Thursday, May 1, 2008

Crown Royal Presents The Dan Lowry 400 preview

Each week Ridebuyer delves deep into the misunderstood, oft terrifying, world of American saloon-car racing known as NASCAR.

This week: Richmond. RB'er has a new lead candidate in our quest for NASCAR's most ridiculous sponsor-laden race name. The Crown Royal Presents The Dan Lowry 400 now has the point, followed closely by the Goody's Cool Orange 500. As a reminder, the race with the most absurd name will win a season ending, profanity-laced, Buzz Bissinger-infuriating, assault-post that may or may not feature moderate to hard core pornography. You've been warned.

TV: Fox 7:00pm EST (Saturday)
Location: Richmond International Raceway (Richmond, VA)
Distance: 300 miles/400 laps
2007 winners: J. Johnson (spring race); J. Johnson (fall race).
*A note about whisky sponsorship*

This marks the second season where the spring race at Richmond features the name of some random-dude in its proper title. Last year the honor went to a Jim Stewart from Houma, LA who penned a heartwarming tale about past experiences involving Crown Royal. This year's honor goes to Dan Lowry, who, like Stewart before him, was able to articulate his (responsible) love of whisky in a manner worthy of race-title inclusion. This contest is not a joke. Whisky enthusiasts actually wrote stories about significant moments in their lives where 'Crown played a prevalent role. The best entry gets the author's name in the race title.

That got us thinking about next year, and the inevitable entry that will come from our camp. Hum... Whisky, you say?
The night was cold but the smooth whiskey warmed my shirtless body. The shirt was torn and tattered, resting on the floor next to her lifeless body. Hookers who steal crank deserve to be beaten. Had I gone too far? Her rate was excessive and she was a thief, but the coffee pot I used to bludgeon her provided neither a quick nor clean death. No matter, what's done is done, disposal is now the priority. Another Crown Royal highball goes down. The full, robust and perfectly balanced flavor dulls my senses and minimizes the severity of what just transpired. While taking my last pull from the snifter-glass, a solution to my problems become clear. 40% alcohol by volume equates to 80-proof. 80-proof will light-up flesh like the 4th of July.
Two hours and three handles of 'Crown later the problem was solved. My living room smelled like shit, but my wife would be none the wiser.

Thank you, Crown Royal-

We will keep you abreast of our entry's status. Come 2009, be ready for the Crown Royal Presents The Ridebuyer 400. It has a special ring to it.

*What to know:
Richmond was one of the many tracks dominated by Hendrick Motorsports last season. Jimmie Johnson swept both races, capturing the pole for the fall event (Jeff Gordon started from the pole in the last spring race). Hendrick-teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. returns to Richmond and the place of his last Cup victory (two years ago). It the risk of sounding ignorant, one would assume a Hendrick car (even Casey Mears has been on a tear of late) would be a clear favorite this weekend.
Hendrick-guys were the clear favorite to win last weekend. In fact, we were so confidant that a Hendrick car would win at Talladega absurd statements were made concerning wild lions and boxing. Win, they did not. No such claim shall be made this weekend. Hendrick, like a woefully nonathletic child, has been a disappointment. The bandwagon has been dismounted.

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Richmond International Raceway is 3/4 mile, 14 degree- short track that is a throwback to NASCAR's roots. The first Cup race was held at the Virgina track in 1953 (Lee Petty won), since RIR has solidified itself as one of the primer night-racing venues in the country. (Every spectator event at RIR is "under the lights" including Cup, Nationwide, USAC and IndyCar events.) The track has a bullring-feel about it, as fans nearly sit on top of the action. 5,000 additional seats were recently added, ballooning capacity to 112,029.

Look for a decent number of laps to run under caution, (the record for yellow-flags is 15, set in 2003) and as Darrel Waltrip says, cautions breed cautions. This will likely led to a race void of long green flag runs, thus the possibilities of a fuel mileage race are small. Throw all this out the window if the first 100 laps are caution-free. If that happens, we look silly for two-weeks in a row.

*Who to watch:

Denny Hamlin: Never, under any circumstance, underestimate the power of a home field advantage. Hamlin is from Chesterfield, Virgina and has run like a possessed bat at RIR. In four career RIR starts, he has an average finish of 6.5. He has never won the race, but has second and third place RIR finishes padding his resume. He has six top-10 this year and sits forth in the points.
Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has never finished in the top-5 at RIR. He only has two top-10 finishes. That's not much to write home about. But alas, Bowyer has an average finish 0f 10.8 in the Virgina capital during four career starts. Humm. Consistency, impressive. He ranks seventh in the points and Richard Childress Racing has been on the ball this season with Bowyer's teammate Jeff Burton leading the points. Childress' team will likely be the most competitive Chevy's in the field. Bowyer also has top-10 runs at the previous two short track races this season (Bristol and Martinsville).
Jimmy Johnson: Despite being off of the Hendrick-bandwagon, and ready to proclaim the team's total scrubness at the drop of a hat, you should watch Johnson Saturday night. His record speaks for itself at RIR. No really, it's that good. Just look at his stats. He was a monster on short tracks (ok, all tracks) last year and is currently fifth in the points. Telling people to watch for him is like saying the Patriots are a threat to win the AFC. Digression. Um... Johnson could win.
*Dark Horse:
Kasey Kahne: Kahne has quietly fallen in the points this season to 13th. He started the year with three consecutive top-10 runs, but has tailed off as of late. However, He has good equipment and has shown speed at RIR in the past. (2005 spring race-pole and win). He ran seventh at Bristol this year, which means he must run well at RIR. Right? There are both short tracks, you know.

*For those heading to the track:

Honestly, we know very little about the city Richmond or the racetrack located therein. Here is the Wikipedia page for the town. Read it, maybe you can learn something. The extent of the firsthand knowledge we have of Richmond (the city, that is) is from a buddy who once went for a work-related training session. He said it was pretty shitty, and kind of ghetto. He made the point of mentioning that Richmond strip clubs require dancers to wear those odd disks over their nipples. So, if you are looking for someplace to go after the race Saturday night, you might be disappointed with a strip club. Tailgating information can be found here. The most important item: fannypacks are allowed.
*Series points:


Next weekend: Darlington Raceway. NASCAR takes South Carolina by storm! Man, I hope Myrtle Beach get destroyed. That place is gross.

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