Sunday, August 28, 2011

Kyle Busch, Nifty 50

On Friday night, in Bristol, Tennessee, history was made.  Kyle Busch won a Nationwide race for the 50th time, breaking the record he shared with Mark Martin.  The last Nationwide race won by Busch was on July 16, where Mark Martin joined him in Victory Lane.  This weekend, Martin was not in Victory Lane after Busch beat Joey Logano by .019 seconds. "It was great to have Mark with us in victory lane at Loudon and take some photos for tying it," said Busch.  "Tonight, it was our night."

Kyle Busch beats Joey Logano by .019 seconds, the closest at Bristol. (Photo courtesy

Busch led 186 laps of the 250-lap event.  But it was almost undone when Logano ran his fast car up to the front and challenged Busch for the lead.  "I don't know where he came from.  He had a rocket ship there at the end," Busch said in Victory Lane.  Logano was once again beaten by Kyle Busch in the Nationwide Series and had to settle for another runner-up finish.  "We want to beat him.  It's frustrating to be so close.  He's just a really good driver." 

Kyle Busch - 50 Nationwide Wins (Photo courtesy
 I, unfortunately, couldn't watch the race because of Freshman Orientation things here at school.  It figures, I make it a point to watch every Nationwide race all summer so I can watch it when he wins.  Then, the first race I miss, he breaks the record.  I am sad to see Mark's record fall, but I am happy as a fan of Kyle Busch that he won number 50.  I already had my mom order the commemorative shirt from the Superstore so I can celebrate as a Mark Martin fan and a Kyle Busch fan.  I will definitely wear it when Kyle wins Number 100.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Blog Giveaway!!

So I leave for college in the morning.  I will be attending Slippery Rock University for Communications/Public Relations.  To celebrate this big step in my life, lets have a Twitter Giveaway.  I figure it to be a win-win situation: You win something cool, and I get more traffic (hopefully) to the site.  So here's the deal; I have a PSN Code for a Deimos skin in God Of War III.  All you have to do is follow me on Twitter (@mmar0260185), and tune in on Saturday, September 3rd.
Who needs Kratos when you have his brother Deimos?!
 I'll be coming home on Labor Day weekend, so I'll do it then.  Just stay tuned to my twitter feed, I'll post more details about the time this will go down as we get closer to the day.  This code will allow you to play as Kratos' brother Deimos during the game.  I gotta say, that's pretty cool.  Let us celebrate this new stage of my life together.  Happy gaming everyone!

EDIT: 9/4/2011
The winner of the code is Nick Ricotta!  His Twitter handle is @thatdamnNickR!  Congratulations!
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Danica is Coming

The worst-kept secret in NASCAR became official today, when Danica Patrick announced she will make the jump to NASCAR.  We'd known for weeks the details of deal, but Danica had not announced anything until today.  She will run full-time in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports, and she will run "8 to 10" races for Stewart-Haas Racing in the Cup Series.  Remember, you can only run 7 races before you use your Rookie Eligibility.  In Nationwide, she will run the No. 7 Chevrolet.  In Cup, she will be sponsored by as well, but the number is yet to be decided.  Robby Gordon currently has the No. 7, and it is not known if he will give that up.

Patrick has been running in the IZOD IndyCar Series since 2005, and has a 10.6 Average Finishing Position.  Compared to NASCAR, that is an average finish of 16.9.  The highest she has finished in the points is 5th, in 2009.  Looking at her Nationwide stats, she has gotten better in just one year.  Last year, she had an average finish of 28.0.  In the 7 races she's run this year, her average finish is 16.0.  She also has 3 Top 10s and 1 Top 5. 

Danica's Nationwide car for 2012 (photo courtesy

The plan right now is for her to go Full-Time in the Sprint Cup Series in 2013, but as Danica said, "Right now, it's a partial schedule for 2012."  It has been rumored that her Sprint Cup debut will be the 2012 Daytona 500, but nothing has been announced as of yet.  There is nothing announced yet that will allow her to run the Indianapolis 500 next year or not.  One surprising thing at the news conference was that no one from JRM or SHR was there.  Only Danica and CEO Bob Parsons were on hand. 

I honestly think she will do well in NASCAR, she seems to have a good handle of how these cars work.  She came into the sport and wanted to learn, unlike some drivers who come into the sport and think that these cars are easy to drive.  We'll see how she does in her last 5 starts in the Nationwide Series.  She will be running at Richmond in September, Kansas in October, and Texas, Phoenix and Homestead, all in November.  Her jump to NASCAR full-time has been long awaited, and I only have one thing to say: Welcome to NASCAR, Danica.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Brad Keselowski: Next Sprint Cup Star?

With Brad Keselowski's win at Pocono International Raceway, he moved himself into contention for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  The only person with 2 wins outside the Top 10, he seems to be a shoe-in for a Wild Card berth.  But what is amazing is that Keselowski has gone from running in the 20s to running in the Top 10 and competing for wins every week.  His recent performance begs the question; Is Brad Keselowski the next Sprint Cup Series star?

Since Sonoma in June, Keselowski has only finished outside the Top 15 once (a 35th at New Hampshire).  In that span he has a win, 2 Top 5's and 5 Top 10's.  Even more amazing is that he was injured in a testing crash at Road Atlanta.  Without brakes, he hit the wall at around 100 mph.  The impact broke his left ankle.  No big deal.  Except he brakes with his left foot.  The next races after that wreck were Pocono and Watkins Glen, 2 tracks known for their harshness on brakes.  Many wrote him off at those two tracks, saying he would never do well.  Keselowski thought differently.

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Keselowski got to the front at Pocono, and on the final restart held off Kyle Busch to win the race.  Then at Watkins Glen, he would never do well.  Right?  Once again, Bad Brad proved everyone wrong by soldiering through the injury on his way to a 2nd place finish.  Keselowski is now 14th in points, but he is only 24 points ahead of 20th.  Remember, if he falls out of the Top 20, he won't make the Chase.  Even if he has 10 wins.  Actually, that would be quite amazing, seeing as there are now only 4 races until the cutoff for the Chase at Richmond.

So, is Brad Keselowski the next big thing?  Maybe, maybe not.  He's proven himself a contender in the Nationwide Series, winning the Championship in 2010.  But he has been hit and miss in the Cup Series.  We'll see if this current stretch will become the new norm for Keselowski, or if it is just a little flash of greatness.  I think, one day, Keselowski will be able to fight for a championship at the Cup level.  Whether its now or years down the road.  One thing I know is that he has grown on me.  I never liked him, but he is quickly becoming likeable.  I know the Markaholics will be angry about that, but I already like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, so how much worse can it get?


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Monday, August 8, 2011

Pocono: Day 3

Today was the third, and final, day of racing at Pocono Raceway.  There was a full slate of racing for today.  Yesterday's postponed Truck Series race was scheduled to restart at 9 a.m., with the ARCA race to follow as soon as the Trucks finished.  Then the Cup Series would go on at their scheduled time of 1 p.m.

My mom and I left the hotel around 8 o'clock.  We've been to Pocono before, so we knew traffic would not be a problem.  This is where I'd like to speak directly to the folks at Kentucky Speedway.  Pocono literally shuts down the road, and makes both lanes go toward the track.  And the people working there are actually parking the cars.  So take note Kentucky Speedway; if Pocono can do it, you should be able to do it.  Just sayin'.

When we got to the track, the Trucks had already restarted their race.  Only a few laps had passed, so we quickly found our seats for the day and plugged in the scanner.  Soon we were listening to Mark Martin talking to his Crew Chief Doug George.  Mark Martin could only get a 7th place finish out of the race, but his Crew Chief was very optimistic.  "Let's see what we can do for Michigan," said George.  Mark Martin's next Truck race for Turner Motorsports is August 20 at Michigan International Speedway.  Kevin Harvick was the class of the field today and yesterday, and ran away with the victory.

Next was the ARCA race, but we decided to do some shopping at the haulers before heading down to catch some of NASCAR Raceday.  One thing I noticed while walking around the haulers was that there was a bigger line for the Kyle Busch hauler than the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. hauler.  Maybe the Junior fans weren't up yet.  Or maybe they just spent all their money on beer. (I'm kidding, my mom's a Junior fan, so I can make fun!)

We walked into the infield and went to Raceday.  I had bought a little Mark Martin flag earlier, and I whipped that out to try to get noticed.  So if you noticed a little Mark Martin flag shaking behind Kyle Petty's head whenever they talked to him, that was me.  My mom even answered a trivia question and got a SPEED Channel Can Koozie!

So we went to our seats after that to watch Driver Introductions.  The race had been pushed up by 5 minutes to try to beat the rain.  The sun was shining when the drivers took the green flag.  We got to lap 50 without rain.  Then lap 100.  But the rain eventually did come, and halted the race at lap 124.  It poured for about 10 minutes, then it was over.  I walked out from under the cover and said, "Mom, lets go back to the seats.  It's nice out again."  And it was.  The sun was shining and the rain had stopped.  Between the sun, the breeze and the jet dryers, the track was dried very fast.  After a 1 hour, 48 minute rain delay, the engines were refired.  And by the end of the race, Joey Logano had went from being the possible winner to finishing 26th.  On the final restart, Brad Keselowski jumped under Kyle Busch to take the win.

Brad Keselowski celebrates his 2nd win of the season.
 Mark Martin finished a solid 13th, which bodes well heading toward the Chase.  The pit crew had great stops all day, and the car was fast and solid all day long.  Mark moved up 3 spots to 15th in points.  He is now tied with the future driver of the 5 car, Kasey Kahne.

Mark Martin drives by in the No. 5 Chevrolet.
 After the race, we headed out to the haulers one last time so I could get another Mark Martin hat and a Travis Pastrana shirt.  Then we got in our car and waited to get out of the track.  And, unlike Kentucky, the lines of cars moved fast, and we were soon back at our hotel.  Again, take note Kentucky.  These other tracks can do it, not sure why you can't.  Oh, and Pocono is allowing people who couldn't attend the rain-postponed races today to get FREE tickets to the same races next year.  Yes, FREE.  I know the word doesn't exist in Bruton and Smith's English Dictionary, but it's something the race fans like.  Say it with me; F-R-E-E.

This weekend was absolutely amazing.  It was the most fun I've had at a race weekend ever.  I really hope I can come back next year.  The racing at Pocono may not be as good as Daytona or Bristol, but the people here are very nice and the location is wonderful.  But tomorrow I have to head back to Pittsburgh, and start getting ready for college.  I hope you've enjoyed my Pocono adventure as much as I have.  Be sure to follow along for more blogs to come!


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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pocono: Day 2

Today was Day 2 of the race weekend at Pocono Raceway.  The schedule for today included Truck and Cup Series Qualifying, then the Camping World Truck Series and ARCA Race.  After rolling out of bed and heading down to breakfast, we saw something cool.  As we were eating breakfast, the crew for Ricky Carmichael's Truck started coming in for breakfast.  There were Monster logos everywhere!!

We finally got on the road, and headed to the track.  There were a lot more people on the road today than yesterday.  I figure a lot of people came in yesterday, due to the fact that there wasn't any real racing on the track.  We still got there in about the same amount of time, but we had to park a little farther away.  As soon as we got there, the first Truck roared onto the track for Truck Series qualifying.  My mom and I wanted to watch both qualifying sessions from Pit Road, so we headed down there.

Mark Martin straps in to the 32 Exide Batteries Truck.
 We found the 32 Truck and followed it all the way down pit road.  Oh, and remember those Mark Martin fans we saw at the Truck Autograph Session yesterday?  Well, they followed the truck down pit road too.  We made it a kind of Mark Martin/Twitter party. (You can follow him @GregHo329)  When Truck qualifying was over, it was time for Cup qualifying to start.  We did the same thing, followed the 5 car all the way down pit road.

The Number 5 Chevy sits on pit road.
 As he was about to make his lap, we moved back up to the other end of pit road so we could see him at the start/finish line.  Its a good thing we went up when we did, because eventual pole sitter Joey Logano was walking down signing for fans!  He became the first (and so far, only) driver to sign the new hat I got for today!  We stayed up there to see if anyone could knock Joey off the pole, and no one did.  The funniest part was when the scoring pylon said Kurt Busch ran a lap of 179 mph, when in actuality he only ran a lap of 171 mph.   Joey Logano, to my knowledge, was the only driver to break the 172 mph barrier.

Then we went and found some seats for the Truck race.  We were sitting right at the start/finish line, surprisingly no one took those seats.  I was tweeting in-car audio from Mark Martin and the 32 team, and he seemed to have problems shifting.  It started to drizzle a little as they started racing, but nothing major.  Then, with 17 laps into the 50 lap race, the rain started coming down.  And as of right now (9:23) it hasn't stopped.  It was about 2:00 when it started to rain, and everyone ran for cover.  As tweets from Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) rolled in, the outlook wasn't looking good.  At around 2:45, we decided to leave the track.  With our hotel only being 30 minutes away, if they started to dry the track, we would have been able to get back to the track to see the race restart. 

This was the makeshift flag stand.  It doesn't look too sturdy.
 At around 5:30, they officially postponed the race.  The Truck race will be run tomorrow at 9 a.m., with the ARCA Race to follow.  The Cup race will start at the scheduled time, so if the ARCA race isn't over, I'm not sure what they'll do.  After looking at the radar a couple minutes ago, I am cautiously optimistic that we'll be able to get all 3 races in.  Hopefully 1 (or 2) of the races end with Mark Martin in Victory Lane!!


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Friday, August 5, 2011

Pocono: Day 1

Today was Day 1 of the NASCAR Race weekend at Pocono Raceway!  I was excited because this was the first time that I could be here for all the festivities and not just the Sprint Cup race.  We got to the track around 9:30, just as Truck Practice was starting.  My mom and I first walked around the Fan Area, just to scout out the locations of some key stuff.  I also had to get a Pocono Raceway hat for autographs, but more about that later. 

We finally made it to the grandstands as the trucks were whizzing by.  Since I had no idea what Mark's car looked like, I had to look as the trucks sped by for the one with the 32 on the side.  I finally found it, and I waited for him to pull into the pits so we could sit in front of it.  Well, he came down.  All the way at the other end of pit road.  So we grab our stuff and move down there to watch them work on the car.  Thankfully, Austin Dillon's truck was right in front of Mark's, so that was perfect.

Mark Martin's 32 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet sits on Pit Road during Truck Series Happy Hour.

After watching practice for a little while, we decided to head down to the pits for the first time.  We walked around a little bit, and we found ourselves outside the media center.  There was a group of about 10-15 people just standing around.  I thought that was a little weird.  I mean, why would they do that?  I figured it out when Dale Jr. drove up in a golf cart and went inside.  Then Jimmie Johnson came in.  Then Clint Bowyer!  It was a good thing I got that hat, as I got both Jimmie's and Dale Jr.'s autograph.  That $15 hat just got surprisingly high-priced surprisingly fast.  Before we left the media center, I caught Dave Blaney as he was walking into the garage.

Then we realized that we could go onto Pit Road WHILE PRACTICE WAS GOING ON!  Well that was pretty awesome, although Mark was already out of the truck, but that was okay.  I was able to get Timothy Peters and Max Papis to sign the hat.  Max was even nice enough to take a picture with me!  As we were walking back to the pit exit, Ron Hornaday walked by in street clothes.  He was the next person on the ever-growing list of drivers to sign the hat. 

After eating, we headed out to the souvenir haulers to do some shopping.  I only picked up the Carquest and Quaker State pit caps, and a Mark Martin seat cushion, can coolie, another hat and ticket lanyard.  Then when Cup practice was over, we went back into the pits and stood outside the media center again.  Jack Roush walked by, but he didn't sign anything.  Then about 5 minutes later, Carl Edwards briskly walked into the media center.  "Sorry guys, I'm running late!" said Edwards. 

Then Jack came back out.  He walked down one side of the line of fans.  Then he walked back up and signed everything on the other side.  He stayed for 10 minutes signing everything the fans put in front of him.  He didn't have to, but he did.  He was so good to the fans, and a definite class act, and this is one fan who appreciated it.  And as he was doing that, Greg Biffle starts heading toward the media center.  He also go his name on this prestigious hat!

Then we had to head out to the fan area to get wristbands for the Truck Series autograph signing.  Well, they say its a small world, after all.  The people in front of and behind us in line were Mark Martin fans too!  In fact, the guy behind also plays Tuesday Trivia with Kendra Jacobs (@KendraTeam5).  It seems I've won some of the things he wanted.  Well, we got some great autographs there; Parker Kligerman, Max Papis, James Buescher, Joey Coulter, Todd Bodine, Brendan Gaughan and Austin Dillon.  They all signed the hat, and they each gave me a signed hero card.  I also brought a card for Austin Dillon to sign, which he did.  Brendan Gaughan was actually the best one out of all of them.  He asked us how we were doing, and then signed each card to the person.  I told him mine was Bryan with a "y."  "Its a good thing you told me, I wouldn't have even asked!"  Yeah, not a lot of people do.

After all that, we decided to leave before Sprint Cup Happy Hour and ARCA Qualifying.  On our way out, we stopped at the RCR Hauler and I got an Austin Dillon hat for tomorrow's race.  If you're coming to the race tomorrow, I'll be the one in the Markaholic shirt and the Austin Dillon hat.  I will be rooting for both drivers.  I'm also going to have to get a new hat for drivers to sign.  It seems this one is quite full.  I really hope to meet Mark Martin tomorrow.  Maybe I can get some help from Kendra on this.  If I do, I'm going to have him sign my "Numbers Change, Class Doesn't" shirt that I made in Graphics Class this year.  There are only 2 of them in existence.  And 1 of them will hopefully be signed by the man himself.  Follow along tomorrow on twitter for updates from the track, and if I have enough energy, I'll probably post a blog again tomorrow.


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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Countdown to Pocono - Mark Martin

Tomorrow morning, my mom and I will get in the car and make the 5 hour trip to Pocono Raceway for a fun-filled weekend of racing.  And Larry the Cable Guy (I won tickets on Twitter).  This weekend also mark's a major milestone for Mark Martin at Pocono; along with racing in his first Truck race since 2007, he will be making his 50th Cup Start at the track.  So in the final blog post before I go up, I'll take a look into his prior 49.

The first time Mark raced at Pocono was on June 6, 1982.  He finished 26th, but when he returned in July, he finished 10th.  His next Pocono race would not be until June 19, 1988, when he and Jack Roush teamed up for a 4th place finish.  That started a stretch from 1988-1993 that saw 5 Top 5s and no finish worse than 15th.  After inconsistency from the duo from 1993-1995, they finally found their groove in July of 1995.

Starting with the race on July 16, 1995, Mark Martin only had 1 finish outside the Top 10 until July 28, 2002.  Unfortunately, that one finish was a 43rd on July 23, 2000, after blowing an engine only 25 laps into the 200 lap event.  The most dominating race in that stretch was on July 21, 1996.  After starting from the pole, he led 122 laps en route to a 9th place finish.  His stats throughout this stretch are amazing.  An average finish of 7.5 (including the 43rd place finish), an average start of 5.8 and 227 laps led. In the first race I ever saw at Pocono on TV, run on June 9, 2002, Mark led 7 laps on his way to a runner-up finish.

 The final race he ran with Roush Racing was July 23, 2006, and he ran a dissapointing 19th place.  With his time at Ginn Racing/Dale Earnhardt Inc., he had finishes of 7th, 9th, 10th and 8th, which are his most consistent finishes with any team.  His first race with Hendrick Motorsports was June 7, 2009, and he finished 19th.  But he bounced back in July with a 7th place finish.  This June-July trend would continue in 2010 with, after a 29th place finish in the June race, another 7th place finish in the July race.  This past June, Mark finished a dissapointing 18th, continuing the trend of bad finishes in the June race.

After 49 races, Mark Martin has an average finish of 11.2 and an average start of 8.9.  He has completed 93.4% of the total laps run at Pocono, and has led 445 laps.  He has also been running at the finish of 42 of his 49 races entered.  With a strong run at Indianapolis and the trend of running poorly in June and running well in July, Mark's chances of a good finish this weekend are looking up.  Hopefully I can cheer loudly as the No. 5 Chevrolet pulls into Victory Lane for the first time in 50 starts.

**On Twitter?  Add me @mmar0260185.  On PSN?  Add me as a friend: mmar0260185.  Maybe we can race sometime.**