[NASCAR] Speed Addicts

Speed Addicts: 1100 Miles to Go
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Har har, I make a funny.

Yes, ’tis true, Speed Addict got fried to a crisp during his little rendezvous outside by the pool yesterday. Thanks in part to a new mysterious sun block formula, I not only look like I was laid down on a grill and cooked for an hour, but it feels like it to boot, which always sucks pretty bad. I had actually planned on hitting up Speed Street 600, and with good reason; when you can see 3 Doors Down, Styx, Three Days Grace, Hootie, .38 Special and the Charlie Daniels Band in the same day, you’ve got a pretty good thing going. The autograph sessions are fairly comprehensive, with Dave Mirra, Goldberg (?), Richard Petty (!), Ryan Seacrest and the American Idol finalists (who will also be performing), along with a slew of NASCAR luminaries… not to mention the interactive exhibits and souvenirs. It’s a NASCAR-themed extravaganza, and hopefully all of you in town for the 600, or my fellow Charlotte residents got a chance to experience the magic. As for me, I plan on spending my day sitting by a fan, waiting to hit up Main Street Station (the local sports bar) so that I can get laughed at for pulling for Boston and Phoenix. It’s not a good time for the Speed Addict, which is why I’m so psyched to be back with you, my little peeps. We’ve got more crap to sort through than a Kenny G album, so let’s party like it’s 1982.

Racing News & Headlines
Let’s face it, even if you’re not an auto racing fan, May 29th marks a really big day for racing. In Germany, F1 will be holding its Grand Prix of Europe at Nürburgring early this morning, while the IRL holds its annual gala-spectacle, the Indianapolis 500 this afternoon. And, of course, NASCAR holds its Memorial Day weekend tradition with the longest race in North America, the Coca-Cola 600 this evening. The Indy 500/Coke 600 blitz has been fast and furious, to the point that racing is at least on most of your radars this week. The Indy 500 has garnered plenty of attention thanks to Danica Patrick, and if a really hot race car driver is what it takes to get the Indy Racing League back in the mainstream conscience, then so be it. Stranger things have happened in the world of sports, so huzzah. There are plenty of news bits out there, so we’ll hit up the main ones. Be wary though, because we’re doing a lot of mixing and matching today as far as the 500/600/F1 Europe coverage goes, so if you absolutely loathe the IRL or really disdain NASCAR (which would make you an F1 fan or someone who hates racing in general, I guess), then you may have to search out what you want to read.

(IRL) Danica Patrick, the Buzz at Indy
Let’s start off with the easiest news topic, shall we? If Danica Patrick was the next incarnation of Anna Kournikova, then the buzz surrounding her at Indy this weekend will be all for naught. Thankfully, Danica Patrick is not only very attractive, but more importantly to me and real racing fans (regardless of your denomination), she seems to have the innate ability to kick ass and take names on the track where the real action goes down. Interviewing is one thing, but Danica has taken it to another level here. Normally, when a rarity like Danica comes along, they’re vary gracious about the experience, and tout how they’re “just happy to be there” and “we really think we can win today”. Of course, Patrick has followed suit… but she has also had the guts to defend herself and her abilities from a couple of light, but noticeable zings from other racers, including pole sitter Tony Kanaan. You see, Danica not only thinks she has the car and talent to win but she expects to win! GASP! That’s why Danica Patrick is a good thing; even if she finishes dead last, her attitude has caught fire with the public. If she’d came to Indy and had just hoped to run respectably, no one would have cared. But she showed up, regularly beat the times of the field’s best, and damn near took the pole had a first lap snafu not slowed her down. She may not be my pick to win, but damned if she isn’t my sentimental favorite.

(IRL) Kanaan, Hornish Jr. & Sharp Will Lead Field to the Green
Yes, Danica is getting a ton of attention in what is supposed to be a NASCAR column, but we’ve still got the rest of the field, plus some F1 news to tackle, so suck it up. We aren’t done yet, Homer. Switching now from Row 2 of the starting grid to Row 1, and we’ll find three guys who are also the ones to beat come Sunday. While some of the heavier favorites are buried deeper in the field, one shouldn’t overlook the first three cars to take the green flag. Tony Kanaan, Sam Hornish Jr. and Scott Sharp have all had their ups and downs at Indy in May, but even with most of the media focusing their attention on the stories of Patrick and Kenny Brack, these three, Kanaan in particular, have put themselves in the cat-bird seat, if you will (there were like a million commas in that sentence). For whatever reason, the driver sitting in the pole position is not exactly the most likely choice to win the race historically (odd that the pole award winner doesn’t have a better track record in races like this one), but any of the first six cars have a realistic – to – strong chance to win the Indianapolis 500.

(IRL) Resurgence of the Indy 500
This one kind of goes against the grain from what I’ve been preaching now for two weeks. Thanks in part to the miracle of genetics known as Danica Patrick, the Indianapolis 500 is poised to reclaim its thunder today, for better or worse, for the right reasons or the wrong ones. The media blitz for Patrick has been absolutely insane (she gave something like 25+ interviews in the span of 12 hours, a fact hyped constantly on ESPN), and let’s not kid ourselves; she’s being pushed as the big thing to watch at Indy this weekend. Thankfully, in the event that she experiences some sort of problem (be it crash or otherwise), and I have a really bad feeling that something will go wrong, there’s enough talent in the field to make up for that particular let down. Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Bruno Junqueira, Kenny Brack, and the Foyt presence will help the race sustain whatever viewership Danica brings in. Make no mistake, though; the IRL needs Danica to finish strong to keep her aura alive, because life continues after the 500 for the IRL. Jesus, what kind of media pimp have I become?

(IRL/NASCAR) No Memorial Day Sweep Possible in 2005
This isn’t so much a hot news topic as it is common sense. Arguably the most difficult challenge in all of auto racing (perhaps racing in general, trumping the Triple Crown in Thoroughbred racing in difficulty but not notoriety) is to complete 1,100 miles in the span on twelve hours, 500 of them emanating damn near close to 600 miles away from the last 600 miles. Ponder that one and despair. In the past few years, Tony Stewart and Robbie Gordon have both pulled the double duty shtick on the Sunday prior to Memorial Day weekend, with varying degrees of success at either locale. This year, the IRL and NASCAR will remain separated, as no one driver has or will enter both race. The problems with competing at Indianapolis and Charlotte (Jim, that one’s for you) in the same day are numerous. For starters, there’s a slight difference in geographic location here; Indianapolis and Charlotte are separated by some 600 miles, necessitating a journey by private air plane and helicopter that, in itself sucks what little energy you have left after the Indy 500. Furthermore, this is not the feature at the dirt track on Saturday night. This challenge calls for one man to strap himself into two very different, yet still homicidal speed demons for 1,100 miles. It’s hard enough for us regular peons to drive more than 500 miles in our cars without going insane, let alone over a thousand f*cking miles. The feasibility of competing in the two races is somewhat difficult to master. Though the Coke 600 starts some hours after the completion of the Indy 500, the distance between the two, not to mention the pre-race functions that a driver must go through really press double-duty guys for time. To wit, Robby Gordon in his last attempt at both tracks failed to finish the race due to inclement weather; he left the race before its completion, and he still missed the drivers meeting, sending him to the back of the field. This in itself creates another huge problem, in that even if someone were to ever win the Indianapolis 500, so many post-race functions would almost certainly mean that the driver would miss the drivers’ meeting and have to start at the rear of the field, if not miss the start of the race outright. And Charlotte isn’t exactly California here; you’re racing more cars on a considerably narrower surface at 190 MPH or close to it. Starting at the back of the field at Charlotte, or Indianapolis isn’t exactly the best way to go when trying to win races at the two locales. You have to factor in the responsibilities that these drivers have to their regular rides, as well. To date, only the NASCAR driver has attempted the Memorial Day sweep. That’s not a knock on the Indy drivers, though. All that means is that the NASCAR drivers that try to win both races are allowed to compete in the Indy 500… yet they’re obligated to race in the Coca-Cola 600. As mentioned earlier, witness Robby Gordon’s last attempt at the sweep; the Indy 500 was delayed more than once by inclement weather, which pushed any possible end time for the race well past 5:00 PM. The race, which eventually went to Buddy Rice when rain ended the race early, would prohibit Gordon from competing in his Nextel Cup Ride, so Gordon relinquished his car to a backup driver, and high-tailed it down to Charlotte for the 600. Good lord, we’re not even taking into account how much traveling you’d have to do in order to even enter both races. The whole month of May is built around the Indy 500 for the IRL guys, and with so many practice and qualifying trials, you’d literally have to go from Talladega to Indianapolis, down to Darlington, back to Indianapolis, down again to Darlington, up to Richmond, back to Indianapolis for qualifying, down to Richmond for the race, back to Indy for more testing, down to Charlotte for the Nextel All Star Challenge, back to Indy for final testing, back to Charlotte for Pole Night, back to Indianapolis for the 500, then down to Charlotte that same day for the 600. It may not be impossible to win both races… but it’s damn near close to being impossible. You all have my word: anyone that can pull off the double switch will have my vote as the most insane driver in history. [Credit All: Indy500.com]

(Formula 1) Heidfeld takes 2005 Grand Prix of Europe Pole, Schumacher 10th
Nick Heidfeld, a product of the Williams-BMW group, will sit on the pole of a Formula 1 race for the first time in his career today. Heidfeld, 28, will start at the head of the field in his home country of Germany when the seventh race in the F1 World Championship commences from Nürburgring. Despite a possible tire controversy, Heidfeld and his Williams-BMW teammate Mark Webber have been extremely fast during testing. On the flip side, F1 star Michael Schumacher, arguably the most recognizable F1 driver in the United States, qualified smack in the middle of the field (10th), and has been openly pessimistic about his chances to win today. This is quite different from the norm, as most Americans seem to expect Schumacher win every time out. Even for an outsider like myself, today’s Grand Prix of Europe should be an interesting watch, considering how important this race is becoming.

(Formula 1) Williams-BMW Tyre (Tire) Controversy
Again from Nürburgring, the Williams contingent has been especially fast, though the tire manufacturer Michelin has increased speculation that the cars chose the wrong tires for the 2005 Grand Prix of Europe. Heidfeld and teammate Mark Webber, who starts 3rd on Sunday, were extremely fast in qualifying according to reports, but their strategy may also put them at a disadvantage. Kimi Raikkonen (2nd) and Fernando Alonso (6th) both may be heavier on fuel, but regardless, the talent in the field to begin with is quite impressive. The results from Nürburgring wont be available by the time this article goes up, but there have been murmurs from both Michelin and the Williams-BMW camp that the wrong tire choice may have been made. A slightly different world as opposed than running stickers, eh?

(Formula 1) Jordan-Toyota Engine Arrangement Extended
One more news bit, and I promise to stop butchering your racing league over there. The Jordan-Toyota F1 team may see life in 2006 after all. Despite open speculation as to the who would become the engine manufacturer for the Jordan cars, the Toyota team president John Howett confirmed that both parties would seek an extension to their current deal. In such a team-dominated racing league, speculation abounded at first that Ferrari would replace Toyota, though those talks fell through. Even after the breakdown in negotiations there, many still expected Cosworth or Renault to replace Toyota. The deal is not done yet, though, so don’t take anything to the bank. Toyota has already begun to creep into the American racing landscape, landing most notably in 2005 in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, with the Cup cars expected to arrive by 2007 at the latest. [Credit: Formula1.com & F1Racing.net]

(NASCAR) Charlotte Racing Surface Altered
Good lord, the F1 race hasn’t even begun yet and I’m already burnt out. At least we’re back to my main area of expertise, critics be damned. I may or may not have made mention of this at some point in the last two weeks or so, but I doubt it, so I’ll go ahead with the bit. The racing surface at Lowe’s Motor Speedway has been revamped, in an attempt to help increase the passing and side-by-side racing that the lug nuts (ie fans) crave. The new levigated surface at the speedway underwent its first test last weekend, when the Craftsman Truck Series came to town. Most of the Nextel Cup boys got their first taste of racing on the new surface last Saturday night at the Nextel All Star Challenge. All have discovered that pit strategies are less important than they were here in years past. The track has really taken strides in the fact that drivers will have to get it done on the track before they try to win the race on pit road. Whether or not we see door banging for 600 miles tonight remains to be seen, however.

(NASCAR) Newman Exercises Rare Option, Starts on Outside of Row 1
A quickie regarding the starting order, which we’ll cover in a little while. Ryan Newman, who won his millionth pole award this past week, has invoked a rarely used option that allows him to take the green flag this evening from the outside of Row 1. Almost anywhere else, drivers start on the inside of Row 1 to get a better run in Turn 1, but drivers have discovered that the outside line is best through Turns 1 and 2 at Charlotte on the new surface, a fact which was exploited by Mark Martin among others in the All Star Challenge last Saturday night.

(NASCAR) Kyle Busch Wins Busch Race, Looks for Weekend Sweep at Charlotte
Another quickie, since I’m doing exactly what I set out not to do. Kyle Busch won at Charlotte yesterday in the Busch race, which bares mentioning for this reason: last year, Kyle Busch also won the spring Busch race at Charlotte. The next night, Jimmie Johnson absolutely obliterated the field to win the Coca-Cola 600. Both men have Lowe’s as their primary sponsors. The track is named Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Coincidence? If Johnson wins tonight, I scream rat.

(NASCAR) Leffler fails to Qualify, Spencer In the Field.
Thanks in part to an email from one wiser than I that I received recently (you know who you are, “Hendrick-breath“), there’s an interesting little side story developing at Lowe’s… Motor Speedway that bares mentioning. Jason Leffler, the man who I boldly predicted to be the new face of Joe Gibbs Racing once Labonte was done, failed to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600. Jimmy Spencer made it, though, upping the coolness factor by just that much. This brings into the discussion the idea of a single-car team, and whether or not it can compete in today’s team-dominated scene. The answer? Tune in next week to find out, pimps.

Whew, that was quite the little adventure right there. Once again, I’m starting to press for time, but damn it, I’m not going to slack off, because this is Inside Pulse Sports, and we don’t suck up the joint! We write because we’re giants among men! That’s how we roll! In other words, let’s continue on before I really up the cheese factor. And hey, more Danica Patrick coverage, what do you know? (See today’s Know Your NASCAR for an explanation regarding the contradiction therein).

Inside Pulse’s Official Preview: The 89th Running of the Indianapolis 500
Date: Sunday, May 29th, 2005 from Indianapolis, Indiana
Time: 1:00 PM EDT (Coverage begins at noon on ABC)
Pole Sitter: Tony Kanaan (227.566 MPH)
2004 Winner: Buddy Rice
Distance: 500 Miles

It’s already noon, so there’s not much more that I can add to the hype. It’s the Indianapolis 500, guys; you’re either into it or your not. There’s no real middle ground, not even for Danica Patrick. This is the supreme test of wills for the IRL drivers, as they’re going balls to the wall for four hours, or however long the rain holds us up this time. Danica may have the media behind her, but I don’t think that she’s the clear favorite. For one, a woman has never won the 500, and moreover, I still have a bad feeling about her chances (ie she’s going to wreck, or blow up, or something that will keep her from finishing). If you put a gun to my head, I’m going with Helio Castroneves, though I think I’m going to regret that decision when Scott Sharp pulls off the upset. I’m also predicting a late surge by Kenny Brack, if he can keep clear of any trouble.

Predicted Top Five
1. Helio Castroneves
2. Scott Sharp
3. Adrian Fernandez
4. Dario Franchitti
5. Kenny Brack

Starting Grid, Indianapolis 500 (As of 9:55 AM, 05/29/05)
Denoted: Car Number, Name, Avg. Speed and Total Qualifying Time. Not Denoted: Car Sponsor

Row 1
1. #11 Tony Kanaan – 227.566 MPH (2:38.1961)
2. #06 Sam Hornish Jr. – 227.273 MPH (2:38.3997)
3. #08 Scott Sharp – 227.126 MPH (2:38.5024)

Row 2
4. #16 Danica Patrick – 227.004 MPH (2:38.5875)
5. #03 Helio Castroneves – 226.927 MPH (2:38.6414)
6. #27 Dario Franchitti – 226.873 MPH (2:38.6790)

Row 3
7. #17 Vitor Meira – 226.848 MPH (2:38.6969)
8. #55 Kosuke Matsuura – 226.397 MPH (2:39.0130)
9. #95 Buddy Lazier – 226.353 MPH (2:39.0437)

Row 4
10. #02 Tomas Enge – 226.107 MPH (2:39.2170)
11. #04 Tomas Scheckter – 226.031 MPH (2:39.2700)
12. #36 Bruno Junqueira – 225.704 MPH (2:39.5009)

Row 5
13. #9T Scott Dixon – 225.215 MPH (2:39.8475)
14. #05 Adrian Fernandez – 225.120 MPH (2:39.9150)
15. #37 Sebastien Bourdais – 224.955 MPH (2:40.0323)

Row 6
16. #26 Dan Wheldon – 224.308 MPH (2:40.4933)
17. #24 Roger Yasukawa – 224.131 MPH (2:40.6205)
18. #07 Bryan Herta – 223.972 MPH (2:40.6205)

Row 7
19. #10 Darren Manning – 223.943 MPH (2:40.7555)
20. #70 Richie Hearn – 222.707 MPH (2:41.6477)
21. #44 Jeff Bucknum – 221.521 MPH (2:42.5127)

Row 8
22. #51 Alex Barron – 221.053 MPH (2:42.8568)
23. #15 Kenny Brack – 227.598 MPH (2:38.1737)
24. #33T Ryan Briscoe – 224.080 MPH (2:40.6569)

Row 9
25. #83 Patrick Carpentier – 222.803 MPH (2:41.5774)
26. #20 Ed Carpenter – 221.439 MPH (2:42.5731)
27. #21 Jaques Lazier – 221.228 MPH (2:42.7277)

Row 10
28. #14 AJ Foyt IV – 220.442 MPH (2:43.3082)
29. #25 Marty Roth – 219.497 MPH (2:44.0112)
30. #41 Larry Foyt – 219.396 MPH (2:44.0866)

Row 11
31. #22 Jeff Ward – 218.714 MPH (2:44.5986)
32. #91 Jimmy Kite – 218.565 MPH (2:44.7107)
33. #48 Felipe Giaffone – 217.645 MPH (2:45.4072)

[CREDIT: Indy500.com]

Inside Pulse’s Official Preview: 2005 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe
Date – Sunday, May 29th, 2005 from Nürburgring Race Circuit (Germany)
Time – 13:00 (2:00 PM [GMT +01:00] – 8:00 AM EST)
Pole Sitter – Nick Heidfeld, Williams-BMW
Circuit Record Holder (Best Lap) – Michael Schumacher
Distance – 60 Laps/308.863 km (5.148 km per Lap)

I’ll be the first to admit that I know jack squat about Formula 1; never have, probably never will since it comes to the U.S. once a year. Nevertheless, the 2005 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe (which will have finished by the time this goes up on the main site) is an important race for fans of F1. This race marks the seventh stage in the F1 World Championship, and it emanates from Nürburgring, which is quite the circuit to behold. For those of you unfamiliar with Formula 1, the cars look somewhat similar to those of the IRL or CART, except F1 races on really insane circuits that have more turns than Infineon on crack. For those of you who have the privilege of watching this race, enjoy. For the rest of you, I’ll let you know who took the checkered flag next Saturday.

2005 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe Starting Grid

01. Nick Heidfeld (Williams-BMW)
02. Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren-Mercedes)
03. Mark Webber (Williams-BMW)
04. Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
05. Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren-Mercedes)
06. Fernando Alonso (Renault)
07. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)
08. Ralf Schumacher (Toyota)
09. Giancario Fisichella (Renault)
10. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)

11. Felipe Massa (Sauber-Petronas)
12. David Coulthard (Red Bull Racing)
13. Jenson Button (BAR-Honda)
14. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Red Bull Racing)
15. Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber-Petronas)
16. Takuma Sato (BAR-Honda)
17. Tiago Monteiro (Jordan-Toyota)
18. Patrick Friesacher (Minardi-Cosworth)
19. Narain Karthikeyan (Jordan-Toyota)
20. Christijan Albers (Minardi-Cosworth)

Race Review: The Nextel All Star Challenge & Open
Coming Saturday, June 4th, 2005!

Race #12 of 36: The Coca-Cola 600
Date: Sunday, May 29th, 2005 from Charlotte, North Carolina
Time: 5:00 PM on FOX
Pole Sitter: Ryan Newman (192.988 MPH)
Distance: 600 Miles (1.5 Miles per Lap = 400 Laps)
2004 Winner: Jimmie Johnson

Bud Pole Qualifying Results

01. #12 Ryan Newman – ALLTEL Dodge
02. #24 Jeff Gordon – DuPont Chevrolet
03. #17 Matt Kenseth – DeWalt Power Tools Ford
04. #9 Kasey Kahne – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
05. #48 Jimmie Johnson – Lowe’s Chevrolet
06. #5 Kyle Busch – CARQUEST Chevrolet
07. #88 Dale Jarrett – UPS Ford
08. #0 Mike Bliss – NetZero Best Buy Chevrolet
09. #20 Tony Stewart – The Home Depot Chevrolet
10. #38 Elliott Sadler – Pedigree Ford

11. #42 Jamie McMurray – Texaco/Havoline Dodge
12. #99 Carl Edwards – Roundup Extended Control Ford
13. #6 Mark Martin – Viagra Ford
14. #25 Brian Vickers – GMAC/ditech.com Chevrolet
15. #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Budweiser Chevrolet
16. #21 Ricky Rudd – U.S. Air Force/Motorcraft Ford
17. #50 Jimmy Spencer – Arnold Development Companies Dodge
18. #77 Travis Kvapil – Kodak/Jasper Engines Dodge
19. #09 Johnny Sauter – Miccosukee Gaming & Resorts Dodge
20. #2 Rusty Wallace – Miller Lite Dodge

21. #49 Ken Schrader – Schwan’s Home Service Dodge
22. #23 Mike Skinner – AutoManiac Dodge
23. #15 Michael Waltrip – NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
24. #41 Casey Mears – Target Dodge
25. #7 Robby Gordon – Fruit of the Loom Chevrolet
26. #44 Terry Labonte – Kellogg’s Chevrolet
27. #91 Bill Elliott – Stanley Tools Dodge
28. #10 Scott Riggs – Valvoline Chevrolet
29. #16 Greg Biffle – National Guard/Charter Communications Ford
30. #1 Martin Truex Jr. – Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet

31. #07 Dave Blaney – Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktail Chevrolet
32. #22 Scott Wimmer – Caterpillar Dodge
33. #29 Kevin Harvick – GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
34. #18 Bobby Labonte – Interstate Batteries/Madagascar Chevrolet
35. #97 Kurt Busch – Smirnoff Ice/IRWIN Ford
36. #19 Jeremy Mayfield – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
37. #45 Kyle Petty – Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge
38. #01 Joe Nemechek – U.S. Army Chevrolet
39. #43 Jeff Green – Cheerios/Bugles Dodge
40. #31 Jeff Burton – Cingular Wireless GoPhone Chevrolet
41. #40 Sterling Marlin – Coors Light Dodge
42. #4 Mike Wallace – Lucas/Wide Open Energy Drink Chevrolet
43. #37 Kevin Lepage – Underdog Dodge

Inside Pulse’s NASCAR Power Rankings – 05/14/05 to 05/28/05
01. Mark Martin – The Nextel All Star Challenge showcases a True Star!
02. Greg Biffle – See Bliss, Mike, then multiply by 100.
03. Jeff Gordon – Jeff Gordon, the Renaissance Man.
04. Kasey Kahne – After getting his first win, and a great qualifying run, can Kahne make it 2 in a row?
05. Ryan Newman – Another week, another pole, and a win to boot at the All Star Challenge.
06. Kyle Busch – Once again, Mr. Busch, you managed to pull off the win in the spring Busch race at Charlotte. Congratulations, now do it in the Cup.
07. Tony Stewart – Tony the Tiger returns to a favorite track of his. Win #1 looming?
08. Jimmie Johnson – The leading contender for the Cup owns Charlotte; is back to back 600 wins in order for the future champ?
09. Mike Bliss – I don’t know where Bliss came from, but a strong run in the Open and a Top 10 qualifying spot? Color me impressed.
10. Brian Vickers – Chicken move to win the Open? Well, you bet, but he ran well in the NASC too, so he gets a little dap.

NASCAR Stat Tracker
We have a new feature in next week’s column, one that you’re sure to abhor as much as Q & A or the G/W/C! that will also be making an appearance in the coming paragraphs. Starting this week with Dover, we’ll take a look at two drivers from the same team and compare their progress through Qualifying, testing, Happy Hour, and the Cup race on Sunday. What we’re looking for is indications as to how they’ll run, and just how much their weekly work affects their gigs on Sunday. Look for it next Saturday, and see the fun unravel before your very eyes!

(In other words, I ran out of time and couldn’t get it in this week. D’oh…)

Know Your NASCAR
This section is geared more towards international readers as opposed to American readers, who probably know a bit more about NASCAR racing by sheer osmosis. Each week, we’ll drive headlong into a facet of Stock Car Racing here in the United States, whether it be a bit about the sport itself, its personalities, or its history. This week, we’re going to do something a little bit different, but interesting just the same. We’re going to take a look at what goes into making this column. Hey, it’s NASCAR, so it counts And, as always, I may make reference to the “modern era” several times from here on. The Modern Era of NASCAR includes everything from 1972 to the present, just for reference. Well, not really today, since I haven’t been around that long, and I first started writing this garbage in January, but still, it’s called continuance.

Normally, the column begins with a little formatting. For those of you who don’t know HTML very well like me, it takes strategically placed… oh, Hell, you have to type in the command to get the words to do what you want them to do. Now then, after the HTML formatting is done, the meat and potatoes get thrown in. If we’re in the midst of a race week, then the first item on the checklist is to hit up NASCAR.com and scan the qualifying results from that week’s Bud Qualifying. After hand-typing all forty three entries into the field, I’ll go back and add the misc. info that you guys need to know (the time of the race, how many laps, pole sitter and past winner, etc.). Otherwise, in regards to the race material, only the qualifying order and the misc. info are used from other sources. Everything else is material that I have logged over the years, or have heard from other people and held onto. I don’t lift my race predictions, either, which explains why they suck so badly.

The race previews are the real important feature of the Speed Addict column, so every other feature goes in depending on the time I have allotted myself to submit a column. Most of the regular features I work on next, including the Know Your NASCAR selection and the Q & A. The Green/White/Checker will start to phase out the Q & A over the next few weeks, and the new Stat Tracker will eventually replace KYN once I’ve covered everything I need to cover therein. Special features, like the news headlines or miscellaneous information (like the MLB/NBA double shot coming up) are really products of what’s going on in the world at the time. If something is worth mentioning, then I add it on. Of all the features I add to the column, Redneck Theatre is the most taxing, which is why I hardly ever use it. By this point, I’ve logged a good two hours with a decent sized column, or I could be up to five or six hours for a long one such as this one.

The RaceDay Pulse rants are done very similar to the way the wrestling recappers do their rants. I sit down and pop a video tape into the VCR, take out my notebook, and start taking notes as I go. Imagine doing this for 400 laps like I’ll be doing tonight. Once the race is over, I’ll rewind the tape and review my notes in concordance with the footage just taped. Then, I’ll transfer my notes, along with the notes of others who watch with me, to Microsoft Word, and boom, you have your RaceDay Pulse. RDP columns are really quick to type up, since I’ve already got the material on paper, but trying to keep up with everything on the track is a nightmare, so you can see why there’s only been two of them so far. Any questions? Good, because I’ve got ten minutes left before Indy kicks off.

Yes, boys and girls, its time for another fascinating edition into the warped mind of a dumb college moron like myself. It’s the hottest thing this side of Danica Patrick’s lap times at Indy, the Green-White/Checker! You know the routine by now, so there’s no need to beat around the bush.

GREEN – Danica Patrick
There’s really nothing more that needs to be said. She’s a great driver, she’s got more buzz surrounding her than a Mel Gibson religion flick, and she’s beautiful. What else do you want? She’s the one to watch for the next fifteen minutes or so.

WHITE – The Credibility of Rob Schneider
It wasn’t too long ago that Rob Schneider was one of my favorite personalities on SNL, let alone one of my favorite comedians. He was funny, he had a unique brand of humor, and his movies didn’t suck as badly as other SNL spin-offs. So, for all his hard work, he’s rewarded by screaming his idiotic catchphrase from Waterboy for the millionth time, playing lap dog for Adam Sandler in his next reincarnation of Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore, this time featuring Burt Reynolds and Chris Rock. Can you tell that I’m not an Adam Sandler fan yet? If Schneider appears in one more Sandler movie, or if Sandler mucks up a future Schneider movie, I’m going to go nuts.

CHECKER – Speed Addict and Wrestling
You ever get the feeling that you just want something to fix/do/write itself so you can be done with it? That’s what I’m experiencing right now, and I’m not even halfway through with this bastard yet. Anyways, this little entry wont take too awful long, since it’s been a long time coming. It’s not mystery in the circle of cool people around town that I’m something of a wrestling connoisseur. I once gave up the chance to chill in Florida just to order $200 worth of Puroresu for the Hell of it. Tapes ranging from Wrestle War 1992, SummerSlam ’91, and the 1994 Super J Cup get plenty of action in my VCR. I’m probably one of only a few that remember the entire Hulk Hogan/Iron Sheik match sequence on January 23rd, 1984 from Madison Square Garden in New York, despite hating all participants (the match, commentated by Gorilla Monsoon and Pat Patterson, only lasted five minutes and thirty seconds, so you’d hope I’d remember the damn match). If you can remember the match time, commentators, match choreography, and time on the damn arena clock when Hogan pinned the Iron Sheik, you’re a wrestling nerd. I’ve watched wrestling on television every single week of my life at least once, from the time I was four years old until this week. Until this week. I’m done with Triple H, and all this boring garbage they’re trying to pass off as wrestling. When you’d rather watch cars drive in ovals, you know you’re in deep trouble. Eh, good riddance to wrestling; it was nice knowing you.

Know Your NASCAR Review – 05/22/05
If you remember from last week, I really got caught in a sling when I ran out of time while working on the column. Well, I’ve tried to recap as much as I could from the slung together edition last week, and I had promised to redo the KNY and Q & A that I had planned… so guess what? You get a double dose of the stiff stuff, and it starts right now. The topic at hand is the Selections for the Historical All-Star Challenge.

Continuing on From Last Week

“The Great Ones” Positions 1-10
01. Richard Petty
02. David Pearson
03. Dale Earnhardt
04. Darrell Waltrip
05. Jeff Gordon
06. Fred Lorenzen
07. Fireball Roberts
08. Cale Yarborough
09. Tim Flock
10. Bobby Allison

The top ten encompasses a wide range of drivers, all of them legends in NASCAR lore. Some of these drivers are obvious choices (Richard Petty, I’m looking at you). There’s no need to explain why Richard is on this plateau, nor is there any reason to explain why the other nine drivers I selected are where they are. Now, keep in mind that these drivers are not in the order of who’s best, though it’s fairly close to that list, also. Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, and Dale Earnhardt all earn their spots easily, through being bonafide legends. Guys like Fred Lorenzen, Fireball Roberts, Tim Flock, and Bobby Allison are also easy choices for the Top 10. The only real controversy, though some debate may range over Tim Flock’s insertion, is adding Jeff Gordon into the mix. Gordon is a three-time Nextel Cup Champion, has won over 50 victories in his career (becoming the youngest driver to reach that plateau), and has earned a plethora of huge wins, including multiple Daytona 500 crowns. The man is a legend, guys, there’s no getting around it. Just let it go, already.

“The Elite Second Tier” Positions 11-20
11. Bobby Isaac
12. Lee Petty
13. Buck Baker
14. Buddy Baker
15. Ned Jarrett
16. Junior Johnson
17. Neil Bonnett
18. Joe Weatherly
19. A.J. Foyt
20. Bill Elliott

Ah, while the top ten are really easy selections and need no reasoning, these guys all have one or two negating flaws that keep them out of the Top 10. Bobby Isaac and most notably, Lee Petty are the real shockers to be left out of the Top 10, though I felt that Flock was historically stronger than Petty, despite getting blackballed from the sport in the prime of his career. Lee Petty is the forerunner of the Petty Dynasty, and a fine racer he was. The Bakers are also easy inclusions on this list, as both were helluva good drivers, just not the cream of the crop. Ned Jarrett is NED F’N JARRETT, so that’s also an easy choice. The problem with these guys, along with guys like Joe Weatherly and Junior Johnson, is that they had to race in the shadow of guys like Richard Petty and David Pearson, and thusly never got a chance to shine in their own right. Of these ten, A.J. Foyt and Bill Elliott are the only ones that really have no chance in the Top 10, yet deserve their spots in the Elite group.

“The Giants Among Men” Positions 21-30
21. Benny Parsons
22. Alan Kulwicki
23. Rusty Wallace
24. Davey Allison
25. Terry Labonte
26. Mark Martin
27. Harry Gant
28. Rex White
29. Herb Thomas
30. Dale Jarrett

Wash, Rinse, Repeat. We’re getting into the more biased selections here, as these guys range from contemporary picks to real giants, if you will. Benny Parsons is the only one that’s on the tier between the elite class and this one, though I felt his career numbers weren’t quite strong enough to knock Bill Elliott out, since Bill had better track records at the big races. Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison are really risky picks, since both men left us way too early. But the same can be said about Neil Bonnett, so I figured that that they had earned their spots on this list. Krusty Rusty, Mark Martin, and Dale Jarrett have all had fine careers, even winning a couple of Cup Championships between them, sans Mark. Their careers are special enough so far to warrant inclusion in this level. Harry Gant, on the other hand, got in this level by being a Hell of a driver, well into his 50s, something that’s nearly unheard of nowadays.

“Rookies, Legends, and Those Between” Positions 31-43
31. Tiny Lund
32. Red Byron
33. Ricky Rudd
34. Curtis Turner
35. Matt Kenseth
36. Tim Richmond
37. Jimmie Johnson
38. Geoff Bodine
39. Bobby Labonte
40. Cotton Owens
41. Tony Stewart
42. Kurt Busch
43. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Welcome to the Contemporary Zone. This is pretty much the group for all the legends that I didn’t want to put any higher but still deserved inclusion on the list. At the same time, I needed to fill out the field with today’s big stars, so they all got on the list, rank determined by varying degrees of success to date. Draw your own conclusions from here, folks, I’m spent.

NASCAR Q & A Review – 05/22/05
Like last week’s Know Your NASCAR installment, I ran out of time to finish the column due to prior engagements, so for your benefit, you get a double dose of the Q’s and the A’s today, too! Lucky bastards…

Q: Is the Nextel All Star Challenge really an All Star Race?
A: I think so, and that’s the general consensus among other NASCAR beat writers. The main difference between this race and the others is that this one only has the best drivers, while you’re loaded with field fillers on other Sundays. Plus, that $1,000,000 payday, plus the unique format for the event make it something of an all star race, yes.

Q: Still no chance of seeing the RaceDay Pulse of Talladega and Richmond?
A: I’m a lazy old rat, guys, get used to it. I swear, the 600 WILL HAVE ONE, BY GOD.

Q: How is the Coca-Cola 600 more important than the Indianapolis 500? Are you nuts?
A: No, not nuts, just slightly biased. The whole thing about the Indy 500 vs. Coke 600 is this – the Indianapolis 500 hasn’t had a true sellout in years. They’ve had to paper a lot of the stands, which is a telling sign of just how big the race is now. Granted, it’s not like Lowe’s (Motor Speedway) is free from ticket woes, but the ratings for the Coke 600 are on par, if not higher now than the Indy 500. Plus, the times have changed, and open-wheel racing is now viewed as being foreign to the U.S. NASCAR is big now, so the NASCAR race is going to get the bigger numbers. Historically, not even the Daytona 500 can touch Indy, but Indy’s dominance in racing circles has been broken in the United States.

Q: Why did Charlotte Motor Speedway change to Lowe’s Motor Speedway?
A: Start playing Ted DiBiase’s theme song right about… wait for it… now. Money, money, money! No one ever accused Humpy Wheeler of not being a shrewd business man. If he sees a chance to gain notoriety or make some more money off his little gem of a track, then he’ll take it. Lowe’s is a marketing ploy, and while it really pissed me off at first, I have kind of mellowed over the issue thanks to the wonders of time. Now, the whole Infineon name for Sonoma is a different matter, one that we’ll tackle down the road.

Q: What is the best racing game ever made?
A: I’m tempted to say Days of Thunder for the NES, but that’s just the smartass in me. I would actually lean towards EA Sports’ NASCAR Thunder series installment, Chase for the Cup 2005, simply for the wide range of racing options presented. EA has several pretty good games out, including their F1 series, of which I was a nut for over the 2001 F1 game. Then again, games like Need for Speed and Midnight Club all challenge the NASCAR empire for my love and adoration, so your mileage may vary.

Q: Can you explain the difference between race cars in NASCAR?
A: This goes back to the whole notion of the stock in “stock” car racing. The difference lies in the engine package that various teams use. As of right now, Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge all have engine builds in the Nextel Cup, while Toyota has joined their group in the Craftsman Truck Series. The cars are all built the same, cosmetically and aerodynamically, to help ensure that the driver, not the car, will beat another driver in a race. That’s what the rule book says, at least, to borrow a quote from Robert Duvall.-

Q: Is it true that you once spent twelve hours straight playing Resident Evil 3 and killed yourself?
A: Well, I didn’t mean to “kill” myself. Back when I first got the PSX, I hadn’t discovered the need for the blasted memory card, so I set out playing the game with the intent of beating it without using a memory card, since I didn’t have one. Since I was playing without the ability to save, not to mention playing the game for the first time with no cheats, it’s needless to say that I was quite cautious in taking my time through the game. Well, I made it to the very end of the game, when I made my fatal mistake. I was at the water treatment facility, less than ten minutes away from ending the game when I got cornered by a zombie near a set of steps. I was way too damn close for my own good, so I took aim and fired… and noticed that I was actually targeting one of those red exploding barrels. The only problem? I was close enough to piss on that barrel. I exploded with it, and boom, game over. I damn near cried in my macaroni for an hour after that. Now, though, I can breeze through that bastard game in about five and a half hours without much incident.

Q: What’s your opinion on the Brian Vickers incident in the Nextel Open?
A: See my thoughts on the Kurt Busch incident in Phoenix, then multiply that disdain by two. On the other hand, it’s racing, so I’m sure all will be forgotten once Bliss and Vickers take turns wrecking each other tonight.

Misc. MLB/NBA News
A few minor points that bare mentioning from MLB and NBA. As far as the NBA Playoffs go, I’m just about out of it. Detroit is going to have a wail of a time shutting Wade down in Game 3, though they are going back to Detroit, so hopefully we can have a repeat of last year’s NBA Finals. Sadly though, Phoenix is going to lose Game Four, there’s just no getting around it. Anyone that is expecting to see a Red Sox-level comeback is sorely mistaken. The Spurs aren’t the Yankees; they wont choke. Speaking of the Yankees, one night after I had given up hope on the Red Sox this year, they absolutely destroy the Bronx Boobs 17-1, knocking that poser Carl Pavano off his high horse. Good for them; now, let’s see them do that to Baltimore when I drive up the week of the 4th. Also, someone wakeup the Atlanta Braves, and tell them that these games count, since Florida is right on their ass.

Upcoming Schedule – Speed Addicts on Inside Pulse
I’m getting a boatload of friends to come over for the 500/600 today, and will be bringing in That NASCAR Guy and Jamaica to help ensure that the Race Day Pulse returns tomorrow. Whether or not Dover gets a Race Day Pulse is still up in the air. We’re getting close to a period where I’ll be away from town for a few weeks, so you may get to see a special guest host for a little while (I know, I know, celebrate all you want, you ungrateful little peons). As it is, we’re closing in on the halfway point of our little experiment, as Daytona is in a month. Hard to believe, I know, but we’re almost halfway done with our first year of Speed Addicts. We’ll also start gearing up for the second Quarterly Special soon, so look for that in the next few weeks.

Victory Lap for the Pimps
Good Lord, the beat just keeps on going, eh? I’m having trouble getting the internet to connect me to the site, so for now, make sure to check out Patrick, Pomazak, Eric, Porter, and the rest of the crew at IP Sports. Most of them have new digs up by now.

Victory Lane
The things that I do for you people, it’s insane. I hope you enjoyed this little stretch of material, as I worked for quite awhile on it (damn you, sun burn!). Be a good sport and watch the Indy 500 if you want, survive the Coke 600 if you can, and make it back here for the Race Day Pulse tomorrow! Peace out, peeps.

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