WFO Radio Show Archives

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On Fire!

Matt Kenseth is on Fire! It just goes to show how the Cup series can works in cycles. After a tough year in 2008, Matt Kenseth has started 2009 in style holding off Jeff Gordon for the win at Auto Club Speedway. The win made it two for two for rookie crew chief Drew Blickensderfer. According to the well-known George Costanza rule, he should retire (“I’m outta here”). While Blickensderfer has no actual plans to retire with a perfect win percentage in the Cup series, his early success shows how important good chemistry can be. Is Matt Kenseth driving any harder in 09? I doubt it. This success is the product of solid off season work at Roush racing; add a little good racing luck and you’ve got yourself two in row. With the win, Kenseth becomes one of five drivers to win the first two races of the season. Kenseth’s resume now boasts a championship, a Daytona 500 win, the 2000 Rookie of the Year and an obscure statistic placing him with NASCAR’s elite, plus, one Go-Karting loss to a South Florida media personality. Sorry, Matt, but I’m going to ride this wave, forever.

Rivalry? What Rivalry?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had another tough day. This time it was due to a bad batch of valve train parts. It’s a wonder that this doesn’t happen more often. Regardless, Dale Jr. is now in a hole to start the most important season of his career. Currently 39th in points, one more bad finish and the top 35 talk will start. Dale Jr. did make some news with his brutally honest interview with Fox television’s Darrell Waltrip. Earnhardt acknowledged that he is misunderstood by many of the younger drivers out there. He even went on to say, “he couldn’t care less about 20% of the people that were caught in the big wreck at Daytona”. Who could he be talking about? Is this the resurfacing of the official Kyle Busch vs. Dale Jr. rivalry? Too bad the analysis we got following the interview was more about the fact that Dale Jr. “Is not afraid to be honest” and “Is not afraid to speak his mind” instead of talking about Earnhardt’s actual comments. In my opinion, Earnhardt’s comments should be taken as: “I don’t care that Kyle Busch was taken out in the wreck because he doesn’t know or respect me anyway.” Now that’s rivalry talk. Too bad the guys at Fox left it hanging in the wind.

It’s a sad day.

A racing icon is closing its doors. After 56 years Crane Cams is going out of business.

Crane made the first camshaft I ever installed. I can’t imagine motor sports without them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Daytona in the Rearview...

Each year, I look forward to the Daytona 500 with great anticipation. This year was no different. In fact, this year may have been more anticipated than some in the past because of issues with the economy. The result of the race, Matt Kenseth winning in a rain shortened event, was less than desirable when considering that NASCAR needed to start the season off with a bang. A bang, it was not. I do, however give all credit to Matt Kenseth for his success. Matt Kenseth is the 2009 Daytona 500 winner. There! I’ve said it. He will go into the history books and will forever be recognized as a driver who won the 500. Every race is different and this one happened to end early due to rain. I know some people would have liked NASCAR to wait and see if they could have dried the track but that is debatable. Matt is a deserving driver who made the right moves to get in position to win at the right time. Plus, now I can say that I’ve beaten the 2009 Daytona 500 winner, head to head, in a go kart race. No. I will not let that go.

Who to Blame

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had an eventful day. He missed his pit box, twice and was involved in the cause of the BIG ONE. It is interesting to hear what fans think about the Earnhardt/Vickers incident. I call it a racing deal under the current rules. Earnhardt had a huge run on Vickers and was able to get under him (a little). Vickers then blocked him into the infield grass. Is Earnhardt wrong for trying to pass? Is Vickers wrong for blocking? Earnhardt did lose control, momentarily, and hit the back of Vickers car, thus he will take most of the responsibility for this incident. I don’t believe that he did it on purpose, though. He was WFO and had a great run when he was blocked heavily. That is a tough situation and he lost it. Brian Vickers obviously felt differently about it, but how could he really know?

Yellow Lines

The real problem is, once again, with the yellow line rule. Drivers know that they can use the line to protect their position and as long as they get there first. They are, then, justified by the rules. That is why Vickers cranked the wheel so hard when he blocked Earnhardt. Todd Bodine was in a similar situation in the truck race. On Bodine’s first incident, he was penalized for going below the yellow line, the second time he wrecked someone. That seems to be the only choice for the trailing driver, put it on the yellow line and hold it WFO. If another driver tries to block you and wrecks himself and the whole field, that is his problem. Regan Smith would have benefited from making that choice at Talladega. Todd Bodine won his race.

California is this weekend, the true start of 2009. I’m setting the over/under on attendance at 60,000 people (I’d like your guess in the comment section). Can Kenseth make it two in a row? If so, my resume will keep getting better.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Chips Are Down...

During the build up to this year’s Daytona 500, I’ve sensed that something is different about 2009. I wonder if I’m the only one that feels it. There is an air of importance surrounding this NASCAR season that I haven’t felt before. Sure, there have been important years. 1998 was the 50th year of NASCAR; they had a huge hype machine set up with a huge media campaign. If 1998 had been boring or uneventful it would have reflected badly on the sport. Perhaps NASCAR wouldn’t have grown into what they are today. 1998 turned out to be a great year. Dale Earnhardt won his first and only Daytona 500 to start the season and Jeff Gordon won 13 races to tie a modern era record. The sports top two stars put on a show for the ages when the chips were down. The chips are down again, but this time things are different.

2009 may turn out to be the most important year in NASCAR history. With our country in deep recession and unemployment skyrocketing, people have less money to spend on entertainment. The entertainment they are paying for had better be good. If NASCAR has another ordinary year, it risks its own survival. The Bud Shootout was a good start to the season. It was an action packed race that set records for leaders (14), lead changes (28) and cautions (8). The cars appeared to be very difficult to drive. Good. If the American people are going to pay to see people drive as entertainment, the drivers had better earn their money. There was no doubt about that Saturday night. The cars were all over the place and the race was fun to watch. Kevin Harvick was victorious in a race that was very enjoyable.

Let’s hope NASCAR can keep the ball rolling and its big stars perform in a big way. If the sport can put forth a full season of great entertainment, the American people will be thankful and the sport’s recent rocky history will be erased.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And so it begins...

With the Super Bowl in the books, racing fans are ready to step up. The Bud Shootout is the first race of the NASCAR season while the NHRA gets started in Pomona, CA. There are many questions that still need to be answered. We have teams and drivers that are looking turn a fresh page for a new season.

Richard Petty Motorsports - I was the first one to say, “Don’t do it!” when it came to the Petty merger with GEM. At the time, and currently, I believe the jury is still out on mergers with non-racing companies. Once mergers happen, it’s tough to go back. That having been said, I believe we will see The King back in victory lane in 2009. That alone, would make the merger a positive move for NASCAR. Their driver line-up is solid with Kasey Kahne clearly the star. Elliott Sadler, a fan favorite, has underperformed for years but could change that by helping The King win again. A.J. Allmendinger was a great pick up after allowing Red Bull to cover his "break in" expenses, making him a worth while value. Reed Sorenson is the question mark on the team. Reed will drive the legendary 43 vacated by Bobby Labonte. Reed is a young driver with plenty of upside, but he has yet to live up to his pre-Cup career hype. The good news for everyone involved is that Reed is so young; he still has plenty of time to rise to the occasion.

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing - Another merger for 2009. This will be very interesting to follow as two racing icons team up. DEI lacked leadership and direction and Chip Ganassi will fill that role. Chip is a true racer whose NASCAR career hasn’t gone the way many expected. Now that they will be running Chevys, we’ll get some answers. If Juan Montoya is going to break out and become weekly threat, it should happen this year. Martin Truex Jr. is the veteran on the team and is looking rebound from a tough 2008 season. Martin belongs at the Cup level and should challenge for the chase. Young driver, Aric Almirola appears to have the talent make some noise at the Cup series level. And finally, John Andretti has emerged as a fourth driver for EGR with a technical alliance in place with Front Row Motorsports. John has been tenacious the past several years trying to get back to the up series in a quality ride. The Front Row team ran well at times on their own, with EGR technology, Andretti could surprise some people.

The NHRA is back in action this weekend in Pomona, CA. The title sponsor is now Full Throttle making it the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. I’m not sure any sponsorship has sounded better. Coming off the most dominating season ever, Tony Schumacher and Alan Johnson are now on different teams with Johnson starting his own Al-Anabi Racing team. This reminds me of when Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham split up. Regardless of which team runs better in this first year apart both men have earned their spot in history already.

On another note,

Michael Phelps is an American Hero having represented our country in the Olympics by winning 8 Gold medals in communist China. He did this at a critical time in our history. I’m my mind the youthful indiscretion that has surfaced over the past few days doesn’t diminish him at all. He is still an American hero and should be treated that way. And yet, now we are hearing that he may be prosecuted for appearing in a picture. That would be insane! I hope America supports Michael Phelps. I do.