Spade Racing Picks: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Watkins Glen/Eldora

Editor’s Note: Early and truncated picks this week due to an early Truck Series race and the forthcoming 1,000th article on the site.

CUP SERIES Go Bowling at The Glen: Mystery Picker (1 win) picks Kurt Busch.  Favorite (4 wins): Martin Truex Jr.—this counts as a home track for him, right?  Next Favorite (1 win): Chase Elliott—Mystery Picker has the wrong Chevy.  Dark Horse: Erik Jones—‘bout time for a breakthrough win this year.

XFINITY SERIES Zippo 200 (6 wins): Justin Allgaier—‘bout time for a breakthrough win this year.

TRUCK SERIES Dirt Derby 150 (7 wins): Matt Crafton—‘bout time for an awesome race most people can’t watch this month.

Everything Else Ryan Newman Doesn’t Believe In

Earlier this week Ryan Newman “honored” the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing by repeating that he doesn’t believe that it happened.  While many were quick to condemn Newman’s apparent ignorance, the ironically-nicknamed “Rocketman” was willing to share with Spade Racing a list of other widely-held beliefs that he doesn’t subscribe to:

—That his alma mater Purdue University was founded by Indiana John Purdue.  Newman claims that his school—ironically one with numerous ties to the space program—was started by “one of those chicken guys from Maryland”.

—That he had some sort of hair transplant.  Despite obvious visual evidence that Flyin’ Ryan had something done to reverse his Phil Collins-like hairline, he claims he “…just woke up one morning and it had magically grown back.”

—That he has had the lesser career compared to his 2002 Rookie of the Year competitor Jimmie Johnson.  “Mr. Friday” instead says that his ROTY award, coupled with his nearly winning a Cup championship despite not winning a race that year, puts him well ahead of seven Cup championships.

—That driving for four major teams, each of somewhat declining renown, is evidence of a possible personality issue.  “The Space Case from South Bend” instead uses his insensitive comments towards Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart as evidence of his churlish attitude towards others.

—That Richard Childress Racing is a multi-car team that focuses on drivers other than Austin Dillon.  OK, to be fair, “Danica’s Ex-Boyfriend’s Teammate” does have something there.

Spade Racing Picks: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Pocono/Iowa

Well well well—seems like Mystery Picker’s finally picked himself off the canvas.  His first win on the year.  Well, he’s got a while to go until he catches up with ME.  And when Homestead comes around (s)he’ll finally be revealing themselves to the world to see.
I’d like to stay and talk longer, but I’m meeting up with the writer of this here site (Editor’s note: That’s me, Mike Mackler) to do something for the 1,000th piece written for it.  Hope it turns out good!

CUP SERIES Gander RV 400: Mystery Picker (1 win) picks Erik Jones.  Favorite (4 wins): Kyle Busch—a Pocono sweep for 2019.  Next Favorite (1 win): Ryan Blaney—this week’s leader of the Ford brigade.  Dark Horse: Kyle Larson—finally breaking through in 2019.

XFINITY SERIES US Cellular 250 (6 wins): Christopher Bell—is it too easy to go with last year’s winner?  Yes, yes it is.

TRUCK SERIES  Gander RV 150 (7 wins): Sheldon Creed—going a LITTLE off the board here.

Opening a Sealed Box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards PACK 17

Recently I got a sealed box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards—24 packs, 8 cards per pack.  Join me as I go through the entire case, pack-by-pack, to see what awaited me. (Click any picture to enlarge)

PACK 17 OF 24: Jamie Mac, Action Pack’, and No Looking Back

OVERVIEW: No legends to speak of in this pack—no real “future stars” either, as we focus almost exclusively on the here and now.  Well, and the recent past with Dale Jr. and Danica.

SPECIAL SPECIAL: Austin Dillon’s Action Packed card compares his Dow paint scheme to a meteor.  Considering how meteors can, y’know, destroy things when they crash, this might be an unintentional portent of the future of RCR.

IN FOCUS: This is a good time to mention how cool the vintage Donruss look is with simple cards like this one—especially when the driver is wearing blue to match with the border.

SPOTLIGHT: The back of Danica’s “Press Proof” (one of only 49!) explains how she’s only known by her first name.  I’m guessing it has less to do with her on-track success and more to do with the fact that nobody named Danica has ever had as much time in the public eye (sorry, Winnie Cooper).

SCORE: 2 Charters out of 10

Spade Racing Movie Previews: Summer Blockbuster Edition

If you live just about anywhere in the US you know its hotter than a bootleg Dale Earnhardt t-shirt right now.  The easiest way to get out of the heat?  Visiting your local multiplex for a few hours to see the latest motion pictures.  Here’s what’s coming out soon with a Nascar bent:

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood: A documentary on the making of “Logan Lucky” tries to figure out who, if anyone, thought it would be successful.

Mike Wallace Is Here: A nostalgic look back at those cool Geico commercials with Loren Wallace, some of the only commercials fans DIDN’T mind seeing ad nauseam.

Them That Follow: A look at fans who flocked to Nascar in the early-00’s, and where they went afterwards (SPOILER ALERT: first soccer, then MMA, now wondering why they can’t make any meaningful connections in life).

Scary Stores to Tell in the Dark: When the lights go out at Bristol, young racers are terrified when they realize the lights on their cars are just decals.

The Art of Racing in the Rain: Alon Day relives the greatest moment of his career over and over again (limited release in Israel and Pikesville).

Corporate Animals: 12 Fortune 500 company marketing directors are locked in a room and forced to explain why they won’t sponsor a woman, non-white, or non-American Nascar driver.

Spade Racing Picks: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—New Hampshire

Well, that big meeting I had with my store manager last week didn’t go according to plan.  Take it from me—any meeting that gets interrupted by a fire alarm is not going to go in your favor.  So I’m still in my usual position, still training new employees, still picking up slack for other mangers who’ve moved in.
Am I in a rut?  I don’t know.  Sometimes I wonder if I should throw it all away, move to Vegas and become a professional handicapper.  Then I remember how much I like having health insurance.  Oh well, back to the grind I guess.

CUP SERIES Foxwoods 301: Mystery Picker picks Kevin Harvick.  Favorite (4 wins): Joey Logano—going for the hometown kid (well, home region kid).  Next Favorite (1 win): Kyle Busch—slight downgrade from my usual “Favorite” spot for him.  Dark Horse: Daniel Suarez—“Big Mo’” finally swings in his favor.

XFINITY SERIES Roxor 200 (6 wins): Ryan Truex—winning in the 8 car at one of his family’s dozen or so home tracks.

Opening a Sealed Box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards PACK 16

Recently I got a sealed box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards—24 packs, 8 cards per pack.  Join me as I go through the entire case, pack-by-pack, to see what awaited me. (Click any picture to enlarge)

PACK 16 OF 24: Skoal, Cole, and Smoke’s Goal

OVERVIEW: Plenty of diversity here beyond the three Bass Pro Shops sponsored cards.  And hey, on the back of Smoke’s card we find out that he has a Smokey & The Bandit car, but he’s never driven it.  Think he walks by it once in a while and murmurs “Someday…”?

SPECIAL SPECIAL: The Jimmie Johnson Originals card focuses on his Dover dominance.  Success at the Monster Mile is pretty much the only way my current home state makes its way onto trading cards.

IN FOCUS: While I’m sure that Cole Whitt appreciates getting a card, I’m guessing he would’ve preferred not to have one at all considering that this one mentions a 19th-place finish, followed by a bunch of blank space.

SPOTLIGHT: The back of Ryan Newman’s card focuses on his reputation as being difficult to pass.  Considering his lack of success lately, that’s like bragging about a baseball player hitting the most balls to the warning track.

SCORE: 5 stage wins out of 10

The Company Car: A Look Back at Jasper Motorsports

Moving to a new apartment this weekend, so hopefully this is the last "pre-race post-race" for awhile

This welcome mat is a polite way to say "nobody welcome"
Team owners like Gene Haas use their own teams as ways to promote their own companies nowadays, but in the 90’s there was really only one team to do that—Jasper Motorsports.  Owned by executives at the engine remanufacturing company, the perennial also-ran put their own logo on the hoods of their ever-changing cars for a decade plus.  Take a walk down backmarker memory lane in this look back at what my dad once called “The Company Car”.

1996: Bobby Hillin Jr. piloted this car, which appears to have been the stealth inspiration for Ricky Bobby’s Wonder Bread paint scheme.  For those of you too young to remember, Bobby Hillin Jr. was Trevor Bayne before Trevor Bayne was Trevor Bayne.

1997: The team goes all primary colors and uses three primary drivers—Hillin, Morgan Shepherd, and Robert Pressley.  Sure the team was using journeymen drivers and running almost exclusively in the back, but at least their car looked ok.

1998: Robert Pressley returned as the primary driver for the nearly-identical looking blue 77 car, spelled by Ted Musgrave and Hut Stricklin for a race each.  By this point the team had firmly established itself as a “our drivers only get interviewed when the rain delay goes over two hours” team.

1999 Brickyard 400
1999: Things stayed mostly the same this year—same primary paint scheme, same driver (Robert Pressley), and failing to qualify for a number of races.  But they DID break out this special paint scheme at the Brickyard 400.  Just a reminder that special paint schemes used to be a big deal, just like how racing at Indianapolis used to be a big deal.

2000: A banner year for the returning Pressley as the team not only qualified for every race, but also managed a rare top-five race finish (at Michigan).  Ironically the team chose a rather sedate paint scheme for what passed as a “breakout year” for the Jasper crew.

2001: Although Robert Pressley returned as the team’s primary driver—finishing runner-up at Chicago—it would be his last.  In addition, he was spelled at both road course races by Boris Said.  The team marked the year of impending change by switching to a urine-yellow paint scheme.

2002: Dave Blaney joined the team, which somehow made their previous year’s scheme look even worse with he addition of gray to the color palette.  Boris Said, meanwhile, returned in a second car, which was the equivalent of adding a rec room addition to a double-wide trailer.

2003 "Panther Power"
2003: No changes to the primary paint scheme this year (nor to the driver), so here’s a look at the awesome “Panther Power” special paint scheme.  Unfortunately Blaney wasn’t running this when he finished third at the spring Darlington race behind Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch, his career highlight until the time he blew me off in the garage at Dover.

2003-2006: After the 2002 season Jasper Motorsports ceased to exist as an independent team as Roger Penske bought into the operation.  Drivers Brendan Gaughan and Travis Kvapil would get a year each in the now Kodak-sponsored 77 car before The Captain would shut the team down completely after 2005.  Jasper would then own the now-55 “Dodge” of Michael Waltrip in name-only for 2006 season for points purposes.  The 77 would later re-emerge as the Penske third team, living up to the lofty expectations of the past by featuring Sam Hornish Jr. spinning out on a regular basis.

Spade Racing Picks: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Kentucky

Look—I’ve seen some big upsets in my time.  Heck, one of my earliest sports memories was finding out that Buster Douglas had stunned Mike Tyson in Tokyo.  But Justin Haley winning a Cup race?  That’s completely out of left field.  Just goes to show you that you can never predict anything with any certainty, especially when lightning’s involved.
Speaking of lightning, a flash of inspiration hit me at work the other day.  That fancy display you see when you walk into my store was my idea, and it just might be enough to earn me a promotion!  Got a big meeting with the store manager on Monday—wish me luck!

CUP SERIES Quaker State 400: Mystery Picker picks Kyle Larson.  Favorite (4 wins): Kyle Busch—time for the Toyotas to reassert their dominance.  Next Favorite (1 win): Martin Truex Jr.—again in the “Next Favorite” spot (just like Mystery Picker and Kyle Larson).  Dark Horse: Clint Bowyer—would be poetic justice if he knocked Austin Dillon out of the way for the win—he could even claim an itchy arm again.

XFINITY SERIES Alsco 300 (6 wins): Christopher Bell—back to basics.

TRUCK SERIES Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 (7 wins): Brett Moffitt—buckled up, I hope.

Opening a Sealed Box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards PACK 15

Recently I got a sealed box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards—24 packs, 8 cards per pack.  Join me as I go through the entire case, pack-by-pack, to see what awaited me. (Click any picture to enlarge)

PACK 15 OF 24: Ty, Ry, and By

OVERVIEW: Young’uns are the focus of this pack, with Ty Dillon, Ryan Blaney and William Byron sticking out.  We also get appearances by a pair of cheeseheads in Matt Kenseth and Paul Menard.

SPECIAL SPECIAL: “Darrrrrellllllll…Darrrrrellllllll…”

IN FOCUS: Martin “Truex (Jr.(’s two favorite sports as a kid were baseball and snowboarding.”  OK, but what the heck does that have to do with a unicycle?

SPOTLIGHT: Ryan Truex’s inaugural Roval win gets the ILLUSION treatment here, a nice distraction from the fact that the front of the card looks like it has pee on it.

SCORE: 3 DNF’s out of 10

How to Stay Hydrated at Summer Races

One week after a wedding I get sick.  And next weekend I'm moving.  REALLY hoping to get back to
a normal post-race schedule sometime this season!
We’re in the dog days of summer, when the temperatures are high and the on-track action is higher (well, except at Michigan). If you’re going to a race this summer it’s important to know how to stay hydrated—no one wants to watch victory lane interviews from a hospital bed. Here’s some handy tips:

—Drink water. It sounds simple, but this is by far the easiest way to avoid trouble. And no, despite the taste and consistency, Coors Light doesn’t count. 

—Don’t just gulp down what you’re drinking—savor it to cool down your body more efficiently.  Try to do one of those slow-motion drinks like in soda commercials.

—Pack some salty snacks to keep your thirst up. As a general rule, snacks should be as salty as a driver complaining about being blocked. 

—Take a break from the heat of the grandstands every once in a while—the only thing you’re likely to miss is another Denny Hamlin pit road penalty. 

—Sunblock is your friend, and it needs to be reapplied regularly—say, roughly once every time a Rick Ware Racing car gets lapped.

—If at all possible, attend a night race instead.  Besides, when it gets delayed by a rainstorm, at least you won’t have to miss work on Monday.  …….unless it rains again.

Spade Racing Picks: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Daytona

What is it about work that makes everything go wrong the week you get back from a vacation?  Not only do I have to deal with the normal stress of my job, but apparently the rumors about the store closing caused two other managers to leave in the past few days.  So guess what?  I’m backfilling their positions!
Yes, backfilling—all the extra work of a promotion without any of the prestige, advancement, or pay.  I’m doing the jobs of about three different people now and I’ve barely had any free time.  Figures as my lease is up on my townhouse—I renewed it just because the rent looked good and I don’t have time to look for a new place.  Here’s hoping that NEXT WEEK’S picks sees me a bit more relaxed.

CUP SERIES Coke Zero Sugar 400: Mystery Picker picks Kyle Larson.  Favorite (4 wins): Chase Elliott—maybe Chevy’s finally figured things out.  Next Favorite (1 win): Martin Truex Jr.—…or maybe they haven’t.  Dark Horse: Austin Dillon—this’ll give him the dreaded “Superspeedway Expert” tag.

XFINITY SERIES Circle K Firecracker 250 (6 wins): Chase Briscoe—a crapshoot of a race if there ever was one, so might as well go with a guy due for a win.

Opening a Sealed Box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards PACK 14

Recently I got a sealed box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards—24 packs, 8 cards per pack.  Join me as I go through the entire case, pack-by-pack, to see what awaited me. (Click any picture to enlarge)

PACK 14 OF 24: Action Packed, Pettys Stacked, and Harvick Attacked

OVERVIEW: One of the best sets so far (sans memorabilia cards) with a healthy mixture through the ages.  I have no idea why the “Father & Son” picture they chose uses Kyle Petty in his John Oates phase.

SPECIAL SPECIAL: While its cool that Kevin Harvick is considered a RACE KING by Donruss, maybe next time they choose a better photo than this one—it looks like the photographer jumped out in front of him without warning.

IN FOCUS: Jimmie Johnson as “The Man in Black”?  Ignoring the fact that he has NEVER been called that in his entire life, was this just a way to throw shade at a certain estate that refused to allow a certain other seven-time champ to appear on these cards?

SPOTLIGHT: Terry Labonte was a Retro Rated Rookie in 1979 narrowly missing out on the Rookie of the Year award to some guy named Earnhardt.  Even better, his haircut doubled as a crash helmet.

SCORE: 9 nicknames out of 10