The Rain Reins Supreme!

2009 Daytona 500 146 

(photo by Leon Hammack)

NASCAR had a long and very contentious bout with the rains this weekend and lost!  The Coca Cola 600, NASCAR’s longest race of the year, was washed out on its traditional starting day of the Sunday.  Not a problem, they just delayed the start of the race to Monday at noon.

So the much anticipated running of the 50th Coca Cola 600was turning into a marathon event, rather than a 600 mile NASCAR  race!  As the start time was approaching on Monday, the forecast was for more rain showers off and on all day long.  That is exactly what happened!!

With several stops for rain showers, the last rain shower occurred on lap 222 and the yellow flag was unfurled.  The 13 lead cars all ducked into the pits in preparation for the race returning to green flag racing soon.  David Reutimannin the #00 Michael Waltrip Toyota was running 14th and decided to stay on the track in hopes that the rain would not let up for the remainder of the evening.  After running 5 laps under the yellow flag the race was halted with David Reutimann in the lead.  The rain continued to came in waves and never really allowed the track officials to get the track in racing condition.

After more than 2 hours in the final rain delay,and the race was past the halfway point,  NASCAR officials called the race official at lap 227.  David Reutimann and the #00 Michael Wlatrip Racing  Toyota were first time winners at the Cup level!  So now Reutimann’s new found nickname “The Franchise” has been fulfilled!!


Memorial Weekend is jammed packed with activities every year.  It is the official start of the summer.  It has the two greatest car races of the season, The Indianapolis 500 and The Coca Cola 600.  But there is so much more to it than that.  It is about honoring our servicemen and women!  Monday NASCAR really showed respect to our military yesterday!

At just before 3pm EDT, NASCAR threw the yellow flag followed by a red flag to stop the race.  The race officials decided to bring the race cars down pit lane, stop the race, shutdown the motors, and get all the crewmen lined up.  By doing this the entire racetrack population stood and honored our military personnel who are serving our country. More importantly, the race fans paid their respect to those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom! 

After all Memorial Day was established to pay tribute to and honor those who have allowed all of us to do, whatever it is that we do, without fear of retribution!  It is all of the G.I.’s, both past and present, that are wearing and have worn “THE UNIFORM”, that are the true heroes of this country.  It is this writer’s opinion that we should be eternally grateful everyday of the year for what these fine men and women do for us, not just on Memorial Day!

USAF– “We live in fame and die in flame!”

USMC-“Sempre Fi”


USN-“Anchors Aweigh”

You are the true heroes!!!  God bless you all!!!

The Glen


The Story Lines:

1.  Ol Kylie wins yet another race!

2.  Big crash causes a 45 minute Red Flag:

3.  Possible date swaps between Calif., Atlanta, and Talladega:  

4.  Newman’s plans will be announced Friday:

5.  Logano to make Cup debut at Richmond: 

6. Rain washes out qualifying again:

NASCAR visited the beautiful surroundings of Watkins Glen, N.Y., located in the finger lakes region of western ( upstate) New York.  The track was the former home of the U. S. Grand Prix ( Formula One Racing).   This is the second race of the season on a road course for NASCAR.  The differences between Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen are  many.  Watkins Glen is a higher speed road course with only a little elevation change, and RAIN!!!  The track is a few feet wider and that does allow for a bit more passing than Infineon Raceway.


Road courses offer a different strategy in racing.  Instead of calculating how far you can go in a fuel run, road couses dictate that you work backwards.  These two races, Infineon and Watkins Glen, are shorter in duration, typically 200 miles.  So as a crew chief you work backwards from the last lap and schedule your pit stops at the first opportunity that will alllow you to get to the end on fuel and tires!!  Having that information will make you understand just how easy it is to make a mistake in your pit strategy!  Therein lies what Tony Eury, Jr. had to deal with during the race Sunday.  He kept Dale Jr. out too long and that strategy totally backfired on the #88 crew chief!!


Road courses are not known for huge crashes.  However, Sunday there was a big crash with ten laps to go that caused a 45 minute Red Flag delay.  Coming out of turn 11 Michael McDowell ran David Gillilland out wide and into the fence.  Gillilland hit the fence and bounced back out on the track right in front of Bobby LaBonte.  Labonte T-boned Gilliland and the whole race track got cluttered with trashed out cars.  Forty-five minutes later the  race was restarted and TLVW, aka ol Kylie Busch, was leading the race.  Once again nobody had any thing for TLVW and he posted his eighth win in Cup this year!! 


 Just remember, last year Jeff Gordon ran away with the points lead but was unable to close the deal with the championship.  So don’t be too quick to give the championship to Mr. Las Vegas Weasel yet!!!!

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!!!!!