ONE MORE HIT AND WE’RE IN THE HALL OF FAME!

Go back and check our top 10 predictions for this year and you’ll find that we predicted a Juan Pablo win — and he’s done it twice (although we were talking about Nextel so one doesn’t count).

What’s our other prediction come true?

Check No. 1 — nobody replaces Benny! One more “come true” and we’re Hall of Fame candidates. Two, and we’re in!

OK, so here’s this week’s major issue. Wally D. on Sunday kept repeating the same mantra — if Juan decides to pull off another Mexico City routine, “this circuit” is different and won’t put up with those antics. Well, Wally, you now know how well Juan Pablo can drive — you’re in the
commentators box and he’s on the track, so what does that tell you?

No wrecks on the last lap, just GREAT driving. And there’s still Watkins
Glenn. And if you don’t think Juan Pablo is in the driver’s seat for Rookie-of-the-Year, ask Harvick!

Keep your comments coming.

Jon

COMMIT THE CRIME; DO THE TIME!

Well, what goes around, comes around.

Can you believe that Hendrick is “disappointed” by NASCAR’s decision to fine Gordon and Johnson and suspend Letarte and Knaus? Letarte and Knaus get to work in the shop during the six-race suspension and even communicate during races via cell
phone and text messages!

Wow, do you remember “detention” in high school? — go to class, do extracurricular activities, practice sports.

And Hendrick is considering an appeal? And NASCAR doesn’t play
favorites?

You be the judge!

Jon

NASCAR vs. AT&T

The Sherman Antitrust Act according to Wikipedia:

“The Act was intended to prevent arrangements designed to, or which tend to, increase the cost of goods to the consumer. It was not specifically intended to prevent the dominance of an industry by a specific company, despite misconceptions to the contrary. According to Senator George Hoar, an author of the bill, any company that ‘got the whole business because nobody could do it as well as he could’ would not be in violation of the act. The law attempts to prevent the artificial raising of prices by restriction of trade or supply.”

It has been questioned by none other than Alan Greenspan in that does it reward ineffiicent entities at expense of larger (and thus more efficient) ones — thereby hurting consumers. While he was talking more about products,etc., that never saw the light of day, it will be interesting to see how AT&T’s lawyers do the spin. Perhaps they can argue that cellphone,etc. consumers have been denied brand ‘access’ because they were unable to follow that logo at 200 mph.

In all seriousness, this is important in that the government is now the elephant with its trunk under the tent — and we all know where that can lead.

So be very careful NASCAR, even the Hilton family loses now and again.

Michael

A BIG GAMBLE IN MOTORSPORTS

Well, NASCAR has filed a countersuit against AT&T, seeking $100 million in damages as well as the legal privilege of tossing AT&T — and all telecommunication companies other than Nextel — out of NASCAR in 2008.

Notwithstanding that $100 million is a sizable chunk of change for anyone, the real story is the second one — the right of NASCAR to toss anyone out of sponsorship. It seems to me that NASCAR has welcomed a variety of sponsors into the sport, although sponsorship deals are between owners and the sponsors. What NASCAR is now seeking — and if successful, could do the same to any sponsor — is the ability to cancel sponsorship contracts even though it does not negotiate those contracts for owners.

Can you imagine the MLB commissioner telling the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that the team needs to change the name of Tropicana Field or ordering the Colorado Rockies to drop “Coors” from the name of its playing field? (AT&T today extended its sponsorship of Jeff Burton’s car.) In essence, that’s what NASCAR is seeking. Makes one wonder whether Sprint/Nextel is the driving force behind NASCAR’s countersuit or whether NASCAR is in a snoot because it didn’t get its way earlier.

We’ll know on August 2!

Jon

VISIONS OF CHAMPIONSHIPS DANCED IN THEIR HEAD

I’m quite certain that fans of Dale Jr. slept very well last night, with visions of championships he is SURE to win driving for Hendrick Motorsports. In fact, I wish him well. I just can’t wait to see Jimmy or Jeff pull over to let him lead a lap!

But here’s a different version of this current situation. A couple of years ago, Kurt Busch abruptly left Roush (Fenway) and moved on to Penske. Jack-in-the-Hat was so infuriated he changed the number of the car the following season. Last year, Dale Jarrett left RYR to go with Michael Waltrip. There were hues and cries about driver loyalty. Well, Kyle (I’m not a really big fan) had a contract through 2008 but Rick Hendrick decided he could drop the contract. I’m not in the “inner circle” so there probably was a clause that allowed this. But what about owner loyalty to a driver?

Keep in mind the following: Kyle has one win this season to Dale’s zip; Kyle has three top 5 and seven top 10 finishes while Dale has one top 5 and five top 10 finishes; Kyle is 10th in points while Dale is 14th; and Kyle has four Cup wins since 2005 to Dale’s two. Yes, Hendrick Motorsports will be a good move for Dale. But what about Kyle? What’s he to do?

Well, I’m a big fan of “Don’t get angry, get even.” So, maybe Kyle will do the proverbial “spit in your eye” and go to DEI.

Just a thought.

Jon

“DRIVE A MILE IN HIS FIRESUIT”

Almost everyone knows the purported Native American saying, “Before I judge a man, let me first walk a mile in his moccasins.”

Well, last week I had the opportunity to ride some laps through the Richard Petty Driving Experience. It was part of my last year’s Christmas gift. I didn’t drive but did the “ride-along”. Actually, I felt it important to attempt to experience some of what it’s like to be on the track if I’m going to talk and teach about NASCAR. It was, indeed, an enlightening experience.

The experience overall was rather authentic. Donned a firesuit (although I’m not sure about the “fire” part), helmet, and HANS device. Climbed through the window (passenger side!), got strapped in (reminded me of “Apollo 13” with Tom Hanks when the astronauts were strapped in by the technicians who really pulled hard on the belts). I turned to my driver, introduced myself, and said, “Pocono, 500 miles, no way!”

The acceleration was about as expected, as was the roar of the car. However, since we didn’t pass anyone, I didn’t have a real sense of speed, although I was told we turned around 120 mph. What caught my attention was the “G” forces going into and coming out of the turns (this was at Richmond Int’l Raceway, a ¾ mile track that has a good banking to it).

Additionally, I was struck by how confined I was — and my seat was designed to accommodate a variety of body shapes and sizes. I recognized quickly that a driver cannot be claustrophobic and be a racer in one of these cars. And then the thought really sank in that being in that driver’s seat for 400 or 500 laps or miles must put a tremendous stress on one both physically and mentally.

And thus I offer you this observation. The next time you’re quick to say, “Dumb move, Stupid!” keep in mind what has been happening to “Stupid” and what physical and mental stress that driver has been under. The pop phrase is “red mist.” Well, if Kurt or Tony or – name the driver you love to bash — experiences “red mist,” drive a mile in his firesuit.

And, finally, I would strongly recommend you consider any of the driving experiences that might come your way. It’s AWESOME, as those of you who have done this experience knows. I’m saving my coins so I can do my “rookie experience.”

Keep in touch.

Jon

Summer Reading

I own a small piece of paradise in Hatteras, North Carolina, and my electricity is supplied through a cooperative. Monthly I receive its magazine, “Carolina Country,” and the cover story this month is on “Silent Speedways of the Carolinas.”

“Silent Speedways” was written by Perry Allen Wood, a long-time fan of NASCAR and especially of the short tracks of SC and NC. His book not only describes these once lively tracks — all 29 of which held at least one Grand National event — but also recalls the races.
The excerpt from the book was fascinating and informative. It’ll make good reading while at the beach, at the lake or in the mountains this summer — or even during the lull while tailgating at a track.

The book (308 pages and 151 photos) is available at Amazon.com for $35 (paperback).

Jon