Does Earnhardt Deserve our Pity? -- by J. R. Andres 
Monday, May 18, 2009, 01:16 PM
Posted by Administrator
He was the guy who was going to pick up where his father left off. He was the guy positioned to attain greatness. He was the guy who had the talent and the means to carry on the Earnhardt tradition for yet another generation. If this were the case, then what happened to the driver and the expectations for success the racing world have saddled him with for the past eight years?

Living in the shadow of Dale Sr. hasnít been easy. There was the messy divorce from DEI and then the honeymoon with the Hendrick organization that now seems frazzled and rudderless. There have been calls for the removal of cousin and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. as a possible solution but RH hasnít decided to go there yet. Junior seems distracted at times and with one win in the last 103 outings, even with decent equipment, there seems to be more than meets the eye and now even the Junior Nation is pressing him for an explanation of why he has become their hard luck kid, week in and week out.

The truth of the matter might lie within Junior himself, the victim if you will, of the pressure and the never-ending hype he has had to contend with. NASCARís most popular driver is expected to consistently perform at a level far above that of his teammates, and his peers and the fans want him to be everything they imagine him to be; the reincarnation of his father.

Itís not unreasonable to say that the fame and mystique associated with the Earnhardt name has in some ways been a curse for Dale Junior. Even the fact that heís called Junior means he has to prove himself in ways the drivers of the other 42 cars donít. If they and the fans and the media could view things through the same set of glasses he does, the concept of pity would never be mentioned. Dale doesnít want it and he sure doesnít deserve it.

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Is there a Dodge in NASCARís Future? -- by Ira Ostenheimer 
Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 11:04 AM
Posted by Administrator
There have been times in the past when automobile manufacturers have moved in and out of NASCAR competition based upon either costs or rule changes but never has there been a time when a brand stepped out of line due to bankruptcy. Such is the dilemma facing Dodgeís parent company, Daimler-Chrysler, who recently filed for protection under Chapter 11.

The timing couldnít be worse for Kurt Busch who presently occupies the number one position in the Sprint Cup Series driver standings, his Penske team, Gillett/Evernham and Richard Petty Motorsports. Everyone has been told by Dodge that itís business as usual but youíve got to think that in the back of their minds thereís a lot of doubt about what the future holds. What about engine and aero development? What about sponsorships? What aboutÖ? The list goes on. The situation isnít much better on the GM side either, with plant closings and workers being laid off. How will that affect their participation in NASCAR?

Thereís no point in re-hashing the reasons why things are the way they are because thatís already been done. What is important is how the proposed merger with Fiat will affect Dodgeís involvement in motorsports. Will there be a desire on behalf of the Italian automaker to continue fronting the cash necessary in light of the economic crisis or will a decision be made to pull the plug? That would trim the field to Ford, Chevy and Toyota. If GM decides to do the same, weíre looking at Ford and Toyota.

The fans look at this situation from a very different standpoint than the manufacturers: brand loyalties and variety vis-ŗ-vis profit from sales. Itís always been this way and up until now they have been able to live next door to one another when times were good. Today thatís not the case because the bottom line was always in possession of the trump card. Letís hope it doesnít get thrown down.

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Danica . . . Please Say It Ainít True -- by J. R. Andres 
Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 10:08 PM
Posted by Administrator
Thereís word going around that youíre thinking about becoming a NASCAR driver. Please say it ainít true. We know youíre a decent driver in the IndyCar Series and that youíve won at least one race in the five years youíve been there, but NASCAR?

We thought that with all your endorsements and the adulation afforded you, youíd want to stay there and build up your resume a little bit more, maybe even win an Indianapolis 500 race, before you decided to mix it up with the ďgood olí boysĒ. Have you considered coming up through the ranks to get a feel for what it takes to throw around a 3400 pound car as opposed to your own that weighs a mere 1565, or did you want to dispense with the Camping World and Nationwide Series altogether and just start at the top?

We imagine that NASCAR would welcome you. Just think of all the attention youíd get ... and the endorsements?

We would like to see women racing in NASCAR, too, but there are others, past and present, like Janet Guthrie, Louise Smith, Shawna Robinson, Erin Crocker and Chrissy Wallace who came up through the ranks, like their male counterparts, to develop their skills and pay their dues before they were mentally and physically prepared to take on such a demanding sport. Even with their experience, Erin and Chrissy are still trying to secure solid sponsorships and the A-list status that goes along with it.

Itís contract renegotiating time for you this year. Use the opportunity to sign on with your friends at Andretti Green for another year or two and prove to the rest that you have what it takes to be a NASCAR driver and not just a female NASCAR driver.
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Is Talledega Safe? -- by Sandy Christiansen 
Tuesday, April 28, 2009, 10:37 PM
Posted by Administrator
What was it about this 2.66 mile racetrack that resulted in a near catastrophe this past Sunday? SAFER barriers, roof flaps and restrictor plates were supposed to eliminate the bedlam of years past but Talladega still remains one step away from disaster in the minds of many. Will the answer lie in whatís done after someone gets killed or is there another way to avoid the inevitable before itís too late?

In 1987, Bobby Allison earned a few frequent flyer miles when he went airborne and slammed into the fence not far from where Edwards did, which led to restrictor plates being mandated for Talladega and Daytona that same year. It brought the speeds down but in recent years the cars have been inching up toward 200 mph and beyond once again. In 1994, roof flaps came into reality to prevent further excursions into the upper atmosphere and in 2002, Talladega went through an extreme makeover when SAFER barriers were added to decrease the effects of wall impacts. That sounds great but thereís one wild card left in the deck and thatís the drivers themselves.

Like all living things on this planet, race drivers find a way around obstacles that are put in their way and the ones at NASCAR are more adept than most. Weíre not talking about breaking the rules here; weíre talking about maximizing what you already have at your disposal. It became apparent in restrictor plate races that your ability to move toward the front of the parade required a ďbuddyĒ and a whole lot of bump drafting. Find one and you are good for an additional 5-7 mph. This tactic works fine as long as nobody makes a mistake. Get out of shape and youíll send a sizeable number of your peers to the garage for the remainder of the day.

Cutting too fine of a line, late in the race can make you either a hero or the master of disaster and NASCAR had left it up to the drivers to establish an unwritten rule as to what was acceptable when one chose to engage in the art of bump drafting. It seems at this point that over-aggressiveness and risk-taking tends to override reason to the extent that the intervention of a higher power is needed to avert something no one would ever want to see.
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Bridging the Generation Gap -- by J. R. Andres 
Monday, April 20, 2009, 05:52 PM
Posted by Administrator
It seemed unlikely that Mark Martin would ever stand a real chance of winning. After all, heís 50 years old. Sure he has had a noteworthy past, sure he knows how to negotiate his way around the high banked turns of Talladega and Charlotte, sure he has the desire and sure he has some Hendrick prepared equipment to work with now but was all that really going to be enough to pave his way to victory lane, even once? The testosterone level alone thatís omnipresent in the NASCAR garage on any given day would seem sufficient to move those of his ilk to the back of the bus and keep them there with the rest of the field fillers like Cope, Marlin and Andretti.

Money can buy a lot of things and in the case of NASCAR; the coin of the realm is speed. After leaving Roush, Martin retired and then returned on more than one occasion to race with equipment that was marginal in preparation and short on funding. For a lot of fans it really didnít matter, though. It was just good to see him back once again mixing it up with the kids. Little did they know that there was still a tiger lingering in the tank, waiting for a chance to reassert himself once the planets were in alignment and the moon was full and bright.
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