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New Hampshire NASCAR postscript

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, June 30, 2009


During last weekend's NASCAR action we witnessed a young super talent win his first ever Sprint Cup event. We watched his teammate return to victory lane in the Nationwide Series after beating the super talent who eventually won the Cup race the following day. We also witnessed a truck racing legend take Elvis home for the third time. With that in mind let's begin with:


THUMBS-UP for Joey Logano who used fuel mileage to score his first ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway last Sunday. He had some help from Mother Nature who shortened the race to 273 laps. Logano, aka the best thing since sliced bread, became the youngest Sprint Cup winner in NASCAR history at age 19.

This wasn't the prettiest win that we've seen. Logano brought out the ninth, of 11, yellow flags when a cut tire found him spinning and bouncing off of the wall. The pit road work also put him a lap down although he was later awarded the lucky dog pass.

That now leads us to a THUMBS-UP to crew chief Greg Zipadelli who very calmly guided his teenage driver through the presence of mother nature, the stronger presence of Jeff Gordon right behind him as well as a crash course on extreme fuel conservation.

In the waning laps of the race the front-runners came in for a final splash of fuel. Zipadelli decided to gamble on mother nature and kept his driver on the track. It became the winning move. The final yellow flag of the race was due to rain. During the six yellow flag laps, Zipadelli calmly told his driver when and where to shut down his engine and when to start it again to save the fuel that led him to the red flag and later his first win. This is why "Zippy" is a superstar crew chief who makes the big bucks.

In direct proportion WHAT'S UP with that horrible luck Ryan Newman had to endure in the final moments of the race? Fuel strategy had Newman in the lead just as the early signs of rain began. Unfortunately he ran out of gas, had to coast down pit road and then the car wouldn't start. He wound up three laps down and a 29th place finish. If his mileage could have lasted three more laps he would have been the race winner.

WHAT'S UP with that eight car big one? Following a double file restart, midway through the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr experienced some tire chatter heading towards turn three. Martin Truex Jr saw it and lifted to allow Earnhardt to get his car under control again. That resulted in Kyle Busch ramming the Truex car which in turn launched a savage pile up. Busch escaped the melee and wound up with a seventh place finish.

That leads to a THUMBS-UP to Truex for exercising some calm in the midst of extreme anger. Prior to climbing aboard the ambulance for the obligatory ride to the infield care center, Truex saw Busch coming down the backstretch and clearly looked like he was going to toss his helmet at the Busch Toyota. He did the wind up but did not deliver the pitch. Good for him.

Believe it or not we're issuing a THUMBS-UP to Kyle Busch for manning up to his involvement in that eight car wreck. During the course of a live television interview Busch admitted that he made a mistake and apologized to the impacted drivers.

THUMBS-UP to Dale Earnhardt and crew chief Lance McGrew for pulling off the performance that the "Junior Nation" fans have been waiting for all season long. Granted Earnhardt finished 13th at New Hampshire but that was due to a needed fuel stop prior to the rain out. All during the race he was racing in the top ten and got as high as third at one point. Keep an eye out for this team next weekend at Daytona.



THUMBS-UP to Kyle Busch for winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series race last Saturday at New Hampshire. Busch passed his Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano on lap 165 for what turned out to be the race winning move. The event marked the "rowdy one's" fifth win of the season and his 26th career series win. This is the fifth time that the two Gibbs Racing teammates has finished one-two in a Nationwide Series race. However Logano has won the previous four races so last Saturday was sweet redemption for Busch.

THUMBS-UP for a very impressive streak remaining intact. The NASCAR Nationwide Series has raced at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway 23 times and those events has produced 23 different winners.

On the subject of teammates, WHAT'S UP with Brian Vickers and Scott Speed and that stunt they pulled at the end of the race? On the final lap Vickers was racing hard to take over third when he was hit from behind by Speed. Vicker's car slammed into the fourth turn wall and a sure fire top five finish turned into a 12th place finish. Speed made a quick recovery to finish eighth. While they were driving for two different teams in the Nationwide Series race, both drivers are teammates, for Red Bull Racing, in the Sprint Cup Series.

But the real nature of this WHAT'S UP is about what happened after the race was over. During the cool down lap a very angry Vickers found Speed and began ramming the back of his teammate's car. Coming down pit road Speed did a break check on Vickers. The result was moderate damage to both cars.

This is likely going to be termed a "racing deal" by NASCAR with no penalties which has been the case of similar incidents in the past. That's too bad because pit road retaliation is simply dangerous. After a race the cars stop near the entrance of pit road so NASCAR officials can remove their transponders. The last thing they need is two angry drivers ramming each other within their vicinity. Vickers and Speed never considered their team members who are going to have to repair these cars within the confines of a schedule that is already too tight. They certainly weren't considering their respective Nationwide team owners who are going to have to write the checks to cover the damage.

WHAT'S UP with driver Willie Allen? On lap three of the race NASCAR officials gave him a black flag and ordered him to park the car. It seems that the team didn't have an official crew chief presiding over pit road procedures. Allen was given credit for 42nd place. The good news is this seemingly "start and park" team did manage to collect $15,650 for the three laps.



THUMBS-UP to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Saturday's highly entertaining race at the Memphis Motor Sports Park. The tailgate party shines on short tracks and, to no real surprise, the race ended with another green-white-checker finish complete with the element of fuel mileage in the mix.

This race was run under extreme conditions due to the heat in Memphis that day. The daytime temperature was 98 degrees with a heat index of 109. The track temperature was a whopping 133 degrees meaning the temperature inside of the race trucks was in excess of 150 degrees. Now somebody try to tell me these guys aren't athletes.

THUMBS-UP to Ron Hornaday Jr for another dominant performance that led to his second consecutive series win and his 42th career win in 135 starts. Had it not been for a late in race caution, with six laps to go, this race would've been another Hornaday runaway win. Hornaday also padded his points lead to 76 over Matt Crafton.

You can be sure that Hornaday loves the Kevin Harvick Inc Chevrolet he was driving. The particular truck, dubbed chassis #27, has four wins in six outings. He also got to take home the speedway's special trophy: a bronze statue of Elvis. This was important to Hornaday because this was the last of the special trophy which will be completely redesigned in 2010.



Well almost anyway in regards to this first item. WHAT'S UP with the noticeable absence of Bill Weber from the TNT broadcast booth during last Sunday's Sprint Cup race in New Hampshire? Last Friday TNT officials raised more than just a few eyebrows when they announced that the veteran NASCAR broadcaster had been suspended from participating in Sunday's race and could possibly be suspended beyond that point.

It seems that Weber was involved in an altercation at a hotel lobby in Manchester, New Hampshire. TNT officials said this incident was of a personal nature and made it clear that they do not comment on personal issues. TNT's Ralph Sheheen filled in for Weber last Sunday and did a very good job.

WHAT'S UP with TNT's audio-video link during last Sunday's pre-race show? There seemed to be a slight time differential between the audio and the video during interviews. The person being interviewed would finish a sentence but his lips kept on moving. It was reminiscent of those 1970's era Japanese kung fu movies that were dubbed into English.

THUMBS-UP to driver Rick Crawford for being DJ for a day at the Sirius Satellite Radio's Memphis studios whose format is "all Elvis all of the time." Crawford is the self proclaimed biggest Elvis fan in the world. He has quite a collection of Elvis artifacts including the sheet music for the 1956 hit "Heartbreak Hotel, replicas of the king's gold records as well as an autographed photo of Elvis that was given to him by a racing fan in Milwaukee. Crawford also has a piece of clothing from a dress worn by actress Ann Margaret from the Elvis movie "Viva Las Vegas."



The final WHAT'S UP goes to driver Carl Edwards who recently appeared in a TV commercial for one of his primary sponsors: Subway Restaurants. Recent Subway ads has featured their foot long sandwich specials with people singing the jingle "five-five-five dollar foot longs." Edwards himself took a swing at singing this jingle but unfortunately his singing is just a little off. In fact it sounded like a set of flat spotted Goodyear tires.

The final THUMBS-UP goes to my racing buddy "Six Pack Eddie" who called me recently to inform me of a new commercial in production featuring two of Carl Edwards' sponsors: Subway and Aflac Insurance. It seems the two corporations are doing some co-branding using a new commercial that spotlights Subway's new sandwich. The main ingredient of the new sandwich is, you guessed it, roast duck. "Six Pack Eddie" swears that you can actually hear the duck screaming "A-F-L-A-C !!!" from the other side of the oven door.

This is probably just another NASCAR rumor but how cool would it be if it turned out to be true?

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