LAS VEGAS Race Picks: Uncle Max vs. 13th Place


Apologies if I said this already, but for someone who loves to gamble on sports, I have surprisingly never been to Las Vegas.  There’s no particular reason why—it’s just my “cursed” vacation spot.

Let me explain: You ever have a place you keep planning to go to, only for real life to get in the way over and over again?  Well, that’s Las Vegas for me.  I meant to go in college, but I wound up spending my meager vacation fund to fix my car.  About ten years ago I was planning out a long weekend there, only to win a contest at work for that weekend to visit Florida instead.  And just a few years back, I was ready to book a last-minute trip there, only to get sick with the flu (or, as they say in sports “flu-like symptoms”).  I’m not saying that I won’t ever go there, but I wouldn’t bet on it (pun).


Friday Night TRUCK SERIES (1 win) Victoria’s Voice 200: KYLE BUSCH—“And put your little hand in miiiiine…” *knocks alarm clock off nightstand*


Saturday Evening XFINITY SERIES LiUNA 300: CHANDLER SMITH—doing the old FILMAR Square D car proud.


Sunday CUP SERIES Pennzoil 400: 13th Place Picks COREY LAJOIE.  FAVORITE: DENNY HAMLIN—…and let the “real racing” season begin.  NEXT FAVORITE: JOEY LOGANO—sponsor’s race advantage (and the all-Pennzoil car always looks great).  DARK HORSE: CHASE BRISCOE—the official bounce back performance of tough.



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Spade Racing Opens a Box of 2023 Panini Chronicles Cards, Pack 1 of 6


PACK 1: Dinger Signed, A State of Mind, and 139


FIRST LOOK: So the Chronicles set is very pricey ($120 MSRP for six packs) but comes with a LOT of premium inserts.  This is a good example, with the always-affable AJ Allmendinger’s autograph in the very first pack.


TO THE BACK: While it’s awesome that Ryan Preece has made it to the Cup Series, I’d be a little worried that he seems to be satisfied just to be there.  Kind of like when you ask your crush out on a date, then just stare at her with a smile on your face for an hour.


SAY WHAT?: “This is card number 139 of just 199 in existence.  Also, who am I?”


RATING: 8 caution laps out of 10.



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NASCAR ROTY RANKINGS 1979: Ranking the Rookie of the Year Classes Through the Years


 

Dale Earnhardt
Join me as we take a look at every NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year class from 1972 (the start of the modern era) through 2021, going from the worst to the first in terms of overall careers of each year’s rookie class.

1979

Winner: Dale Earnhardt (Osterlund) Runners Up: Joe Millikan (DeWitt), Terry Labonte (Hagan), Harry Gant (Race Hill)

How their careers turned out: Really, what more can you say?  You have nine Cup Series championships, 116 race wins, and two Hall of Famers (with Gant a likely third in the future).  The only sore-thumb here is Joe Millikan, a journeyman whose career fizzled out by the mid-80’s, but when Handsome Harry is the third-best in a class, how do you compete?

“Fun” “Fact” about the winner: Dale Earnhardt’s public image has become so warped by online weirdos that I’m starting to wonder if he ever actually existed.

Ranking: #1 out of 50



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Nascar to Follow NFL’s Lead by Ignoring Los Angeles Market for Two Decades

This is a work of parody

With the former Auto Club Speedway’s renovations appeared to be stalled and the Busch Light Clash anticipated to move from the Los Angeles Coliseum to Mexico, one would think that Nascar hasn’t put much thought into its presence in the Southern California market.  However, a Nascar official explained that this is all part of a larger plan.

“The National Football League is the be-all, end-all of American sports, right?”, said Nascar spokesman Mark Wade.  “So it only makes sense to follow in their footsteps.  That’s why we are embarking on a years-long plan to string the greater Los Angeles market along while simultaneously not having any events there—it just makes sense.”

Nascar, which made a move over the past thirty years into more major media markets, appears willing to let the second-largest market in the country lay fallow for a while.

“We did this once before, when Riverside Raceway went out of business in the late-80’s”, Wade explained.  “So rather than running a race at, say, Irwindale or the Long Beach street circuit, we’ll run no races at all.  It’ll be just like the NFL in the late-90’s, only Martinsville will be OUR Green Bay.”

The long-muddled renovation plans to Auto Club (formerly California) Speedway appear to also be part of Nascar’s scheme.

“We plan to turn Auto Club (Speedway) into a half-mile short track slowly.  Verrrry slowly.  You know that one house in every development that looks like it’s under renovations for your entire childhood?  Well, that’ll be Auto Club.  If the NFL can take forever to get SoFi Stadium built, we can take forever to shorten a track.”

Wade refused to say if, like the NFL, Nascar would immediately overload the market in twenty or so years with two races, one of which nobody really wants.



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ATLANTA Race Picks: Uncle Max vs. 13th Place



So, that’s not the way I wanted to start the season—0 for 5 across three races.  And while I know it doesn’t matter, I swear on my lucky numbers that I was thisclose to picking Nick Sanchez for the Truck Series race.  Oh well—close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and hemoglobin numbers.

Speaking of which, I had my annual physical the other day.  I can honestly say that I’m pretty much average across the board—average height, average amount overweight, average high (but not too high) cholesterol numbers, etc.  I’ve always been thankful that I don’t have any major health issues (knock on wood!) but then again, I also don’t have anything I’m particularly spectacular at either—no big muscles, no amazing hair, etc.  Maybe I’m destined to go through life looking like the most generic dude imaginable, but I wouldn’t mind having a decent natural tan.


Saturday Afternoon TRUCK SERIES FR8 208: KYLE BUSCH—“And put your little hand in miiiiine…” *smashes alarm clock*


Saturday Evening XFINITY SERIES Raptor 250: COLE CUSTER—proving that SHR still has a solid Xfinity program (well, half of one).


Sunday CUP SERIES Ambetter 400: 13th Place Picks ZANE SMITH.  FAVORITE: JOEY LOGANO—better to rebound with a win than off a wall.  NEXT FAVORITE: MARTIN TRUEX JR.—…and I hope that I Am-better at making picks this weekend (sorry).  DARK HORSE: MICHAEL MCDOWELL—bonus points if Larry Mac says his last name.



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The Hero Card Project 2024: PREVIEW (+Trading Cards Preview)



For the past few years I’ve mailed out for Hero Cards, the free glossy card-stock giveaways provided by race teams.  And I’ve chronicled them here, keeping track of which teams responded the fastest, who send the most cards, and who included (unrequested) autographs.  And 2024 will be no different!  This year I’ll be sending out my requests (containing self addressed stamped envelopes, of course) on or about March 15th.  That gives teams plenty of time to have their 2024 cards ready to go.  If you want more information on these great (essentially) free items from race teams, check out this article: https://spaderacing.blogspot.com/2023/04/how-to-collect-hero-cards.html

And the new sets of trading cards should be good to go by next Tuesday!





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NASCAR ROTY RANKINGS 1978: Ranking the Rookie of the Year Classes Through the Years



Runner-up Al Halbert
Join me as we take a look at every NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year class from 1972 (the start of the modern era) through 2021, going from the worst to the first in terms of overall careers of each year’s rookie class.

1978

Winner: Ronnie Thomas (Robertson).  Runners Up: Roger Hamby (Hamby), Blackie Wangerin (Wangerin), Baxter Price (Price/Cronkite), Al Holbert (Hylton).  Aborted Attempts: none

How their careers turned out: Ronnie Thomas edged Roger Hamby for the 1978 ROTY title…and neither did much of anything in the driver’s seat again.  With that being said, we can grade on a curve with all these drivers racing almost exclusively in underfunded “independent” operations.  However, with THAT being said, Blackie Wangerin’s stretch of failing to qualify for the Daytona 500 in eight straight attempts in nine years gives you an idea of what we’re dealing with here.

“Fun” “Fact” about the winner: Both Ronnie Thomas and his father Jabe have Wikipedia pages that read like “OK, we’re just going to paraphrase from Racing-Reference.”

Ranking: #40 out of 50 



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BREAKING NEWS: Martin Truex Jr. Announces Plans for 2025


This is a work of parody

After months of speculation former Nascar Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. has announced his long-awaited plans for 2025.

“Well, I have a cousin who said they’re planning a wedding to her boyfriend for January, so that’ll take up a long weekend, since they’re up in (New) Jersey”, Truex told a Spade Racing reporter in an exclusive pre-race interview this morning.  “They got engaged on Valentine’s Day, so I’ll have plenty of time to find a gift for them.”

Truex has frequently played it coy when it came to any of his future plans, but was willing to come clean with his goals for beyond this season.

“I do Thanksgiving at my place every odd-numbered year, so that’ll be happening in 2025”, Truex said.  “I usually get something catered, but I might see if I can do a turkey in the oven by then—people seem to like the homemade touch.”

The popular driver said that his post-2024 plans will be heavily influenced by financial and competitive factors.

“I have a CD that I took out that’ll come due around May of 2025, so I’ll have to decide what to do with that money”, Truex said.  “Also, I usually do a March Madness pool with some buddies from my hometown, but I lose every damn year.  Why keep doing it if I never win?  I dunno—maybe if I actually finish in the top five this year I’ll keep paying in.”

Regardless, Truex seemed to appreciate the questions about his plans beyond the end of the 2024 season.

“Hey, thanks for checking in with me”, Truex told our reporter as he got up to leave for the drivers’ meeting.  “And that’s for not asking me about retirement—I can’t stand when places try to retread their tires, its so cheap.”



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DAYTONA Race Picks: Uncle Max vs. 13th Place


I’m back!  Yep, Mike’s Uncle Max is back to make picks throughout the entire 2024 season.  I hope everyone had a good offseason—I know I did!  I had a great holiday both in and out of work, then got some much-needed bonus “staycation” time in January.  With renovations starting at my store pretty soon, plus my annual vacation to my buddy’s shore house in early summer, it’s shaping up to be a great first half of the year.

For those of you unfamiliar with the picking system here, it goes like this: I make picks for every single points race in the three major touring series.  In Cup I pick two favorites, plus an underdog/dark horse who could surprise you.  I usually pick Cup races against something (or someone) and this year is no different, as I’ll be going against last week’s (or, in the case of Daytona, The Clash’s) thirteenth place driver.

Now, its pretty funny that my nephew chose for me go against whoever comes in thirteenth in the previous race.  As anyone who knows me will tell you, I cannot stand the number thirteen.  Heck, I even have trouble typing it!  So call me superstitious, but there’s a reason why the one place at work I won’t work is in Aisle 13!


Friday Night TRUCK SERIES Fresh From Florida 250: COREY HEIM—over/under on Michael Waltrip “Heim Time” puns set at 2.5.


Saturday Afternoon XFINITY SERIES United Rentals 300: SAM MAYER—#1 win this year for car #1.


Sunday CUP SERIES Daytona 500: 13th Place Picks Tyler Reddick.  FAVORITE: DENNY HAMLIN—will he finally win that elusive championship this year?  No.  NEXT FAVORITE: TY GIBBS—will he make “the leap” to regular race winner this year?  Yes.  DARK HORSE: JUSTIN HALEY—will anyone remember that he won at Daytona before?  Probably not.



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Spade Racing Opens a Box of 2023 Donruss Cards, Pack 24 of 24



Pack 24: Austin times three, its plain to see, that’s it for me


FIRST LOOK: Surprised Austin hasn’t realized yet how lame that hat makes him look.


TO THE BACK: He has enough big wins for two drivers—which is a good thing, considering his brother’s racing record.


SAY WHAT: “Vroom, vroom, etc. ok that’s enough for this set”.


RATING: 4 checkered flags out of 10


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NASCAR ROTY RANKINGS 1977: Ranking the Rookie of the Year Classes Through the Years



Ricky Rudd
Join me as we take a look at every NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year class from 1972 (the start of the modern era) through 2021, going from the worst to the first in terms of overall careers of each year’s rookie class.

1977

Winner: Ricky Rudd (Rudd).  Runners Up: Sam Sommers (MC Anderson), Janet Guthrie (Lynda Ferreri), Tighe Scott (Walter Ballard), Tommy Gale (Langley/Gray), Gary Myers (Myers).  Aborted Attempts: none

How their careers turned out: Ricky Rudd wound up having one of the most-consistent careers in Nascar, as well as being one of the few drivers to successfully transition from a major team to owner-driver.  There’s virtually no information about Sam Sommers, Tighe Scott, Tommy Gale, or Gary Myers, but at least none of them abandoned Nascar to run IndyCar.

“Fun” “Fact” about the winner: Ricky Rudd got his big break in 1982 with Richard Childress Racing, then two years later became the first of many drivers to be royally screwed-over by Dale Earnhardt.

Ranking: #26 out of 50



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