It’s Daytona Time!

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(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

If it is February, then it is Daytona time!

As qualifying gets under way for the 2010 Daytona 500, the thoughts of my first visit to “The Great American Race”, back in 2003, run through my head.

As I approached the Daytona International Speedway on International Blvd. on that Saturday morning  before the, then, Busch Series race, goose bumps popped up from my neck to my finger tips!  I was actually at Daytona!  The thoughts of 45 years of stock car racing history at this track was most overwhelming!  I could sense the spirits of all those stock car legends from NASCAR’s past.

Some of those legends from NASCAR’s bygone era are the likes of The Flock brothers, Buck and Buddy Baker, Coo Coo Marlin, Fireball Roberts, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Bobby and Donnie Allison, A.J. Foyt, Lee and Richard Petty, Tim “Hollywood” Richmond, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., and Junior Johnson, just to name a few!  The atmosphere was, and for that matter still is, very electric!

I was finally at the Daytona International Speedway, a place where racing legends live on forever!  I was there where “The King” Richard Petty won his 200th and final victory.  I was at the  place where a President, Ronald Reagan, crowned a King, Richard Petty, after that 200th victory!  It was indeed overwhelming, but I was determined to let that moment wash all over me……for I knew that it was a special occasion.

For that Saturday Busch Series race, we purchased seats over on the back straight in the Super Stretch seats.  The seats were really pretty good for a last minute purchase, and the view of the spacious racing facilities was spectacular!

One of the highlights of this trip to Daytona, being a member of JUNIOR NATION, was when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the Busch Series race in the #8 DEI Chevy.  (After that race, Martin Truex, Jr. took over the ride and eventually won his first Series championship that year!)

The Daytona 500 on Sunday was electrically thrilling, simply put.  Although it was rain shortened, it was still the Daytona 500. It was the second Daytona 500 victory for the  DEI #15 NAPA Chevy driven by Michael Waltrip.  The victory celebration by Waltrip however was a far cry from the subdued celebration in 2001.  That year Waltrip won his first Daytona 500, it was his first “points race” victory, and his first race for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.!  2001 was also the year that his boss, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. lost his life in a last lap turn #3 crash, and the loss was extremely dramatic for the entire auto racing world!

Nevertheless, this was 2003, I was at Daytona, it was exciting, and I will remember that day forever!

So, race fans, it is February and it is definitely Daytona time.

Let’s go racin’ boys!


The Fireworks Are Coming!!

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(photo by Leon Hammack)

Nearly halftime at NASCAR as the boys visit Daytona for the second time this season.  For my analysis of the first half of this season join me at:

This is the third of the four “wild card” races for our fantasy league.  These 160 laps Saturday night under the lights will be just one big “Saturday Night Shootout”!! The double file restarts will also add to the excitement of the pack of 43 bumble bees swarming around the 2 1/2 high banks of Daytona!

The 13 of us have picked 8 different drivers to win, that means there just might be some shifting in the standings when the night is over and the fireworks have subsided.  In light of his lack of performance this season, Dale, Jr. is longer the overwhelming favorite of the fantasy league to win at Daytona.  However, he is still one of the favorites picked  by 3 have picked to win the 2009 Coke Zero 400.  The other favorite, picked by 3 as well, is none other thanTLVW (ol Kylie).

So Saturday night it will be time to light the candle. twist the wick, press the loud pedal, pull the belts tight, and let the big dog eat!!!

McGrew to lead the #88 HMS Chevy

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(photo by Leon Hammack)


Hendrick Motorsports today announced that Lance McGrew will be the interim crew chief for the #88 AMP/National Guard Chevy beginning with the June 7th race at Pocono Raceway.  Team manager Brian Whitesell will lead the team this weekend at Dover.

“Our performance hasn’t been where it should be,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports.  “It is impossible to pin that on any one factor, but a change is the right decision at this point”. (HMS PR)

Both Brian Whitesell and Rex Stump, Hendrick Motorsports lead chassis engineer, have been assigned to support McGrew on a full time basis.  Whitesell won two of seven races in 1999 as Jeff Gordon’s interim crew chief, will join McGrew and team manager Tom Stewart on the #88 pit box this week.

Lance McGrew was Brian Vickers’ crew chief when they won the 2003 Nationwide Series title.  He also was Vickers’ crew chief when Vickers logged his only Cup victory for HMS in the #5 Kelloggs Chevy at Talladega.  McGrew also was Brad Keselowski’s crew chief  when he won Talladega a few weeks ago in the #09 James Finch Chevy.  As a crew chief, McGrew has logged victories in all three upper tier NASCAR series.  He has won races with drivers Vickers, Ricky Hendrick, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Kyle Busch, and Tony Stewart.

As a side note, Tony Eury, Jr. will move into a key role in the Hendrick Motorsports research and development group.


What is your take on this development? 

Will this be the needed fix for the #88’s lackluster season, or is there more to the puzzle than meets the eye?

Flying High??


We are approaching the one quarter point of the 2009 season and some teams are flying high, and some are still in the holding pattern waiting for their approach clearance!! 

It is no surprise that two of Hendrick Motorsports teams are first and second in the standings.  The teams of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have performed up to their early season’s expectations.  The #24 Dupont Chevy finally broke their winless streak of 47 races by winning at Texas!  Even without that victory, Jeff Gordon has been finishing in the top 5 ,week in and week out, in the early part of the 2009 season.  The Lowe’s # 48 Chevy is just now starting to hit on all 8 cylinders, hey look out they are coming on strong!! 

The two Joe Gibbs Racing cars, #11 FedEx Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin and the #18 M&M’s Toyota driven by TLVW, aka ol Kylie Busch are steadily plotting their course pointing towards the front, as well.

Two of “The Roushcateers” are holding up their end for the Ford’s.  The #99 Scott’s Ford piloted by “Cousin” Carl Edwards has been very consitent in scoring top 10 finishes so far this season.  The #17 DeWalt Ford Fusion of Matt Kenseth also has been a force.  After Kenseth’s red-hot start of back-to-back victories, he has settled down into a steady performer.

There are a couple of suprises at this juncture of the season.  The #14 Stewart-Haas Chevy  driven by Tony Stewart, aka “THE SMOKER” is sitting in 5th place in the satndings!  Even though it is THE SMOKER  driving this car, it is a new team in essence!  This reporter didn’t figure this team “to be in hunt” at  all this season!

Additionally, there is great surprise that the Richard Childress Racing #33 General Mills Chevy driven by Clint Bowyer, is anywhere near the top of the standings!!  This team is truly a brand new, startup team!! 

Still another surprise, as compared to where he finished last year, is the Penske Racing #2 Miller Lite Dodge of Ears Laid Back, aka Kurt Busch.

The Michael Waltrip Racing #00 Aaron’s Dream Machine piloted by David Reutimann has come from nowhere to  land firmly in 11th place.  That is quite a leap from last years position of thirty-something!!

Missing from the top twelve is the most popular driver of NASCAR, none other than Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  What is happening to the Hendrick Motorsports #88 AMP/Natonal Guard Chevy???  What seems to be going on with that team?  Does anybody have a clue??

For those teams “flying high”, they really must stay focused knowing that they have a target drawn on their backs by the teams stuck in that holding pattern I alluded to in the beginning of this article.  For those teams still in the holding pattern, it is time to exit the holding pattern and make that perfect landing beginning at Phoenix this weekend!!  They can not afford to stall out now! 

As always it is time to tie the picture together with the article.  If you haven’t figured it out, the F-15 Eagle “is flying high”!  The picture was taken at the March race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  For those of you who have never been to LVMS, the track is located about a mile to the northwest of Nellis AFB.  So while you are at LVMS, you get a great air show from all the fighters that transit through the air base.   Also, the USAF Thunderbirds precision demonstration team winters there, too.  So you also get a glimpse of the boys doing their practice show in preparation for their annul tour!! 

We live in fame and die in flame!!!   GO USAF!!!!




The  former DEI #8, now EGR#8  Chevy is off the track most likely for good!! The team has laid off 40-50 personnel.  The latest news out from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is that the #8 EGR Chevy is without sponsorship, and therefore they suspended the operations for that team!  This was once the “hallmark” team of DEI!!!!  The #8 was the pride of a “BIG E”!!!  The #8 held special meaning to the Earnhardt family.  That was the number that Ralph Earnhardt, Dale Sr’s father, raced for many years and won a championship.  The #8 team was what Dale Earnhardt, Sr. built DEI all around.  This team was going to be his (Dale , Sr.’s) centerpiece for Dale Earnhardt Inc.!!!!  Now it is just a memory!!

It appears that DEI is crumbling into ruins, kind of like the Roman Empire did mor than a thousand years ago!!!  The reasons behind this failure belong to just one person, Mrs.Theresa Earnhardt.  First Theresa refused to come up with a new contract to keep Dale, Jr. racing for DEI in the #8 Budweiser Chevy.  Because of that decision, the next domino fell really fast and very hard.  Budweiser left DEI and took their HUGE dollars over to the #9 GEM Dodge.  That deal alone caused DEI  a huge financial hardship, which will be shown to be the pivotal decision in the ultimate collapse of DEI!!!  It is this reporter’s opinion that Theresa Earnhardt has made some really incredibly stupid decisions since her late husbands untimely death!!  But by far the biggest blunder of all was allowing her stepson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to walk away from the empire that Dale, Sr. had built!!!  Because once Jr. walked away from DEI, the dominoes just started to fall sequentially and nothing could be done to stop the uncontrolled fall in the abyss!!!

There are many rumors in the mill around the garage area related to this story.  One is that because of the #8 operations being suspended, that might allow Martin Truex, Jr. to become a free agent soon.  If that happens, what will become of the EGR #42 team?  Ultimately, what is that organization’s long term future in NASCAR anyway?


What is your take on this news???


Martinsville….Johnson Hitting His Stride??

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It appears that the Hendrick Motorosports #48 Lowe’s Chevy is finding its stride a little earlier than they did last year!  Although the FedEx #11 led the most laps at Martinsville, he did not lead the one that pays the money- the final lap!!  With the #48 Lowes Chevy getting on track this early, that can only spell TROUBLE  for the rest of the field for 2009.  This was Johnson’s 6th win at Martinsville in 14 starts, his first victory of 2009, and his 41st victory in 261 total starts in Cup.  In fact, Johnson has won 5 of his last 6 starts at Martinsville!  That is a sign of dominance!

This victory by Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports celebrates the 25th anniversay of HMS first win at Martinsville with the #5 with Geoff Bodine at the wheel in 1984.  Back then Hendrick Motorsports was called All-Star Racing and was a new start-up racing venture by  the very young Rick Hendrick and his dad, Papa Joe!!  Since those early days of 1984, HMS has been a force to be reckoned with!!  Rick Hendrick has employed drivers like Geoff Bodine, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin!! 

 Since those early days of 1984 All-Star Racing has gone though some dynamic changes.What started out as a racing venture of 5 employees and a rented work space of 5,000 square feet, HMS has grown into a business of 500 employees on a campus of over 500 acres!!!  Along the way in those 25 years, HMS has accumulated 12 championships, eight (8)  of them at the Cup level!!  Included in those 12 championships are 175 victories, QUITE IMPRESSIVE!!!



Last year this reporter was one of those naysayers when it came to Jimmie Johnson’s chances of winning three Cup Championships in a row, OOPS!!  Again this reporter is a naysayer on the #48 Lowe’s Chevy chances of wininning a fourth championship in a row.  Having made the above staement, this reporter will admit that the #48 Lowe’s chevy team is already flexing its collective muscle in 2009. 

Here are the reasons that are against Johnson winning a fourth championship in a row: 

Reason number one is that it has NEVER been accompolished in the  60 years of NASCAR history.  That in itself is a huge uphill battle!  There is a teammate by the name of Jeff Gordon that is HUNGRY to win  his 5th championship of his career.  Also Johnson has two other teammates that have the desire and the ability to scoop of the championship out from under his grasp,  the #5 Kelloggs Chevy of Mark Martin and of course the rock star of NASCAR, the #88 AMP/National Guard Chevy of Dale Earnhardt,Jr.  To say that Hendrick Motorsports has a very strong team this year is a huge understatement!!

Now if those reasons were not enough, try on a couple of the Rousch-Fenway teams for size.  First and foremost is the #99 Scotts Ford of Carl Edwards.  Last year had he not caused the huge pile-up at Talladega and had just one engine failure (DNF), he would have been the 2009 Sprint Cup Champion.  Never count out the #17 Dewalt Ford of Matt Kenseth. He seems to go thoughout the season flying under the radar, and suddenly as the Chase unfolds……here’s Matt!!!

Still there might be a couple of “sleeping underdogs” to watch out for this season!  Can the #14 Office Depot Chevy of Tony Stewart be a contender in his newly merged organization, Stewart-Haas Racing?  How ’bout the #14 FedEx Toyota of Denyy Hamlin, is he hungry enough? 

But the biggest question of all is the #18 JGR M&M’s Toyota of Kyle Busch!!!  We know that he can win and dominate races! But can the team win the BIG ONES in the Chase?????  Is the pressure to much for TLVW  to handle at 23 years old???  LAST YEAR THEY FOLDED UNDER THE PRESSURE!!!!!!!

Your comments on these subjects are invited, no in fact they are encouraged!!!  Log in on these questions, let this reporter know what you are thinking!



The Chase Begins




1.  JIMMIE JOHNSON  WINS AT RICHMOND: ( jayski Richmond results)









The first 26 races have been ran and the contenders for the Chase are set in stone!!!  The scores have been adjusted for the winning bonus points and the REAL race is about to begin!!  From the outside looking in, one might view this championship as a three horse race between TLVW, aka Kylie Busch, Jimmie Johnson, and Cousin Carl, aka Carl Edwards.  But don’t be fooled, my friends, there are TWELVE capable teams that can take this championship home!! 


There was much hype and anticipation before the season started about the Henrick Motorsports Dale Jr. #88 AMP/NATIONAL GUARD/MOUNTAIN DEW team!  They quickly came out of the box and won the first two races at Speedweeks in Daytona.  They were very consistant in their finishes through the first 20 races.  Although they only won one race, they were a top 5 team and every week.  However since that win at Michigan, the #88 team has experienced some bad finishes resulting from some bad decisions.  Does the #88 team have what it takes to wrestle the top spot away and take the trophy home after Homestead????


The Joe Gibbs Home Depot #20 is lurking back in eighth place and has had a VERY sub-par year!!  They have yet to post a victory this season!  That team was a dominating team in the very early part of the season leading lots of laps, but couldn’t close the deal and bring a win home.  Has the magic vanished with Zippy and THE SMOKER, aka Tony Stewart?????  Can they gather it up and “win one for the Gipper”?????


What about the #24 Dupont Chevy????  They too have fallen on hard times!!!  They have not been to the winners circle in 2008.  Does La Tarte and Gordon have anything for the three horse team at the top?? 


Well these and many more questions are about to be answered in the next ten races, my friends!!  This is where the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders!!  This is where you see the talent and desire come together to lead them to their goal…………The Sprint Cup Trophy!!!!  


As the picture above shows, the sun is starting to set in the West.  It is time to dig down deep and see if you got anything for the leaders!  The  twelve race teams in the Chase have got to go to the front NOW, if they can!!!  After twenty- six weeks of the week in and week out grind of BIG TIME RACIN’, this is where we see which team has what it takes to get it done!!  Will the Joe Gibbs #18 Toyota prevail?  Can the #48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy continue to add to their momentum?  Can the #99 Office Depot Ford continue in their winning ways?  Or will a spoiler like the #88 AMP/National Guard/ Mountain Dew Chevy driven by JR be the Sprint Cup Champion??  Could a really long shot get hot and steal the championship away from the favorites??? 

 These questions and many more are about to be answered in the next ten weeks!!

So pull those belts tight, make sure that the steering wheel is on straight, getcha four fresh Goodyears, a full tank of that Sunoco fuel, step on the loud pedal, let the big dawg eat, AND LET’S GO RACIN’ BOYS!!!!