Monday, April 25, 2016

From Richmond And Stafford To Talladega



Talladega is the most competitive track in racing - as shown here

The superspeedway swing of NASCAR resumes this weekend as the Winston 500 weekend beckons, this coming off Richmond's most competitive race since 2007 and an eye-opening finish.   A look at some issues -


*****


The issue of lugnut rule enforcement (or lack thereof) by NASCAR was finally acknowledged when NASCAR sent a post-Richmond memo to teams in essence requiring them to tighten all five lugnuts per tire. The brouhaha led to a pair of interesting points made amid prerace chatter at Stafford.  One is that part of NASCAR's motive for allowing teams not to tighten all five lugnuts may have been a desire to lessen the workload - and thus lessen the need - for its at-track officials.   Forgotten amid the controversy over aero-matching etc. in the recent past is that this indeed was a factor in NASCAR decision-making - get the rules to where it can lessen the workload for the officials.    There is nonetheless reason for some skepticism with regard to lugnuts, since the lugnut change was so self-evidently wrongheaded.

The other point made is that NASCAR may have expected teams to police themselves about it.   If that was considered it's intriguing on the one had - Boys Have At It becoming more of an ingrained philosophy by NASCAR.  But the drawback is that it reflects poorly on teams that they seem not to have been policing it for drivers to be so publicly complaining about it.


*****



Mind-blowing stat of the day - Joe Gibbs Racing won just two Cup races in 2014. Entering this Winston 500 JGR has now won nineteen of the last forty Cup races.   Talk about paradigm sifts - it used to be all Hendrick all the time, now it's touchdowns galore for the old Redskins coach.   Five of those wins came from Matt Kenseth yet curiously he has fallen off the map, with only two top-ten finishes.


*****


Dale Earnhardt Jr. did something surprisingly unnoticed yet encouraging - after he won the Busch/Xfintiy 250 at Richmond he didn't do a burnout.  He cited Mark Martin's dislike of the celebratory antic plus he reasoned he needs the engine to last more. 

Junior has it right - burnouts have worn out their welcome; drivers need to act like they've been there before - because almost all of them have.


*****


Talladega comes after the photo-finish Daytona 500, a race that was disappointingly lethargic until that electrifying last lap.   Kevin Harvick famously gave Denny Hamlin a hard shot that pushed him into the win, and Harvick said afterward he thought the drivers would start push-drafting more and earlier than occurred.  

That they didn't was stupid on the drivers' part - the push-draft is by far the strongest power to pass ever seen, and they need to start using it from Lap One onward.


*****


Talladega is usually a tossup as far as prerace picks - looking back at the Daytona 500 the obvious picks are the JGR Toyotas, the Hendrick Chevrolets, and the Penske Fords.   Dale Junior won this Talladega race with frankly absurd ease last season but hasn't been as strong this year (he has five top-tens including two seconds but hasn't led a lap since Phoenix and was oddly off the pace at Richmond despite the Xfinity win).   Hendrick Teammate Jimmie Johnson has been a little more consistent, and so has Chase Elliott, though he's led only five laps so far. 

Joey Logano won the Diehard 500 and also this year has been oddly quiet even with six top-tens so far this year.   Penske teammate Brad Keselowski in contrast has not only been quiet, he's been disturbingly mediocre since the surprise Vegas win (just two top-tens since then; Richmond was also the first race he'd led since Vegas).

It's a longshot for anyone else to upset the Big Three.   Stewart-Haas Racing has Kevin Harvick and his Phoenix win and overall solid outings, it also has good efforts from Kurt Busch, but that's pretty much it as far as contribution goes.   That Tony Stewart is driving at Talladega this weekend is a little surprising given he hasn't done much to speak of there since getting upside down there.




Tony Stewart's 2012 Talladega melee



Talladega once had the reputation for darkhorse winners -


The sport can use that again this year.   There certainly are plenty of candidates starting with Martin Truex, who has fallen off the map since the Daytona loss; Richmond was only his second top-ten since Atlanta.   To belabor the number of worthwhile darkhorse candidates would be pointless - they're there.

So it goes entering Talladega.

More On The Iranians And The 2001 Attack

That the 2001 attack on New York and Washington was a state-sanctioned act of war should by now be manifest. We have long had evidence of Iranian as well as at least some Saudi involvement, though Saudi backing of both sides in Islamo-Arab imperialism's war against the West showcases CYA by them. The real issue remains Iran (Iraq was also involved but George W. Bush knocked them out) and Obama's determination to appease the Ayatollahs.

Middle Class Mythology Exposed

The middle class is not suffering as Democrats pretend they are.

Brady Suspension Shockingly Reinstated

Presented is a piece from Pro Football Talk of Judge Katzmann's dissent (to be found on Page 34 of the Ruling) from the three judge Second Circuit appeals court's ruling for the NFL in suspending Tom Brady.

That Goodell's derangement has been personal and not driven by any objective understanding of the inner workings of the game (and the dishonesty displayed throughout this ordeal) brings to mind that his election as Commissioner needed multiple votes by the owners, who clearly had misgivings about his competence.    And time and bitter experience appears to be solidifying doubts among league owners.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sanders Needs To Shut Up

Bernie Sanders continues to show he doesn't know jack about economics and his constant mythologizing about taxes furthers the ignorance.

Shawn Solomito Sizzles While Coby Cruises At Stafford





Stafford Speedway's Spring Sizzler showcased again that sometimes in racing it is all about one guy.   Not that it started that way.   The track is celebrating the 35th season of its SK-class Modifieds, a class founded in 1982 amid considerable controversy but which has long been the track's most competitive class.   That showed again in 2016's Sizzler - the lead changed hands on all three of the opening laps as Cam McDermott, a newcomer to Stafford, led from the pole and battled Beian Sullivan and Jeremy Sorel, but following a Mike Christopher Jr. spin (Mike Jr. is the namesake son of Terrible Ted's twin) Todd Owen - driving car #81, TO #81 an irony lost on everyone - stormed to first.

Eric Berndt clawed into contention but it was Rowan Pennick's #99 that grabbed first amid a series of spins that eventually claimed Berndt and Owen, while Woody Pitkat challenged late but couldn't seize the win, setting for second with Sorel third and Teddy Christopher, still the winningest driver in SK history, in fifth.

The Late Model feature was calmer, but not by all that much, as early leader Tom Fearn got swerved in Turn Four by Michael Bennett around halfway; Fearn rallied from deep in the field to finish fourth, futilely chasing Bennett and Michael Wray as they finished 1-2 and Jim Mavlouganes quietly grabbed third.


Once the Mod Tour 200-lapper got going it became an exercise in trying to keep up with Doug Coby.   It proved an exercise in frustration and no one could.   Coby checked out on virtually every green flag run.   In contrast, Jimmy Blewitt in Bob Garbarino's #4 started alongside Coby on the front row, fell back in the back, then wrecked.   "It was just starting to come around," Blewitt said of his handling before the wreck.   It nonetheless marked his second dismal outing in the Garbarino #4, though a brand new racecar beckons for the Garbarino team down the road in the early part of the season.

Coby's only challenge came on the restart following Blewitt's mishap.   Ted Christopher led the pack but was dusted off a lap later by Coby and that ended the competitive phase of the race.   Teddy's day went from bad to worse as he gagged, fell to 14th, and eventually got lapped. 

In the end Doug Coby checked out.   Todd Szegedy and Rowan Pennick salvaged podium finishes, but the unsung story of the race was Shawn Solomito, driving Wayne Anderson's car, a former Modified champ at Riverhead, NY.   "For this (#75) team it was a great day," Shawn said afterward.   "It was a team effort.   We ran in the top five with the good guys, and we're on the Tour for our second year."  

Shawn's #75 came home with little to no damage - in contrast to Tim Solomito's #16 that sported a mammoth crease in the left-side quarter of the back

It wasn't much to write home about for George Brunnhoelzl III, driving the #28.   A standout on the Southern Mod Tour, George III has won 27 times there, won the tour title last season, and has won twice already in 2016.   Today at Stafford it started decently as he started third and ran in the top five but by Lap 163 he was a lap down, ultimately finishing 17th.  


So it went for the 2016 Sizzler.  

Friday, April 22, 2016

Exposing Earth Day Fraudulence

This is a compendium of pieces examining the mythology that drives Earth Day.

We also have spectacularly fraudulent predictions made on Earth Day in 1970.

Lugnuts And NASCAR Ineptitude

The most inexplicable rule change in years - maybe ever - has become a major controversy.  NASCAR is allowing teams to secure tires with three to four lugnuts, not all five. It has become controversial because several drivers have spoken against the change - the most public is Tony Stewart, and his comments have gotten him a $35,000 fine by NASCAR, which the NASCAR Drivers Council has stated it will pay.

That NASCAR even implemented this rule is baffling, with wanting to "spice up" pitstops somehow being considered a worthwhile competitive goal.   That it is self-evident nonsense - missing even one lugnut inevitably weakens the wheel and leads to trouble - that NASCAR decision-makers somehow didn't want to see is even more disturbing, for it indicates even less grasp of the inner workings of the sport in the sanctioning body's leadership than even pessimists thought.  

Stewart has been controversial almost from his rookie season, and his on- and off-track deportment has often been malicious (the use of bodyguards in his Chili Bowl confrontation with a heckler curiously has gone unnoticed - it's the kind of thing classic thugs have) - and we of course know it became lethal in 2014.   None of that matters here - NASCAR fining Stewart is wrong not least for the fact that such fines inherently inhibit honest discussion.  

Kurt Busch has pushed for NASCAR to convert to one central lugnut as other racing series use - the problem is it's totally unnecessary - just tighten all five lugnuts.  

Racing writer Randy Hallman compares Stewart's outspokenness to Dale Earnhardt Sr., saying he was "a driver not hesitant to say what he believed needed to be said."   It's a spotty analogy given what Earnhardt said often had a self-serving quality or wasn't terribly insightful - for one, Earnhardt's famous "Bill France must be rolling over in his grave" comment about the lack of passing in the 2000 Daytona 500 was ultimately little better than a Captain Obvious moment.   I don't particularly remember one policy battle with NASCAR Earnhardt ever was right about. 

Moreover Hallman's premise that drivers since Earnhardt's death have lacked outspokenness is wrong - drivers speaking out became more, rather than less, prevalent in 2001 and after; even rumors of drivers acting on "what (they) believed needed to be said" in 2001 got media attention, best shown by the infamous Stock Car Reporters website and its sham Talladega-boycott story authored before the April 2001 500-miler there.

What's struck me about the last fifteen years is not lack of driver outspokenness but a mild prevalence of it, more of such than people seem to think.    This is why NASCAR has the low downforce package despite the universal evidence of history from 1998 onward that the concept does not work - and isn't this year, either. 

Stewart's outspokenness needs to be taken on an individual basis - what is the issue, what is he saying, does what he's saying jibe with what's really going on?   It's the same with everyone else.   NASCAR indeed is wrong to fine him here - and they need a better explanation than Scott Miller's mealy-mouthed assertion that NASCAR will reevaluate the lugnut rule.  

Sports always need honest discussion - and it's a two-way street, applying to the Drivers Council as well as NASCAR.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Savagery Of Identity Politics Get Worse

Mixed-gender bathrooms breed sexual molestation. They serve no purpose. Curt Schilling told the truth and was fired from ESPN for it - and Obama'a lawsuit against North Carolina further illustrates the malicious nature of identity politics.

Flint Indicts The Wrong People

The Attorney General is indicting three Flint and Michigan government officials over the city's water pollution fiasco. It's the EPA and the Michigan Department Of Environmental Quality, though, that are more guilty.

Austria's Pink Ghetto aka The Drawbacks Of Socialized Motherhood

Austria gives ridiculously broad maternity entitlements and the drawbacks are showing in a "pink ghetto."

Obama's Climate Non-Change For The Castrodons

Barack Obama keeps pushing climate change even though he can't keep his promise, while he sucks up to the Castros - geopolitical dinosaurs who like Tyrannosaurus do nothing but kill - and the Castros thus grow fat.

Twenty Dollar Revenge

The change of the $20 bill from Alexander Hamilton to Harriet Tubman has nothing to do with anything beyond "the ideal of retributive social justice." It also illustrates the absurdity of identity politics and their denial of reality.

Bernie The Tax Cheat

Bernie Sanders' taxes typify Democrats - do what we say, the law doesn't apply to us.

Piketty And Progressives Fail Progress

Thomas Piketty shows he doesn't know anything about economics because he and other progressives fail real progress.

Cologne's Rape Jihad

This was initially published on January 11:

The mass rapes in Cologne in recent weeks is the result of the refusal to hold Muslims who refuse to become legitimate citizens accountable. Muslim immigration has become demographic imperialism (and Muslim rapes are not limited to Germany) and Angela Merkel and Cologne's feminist mayor have insisted on denying it - and they're not the only ones as the truth is buried under the mythology of "diversity."


UPDATE, April 20:
A look at British Muslims shows anti-Semitism, Balkanization, misogynism, and general bloodthirstiness - basically a widespread approval of violence and lack of accountability. Their anti-Semitism is illustrated in the anti-Semitism inherent in the Boycott-Divest movement - a movement at work with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Obama's Costly End-Run on Regulations

Obama has been a failure yet like the Lonesome Loser he keeps on trying.

UnitedHealthcare’s Exit Augurs Badly for Obamacare

UnitedHealthcare’s Exit sugests Obamacare is dying of its own impossibility.

Here are five facts that showcase why this withdrawal happened and why it will not be the last such.

The Peace Myth

Liberals keep asking Israel to give up land it seized in response to Arab aggression - and never figure out those aggressor states are the problem, not Israel.

Title IX at work

What does Title IX mean? A female student wasn't harassed, yet her boyfriend was expelled anyway.

The Rockingham Saga Never Ends




1969 American 500

The saga of North Carolina Motor Speedway continues as the track has effectively shut down again and headed for auction.   No doubt quite a few fans are angry at this occurrence,  as the view that NASCAR needs to go back to Rockingham continues being circulated in fan circles.  

The reality, though, is the track was a victim of an eroding fanbase - at its peak it seated some 60,000, but that began eroding by 2002.   Though the circumstances behind the track losing its NASCAR dates remain bothersome - the track had been purchased by Penske Speedways, then when that arm of the Penske empire went up and had to be merged into International Speedway Corporation it wound up being part of the deal that finally got Speedway Motorsports Inc. the second date for Texas Motor Speedway that had been a running controversy.  

Some fans oversell the quality of Rockingham's races.  Not that The Rock lacked quality competition - the 1977 Carolina 500 for one saw numerous hard battles for the lead despite an epidemic of crashes that dragged it to an average speed below 100 MPH; the 1981-85 period may have been the track's heyday, and the 1984 American 500 was undoubtedly a highlight of the track's history.   The track's competitiveness declined markedly with the switch to radial tires and the deterioration of its surface, to where pitting for tires every 40 to 50 laps became the norm until it was repaved in 1994.   With the new pavement the track saw a stunning Busch Series 200-mile finish and the track reached another apex in the controversial Goodwrench 400 in 1996.

From then on, though, the track's fortunes never got better with the change of ownership, declining attendances, and the eventual end in 2004.  

The resurrection of the track by Andy Hillinberg was viewed with genuine hope but it has ended in acrimony, shown in an ugly controversy on the Dave Moody blog between Bill Silas, a businessman involved in the ownership of the track, and Craig Northacker of the Vets-Help website, whose response to Silas' initial interview led to an angry retort from Moody himself.

The way to save the speedway is for the area's fanbase to come out and support it.   This is what Darlington's fanbase did when Darlington was dropped to one race in 2005.  

Monday, April 18, 2016

Joe Gibbs Racing's Bristol Stomp

Joe Gibbs Racing lit it up in Bristol's first NASCAR weekend and the win by Carl Edwards on Sunday following the surprise win by Erik Jones on Saturday further cements JGR's hold on the NASCAR world circa 2016.   The April weekend at Bristol was the second short track race of the season and it saw enough eye-popping competition to warrant lengthy analysis.

Worth discussing right away is the odd dichotomy of the racing and the crowds for the Bristol track.  Once advertised as the hardest ticket in racing, Bristol races stopped selling out several years ago and this April weekend the stands were striking in the sparseness of the crowds, even for the Southeastern 500 on Sunday.   The loss of NASCAR luster has been a manifest truth for some years now and Bristol's decline in popularity has been all the more striking. 

The quality of the racing there from 2010 onward has been a heated controversy in at least some fan and participant circles.   Steve Billmyer, a longtime crewman who crewed for Harry Hyde's team in the 1980s, calls Bristol "a shell of its former self" because the racing in recent years has seen little to no grip on the bottom; "grinding down the high groove turned it into a one-groove track," he adds.   And he isn't the only one from which such sentiment I've heard or read expressed.

I find the controversy somewhat odd because I remember Bristol's competitive heyday of the 1989 through 1991 seasons, as the Southeastern 500 for those three straight runnings combined to break 80 official lead changes and saw two dramatic finishes, none closer than Davey Allison's photo-finish win over Mark Martin amid the wreck of Sterling Marlin by Ricky Rudd just behind them.   Rusty Wallace's 1989 victory came after a spectacular darkhorse victory bid by Greg Sacks, while Rusty's 1991 victory after making up two-lap deficits on two different occasions was easily the most competitive short track race in NASCAR history.    The racing involved the highside being faster than the lowside as a race would go on and the lead would often change twice a lap due to an attacking car getting a nose ahead but being beaten to the stripe by the highside car.  The high vs. low dichotomy was bitterly noted by Geoff Bodine after crashing out of the 1990 Southeastern 500 ("The bottom groove is gone, where we normally run.....we're racing under some ridiculous conditions").

The track was asphalt then and constant application of sealer, controversy over lack of grip and so forth led following Alan Kulwicki's 1992 Southeastern 500 victory to the use of concrete as a surface.   The conversion to concrete, combined with the full phase-in of radial tires, changed Bristol racing.   Now the track became a one-groove bullring where the bottom groove was the only area to race on.   Though the record indicates the conversion to concrete didn't drastically change incidence of yellows for Bristol races (for instance the track hit twenty yellows in 1989 as asphalt, then did it again in 1997 and 2003) the change nonetheless did affect how drivers could race.   For nearly two decades Bristol became a "bump and run" racetrack, illustrated in graphic fashion in the last-lap melee involving Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte in the 1999 Volunteer 500, as well as with several helmet-throwing incidents, notably Ward Burton in 2002 and Dale Jarrett in 1993. 

This type of racing became a selling point for races there.   "I miss the old bump-and-run days," says Lorenzo Haskins, "I miss the days of over a dozen cautions."   

But with almost every race wrecking so many cars and so little passing there seemed need for change, and by 2010 the turns had been changed to a more progressive form of banking, the lower groove flatter than the higher groove.  The 2010 Southeastern 500 won by Jimmie Johnson may have been the first race to truly illustrate the effect of the change.  It has been really a return of Bristol's pre-concrete competitive self; the lead changed 29 times in that 2010 race, by far the most since 1991.   Bristol has broken 20 lead changes four times from there through this April weekend.

The best illustration of the "back to the future" Bristol came in Saturday's Fitzgerald 300 Xfinity race; the most eye-popping non-Daytona/Talladega race since the immortal 2015 Charlotte Truck 200 and its Erik Jones-Kasey Kahne sidedraft battle for the win - with Jones' involvement in both the ultimate irony.   Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson had the race almost all to themselves, and clumps of lapped cars turned their duel into a real battle as the lead changed back and forth between them.  

Throughout the low line was all but unraceable, and this wound up becoming decisive on the final restart, as Kyle Busch gagged horribly, Larson jumped to the lead, but Erik Jones slithered up high and stole the race, Larson doomed with zero grip to use down low.


*****


The Food City 500 had a tough act to follow and it didn't really reach that level of competition, simply because Saturday's race caught a lot of people by surprise.   Sunday nonetheless saw some spirited battling up front and fifteen yellows.   Takeaways from the Sunday affair -


It's strictly JGR vs. Hendrick in 2016 -JGR has now won four times to go against two Hendrick wins.   True, we saw another spirited effort by Stewart-Haas, itself with a win so far, but that was pretty much it as far as any challenge for the win went.

The rookie race looks over - Chase Elliott quietly clawed to a fourth-place finish and suddenly Ryan Blaney looks like a rookie in a Penske satellite car more than a victory contender, though 11th was hardly a bad finish here.

Roush-Fenway showed noticeable improvement - All three Roush cars finished in the top sixteen; coming after some decent efforts so far it's not implausible right now to think some level of a turnaround is happening.

Some independents grab quality runs - Matt DiBenedetto and the BK Racing #83 shocked everyone with a spectacular sixth place coming after a strong effort by Landon Cassill, who led twenty laps in the Bob Jenkins Ford. And while Clint Bowyer is no darkhorse, the Harry Scott car is no powerhouse, so 8th for that combo warrants mention as well.

Not all touchdowns for Coach Gibbs - Matt Kenseth led 142 laps then wrecked out, and Kyle Busch also wrecked out. Such radical swings in fortune are par for the course for Busch, but Kenseth's poor season has been a head-scratcher.

Some more tire issues - The JGR teams were the highest profile of several cars that had right-front failures, and for the second time this year Goodyear addressed the issue during the racecast.


So it went at Bristol, with Richmond up next.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Government Proves It Has No Business Telling People What To Eat

Government requires menu mandates ostensibly to combat obesity - and it doesn't work.

Puerto Rico And The Minimum Wage Scam

A myth pushed in favor of higher minimum wages is that companies rake in huge profits and should be forced to spend those profits on their employees. The problem is that premise has never been true, and the 2007 experience of Puerto Rico, Samoa, and the Marianas Islands - where minimum wages were forced much higher in 2007 - shows minimum wage kills jobs and economies.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Classic NASCAR - 1979 Daytona 500 MRN Call

The MRN call of the immortal Daytona 500 of 1979.

Mariska Hargitay, Real Life Crusader



Happiness is having a loving family, success, and being able to rip off the Ayatollahs to help update rape kits.  

Mariska Hargitay has every reason to be the happiest woman in the world. She has the longest-running series in television in Law and Order SVU, she has a loving husband in Peter Herrmann (a periodic supporting cast member portraying lawyer Trevor Langan), and together they have numerous children, biological and adopted.

Men want her (no shock given her splendid shapeliness, inherited from her mother Jayne Mansfield as well as her dad Mickey Hargitay) and women want to be her. They doubly want to be her because she has been almost more active with her off-screen charity the Joyful Heart Foundation - which works with the No More campaign - both dealing with domestic violence, and recently she helped drive updating and improving the examination of DNA in the backlog of sexual assault cases - with at least some of the money coming from money seized from banks helping Islamic terrorists.

Ms. Hargitay redefines going the extra mile here.

The Equal Pay Hoax

Feminazis push Equal Pay day, and do so by lying about how market reality dictates what people earn.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Phony Case Against Right To Work Laws

A judge in Wisconsin recently ruled that the state's right to work laws are unconstitutional because they prohibit unions from making workers pay for representation those workers don't want. The reasoning behind this ruling doesn't hold up - especially considering that federal labor law itself authorizes right to work laws.

Kansas Disproves The Myth Of Islamophobia

In March the Islamic Society Of Wichita invited a terrorist cheerleader for a speech; the Society soon rescinded the invitation after protest. The Wichita Eagle covered the incident and the Eagle and the Society insinuated the entire affair was Islamophobia. The facts as usual showcase that Islamophobia doesn't exist - only excuse-making for Islamo-Arab imperialism.

Solar Power Flaming Out

Solar companies need government to force them upon people, even as they prove failures.

The Market Shocks Government Again

The private sector is improving the energy grid on its own, not because of government.

Stifling Free Speech on Climate Change

Suddenly governments, unable to justify climate change demagoguery on facts, are resorting to criminalizing those who object to it.

Obama.....Tells The Truth?

Barack Obama made a startling admission that he was the one wrong in how he handled Islamic aggression in Libya - this after palming off blame on the Europeans in his infamous Atlantic interview.

But of course he thinks corporate inversions are more evil than Islamic imperialism, so he resorts to lying about corporate inversions.

Hidden Debt Hidden Deficits

A new study has been released detailing how state and local governments are $1.91 to $3.4 trillion in debt due to unfunded pensions.

Additional information comes here.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Solomito Steals Preece's Thompson Thunder




Thompson Speedway kicked off the Icebreaker of 2016, and it put the Ice in Icebreaker given the usual chilly mid-April temperatures that greeted the capacity crowd as well as the multiple features hitting the 5/8th miler.    In the larger sports world that Sunday the 1992 Houston Oiler-esque collapse of Jordan Speith stole all the headlines; at Thompson there wasn't a collapse, but the NASCAR Modified Tour did see an upset of a win.

Entering Sunday's plethora of features the favorite was Ryan Preece.  Driving both the #6 Mod Tour car as well as an SK-class Modified, Preece flew from a disappointing Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway in Johnny Davis' #01 racecar for the Icebreaker.   But a harbinger of the outcome of the 150-lapper for the Tour came in the SK-class feature as Preece had to pit after two early yellows and was never really a factor for the win.   The SK race shook into a showdown between Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher.  A Rowan Pennick spin set up a green-white-checker finish and Christopher got a huge run on the white flag but couldn't finish off the pass, even when a seven-car scramble set up another green-white-checker finish; Christopher's second shot wasn't enough to stop Keith Rocco.

What did become enough to stop Keith Rocco later on was his twin brother Jeff in the Late Model race.   The two basically monopolized the race until near halfway they were side by side and Jeff lost it in Three and they both wrecked hard, the kind of air-off-the-spoiler-flavored wreck we thought we'd last seen in the 1990s at the Cup and Busch/Xfinity level.    The same fate bit Rick Gentes and it all left William Wall with the win, his first in the Late Models at Thompson.

Amid that, the Pro All Star Series stockers went through a rough and competitive outing won by Garrett Hall.   Meanwhile Ryan Preece prepped for the Mod Tour 150.  Driving the #6, Preece seized the lead from polesitter Doug Coby and for 80 laps was unbeatable, putting seventeen of the field of 27 a lap down or more.   Jimmy Blewitt's spin set up pitstops and Justin Bonsignore got out first.  

On the Lap 92 restart Bonsignore got a huge jump and Timmy Solomito,  in the Flamingo #16, grabbed second; he then seized the lead and withstood a hard counterattack from Bonsignore on Lap 93.  Preece got to second following Jimmy Blewitt's second spin of the day, and at Lap 109 he wernt after the lead; Preece and Solomito raced for a lap before Preece cleared into first and it appeared the race was over - but on Lap 116 Solomito ran down Preece and retook the lead.   Bonsignore grabbed second on Lap 121 but Preece fought back and retook the spot, then closed on Solomito by Lap 130.

The challenge, though, would not develop, as Solomito edged away and by Lap 140 was over a second ahead, and kept inching away to the win, denying Preece the expected triumph.

It also gave Solomito a first - his first Mod Tour win.   "I feel like I'm dreaming," he summarized of his breakthrough win, while Preece was left summarizing that "my car didn't have the drive it had before" of his second-half effort.

Others likewise were left a little mystified by the changing track condition.   ""It was just a good top five,: said Doug Coby afterward.  "It's all you can hope for.   I thought, 'all right, I'll fish around (for another line).'"

Jimmy Blewitt, making his debut in Bob Garbarino's famed Mystic Missile #4, struggled even when his car wasn't going around.   "At first I was stuck tight," he said.  "I got free but it was still tight, like a four-wheel drift."

Bonsignore summarized that "The 16 was the class of the field."  Like others his #51 "was too tight." 

Playing it tight thus proved the order of the day in a 150-lapper where a first-timer stole the thunder of one of the Tour's stronger stars.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Questions For Opponents Of New Bathroom Laws

North Carolina passed a law that basically reinforces that men's rooms are for MEN and ladies' rooms for LADIES - not for freak shows. The fact of this law has led some "progressives" to whine and the PayPal company says it won't open a new branch in Charlotte because this law "invalidates protections for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens."

PayPal is asked eight questions that it and other progressives have no credible answer for.


Of course the reason progressives have no answers is because they are not about being objective - they're about being lecturing frauds.

Stop Regulating GMOs

Government needs to stop regulating GMOs.

The Fiction And Friction Of Palestinians

Palestine has always been a fiction of history - a charade the world keeps playing - and we got a reminder of this from - of all people - the UN (long the biggest supporter of international savages like Palestinians) about Hamas and keeping its people impoverished.

NASCAR Discussions Entering Texas

NASCAR's 2016 season now enters Bruton Smith's speed palace in the Dallas-Forth Worth area. Curiously overlooked is this marks the 20th season of Texas Motor Speedway, and the flying of time has made one forget the near-disasterous debut seasons for the track to where rumor of NASCAR quitting after 1998 seriously circulated. Texas hits with several issues jostling for attention - which seems par for the course of any NASCAR season.


*****


The Virginia 500 didn't see the on-air lobbying for NASCAR's low downforce package that previous races had seen, but Randy hallman at the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Tom Jensen at Fox Sports' NASCAR page authored pieces on the Martinsville race that basically lobbied for it anyway. Jensen in particular noted the varied battles outside the top five, presenting it as evidence of better racing. while Hallman made a thoughtful argument that NASCAR's short tracks have the best racing.

The argument about battles outside the top five is an old one and I remember it used to drive the late David Poole nuts; it drives me even more bonkers. The lead is the spot that matters; those battles outside the top five or top ten aren't supposed to be an end in themselves, they are supposed to part of the battle for the lead.

On the issue of short tracks, they are what NASCAR started on, but from the beginning the signature races for the Grand National series were the beach race at Daytona and the Southern 500 at Darlington; the building of Daytona International Speedway set off the big-track boom and the sport quickly evolved into a superspeedway league. Short tracks are great for local racing and the smaller tours like the Modifieds and the K&N Tours, but even in the Modifieds the signature races were long at the 1.5 mile Trenton Speedway, at Pocono on the 2.5-miler in the 1970s, and since 1990 at New Hampshire International/Motor Speedway. In the 1970s the Winston West tour's big races were at Ontario Motor Speedway and for awhile in recent years at Fontana.

Historically some 78 Winston Cup-Grand National races have broken 40 official lead changes, and just one - the 1991 Southeastern 500 at Bristol - was a short track. Talladega has broken that competitive barrier a whopping FORTY times (and for good measure the Busch/Xfinity Series broke that barrier there twice). Daytona broke the barrier thirteen times; Charlotte nine times, Pocono seven times, Michigan six times. Atlanta and Darlington broke that barrier once apiece, both times in 1982. And all these tracks plus Ontario Motor Speedway and the Fontana track have flirted with forty lead changes plenty of other times.

This isn't to say the short tracks haven't seen highly competitive races. Indeed the bullrings have quite often held their own competitively in their own way with the superovals. Martinsville broke 20 official lead changes for the first time in the 1980 Old Dominion 500 won by Dale Earnhardt. Geoff Bodine's 1992 Old Dominion 500 win was one of the nastiest races of the celebrated 1992 season. The Virginia 500 in 1998 and 1999 saw memorable nose-to-nose battles for the lead, both times involving John Andretti. Martinsville then broke 30 official lead changes for the first time in 2010's Virginia 500 won by Denny Hamlin when a late restart exploded into a three-abreast fight, while the 2014 (won by Kurt Busch) and 2015 (won by Hamlin) Virginia 500s put up some eye-popping numbers - a combined sixty-four lead changes.

Bristol began to establish itself as a must-see race first in the 1968 Southeastern 500 and a memorable duel between Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, and Leeroy Yarbough where at times they were three wide for entire laps - such was that race that it was prominently featured on the Car & Track television series that season. The 1974 Volunteer 500, coming five years after the track was banked much higher for faster speeds, turned into a memorable event as Cale Yarborough led over 350 laps but Buddy Baker stormed to an upset bid; on the final lap Cale forearmed under Baker and swerved him to the Turn Four fencing for the win, which delighted Cale and Junior Johnson and left Baker and Bud Moore stewing.

Bristol turned the competitiveness up another notch in 1988's Southeastern 500 with Bill Elliott's comeback from getting spun out by Geoff Bodine; a year later the lead changed 34 times in the Southeastern 500 as Greg sacks led 119 laps but despite numerous saves couldn't sustain the lead and Rusty Wallace grabbed it; two years later came the 1991 race that broke 40 lead changes, again won by Wallace. The track's conversion to concrete took a lot of passing away, but work on the turns by 2010 brought back old-school battling for the lead there, as Jimmie Johnson won the Southeastern 500 in 2010 in a race that hit 29 official lead changes and numerous additional ones.

So there's certainly something to like in the short track portion of the Cup season. Ultimately the short tracks may not measure up to the best of the big tracks, but there is something competitively to them for the big leagues.


 *****


It matters because as the Sports Media Watch site showed, NASCAR's TV ratings have been poor all season and not getting any better. The lobbying by NASCAR media for this low downforce rules package seemingly every race has gotten ridiculous and it's also not being honest with anyone. While there has been spots of decent racing, overall 2016 is proving anew why low downforce packages and high horsepower simply don't see better racing. Getting NASCAR's popularity back won't come overnight; it will take years. But NASCAR and its media first need to start being honest about things. Give us back the 40-plus lead change races the sport was built on; eliminate the Chase concept and give us back a points race that incentivizes winning and most laps led.


*****


The puzzling story that isn't going away is the story about whether Kevin Harvick is staying at Stewart-Haas Racing when it switches to Ford. Ford Motorsports chief Dave Pericak, who took the job at the start of 2015, stated flatly Harvick will be racing Fords in 2017. One would have thought this a done deal, yet the story that Chevrolet intends to grab Harvick and place him with Hendrick Motorsports in 2017 simply isn't going away, and it leaves me wondering if something indeed is going on behind the scenes.

A star driver suddenly switching teams or car makes isn't a new thing; controversy surrounding the switch isn't new, either, yet remains unusual, given the memory of the rancor that followed first the grabbing of Jeff Gordon by Chevrolet (what stood out most was Ford boss Michael Kranefuss' public anger at that) and the similar rancor when Rusty Wallace and Ricky Rudd switched to Fords for 1994 and made a point of ripping General Motors as basically crooks for their handling of racing, which led to a memorably sharp exchange of press releases before the 1994 season.


So that's how it is right now as Texas Motor Speedway beckons.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Bernie The Antisemite About Gaza

Bernie Sanders shows anew he doesn't know jack about anything when he rips Israel over Gaza - a war instigated by Arabs.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae Get Sued

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are being taken to court in an appeal from hedge funds that got ripped off by the two government bodies.

Jerry Brown Says Minimum Wage Is Good Politics, Questionable Policy

Which begs the question of why Governor Moonbeam should even exist. Even he admits minimum wage is a ripoff.

Clueless Hatred Of Capitalism

Clueless Capitalists showcases the clueless hatred of capitalism.

Martinsville And Popularity Decline

The 2016 Virginia 500 was contested at Martinsville Speedway and Kyle Busch led over 350 laps in an oddly tranquil 500-lapper, this after he won the Truck 250 that saw some twelve yellows. Kyle Busch's win did not produce much in the way of widespread attention paid to the race - the Sports Media Watch site reported the race's ratings declined yet again, a pattern for NASCAR in this season as well as recent seasons past.

Some blame was laid on the fact the race was telecast on FOX Sports' primary cable outlet FS1 - the former Speed TV - but with the proliferation of cable channels the allegation that a substantial percentage of fans did not have access to the race does not strike one as plausible.

The sport's popularity decline has been a long time coming and turning it around will be a long time coming - and it requires greater honesty on the part of NASCAR and its varied participants.  The competition level is not sufficient.   Though the low downforce rule package is promoted every race - Tom Jensen's after-action piece on the FOX Sports website repeats the lobby - the blunt truth remains it is not working and will not work.   For all the praise drivers have for how the cars feel the reality has shown in blown tires, aeropush, a one-lane surface for Martinsville, and no improvement in lead changes - this package is merely a repeat of the same mistakes NASCAR has kept making for nearly twenty years.


*****


For all that the Martinsville race did offer some interesting takes.   Kyle Busch's win was typical and as such eminently forgettable even with a pathetic rumpswab of a puff piece by Nate Ryan on the NBC Sports NASCAR page.    Just behind him, though, we saw some encouraging finishes by A.J. Allmendinger, Austin Dillon, and Kyle Larson.   Whether they can sustain these finishes remains to be seen given the lack of follow-up from them in the past.   Allmendinger has shown from his debut in Richard Petty's car in 2009 that he has the fight - he fights to get to the front, something not that many drivers do.    Dillon and Larson have been much-touted young guns who haven't advanced in the sport to this point; more finishes like this and maybe then the potential seen in them will finally mean wins - and first-time winners is something the sport hasn't seen in nearly two years now.

Dillon's RCR teammate Paul Menard led ten laps, surprising given he's never given reason for expectations to be all that hot, and finished in the top-ten.

It was a typical Kevin Harvick race - he led with some authority and wasn't around to make a win out of it - he didn't even finish in the top ten.   The same was true for another Martinsville race for Matt Kenseth.

It wasn't much to cheer about for Ryan Blaney or Chase Elliott, the two rookies producing a mediocre effort and finishing at the bottom of the second ten. 

Greg Biffle hasn't had anything to cheer about for awhile now, and 12th at Martinsville merely illustrated how poorly the Roush fleet is running right now with no sign of a turnaround.


So it goes with Texas and then a two-week short track surge before the Winston 500 at Talladega coming up.