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.

NASCAR and IndyCar: You Dodged a Bullet (VIDEO)

Sans the engine, Austin Dillon took the ride of his life. Thank God no one lost theirs.

Sans the engine, Austin Dillon took the ride of his life. Thank God no one lost theirs.

On Sunday night while the Dale Jr fans pressed themselves closer against the fence at the finish line on a green/white checkered to see their man take the flag, a maelstrom was taking place behind him. Not just any type of ‘big one’ or normal car scattering event, but one of much greater importance.

Thunderstorms had moved into the Daytona area, which is normal in the summer, and dumped rain that took the track into the late hours of the evening to dry. Once the race was underway it was every restrictor plate racing fans dream: Bumper to bumper, pushing and shoving and trying to position themselves at the right point upon which to make their Banzai attack move.

That’s fairly typical, a big wreck is typical and racing that close is typical for plate races. However, Austin Dillon’s car losing control and being catapulted into the front stretch catch fencing was anything but normal. Yes it’s happened before and people were hurt. They were hurt again, 5 fans were hit and treated for flying debris.

Denny Hamlin looked as if he backed out of the throttle and backed up into Kevin Harvick. That pushed Jeff Gordon into Dillon, whose car then went airborne and over two or three lanes of traffic and up into the catch-fence toward the entrance to Turn 1.

Once this car became airborne and passed over the top of several other cars at the start/finish, it moved into the catch-fence at over 190 mph moving forward and centrifugally being flung to the outside. The fence did it’s job of stopping the car from intruding into the stands, but just barely.

 

The fence had actually taken an angled hit that tore it down after Dillon’s car impacted it scattering debris, some of it metal parts, into the crowd. NASCAR’s worst nightmare narrowly avoided.

When it was all said and done, Dillon’s car was ripped to shreds and his burning engine sat in the infield front straight like a talisman of some natural disaster. It wasn’t pretty. 13 fans were medically checked, 8 turned down treatment and 5 received medical attention.

This, coupled with the IndyCar Fontana race, put the spotlight directly on these two sanctioning bodies to make stronger moves to prevent intrusion of a racing car into the stands and to prevent the car from disintegrating on a forward moving side impact.

Keeping the cars out of the stands is possible, it worked for Dillon, but it could have just as easily taken down the second pole, that holds the retention cables, and flown into the crowd, The last time a racing disaster had that potential it turned out very badly. (See the video below.) It was LeMans 1955.

This incident from 60 years ago still haunts track developers and sanctioning bodies as well it should. Despite the safety measures of today, one cannot predict the unpredictable and if auto racing has shown us anything it’s that once a set of circumstances are set into motion, they can produce disastrous and unpredictable results.

There’s no doubt that NASCAR will take further steps to beef up the catch-fencing along with looking at how fast these restrictor plate races need to be.

After leaving the medical care facility, Austin Dillon said: “It’s not really acceptable, I don’t think,” Dillon told reporters after exiting the care center. “We’ve got to figure out something. Our speeds are too high, I think. I think everybody could get good racing with slower speeds. We can work at that, and then figure out a way to keep the cars on the ground. That’s the next thing. We’re fighting hard to make the racing good. I hope the fans appreciate that. We don’t, but it’s our job. You go out there and hold it wide open to the end and hope you make it through.”

IndyCar take notice.

 

 

Why NASCAR Road Races Matter

Could this be Danica Patrick's best chance of 2015 to take a win?

Could this be Danica Patrick’s best chance of 2015 to take a win?

Since NASCAR’s inception road racing has been an integral part of the stock car sanctioning body’s DNA.

Big Bill France had always intended for the series to a mix of ovals and road racing, although through the years the ovals took the lion’s share of the schedule. Why? Americans could sit in one spot and watch the war from one place without having to move around.

In an effort to further separate it’s brand from that of the European style road racing, NASCAR embraced the ovals as a way of imitating the games of football and baseball. All the action, concessions and seating in one place. But was that the right course of action for the modern era?

In my opinion, no. Road racing shows who really are the best overall racing drivers no matter the weight or style of car used. Everything a racer learns is employed in a road race.

Decades ago it was no rare thing to see the Unser’s, the Andretti’s, A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney take a crack at the road races on a regular basis, however we now live in the age of specialization. It’s almost impossible for a NASCAR driver to be competitive in a professional level road race that’s open wheel or of the sprint variety.

Last year it was Carl Edwards riding over the curbs to take a Sonoma win.

Last year it was Carl Edwards riding over the curbs to take a Sonoma win.

Endurance racing isn’t as demanding on the driver as an hour and a half road race, which is why you see many NASCAR drivers run the 24 Hours of Daytona.

However, turnabout is fair play . It’s almost impossible for a Formula Car racer to come in and win a NASCAR oval race. They are unbelievably hard and ultra-competitive.

No matter, the regular Cup series drivers should be capable of driving these very heavy cars on road courses if they are to claim they are among the best drivers in the world.

After all, you don’t drive to work in a circle, do you?

Now we have Sonoma coming up this weekend where we find out who can handle these cars that don’t stop like they should, have very little traction and can easily spin the tires under acceleration. Good. That’s how it should be.

In fact, there should be at least 4 road races on the already absurd schedule and no fewer than two road races in the final rounds of the Chase. Heresy!

No matter whether you love ovals and hate road courses, there are plenty of fans who happen to enjoy both. On a road course you have an entire infield to navigate from one side of the course to the other taking in each corner as you go, it’s a complete experience.

Sonoma, being wine country, has to be one of the tougher road courses on these cars as they have to brake so heavily and then accelerate for long straights. It’s how auto racing was designed, to turn left and right and still be able to out-think the rival who is just in front of you.

It’s very much like a chess match that has a violent streak. On one level of the drivers thinking he or she must be capable of hitting the same marks on different turns every lap all the while having to think strategically about how they can set someone up for a pass while defending your position, all at once.

Let’s stop being dogmatic about ovals when road races bring out full fan attendance and some of the best action this side of Bristol.

I’ll have an old vine Zinfandel thank you.

Does Ganassi Really Want to Win in NASCAR?

How much passion does Chip Ganassi really have for NASCAR?

How much passion does Chip Ganassi really have for NASCAR?

You have ask the question, in fact, I’m sure you’ve all asked yourself this question. Does Chip Ganassi really want to win in NASCAR or is he simply running a business?

There’s nothing wrong with the later, but it does make a difference when the team owner doesn’t seem to show the same passion for his NASCAR efforts as he does for his IndyCar and sports car teams.

Funny thing, Sebastian Bourdais, who won the second IndyCar race at Detroit this past weekend, said: “In IndyCar, no one makes money. It’s just great, pure racing.”

Having been around this sport in virtually all of it’s forms for over 45 years, I can safely say that I think that’s the case for almost every series, NASCAR may be the exception. However it doesn’t walk away clean, in NASCAR a few people make money, relatively speaking.

You would think that Ganassi’s obsession with beating Roger Penske would spill over into NASCAR, but by all visible appearances, it doesn’t. Does some of the money from sponsorship in NASCAR find it’s way over to pay for Ganassi’s IndyCar exploits? My bet is that it most assuredly does. If so, it’s legitimate, just not very original.

Enzo Ferrari built road cars for one purpose only, to go racing. At least he was upfront about it. With Ganassi who knows? He seems to be in the game, his drivers are showing a bit stronger than in the past, but the passion seems to be missing.

No one can dispute the passion Ganassi exudes for IndyCar.

No one can dispute the passion Ganassi exudes for IndyCar.

Jamie McMurray sits in 7th place in the standings and Kyle Larson 20th. Meanwhile, Joey Logano sits in 4th and Brad Keselowski sits in 6th. Penske has the passion, business sense and organizational structure to be the lead dogs in Ford’s camp while Ganassi languishes buried in the pecking order of General Motors.

A case in point is Andretti. He’s all about business, has the passion for IndyCar but none for NASCAR. He’s stated that if an opportunity came along where he could properly fund the team, he could be interested. That’s not passion. He could make a NASCAR effort happen, but he chooses no to do it.

Passion for Chip Ganassi is IndyCar and sports car prototypes, that is If you can call the present crop of cars in the TUDOR series proper prototypes. It just doesn’t feel like he’s really in the NASCAR game.

Maybe I’m wrong. However, Kyle Larson came out of the box strong, but he’s still fighting to get that first win and is inconsistent. Jamie McMurray seems content to be where he is, but Larson is one that couldn’t be blamed for moving on.

The bottom line is that no matter what the die hard, old school fans say, NASCAR is unbelievably competitive. It’s hard to win and the people who are winning are doing so with teams that exude passion from the owners to the kid sweeping the garage floors.

One could have only hoped that Ganassi would have taken what he engineered in taking over the Earnhardt operation that he would have put more heart and effort into it.

Montoya should feel vindicated being back in IndyCar after an excruciating tenure at Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR team.

NASCAR: The Coke 600 Is No Longer Necessary

Cousin Carl Edwards finally gets his win. It was only a matter of time.

Cousin Carl Edwards finally gets his win. It was only a matter of time.

It cannot be argued that Sprint Cup racing has reached a level of dog-eat-dog competition that the rest of the motorsports world envies, with one exception, The IndyCar Series.

Watching the Cup teams on Sunday battle for 600 long, and unnecessary miles, they have established themselves as great drivers, great strategists and great athletes. 600 miles of hard driving should put to rest any doubts that they are athletes.

Unfortunately the Coke 600 is an absurd display of those talents. It’s too damned long.

After you’ve won the ratings war by a hundred fold, why go through the agony of having to watch the teams spend themselves on a race that was designed to out perform the Indy 500. That was long ago.

Maybe it’s because this year they didn’t. The Indy 500 was hands down the best racing on planet earth for Memorial Day weekend. The Coke 600 drug on like a Yugo drag race.

I’ve stated my position before, which is, shorten some of these NASCAR races where the competitors have to race hard for every moment of the race. What I saw in the 600 was a great deal of driving to set up for the last 50 laps. Why take 550 miles to do that?

600 miles for a NASCAR are has outlived it's novelty.

600 miles for a NASCAR are has outlived it’s novelty.

I know, IndyCar does the same in it’s oval races, but they race harder throughout the race, you can’t hold back as much with a modern IndyCar, you’ll lose the draft and precious momentum, the same could be said for the NASCAR races, but it’s just not as immediate.

NASCAR thrives on tradition, but this tradition began in order to one-up the Indianapolis party. It’s now become overkill.

A weekend that has three great races on it’s calendar need not have to come with an over-reach of trying too hard to be seen. The Cup races bury the IndyCar series in viewership. The Formula One races are so horribly predictable now the most exciting thing about them is the standing start and the first turn.

Formula One is in crisis, IndyCar can barely contain the bleeding and NASCAR is keeping it’s head just above water in attendance and viewership, but it’s far more stable at the moment than either of the aforementioned series.

The competition in NASCAR, both Cup and the Xfinity series has never been better, never had more competitive drivers and teams and has never been more interesting. So why bother to cling to a tradition that really isn’t? It was a creation that happened when NASCAR was on the defense.

NASCAR no longer need worry about IndyCar or Formula One. It has become entrenched as an American sporting institution and now has to concentrate on competing with other sports. NFL, NBA and Baseball are it’s main competitors and where it’s marketing efforts should be.

The 600 mile stock car race has simply outlived it’s value to the consumer.

 

Kyle Busch Should Not Race Yet

Busch should wait until his injuries and mindset are at full throttle.

Busch should wait until his injuries and mindset are at full throttle.

Kyle Busch is rushing his return to the #18 Joe Gibbs Toyota. Maybe that’s a strong opinion since the accident didn’t happen to me, but actually his injuries are very close to those I sustained in 1998.

Mine wasn’t quite as glamorous as a racing accident, but just as traumatic. Being hit by a car and thrown 50 feet didn’t do my bones any favors. Busch suffered a compound break of his right leg and a fracture of his left foot in in a wreck in the closing laps of the Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

Mine was a broken left leg, slight fracture of the right forearm and a very rare type of broken ankle. I know exactly what Kyle Busch has gone through. It took two years before I could walk without a cane.

Busch is beyond the shadow of a doubt one of the very best drivers in modern Sprint Cup. No one can deny that. But is he the smartest? One good hit in any of these next few races could undo all of the healing his bones have gone through.

Perhaps Stewart returned too quickly.

Perhaps Stewart returned too quickly.

Rushing back into one of these cars at an ultra competitive event such as the Sprint All-Star is courting disaster.

Busch is still young, JGR is not going to toss him aside for Erik Jones, talented though he may be. Jones is a super future talent, but Busch is a proven entity that should be secure enough in his abilities to not jeopardize his future.

It’s obvious to anyone who has some knowledge of these types of injuries that it’s a hard climb back to the front of a Cup race. Just ask Tony Stewart who hasn’t performed the way we’re all used to seeing. Is it trepidation on Stewart’s part or is it just a new type of car? My bet is that he has to overcome what all drivers do when they have catastrophic injuries.

Just ask Niki Lauda after his horrific crash at the Nurburgring in 1976. Lauda suffered extensive scarring from the burns to his head, losing most of his right ear as well as the hair on the right side of his head, his eyebrows and his eyelids. He chose to limit reconstructive surgery to replacing the eyelids and getting them to work properly.

It took everything Lauda had to mentally return to Formula One after this horrific accident. Lauda is buried in the flames.

It took everything Lauda had to mentally return to Formula One after this horrific accident. Lauda is buried in the flames.

Lauda returned 6 weeks later only to find he was terrified. He discovered that even though he couldn’t remember all that happened to him in the crash, he couldn’t navigate certain corners at full throttle, his mind wouldn’t allow it. He finally was able to mentally overcome it, but not without great difficulty.

I would have to say, from experience, that Busch, Stewart and Lauda both suffer what we now call PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Yes it applies to racing drivers, not just victims of horrible crimes or returning military personnel. It affects racing drivers who have had a catastrophic accident.

Racing drivers are a unique breed of cat. The first thing you want to do is get back in the car right away, get back on the horse, but it’s often rushed and can be a life-altering mistake.

Busch would lose nothing by more slowly working himself back into top shape. He’s that good.

I can attest that there is nothing more ever-present, more throbbing and more painful than broken bones, especially legs and feet. That pain isn’t gone for Busch. How much will it distract him in a full-blown Cup Car? Only he knows.

He should wait at least a few more races before climbing back into the number 18.

Jimmie Johnson Is A Greedy SOB

If you aren't greedy, self centered and ruthless....you aren't a professional racing driver.

If you aren’t greedy, self centered and ruthless….you aren’t a professional racing driver.

Jimmie Johnson is one greedy SOB. He’s a professional racing driver, what else would anyone expect him to be? It’s one of the integral ingredients of being an inveterate competitor. He should be applauded, not scorned.

Jimmie Johnson is no different than an ultra successful businessman, which he is, or an Olympic competitor. He’s not going to give anything away that might intrude on his chances at winning the Sprint Cup Chase.

Would he, at some tracks, give Earnhardt a break to get as many Hendrick cars locked into the Chase as possible? Maybe. But the idea that he gave the win at Talladega to Dale Earnhardt, Jr is absurd. Maybe not to the great unwashed, but to someone who knows what to look for, it’s not probable.

Jimmie Johnson was in the same position as everyone else in the ‘Great Talladega Conga Line’ of 2015 otherwise known as a race. Calling it a race is loosely defined if you care to watch it again on your DVR.

If Johnson had been foolish enough to try and slingshot Earnhardt, he would have been hung out to dry like many others were. Sometimes you need to take the most you can get and live to fight another day. Johnson did just that, he has a win and is putting money into his insurance policy of points.

Had he dropped down, he had a rookie, Ryan Blaney, who may or may not have dropped down with him, not to mention Denny Hamlin. Take note that those cars were a Ford and Toyota respectively. His attachment to the manufacturer had to weigh in on his decision. He had no guarantee that the rookie wouldn’t crash him or drop further down with Hamlin to blow by both Johnson and Earnhardt. It simply wasn’t worth the risk.

I read with great amusement the number of fans, mostly Junior haters, who cried foul while espousing multiple conspiracy theories across Twitter and Facebook. It’s nonsense. Johnson would have taken that win if he thought he could have. No question in my mind.

Professional racing drivers are some of the most self-centered, egotistical athletes on the planet. They have to be. Johnson wouldn’t have 6 Championships if he didn’t fit directly into that mold. He may be a nice, vanilla even, type of personality for the cameras, but beneath that veneer lies the heart of a no holds barred UFC fighter. Win at all costs.

The difference is you have to pick your battles in order to win the war. Johnson and, not to forget Knaus, always seem to know what they have, what they’re capable of and then maximizing their package. It works.

The only thing on Johnson's mind is winning.

The only thing on Johnson’s mind is winning.

The Talladega race was an anomaly. It bore no resemblance to any other restrictor plate race I’ve ever seen. I, just like you, expected that with 3 laps to go multiple cars would drop down and go together to form two lines that had a head of steam. It didn’t happen. Why? I have no real answer other than everyone somehow, collectively decided that they would take what they could get without risking a huge crash.

Perhaps they felt that leaving Talladega unscathed or at least with as little points damage as possible was the best course of action. On the other hand, it may be that as a collective, at that moment when things usually heat up, everyone thought the same thing: ‘If I go for it, I’ll be thrown to the back so I’ll stay where I am. Not normal, but in that one moment, possible.

What I don’t find credible is that Johnson would pitch a win just to give it to Earnhardt.

Yes, Jimmie Johnson is one greedy SOB.

Denny Hamlin Getting Out Of His Car Was Right Decision

Hamlin was right to turn over his car to Erik Jones at Bristol.

Hamlin was right to turn over his car to Erik Jones at Bristol.

This won’t be one of my lengthy diatribes on an issue. It’s pretty simple. Athletes that are in sports that expose them to repeated high g-force impacts are in danger of repercussions of their health in later years.

There have been a few calls from pundits in the motorsport media that question whether or not the present NASCAR rules are too easy for a driver to opt out of a race if they are a lock for the Sprint Cup Chase. It’s a legitimate question, but doesn’t address whether or not them opting out is legitimate if they are injured.

Football, boxing, UFC or any impact sport can have a cumulative effect on the individual. The most common concussion can have severe ramifications if the injured goes back onto the track or field too soon. It’s called “Second Impact” syndrome.

Racing cars while injured is nothing new. In the early days of Formula One the mortality rate was 50% in a given season. By the time Niki Lauda had arrived they had brought that statistic down to a 20% chance of being killed in any given race. Those odds are more in line with a war zone firefight than a sport.

The era of the invincible macho man driver is just not acceptable in the modern era.

There will always be danger in auto racing, if anything that was not thought of can happen in an event, it’s auto racing. However, to court disaster is foolish if you know you can prevent it.

Jim Fitzgerald. One of the kindest, nicest and inveterate competitors I've ever known.

Jim Fitzgerald. One of the kindest, nicest and most inveterate competitors I’ve ever known.

Denny Hamlin has suffered more than one injury. After spending 4 races sitting on the sidelines after a hard hit at Auto Club Speedway in 2013, Hamlin, no doubt, has a great appreciation for what broken bones, severely injured muscles or a potential cervical spine fracture might mean.

I know first hand from:

  • Crashing at the start of a motocross race in South Carolina, broken Coccyx. The lower tip of my spine. 45 years later and I still suffer from that pain.
  • Having had a mild concussion received from crashing at Lime Rock at the Uphill. I had headaches for 6 months. Macho man, didn’t let it get to me.
  • Training on a bicycle, very experienced, 200-300 miles per week, I was hit from behind by a car. Went through the windshield, was thrown back out and over 50 feet. Broken sternum, broken leg, fractured right arm, cracked vertebrae, crushed ankle and multiple lacerations. I was on crutches and rehab for over a year.

To this day I have pain unless I work out those areas religiously.

Had I been Denny Hamlin and my neck suddenly experienced severe shooting pains, Chase or no Chase, I would have gotten out of that car. It would have been the hardest thing I would have to have done, but necessary.

Injuries such as this are not to be trifled with.

A great friend of mine, Jim Fitzgerald was killed at St. Petersburg years ago. Basilar Skull Fracture, now we have the Hans device in NASCAR, long after the other forms of motorsport adopted it. It was only after Dale, Sr. was killed did that become mandatory.

Jeff Gordon hits the wall, next big thing: More Safer Barriers.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. crashes and doesn’t realize he has a concussion for three races. His vision started to blur. He sat out four races.

NASCAR made the rules. But did they make it too easy for the drivers to opt out? What professional driver is going to climb out of his/her racing car just because they have a little neck pain. It had to have been severe and disconcerting considering Hamlin’s past injuries.

Apparently Denny Hamlin’s pain was great enough that he knew something was wrong and to continue would likely exacerbate the problem potentially keeping him from one or more races forthcoming.

Hamlin made the right decision. You can race another race, but you only get one go round in this life.

 

NASCAR, Kurt Busch and Shrunken Heads

It's OK...I'm all better now.

It’s OK…I’m all better now.

If ever a racing driver in history deserved inclusion in the rare but fabled “Lazarus Syndrome” files, it would be Kurt Busch. He’s had more dead careers resurrected than Fatty Arbuckle.

I will be the first to admit that I was wrong as to how the sponsors and NASCAR would treat him after his very public wrangling’s with Patricia Driscoll. You won’t hear me admit that I’m wrong very often. But when I am, I am.

Busch not only was brought back into the NASCAR fold, under considerable public pressure I might add, but he has put himself right back into the limelight as a contender week in and week out. He will win a race, or more likely several, as the 2015 Sprint Cup season rolls along.

He may not have been a favorite for Tony Stewart or his teammates, but Gene Haas didn’t need their permission to place him in the team. How many zeros are behind a number are in direct proportion as to how well an idea or endeavor is received. Right Gene Haas looks like a genius.

Busch has managed to overcome a great deal of adversity, most of it self inflicted, to place himself in the position of being very self-controlled and still aggressive on the track. I’m sure there is shrunken head tacked to a wall with a medical moniker attached to it in a Psychiatrist office somewhere.

The question that will remain for quite some time is can he keep it up? It surely hasn’t escaped anyone who is kind enough to read this opinion is that when he’s interviewed or challenged in any way his responses are very deliberate and almost mechanical. That’s not a bad thing; perhaps it represents the first steps in the ‘Road to Recovery’.

Samantha Busch could probably modify any man's behavior.

Samantha Busch could probably modify any man’s behavior.

I would venture to say, and this is just an opinion, that he is under psychiatric or psychological care on a regular basis that includes behavior modification. Let’s face it, after a certain point in our lives, people do not have fundamental personality changes but behavior modification is a legitimate course of action to those who have detrimental behaviors. Busch would qualify on that one.

Speaking today with a close associate, Bill Marlowe, the subject of Kyle Busch came up as it relates to his brother. It’s obvious that Kyle’s behavior and general mental attitude has taken a major step toward the good. Perhaps, as Bill pointed out, there is a reason.

It is probably no accident that Kyle’s behavior is in no small part due to the fact that his wife has a Masters Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. What is that? Here’s the short answer: “Industrial organizational psychology is the branch of psychology that applies psychological theories and principles to organizations. Often referred to as I-O psychology, this field focuses on increasing workplace productivity and related issues such as the physical and mental well being of employees.”

I would think that if the Busch’s have any familial regard for one another then Kyle’s wife may have played a substantial role in convincing NASCAR to let psychological intervention play into brother-in-law Kurt’s remediation back into the field.

Whatever the case it certainly seems to be working on all fronts. Kurt is giving Kevin Harvick a run for his money, SHR seems to have a shot of at least two cars making the Chase and I have actually admitted I was wrong about Kurt having a career left in motorsports.

I suppose all is right with the world.

NASCAR: It’ll Take More Than Diabetes to Stop Ryan Reed And Roush

Ryan Reed fighting for his space in NASCAR

Ryan Reed fighting for his space in NASCAR

A rush of famous names have hit the Xfinity series lately and it’s undeniably added to the excitement of the stepping stone series. Many are the offspring of famous family members and have taken up much of the air in the NASCAR media rooms.

However, they aren’t the only game in town. Several new drivers that have had to drive their way into the public’s view are making moves in the most competitive Nationwide/Xfinity series in years.

One of those names is Ryan Reed, one of four drivers for Roush Fenway Racing in the series and one of the three building blocks to the storied team owners’ movement back to the front of the Cup field.

Ryan Reed came from a racing family, but not one that would get him an instant Papal audience. He currently sits fourth in the points and he’s earned every one of them. No one handed this kid a thing and he’s very open to admitting that he is on a very steep learning curve.

Reed’s teammates, Elliott Sadler, Chris Buescher and Darrell “Bubba” Wallace have much more experience than he. That fact hasn’t deterred him in the least. He knows where he has to improve and where he has to concentrate.

I had the opportunity to talk at length with the young Reed recently and I have to admit it was refreshing to hear a driver speak openly and without sounding as if he were reading cue cards.

25 races in 2014 is the most consistent run for the same team the young driver has ever been afforded. He has been fortunate to have obtained a sponsor, though not exactly as he had planned. Ryan Reed has Type 1 diabetes. At first, this seemed to be the end of his career.

Diabetes isn't stopping the most elite of athletes, especially Ryan Reed.

Diabetes isn’t stopping the most elite of athletes, especially Ryan Reed.

Eli Lilly and the American Diabetes Association stepped up to the plate to help bring awareness to the growing health problem in the modern world. What was a career ending negative became the one thing that has boosted this young drivers’ career.

Reed doesn’t run or make excuses for his 9th place finish in the 2014 Xfinity championship and he shouldn’t, he’s had limited and mixed series experience. This series is for those who intend to make it to the top and that’s just what he intends to do.

When asked about 2014 he states with conviction that he was on a learning curve and that, of course he was disappointed. He went into the off-season with a mission: To raise his game and to rally around his team who has the same desire.

Reed spent the off season working with his team developing that seemingly magical, yet elusive “chemistry” that these teams need to run at the front. According to Reed: “I couldn’t have a better teacher than Jack (Roush) and veterans like Elliott (Sadler) to work with in order to get the most out of what resources I’ve been given.

Everyone is open minded about what we have to do, especially on our 1.5 mile program, there’s no resting on our laurels, no past pride in it. We know what we have to do with engines, suspension and aero and that’s what we’re doing.”

Neither he, nor his team are stuck in the past. Reed expressed that they are very open minded about what has to be done. Reed added: “It’s always great to come off the truck fast, whether it’s NASCAR, Formula One or IndyCar, but we are willing to try new things to get to where we need to be.”

He went on to say, “On the other hand, just because something looks good on paper doesn’t mean it’s going to translate to the track, so we have to keep trying new things with a purpose in mind, although I remain cautiously optimistic.”

On that subject I posed the question of simulators, which in open wheel are part of the entire engineering package, and I was pleasantly surprised at Reed’s response: “Simulators at the Formula One level aren’t here yet in NASCAR, but they are coming. We use simulators now that are far more advanced than people might think. Ford has invested a ton of money into that technology and don’t think that these are Xbox type pieces of equipment; they require 5 to 10 engineers to operate and are quite complex.

All of the teams use simulator software for set-up but for the driving aspect of it, they are fairly new to NASCAR, but Ford will get us there. He added, “Races will be won and lost based on advanced simulators and simulator software, so we’re not there yet, but Ford is working heavily on it.”

Reed is one of only two top tier racing drivers that have Type 1 diabetes, the other is Charlie Kimball of IndyCar. Without going into the very technical side of Type 1 diabetes, the simple explanation is that it’s an auto-immune disease and he has to take insulin, diet doesn’t work.

The way he handles this problem is to minimize it. He has a radio frequency transmitter embedded into his abdomen that emits a signal to a dash mount LED monitor. This measures his blood glucose levels in order to keep him at peak levels of performance.

And yes, they have a plan if it falls to dangerous levels during a race.

So far it hasn’t been used, however on the off-chance that his blood glucose levels aren’t correct, he can see this from the dash mounted monitor and on a pit stop one of the crew, who has been trained to perform this, can inject him with an insulin stick. Amazing.

According to Reed, his confidence is growing and once that reaches a tipping point level, that is when you have your break out season.

His confidence level and intelligence seemed high to me. I would not be surprised to see this young man break out and win more races before the end of the 2015 season.

 

We find Ryan Reed an interesting young man and intend to check in with him periodically during the 2015 season.

 

 

 

 

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