Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Matt Kenseth Survives Long Daytona Weekend

The Daytona 500 was supposed to be run at 1 P.M. on Sunday afternoon, but the rains came and postponed it until noon on Monday.  But at around 10:15 Monday morning, NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway officials decided to postpone the race again, pushing the race back until 7 P.M., making it the first prime-time NASCAR race.  The race included a 2 hour, 5 minute red flag after Juan Pablo Montoya destroyed a jet dryer, and, a little after one o'clock in the morning, Matt Kenseth won the first Daytona 500 run on a Tuesday.
Matt Kenseth with the Harley J. Earl Trophy (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
 The race promised fireworks, and it sure delivered.  On lap 2, Jimmie Johnson was hooked by Elliot Sadler, and it started a chain-reaction crash.  Along with Johnson, the crash also included Trevor Bayne, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, and Danica Patrick.  Johnson would go on to finish 42nd, and it could leave him in a hole heading into Phoenix.  If Johnson is penalized for an illegal C-post (chances are he will), he could start the race in Phoenix with -22 points!  That sixth championship just got a little more tricky.

Danica Patrick and Jimmie Johnson wreck on lap 2 (Photo courtesy Associated Press)
 NASCAR and DIS decided to make a $200,000 bonus to the driver who led the race at halfway.  Martin Truex Jr. led that lap, so Truex Jr. should be getting a pretty nice check in the mail. 

The race was about 40 laps from the finish when Clint Bowyer's 5-Hour Energy Toyota ran out of gas.  I guess there is no crash; you just stop on the track.  Under the ensuing caution, something broke on Juan Pablo Montoya's car, and it sent him careening towards one of the jet dryers trying to dry the track.  After being released from the infield care center, Montoya told reporters, "I told them when I left the pits something wasn't right and I felt a weird vibration when we were with the pack. ... I was going down the back straightaway. ... I got on the brakes to travel up and while I was telling the spotter to have a look on how the rear was moving, the car just turned right."

Track workers try to contain the fire from a jet dryer (Photo courtesy US Presswire)
The ensuing explosion and fire was a big one; crews worked feverishly to contain the 200 gallons of jet fuel that were now igniting on the race track.  The driver of the truck had to be helped down, and was sent to Daytona's Halifax Medical Center for further observation.  He was soon released, and is now comfortably resting at his Michigan home. 

After a two hour and five minute red flag delay, which included Tide, Brad Keselowski tweeting from inside the car, some famous Bondo, and a shuttle bus filled with crew members, the race was resumed with 40 laps to go.
Brad Keselowski was tweeting during the red flag (Photo courtesy Brad Keselowski)
 Following the long delay, it didn't take long for another caution to come out.  Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears both spun down the track, in a synchronized spin.  Neither car was really damaged, and following the Montoya accident, this was very mild. 

Another crash on Lap 187 collected Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, AJ Allmendinger, and Brad Keselowski.  Then, Tony Stewart spun on lap 196 to set up a green-white-checkered finish.  The crash collected Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, and 2011 Nationwide Champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr., among others. 

When the race took the green flag, it was a mad dash to the finish.  After taking the white flag, Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. hooked up behind Matt Kenseth and tried to make a move, but they could not catch him.  Kenseth's Ford engine was just too much for them to handle, and he won his second Daytona 500.  Even though his car was fast, it didn't mean Kenseth wasn't a little bit worried that he would be passed on the last lap.  "The 16 had one of the strongest cars all week, and I think ours was right there, as well.  Our car, for some reason, was a lot faster out front than it was in traffic.  My car was one of the faster cars, so it was harder for some of the cars to push you and stay locked onto you.  And we had enough speed once we took the white, I felt sort of OK about it, but I still thought they were going to get a run and pass me," Kenseth told reporters. 
Matt Kenseth beats Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Greg Biffle to the line (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, who had a very fast car all night, finished fourth, while Richard Childress Racing teammates Jeff Burton, Paul Menard, and Kevin Harvick finished fifth, sixth, and seventh, respectively.  Carl Edwards finished eighth, followed by Joey Logano in ninth.  Mark Martin, in his debut with Michael Waltrip Racing, rounded out the top ten. 

Mark Martin races with Dave Blaney (Photo courtesy SPEED)
 This year's Daytona 500 will definitely go down as one of the most memorable.  Between rain and fire, no one will forget this for some time.  The race proved to be a great season-opener, and I'm ready to move on to Phoenix.  Though, I might first take a nap.  Or two.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Is Kyle Busch the New Dale Earnhardt?

The Intimidator.  The Man In Black.  Two names that have become synonymous with one of NASCAR's greatest drivers, Dale Earnhardt.  Earnhardt had 76 victories and seven Sprint Cup Championships in his Hall of Fame career.  His legacy lives on, following his tragic death on the last lap in the 2001 Daytona 500.  Throughout his career, Earnhardt was a polarizing figure.  He was either loved or hated.  He wrecked numerous drivers for the win, and he could manhandle a car like no other driver.

Dale Earnhardt (Photo courtesy ESPN.com)
Rowdy.  Wild Thing.  Two names that describe Kyle Busch.  Throughout Busch's career, he has been a very polarizing driver.  Many call him a punk because of his attitude on and off the track.  Busch has only been racing in NASCAR since 2001, but he already has impressive numbers; 104 NASCAR Wins, the 2009 Nationwide Series Championship, and the Nationwide Series Wins record.  Many people believe that comparing Busch to Dale Earnhardt is sacrilegious, but following Busch's amazing Budweiser Shootout performance, the comparison must be made.

Kyle Busch with wife Samantha on the grid at Daytona (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
 Earnhardt was one tough SOB on the track, but off the track he was a lovable prankster.  Busch is a hard-charging driver on the track, with a take-no-prisoners attitude during the race.  This has led to some scuffles with drivers.  In 2011 alone, Busch had run-ins with Kevin Harvick at Darlington and Ron Hornaday at Texas.  The result of the Hornaday altercation was a one-race suspension in the Cup Series, and his sponsor, M&M's, refused to be on the car for the rest of the season.

His off-track personality has not been much better.  The sometimes-immature Busch ran into some trouble last season, when he was cited for going 128 mph in a 45 mph zone.  This mistake led to a $1,000 fine and a loss of his license for 45 days.

Although he has had many mistakes along the way, many people forget that Busch is only 26 years old.  He began racing in the Truck Series in 2001, at the age of 16.  Busch is still maturing, and his driving seems to be getting better with age.  If he can keep his temper under control, he should become one of the best drivers to ever strap into a NASCAR stock car. 

Dale Earnhardt was a hero to many race fans, and he left a hole in the sport that has yet to be filled.  Maybe Busch can fill the hole that was left in the sport when Earnhardt died.  Many hate to hear Busch be compared to Earnhardt, but even fellow Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip is making the comparison when talking about Busch's Budweiser Shootout saves.  I believe that, in time, Kyle Busch will become as good, if not greater, than Dale Earnhardt was.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kyle Busch Survives Wild Shootout to Win

Kyle Busch survived two near-spins and a frantic run to the finish to win the Budweiser Shootout.  The first save came on lap 48, when Jimmie Johnson tapped Busch's rear bumper, sending him onto the apron, then back up on the track.  On lap 74, Jeff Gordon got into the back of Busch, and while Busch was able to save his car, Gordon made contact with Kurt Busch and started a multi-car accident.  After the field went back green, Busch pushed Stewart into the tri-oval, where he ducked out from behind the No. 14 and beat Stewart by .010 seconds.

Kyle Busch nips Tony Stewart at the line (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
NASCAR made changes to the cars prior to the 2012 season so that it would make it harder for drivers to tandem draft with each other, and the racing returned to the big packs.  The big pack did not take long to produce "The Big One."  On lap 9, David Ragan turned Paul Menard, setting off a chain-reaction crash that also collected Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Michael Waltrip, and Matt Kenseth.  Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, and Tony Stewart were also damaged in the accident.

The second "Big One" occurred with 20 laps remaining, when Marcos Ambrose tapped Joey Logano to start a multi-car accident that destroyed the cars of Ambrose, Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., and Matt Kenseth.

Jeff Gordon's car flips after getting into a wreck with two laps to go (Photo courtesy Getty Images)

 Then, coming to the white flag, Jeff Gordon got into the back of Kyle Busch and sent him sideways.  The wreck collected Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, and Jamie McMurray.  As a result of the wreck, Gordon was sent sliding down the track on his driver's side door, then began to flip until finally coming to rest on his roof.

Kyle Busch celebrates winning the Budweiser Shootout (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
This race was a little nerve-wracking, but overall it was a very close race that did not disappoint.  On Sunday, the drivers will return to the track, to qualify for the Daytona 500.  We are now within a week of "The Great American Race," and I cannot be more excited.  I'm ready to see Mark Martin's first race in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing car.  Who knows, maybe when the checkered flag falls, Mark Martin will find himself in victory lane for the first time in his long career.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Weird Al for the Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show

Many people complained after watching this year's Super Bowl halftime show with Madonna.  That is why many in the comedy community have taken it upon themselves to petition the NFL to get "Weird Al" Yankovic to play the Super Bowl XLVII Halftime show!  I have been a fan of Weird Al since I was a kid.  In fact, he is the only person who I listened to when I was 10 that I still listen to now.  Click here to go to the petition and sign your name for this worthy cause. Seriously, who wouldn't want to hear such classics like Eat It, Amish Paradise, and The Saga Begins at the Super Bowl?  Click the video below to listen to the song "Polka Face," off his newest album "Alpocalypse."

Monday, February 13, 2012

First 2012 Aaron's Commercials Rolling Out

With less than a week before the Budweiser Shootout, the NASCAR season is almost upon us!  Today, the first four Aaron's commercials came out featuring Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip.  Here's a collection of the first four commercials; "Wound Tight," "Above Me," "Not Like Me," and "Salsa."

"Wound Tight"

"Above Me"

"Not Like Me"


Well, I know these commercials have made me excited for the start of the 2012 NASCAR Season, and it's almost here!