Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ty Dillon to make Nationwide debut at Dover

2011 ARCA Champ and driver of the #3 RCR Chevy in the Camping World Truck Series, Ty Dillon will make his debut in Nationwide Series this weekend at Dover International Speedway.

"Ty has shown a lot of progress so far this season in the Camping World Truck Series and he's definitely earned the opportunity to make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut. He'll be in very good hands with Ernie Cope (crew chief) and the No. 33 Chevrolet team," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing.

In a marriage that would never happen in the major ball and stick sports, Dillon will make his debut driving for a casino. "I'm very excited to get my first start in the Nationwide Series at Dover in the South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet," said Dillon. "It's going to be a lot of fun running with my brother Austin (Dillon) and Elliott (Sadler). The RCR Nationwide Series teams have done a great job so far this season, and I know I'll learn a lot from them. The No. 33 team and Ernie Cope(crew chief) have built a great team, and I'm honored to be able to work with them this weekend."

South Point Hotel & Casino announced their partnership with RCR at the end of the 2011 season. The resort serves as the primary sponsor of the No. 2 Camping World Truck Series entry driven by Brendan Gaughan and shares a primary sponsorship role on the No. 33 Nationwide Series entry with drivers Gaughan, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard and Max Papis.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Danica's comments following Coca-Cola 600

The schooling of The Princess of Speed continues...

Danica Patrick finished a disappointing 30th in this weekend's Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR's Memorial Day tradition. The race marked Patrick's third start in the top tier of NASCAR.

Danica Patrick
"We had a lot of green-flag running and, for me as a driver in general in NASCAR, but especially as a new driver in the Cup Series, that hurts me,” Patrick said. "I’m just not great at making the best out of a car that’s not perfect, and those long runs really show that. But that’s what you get in Cup. You get a lot of green-flag running and I’ve got to learn how to deal with that. But that’s just the nature of where I’m at on the learning curve at this point in time."

Two weeks ago at Darlington in Patrick’s previous Sprint Cup start, there were only eight caution periods for 38 laps, meaning the last two Sprint Cup starts for Patrick have included several long, green flag runs. The first 112 laps of tonight’s 400-lap marathon were conducted under green, and the first 172 laps at Darlington also went caution free.

"We brought the Go Daddy car home and one of the goals was to finish. I would’ve liked to have been a little faster overall, but I think there were some times in there when it was decent. It was kind of like Darlington (where) there was a certain run or two that felt really good and everything else, you’re just kind of like, ‘Let’s work on this and let’s work on that.’" Patrick said.

"She did a good job tonight,” Greg Zipadelli said. “This is a tough racetrack and a tough race. We needed to start the race tight, just to be conservative and we started the race a little too tight at the beginning. But we didn’t make any big mistakes. Obviously, we’d all like to be a couple positions further up, maybe 25th or 26th – something like that. That would be a big success when you look at all the people that were back there. It’s a tough racetrack – she did a good job.”

Patrick makes her next start at Bristol, in what FVP, and many fans, consider the premier race of the summer, the Bristol Night Race. Should be fun.

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images 

FVP Monday Night All-Star: Brittanie

San Diego native Brittanie enjoys long walks on the beach, reading, star gazing, fishing, hiking, dancing, laughing, volunteering, modeling, and the Green Movement. She's been on Entourage Season 8, Gossip Girl, and The New Girl. The 5'8" blonde is a full time student, model, host, spokes model/actress, and environmental activist. Follow her on twitter and on facebook.

Dario Franchitti joins Indy legends with third win

Dario Franchitti put his name on a very exclusive list of Indycar legends Sunday. His win in the Memorial Day classic, his third, puts him in some very elite company. Franchitti and team mate Scott Dixon swapped the lead three times in the final five laps before Franchitti and Takuma Sato passed Dixon at lap 199. Sato attempted to get by Franchitti in turn one on the final lap, diving to the inside of the Target DW12 machine of Franchitti. Sato was not able to hold his line, touching Franchitti and wrecking his own machine, as Franchitti was able to hold on and earn the victory.

"I moved over, and I saw he was coming. I came back over, and I moved up the track. He got loose underneath me. Kind of reminds me of Emerson (Fittipaldi) and Little Al (Unser) at the end there. This means the world. This is Indianapolis. To be on this trophy on either side of Dan, that means more than anything. The last week I've been studying my buddy JR's book, Johnny Rutherford gave me his book with a wonderful inscription, and he said he hoped to welcome me to the three-time club. To be in the company of guys like that means so much. What a great race today, to be able to come from the back of the grid after being in the pit lane and being spun." Franchitti said post race.

On the very last lap, I had a good tow from Dario. I thought I had the job done. But he kept pushing and didn't give me enough room, so that I was well below the white line. But an outstanding job by the team. It was a very exciting race." Sato said, speaking of his view of Franchitti's ability to hold him off.

It goes without saying, the loss Dan Wheldon still casts a big shadow over the series.

"It's pretty crazy how it all lines up. Dan still owes me one, I think. Dario did a fantastic job. All of us wish Dan was still here racing with us. He's a hell of a guy and left a big void and hole in all of our lives. I hope we put on a good race for the fans, and I'm sure he's smiling down on us." Scott Dixon said post race.

One of the many poignant moments happened when Dan Wheldon's wife Susie Wheldon came into Vicotry Lane, and then joined Franchitti and his wife Ashley Judd on the victory lap. "Suze came over to say, Well done. Got to have a wee chat. I tell you what, she's a stronger person than I am to come here. She knows better than anybody how much Dan loved Indy and how much Indy loved Dan. But to be here, go through all those emotions..." Franchitti said.

He continued "When we saw her, it would be cool for Suze to come. Last year, my favorite memory of the race last year was Dan was going out of the on his parade lap afterwards. I had this crazy notion in my head I was going to carjack him. I'm standing in pit lane, I'm disappointed, but at the same time I'm happy for my friend. I see him coming towards me. This is going to be good. I see his face. He was just sobbing. It meant so much to him. Everything that had happened to him with not having a regular drive, all the stuff with his mum, Alzheimer's. I couldn't do it. I just gave him a big hug and told him how proud I was of him. It meant a lot that Suze was able to come around with us today."

Franchitti's name now resides in a pantheon of the open wheel elite at Indianapolis. Franchitti joins Louis Meyer, Wilbur Shaw, Mauri Rose, Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Unser, and Helio Castroneves as three time winners of the Indianapolis 500. AJ Foyt, Al Unser Sr., and Rick Mears each have four wins.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jimmie Johnson hot heading this weekend's Coke 600

Coming off the historic 200th win for Hendrick Motorsports at Darlington, followed up by a win the Sprint All-Star race, it can be said that Jimmie Johnson is heading into "his house" for the Coke 600 with the hot hand in NASCAR.

Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knauss,
during practice today at Charlotte. 
Check out these numbers for Johnson in the 600: Six wins in 21 starts (May 2003, 2004 and 2005 season sweep, October 2009). Three poles (May 2002 and 2004, October 2009). · 10 top-five finishes (47.6 percent) and 14 top-10s (66.7 percent). · Average finish of 11.9. · Sprint Cup’s best average running position (8.4). · Four DNFs (Did Not Finish), October 2001, May 2008, May and October 2011. · 7,132 of 7,384 laps completed (96.6 percent) and 1,386 laps led. · Sprint Cup’s best driver rating (111.0 average out of a possible 150 points). · Sprint Cup’s best with 451 fastest laps run. · Sprint Cup’s best with average green-flag speed of 176.429 mph. · Sprint Cup’s best with 4,201 laps in the top-15 (84.5 percent). · Sprint Cup’s best with 714 quality passes. Pretty impressive stuff, never mind the fact that Johnson coming off two wins.

“It is a very long race on a tough track." JJ said. "It’s not only from the driver’s perspective, but the teams go through a lot to get prepared for that race. Staying alert and focused, properly hydrated all the things that the driver has to go through so do the guys that go over the wall. They change a lot of tires during that race. It’s a very tough event on everyone but I think everybody enjoys it. I know my guys do. I know I do. I love that challenge. I love it especially when you are going to victory lane. I hope to do that again"

Johnson was also asked about whether or not his team planned on taking the same winning car from the All-Star race to the 600. "Not with the way things are today. The cars go to the tech center and they don’t get back in time to turn them around in a couple of days. I think we have an equally good car for the 600. I said it the other night, but track position at the end of the 600 is going to be key, I think. You are going to have start thinking about strategy and a couple of pit stops or so from the end, making the right calls is going to be important- whether you take fuel, tires or no tires. It’s going to get interesting. We learned a lot the other night thought that I think we will be able to apply this weekend.” Johnson said.

Johnson was asked today how much teams take with them from the All-Star race. “You can take a lot. You run a good practice session at a very similar time during the day. We made a qualifying runs, granted we had a pit stop and an extra lap but everybody pays close attention to that first lap out. Our qualifying set-up for this weekend is built off of that. Then the race going into night trying to pay attention to the track and where it is going from our stand point the way we finished the race was pretty fast, we would be foolish to start any different. For us it is kind of predictable why and what we would do. We have been here other times where we have been off and maybe used the All-Star as a testing ground and then come back here with new ideas or old proven equipment or hey the new stuff worked let’s try it. Last weekend is very important. It’s not often that we get to go test and the All-Star in a sense is a test bed for a lot of reasons for a lot of teams.” Johnson said

Johnson and the #48 roll off third for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. NASCAR's green flag drops Sunday at 6pm. For you couch potatoes, your race schedule starts at 8am EST, with the Grand Prix of Monaco. 78 laps around the streets of Monaco is roughly 161 miles. Then settle in for the Indianapolis 500 at just a few ticks after noon EST. Follow up with NASCAR's marathon 600, and you've got 1261 miles of racing Sunday. That's a long day of auto racing for motorsports fans.

Photo Credit: Jamey Price/Getty Images for NASCAR

Monday, May 21, 2012

FVP Monday Night All-Star: Sayaka

A bit of a departure tonight. Tonight we've got Japanese actress, singer and idol Sayaka Isoyama. She's been in...oh hell, does it matter? She's been on TV. She's hot. Here ya go...

Briscoe qualifies on the pole for Indianapolis

Ryan Briscoe, driving for Roger Penske, will lead the field to the green flag for Sunday's Indianapolis 500, with a speed of 226.484 mph. This is the first pole position for Briscoe at Indy, having made front row starts in '08 and '09.

This is unbelievable. Those four laps were so good and so consistent. It was Lap 4 that won me the pole today; that was the setup I had on it. Everyone at Team Penske has worked so hard. Chevrolet, man, they gave us the horsepower. I'm really proud of them and IZOD. Getting a pole at Indy, this is huge. I certainly had good schooling from Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves. It feels good to get my first one here." Briscoe said

Team owner Roger Penske weighed in as well. "It is all about our people, the team, and certainly Ryan (Briscoe) needed this one. He's done a great job for us. Today he stretched himself. The guys did a great job. It was just a pleasure to bring that Chevrolet engine down home to the front with IZOD as our sponsor. I want to thank everybody that has supported our team for so many years, especially the families. This really is one for Paul Morgan with Ilmor. He helped us build the Chevy engine and was killed in a plane crash. I want to give this pole position to Paul and his family." Penske said.

The team of Andretti Autosport certainly set themselves up as a team to beat Sunday, qualifying second, third and fourth, with James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Marco Andretti, respectively. Hinchcliffe's time was .0023 seconds behind Briscoe, the second closest margin in race history.

"Yeah, the smallest of margins. It's heartbreaking in a sense, you know, but at the end of the day we get to start on the front row of the Indy 500, and that's just the coolest thing ever. I mean it's just, it's been a huge team effort. You'll see our cars are starting second, third and fourth on the grid, the other two drivers, they made the show today. It's awesome to see the kind of results we're getting because these guys have been working so hard. Having the GoDaddy car starting in the middle of the front row is pretty exciting, and like I said, I'm going to lose a little bit of sleep over how small that margin was to Ryan and knowing that we had it there for three or four laps. But you know, that's Indy, man. It's a gust of wind, it's a shadow over a corner that changes, and that can be the difference. At the end of the day, it's a great result for us." Hinchcliffe said after.

Father lifts son to make catch foul ball

That's something they'll remember for the rest of their lives.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Scott Dixon fastest Thursday at Indianapolis as teams prepare for "Fast Friday"

Scott Dixon put Ganassi Racing at the top of the speed charts as the IZOD Series gets ready for "Fast Friday". INDYCAR, the sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series, approved an increase in the turbocharger boost level for "Fast Friday" on May 18 and the May 19-20 time trials for the Indianapolis 500 from 130 kPa (kilopascals) to 140 kPa. The increase will add 40-50 horsepower to the 2.2-lter, turbocharged V-6 engines supplied by Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus, resulting in an increase of 4-5 mph per lap. The boost level will be returned to 130 kPa for the 200-lap race May 27. As a result, many teams spent the majority of the week working on race set ups.

"It's nice, I think we've taken this week a little slower." Dixon said today. "We didn't have the speed; these speeds are all big tows, so it doesn't really matter much. For us, we're just working on the race car, and I think we've made big improvements on how it feels. For me, I feel happy because we made the car feel a lot nicer to drive, and especially in traffic it pulls up better, I think. Tomorrow and Saturday are going to be totally different stories to see who's got what out there by themselves, so that will be interesting. But all in all, I think Honda and Team Target are doing pretty well."

Josef Newgarden, was second on the speed chart (222.709 mph) in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman/Dollar General car. Graham Rahal was third late (222.080 mph), and IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Will Power (221.932) was fourth. Justin Wilson finished fifth at 221.715 mph.

"It's been more of a challenge to understand the setups." FVP favorite, Will Power, The Man With The Best Name In Auto Racing, said today. "As far as driving, it's been a bit easier. It's more grip and less power, so it's stuck more to the road. You have less chance of making a mistake. Josef Newgarden yesterday made a mistake, and that's the first I've seen. The car is pretty forgiving. It's stuck. You get a big draft and lose some grip. I think it will be a good race, and once it's said and done, it will be like last year."

Teams practice tomorrow from noon until 6pm, and then draw for qualifying order at 6:15pm.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Newgarden fast on day five, spins at Indianapolis

IZOD Series rookie Josef Newgarden notched the fastest time today at Indianapolis 500 practice, with a speed of 222.785 mph. Newgarden also spun the Andretti Autosport machine off turn 4 late during the practice session, glancing the wall. This was the first incident of the month at Indy. Newgarden was uninjured.

Newgarden led Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti (222.108 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (221.763) and James Hinchcliffe (221.638) as teams continued working on race set-ups with the new Dallara chassis. Thursday marks the last day of practice under the current rules.  Teams receive an added turbocharger boost for "Fast Friday" - reflecting a 40-50 horsepower gain and 4-5 mph per lap. The increase in the boost will be available for that session and the weekend time trials.

"You don't get many lucky breaks around this place, and I think I just got one." Newgarden said. "The guys have done a great job putting together such a good car, and I don't want to hurt the thing. I'll try to learn what happened and why the thing got around on me. Everyone's trying to figure out the race car around this place, and obviously I have a little more work to do. We were old on our tire run and trying to run as far as possible to see how the car reacts, and I think it's just difficult to run in the tow, and today I got bit by it a little."

"We are still making gains on the race setup." Marco Andretti said after practice today. "The RC Cola guys have all been working great together as a team to really develop a good race car. I would say we are a change or two away from being the one to beat on May 27th. We have some more work to do when it comes to the car's speed on its own. Once we get the car right, it won't matter where we start."

The track opens for testing tomorrow at noon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Marco Andretti fastest in Indy 500 practice Tuesday

Marco Andretti posted the fastest speed of the month thus far today, topping the charts at 223.676 mph. He was followed by Helio Castroneves (222.025), James Hinchcliffe (221.864), Graham Rahal (221.855), and Ryan Hunter-Reay (221.814).

"I'm really pleased with where we are at with the race car so far." Andretti said today. "I have just been really working on the car in a pack, and just trying to stay flat in traffic. We have the car to the point now that I am confident to say we would be the ones to beat if the race was today. The speed on its own, I'm a little concerned about. I've said it before, I'll say it again, if we start 33rd, we can still win this race."

Andretti talked about the aerodynamics of the new car, and how they'll affect racing for the Indy 500. "These things, it is just obvious looking at them, they poke a huge hole in the air. I think it is going to be great for the fans, man. I don't think anybody is going to be able to lead for more than a couple of laps because the leader is just a sitting duck. You get such a great tow. There is going to be a lot of passing. The thing I am concerned about is the last minute because what happens is you get a decent tow, but then that last couple of car lengths, it really sucks you in, so a lot of guys are going to be, 'No, I can't get him, can't get him'. Then they are going to feel that, and they are going to be doing last-minute dive-bombs. That will be interesting, but you just have to be heads-up. That's all."

"The Shell Pennzoil car felt great today." Helio Castroneves said. "We worked some more on the race setup, and toward the end we were able to get a good draft. Always good to put up a fast time, and we will continue to work hard to get things where they need to be."

James Hincliffe also reported in "It was a pretty reasonable day for the GoDaddy car. We went out early and had some reasonable speed on our own and then focused on the race (setup) from there on out. We're running in bigger and bigger packs now and learning more about this car because it's still so unknown in a proper race condition, but you can see by the end of the day where everyone has the same mindset compared to last year. We're running a lot more in traffic earlier in the week than we were (last year), and it's just a function of everybody working to figure out what the car will do on Race Day. We have three cars in the top five, so we're clearly reasonable in traffic and on our own with a couple cars, so we'll just keep chipping away at it." Hinchcliffe said.

Testing continues tomorrow at noon.

Kevin Harvick shoots for the money at Charlotte

Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Budweiser Chevy, brings chassis No. 391 From RCR this weekend to the Sprint All-Star race Saturday night. This chassis was built new for 2012, and was driven by Harvick earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway to finishes of 11th and ninth, respectively. This week it's all about the Benjamins, as the series races not for points, but for prestige and a whole lot of money.

"Our All-Star race is a lot different than other sports." Harvick said recently. "With the All-Star race they put a million dollars in front of you. Anytime they put that much money in front of anybody it's going to cause things to rise to another level. Take the points away from that and you really have some unique scenarios that come up. It's always fun when you know there is really nothing on the line but to win. If you do, then usually there is a big check waiting for you at the end so that gives you some bragging rights and a lot of money."

"Charlotte (Motor Speedway) is just one of those places that you have to have everything going well. Especially the All-Star event it seems like everybody brings their latest and greatest stuff to see if it will make it through the inspection line and not blow up. That means you have to have your best stuff there and you have to put a night together with all the short segments this year and the bonuses for trying to win the segments you've got to try to make something happen. It's just a unique race." Harvick added.

The #29 Bud Chevy is coming off a 16th place at Darlington. Last season, Happy brought home a 9th place finish, after battling a ill handling race car. Harvick hopes to grab his second all star win, matching his 2007 feat.

Photo Credit:Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Today's "add your caption to Tito Francona"

Yeah, yeah, they've won four in a row. That's great. I'll send in my money for the post season tickets today. Can't wait. In the meantime, the Boston Red Sox are still in last, and you can see Memorial Day on the calendar. So, with that, here's today's Terry Francona "Add your caption to Tito" post. Enjoy. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

FVP Monday Night All-Star: Madeline II

Here's another FVP returnee, and yet another Buckeye, Madeline. Some of the things Maddie loves are: KFC,  Chinese food, ice cream sandwiches, and pizza, although you'd never know it to look at her. You can bet she spends plenty of time in the gym. Follow her on twitter, and well as her fan page on facebook.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Add your caption to Tito Francona

Since the Boston Red Sox are basically unwatchable, FVP has decided to have a little fun at their expense. We're going to have a "add your caption to_________" feature here periodically to help break up to monotony of losing. Today, we've got former manager Tito Francona. Let 'em rip below.

your caption here, gang! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Red Sox should trade Josh Beckett

Today, 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston reported that Boston Red Sox pitcher was golfing last Thursday, a day after the team announced he would be scratched from his next start, which would have been Saturday. This skip in the rotation followed a 126 pitch loss Beckett made in Chicago. Following the Chicago game, Beckett reported stiffness and soreness in his shoulder and lat muscle, prompting the Red Sox to announce on Wednesday they'd skip Beckett's next outing.

Sounds like a perfect time hit the links!

Beckett was reportedly seen golfing with fellow pitcher Clay Buchholz, he of the league worst 9.09 ERA,  Thursday in the Boston area. So instead of getting treatment for his pseudo-injury, the Red Sox hurler and supposed ace of the staff decided to play a round of golf.

Here's how FVP see's this scenario. Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine leaves Beckett out on the hill in Chicago for 126 pitches, matching a career high. Then, one of two things happened.

  1. The following day, an out of shape Beckett wakes with soreness, and whines to the staff, prompting the team to begin discussions of scratching him on the next start. 
  2. After the game, Beckett is upset at being left out on the mound for a career high pitch count. He decides that the tail still wags the dog in Boston, regardless of who the manager is. He thinks something along the lines of: Gonna leave me out there for 126 pitches? I'll fix your ass. Hey Skip, yeah, I am pretty sore today, I don't think I can go on my next start. We'd better shut it down for this week. 
With either Scenario #1 or #2, Beckett was not sore enough to keep him from swinging the sticks on Thursday, which is bad news for fans. If he's not to sore to chase the little pill, he's not too sore to earn his living, and help his team get out of the cellar. THE CELLAR! 

Neither of the fictional accounts above are good options for fans. Scenario One, he's a fat bastard who can't man up and put the team on his back and get them back in contention. He's allowed his poor conditioning to make himself a liability to the team, and he really doesn't care.  Scenario Two, he's an immature, all-about-me prima dona who doesn't give two shits about the team, his legacy in Boston, or winning at the highest level. He's got his fat contract to go with his fat ass and happy being a guy who plays for a losing team, winning maybe 12-13 games per year. 

Either way, it's time to trade Josh Beckett. He's part of the problem, not the solution. He'll need to go somewhere to resurrect his career, somewhere that will re-ignite his passion for the game. He needs to be sent packing with his tail between his legs and learn some humility. 

This mess is really on the front office. The fiasco that is the 2012 Red Sox is on the heads of the triad of Larry Luchino, Tom Werner and their GM puppet Ben Cherington. Everyone in the front office clearly though that Terry Francona was the problem, and a managerial change was all that was needed to right the ship. They couldn't have been more wrong. The players are the problem, and the mess not going to fix itself. Move Beckett and see if the trade shakes up the team much like the Nomar Garciaparra deal did in 2004. If that doesn't work....

...then it's time to blow it up and start over, because this 2012 Red Sox squad is going nowhere fast. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Kyle Busch on Brad Keselowski: He's no dummy

FVP loves when NASCAR drivers speak openly to the media. Say what you will about Kyle Busch and his attitude, he definitely is unfiltered. Sunday was no different, speaking his mind in his usual irreverent manor after a respectable second place finish to race winner Brad Keselowski. Some of his answers were the usual curt replies. You'd think the guy would be happy coming home second after the way the #18 started the year. Not so much it seems.

Reading Busch's comments, you'd swear he wears a grey hoodie to his post race pressers. He was asked to comment on Tony Stewart's comments that if 50% of the cars aren't wrecked at Talladega, that the race officials should extend the race. "I'm not going to comment on what Tony had to say because that's Tony's comments." came the replay, in a very Hoodie-esque manner.

Busch did expand on his owns thoughts however. "For me, whatever Talladega and Daytona is, it's a restrictor plate race. That's what we all know going into the weekend. Some of us love coming here, some of us dread it." Busch said.

Rowdy continued on the love of plate racing. "I'll be the first one to admit I hate restrictor plate racing. You don't have control of your own destiny I don't feel like. We saw today I think the 22 may have turned down a little bit on the 11 and then wrecked eight other guys. That's a product of what you get at restrictor plate racing sometimes. Everybody is fighting for every square inch you can get. That's just what happened. I think another guy that would vouch for my opinion, who isn't even here this weekend, is Mark Martin because he don't want to restrictor plate race either."

Check out this little post race exchange:
REPORTER:  Brad just said what happened up there. He said he would go up high, then pull back down on you. You said earlier if he had done something, that was pretty smart. If he did that, was that pretty smart?
KYLE BUSCH: I guess so. He won the race, right? You answered your own question.

Feel the love.

Busch did show some love to race winner Brad Keselowski. "He's no dummy, that's for sure. He's got good plate racing skills. I think he's got good short track, mile-and-a-half skills, too. Brad should be a title contender each and every year. Last year he did a great job through the summer stretch, one of the hottest guys going into the Chase, qualified his way in on wins. This year he's probably in the top 10 in points, or close to, with two wins. Again, he's the top seed for the Chase guys. He's definitely no slouch. They've had some bad luck this year with some fueling issues and stuff like that where they've been taken out of some even better runs. That Penske organization has been around for a long time. That Blue Deuce has been known for being in the top 10 and winning races. It's no surprise that Brad can do that." Busch said.

In an age of God-Team-Sponsor interviews, even a surly Kyle Busch is better than the vanilla, sponsor-friendly quotes given by many drivers.

FVP Monday Night All Star: Nicole Michelle III

Our home girl Nicole needs a little love. She's running for Playboy's Miss Social, and need votes. This is the third time we've named our girl Nicole FVP All Star. She's been a great help at getting us more All-Stars, so we want to return the favor, so go vote ! Follow her on facebook here while you're at it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

NFL Suspends Players In Bountygate, Peter King immediately compares to Spygate

The NFL announced the suspensions of players in conjunction with the New Orleans Saints "bountygate" today.
The statement reads: Four players – Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith, and Jonathan Vilma – were notified today that they have been suspended without pay for conduct detrimental to the NFL as a result of their leadership roles in the New Orleans Saints’ pay-for-performance/bounty program that endangered player safety over three seasons from 2009-2011. Participation by players in any such program is prohibited by the NFL Constitution and Bylaws, the standard NFL Player Contract, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The NFL added
Scott Fujita (now with the Cleveland Browns) is suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2012 regular season. The record established that Fujita, a linebacker, pledged a significant amount of money to the prohibited pay-for-performance/bounty pool during the 2009 NFL Playoffs when he played for the Saints. The pool to which he pledged paid large cash rewards for “cart-offs” and “knockouts,” plays during which an opposing player was injured. 
Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (now with the Green Bay Packers) is suspended without pay for the first eight games of the 2012 regular season. Hargrove actively participated in the program while a member of the Saints. Hargrove submitted a signed declaration to the league that established not only the existence of the program at the Saints, but also that he knew about and participated in it. The evidence showed that Hargrove told at least one player on another team that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was a target of a large bounty during the NFC Championship Game in January of 2010. Hargrove also actively obstructed the league’s 2010 investigation into the program by being untruthful to investigators. 
Will Smith of the Saints is suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2012 regular season. Smith, a defensive end, assisted Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in establishing and funding the program during a period in which he was a captain and leader of the defensive unit. Multiple independent sources also confirmed that Smith pledged significant sums to the program pool for “cart-offs” and “knockouts” of opposing players. 
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma of the Saints is suspended without pay for the 2012 NFL season, effective immediately per league policy for season-long suspensions. The investigation concluded that while a captain of the defensive unit Vilma assisted Coach Williams in establishing and funding the program. Multiple independent sources also confirmed that Vilma offered a specific bounty -- $10,000 in cash – to any player who knocked Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner out of the 2009 Divisional Playoff Game and later pledged the same amount to anyone who knocked Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game the following week (played on January 24, 2010). Vilma is eligible to be reinstated after the Super Bowl in 2013.

This is the largest suspension handed down by the NFL, no doubt in a effort to curb any future "pay for performance" incentive designed to injure opposing players.

Fans of the Saints should be happy this is as bad as it is. Goodell could have done a lot worse. It's still historic. It's a damn shame, because here at FVP, the belief is the Saints were just the ones who got caught. Granted, the arrogance of lying to investigators and/or covering it up certainly have added to the pain felt by all involved.

In media reaction,  old friend Peter King couldn't resist taking another Spygate jab at the Patriots, saying that the Saints now lead 77-0 vs. New England, regarding games lost by suspension. Seems, like many, King simply can't let it go. The two are unrelated. The Pats videotaped. The Saints committed a crime. I am not condoning what New England did, but to draw attention to Spygate yet again just makes King look bitter. "How dare you tarnish my great, perfect game of football" seems to be King's mantra as he continually grinds his Spygate ax. Hey Pete, get over it. It's a videotape. Don't think for a minute that the Pats were the only ones, witness this mess in New Orleans.

Junior Seau 1969-2012

This sucks.

I didn't know Junior Seau. I have no clue about the man off the football field. I know more about the Junior Seau vintage 2006-2010, which is to say I know a little bit about his time at the end of his career spent in Foxboro as a member of the New England Patriots. I know the man is a shoe-in for Canton, and he should have been able to enjoy his life after football as former player, one of the greatest to ever play on the gridiron.

Much is going to be made and or speculated about Junior and his death. Was this a result of too many blows to the head, much like Dave Duerson's self inflicted shot to the chest in 2011? Is this a case of a man who couldn't live without football? Is there some other issue that drove this man to feel he had no other options? We'll likely never know.

What I do know is he's gone, and that sucks. His four children have been robbed of having their father at their sides. The game has been robbed of the memory of his greatness on the field. And, for the most part, we've all been robbed of the answer as to why this tragedy happened.

Like I said, this sucks.

Photo credit: associated press. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kyle Busch on the lottery of Talladega: It's a crapshoot

Kyle Busch has put his shaky spring behind him, witness the #18's win at Richmond last Saturday night. Now Rowdy and his Joe Gibbs Racing team head to the track where luck plays the biggest part of any race on the circuit: Talladega. Busch knows he's got some momentum heading into this weekend, because, in his words "I’ve never had the luck at Talladega. I just want to go there and try and stay out of a wreck – doesn’t matter if it was a top-five or a top-10."

Rowdy added, looking past Talladega, "We had a good car at Darlington and had some loose wheel issues that set us back, so hoping to have a better finish there. Looking ahead to Charlotte, it’s my favorite track and I love going there. I love the All-Star race because it’s a fun format. The 600-miler has been pretty good to me even though we haven’t won a Cup race there. Dover is one of my favorite racetracks, so I’m really looking forward to the summer stretch here and to keep that momentum from Richmond going."

Busch has one win on the Alabama superspeedway, but he recognizes that his resume is not going to help him at the end of the race on Sunday. "It doesn’t matter at all. It’s such a crapshoot there in the last 20, 30 or 40 laps that you never really know who is going to win, what’s going to happen, and where the wreck is going to come from." Busch said.

"The key there is to somehow stay out of trouble." Busch continued. "At Talladega, you pretty much stay around the bottom since there is a lot of grip there, and you can pretty much run wide open every single lap. Everyone can run up on top of each other. When you get single-file at the bottom, sometimes it’s hard to get a lane on the outside with enough good cars to get something going. It can be frustrating, at times, because of that. It also seems to still put on a good race each time we go there. If you can be a contender and stay in line on the bottom, you can make it a pretty easy and safe race. Normally, guys are not content doing that, so that’s when it starts to get crazy."

Busch has one win, one top-five, and one top-10, and has led a total of 139 laps in 14 career Sprint Cup starts at Talladega. His average Talladega finish is 24.9.