Monday, March 26, 2012

Trip to the races makes the winter blues go away

Tony Stewart was running the back at Knoxville, Iowa in August of last year. Ever since then he stepped up his program. He went to Ohsweken in Canada and won the World of Outlaws Sprint Car feature race and ever since then he’s been on fire. His win Sunday made it 7 out of the last 15 NASCAR races that he’s won. He was 5/10 in the Chase, and he is 2 out of 3 this year. His old Crew Chief, Darian Grubb, also has a win, so the people that are around him have 8/15 races they’ve won. Zipadelli is back with him now. Zippy was his original crew chief on the #20 car. And he’s now the director of competition at Stewart-Haas racing. I wonder if the reason that Tony wanted his own team is because he had ideas on how to go faster and how to win races that other people simply weren’t listening to. It’s been an amazing run. And I personally don’t think he’s done. He’s won in every type of race: 360 Sprints, 410 Sprints, and even Karts. I know I talk a lot about Tony in my column, but the reason is that there sure is a LOT to talk about!

J.C. Howell is on our front page this week! J.C. had 6 guys helping him get two cars ready to run Saturday night at Kennedale. I think if J.C. could get enough guys he’d run a car in every class. I spotted a sign on the back of his car; I thought it was the best tail sign that I’ve seen for a while. Thank you J.C. for putting a smile in my night.

California Raceway: I was happy to see that the stands looked full at California Raceway. I’ve been sick last week after I looked at Bristol. And I finally got to my first races this year! Absolute gorgeous night at Boyd Raceway West of Fort Worth with 120 + cars and ¾ full grand stand. It was a really great evening. Brad and Missy Shirley, of Extreme Graphics, sponsored the night, and they had all the Extreme Graphics cars come out at intermission parked on the main straightaway. They let all the kids down on the track to get autographs. It was a HUGE success! Check out the pictures. The Plato family always does a great job. I first met Davey 10 years ago at Boone, IA. Met him before we came to Texas…he was an inspector at the Super Nationals.

Saturday night we went to Kennedale Speedway Park. Another 100 + car night. Great grandstand turnout and the SST Sprint Cars. Another absolute gorgeous evening! A trip to the races makes the winter blues go away. Richard Snyder and his track crew did an almost impossible task of getting the pits dried out to where they could run after five inches of rain last week. Everybody gripes about promoters who don’t try to get the show in hard enough, but that’s certainly not Richard and his crew. Hats off to them for having the pits in such great shape.

Today, this week, Sharyl and I are on our way to Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO for a tour of the track and a meet-and-greet with Forrest Lucas and his wife, Charlotte. Forrest Lucas has done more to support local racing than any other person in this country. So many people choose NASCAR as their vehicle of choice and Lucas Oil has chosen local racing. They support off road racing, circle track racing, motorcycle racing…the Lucas Oil Late Model Series is the premier late model series in the United States today. But they don’t just put their money on the big guys. Their sponsorship of the MLRA is a 3-state regional series. So it’s going to be interesting to meet Forrest Lucas and get an interview with him. The Goose says Lucas Oil Speedway is the speedway of dirt track speedways. When he found out I was going up there he told me he was jealous. I would feel real bad for Jerry, but he gets a LOT of places I don’t!

Charity Price has come on board from Arkansas. Her page is called Arkansas Diamond. Her home track is Diamond Park Speedway where she’s the track photographer. Check her out on the writers and photographers page.

I spent all day Saturday and half the day Sunday packing for the move. I will get to see two springs this year. You need to take the kids to the races because they’re the future of racing. If you don’t think so check out the pictures of Boyd.


Leaving Texas.

I was amazed by the empty seats at Bristol. I’ve been to Bristol and saw seats go for $450! The racing’s good. Brad Keselowski won. It was good to see the Blue Duece back in Victory Lane. Two of my favorite drivers, Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch both sat in the Blue Dueses and won races in it. There’s no doubt that Keselowski’s got talent and since Karl gave him the little ride, he seems to have respect for everybody too.

Cowtown Speedway opened with the POWRi Midgets and had 64 midgets. I think that’s an absolute awesome turnout. Dave Darland picked up the $5000 win. Boyd opened with 100+ cars, RPM was in the 90s, and a good bunch to start at Mountain Creek Speedway took care of the Friday night racing in the Dallas Metroplex.

I’m gonna miss the Texas racing. This weekend you’ve got a big show at 281 Speedway at Stephensville… IMCA spring opener. There’s an ASCS Spring Nationals at Devil’s Bowl. Last Saturday night there was 100+ cars at Superbowl Speedway in Greenville. Grayson County doesn’t open ‘til April the 7th.

The target date for the move is April 1st for Sharyl and May 1st for all our furniture and me. My grandkids are excited. Keifer says, “There’ll be a LOT more sprint car races for me this year!!” I’ll be less than 5 miles from Lexi and we can do afternoon swims at Lytle Park Pool. I rode my bike 16 miles from Sullivan to Lytel Park several times each summer from the time I was 12 ’til the time I was 16 and got me some wheels.

Talked to Buddy Haimes and Heidi. Buddy used to drive for me in the Mopar Magic car at Macon. Heidi’s won the track championship a couple of times there. They came down to Dallas and stayed with us. And they said Heidi’s not driving this year. Said they’re going to concentrate on business and just go to the races for relaxation. I’ll bet anybody two tickets to Macon that Heidi’s in a car by the end of June. Any takers?

Lonnie Hastings told me that Jared Webb was gonna retire. And I’ll take the same bet on two tickets that Jared’s in a car by June!

Strong bonds have this sport on all of us. Bryan Chase joined us from Pennsylvania. Covered the Modified Race of Champions at Selinsgrove. Not only is he a shooter, check his pictures out, but he’s a writer too. Check out ChaseFX on the Writer’s Page. Charity Price just came on board from Diamond Park Speedway. She’s going to help us there and at some of the tracks in Arkansas and around the area. She’ll be Diamond Parks regular track photographer this year.

Back on the first paragraph about the empty seats at Bristol. We all think they’re a bunch of arrogant jerks. But we’re kinda a reverse prejudice in our own little world. And we need those guys to be healthy to help fuel our sport at the bottom too. To go from a $450 seat in a five-years to half empty. I really don’t understand why. We have more coverage and more exposure…. Aaahhhh could it be the same thing as when the Midgets overexposed their self after WWII?? Every town had a Midget track. You could go to midgets 6 nights a week in my home area in Illinois. I don’t know if that’s the reason. But I don’t like seeing any track half empty.

Now at our end of the sport in the short track, when a track goes down, 90% of the time, you can blame it on the promoter. And whether its true or not, when you switch the promoter, people come back to the races. TV ratings are up for NASCAR, and maybe that’s all that counts to them.


Monday, March 12, 2012

First Win with New Chief!

Okay! Tony Stewart’s back in the Winners Circle in Cup. I think Tony’s going to be tough to beat. It’s his first cup win with his new crew chief, Steve Addington? Vegas said that the cup race adds $100 million to its economy.

VAdirt, LarrE, and Goose are all in action. Va dirt made it down to County Line Raceway in North Carolina. Lots of good racing happened as he covered their opening night. LarrE was busy! On Fri he covered the Carolina Clash preliminaries at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, NC, just outside of Charlotte. He covered the I-77 Chester Speedway Car Show Saturday afternoon. And Saturday night he was back at Carolina Speedway covering the Carolina Clash Finals. Goose was at Las Vegas and he covered the ASCS-USAC Showdown, the World of Outlaws Sprints, and the Championship Late Model Association. All us guys in Texas got raaaaiiiined out again. So I missed out on the USMTS Modified Show at Heart of Texas Speedway in Waco and at Cowtown Speedway. Big L got rained out at Superbowl Speedway. USMTS seems to have a hard time when it comes to Texas. So we normally got great weather and every time they come in they get weathered-out. But…we’re glad to see the rain anyway…we need it so bad!

March is great month for openings. I love opening nights. One year I covered 18 opening nights from Florida to Illinois. Everybody’s got brand-new paint. Brand-new graphics. Brand-new cars! And they forgot just how easy it is to tear them up, and how hard it is to fix them. Everybody comes outta the garage thinking they’re going to be the track champ. Lots of winners in the winter… lots of track champs in the garage.

Between crutches and rain…I’ve yet to see my first race this season! We were going to cut back our schedule to about 60 races, but I still think we can make that easy. I wanted to get 24 new tracks…and I think that’s a good possibility. So follow us around and see how we do.

We’ve got a new reporter whose home track is Diamond Park in Arkansas. Her name is charity price. She’ll cover her first race for LuvRacin next weekend. Looking forward to it. We also have a new reporter in the PA area named Brian Chase. Been active in racing scene up there for many years and I’m sure we’re going to get some great coverage outta Pennsylvania. He will be at Selinsgrove Speedway next weekend.

Hey, don’t forget to take a new kid to the races even if it’s the neighbor’s kid!


Monday, March 5, 2012

You Might Need a New Crew Chief…

You Might Need a New Crew Chief…

Win the championship, swap your crew chief. Tony Stewart’s turning loose of Darian Grubb as Denny Hamlin leading the points in NASCAR. Joe Gibbs snatched him up, and put him with the intense Hamlin… and at the start of the season it looks like the perfect match. In the last couple of years Hamlin has won at the front of the field, dominated several races, and hasn’t been able to close because of problems in the pit and problems in the crew. This may be just the thing for Denny and Darian.

I went to Vegas with Sharyl over the weekend. And Kyle Busch sure has lots of advertisements on Vegas TV. I wondered why and then I thought: ‘heck it’s his hometown!’ And let me tell you something…Kyle Busch is a hometown hero. It’s nice to see good things for Kyle….and positive things for Kyle.

IMCA opened the season at Mountain Creek Speedway in Grand Prairie, Texas. And the feature was won by a car from Iowa driven by #19, Jammin’ Jimmy Gustin. I’ll tell you what… Charlie Upchurch and the crew has that speedway really looking sharp! It gives us another Friday night venue in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

HOT opened! Great car count. Texas Motor Speedway has its World Dirt Track Championships. Great coverage by JM Hallas! There were over 150 Modifieds and Limited Modifieds. My mind’s a bit scattered. Sharyl and I are headed by for the MidWest. Lots of good racing but geez they’ve got snow!