Blogs > Nascar: Beyond the Track

Find out what's really going on in NASCAR. Look here to find out why your driver really lost his ride, or the real reason those two drivers can't stand each other. Learn about the hidden motives and reasons for the things that happen in NASCAR, from the drivers to the team owners.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kasey Kahne's breastfeeding rant is this NASCAR offseason's official WTF moment

Kasey Kahne and breastfeeding.

Those are two words I never thought I would say in the same sentence.

But thanks to the glorious forum of public expression called Twitter. I can now do that.

Kahne caught all kinds of hell Wednesday for tweeting that he was basically disgusted by the fact he saw a woman breastfeeding in the supermarket, using the hashtag #nasty in the process.
"Just walking though supermarket. See a mom breast feeding little kid. Took second look because obviously I was seeing things. I wasn't!" he wrote.
And when one of his followers disagreed with him, he apparently called her a "dumb bitch"
Couple thoughts I have on this.
-- 1. Good to see Kahne actually has some sort of a personality. He's been pretty much a drone since coming into this sport -- boring with a capital B. This is the first opinion I've heard him express any real opinion on anything.
-- 2. Dude, seriously, get over it. Babies need milk. Would you rather the baby scream through the entire shopping trip? Let the lady feed her kid. It's really not that big a deal. Only in America do we care about stupid stuff like this. Way too prudish for no reason.
-- 3. Kahne felt he had to apologize to his fans, and did on Facebook. he wrote: "I understand that my comments regarding breastfeeding posted on Twitter were offensive to some people. For that, I apologize. It was in no way my intention to offend any mother who chooses to breastfeed her child, or, for that matter, anyone who supports breastfeeding children. I want to make that clear. In all honestly, I was surprised by what I saw in a grocery store."
"My comments were not directed at the mother's right to breastfeed. They were just a reaction to the location of that choice, and the fashion in which it was executed on that occasion. I respect the mother's right to feed her child whenever and wherever she pleases."

That sounds like a forced apology if you ask me. Did Rick Hendrick's PR people write that? Hell, the way I see it, even though his views are archaic and ridiculous in my mind, he has the right to express them. Don't apologize if you actually believe what you said. I don't see the point.

Well that's enough about breasts. To be honest, it's not a topic I ever thought I'd mention in this blog, barring a ranking of NASCAR wives or something tawdry like that (which I don't see happening.)

Can't wait until racing starts, so we can talk about who's being a boob on the track, not the literal kind.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Volunteers sought for 2012 Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

DETROIT -- Have you ever wanted to get close to the action or work behind the scenes at an Indycar race?

The Detroit Grand Prix returns to Belle Isle in 2012, and the event is looking to strengthen its volunteer lineup.The race weekend will take place June 1-3, 2012, at the 2.1-mile Belle Isle Park road circuit. The weekend will feature four premiere series battling on Belle Isle – the IZOD IndyCar Series, the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series the Pirelli World Challenge Championship Series and the Firestone Indy Lights Series.

Grand Prix volunteers can enjoy the Grand Prix from an up close and personal point of view while helping in various areas of race operations. Volunteer areas include; circuit marshals, credentials, customer relations, food services, golf cart shuttle services, hospitality services, information booths, media relations, shuttle guides, track services, ticket takers, transportation/delivery services and ushers. Previous volunteer experience is not required to join the DGPA but a willingness to work hard, have fun and serve as an ambassador for Detroit is certainly recommended.

Interested volunteers can log on to – the Official Web site of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix – and sign up to be a team member by clicking the “Volunteer” link.

The $15 DGPA annual registration fee comes with race credentials for all three days of the Grand Prix weekend, an official DGPA volunteer uniform, a DGPA membership patch, a lapel pin, access to several organization parties over the course of the year, off-island parking and meals provided for all three days of the Grand Prix. Each Grand Prix volunteer must satisfy a 30-hour minimum work requirement over the course of the year, split into various time segments depending on volunteer assignment.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Brad Keselowski has quickly gone from learner to leader at Penske Racing

How quickly things have changed for Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski.

The 2011 season started with him still the learner, following a champion teammate and trying to learn from Kurt Busch how to be more consistent and win races on a regular basis.

But a strange scenario unfolded as 2011 progressed. As Kurt Busch imploded, and eventually was fired by Roger Penske, Brad got really really good.

Instead of learning from Kurt, he would often have better finishes that his alleged mentor at Penske. This no doubt furthered Busch’s paranoia about the equipment he was getting, and made his downward spiral that much faster.

Brad busted up his foot, and then he went on a hot streak. He had no shot at making the Chase, then he stormed into it with vigor, winning in surprising fashion several times – well, surprising considering his inconsistent start to the season at least.

Once in the Chase, Brad held his own. While he never contended for the title, he ended up in the top-5. Not bad for a guy who was supposed to be the No. 2 driver at Penske at the start of the year (by the way, Mr. Busch finished out of the top 10 in points and didn’t even get invited to the banquet in Vegas.)

Where will Kurt Busch end up next year? Best case scenario is a Petty car. Worst case, some backmarker looking for a driver with a past champions provisional.

But we know where Brad will be. He has extended his contract with Penske, along with his crew chief, and will now be the team leader.

And you can tell he is ready for it.

I once suggested that Brad’s time at Penske might not go so well, and that he might end up returning to the Hendrick team once Jeff Gordon decided to retire.

After seeing the potential he has in the Penske ride based on 2011, I don’t think that will happen. Not only is Gordon sticking around for a little while, Brad is doing just fine where he is.

He can win races, he can contend for the Cup. His risky move to Penske didn’t turn out to be so risky after all. He is a talented driver, with a crew chief who works well with him, and that right there is a winning combination as long as Penske can get him the right equipment.

What a difference a year makes.

Keselowki, Logano visit Guantanamo Bay on NASCAR/USO Tour
Not many people get to see what it’s like at Guantanamo Bay, but Keselowski and Joey Logano can count themselves on that list. The two went last week down to visit troops at Gitmo and help them celebrate the holidays, and was conducted in partnership with the USO.

During the visit, Keselowski and Logano visited hundreds of sailors and coast guardsmen and their families. The pair dined with troops, visited the U.S. Navy Hospital, signed autographs and patrolled the waters with service members.
This was the first USO tour for Keselowski and Logano, though both have visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center and done other activities involving the military.

“This was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad to be a part of it,” Keselowski said. “I hope to go back on another USO Tour. After meeting the men and women in Guantanamo Bay, I cannot imagine the sacrifices and experiences they have to go through during their time there. It was an amazing experience and I am so grateful that I was invited to go.”

“It was awesome to learn more about Guantanamo Bay and what the mission is down there and how it works,” Logano said. “It was great to meet and talk to the troops, and it was one heck of an experience. We get to see a lot of troops at the race track, but to see them in action and doing their jobs…I am so impressed and have such a high amount of respect for each and every one of them and what they do.”

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2012 Bud Shootout entry list revealed ... and it's freaking huge!

I love NASCAR, and I'll watch it regardless of who they put on the track, but I have to say that having viewed the entry list for the Bud Shootout, it has lost the identity it once had. It used to be where the pole winners from the previous season would race each other, so you had an elite field of the fastest drivers out there.

Now you get this entry list:
2011 Top 25 Driver Points
Tony Stewart
Carl Edwards
Kevin Harvick
Matt Kenseth
Brad Keselowski
Jimmie Johnson
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Jeff Gordon
Denny Hamlin
Ryan Newman
Kurt Busch
Kyle Busch
Clint Bowyer
Kasey Kahne
AJ Allmendinger
Greg Biffle
Paul Menard
Martin Truex Jr.
Marcos Ambrose
Jeff Burton
Juan Pablo Montoya
Mark Martin
David Ragan
Joey Logano
Brian Vickers
Others (criteria in parentheses)
Bill Elliott (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Shootout)
Geoff Bodine (Daytona 500, Shootout)
Derrike Cope (Daytona 500)
Michael Waltrip (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
Jamie McMurray (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
Trevor Bayne (Daytona 500)
Terry Labonte (Shootout)
Ken Schrader (Shootout)

So basically, it's another race at Daytona, and not what it once was. All kinds of people are in it, including some who haven't sniffed a pole in years, and others who just aren't very competitive and did little to distinguish themselves in 2011.

It's not the biggest deal. Hell, I'll be happy just to see racing after a winter without it. But you might as well call it something other than the Bud Shootout ... maybe the Daytona 250.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Roush Fenway team had great success this year, and great disappointment

Before we get into the heartbreak segment of this entry, let’s talk positive.

Roush Fenway had a very good year, with Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leading the way.

The numbers are very impressive:
Sprint Cup Series- 5 wins, 38 top fives & 64 top 10s
Nationwide Series- 2 wins, 45 top fives & 68 top 10s
— Roush Fenway Racing swept the 2011 Nationwide Series by winning both the drivers and owners championships. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. claimed Roush Fenway's third NASCAR drivers Nationwide Series Championship and Carl Edwards In addition and Roush Fenway Ford to the manufacturer’s championship in the NNS Series.
— Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac team closed out the season tied for the points lead and earned second place in the closest points finish in history. Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 team finished fourth in the Chase point standings for the year.

Carl led the points most of the year, right up to the very end as a matter of fact. Cosidering their struggles a couple years back, it’s pretty amazing to see how far the team has come in such a short time.
Stenhouse was the feel-good story of the year, as he came from being almost fired last year to winning the title in 2011. He definitely has a future at Roush in a Cup car, and should do well in his career, which will be very long since he is so young.

But the moment everyone will remember from the Roush team in 2011 is how they had their best shot at a title and blew it, but Carl Edwards should not hang his head despite this failing. it was by no means due to lack of effort from him. Carl did great in the Chase, in fact he had the best average finish in the Chase’s history.
No, he didn’t screw up; he just got a little unlucky in the last race, with the pit calls working out in Tony Stewart’s favor, and he ended up tied. And he ran into the late-season hurricane that was Tony Stewart. The way Tony’s regular season went, no one could have predicted that he would win the title. But he shocked the world, and he shocked Carl Edwards. Ever the gentleman, Carl was gracious in defeat, congratulating Tony on the track after the Homestead race (Kurt and Kyle Busch could take a few lessons from this man.)

The only thing Carl, who was amazingly consistent, could have done better in 2011 is win more races (instead of just racking up top 5s and top 10s). After all, that’s what broke the tie and gave the title to Tony. You can bet next year, Carl will focus more on getting those Ws, now that he knows how much they can mean in a tight Chase.
I still think Carl will win a title someday, possibly even in 2012, as he is extremely talented and definitely would be deserving of the honor.

The rest of the bunch
Matt Kenseth ended up fourth in points, but never really contended for the crown. This is right within his area of expertise, doing well, just not well enough to be champ. He needs to get over that hump if he wants to be champ again.
Greg Biffle’s season in 2011, quite honestly, just stunk. Something needs to change on that team or 2012 could be more of the same.

And finally, the #6 car had a first-time winner in David Ragan, but unfortunately it didn’t lead them to an overall great year, and sponsorship fell through. This means that Ragan is likely going to Penske to replace Kurt Busch, and there will be only 3 full time teams for Roush in 2012. It’s probably for the better, as the team needs to focus its energy, and the three drivers are all talented enough to do great things if given the right equipment.

Looking ahead, I say Carl leads the way again. But if they can figure things out, the other guys will be nipping at his heels in 2012. That’s a big if though.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

NASCAR fan festival set for Jan. 21 in Charlotte; Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. to appear

Driver appearances have been confirmed for the inaugural NASCAR Preview 2012 preseason fan event scheduled for Jan. 21 in Charlotte, N.C.

Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, four-time champion Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 11 other top drivers of the sport, plus champion Tony Stewart, will make 2-hour appearances at the all-day event at the Charlotte Convention Center. Driver appearances will include driver autograph and on-stage question-and-answer sessions.
NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint is a new addition to the annual calendar.

The festival-like event will also feature show cars, simulators, games, prizes and other fan-friendly and interactive activities. The event is part of the three-day NASCAR Acceleration Weekend from Jan. 20-22 in Charlotte.

NASCAR Acceleration Weekend kicks off Friday, Jan. 20, with the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2012, which features Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Dale Inman, Richie Evans and Glen Wood. Following Saturday’s NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint event will be the unveiling of the Class of 2012 exhibits in the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Sunday, Jan. 22.

Driver Appearance Times (Jan. 21, 2012)
9:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – Kyle Busch & Matt Kenseth
10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson & Denny Hamlin
11:45 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. – Brad Keselowski
12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. – Kevin Harvick & Greg Biffle
12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Kasey Kahne & Ryan Newman
2:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. & Juan Pablo Montoya
3:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. – Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards & Kurt Busch

Additional driver appearances from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, plus all four living NASCAR Hall of Fame members inducted the previous night, will be announced at a later date. Appearance times are subject to change.

Fans will have the opportunity to purchase new 2012 NASCAR merchandise at the NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint. New items for 2012 include NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee merchandise, new 1:24 and 1:64 scale die cast cars, 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule T-shirts and new driver merchandise featuring Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne and more.

Tickets to NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint start at just $10 for individual event admission. A discounted $20 combo ticket includes admission to both the Preview event and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, while a $299 VIP weekend package includes all NASCAR Acceleration Weekend events, including the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Tickets are available at or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

VIDEO LOWLIGHTS: The best (or should I say worst) of Kurt Busch's rants

For those unfamiliar with the antics of Kurt Busch, here's some of his greatest hits.
NOTE: Parental discretion is advised; Kurt doesn't talk nice.

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Penske expected to fire Kurt Busch; and Kurt has no one to blame but himself

Kurt Busch has a lot to think about right now.

Reports are he is out at Penske Racing. Apparently the temper tantrums have gone on too long, and Roger Penske is parting ways with the ever-cantankerous elder Busch brother.

His rants on the radio are legendary, including arguments with the Captain himself, his pit crew, and most recently a expletive-laden tirade against veteran reporter Dr. Jerry Punch that went viral on YouTube (thanks to an intrepid young man who recorded it and put it online).

No doubt sponsors got involved, and companies like Shell and Pennzoil were not too happy about being associated with a guy so prone to going off the rails at a moment’s notice, and Penske appears to have made the right call – dumping the problematic driver. After all, you can find another good driver more easily than you can find another paying sponsor – that’s the plain and honest truth in today’s racing world (And this may open the eyes of other drivers who think they’re “too big to fire”).

Rumors are already rampant that Kurt will be replaced at Penske Racing by David Ragan, for whom the funding has not yet been found for a return to Roush in 2012. If so, Penske will have positioned itself as an up-and-coming team, with hot young drivers Brad Keselowki and Ragan taking on the bigger multicar teams that have traditionally dominated the Cup series.

Getting back to Kurt, I’d like to get a little philosophical here – and say that this is an example of reaping what you sow.

Just like everything else in life, when you act inappropriately, there are consequences. Sometimes they come right away, and sometimes it takes a while.

Kurt’s temper issues go back to before his time in a Penske car even started. Roush removed Kurt from his last ride a few races early, after an incident in Arizona where Kurt was allegedly mouthing off to an officer who pulled him over (in a sort of ‘do you know who I am?’ routine). So Penske kind of knew what he was getting at the start.

In good times, when the car ran well, Kurt was a happy guy. But when it wasn’t, hide the kids because he’s about to go off. Once famous exchange between Kurt and Roger Penske himself had people wondering at the time: How does the Captain put up with this crap?

For the past several years, Kurt’s crew chiefs have endured his ridiculous tantrums. When he doesn’t get his way, Kurt’s going to cry. Other drivers get mad, and might go back and forth with their crew chiefs, but Kurt’s raging was on another level. Instead of discussing what was going on with the car and trying to figure things out so it could improve, he would just whine.

The final straw may have been the ESPN video, but if that hadn’t happened, something else would have made this firing a reality. Or maybe, unbeknownst to any of us, this was in the plans all along, and Roger was just waiting for the end of the year to announce it.

Either way, Kurt has to really think about his attitude as he looks to the future. He is seeing a sports psychologist, but his issues go beyond the racetrack. I recognize that in life many things will make everyone angry, or even enraged, but that does not excuse treating people the way Kurt does when he throws his temper tantrums. Between his battles with the press (including ripping up the notes of a reporter who simply repeated a quote he said), and the antics described above, there’s clearly a lot of anger management work to do here.

One thing’s for sure: Wherever Kurt Busch lands (and he will find some place to drive, considering he is a past champion and is guaranteed a starting spot in the races), it’s a safe bet he won’t have equipment as solid as Roger Penske offered him the past several years. All the top teams’ lineups are pretty set right now, unless he could find a new sponsor and bring them with him to a new fourth team at Gibbs or Childress – a highly unlikely scenario so late in the year.

So getting back to the theme – Kurt is reaping what he has sown. His actions will leave him less competitive next year, and should make him think real hard about how his temper and his words are having an effect on his life, both personally and professionally.

If he has any common sense, we’re likely to see the 2012 edition of Kurt Busch be a little more measured, a little more willing to discuss rather than yell, and a little more appreciative of what he has.

After all, he does drive a racecar for a living. Even if things aren’t perfect, there’s a lot to be thankful for, considering the real problems some people in the world are facing.

Hopefully he’ll realize that when he’s running in 25th next year and thinking about what could have been at Penske.

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