Tonight NASCAR got what they wanted when the Chase for the Championship came down to two drivers. Both Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart raced hard all night long with the overall lead changing hands a few times. In the end though the Indiana driver prevailed. The championship did not come easy though as Stewart had to fight through the pack multiple times to get the win. It reminded me of an ARCA race that I saw at DuQuoin Raceway ten years ago. Stewart came through the pack multiple times showing just how good of a driver he is. I normally don’t watch much NASCAR, but while I was waiting for the Purdue game to start tonight I couldn’t stop watching it. I ended up watching both at the same time because it was such a good race. Basically with Carl Edwards on his back bumper Tony had to win the race. It was his fifth win of the ten chase races. Even with the five wins Tony only tied Carl for the championship. The reason Tony is the champion is the races that he won. A great night for Tony as he wins for his own team. Continue reading
The rumors the last couple of days have Danica Patrick close to a deal with JR Motorsports to run a limited schedule next season in the Nationwide Series. JR Motorsports is run by Dale Earnhardt Jr. This pairing will mean that two of the biggest names in racing will be paired together. It also pairs two drivers who have a much bigger reputation then their racing would warrant. Both of these drivers should be hungry for a win. Patrick has won once in the IndyCar series, and Dale Jr. is in another slump. With Jr.’s marketing power behind Danica the sky is the limit for the two of them. If they can win with the pairing it would be an unstoppable pairing. Danica will still be racing with Andretti-Green racing next season full time. She apparently though does not see the IndyCar series in the future for herself. She is drawn to NASCAR for the same reason that most drivers are. Money. Some IndyCar drivers have not done so well in Cup. Others like Tony Stewart have excelled when given the chance to drive the big car. It will be interesting to see if she can live up to the hype when she moves over.
After missing a few years I finally made it back to ORP last night. Actually I made it back during the day. We decided to skip the first two practice sessions which were delayed by rain anyway. We got to the track in time to see the cars qualify. It is always fun to see true professionals take on the track. By shear luck we sat in front of former LaPorte resident Tony Raines‘ pit. He was the last car to go through tech inspection before qualifying so we got to see them wrench on his car for a while. As I said in the previous post Tony does not have the car under him to make noise so I was not too upset with his 21st spot after qualifying. He ended up finishing 15th the first car a lap down. He is a good racer that is just not getting his chance. Sadly though his age may prevent him from ever getting that chance. The race was full of carnage, and I included a couple of pics of the end result. Kyle Busch blazed through the pack along with Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth to displace the Nationwide regulars. Busch ended up collecting his 17th top ten of the season, and has a huge points lead. Matt Kensenth had not raced at ORP in ten years, and managed a third place finish. Crazy Carl Edwards won the race which was disappointing to me, but some people will be happy with that. We were sitting near the start finish line in some great seats that we got at the window just before qualifying. The last few laps we moved down to turn four, and stood against the fence. Although I still have not regained my sense of hearing it was a blast. The rest of the night was spent using hand signals. We had so much fun that we decided to start doing this every year. Maybe I will be able to hear by then.
On a sidenote apparently the male enhancement pill Extendze has a car in the Nationwide Series. They have a booth at the track where they will give away pills and t-shirts to anybody. I mean anyone. I saw some kids under ten wearing the shirts and holding the pills in their hands. Do we need this at the track? Parents now will have to explain to their kids what the pills do at an age that maybe they should not have to. With the economy the way that it is though I guess you have to take whatever sponsor will get your team up and racing. You want your team to grow bigger, and you will do whatever it takes to make it so. To the left is another fan who had a great shirt. He was down with us at the end of the race, and made it a little more exciting. This man really loves his NASCAR. He said his kids got him the shirt. Good present kids!
Today I am headed to Indy to watch the Nationwide Series Race at ORP. This will be my first time at ORP, but I was at the track three times when it was called IRP. This is a fun track that does not bankrupt you to see a race. The picture to the left is from my first time at the track in 2000. Tony Raines a local racer from LaPorte is being trailed by Kevin Harvick in practice. The cars will be on the track right now for practice. They will take a 1/2 hour off before entering the track again for their final practice. My brother and I plan on getting there for qualifying, and of course staying for the race. This is a flat track that makes qualifying very important. Tony Raines the local boy has been struggling this year as his team really does not have the horses to compete with the big boys. He is a good driver though, and will usually bring his car home safe. At a short track that can mean a good finish. Maybe he will pull off the upset tonight. Ron Hornaday is stepping in for a race in the Kevin Harvick owned #33, and I would tab him as my favorite. He has the car, and really nothing to lose as far as points are concerned. He also won the Truck race at ORP last night. Kyle Busch can never be counted out as well. Busch finished tenth in last nights truck race, and will have a busy day going from the Brickyard back to ORP all day long.
Danica Patrick scored her first ever win yesterday in Japan. The win came in her 50th race, and the last race of the two car Inday split. The race was not on won on speed, but fuel mileage. Of course a win is a win no matter how you look at it, and now that she has broken the seal you can expect a couple more to follow. She no longer has to answer the question “When are you going to get your first win?” The nature of racing being what it is though they will just change the question to “When are you going to get your next win?” She picked up the first win though, and is no longer the Anna Kournikova of racing.
The picture on this post was taken in 2006 at the season ending race in Japan. It is amazing how close that they will let you get to the drivers during introductions. They bring the drivers right up into the stands for the ceremony. What is even more amazing is the fact that nobody seemed to care. We walked down from our seats near turn one to watch the event at the start-finish line. If that sort of introduction was done at a NASCAR race you would have pandemonium.
I think today it finally sunk in that 2008 might be the year of the Boilermaker. The Purdue men’s team is on top of the Big Ten when they were predicted to be in the middle of the pack. The women’s team is on top of the Big Ten when they were supposed to be at the bottom because of injuries. Today Ryan Newman wins the Daytona 500. When he was coming up through the pack at the end Mike Joy said here comes Ryan Newman from Purdue University. It was at that point that I wondered if there was a little magic surrounding the Boilers this year.
Ryan was a student at Purdue at the same time that I was. I remember sitting at Nick’s Pool hall watching USAC on a little TV telling everyone that one of these guys goes to school here. Later that summer we saw him almost win an ARCA race while down a cylinder at Michigan. The picture above is from that race. That year he raced ARCA, Busch, and Winston Cup. Ever since then he has been a driver in the biggest series, but lately he has fallen on bad times. It was good to see the boy from South Bend break his drought today. Coming to the checkered flag it was Newman in one lane, and Stewart in the other. I knew right then it would be an Indiana boy that won the race, but I didn’t count on the Boilermaker luck coming through. It was the Northern Indiana boy versus the Southern Indiana boy. The boy from the north won. Kind of sounds like something happening later in the week doesn’t it?