About Michele Rahal

Michele Rahal began his career as a professional racing driver in the United States driving for top road racing teams and owners such as Tom Gloy Motorsports, Lever Brothers and the Championship Group. His professional racing career continued from 1980 to 1987. In 1988, Mr. Rahal retired from active driving and moved on to create motorsports insurance packages for teams, events, facilities and drivers developing and instituting programs through such world renowned institutions as Lloyds of London.

Phoenix: Finally NASCAR is Worth Watching Again

Harvick celebrates his 8th Phoenix win. There's a reason they call him "The Closer".

Harvick celebrates his 8th Phoenix win. There’s a reason they call him “The Closer”.

I know, villagers, pitchforks and all that. However the truth is, at least for me, is that NASCAR over the past decade has been a once popular child that had lost it’s way. A victim of group-think.

It never seems to amaze me just how hard it is for large corporations to change their processes, marketing or product to suit what the consumer want’s and needs.

For me, I just sat in amazement years ago, or rather disbelief, as they rolled out the ‘Car of Tomorrow’ and steadily tried to make an Edsel into a Ferrari. All those wasted years. No matter, they seem to have turned the corner, at least so far in the 2016 season.

The lower down-force cars have certainly been a step in the right direction if Phoenix is to be used as the barometer de jour for a functioning formula.

I watched the Phoenix race yesterday and sat back in amazement at how long it took NASCAR to get to this point. Over a decade to recover the hard on-track battles that had been the norm pre COT. Incredible.

However, the past is the past and looking too far back on it does no one any favors. Lets just hope NASCAR will build on the platform it has. Translation: Don’t be afraid to take more down-force off of these cars.

Phoenix was the one race I had looked forward to seeing simply because it’s a flatter and more challenging track in many ways than the 1.5 milers. To me that was to be the first of several tests that would reflect the success or failure of the new aero platform. Fontana is the next.

I don’t think anyone could argue that to date Phoenix was the best race for both the fans in the seats and the television viewers. Multiple passes, Kyle Busch’s early dominance not withstanding, were the norm throughout the race.

Edwards did everything he could to beat Harvick. Just .01 seconds made the difference.

Edwards did everything he could to beat Harvick. Just .01 seconds made the difference.

A few bugs here and there were the tires that left Newman, Menard, Stenhouse and Keselowski in the outhouse, but not something that Goodyear can’t work with for the upcoming one milers and shorter.

No one should be surprised that even though the drivers wanted less down-force, the teams will and should try to add back as much of the invisible grip as they can. The only cure for it is to mandate, albeit slowly, less down-force.

There is a point where removing down-force will end and we’ll be looking at a locked in spec series. One could argue that it is now, but in this case what we’ve had in the past will make the newest platforms brilliant by comparison.

Some detractors might say that it’s the same old group of teams and drivers up at the front so it’s business as usual. To that mindset I have to say: What do you expect? It wouldn’t matter what rules you handed Hendrick or Penske, they are going to be at the front along with the hand picked drivers they employ. That’s why they are who they are.

We may be looking at a point in NASCAR where growth could come back to the sport, although that is going to take more time than folks might imagine. It’s always difficult to cultivate new fans all the while trying to keep the ones you have. Remediating lost fans is almost impossible.

However from what I’ve seen so far this season, they have my attention and I’m looking forward to the Auto Club race. High speed, flat track and low down-force. I’m sure that the fans who make the trek to Fontana will get their money’s worth.

 

Is NASCAR in Viewership Free Fall Again?

Martin Truex, Jr. may have a well-deserved 2016 season.

Martin Truex, Jr. may have a well-deserved 2016 season.

Yes, NASCAR is in free fall once again. Before you break out the pitchforks or water-board, it’s happening to motorsports all across the globe. However, for the purpose of this writing, I’ll restrict it to NASCAR.

To date, which is only two races in, the racing itself seems to be good. The low down-force package that I witnessed at Atlanta made for good solid racing. Those of you expecting to see passing for the lead on every lap will be disappointed, but you shouldn’t be, it’s never been that way.

It will undoubtedly be four to five races in before a verdict can be reached as to whether or not NASCAR has achieved what it set out to do. Make the racing better. In the meantime, expect to see the old familiar faces at the front and why not? They should be, they are the best and they have been the best for the past few seasons whether they’re your favorite driver or not.

The big surprise for me, and a pleasant one, is that Martin Truex was able to be competitive at the front in both Daytona, a restrictor plate track, and Atlanta, a fast slick and difficult track. If he stays on that pace at Las Vegas, it will be real. Hopefully we see that same attack at Phoenix.

NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Atlanta earned a 3.7 overnight rating on FOX Sunday afternoon, down 27% from last year (5.1) and the lowest overnight for the second race of the season since FOX began airing races in 2001. That’s not good.

As long as Earnhardt, Jr. remains in the sport, it will remain popular. Even he may not be capable of keeping it going at present levels.

As long as Earnhardt, Jr. remains in the sport, it will remain popular. Even he may not be capable of keeping it going at present levels.

It appeared last season that the bleeding had been slowed to a mild hemorrhage, but that’s not the case. People are not responding to NASCAR as they did in the past and probably won’t in the future. Is it a sport in decline and doomed to fail? No.

My opinion is that we can expect that it will fall to a level that the hardcore fan will keep close to it’s chest. Does that mean it’s doomed to fall back to a regional Southern sport? Again, no. But it will retract to a point where certain demographics may become more dominant than we had seen in it’s hey day. It may not be a true National Sport within a decade.

So what to do? Absolutely nothing. NASCAR has to keep a solid product and remain as hands off as possible in order to keep the fans interest. Tinkering with it any more than they have will be to their detriment.

Moving to a ‘detrimental to the sport’ type of rules packages involving drivers criticizing the sanctioning body only minimizes more of the very thing that made NASCAR unique in the first place and that was out-spoken, bigger than life drivers who were daredevils and rough and tumble, take no prisoners competitors.

That’s gone and that’s too bad.

Nothing lasts forever.

NASCAR and Formula One: Are You Man Enough To Succeed?

“They’re just sitting out there gentlemen, waiting for you to take their money. Are you man enough go and take it?”

“They’re just sitting out there gentlemen, waiting for you to take their money. Are you man enough go and take it?”

One more race at Homestead, Florida will decide who will be the 2015 Sprint Cup Champion. Was it a year to remember or a year to forget? It’s a little of both. Will NASCAR actually do what it takes in 2016 to succeed?

The NASCAR fan base is as polarized regarding the Chase format as Formula One is regarding it’s hybrid powerplants. In modern motorsports the wedges that have been driven between the fans has been to the determent of the sport regardless of what discipline it is.

In NASCAR, what started as a small problem, how to make the sport more interesting, resulted in the Car of Tomorrow debacle right through to the wholesale change of normally aspirated engines in Formula One to bizarre, unmanageable hybrid powerplants.

The world of motorsports has become tantamount to a plane crash: Something goes awry and then the pilots keep pushing buttons until the plane crashes.

2015 is a year to put behind us in both NASCAR and F1. 2016 will be a transitional year for NASCAR in that we will move to low down-force cars that are actually harder to drive from an aero point of view rather than hip-hop style camber being required to make the car turn.

For Formula One, 2017 couldn’t arrive too soon. The outrageous costs associated with these Frankenstein hybrids have damn near driven the sport to the brink. No independents can keep up under the current rules which have to be endured until 2017.

A brilliant driver whose only competition was his teammate, Nico Rosberg. Hamilton want's more.

A brilliant driver whose only competition was his teammate, Nico Rosberg. Hamilton want’s more.

In NASCAR The Gen 6 car proved worthy, but also too good on sticking to the track, so moving towards the low down-force set-up is a great thing. But is it too little too late? We won’t know until 2016 is mid-season and moves along towards 2017. Darlington’s viewership was down 17% over 2014. That’s very bad, very, very bad.

Redemption wont come overnight, it’s easier to keep fans you have than to gain new ones, but that NASCAR’s challenge. One issue in it’s favor, besides the low down-force, is the new influx of younger drivers. Perhaps they and their social skills can bring along a new group of viewers and fans, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it.

So, the NASCAR season will end up this weekend either crowning an outgoing champion in Jeff Gordon, or possibly an upset victory for Martin Truex, Jr. In Formula One Lewis Hamilton has taken his third World Championship in a year so mediocre, except for the USGP, that people will be almost forced to watch another year with nearly the same rules. Only the diehard fans may hang around for the ‘Great Engine Change’ of 2017.

NASCAR? NASCAR had better put on one hell of a show from race one in order to stop the femoral bleeding of viewers. I believe they can, however, but it will take an on-track product that dazzles along with very, very savvy social media to nudge the fans back into place and to grab those who never cared.

2016 will be the year of reckoning for both of these sports but will be married to social media like never before if they expect to keep people interested. The presidential elections are going to dominate social media, particularly Facebook and both of these styles of motorsports had better grab as many of those eyeballs as possible.

The political conversation will be dominated by the very same demographic as the motorsports fans for both NASCAR and Formula One. Who will take advantage of that?

As Alec Baldwin’s character in the infamous film, ‘Glen Gary, Glen Ross’ said: “They’re just sitting out there gentlemen, waiting for you to take their money. Are you man enough go and take it?”

Well Ladies and Gentlemen, are you?

 

 

 

 

Jeff Gordon Will Be Champion. Why? Hendrick Want’s It.

Never underestimate the taste of blood in your mouth. Jeff Gordon won't.

Never underestimate the taste of blood in your mouth. Jeff Gordon won’t.

All of the talk and trending news for NASCAR is centered on Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano’s altercation at Martinsville this past weekend. Unfortunately the fact that Jeff Gordon has locked himself in the final showdown at Homestead has taken somewhat of a backseat. It shouldn’t as I believe he has the best chance of taking his fifth title at Homestead.

I have to point out that the incident of Logano and Kenseth shouldn’t be minimized. The fact that Kenseth’s actions were premeditated and potentially life threatening should be enough reason for NASCAR to place an intense amount of scrutiny on the crash. However, is there really anyone, including NASCAR, that didn’t see that coming?

Will NASCAR hand down a suspension to Kenseth? Probably not as they depend, now more than ever, on the rivalries of drivers and altercations to give the fans, and yes those of us in the media, something to talk about. It is an atmosphere of NASCAR’s own creation and there’s no doubt they are reveling it.

They will have to hit Kenseth with something to avoid slipping down into WWE territory, in other words: “The Fix is In” conspiracy.

The fan base cries for better racing but in lieu of that not happening until 2016, when lower down force comes into play, they’ll opt for the sensationalism of on-track retaliation. It brings out the fans and helps to deliver eyeballs. The jury is out on whether Martinsville delivered or dropped.

Rick Hendrick has a plan and expects it to be followed.

Rick Hendrick has a plan and expects it to be followed.

No matter. Gordon is locked in and hi teammates are not. Team orders are not allowed and that means nothing. Papa Hendrick has delivered the message to the rest of his stable that they are to do everything they can to push Gordon to the Championship, and they should. How do I know this? Hendrick wants Gordon to go out on the highest note possible. He can’t be thinking any other way.

It’s metaphorically like professional cycling; the riders protect the team leader and sacrifice themselves in order to position the lead rider for the final stint. They are there to protect and serve. Hendrick, no stranger to NASCAR success, can’t think any other way.

Radio code-speak, pre-race strategies, you name it and they will think of it. Johnson, Earnhardt and Kahne surrounding Gordon to keep him out of crashes and then making their cars wide to hold off the hordes. It’s the Tour de Homestead and everyone else on the Hendrick team are expected to be Gordon’s domestique’s.

Recall the last race of the IndyCar season when all Ganassi cars were up front at Sonoma for Scott Dixon? It happens all the time despite the feigned outrage against team orders. It’s going to happen. They will serve Jeff Gordon.

Gordon has a record at Homestead that makes this possible. 1 win, 6 top fives and 5 top ten finishes and all with no real team support. He has the ability, the strategic sense and the teammates to make this a reality.

Logano and Keselowski may be factors, but the Hendrick train will seek to minimize them and any of the three other drivers that Gordon will have to face.

Will the hero go out on top. We think he will, but we’ve been wrong before.

 

 

 

 

NASCAR: In The End, It’s All About The Wheelman

The momentum may seem to be in Harvicks favor, but he has Kyle Busch to get through.

The momentum may seem to be in Harvicks favor, but he has Kyle Busch to get through.

In the end, all things being as equal as they can, it’s really about the driver. The wheelman. The competitor.

If you try and break down what is happening in NASCAR at the moment you can only come to a few conclusions: (1) Toyota has found a way to pull more horsepower and save fuel, which puts them in the hunt. Particularly with Kyle Busch, a true wheelman. (2) Stewart-Haas Racing has found something in it’s handling, but it’s two real advantages are Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. (3) Ford, meaning Penske, has faltered slightly but they have Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.

We can try all we want to make it something else, but they’ve finally gotten it down to where the last races remaining will be against these drivers. Note I didn’t say teams, they’ve managed to draw them very close to one another in performance.

Yes, the very tiny things from an engineering point of view matter when you have drivers of this caliber on each other with the voracity we’re seeing, but it has narrowed down to sheer willpower and who can make the best decisions regarding the utilization of their talent.

Harvick at Dover beat everyone like a Minnesota mule, but that was Dover, that doesn’t mean he’ll be dominant at Charlotte, it could be any one of the aforementioned drivers whose team have taken their equipment and passed the engineering minutiae wand over it.

No one is taking this next round lightly and everything they can do to win or stay in the hunt until there are four will be done, no matter how aggressive they get. Conspiracy theories will be rife among the regular racing media and particularly among the fan base.

This hasn't been the final year Gordon was looking for. He seems to be resigned to retirement.

This hasn’t been the final year Gordon was looking for. He seems to be resigned to retirement.

A fistfight isn’t out of the question and if it happens don’t expect points penalties to handed out, NASCAR needs the excitement. The ratings are not improving, nothing beats a good brawl to attract more viewers.

How many Toyotas does it take to win a championship? Conventional wisdom would say all four of them, but that isn’t the case. It’s really Kyle Busch who has the confidence and skill to make that trophy his. All of Gibbs‘s gang are talented drivers, but Busch has the bit in his mouth and the willpower to take on General Motors and Penske/Ford.

With Ford, it’s the ‘Little Train that Could’ with Keselowski and Logano. Both of these drivers are strong and fearless, but with a two car team how much interference will they run into when the field narrows? A hell of a lot.

Hendrick? Their star, Johnson, is out and that doesn’t bode well for the manufacturer’s anchor team. GM knows it so look for heavy attention to be thrown on Harvick and Busch. The irony is that none of these drivers really care very much for each other, Busch brothers included. Only Gordon and Earnhardt have any hope at all in the Hendrick camp. Hope floats and so does that thing in the YMCA pool.

Once the next two races are in the books look for NASCAR to frisk them before they get into their cars for weapons. This is a serious fight that this crop of drivers are willing to wad up their cars over.

What about Earnhardt? It remains to be seen if he can mount the mental challenge and drag talent up from the depths to take this UFC fight on wheels to the finish. When it comes down to it, however, the rest of the Hendrick crew will run for Dale Jr, should he make it to the final race. It just seems that Gordon has resigned himself to retirement.

This is going to be a dogfight and the losers are not going to be as gracious as Jimmie Johnson was at Dover.

This time around, enemies are going to be made and they won’t forget it.

 

Pope Leaving US Too Early For Kevin Harvick Miracle

It's now do or die at Dover for Kevin Harvick.

It’s now do or die at Dover for Kevin Harvick.

Saving souls is what the Pope is supposed to do, it’s his job. On the other hand, saving fuel when you either have to place yourself in the top 5 or win has apparently never been in Kevin Harvick’s job description.

No one should have any doubt that Kevin Harvick can drive, he’s one of Sprint Cup’s preeminent wheelmen. So how is it that he burns up the New Hampshire track all day and then runs out of fuel 3 laps from the end to hand the victory to Matt Kenseth?

Who knows? He knew that saving fuel and taking a 3rd or 4th at New Hampshire would put him in a less dire position going to Dover than he now finds himself. Now, he has to win at Dover next week. No insurance.

He is now 23 points outside of 12th place in the standings and overcoming that may require divine intervention. May I suggest the “Pope Toaster”? From now until Dover I would make good use of this must have device.

All levity aside, we all want to see these drivers go as hard as they can, but they have to finish to be in the hunt. Harvick didn’t get the memo. It’s mystifying that Harvick was the odds on favorite to win his second chase, based on his early season performances, but as Kyle Petty said: “They went from favorite to total chaos.”

Everyone should have one these! The Pope Toaster.

Everyone should have one these! The Pope Toaster.

Everyone, except Harvick and perhaps his crew chief, Rodney Childers, knew that was the situation. Now was not the time to roll the dice. The radio communication between the two was sparse, if not non-existent, at a time when ‘Save fuel, save fuel’ should have been the message blowing up the radio.

Harvick didn’t save fuel at a rate that would make up the 3 miles he was short and had very little to say to his crew chief during the later stages of the race. He was able to keep the Joe Gibbs Racing cars at bay, but spent far too much petroleum capital to make it stick. In fact, that was JGR’s strategy.

Kenseth was instructed to ‘run him out of gas’ and that’s exactly what Matt Kenseth did, thus locking himself into the next round of the Chase.

Last weekend at Chicagoland Harvick finished 42nd after not stopping to change an obviously damaged rear tire due to a controversial contact with Jimmie Johnson. This weekend should have been his win or a finish high enough to make Dover less daunting weekend.

Unfortunately it’s now a fact that Harvick is desperate, perhaps too desperate to listen to those around him and those charged with his strategy. It wouldn’t be the first time that Harvick has ignored warnings or put the clamps down on his crew.

If he can’t win next weekend, then you can safely say that the pressure really did get to him. Johnson, Kenseth, Busch and Edwards aren’t playing the game the way Harvick is, they are being strategic, which is how the Chase has to be played.

Kevin Harvick is undoubtedly one of the best drivers in NASCAR, a true wheelman. However in terms of strategy, maybe he should stop trying to occupy both the car seat and the pit-box.

But, there are still plenty of Papal toasters available. Perhaps Dover will be his pop-up miracle.

NASCAR: Chase Hasn’t Helped As Much As Low-Downforce

Edwards pulled out a great win over Brad Keselowski in Darlington over the weekend.

Edwards pulled out a great win over Brad Keselowski in Darlington over the weekend.

This coming weekend, Richmond is the last NASCAR domino to fall before the chain of qualifying events start to come into play. Has the Chase format and it’s subsequent tweaking over the years really helped NASCAR? My opinion is no. The numbers seem to support my opinion. Make the racing better with low down-force and tire packages for the tracks and tell everyone who hasn’t heard, how great the racing is. There is a formula for this sort of issue.

NASCAR suffers from the same problems that befall large corporations, whether they are public or private, and that is gridlock on decision and strategy. Why? Because everyone in their meetings is, no doubt, the smartest guy in the room.

There was a point, roughly two to three years ago, that it appeared as if the Chase would be effective in reviving the numbers of television viewers and those who might consider attending a NASCAR race. It had appeared to stop the bleeding, but the wound is open again and NASCAR is in full triage to stop it.

According to Sports Media Watch: “NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Darlington drew a 3.4 overnight rating on NBC Sunday night, up 13% from the comparable Atlanta races last year and in 2013 (3.0 both years). Those telecasts aired on ESPN. According to NBC, the 3.4 is the highest for NASCAR on Labor Day weekend since 2007.”

The major networks do matter to NASCAR and it’s ability to effectively reach it’s fan base. Here’s the kicker: NASCAR is slowly returning to it’s status as a regional sport. It may never live in the obscurity that it once did, but make no mistake, the demographics are Southern.

Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, looks on from the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 5, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina.  (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, looks on from the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 5, 2015 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images)

What to do? You have to look around carefully at the way we consume media. Mobile and non-traditional means of sports consumption are rapidly moving to mainstream. The cable networks are sweating bullets over freshly minted pimply faced kids creating the next Hulu, Apple TV or Netflix to come along and poach the domain they thought would never end.

My opinion on the racing so far in the 2015 season is that it is demonstrably better and Darlington proved that out. Less down-force has a lot to do with it, however the reduction in horsepower, while designed to cause the drivers to roll faster through the corners, has had a slightly negative effect. They would be much more of a handful with that 100 HP back.

But is that all it takes? Put out a great product and the eyeballs will show up? Not a chance. IndyCar is the perfect example. Some of the best balls out racing on the planet right now and yes, they are growing. They had to, they had no where to go but up and upwards they’re headed, albeit slowly.

But, you have to start somewhere and low down-force seems to be the answer de Jour. According to Carl Edwards, winner at Darlington: “I think we’re at a bigger crossroads than most people realize,” Edwards said after winning the Southern 500. “We can go with a package that makes our cars easier to drive and have a (boring) Talladega every week.

“Or we can make them harder to drive and show off the massive talents of our drivers and crew chiefs in these races. I hope they go with the latter and stay with this package.”

Most drivers believe if NASCAR starts 2016 with the current package and then removes more down-force, the racing will be even better. If you remove enough down-force, then the horsepower issue is diminished.

We should all be looking to see who is going to be the breakout kid in the Chase segment of this years Championship, but we should also be concerned that NASCAR is marketing the improved product with a vengeance.

One can only hope.

 

Tony Stewart Should Settle In the Ward Lawsuit

Tony Stewart weathering the storm.

Tony Stewart weathering the storm.

We may not have heard much regarding lawsuits in auto racing, but it is not a precedent. Now Tony Stewart has been, predictably, dragged into one that has too many downsides for him to become distracted from what he does best, racing cars.

The youngsters out there probably wont remember the name of the late, great Mark Donahue, however you should.

Donahue drove for Roger Penske and was his first true star prior to Rick Mears. He drove Trans-Am and won, Can-Am and won, the Indy 500 and won, in NASCAR and won, he was the very first IROC champion, but then Penske moved into Formula One.

In Formula One he had 14 starts and stood on the podium in Canada. Unfortunately while practicing for the 1975 Austrian Gran Prix a tire blew, he hit a catch fence, killing a track worker, walked away and then died from a cerebral hemorrhage the next day.

His heirs sued Goodyear for a blown tire that caused the accident. But the heirs didn’t stop there.

According to an article from the LA Times in 1986:

“An out-of-court settlement was reached Wednesday at Providence, R.I., in the appeal of a $9.6-million Superior Court verdict awarded the estate of race driver Mark Donohue, killed during practice for the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix.

The verdict of April, 1984, the largest ever returned in a Rhode Island state court, had been appealed to the state Supreme Court by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. of Akron, Ohio, and by the Penske Corp. of Reading, Pa. 

Donohue’s heirs claimed that his death stemmed from negligence on the part of Goodyear, which made the left front tire that blew out on Donohue’s Formula One racer, and on the part of the Penske Corp., owner of the car. 

Under the terms of the settlement, the amount of which was not disclosed, Donohue’s widow, Eden Donohue Rafshoon, will share the money with Donohue’s two teen-age sons.”

Mark Donahue in the monster Can-Am Porsche 917, a Penske car.

Mark Donahue in the monster Can-Am Porsche 917, a Penske car.

Here’s the real problem: Every racing driver or corner worker knows exactly how dangerous the sport of auto racing can be. The life expectancy of a mayfly was more certain the a Formula One driver during the Donahue time period.

Despite this, signed waivers, excellent medical care and wellwishers this is a dangerous sport in all it’s forms and you can get sued. For anything.

You can get sued as a driver, equipment manufacturer (Bell was sued as well as Penske) or team owner. The problem for Tony Stewart is that he drives and owns a four car Sprint Cup NASCAR team.

Tony Stewart is only now getting comfortable with the Gen 6 2.0 car. His finishes and movement backwards to the middle of the pack in 2015 could be a direct result of both a severely broken leg and this lawsuit being brought against him for the death of 20 year old Kevin Ward, Jr. in a sprint car accident on August 9th 2014.

Does he have a defense? Of course he does. Ward was found to have marijuana in his system according to the toxicology test performed during autopsy. So what?

Anyone can be sued for anything and in a case that is as emotionally charged as this, Stewart may very well choose to settle in order to keep himself grounded, keep his sponsors out of the fray and, in general, get his life back together. It’s all taken a toll on the likable, generous and sometimes fiery Indiana native.

Here’s the takeaway:  Civil Court cases do not have to reach the level of evidence required in a criminal case. Stewart was never criminally charged. Anything he’s ever been accused of, done or said, videos, you name it, can or may be allowed in a Civil case.

Get the lawyers, weigh the potential emotional and financial damage, and if it seems to be the lessor of two evils, settle with this family rather than have this take the inevitable toll of bringing down a successful racing team and driving figure.

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and take the abuse. It may not be right, but it’s the only course of action he really has unless his sponsors are willing to have their name appear every time a reporter writes about the case.

On this one, I’ll have to agree with my friend, Bob Pockrass, who wrote an article on this subject in September of 2014.

Once again we’re having to ask ourselves: Will this litigious society we have created ultimately destroy the sport we all know and love?

Hell no, we’ll regulate it to death before the lawsuits kill it.

Kyle Busch Will Clinch Chase Berth At The Glen

JD Gibbs of JGR

JD Gibbs of JGR

Barring any crashes, or mechanical failures, Kyle Busch will earn a chase berth this weekend at the Watkins Glen Cheez-It 355.

Yes it’s a road race, which have become tantamount to a short track Saturday night brawl. Anything could happen, but Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing are ready to clinch their spot with the Toyota M&M’s team.

What that means is staying as far out of trouble as possible, running as clean a race as possible and delivering a car that Kyle Busch can feel comfortable in driving. That, in and of itself is no stretch, this isn’t their first road racing rodeo.

Kyle Busch is a no-nonsense hard charging wheelman that is no stranger to victory lane in road races having won at Sonoma and repeatedly challenging at Watkins Glen.

He’s being referred to as a ‘Wild Card’ by mainstream media sports writers to whom NASCAR is usually an afterthought. This just isn’t the case.

Technically, a wildcard is defined by the Urban Dictionary as: “A person who is generally unpredictable and has no defined role in a group of friends, and their often reckless and wacky behavior can either benefit or hurt the group depending on the situation.”

What has Toyota found in their engines giving them an advantage?

What has Toyota found in their engines giving them an advantage?

Kyle Busch, unpredictable? He has been at times. Whacky, at times and it can’t defended. But reckless, not really, he’s fast he has unmatched car control and he can road race. Hence the definition of ‘WildCard’ may fit to those who don’t like him, but the term doesn’t fit Busch’s determination or skill level. Kyle Busch will lock himself into the Chase this weekend.

The biggest caveat is he gets taken out early by someone else or somehow loses sight of the fact that he needs to lock in this weekend, not win the race.

It can be argued, and should be, that driving to win is the surest way to make the playoff, however the unpredictability of a road race, not Busch, is the real ‘Wildcard’ is it’s a road race.

Now comes the subject of Toyota’s new found engine energy. I say energy as it seems that since Indianapolis and Kentucky the Toyota’s have found more than just horsepower. They have found power in the entire power-band, not just top speed.

That alone is an advantage at any road race. Having torque upon corner exit is a beautiful thing for a road racing driver. Being able to utilize the power of an engine throughout it’s power range is what is necessary to go from high speed down to slow corners and then utilizing that horsepower coming out onto a straight.

sThis is where passes are made and smoothness counts.

The Toyota’s have found something and it’s working. This plays to Kyle Busch’s strengths. He’s now able to utilize everything the Toyota has to offer and Watkins Glen is exactly one of those tracks where this should be a winning combination.

A ridiculously fast driver, a well grounded and strategic team and useable horsepower throughout the power-band.

What could possibly go wrong, it’s only a road race.

 

 

Why Should Dale Earnhardt Jr Retire?

retiring? Not so fast.

Retiring? Not so fast.

Lately the rumor mill has been churning regarding Dale Earnhardt Jr retiring after 2015 or 2016.

Why should Dale Earnhardt retire when he has two wins and sits third in the driver standings? Is he going to be a 7 time champion? No. There’s only one driver who has a chance at that in the current field for at least 6 years and that’s Jimmie Johnson.

Earnhardt has been hammered every day of his life since his Father died by those who blindly hate him for not dominating every race of every year since that tragic day. That is the real tragedy.

No one should have to be judged on the accomplishments of their Father. Were that the case, the children of every famous world leader, racing driver, astronaut and start-up king would be doomed to a life of deafening silence and reclusivism.

Earnhardt has shown that he has the ability to compete at the highest level at virtually any track he has visited.

It’s really a disturbing trend to espouse hate behind the curtain of the Internet where any fat bellied, underwear-in-the-basement loser can paint him or herself as someone they are not.

It’s a clear sign of low self-esteem, self-loathing and a drive by mentality.

Prior to the Internet those fans who have a penchant for vitriol had to sit alone with themselves because no one face to face wanted to hear that type of hate.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 14:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, practices for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 14: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, practices for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

There is a clear cut distinction between those fans who prefer one driver over another and those who pick one driver to use to vent their anger at having been a flat-liner or failure in their own lives.

Earnhardt makes a boatload of money, has a smoking hot fiance’ and he’s competing week in and week out for wins. On the other hand if it were me I might consider taking the money and his soon-to-be-wife and run. Who needs this kind of bashing?

But, so far, he hasn’t been satisfied to take the money and run. He wants to win and compete. He’s doing just that.

The current evidence dictates that he seems to have no intention of retiring just yet. He’s outperforming Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson, not to mention Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. Seems like a top dog season to me. Why even think about quitting?

Should Dale Jr win the Championship, and he just might, he’s likely to go for at least two more seasons before buying his own island, or North Carolina.

Far too much money, prestige and self-esteem have been gained to quit now or in the foreseeable future.

If you absolutely hate Dale Earnhardt Jr, you might consider just how much you hate yourself.

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