Blowing ‘Smoke’ Up Your Tail Pipe

Smoke

Written by Cliff Tanner

Host of Radio Speedtalk and Balance Contributor

Two weeks of promises. Tow very long weeks of anticipation. All it did was remind me of Heinz Catsup. Really?

Don’t get me wrong it was a great race Sunday at Martinsville. The race wasn’t a total disappointment. It was typical Martinsville short track racing. There was a great amount of beating and banking for sure. New rivalries started I believe. But not like Fontana.

Tony Stewart promised to get Joey Logano back for his blocking of Stewart at Fontana. Now granted I know that it doesn’t necessarily mean it would be the nest race but you can’t tell me you weren’t looking for it too. Hell the whole NASCAR Nation was looking for it. Tell me I’m wrong.

There were a couple of opportunities for it to happen. Logano was very strong early on in the race. He came around Stewart with no issues at all. Now you tell me that you were not thinking alright here we go.

Now I have to believe that there are several reasons for that. One is that being early in the season no one wanted to take the chance and get fined or lose points. Secondly Stewart admitted that it was so last race. Yes there can be some tempers that flare up and they can say they forget.

Yeah right I believe that last one. You see in all the years I have been around racing a driver never forgets. The memory of an elephant they say. There will be repercussions I can promise you that. However it could be weeks, months or even years.

Now that I have said that we find Joey Logano with some more enemies. Yes I know Denny Hamlin said that he is upset and he won’t forget. Believe it or not I am not talking about that. I am not sure how many of you caught the comment made by Kurt Busch earlier in the race. Busch had cut down a tire and had to head to pit road. They played audio later and he said, “You know that was the 22 that caused that.”  Poor Joey.

I will tell you this I am so glad to see Logano start to be the driver I felt he was capable of being. He is out there starting to not take anything from anybody. He is just starting to finally earn the respect of the other drivers. Remember it wasn’t all that long ago that his teammate Brad Keselowski went through the same thing.

Enough about that. Yes there was still a race that went one. What a race it turned out to be. Jimmie Johnson took the pole and dominated the race. He led a total of 376 of 500 laps. It wasn’t without drama though I guarantee you that.

After having a car that just didn’t work right Jeff Gordon and his crew got that 24 car fixed right and he was charging hard. He was picking off drivers like they put a jet engine in his car. He definitely had the car to beat on the long run. However a late caution flag meant he had to finish the race on a less than 20 lap race.

Gordon had driven through the field to second place when Kurt Busch caught tire and crashed into the wall. It was a sight to see. We witnessed what the under the hood fire extinguisher can do. It put out the engine fire out fast.

So with Johnson and first and Gordon in second we were sure to see a great finish. However with Gordon not doing well and Johnson starting on the inside made it a tough task. Johnson immediately ran to the bottom and put some distance on the rest of the field. Jimmie cruised to victory the rest of the way. The win broke a tie for third place on the all time wins list at Martinsville. Johnson took home his eighth grandfather clock.

Clint Bowyer came in second followed by Jeff Gordon. Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five. Mark Martin who substituted for Denny Hamlin in the 11 car overcame a horrible day to finish 10th. Marcos Ambrose started second but had some bad racing luck as well but recovered to finish eighth.

However the most impressive drive of the day came from a rookie. Danica Patrick spun out early in the race. Twice she came back from two laps down. She drove a nice clean race and until the final lap she had the best looking car out there. I don’t mean mechanical wise but clean. Hardly a dent or scratch on it. Which as you know is pretty damn good for Martinsville.

Whether you love her or hate Danica she gained a lot of respect from me. She got out there on the track with the feeling of just wanting to get some time and experience on the track. She got it alright. She finished 12th overall. She was also the top finishing rookie in the race.

Now earlier I said two things. One is that a new rivalry started and that Danica had a clean car until the last lap. Now on the last lap Brian Vickers who I would say had the worst looking car out there cosmetically decided to have a drag race with Danica, Kevin Harvick and himself. He banged off of Danica several times which in turn she banged into Harvick. Danica held her own and won the drag race. Harvick finished 14 and Vickers 13.

Well apparently Harvick didn’t like the move and turned Vickers as they crossed the finish line. As we all know Harvick doesn’t like to take stuff off others more than most. It didn’t stop there. As they approached the pits Harvick turned into Vickers a couple of more times to let him know his displeasure. So there you go a new rivalry. Funny thing was it wasn’t covered very heavily by FOX.

Well the bottom line here folks is simply this. If you saw the race you will see why I say we need more short tracks. NASCAR was built on the short tracks and they should remain that way. Kenny Wallace has agreed with me on Speed Talk. He mentioned that we should put some short tracks inside the bigger ones. This was we have one race that is the big race and the second be the short track. I agree Kenny Wallace.

I’m outta here,

 

 

Two Down One to Go

Written by

Cliff Tanner
Owner & Host
Radio Speed Talk
Cliff Dawg Media

As we celebrate Veterans Day and say Thank You To All!, it is also a pivotal weekend in two race series. In what we figured would be a shootout in all three divisions of NASCAR and the Countdown Final in the NHRA has arrived. What a finish we may see in most of them.

First we will start with NASCAR. The Camping Truck Series turned into a different points race then we have originally thought. in what everyone touted as a dash race between James Beuscher and Ty Dillon has taken a totally different turn with one race remaining.

At Phoenix International which is also called a big track with short track racing breaking out. Now a lot of you may not realize how much this is a wildcard race. Unless you watched the truck race Friday night. The tempers flared and the worm turned.

As I said in what was a race between Dillon and Buescher quickly changed. Dillon hit the wall earlier in the race which of course put a hge damper in his title hopes. Coming in Dillon and Beauscher were just few points from each other and Timothy Peters a distant third.

As Dillon went out and lost huge points it appeared and young Beuscher was on his way to pretty much clinching the title. Then the short track racing kicked in again and James went into the wall. Quietly Peters missed it all and finished fourth. Now with that Peters is only 11 points out. Now we know that is sometimes a lot but definitely out of the realm of possibility.

Now as far as the Nationwide race went it resulted in a different aspect of the race points race.It really surprised me of the outcome of this race. I was surprised at the impatience of a driver going for the championship.

Yes the race at Phoenix ended up being a crash em up derby. However it was the craziness of the day when Elliot Sadler made a mistake a rookie would make. Now I know sometimes pressures of a point race can make one slip. Sadler took himself out with a crash with two laps left that ended up being red flagged. Is this the reason that Elliot is no longer in Sprint Cup?

At Phoenix there is a section of the track that you can go way down on the apron and gain some serious positions. Now Sadler was actually making a great move to gain some spots. however he came up too hot and got turned and hit the wall and took out Cole Whitt and tore the front and back of the car off the frame .Now we can safely say barring an intervention of God at Homestead that Sadler will not win the championship.

Now Rickey Stenhouse Jr. is going to win back to back titles before he heads to the big league next year.(Again barring an intervention from God) . All Stenhouse has to do is finish 16th or higher. And no he doesn’t have to lead laps or anything. Both Sadler and Rickey went into this week actually tied in points. However Stenhouse had the tie breaker due to wins.

Now with all of that said today is the Sprint Race. Now Jimmie Johnson leads Brad Keselowski by a mere seven points. Brad qualifies, I believe 14 and Jimmie 24. Now you all say they both have proven they can get up to the front quickly. BUT we have to consider what happened the last two races here. Yes I know this is the big leagues but the pressure is still there.

Kyle Busch set a new track record and took the pole. The record broken was only minutes old because Martin Truex Jr. broke the record. Funny Busch broke the record on his first qualifying run but took another turn, With the second lap he would have started second. So why do I bring that up you ask? Well the Gibbs cars have been looking good this weekend. Although he has a very outside shot Denny Hamlin starts fourth.

Clint Bowyer who sits third 20 plus points is sitting pretty well. If nothing happens to the top two then this is a moot point. We have an outside chance this could be a four way battle heading into Homestead. Stay tuned because it is going to get crazy. What do you think?

Now let’s talk NHRA at Ponoma for the Final Countdown. Today we will crown two new champions in Top Fuel and Funny Car. The pro stock division both car and motorcycle crowned their champions on Saturday.
First Congratulations go out to Allen Johnson for the Pro Stock trophy. This was the first year Johnson made every elimination round. All he had to do was qualify to clinch. Good job Allen,

In the Pro Stock Motorcycle division Eddie Kraweic wins his second straight title. This was his third championship in this division. Eddie and Harley Davidson have been in many semi-final runs. His teammate Andrew Hines gave him a run for his money this year as well as Hector Arana and Hector Arana Jr.

Now in the Top Fuel Antron Brown leads going into the final elimination round. Now his teammate and second in points Spenser Massey looks to not make it easy. Now the crazy thing is they both face each other in the first round. This is the second year this division will be decided on the last day.Morgan Lucas and Tony ‘the Sarge’ Schumacher are right there as well.

Now a big deal is being made about Brown being the first African american to win the title Now don’t get me wrong this is huge but why not make the big deal that he has had a career year about to become or hopefully become the Top Fuel Champion. I have interviewed Brown and he is a Champion at heart and very competitive.

With that being said Twitter was making waves on a fantasy final in the Top Fuel. Now before I tell you what was said Massey has to beat Brown. There is a distinct possibility that a final Championship run can pit ‘The Sarge and Massey. Now not saying this is going to happen but this would be huge for Schumacher racing and the NHRA. AHHHH the Drama.

Now I save the best for last. That’s right the Funny Car. Now this division is also going to be decided on the last day for the second year in a row. And yes it involves Schumacher Racing. And not without a lot of adversity and craziness.

Last race Ron Capps won the final to shorten the lead of Jack Beckman to 24 points coming into Ponoma. If you don’t know at the beginning of the season the crews of each car was switched at the beginning of the year which brought some animosity.

Capps ran very well at the beginning of the year but Beckman has come on strong through the countdown to take the points lead. Beckman also became the fastest driver ever in Funny Car history just a few weeks ago. He became the third driver to beak the four second mark. So with that you would think he was in the driver’s seat. Wrong!

Now if Beckman does win this championship I can safely say that he will have taken the longest road. Why do I say that you ask? Well go to NHRA.com and look at the video of Beckman in one of his first runs. He was cruising down the track when his car exploded and sent his body of the car flying into the air. Thank God he walked away with now scratches. As Kenny Barr told me he had no time to say Oh S**T or pray to God.

Now back to Capps he broke the track record on the final run to vault to number one for the elimination finals. Now two things happened here. One when Capps made his last run he was actually on the bubble at 16th. Secondly with the run he now is only two points behind Beckman. Beckman qualified 10th.

Now I know all of you John Force Racing fans say wait a minute. Yes Mike Neff is second 97 points out. However it will take Beckman and Capps getting beat in the first round. On top of that Neff would have to win the Elimination round.

Force racing has struggled a lot this year. Courtney Force has been the bright spot. She won an elimination round and has run well every week. Heck she has even beat Dad. She is going to make history in this division. But that is a subject for another blog.

Bottom line is that we are going to see some drama and some good points racing in NASCAR and the NHRA today. Check it out and stay tuned.

I’m outta here