Formula 1 race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, let’s take a look back with ESPN’s acclaimed/self-important “30 for 30 Shorts” series at one of the most-memorable controversies in Nascar footwear history.

(Open with a shot of a shoe flying into the air)

Mike Myers Voiceover as Austin Powers: “Who throws a shoe, really?” (echo)

Narrator: Who throws a shoe, really?  Well, that’s just what everybody wanted to know that day back in 2012.  Danica Patrick was in the lead.  She had a real shot for a win.  Then someone threw a shoe in front of her car.  Who throws a shoe, really?  Everybody was wondering that—except the guy who threw it.

Title Screen: THE MONTREAL SHOEJOB, a 30 for 30 short
(Narrated by Spade Racing creator and former “Make the Grade” post-show contestant Mike Mackler)

N: Plenty of things can wind up on the track during a race—a gopher, all sorts of debris, heck, even a drunk if you’re at Pocono.  But at the Napa Auto Parts 200, there was a whole new animal…well, not an animal literally.

Marty Reid, ESPN broadcaster: I was working the race at Toronto and I saw what happened—I said to my fellow broadcaster, Richie Craven, “what the heck is that—it looks like someone threw a shoe on the track”—I have to tell you, that was the first time I’d seen that happen in a long time, since never in fact.

N: People say that Nascar “fixes” races so certain drivers will win, with well-timed debris cautions and such.  But there was no way Nascar would let Danica Patrick get screwed out of a win.  So who did it?  And why?

Billy Joe Smith, Huntsville Alabama native and longtime race fan: “Hell, I was onna those guys who threw the beer bottles at Jeff Gordon after he won at ‘Dega.  I dunno why we did it—we were drunk.”
I knew this would come in handy some day

N: I knew that I’d have to find the thrower to have any hope of getting any answers.  So I went to Montreal (stock footage of plane taking off from Philadelphia International Airport) and, with my knowledge of Canadian Football in the 90’s, was able to charm my way into the ticket records from the 2012 race.

(shot of me poring over sheets of paper all over a desk)

N: I had some suspects, but first I’d need to find a smoking gun—a shoeless race fan.

(shot of me and Marty Reid staring intently at stills from the race)

MR: There—look at that guy, HE’S not wearing a hat.

N: That’s not what I need, I need a guy without a SHOE.

MR: Oh, right—hey, THAT guy isn’t wearing a watch!

N: With Marty’s, um, “help”, I was able to pinpoint the one person in the stand with only one shoe on after the incident.  After I compared the seats to my ticket information, I knew I had my man.  But would he talk to me?

(stock footage of bus rolling through New England countryside, passing “Welcome to Quebec, Birthplace of Dino Bravo” sign)

N: It took a few phone calls and a lot of smuggled cigarettes, but eventually I was able to get the perpetrator to sit down for an interview.  I promised that I’d keep his identity a secret, and that I’d translate his words from French-Canadian to American-English for him.

(shot of perpetrator in shadows)

N: Did you throw the shoe?

(Translated from French): Yes, I’m the one who did it.
The title makes sense: Play it and
you'll be completely left alone

N: What were your reasons?

(Translated): Well, I was a big fan Jacques Villeneuve , since he as a very good year in IndyCar and ... as a very good year in F1. I guess I just wanted to see get the win in Nascar too.

N: But to win it like that?  With what was essentially cheating?

(Translated): People cheat all the time - whether race, taxes, or even on their spouses. It is just the way the world works.

N: Yeah, but, how could you live with yourself being such a, well, jerk?

(Translated): It's easy - I 'm French Canadian.

(stock footage of me in the stands at an Xfinity Series race this year next to Marty Reid)

MR: And Kyle Bosch with a commanding lead in the No’s Energy Toyota Corolla.

N: For the last time Marty, you don’t work for any network, and your “microphone” is just a chicken drumstick.

N: (voiceover) Who throws a shoe, really?  Who knows.  Maybe it’s a jerk.  Maybe it’s a cheater.  Or maybe it’s just someone who wants to see justice.

(fade to black)

MR: (voiceover) And an errant sandal takes out Kody Busch!

What Joey Logano Gets for Winning the FireKeeper Casino

—$25 in slot dollars (must be redeemed within 24 hours)

—Free sandwich from Keepers of the Flame Cafe with minimum 15 minutes playing time in the poker room

—Automatic upgrade to Diamond Club Membership (if he is already a Sapphire Club Member for at least three months)

—Two complimentary tickets to see Hollywood Nights, A Tribute to the Music of Bob Seger

—Free admission to the Nascar Sprint Cup Chase for the Cup

Kyle Busch Injures Hand Patting Self On Back

Busch's injury may have resulted in a
"Horowitz Fracture"
It was an historic day at Michigan International Speedway as Daniel Suarez became the first Mexican-born driver to win an Xfinity Series race.  However, the win was quickly overshadowed as his teammate Kyle Busch was admitted to the infield care center for an injured hand caused by excessive patting of himself on the back in post-race interviews.
“We think he might have suffered some serious bruising when he said it was impressive for Suarez to beat ‘…a car like us and a guy like me’”, a spokesman for the track said to the remaining media.  “We are currently packing his hand in ice and refusing to let him talk to any other reporters, hopefully this will keep him from re-injuring the hand talking about how much he learned for tomorrow’s Cup race.”
Busch, who rarely grants interviews from places other than victory lane, was seen frantically slapping his own back after comparing today’s race to last year’s Xfinity Series race, which apparently led directly to a Cup Series win.

“We saw him holding his hand in pain shortly after he finished on-camera interviews and we moved to get him into our infield care center ASAP”, the spokesman continued.  “We think he’ll be fine as long as nobody asks him about how going through adversity last year has helped him improve his life.”

Michigan “News” and Notes

—It’s a pretty full weekend of racing, with Cup, Xfinity and ARCA in Meeeechigan, plus Trucks and IndyCar in Texas, AND Formula 1 in Montreal!  So there’s even more for so-called “fans” to whine about on the internet!

—Kyle Larson’s crew chief Chad Johnston has been suspended for this weekend’s race for not properly tightening a lug nut.  Jeez, when the guy forgot to put the cap back on the oil tank in my car all HE got was yelled at by me.

—Hey, remember Sam Hornish Jr?  You don’t?  Well, you’ll get to see him anyways at the second Iowa Xfinity race.

—Yikes—first Jeb Burton, now Ryan Truex Jr. has (temporarily) lost his ride?  What the heck?!?  Oh, right, bad economy and lack of sponsorship.

Conflicts of Interest

Recently Brad Keselowski complained that Jeff Gordon was partial towards Jimmie Johnson and, to an extent, the whole Hendrick Motorsports organization due to his financial stake in the 48 team.  Well, financial and familiar ties have never stopped Nascar broadcasters from taking jobs.  Here’s a look at who’s connected to who and what amongst the Fox and Fox Sports 1 broadcast crews:

Mike Joy—Mike co-owns the New England distribution rights for Sunoco race fuels.  Considering that EVERYBODY in the media is given a bit of “incentive” to always say “Sunoco Race Fuel” instead of “gas”, I guess this puts him on something of an even-keel.
Darrell Waltrip—His only current concrete connection is to his brother (see below), but that connection used to be pretty irritating.  From openly rooting for his brother to appearing in a number of commercials for Toyota (and owning a Toyota-backed Truck Series team), DW has used his spot in the booth to improve his bank balance.
Jeff Gordon—Jeff owns a piece of the 48 team.  What this actually amounts to, what input he has in how the team performs, what it’s worth—is anybody’s guess.  It’s mostly a “thank-you” both for his years of service to Hendrick Motorsports and his role in finding Jimmie Johnson for the ride, as well as a vestige of when a person could only be listed as the “official owner” of two cars.
Larry McReynolds—Larry’s current connection is through his son Brandon McReynolds, a part-time competitor in the Xfinity Series.  Previously, however, he served as an advisor to Petty Enterprises and a minority owner of Bang! Racing during his time in the booth.
Michael Waltrip—Michael had the unique distinction of owning a major Cup Series team while also serving as a full-time broadcaster (in the studio with Fox and in the booth for the Truck Series on FS1).  He remains an occasional competitor and has a personal services contract with Aaron’s.

Phil Parsons—The longtime Truck Series commentator has owned a number of low-level backmarker and “start-and-park” teams during his time in broadcasting, such as MSRP Motorsports and PPR Racing.  The last of these teams shut down midway through the 2015 season.

Cup Driver Matt DiBenedetto Ruins Xfinity Race for Fan

A controversy that has “bubbled under” the Nascar Xfinity Series for years has finally exploded for race fan Eddy Stone, who angrily turned-off today’s Xfinity race from Pocono after hearing that Cup driver Matt DiBenedetto was running in the race.
“I’m sick and tired of all these Cup drivers ruining the Xfinity Series!”, Stone ranted on a message board.  “I mean, anytime DiBenedetto runs in a lower series, he ruins the whole experience for me—why can’t he just stay in Cup like he’s supposed to?”
Stone, who considers himself a hardcore “old school” racing fan, refuses to accept any possible practical reasons for DiBenedetto’s running of the Pocono Green 250.
“Oh sure, he claims he learns a lot running in other series, but he’s learning too much!”, Stone continued.  “Just look at today—he ran a few laps, then he parked his car!  He must have learned so much so quick that he didn’t even need to stick around for the rest of the race!”
Stone—as well as numerous other fans—have blamed Cup drivers such as DiBenedetto from taking Xfinity Series opportunities away from full-time drivers such as sponsorship and winnings.  Today seemed to be the last straw.
“When I saw White Paint Inc. on the hood of the 10 car, that was it for me”, Stone put at the end of his online screed.  “I am DONE with guys like DiBenedetto ruining the Xfinity Series”.

Stone is expected to tune in next week for the Menards 250 from Michigan and switch to complaining about how Dale Earnhardt Jr. is far too polished to be in the booth.

Pocono “News” and Notes

Coming soon to a lap down near you!
—Sure last weekend’s race wasn’t that exciting, but look where the Cup Series is on Sunday—Pocono!  A unique challenge for drivers and crews alike, this race is sure to drum up interest in Nascar as we hit the “halfway to the Chase” mark.  Unless it rains.

—My favorite paint scheme (the Medallion Bank taxi look) returns to the track this weekend.  Since Brian Scott’s driving it, I’m guessing it’s the first time anybody from Idaho has ever taken a taxi.

—Speaking of RPM, bad news for their Xfinity program, which has been put on hiatus until further funding is found.  Jeez, first Turner-Scott, then BK Racing, and now THIS?  Jeb Burton sure can’t catch a break.  Well, besides being the son of an ex-Cup driver.

—Lots of Darlington throwback paint schemes have been trickling out lately, but what about a possible throw-forward, “Turn AHEAD the Clock” promotion?  Oh, right, MLB did that and it was horrible.

Jeffrey Earnhardt to Media: “Call Me Jeffrey X”

The stunning news continued to flow out of the Charlotte area this morning, as Sprint Cup Series driver Jeffrey Earnhardt convened a press conference to announce that he is no longer to be known as “Jeffrey Earnhardt”—he is now to be known as “Jeffrey X”.
38th Place By Any Means Necessary
“Jeffrey Earnhardt was a name stolen from me by my so-called step-grandmother”, the driver said from the podium, his voice filled with rage and purpose.  “From this point forward, I will only be known as Jeffrey X, a free man able to decide and choose without persecution from sports marketing law experts.”
The name change comes following weeks of news that Jeffrey’s father, former 10-10-220 spokesman Kerry Earnhardt, had his “Earnhardt Collection” of custom homes challenged in court by Teresa Earnhardt, step-mother to Kerry and widow of champion Dale Earnhardt Sr.  The case has stoked emotions in a number of Nascar fans and insiders, though today’s announcement is the first concrete action taken by a family member.
“My windshield decals will simply have an ‘X’, Jeffrey X explained, “and my merchandise will only have an ‘X’ on it as well.  I’m also working with Fox to make sure that THEY only refer to me by my new, proper name, even if Michael Waltrip’s lisp might make it difficult.”
This is not the first name-change by a driver in Nascar—Geoff Bodine changed his official name to Geoffrey Bodine after a legal mix-up cost him ownership of his better-known shorter name.  Furthermore, a religious experience by Travis Pastrana caused him to change his full name to Travis Pastranaspinsonthebackstretch.

“I will continue to spread my message of liberation and freedom to the masses”, Jeffrey X told the assembled media, “including my uncle Dale (Earnhardt Jr.).  Furthermore, my back-of-the-garage compatriot Timmy Hill has said that he is working to change HIS name to ‘TBA’ to get more chances in a Cup car.”