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

Truex to the 78, officially

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

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.

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?

Get your TeeSpring Schmak Shirt here!

We just launched a t-shirt campaign on teespring.com.

Get ’em while you still can!

Also, for folks located in or around the Southern California central coast area, we will be hosting a pickup party (most likely Sunday September 15th).

Teespring shirt 8 2013

Notes from New Hampshire

The Modifieds

I saw about half of the Modified race on Saturday, and the half I saw was great. Pushing, bumping, trading the lead every 2 or 3 laps, good cars going to the front but not running away from the field – it was pretty much everything you want in a race. I only wish I knew the drivers better, so that each move would have had more significance in my mind. Anyway, they were awesome.

I actually caught this race by accident, as I was at the track to see if I could get Keselowski to sign my Track Schmak shirt (he was the only driver that I knew was signing autographs). Anyway, I forgot that you have to buy tickets to get stuff autographed, and you had to get them at 8 am or something stupid like that. So no schmak autograph. But still there was “Schmak at the Track!”

Photo

The Nationwide Race

Terrible. Horrible. Easily the worst race I’ve ever seen in person. Kyle Busch dominated, got sent back by pit strategy or a mistake or something, spent 50 laps coming back to the front. Brian Vickers held him off for a while, but as soon as Busch got past, it was over. The only redeeming thing about the race was the caution with 2 to go, which lead to 3 Green-White-Checker attempts. 2 out of the 3 restarts, Kyle Busch got away easily. The second restart, Vickers kept up until entering turn 1. Then it was over.

I’ll have some more thoughts on how to improve the Nationwide racing on this week’s schmak (due out on Thursday-ish), but for now, that series is just hurting. Very little racing anywhere in the pack.

The Cup Race

I thought it was a great race. Of course, it had to be the hottest day in Loudon so far that week, and I got roasted in the stands. Note – I need to bring a neck towel and ice next time. No sunburn, but just a nice good old fashioned 4 hour roast in an oven.

There was some actual racing going on almost every lap, although track position was still king. Tony Stewart did not look like he had a top-5 capable car until he ended up in front. Likewise, Dale Jr. looked strong until bad pit strategy got him mired back.

Vickers – I was trying to follow him early, and he didn’t look that great. But once he got into 3rd position, his car started looking strong. From my vantage point, he was driving into the corner a little higher than Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart, and was driving with more intensity than either of them. Once he settled in a little and stopped over-driving the corner, his car started looking like a winning car.

The crowd also seemed to be rooting for him – when he passed Stewart, a cheer erupted. When he passed Busch for the lead, an even bigger cheer erupted. Leaving the track, I talked with some fans who said they felt good about Vickers winning, since he was an underdog and was back on a positive career path.

So it was a popular win.

Newman

In case you haven’t heard it, here is a link to Kyle Busch calling Newman a big ogre.

Ryan Newman had a so so day going, until about a lap before he was wrecked. He had stayed out to gain track position, and was on older tires on an already mediocre car, so he was kind of a road block. Kyle Busch kind of roughed him up when passing, so the next corner, Newman drove in deep trying to get back to Kyle Busch. Keselowski then took advantage and slid a little high off the corner while Newman chopped down. There was more contact, and Newman gave Keselowski a shot on the exit of the corner, causing Keselowski to almost spin. Then, 1 lap later, Kurt Busch just plain over drove the corner. I know the TV replay shows Kenseth hitting him or nearly hitting him, but from my angle, Kurt was already drifting up the track into Newman by the time Kenseth had anything to do with it.

You can read the whole war of words between Newman and Kyle Busch here.

Newman kind of proved Kyle Busch’s point, saying:

I’m sure if I rearrange his face I might fix it

and ended his statement with:

It seems like after his comment about me not having a ride it seems like he has way more to lose than I do.

Threats and retribution. Sounds like a frustrated ogre.

Overall Race Rating

This was one of the better Cup races I’ve seen in person. Good on ya’ NASCAR.

Danica Patrick

After our last Schmak in which we took Kyle Petty to task for saying that Danica is not a racer, I felt I had to follow her race a little more closely than normal. Most of the TV coverage provides superficial analysis (at best) of her racing, and while I’m glad it’s not the Danica-cam all-the-time style coverage that happened when she first entered the series, the current reporting doesn’t provide any depth at all.

By my observation, she is definitely racing. She passed two cars on the outside on the restart, and raced with the 7 car, 93 car, 83 car, and made passes. In particular, she raced the 83 of David Reutimann for 30 laps straight. She would get a run off of 2, run side by side down the backstretch, have to back off the entry of 3 in order to run side by side, and couldn’t get back to the gas quick enough to pass David. So she’d have to fall in line, stalk, diamond the corner to get a run off, run side by side, and then keep the car low while David chopped her on the exit.

She was frustrated on the radio, mildly cussing at Reutimann a few times when he diamonded the corner on the exit, but she never overdrove the car, never touched Reutimann (as far as I could see). She acknowledged that she needed to get better at keeping speed while trying to pass, but she was definitely trying, and definitely racing. Kyle Petty is dead wrong about her not being a racer.

USA today profiles Mark Martin

USA Today had a good article about Mark Martin, and the sport of NASCAR in general.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nascar/2013/07/02/mark-martin-daytona-nascar-sprint-cup/2484919/

At Darlington in ’83, I finished third and there were only three cars on the lead lap. Fans today would lose their minds if that happened!

Martin says TV deals “accelerated everything. That sent the sport through the roof, but we had to sell ourselves so strong that it created unrealistic expectations. We couldn’t deliver that strong all the time, and it was a vicious cycle: We had to outperform everything we’d done before.

Probably the most insightful quote of the article.

But then there’s this:

Martin, the ageless NASCAR driver

More like “aged”. Dude looks old.

Silly Season starting slowly

Hints and rumors of driver moves have picked up in recent weeks, and this article at sbnation takes a look at it.

Basically, it comes down to Newman and Kurt Busch swapping rides, and everyone else staying where they are, with Vickers taking over the 55 when Mark Martin finally fully retires.

It seems like there are a lot of moves that could (and perhaps should) be made, but not a lot of places to go.

Jason Leffler

Quotes from the frontstretch.com

Who knows why, but all of a sudden we’re starting to see drivers passing away again. Dan Wheldon is killed in the IndyCar season finale in 2011. Tyler Morr dies after a crash at Auburndale in May 2012. Jeff Osborn lost his life in May 2012 as well. Tyler Wolf passes away at Calistoga in October 2012.

Jason Leffler was a racer. He’d race a Cup car or a motorized scooter. Like any driver, he had an ego, but he was also one of the nicest guys you could meet in the garage. He wore his hair the same way for years because his sponsor Great Clips wanted him to. He had some good rides and he had some crappy rides. He took what he could get because he loved to race. He only had three wins in the national touring series of NASCAR but he always ran like a sprint car driver, wide open and on the edge.

Jason Leffler is a sad reminder that racing will always be dangerous despite our best efforts. See the fans that were injured this year at Daytona and Charlotte.

Leffler can also serve as a reminder to be the best person you can be right now, because you don’t always get to chose your legacy.

Party Pooper in the Poconos

It’s here!

Almost two days earlier than last week.

A pretty boring race, but TNT made it somewhat bearable.

Picks for next week:

Coach: Dale Jr.
Rob: Greg Biffle.

Keselowski’s team fined points and $, just like we thought

Kesleowski’s #2 Ford was found to be too low in post-race inspection, reportedly from a part that broke. Penske had already said that he would not appeal the penalty.

From jayski.com:

As a result of this violation, crew chief Paul Wolfe has been fined $25,000 and will remain on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. The team has also been docked six championship driver (Brad Keselowski) and six championship car owner (Roger Penske) points.

And as noted in our previously-recorded-but-not-yet-editied podcast, this was the exact same penalty applied to Martin Truex Jr.’s team earlier this year for the same violation.

Score one for NASCAR consistency. The scoreboard is something like 15 to 83643 (consistency vs. rule-of-the-moment), but at least it is something.

F1 cars – they just look weird

This is what we were talking about in the last podcast – the nose of the F1 cars.

From the side, it looks like a mustachioed race car:

F1_redbull_side

And from the front, it looks like a hungry whale:

F1 front

Just, meh.

F1 front

Raceview – price now reduced! Still not buying it.

My thoughts on NASCAR’s “screens other than a TV must all cost different amounts” policy can be found here.

Today’s follow up concerns the price of the Raceview PC version, which NASCAR is advertising as a “reduced price” from the original $79.95 to $44.95 for the season. Looks like they’re not getting the subscribers they want.

Here’s what you (NASCAR) need to do:

  • Unify raceview & nascar mobile (I still don’t know what the difference is except for the computer generated track in raceview).
  • Set one price for access to all the versions (PC version, iPhone version, Android version, iPad version, etc…).
  • Set a simple monthly subscription price (like $5 – $10), or just charge $40 or $50 for the year, or do both (maybe only allow the full year purchase in the first month of the season).

But, judging from the amorphous bag of poop that is the NASCAR.com website, I highly doubt they have the technical chops to pull this one off.

Grumble.

All-Star Schmak Showdown Schmegegge

We schmak the showdown, the All-star race, and posit some opinions about how to improve this next year (hint – it’s not switching venues to Las Vegas).

Picks for the 600:

Coach: Kasey Kahne (again)

Rob: Jimmie Johnson

Insta-follow up (i.e., Coach was wrong)

I made a mistake and referenced “Humpy’s Big Bonus” in the last podcast because Humpy Wheeler has, in the past, been known for his publicity work for the Charlotte Motor Speedway. However, he retired a few years ago, and the $1 million bonus for the driver that wins all 5 segments should be called “Bruton’s Big Bonus”.

Wrong way joystick cranking at Darlington

Join us for our 82nd(!) episode of the schmak.

Lots of awesome schmak silliness, including the gyro cam sham, Darlington’s boring opening laps, the racing that broke out near the end, and a fantastic preview of the All-Star race next week. Do you have a question about the All-Star format? Eligibility for the race? It’s all here in the latest schmak.

Picks for the Sprint Open race:

Coach: Jamie McMurray
Rob: Martin Truex Jr.

Picks for the All-Star race:

Coach: Kasey Kahne
Rob: Clint Bowyer

Live Schmak – Wednesday at 6:45

We will be doing a live schmak on Wednesday, 6:45 pm Pacific Time.

Join us here: http://70.185.182.78:8000/listen.m3u

The url will be live at 6:45 pm on Wednesday.

Weird Stuff in Richmond

This week, we schmak all things Richmond.

Penalties, tires, sprinkler malfunctions, it’s all here in the weekly Schmak of record.

Picks for next week at Talladega:

Coach: Dale Jr.

Rob: Cousin Carl Edwards

Penalties Part IV

So, it looks like NASCAR is going the Carl Long route with Kenseth’s penalties – 50 points, $200,000, and suspension of the owner’s license and crew chief for the 20 car for the next 6 weeks.

Note – suspension of owner’s license means that the 20 car will not receive owner’s points for the next 6 points races.

This seems to be confirmation of a new era of consistency for NASCAR as far as penalties go.

Mechanical issue causing post race inspection fail? 6 points, $25,000 fine.

Attempt to cheat or use illegal parts (engine excluded)? 25 points, $100,000 fine.

Something wrong with the engine? 50 points, $200,000 fine.

So even though I’m not a fan of the Penske “not in the spirit of the rules” infraction, I do applaud NASCAR for trying to set a consistent precedent for fines and penalties.

Now it’s up to the crew chiefs and car owners to determine if the penalties outweigh the possible benefits of “gray area” performance gains.

“Worshing” away the penalties at Kansas.

This week, on our Kansas 1 schmak, we discuss the new road course qualifying format, post-Texas penalties, Danica running a little bit better, and more… lots… more.

Picks for next week:

Coach: Kasey Kahne

Rob: Kyle Busch