2010 Off To A Great Start

Well 2009 has come and gone. 2010 has started with a bang!

The Saints won Super Bowl XLIV in fine fashion. It was the franchises first trip to the Big Game in its 44 year history which started just 2 months before the first Super Bowl was played Jan 15, 1967. This years Super Bowl took over the top spot for the highest viewed program ever, ending a 27 year run by the final episode of M*A*S*H, with an average audience of 106.5 million viewers.

Kevin Harvick won the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. Not a points race for the Sprint Cup season but more of a pre-season all-star race which included all 12 drivers from the 2009 Chase, the 2009 Rookie of the Year (Joey Logano), past Sprint Cup Champions, past Shootout winners, and past winners of the Daytona 500 and Pepsi 400 (the July race at Daytona). In all 24 of 28 eligible drivers were in the race. Kevin won last year also to become only the fourth driver to win back-to-back shootout races joining Neil Bonnett, Ken Schrader, and Tony Stewart.

The Daytona 500 is lining up to be a great race (isn’t it always!) with Mark Martin getting the Pole and Dale Jr to the outside of row one. We will get the lineup for the rest of the field in the two Gatorade Duel races this Thursday.

With some of the rule changes recently made by NASCAR this year should be more enjoyable for the fans. They are lifting the restriction on bump drafting at the high speed tracks and giving them a less restrictive restrictor plate for the same races. They are letting the drivers police themselves which is a much welcome change to at least one NASCAR fan (me). It shows that NASCAR realizes that they have to trust the drivers on the track and not dictate so much to them.

Yes, make the cars safe, make the track safe, but for goodness sake, let the drivers DRIVE! I think they got this one right.

There is only one full time team at the Sprint Cup level driving Dodge cars this year and that is Roger Penske Racing. With three drivers in his stable he gets to have all the attention and (more importantly) money from the Dodge Motorsports folks. Hopefully their research and development programs will provide these cars and their teams some of the best that Dodge has to offer. Don’t forget, Kurt Busch finished fourth last year. One of only two Dodges in the top ten (Kasey Kahne finished tenth) and the first non-Chevy after the Hendricks juggernaut.

So for this year as a new proud owner of a 2010 Dodge Charger R/T I will be cheering the Penske teams to victory. Those drivers include the aforementioned Kurt Busch, Sam Hornish Jr, and Brad Keselowski.

Yes I will still cheer for Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson. I am forever a fan of these two drivers!

See you at the track!

I wish!

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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!