The Right Stuff!!










7.   NASCAR BANS ALL TESTING IN 2009: (winstonsalemjournal)



The 2008 NASCAR racing season has come to close.  The running of the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Raceway has ended with excitement and a place in the record books of NASCAR.  The winner of the race, Carl Edwards, won it in a dominating fashion, however that was only one half of the story.  Edwards attained his ninth win of the season, the most of any driver this year.  He also led the most laps enroute to the win.  Unfortunately, “Cousin Carl” couldn’t overcome the 141 point disadvantage in this last race.  He did, however cut a significant amount of points off from Jimmie Jonhson’s lead!  Edward’s surge over the last four races was short of a miracle in the NASCAR ranks!!


The real story of the weekend was Jimmie Johson’s third consecutive championship!.  That feat had only been accompolished once in NASCAR’s 60 year history.  Johnson got himself in the history books along side Cale Yarborough as the only other driver to score three championships in a row.  The consecutive championships won by these two individuals were exactly 30 years apart!!



At last, you say, I can finally figure out the title, the picture, and their relationship to NASCAR!!  Well let me tie them together anyway for you.   A few years ago Tom Wolfe wrote a book titled “The Right Stuff”.  It was a book chronicaling the beginnings of supersonic flight in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the brave adventerous pioneering pilots involved, and the teamwork that it took to overcome the dauting tasks that was before them.  There were heros, rivalries, brilliant people, and hard partiers, but the common theme was TEAMWORK!!  Everyone would sacrifice whatever it took to accompolish the goals given them.  You might remember or recognize some of those men, Chuck Yeager, Scott Crossfield, Bob Hoover, Neil Armstrong, John Glen, Buzz Aldrin, Deke Slayton, and James Lovell just to mention a few names.  They all hold their place in aviation history.


Racing has its men that have “The Right Stuff” also.  Try on a few of these names on for size, Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Fireball Roberts, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Marvin Paunch, Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons, Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Darrell Waltrip, and last but not forgotten Dale Earnhardt, Sr (in the staute above).  These men were just some of the brave pioneers of NASCAR.  They, too, were heros, rivals, hard partiers, and yes they were brilliant in their own way!  They were focused on accompolishing the dauting tasks of winning races and being better than their competitors day in and day out!  They realized that it took TEAMWORK to succeed!!! 


 Well add one more name to the history books.  What Jimmie Johnson and the #48 Lowes HMS Chevy accompolished in the last three years has cemented their place in the NASCAR history books!!  That whole team sacrificed everything to be the best when the going got tough!!  Winning three consecutive championships put them in the same sentence as Cale Yarborough.  Until Sunday there was only one driver and team that could lay claim to three championships in a row. 


Rain, Fuel, and Pocono


Story lines:

1.  Pocono History :

2.  Track Design:

3.  Fuel Strategy:

5.  Newman says he has made his decision.

6.  Reflections on Indy:

7.  Crunch time for the Chase:


Pocono is the last race track to be independently owned.  The track was the idea of Drs. Joe amd Rose Mattioli of the Philadelphia area.  Back in 1952 Joe and Rose met at Temple University. Joe was going through Dental School and Rose later became a Podiatrist.  In 1960 they purchased some land in the Pocono Mountains of Pa. with the thought of bringing racing to the New York-Philadelphia area. 

The first track was a 3/4 mile track on site, but by 1971 the track was rebuilt to be a 2 1/2 mile tri-oval.  The track was designed by former Indy 500 winner, Roger Ward.  There a three very distinctive turns and the longest straight way on the NASCAR circuit.  Turn #1 is modeled after the now defunct Trenton Speedway in NJ with a banking of 14 degrees, the Champ Cars used to race there in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.  Turn #2 is modeled after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a banking of 9 degrees.  And finally, turn #3 is modeled after The Milwaukee Mile with  banking of 6 degrees.

Notable NASCAR firsts at Pocono:

1.  Richard Petty wins inaugural race in 1974.

2  1986, Tim Richmond wins after recovering from an early crash to beat Ricky Rudd and Geoff Bodine in a photo finish.

3.  1988, Bobby Allison suffers a career ending injury in a first lap crash getting T-boned by by #63 Jocko Maggiacomb.

4.  1999, Bobby Labonte sweeps both races.

5.  2000, Jeremy Mayfield knocks the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr. out of the way to win the race. 

6.  2006, Rookie Denny Hamlin sweeps both races.


Once again rain played an integral part of the race weekend.  Qualifying was completed on Friday, but Saturday’s practice was completely washed out.  So when the race started, it was the first time that the drivers were in the cars since Friday afternoon.  The drivers made it all the way to the tunnel turn, turn# 2, before there was a wreck!!  Joe Nemechek got under and into Kevin Harvick turning both of the cars around.  Fortunately, nobody got in the retaining wall.  This reporter will admit that ol “Happy ” Harvick really got “up on the wheel” and kept it off the wall!!  It looked a liitle like the race a few weeks ago at “Smoke”‘s track in Ohio where they were sideways slinging dirt everywhere!!!  That race was the Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway that many Cup drivers participated to raise money for The Victory Junction Gang Camp.


The race was relatively incident free except for when Menard tangled with Nemechek about mid-race.  Shortly thereafter with 69 laps to go, the rains came.  The rain mainly fell back on the tunnel turn, but NASCAR threw the Red Flag. The delay was fairly short and the NASCAR officials got the track dried and the race was restarted. 


Now the crew chiefs had to formulate their fuel strategy.  Could they make it on one more stop or do they have to make two???  The calculators were a smokin’, the tension and excitement was escalating!  As the laps were winding down there was many strategies that were unfolding.  Some teams waited til their pit window opened up, some short pitted, and some were rolling the dice staying out to the end!  Which strategy would be the winning one?


Carl Edwards’ crew chief elected to keep him out, hoping that they had enough fuel to go to the end.  It worked!!!  Edwards held off the rest of the field.  A few of the competitors, Dale Jr. included ran out of fuel coming off turn 4.  A slight miscalculation that caused them eight places in the finish!  Remember that I said that Harvick was involved in the first lap spin, he came all the way back and finished fourth today!!


With just five races left until the Chase begins, the drivers and the the teams are feeling the pressure.  It is crunch time!  For those on the outside, it is time to make your move to the front!  For those in positions 6-12, you have to solidify your efforts and your position in the standings.  Consistency is key to making The Chase!


Finally, both NASCAR and Goodyear have publically apologized to the fans and the race teams for really missing the tire setup last week at Indy.  It is this reporter’s opinion that, in this day and age of technology, it is almost impossible to think that the tire compound was so far off!!!  With all the research that was done prior to emplementing the new car, both agencies should have known the characteristics of the car and the associated tire wear tendencies.


You didn’t have to look it up, ’cause I aready did!!!!!