Thursday, July 29, 2010

Odds-n-Ends for July 29

  • The Pats released 2008 third round pick Shawn Crable. That was a complete waste. Crable never saw action and was considered a project by many of the so-called draft experts. A poor 2007 draft and a mediocre 2008 are why this team struggled last year late, and why they may struggle again this year.
  • "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." The Red Sox are 5-2 in their last 7 games, including a sweep over west coast rival Anaheim. Becket has pitched well in his last two since coming off the DL. Beckett scattered 5 hits over 7 innings to earn his second win. Second. Win. Of the season, not the month. Scutaro hit a grand slam in the 8th off Fernando Rodney, and just like that, they look like maybe, just maybe, they can make a run at the wild card. Now, with the walking wounded slowly returning, we have a pitching rotation of Beckett, Lackey, Lester, Buckholz, and Dice-k. On the first day of football camp, the Sox aren't done just yet. Tigers and Indians come to The Fens before the Bosox head into The Empire next weekend. I'd say they can probably hang in there until Aug 29, when they finish a 3 game series with Tampa. 1 month to make a season. It could happen...
  • The MLS All-Stars got smoked by Manchester United, 5-2. Surprised? Me neither.
  • The Fisher Cats continue to hang in there during the dog days of summer. Toronto Blue Jay OF Travis Snider hit a walk off HR in the 11th to give New Hampshire the win Wednesday over Harrisburg, 1-0. On his rehab stint, Snider has 17 RBI's and 5 HR's in 81 plate appearances. He's also had games with 6 and 4 RBI's in his 20 games so far here in ManchVegas. In a battle for first place, New Hampshire will now travel to Trenton for a four game series to take on the Thunder. On Thursday, Fisher Cats starter Randy Boone (2-6, 3.99) will be matched up against the Thunder's right-hander Lance Pendleton (9-4, 3.49). Fisher Cats Pre-Game begins at 6:45 p.m. on the WGIR Fisher Cats Radio Network with Bob Lipman. The Fisher Cats return to Manchester to host the only two teams that have yet to make an appearance at Stadium this season in Richmond and Bowie. Each will play a three game series against New Hampshire from August 3-8.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pats camp opens Thursday!!

Well, it's not Red Sox Truck Day (tongue in cheek), but Patriots training camp opens this week, as players strap on the pads and get ready for some football. God knows I'm ready. Some quick hit things that I'll be looking for as I start to geek out on all things Flying Elvii.
  • How does the secondary look? Specifically, is first rounder McCourty ready to contribute from day one on defense, or his he relegated to special teams. I'm hoping he steps right in and plays opposite Leigh Bodden.
  • How is the new young LB corps? Is Spikes the second coming of Teddy Johnson, or is he an eye gouging punk?
  • How soon is it going to be before the fans at Rte 1 are chanting "Gronk!" for TE Rob Gronkowski? My gut says week 3 of pre-season.
  • Is Maroney in the doghouse, and if so, who's getting the bulk of the carries this year?
Other Patriots stuff I'm watching:
  • Both Peter King and Adam Schefter are reporting that Brady's deal should be done by the end of summer. Goes to show you what I know. I still say if my kids and wife were on the west coast...
  • Wes Welker is Superman, or maybe he wasn't hurt as bad as we all thought. Imagine, mis-information out of Foxboro? Who'da thunk it?
  • Will the offense take advantage of the new bodies at TE? How good or bad is Alge Crumpler looking?
Are you ready for some football?

McMurray wins the Boring-yard 400

I settled in for this week's NASCAR race, hoping for an entertaining race. Lap 1, we had a multi-car wreck as drivers got too low into turn 3, kicking up grass and making a mess in general. By lap 13, we had teams overheating, as wet grass kicked up by drivers looking for the lowest line in the corner, covered those teams behind them in a wet, soupy salad. 13 laps in, and there's already on 32 cars on the lead lap. I thinking "great, they'll be lots to talk about this week."

Cue the crickets.

From this point on, we had a race that was as exciting as tossing salad. Juan Pablo Montoya had the dominant car, only to be undone by a poor pit strategy, as eventual winner Jamie McMurray and his crew opted for a 2 tire stop at lap 140, grabbing the lead on pit road.

Passing at Indy is notoriously difficult, and this year's race proved to be more of the same. Online reports have attendance at The Brickyard estimated at 140,000, which is well below the nearly 300,000 that can attend races at Indy. Seems fans are beginning to tell NASCAR what is becoming very evident: The taxicabs just do not put on a good show at Indy. Oh, the facility is first rate, with a century of racing heritage. That doesn't mean it's great for NASCAR. It's not, it's damn boring. NASCAR needs to get back to it's roots of short track, Saturday night style racing. The series needs more Richmonds, Martinsvilles, and North Wilkesboros on the schedule. These 2 mile+ ovals just don't hold the excitement that short track racing does. It's a shame really, because Indy is The Mecca of auto racing. It's just not for NASCAR.

Other Random Thoughts:

  • I think I became a Jamie McMurray fan this week. Not for the win, but for his reaction in Victory Lane. I thought it very cute, and a spontaneous show of emotion has he rubbed his pregnant wife's belly.
  • I did feel bad for Juan Pablo Montoya. It certainly seems at that Gannasi has the flat track program dialed in. Watch as those cars have good weeks at both Richmond and NHMS coming up this fall.
  • I know I just ranted how bad the racing is at Indy. It's still Indy. McMurray won both the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 this year. He could have a terrible late summer and fall, and still say he's had one of the best years in a long time. Unless he wins a series championship, McMurray has had his career year.
  • The upcoming schedule: Pocono, Watkins Glen, Michigan, Bristol. 2 yawners and 2 winners. I'll let you figure out which is which.
  • Speaking of Bristol, I received an email from NASCAR, plugging available tickets at this upcoming Bristol Night Race. Wow. Wasn't that long ago Bristol had a multi-year wait list. Now they are having to advertise to sell what used to be the most difficult ticket in racing. Even though they messed up that track with the graduated banking, it's still the best show NASCAR puts on. (OK, now you only have to 1 out of 3 from above)
tough week for auto racing, eh?

Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

Castroneves black flagged, Dixon wins in Edmonton

Maybe I have this NASCAR blood pumping through my veins too much, but this one doesn't make sense to me. IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves was black flagged for blocking teammate Will Power, The-man-with-the-greatest-name-in-racing, after the final restart of the race at lap 92 of this weekend's Edmonton race. Castroneves did not answer the black flag call, which would have forced him to make a pit road drive through. Instead, he took the checkers at lap 95 as the winner, only then to be penalized 20 seconds by race officials, giving the win to Scott Dixon. An enraged Castroneves then can be seen putting his hands on race officials, clearly angry of having been stripped of the win.

Here's what I don't understand; "Rule 9.3 (B) A driver must not alter his/her racing line based on the actions of pursuing Drivers or use an abnormal racing line to inhibit or prevent passing. Blocking will result in a minimum of a black flag "drive through" penalty." I can't see how there is a rule preventing a driver from protecting his position on the track. IndyCar president of competition and racing operations Brian Barnhardt had this to say, "You have plenty of options on where to put your car and we should not have any defending or blocking. Again we will be visually dividing the braking point through the entry into the corner in half. You can only be on the inside half if you are attempting to pass someone. If you are on the inside half because you are under attack from someone else, it is blocking. Don't move your car in reaction to a following car and don't impede the progress of a car with a run on you."

If I have position on the track, IE the preferred line, why the heck would I give up that line in the event of an impending pass? I can see that Castroneves swung his car out, forcing Power to take a wider turn. I just don't get why a driver should be expected to not protect the position. Hell, people joke all the time about 'bumpers getting wide' in NASCAR when people attempt a pass late. Seems only logical to me to make life as difficult as possible for another driver attempting to pass.

See for yourself in the embedded video. The fun begins at 3:50. Related, it will be interesting to see the penalty Castroneves is handed out, as his reaction, while understandable, is equally indefensible. You simply cannot put your hands on any official during an event/game. If this were any of the ball and stick sports, the offending player would certainly be suspended.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gateway Fireworks in the Nationwide Series

  • Carl Edwards dumped Brad Keselowski to capture the checkers for the Nationwide Series race on July 17. Edwards was retaliating for Keselowski's bump to pass in turn 1 on lap 199. Said Edwards ""I just couldn't let him take the win from me," said Edwards, who drew a three-race probation in March for unabashedly turning Keselowski in a Sprint Cup race at Atlanta, with the unintended consequence of sending the No. 12 Dodge upside-down into the frontstretch wall. "My guys work way too hard for that." In my opinion, you can see Edwards dumping Keselowski, clearly turning into the younger driver. As Harry Hogge said in Days of Thunder, "it's low down, shit-ass racing." It seems clear to me the NASCAR recognizes they have a product problem and have gone 180 degrees from previous seasons, with the "have at it, boys." policy. While I agree it does make for better racing, let's hope they don't get someone killed in the process of improving ratings. See for yourself on the video embedded.
  • In a related story, NASCAR has penalized both Edwards and Keselowski for 'actions detrimental to stock car racing. Edwards was docked 60 points and fined $25,000. Both guys were placed on probation until 12/31. I am a bit surprised of the low amounts of points and money. I did not think they'd strip Edwards of the win, as there is precedent for docking points and letting teams keep the win. ( think back to Earnhardt dumping Terry Labonte to win at Bristol). $25k seems light to me, same with the points.

Fisher Cats Notes

  • New Hampshire Fisher Cats starting pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes (1-0, 0.00) has been named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week for the span ending July 18. The 25-year old from West Covina, CA made his Fisher Cats debut on Friday night against the visiting Binghamton Mets, and allowed just one hit and two walks while striking out six batters in eight scoreless innings on way to a 6-2 Fisher Cats victory. Reyes carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the B-Mets before allowing a one-out double to Jonathan Malo.
    Reyes was acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays on July 14, 2010 in a trade involving Alex Gonzalez going to the Atlanta Braves. The 6'2", 230-pounder out of Riverside Poly High School made his Major League debut on July 7, 2007, and opened the 2010 season in Atlanta before being placed on the DL with a hyper extended knee on April 15. The 43rd overall pick in the 2003 MLB Draft has spent most of the 2010 schedule at Triple-A Gwinnett, posting a 1-5 record with 50 strikeouts and a 5.70 ERA over 47.1 innings. Reyes appeared in 41 MLB games from 2007-2010.
  • Wednesday night, the largest crowd of the season watched Travis Snider homer in a 5-1 loss vs. Boston AA affiliate Portland Sea Dogs. The crowd of 7,644 hung on through a 32 minute rain delay before watching the Cats drop the home stand finale.
  • Snider is making a rehab appearance for Manchester, part of is DL stint for a right wrist sprain.
  • The Cats continue to hang on in EAS Eastern League standings, at 57-41, only a half game out of first, trailing Trenton. The locals have dropped the last three, and are 4-6 in the last 10.
  • The Fisher Cats are back in town to host the Harrisburg Senators from July 26-28. The first 1,000 kids will receive a free batting glove, courtesy of Northeast Delta Dental and fans can play USA Subs Baseball Bingo. For tickets, visit or call (603) 641-2005.

Odds-n-Ends for July 21

  • Well, the Red Sox continue to struggle keeping pace in the AL East. One has to wonder how long they can keep up with the likes of Hall, Nava, Patterson, Cash, McDonald getting significant playing time while the main stars are hurt. Nava was optioned to Pawtucket as Hermida makes his return this week. Lowrie was in the lineup today in Oakland, so the walking wounded are slowly returning to the team. I wonder if they can make a run, being 3.5 out of the wildcard, and 6 out of the division heading in to Wednesday's day game. Both Tampa Bay and the Empire won Wednesday night, dropping the Sox further. If you're old school, you can't wait for Pats camp to open next week. If you are a bit more of a die hard fan, then you're convinced they'll make a run. Me...I'm planning my camp visit.
  • WBZ's Jon miller was quoted in Extra Bases: since the Home Run Derby, David Ortiz is 3-for-25 with 10 strikeouts.
  • ran the Fortunate 50, the top earning athletes. TB12 was no where in sight. Call me a pessimist, but the longer this goes, the more I'm seeing him re-uniting with Big Sey in Oakland, or suiting up an San Fran. If my children, super model wife, new manse, and home were west coast, you'd have a hard time getting me to come back to Route 1. What does he have to prove? He's got the rings and the HOF creds, and he can't spend either of those.
  • Speaking of Route 1, camp opens next Thursday, July 29th. Practices are free, and youngsters are able to queue up and get autographs from players after practice concludes. There's plenty of restaurants and shopping as well. Plus, The Pats Hall of Fame is a great experience for fans of all ages.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nascar: Random Thoughts On The Off Week.

  • David Reutimann held off Carl Edwards to secure his second Cup win, Saturday night at Chicagoland speedway. Good for him. His first win was the Coca Cola 600, a rain shortened event. This second win validates the first one. Said Reutimann " It felt like there was a cloud over it, no pun intended, but a dark cloud hanging over our head with that win at the 600. Everybody just says, Yeah, you guys won, but. (Crew Chief) Rodney Childers won me that race. He made the right calls. He won me the race tonight. We win and lose as a team. Now I'm just wondering like, Okay, here you go, just leave me alone. We won the race. We did a good job. Everybody did a good job. Everybody around me worked together to get us where we are. "
  • Austin Dillon, driving the #3 Bass Pro Shops for his grandfather Richard Childress, notched his first Truck Series win on Sunday, at Iowa Speedway. When asked about driving the #3, Dillon seemed very much the 20 year old kid he is, "You know, it's so awesome to see that number running well again. When you see it on top of the board when you leave the track, that was really a cool sight. To see the 3 when you're leaving the track, it was on top of the board. That was cool for me and my grandfather. My grandmother got to be there. It was just really cool...It's a powerful number. It makes the people in the stands stand up and cheer. I love driving it. It's a lot of fun." Image from John Sommers/Getty Images
  • The Cup Series is off this weekend, before they head to Indy for the Brickyard 400. Here's a breakdown of what some racers have planned for the off week: Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski (No. 12 Penske Dodge), Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford), Paul Menard (No. 98 Menards Ford),Reed Sorenson (No. 83 Red Bull Toyota) will drive in the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at Gateway International Raceway. On Sunday, Keselowski also will run in the TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway. Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) and AJ Allmendinger (No. 43 Best Buy Ford) will compete against the best in karting in the SUPERKARTS! USA Summer Nationals in Shawano, Wis. from July 16-18. Tony Stewart (No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet) and Kasey Kahne will race at Eldora Speedway during the King’s Royal weekend. They’ll be taking on the National Racing Alliance (NRA) Sprint Invaders on Friday. David Ragan (No. 6 UPS Ford) will compete in the Legends Million Dollar Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. Marcos Ambrose (No. 47 Kingsford Toyota) will race in a Late Model Pro Stock event at Riverside (Nova Scotia, Canada)International Speedway. I wonder how many of these guys will complain the schedule is too long? TAKE THE WEEK OFF AND VACATION, YOU GUYS!!

Indy Car unveils 2012 Chassis

The Izod IndyCar Series unveiled the 2012 IndyCar Safety Cell today, in a ceremony at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This new chassis, shown here, designed by Dallara, will be manufactured in Indianapolis, and will serve as the baseline for all teams. Manufacturers will then be able to apply their own aero package as they see fit, some possible mock ups are shown below.

This new package comes as a result of recommendations from the ICONIC (Innovative, Competitive, Open-Wheel, New, Industry-Relevant, Cost-Effective) Advisory Committee, which was focused on "the attributes of safety, raceability, cost-effectiveness, efficiency, relevant technology, American-made, green and modern looks."

"Once again, the ICONIC Advisory Committee has done a tremendous job to tirelessly seek opinions from manufacturers, teams, drivers and fans to devise this exciting new car strategy that best represents all the attributes that make this sport so unique and compelling," said Randy Bernard, chief executive officer of the IZOD IndyCar Series. "This car puts everything all of our stakeholders want on the racetrack: safety, competition on and off the track, diversity, efficiency and more.

"The new car also is a cost-effective package that positions the series for tremendous growth and enhances the series' relevancy to future automotive technology, while respecting the tradition of innovation in open-wheel racing."

Some key points, should you feel the need to geek out:

  • Rolling chassis from Dallara are projected to cost $349,000. While this is a boat load of money to the guy running on Saturday nights, this is short money for this type of racing. This price tag represents a 45% drop in pricing from the current chassis, and this new 2012 chassis will be able to be run at all tracks, eliminating the need for multiple chassis.
  • Teams may run a max of 2 aero kits (think road course and speedway), at a cost of no more than $70,000. All parts must be pre-approved by IndyCar before production and must be made available to all teams.
  • Target weight is 1,380 lbs, which is 200 lbs lighter than the current car. Better efficiency.
  • The new car will have a 'wheel lock prevention system', which will allow cars to run side-by-side while limiting the chance for wheels locking and the subsequent risk for cars getting airborne. That means better, closer, safer racing, and that will play great at a 'short track' like NHMS.
"Our goal was to maintain the IZOD IndyCar Series as the fastest and most versatile racing in the world," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the IZOD IndyCar Series. "This strategy achieves the different looks that fans wanted while maintaining the close, intense racing that occurs at every IZOD IndyCar Series event, whether on a superspeedway, short oval, road course or street circuit. A new car also levels the playing field, giving more teams a chance to succeed and generating more excitement for our fans.

"The significant reduction in the price of the new car is very important, as it helps to maintain economic stability for our teams as we transition to a new car. It also creates a more attractive avenue for new teams to enter the series."

I certainly hope the new car will allow teams to keep costs down, therefore bringing more teams to the Izod Series. I for one would love to see a return to greatness for American open-wheel racing. Not that I don't enjoy NASCAR, but the possibility of resurgence in open wheel makes me chomp at the bit for the return of IndyCar to NHMS.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Odds-n-Ends in Sports July 13

  • New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner has passed away, at the age of 80. It was not that long ago that I wrote about the Death of Hate, as the Yankees closed Yankee Stadium. Steinbrenner will be remembered as the bombastic personality who returned the Yankees to greatness. The Yankees would not be the Yankees we know now without him. The Red Sox certainly were able to attain the greatness of '04 and '07 due to the crucible of combat with New York. The modern rivalry between the Sox and Yankees would not be the greatest rivalry in sports if not for Steinbrenner. He is certainly a modern model for professional owners, leading the way for people like Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban. The Yankees were easy to hate because of him, and baseball is diminished without him. Tip your cap today, Emperor Palpatine has passed.

  • Last week, Lebron James announced his signing with the Miami Heat in an hour long ESPN special, The Decision. This is what's wrong with today's professional athlete. ESPN continues to pander to these types, allowing them to be even more self absorbed, in an all-about-me prime time special. The Heat, not to be outdone, held a "Three Kings" party Friday night, much to the delight of 13,000 crazed Heat fans. Now franchises hold parties to sign players? You're supposed to hold celebrations after you win championships, knuckleheads, not for signing announcements. This is why I don't watch the NBA. ESPN, please get back to reporting sports news, and stop glorifying the narcissistic.

  • David Ortiz won the 2010 Home Run Derby, another made for TV, ESPN type event. Don't get me wrong, I know it's all in good fun, and it's a great show for young fans. It does, however, recall us all to the Steroid Era of baseball. No one wants to watch players show off defense skills? Arm strength? A pitcher's ability to paint the black? Give us a skills competition along the lines of the NHL, and less "Chick's did the long ball."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

SCCA: A mere mortals chance to race.

SCCA is coming back to NHMS. I knew that SCCA was the ticket for most folks to drive at speed on race tracks like NHMS, but I wasn't sure how it worked for most people. I had the chance to pick the brain of Stephanie Funk, and she was able to give me some tips to share with you folks. According to Stephanie, "The SCCA has three main disciplines today. They are : Road racing, rally (and now rally cross) and solo. The club is nationwide, broken up into areas, then further into regions. For example, here in New England, we are in Area One, and our particular local region is New England Region. You will find events put on in New England (most notably south, in CT) by other regions such as Northern New Jersey, MOHUD, etc., but the group that comes to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on a regular basis is New England Region. This group is one of the larger regions in the country, comprised off over 3,000 members. There is a very active road race, solo and rally program in place. In fact, there will be an event in New Hampshire later this summer called "Racing Against Leukemia" where all three programs will be taking place at the track at the same time. This event is an excellent venue should anyone want to come see first hand all three disciplines."

"The amount of training, equipment and prep involved to compete will depend upon which program a person wants to compete in. The beauty of this format is that someone with an interest, but no specialized equipment, can indeed come out to compete in the solo or rally/rallycross programs with the car they drive on a daily basis."

Here's Stephanie's breakdown of the main amateur events available:

"Solo: Drivers compete one at a time on a small course defined by cones, competing against the clock. There are a huge number of classes here, from street stock (daily drivers) all the way up to modified. A driver needs only to possess a valid license. Membership in SCCA will get you a discounted entry. Entries typically run from $35 to $60. A helmet is required. (loaners are available at the event)

Rally: The road rally division is a time/speed/distance format on public roads. This is not a high speed adventure, but rather a matter of being able to navigate the sometimes tricky directions. You can compete in any type of vehicle, and no helmet is required. Contestants run at local speed limits.

Rally cross: Designed for those who feel the need for speed and love the dirt, these are basically off road solo events. Cones are set up on a dirt course and the drivers run one at a time, negotiating the cones while getting the best times. You can run a street vehicle, need a valid driver's license and a helmet. There is a lot of rooster tails of dirt and sliding around out there.....great fun!

Road racing: This requires the most money, training and prep. Many drivers work their way up into road racing from solo (they make excellent race drivers) and rally cross. A person who wants to race will have to go through (and get signed off on) two SCCA schools (they hold them locally thoughout the year) and will have to have a legal SCCA approved race car to drive. Many new drivers will rent the car from people who know how to prep them properly and transport them to the racetrack. Others may opt to study the GCR (General Competition Rules) and build their own race car to run in one of the many classes. Prior to competing in a school, a new driver will have to go through steps requiring a physical exam, and call to procure their "logbook", a journal that new racers turn in to the stewards for commentary on their performance on and off track. All race cars also have a logbook that gets signed off on by tech inspection at each event, verifying that the car is legal and that the drover has all the proper gear. A race driver will need a fireproofed helmet, a fire suit (nomex) nomex socks and gloves, a face cover called a 'balaclava' for anyone with facial hair or long hair, and nomex driving shoes.

Once a driver passes their two schools, they have to run two regional races as rookies, and still have their logbook signed off by the stewards of the meet. You can pick out those novice drivers by the three stripes of tape they are required to run on the car, that tells other drivers that they are new.

Once a driver successfully completes those two races, they can compete in any regional race. Once they acquire 4 races in a year on their resume, they can obtain an upgraded license called a 'national' that allows them access to some restricted events.

There are many types a car a driver may choose to race in. Mostly it will boil down to personal preference and budget. The street type vehicles are by far the most common classes found out there right now, but there are classes for true, purpose built open wheel formula cars too. The formula cars are, by and large, more costly to get into and can require more training to drive well. Some have transmissions where the shifting process involves a double clutching, the first clutch popping it out of one gear, followed by a throttle blip and a second clutching popping it into the new gear. This happens so fast and seamlessly the average person spectating isn't even aware it's going on.

The street cars that have been turned into race cars cover a huge range. You can see Camaros, BMW's,Miatas, Volkswagens, Hondas, Acuras, Audis, Porsches, Lotus's and more. They range from late model highly developed machines to simplistic vintage British cars. Their speeds will also range from the intense to the more moderate ranges. A person looking to get involved in road racing should choose a class that interests them, but one that can also be a realistic choice for someone wanting to get started. For example, a person with little to no mechanical aptitude may want to rent a car from one of the prep groups that frequent the events so they get the maximum amount of racing with the least amount of hassle. Someone with an interest in vintage or unusual machines and a love of tinkering may be better suited with one of the productions classes."

Some resources for anyone considering SCCA race, rally or solo would be the region's There also is a Facebook page, under NER SCCA. Or you can go to the national website,

Power takes The Glen

The Man With The Greatest Name In Racing, Will Power, took this weekend's Izod Series Race at the historic Watkins Glen road course. This was Team Penske's first win in the IndyCar Series, although the team did have four wins in the previous sanctioning body, CART.

Power increased his series lead to 32 points over Indy 500 champ Dario Franchitti. Power also leads Ryan Hunter Ray by 78 points as the teams head into Toronto in 2 weeks. Said Power, on his points lead, "That's not that much. It's one weekend. You could have a bad race, somebody wins, you're back behind again. I realize you actually have to win races to win the championship. You do. The points spread, that extra 10 points you get for winning. The guys I'm competing against, it's really tough. It's really competitive. You can't relax. I mean, people say, You get on the road courses, road courses coming up. But Dixon, Franchitti, Helio, Ryan are all as quick as I am. So you got to win, but you got to make no mistakes."

Power passed Penske teammate Ryan Brisoce with 6 laps remaining, then held off a charging Franchitti and Briscoe the rest of the way for his series leading third win of the season. Brazilians Raphael Matos of de Ferran Dragon Racing and Mario Moraes of KV Racing Technology completed the top five.

I Believe in The Call

I believe in God. I believe in family. I believe in the American Way. I believe there's a prehistoric lizard in a scottish lake. I believe the truth is out there, we are not alone, and in Roswell. To paraphrase Crash Davis, I believe in the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve, and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days. I also believe in The Call.

For those of you not well versed in NASCAR lore, The Call is a conspiracy theorists way of explaining some of the so called "Hollywood Script" type moments that have happened in NASCAR. The Call gives a competitor an advantage, though gas mileage, horsepower, handling, or some other unseen trick. The Call will also allow for some very fortuitous media coverage. Among the recipient of "calls" are, in no order
  • Richard Petty's 200th win, at Daytona, in front of President Reagan.
  • Dale Earnhardt's Daytona 500 win, on his 20th attempt, in the 50th year of NASCAR.
  • Kevin Harvick's 1st win at Atlanta, in his 3rd race, filing in for the late Dale Earnhardt.
  • Steve Park's win at Rockingham, the week after Earnhardt's death. If you remember that race, the #18 of Bobby Labonte was all over the #1 of Park, a DEI car. I clearly remember watching that race with friends, and someone saying, "no way is that 18 car going by that DEI car."
  • Junior's Firecracker 400 win at Daytona, July 4, 2001, his first trip back to the track that took his father.
  • Ricky Craven's pole award, in his first race back after a concussion, at Loudon.
  • Jimmy Johnson's win at Martinsville after the Hendrick plane accident.
  • Most recently, Junior's win in the Nationwide Series, driving the #3 Wrangler.
Mind you, I have no proof. Just a fan's point of view. I can point out, in each case, the emotional reaction of those involved, showing that even they don't know the outcome. Look at Chocolate Meyers, bawling like a baby, on Harvick's win. Same can be said for the emotional reaction of the Hendrick team after the Martinsville win, as well as nearly everyone in racing when Junior won on July 4, '01.

So, after watching tears streaming down Tony Eury Jr's face, the emotional Richard Childress, and the emotions of Dale Jr., rambling and babbling, having driven the new Nationwide Series #3 car to Victory Lane...

I knew it. They got The Call.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Drabek tosses No Hitter For Fisher Cats

From the Fisher Cats press release:

Kyle Drabek threw the second no-hitter in New Hampshire Fisher Cats history, beating the New Britain Rock Cats 5-0 before 6,037 on the Fourth of July. The 22-year old right-hander who was acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays in last December's trade for Roy Halladay, walked two and faced just one over the minimum in improving to 8-8.

Drabek's no-hitter was the first for the Fisher Cats since Jamie Vermilyea threw a seven-inning perfect game over the Rock Cats in the second game of a doubleheader on June 28, 2004. It was the second no-hitter thrown in the Eastern League this season.

The Fisher Cats struck for three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Darin Mastroianni (2-for-4) and Adeiny Hechavarria (3-for-5, RBI) singled and Eric Thames walked to load the bases. Shawn Bowman's sacrifice fly scored Mastroianni to make it 1-0. Adam Loewen (2-for-4) singled Hechavarria in to make it 2-0. David Cooper (2-for-4) singled home Thames for the third run.

New Hampshire (49-34) added a run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Brian Jeroloman drilled a two-out double, Mastroianni walked and Hechavarria picked up his first RBI since joining the Fisher Cats with a single to left field to make it 4-0.

In the last of the fifth inning, Adam Loewen tripled, Matt Liuzza and David Cooper walked and Jonathan Diaz hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0.

New Britain (24-59) starter Tyler Robertson (1-8) took the loss, allowing five earned runs in four innings.

The Fisher Cats open a four-game series against the Portland Sea Dogs at Hadlock Field on Monday night with a 6:00pm game. Right-hander Zach Stewart (6-2, 4.54) is scheduled to start for the Fisher Cats against Portland right-hander Kyle Weiland (4-5, 3.95). Fisher Cats Pre-Game begins at 5:45pm on the WGIR Fisher Cats Radio Network with Bob Lipman.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Izod Series Stops @ The Glen

The Izod Series stops at Watkins Glen this Sunday, July 4. Last season, the race was won by Justin Wilson, driving for Dale Coyne Racing. It's not often that a race car driver has the opportunity to exclaim "It was a perfect day for me."

A year of reflection and Justin Wilson reiterates his Watkins Glen International Victory Circle statement. Wilson led a field-high 49 (of 60) laps, including the final 15, and went on to present Dale Coyne Racing its first IZOD IndyCar Series victory.

"It was just a great day to go out there and be quick," said Wilson, who will attempt to successfully defend his title in the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on July 4. "The car felt great. Everything went right - apart from we couldn't get a full tank of fuel.

"We could only get 19 gallons in the car every pit stop so that meant we were saving fuel like crazy the whole day until finally there was a yellow with 10 laps to go. That allowed us to save enough fuel so I could run flat out to the end. That's why I managed to pull away from the rest of the field (to a 4-second victory over Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe).

"That's what I was working with the whole time, but it worked for us as well."

Wilson won on the Belle Isle street circuit in '08 with Newman/Haas Racing in his first IZOD IndyCar Series season, but it wasn't as fulfilling for the Colorado resident who turns 32 on July 31.

"(The Glen) was more rewarding because I was able to overtake on track and be able to control the field as well," said Wilson, noting that there were eight lead changes among six drivers. "At Belle Isle, I got alongside Helio (Castroneves) before I got squeezed in toward the wall and had to back out and that's when (Race Control) deemed that to be blocking. At Watkins Glen, Ryan left me a little bit of road and I was able to complete the pass."

Wilson said he enjoys the 3.4-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen course that has played host to Formula 1among multiple formulas for more than 50 years - mainly because it's related to courses he competed on in Europe. Off-season facility modifications (replacing the tire barriers in Turn 11and the Inner Loops with the SAFER Barrier and paving some runoffs) are welcome by drivers.

"I think it's one of the best tracks in the world," he said. "Having won there last year I'm going to say that, but it's just a great, fun track. There are a lot of fast corners and it hasn't lost any of its character with the safety improvements. That's key. When you come out of those fifth- and fourth-gear corners, you know when you've got it right. It's like, 'That feels good.' ''

He'll attempt to regain that feeling in the No. 22 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry. Wilson had three top 10s, including a pair of runner-up finishes, in the four early season road/street course package and is eighth in the championship standings. The Glen race weekend kicks off a five-race road/street course swing that will impact the championship order.

"I'm focused on this year, hoping we can go back there and be as competitive," said Wilson, who started alongside pole sitter Ryan Briscoe each of the past two years. "It's a different team, but I want to get back that same level of competition. Hopefully we can work it all out and repeat."

Odds-n-Ends in Sports for July 1

  • Pretty quiet in the NFL circles this time of year. One thing of note to this particular scribe as we turn the calender to July, Pats training camp opens at the end of the month, on the 29th. This a good take for families, as it allows youngsters to get close to the players, who sign autographs after practice. Also, it's free. There's plenty of other things to do as well, such as the Patriots Hall Of Fame, and various restaurants and shopping opportunities at Patriots Place.
  • Interesting dichotomy, watching injured Pedroia take grounders on his knees yesterday, while JD Drew is a late scratch do to a stiff neck. I don't know how hurt Drew is, but do you honestly think Pedrioa would sit out with a stiff neck?
  • Nice to see Doc Rivers staying on for one more shot with the C's. I don't think you'll see the 'big 3' back, but you never know. Rivers is underrated as a coach, if you ask me. There's a lot to juggling the egos of NBA players, restricting minutes, and keeping the older guys focused on the postseason.

6 Fisher Cats named to All Star Team

The New Hampshire Fisher Cats placed a team record 6 players on the EL All Star Team, to be help July 14, in Harrisburg PA. Those suiting up for the Eastern Division at Metro Bank Park are catcher Brian Jeroloman, pitchers Kyle Drabek and Trystan Magnuson, outfielders Darin Mastroianni and Eric Thames and third baseman Shawn Bowman.

"We want to congratulate the six members who will be representing the Fisher Cats in Harrisburg," Fisher Cats President/ General Manager Rick Brenner said. "They have truly embodied what our team stands for, and we wish them the best of luck on July 14, as well as for the remainder of the season at Stadium."

The Fisher Cats' prior record for All-Star attendees was set in 2008 when New Hampshire sent five participants to the Northeast Delta Dental All-Star Game in Manchester.

Jeroloman(pictured), 25, will be the veteran Fisher Cat on the squad, having been given this honor for three consecutive seasons. The Blue Jays' sixth round pick from the University of Florida in 2006 earned his way with a .298 average and an Eastern League-leading OBP of .452.

The rest of the Fisher Cats' contingent will be making their first appearance at the mid-summer classic, including Drabek, 22, who has anchored the pitching rotation for New Hampshire. A former first-round draft pick in 2006 by the Phillies, Toronto acquired Drabek as part of the Roy Halladay trade in December 2009. The righty out of The Woodlands High School in Texas has fit right into the Blue Jays' organization by ranking second in the EL with 72 strikeouts and third in innings pitched with 91.0 heading into his start against his former teammates tonight.

Magnuson, 25, a right-hander from of the University of Louisville, has provided solid work out of the bullpen through the first half of the season, ranking second in holds with eight and third in BB/ 9IP with a ratio of 1.47 through 43.0 innings. The first-round supplemental pick (56th overall) by the Blue Jays in 2007 went 16 straight outings without allowing a run from April 22-June 8.

Mastroianni, 24, has set up the Fisher Cats lineup in the leadoff spot. The centerfielder, who was selected by Toronto in the 16th round in 2007 from Southern Indiana, has recorded a .301 average and a league-best 29 stolen bases.

Fellow outfielder Thames, 23, has provided the power in the middle of the order. The seventh-round pick out of Pepperdine in 2008 has recorded 12 home runs and tallied a team-best 54 RBI through the first three months.

Bowman, 25, started the season in Dunedin, Toronto's Advanced-A affiliate, after being claimed on waivers from the New York Mets in April. The Fisher Cats everyday third baseman, who was a member of Canada's 2009 World Baseball Classic Team, has put up a .300 average with 12 blasts and 38 RBI so far for the Fisher Cats.

First pitch in Harrisburg for the 2010 Eastern League All-Star Game is slated for 7:05pm on Wednesday, July 14, with festivities including a home run derby and autograph session. For more information on the event, go to the

NHMS: The biggest short track in NASCAR

Jimmy Johnson's victory showed why the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet is still the team to beat. An estimated 91,000 race fans watched as the Magic Mile became NASCAR's biggest short track this past weekend, as drivers beat and banged on each other during the final 50 laps of the Lenox 301.

The first portion of the race was basically incident free, save for a caution for debris. Sunday's race went green for 201 laps, a record at Loudon. It wasn't until #9 Kasey Kahne's motor let go, bringing out the second caution of the day and bunching the field up, did the racing get very interesting.

Juan Pablo Montoya's #42 Target Chevrolet wrecked with 20 laps to go. Montoya had been struggling during the last segment, so much so that TNT broadcaster Wally Dallenbach predicted that it was a matter of time before Montoya wrecked. Montoya's day ended when #83 Reed Sorensen spun the #42 in to the wall. Dallenbach continued that by looking at Sorensen's wheels, it appeared that he wrecked Montoya on purpose. "That looked like a payback." Dallenbach said. "You look at how that left front was turned tot he right. That didn't look like he was saving a race car. That looked like he was wrecking a race car."

With 12 laps to go, #31 Jeff Burton slid up into the #18 of Kyle Busch. This was not the first time these two drivers got together, as they managed to tangle late at Charlotte during the Coke 600. This fourth caution flag set the stage for the final series of racing incidents that would determine the final outcome of the race.

With 8 laps remaining, the #2 of Kurt Busch bumped #48 of Johnson as the two were in turn three. You could almost hear Robert Duval's Harry Hyde as the Blue Deuce 'rubbed' the #48 out of the way. Johnson, on his thoughts in the car, "Yeah, inside the car, I was livid. I was so pissed off that he got into me, and I almost lost it at one point. Just kind of sliding and it took off and the tires started chattering and that's usually when you're turned around. Once I got back going and I was still in second, I thought, man, I hope I catch you."

Catch him he did, with 3 to go, Johnson caught Busch, and gave him a slight nudge in the same spot on the track, completing the pass with 2 to go. Johnson was able to some up his emotions "I usually get caught up in it, so I knew what my thought process was, "Wreck his ass." And my end result was like: You can't do that, you'll wreck yourself, you'll look like a fool. You still have a chance to win the race, focus on your job and do your job. It made it easier for me to get off the brake a little earlier and nudge him. But I don't want people to think, oh, I can knock the 48 out of the way because he's not going to wreck me. That's last thing I want people to think. He didn't wreck me and at the end of the day, I guess I didn't owe him a visit to the fence, so it worked itself out."

Busch seemed to enjoy the hard 'Saturday night' style of racing. "Well, I thought it was a great short track battle. It wasn't because he did something that I had to do something, or since I did something, he had to do it back. Driving down into turn three, I saw my window, and it was a perfect time to go for it, because our car was good on the short run, and once four or five laps got on the tires, I knew we were going to have a hard time holding them off and he was still going to be right there. So just a classic, get in the corner a little bit deeper than the guy. We didn't just flat-out wreck them. We didn't cut his tire. We didn't drive over him. It was just a nice nudge that we are all used to seeing and appreciating on short tracks."

Image Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR