Told you Julie Landauer can drive.

Wide Wide World Of Whatever Is Going On, Which Isn’t Much

Spanning the globe to bring you the constant lack of variety in whatever little news there is with NASCAR in the pre–pre–preseason:

  • Richard Petty Motorsports has snagged rights to the number 44, which they will use next year for Brian Scott, who replaces Sam Hornish Jr. For us old farts lose memory of NASCAR stretches all the way back to the gym and distant past known as the 1990s, 44 is immediately associated with Kyle Petty and his hot wheels car. Given that Mattel no longer makes any type of NASCAR – related die cast, and they just lost their ten bajillion dollar a year contract to Hasbro for manufacturing Disney toys, it’s highly doubtful I’ll we will ever see another hot wheels car. Although, a Barbie car during rest cancer awareness month would be A nice touch. Nostalgia aside, the question is what makes Richard Petty think Scott, whose racing record is anything but spectacular, will produce better results than Hornish. Then again, Kyle Petty never won a race in the 44 car. Hopefully for Scott’s sake, RPM isn’t going for consistency as well as nostalgia.
  • Julia Landauer, who in addition to the minuscule amount of fame currently afforded anyone who has appeared on Survivor can drive a race car, will have a full-time ride in the K&N West series this season. Who knows; if she has the right stuff she might wind up being the first Stanford graduate ever to drive in Sprint Cup.
  • It’s interesting that among Landauer’s teammates are a 16-year-old and a 15-year-old, and that JR Motorsports just signed a 15-year-old to run a Late Model car. At this rate I’m not sure whether to look for future stories on upcoming drivers on the cover of NASCAR Illustrated or Teen Beat.

Moving Sale – All Snark 50% Off, Or Something

The good news… well, news anyway is that I’m resuming my NASCAR blogging. I’m going to use my real name, and write over at Restrictor Plate THIS! which as some will recall was the name of both my book from some years ago and the SB Nation site I had for a period of time. The site is not affiliated with SB Nation.

It’s time to both get back into the swing of things and retire the Diecast Dude brand. The latter was great fun much of the time, but its day has passed. Time to write with honesty and clarity about the sport itself, eschewing commentary about other journalists unless it’s something I’m not only willing to say to someones face, but also attach my name.

Hope you’ll join me at the new site. I’m hoping to bring in at least one additional writer there so there will be at least one person on the site with knowledge of that about which he or she speaks. And I’ll be there as well.

See you at Restrictor Plate THIS!

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 27: Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, celebrates with the checkered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 Powered By Kroger at Martinsville Speedway on October 27, 2013 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Before The Watch, A Clock

Even as NASCAR’s future waved its flag yesterday when Darrell Wallace Jr. captured the flag at Martinsville, so NASCAR’s past refused to wave the flag of surrender today as Jeff Gordon ran down Matt Kenseth to win today’s Sprint Cuo race at the venerable track.

Even as Martinsville is venerated by the NASCAR faithful, so is Gordon. No longer the kid pushing aside a slowing Dale Earnhardt as the sport’s leading light, Gordon is now the one whose every non-winning move is followed by whispers that his time is coming to an end. He made this year’s Chase far more via the twilight zone than being in the zone, written off as having no shot at any title save the sentimental favorite. Yet he is the one whose first move tonight after a day wheeling around NASCAR’s toughest track will be consulting with Ingrid about where to shoehorn yet another grandfather clock into the trophy room.

The race was as vintage as Gordon and Martinsville itself, filled with bumps and spins and strategy gambles that sometimes worked and sometimes did not. Kyle Busch saw the paper clip remaining frustratingly outside his reach, another good run thwarted at the end as he faded from contention. Other Chasers suffered similar fates, Clippy clipping down if not completely trimming away their trophy dreams. Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson continued to make every lap toward the championship must see TV even as their private little war gained a new third party knocking at the door, the AARP man reminding the two comparative kids that the old man has no intention of leaving them alone to settle the title by themselves. In the end, it was Gordon who chowed down on the victory hot dog while others ate Martinsville, as is its wont, once again serving several large portions of humble pie.

The Chase just become even more interesting. On to Texas.

Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images

Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2013 in Martinsville, Virginia.

Darrell Wallace Jr. Is The Only Story From Martinsville Yesterday, And Here’s Why

Forget Martinsville’s nuclear hot dogs and the equally nuclear tempers demonstrated yesterday by Kevin Harvick, Ty Dillion, Richard Childress and associated minions. The story — the only story worth discussing — is Darrell Wallace Jr.’s win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200.

And not for the reason you think.

Yes, Wallace is black. Yes, he came out of NASCAR’s oft-ridiculed as nothing more than a publicity stunt Drive for Diversity program. Nice back stories. But, given how no car manufacturer has ever produced a steering wheel and/or pedal that can sense a driver’s ethnicity, still not the story.

The story is that a twenty year old beat a whole bunch of seasoned NASCAR professionals at Martinsville. And if that does not make you sit up and pay attention, you know absolutely nothing about NASCAR.

Martinsville is the nastiest, toughest, most unforgiving track on the circuit. Think you can blast down the deceptively long straighaways and slam on the brakes for its paper clip turns? Bye bye brakes. Don’t want to abuse the brakes so you don’t push it down the straightaways? Get ready to be abused by your competitors as they turn you into a rolling speed bump. It takes a precision mixture of aggressively pushing and feathering the gas, cutting the corners just right and stainless steel nerves plus maximum concentration on every inch of every lap to so much as have a decent run at Martinsville, let alone win. No place for hot shot kids. Martinsville is men only territory (no offense, Danica). Talent is key here, but experience is king.

In other words, no place for kids who can’t so much as legally buy a beer to wash down that Martinsville nuclear hot dog. Certainly no place for said kids to figure out where that grandfather clock will go in their apartment.

Until yesterday.

Darrell Wallace Jr. is the total package on and off the track. He is intelligent and well-spoken; a sponsor’s dream. Behind the wheel he is even more of a sponsor’s dream; a smooth David Pearson type seldom noticed until you notice how he’s passing everyone on his way to posing for pictures with the company owner in Victory Lane. Wallace Jr. made Clippy his own yesterday, putting his name alongside NASCAR legends in the record books. And not because of his skin color.

Because he is that good.

(Wishing For A) Talladega Tornado

This weekend, while the claims jumpers take a nap the Cupsters and truckers make their way to Talladega. Oh, lucky them.

NASCAR fans are of an either/or persuasion when it comes to Talladega. Either they love its restrictor plate action, forty or so cars thundering as one lap after lap in a dizzying lockstep where the slightest miscalculation will at best send you to the pack’s back and at worse (i.e. normally) instantly change your ride from a snarling best to Scrapheap Sally, or they are working out the logistics of what it would take to disguise the track as a giant mobile home park just prior to tornado season. In short, turn the track into a used car lot and look for someplace else in Alabama where a nice little short track would suit people just fine.

There was a time when Talladega and Daytona were almost purposeful, venues showcasing stock car racing in an atmosphere as close to open-wheel oval racing as could be achieved. That time has long since passed. You no longer need to artificially jack up the speed in order to have a competitive, exciting race. What is needed is for cooler heads to prevail, assign Talladega to the memory banks and build a track that genuinely honors the Alabama Gang with some authentic racing action, not a vapid thrill ride looking for a place — which it almost inevitably finds — to spill.

Favorites? Whoever survives.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone.

Tony Stewart says Smoke will rise in 2014


September 3, 2013

Joking that he still must not be feeling well because he had actually missed the various media in attendance, NASCAR Sprint Cup three-time champion Tony Stewart spent well over an hour today discussing various matters during his first press conference following a sprint car accident August fifth in Oskaloosa, Iowa in which he suffered a severely broken leg that ended his 2013 racing season.

Stewart was in an upbeat if not altogether jovial mood as he discussed the accident and its aftermath. The primary point he made was that the current schedule has him back in a race car in February of next year, thus putting him in a position to run the entire 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

Stewart laid to rest various rumors concerning a disagreement between him and Gene Haas, co-owner with Stewart of Stewart-Hass Racing, regarding Haas’ signing of 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and lightning rod for controversy Kurt Busch to create a fourth Stewart-Haas team next year. As Stewart explained, “It wasn’t as dramatic as he (Haas) made it sound. He told me on a Monday, and then that Thursday there was a contract. The biggest thing was Greg Zipadelli saying, ‘We can do this. It may not be fun or easy, but we can do it.'” Stewart further commented that his main concern was whether it would be possible to put together a fourth team period in the available time period and not bringing Busch on board.

As to his accident and whether he felt any remorse over participating in sprint car races at the risk of jeopardizing his participation in Sprint Cup, Stewart responded, “It’s just life, guys. Things happen every day that you can’t guard against. I’m going to live my life to the fullest in the limited amount of time I have on this earth. It doesn’t mean I can do what I want.” He later added, “This (the accident) hasn’t cut anyone’s paycheck. It hasn’t stopped anyone from working. Certainly it’s been great having Mark Martin driving the car. I’ve been attending meetings most every day. The only part of work I’m missing is me driving the car. It was an accident.”

On the subject of Stewart-Haas driver Danica Patrick Stewart commented, “I knew this would be a learning year for her. I was impressed with her race on Saturday (at Atlanta Motor Speedway in which Patrick finished twenty-first). Every week is a learning week. I’m not judging her by her finishing positions; it’s by what we talk about on Monday and what she is learning.”

The oft-displayed Stewart sense of humor came out once again when asked what he most missed about being at the track to which he immediately replied, “The hot girls. When you’re laying in bed, there’s not much traffic going through your bedroom. You’d think after three Sprint Cup championships and everything I’ve done in racing I could get at least one hot nurse.”

Stewart will be piloting a tricked-out scooter when he attends this weekend’s race at Richmond International Raceway, the first race he will be at since the accident.

Surprise New Lineup Joins FOX Sports NASCAR Team

Although not as wildly heralded as the extension to, and expansion of, FOX Sports’ NASCAR coverage, the racing community is buzzing over the news that the FOX Sports 1 broadcast team for all Sprint Cup races it is scheduled to air will not be the familiar trio of Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. Instead, a new combination to the broadcast booth yet well-known faces to all will be reunited, as after a few years away from the limelight Digger, Marbles and Gramps will return to broadcast television as they will call the action. Annie will serve as pit reporter.

“It only makes sense,” a FOX Sports executive who wished to remain anonymous stated off the record. “It’s no secret that the NASCAR demographic is getting older. We need to bring in a new generation of fans. And kids dig the Dig. Don’t they?”

“People are boogity-ied out,” commented another FOX Sports executive who spoke to reporters only on the condition nothing he said would be reprinted in any fashion. “They now want complete honesty in their announcers. If it’s a snoozer of a race, Gramps will unmistakably say so by snoozing. Well, technically that’s all he ever does. So what? Fans wanting validation NASCAR is boring aren’t going to care that the old flea carrier couldn’t stay awake during the Apocalypse. They want snoring, they get it.”

“Annie will be a great pit reporter,” noted a third FOX Sports executive who agreed to be interviewed only via pre-deleted emails. “She’s smart, won’t take any sass from any driver and isn’t afraid to get her paws dirty. Which is a good thing, considering she’s a gopher. Besides, she’s promised no baby making until Digger finally ices that claw… er, finger, which given what a wuss he is won’t be happening any time soon. We can’t tell you what a relief that is. You know what a pain in the ass maternity firesuits are to make?”

Rumors that NBC will counter the move by bringing in the Flintstones to announce some races during its portion of the schedule are presently being investigated.