And He Shall Be Known as Awesome Jones

On this week’s rant laden schmak, we talk about the awful pre-race farcical “human interest” stories, the smattering of news, our fantasy pick results (we did terribly), and picks for the Phoenix race.

Coach: Kevin Harvick

Rob: Carl Edwards

Schmak Chase Elimination update

Here at the schmak, we’re doing an alternate race for the chase thing, by eliminating the lowest finishing chase driver from our field in each chase race. As of 11/17/2013 Homestead:

Chicagoland eliminated Joey Logano.
New Hampshire eliminated Kasey Kahne.
Dover eliminated Carl Edwards.
Kansas eliminated Ryan Newman.
Charlotte eliminated Greg Biffle.
Talladega eliminated Matt Kenseth.
Martinsville eliminated Kurt Busch.
Texas eliminated Jeff Gordon.
Phoenix eliminated Clint Bowyer.

Homestead eliminated Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch

Your 2013 Trackschmak elimination challenge champion is Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Yep, America’s driver Dale Earnhardt Jr would have won this year’s championship if it had been an elimination format.

Take that, Brian France.

Childress – epitome of class

I had heard that Richard Childress egged on one of the Dillon kids to wreck Harvick under caution at Martinsville, but I finally saw a transcript at frontstretch.com (yet another good piece by Amy Henderson):

Over the radio to Dillion:

“Turn his ass upside down. Don’t take no $#!&.’‘

This is what Childress said after the incident:

(“We’re still rolling.”) but also said he was “very disappointed” in Harvick.

“That’s all I can say,” Childress said. “I’ve got too much class to say what I want to say right now. When I say it, I will say it to his face.”

You stay classy, Richard.

Crewman who threw a sledgehammer suspended

From yahoo sports:

After Harvick and Dillon crashed late in the race, Harvick — who currently drives for RCR in the Sprint Cup Series — stopped in Dillon’s pit box out of frustration. Dillon’s crew angrily confronted Harvick to get him out of the way and a sledgehammer came out of nowhere from the direction of the pit box.

Guess they figured out where “nowhere” was, and his name is Adam Brown.

Truex to the 78, officially

Long rumored, finally confirmed. Expect an actual announcement on Tuesday the 22nd. No word on NAPA at all.

MWR down to 2 full time cars in 2014

From sbnation

The fallout from the biggest cheating scandal in NASCAR history continues, as Michael Waltrip Racing will downsize from three full-time teams to two for the 2014 Sprint Cup season.

Martin Truex Jr. and his crew chief have been told they are free to look for employment elsewhere officially.

Unofficially, they’ve been looking ever since the Richmond scandal.

Bad news for about 15% of the MWR staff who will not have a job in a month or two.

Brain Vickers out for the rest of 2013 due to blood clots

Sad news from jayski:

Brian Vickers to miss the rest of the 2013 season: Michael Waltrip Racing learned today that Brian Vickers is not available to race for the remainder of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season due to health issues. Vickers said Dr. William Downey has placed him on blood thinning medication after a Monday morning examination on his right leg discovered a small blood clot in his calf region. The medications will keep Vickers out of the #55 Aaron’s Toyota the remainder of the season, effective immediately. Vickers said his physicians are confident he will be able to resume activity before the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season begins.

What was a bad year for MWR has just gotten even worse.

Domestic Abuse: Kvapil – Arrested, Released, Still Racing

We talked about this a little bit on our latest schmak, but didn’t know a lot about the situation. Now some alleged facts have emerged, and, if true, sounds worse:

According to court records reviewed by The Sporting News, Kvapil allegedly pulled his wife into a bedroom by her hair and struck her in the head. He is not permitted to return home and can only contact his wife by phone or email on matters concerning their children.

Pulled her hair and punched her in the head. What did he have to say for himself?

Kvapil, who will race Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, apologized to BK Racing, NASCAR, fans and “anyone else that was impacted by Tuesday night.”

His wife & children aren’t specifically named. Perhaps they’re part of the “anyone else”.

“Obviously, there was a domestic situation Tuesday night with my wife. Regret that that happened,” he said after qualifying 41st Thursday night.

“there was a domestic situation” – no, he pulled his wife by the hair and punched her. That’s assault. Jerk.

“Regret that that happened” – there’s no “I” in that statement. Taking no blame. No apologies.

“Because it is a family, personal matter, we ask for respect and privacy in this situation and we try to work it out together as a family. I’m obviously embarrassed about the situation. I don’t like the negative effects that it has brought on.”

“…don’t like the negative effects” – I’m sure his wife didn’t like the negative effects of a fist to the face either. Jerk.

“It’s been tough. I guess you really find out your true friends, your supporters,” Kvapil said.

So Kvapil is trying to be a victim here. Not a lot of people want to be associated with a wife-beater. Hopefully his “true friends” are the ones telling him how he screwed up and how to apologize and such. Anyone unquestioningly standing by him at this point is not a “true friend”.

“It’s been quite an eye-opening experience.

I bet it was for his wife, too. Especially after he punched her.

Been through some things I definitely don’t ever want to go through again.

He’s the one who put both of them through all these things. Again, trying be the victim. Jerk.

I should add that to be fair, the full facts of the situation haven’t been divulged, and might not ever be divulged. But no matter what the circumstances are leading up to the assault, this whole situation could have been avoided by simply not pulling his wife by the hair into another room and then striking her in the head.

And of course, the 83 and 93 BK racing teams were sporting the logos of Domestic Violence Awareness Month – starting this week. Still, he will be racing this weekend, despite his “I’m kind of a victim too” non-apology “apology”.

What happens to the chase if Kenseth wins it?

Back in 2003, when Kenseth won his (so far) only championship, he did it by being consistent over the entire year, leading the points from the 4th race till the end of the season, and clinching the championship with 2 or 3 races left in the season, with only 1 win to his credit.

For 2004 – NASCAR instituted the “Matt Kenseth rule” of awarding more bonus points for wins, and also the most drastic change in the sports history by adding the chase. The underlying sentiment being that the guy who wins 1 race over the whole season shouldn’t be champion over the guy who won 8 (Ryan Newman).

It’s a bogus sentiment, but I believe that’s what prompted the change to the chase (that, and also trying to compete in TV ratings with football).

This year, with the incredible roll that Kenseth is on, he entered the first race of the chase leading the points, and has only increased his lead by winning the first two races.

So the question I have is: If Kenseth stinks up the chase and clinches the title with 2 races to go, never loses the lead, and wins a bunch more races, what will NASCAR do in reaction?

I have absolutely no confidence that they will do what is best for the sport.

Kesneth, wins last 2 races, now wins practice 1 at Dover

That team has stepped up an already impressive effort.

Friday practice for the AAA 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway is over, after 90 scheduled minutes, the top five, slowest and notes:
#20-Kenseth 163.473
#56-Truex Jr. 162.859
#22-Logano 162.624
#78-Busch 162.521
#18-Busch 162.506

5-hour energy back for 2014 with Bowyer

I’m sure Clint Bowyer is feeling a tiny bit more relieved now that 5-Hour energy has re-upped.

Incidentally, in the company president Scott Henderson’s widely reported quote:

“There’s a lot of talk about integrity,” he said. “When the guy who’s in charge can say, ‘I can do whatever I want and I’m going to do it and I just did,’ I wonder about integrity.

…it was unclear if he was referring to MWR or NASCAR’s Brian France. From the affirmation of sponsorship in 2014, it seems a little more obvious that it was aimed at Brian France and his “magical” fix of 13 chasers.

Drivers approve of the new restart rules

Video from nascar.com.

Salient point – Jimmie Johnson effectively said that the new restart rule means that there is less of a chance for the leader to game the restart and force the 2nd place car to lift.

NAPA dropping sponsorship of MWR

Wow – big news. NAPA had agreed to a 3 year sponsorship extension of Martin Truex Jr. last year, but today they are announcing that they are ending their sponsorship this year.

‘NAPA believes in fair play and does not condone actions such as those that led to the penalties assessed by NASCAR,’ NAPA said in a statement. ‘We remain supportive of the millions of NASCAR fans and will evaluate our future position in motorsports.’

Once again, the guy who was not a part of the shenanigans gets penalized the most.

NASCAR really blew the call here. I think it’s becoming more clear that the call should have been to DQ Bowyer from the Chase, and figure out who should be in after that.

I think (but can’t be sure, because finding the points standings after Richmond, but before the points were reset is difficult), that Newman and Truex would have been in, and Gordon would still be looking in from the outside.

Then, if NASCAR was serious about the “quid pro quo” penalties on the 22 team, they could have also DQ’d Logano and put the next qualifying driver in, which would be Gordon. If they were serious about it.

Instead, NASCAR has created an unholy mess of things, and helped cost a top tier team their sponsorship. Does anyone think that NAPA would end their ties to MWR if the 55 team was in the chase and not tied into the cheating scandal, and instead the punishment was only handed out to the 15 and 55 teams?

Montoya to Penske… in Indy Car in 2014

Montoya to drive the #2 Team Penske Indy car next year, with teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves.

I guess AJ Allmendinger’s two lap one crashes at Detriot this year eliminated him from the ride.

Montoya should be really good over there, assuming he can get along with Helio and Will.

EDIT: choice quote from nbcsports.com

“Stunned shock” is probably the best way to describe the news Monday morning that Juan Pablo Montoya would move back to open-wheel racing in 2014, shifting from NASCAR to IndyCar and driving for Roger Penske.

Is there such a think as “un-stunned shock”? How about “stunned, but lacking in shock”?

Either way, the move back to open wheel is not news. The news is that he’s going to Ganassi rival Penske, and that he called off the Andretti deal. But still, not shocking or stunning, as far as I’m concerned.

Gordon added to chase – Lucky #13 on Friday the 13th

From nascar.com

“It is an unprecedented and extraordinary thing, but also an unprecedented and extraordinary set of circumstances that unfolded multiple different ways on Saturday night,” France said. “We believe this is the right outcome to protect the integrity, which is our No. 1 goal, of NASCAR.”

Because the best way to ensure integrity is to disregard your own rules for size and eligibility of your post-season championship field and inform the competitors after they’ve already completed practice and are prepping for qualifying.

What a mess.

Vickers Stands his Ground

In a somewhat remarkable piece for USA today, Brian Vickers says he has no regrets about pitting under green to help a teammate get into the chase.

If helping a teammate, friend and brother in arms is a crime, then I’m guilty. I didn’t make that call to pit last Saturday nor did I even understand why we did it at the time. But if my teammate(s) needed me again and it was of no consequence to me, my team or our partners, I would make the same decision time and time again.

Pulling over and letting a teammate pass has been going on ever since there have been multi-car teams. I think if Bowyer had just pitted and intentionally lost a bunch of laps, there wouldn’t be much outcry at all, and certainly no penalty. As we discussed on our latest podcast, the real issue with the MWR shenanigans is the fact that they didn’t simply help a teammate with a few positions on track, but that they took away positions and spots in the chase from two other teams that had earned them on the track.

Big Day for Newman

Saturday night Newman was out of the chase and hadn’t announced a ride for 2014.

Today, he’s in the chase and RCR announced he will be taking over the #31 Caterpillar Chevy for 2014.

How quickly things turn around.

Kyle Petty gets it wrong again

With the changing landscape around the Stewart-Hass release of Ryan Newman and subsequent expansion to four cars with Kurt Busch, it’d be easy to assume that Tony Stewart simply lied to Ryan Newman about the 2014 plan of SHR.

If you’re Kyle Petty, that’s exactly what you did:

“I was pretty disappointed to hear Kyle Petty say that we basically lied to Ryan and deceived Ryan,” Stewart said. “Deceived was the word that he used actually. They said we deceived him … in doing this.”

Why would Kyle Petty say such things? It’s pretty obvious that Stewart had no idea that Gene Haas was going go all “lone cowboy” and buy a fourth team for the 2014 season.

If Kyle Petty had bothered to talk to people involved, or even read one of the Gene Haas press interviews (see our report), he wouldn’t make such ridiculous statements.

But then, he is Kyle Petty. Wrong about Danica Patrick, wrong about Denny Hamlin, wrong about Stewart-Hass. Which other of the 40-odd teams and drivers will he be wrong about next? My guess is all of them.

Burton out at RCR in 2014, more updates

Announced today, Jeff Burton will not be back in the 31 car for 2014. That leaves Richard Childress with one announced driver for 2014 – Paul Menard in the 27.

“We have been working hard to try and get all the funding in place to have four Sprint Cup teams in 2014,” Childress said. “With the date on the calendar getting closer to 2014, we just couldn’t run partially funded teams next year. Knowing what Jeff’s plans were in 2015, he and I worked out an agreement for him to step out of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet after this season.”

So, speculation is that Austin Dillon will be filling the vacated 29 car (and changing numbers to #3), and Ryan Newman will fill the 31, with Caterpillar still staying with Childress.

Also of note, Caterpillar is a partial season sponsor, and Ryan Newman brings Quicken Loans with him as a second partial season sponsor – could be a good match.

Silly Season updates

Vickers to the #55 at MWR
Kurt Busch to the #00 at SHR
Kyle Larson to the #42 at EGR
UPDATE
AJ Allmendinger to the #47 for 2014

Newman to… RCR fourth car? Or the #78

That’s what I’m betting on. He could also take the 78, but I think RCR has wanted to go to 4 cars and Newman would fit in over there.

Austin Dillon I’m guessing will also be driving the #3 at RCR.

Montoya to Andretti racing in IRL.

So that leaves the 78, 51, 47, and a potential 3rd Penske car up for grabs.

Wild Ass Guesses

Sam Hornish to the #12? Probably not. Penkse hasn’t been in the rumor mill about expanding to 3 competitive cars next year.

Mark Martin to the #78? Not sure they want two part time drivers. More likely Newman if he’s willing, and not in an RCR car.

Regan Smith to the #51?