NASCAR and Dodge

Well there is one less team in NASCAR running with the Dodge name. Richard Petty Motorsports has switched to Ford. That leaves only one big name team driving the Dodge Charger, Penske Championship Racing. Too bad I’m not a big fan of Kurt Busch or Brad Keselowski, but I will root for Sam Hornish Jr. in the 77 car. He had a pretty good year in 2009. Hope he can continue that in 2010.

There are a couple of others. One in particular is Carl Long. Remember him? Not too many folks do. You see back in May 2009 at Lowes Motor Speedway for the Sprint Showdown races before the All-Star race, Carl’s number 46 Dodge blew an engine in practice and they had to change it out if they wanted to race.

Well in doing so they had to submit the blown engine to NASCAR for inspection. Guess what? It failed. NASCAR engines can only have a displacement of 358 cubic inches (about 5.9 liters). His engine, which blew, was measured at 358.17 inches. So it failed.

What did NASCAR do? They fined Carl $200,000, suspended him for 12 races, and docked him 200 owner and driver points. He finished the 2009 season with a negative 200 points, the first driver to have ever done that. You see Carl is not only the driver, but he is the owner too. A one car, small operation owner out of Troutman, NC.

He appealed but was denied. NASCAR takes engine size very seriously and they don’t mess around with that. According to Carl, he bought his engine from a reputable provider and it was all he could afford at the time. It had 50 less horsepower than a normal Sprint Cup engine.

He hasn’t raced in the Sprint Cup since. He is a member of the Front Row Motorsports pit crew who drive Dodges, but he can’t drive.

He is currently taking donations on his website at www.carl-long.com and one of his supporters is David Reutimann of Michael Waltrip Racing.

I think this is a travesty and NASCAR needs to fix this rule. There should be tolerances like there are in other aspects of the car during inspection. Heck, he didn’t even race the engine in question. And now a small business owner is out in the cold. He can’t do what he loves and that is race cars. Too bad. I hope I can donate to help him pay his fine and I hope you can too. Any bit will help I am sure.

Back to Dodge in NASCAR, it is sad that so many teams are switching. Is it the economy? Is it that Dodge is not throwing money to the racing teams or providing them with enough support? Are they really making that bad of a product?

I sure will hate to see Kasey Kahne in a Ford, although he did get his start in one. That relationship ended poorly but Ford and Kahne have both come out and said that all that is behind them and is water under the bridge. I sure hope so for Kasey’s sake. He deserves to be in a great car that will help him make a run for the Championship.

Will it be in a Ford with Richard Petty Motorsports? He only has one year left in his contract with them. We can only wait to see where he will go at the end of 2010. Maybe Penske will have room for another driver in his stable to have four cars.

After all, that’s all the cars you can have as far as NASCAR is concerned. But that is another rule that needs to be discussed at a later date.

Until then…..Go Dodge!

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Playing the Rain Game

If you don’t know what that means, stick around for a bit and I will explain.

There are strategies and then there are strategies. Whats the difference? Well one allows you to out wit, out last, and out play (Survivor anyone?) your opponents. The other one is more luck than anything else. In NASCAR at least, the latter happens when a race is threatened by rain or some other type of natural phenomenon that would otherwise prevent the race from completing on its own. When this happens after half the scheduled number of laps have been completed, NASCAR officials will normally call the race as complete. Some other sports like baseball do this as well. If it is before half way, they try to postpone it until Sunday or Monday and if they can’t get the race completed, they will call it.

This happens at least 2 or 3 times a year in NASCAR, thrice this year already. The SuperBowl of NASCAR, which oddly enough is at the beginning of the season, the Daytona 500, was called on the account of rain as some would say (including me) a bit earlier than they should have. The Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway was delayed after the start until Monday and then it rained more that day and was called 27 laps past halfway. And then just today, the Lenox Indutrial Tools 301 in Loudon, NH was shortened because of rain.

Why did I drag you all through that? Because in each of these races, the winner may not have been the best car on the track or someone who may have won had the race finished normally, but someone who played the Rain Game. Here is how it works. All the pit crew boxes have a lot of computer equipment where they track their cars telemetry (speed, rpm’s, tires, fuel mileage, etc.). They also track the weather. As the race progresses, crew chiefs monitor storms as they move towards the track. What they are hoping for is to be in first place when NASCAR calls the race. Does it work? It does if you are Matt Kenseth, David Reutimann, or most recently, Joey Logano. Was he the best car on the track today? Hardly. Was he lucky? Absolutely. He even said it himself, “I guess I’d rather be lucky than good right now, obviously, we didn’t have the car to win, but we’ve overcame a lot [Sunday] — tires down and more issues than you can imagine.” Read it here for yourself.

With the win, he has become the youngest driver to win a Sprint Cup race and it is his first win in the series.

Do I like it? No. Is it a strategy? Yes. Is it risky? You bet. Joey ran out of gas when they finally brought the field down pit road and red flagged the race. If they restarted it his car would not have.

But like they say, to finish first, first you have to finish. I guess that is what Joey did today in New Hampshire.

Just barely.