Monday, April 29, 2013

Obama's Growing Terrorist Problem

Obama's poor response to the Patriots Day bombing is illustrative of his fundamental inability to see Islamo-Arab imperialism for what it is - a state-sanctioned ideology of pure hatred. Islamist ideology requires killing non-believers everywhere, and killing is the driving ideology of states like Iran and Syria and of Saddam Hussein's Iraq (contrary to the myth that Iraq supposedly was enemies with Islamists).

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Santos Puts The Spring In The Spring Sizzler

Sometimes it's all about one guy.

Stafford Speedway opened its season at the end of April, and the Spring in Spring Sizzler was redefined with stunningly good weather on Sunday.   The Whelen Modified Tour was the big show of a Sunday feast of racing that began with Stafford's SK Modifieds, a 40-lap feature that compressed a plethora of yellows and some good battling up front into the first 20 circuits before Ryan Preece put it away in the final 20 laps.   Mod Tour veteran Mike Stefanik had not driven a Stafford SK since 1993 yet was pressed into a relief role as track regular Keith Rocco was nursing a wrist injury.

The SK feature was the warmup for several drivers competing in the Sizzler 200-lapper, notably Preece, Ted Christopher, Woody Pitkat, Rowan Pennick, and Stefanik.   SK veteran Todd Szegedy was on the Tour feature's front row alongside pole-sitter Bobby Santos III.   A native of Franklin, MA, Santos' youthful quality makes one forget he's been a Tour regular since 2004 and has also raced in the Nationwide Series, notably last July at Daytona in Tommy Baldwin Jr's Chevrolet; he also raced Daytona's February 300-miler in Jimmy Means' car in 2011.

His attempts at the big leagues so far haven't borne fruit, and he's car-hopped in the Mod Tour with such teams as Joe Brady, Boehler Racing, Bob Garbarino, his own cars, and lately Sully Tinio's #44.  It's illustrutive of the general sense of neglect by NASCAR toward the Modified Tour that Santos won twice in 2012 yet had to miss five of fourteen races.   But there's reason for optimism for Santos right now, as he cleaned house at the Sizzler by leading 197 of 200 laps and was never threatened at any point of the race, even with several late yellows (including a brief red flag for a Lap 150 melee involving Bryon Chew, Ken Heagy, Ronnie Silk, and Gary McDonald) and the likes of Ryan Preece, Christopher, Pennick, and Justin Bonsignore making spirited efforts into the front five.  

That Teddy was even in contention was surprising, as his Boehler #3 never seemed hooked up and he spent a long time outside the top ten; he managed to get into the top seven and then nearly got waylaid with fifteen to go in a three-wide slugfest ending in a four-car crash and Szegedy's elimination from the race after a frustrating day. 

In the end Teddy and Bonsignore, like everyone else, had nothing for Santos.   The win is Santos' third in the last four Modified Tour races, and it showed that sometimes it's all about one guy - it was certainly about Santos at Stafford's Spring Sizzler in 2013. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boston Bombers - Homegrown, Foreign, or Both?

International connections to the Patriots Day bombers need to be investigated. It seems obvious the bombers and their allies didn't do this out of being Chechens.

2012 Regulatory Rules Outrace Everyone Else

Report: 2012 Regulatory Rules More Costly than All Rules in 'Entire First Terms of Presidents Bush and Clinton, Combined' - yet another sign that government meddling in the economy doesn't work.

Sizing Up Cup In Mid-April

With Kansas done the Cup series hits Richmond for a Saturday night bash before the Winston 500 at Talladega. A look at drivers, their teams, and how they're doing entering Richmond -


HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS - We start with point leader Jimmie Johnson, as there isn't much to say given his two wins and having just two finishes lower than sixth so far.  His teammate Kasey Kahne got off to a very slow start but has posted a win and two runner-ups since February.

Faltering right now is - as usual - Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has looked bad the last three races, fulfilling the pattern that has defined his career since the end of 2004.   Curiously also faltering is the old man at Hendrick (and when was the last time that could be said?), Jeff Gordon, who has led laps as is custom but hasn't cashed in on anything.   One may have to start wondering about Gordon this season.


PENSKE RACING  - Switching to Ford isn't what's hurting this outfit; what's hurting is their new hire - Joey Logano.  Despite two top fives Logano has showcased his dangerous driving as well as propensity to crash between the brawl at Fontana and now the bad crash at Kansas, which elicited a Twitter-published epistle of outright hate from Denny Hamlin that is simultaneously surprising yet to be expected in modern NASCAR. Such a semi-anonymous attack on another driver is indicative of the hatred that exists against Logano, a hatred brought about by his years of immaturity and the often-mind-blowing brainlessness of his racing. It's also in its own way refreshing, for if nothing else it is brutally honest - something sorely missing in society.

Brad Keselowski's solid finishes have been overshadowed of late by NASCAR's public punishment of the Penske organization at Texas as well as the continuing controversy over Brian France's overall handling of the defending series champion.


ROUSH-FENWAY RACING -The good news is Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards are solidly in the top ten in points.  The bad news is despite Edwards' Phoenix win there seems to be little momentum going for the organization; Edwards hadn't led a lap after Phoenix until Kansas, while Biffle hasn't led since Phoenix and has pretty much been all over the map as far as the racing goes.   Rookie Ricky Stenhouse, while not running poorly, nonetheless looks like a typical rookie and his romantic relationship with Danica Patrick is no help career-wise.


JOE GIBBS RACING - It says volumes about the absurdity of NASCAR's whole philosophy on points systems that Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth have won four of the first eight races and have combined for 917 laps led, yet are realistically in no contention for the title.   The #11 car has suffered with Denny Hamlin's injury, yet it also bears mentioning that Hamlin wasn't setting anything on fire before that wreck - his Fontana victory bid and the 117 laps led at Bristol were by far his best efforts in the 2013 season.   When he comes back one wonders whether he'll bring the same ferocity.


MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING - Clint Bowyer continues to carry the organization despite leading exactly one lap (this coming at Daytona) in the first eight races.  His finishes have been all over the map so far but he's accounted for three of MWR's six top fives so far.   Martin Truex has been surging lately, leading 188 laps in the last two races, but we've seen such spurts from him before with nothing coming of it.   Mark Martin has run decently in MWR's #55.


RCR ENTERPRISES - Amid the Dodge rumor that isn't going away, RCR's points positions are actually better than their cars have looked.  Paul Menard remains tenth in points while lame-duck Kevin Harvick is twelfth, but it says a lot about how far the RCR fleet has fallen than Menard has four of the fleet's six top ten finishes so far yet has nothing better than a pair of ninths to show for it and has accounted for the only lap led so far by RCR cars.    Jeff Burton meanwhile appears at the end of the line, 23rd in points and displaying zero firepower anywhere.  


EARNHARDT-GANASSI RACING - There's definitely something to the story that John Menard will buy out Ganassi; it's showing in how mediocre this organization is.  Juan Montoya has been pretty much a NASCAR drafting bust while Jamie McMurray has been decent so far this year, posting three top tens.   Yet even with that the Ganassi cars don't look like there's anything left for them, and given the exodus of car owners from the sport the last few years one should keep an eye on the Menard story.  


RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS - A subplot of the RCR-to-Dodge rumor is that Petty would be part of the package, becoming a satellite outfit for RCR.   Given the surge of the Petty team of recent, if Dodge comes back they'll get a good package reuniting with The King.   Aric Almirola has been coming on so far, posting back-to-back top tens and showing respectable muscle every week in Petty's #43.  

If the Dodge rumor comes true one wonders what would then become of Ford stalwart Marcos Ambrose, who's won the last two Watkins Glen grands prix yet so far in 2013 hasn't been that hot outside of eighth at Martinsville.   Regardless, right now Petty Motorsports is a team on the rise.


STEWART-HAAS RACING - Are they regretting hiring Danica Patrick yet?

The pattern she showed in Indycars is repeating itself in NASCAR - she drags down every organization that takes a chance on her.   The pole at Daytona and a surprising Martinsville effort can't hide the poor performances everywhere else, and it's dragged down the rest of the Stewart-Haas fleet.   Ryan Newman has four of the group's six top tens and its only top five, and it says a lot about Newman that this is the team's best effort.   Newman's career has never recovered from the Rusty Wallace-led rules blitz in reaction to Newman's 2003 victory surge, and his career continues to flounder amid the real possibility he will be the odd man out once Kevin Harvick arrives.

Team co-owner Stewart was shockingly successful his first four seasons as an owner-driver, but now it's obvious he's in over his head just like other owner-drivers have been.   One wonders when the shoe will drop here.


BARNEY VISSER - The sport's only notable one-car effort employs Kurt Busch and Busch has grabbed a pair of top-five finishes, surprisingly stout but inevitably the apex for a season that looks to already be on its downward spiral.   The rumor that Busch will take over one of the RCR cars is out there as well.


THE REST OF THE FIELD - Brad Daugherty's team plugs along with Bobby Labonte, but outside of 15th at Daytona there really isn't much here.    James Finch's #51 has a seventh at Daytona with Regan Smith and that's it.   Germain Racing and Tommy Baldwin's team aren't going anywhere, either.  


So there we are eight races into the 2013 season, with Richmond and Talladega beckoning.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Kansas Whips Up The Action

The repaved Kansas Speedway whipped up the action starting with its 200-miler for the Truck Series, a race where the draft kicked in like the series hasn't seen on an intermediate in years and passing up front was heavy, but so were the wrecks, notably Todd Bodine's nasty melee.

That the Trucks saw a drafting effect kick in showed anew what is missing from modern NASCAR and what makes the intermediates better racetracks than the short tracks or dirt ovals such as what the Trucks will race at Eldora.   It is an even more pronounced problem with the cars; where back in the day the draft meant something even on intermediates and flat superovals like Pocono, Michigan, and Ontario, it has been almost entirely MIA in Cup for over a generation.

The Truck 200 at Kansas also showed anew the other big problem the sport has - the speeds are too fast.   The Trucks run tapered spacers so that helps, but it didn't work for them at Kansas; it indicates a need for more restriction. Certainly the Truck racing was very good and has been for the Trucks on the much-maligned intermediates, notably with memorable battles for first at Texas and Atlanta last season and this Kansas shootout, and what made it good - the above-mentioned draft - is what the sport needs along with reduction in horsepower to get back.  It's a fact the Cup Series still hasn't gotten right. The 400-miler saw its own share of hard crashes - highlighted by Kyle Busch's ugly ricochet into Joey Logano - and also saw a dearth of passing. The repaved Kansas track showcased a bizarre problem - for all the talk about downforce (shown in Todd Bodine's silly post-wreck rant) the Kansas track was criticized by several drivers for not having any grip with some criticism also aimed at the matchup of the car, the track, and the tires.

The 400 showed anew the loss of competitive momentum that has hit the Generation Six racecar after encouraging races in March. Given NASCAR's seemingly desperate push to promote the Generation Six (their earlier citation of scoring loop data showcasing an increase in lead changes, official and otherwise) it's bad news that passing has dropped since the Fontana melee.

The Gen-6's next test is Richmond Saturday night, but Talladega at the start of May will be the true next big test - Daytona was a fiasco for the Generation Six, and for the Winston 500 the excuses about lack of parts causing conservative racing won't apply.   If the Gen-6 produces another Talladega thriller then NASCAR will have turned a corner.

Obama Tries To Deny Again

Evidence that the Patriots Day bombers were involved with international terrorism - shown when the Russian government warned that the two youths involved were involved with Islamic terrorism - and Obama's attempt to deny such, shows anew Obama's indefensible blind spot when it comes to Islamo-Arab imperialism.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Giffords's Husband Needs To Shut Up

THIS WAS FIRST POSTED ON APRIL 16: The husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is whining that the "Gun Lobby" is More Powerful than Obama.

So what?

It's more and more clear that gun control isn't going to pass in Congress, and there is a reason for that - gun control doesn't work. The "gun lobby" is the convenient excuse by Democrats who can't bear to admit they're wrong.  

UPDATE: The Toomey-Manchin gun control bill died, losing 56-44. Obama called it a "shameful day in Congress." He has no right to talk.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

From Texas To Thompson

As April thaws further out racing begins stepping up, and touring series under NASCAR sanction outside of the big three of Cup, Nationwide, and the Trucks start getting into gear. Such was the case a night after NASCAR's Texas 500, a race where a doltish Senator's demand that the race not be broadcast because of National Rifle Association sponsorship of it provided more fireworks than the racing itself - a controversy quickly lapped by bouts of "cheating by the Penske Fords before the race and then flunking of postrace inspection by runner-up Martin Truex. Keselowski in particular was angry, claiming the Penske Fords had been "targeted" by NASCAR. "We're not going to take it," he added.

The "cheating" by the Penske Fords supposedly involved beating NASCAR inspection to suppress rearend "skewing" that had become popular in 2012 by Jimmie Johnson but which now is disallowed by NASCAR; how they did it isn't clear though the story is they used a "floating" rearend.   Of course it's not a simple case of NASCAR politics or a team being brazen in its cheating, because in the heavily political and often murky world of NASCAR there's reason to believe both sides - politics in racing are as old as racing (see for just one example such cases as Junior Johnson's outsized engine at Charlotte in May 1991 and the following revealation of excessive fuel storage in his Ford at the same track in October 1991) and so is cheating - and to use an old Sam Moses line, cheating, or as Bill Gazaway would put it, fudging, or as Richard Petty put it, just trying to get an edge.  

There of course is the reality of the raceteams being ahead of the inspectors in the technology arms race, which makes things murkier - how long have the Penske guys been able to get away with rearend skew before getting caught?  And chances are other teams will slip something past NASCAR inspectors, and when the racing is genuinely good then "cheating" issues tend to alleviate themselves.  

This certainly was the case at Thompson Speedway's Icebreaker the afternoon following the Texas 500.   The Whelen Modified Tour was the primary feature but multiple racecar classes strutted their stuff, with two great battles in particular standing out - the limited sportsman feature was decided in a terrific five-lap shootout won by Larry Barnett, who raced nose to nose with Jesse Gleason - Gleason and Barnett drove mid-80s Monte Carlos, but Gleason's car sported a 1988 Buick nosepiece, a charming hybrid surpassed only by Seekonk's Late Models where several have 1990s Monte Carlo noses but latter-80s Monte Carlo bubble-glass bodies - with Gleason killing Barnett high in One and Two - sporting a somewhat pronounced dip in the middle - but Barnett beating everyone alive on the backstrtech.  

The second thriller was the SK-class Modified shootout.   Keith Rocco, Woody Pitkat, and Kerry Malone got into an exciting battle for the win in the final ten laps and there were some three lead changes involving crossover passing - except Pitkat's last crossover crossed him out of contention off Two with three to go.  

Not that the Modified Tour race was any slouch.   Numerous cautions flew thanks to a rough day for Gary McDonald, but the worst yellow came near halfway of the 150-lapper thanks to a nasty crash in One involving Ron Yuhas - unsung hero of New Hampshire International Speedway in 2006 - and Ron Fuller, a crash necessitating a red flag.

Lap 111 saw another yellow and Mike Stefanik - the polesitter who got knocked out of the top six on the opening lap - got tires while Rowan Pennick and Chuck Hossfeld gambled on tires and stayed out.   Several late yellows helped Stefanik close up on Pennick, and the final restart with 11 to go was decisive as Pennick surprisingly lost the lead despite starting on the outside row - the preferred line for most of the day.   Even with losing the lead Stefanik's new tires didn't allow him to get away from Pennick, as Mike won by only a couple of lengths.

Curiously, Stefanik was self-depricating in victory lane about the whole thing as he posted the win with a new team.

Before the race Justin Bonsignore stated the Hoosier Tires the Tour runs, "They'll last at least eighty-five or ninty laps if we have at Thompson you probably want new tires."   It certainly proved the case, and also showed "there's a lot of good quality cars (in the Modified Tour).....There's still ten to fifteen cars that can win every week."  

The Tour has often been seen as the red-headed stepchild in the NASCAR scheme of things, and "the cost of racing has gone up, but the cost of everything has gone up," says Bonsignore.   "I think it's a little out of hand now.   If they make big changes to try and cut costs, it's going to cost us more up front again.   It might save you money in the long run."

One such area is spec motors, which seem to be creeping into the Tour, though there also seems to be a diversity of engine builders/suppliers still.   Billy The Kid engines and Bob Bruneau, long-time engine figures on the Tour, are still common in the garage area, and some Tour cars run Rahmoc engines - yes, the company that once upon a time fielded super-strong Pontiacs for Neil Bonnett and Morgan Shepherd.    A Grand National Series branded spec motor built by Roush-Yates is also to be found in the Mod Tour garage area.  

The cost issue plagues racing at all levels, but in the end exciting finishes such as seen at Thompson's Icebreaker make the hassles all worth it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

3 numbers that show the Fed is inflating a new housing bubble

The first one's lessons have not been learned.

Sizing Up NASCAR Entering Texas

Mike Mulhern authors a good thorough examination of the Winston Cup season so far, with particular attention focused on the NASCAR policy where a driver has to start the race in order to get championship points plus the separate driver points and owner points dichotomy in the sport.

I'm not in favor of allowing a substitute driver to earn points for another driver, because for all the hype about racing being a team sport - and certainly teams do matter as far as the building of the racecars etc. - in its essence the sport is one driver racing a racecar vs. 42 other drivers racing racecars. The analogy to NFL teams using backup quarterbacks when the starter gets injured fails because in the NFL multiple participants are on the field at the same time as a single unit facing another such unit; in racing it is one car vs. another car vs. another car etc. An individual racecar represents less a team than an individual, be it the driver or the car owner (i.e. the #43 as Richard Petty's car regardless of who the driver is); even the car number often reflects an individual driver (remember the insane controversy over the #8 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. switched to Hendrick Motorsports?) as opposed to a team.

The concern is because of injured drivers trying to race instead of sitting out races. Certainly NASCAR needs to stand up more and bench injured drivers to heal up a lot more than the sanctioning body presently does. But it should not basically reward being injured.


As far as the racing goes, the Generation Six got off to the dismal start, then picked up at Bristol and the surprisingly raucous California 400 before tailing off at Martinsville. Texas will be a test of the Generation Six, for if it puts on memorable racing up front - the sport needs races in addition to Daytona and Talladega that even flirt with 60 lead changes - then it will be making believers out of people who still have reason not to buy into the concept. Goodyear is bringing a new right side tire to Texas, which adds another question mark.


As far as individual racecars, Brad Keselowski has the best average finish of all drivers, but hasn't won, while Joey Logano got into two scrapes at Martinsville. The Penske effect extends into the Ford fleet, where as expected his bunch is ahead and it's coming at the expense of the other Fords. The Toyotas of JGR have won twice and Kyle Busch is fourth in points, while the Hendrick Chevys led by Jimmie Johnson are of course above everyone else.

Falling the deepest has been Tony Stewart and his fleet - a result to be expected given the fall of Danica Patrick's other raceteams when she raced Indycar. Also embarrassing is RCR, where the inept Paul Menard is in the top ten in points and Kevin Harvick is riding out his string at RCR while Jeff Burton is going nowhere in every sense of the term. While on the Toyota side, Michael Waltrip's team gets Clint Bowyer and as usual nothing else.

Outside of this, no one else has done anything of note in the series so far. STP's sponsorship of the Virginia 500 was a very nice gesture but they didn't get anything out of Aric Almirola as his career continues to go nowhere - a further insult to Petty's #43 (and Mulhern asks a good question in noting the lack of information of Michael Annett after his Daytona crash). The Ganassi Chevys are in even worse shape as Juan Montoya's lack of stock car moxie curiously keeps getting overlooked while Jamie McMurray can only be known as a one-shot wonder.

So the sport enters Texas for the seventeenth season of this tumultuous track's existence hoping to accelerate positive momentum.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Martinsville Pick Six

The 2013 Virginia 500 has come and gone and six items are worth analyzing -

The "fall off" tire didn't make the racing better - much was made of Goodyear's tire that was meant to produce greater wear and thus "fall off" more. The argument was it would produce better racing and put it back into the drivers hands. Neither happened in the Cup race. Jimmie Johnson led 346 laps and was almost never challenged, even on late restarts. Drivers were talking about "You can't abuse the tires." It showed; they didn't try to abuse the tires and thus they didn't race particularly hard. Even with that Chad Knaus was still arguing for more abrasive tires claiming tracks with less tire wear "the racing is not as good, because the line selection is minimized."

It's also not much of an endorsement of the Generation Six racecar after some encouraging signs the previous three races.

Danica Patrick actually raced well - and yet it is damning of the quality of the racing that she was basically the only interesting competitive angle all day. Finishing 12th was shocking - by her own admission - and it was the only area all day where anything interesting was happening. Her Stewart-Haas teammates certainly didn't do anything all race; Ryan Newman in particular was embarrassing when he stopped to bring out a yellow and got a three-lap penalty as a result..

Joey Logano, no-show - He got into a scrape during practice and another during the race, but other than that NASCAR's newest "star" was MIA.

Yet another sign Kevin Harvick will drive for Stewart-Haas Racing - after Brian Vickers played bumper tag with Danica Patrick at the finish, Harvick spun him out. Patrick is presumably Harvick's teammate in 2014.

RCR is in serious trouble - 8th, 14th, and 24th in standings isn't particularly encouraging - of the organization's combined five top ten finishes three are the result of Paul Menard, who is assured of a fast fall from contention as the season goes on.   Keep an eye on the rumored switch to Dodge in 2014 for RCR and potentially two other teams, because it's obvious Chevrolet isn't keeping RCR in the fold.  

Which "name" driver will get the in-season axe first? - I'm going to guess Juan Montoya doesn't finish the season with the woeful Ganassi/Earnhardt squad. Clearly overrated when he signed with Ganassi's Dodge fleet in 2007, it's amazing he won two races, and despite a paucity of results - 51 top tens isn't bad but for the talent he ostensibly has it's pretty thin gruel - he's won $33 million in NASCAR.

And so with Martinsville out of the way the Cup series heads to Texas.