Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pepsi 500 preview

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

This week: Pepsi 500
TV: ESPN 7:00pm EST (Sunday)
Location: Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, CA)
Distance: 500 miles/250 laps
Past winners: M. Kenseth (2/07); J. Johnson (9/07); C. Edwards (2/08).

*Racing on a Sunday night, Chase-isms and the history of the "Hot Carl" *

The weather in SoCal dictates that Fontana's second Cup race is a night affair. There is no possible way to wage this race in the afternoon heat of greater-LA in August. Fans would be keeling over in the stands and reaching the brink of heat-induced delirium and hallucinations before the ceremonial flyover of Navy F-37whatevers. The crews and drivers would, of course, deal with the oppressive heat as they are being paid to sweat their respective balls off in three-layer nomex jumpers. It is the fans that would suffer, as they would be expected to spend valuable cash for the honor of getting a sun burn. We, (you know, the editorial we) got a sun burn in Florida a month ago and thought our skin was going to separate itself from the bones and other inner workings of our body. That shit hurts. And we didn't have to suffer the indignity of paying money to get ass raped by the sun.

So, merciful NASCAR contests this particular race at night. That's not terribly noteworthy as many events get the under-the-lights treatment. But, not many get the Sunday under-the-lights treatment. That's because most people have to go to work/school on Mondays, thus the prospects of watching or attending a 500-mile motor race that will undoubtedly stretch into the wee hours of Monday morning (EST, that is) is not very appealing. Labor Day weekend is the perfect fit, with Monday void of any activity save pounding beer until the grill need lit. But, the advantage doesn't stop there. It's "two fold" as they say. The second fold rhymes with football. This is kickoff weekend for college f-ball and NASCAR would be crazy to stage a race against that.

Consider: Because of the aforementioned climate concerns, this weekend's race must happen at night. Typically... NASCAR schedules Cup night races on Saturday evenings. If that were to happen in this case, the race would be opposite a host of games including Alabama v. Clemson, Illinois v. Missouri and the highlight of our kickoff weekend, Cal Poly v. San Diego State. NASCAR, you don't want to/can't compete with that shit.

-This is race #25 of 36 in the Sprint Cup schedule. More importantly, after Sunday night's race, there will be only one event left until the field for The Chase is set in stone. Thanks to the stat crunching abilities of the crack staff over at, here is a handy chart to determine who could, conceivably, make or not make the playoffs. Note that "ACS" is the Auto Club Speedway. Here to help.

Pos.DriverPointsBehindACS StartsACS WinsACS Avg. Finish
6.Tony Stewart3013-59614016.0
7.Greg Biffle2984-62511119.6
8.Kevin Harvick2972-63712019.1
9.Jeff Gordon2951-65816311.2
10.Matt Kenseth2921-6881329.9
11.Denny Hamlin2900-7095017.8
12.Clint Bowyer2855-7545012.4
13.David Ragan2843-7663014.0
14.Kasey Kahne2799-8109113.7
15.Ryan Newman2674-93511018.6

There are your bubble drivers. Keep an eye on them, if inclined.

-Other Chase points of interest:

Nine drivers could clinch spots in The Chase on Sunday.

Any driver who leaves Fontana with a 196-point (or more) advantage over the driver in point position 13 will have clinched a Chase spot.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.--
Can clinch with a finish of 40th or better; 41st and lead at least one lap.

Jimmie Johnson --
Can clinch with a finish of 40th or better; 41st and lead at least one lap.

Jeff Burton --
Can clinch with a finish of 15th or better; 16th or 17th and lead one lap; 20th and lead the most laps.

By the Numbers: California (

-Carl Edwards is on quite the tear. As we've said previously, he appears to be "peaking" at the right time this season and has to be considered the favorite heading into The Chase. It's been six races since Edwards' finished outside of the the top-10. It's been this string of consistent performances that has led us to christen him "Hot" Carl. Makes sense, right? Turns out, this has a duel meaning. Check it out. (NSFW. Unless your work deals with shitting in girls faces, that is.) Way to go Carl.

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About this race:

*What to know:

Busch v. "Hot" Carl, the next Kimbo v. Shamrock?: In a word, no. The two played wreck-um after the Bristol race and were subsequently placed on "probation" by NASCAR. Despite the fact that NASCAR "probation" does nothing and no further penalties will be levied against the two regardless of their future on track conduct, they are not going to repeat the shenanigans of last weekend. First, the Auto Club Speedway is far too fast of a circuit to take revenge. No one is going to wreck someone at 200-mph. That is how appendages get forcibly separated from bodies. Second, with the way The Chase is formulated, regular-season race wins are too important to toss away on a vendetta. If either drivers are challenging for the "W" on Sunday (which they both will be), then they will keep their respective noses clean. Sorry wreck mongers.

Ford v. Toyota, the next Kimbo v. Shamrock?: In a word, maybe. The first half of the season was dominated by the foreign marque and now the lads from MI are getting nasty. "Hot" Carl v. Busch is a mildly interesting subplot, the real drama comes from USA v. Japan, Good v. Evil, Traditional Stock Car Racing v. Contemporary NASCAR, etc. That is the real intrigue as the season winds down. Think larger scale than the battle between two drivers or even the battle between two teams. Hopefully the tiff continues on Sunday.

*Who to watch:

Kyle Busch: Remains point-leader (and is locked as such until The Chase starts), has one Cup victory at ACS and has not finished outside of the top-10 there since the winter race in 2005. He has seven career wins on intermediate tracks and his JGR Toyota has been the class of the field every week. Busch's inclusion in "Who to watch" has officially become redundant and silly.

Carl Edwards: Where there's a Busch, there's a "Hot" Carl in close pursuit. Edwards has amassed an nearly incredible record at ACS. Since his first SoCal race in 2004, he has finished outside of the top-10 exactly once. He has finished outside of the top-five exactly twice. His average ACS finishing spot is a staggering 6.8. RFR regularly dominates intermediate tracks and will be a force come Sunday evening.

Denny Hamlin: Currently in The Chase. That could change unless he has a solid effort on Sunday. He will. While never winning at ACS, Hamlin is historically solid at similar tracks. He needed a good result last weekend to get back into the top-12, he got it, and now needs a repeat performance. We've got a good feeling about young Denny.

*For those heading to the track: Pertinent tailgating information is here. We think this could be a bit of a moot point, as people in Southern California probably don't tailgate anything beside USC games. But, we also don't think people in Southern California would go to a NASCAR race. So, what do we know?

The Ridebuyer cocktail of the race is the Cali-Barn Banger. That's a bottle of beer with a shot of SPF 30. It tastes like shit, but your throat will be moisturized like nobody's business.

1--Kyle Busch

2--Carl Edwards

3+1Dale Earnhardt Jr.

4-1Jimmie Johnson

5--Jeff Burton

6--Tony Stewart

7--Greg Biffle

8--Kevin Harvick

9--Jeff Gordon

10--Matt Kenseth

11+1Denny Hamlin

12+1Clint Bowyer

Next race: Chevy Rock & Roll 400 (Richmond International Raceway). This race is named after the presenting sponsor. Rick Derringer.

Rolling Stone does Smoke

For all of you who quit reading Rolling Stone after Hunter Thompson stopped writing for them/died, you should give the rag another chance and pick up the latest edition. If nothing else, check out the Mike Guy article on Tony Stewart. It pretty much confirms our suspicions that Smoke is the incarnate of motor racing's old guard, loves Schlitz, and eats doughnuts at a heroic pace.

The best quote of the article comes from Smoke putting life into perspective:

"Pussy, money and race cars. That's pretty much all I care about." Then he winks at me.

Full text below.

Where There's Smoke... (Rolling Stone)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Five reasons The Chase is the balls

In the interest of equal time, we present the reasons why The Chase is an absolute must-see, can't be missed, rather die with a hooker in a Motel 6 than skip a Chase race, event. Enjoy:

5) The races directly before The Chase are fucking awesome

Drivers and teams are starting to feel the pressure of perhaps missing the NASCAR playoffs. Oh, the horror. This will cause those on the bubble to take chances, get crazy with strategies and otherwise get racy in an effort to make The Chase. The night race in Richmond where the final Chase positions are figured is an incredibly dramatic sporting event on par with the best of stick and ball events.

4) Brent Musberger

There's no good reason for the sportscaster to have any involvement in the production of NASCAR events. He doesn't appear to have any more than a cursory knowledge (or interest) of/in motor racing. But, alas, Musberger is ABC's biggest deal of talent guys, and The Chase is their biggest deal in sports' productions. So, it's a fit for old Musberger to crack open a cold one and watch/talk bout some racin'. We love Musberger and his inclusion in The Chase-casts is worth the price of admission. Which is free, because it don't cost nothing to watch TV.

3) In case you're wondering who the best is...

If you haven't had a great season, you don't make The Chase. It's like natural selection for stockcar racing. Scrub-ass drivers and teams need not apply. If you like watching the best of the best of the best do their things, The Chase is for you. It is unbridled performance at its best. Only unpatriotic pinkos would not want to see this. The Chase is to NASCAR as Top Gun is to fighter pilots. Think about it.

2) Final race/final lap excitement

The Chase provides excitement. No longer can a driver amass a huge points lead and just coast to the championship. All points get reset, a clean slate is made and the season effectively restarts, as The Chase commences. Every year of The Chase, the championship was not decided until the final race of the year. That's like the World Series always having a Game 7, or like the Nathans' Hot Dog Championship going into an eat-off each year. An eat-off with reversal. You can't buy that kind of excitement.

1) Race until it snows

The Chase schedule goes until mid-November. Awesome. It's pretty much winter most places in the country, yet NASCAR still manages to schedule races. Football be damned. If you like racing, you should want that shit to happen year-round. And it does. With The Chase (or just NASCAR's schedule in general), you can always find a race. 15-inches of snow in your area? No worries The Chase goes to warm places like Phoenix and Miami to race. The season lasts forever and you fucking love it. God bless The Chase.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Five reasons The Chase sucks

Only two weeks remain until the field will be set for the fifth iteration of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Well, it's actually the first iteration for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but you get the point. The plan for the NASCAR-Cup series playoff system has seen loads of criticism and praise. Some like it, some hate it, some would rather see their grandparents banging in a Gatlinburg motel than watch the seemingly contrived spectacle. This is for those people. This is for the people who think The Chase is lame, the season is too long anyway, and racing should by over by November. In short, this is for the haters. Prepare for devil's advocacy.

5) Baseball

The pennant races are getting good as The Chase starts, the playoffs are in full swing by the middle of The Chase, and the World Series will be long over by the time the final flag waves in Homestead (on November 16th). Why would anyone watch racing when fall baseball is so good?

4) It's contrived (made up)

The Chase was pretty much invented because Matt Kenseth won the Winston Cup in 2003 after only winning one race that season. Before The Chase was instituted, there was no huge points incentives to winning races. Ryan Newman won eight races in 2003, yet only finished sixth in points. Since that's just not American, The Chase, and its screwball scoring were put in place much to the chagrin of steady pacers across the world.

3) It's complicated as shit

You almost need a personal Asian tutor to explain the damn scoring system to the masses. Dale Earnhardt Jr. admitted he didn't understand how points were awarded in The Chase, and he's a fucking participant. How in the hell are Joe Sixpack and ourselves supposed to figure this out? These guys can't even figure out the race win bonus allotments.

2) Ken Schrader will never make it

Only the top-12 drivers make The Chase. That immediately makes the Ken Schrader/Dave Blaney fans of the world tune out. Some drivers are just never going make the "playoffs." Sure, they still race in all of the events, but the thrill is gone. What's the point of watching a race when your dude is not in contention to win the whole fucking thing? It's why people stop going to Royals' games in July. Nobody gives a shit.

1) Football

Goddamn football is sweet. The NFL, college games, whatever. That shit is the balls. No sport should ever attempt to compete with the real American pastime. Football starts on Labor Day weekend, you'd better get you silly races finished by that time. Playoffs? For NASCAR? You're kidding me. Not even close to the NFL playoffs or bowl season. Don't even try. All this "Chase" does is waste precious Sportscenter time when they could be talking about football. Fuck. That. Fall=Football. Chase=Gay.

More Foytisms

It's tough when you know your hero has fallen on tough times. Unfortunately, A.J. Foyt's team is, and may forever be, on "tough times." The modestly funded outfit has never regained the luster they had when Kenny Brack won Indy for them in 1999. They may not be in contention to win races, but we still love A.J. Foyt. Always will. We love everything about him. Owning a racing team, sweet. Knowing how to operate a tractor, awesome. Beating on your car with a giant wrench in the pits at Indy, phenomenal. But the pièce de résistance facet of Mr. Foyt's being is, in our minds, writing for USA Today. (Sound of chuckle.) Here is the latest edition of his reoccurring "Foyt Files." Enjoy the literary talents of Super Tex.

God, we loved writing that last sentence.

Stumble at Sonoma: No. 14 team encounters rough road

Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekend recap

What you missed while planning your big DNC bash.

The IRL IndyCar Series points race got (somewhat) more interesting as Helio Castroneves won Sunday's event in Sonoma and points-leader Scott Dixon finished a paltry 12th. It was Castroneves' first win since April 2007. Teammate Ryan Briscoe was second, Tony Kanaan rounded out the podium. With two races remaining Dixon leads Castroneves by 43 points. For those who tuned into ESPN2 and expected to see the first 20-laps of the race, you know that Cristie Kerr defeated Sophie Gustafson and Helen Alfredsson in a playoff at the Safeway Classic at Columbia Edgewater. Wait, there's a league for women?

INDYCAR: Castroneves Climbs Higher

Kerr puts away Alfredsson, Gustafson on first playoff hole at Safeway Classic

Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway usually means two things:

1) Drunked-up corpulent folks attempting to fornicate in Econolines.


2) A bump and run for the win, resulting in a certain degree of controversy.

We are sure number-two took place, with "Hot" Carl Edwards pulling the maneuver on Kyle Busch with 30 to go. Busch-who is a lock to take the #1 spot into the Chase- showed his displeasure by wrecking Edwards after the race. "Hot" Carl said post-race, "They keep talking about rivalries. We might have one now.''

-This all seems terribly familiar...

Edwards nudges past Busch for win at Bristol

Friday's Nationwide event was won by someone who is not a full time Cup driver. His name? Brad Keselowski.

NATIONWIDE: Keselowski Wins at Bristol

Felipe Massa won the European Grand Prix by leading every lap. Lewis Hamilton finished second and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica was third. Hamilton kept the lead of the overall standings with 70 points, while Massa moved into second place with 64.

Massa masters Valencia's streets for fourth F1 win of year

America's two big-deal sports car series were in action this weekend. The ALMS was at Mosport, where Audi pilots Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner captured their third straight overall victory. The Acura of David Brabham and Scott Sharp took their fourth class victory of the season in P2 after Gil de Ferren ran out of fuel on the final lap. Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen won in GT1 with Corvette. GT2 rights went to Risi Competizione and drivers Jaime Melo and Mika Salo. They were in a Ferrari F430 GT. Cool.

ALMS: Audi Reigns In Mosport Classic

Grand Am split time at Infineon with the IndyCar-guys, and a guy who should be in the open wheel series won the sports car race. Go figure. Michael Valiante (that guy) and Max Angelelli won in DP.

GRAND-AM: Angelelli/Valiante Score First Season Win at Infineon

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sharpie 500 preview

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

This week: Sharpie 500
TV: ESPN 7:00pm EST (Saturday)
Location: Bristol Motor Speedway (Bristol, TN)
Distance: 266.5 miles/500 laps
Past winners: Ky. Busch (3/07); C. Edwards (8/07); J. Burton (3/08).

*Rusty Wallace, the Chase is nigh, and cheating*

ESPN loves putting microphones in front of ex-sporting stars for them to prognosticate about the sports in which they excelled. It must be company policy to hire the biggest recently-retired star and toss them into a studio or booth as quickly as possible. (See Smith, Emmitt.) The likelihood of one of these quasi-commentators saying anything insightful (or coherent, for that matter) whist "on-air" is about as likely as a RB-editor sticking a midget on pole at Winchester. It's just not going to happen.

That brings us to Rusty Wallace, who was a stud behind the wheel of a stock car, but suffers from debilitating verbal diarrhea in front of the camera. His storied career as a broadcaster started the year after his retirement with an oft hilarious stint as third booth-man during IRL IndyCar Series events on ABC/ESPN. This was merely to give Rusty some booth-time before NASCAR made its return to the Disney family of networks the next year. He added nothing to the IRL-casts and referred to the 'Indy 500' as the 'Daytona 500' with 10-laps to go during the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Ouch.

Rusty has not progressed much since his humble TV beginnings. He does sound a bit more authoritative now that he is strictly a NASCAR analyst. He also has been mercilessly moved from the announce booth to the studio, to play the host/analyst role alongside Allen Bestwick and Brad Daugherty. But still:

We tell you this because Rusty happened to be one of the quickest and most successful drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ever. He had nine Cup series wins and seven poles at BMS. This means Saturday night's coverage is going to be extra thick with Rusty-speak. His made-up phrases, subject-verb disagreements and constant references to "cats" will be off the chart. Rusty is at home at BMS; so God knows what will come out of his mouth. Keep a tally of how many references are made to his nine victories. We are thinking the over/under will be around 18.

Oh. Joy.

After Saturday night's race there will be only be two events until the field is set for the Chase. Here's a Chase refresher via the folks at Jayski:

After Race 26, the top 12 drivers in the points will qualify for the Chase. All 12 drivers will have their point totals re-set to 5,000; each will then receive a 10-point bonus for each race victory they had during the first 26 races. Race winners throughout the Chase (and the whole season, for that matter) receive 185 points. Counting the five-point bonuses available for leading at least one lap and leading the most laps, a race winner can earn a maximum of 195 points, creating a possible maximum of 25 points between first- and second-place finishers

Look for the drivers very much on the bubble of making the Chase during the next three races. Barring some sort of catastrophic paints-shitting event, these are those drivers: Harvick, Gordon, Kenseth, Kahne, Hamlin, Bowyer, Ragan. At this point in the season, the point's strategy implored by bubble drivers is pretty simple. Have good finishes, make the Chase. Have bad finishes, don't make the Chase. Racing is simple.

Joe Gibbs Racing got nailed with huge penalties after their Nationwide teams were caught cheating in Michigan post race tech. It is yet to be seen if this event will somehow transcend the series and impact the JGR Cup effort. We kind of doubt it though. This is the team's first major brush with NASCAR tech officials, and all indications point that this was not the work of any high-level team directives, but the isolated doings of a few. At least that's what Kenny Wallace is saying. But, he is related to Rusty, so take that for what it's worth.

*In Kenny's piece on the subject, he says Joe Gibbs has won four Super Bowls. As the sharp commentator at the bottom of the piece correctly states, that's not true. Coach has only won three. We guess Kenny had a Rusty moment.

About this race:

*What to know:

Bump and grind and run: The track surface has been repaved at Bristol and the result is a track that is more conducive to two-wide racing. You no longer have to get into the rear (hehe) of the guy you're trying to pass to make a move. While it's quite possible to pass cleanly at BMS, still expect some hip-hop dance club grinding to take place, especially as the laps wind down. Just because you can pass clean, doesn't mean you will. With about 50-to go the track will resemble a junior prom with an Jeezy song playing.

Here come the Fords: Ford teams, or Roush-Fenway Racing to be more exact, have been a tear of late. This sport is all about streaks and getting hot at the right time. It looks like the Roush guys are hitting a stride at the opportune moment. "Hot" Carl Edwards has four straight top-10 finishes and, in the last six races, has only finished outside of the top three twice. His teammate David Ragan is coming off of a career-best third at Michigan last week and has three top-10s in the last five events. He is also flirting with the top-12 as the Chase nears. Expect the Roush guys to be strong this weekend, as they could have three teams in the Chase if things play to their favor.

*Who to watch:

Jeff Burton: Won the spring race at BMS and has been consistent in his last four starts in the hills of TN. He is a lock for the Chase, sitting p5 and is the best shot Chevy has at finding victory lane. Should Burton win, it will be the first season sweep of Bristol since 2003.

Carl Edwards: "Hot" Carl's streak of success continues as he put his Ford on the pole for Saturday's race. He has had success at BMS in the past with three top-10s and a win. His average finish is 15.4. Almost more important than starting at the front at Bristol is getting to pick the pit stall of your choice for the race. We're sure he picked a good one.

Jeff Gordon: In dire need of a good run to solidify his spot in the Chase, Gordon will start p3 Saturday. Gordon is consistent as shit at Bristol with 18 career top-10's to go with his five wins. His average finish at BMS is just outside the top-10. He is winless this season, but could break that slump on Saturday. Bodog has him 5/1 to win. We'd take that.

*For those heading to the track: Pertinent tailgating information is here. If you are interested in tailgating/camping/having an orgy in the BMS infield, chances are, you've been at the track since last Tuesday, so you don't need the details spelled out here. For the indoctrinated, here is the first hand account of a Bristol campground during race weekend. It is horrifying, yet comforting to know people still engage in such activity.

The Ridebuyer cocktail of the race is anything that involves Tennessee whiskey. Jack and water will work just fine.

Next race: Pepsi 500 (Auto Club Speedway). The middle race of three consecutive night races, leading into the Chase. Sweet.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Businessman special

Holding a major racing event on a weeknight is the equivalent of a weekday-day baseball game. You know work and other shit should take precedence over the sporting event of your choice, but the allure of blowing that shit off and drinking is far too great. This is why the Phillies can sellout a Thursday at 1 game and people flock to Bristol on a Wednesday night to watch trucks go in circles. It's a great thing.

For the responsible (gay?) people who missed last night's Craftsman Truck Series event from Bristol, all you need to know is Kyle Busch won. He has the record for most single-season victories in NASCAR’s top three divisions with 17. Here's the final restart and subsequent revelry:

Results: O'Reilly 200 at Bristol

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

That is the sound of rolling heads

The penalties have come down in the whole Joe Gibbs Racing dyno cheating debacle, and they are rather harsh. Like, really harsh.

Here's an outline:

-Joey Logano of the No. 18 and Tony Stewart of the No. 20 – have been penalized with the loss of 150 championship driver points and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2008.

-Joe Gibbs, owner of both of the cars, has likewise been penalized 150 championship owner points for each of those entries.

-From the No. 18 team, car chief Dorian Thorsen; engine tuner Michael Johnson; and crew member Toby Bigelow have been placed on indefinite suspension from NASCAR.

-From the No. 20 team, car chief Richard Bray and engine tuner Dan Bajek have been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR.

And the pièce de résistance of suckhood:

-Both crew chiefs – Jason Ratcliff of the No. 18 and Dave Rogers of the No. 20 – have been fined $50,000 and indefinitely suspended from NASCAR.

So, if you have any crew chief experence, now may be the time to shoot JGR a resume and cover letter.

Monday, August 18, 2008

When old guy's talk

Dave Despain and Robin Miller talk about the 'days of ye ole racing' in this interweb only video. It strangely reminds us of Grandpa Simpson's "onion on belt" story. Come on, you know what episode we talkin' 'bout.

Weekend recap

What you missed while getting shafted on the uneven bars.

-It was a "Hot" Carl weekend in Michigan, as Carl Edwards was victorious in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup events at MIS. Edwards was able to hold off a charging Kyle Busch and David Ragan on a host of waning-lap restarts during Sunday's Cup race. Four of the top-five finishers were Roush drivers. Busch's runner up clinches the #1 seed in the Chase. Three races until Chase.

Edwards wins at Michigan for fifth victory of season

Edwards gets first N'wide win at MIS, 19th for Roush

-The notable news from Saturday's Nationwide event was a post-race tech inspection blunder by Joe Gibbs Racing. When JGR's two Toyotas were tossed on a chassis dyno, it was discovered both had devises to limit throttle travel, thus skewing the horsepower numbers obtained. Let Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition for NASCAR, explain:

In our post-race inspection, our inspectors discovered some shims that were placed on the gas-pedal stop. They were magnets that were about a quarter-inch thick that prevented the accelerator from going 100 percent wide open.

This comes on the heels of NASCAR limiting horsepower on the Toyotas after dominating the N'Wide Series.

Big fine forthcoming.

JGR faces penalties after Nationwide post inspection

-The NHRA was in Pee-ya for the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading. Final round results are as follows:

(W) Tony Schumacher (U.S. Army Dragster) 0.031 3.845 313.88
(L) Larry Dixon (U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Drag 0.051 3.891 302.35

(W) Jack Beckman (Valvoline/MTS Charger) 0.067 4.183 291.57
(L) Frank Hawley (Rite Aid Pharmacies Charger) 0.096 6.967 95.08

(W) Jeg Coughlin ( Cobalt) 0.038 6.650 206.39
(L) Dave Connolly (Charter Comm. Cobalt) -0.005(R) 12.142 71.55

(W) Matt Smith (NitroFish/Torco Buell) 0.045 6.957 188.81
(L) Angelle Sampey (Rush Racing Products Buell) 0.036 7.061 186.28

Tony Schumacher scored a class-record-tying fifth straight victory in Top Fuel and is unbeaten in 1,000-foot distance races. That would be 20 straight rounds, for those scoring at home. Two weeks until U.S. Nationals, where field will be set for "Countdown."

Schumacher, Smith keep on rolling; Beckman, Coughlin score seconds

Friday, August 15, 2008

3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo preview

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

This week: 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo
TV: ESPN 1:00pm EST (Sunday)
Location: Michigan International Speedway (Brooklyn, MI)
Distance: 400 miles/200 laps
Past winners: C. Edwards (6/07); Ku. Busch (8/07); D. Earnhardt Jr. (6/08).

*The historical significance of Bondo and Jason Whitlock is not the pud we wanted him to be *

The presenting sponsor of this weekend's event is Bondo. Anyone who has ever attempted car body repair knows all about Bondo. For those less mechanically inclined here is a brief tutorial: Apply product on clean surface. Sand. Repeat. It's that fucking simple. Have a gaping rust hole in your door? No problem, Bondo the shit out of it. Want to fill in your sunroof? Bondo can help. Entire front clip gone? Bondo a new one. Goddamn, you can do anything with it. One time in high school we Bondo'ed ourselves an anatomically correct young lady and banged it. We were a lot cooler in those days. Digression.

We're not sure how much Bondo body filler gets used in the garages at a NASCAR event, but hike through the parking lot and you'll find entire cars made from the stuff. Having this product in the 3M family sponsor a race is just so apropos.

We really wanted to use this space to shit upon columnist Jason Whitlock for his (latest) piece about the Mo Grant NASCAR exposed penis debacle. (Here's our take on the mess.) You see, we normally have a problem when stick-and-ball blowhards attempt to make glaring generalization about a sport which they know little about. We call this Skip Bayless syndrome. When writers opine just for the sake of opining, nothing interesting or insightful can possibly be said. That's why we were all geared up to toss some hate at Whitlock. Near as we can tell, the guy has only scribed three stories about motor racing for Three. Two were about Mo Grant and exposed cocks and the other was about Danica Patrick. That shows a real breadth of knowledge on a subject (sarcasm). Pick the two issues most likely to be debated on ESPN's First and Ten and write a column. Simple as that.

The problem is, after reading Whitlock's piece, we agreed with what the big guy said. The crux of his argument is that prior indiscretions by Mo Grant (in this case, a DUI and having a restraining order against her from a former boyfriend) have no bearing on her case against NASCAR. Lots of people get popped for DUIs and everyone has ugly breakups. NASCAR tried to make this look like a slam dunk against the character of Grant. It's not. As Whitlock said:

NASCAR's team of investigators has more work to do. The group needs to come up with more dirt than Mauricia Grant had a messy breakup with an ex-boyfriend and was pinched for driving under the influence and with a suspended license... Rather than enthusiastically hunting down dirt from Grant's past, NASCAR should be aggressively brokering a settlement and working to lift its work environment to caveman status.

Amen, J-Dub. Write a few more motor racing columns and we'll start to read your other stuff.


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About this race

*What to know:

Wacky fuel mileage deals: Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the season's first race at MIS. He did not have the fastest car, the best handling car, and did not drive with any more skill or daring than anyone else on the track. His crew formulated a strategy that put him into a position to win. Gambling on fuel is certainly a double-edged sword that will bite you in the ass like Marv Albert with hooker. Just as the Earnhardt crew won the MIS race on fuel strategy, they lost at Watkins Glen while off sequence. Michigan has a history of fuel mileage races. The cliche is, 'anyone can win.' That may be true, it just depends on when the yellows fall.

Chevy still sucks: During our preview of the MIS race back in June, we spoke of the Chevrolet struggles in the backyard of Detroit. Of course, a Chevy-powered car promptly won the event, making our statistics seem silly. Alas, pay no mind to the outlier. In the past 14 Cup events at MIS, Chevy has tallied exactly one victory. Fords will be strong.

Roush still the balls: Six of last 13 MIS Cup races at MIS have been won be a remember of Roush-Fenway Racing. There is something about the two-mile track in the Irish Hills of Michigan that plays to the team's strengths. We don't know what that is...

Chase me away: There are only four races left until the field for the Chase is set. After MIS, we are left with Bristol, Fontana and Richmond before the contenders for the championship are solidified. Keep an eye on drivers hovering around that final 12th transfer spot. (Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle are currently 16th-10th in points.)

*Who to watch:

Matt Kenseth: Two career wins at MIS, plus an average finishing spot of 9.3 in 18 Cup starts. Kenseth has the above mentioned Roush-Fenway advantage, and is coming off back-to-back top-15 finishes. The most impressive stat? In his 18 Cup starts at MIS, only one DNF.

Carl Edwards: "Hot" Carl sits second in points and has three consecutive top-10s coming into Sunday's race. His record at MIS is nearly as impressive as that of Kenseth. (One win, four top-fives and an average finish of 7.2 in eight starts.) He also has zero DNFs at MIS. Impressive.

Kyle Busch: The points leader does not have the most sterling of records at MIS, but has been a stud everywhere else. He won last weekend and has been nearly untouchable this year. Being the points leader has some advantages, one of which is the benefit of the doubt. We give Busch said benefit.

*For those heading to the track:

Pertinent tailgating information is here. We recommend not going into Detroit while in Michigan. In fact, just go the track, enjoy the race and get the hell out of the state as soon as possible. Remember, the smell of hot dog water is normal until you get outside of the state. God Michigan is a dismal place.

The Ridebuyer cocktail of the race is the Singapore Sling.

2 oz gin
1/2 oz wild-cherry brandy
1/2 lemon juice
1 tsp powdered sugar
fill carbonated water
2 cubes ice

We've never had one, maybe they're good. Maybe not. If not, just buy a case of Coors and slam. We know that's good.


Next race: Sharpie 500 (Bristol Motor Speedway). God bless thy Bristol. Tailgaters are gathering as we speak.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Wesley Snipes of racing fuel

The president and chief executive of Torco Racing Fuels seems to have some problems with the federal government. By federal government, we mean the IRS, who raided the home of Evan Knoll this morning. Earlier this year, Knoll announced his company would halt all drag racing sponsorship programs, an amount speculated to be in the millions of dollars. The AP says Knoll and his businesses have been hit with three federal lawsuits since April 2007 that allege contract breaches and seek millions.

Damn gas prices.

IRS agents raid offices of one of drag racing's biggest names

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Force being Manny on Favre

Major League Baseball has its Manny Ramirez; motor racing has its John Force. Both are outspoken, a bit nutty and fun as hell to watch. (The only difference between the two is that Manny actually is retarded, Force just acts like it.) In this clip, Force gives ESPN the three min. history of football when questioned about Brett Favre. Or is he saying "Far?" Whatever.

It's just Force being Manny, that's all.

When A.J. talks, you better listen

We love A.J. Foyt. We love everything the man does. Owning a racing team, sweet. Knowing how to operate a tractor, awesome. Beating on your car with a giant wrench in the pits at Indy, phenomenal. But the pièce de résistance facet of Mr. Foyt's being is, in our minds, writing for USA Today. Here is the latest edition of his reoccurring "Foyt Files." Enjoy the literary talents of Super Tex.

God, we loved writing that last sentence.

No. 14 team heats up, but in the worst possible way at Kentucky

Not just for bad drivers and douches, part five

Back near the turn of the millennium, BMW decided that marketing automobiles needed to become more viral (though that term had yet to be invented by the wankers over at Google). Their idea involved employing big-deal directors, producers and actors to make short films that give the appearance that Bimmers were interesting.

Thus was born the BMW film series. The plots were simple enough: put Clive Owen inside a Bavarian Motor Works product, add some sex appeal and a healthy dose of smoke-filled burnouts, and you'll sell the shit out of young-exec market. Of course, it helped when the final productions were certifiably bitchin'.

With that in mind, we shall take our Don Draper ad-guy hat off, and let the pictures' speak for themselves. In this installment of the BMW film theater: Enjoy Alejandro González Iñárritu's Powder Keg:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekend recap

Ed. note: Since the racing weekend was truly epic in its proportions (OK, just a lot of races that we didn't see and don't want to write about), we'd like to present the 'Weekend recap' abbreviated edition. You know, in the interest of time.

What you missed while Nastassia Marachkouiskaya and Jop Hyun-Joo were tearing up the pummel horse.

-The IRL IndyCar Series was in Kentucky, where Scott Dixon took his sixth win of the season. Helio Castroneves played the fuel strategy game and looked like he'd make it work until he ran out gas coming out of the final turn. Castroneves held on to second, Marco Andretti was p3.

Dixon comes from behind to eke out sixth win

-Kyle Busch won the Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen. That's a sweep for Busch of the Cup road course events. Teammate Tony Stewart finished p2. Marcos Ambrose was third in the Wood Brothers' entry. David Gilliland and Michael McDowell got into each other coming on the front straight, causing a road racing 'big one.' A 40-some min. red flag ensued. Check it:

Busch makes history with dominant win at The Glen

Crash a violent reminder that road courses can bite

- The Nationwide Series went road racing at the Glen also, with Marcos Ambrose scoring his first career victory in NASCAR's AAA series. A slew of Cup regulars finished behind him.

Ambrose has just enough fuel, finally gets first win

- The AIM Autosport / Ford Riley of Brian Frisselle & Mark Wilkins won the Grand Am race (also at the Glen). This was a DP-only event. Sorry GT guys.

Frisselle and Wilkins Bring AIM Second Victory

- Johnny Benson won Saturday night's Craftsman Truck Series event in Nashville. That makes three wins in a row for Mr. Benson. Praise that man and his abilities behind the wheel of a racing car.

TRUCKS: Benson Wins Toyota Tundra 200

- Donny Schatz took victory in the biggest deal in winged dirt racing, the Knoxville Nationals. That's three wins in a row for Schatz in the Nats. Well done, sir.


- The ALMS was doing it, natural terrain-style this weekend, competing at Road America. Audi went 1-2 (class and overall), David Brabham and Scott Sharp took their third LMP2 win of the season for Patrón Highcroft Racing (Acura), Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen won in GT1 (Corvette). Tip the hat to Intersport Racing, as they led overall early and finished p3 in class.

ALMS: Audi’s 1-2 at Elkhart Lake in Thrilling 4hr Race

NHRA? Let Paul Page tell ya:

-Exhale. Busy weekend.

Friday, August 8, 2008

TK to Ganassi? J/K

Much to the apparent displeasure of Chip Ganassi, Tony Kanaan has signed a long term deal to stay with Andretti Green Racing.'s Robin Miller first reported the Kanaan to Ganassi deal was nearly done, now Miller reports on the fall through. Here's what Ganassi told Miller on the new deal:

"It's unbelievable," said Ganassi. "I talked to him (Kanaan) on Wednesday night and he said we were fine, we were great and we're a go. Then I get a call from his agent who says Tony has flipped and he's staying with AGR."

Well, there you go.

INDYCAR: Kanaan Snubs Ganassi, Signs Five-Year AGR Extension

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Centurion Boats at The Glen preview

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

This week: Centurion Boats at The Glen
TV: ESPN 1:00pm EST (Sunday)
Location: Watkins Glen International (Watkins Glen, NY)
Distance: 220.5 miles/90 laps
2007 winner: T. Stewart

*Street racing in the '50s, knowing when to retire, and fantasy racing leagues*

1948 brought road racing to the streets around Watkins Glen, NY. The public-road track was long, had elevation changes, and was pretty damn narrow. You can get a firsthand feeling for the track's claustrophobic qualities as the streets and connecting roads that made up the original 6.6 mile configuration remain public roads. If you're lucky enough to be around upstate New York, head to "downtown" Watkins Glen and take a flying lap on the original course in your family truckster. It'll give you a new respect for the racing drivers of old who braved hair-raising tracks without the most basic of safety devices. Feel free to make the appropriate engine and gear shift noises so your Taurus doesn't feel so gay.

Times changed and the original Glen street layout was first shortened, then eventually replaced by the permanent closed circuit in 1956. This was mostly a matter of safety, as crowd control was pretty nonexistent on the street circuit (plus the 1955 car-into-stands Le Mans disaster didn't make motor racing with close-by spectators seem like the best idea). Thus was born the contemporary Watkins Glen that we know and love.

Despite the notions of your typical NASCAR fan, Watkins Glen (and the later-christened Watkins Glen International) has a rich history of motoring contests aside from stock car racing. Watkins Glen was the host of the U.S. Grand Prix through the 60's and 70's. Can-Am, Trans-Am, F 5000 and IROC all raced at the Glen. Drivers who reached victory lane there include Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, and a host of other motor racing legends. The point is, Watkins Glen was a mythical location in the annals of motor sport well before NASCAR graced it with their presence. NASCAR needs the Glen, not vice versa.

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-The disaster turned bullshit that became of the Brett Favre situation got us thinking about racing drivers and the decision to hangup their firesuits. We're of the mindset that says if you can still compete at a high level (and have the desire to do so), no matter your age, do it up. Mark Martin is the perfect example of an old guy extending his self life and being damn successful while at it. Sure, he kind of retired at one point, left the team he spent his entire career with (Roush), then came back to drive with a new team on a part time basis (DEI), and has now signed to go full time with yet another team (Hendrick) starting next season, that seems a bit indecisive. But the guy is an institution and should be able to race until he is good and damn ready to quit. Mark Martin is the Brett Favre of NASCAR, only less of bitch and not addicted to pills.

-Speaking of football, fantasy draft time is just around the corner. The prospect of droves of thirtysomethings pounding beers whilst looking at computer screens and belittling each other is too enticing to not be in on. We think NASCAR fantasy racing does exist somewhere on the interweb, but we can't be sure. It would be a giant coup for any motor racing series to figure out how to make fantasy racing cool and to potentially attract new fans. Think of the amount of people who watch NFL and MLB games solely to see how their fantasy players play. It gives fans an excuse to watch different teams and root for different guys. Someone smarter than us needs to develop a fantasy racing system that people know about and is fun. Unfortunately, we don't have a fuckin' clue how to accomplish either feat.

On to this weekend's race.

*What to know:

Know your aces: As per norm, when NASCAR goes road racing, the roadie specialists come out. Ron Fellows (last weekend's Nationwide winner), Patrick Carpentier, Marcos Ambrose, Brian Simo, Boris Said, Max Papis and P.J. Jones all attempted to make the field (Said and Simo didn't make the field, as qualifying was rained out). Make note of these guys, keep an eye out for them in the race, but don't expect a road ringer to score the miracle win. Realistically only Fellows and Carpentier (DEI and Gillett Evernham) could possibly have cars that, if set up properly, could compete for wins. This may even be a stretch. The top teams with drivers and crews who compete every weekend have their road course programs too refined for a team with a one-off driver to be successful. (Note: we know Carpentier is a full time driver, but still, it's not gonna to happen.)

Know your regulars: NASCAR has a pretty strong contingent of "every week drivers" that are damn good on road courses. Everyone knows Robby Gordon has a strong left and right turn background, same with Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin. You can add A.J. Allmendinger and Michael McDowell. Hey, they're both not in the top-35 in points, but Allmendinger was the quickest thing in years to run a Champ Car (where he exclusively raced on road courses), and McDowell has tons of sports car and small formula open-wheeled experience to draw upon. We're not saying these guys will win the race, but you just learned something, so shut the fuck up.

Pray for rain: Last weekend's Nationwide event in Montreal was really entertaining because of the rain. Rain acts as the great equalizer. Teams/drivers who wouldn't have a chance in hell for victory in the dry, can become studs in the wet. Sure, the Montreal race was the first time in like 60 years that a NASCAR event was contested in the wet, and the chances of it happening on consecutive weekends is ridiculously low, but can't a guy wish? Every time NASCAR goes road racing, it should rain. NASCAR should make it rain. They should soak down the track during driver introductions. That would make a hell of a show. By the way, The Weather Channel says there's a 40% chance for rain in Watkins Glen on Sunday. More like a 40% chance for awesomeness. Oh, and qualifying was rained out too.

*Who to watch:

Tony Stewart: It has been exactly one year since the last Sprint Cup victory for Tony Stewart. That's forever for a guy like Stewart who expects to win everything (beer drink-a-thon's, dirt races and fights included). He is faster than sin on road courses, has a great team and is our favorite to win. Vegas is giving 9/2 on ole' Smoke. We'd take that shit. Oh, he also has four career Cup wins at the Glen and an average finishing spot of 6.1.

Jeff Gordon: If you were to add the number of wins that Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have at the Glen, you'd get a number. That number would be eight. Big number. Gordon has not won this event since 2001 and is in the middle of a season long win less streak. So, yeah, he probably wants to win. While he hasn't won, Gordon hasn't finished outside of the top-15 in a month. Momentum. Building.

Carl Edwards: "Hot" Carl has got the momentum thing working too. He has not finished outside of the top-three in the last two weeks, winning last weekend in Pocono. He is damn consistent at Watkins Glen, despite not being known as a road racer. He has two top-10s and an average finish of 10th. Pretty good, pretty boy.

*For those heading to the track:

Pertinent tailgating information is here. We recommend going into "downtown" Watkins Glen and hitting one of the local watering holes. It's easy enough to tell if you are in a good bar; just look for 70's era F1 picture on the wall. If you see Jody Scheckter's mug, you're in the right place.

The Ridebuyer cocktail of the race is, in honor of New York, the Long Island Iced Tea. (From

3/4 oz tequila
3/4 oz rum
3/4 oz gin
3/4 oz vodka
3/4 oz triple sec
3/4 oz sour mix
splash cola

Shake liquors with sour mix. Pour in hurricane or tall glass. Add splash of cola and garnish with a lemon wedge. Enjoy in the grandstands, infield, on your couch, or while driving to the track...



Next race: 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo (Michigan International Speedway). Our first car was held together by Bondo. That means this race has to be the balls. Right?

Versus to carry IndyCar telecasts

The IRL IndyCar Series' TV package for 2009 has been forged and a new player is in the mix. Philadelphia-based Versus Network will broadcast a minimum of 13 races next year in a multiyear agreement. ABC will carry five races next season (including the Indy 500). ESPN and ESPN 2 will no longer broadcast IndyCar events. Versus is currently the cable home of the NHL, PBR (bull riding) and the Tour de France. The network reaches more than 73 million homes, according to their website.

Miller bombshell: TK to Ganassi's Robin Miller is reporting a multi-year offer for Tony Kanaan to join Scott Dixon at Target/Ganassi Racing starting in 2009 is on the table, and TK is expected to sign said document in the near future. If this is true, Dan Wheldon is on the market. Let the aftershocks begin.

EXCLUSIVE: Tony Kanaan Poised to Join Ganassi

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Greg Weld 1944-2008

We'd heard of Weld Racing Wheels, but not of its founder, former sprint car ace Greg Weld, until this morning. During a cursory glance through, we happened upon his obituary of sorts, penned by Robin Miller.

Weld, who died Monday of cancer at age 64, probably doesn’t ring a bell with anyone under 50, because he quit driving in the early 1970s to concentrate on his wheel empire. Since he only qualified for one Indianapolis 500, he also wouldn’t rank as a hero except for every guy who ever raced him or watched him perform in USAC from 1965-’74.
Miller paints Weld as a real racer, whose abilities on the cushion were only rivaled by his business sense. Miller's recollection of Weld's pole winning run for the 1969 Hoosier Hundred (besting guys named Andretti, Unser and Foyt) is worth the price of admission. (If, you know, you had to pay to read a article.)

Miller is a polarizing figure in the small world of motor racing journalism. That said, the guy flat out knows his shit when it comes to the history of sprints and midgets. We're thankful for that, as we now know something about a fellow named Greg Weld and his prowess on the dirt.

Cheers Mr. Weld, RIP.

Remembering Greg Weld (Robin Miller)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Stolen from the blogosphere

The guys at Deadspin have provided us with the best motoring article we've seen in a decade. Maybe longer. It comes from the Pocono Record and follows the misadventures of the two ladies to your left, and their attempts at finding love in the Pocono Raceway infield. Reread that last sentence. Again. Heather Foley, 25, and sister Caitlin Foley, 22 actually go to NASCAR races looking for dudes. We've heard rumors of such phenomena taking place, but never as confirmed of an account as this. The kicker? These young ladies are from Staten Island. Of. Course. They. Are.

Racetrack may be perfect place for romance