Sunday, July 31, 2011

Menard Stretches Fuel, Holds Off Gordon To Win Brickyard

Paul Menard celebrates at Indy
Paul Menard used fuel strategy and track position to hold off a hard charging Jeff Gordon to earn his first career win and take the prestigious Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway. Menard took the lead for good at lap 157 of 200, overtaking last year's winner Jamie McMurray, who was also in fuel conservation mode. Menard got the word from crew chief Slugger Labbe to pick up the pace, and was able to get by McMurray and stay ahead of Gordon to win by .725 seconds.
"It was a neat day for sure." Slugger Labbe said. "We pitted on lap 35, pit road penalty. Tire changer didn't get the tire back, fell down, penalized us. From this point on we really stretched our fuel. Went 34 laps then to stretch our fuel. Caution came out later. We were fortunate enough to stay out and understand what our car was going to do."
The winning crew chief continued . "Saturday we made a 22-lap run in practice. Knew where we were going to be at with fuel mileage. We knew with 35 it was a gamble we were willing to take. We had a good meeting on Monday, myself, Richie Gilmore and all the guys, and said, Look, guys, if we're going to make the Chase, we're going to have to get risky. Seems to be a trend in the Cup Series, that people take gambles on pit road. It was our turn to get aggressive. I told Paul he had to support me. He supported me a hundred percent today. Three times he had an occasion where he could have said no, I don't want to do that, but he did. Fortunately it worked out."

Second place Jeff Gordon had the car to beat, and just came up a little short. After, he sounded as though he won the race. "It was awesome. What a fun race for us. From the time we got here, probably even prior to getting here, I felt really positive about the effort that was put into our racecar. The guys were really fired up about getting here. But you still never know until you get out there on the track. The first couple laps on that track, it just had that feel, you know, it had a great feel. Struggled a little bit getting ready for qualifying, but qualified better than I thought we would." the four time winner Gordon said.
"When they dropped the green, I knew we had a car that could win this race. It was a lot of fun. Kasey Kahne looked to be one of the best. He had some issues. We got up there and were able to kind of control the race. It was just a lot of fun. It's been a while since we had a car like that here at Indy. Just a flawless effort by the team. The pit stops were fantastic. I thought Alan called a great race. When we came off pit road the last time, we were able to get ahead of Harvick, I thought that was a huge moment for us. That put us in position to win. I knew that shortly after that, there were some guys that were going to try to stretch it on fuel and all I could do is run as hard as I could to put pressure on them and hope that I got there in time. We got there just a little bit short. But Paul did a great job saving fuel because when I got there, even Regan and other guys, they were still pretty much checking up when I got there. It was easy to get by them. But Paul had saved enough to where he could go back to a full pace. By that time, my car was just too tight behind him."
"Man, I've been coming here for a long, long time, but not nearly as long as my dad." Paul Menard said. "To be the first one after all those years of trying to win him a race at Indy, very special. 1989, I think was my first year here. Spent 14, 15 years in a row just hanging out in the infield being a fan. 2007, I got to race here. It was definitely the highlight of my career up until that point. Here we are in Victory Lane. It's unbelievable."
The race was yet another battle of track position, as whoever was out in front was able to do well in clean air. "When you get back in traffic, it’s tough," said Ryan Newman, who scored his 12th top-15 finish of the season. "We never could get to the front and get clean air. We rallied to finish 12th and that will help us in the points, but I wish we could’ve had a better day with our Haas Automation Chevrolet."
"It's hard to adjust on a car when you’re in the middle of traffic like that,” said Newman's crew chief Tony Gibson. "There’s no air back there. You can over-adjust way too easy, so we just tried to tinker with it. We just knew we were sucking that air and there wasn’t much we could do. The balance was going to change. We just did damage control today. We just tried to finish the best we could without killing ourselves in the points and it worked out well. The No. 14 (Tony Stewart) finished ahead of us and everybody else that we needed to outrun, we did today. That’s what we’ve got to do right now. We’ve got that win, so now we’ve got to just manage our points."

Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Meet The Patriots Draft Picks: Nate Solder

With the lifting of the lockout, and the opening of NFL training camps, FVP kicks off our coverage with an introduction of the 2011 New England Patriots drfat picks. Tonight, we'll take a look at first round pick Nate Solder.

T Nate Solder was selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft with the 17th pick. This pick represents the first time the Pats have selected an offensive player with their first pick since drafting Laurence Maroney in 2006. (2007 S Brandon Meriweather, 2008 LB Jerod Mayo, 2009 S Patrick Chung (2nd round pick) and 2010 CB Devin McCourty)

T Nate Solder
Height: 6-8
Weight: 319
Born: 4/12/88
Exp. (NFL/Patriots): Rookie
Acq: D1-11 (17th)
College: Colorado
Hometown: Buena Vista, Colo.
College Highlights:
  • Earned All-American first-team honors in 2010.
  • Was a finalist for the Outland Trophy for the best college football offensive lineman as a senior.
  • A durable performer, he played in 2,540 out of a possible 2,542 plays on offense from the
  • beginning of his sophomore season through the end of his senior campaign.
  • Started 36 of 49 total games during his college career, including four as a tight end in 2007.
  • He arrived at Colorado as a 245-pound freshman tight end and transformed into a 319-pound All-American offensive tackle.
  • Solder enrolled at Colorado in 2006, spending the season performing with the scout team. He appeared in 11 games in 2007, starting four contests as a blocking tight end. He caught three passes for 50 yards and recorded three tackles on special teams.
  • Solder added over 30 pounds to his frame after his redshirt freshman campaign and emerged from 2008 preseason camp as the team’s starting left offensive tackle.
  • As a junior, Solder received All-American consideration, adding All-Big 12 Conference first-team honors. He played in all but two of the team’s 852 offensive plays.
  • One of four team captains, Solder put together one of the finest seasons ever by a Colorado offensive lineman in 2010.
Select Q&A

Q: How do you feel about potentially having to block for potential future Hall of Famer Tom Brady on his blindside?
NS: You know, I think Tom Brady is a great quarterback and I think all my teammates are great players and I'm looking forward to the privilege of playing for the Patriots.
Q: What do you like most about playing left tackle?
NS: It’s a huge responsibility – protecting the quarterback, being able to run the ball. And that’s
something that I always loved. I always love a challenge.
Q: At this stage of your career what would you say are your strength and weaknesses?
NS: Kind of like coming out of high school, there are a lot of things that you are going to develop and get better at. And I think I have a lot of things to get better at. The great thing about being here is there are such great coaches with coach [Dante] Scarnecchia and coach [Bill] Belichick. And I look forward to the opportunity to get better.

Two Time Brickyard 400 Winner Tony Stewart Discusses The Mystique Of Indianapolis

Tony Stewart makes his 13th Sprint Cup start, and his 21st overall start at Indianapolis this weekend, as NASCAR's traveling road show heads into The Crossroads Of America for the the 18th annual Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway. Smoke talked about the speedway, it's mystique, and how it holds special meaning for him.

Smoke looks for win #3 at Indy
"I came with my father." Stewart said, when asked about his first memories of going to the track. "We were in some bus that had a luggage rack in the top of it. You had to get up at o-dark-30 to get on the bus to ride up to Indy for race day. They threw me up in the luggage rack. Somebody gave me a pillow and everybody started throwing their jackets on top of me to keep me warm. The ride home wasn’t nearly as cool, because after a long day at the track, everybody but my dad and I were kind of rowdy. I was probably 5 years old. We sat in turns three and four. We were two rows up, right in the middle of the short chute. The hard thing was you could hardly see anything. The cars were so fast. They were a blur. But to see those cars under caution and smell the methanol fumes and everything, it was still pretty cool."

Smoke continued. "I rode my bike to school every day, and your parents beat it in your head to stop at stop signs and wait for green lights before you cross the road. Well, I played ‘Frogger’ going home, basically with a bicycle, trying to get home as fast as I could trying to get the TV on. That’s my biggest memory is just growing up and watching, loving the opportunity to get home. I didn’t care how much homework I had. It was the last priority when the month of May was going on and whatever coverage was on TV. You were just glued to it. There wasn’t any one particular moment. It’s just been something that’s been a huge, huge part of my life."

What was it like to finally win at Indy? Smoke answered, "You dream about something for so long, you become consumed by it. When I was in USAC trying to make a living as a racecar driver, I drove a tow truck for a guy I raced Sprint cars against. I would drive down Georgetown toward 16th Street, parallel with the frontstretch, and wonder what it would be like 300 feet to the left running 200 mph. I got a chance to do that, and finally, after years of trying to win, be it in Indy cars or stock cars, I got to know what it feels like, to see that view coming down the front straightaway, seeing the checkered flag and knowing that I was the first driver to cross the stripe, versus the second, third or fourth-place guy. I had wanted that moment for so long, and I finally got it."
Tony put his owner hat on, discussing what it would be like to win at Indy as a car owner. "It would be awesome." he said."A perfect example was the first year we won the Chili Bowl, which is the biggest Midget race in the country. I won it for good friends of mine, Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby. Then we were able to win it two years later, but it was the first time I had won it driving my car, and it was just an unbelievable feeling knowing that I had a hand in helping build the program. It’s always been a dream to win in Indianapolis, and I’ve been very blessed and fortunate to win it twice now, and that’s something that if I died tomorrow I would die a happy man because of those two races. But it would be that much more special to win it as a team owner, too. It’s been so much fun working with this group of guys, and even if I didn’t win it, if Ryan (Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing) won the race, I would have the same feeling of gratification just being a part of it and being able to help Ryan realize his dream. It would mean just as much to be the winning car owner for Ryan as it would to win it as a driver and owner."

Stewart changed gears, and talked about the track, it's mystique, and racing on The Yard of Bricks. "It’s a unique place. The shape of Indianapolis, there is no other track like it. It’s a one-of-a-kind facility that has four distinct, unique corners. Even though they’re shaped geometrically the same, they all drive differently from each other. Wind always plays a factor, and just the perception of the bumps and the different corners makes you drive it differently. For instance, you go down the front straightaway and it looks like you’re driving down an alley into the first turn, but when you drive down the back straightaway into turn three, even though it’s the same style corner as turn one, there’s not that large section of grandstands on the inside of the track. It looks different, so it drives different."

NASCAR and INDYCAR, How do the two styles of car compare? Smoke answered that as well "In an Indy car you just don’t lift – if the car’s right." he said. "But in a stock car, even if it’s right, you’ve got to lift and you’ve got to brake for at least two of the corners. With the other two corners, you just lift, basically. It’s a challenging track in a Cup car. It’s a challenging track in an Indy car too, but if you can get it right in an Indy car then you can run it wide-open around there, and that’s one less variable you’ve got to worry about when it comes to getting around the racetrack."
Stewart and crew chief Darian Grubb have opted for chassis #14-671, a brand new car that has not seen track time yet. This car has had extensive wind tunnel testing in preparation for the Brickyard 400. Stewart has one pole, two wins, three top-threes, six top-fives, eight top-10s and has led a total of 217 laps in 12 career Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis.

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

FVP Tuesday Night All-Star: Veronica

Tonight we've got one busy lady. Check out just some of Veronica's resume: the July issue of MAXIM En Espanol, the July Tattoo Magazine issue, the new TWYST magazine, and June 2011 Playboy Cyber Girl of the Month. She's also done SpaLife Magazine, August 2011, NorCal magazine Vol.1, Issue 1, April 2011, H2Ocean 2011 calendar,,, and are just a tiny bit of the stuff she's done. Her website is here, facebook is here, and tweets are over here. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Drivers Look To Lock In To The Chase With Wild Card

Stewart and Biffle likely will battle for a spot in The Chase
With seven races left before the The Chase, there are several drivers looking to lock themselves in to the 12 positions that will be eligible for the race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. After race #26 in Richmond, the top 10 drivers will be locked in, the remaining two spots will go to the two drivers with the most wins, as long as they are in the top 20 in points. David Ragan is one of those drivers ranked 11-20, so there is a distinct possibility that a driver who can notch a win can make The Chase. Here's a look at some of the drivers who look to lock up one of the final two spots.

Tony Stewart, 11th. Though he's in a points tie for 10th, Smoke loses a tiebreaker with Denny Hamlin, who has a win at Michigan. Smoke looks to be the most likely candidate to lock in a top spot. He's won at Indy, Brickyard, Watkins Glen, and he's coming off a second place finish at NHMS.

Clint Bowyer, 12th. Bowyer struggled of late, with three straight finishes outside the top 10. He has four career wins, but hasn't run at the level he did from March 27th at California, to April 30th at Richmond. If he can recapture that momentum, he could be tough.

Greg Biffle, 15th. The Biffer has a new crew chief in Matt Puccia, who looks to help right the ship. The #16 has posted one top 5, at Texas. Biffle hasn't had a win since Kansas last fall, but ran well at Indy and and Chicago last season. Greg also posted a win at Pocono, which is right around the corner.

Juan Pablo Montoya, 17th. Juan Pablo could really foul up some teams plans for the fall if he can find victory lane at Watkins Glen, where is the defending champion. He's also run well at Michigan and Atlanta. Ganassi would love to have JP in victory lane at Indianapolis. He's a real dark horse that should be watched.

Joey Logano, 18th. Logano has three top 5's, Loudon, Daytona, and Charlotte. He was a surprise qualifier on point at Infineon, finishing 6th. He's only led 12 laps so far this season, and his one win leads you to think he lacks the momentum and the pedigree to move up.

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for FVP

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Newman's Modified Win at NHMS Disqualified

From the NHMS Press release:

NASCAR announced today the No. 7 team that competes in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has been penalized as a result of rules violations committed Saturday, July 16 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.

Ryan Newman's win has been disqualified
The team was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-I (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20D-5.9P (the intake manifold ports did not completely seal to the cylinder head ports. The use of metal shim-type intake manifold gaskets is not permitted) of the 2011 NASCAR rule book. The violations were discovered during post-race inspection on July 16.

Mike LaRochelle, crew chief of car No. 7, has been suspended from all NASCAR regional touring series events until Dec. 31, 2011.

Kevin Manion, owner of car No. 7, has been disqualified from the July 16 New Hampshire race, and has been suspended from all NASCAR regional touring series events until Dec. 31, 2011.

Ryan Newman, driver of car No. 7, has been disqualified from the July 16 New Hampshire race.

So, the reader who commented on our story this weekend is correct. The win has been nullified. This is a pretty big deal. The original comment said:
The 7ny Modified of Ryan Newman was confiscated by NASCAR after the Whelen Modified race for being illegal. This is not a rumor, I saw them take the Modified to the NASCAR hauler, so that they can take the car to the NASCAR R&D center in NC.

Just think about a Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 crew chief having to cheat to beat the regular Modified Touring teams to win a race.
Gotta agree. The Mod races at Loudon are big deals for that series. It's their Daytona. Too bad the 7ny team couldn't go out there and get it done without the violations.

UPDATE: Click here for the NHMS .pdf of the updated results.

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

AJ Foyt Racing To Go With Honda Power in 2012

What does Cameron, the Izod Trophy Girl, and the Grid Girls of Toronto
have to do with AJ Foyt's announcement? Nothing.
American Honda and its Honda Performance Development (HPD) subsidiary will power A.J. Foyt Racing in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series, HPD and the team announced today. Under terms of the agreement, HPD will provide its new, turbocharged 2.2-liter Honda Indy V-6 engines to all Foyt entries in the Indianapolis 500 and the season-long IZOD IndyCar Series.

"A.J. Foyt is a living legend in American racing, and it's an honor to announce the continuation of our association in the IZOD IndyCar Series," said Erik Berkman, president of Honda Performance Development and vice president, corporate planning and logistics, for American Honda.

"I am really looking forward to working with Honda next year," commented A.J. Foyt, whose number 14 car will again be sponsored by ABC Supply in 2012. "I think they will provide us with the best engines in 2012 because they have the best resources … their facility in California is unbelievable. I was very impressed!

"The other thing is that I really enjoy working with the Honda management team. I think they have been very fair and honest with our team and you don't see that too often in this day and age. When people treat us right, I don't forget that."

Monday, July 18, 2011

FVP Monday Night All Star: Nicki

With apologies to TK, tonight we have a little piece of paradise...Nicki's in the Matco tools 2011 calendar, she's featured in Sprint's mobile phone app "modelsinmotion" app, (there's an app for that??) and you've seen her in old friend Toby Kieth's video "Trailerhood". Read up on Nicki here on her site. There's alway's something going on...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tony Stewart Not A Fan Of Andy Lally

After finishing 1-2 with team mate Ryan Newman on Sunday, one would think Smoke would be downright jubilant. Perhaps he was, and let his guard down to the media post race, because is was very pointed in his comments about one Andy Lally, driver of the #71 Interstate Moving Services Ford Fusion.

Andy Lally
Smoke was asked to put on his owners hat and comment on the feelings of team owner, following his driver Ryan Newman late in Sunday's Lenox 301. "I was happy, period." Stewart said. "I mean, you know when you're in that situation as an organization, it can't get any better than that. I can promise you, I didn't leave anything out there. That was as hard as I could run till the end. I couldn't get the rest of the way. I couldn't get any further than that."

He continued "I got in a period when I caught Jeff Gordon, I think he was running fourth or fifth at the time, I got to his bumper but I couldn't really do anything. I ran about three laps where I kept slipping the rear of the car, just got the tires hot. I basically had to back away from him and run my pace again, just let everything cool down. Then we made that second charge at him and were able to get by him and keep marching forward."

Then Stewart sarcastically dropped this bomb "The problem was, to do what we did to get a second, I mean, I used everything up getting there. That was as far and as close to Ryan as I could get. The good thing is we still got guys in the series like Andy Lally that don't see what's going on other than what he's doing. It's amazing, the guy has no concept of the race except what's around him. We just couldn't get the rest of the way."

For the record, first year driver Lally finished 28th, one lap down, after starting shotgun on the field.

Ryan Newman Wins From Pole Again At NHMS

Ryan Newman flies the Stars and Stripes after winning
The Lenox 301 at NHMS
After winning Saturday's Whelen Modified race from the pole on Saturday, Ryan Newman followed that up with another win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Loudon today. Ryan led the last 72 laps, making his third trip to victory lane in New Hampshire. Newman finished ahead of team mate and car owner Tony Stewart. The 1-2 finish for Newman and Stewart marked the first time the cars from the SHR stable finished 1-2 in a Sprint Cup race.

"Just really proud as an organization. From my standpoint personally, it's great to win." Newman said today. "But we had fought so hard over two and a half years to get the U.S. Army in Victory Lane. Haas Automation, from that standpoint, too. From my standpoint, just a great day. We backed up what everybody said we couldn't back up, that was our qualifying effort on Friday. I had won three for 46, now four for 47."

Team owner Tony Stewart added "It was a perfect day for the organization for sure. This is a perfect way to go into an off weekend, for sure. Especially going into Indy, man, this is big for everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. Big thanks to the Hendrick engine and chassis department for everything they do for us. Very proud of Ryan and Tony Gibson. I'm curious to see what the record books show, but I'm sure Ryan is the only guy to get two poles and two wins in a weekend here. I don't know, Kyle maybe did it. But to do it in the modified and in the Cup car today, for the organization to take the front row and get first and second today, you couldn't ask for a better weekend."
Denny Hamlin spins in turn 2 at Loudon

Denny Hamlin fought an ill handling car, spun, and still managed to bring the #11 Fed Ex car home third. "I can't say enough about this 11 team," said Hamlin. "They never gave up. We fought this car the whole day. We just kept working on it and made sure the fenders were on at the end."

Like many of the teams, Hamlin had to deal with fuel conservation at the end of the race. Hamlin said "The crew chief is screaming that we got to back off. At that point you have to think about the risk versus reward. If we go out there and try to win the race, we get about 10 more points than what we get if we coast and get a third-place finish, or if we go for it and miss, run out of fuel, we end up with minus 20, 30 points. It's just risk-versus-reward racing with these fuel mileage things. As bad as I wanted to go up there and race those guys, I had to make the smart move and finish the race."

Smoke also spoke of the fuel issue. "This is a pretty easy track to save fuel on in all reality because you really have to use a lot of brake, but it's got long, sweeping corners, so you coast a lot through the center of the corner. It does give you an opportunity to save fuel pretty easy." Stewart said.

Winning crew chief Tony Gibson said he kept after Newman on the radio. "He did an awesome job of saving fuel. I never believed we were going to make it. We were definitely a solid two to three laps short from making it. I was hounding him on the radio. I'm sure he got tired of hearing it. He did an awesome job. He's done that several times for us over the past three or four years. It was time to showcase what he can do as far as driving and saving fuel."

There were 14 leaders at NHMS today, with Newman leading the most laps, 119. There were 10 cautions for 44 laps, including three infamous yellow flags for debris. The Sprint Cup series has a break this weekend, before teams head to Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400 on July 31st.

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

Jimmie Johnson Fastest In Final Practice At NHMS

Jimmie Johnson topped the speed charts at NHMS in final practice for today's NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Johnson posted a speed of 129.591, in a time of 29.391. He was followed by Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman, Jeff Burton and Brad Keselowski. Yesterday's Nationwide winner Kyle Busch was 20th. Second qualifier Tony Stewart was 21st.

More From Busch and Martin on Kyle's Historic Win

Kyle Busch in victory lane at NHMS
Mark Martin and Kyle Busch met the media yesterday, after Kyle Busch tied Martin's Nationwide record with his 49th win. The win marked Busch's 100th win in NASCAR's top three series.

"It’s pretty incredible," Martin said, putting the feat into perspective. "I remember watching Kyle – the first time I saw him drive on a mile-and-a-half – I’m not sure where it was, if it was Charlotte or where it was – in a Nationwide car. The way I recall it, it was his first time in a Nationwide car, on a mile-and-a-half racetrack. I watched his first lap and it was like he’d been doing it forever. That right there probably impressed me as much as where he sits today. Some people can learn how to drive these racecars if they really, really want to and work really, really hard at it, but the guys that already know how before they ever do it and they work really hard at it are always more successful. That’s the case with Kyle. He was a natural from the first time he slipped into one of these big stock cars on a big racetrack.

"It’s been amazing to watch and it’s hard for me to get my arms around that he is where he is at his age. It’s amazing. It’s really great that NASCAR is in a position today to give an opportunity to young drivers and get an opportunity because 30 years ago having a 25-year-old driver was not something that a top team would want to have. It’s really cool to see, and I’m just as impressed as everyone else with this guy – every week."

"It’s a great opportunity to race in NASCAR and to participate in as many races as we do and to win as often as we have," said Busch, who won the July 2006 Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire. "It takes great teams with everybody from Joe Gibbs Racing and Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and all the guys. To Dave (Rogers, No. 18 Sprint Cup crew chief) and to Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) with Eric (Phillips, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series crew chief) and Rick Ren (KBM general manager) and everybody there. It’s been exciting here the last few seasons, and being able to win as often as we have in the Nationwide Series especially and to tie Mark’s (Martin) record at 49. Of course, all over the NASCAR circuit – to win 100 is pretty cool. We’re halfway to my number. I always said it’s 200, and whether it’s relative to Richard (Petty) or to David Pearson’s – that’s not what I’m out here for. It’s for myself and myself only to be able to achieve a goal. You set your goals high and you try to get out there and do it. If I set a goal that I knew I could reach, then it wouldn’t really be a goal. It’s off on the horizon, it’s a few years down the road, but hopefully one day we get to 200."

200...That's a big number, but hey, the guy is only 26 years old. Don't bet against him.

photo credit: Steve Pouliot Images at

Images From NHMS, July 16, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kyle Busch Reaches Milestone At NHMS With 100th Win

Kyle Busch and crew chief Jason Ratcliff
celebrate on the front straight at NHMS
Kyle Busch hung around the top five all day, and then pounced at the end, nabbing the lead at lap 173 from Ricky Stenhouse, then beating rival Kevin Harvick in a green-white-checkers finish to grab his sixth win of the Nationwide season. It was also of note, as it was Busch's 49th Nationwide Series win, tying him with Mark Martin for the most in the series all time. It is also Busch's 100th win in NASCAR's top three series. Impressive stuff for a 26 year old guy.

"Everybody forgets—he's 26 years old," Martin said. "There are so many more out there for him."

One of the most significant, and perhaps ballsy moves, was the one that Busch made at lap 152, when he split Harvick and Keselowski to take the second position. "I think the reason we won today was the pass out of (Turn 4), getting between the 22 (Keselowski) and the 33 (Harvick)," Busch said. "It was so tough to pass that any time you saw an opportunity, you'd better just jump on it. "I did that and threaded the needle and put it into second (place), and then I chased down the 6 (Stenhouse) and got there but couldn't get by him a couple times. It took a restart to do it."
Busch and his crew
enjoying a historic win

Busch pulled away on a restart after contact from Steve Wallace knocked Joey Logano's Toyota into the Ford of Trevor Bayne at Lap 190 to cause the eighth caution of the race. The accident also collected the #32 of Reed Sorenson, robbing Sorenson of a chance to grab the points lead from Elliott Sadler.

That wasn't the last caution. When the field  exited turn two lap 197, a massive pileup slowed the race for the ninth time, and necessitated a green-white-checkered-flag finish that sent the race six laps past its scheduled distance at Loudon.

Busch was able to get a good restart, getting by Harvick and hanging on for the historic win.

photo credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

Ryan Newman Takes Whelen Modified At NHMS

Coming off turn 2 at Loudon, Ryan Newman leads
late in the F.W. Webb 100 at NHMS
Ryan Newman won the F.W. Webb 100 today at NHMS. Newman started from the pole, leading the most laps en route to a dominant win in the first NASCAR Sprint Cup support race on Saturday. Newman drove the Menards #7 Chevy to victory lane for the fourth time in eight Whelen Modified starts. It was also his third straight Whelen modified win at Loudon.

Newman was able to battle his loose Menards modfied machine early on. "Our car was really loose in the beginning," said Newman. "Come to find out all of the guys were loose, so that helped us out. We all raced clean and had a lot of fun." 

Newman celebrates his modified win at Loudon

Winning Crew Chief and Massachusetts native Kevin "Bono" Manion was thrilled to be back in Victory Lane at his hometown track.  "As a kid coming here for a modified race was huge," said Manion. "To race with all the Cup guys was pretty neat. It's a lot of fun to come back with a guy like Ryan and get the win, now that you know all that's involved with owning a race team."

Newman, along with series regulars Todd Szegedy and Ron Silk car were definitely the class of the field. Szegedy brought home the Wisk Degergent #2 home second, Silk's T.S. Haulers #6 was third. Matt Hirschman and Doug Coby rounded out the top five.

"Second to me is a victory," said Szgedy. "We've had some bad luck lately, so in the end it was a great race for me, but we have some work to do until the next race and then maybe we can beat him . 

Silk has stood on the podium four times this season.  He stands in second place in the points right now. "The race was pretty uneventful for me in the beginning," said Silk. "We had a good car today we finally got close to Newman but then got up into the loose stuff. Todd was able to get around us. We'll just get ready for the next one." 

Eric Rudolph spins between turns three and four

Andy Seuss spins in turn four

Brad Keselowski Takes Nationwide Pole For New England 200

Brad Keseloski watches the rest of qualifying at NHMS after
taking the provisional pole at Loudon
Driving the #22 Ruby Tuesday Dodge Charger, Brad Keselowski will roll off first in today's New England 200 at  Loudon. Keselowski posted a speed of 129.384, circuiting the flat one mile oval in 29.438. He will be followed on the starting grid by Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Aric Amirola and Kyle Busch. Busch currently sits at 99 career NASCAR wins in the top three NASCAR series.

"I think probably more important than anything is the choise of pit stalls, getting that first pit stall." Keselowski said after qualifying on point. "That certainbly helps with track position which is so important here. It was a good run for our Ruby Tuesday Challenger. I hope it holds up in the race. Harvick is one of the guys to beat and he starts right next to me. I think our cars are pretty equal. It should be a good show." 

The Nationwide cars roll to the green flag today at 3pm in Loudon.

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

Smoke Fastest In Morning Practice Session At NHMS

Tony Stewart was fastest this morning in the early session of Sprint Cup practice for Sunday's NASCAR race here in Loudon. Stewart posted the top speed of 129.169, turning the Magic Mile in 29.487 seconds. He was followed by Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, and Martin Truex Jr.

Pole sitter Ryan Newman was 14th quickest in this morning's session. Current points leader Kyle Busch was 12th.

Photo credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

NHMS Sprint Cup Post Qualifying Notes

Ryan Newman sets the track record at Loudon,
with a time of 28.165 seconds
Kasey Kahne, qualified 10th. "We picked up a little from practice. I was just a little bit loose getting into the corners. I didn't really get into the corners as good as I would have liked. It's still alright and still a decent lap."

Denny Hamlin, qualified 14th. "We were going to end up better than what we have the last couple times, but still we're not blazing fast in front end speed. Got to get a little faster on the short run it seems like."

David Reutimann, qualified 3rd. "It didn't feel that good at all, but thankful the Aaron's Dream Machine has been pretty good since we unloaded. It ended up being ok there, but the clouds are coming now, and it's not going to do us any favors. The track is going to cool down some. Hopefully, this will hold up for a good starting position on Sunday."

Joey Logano, qualified 16th. " the guys did a good job improving my car for sure. The Home Depot Toyota has been good in race trim. Qualifying trim is what I was nervous about and I didn't feel like I had a really good car. Just kept telling myself before I went out there that I needed to get back in the Cup mode...I just ran the Nationwide practice for the last hour and a half. I just kept trying to re-run what I had before and really focused in and felt like I did everything I was supposed to. I think I wish I had one more lap...The car seemed like it was getting better as I kept going there. I think one more lap would have been faster, but I bet 90 percent of guys out here would say the same thing. I think we know what to work in the next time we come here to make speed in qualifying, so that should help.

Kyle Busch, qualified 18th. "Our Interstate Batteries Camry was just too snug to the center and a little edgy back to the gas. I think we've got a good car for the race, and we've got two sessions tomorrow to work on it and make it better."

Brian Vickers, qualified 21st. "We ran short on time thereat the end of practice and we didn't get to scuff our tires like we wanted and didn't get to make some of the changes like we wanted, but we took a big swing at it after qualifying. The guys did a good job. There's a couple areas I thought we could've improved upon, but considering where we were, I liked it."

Tony Stewart, qualified 2nd. "It's awesome. Awesome for the organization. Congratulations to Ryan and their guys. Proud of our guys too. We have an awesome weekend going. Ryan has won two poles in a row now here in two days. He's done an awesome job and I'm really proud of him and everyone at SHR. Thankful to Rick Hendrick and all his guys...the engine and chassis departments over there at Hendrick Motorsports. They've all done a great job of having a landmark day for us today."

Ryan Newman, Pole sitter. "Without a doubt I have higher expectations; When you have the fastest race car, you have no excuse. It's just a matter of making it the fastest car or the best race car on the last lap, given you have the right position and the right strategy and do the things that are needed to put yourself in that position. So, yeah, I felt really confident in practice today that we would have a shot at the pole, just the way the car felt. Fortunately that came though and we were able to capitalize."

Matt Kenseth, qualified 30th. " That will put us 25-30th, not too good. We have been way off all day today for some reason. We are definitely working on it and we have the two practices to work on it tomorrow, so that's good."

Carl Edwards, qualified 15th. "That was a pretty good lap. It is better than practice by a tenth-and-a-half. It is not the pole but I think it might be a top 10 starting spot. That is what we are hoping for and we will just have to wait and see what happens. There are a lot of fast cars coming up, so we will just have to what and see."

Kurt Busch, qualified 4th. "It was a good lap. We picked up speed from practice which is what you always want. We were confused if we needed to try and get it on the first lap or stick to our game plan and get it on our second lap like we had been doing. It will be interesting to see how the overall stats line up, if guys did it on their first lap or second. We were just caught in between. We didn't know which one to go for. A top five starting sport is great. it keeps us up front and in the mix all day and gives us pit selection."

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

NFL/NFLPA Joint Statement

The discussions this week have been constructive and progress has been made on a wide range of issues. Our legal and financial teams will continue to work through the weekend. We will continue to respect the confidentiality orders of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan and will therefore refrain from commenting on specific issues or aspects of the negotiations. We will provide additional information as developments in this process continue.

Kyle Busch On 100 Wins: "I don't think about it."

Current Sprint Cup points leader Kyle Busch sits at 99 career wins across NASCAR's top three series. Busch takes two swings at 100 this weekend at Loudon, in the Nationwide race today, and tomorrow's Sprint Cup event. Rowdy talked about the milestone on Friday has he prepared to take the track at Loudon.

"I don't think about it." Busch said, regarding reaching 100. "For myself, it's just my own milestone. It doesn't have anything to do with anybody else's milestone that's been in the sport. It's something that I said I wanted to accomplish for Kyle Busch, not something I wanted to accomplish in order to beat David Pearson or Richard Petty, or anybody else out there. To me, it's just like when I was a little kid, I wanted something to reach for so I put the Sprint Cup Series on a pedestal and went after it and tried to see if I could get there. Opportunity arose, I made it and now the next step is what else can you do? You put a championship up there, you put a lot of wins up there. Just something to kind of keep you going over the years just to kind of make sure you don't fall flat and get stagnant and just ride around out there."

Busch and Dave Rogers preparing yesterday at Loudon
Busch was unsure of his place in history regarding the milestone of 100 wins, and whether or not there was a difference in winning now compared to other people who have accomplished the feat. "Yeah, certainly there is a difference there.  To know exactly what that is, I have no idea. I don't know because for one, I wasn't even born yet, and those guys may not know because they are not racing today so they don't know what its like today. Last time I checked I didn't have a time machine in my pocket so I can't go back and and run in those days, although I'd like to. I think it would be fun. Certainly, it's different. Why is it different? I am not sure I can answer that."

"I am thinking more about the next one than I am the last one." Busch said, talking about recalling the 99 wins. "When Kentucky was over, I went back to the motorhome and went to sleep. Nothing exciting, no party, no up all night and no old Dick Trickle stories where it only takes one hour sleep for every 100 laps your going to run the next day. I went to bed and made sure I got as much sleep as I could for Slinger, Wisconsin to race the late models on Sunday. Like Vegas, I remember some of the details about that. I just remember being really loose all day. We were making changes and just nothing would really work, but yet the we got track position, got out front, and Bobby Labonte was chasing me down, I think, in the car, and couldn't quite race and then finishing second to Jamie McMurray by that much. I remember a lot of details, it's just a matter if you want me to sit here for four hours and explain all of them to you. I've got the time for one and probably you all don't want to have the time for two." 

Busch added " If I had a little help, and went down the list with somebody, I could probably tell you something about every single one of them. Off the top of my head, I could probably rattle off to you 40 or 50 of them maybe." 

Busch heads out on the Magic Mile today for final Sprint Cup practice at 9:30am. Nationwide cars hit the track for qualifying at 10:35am. The green flag drops for the New England 200 3:30pm.

Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR

Monday, July 11, 2011

Busch Heads To Loudon As Points Leader, Looking For More Consistency At The Magic Mile

Busch gets ready last September
at Loudon
Coming off a dominating win at Kentucky, new points leader Kyle Busch heads to NHMS looking to keep the momentum going strong. Busch has been inconsistent at Loudon, with only one win, back in 2006. in 2008, he was awful, finishing 25th and 34th in both races. Rowdy's been closer to the front recently, his 11th place finish last June his worst finish since '08. Busch hopes to ride the wave of success he's had of late, and come away from Loudon with another win.

Busch was asked recently what it takes to be successful at Loudon. "Loudon is a pretty particular racetrack. It’s tough." he said. "It’s not like Phoenix. It’s not like Dover at all. It’s a flat racetrack and it’s really typical of a tough racetrack to pass on. You can’t just have a really good racecar and finish up front. You have to keep track position. You have to keep up all day and make everything work. We’re excited to have Interstate Batteries back on the car there this weekend and we would really like to get Norm (Miller, Interstate Batteries chairman) and everyone a win and keep our hot streak going."

He continued "New Hampshire is a fun track for me, as a driver, even though it was a tough year there last year. It’s flat like Phoenix and Milwaukee, but it’s a little bit tricky. In order to do well there, you need a car that works on all the different kinds of asphalt the tracks seem to be putting down. You need a car that has a lot of side bite in the rear and front grip to turn easier. At New Hampshire, it seems like I’ve always been loose into the corner and tight in the center, which is hard to fix, sometimes. I think the team that can fix that the best will have the best car."

After winning the Camping World Truck Series and Sprint Cup races at Kentucky, Busch now sits at 99 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions. Busch would love to have #100 under his belt by the time the haulers head south on Rte 106. He was asked about the possibility of the C-note happening at The Brickyard. "I’m hoping it comes at Loudon, sorry. Certainly, whenever the next one is, I’ll be cherishing it just as much as I did the last one. To me, I don’t want to wait that long for win 100. Hopefully, we get the opportunity to run up front again and have a chance to win some other races before we get to the Brickyard. Brickyard is still a little ways off. Maybe we can talk about 102 by then"

Busch has one win, no poles, four top-fives, six top-10s, and has led a total of 225 laps in 12 career Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire. The team will roll out chassis #311, which led 59 laps en route to a third place at Michigan.

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

FVP Monday Night All Star: Kairee

With possible good news on the NFL lockout, let's roll with a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader as our Monday Night All-Star. Ok, weak segue. Kairee has been featured in East Coast Biker Magazine, Full Throttle magazine, and Sea Goddess Swimwear. She's done a commercial for UM Football, Hallmark Healthcare, and Honest Tea. She's done that cheerleader thing, and she has her own very cool clothing line, Rock Angel.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tempers Flare At Toronto INDY Race, Will Power Calls Another Driver "A Wanker".

Dario Franchitti won today's INDYCAR race at Toronto, extending his points lead in the championship battle. The race saw it's share of incidents, notably between the two key championship contenders, Franchitti and The Man With The Best Name In Auto Racing, Will Power.

At lap 66, Will Power and Dario Franchitti got together coming off turn three, resulting in a spin for Power. There was talk on the TV broadcast of a penalty for Franchitti, but that turned out to be rumor. The spin left Power with poor track position, where he ended up in an incident with Alex Tagliani, ending Power's day. Power was none to pleased with either competitor.

"Ah, man, that guy." Power said during the Versus broadcast , referring to Franchitti. "Does he ever get a...Does anyone ever penalize this guy? Dirty as you like, I left the inside open on the brakes, my guys did a great great pits stop, got me out in front. Man, really disappointed in Dario. I always race him clean, and he always races me dirty. He did the same at St. Pete, drove me into the wall, I didn't say anything, and he did it again today."

He also spoke about the later incident with Tags. "Yeah I think Tag hit me. Pretty typical for him, he's always a bit of a wanker, so he took me out completely that time." Power then went back to bitching about Franchitti, saying "Disappointed in Dario. The guy that mouths off about everyone, that whines about everyone, and he's the guy that races the most dirty. Never gets a penalty from INDYCAR, it's just not right."

Another incident, or story, was the fact that many felt the Ganassi cars were avoiding lining up for the double file restarts, thereby gaining an advantage in fuel economy late in the race. "It doesn't make sense." Michael Andretti said to Versus. "I mean, they are obviously doing it on purpose, so he gets there on fuel. You know, one time ok, twice and you're in the back. They're letting them have it. I mean it's unfair. I know they are trying say they are not getting lined up, but it's all Ganassi cars not getting lined up."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Infamous "NESN boob grab" from last night's game

Dude gets to second base at Fenway. Not on the field, mind you...

Notice the lack of commentary from Don and Jerry. You know Don is on the floor, and Jerry's got his head on the desk, crying. You can just see it, can't you?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Will Power and Pippa Mann Test NHMS

Power turns laps at NHMS in Loudon
Penske Motorsports driver Will Power and Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver Pippa Mann tested the Magic Mile this week in preparation for the INDY 225 later this summer.

Speeds approached 175 mph at NHMS as the two teams looked to dial in thier set ups at the flat one mile oval. "The main goal of today is just getting some information for our engineers and for me to learn the track and get an idea of what I need to run around this place" said The Man With The Greatest Name In Auto Racing, Will Power. "The track is quite similar to Milwaukee. All-in-all it is a short, flat track, which are usually pretty fun."

"I've actually had a great morning of testing," Pippa Mann added. "The big thing about this test is that this is my first time in an Indy car on a flat one-mile oval. I didn't get to race Milwaukee, but I did get to race in the Indianapolis 500."

She went on to joke, "it's a slightly different track from here, so we are working on getting me up to speed and then we start working on the handling of the car."

Power is once again in the championship mix in 2011 for Team Penske. He's three wins, four poles and six top-five finishes. He is currently second in the IZOD IndyCar Series' championship standings, just 20 points behind defending champion Dario Franchitti.

Photo Credit: NHMS/Laurie Thiboutot

Tony Stewart on Kentucky: There’s only one first race, and you can only win it once

The #14 Office Depot "Back to School" Chevy Impala
Even though the NASCAR season seems to go on forever, time is getting short. There is only nine races left before the The Chase begins. Sitting 12th in points, Tony Stewart needs a win to help solidify his place in NASCAR's playoffs this fall. There would be no better time to notch that win than this weekend, and NASCAR heads to the Bluegrass State for the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.

Smoke will roll the Office Depot/Mobil 1 “Back-to-School” Chevrolet Impala Saturday night as his looks to grab his first win of the 2011 season. Stewart recently spoke about the process when racing for the first time at a track. "The first thing you do is try to figure out the line around the track. When we tested there in the past, we didn’t have a lot of rubber down because there weren’t a lot of cars running a lot of laps. It was a lot harder to really get a gauge on what the line was around there. That’s what you’ll spend the first part of the day on – on Thursday, the practice day. You’ll just work on the line, figuring out your braking points and where you need to get back in the gas. At the same time, the crew chiefs and the engineers are going to be trying to figure out how to get ride heights where they want them – the standard things they do every weekend. The drivers are going to have to take a little bit of time in learning the racetrack." Stewart said.

As far as expectations go, "I’m excited about going to Kentucky." Smoke said. "I like going to new places where we don’t have a history. Obviously, there are a lot of drivers who’ve run the Nationwide Series there and do know the track and what to look for. It’s kind of fun for a lot of us. None of us have raced there that don’t run the Nationwide Series on a regular basis. Even though at some point over the last seven or eight years we’ve tested there, none of us have raced there. That kind of makes it fun. It’s neat to go in there and not have an idea of what to expect. It always makes it fun the first time."

Everyone always remember who won the first race. That will be no different this Saturday night. Tony also talked about what it would mean to win the inaugural Sprint Cup race at Kentucky. "We’re going to have a lot of our friends and family that are coming down. I know we’re going to have those fans there. We’ve got a lot of followers with the local tracks in that area. That makes it fun being able to race in front of your friends and family and people that we’ve raced against in dirt Late Models and Sprint Cars. The market is really good for us as far as our fan base is concerned. There’s only one first race, and you can only win it once."

Crew Chief Darian Grubb and the folks at Stewart/Haas have opted to roll with Chassis # 14-591 this weekend. You'll remember this car from Las Vegas, where Stewart dominated, leading four times for a race-high 163 laps. He opened up a four-second advantage until a pit road miscue derailed the perfect outing and left him second when the checkered flag dropped. They've had some extensive wind tunnel testing time for #591, so look for Stewart to be near the front at the end of the evening on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

FVP Tuesday Night All-Star: Cassandra

Tonight we've got Utah native Cassandra. Casandra is into snow boarding, scuba diving, and traveling. She's done 1 episode on "The apprentice LA.", Lingerie Bowl, Hawaiin Tropic Top 19, Benchwarmer, Aspen the Series, and she was Playboy's Miss Feb. 06. Follow her over on facebook here.

Rowdy Busch Looks Notch Another Debut Win At Bumpy Kentucky

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Sparta, Kentucky for the inaugural race at th 1.5 mile Kentucky Speedway this Saturday night. Back in 2003, Kyle Busch made his debut at Kentucky, driving in the ARCA series for Hendrick Motorsports. Rowdy led 91 laps en route to his first win in the Bluegrass State. In '04, Busch found victory lane again, in his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Kentucky Speedway. The driver of the #18 makes another debut this weekend, looking to have his third win in a debut race.
Busch and crew chief Dave Rogers will dial up a
good finish at Kentucky

Kentucky Speedway opened in 2000 and has hosted a total of 60 major races that include the Nationwide Series (10), Camping World Truck Series (11), IZOD IndyCar Series (11), Firestone Indy Lights Series (nine), and ARCA (19). Even though it’s a brand new track for the Sprint Cup competitors, more than a decade of summers in the hot Kentucky sun, along with dozens of racing events over the last 11 years, have given the 1.5-mile oval plenty of character by way of a wide racing groove and plenty of bumps that will make it challenging for teams and drivers to find the right set-up.

Rowdy recently talked about some of the challenges teams face this weekend. "I think the biggest challenge for all of us is just going to be how bumpy the track is and how much load we can distribute through the bump stops in the cars versus through the spring, or hold it down with a shock, and all that stuff. That’s where the biggest balance is going to come from. You know, we can pretty much predict who’s going to run well there. I think Joey (Logano) will do well – I expect him to run well there. And, I expect we can run well there since Dave (Rogers, crew chief) has a lot of experience there. Also, we just have to put it all together and get everything the way you need it to be." Busch said.

Busch was asked if the bumps at Kentucky were a problem. "I don’t know. I’ve never run there in a Cup car, so I don’t know." he said. "It definitely adds character, sure. If the bumps are too harsh and you’re bouncing up the track, or you can’t run in underneath somebody because you’re afraid you’re going to bounce up into them and hit them, obviously, that’s an issue that we’re all faced with."

Busch has one win, two top-fives, and has led 311 laps in four Nationwide Series starts at the track. The 26-year-old also has two top-10 finishes and 116 laps led in two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Kentucky. You'd think the laps led and the wins would give Busch an advantage. "I think there’s a little bit there, but not much." Rowdy said. "We all go to new racetracks. Guys who haven’t ever won there or raced there sometimes win there. Like Jeff Gordon won at Kansas... I think it was, or Chicago or something... when it was new. California, when it was new. I don’t think it means much."

We'll see Saturday if Kyle Busch can get his third win in a debut race. Chassis #308 will make it's second start, coming off a 12th place finish at Kansas. Busch and the rest of the staff at Joe Gibbs Racing hope to improve on that finish at Sparta.

Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images