Second race of the season…NASCAR season that is

Well what a week it has been in NASCAR. Who would have thought that the biggest race in NASCAR would have ended on the account of rain? Not taking anything away from Matt Kenseth who ended up winning, but this race should have been at the very least post-poned until Monday so that they could finish. Matt led hardly one lap before the caution came out for rain and then not long after, they called it. Oh well. Also did Dale Jr take out Vickers or was it just racing? You decide.

Now we are in California and the restrictor plates will be off for awhile and we will get to see some real racing. Hang on to your ballcaps folks! Let’s go racing! Go Kasey Kahne! Go Jimmie Johnson! Go Bobby Labonte! Go Martin Truex Jr!

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And in the other season that started this weekend, the Bassmasters Classic is still going through the final weigh-in out in Shreveport, LA. I will update you with the winner as it comes in but as it stands now Mike McClelland from Bella Vista, AR is in the lead with a weight of 52 pounds 1 ounce with a limit of 15 fish over the three day tournament.

Richard Petty Motorsports is born!

The name is official! Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM, get it :)) is the new team formed from the merger of Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Enterprises. petty_logoThey will field four cars this year with Kasey Kahne in the #9, Elliot Sadler in the #19, Reed Sorenson in the famous #43, and A.J. Allmendinger will be in the #44. So far it seems that Kasey and Elliott will keep their sponsors from last year. No word on the sponsors for the 43 and 44. Also not sure where the #10 will be that was part of GEM last year.

All I can say is that I am pumped! Admittedly I have only been a Kasey Kahne fan since last year and mostly for my daughter Savannah. It’s going to be a great year for Kasey. Savannah just turned 9, Kasey drives the #9 and its 2009! And now he will be part of RPM! This is just way too cool. I am so glad that there will be a strong Dodge team this year. Seems like they don’t get any credit. Yeah, they only won 4 races last year and one of those was a rained shortened (by only 7 laps) race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway won by Kurt Busch, but I really feel that the Dodge drivers will step it up this year and get to the front much more often and stay there!

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In other news, Bobby Labonte and his new #96 gets the points from Yates Racing’s #38 who finished 27th in owner’s points, to be locked into starting the first 5 races of 2009. All cars who finished in the top 35 in owner’s points get a guaranteed spot in the first 5 races each year. They still do the qualifying for the race but it is only for starting position, not to get in, they are locked in from points. This only goes for the first 5 races, after that you have to stay in the top 35. If you fall out of that, you have to qualify to race. If you don’t, you go home. Bobby Labonte will be the only Ford driver I will pull for. Period. I am a Dodge Fan after all!

Bobby Labonte will drive in 09!

Hot on the heels of my long winded rambling yesterday about the mix up of drivers and teams in NASCAR, it was unofficially announced today that Bobby Labonte will drive for the new Hall of Fame/Yates Racing team that just announced their alignment as well. Bobby will be driving the number 96 Ford Fusion for Hall of Fame team. According to the Wikipedia Yates Racing will field 3 cars but according to Yates Racing’s own website they only have 2 cars. The number 28 driven by Travis Kvapil (pronounced kwapil) and number 38 driven by David Gilliland.

Hall of Fame Racing is co-owned in part by Dallas Cowboys QBs Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. The ties are solid with Bobby Labonte. Hall of Fame Racing was formed in 2006 and their first driver in the Daytona 500 was Bobby’s older brother Terry. Also in 2001 both Bobby and Terry were inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Who else was in that class? Troy Aikman.

Will this be the year for a nice rebound for Bobby? Only time will tell. I will certainly be pulling for him, Ford or not. For those of you who may not know Bobby Labonte won the Championship back in 2000 while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. He is also the ONLY driver in NASCAR history to win both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series Championships (2000 and 1991). For good measure he also won the IROC in 2001. IROC unfortunately went out of business in 2008 from lack of sponsorship. Sad indeed. The IROC took identically prepared cars that were built all by one team and invited a small number of drivers to race them at a few tracks each year. It was kind of like The Masters in golf. Check out the Wiki article to see past winners.

Looking forward to a very exciting 2009 season in the WORLDS GREATEST SPORT (now that the nfl season is over for me :))

I don’t usually post 2 in a day but…

…since the football season is essential over for me (I’ll watch the remaining games, it IS football after all and there is this one game called the Superbowl that will be played on Feb 1) I will turn my attention to the only other sport that really means anything to me and that is NASCAR. Seems that the mergers have settled down a bit so everyone can get ready for Daytona, or at least they have been finalized with the exception of the name of the new team formed by GEM and Petty Enterprises. Supposedly the name Petty will be prominent in the new name but like Kyle Petty said the Petty Enterprises that we have all known and loved (or hated) for the past 60 years in NASCAR ceased to exit when they merged with Boston Ventures and basically kicked Kyle to the curb. He said their is no bitterness. He knew there would be a time when he wasn’t racing full time, but I think it came sooner than he wanted it to.

The 43 is know in the hands of the new team without a driver and lest we forget, Bobby Labonte was driving it and he is still without a car. Funny how that worked out huh? Well he might be going over to the newly formed Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team driving the number 41 that used to be driven by Reed Sorenson. That new team has Martin Truex, Jr in the number 1 car, Aric Almirola in the number 8 recently vacated by Mark Martin, and the 42 still driven by Juan Pablo Montoya, although last year that car was a Dodge, but will now be a Chevy and he does not have sponsorship for the entire year in that ride.

Over at the yet-to-be-named-merged-team-of-GEM-and-PE were the 43 is, there are rumors that Reed Sorenson could drive that car. They were also almost sued by Elliot Sadler as I wrote about earlier, but that has been settled. He will be in the 19, leaving AJ Almendinger to drive the number 10 which was vacated by Patrick Carpentier (thats pronounced kar-pan-tee-ay, he’s French Canadian) after he was fired for poor performance.

Confused yet? There’s more. Over at Hendrick Motorsports, Mark Martin (who was with DEI) signed up for a full schedule running in the number 5 that Casey Mears was driving in 2008. That was the car that Kyle Busch was in before he got canned and moved over to Joe Gibbs Racing, where Tony Stewart had been for every year of his career (10) before getting an offer he could not refuse and became an owner/driver of the new Stewart-Haas Racing team where he signed Ryan Newman away from the only team he had ever known in his career, Penske Racing.

The aforementioned Casey Mears is now at Richard Childress Racing driving the number 07 Jack Daniels car that was driven quite well by Clint Bowyer. He is in a new car, the number 33 sponsored by General Mills and Cheerios which got pulled away from Petty Enterprises (because they weren’t winning any races) and was in my opinion the beginning of the end to Bobby Labonte driving for PE and PE itself.

Whew! Did you get all that? I certainly hope so cause I’m still a bit confused if not frustrated at the state of NASCAR. And I’m as confused as an Amish electrician! Why do the college bowl games get all this money from sponsors who are pulling back from NASCAR? Citi Bank threw all kinds of money at the Rose Bowl this year and it wasn’t even the National Championship game (don’t get me started on that one). Yet that was a one time event. NASCAR is all year long. I just don’t get it. How can you not spend money on advertising your company or product on something that gets national attention ALL YEAR LONG!!! Yeah the networks may not show every car for the entire race, but hey when you have 160,000 fans jammed into a speedway someone is gonna see it right? I mean come on.

2009 is going to be a strange year for NASCAR, but there will be racing, there will be a Chase, and there will be a Champion (maybe Jimmie gets 4 in a row or Kasey Kahne gets his first!). I can’t wait for it to get started. Only 34 more days left for the Daytona 500 on Feb 15th. What a great birthday present I get every year!

The end of Petty Enterprises?

Man what in the world is happening to NASCAR? Just 6 months ago Richard Petty sold a majority of the business to Boston Ventures, an investment business, in the hopes of breathing life back into the crown jewell of NASCAR. A Petty car has not been to victory lane since 1999 and Bobby LaBonte seemed like their best hope when they signed him up. Also 6 months ago at the same time they extended Bobby’s contract for 4 more years as a driver and beyond to serve in some type of capacity in Petty Enterprises. Basically it was a lifetime contract (or so it seemed). But today they announced that that contract has been tossed out the window. Seems like they decided together that it would be better for the two to part ways.

Petty Enterprises is in talks with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports for a merger and would only take the 43 car that Bobby drove. They already basically got rid of Kyle (Petty, not that snot nosed kid from Las Vegas) and he isn’t even sure of what he will be doing next year. Now Bobby is out of a job too. Seems that General Mills pulled their sponsorship over to Richard Childress Racing and left the 43 high and dry for a full time sponsor.

Here is the kicker for me though. If the merger between Petty and GEM falls through, Petty Enterprises will run the 43 as a one car team! So whowill be the driver if you let Bobby go? Chad McCumbee was supposed to drive the 45 so where does he fit in all this?

I think Kyle should be brought back to drive the 43 for Petty Enterprises. I don’t want to see a merger, but I certainly understand the need for one. These guys are taking a beating in this economy and they are doing what they can to survive. Don’t know why motorsports are taking such a hit but other sports aren’t. I do know that there were rumors that the Areana Football League would cancel the entier 2009 season, but it hasnt happened yet. You have the Yankees who just signed pitcher CC Sabathia for 7 years for $161 million bucks and offered a deal to another pitcher, 5 years $80 million bucks! NASCAR teams can’t get sponsors, Petty Enterprises can’t stay afloat, banks are failing, home prices have plummeted, hundreds of thousands of people are out of work, but a baseball pitcher can sign a record contract and get paid  $23 million a year to work around 35 days during the season, and sometimes they don’t even finish their job (releivers, gotta love em).

Something is wrong with this country. I hope it gets fixed soon.