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By Lou Modestino

What’s going to happen when we finally get a string of NASCAR races that don’t get delayed by rain and the TV ratings are still lousy? Are we going to get another NASCAR/Fox Sports spin? Frankly, I just can’t really get excited about the NASCAR events on TV. Not to mention the fact that the new qualifying for The Chase is “if you win-you’re in”. It’s all meant to make the drivers take chances and quit point chasing. But we’ve seen stories that even if you win that doesn’t assure a driver a spot in The Chase!?!

We think it’s good that Kurt Busch is winning and Brad Keselowski is miffed at him. Is it the rain that’s hurting ticket sales or is it the lack of competition? We’re still waiting for Fox Sports to get up off their duffs and and make a case to the big cable providers to add Fox Sports 2. We don’t mean for extra money either. Cable prices are high but the only redeeming factor is that there’s a lot of competition for Infinity/Comcast who are trying to fight off Verizon Fios and ATT.

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By Lou Modestino

Last year’s 2013 UNOH Battle At The Beach may have been the most talked about short-track event of the season. There was plenty of action and drama as Daytona International Speedway hosted the inaugural event on its backstretch.

The UNOH Battle At The Beach is back at “The World Center of Racing” on Tuesday, Feb. 18 and again will air live on television and radio. FOX Sports 2 will broadcast live beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Motor Racing Network (MRN) will go on the air at 6:45 p.m. with its pre-show, and the broadcast will be streamed live at MRN.com and simulcast by SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90.
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By Lou Modestino

Rolex 24 gets Daytona SpeedWeeks off and running

On Sunday the talking heads in the Fox anchor booth raved that this year’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 had the biggest crowd in a long time. No doubt sports car fans turned out because this race was the first time the now defunct Grand Am and American Petit LeMans Series’ was combined.

As the cameras panned the track, we could see many campers in the infield. The front stretch grandstands didn’t hold many of them until the last hour of the twice-around-the-clock race.

About three hours into the race, Memo Gidley and Matteo Malucelli were involved in a wreck that sent both to the hospital. When the race came to a merciful end, Portugal’s Joao Barbosa brought his Chevy powered Prototype over the finish line after holding off a desperate challenge by Max Angelli. According to the winning Chevy Prototype co-driver Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi, Angelli is always a threat. Frenchman Sabastian Bourdais was also a co-driver of the winning machine. Patrick Petit with co-drivers Richard Lietz and Nick Tardy won the GT class, while James Gue took the Prototype Challenge series with his co-drivers for the also rans.

There were a few NASCAR drivers among the big entry list but they were unable to do anything significant.

Watching the earlier Daytona practice Pre-Season Thunder on Fox Sports 1, we got the impression that there’s a major effort by that cable channel to help Daytona International Speedway to sell tickets. The background subjects that the announcers talked were filled with puffs and hype to get more fans to buy tickets and/or to tune into the opening round of NASCAR during SpeedWeeks. Expect even more hype and puffs to pick up even more momentum when the NFL Super Bowl is concluded.

We can remember when the Daytona practice laps for the Cups and Nationwides were done in prime paint. Those were the days when Daytona and NASCAR didn’t have any trouble selling tickets. We tried to get an eyeball of the missing grandstand seats that are supposed to make those sellouts happen again. It was to no avail because the TV cameras didn’t pan the area of the removed grandstands.

When things were really flying high for NASCAR, Daytona International gouged 85 bucks from each fan just to get into the infield. Haven’t times changed? They had no shame then. Since the fall of ticket sales, it’s been a buyer’s market.

We haven’t heard too much about eliminating seats from Speedway Motorsports Inc. about mimicking the ISC tracks reduction in seating to engineer a sellout to make things look better. Also tricks can be used by giveaways and deals on group sales. Expect to see a lot more of that this coming season.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has expressed his doubts that a cost cap will be the correct method to address escalating spending in the Formula One motor racing series.

F1 is seeking to introduce a budget cap from the start of 2015, with a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and the Formula One Commission in Paris last month revealing that the “principle” of a global cost cap had been adopted. The limit will be applied from January 2015 and a working group is set to be established comprising the FIA – motor sport’s global governing body – representatives of the commercial rights-holder and team representatives.

The objective of the working group will be to have regulations approved by the end of June. However, it is not the first time that the sport has attempted to control its costs. Most recently, former FIA president Max Mosley tried to introduce a budget cap of £30m (€35.4m/$48m) for the 2010 season, but the proposal ultimately floundered amid opposition from teams. We’ve heard over the years that Ferrari can veto any changes in F1 if it’s not to that companies liking. Expect them to do so based on what di Montezemolo said about the budget cap.

The Munich state court confirmed that Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone will face charges over payments to a German banker when the motor-racing series was sold to private equity group CVC Capital Partners in 2005.
The 83-year-old faces charges of bribery and incitement to breach of trust connected with a $44m (€32m) payment to Gerhard Gribkowsky, a banker who was involved in organising the sale of the championship. A provisional April 23 date has been set for Ecclestone’s trial, according to UK pay-television channel Sky News.

Ecclestone’s legal representatives in Germany, Sven Thomas and Norbert Scharf, said that “the alleged bribery did not happen” and added: “The accusations in the indictment based on Gribkowsky’s statement are unfounded and do not … add up to a coherent picture.” Ecclestone has already been accused by a German media group Constantin Medien of conspiring to undervalue the series when it was sold to CVC Capital Partners as part of an ongoing High Court case in London.

Sky News reported that Ecclestone would step down from the board of Formula One’s controlling company pending the outcome of the trial. However, he will retain day-to-day responsibility for running the series. Red Bull Racing F1 team principal Christian Horner told the Associated Press news agency on Wednesday that Ecclestone is “absolutely the best and only guy to do what he does, to take Formula One to the global reach that the sport has achieved.”
Earlier it emerged that Ecclestone had tabled a bid to purchase the financially-troubled Nuerburgring circuit in Germany. The race track, which last hosted a Formula One grand prix in 1976, has gone into administration.

By Lou Modestino

We are reading reports that many of the NASCAR speedways are removing thousands of seats in an attempt to give the impression that they are hosting sellouts. You can fool them once in while, but can you do it all the time? Hmm.

There’s much competition lacking in motor sports right now. Could this be the reason that tracks aren’t pulling in more fans? And NASCAR isn’t the only sanction experiencing this problem. Lots of fans don’t like The Chase To The Nextel Cup, the last ten races. It hasn’t done what it was intended to do. Brian France, CEO of NASCAR, claims to be listening to the fans.
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By Lou Modestino

Sports Car racing, now under a single banner as Grand-Am and Petite LeMans merged last year, has its problems. Specifically, the series isn’t drawing big crowds nor making inroads to achieve good TV ratings.

Even with perfect weather, attendance at the Circuit Of The Americas in Austin, Texas for the Petite LeMans race this year was pathetic. That new track hosted the first GP of the US in quite a while. According to Auto Week, the crowd count wasn’t more than 5,500 – if they were lucky. And that was for the entire three-day weekend.

A week later, the series final race of the season moved to Lime Rock Park in Connecticut where even legit journalists didn’t seem to be interested, as only four staffed the race. The state paper, the Hartford Courant, didn’t even staff the event. Mention of the race was non-existent in any of the Connecticut daily papers or electronic media.
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By Lou Modestino

With billions of dollars guaranteed for NASCAR TV rights til 2020 and 2024, discussions have now surfaced of removing those empty grandstands at many Sprint Cup venues. On television, those empty seats look Bad – Bad with a capital B. We’ve seen those empty spaces disguised with sponsors banners, and broadcast networks have been very careful about not panning the spaces with their coverage. Don’t you think that those hollow canyons must have a psychological effect on fans in attendance. They must think, “Why did I come to this race?”

By now followers of motor sports must have heard and read that removal of stands is set to begin at a number of venues. For instance, the backstretch seats at Daytona are scheduled for dismantling. It’s been announced that the removal will be part and parcel of the updating of that track in order to increase the strength of fences on the finish line. (That was the area that Kyle Larson’s Nationwide car tore down the fence, and fans were hit with debris from the wreck in February during SpeedWeeks of this year.) Yet, couldn’t there be another motive as well?
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By Lou Modestino

Jimmie Johnson won the non-point All Star race at Charlotte picking up the $1 million prize! The next four who completed the top five were Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch. It was also JJ’s fourth All-Star win in this rain-delayed, anything goes annual event.
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By Lou Modestino

The 8 hours of Talledega

David Ragan was a 100-1 shot going into Talledega’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday. But he ended up being at the right place at the right time in the green and white checker that brought that NASCAR Sprint Cup race to a merciful end. Leading when it really counted, the Georgia driver proved a point that almost anybody left in that field had a chance at that win. But you also had to be on top of your game and lucky enough to survive up to the end in order to be in contention. Another factor that made the final laps of the race tense as that the track was quickly running out of daylight.

“I’m a low key guy. I’d just like to thank everyone that helped me get here. I don’t know what else to say, ” said the winner. It was also Ragan’s second career win. Equally suprised at his performance was his teamate and runner-up Dave Gilliland. “I’m very proud of my team. This is awesome. I didn’t dare to back off,” said the second place finisher. As it turned out both were able to work together to finish one-two in the final laps of that long afternoon grind.

Both drivers were among the survivors who were able to avoid those huge crashers that eliminated many of the top runners in the field. Replacing those cars for the teams is very expensive even for the well sponsored organizations. For some teams not as wealthy, those wrecks that totally destroy the racing cars can put them out of business. Given the way the races are run, we don’t see any solution on those restrictor plate tracks.
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TV TIMES

Biff! Bam! Pow!
By Lou Modestino

Referees may be required from now on at all NASCAR short track racing! Yet even negative attention is better than none at all for the circus that took place at Richmond when fists flew. Hey, it probably will prove to be a positive stimulus to sell tickets and increase TV ratings!

Kevin Harvick’s team made the decision to go for a complete set of tires on their final pitstop at the Richmond International Speedway and it paid off for them. Harvick only led three laps of that race as it all came down to a green, white, checker at the end. Kevin took the lead almost at the very end.It was also his first win of the season and his 20th career win.

“We didn’t know how many green, white, checkers it was going to take before the race ended. We just did what we had to do and it turned out just right for us,” said Harvick in his victory interview.
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Kenseth overhauls the rest at Kansas

By Lou Modestino

Matt Kenseth and company had more than enough to show that he and his team were the masters of Kansas International Speedway. Besides being the top driver at that Middle -America track on race day, he also took the pole position in the qualifying runs. Matt drove a flawless race on race day, especially in the last 20 circuits when it really counted.

Try as he might, Kasey Kahne just couldn’t catch the leader as the pair raced toward the checkered flag. However, Kenseth revealed, “I thought that Kasey had me a few times, but he just couldn’t do it probably because my cars have been fast all year. My team is just awesome and we are contenders. Everything just turned out right for us.”

Kahne said,” I really needed the cloud cover but that never happened. Matt was just very fast. That’s why he got out front and had the stuff to stay there. But my team still gave me everything that they had and that’s why I think that they are all just great.” Read Full Article →

Kyle Busch is doing well in the Cup. Now can he turn it into a roll?

Nice going by anti hero Kyle Busch! Love him or hate him, he won the Texas Cup race when he beat Martin Truex on the final stop of the race. Car owner Joe Gibbs was beaming when said, “Kyle has had a lot of disappointments. I told him ‘keep doing what you’ve been doing’.” Even Speed’s Matt Clark thought that Kyle dominated the race.

Not so happy was Truex who lamented, “It’s been a rough season. I finished second tonight and I’m just sick of this crap.” His car also flunked a post race inspection. Brad Keselowskl was also candid after his ninth place finish because his car had to undergo changes before he could move it to the grid. “I’m totally unhappy with the way NASCAR treated us.”

Brad’s crew chief Paul Wolfe admitted, ” We had to work very hard to get the car into compliance with NASCAR.” Speed’s Matt Clark revealed that the Penske Team had to do a major overhaul before the race and undergo another inspection. Those were for Brad’s and Joey’s cars.
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TV TIMES
By Lou Modestino

Don’t count out Jimmie Johnson, this year, for pulling off another NASCAR Sprint Cup title. He grabbed the pole at Martinsville and backed it up with a win. “We were in control of the race today. You have to dig in here. It was a hard race here. My guys made it all work and I was able to get the car right, said JJ. Checking the stats Jimmie lead the most laps some 346 of them. It was also his eighth career win at Martinsville.

Settling for less was Curt Bowyer who finished second. “My guys did a good job for me today and I’m a little disappointed(in myself)”. Coming down for the finish Johnson was leading and we could see that Bowyer was trying to get a bead on the leader when he ran out of laps. Read Full Article →

NHMS’ Toyota Wheels Deal

By Lou Modestino

Buy a ticket for the July 3 New England 300, a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway between April 1-15 and you will get a chance to win one of ten Toyotas. The tickets are for turn 2 and are priced between $49-$79. If you prefer turn 3 the tickets are priced between $70-$110. Previously, if you had purchased tickets from Feb. 24 and March 5 for $60-$100, the buyer would have received 10 entries into the drawing. Another promo between March 6 and March 31 for the Concord grandstand for tickets priced for $70 and $110 got you 5 entries into the drawing.

NHMS is offering a total of 43 guaranteed winners. Among the other prizes beyond the Toyota automobiles there’s a Sylvania Home Entertainment package, a year’s supply of Miller Lite, a year’s supply of Coke products, a year’s supply of Gifford Farms ice cream and a Team O’Neil Rally Driving School package. Read Full Article →

Hamlin and Logano carry their Bristol feud into Fontana with disaster
as Kyle Busch capitalizes on it

By Lou Modestino

As usual in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, the strategy was to try and stay out of trouble at Fontana until the end. For some it worked, for others it didn’t. Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano got into it coming down the last lap when the two tangled and went out big time. Waiting for something to happen was Kyle Busch who seized the opportunity when the two combatants tangled. While Logano was out of his car and waiting for the track crew, Tony Stewart, who was miffed that Joey blocked his efforts, came over to Logano and roughed him up.

With a big grin, a pleased Kyle Busch exclaimed, “It’s a great day for me and I was lucky to get by Hamlin and Lagano. I wouldn’t have won here today unless they smashed up!” Kyle also thought his car was great, as he managed to pick up speed at the end. It was a double-header weekend for Kyle, as he also managed to win the Nationwide race at Fontana, his sixth victory there, while Sam Hornish, Jr., got leftovers.
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TV TIMES

Kasey Kahne wins his first Bristol Cup race while “Thunder Valley” still brings out the worst in drivers
By Lou Modestino

Kasey Kahne managed to dodge all bullets at Thunder Valley when he managed to win Sunday’s race, and he also came close to victory after finishing second at Vegas the previous week. Needless to say there were plenty of smiles from him and his crew when Kahne exclaimed, “My car was fast today, and I feel good where we are. It’s a different set-up. We also learned a lot at Vegas.” Crew chief Kenny Francis quipped, “I always wanted to win here at Bristol!”

Even though earlier odds favored Kyle Busch to win as he’s won five previous times at the Valley, second place went to him. He won the previous race by the narrowest margin only. Brad Keselowski ended the day with a third. “We struggled today, and all I want to do is to get back to consistency,” he said. And by the way, did you notice all the empty seats as the cameras paned the grandstands? Read Full Article →