Category Archives: Auto Racing

The NASCAR Gods Have Frowned Upon Me

Yesterday was a great day for racing. If you're a race fan, you couldn't help but be entertained.

While I hadn't planned on waking in time to catch it, I managed to see the end of the Monaco GP and was happy to see LHJ coming in for the win. Good for him! I'm not much of an F1 fan, but as they seem to be putting the skill back into the driving with some of the driver aids taken away, it's nice to see the top notch driver taking a win after racing in the rain without traction control. Very good!

Then came the Indy 500. The greatest spectacle in racing, as they say. I have to admit that I'm not much of an IRL fan either, but the 500 was great fun to watch, even if just to see whether this would be Danica's year. You just can't help but love watching her race. Waching Sarah Fisher crying like a girl after crashing out was just plain sad, so having Danica up in arms and ready to kill after she was taken out was a refreshing reminder of just how much she fits in.

Finally, the Coke 600 just wouldn't let me have a victory, however small. I had all sorts of chances. My top fantasy racing team had Jimmie Johnson picked to win, and all seemed to be going swimmingly until his engine blew up. Then it seemed that at least one of my favs would take the win, with Jr. running strong at the front before crashing into the wall. Even that didn't deter me though, as my boy Tony took his spot and seemed like he was on a cake walk to the finish before also losing a tire and hitting the wall.

It just wasn't meant to be, but was at least hugely entertaining.

If you're not a NASCAR fan, don't write about NASCAR!

Reading this article in the Star just made me shake my head.

If there's one quote that proves the writer doesn't know NASCAR, it's this one:

So NASCAR finally got what it wanted – 43 to 50 drivers who pretty much all look the same, talk the same, behave the same and – well – are the same. (I really mean that. Kyle Busch won the Aaron’s 499 at Talladaga yesterday and the first thing he said, the very first words out of his mouth when he got out of the car were: "I really want to thank M&M’s." What is with those guys?)

Everyone knows that the first thing you do in NASCAR is thank your sponsors. They're paying the bills, and you want to make them happy. That doesn't mean you're just like everyone else.

Anyone who's paid any attention to NASCAR over the past couple years knows that Kyle Busch is about as different from everyone else as he could possibly be without growing a new limb and wearing a clown nose.

My only complaint about the race coverage wasn't speculation on when the Big One would happen, but, rather, the commentators need to explain a number of times why the race wasn't boring.

If you don't know NASCAR, then perhaps it didn't seem all that interesting but that's not their fault. It takes time to understand what's going on and you can't just become a fan overnight. The fact that there were more lead changes and more leaders than in any other race this season should have been proof enough that something interesting was going on.

Just about every lap had some sort of excitement in it involving who was on the move forward or who'd been shuffled to the back. You could see the strategy developing and see people testing out what their cars could do in different spots. Hell, watching Denny Hamlin push just about everyone up to the front of the pack at any given time was great entertainment! You just knew he had a plan for the end. It was just a shame that we didn't get to see what it was.

Having Tony and Jr. playing at the front for half the race was great fun, and you couldn't help but cringe when they got together not once, but twice toward the end, ultimately ruining both their days. Knowing that they're friends and what a bad stroke of luck it was added to the drama of the race. I was hoping either one or the other would win it, but it wasn't to be.

Finally, having the Wild Thing go a lap down but hold his place at the front until he could pick up the Lucky Dog was great fun, and you just knew the last lap was going to be incredible. It was just too bad the Big One didn't happen a lap earlier so as not to ruin the finish. That was a shame, but in the end a worthy driver took the checkers so I suppose not all was lost.

All in all, I thought it was a great race from start to finish and expect most other fans thought the same, despite what some clueless writers might think.

Congrats Kyle! You drove a great race!

Martinsville owns Bristol

I just thought I'd chime in on the question of "What's the best short track in the Sprint Cup series?"

Yesterday's race at Martinsville was great fun to watch and, I think, more entertaining than the previous race at Bristol. I think it's the tight corners at the end, though the sprinkling of rain may have helped things along.

The excitement of seeing your driver tuck his nose under the car in front going through the turn was great fun, as was the frustration of watching someone try to make the pass on the outside and knowing he was going to lose a few positions for his efforts.

Dale Jr. and Jeff Gordon swapping positions cleanly a few times was harrowing, each time thinking they were going to come together.

I think the moment of the race, while it obviously can't be sanctioned, was Matt Kenseth punting David Gilliland out of pure malice.

I felt bad for Johnson getting taken out by lap traffic, but that's Martinsville, and he still pulled out a great finish.

Congrats to Denny Hamlin and for all the Hendricks boys!!

Now Tony… what's up? All the other Gibb's cars have been in the winners circle. When's your turn??

I don't like Carl Edwards

I don't like Carl Edwards. I think he's NASCAR's version of Eddie Haskell. He smiles when he knows the cameras are on him, and puts on a good show for his sponsors, but I have little doubt he wouldn't step on your head if he thought it would benefit himself in some way. I'm sure Matt Kenseth knows this as well as anyone.

With that in mind, I give huge props to Mark Martin for taking him out of the Nationwide race on Saturday, whether it was on purpose or not. Nobody expect he'd do it on purpose, but I have to wonder. Does Mark Martin like Carl Edwards?

Way to go Mark!

It's just too bad nobody could do the same thing in the Sprint Cup race yesterday. I could only hope he'd fall on his head during his smarmy backflip after the race. No such luck this time around, and hopefully he won't get another opportunity.

On another note… Jimmie Johnson… what the hell??? I'll definitely be thinking twice before picking you for my fantasy team again in the near future!

My Predictions for the Gatorade Duels

Here's what I think is going to happen tomorrow afternoon.

Jimmie Johnson will win the first race, with Dale Jr. pushing him to the front to return the favour from Saturday night.

Without Jr. to drive around him, and with Jeff Gordon pretty much on his own out there, I think Tony Stewart will take the checkers in the second race. Of course, if Mikey lends a hand to Jr's new teammate, the Duels could end up swept by Hendrick cars.

That would be very discouraging for the rest of the NASCAR stables!

I'll save any predictions for the 500 until after I see how everyone performs tomorrow.

Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson!

Congrats to Jimmie Johnson for beating out the top performers of all the other less entertaining racing leagues to win the SPEED Performer of the Year award. His unbelievable performance in the 2007 Chase for the Nextel Cup will be a tough one to beat this coming season!

And now we're just a week and 2 days away from the Daytona 500. Gentlemen… start your engines!!!

EA Sports NASCAR 08 Sucks

I'm a fairly new NASCAR fan. I got interested in the sport a year or so ago and it didn't take me long to be completely hooked. I love it.

I think that part of what got me hooked and helped me to understand a lot of the ins and outs of the sport was borrowing NASCAR Chase for the Cup 2005 for the PS2 from a friend. I had it for a few months, and absolutely loved it. It was a great game!

Having given it back, I missed it and figured it was time I bought my own. The newest one should be the best, right? With this in mind, I actually considered getting a PS3 just so I could play it in full HD.

Boy am I glad I didn't! I found NASCAR 08 a few days ago on sale for the PS2 and picked it up, and MY GOD is it ever a huge step backwards! What's wrong with the folks at EA Sports? Did anyone actually play this crap before they released it?

Firstly, I think Tony Stewart is great, but if I have to look at his grinning mug one more time while the game is loading stuff, I think I'm going to want to hurt him. It's an ugly screen, and shouldn't be in your face at every opportunity. That just smacks of lazy design.

Secondly, what's what's with the boring screens while I'm in the menus and deciding what to do next? In 2005 it had your driver standing there with a meter showing what his general disposition. He changed his look depending on whether he was a "hero" or "villain". It was something to look at and provided a little information, giving you something to shoot for in the races. Now you just get a boring screen of nothing. If they haven't got any better ideas, at least don't toss out the reasonably good ones that are already there!

So that's the setup to the game. The complete lack of creativity makes you think they didn't even try.

Finally… the gameplay itself. What were they thinking??? Why can't I use the second thumb stick to manage my throttle and brake? Hasn't this generally been established as the best way to play a driving game with the controller? Instead I'm forced to use buttons that make it extremely difficult to know how much gas I'm giving or not giving and generally just end up hurting your fingers as you mash them down to ensure you're giving it all it's got.

I had this problem with Gran Turismo 3 before discovering that using the second joystick was the better way. In playing that, I wished there were at least a little meter on the screen showing how much gas you were giving so you'd know when pressing the button a little harder wouldn't help you any. Lo and behold, exactly such a meter showed up in GT4. Of course, using the joystick controls (which that game defaulted to) made it a moot point, but at least it was there.

Not here. There's a number of different control schemes available, but NONE of them let you use the right stick for throttle and brake control.

I've tried them all now, and what's worse is that none of them make it convenient to shift gears so driving with the auto tranny seems like the only playable option. That's just ridiculous!

So what's the right stick being used for? All it does it shift my view around so I know whether there's a car beside me or behind me or whatever. It almost sounds useful until you realize how disorienting this is while flying around a track at 200 mph. And really… isn't that what the spotter is for? The spotter generally does a fine job of telling me when someone is beside me and when I'm clear. I don't need to see it for myself!

Now on the topic of the spotter…

When there's something I need to know about, and it's not an object on the track somewhere in front of me, shouldn't someone be telling me about it on the radio? Yes, of course they should. I shouldn't have to take time out of my 200 mph blast around the track to go reading up on what my team might want me to do next.

Sadly, that's exactly what the game expect you to do. Every now and then, scrolling across the top of the screen, slowly, in small letters, are some sort of team orders giving you some task or other that they want you to accomplish.

Now try reading such a thing while negotiating traffic at high speed through a corner. It's absolutely ridiculous!!

For the most part then, unless I'm cruising up a straightaway in 1st place, I have no idea what these orders are so I have no hope of accomplishing them other than by pure chance. Brilliant concept!

All in all then, this game has been a complete disappointment. I'm wondering now whether I should go searching the used game bins for NASCAR CFTC 2005, or whether maybe their 06 or 07 games might have been the shining point of this series.

As for 08… don't buy it. You'll be nothing but disappointed.

How many wheels does it take to win a race?

Apparently more than 3.

WTF is wrong with DEI that they can't make a car that will stay in one piece until the end of the race for Dale Jr.?

At least they're mixing things up a bit. I was trying not to get too excited about his chances at winning yesterday as he was running at the front near the end. I fully expected a cloud of white smoke as his engine gave up the ghost.

How surprised was I when one of his back wheels decided to just up and leave him in the 2nd to last lap!?

To pseudo-quote Kevin Harvick… "It's not a matter of if his car's gonna fall apart… it's when!"

On a brighter note, congratulations to Mikey for the 11th place finish and a big thank-you to JPM for keeping the wreck limping around the track to the bitter end so I could score a win and not be out another burrito.

Go Dale! #88!!

I guess I should drink more Pepsi products!

Now that Dale Jr.'s announced his new sponsors and number, I'm really left with one burning question…

With an energy drink being a primary sponsor for a Hendrick car, will Jeff Gordon stop carrying around those stupid cans of Jeff-Juice whenever he's anywhere near a camera???