Monday, March 24, 2014

The Mau-Mauing of Paul Ryan

The attacks on Paul Ryan are yet another example of how the Left conducts itself - via threats.

The Proper Size Of Government

Obama thinks he can't get "reforms" through Congress because the debate about government's size is getting in the way of reform.   The problem as usual is he doesn't know what he's talking about - the research shows again and again that the issue is government needs to be retracted and disbanded.

Fontana Goes Fast And - Slower

The California 400 at Fontana proved a newsier weekend than a lot of people might have expected. Coming a year after Denny Hamlin's bad wreck there, it was natural a lot of reminiscence of that 2013 race would be uttered; making it even weirder was Hamlin's illness that knocked him out of the race before it began, putting Sam Hornish into the JGR #11.

 There turned out to be a striking level of rules debates, first with NASCAR's acknowledgment that it is working with manufacturers toward a modest 100 HP reduction for 2015. There was also considerable discussion of race distances and whether races should be shorter.

The case for shorter race distances failed long ago, because longer races produce more passing, more switches in outcome, and are an overall better test of racecars and racers.   500 miles is the optimum distance for races such as Fontana and Pococo.   Indeed since switching to 400 mile distances Pocono is showcasing why its 500s were better -  the racing at Pocono is enjoyable, but the lack of the extra 100 miles is denying that track the swings in outcome and extra passing that 500 miles provide.  

NASCAR has needed to put start times to earlier, not later.    12:20 area time is the right time to throw the green flag for these races so they can be run in optimum time.

The argument about reducing horsepower is laughable because it's so little being proposed and it's been two decades overdue to permanently restrict the horsepower; the performance levels between safety and quality racing have done nothing but prove they are beyond the level they ought to be.   The superior racing the Busch Series and Trucks - with restrictive engine spacers - provide is the ultimate indictment of the high horsepower mentality.


The most striking aspect of the Fontana is that while the Busch Series 300-miler saw the draft work - when he wasn't bitching about how much "better" the racing is on worn-out asphalt and how new pavement takes away ability to pass (and never cited one example of such, because they don't exist) Rusty Wallace was talking about how the draft was working - the California 400 was another case where the cars were scrambling to avoid the draft.   That is surprising in that the larger spoiler makes the draft more effective and that is what the goal needs to be - make the draft more important than handling.  

The 400 also saw another fit of Goodyear tire-itis (Junior weighed on on it afterward).   The worn-out asphalt certainly is a problem, but we see Goodyear fail repeatedly over the years with its tires.  Each season sees several races where Goodyear's tires are worthless and of course in its arrogance Goodyear blames "aggressive setups" instead of admit it has a problem.   Goodyear has been nothing but a tiresome (sorry) company and NASCAR needs to accept real on-track tire competition with Firestone, Hoosier, etc.


Goodyear tire-itis wound up leading to the surpising finish after the Hendrick cars faltered on tires and Clint Bowyer spun late, setting up the green-white-checker finish.  Kyle Larson's win in the 300 the day before proved a harbinger of the Fontana weekend's finishas he came out of nowhere to finish second.   Larson is now taking control of the rookie race and there's no sign he's going to get any kind of serious challenge. 

So with Fontana wrapped up the series hits Martinsville - and one should wonder why a race that is supposed to be in late April is stuck in late March.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dance Between The Raindrops At Bristol

So for the second time in four weeks NASCAR sees an unplanned primetime race, this one at Bristol.  NASCAR has been dancing between the raindrops a little too much so far in 2014 and this Southeastern 500 wound up with several angles worthy of comment -

Did anyone show up for this race? - Yes, it was rainy weather all day, yet the crowd was disturbingly small for Bristol.   Normally I don't feel bad for Bruton Smith; here I have to because it is never good for the sport when the crowd is that small.

Cue The Rookies - For pretty much the first time this season Kyle Larson and - more quietly - Austin Dillon showcased some legitimate racing moxie.  

Mister Danica Patrick - Ricky Stenhouse clawed his way to finish second and had a spirited running battle to get that spot.   His girlfriend finished a respectable 18th as well.

Start believing in The King again - It will take a lot more runs like this to believe in Aric Almirola, but finishing third, and showing some fight to get there, is an encouraging sign for Richard Petty's #43.

 Carl Edwards remains an enigma - He's won 22 races, yet it remains strange seeing him win, because his consistency has been so erratic - winless in 2009 and 2012, six wins since 2008's nine-win explosion. 

Brian Vickers keeps on keeping on - He started at the back and finished ninth - that's the best a Michael Waltrip car has looked so far this season.

The Busches get racetrack indigestion - The Busch brothers had a bad ending, as they combined to lead 101 laps yet neither cracked the top-28 at the end.

A rookie makes a rookie mistake - Timmy Hill's rear-end job on Matt Kenseth will make the season blooper reel for rookie mistakes.

The old Bristol is finally back - For about the first eighteen seasons since it was repaved as concrete instead of asphalt Bristol had been the worst track on the tour because it was one groove.   In 2010 with banking changes two grooves suddenly appeared, and despite more recent changes to get it back to the slam-fest it had been, the ability to pass has not been harmed.   While passing on the low groove is excessively hard, it's doable, and has led to some nifty battles - and a return of some of the old Bristol vinegar.

It can be lonely at the top - I'm fairly confident tears other than of the crocodile variety were not shed with Jimmie Johnson's mediocre finish.  

So that's that, and the series now ventures west to Fontana, and the second test of the new racecar package that got its first live fire test at Vegas; one hopes raceability shows improvement there.

Obama's Benghazi cover-up

The survivors of the Benghazi attacks have been muzzled by Obama, because he can't face that he let the enemy escape.

The Luck of the Republicans

Obama's derangement and stupidity is the gift that keeps on giving.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Sizing Up NASCAR After Three Races

With the Vegas 400 wrapped up, we now have three races in the 2014 NASCAR season and some observations are in order -

* - Jim Utter thinks NASCAR's new Chase format has delivered on its promise because Dale Earnhardt Jr. gambled on fuel late in the race, a view echoed by MRN's Dave Moody. It wasn't much of a gamble given Junior is locked into the Chase already because he won a race, and the race wasn't particularly competitive - contrast this with the Busch Series 300-miler the day before where there were some good bouts for the lead and the cars were sidedrafting surprisingly effectively.   If anything, between the day's lack of yellows and lack of passing, Junior's fuel gamble merely illustrated how conservatively the racers are racing after Daytona.  

* - It was the first test of NASCAR's aero changes for the non-plate tracks, and it's far too early to make any kind of pronouncement about their effectiveness.   Even so, it was a discouraging first race for this package. 

* - Getting handling to become less important than the draft remains the goal NASCAR needs to pursue for better racing, and directly involved with this goal is also the need to incentivize going for the lead.   The Busch 300 saw some good racing for the lead; the Cup 400 didn't.   This Chase format hasn't paid off as far as that goes.

* - The Chase already appears to be strictly a Hendrick-Penske duel with everyone else left with scraps.   Kevin Harvick's abysmal finish after leading 23 laps at Vegas - and 247 total in the first three races - dropped him to 14th in points; the Phoenix wins locks him into the Chase, so his part of the Stewart-Haas fleet breaks the Hendrick-Penske duopoly right now.   The rest of the SHR fleet, though, isn't performing up to snuff, and curiously neither is Joe Gibbs Racing, which has looked decidedly mediocre since Daytona.

* - How bizarre is this - leading the RCR fleet is Paul Menard, the driver of proven subpar talent whose Menards sponsorship package keeps him in racing.   Menard has led 35 laps so far - the rest of the RCR fleet has led seven.   Vegas was overall a good day for RCR.

* - The rookie "battle" was merely okay for Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson at Vegas - they kept their nose clean and finished in the top-20.  

* - It is becoming more obvious that Penske has become Ford's designated champion, as the Roush outfit has not looked terribly impressive this season.

* - We mentioned JGR's mediocre season so far; what's also obvious is Toyota's program is weaker than it's been since it started.

* - Premature it is to say this, but scanning the field it's hard to see a first-time winner out of this year's bunch.

So the series saunters eastward to the granite-jawed rock-brained concrete of Bristol before heading west again to Fontana and the scene of Denny Hamlin's unfortunate exercise in head-banging last year.  

Islam's Inadvertent Adverse Effects On Adherents

Islam is a terrorist religion, and it is showing in the harm it's doing to its adherents.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Paul Ryan Right About Poverty

MSNBC hacks are going after Paul Ryan's study of poverty by claiming it falsely reports what the scholars it cites say.   The problem as usual is the Democrats are wrong, and The Economist gets what the Lamestream Media won't - as shown by the actual tone of the report, which is more moderate than conservative.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

NASCAR: Now The First Test

If people were hoping NASCAR could maintain competitive momentum after Daytona, then Phoenix wasn't quite the place to maintain it being so radically different from Daytona as well as other tracks larger than the desert one-miler.   Of course all the attention has been focused on Dale Junior, and finishing second to Kevin Harvick keeps him in the point lead.   

For Harvick it is his first win away from RCR and it was never threatened (leading 224 laps total) despite some restarts and his complaint about oil dry being all over the groove he wanted to run late in the race.   "Restarts are crazy," he said, though they didn't seem particularly unsettled in this race.   Indeed the only real incident came thanks to Harvick's teammate Danica Patrick getting crunched in a set-to with Travis Kvapil and Justin Allgaier.

Amid all that, the first "test" race for NASCAR now beckons as Vegas - a well-banked 1.5-miler - is up next.   NASCAR's spoiler and aero changes were aimed at tracks like Vegas where the racing should be competitive but has been almost all forgettable for thirteen seasons.   Charlotte tests showed some promise of opening up passing up front, but now the first live-fire test comes with the Busch Series and then the Cup cars.  

Going into Vegas, a quickie look at the teams as they stand right now -

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS - Junior has become priority #1 for Hendrick and it's paying off.   Johnson and Jeff Gordon are still strong; curiously lost in the shuffle has been Kasey Kahne despite solid effort. 

STEWART-HAAS RACING - Harvick's win helps overshadow a rough start for the organization, especially for Danica Patrick, who is going from bad to worse.  Also going nowhere fast is Kurt Busch, despite leading 15 laps at Daytona. 

PENSKE RACING - The top priority for Ford, the Penske pair has been solid all around.  

JOE GIBBS RACING - Toyota's program has bungled itself to where JGR has become realistically the brand's lone contender.   The one lost in the shuffle has been Kyle Busch.

ROUSH-FENWAY RACING - Though all three Roush Fords are in the top-13 in points, they've been disturbingly quiet about it.

GANASSI-SABCO RACING - Kyle Larson looks like a rookie out there.   And it isn't making Jamie McMurray's effort better so far.

RCR ENTERPRISES - Austin Dillon's Daytona pole gives way to a rookie season, and that Ryan Newman and Paul Menard are guys he has to lean on for help in getting through it doesn't give one excessive confidence.

RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS - 15th was decent for Aric Almirola; it remains to be seen how far Trent Owens and company can take this team.

BALDWIN JR. RACING - Given how low on the engineering totem pole this team is, garnering anything decent is a major step, though trusting Reed Sorenson to deliver is asking for something he's not up to giving.

GERMAIN RACING - Believe it or not, Casey Mears has gotten out of the gate better than anyone expected.

FURNITURE ROW MOTORSPORTS - Let's say it now - Martin Truex is a substantial degradation of this team after Kurt Busch. 

MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING - Without Clint Bowyer this team would have been disbanded by now.  

BOB JENKINS RACING - They won Talladega last season.  It's asking too much right now to expect any kind of repeat.

That's pretty much it right now.   By April we'll all have a better gauge of what to anticipate.  For now, though, the sport is riding some Junior Mania.