NASCAR Scene: Keselowski out at Iowa, Edwards stays at RFR

Aug 4th, 2011 | Posted by | Filed under Marsha Hoffman
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There’s more going on mid-week than normal in the world of NASCAR, so here’s a quick update.

Brad Keselowski won’t be racing at sold-out Iowa Speedway Saturday night after a hard crash he sustained while testing Wednesday at Road Atlanta.

Keselowski won last week’s Nationwide Series race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, and had planned to race in the U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa for Penske Racing.

Keselowski was airlifted to a local hospital, where he was treated and later released. His injuries include swollen and bruised feet. He said the brakes failed, and he crashed in turn one, hitting the wall at about 100 mph. NASCAR does not race at Road Atlanta, which allows teams to test there, and that wall did not have a SAFER barrier. 

To say Keselowski hit a ton is an understatement, and it’s good that he’ll be OK. It also brings up a point that rarely has been visited – NASCAR prohibits teams from practicing on tracks with sanctioned NASCAR events. The goal was to keep an even-playing field (or racetrack, in this case) for all teams, whether they could afford to test or not.

What the rules does, though, is force teams to practice at facilities that probably can’t afford all of the latest safety improvements. And let’s face it, brakes fail, tires puncture and engines blow up, all which can cause a car to crash in practice, even with few or no other cars on the track. It’s definitely something NASCAR officials should be thinking about.

Sam Hornish Jr. will qualify and race the No. 22 car on Saturday, according to a statement from Penske Racing. Parker Kligerman will practice the car Friday.

So far, Keselowski plans to compete Sunday in the Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway.

In other news, Carl Edwards has made his decision, and he will remain at Roush Fenway Racing after signing a multi-year agreement starting in 2012. That he made his choice now, rather than waiting until later in the season, made good sense. He’s the current points leader, and would have faced constant questions regarding his future, which would detract from his efforts to win his first Sprint Cup title.

“Carl Edwards has achieved a level of success on and off track that would put him at the top of the list for any race team,” said Jack Roush, owner. “Carl and the No. 99 team are having a terrific season again this year, and we’re thrilled that our relationship will continue for many more.”

Finally, JR Motorsports announced that Jimmie Johnson will drive the No. 7 Chevrolet in the Aug. 13 Nationwide event at Watkins Glen. Johnson’s car will promote his soon-to-be-launched video game Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine, which is scheduled for release in October.

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Big Time Timmy Jim

Jul 12th, 2011 | Posted by | Filed under Mike Brownlee
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Well it’s the baseball All-Star break, meaning I should try to revive this blog. My last post was on Opening Day. Embarrasing.

Here’s something I found in the hopper (i.e. a post I started long ago and didn’t finish):
Check this out: gem about Big Time Timmy Jim.

This story has everything: baseball and In N Out burger.
Alas, though the movie was on my mind the whole time I read it, no reference to The Dude. Nor a reference that Tim Lincecum is a dead-ringer for Mitch Kramer from “Dazed and Confused”.

I guess it doesn’t have everything. But, like Brian Griffin’s resemblence to Snoopy, it makes me smile.

NASCAR drivers face adversity

Apr 28th, 2011 | Posted by | Filed under Marsha Hoffman
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Two NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers are facing adversity in two very different situations.

First, it’s hard to grasp how widespread the horrible string of tornados that has ravaged the South this week. But if you think of it in terms of race tracks, areas near Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., and Richmond International Raceway, site of this weekend’s races.

Hoffman

Nationwide driver Eric McClure, of Abingdon, Va., huddled with his family as tornados essentially destroyed their home around them. But McClure noted that despite the damage, they were blessed to be OK. The same couldn’t be said for at least 8 people killed in a nearby town.

McClure wasn’t sure if he’d still race Friday night in Richmond, but I hope he does. His young family, with three children ranging in age from 9 months to 4 years, may need that diversion and the regular routine that comes with racing. McClure’s father’s home is still livable despite being located less than two football field away from Eric’s home. So the family was able to find immediate shelter.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected, and the death toll continues to rise toward 300.

The other Nationwide driver facing an unusual situation is Trevor Bayne. I mentioned in the NASCAR Scene column a couple of weeks ago that he’d been temporarily hospitalized due to an adverse reaction to an insect bite. Not feeling well earlier this week, it was determined Bayne needed follow-up tests. The shame of it is that Bayne will miss Friday night’s Nationwide race. He’ll fall from his current standing of fifth in the points, and will have serious ground to make up.

The Daytona 500 champ and his Wood Brothers team were not planning to run Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race.

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Opening Day

Mar 31st, 2011 | Posted by | Filed under Mike Brownlee
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Awesome. I’m a Royals fan and even I’m excited about baseball’s first day of action.

First I want to pass along this gem about Big Time Timmy Jim.

This story has everything: baseball and In N Out burger.
Alas, though the movie was on my mind the whole time I read it, no reference to The Dude. Nor a reference that Tim Lincecum is a dead-ringer for Mitch Kramer from “Dazed and Confused.”

I guess it doesn’t have everything. But, like Brian Griffin’s resemblence to Snoopy, it makes me smile.

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star discusses the faces of the Royals’ future, most of whom will see considerable action on your Omaha Storm Chasers this season.

Will McDonald over at Royals Review has a few predictions for the season.

Some Cardinals stuff worth checking out.

Cubs, too.

Family Guy quote:

Peter: I’ll do it Lois. Right after a healthy breakfast of juice, toast, and store brand imitation frosted flakes featuring Terry the Tiger.

Terry the Tiger: They’reeeee… food!

Lastly, Joe Posnanski has started a podcast*.

*The Poscast

His first guest is Michael Schur, one of the founders of Fire Joe Morgan. I haven’t been able to listen to it yet, but to say I’m excited would be an understatement.
Two of my mancrushs in one easily digestible format? Yes please.

Wojo v. Bonds

Mar 23rd, 2011 | Posted by | Filed under Mike Brownlee
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Writing columns about the villainy of Barry Bonds is so easy, so cliche. It’s like shooting wolves from a helicopter.

Your hunter this time? One Gene Woojciechowski of ESPN.com. He posits that the Giants won the World Series last year, in part, because of the absence of Bonds.

Why write this column? Why make it about Bonds? Why make the absurd claim that the Giants were better off without one of the best hitters of all time?

Bonds hit lots of home runs (thank you, flaxseed oil!), but nobody ever voted him teammate of the year. He represented the Giants’ old guard — and the old guard won just 71 games and finished last in the NL West in Bonds’ final season in the majors.

Bonds in 2007? .276/.480 (National League leading)/.565 with 28 home runs and a 169 OPS+. The Giants were awful that year, but not because of Bonds.

The Giants scored 683 runs in 2007, good for second-to-last in the National League. In 2010 they scored 697 runs

Not a huge difference there. So how’d the 2010 team win 92 games, Wojo?

Fun is partly why the Giants won their first World Series since 1954. And fun is partly why they could repeat.

Oh. It was fun. Okay.

Pitching stats*:
Giants in 2007: team ERA 4.20 (5th), 1.40 WHIP (T-9th) .255 Avg against (5th),
Giants in 2010: team ERA 3.36 (1st), 1.27 WHIP (T-2nd), .231 Avg against (1st)

*The pitching numbers are easily accessed at the Fangraphs link provided above when I discussed their runs scored.

Also, the 2007 pitching staff had a .293 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) against them, which tied for seventh in the league. The 2010 number was a .282 BABIP against, good for first in the league. So the 2010 staff was a shade luckier.

The 2010 Giants pitching staff was way better than the 2007 staff, while the 2010 offense was barely better than the 2007 version.

Pitching, not fun, was the main reason for the turnaround.

Bonds was a bad guy, cheater, a**hole teammate, liar and more. But he mashed the ball.

Team chemistry is hard to quantify, Wojo even admits it. I definitely think it has value and a team of friends is going to have a lot more fun at the ballpark than the opposite. But if major leaguers, the best baseball players in the world who are paid millions of dollars to play the game, perform worse because of a selfish teammate like Bonds, that’s on the player underperforming, not the Bonds-type player.

I really don’t know why Wojo didn’t just write a column about how crazy and loose the Giants clubhouse is. Some of that’s already in there, why drag Bonds into it? Just add some more Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson and Cody Ross’ high socks, then file the story.