Monday, May 30, 2011

Harvick Steals Another Win As Earnhardt Jr. Runs Out Of Gas Coming To The Checkers

Kevin Harvick has a knack for stealing wins this season. Last night, he stole another one from Dale Earnhardt Jr., as Jr's #88 National Guard Chevy ran out of gas in turn four. Harvick struggled with his car most of the night, starting 28th, but he was able to hang around the top 15 or so most of the night, and was in the position he needed to be at the end.
The #29 crew in action at Charlotte

Harvick spoke of his night. "It just seems like this year you have to be more aggressive taking chances, and I think winning those couple races early in the year, we had a 30-lap window there with a couple pit stops to go that we were hoping we could make to get to the last pit stop, and I think they wanted to pit it sounded like to me, and I was like, We didn't come here to run 15th. So we stayed out on the racetrack three or four laps toward the end of our fuel window. Everything worked out and when that last green flag dropped, I ran about two laps. When I saw those guys up there racing, I knew I was a lap and a half short, so I just shut my car down. I didn't have any pressure from behind me, and we ran probably 10 or 15 laps probably a second off the pace, and I got some good savings under the caution. And we thought we were plenty good there, so it all worked out."

Dale Jr. talked about coming so close to ending a 104-race winless streak. “We weren’t supposed to win tonight,” Earnhardt said. “We played our hand, and those other guys came in (for fuel). I tried to save a ton of gas, but I know I didn’t save enough. I tried to save as much as I could. I’m disappointed we didn’t win. I know all our fans were disappointed to come so close. We were a top-five car. This was our Vegas car, and it’s really, really good, so we’ll keep taking it to racetracks and running good. We were so fast at the start of the race, and once the sun went down we kind of went back. We ran good tonight. I’m proud. I’m proud of my guys, and I’m proud of the car we unloaded.”

Harvick and car owner Richard Childress are among those rooting for Dale Jr. to win. "I think everybody sitting up here would say we want the 88 to win and they're so close to winning and both times they had a chance to win." Harvick said. "We are going to do what we have to do to win the races, and today it all just worked out strategy-wise that we won the race. But I feel so stinking bad for him, and I know how bad he wants it. But it's...it'll happen. They keep running like that, it'll happen."

Childress added "But yeah, like Kevin said it earlier, we all want to see Dale Jr. win but not at our expense. When I see him come down the back stretch, I said, Dale is going to win this race, and then all of a sudden when I heard our spotter start screaming, I said, hell, we're going to win it. Great. We all want to see Dale Jr. win. Like Kevin said, he's going to win his races, and I'll be the first one there to congratulate him because I am an Earnhardt fan at heart, no doubt. But I pull for my guys and I want to see them win, and I'm really proud of everybody on this Budweiser team for what they did, and Junior will win."

David Ragan, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and AJ Almendinger rounded out the top five. Earnhardt Jr came home seventh.

Photo credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

FVP Monday Night All Star: Sherra Michelle

You can't make stuff up like this...tonight's All Star says "Meowing like a cat is my second language." Really? Nice. Say meow to Sherra Michelle. Sherra Michelle's been seen at OC weekly, Playboy TV, BridalPlasty on E Network, she's been on CSI NY, and GirlsGoneWild Magazine. She's done a handful or better music videos, too. Keep up with her tweets over at twitter.com/sherramichelle, and check out her website here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dan Wheldon Wins Indianapolis 500 In Wild Finish

Dan Wheldon celebrates at Indy
Sometimes you are the windshield, sometimes you are the bug. In  the span of a few seconds, in the space of about a quarter mile, two drivers experienced that very fact. JR Hildebrand, running his first Indianapolis 500, took the lead with three laps to go from Bertrand Baguette who pitted for fuel. Hildebrand took the white flag with a sizeable lead over second place Dan Wheldon, driving for Bryan Herta Motorsports in his first start of the season. Hildebrand swung wide around the lapped car of Charlie Kimball in turn four, got too high into the marbles and stuffed the National Guard Panther Racing car into the wall. He was passed by Wheldon, who grabbed the lead just a few hundred yards from the finish. Wheldon took the checkers first, grabbing his second win at Indy, as Hildebrand nursed his crippled machine to the yard of bricks second.

Chief steward Brian Barnhart said there's no requirement for cars not involved in an accident to stay behind those involved/disabled.

"It's a fantastic achievement everybody at Bryan Herta Autosport," said Wheldon, his voice choked with emotion. "I love everything about Indianapolis - the tradition, the fans, the history." A Panther Racing car has been the Indy 500 runner-up the past four years.

"I was just trying to go as hard as I could," continued Wheldon, who was competing in his first race of the season. "I knew it was the last lap and I knew some of those guys were struggling with fuel (he pitted on Lap 177). I've been runner-up two years before this, but I never gave up. It's an incredible feeling."

"I knew we were really tight on fuel coming to the end, and the spotters were in my ear saying, 'The guys are coming and they're coming hard,' '' said Hildebrand, who qualified 12th (the fastest rookie). "We had to conserve a little fuel and the tires were coming to the end of their stint. I was hanging a little on to get the thing around."

"I made a judgment call catching up on the 83 and I thought I don't really want to slow down behind him and pull out on the straightaway, and I've been able to make this move on the outside before and so I went to the high side and because it was at the end of the stint I got up in the marbles and that was it." Hildebrand added.

"I'm OK, but this is not really about me at this point. You always show up to try to win. My disappointment is for the team and for National Guard as a sponsor. It's one of the those things, as a driver, you never really know what you're going to expect. We knew we had a fast race car. We knew if the race came to us, we may be in a position to sort of finish top three, top five." a dejected Hildebrand said.


JR Hildebrand finishes in second after wrecking on the final lap
The usual suspects of Penske and Ganassi were denied a trip to victory lane. Teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti had the field covered, but late race strategy left them mired in traffic. "I thought our Target car was as good as anything out there today." Franchitti said, after leading 51 laps. "The engineers made good calls fixing the balance of the car. The mechanics, the pit stops were fantastic. And we're leading the race, and we came in to do that stop. But I don't know. I don't understand right now. They're going to have to explain that one to me. I'm proud of the Target team for the job they did today. And as sad and disgusted as I feel right now, I have to say congratulations to my old teammates, Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta. That's pretty cool. As sad as I feel right now, there's still a little smile in there for those boys. And I will say, it's going to be one hell of a party tonight. But I feel really bad for my team. I feel bad for myself right now, and I feel bad for Scott. It's a good race, sad end." Franchitti was as high as second at lap 195, but pitted for fuel at lap 199.

Ganassi team mate Scott Dixon lead the most laps, 73, and felt he had the car to beat. "Between Dario (Franchitti) and myself, we had this one pretty well covered. This is one of those places where it's tough to win. We went on a bit of a run fuel-wise late in the race, and that's what paid off for us last year. The yellow came a lot later. We short-fueled, and why we short-fueled, I don't know. We stopped 10 laps later than anybody else on any strategy, there's no way we should run out of fuel. My car was pretty quick. When we were up front, we were burning the left front tire off early in the race. We finally made a few changes near the end, and the car was pretty good. It just didn't go our way. I definitely leave here thinking that I should have won my second '500.'" Dixon said.

The last time Penske competed at Indianapolis and had all of its cars finish outside of the top 10 was 1992, when Paul Tracy led Penske with a 20th-place finish. The Man With The Greatest Name In Auto Racing, Will Power, led the Penske cars with a disapointing 14th place. "At the first pit stop, the wheel came loose and knocked the lead screw off, so I had no brakes. So we did a stint like that, came in, and had to fix that, got a lap down, and that was it for the day. We just had to try and fight our way back." Power said Sunday.

Wheldon and Hildebrand were followed by Graham Rahal in third, Tony Kanaan in fourth, and Dixon in fifth. Most Popular Driver Danica Patrick finished 10th.

Photo Credit: LAT Photo USA

Saturday, May 28, 2011

No Backflips For Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon sits atop the win list among active drivers with 83 trips to victory lane. He is currently tied with Cale Yarborough for 4th all time, and has 4 Winston Cup Sprint Cup Championships in his trophy case. Gordon is a Three-time Daytona 500 winner (1997, 1999, 2005), a four-time Brickyard 400 winner (1994, 1998, 2001, 2004), and a five-time Southern 500 winner (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002). For all the records he holds, there is one thing he hasn't done, and one thing we'll never see.

Jeff Gordon will never do a backflip after a win.

Gordon recently spoke about Carl Edwards and his victory celebrations, notably, the backflip, the trips into the stands, and, after last week, tearing up winning cars. The #24 driver was asked if ever tore up a car celebrating a win. "I can’t say I remember doing anything like that in a celebration." Gordon said. "You got to understand, through 1999, we didn’t even do burnouts. We drove around there, we waved at the crowd, we drove to Victory Lane, celebrated. Somewhere along the way with Dale Jarrett or somebody started doing burnouts, started this whole new celebration thing, melting down tires, destroying engines. Now we’ve taken it all the way to destroying racecars. I don’t think he meant to do that. You know, I think it’s important for us to show our emotion and how much it means to us. I know that race meant the world to Carl and he was excited. His emotion probably got the best of him and he tore that racecar up pretty bad. But I think you obviously have to find that fine line. The backflip is not enough for him anymore, I guess."

Carl Edwards, after tearing up the #99 celebrating his All Star win.
Does it make him think twice? "Well, I will say I’ve shot through the grass and have spun around in grass before. I did it in Phoenix. Came off the banking, went into the grass. I wouldn’t have thought something like that would have happened. It didn’t happen to me. But when you see that, yeah, it definitely will make you think twice about it. I don’t think you’ll see too many guys spinning through the grass anytime soon, especially at that rate of speed."

"I think that’s great that he does that." Gordon said, when asked about Edwards' penchant for going into the stands and sharing the win with the fans. "The problem is, as great as it is, now none of us can copy it because we’d be copying Carl. Carl does a great job with including the fans, celebrating a win, showing his excitement. That to me is what makes him a great racecar driver. He’s very passionate about what happens on that racetrack, and it means a lot to him. That’s good. However he wants to show that, I’m all for that."

Asked if Gordon will be doing backflips, NASCAR's active win leader said "No. You won’t have to worry about that. I won’t be going into the stands either."

But he didn't say he won't tear the nose off a race car.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gordon: Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports,  Carl Edwards: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

View From The Sin Bin: Onward To The Finals

Onward to the Finals.

Bring on the Canucks. The Boston Bruins head to the Stanley Cup finals after a thrilling 1-0 win in game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. Nathan Horton potted the winner late in the third period. If you read the last edition of the View from the Sin Bin, you saw where I called Horton with the winner in OT. Oh, well, I think we'll take it.

The game was nearly perfect for the B's...38 shots on goal, shutdown D, Timmay was on his game. Very few turnovers.

Still listening to the games on the radio. But it was obvious the Black and Gold put it all together.

They'll need to keep it together. Vancouver won't go quietly. Great offense and solid defense.

Still in shock. Wow. (Smile).
5/27/11
tjz

Friday, May 27, 2011

Scott Dixon Fastest For Chip Ganassi At Final Indy 500 Practice

Scott Dixon gets ready at Indianapolis
Scott Dixon, driving #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, topped the speed chart with a quick lap of 225.474 mph Friday at Indianapolis Motorspeedway as teams made final preparations on Carb Day. Pole sitter Alex Tagliani was second with a speed of 224.739 mph and defending race winner Dario Franchitti was third, at 224.658 mph. Vitor Meira at 224.480 mph and Dan Wheldon at 224.439 mph rounded out the top five.

Dixon downplayed his fast time as teams wait for the green flag on Sunday. "It's more of just a systems check. The car's obviously been in a million pieces since we last drove them." Dixon said. "It's just to make sure they're all functioning. We came in and did a few pit stops. Because of the lack of on-track time that we've had, we made a few changes. We tried some dampers, aero downforce levels, things like that. It's obviously very cold and probably not very close or in line with what we're going to run in on Sunday. All in all, it was pretty decent. The car was good. There was loads of traffic. There was lots of action going on out there with people speeding up and slowing down. It was pretty good for both Target cars."

Dixon also talked about the tenacity of pole sitter Alex Tagliani, who has been consistently fast all month. "Yeah, it's good. Tag has done a hell of a job this month. It's good to see that it's been working so well. You know, you're never going to know until you get to the race. He's a good friend, and I'm definitely proud to see what he's achieved, obviously, with a start-up team and to be able to mix it up with the big teams." Dixon said.

Tagliani recognizes his good fortune at Indianapolis so far. "Yeah, it was an amazing week that we had last week." Tags said today. "We're really fortunate that we rolled the car off the trailer fast. The team has done a great job to fine-tune it. Every day we were out there, and we were strong. So it's been a pleasure for me to drive a very competitive car. Today it was nice to be back on track. Obviously, we have a very different car that we're going to drive in the race. And I feel the car is very racey. I love it in traffic. It got some consistency out of the car on the older tires. So I don't know. It seems to me to be unreal and too good to be true sometimes. But I want to think that we deserve it. We did everything better than everyone else, and hopefully it will continue. All winter long, the team fine-tuned the car. They just put their love into it, brought it back this year. Same car, same aerodynamic package, same track, and the car did better. So Penske and Ganassi have done that 10 years in a row. They have done the particular program that we have done for one race 10 years in row: Have a good car and keep improving it every year. And we're trying to close the gap in a year and a half. It's not an easy task."

Defending Indy 500 winner and reigning series champ Dario Franchitti summed up all the pre-race action very succinctly. "We can always learn something from today. It will be a lot different on Sunday. We think we know how to turn the car around for those conditions. It will be a tough race. I think there is less grip than last year, and that's going to make it really interesting. The slower speed (start and restarts) will be better. We may be going 190 into the first turn on the start. Turn 2 will be Turn 1 speed from years past. Restarts, I still don't agree with side-by-side, I think we're just asking for a bit of marbles. Whatever happens will be interesting, it will be slick and interesting. Dixie (Scott Dixon) looks strong. He's going to be tough. We're pretty strong, but just like the month I had last year, he (Dixon) has been on a rail all month. I followed (Alex) Tagliani, and he looks pretty average in traffic. But when he gets off the corner, he really goes. He will be plenty tough to beat. There are a bunch of people you just know who will be there (challenging for the win). (Dan) Wheldon will contend, the Penske cars will be strong, and there will be others. It's wide open."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kyle Busch's Side Of The Story

Everyone by now has heard that Kyle Busch was ticketed for 128 mph in a 45 mph zone. Rowdy faced the music recently, as he took questions regarding the situation.

What is your reaction to the speeding ticket?
“I’m certainly sorry for my actions and for my lack of judgment. This is something that I can take and learn from and hopefully move forward and not let happen again.”

How do you look back on the speeding incident?
“I’m certainly sorry that it happened and my actions led me to speed. It was a lack of judgment and all I can do is apologize to the public, my friends, my fans, my sponsors and everybody, look at this experience as a learning experience, and to move forward.”

Is it difficult to have a learning experience in the public eye?
“It’s certainly challenging sometimes with things you have to think about and of course actions that you may cause yourself. Thankfully, I’ve got some good people around me that can help me through these experiences and help me learn from them. Take the good from it and take the bad from it and just be able to apply that for later on down the road.”

Can you make a case for yourself?
“I’m sorry I’m not the jurisdiction to make a case. I leave that to the court systems and everything else like that. This matter will be handled through that as best as we can handle it and as best as the authorities decide to handle it. I have the utmost respect for the authorities across the United States of America that try to keep all of us safe every day. Of course, being Memorial Day weekend with all the men and women serving our country to keep us safe as well too. It’s not in my place to decide what does or does not happen.”

Has Joe Gibbs Racing given you any penalties?
“We have certainly discussed some things. We’re working through the process of that now and looking at what might be done later on down the road.”

Have you personally spoken with your team owner, your sponsors and your neighbors about the speeding incident?
“I have certainly had discussions with Mr. Coach Gibbs (team owner) as well as Joe Gibbs Racing and my sponsors as well too. It’s just a matter of showing your utmost respect for them and what they do for you. That they believe in you to do what you can in order to represent them well and obviously I had a lack in judgment and just made a mistake. I’m sorry for
making that mistake, but as far as any of the people that have made comments or anything like that, I don’t have a relationship with any of those people. Unfortunately, I don’t go door-to-door knocking on the door and commenting to them. All I can do is say my piece here and let it be.”

How much have you thought about the potential of what could have happened on Tuesday?
“There’s if, ands or buts to a lot of different things in life. Fortunately, there was no one hurt, but that doesn’t make any kind of excuse for what happened and for my lack in judgment and for what I did. Like I said, there’s a lot of processes to be thought about here. There’s some learning experiences to be taken from this and the best I can do is just try to move along past it for this weekend and take my course of action during the week in what might lie ahead.”

What did you mean when you said the Lexus was, ‘just a toy?’
“Well it was a car that was on loan to me from Lexus and it wasn’t that it was a toy, it’s a high performance vehicle and that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Should be driven with caution. Obviously, I didn’t have caution and I had a lack in judgment and there’s probably a reason why on TV commercials and such they always show at the bottom, professional driver, closed course. Mine was not that. Again, I apologize sincerely to all those affected and that all I can do is try to make sure it doesn’t happen again and that I make sure that lack of judgment doesn’t overcome me.”

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton, Getty Images for NASCAR

Paul Menard WIll Run Charlotte With 20 Stitches In Foot

Paul Menard
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Moen/Mendards Chevrolet out of Richard Childress racing will roll off the starting grid for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 16th after today's qualifying run. One of the issues Menard will have to deal with 20 stitches in his right foot after he stepped on a piece of metal on his boat dock.

He has a special carbon insert in his shoe to help deal with the situation. "The wound is on the outside of the foot. It’s on the bottom but toward the outside behind my pinky toe. They cut out a piece of carbon for the other side to make it stiffer. And it’s fine. There’s no pain or anything, it’s just that the doctors are worried about it ripping open and then if it rips the stitches, then it’s a big deal with infection and stuff." Menard said after qualifying today.

"Right now, what’s throwing me off the most right now is that my shoes are too big. I had to get bigger shoes for my right foot. Well, they both are. It’s hitting the gas pedal wrong. So I’m going to have to find some different shoes and I’ll be okay." He added.

Menard was asked what he was taking for pain meds. "There is no pain. I’m not even taking pain killers. I’ve just got my antibiotics. They’re just worried about infection."

Imagine dealing with that on your 'mash the throttle foot'.

More Racing Coverage:

No Backlips For Jeff Gordon

Scott Dixon fastest at final Indy 500 practice

John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

View From The Sin Bin: Special Teams Let Bruins Down

Krejci and the Bruins will faceoff against the Lightning in game 7
Uuugggh.

The Boston Bruins are prepping for game 7 of the Eastern Conference final after losing a disappointing game 6 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-4. David Krejci had a hattie for the B's. Milan Lucic tallied the other goal.

Where to begin. The power play, in a word, sucks. If the Black and Gold had just  an NHL average PP, we'd be trying to find tickets to the Cup finals on StubHub. Bring on the Canucks. But, alas, nothing doing. 1-5 on the PP last night.

The penalty kill is a problem too. TB scored almost at will with the man advantage. Some of the calls were shaky...but that presents another problem. The Bruins need to play their crash-bang physical game to be successful. If the B's get gun shy because they are afraid of getting penalized, we are in deep trouble.

Get it to OT and get the puck to Nathan Horton.

9/26/11
tjz

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for fanviewpoint.com 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NASCAR Drivers Talk About The Mental, Physical Challenges of Coca Cola 600

Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is NASCAR's longest race of the season. Much is made about the mental, physical and mechanical challenges of this event. The question is, is this the result of pundits making a big deal about the extra 66 laps at Charlotte, or are these challenges real? Here's some thoughts from some of the competitors.

Jeff Burton
"A lot is talked about going from day to night, but I, personally, think that's overblown." Jeff Burton, driver of the Caterpillar #31 for RCR. "I've won that race. Never before have I run horrible during the day and, all of a sudden, taken off and run well at night. I think you have to run well both during the day and at night. Most of the drivers who win run well during the day and the night. It's hard comparing day practices to a night race - there's no question about that. But, that's the same for everyone."

Teammate Clint Bowyer echoed Burton's thoughts, when asked about the longer distance, and if he feels it. "Not really. It just depends on how your day is going. Now, if you're miserable and have already gotten into the fence or got into some sort of accident and you're running bad or a couple laps down, it's the longest 66 laps of your life. If not, it doesn't feel much different than any other race."

Brad Keselowski
A different story over at the Penske garage. Brad Keselowski seemed to think there was a difference. "The 600 is a long race." Keselowski said. "Thankfully we had the All-Star race last weekend that gives you a warm-up to see if you have your stuff right. The approach is that you have to be there at the end of race. You can't beat your car up the first 500 miles and expect to win the race. Six-hundred miles is a long way both mentally and physically. You have to have a lot of durability in your car and make sure that you're fast at the end. The last 100 miles gets real racy."

Crew Chief Paul Wolfe is on the same page as his driver. "The 600 is such a demanding race on the car, crew and driver. The car has to last all 600 miles without having any mechanical failures and the driver and crew have to stay mentally and physically sharp. We tried some different packages last week in the All-Star event and we feel really good about our chances this week. The car we are taking, from an aerodynamic standpoint, is one of the best that Penske Racing has ever built. This team is close to taking the next step and we need a good, solid finish at Charlotte to continue the momentum we’ve been building."

Dale Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. weighs in with his two cents. "Racing in the 600 is pretty interesting because you wouldn’t think you’d notice those extra 100 miles, but you do. I think you notice it more mentally than you do physically. When you are holding your concentration for so long you definitely know when you’ve gone past your usual length of time. Those last 100 miles can be difficult if you aren’t ready, you’re not having a good day or a good weekend."

#88 Crew Chief Steve Letarte added "The 600-mile race used to be a big deal when reliability was more of an issue. It’s still an issue but with cars the way they are and with the engine shops as far as they are now, I don’t see the race as any longer. Six hundred miles at Charlotte seems shorter than 500 miles at Pocono to me. It’s a mile-and-a-half track, and it’s a lot of laps. I think the difference between 500 and 600 miles is very little. You have a lot of laps to run, and you maintain the emotion and composure and maintain your patience for 600 miles. If you do that, then normally you are around at the end of the night and you have a good night."

Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon knows a thing or two about winning at Charlotte. "What is so difficult about the 600 is you are practicing during the day to try to get ready for a night race,” said Gordon, who has five wins, eight pole positions, 16 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s in 36 starts at the 1.5-mile track. You start the race in the late afternoon or early evening when the track temperature is still pretty warm, and it cools down quite a bit as you race into the night. The track conditions change dramatically. The setup has to be flexible and you have to stay up with the changing conditions. We’ve struggled early here before and been good at the end."

Photo Credit: Jeff Burton: Steve Pouliot Images for fanviewpoint.com, Brad Keselowski: Harrelson Photography / Richmond International Raceway, Dale Jr and Jeff Gordon: Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports

Statement From Jamie McMurray Regarding The Recent Tornado in Missouri

STATEMENT FROM JAMIE MCMURRAY

Re: The Recent Tornado in Missouri:

Concord, NC (May 23, 2011) – “My heart goes out to all the people that have been affected by the devastating Missouri tornado on May 22nd, especially in my hometown of Joplin. It is difficult to put into words, the emotions I have when I see the devastation and destruction that was caused by this storm. My thoughts and prayers are extended to all the people who are dealing with so much loss. I would also like to thank all those that have reached out to me to express their concerns for my family. Although I don’t personally have any family in Joplin any longer, there are still many people there that need our support and prayers.”


Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jimmie Johnson on Forbes Award, Coca Cola 600, And The Hall Of Fame

Jimmie Johnson is the five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and currently sits second in the point standings. In 19 starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Jimmie has won six times, which is tied for most all-time with Hall of Famer Bobby Allison and Hall of Fame nominee Daryl Waltrip. Jimmie has also won the Coca-Cola 600 three times. He was also recently named The Most Influential Athlete by Forbes Magazine. Needles to say, he's punched his ticket to the NASCAR Hall Of Fame when the time comes for him. Jimmie talked today about what the Forbes award means to him, the upcoming Coke 600 and the mental and physical aspects of the race, as well as touching on the recent Hall Of Fame inductees.

Forbes' award placed Johnson ahead of such luminaries as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Shaq, and Lebron James. Heady stuff, for a guy that makes his living turning left. Johnson spoke of what the award, and the AP Athlete of the Year award mean to him. "It means a lot to me. I mean, both awards were amazing to receive, and when you think about the people that we were up against from all forms of sports, it's huge for me and my career, it's huge for this race team, and I think it's really big for our sport, as well. Very proud of those awards and happy to know that the world is paying attention, and sports fans and writers, editors, media in general throughout sports, everyone is paying attention to what's going on over in NASCAR." Johnson said.

The Coca-Cola 600 is NASCAR's longest race of the year. Teams start out in sunshine, and finish in the cool of night. The track will go through multiple changes throughout the race, forcing teams to deal with changes tot he race car in order to stay competitive. Johnson talked about the what it takes to be successful. "The key is just really staying on the road all night long." Johnson said. "It's a very long race as we all know with being 600 miles, and you just can't get caught up in things that happen too early. You can have trouble and there's plenty of time to recover. The track changes a lot. The night is just ever-changing I guess to make a long story short, and if you keep your head in the game and you stick around for the 600 miles, you're going to have a good finish. Being smart all night long is going to be the key."

He added "I mean, in the old days you would always get tighter as the sun would set and the track would pick up grip, and anymore with the new car and new surfaces and there's a lot going on, it's kind of tough to know which way is going to go. It does happen more often than not where you start strong and then you end up suffering, and some of that has to do with the fact of when we practice. We don't get any night practice. The only night practice we got were the guys that competed in the all-star event. So it's a big plus to have that on your side being in that event. But we're all working off of past notes and history and trying to guess where we think the track will go, how loose we start to cars so that when you go into night the car turns and you have enough adjustments to work on it, but then as I started this response to you, sometimes the tracks free up, and we've seen this track free up, so if you start your car loose to hang on during the day, you go to the night and the track frees up, now you're in big trouble. So it's a bit of a guessing game right now."

One of the things that has changed for Johnson and his #48 Lowes team is the fact the speedway way repaved in 2006, removing any edge that the team had from their notes. "I think around that point in time the new generation tire was coming out, then we certainly ended up with a new car, and that really kind of eliminates the advantage that we had in the past. But this track was just one of those tracks where we knew what to do. We knew how balanced the car needed to be when the sun was out. We had adjustability built into the car at every stop. If I wanted it or not, we had a proven track, proven road to go down that we made these adjustments and we could stay competitive, and then when it came time to race for the win at the end, we had the car we needed to and won a lot of races that way." Johnson said.

The calender switched to June coming up in a few days. For many, the Memorial Day Weekend is the official kickoff of summer. One of the things drivers must deal with is the additional time in the car, over the 600 miles, as their bodies take a beating. "I have a system days in advance of making sure that I'm properly hydrated." Johnson said today. "Training is year-round. Nutrition is pretty much near-round. We all make mistakes and all have our little cheat foods that we're after. But from a fitness and nutrition standpoint, that's a constant. I do find that during the race I'll eat a little more and I'll need some calories. I usually drink some type of shake just for the energy and proteins and carbohydrates to get me through, and I'll have usually another shake during the 600, or actually some food. You're in the car so long and burning so many calories that you get pretty hungry in there. I add to that the normal Gatorade consumption that I have in the car with our Gibbs system."

As far as during the race goes "I've worked through a variety of things that didn't work, and I thought a Power Bar or some type of bar would be good. You put it inside of a car, it's 120 degrees, that thing melts and it's on your gloves and a mess." Johnson stated. "Sometimes a sandwich works, but I've tried it all. The shakes really seem to work the best because you just want something cold and easy to get down, and a good protein shake is real easy to get down."

With the NASCAR Hall Of Fame indcution ceromony last night, Johnson was asked if is there any one of them that has had a particular impact on him. "Well, for me when I was growing up, my dad and I spent a lot of time watching racing together and traveling to races, watching on television, and I sat on the couch with my dad and watched the Daytona 500 where Bobby and Davey ran 1 and 2. That moment I still remember very well as a kid and how cool that was, and looking at my dad, thinking, how awesome would that be right now if you were racing your dad for this win, one of the biggest races in NASCAR, period. That was cool for me to see. And then I watched some of the biographies that took place on Speed and really brought back the pain and different things the family had been through, Bobby and Judy. Happy to see Bobby get that moment, and for a lot of reasons, it was real special for me to watch Bobby's induction."

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for fanviewpoint.com

Simona de Silvestro Deals With Injuries Heading Into Indy 500

A good look at de Silvestro's burns
Last week, Simona de Silvestro wrecked her primary car in a fiery crash that left her trapped, inverted in her car. As she exited turn three during a practice run, the rear end of her Dallara/Honda failed. The car swapped ends, became airborne briefly, before striking the wall entering the short chute between turns three and four. The car skidded into four, where it became airborne again, striking the wall and catch fence, before coming to a rest, in flames, upside down in turn four. Simona suffered minor burns to her left hand, and second degree to her right. She was able to qualify her car 24th for Sunday's running of the The Indianapolis 500.

Qualifying is four laps, the race itself is 200 laps. Not to belittle Simona's injuries, but coming back after a wreck like that has to be more mental for her. "It was pretty tough, Thursday and Friday I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a racecar driver anymore." de Silvestro said in Boston Monday. "It was really tough mentally to get over that and on Friday evening I just decided to see how it was in the car the next day. The doctors gave me some good wrappings around my hand, I went out there and it felt pretty good. It was really important (to get in the car) and also to qualify on the first day was something pretty special especially after everything we went through the whole week."

As far as coping with the injuries on a physical level, de Silvestro seems to have a fairly optimistic outlook, considering the situation. "I think it is going to be pretty tough for sure, but I have three days until I have to get back into the car so we will see how it feels then and we will make a decision. I’m going to try as much as I can and go from there." she said.

de Silvestro, from Thun, Switzerland, drives the Nuclear Clean Air Energy Dallara Honda for HVM Racing. She finished 14th last year at Indy to earn her Rookie of the Year honors. She opened the season at St. Pete with a career best 4th, and followed that up with a solid 9th at Barber Motorsports. She currently sits 11th in points for the IZOD championship.


View From The Sin Bin: A Different View For The Bruins

A Different View

Tim Thomas
The Boston Bruins are up 3-2 on the Tampa Bay Lightning after a big, come-from-behind win last night at the Garden. Nathan Horton, Brad Marchand, and Rich Peverly (EN) scored for the B's. Tim (Human Highlight Film) Thomas was outstanding once again in goal. One win away from the Stanley Cup finals.

Short View today. I am writing this on my phone as I have no internet access. Also no Versus. Listening to the games on the radio is a different experience. Gaucher and Beers are pretty good. Have to form a "mind picture" of the action and follow along. Actually find I have to concentrate much more on the game to stay current. No instant replays, either.

Every time I start to feel sorry for myself about it, I think of some Canadian farm kid way out on the prairie somewhere before the advent of satellite TV. All they had was the radio...and 6 teams to root for. Of course, back then you could tell the players without a scorecard.

5/24/11
tjz

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for fanviewpoint.com

Monday, May 23, 2011

FVP Monday Night All Star: Paige

Paige is definately a girl you can get dirty with, as in muddy. Paige models out of Florida, but spends her free time ATV racing. She could be an all-time FVP favorite! She's worked with DFR Motorsports, Speed TV, ATV Illustrated, and a slew of other folks. According to her page at ATVScene.com, she's a fan of Travis Pastrana and the movie "The Hangover". She might be the perfect woman. No word if she's seeing anyone. Be sure to like her on facebook, and you can learn more about her here at supercross.com.



Sunday, May 22, 2011

Qualifying Results For Indianapolis 500

1 Alex Tagliani
2 Scott Dixon
3 Oriol Servia
4 Townsend Bell
5 Will Power
6 Dan Wheldon
7 Buddy Rice
8 Ed Carpenter
9 Dario Franchitti
10 Takuma Sato
11 Vitor Meira
12 JR Hildebrand
13 James Hinchcliffe
14 Bertrand Baguette
15 Davey Hamilton
16 Helio Castroneves
17 John Andretti
18 EJ Viso
19 Bruno Junqueira
20 Justin Wilson
21 Jay Howard
22 Tomas Scheckter
23 Tony Kanaan
24 Simona de Silvestro
25 Paul Tracy
26 Danica Patrick
27 Ryan Briscoe
28 Marco Andretti
29 Charlie Kimball
30 Graham Rahal
31 Alex Lloyd
32 Pippa Mann
33 Ana Beatriz

Missing the Race:
Mike Conway
Ryan Hunter-Reay
James Jakes
Raphael Matos
Sebastain Saavedra
Scott Speed
Ho-Pin Tung

Tagliani Takes Pole At Indy

Dixon, Tagliani, and Servia make up the front row
for the Indianapolis 500.
Alex Tagliani, driver of the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, posted the fastest speed of the "fast nine" to earn to pole for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500. All four of Tagliani's laps were above 227 mph and his cumulative time of 2:38.2613 with an average speed of 227.472 mph puts him at the front of the starting grid for Sunday's “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Scott Dixon and Oriol Servia will fill out the front row.

This is the first time since 2005 that three different teams occupy the front row for the Indianapolis 500, with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and Newman/Haas Racing all securing spots at the front of the field. This is the first Indianapolis 500 since 2004 that a Team Penske car is not starting on the front row. Helio Castroneves rolls off 16th and Will Power starts 5th. Ryan Briscoe crashed during the practice session before qualifying on Saturday morning. The team was unable to qualify his backup car among the top 24.

Tagliani spoke of the moment. "Well, you know, it's difficult to explain. A lot of sacrifice and tears and pain through my career, but you know, I think for this team, just the fact that everybody is still intact, and they accepted my offer to be part of this adventure last year, and they take the risk to lose credibility if the driver is no good and if the resources are not there; and for Joe Atkins from Bowers & Wilkins after a 20-minute phone call, he said, 'OK, I'll sponsor you,' and he got hooked to be the sponsor of this team; and for Sam that looked at it and said this is an entity that is good and deserves to continue; and just for the boys. Like I'm at the shop most every day, and I see how much passion they have to build this car. You know, it's good already. We sit on the top most of the week, but every time you go into our garage, you know, they always do something on it, and I think that shows how much they care and how much they want to have results. So like I said, it's very difficult to explain, but to do it here at this particular time, you know, the 100th anniversary, if you participate in the 100th, you didn't do the first one and you won't do the 200th, so this just happens once."

Ryan Briscoe wrecks Saturday
One of the moments of drama came when pole candidate and defending series champion Dario Franchitti ran out of fuel on his final lap of qualifying. Franchitti looked to be on pace to grab the provisional pole with an average of 227.043 mph through three laps, but it was not his day. "We were pretty close on setup with the Target car, but not good enough for the pole today. We were definitely good enough for third place. We obviously ran out of fuel at the end of the third lap and that was it. It's disappointing for us, but I'm happy for Sam Schmidt, Allen McDonald, Alex Tagliani and their whole team."

Team mate Scott Dixon qualified second, but he could have been better, perhaps. Dixon stated he ran out of gas as well, and that could have cost him the pole. "I think we only needed about a quarter of a gallon or half a gallon. It's pretty close. Dario could have probably have used two gallons. I think we still would have ran ‑‑ that's why I said the split was about the same going into 3, which was saying that we had run a 227.5 or better, so that would have put our average at 227.5, something. I still don't have clarification of what Tag actually ran in the end for an average, but I think that would have been pretty close."

Photo Credit : Jim Haines and Robert Ellis

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Danica Patrick: I have a rivalry with every driver

Danica Patrick currently sits 10th on the speed carts at Indy, with a best lap of 226.267 mph. Today she answered questions about how competitive her car is, rivalries, 2012, and the 100th anniversary of Indy.

Teams have been limited with practice so far, having lost two days. Patrick seems content with her car, given the lost days due to weather. "I really feel so far, so good. I really haven't gotten a tow or anything like that, so I feel really comfortable right now with the car, with the speed, with where we are on downforce. We've been moving very slowly, methodically because the first time out we felt really good about it. So we have the ability to not panic and rush, make all of our changes on pit lane. We can go back to the garage, take our time. We don't have to be throwing everything at it to see what we can do to make it go faster, although we are going to be doing things to try to make it go faster."

The series' most popular driver added "I Did plan on doing more and more of that as the week has gone on. Unfortunately, the week has gone on and we haven't run. I feel comfortable with it right now. Anything can happen. Anything can change. Sometimes you stall out at certain speeds. Sometimes you keep trimming and it doesn't really make it much faster, it just makes it more difficult. We'll see how it goes. At this point in time I feel pretty comfortable."

Simona de Silvestro was involved in a wreck today. Danica talked about her conversations with de Silvestro. "I would say our conversations are more casual really. We don't talk a lot about racing really. We might talk about the race, have discussion about that, catch up about that when we're in group gatherings, group things we have to do. But, no, I think she does a good job. I think she's got good people on her side, people that help her. If she asked, I'd answer. We really kind of talk about the race, whatever else, maybe just simple things."

Patrick was pressed about any budding rivalry with one of the series' other successful women. "I think she's done a great job. She's very good on the road courses. I think she's shown that from the very beginning from last year even when she started. "As far as rivalry goes, I have a rivalry with every driver." Patrick said to laughter.

Patrick also addressed the short week, and what it could mean to qualifying. "You have to stay confident here. I think that's a really important thing. I think you have to feel comfortable with your car. You have to go into turn one, every lap, with confidence. You have to be sure of yourself and your equipment. Like I was telling someone the other day, I don't make a decision if I'm pitting until I get out of two, because you have to commit to one and two."

Patrick continued "I just think we have to work smart. Sometimes that means not going back on changes, maybe just leaving the car where it's at. I think drivers, engineers are inclined to make changes, make it go faster. Sometimes you can tune yourself out. I think it's about being honest with every change we do, make sure it's the right direction so we make sure we don't start down a bad path. I have a feeling we're not going to have as much time to sort of do everything as slowly and methodically as we wanted to in the very beginning because there's only two days left. Hopefully our changes are efficient and they're good and they do what you expect them to do. Hopefully every degree is a point six miles an hour you think it's going to be and you keep moving forward."

She added "Time will tell. This is a very unique place. It's its own person, this track. You can go out there from one run to the next. You can go out there, come back to the garage, go back out with the same car, it feels totally different. You have to keep your head on straight and stay confident."

Danica talked about whether this is her last 500. "I suppose anything is possible. But I know for me I haven't made any of those decisions yet. This is a special event in and of itself. Indy is my favorite race in the world every everything. So like I just said, I love everything about this place. I love the tradition. I love the race itself. So many times you can come away from this event, after 500 miles, and think of how your strategy could have put you in Victory Circle. I think that's why people love this place and so many people come back. So many people have that story as to how they could have maybe won the Indy 500, which is for me the ultimate goal. I would imagine for a lot of people it's the ultimate goal. It's definitely high up on the list. But I just love this event. So I don't know where the future is going to take me, but I know those things."

Patrick finished on what it means to be part of a race that's been around for 100 years. "I think that's part of what makes me more nervous every year I come here, is just wanting to really be a part of that, really wanting your face on the trophy, being a part of the footage that they run on the track feed when it's raining, being part of that historic footage. Just achieving something that you worked so hard for. We do, we all work so hard for that. I would go so far as to say I don't think there's any other event that any team works as hard as the Indy 500 because of what it really means, what it can do for a driver, a team, anybody involved in a good day or a victory."
Photo Credit: Jim Haines and Dana Garrett

Will Power Tops The Speed Charts At Indy Practice

The Man With
The Best Name In
Auto Racing, Will Power
The Man With The Best Name In Auto Racing, Will Power, is atop the speed charts at Indy, following two days of inclement weather at the Brickyard. The IZOD Series points leader ran a fast lap of 227.778 mph, which is fastest of the month so far. Power's lap bested the previous fast lap of Alex Tagliani, who was atop the leaderboard with a top speed of 227.652.

Tagliani, driving the No. 77 Bower & Wilkins car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, had a quick lap of 227.652. Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe (227.217) and three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves (226.927) followed, and Townsend Bell in the No. 99 Herbalife Schmidt Pelfrey Racing car was fifth (226.741).

"I don't think the speeds are very representative of where anyone is at. You go out and happen to get a really good tow, and you get a big number. That's what happened at the end. Verizon Team Penske worked on race setup most of the day. I was very comfortable following cars. We haven't changed much from last year. We had good cars last year and need to rub on them a little bit, and that will do the trick." Will Power said today.

Power added "I think tomorrow, early on, we'll be working on race stuff, and then we'll start trimming out for qualifying. We'll be working on the car. I think it's pretty important to focus on the race. You could spend a lot of time screwing around with qualifying things, and then it'll be different conditions the next day. We have to have a good car in the race. That's what we'll be focusing on."

Indy rookie JR Hildebrand is sixth on the pylon, with a speed of 226.527. "Starting with rookie orientation, it is going quite smoothly for us." Hildebrand said. "Panther Racing and the strength of the team has been a huge part of it. Buddy Rice and I are learning from each other and getting to know one another as we work as a team on a different discipline here with the oval. For me, in particular, we are just trying to chip away at it, and that has been working well for us so far. We have had really positive results with small changes, and this is what we hope to continue to do going forward. I am happy with the car in traffic and pleased with the speed we have on our own now. It is going to come down to a pretty serious shootout for the top 15 spots with all of the competitive cars here this year. It is going to be tough to put in the big numbers, but we are confident with where we are at right now."

Alex Tagliani talked about his chances for sitting on the pole as teams switch from race practice to qualifying practice Friday. "The way the car is running right now, for sure it is. I think we would be foolish to think that we couldn't do it. But the truth is that Penske and Ganassi have really good cars, and they know their way around this place. They have 10 times more experience than us. I'm sure by qualifying they're going to do something amazing to their cars, and all of a sudden they're going to be up to the top and we're going to end up fighting with them. But if that happens, that's OK. We should be proud that guys like Roger and Chip are looking at us, going, 'Why are those guys so quick?' That's kind of our mindset right now."

de Silvestro returns
after going to hospital
Today was not without incident. The yellow flag flew early in the session when Simona de Silvestro's #78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy car made heavy contact with the outside retaining wall in the North Short Chute and became airborne before catching fire. She was transported to Methodist Hospital to be treated for burns to her hands and released. Her driving status will be determined on Friday.

HVM Racing owner Keith Wiggins reported this afternoon that the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy HVM Racing entry driven by Simona De Silvestro was damaged beyond repair in a crash this afternoon. "Yes, we can build a good car, but it probably won't be as good as the original car because that was built specifically for here. There are a lot of specialities about building a car for here, and we only had one of those built because that is all our resources will allow. So the question is will this car be as quick as the other one? That's the challenge." Wiggins said.

Teams take to the track tomorrow for one final day of practice before Pole Day on Saturday, and Bump day on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Mike Harding and Dana Garrett

Tony Kanaan To Drive Dirt Car In Prelude to the Dream

Tony Kanaan gets ready for practice this week
at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Former IZOD INDYCAR Champion Tony Kanaan has agreed to return to Eldora Speedway for Tony Stewart's Prelude to the Dream, a charity event supporting four of the nation’s top children’s hospitals.

 
The four charities: Levine Children’s Hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Children’s Medical Center Dallas, all cater to the medical needs of children.

 
The Prelude to the Dream is a team event, with an individual race winner. There is also a race within the race, with the field broken up into four teams, each representing a children’s hospital:
  • Team Levine: Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Bill Elliott, David Reutimann, Austin Dillon, Ray Evernham and Cruz Pedregon. 
  • Team Atlanta: Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Ken Schrader, David Gilliland and Ron Capps.
  • Team St. Louis: Busch, Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Justin Allgaier, Kenny Wallace, Ron Hornaday and Ricky Carmichael.
  • Team Dallas: Stewart, Kanaan, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers, Marcos Ambrose, Aric Almirola and Dave Blaney. 
The lowest team score wins, and only the top-five drivers from each team will be scored. For example, if Team #1 has finishes of first, fourth, seventh, 11th and 18th, respectively, from its top-five drivers, its score will be 41. In the event of a tie, the sixth driver will be scored.

 
“I’m thrilled to be back in the Prelude to the Dream,” said Kanaan. “It’s an amazing lineup of drivers and we’re all competing for such a good cause. It’s very rare for me to get a chance to drive something other than my GEICO/KV Racing Technology/Lotus and to not have to race with points in mind. I’m not saying I’m going to do anything crazy, because the goal is to help my team win, but I’m definitely going to have some fun.”

 
Kanaan was a dirt track rookie in last year’s Prelude. The race marked the first time TK was behind the wheel of the 2,300-pound dirt Late Model stock car. Far different from the fire breathing 1,600-pound, open-wheel Dallara dragon he drives in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

 
“That was the only time I drove that kind of car, and the next time will be the night of the race,” Kanaan said. “By far, it was the craziest thing I had ever done. I had a lot of fun. I can’t describe it. I definitely put myself in a very difficult spot, not testing and never being on dirt in my life. In 35 years, I’d never driven a car like that or on a surface like that.

 
“But, I enjoyed it a lot, and now that I’ve done it, I’ve heard that there are other IZOD IndyCar drivers that want to do it. I’m glad that Tony (Stewart) and everybody at Eldora showed me the preference of racing in the Prelude again. I can’t wait.”

 
The live, commercial-free broadcast will begin at 8 p.m. EDT on June 8. HBO Pay-Per-View’s racing telecast has a suggested retail price of $24.95 and is available to more than 92 million pay-per-view homes. Ordering information and up-to-the minute racing information is available at either http://www.preludetothedream.org/ or http://www.hbo.com/. Updates can also be found on Twitter at twitter.com/PreludetoDream and follow the hashtag #RideWithUs, or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PreludeToDream.

Photo Credit: Chris Jones

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NASCAR Drivers Weigh In On All-Star Race

2010 All Star winner Kurt Busch and his beat up Blue Deuce
NASCAR takes a break from the championship grind this weekend as teams head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Annual All Star race. For you Noobs, the race will be run in four segments. The first is 50 laps; the second and third are 20 laps; and the final segment is a 10-lap dash to the checkered.

During segment 1, there will be a mandatory green flag four-tire pit stop at lap 25. There’s an optional pit stop between segments 1 and 2, and between 2 and 3. Between segment 3 and 4, there will be a 10-minute pit stop. Teams will pit and may elect to add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments, but they will not be permitted to change or remove tires. Prior to the start of segment 4, cars will line up in the same positions as they finished segment 3. Pit road will then open, and teams must make a four-tire pit stop. Cars will be lined up in the order they return to the race track. Only green flag laps will be counted during the fourth segment. this is typically a very fun event, and has seen a great deal of action.

"All-Star week is always a lot of fun." Kevin Harvick said. "The crew guys are a big part of All-Star weekend with the pit stop competition and they're a big part of the race. It's an important week for us to see what we have, competition wise, heading into the (Coca-Cola) 600 and really evaluate the performance of the race car on the race track a week before the race. It's a fun week and there's a lot of money on the line. I guess it's a really good paying test session but it's a lot of fun, too."

Drivers not who haven't qualified for the race can still get in via Saturday's Sprint Showdown. The Sprint Showdown consists of two 20-lap segments. All laps, both green and yellow, will count in the first segment before pit road opens, allowing teams to pit if they choose to do so. Teams who elect to pit will lose their track position and must line up in the order that they return to the track behind those cars that do not pit. Only green-flag laps will count in the second and final segment. The top-two finishers in the Sprint Showdown will transfer to the All-Star Race. A third qualifier will join the field based on a fan vote.

"It's disappointing and embarrassing not to be in the All Star race." said Jeff Burton. "I've won over 20 races and to not capitalize on a lot of opportunities last year to win races certainly has its consequences and this is one of them. At the end of the day, it is what it is. We'll go to the race track and try to have fun without a lot of pressure. At the same token, it's not fun if you're not in the main event. Last year, we made some calculated gambles and ended up having a relatively long green-flag run and that hurt us in finishing first or second. But, we'll do our best to try and transfer to this year's All Star event."

"It's a big deal, but just another race." Clint Bowyer said. "In this sport, things are so important now. If I'm running second and there's a green-white-checkered restart, my opinion about that race has changed. Until then, I treat it like it's just another race. It pays more money, obviously, and the hype and everything is big. It's not like our teams or us as drivers can pick up the pace and go faster because it's more money. Yeah, there are no points, so you can take more gambles and take risks you wouldn't normally take. Aside from that, it's just another race."

Kyle Busch wrecks in 2010 All Star Race
Brad Keselowski: “The All-Star Showdown and All-Star Race are great ways to work on the setup of your racecar before you get to the Coke 600, but they are still their own races. The 600 is a ‘monster’ of a race. It starts in the day and ends at night, where the All-Star races do not. They are races of short spurts. What you do to your car is very different for each race. From a driver’s perspective, however, it’s a great way to prepare yourself mentally.”

“The All-Star Race is a different atmosphere for me, since it’s a different way of racing for everybody." Kyle Busch added. "It’s just that it’s a non-points race, and the pure fact you’re going after a race just for bragging rights and a million bucks. That’s what it’s all about. Our pit crew is really solid, so I hope we can earn the pole again like we did in 2008 with the combination of speed and what those guys do on pit road.”


Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR, Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Rain Washes Out Practice Again At Indy

Rain washed out practice for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Rain fell steadily on the Speedway throughout the day, and IZOD IndyCar Series officials cancelled the day's track activities shortly after 4 p.m. (ET).

The last time two entire days of Indianapolis 500 practice were washed out in one week was May 12-13, 2006.

Crews work to dry the track today at Indianapolis
It was a little on the 'ground hog day' side of things, according to the drivers. "It's kind of like the same story all over again. We came close to getting on track today, but once again, Mother Nature had something else in mind for us. We'll just work a little harder when we do get a chance to run - hopefully tomorrow. Things are looking good on the Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske car and we'll be ready to go as soon as we get the opportunity." Helio Castroneves said.

The Man With The Greatest Name In Racing, Will Power, added "It was just a waiting game today. We almost had the chance to run. Two days in a row of not getting on track is kind of a bummer. The Verizon car is in great shape and I have every confidence that the team will give me a fast race car. It is definitely going to be busy when we finally do get on track. On a positive note, I've had plenty of time to meet with the media and our sponsors over the last couple of days. Let's hope we can get on track Thursday for fans and drivers alike."

Former Indy 500 Champ and current car owner Bobby Rahal said "Well, it's the same for everybody. I think we've had time to get these cars prepared pretty well for this month. We've had some good practice so far, but it's like I said, it's the same for everybody, and we'll just have to find a way to deal with it. There are a lot of little things you can do. You get more time to look the car over, go through all of the data, find ways to make it better and really dig deeper."