Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Yes, the Rich Have Become Poorer Since the Recession Started

Class war mythology is always that. The rich are not the problem and never will be.

The Surprising Rise Of Joey Logano

In the 2009 Toyota All-Star Showdown Joey Logano, a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, took out the leader of the race, and the sheer absurdity of his racing seemed to indicate he was going to be another of those drivers who would go nowhere in his career.

Six years later, the resurgence of Joey Logano has become one of the budding epics of NASCAR.

It certainly didn't start that way.   The Middletown, CT native's family moved to Georgia when he was a youth and he became an ace in Bandolero cars and Legends cars, to where by the age of fifteen he was plugged as "the real deal" by NASCAR star Mark Martin.   He was called "the greatest thing since sliced bread" by Randy LaJoie, the two-time Busch series champ.

When he won at Kentucky at eighteen, it appeared the sliced bread moniker would stick.   He won in ARCA racing in the 2008 Carolina 500 and by the end of that year was driving for JGR in Winston Cup, being groomed as successor to Tony Stewart.   He drove several late-season races for JGR, but it was here that the first hint of struggle showed with dismal efforts, which wound up carrying over into his first full season, 2009.   He finished no better than 30th in his first three races and despite winning the rain-shortened New England 300 and Rookie of the Year, his efforts in a barren rookie field were uninspiring.

The remainder of his career with Joe Gibbs was likewise forgettable, lowlighted by a petulant pit confrontation and generally subpar efforts - he was doing less with more, and though he pulled off a surprisingly strong win at Pocono in 2012, by then it was basically too late.   Gibbs gave up on Logano and signed ex-Roush ace Matt Kenseth for his #20.

Logano was signed by Penske Racing, reportedly at the behest of the team's top driver Brad Keselowski.   Logano's Penske career began with a controversial bang in two ugly set-tos with former JGR teammate Denny Hamlin, one at Bristol and a far more severe confrontation at Fontana where Hamlin got stormed into an inside wall and was seriously injured; it led to a postrace fracas between Logano and Tony Stewart (the result of an earlier on-track showdown that day).

And yet in spite of all that the season turned into the best of his career with a win at the Yankee 400 at Michigan and an 8th in final points.   And the career rebound was just starting,  for in 2014 Logano erupted to five wins, a career-high 993 laps led, and fourth in points.   And along the way he usurped teammate Brad Keselowski, the 2012 series champ, as top dog at Penske Racing.

No one could have seen any of that coming after his pathetic beginning at the Cup level with Gibbs anymore than they could have seen him shooting down the Hendrick juggernaut to win in one of the wildest Daytona 500 finishes ever.   Sliced bread?   Joey Logano is the full loaf of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches right now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Surprising Success Of The Kyoto Protocol

In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol was put in place to counter greenhouse gases.   Since it was implemented greenhouse gases have risen by nearly 50% from when the protocol started.   And the net result of rising greenhouse gases has been........that the environment has improved as the protocol hoped it would.

But then that's been in keeping with how market forces always solve issues government thinks it is solving.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Daytona's 1999 Sideways Throwback 500

This is the year 2015, but the way the Daytona 500 finished you would think it was a sideways version of 1999.   It began with Jeff Gordon on the 500 pole, and the showdown for this 500 was between Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets and Penske Racing Fords.   Despite pre-race hype, the Joe Gibbs Toyotas really didn't offer that big a challenge even with Denny Hamlin's late-race wildcard bid.

1999 was a 500 with little in the way of competition until the final twenty laps - and in 2015 that scenario played out again, but this time there was a big reversal.   In 1999 the Penske Fords led over half the 500 and were unpassable for the longest time until all hell broke loose in the final laps, specifically a three-abreast storm by Jeff Gordon and Mike Skinner that became an unprecedented triple sidedraft epic for the win until it petered out in the final few laps.  

For 2015 this time the Hendrick Chevrolets all but monopolized the 500, looking unpassable until in the final fifteen laps challengers got the run and suddenly the entire field was three abreast thirty cars deep for the win, and the surviving Penske Ford was the one who stormed to the decisive pass.   Denny Hamlin salvaged a miserable day for Joe Gibbs by storming into this fight and finishing fourth, this after starting 42nd and this after the other JGR Toyotas either crashed or were basically useless as far as challenging for the win went.  

For Joey Logano, the 500 win has accelerated a career surge no one could have imagined after his abysmal efforts with Joe Gibbs.   From JGR reject, Logano has become a bona-fide superstar, this even with the continuing abrasiveness in evidence in him.   That teammate Brad Keselowski and the Penske satellite effort fielded by the Wood Brothers all fell out with engine failures was in its own way a display of who is top dog at Penske Racing's stock car unit.

Among the others whose days ranged from respectable to reprehensible -


* Kevin Harvick has become the lone contender for Tony Stewart's team, finishing second as everyone else in that bunch either crashed (Stewart, this as Danica Patrick actually finished despite having nothing to show for that), got tossed from the tracks (Kurt Busch, who keeps losing appeals), or showed little in the way of fight (Regan Smith).   

* Clint Bowyer is not part of a one-car team, but Michael Waltrip's outfit looks more and more like one as Bowyer contended basically without a teammate all week.  

* Speaking of one-car teams, Martin Truex took a gigantic step forward with his wildcard victory bid, a huge improvement after a dismal 2014.

* Remember Roush-Fenway Racing?  You may not after their Cup program spent the 500 just drafting and amid no sign of real life.  Trevor Bayne was compared to Tim Tebow in 2011 - it's a comparison he better not want, while Ricky Stenhouse's only measuring stick as a racer is how he competes against his girlfriend.

* Richard Petty should not be pleased.   Sam Hornish earned respect with a decent run, while Aric Almirola should count himself lucky he salvaged 15th after being unable to do anything pretty much on the Cup side the whole week, especially on restarts and despite some excellent pit work from Trent Owens' group.   We know Petty's bunch can do a lot better.

* Speaking of doing better, RCR's Chevys showed life after being MIA all week, especially Ty Dillon fighting into the lead group.   Austin Dillon salvaged a decent finish, while Paul Menard was - well, Paul Menard again, and Ryan Newman is officially worthless as far as helping that outfit.

* Casey Mears is what he is - a guy who did less when provided more.   That he unnoticed pulled off a spectacular finish is amazing.  

* While Jamie McMurray looked okay, Kyle Larson looked bad, and the recent history of young drivers in Cup has been discouraging in terms of sustaining early promise.  

It all added up to a memorable yet frustrating start to the 2015 NASCAR season.  

Speedweeks 2015 - Reed And Xfinity Number One With A Bang

Sometimes clichés become clichés because they're true - it really isn't how you start, it's how you finish.

What began as a so-so Speedweeks first showed true competitive fire in the first half of the Nextera Truck 250, but then on Saturday the Late Model Sportsman series - a series that was the Busch Series seemingly forever, then had Nationwide on its side - debuted Xfinity sponsorship and it seems the debut could not have been more exciting.   It injected Speedweeks with a massive dose of fire.

Ryan Reed ended a 0-for-lifetime skid at Daytona in all stock car classes for Roush Racing and did so even as crashes so thinned the field that only about eight cars were left to fight for the win.   Aric Almirola, driving a Fred Biagi car (curiously it was reminiscent of Curb Motorsports, a nice unintended reminder of the historic link between Almirola's Cup team in Richard Petty and Curb), stormed into the fight at the end but his role in the last-lap Kyle Larson melee blew out his tire, leaving the fight to Reed gunning down a helpless Brad Keselowski. 

Larson, for his part, once again acquitted himself superbly in a fight, though his role in the nasty Daniel Suarez-Regan Smith trioval contretemps shouldn't be ignored.   Indeed, Larson was but one of many racers who showcased amazing competitive fight in this race.   The opening 40 laps were one gigantic nose-to-nose sidedraft mostly between Darrell "Bubba" Wallace, ex-Joe Gibbs Trucker turned Roush Xfinity combatant, and Ty Dillon, with Kyle Busch and Regan Smith heavily involved, the foursome merely four of over twenty cars battling for the front.

The big picture takeaway from this astonishing race is that the racers seem to finally be figuring out effective push-drafting within the tighter box NASCAR has installed.   They are ostensibly not allowed to push-draft all the way around, but in this race they made push-drafting effective again - not since the 2013 season have we seen push-drafting this effective, and it was reminiscent of both the 2012 Busch Clash that saw a heady mix of push-drafting and conventional pack racing and the Talladega Truck 250 in 2013 that likewise saw that combination, though there the push-draft was far more effective.

It is exactly what NASCAR should want for the 500 and other races down the road.  


Takes on several racers in this 300 -

I was surprised Aric Almirola didn't pull off the upset, as he showed a mixture of Richard Petty strategy and aggressiveness - if he can improve that in the 500 he can pull off that upset.   Unnoticed was his quasi-teammate Dakota Armstrong, who began to show some fight and finished a reasonable 11th in Petty's Sportsman car.

The RCR Chevys were strong as always, and Ty Dillon is clearly the better of the two Dillons as a racer.

The Toyotas had nothing to be ashamed of.  Eric Jones overall acquitted himself well, and there will be discussion of Kyle Busch's bad crash into the infield road course entry area - questions about the lack of SAFER barriers will of course be asked; that it's an area over 200 feet from the racing surface where crashes simply haven't happened is why there wasn't a SAFER there; the SAFERS are supposed to be where the wrecks happen.   The real issue is these cars are not scrubbing off any speed when they slide as Busch's car did - over and over we've seen cars slide through these paved run-off areas and there was no scrub-off of speed at all.

Curiously quiet all day was Dale Earnhardt Jr, who nonetheless finished in the top ten.

Regan Smith's unexpected Speedweeks got off to a wild start with a great fight for the lead ending upside down in the trioval. 

The best sponsor of the race was on Mario Gosselin's Chevrolet - Crash Claims R Us.

I give Danica Patrick grief because she deserves it - also deserving it is John Wes Townley, who seemingly can't run any race without wrecking.

Thus did Xfinity take over the Busch Bash and thus did its debut as series sponsor produce the kind of fireworks that scare people and also amaze them, and showcase the awe that is racing at its best.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Speedweeks 2015 And What You Deserve In Life

Speedweeks 2015 races toward its finale as the NASCAR Sportsman Series - now the Xfinity Series - hits the Big D while the Winston Cup cars go for the 57th Daytona 500 Sunday.   The Truck Series went first Friday night, and it illustrated what has made this year a so-so Speedweeks at best.   The battle for the lead in the first half of the Nextera Truck 250 was by far the best racing of Speedweeks so far, a huge multilap battle headed by Tyler Reddick in a Brad Keselowski Ford and Ty Dillon in an RCR Chevrolet.

But then halfway hit and when a Truck appeared to run flat out of gas, a huge crash in Turn Three erupted; not only did it wipe out multiple Trucks, it took all life out of the race, as the second half was all Tyler Reddick all the time, specifically the final 33 laps.   That no one challenged Reddick illustrated yet again the absurdity of NASCAR's myopia against push-drafting - without it there simply isn't enough passing.

The racing is good, but it deserves to be a lot better (as it would in subsequent days).


Not having drivers like Denny Hamlin and Danica Patrick can certainly help the sport become better.   The two were involved in a late set-to in the Qualifying 150s and as usual Patrick went all immature and stalked to Hamlin to remonstrate.  

This is one of those confrontations where neither party deserves anything positive.   Hamlin is a long-time bully on the racetrack and a stuck-up in the garage area, called out as such by ATHLON SPORTS a few years ago, while Danica Patrick remains the gutless soft-porn model who got where she is on her gender - identity entitlement at its worst - as well as with sexually suggestive photo spreads.  

The idea the sport would be better off with either of these two is foolishness.


Hamlin and Patrick lead to the larger issue that they say you get what you deserve in life.   When a judge overseeing the dispute between Kurt Busch and his ex-girlfriend issued a restraining order against Busch, making a point that the evidence against Busch was sufficient to warrant the order plus order for him to undergo psychiatric evaluation, NASCAR, which had waited longer than most sports bodies on this issue, suspended Busch indefinitely.  

The suspension has, like the killing of Kevin Ward by Tony Stewart last August, brought out the worst in racing fans, who seem afraid of the idea that a major NASCAR star is objectively guilty of being OJ Simpson to be shunned by larger society.  The defenses of Busch, whose history of bullying and derangement is far too extensive to ignore - to where he was fired from Penske Racing after 2011 - are pathetic and refuse to confront the issue of what evidence is there that he didn't do what got him a restraining order.    There simply is no credibility to think a restraining order would come down without credibility on the part of the accusation.

The attempt by some fans to cite Travis Kvapil in contrast also fails as Kvapil in effect settled his assault accusation out of court.

The sport is not better off with Kurt Busch's participation, period.   You get what you deserve in life and Busch deserves to be shunned the way Tony Stewart deserves to be shunned.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

2015 Daytona Duels Takes

Takeaways from the 2015 Daytona qualifying races -

Same Old Hendrick Stuff - Jeff Gordon won the pole, Dale Junior and Jimmie Johnson won the races, and that was basically it.  

If They Get Competition, It Will Be A Surprise - The Joe Gibbs Toyotas and Penske Fords are the only other teams with any muscle against Hendrick, and in the 150s that challenge was little to nothing.   Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards preferred to race for nothing - i.e. second - instead of challenge Johnson.  Ford meanwhile more and more looks to be easing out of NASCAR, with nothing outside of Penske to show for anything.

Where Did Clint Bowyer Come From? - The only impressive run all night was Clint Bowyer, who is on his third racecar this week.

Stewart-Haas' Mediocre Night - Kurt Busch showed the most fight of the SHR cars and got busted by another ridiculous yellow line penalty.  The other SHR cars were okay, though Harvick seemed MIA all night.

Danica Crashes Again - That she still made the 500 was pathetic.

RCR Racing To Nowhere - Austin Dillon looks worse than he did last year and the rest of the RCR fleet has no fight.

NASCAR's Rules Myopia At Work Again - The leader was almost unpassable all night and the lack of push-drafting yet again made for a forgettable night.   NASCAR at some point needs to figure out that rules myopia is myopia no matter what euphemism is used.  The penalty on Kurt Busch yet again  leads to the question - what purpose exists for this yellow line rule?

What began with a so-so 75-lap shootout now awaits the Truck 250, Sportsman Cars 300, and the 500 as Speedweeks 2015 rolls on, but right now a so-so Speedweeks has been just that.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Obama Makes The Same Mistake With ISIS

Matthew Continetti makes a grossly-overlooked point - Obama in his sudden desire to attack ISIS is making the same mistake Democrats (and the CIA) have long made in refusing to see these terrorist "groups" are just state-sanctioned mercenary armies - in this case Syria's.

Sizing Up NASCAR Entering 2015

The Winston Cup Series and its adjuncts, the Busch Series and Truck Series - yes, I know, those aren't the official sponsors, and no, I don't care because it's not relevant to anything despite whatever protest to the contrary exists - hit the Daytona International Speedway this week and already several crashes and numerous bouts of unctuous behavior and griping have already hit. Sizing up the 2015 season looks fairly easy this time around.

The big picture observation to be made from the first weekend of Speedweeks 2015 is that the racing is good but again shows how NASCAR'S rules myopia regarding push-drafting is stifling the quality of the racing. It also shows how little accountability drivers want after the angry griping over crashes during knockout pole qualifying as well as the pathetic effort to game the new system; at least Jimmie Johnson showed something to respect when he stated flat out "It's on us (drivers)."


The Chevrolets - Hendrick Motorsports is almost the sole Chevrolet outfit out there and is naturally the favorite. True, Stewart-Haas Racing has won two of the last three driver titles and that fact remains a surprise given SHR is a Hendrick satellite outfit; even so, SHR does not look as cohesive as it was and the outfit's bad start at the Clash (aka the Sprint Unlimited) doesn't augur well; it was perhaps inevitable that their celebrity driver, Danica Patrick, crashed yet again, yet somehow finished tenth in the Clash. RCR is the other Chevrolet outfit of note and looks more and more like a lost cause, especially with Austin Dillon, who looks like there isn't anything there. Ryan Newman finished dead last among cars that finished the Clash and was MIA the entire race, while Paul Menard led some laps but otherwise was nowhere yet again. Ganassi's outfit meanwhile offered promise with a spirited effort in the Clash; Kyle Larson is proving his rookie season is no fluke.

 The Toyotas - As with Chevy, Toyota has basically devolved into a one-team effort with Joe Gibbs, and the signing of Carl Edwards appears to have added some life to the outfit, though it appears to be coming at the expense of Kyle Busch and perhaps also Denny Hamlin. The Michael Waltrip outfit has Clint Bowyer but that's it as far as realistic expectation of winning; Brian Vickers has proven far too schizophrenic to be a consistent threat. The BK Racing outfit likewise has not proven to be much.  

The Fords - Penske's Punks, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, are head and shoulders above every other Blue Oval, and the dynamic of that partnership proved interesting in 2014; Logano has already gotten into a postrace scrape with his wannabe tough guy act with Kevin Harvick in the Clash. The Roush fleet is also still there, but clearly are not all there as far as on-track muscle, outside of a spirited run by Greg Biffle that ended in another crash; signing Trevor Bayne full-time four years after his stunning 500 win is a risk, so it will be worth observing. Richard Petty's team has shown some spirited muscle so far despite ending in a crash in the Clash; talk about an upset if Petty's #43 steals the thunder at Daytona again.

In all there will be some surprises - there usually are - but as far as the entirety of the season it looks to be another Hendrick vs. Gibbs showdown.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Why ISIS’s Grisly Tactics Haven’t Backfired

Because they've inspired fear and millions in ransom payments.

Patriots Four-Time Champions

And thus the Superbowl proved once again that the game itself is better than the circus of cheesy entertainment around which swirls.   Katy Perry's halftime show was standard-issue Katy Perry - it was a lot of flash signifying nothing worth remembering.    The real stars of the Superbowl were the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, and the last eighteens seasons have seen the Superbowl finally become the competitive contest it was hoped to be when it began.   The blowouts certainly still exist (see Seattle's massacre of Peyton Manning) but they sandwich within exciting games such as this one.  

Some breakdowns worthy of the breakdown of Seahawks discipline at the end -


Joe Montana can not compete with Tom Brady - Brady has the four titles, and he got them against superior competition than anything Joe Montana faced - Montana's winning touchdown against the Bengals certainly was amazing, but it was against a Bengals team that was abysmal.   Of Montana's four Superbowls, the only one that came against an opponent that actually showed some fight was the first one, against the Ken Anderson Bengals, and Anderson was not in the class of Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme, Eli Manning, or Russell Wilson.   I doubt Montana could have handled the Panthers had he played against them (Steve Young for one had a hard time against the Panthers as has the Niners organization in general).

Throw, Brady, throw - In 2006 at San Diego Brady became the first quarterback to win a regulation-length playoff game by throwing at least 50 passes; he's now done it several times, and seems to play better when he has to keep throwing.  

The Brady-Manning rivalry is over with Manning routed - While Tom Brady has four Superbowls and three game MVPs Peyton Manning saw his NINTH playoff one-and-out and thirteenth playoff loss, and his losses have come against ten different quarterbacks including Brady.   And the media's speculation about Manning's future is likely to rival media coverage of Brett Favre.   It boils down to that Peyton will never win another Superbowl and may finish with a lopsided losing playoff record.

The Patriots Way succeeds where Denver's imitation of the 1993 Oilers failed - An immortal piece of hindsight comedy is Bert Breer's interview on Gary Tanguay and Andy Gresh's pregame show before New England's rout of the Bengals in Week Five - Breer talked about how the Patriots were not building their roster with any sense of urgency, while the Broncos were going all in for Peyton Manning.   John Elway's imitation of the 1993 Houston Oilers produced the same results - the Broncos were bounced in the first round just like the 1993 Oilers got bounced in the first round - and both with a playoff bye to work with.  

Russell Wilson is competing with Brady as the league's greatest playoff quarterback -  Even with the game-ending interception, Russell Wilson made gigantic plays in a playoff game and his playoff record is only getting better.   When it comes to big games, Russell Wilson is rivaling Brady as the game's greatest big-play big-game quarterback.

The Patriots defense failed yet again in a Superbowl, yet still made the play - It's a cliché - whenever the Patriots are in the Superbowl the defense fails in the fourth quarter.   The difference was this time the defense got stabbed through the heart to their one-yard line yet made the game-winning play.    Malcolm Butler made a play thanks to taking in coaching, and it reminds one of the uselessness of Ellis Hobbs, who seemed to ignore coaching and just freelance - it was why the Giants won the last Superbowl held in Glendale, AZ, because Hobbs had to make a game-winning play and because he's Ellis Hobbs, he failed.

It all showed once again that for all the effectiveness of defense it remains quarterbacking that wins.  

The Seahawks give a preview for Seattle's NHL team - It appears a certainty that a new NHL team will be based in Seattle down the road, and it was appropriate a hockey game broke out at the end of the Superbowl.   It also showcased how trying to be Oakland Raiders-style badasses isn't as effective as it looks - the Ravens play dirty football a la the Raiders and the Seahawks got away with several late hits all game before the game-ending brawl and ejection.

It was poetic justice against Roger Goodell - Goodell lied about Spygate and his credibility appears to finally be coming under fire with the incompetence of the entire "Deflate-gate" scam, this despite the media's refusal to make clear the obvious - that there was no rule-breaking or even rule-bending by the Patriots.   So seeing him have to award the Lombardi Trophy to Belichick was even sweeter.

A harbinger for the Cardinals? - The last time Glendale, AZ hosted the Superbowl, the stadium's owner, the Cardinals, went to the Superbowl the following year - and this is no longer Bill Bidwell's team, it's instead a team that's good, though the issue of quarterback is as daunting now as it wound up being in 2014.

And thus does the National Football League wrap up its 2014 season; football junkies like myself will watch the Arena League and the Canadian League and enjoy it all as we count down to NFL training camps in the summer of 2015.