Saturday, April 14, 2012

Auto Club "News" and Notes

--It was smart for Auto Club of Southern California to take the naming rights for California Speedway. I know that if I ever move to Southern California, and I still have a car, and I want protection in case I lock my keys in it, Auto Club is one of the many options I have.

--Carl Edwards trained with a SWAT-team earlier this week. He's learning to be so stealth that no one even knows that he's there--just like Josh Wise!

--Kasey Kahne is in danger of falling out of the top-35, meaning that he might have to qualify on time next week. No, that's not a joke.

--Allstate joins Bass Pro Shops as a primary sponsor for Jamie McMurray this weekend. Well-budgeted sponsorships of mid-level drivers should be prudent and deliberate--that's Allstate's stand.

--Jimmy John's is on the 29 car this weekend for the first time this season. I ate at a Jimmy John's for the first time last week, and its a great place to get a sandwich if there's no good sandwich shops in your town.

Why is That Man Not Smiling?

Earlier this week, I asked Nascar wag Terry Blount the question on all our minds: Had he ever seen Mike Helton smile? His response? "Once, back in 1997". While I'm sure he was joshing for effect (he at least smiled twice since then), it begs the question, why does Mike Helton NEVER smile? Here's some theories:

--As part of the "hazing" ritual for joining Nascar's upper-management, had to stare at a naked picture of Jimmy Spencer for 10 minutes straight…he was never really the same after that.

--Following his dream of running a major sports league meant forgoing his other dream, becoming a Rockette.

--Every time J.C. France gets arrested, he's gotta go down to Volusia County Penitentiary to bail him out.

--Never received his anticipated 1994 Christmas Bonus, a Spin Doctors boxed set.

--Says, "No, I'm not related to the baseball player" an average of 8.7 times per day.

--Gave his cellphone number to Kenny Wallace a few years back, and its been all downhill from there.

--He never got to see his hero, Rick Mast, win a race.

--Is prohibited by law from growing a bigger mustache.

--His "Great American Novel" about a hard-boiled crime-solving motorsports director who plays by his own rules has only sold fifteen copies.

--Bud Selig gets written about by Rob Neyer. David Stern gets written about by David Stern. Mike Helton gets written about by Mike Mackler.

MWR Congratulates Mark Vicktrip on Strong Start

After yet another top 10, Michael Waltrip Racing showed its confidence in driver Mark Vicktrip making the Chase.

"These--I mean, THIS--cat has really showed us something this year", said team owner Michael Waltrip. "It was tough to step out of the car, but this Mark Vicktrip has really shown us something."

"We're going for the Chase, no question about it", said team co-owner Rob Kauffman. "Mark Vicktrip combines the best of, oh, lets say, three worlds--experience, youth, and marketability."

Mark Vicktrip was unavailable for comment following the race, again, but issued the following statement: "There were some concerns about me running the whole season, but ever since my boyhood days in Arkansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky I've dreamed of making the Chase. When the other drivers see my wrinkled, bearded, hair-gelled-up head in the rear-view mirror, they know that Mark Vicktrip is on the move!"

In a related story, Tony Stewart has vowed revenge against the driver of the 33 car, Elldan Gaugler.

Late-Breaking Bristol "News" and Notes

--Back from Charlotte, and able to tell you that, up close, Greg Biffle DOES kinda look like Nicolas Cage.

--Danica Patrick says she'll be running in Tony Stewart's Prelude to the Dream. Well, with no commercials to get in the way, she can finally get some TV time.

--After this weekend's motorcycle races Daytona will repave the sections of the track burned by the infamous Jet-Dryer mishap. I wonder how those motorcycles are doing racing through a construction zone over steel plates.

--And now, its time for, What Sponsor's On Aric Amirola's Hood THIS Week: Charter Communications.

--When they run that commercial talking about how "promising young drivers" don't have to wait to star in Nascar, why do they show Elliott Sadler?

--You can buy a 4'' by 4'' block of space on Trevor Bayne's Nationwide car for the NEXT Bristol race for $1,900. Hmm, what if Chevy buys some space?

Las Vegas "News" and Notes, The Early Edition

--After Tony Stewart's engine refused to re-fire last week due to computer issues, Smoke has vowed to only run Mac's for the rest of the season. In a related story, Tony now has to print out his lap times and hand-deliver them to Nascar.

--Richard Petty Fantasy Camp will be sponsoring the #43 this weekend. Participants at the Richard Petty Fantasy Camp get to live just like the King: Scrounging for sponsors, dealing with an off-center son, and wondering when Cerberus Capital is going to pay you the money they owe you.

--Infineon will no longer be sponsoring Sears Point Raceway. Jeez, now we'll NEVER know what an Infineon is.

--For those of you who don't live in the Mid-Atlantic region, Ollie's Bargain Outlet is a closeout store whose mascot vaguely resembles Steve Waid.

--On Sunday I leave on my trip to Charlotte and Mooresville, so I won't have any articles until NEXT Saturday evening at the very earliest. Hopefully I don't get punched out by Mike Skinner.

Tony Stewart Suffers Engine Failure Due to Cookie Debris

A promising day turned south quickly for Smoke, as a rogue Oreo found its way into the fuel injection system of his car.

"I shut down the engine, and as I hit the switch, one of my mid-race snacks must have fallen under the hood", a crestfallen Stewart told reporters after the race.

"We took a look at the EFI system after the race, and found the tell-tale evidence of crumbs and creme", said SHR Engineer Lon Byron. "We thought we had this solved after the Taquitos incident two years ago at 'Dega, but I guess we still have work to do."

Stewart pointed out that the majority of his Oreos were consumed early in the race, "…but I always try to save a few for the last third of the race. I have some Ritz Crackers in there too, but we have yet to find out how to bring cheese in the car."

Stewart-Haas Teammate Ryan Newman was spun out after he was spotted eating a Quizno's Chicken Carbonara by Carl Edwards. Team officials say they plan to "look over every aspect of our driver feeding process" going into next week at Las Vegas.

"Our drivers have to stay full, that's a given", Byron added. "The important thing is making sure that some foreign object doesn't overshadow our performance. I mean, come on, we're not Brad Keselowski here."

On a brighter note, SHR driver Danica Patrick had her best race of the year by not running.

Phoenix "News" and Notes

--After weeks and weeks of watching Speed and ESPN hype up Daytona, the start of the season, now we get to hear them say, "Now the season REALLY starts".

--Drivers who had a bad run at Daytona can just do what Kurt Busch did--go to Phoenix!

--A San Diego sports guy was suspended for calling Danica Patrick "…a word that starts with B, and its not Beautiful". Hmmm, so if he was talking about me, would he have called me "…a slang word that starts with H, and its not Hungry"?

--Penske moves to Ford in 2013, leaving Dodge with just one team going forward. Well, it looks like Robby Gordon's plan for domination of FIAT just took another step forward!

--David Ragan will have Barrett-Jackson on the hood this weekend, providing that desired synergy between high-end auto auctions and energy-infused pudding.

--I don't want to say that Rick Hendrick isn't hopeful about Chad Knaus's appeal, but he was spotted talking to Harry Hogge yesterday.

--Brad Daughtery said that Brad Keselowski should have been fined by Nascar for having his smart phone with him at Daytona. So in Daughtery's mind, having a smart phone is terrible, but haulin' the mail in your car is OK?