Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta Answer Questions About Being Test Dummies For The 2012 INDYCAR

Wheldon poses with the
Borg-Warner Trophy
Last week, INDYCAR announced that Bryan Herta Autosport has been selected as the testing organization for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series project and that 2011 Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon would be the lead test driver.

The team will undertake IndyCar's comprehensive chassis testing program beginning in August and September; and IndyCar Series teams are slated to receive their first new chassis by December 15th. Wheldon and Herta answered questions today about the testing, as well as what the future may hold for the two-time Indy winner.

Wheldon started out by answering what kind of goals he has going into an extensive testing program like this. He answered "I think with something as serious as this, it's not about achieving goals for yourself, it's about achieving goals for everybody involved. It's for me, a job that I'm going to take very, very seriously.I'm thankful to the IndyCar Series for giving me the opportunity.But there's a lot you have to undertake.We need to make sure that the product that the IndyCar Series puts out towards the end of this year, beginning of 2012, is something that primarily the fans get very excited about, but also the teams and drivers. And obviously we want to make sure that the product we put out is incredibly safe.So it's not, I would say, about achieving goals for myself, it's more about achieving everything the manufacturers associated with the program want to achieve."

"And I think that's why it's very good to have Bryan Herta Autosport involved.We saw the job they were able to do at the Indianapolis 500.It's great that Dallara are involved. They've put together a great car, and the car that we've been using for a long time now has produced incredibly great racing.It's been very close but also from a safety standpoint it's been good. And we've also got the involvement with Honda and Firestone.So everybody involved, I think, has goals to achieve and my job is about helping them achieve them." Wheldon said.

Team owner and former driver Bryan Herta addressed some of the details about the upcoming tests. "We're going to be visiting tracks almost on a weekly basis throughout those months of August and September.All different types of circuits, short ovals, speedways, Indianapolis, short street course‑type circuits and road courses. Specific details of the program are not going to be released, I think, in terms of where and when we're going to be testing, and any of those specific details, when they are released, will come directly from IndyCar." Herta said.

Herta also addressed the new engine in the 2012 car, and whether or not the testing would be with this year's motor. "The testing will be with the next generation engine.For the start of the test program it will be a Honda unit because they'll be the first one with an engine completed and ready to do the testing phase.But certainly I think as the test program moves on, other manufacturers will get involved once we get past that August deadline."

Herta continued "I cannot divulge any specifics. I think some of it needs to be done in secrecy for a host of reasons.But I think at some point there may be opportunities for people to come see the car run, but I say initially you're not going to see that.You may hear rumors of a car being running here, there, but it's going to be comprehensive and we're going to run on various tracks all over the country."

As far as Wheldon's chances of landing a full time ride for 2012, "I've been asked that question a lot just recently, actually, and my simple answer is I was very confident at the end of last year that I would actually get something full time for this year. And that didn't pan out. So I really don't like to speculate on that stuff anymore, because clearly I'm not very good at that. But, you know, I will say: I think for me to come back for the Indianapolis 500 and have such a successful month and also a very enjoyable month with everybody from Bryan Herta Autosport, it's really made me desperate to get back on the grid, but it's got to be in the right situation. For me, I would love to be able to continue with Bryan and that's what we're all working towards, but we'll just have to wait to see if that pans out in the future. But I certainly don't think it's hurt my chances, but in terms of am I confident that I will secure something for 2012, I think we'll just to wait and see right now?" Wheldon said.

Wheldon also was asked how he felt about being, for lack of a better term, a test dummy. "Test dummy, that's a good one." Wheldon said. "I like that. That's what I'm going to call myself: Test dummy. I think ‑‑ honestly, I'll answer the second question first. Like I said, I take it very seriously doing a job like this. Like I say, you're associating yourself with big manufacturers like Honda, Dallara and obviously Firestone ‑‑ I think with Firestone themselves, they're very, very stringent with safety concerns.That's a priority for them. They do a phenomenal job with that. And even though there's going to be multiple engine manufacturers involved, and it's going to be a one‑tire series, it's still a serious job."

"So to be a test dummy for these manufacturers is important. Like I say, I'm going to be very disciplined in the role I play for them and achieve for them exactly what they want to achieve. And, like I say, it's going to be track time in a new car, so I think that's going to be of benefit.And in terms of the look of the car, the car that you have seen at Indianapolis, both with the oval body kit and the road course body kit, their concepts, they're not going to be the final design so it will probably be a little different from that.But from what I understand the car is going to be very appealing to the eye, and I think from what I understand it's going to be designed with an eye to continuing very, very competitive close racing, which is what everybody loved about the IndyCar Series."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Post Race Driver Quotes From Infineon: If they block, they are gonna get dumped

Tony Stewart, after getting dumped in turn 11 by Brian Vickers: "I dumped him earlier for blocking and he got me back later on. If they block, they are going to get dumped. It is real simple. I mean I don’t blame him, I don’t blame him for dumping us back. But, I don’t race guys that way, I never have. If guys want to block then they are going to wrecked every time. Until NASCAR makes a rule against it, I am going to dump them every time for it. He did what he had to do, I don’t blame him, there is nothing wrong with it."

Was it payback?: "I probably had it coming because I dumped him earlier but I dumped him because he was blocking. If anybody wants to block all year that's what I'm going to keep doing so they can handle it however they want. It was payback, but I dumped him first and I dumped him because he was blocking. I've been complaining about the way guys have been racing all year. I like Brian, I'm not holding it against him at all. I don't care if it was Ryan Newman I would have dumped him too. If they want to block that's what is going to happen to them every time for the rest of my career."

Is it lack of respect?: "I don't know if its lack of respect or guys just pushing the envelope and not working with each other. There wasn't any reason at the point of the race where he started blocking in the first place. It didn't make sense to do it and I'm not going to tolerate it. I don't race guys that way and I'm not going to let anybody race me that way. So if they block they get dumped. Plain and simple.".

Juan Pablo Montoya, after contact with the #2 and #4 : "The No. 4 was the first car, I got beside him and he knocked me a couple of times and they just don't give me any room so it was hard. The No. 2, I got on his bumper moved him a little bit, got beside him and passed him and he just plain and simple wrecked us. It's hard when people don't know how to race on road courses and think they do. It's okay. We had fun, we have a good car. This Cottonelle Chevy was amazing today. It's nice to run good here."

Is he going to talk to the #2: "Ask him, he’s the one that wrecked me. We through the corner and I just got on his bumper a little bit and moved him a little. Got a good run and I guess he didn’t like it. I mean, it is just hard to run with people who have never run well on road courses or have no experience at it. It cost us a ton of points today. But no, you have to talk to smart people."

Brad Keselowski, on his side of things: "I don’t take any pride in all that stuff, but at some point you have to run your own deal. It was pretty obvious that it was eat or be eaten and I wasn't going to be eaten."

Robby Gordon, after contact with Joey Logano: "I just got wrecked by (Joey) Logano. It is what it is. We were on track for exactly what we wanted to do. There was a big difference in tires and that was disappointing. They brought two date codes and we got the wrong one for qualifying. We had a strong run. We lost track position, fought back, and then lost when the 20 punted us."

Logano's side of it: “That’s no big deal to me. I don’t know. He was running me all over the race track. He knocked my fender in for no reason.
We were a lot, lot faster than him. I just had enough. I wasn’t going to get pushed around. He pushed around before and I was sick of it. I think that’s a small story. That’s not a big deal. We finished sixth. I’m pretty happy about that.”

Brian Vickers on what happened with Tony Stewart: “You know, he wrecked me and I wrecked him.”

Were you blocking him?: “I wasn’t blocking him (Tony Stewart). That may have been his perception where he was sitting. You know, the 18 (Kyle Busch) went off the race track in front of me -- he was flying through the dirt. He was coming back on the race track and I was trying to avoid him. You know the cars in front of me were slow and I was in the inside of the guy in front of me. It’s pretty early in the race to worry about blocking someone or wrecking someone. I think when he sees the replay and he realizes why I went low, he’ll realize that if he looks out my front windshield, he’ll realize it had nothing to do with him, it had to do with the 18 almost wrecking and a couple other guys slow up top. You know, it’s unfortunate. He made his bed at that moment and he had to sleep in it.”

Has NASCAR said anything to you?: “No, they haven’t and I don’t think they will. They know that Tony (Stewart) and I have been around long enough to know how to handle these things ourselves. We’re both grown adults. It’s not like we’re rookies and we’re learning the ropes. We know the deal, they know the deal -- we’ll figure it out. I’m sure Tony and I will talk this week. We don’t need them to tell us.”

Jeff Gordon Tips His Hand, Says Who His Drafting Partner Will Be At Daytona

NASCAR heads back to Florida for was is the traditional "halfway" point race, Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Jeff Gordon is a three-time 400-mile-event winner, but like everyone else, this will be his first test on the new pavement in the summer heat, under the lights. Gordon spoke of what he expects this weekend, as well as some other tidbits of info the driver of the #24 Pepsi Max let slip Tuesday.

It is expected that the racing surface at Dayton will be slick as tracks tend to lose grip in hotter temperatures. Gordon addressed that concern today. "You know, is the heat going to take away dirt from the racetrack to where it's going to be a lot harder to do the two-car draft. You know, there's still some unknowns, and it's going to be very interesting on Friday when we get out there on the track." Jeff said.

Last Sunday, you had plenty of drivers sore at one another, as folks like Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers, Juan Pablo Montoya and others treated Sonoma more like a short track, with drivers dumping others at the first opportunity. Gordon kept his #24 out of trouble, with a second place finish, and knows already who his drafting partner will be once the green flag drops.

So many times, drivers roll out the "God-Team-Sponsor" line, and give fans so little information. They are downright Belichickian. Clearly, Gordon hasn't attended any of The Hoodie's seminars on how to talk without saying anything, because he let it be known that he'll be hooking his #24 to Hendrick teammate Mark Martin.

"I'm sure there's already been calls being made because a lot of times you have your drafting partner set up from maybe Talladega or maybe earlier in Daytona and if you made that guy angry, on Sunday at Sonoma, it's going to make that phone call a little tougher. Gordon said. "But more important, for me, I feel fortunate, you know, we had a great working relation with Mark Martin, our teammate, at Talladega and we continue to do that and plan to continue to do that in Daytona this coming up weekend. He and I had no issues on Sunday, and unlike last year, I kept it pretty clean this year at Sonoma. So hopefully I don't have too many other enemies this weekend out there, also."

Gordon also spoke of how it's different with the two car draft, as opposed to just being one driver who can control his own destiny. "That's very different. You know, it's not the preferred situation to be in, whether you're being pushed or whether you're the pusher. It's just the way it is. You're going to do whatever it takes to win the race. We try to do that every weekend. And that's the way you have to win at Daytona and Talladega these days. At Daytona it's a little bit trickier, because the transitions, even though it's a new repave, the track is smooth and has a lot of grip. The transitions are still a lot more significant and abrupt at Daytona, and as we saw in February, it's pretty easy if you get in the wrong position behind that car or if you're the lead car and you make two evasive of a move getting in the corner or exiting the corner, you can spin out and possibly wreck. The two guys have to work very well together. I'm really excited about working with Mark Martin this weekend like we did at Talladega. We worked a lot together at Talladega, worked really well together and had a shot at winning the race there late, and I think we are going to be able to evolve with that and make it even better for Daytona this weekend."

In 37 starts at Daytona, Gordon has six wins, including three Daytona 500 victories, three pole positions, 12 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s. Given the season he's had thus far, don't bet against the #24 getting his fourth 400-mile win at Daytona.

FVP Tuesday Night All-Star: Katherine Claire

Took a night off, so now tonight we have a Tuesday night special! Say hello to Katherine Claire. She recently worked with photographer Karl Yamashita in a Beverly Hills photo shoot. She's also been featured over at RukusMag.com. She's currently studying visual communication in LA at FIDM. Like the rest of the world, she's on facebook. Now, she's an FVP All-Star as well! Boooyah!



Sunday, June 26, 2011

Marco Andretti Wins Exciting Duel With Tony Kanaan At Iowa

Andretti and Kanaan put on a show at Iowa
Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan put on an exciting show for open wheel fans, dicing wheel to wheel for the final 50 laps at the Iowa Corn Indy 250 Saturday night. Andretti was able to make the final pass of then evening, slipping by Kanaan on the low side, diving down to the bottom as the two drivers crossed the start/finish line with 20 laps to go. Andretti then was able to complete the pass, not before TK tried to get back by and take the low line away in a classic NASCAR-style short-track move. Andretti held on, withstood a final charge by the fan favorite Kanaan with nine laps to go, and made his second career trip to victory lane.

Marco Andretti obviously was stoked to have his second win. "It was fun racing. You know, it's always nice at the front. You know you can always trust those guys. It was close, it was dicy, but that's what the fans want. We had a packed house tonight. It was good to see. I'm glad we could put on a bit of a show anyway."

He continued "But yeah, I think the last 30 laps I was really asking how many laps to go because I didn't want to wait until three laps to go to make the move because if he would have chopped me or something, I would have been way back kind of like what I did to him. I wanted to kind of be in the driver's seat and kind of make the move when he was least expecting it, and from there we had to really put our head down. I got the lead a couple times so I kind of knew what I needed to stay on the bottom. I was really aggressive with the tools in the car and stuff, and we made it work."

TK spoke about the battle with Marco after the race. "It was a great race. I don't think we quite had the car." Kanaan said. "I chose to start with a lot of downforce and felt that we had a top three car. After the last stop, I kind of sat back the whole race, just watched Dario. Dario was really strong, let a couple people by and just sat there, and I said, we'll wait until it's time to go, and it was time to go, and all of a sudden I got a great start and get behind Marco and then we're racing."

Kanaan also addressed the final attempt to pass Adretti."It was pretty fun. Seven laps to go, he protected himself pretty good. That's part of racing. It's for the win, so it's all good. I would have done the same, I think. It was quite a battle there. If I hadn't lifted I think we were both going to end up in the wall. Great race. I'm happy for him. I think when you win one race and it takes you another four years to win one, it's probably a relief, and for us, a great result, we move to fourth in the championship, the best result for the team ever. Still trying to give them a win, but looks like it's coming, so eventually we'll make it happen."

Kanaan was asked if he felt Andretti blocked him, and whether or not he was unhappy with how he was raced. "The lower line was quicker, and I set him up, he came out of 4 a little high, and I came to the bottom. And what happens is you can't say it's a block because he gave me space for a car, but coming into turn 1 that tight all the way on the white line, there was no way I was going to turn. I was going to actually start to wash up a little bit. And what he did, he just stayed there; he didn't give me any space, so I had to lift. You know, like I said, it's not a block. He did exactly what he needed to do to win the race. It was just ‑‑ I needed it to be at least one wheel ahead of him to be able to pull that off, and when I made the move, I didn't go further enough, and then I had to lift, and after that I knew the race was over. I was pretty happy with second place then."

Marco's team owner and father Michael Andretti has had three of five wins at the .875 oval in Iowa. Michael was asked what makes his teams so good in the short track. "I don't know. I think, one, the drivers like the track. I think that's a start. We tend to have pretty good cars on the smaller ovals. From the past we've always seemed to have good setups for the races, and it was that way today. His car did really well. He drove up through the field. He didn't inherit anything. He earned every spot out there. But I don't know why. I'm not complaining. We like coming here." Andretti said.

Scott Dixon Started 23rd on the grid, but finish third ,Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti, who led the most laps, was fifth. Rookie JR Hildebrand, the Indianapolis 500 runner-up, passed Franchitti on Lap 242 for fourth place.

"It was a good night for Team Target. We didn't have the best car out there, but it was a tough race with lots of traffic. All in all, great day for both cars. We made some changes and got to work on the car which was really loose. It feels like a win coming from 23rd to third." Dixon said.

The IZOD INDYCAR Series takes two weeks off before heading to Toronto for a road course event.

PHOTO CREDIT BY Shawn Gritzmacher

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Marcus Ambrose Looks To Rebound From 2010 Mistake at Sonoma

Marcus Ambrose

Hop in the time machine and head to Sonoma, June 2010. Brad Keselowski spins late, bringing out the final caution of the race at lap 103 of the scheduled 110. Leader Marcus Ambrose watches his two second-plus lead evaporate. While under caution, Ambrose looks to save fuel, and shuts off the engine of his #47 Toyota. Ambrose cannot get the engine to refire, by the time he does, he drops to seventh under caution. He eventually comes home sixth, after Jimmie Johnson grabs the gift, his 51st win at the time. Ambrose had win #1 in his grasp and it slips away. Under caution.

Are you kidding? This has to haunt Ambrose.

"I've lost no sleep on it." Ambrose said Tuesday. "Racing is all about split second decisions and choices you make. I'm just looking forward to a fresh chance to go there and win, but a brand new team, Stanley have put a lot of effort behind the race with a new sponsor and we have some great programs around the Children's Miracle Network, and there's all sorts of things to look forward to and I'm really optimistic about our chance."

Ambrose continued "We were doing great in the race, we had a good strategy although the way it was running down, I was running out of tires, running out of fuel, and getting ready for a late restart. And I don't need to look back on what happened last year; it is what it is. I couldn't get the motor refired for whatever reason. This year we have a brand new team, brand new chief, brand new sponsor and brand new carburetor, so I should have no issues. Just looking forward to getting out there and trying to win it."

The Aussie, driving the #9 Stanley Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports, currently sits 21st in points in the Sprint Cup Championship battle. Ambrose was asked Tuesday if he was over the loss. "Oh, I'm over it. I just wish you guys would stop talking about it." Ambrose said. "As soon as I left that racetrack, I knew I wasn't going to get that race back. You hate to lose races to a team like that, especially that I wasn't able to get to victory lane at the Cup level, disappointment. But tell you what, I'm still proud of my effort last year, definitely led a lot of laps, pace setter. I'm proud of what I did but a shame we couldn't fin tissue it off. I haven't lost sleep on it. I'm looking forward to object think this chance, I have a great sponsor that are desperate to get up to victory lane and they have all the resources and effort behind it this weekend. Richard Petty has been kind enough to give me the chance to drive for his team, and it's going to mean the world for me to get him to victory lane again. Just really excited, really excited for the future and this weekend's race."

Ambrose also spoke of the physical demands of road course racing "there's a lot going on behind the wheel. You're obviously changing gears, you're turning left and right, you're managing front and left brake pressure, sometimes you're doing it together. The track is undulating and there's a lot of dust that's get thrown off by other cars that run across the track. There's just a lot going on on a road course. You really have to stay very focus on your own car and not really worry about whether a guy is pulling away for a lap or two. It normally balances out. Physically it's quite challenging with the heat and the amount of work that you have to do, and I think mentally it's the toughest part, because I've run up road racing, for me, I can tell you that I can run three or four hours in a road race car and I'll be fine. But when you have not done it for a year, you know, it just seems to mentally be really demanding, and mistakes creep in: Locking up tires on the brakes, too much wheel spin, getting greedy on the gas pedal, coming up in the corners, and all that have stuff can make or break your race. For me, I think mistakes by drivers is the biggest thing that you see road racing compared to ovals. You can follow Tony Stewart or Matt Kenseth, at the end of a 500 mile-oval race, they don't make mistakes. But when you go road racing, mistakes are part of life, and I think as drivers get tired, mistakes get more prevalent."

Ambrose hopes to avoid another mistake like last year, and find his way to victory lane this Sunday.

 Photo Credit : Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR

Monday, June 20, 2011

FVP Monday Night All Star: Tiffany

Tonight's All-Star comes to us from Anaheim,Ca. Fitness model Tiffany has worked with Betancourt Nutrition, ShakerPro, and Bodywell Nutrition. You can check out an interview she did here, and she's on facebook like everyone else.

View From The Sin Bin: From The Rolling Rally

A Whirlwind Weekend in Boston

By now you’ve probably heard…the Boston Bruins have won the 2010-11 Stanley Cup. Wow…it still feels funny to say that (giggle). The Black-and-Gold returned from Vancouver Thursday with hardware in tow. The Rolling Rally was Saturday (Boston is getting good at those). The B’s were honored by the Red Sox before Sunday’s game at Fenway. It’s a veritable love-fest.

The Bin had the chance to go to the Rolling Rally…wasn’t gonna miss that. Took the Downeaster to North Station, then the Green Line to Arlington. Watched the parade while standing in the middle of Arlington St. at Boylston. Good stuff. Big, friendly crowd. Some estimated over a million people lined the streets. Can’t disagree. Apparently less than 10 arrests. Take a lesson, Vancouver.

What struck the Bin while watching the players and the Stanley Cup go by was how young the players looked. Playoff beards were gone for the most part, and it was striking how young these guys really are. TV ages people, but out in the sun these guys looked like a bunch of college kids out for a good time. College-age kids in tee shirts and shorts who will never have to buy a drink in the city of Boston for the rest of their lives. Except Mark Recchi, of course…he still looked like someone’s grandpa. But his money is still no good here.

Pros: Well organized, chance for an up-close-and-personal look at the players and Lord Stanley’s hardware. Cons: What the hell is owner Jeremy Jacobs doing crapping on Bruins President Cam Neely? Jeez. During remarks at the Garden before the parade started, B’s owner Jacobs spoke about Neely finally winning a Cup…”something he couldn’t do when he skated.” Wow. Poor taste or bad timing or both. Jacobs’ comments were scripted…didn’t someone proofread them first? No. 8 was a big part of the reason you had a parade on Saturday, Mr. Jacobs. And how much more is your team worth now thanks to Cam? Some gratitude. Just saying.

Not to be outdone, the Red Sox had the Bruins (all of them) throw out the first pitch on Sunday after riding the duck boats around the warning track. Thirty-nine-plus thousand on their feet screaming. Awesome. Best touch…the Sox used the Bruins’ goal horn and music as part of the first pitch ceremony. Then the used it every time the Red Sox scored…runner crossed the plate, goal horn sounded and “Zombie Nation” pounded out of the speakers. The final score was 12-3. Lots of horns and zombies…really cool.

Next Bin: a look at the future.

tjz

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Shane Narbonne Takes 88th Loudon Classic

LOUDON, N.H. (June 18, 2011) -At just 21 years old, Shane Narbonne of Tyngsboro, Mass., captured his second Loudon Classic checkered flag this afternoon, during the oldest running motorcycle event in North America.

Narbonne, who has been racing motorcycles since the age of seven led all 14 laps. The race finished six laps short of the 20-lap scheduled event due to a red flag incident. Loudon Road Race Series rules state that if the race is at the halfway point and the red flag is thrown, it is deemed an official race.

Narbonne's last win came at the 86th annual Loudon Classic in 2009 and he finished third in last year's event.

"I was sick last year, this year, I definitely feel much better," said Narbonne. "I knew if I got a good start I could just put my head down and pull away." "I just want to thank my dad, the track and my sponsors. This is awesome."

Eric Wood raced his way to a second place finish after being shuffled back to fifth on the first lap. Wood praised Narbonne for being such an intelligent rider.
"As the race went on I tried to keep digging and make my way up to the front," said Wood. "In the end I did what I could and we came home second, I'll take that. "I have to give Shane credit; he's not just fast he's smart. It's fun racing with him."

Last year's Loudon Classic winner Scott Greenwood of Dunbarton, N.H., finished third after starting in the fourth position.

"When Eric passed me in turn-6, they kind of ran me wide and I lost touch with the rest of the group," said Greenwood. "Once we hit lap traffic they seemed to slice through it a little better. I wish I was a little closer, I would love to be a three-time winner of the Loudon Classic but we will have to settle for third and come back next year."

Hometown favorite Christian Cronin fell out of contention due to mechanical issues.

The 88th annual Loudon Classic weekend continues through Sunday. Events tomorrow include the ASRA motorcycle races and the NELCAR Legend Car race. Tickets are available at the main gate.

88th Loudon Classic Provisional Finishing Order
(Finish, Start, No., Name, City, State, Laps Completed)

1, 1, 64, Shane Narbonne, Tyngsboro, Mass., 14
2, 2, 5, Eric Wood, Ashburnham, Mass., 14
3, 4, 4, Scott Greenwood, Dunbarton, N.H., 14
4, 6, 33, Cory Hildebrand, Milford, N.H., 14
5, 9, 15, Jason Carter, Raymond, N.H., 14
6, 14, 32, Alex Guilbeault, Litchfield, N.H., 14
7, 8, 909, Houk Nichols, Woodbury, Conn., 14
8, 7, 932, Scott James, Kennebunk, Maine, 14
9, 10, 35, Joel Allen, Barrington, N.H., 14
10, 19, 914, David Hanig, Ossining, N.Y., 13

From the NHMS press release
Photo Credit: NHMS/Laurie Thiboutot

Thursday, June 16, 2011

View from the Sin Bin: Raise the Cup!

As I write this we await word on plans for the celebration of the Boston Bruins’ sixth Stanley Cup win. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand each scored twice as the B’s won their first road game of the Finals by a 4-0 tally. And there was joy in Mudville…Rock the Hub! The Black-and-Gold flat-out outplayed the listless Canucks and will take home Lord Stanley’s candy dish. Tim Thomas wins the Conn Smythe as MVP of the playoffs. His money will never be any good in Beantown. Classy hearing “Dirty Water” in the Rogers Arena after the game. Not so classy was what happened afterward, as Canucks fans rioted in the streets of Vancouver, setting fires and reportedly assaulting at least one Bruins fan.

Is this as big as the Red Sox reversing the curse in 2004? Bigger. Many of us remember the 1970 and 1972 teams that won it all. But none of us remembered the 1918 Red Sox world championship…as a practical matter to today’s fans, it never happened, and the curse of the Bambino just seemed to roll on and on. But when you were actually around for the last big win (and a few close calls) it just seems like forever.

The Bruins were able to use Nathan Horton’s injury as a rallying point…and it worked. But let’s not forget about Marc Savard and his contributions to this team.

After the game the Bin took the opportunity to crack open a Sam Adams Winter Lager. This beer was hiding in the back of the fridge and was the lone survivor of a six-pack that made the trip to Foxboro in January to see the Jets beat our Patriots in round one of the playoffs. Seemed like a good time to drink it.

Not much more to say…more will follow. The computer screen keeps getting blurry…

Still want to fire Claude Julien?

tjz

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

NASCAR's Tony Stewart and F1's Lewis Hamilton Swap Rides

2008 Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton and two time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart swapped rides today at Watkins Glen. Stewart got in Hamilton's Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-23, while Hamilton climbed in the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet. They met with the media after to share the experience.

Smoke drives the McLaren
Both drivers started out cautious. "Being in a stock car, I was a little nervous pulling away." Hamilton stated. "I thought I was in the wrong gear or something because it sounded like the rpm was dropping a little bit. I just gave it some power. I don't know."

Smoke was just as careful. "The funny part is I couldn't even get it up high enough in the revs to get it to pull away in first gear. It goes into a default stall mode. I was trying to tell myself, Just get on the gas a little bit." he said.

"Once we got rolling, it was unbelievable." Stewart said, describing the feeling as he gained confidence. "The good thing is you have somebody like Lewis that can sit there and guide you through it. As silly as it's going to sound, I ran a couple hours yesterday in an iRacing simulator. It gave me such a good base to have an idea where shift points were going to be, seven-speed transmission, versus the four-speed that we have in the Cup car. With the simulator and Lewis' input, it made it easy to feel like you could relatively get up to speed quick."

It came to down the basics of driving a race car, according to Hamilton. "The driving skills that you learn, the braking into corners, throttle shifting, that's all very, very similar. That's why I think it was easier to pick it up quicker than perhaps I would. I think it's the same for Tony. He went straight out there and picked it up. It was no problem for him. "I could definitely see myself having some fun with it a little bit more."

"I was really, really surprised. I was thinking this could be rolling quite a lot. I didn't know how stiff it was going to be. I tell you what, it handles really well. It's absolutely fantastic. The shifting and the engine, the way it's pulling through the rpm was fantastic." Hamilton said of the #14 Chevy.

Both drivers raved about the historic Watkins Glen course. "The track is absolutely fantastic." The 2008 F1 Champ said. "It feels like a real classic. It just feels historic when you're driving around. They don't make tracks like that nowadays. When they build new Formula One circuits, they don't build them like this."

Stewart added "I enjoyed the long course. I had never been around it till today. I told Brett Bodine when we finished our setup runs, I would like the opportunity to see us have a shot at running the long course. I think it would create more passing opportunities for sure. Like Lewis said, it's such a historic racetrack, there are some really cool corners down there that we don't get a shot to run on a Cup weekend."

Both drivers clearly had fun with the swap. "I guarantee you it's going to take a couple days for all of what just happened in a short amount of time to sink in." Smoke said. "It's going to create a lot of questions of, How do you do this? This is what I felt, how do you do it different? I'm sure I'm going to start wearing his email out and have questions about what to do, how we should have done it different. The cool thing is maybe I can talk him into showing me the telemetry and comparing our laps, seeing how much it was different. I think that's an advantage that we'll both have from going back and seeing the telemetry."

Hamilton gets ready
"I just feel like a kid today." Hamilton added. "Good to be out there and be a kid again. Like when I used to go go-karting, used to have so much fun. Whilst driving a Formula One car is fun, the competitive side of it's so serious. Where today, after such a tough weekend, I was also feeling the tough weekend this morning. But as the excitement built up, when I got in the car, once I got out, I completely forgot about last weekend. I was saying to Tony, in the olden days, they used to have racers doing races in different classes week after week. I said, It would be neat if you wanted to drive Formula One for a weekend, and vice versa. I know that's not possible nowadays, but that would really be cool." Hamilton finished that the swap was "Probably the coolest thing I've done outside of racing Formula One."

Stewart seemed very eager to have Hamilton at the track again. He went so far as to offer him a ride for the Prelude To a Dream next season. "If he wants to come run The Prelude next year, I will personally pay for a brand-new car to come there. If he wants it, he's got it. We'll have him a brand-new one sitting there ready to go."

Photo credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images for Mobil 1

NHMS Announces Title Sponsor For August INDYCAR Race

From the NHMS Press Release:

New Hampshire Motor Speedway and MoveThatBlock.com announced today that the innovative, cutting edge website will be the title sponsor for the IZOD IndyCar Series race on Sunday, Aug. 14.

Founded in 2010 by Todd Drowlette and Patrick Gray, MoveThatBlock.com offers a one-stop-shop for jobs, dating, commercial real estate, residential real estate, apartments, home rentals and vacation rentals. There custom features are simple to use and allow easy searching and posting in an uncluttered environment.

"We are ecstatic to have such a modern company like MoveThatBlock.com sponsor our IZOD IndyCar Series race," said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of the speedway. "INDYCAR continues to be one of the most innovative forms of motorsports. It is fitting that a technologically saavy brand such as MoveThatBlock.com signed on for this exciting opportunity."

The Albany, N.Y., based site also provides internships, part-time and full-time jobs to students who want hands-on experience with advertising, sales and software development.

"MoveThatBlock.com is committed to being the premier online marketplace, offering our visitors multiple categories to help with their life's biggest decision," said Patrick Gray of MoveThatBlock.com. "We are extremely excited and proud to sponsor an event as prestigious as the IZOD IndyCar race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, especially as it comes on the heels of the launch of our new 'cars' site."

The MoveThatBlock.com INDY(r) 225 will feature some of the world's best drivers including, Danica Patrick, Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves going wheel-to-wheel at 200 mph around the speedway's 1.058-mile oval. The action-packed weekend will also include the Firestone Indy Lights Series, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the American-Canadian Tour.

Hockey Guy National Anthem

A few years ago, a friend was on a local radio station, talking hockey. He did this in complete character, a hockey coach by the name of "Jean-Luc LeFrancois". He was very funny, speaking in broken French-Canadian about the ins and outs of the game. He was The Hockey Guy. I wrote him The Hockey Guy National Anthem, which he sang on the air, much to the delight of his listeners and co-hosts. In celebration of Wednesday night's Stanley Cup Game 7, here it is. Sing it in the tune of "Oh Canada", the great Canadian National Anthem.
 Oh Hockey Guy
To be like Wayne Gretzky
It would be a dream, If I could be like he
I would shoot the puck, into the net, right past the goalie
and if I might, if things are right, I'd get into a fight!

Skate across blue line, glorious, it's me!
Oh Hockey Guy, I'd take on Tie Domi,
Oh Hockey Guy, I'd play for Don Cherry!
Enjoy Game Seven!

View from the Sin Bin: Game Seven…Keep Talking, Luongo


The Boston Bruins head back to Vancouver for Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals after a dominating game six win on home ice. The Black-and-Gold chased Canucks’ goalie Roberto Luongo in the first period on the way to a 5-2 win. The B’s scored a Stanley Cup Final-record four goals in a four and a half minute span (including one on former BC standout Corey Schnieder) to lock it up.

This after a weekend of shots in the media from Bobby Lou fired at the B’s, particularly Tim Thomas. Thomas – to his credit- never rose to the bait. Timmay apparently never got the memo he was Lebrongo’s personal mechanic and was supposed to be “pumping up his tires” all series. Bin to Luongo: Please continue shooting off your mouth. It just continues to show your insecurity and lack of confidence. We’re OK with that.

Keys to Game Seven for the Bruins: Score at least one early goal. Get under Luongo’s skin…he’s fragile. Take the crowd out of the game. Don’t sit back on your heels if you get a lead…keep attacking. Smell the Cup…it’ll be in the building and is yours for the taking.

Unfortunately, the Bruins “score-as-many-goals-as-the-number-of-the-player-honored-before-the-game” streak is over. The B’s scored four on Bobby Orr Night and eight on Cam Neely Night. Game 6 was Milt Schmidt Night…he wore #15. Oh well. Apparently it was actually Dit Clapper Night.

Bin channeling Herb Brooks: “Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players -- every one of ya. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time -- is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearin' about what a great hockey team the (Canucks) have. Screw 'em! This is your time! Now go out there and take it!" 


tjz

Monday, June 13, 2011

FVP Monday Night All Star: Shannon

Tonight's All-Star comes from the land of those who vanquished the Miami Heat. Texas native Shannon graces FVP in celebration of the Mav's win. Shannon hails from Austin, and she's been a Dallas Cowboys Corral Girl. She's also been seen at Exposure Magazine, Fixe Magazine, Dare2Wear Swimwear and Full Throttle Magazine. She says the only thing not real about her is her fingernails. Good to know. Check her out at her website, and she's got a youtube channel too.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jeff Gordon Wins At Pocono, Moves Into Third All Time

Jeff Gordon notched career win number 84 today, as he grabbed his second win of the season. The race was won on pit road, the #24 Chevrolet crew got Gordon out ahead of Kurt Busch and the Yellow Double Deuce on a stop under caution for debris on Lap 156 of 200. Gordon's win moved him into a three way tie with Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for third on the all-time list.

Gordon celebrates #84 at Pocono
Gordon tried to put it in perspective. "84 wins, I can think of about 25 of them right now in my head, but that's about it." he said. "But there's a lot more than that. I'd like to go and remember those moments, people I've become friends with. Just incredible memories that have made this crew what it is for me. Then I want to be able to talk about it. I'm just not ready to do that right now. Like I say, I don't have time to go back and look at it right now. Being a father of two, trying to give this guy everything I got. I feel like, again, he's just so good the way he approaches it, the mindset, the attitude, the way he orchestrates his engineers and team. My mindset right now is split between doing everything I can to give him my best, to be the best dad and husband that I can be, and take care of our sponsors. I just don't have time to think about those things. But there will be that day and I can't wait for that day. I'm excited for that day when I do get to think about it because it has been awesome, it really has, and I'm very thankful for that."

Gordon added "I didn't even think about 84 till they reminded me when I went to do the SPEED Channel Victory Lane Show. I was like, Oh, yeah, man, that's unbelievable. I really can't even express in words what it means to tie Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison at 84 wins because I just never thought it would ever happen for me, or really when I got in this sport for anybody to win that many races is amazing."

Gordon finished 2.965 seconds ahead of Kurt Busch, followed by Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Busch’s No. 18 Toyota, however, failed postrace inspection, with the left front being too low when measured by NASCAR. If penalties are forthcoming, they will be announced later in the week.

"I’m real happy with where I finished." Earnhardt said. "On the last restart of the race, we were 18th with 30 to go. And we drove back up to sixth so I’m real happy about that. The car was pretty good. We had a little struggled with the handling in the middle part of the race. But it was really good at the start and really good at the end. We had good speed all weekend. And hopefully when we come back we’ll have good balance again."

Photo Credit : John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

Friday, June 10, 2011

Alex Tagliani Picks Up Where He Left Off, Takes Pole At Texas

Alex Tagliani had a two-lap average speed of 215.186 mph on the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway oval to earn the PEAK Performance Pole Award for the Firestone Twin 275s on June 11. It is the second consecutive pole for Tagliani, who started from the point at Indianapolis for The 500.

"It's a tribute to how much effort and how much love the guys put in the car." Tagliani said. "I watched them work the last two weeks and they worked harder than when they brought the car to Indianapolis. That's what a team does. We're going to continue to work hard and bring fast cars to the track. Being fast on an oval is great, but I won't be happy until I can stick it to Will (Power) and the Penske cars on a road course that's my next goal."

Dario Franchitti qualified second, his second front row start of 2011 and his fourth front row start at Texas. The Man With The Greatest Name In Auto Racing, Will Power, rolls off third.

"It was a good run out there in the Verizon car. I was flat and on the white line for both laps. We have some work to do tonight in practice to find a good race trim, but we should be good. We get two shots at it tomorrow and I'm definitely ready to race." Power said.

Series most popular swimsuit model driver Danica Patrick qualified tenth. "I think the GoDaddy.com car had a solid qualifying run. It was faster in qualifying than it did in practice which is great. We went into qualifying hoping for a top-10 start which we accomplished. We did the best we could and the car was comfortable, and I think that is really important at this track since there is so much banking. I think we are in a good position headed into tomorrow's first race." Patrick said.

The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues with the Firestone Twin 275s on June 11 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 8 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

View from the Sin Bin: It’s a New Day in the Hub of Hockey

The Boston Bruins have evened the Stanley Cup finals at two games apiece with a stellar 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. Tim Thomas is still The Man. Rich Peverley chipped in with two goals in relief of the injured Nathan Horton…more on that later. To a man, the B’s have stepped up to get it done. The physical game had returned. And – never thought I’d say this—The Bruins have scored some power play goals. And even some shorties. Special teams are solid and the defense has completely eliminated the Sedin twins (or, as Mike Milbury calls them…Thelma and Louise). The Black-and-Gold scored 8 goals in game 3 on Cam Neely Night (Cam wore No. 8). They scored 4 in game 4 on Bobby Orr Night. Here’s hoping game 5 is Ray Bourque Night. The future is looking brighter. And Roberto Luongo has that doesn’t know what hit him, shell-shocked look in his eyes. Kudos to the Habs’ Carey Price…the only goalie in the playoffs the Bruins haven’t chased (snark).

Nathan Horton suffered a major concussion on a cheap, blindside hit from the Canucks’ D-man Aaron Rome during game 3. Horton had just passed the puck and was skating near the blue line when Rome elevated and took a head shot. Horton was out cold before he hit the ice. It was pure ugly. The NHL suspended Rome for four games, essentially the rest of the Cup finals. At least the league got that one right after totally blowing the Alex Burrows biting incident.

Here’s the Bin’s take: the NHL should suspend players for headshots for as long as the victim is out. If the injured player misses 30 games, the goon sits for 30 games. If the concussed never returns to the ice…see ya, Matt Cooke. Find another career. The penalized team cannot fill the perpetrator’s roster spot for the duration of the suspension. This would prevent a team from hiring a goon simply to take a run at an opposing team’s star player, knowing the perp would be banished afterward.

The fallout from the Horton injury has been interesting. The Bruins have found a renewed purpose, skating for their fallen teammate. The Canucks lost a defenseman and have given up 12 goals in two games. Poetic justice.

tjz

Drivers Test NHMS In Preparation For August INDYCAR Race

Garcia in action at Loudon
A pair of drivers were on hand in Loudon this week as Team Moore Racing tested NHMS in preparation for August's INDYCAR event. Gustavo Yacaman and Victor Garcia both ran laps at The Magic Mile, at speeds up to 170 mph.

Hailing from Madrid, Victor Garcia drives the #22 Team Moore TMR XTREME Coil Drilling Car. He is currently third in points, having won this season at Barber Motorsports Park. "The test has been really good so far. I have to say the track, I am really amazed with. I have been on four other ovals, but this one I like the most. It's almost flat out but not all the way flat out. After testing here, this has been the best oval I have been to."  Garcia said Tuesday.

Gustavo Yacaman drives the #2 Team Moore TMR XTREME Coil Drilling Car, lists Cali, Colombia as his hometown, also made his first laps at Loudon. He has seven top fives and 15 top ten finishes in Indy Lights.  

Yacaman turns laps at NHMS

"It's a different track than the tracks we have been to. The good thing is that it is really warm today so it's similar to what we will face in August. I am really happy about the day so far and I think we're getting close to top-speed," Yacaman said.

Both drivers will race at NHMS this August 14th, as the Indy Lights run in conjunctions with the IZOD Series race the same weekend. Tickets are available at nhms.com.


Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for fanviewpoint.com 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

NASCAR Penalizes Richard Childress, Childress Issues Statement

Childress
NASCAR has penalized Richard Childress for "the incident" with Kyle Busch. Childress allegedly had Rowdy in a headlock, while delivering a couple blows to the head.  NASCAR's ruling reads as follows:
NASCAR has fined owner Richard Childress $150,000 and placed him on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31 for violating Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing – involved in an altercation in the garage area) of the 2011 NASCAR rule book. The violation occurred following the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race June 4 at Kansas Speedway. The probation includes all NASCAR-sanctioned events.
On Sunday, NASCAR President Mike Helton addressed some of the long term history of NASCAR, where scraps where more common. "I think throughout the history of NASCAR, we have gone through cycles of everything, including tempers in the garage and on the racetracks, and I think our responsibility lies in reacting to those trends, and if it is a trend that we feel like escalates, then we have a history of stepping in and turning those trends around."

Richard Childress issued the following statement :
First of all, I'm responsible for my actions, plain and simple. As you know, I am a very principled person and have a passion for what we do at Richard Childress Racing. I believe passionately in defending my race teams and my sponsor partners. In this instance, I let that passion and my emotions get the best of me. I accept the penalty NASCAR announced today and, as a company, we will now focus on this week's races at Pocono Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for fanviewpoint.com

Monday, June 6, 2011

FVP Monday Night All Star: Ashley

Tonight's All Star is a former emcee/announcer for the Memphis Grizzlies. Ashley has also worked with Met-RX,  Rigid & Swisher Calendar, and she was a 2010 Maxim Hometown Hottie. The Florida native can be seen over at her site, check her out at ashleyannvickers.com.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Brad Keselowski Saves Fuel To Earn Second Career Win

Brad Keselowski celebrates his second career win in
the Sprint Cup Series
Driving the Miller Light "Blue Deuce" for Roger Penske Racing, Brad Keselowski was able to ring every drop of fuel out of his #2 Dodge to earn his second trip to victory lane today at Kansas Speedway. Keselowski went the final 57 laps of the race on his final tank of gas, assuming the lead with nine to go. Keselowski was able to save fuel by engaging the clutch entering the corner, dropping his rpm's to an idle and saving enough gas to edge Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin, who were also in fuel conservation mode. Kurt Busch led four times for a race high 152 laps, but fuel mileage forced him to relinquish the lead and pit late, dropping him to ninth.

"Yeah, well, you know, it was a team victory today." winner Keselowski said afterwards. "We had Kurt Busch, my teammate, who led the majority of the race from what I could see, and had good speed and the 2 car had great speed as well. We just kind of caught a bad break on qualifying when we went out. But it's a team effort. Kurt had him covered on speed. We had him covered on strategy. And together one of us two was going to win. And I'm proud in general that it was a Penske car that won. So hot day today. Long, tiring, and it feels good to soak in a victory and a beer and some water afterwards. And be sitting here in front of you with a trophy and some great guys in victory lane."

Team owner Roger Penske added "Well, it's great to see Dodge back in the winner circle, and certainly you know with Brad came on point with us last year, and we put Paul Wolfe as a combination crew chief and driver, and 13 races now they've got a victory."

Crew Chief Paul Wolfe made his first trip to victory lane in the Sprint Cup series. He let the cat out of the bag that that perhaps the Blue Deuce wasn't that short on fuel. "We were only about three-quarters of a lap short." Wolfe said. "So we didn't need to save much. But the way it played out, there was nobody really pressuring us. So we went into really conservative mode. And I can't really answer how much Brad thinks he saved. Only he knows that."

For the second in as many races, Dale Earnhardt Jr's day came down to fuel mileage. Junior shared his thoughts postrace. "It's just the way the cautions fall, if the cautions fall at a certain time it changes the fuel window for everybody. This place is real hard to pass on. The guys up front didn't want to give up the track position to get the fuel. They figured that there surely would be another caution. I mean the odds were great to have another caution. And they still had to make two stops and we came and got the fuel. We only had to make one and we got lucky and it went to green."

After leading the most laps, Kurt Busch dropped to ninth after hid final pit stop. His reaction to the final outcome was a bit surprising. "I’m proud of the way that this team has run." Busch said post race. "To have a car to lead laps today and be very competitive, I was all smiles. I felt coming into the weekend that if we could pace ourselves, have good team communication, we would be competitive. it was great. There was always something in the back of my mind today that we weren’t going to win, but I’m glad that Brad Keselowski got this win for those Miller Lite guys, for Dodge. We’re really happy to keep AAA up front all day today. It’s just one of those days where you’re on the right side, sometimes you’re not. For all my guys, we’ll take this one and the points. I’m not discouraged at all."

Eigth place finisher Tony Stewart talked about winning with a fuel mileage strategy. "There’s nothing you can do about it and it’s not a problem. It’s part of racing. Crew chiefs are pretty smart and they know how to play the odds and they know what their scenario is and what their situation is and you lose a heck of a lot more of them than you win that way, but it’s nice to steal one once in a while and get it that way. That’s how we won here in 2006. You’ll take them any way you can get them."

Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five. Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Stewart, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle comprised the remainder of the top-10. The Sprint Cup Series rolls to Pocono Speedway this week for the Pocono 500.


Photo Credit: Keselowski; John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR, Busch leads; Jamie Squire/Getty Images for NASCAR

Friday, June 3, 2011

Brian Vickers Parachutes Into Daytona Speedway

NASCAR driver Brian Vickers is. not .right. Here's proof.

View From The Sin Bin: NHL Blows Bite-gate Incident In Game 1

Nathan Horton looks to
rebound in game 2
View from the Sin Bin 1.93

What a Game…and the NHL blows it

The Boston Bruins head into Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals training one game to none after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in Game 1. Raffi Torres (of all people) scored with 18.5 seconds left in the game to win it. Pretty obvious from early on the first goal would win it. About the only mistake the B’s made was when Johnny Boychuck turned the wrong way defending against Ryan Kesler and was late getting back to his man…it resulted in the Torres goal. The Bruins’ power play did not score (although there were ample opportunities) but it appeared to be better than in recent games, with good puck movement and actual shots on net. The Bruins played like they belong in the Finals.

One question raised in the aftermath is why Claude Julien elected to break up his shutdown defensive pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg at the end of the game. Boychuck was skating with Big Z at the time of the goal. Z was spent and laid down to attempt to block a pass and the Canucks scored on the play. Makes you wonder…

Perhaps the news with the biggest implications coming out of the game was the Patrice Bergeron- Alex Burrows incident. They were involved in a scrum at the end of the second period when Bergeron gave Burrows the old face-wash. Problem is, Burrows thought Bergie’s finger was an hors d’oevre and took a bite. Patrice showed his finger to teammates and the ref…there was blood. Burrows was given two minors and Bergeron one. But…where’s the supplemental discipline? The NHL ruled Thursday there would be none. “There’s no evidence that Burrows intentionally bit Bergeron.” Really? Maybe you need to watch the video again, Mike Murphy. History would say Burrows sits for one game. But sit one of Vancouver’s better players in the Cup final? Not gonna happen in this NHL.

The NHL blew this one big. The league wonders why it’s playing the fourth most popular sport in the US…it’s dumb statements like that one that turns the “bandwagon” fans off to the game. The NHL has a golden opportunity to market itself to new fans looking for a fast, physical game now that the NFL owners have locked out the players and the football season is in jeopardy. TV ratings for hockey are up significantly. View to Gary Bettman: You have been given a gift here…DO NOT BLOW THIS! Get the players out there mingling with fans. Call them “pink hats” if you want, but a new fan is a fan nonetheless. Give them something to stick around for. Work with cable TV companies to get Versus on basic cable rather than a pay tier. Maybe the league has to kick in some cash to get that done..it would be money well spent. Look no further than the NBC ratings to see that. The NHL screwed up a similar opportunity after the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament…the USA-Canada gold medal game generated hockey buzz among fans and casual viewers alike. But the league did nothing to build on that afterward. Don’t blow it again.

Wow. I feel better now.

tjz

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. Break Through At Kansas?

NASCAR makes a stop at Kansas Speedway this week, a 1.5 mile track with 15 degrees banking in the turns, 10.4 degrees in the front stretch and 5 degrees in the back stretch. In 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has recorded one pole position and four top-10 finishes, with a top finish of sixth. Dale Jr. currently sits 4th in points, trailing leader Carl Edwards by 43 points. Junior and Steve Letarte talked about this week race at Kansas.

"Kansas is a tough track." Junior said recently." It is getting slick down in three and four and off of turn two. It is starting to get pretty slick over there. Just trying to get good forward bite out of the corner without getting the car too tight in the middle, that’s the key. The only thing that is different about the (1.5-mile) tracks themselves is just the condition of the asphalt; the condition of the track surface. Some tracks, depending on the region they are in, get slicker than others."

"Kansas is the first of the lower-banked, mile-and-a-half tracks." Crew Chief Steve Letarte said. "Kansas is hard to prepare for based on anywhere we’ve run so far this year. It’s a little like (Las) Vegas. It’s a little like Texas. It’s a little like California. It’s not completely like any of the three. Kansas will prepare you for Michigan and Chicago. It’s not really like any where we’ve been so far, but I think you will find that the cars that were fast at Charlotte (N.C.) and Texas will be fast there."

One of the things that many attribute the current position of the #88 team in the standings is the switch made by team owner Rick Hendrick this past off season. Letarte spoke of that when he said "Dale has brought a fresh breath, a fresh voice, a fresh approach to our race team. There was nothing wrong with Jeff Gordon. Sometimes change is necessary, and I think Dale Jr. has brought that change to this race team. We are starting to approach tracks a little more open minded, a little more flexible then what we planned on running. Honestly, his driving style is more similar to Jimmie’s (Johnson) than Jeff’s and we’ve been able to lean on the (No.) 48 team more. Their notebook is a very good one to dig through, and that has probably helped us the most this year."

In 198 Cup starts on intermediate (one- to two-mile) tracks, Earnhardt has recorded six wins, six pole positions, 38 top-five finishes and 74 top-10s. He has a 16.3 average starting position and an average finishing position of 17.3 on these racetracks. this week, the team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-657. Earnhardt last raced this chassis at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in May to a 14th-place finish. The #88 team looks to continue their strides made last week, as they try to end the winless streak currently faced by Dale Jr. He will have his work cut out staying in front of the likes of Greg Biffle and the rest of the Roush Fords.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Hendrick Motorsports

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

View From The Sin Bin: Stanley Cup Preview

The  Boston Bruins face off against the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday night in BC. Here's a brief pre-View from the Sin Bin...

Goalies: The Canucks' Roberto Luongo is as good as they come. The Bruins' Tim Thomas is better. Both are Vezina Trophy finalists. Advantage: Bruins.

Defense: The Canucks are a solid, almost "no name" defense. Deep and talented. The Bruins D emerged to shut down the Bolts prolific offense in ECF game 7. Advantage: Toss-up.

Forwards: Vancouver's forwards as a group may be the best in years. The B's forwards tend to be streaky. Advantage: Canucks.

Power play: Advantage: Vancouver. 'Nuff said.

Penalty kill: Both are solid. Toss-up.

Even strength: Vancouver has scorers as good as any. Boston at 5 on 5 has been the best in the NHL. Advantage: Bruins.

Intangibles: There's no doubt the Canucks want this. But this is their second trip to the finals in the 40 year history of the franchise. The Bruins, on the other hand, are due to win the big one. Lots of Cup envy in the Hub of Hockey since 1972. History is on the Bruins' side.

View from the Sin Bin: Bruins in 6. But it won't be easy...and the Claude Julien haters will have to shut up.

Did you really expect me to say anything else?

6/1/11
tjz

Is NASCAR Selective On When It Throws The Caution Flag?

Sunday night at Charlotte, on the final Green/White/Checkers finish, Jeff Burton was a recipient of some on track contact that resulted in him spinning in turn one. As drivers checked up to avoid the slowing #4 of Kasey Kahne, who was out of fuel, Burton was hit from behind by Edwards.  Burton spun to the inside of turn one, in front of the majority of the field. Numerous cars bounced off each other, but NASCAR did not throw the caution. As drivers avoided the incident and each other, the leader, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was able to get out to a sizable lead. As it turned out, Junior ran out of gas coming off four to the checkers, but fans were asking "Would NASCAR throw the caution if the situation was different?"

Drivers were asked about the incident, and whether or not there should have been a yellow flag. "I think NASCAR just has to be consistent." Tony Stewart said Tuesday. "I don't think anybody really has a problem with however they do it, as long as they do it the same every time all the time. And that's probably more from a driver's side and crew side what you want. That way it's the same for everybody, it's the same all the time, and you know what to expect. I think just the consistency is the biggest thing."

Smoke added on a follow up "Well, we were kind of in a situation that it didn't really pertain to us anyway. I ran out of fuel at the start/finish line or it didn't get to the pick-up, so we really weren't a factor in how the outcome ended up."

Race winner Kevin Harvick weighed in with his thoughts post race. "Well, I think when you're the recipient of the caution and it's not falling your way, you're going to be mad. I don't know if there was debris out there or not. I was frustrated, but all the guys who were the beneficiary of that weren't frustrated. It's just the nature of the beast." Happy said.

"The one thing I have learned over the last two or three weeks, and it really kind of puts it all into reality, is there has to be a judge. There has to be somebody making those decisions, and there has to be somebody who's going to say, Yep, there's debris on the track. I see it and there it is. And if this car is illegal or that car is illegal, here's the penalty, here's that."

Harvick continued "It took me -- after the whole Kyle Busch thing and the penalty, it took me a couple weeks to get over that. I was really frustrated and I had a good conversation with Mike and that part made sense to me and I understand, but it still doesn't keep me from getting frustrated. If I don't see the debris, I'm going to be mad on the radio because we just went a lap down. There has to be somebody making the calls, and I'm glad I don't have to make them."

Dave Ragan, driver of the #6 UPS Ford, shared his opinion. "I guess they made the right call because my spotter said they’re wrecking in one but no caution, so I just assumed that we’d get to the back straightaway and they’d throw the caution, but I guess everybody kind of got sorted out and kept going. You never can tell what would have happened if they would have thrown another caution – we probably would have had another wreck and maybe would have gotten involved, so we’re glad that what happened happened and we’ll take it." Ragan said.

 Photo Credit : Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR