One of my ongoing frustrations I’ve had over the years has been the general dearth of coverage by the NASCAR press both mainstream and otherwise, of the inner workings of Roush Fenway racing in general and of Matt Kenseth in particular. A lot of times, it’s more a matter of trying to read tea-leaves, or read between the lines, or extrapolate from what is NOT said rather than what IS said to gain some insight and understanding worthy of analysis.
So it is somewhat refreshing and surprising to read in the wake of the Daytona 500, not one, but TWO articles on Matt Kenseth and Roush Racing on NASCAR.com. The first one announced the replacement Matt’s crew chief, Drew Blickensderfer with Todd Parrot. The second article went into the reasoning behind the switch taking us behind the scenes at Rousch Racing. As I watched Sunday’s race I could tell that Matt was struggling with the #17 Crown Royal Ford. He really couldn’t get any traction in the race. Something was clearly off with the setup and nothing much seemed to be done during the race to change or adjust it. And how he snuck into the top 10 at the end to finish 8th, I honestly don’t know. And neither does Matt, to be honest. He made the top 10 in spite of everything.
I think the crew-chief change was long over due. Since Robbie Reiser left the war wagon, Matt has struggled with 2 crew-chiefs who technically were very competent and bright, but didn’t and don’t have the forceful personality and leadership skills that Robbie Reiser had. Chip Bolen was over his skis as a leader. Blick got Matt off to a great start last year but couldn’t sustain it.
Todd Parrott will be a great asset to Matt and his team. His forceful personality will galvanize a team that has under-performed. Today’s Auto Club 500 at Fontana will have BOTH Parrott and Reiser atop the #17 war wagon. All hands on deck, indeed.
Meanwhile, speaking of last Sunday’s Daytona 500…
Jamie McMary pulled off a miracle win for him and Earnhardt/Ganassi ((well, more for Ganassi than Earnhardt)). Yeh, he cried like a baby, but good for him. It’s nice to see someone show some real feelings in this sport instead of the usual pre-packaged sponsor-driven nonsense. McMary ((I call him that, btw, because the late great Benny Parsons mistakenly called him that (not realizing that he was mis-pronouncing the name) when he was broadcasting races for TBS, ESPN & NBC)) also won the pole for the Auto Club 500 that tees up in Fontana shortly after I finish this little addition to my online sadness diary. I don’t think he’ll win today, but it’s nice to see him doing well. He was always over-shadowed by the other Roushketeers at Roush Racing.
Another disturbing trend over the years has been the start and park teams. They qualify for the race, and then about 8 laps in they mysteriously develop an “ignition problem” or “brake failure” and off the track and straight to the garage they go. It’s one thing if it’s a go nowhere unknown driver doing this. But it’s sad to see drivers of the moderate calibre of Joe Nemechek and Dave Blaney involved in it.
Well Blaney this Sunday not only qualified for the race, he qualified in 5th! He’ll roll that sled off 5th, drive around the track a few times and head for garage to collect an $82,000+ check for the team. He only has a crew of 3. He admits that they’re doing this in hopes of attracting sponsorship dollars, which are hard to come by for small, marginal teams even in the best of times. The aformentioned Front Row Joe qualified 32nd. So essentially the race comes down to which of the two will make it to the garage first. Winner winner chicken dinner!! Moral focking victory indeed!!
As expected, Danica Patrick’s continuing quest to save NASCAR met the stark fist of reality yesterday as she chugged home at the Stater Brothers 300 in 31st place 3 laps down. The learning curve at Fontana got a little sharper, and next week at Las Vegas it will become even more tortuous. She got penalized a few times for speeding on pit road and had to serve a pass through penalty that put her an extra lap down. She still needs to get the hang of putting a stock car on the right line through the corners on these intermediate speedway tracks. She was all over the place trying to figure that out. But no worries. She brought a lot of viewers to a race that was a Saturday drive through Dullsville until the very end.
There was, as you might gather, a wild ruckus on the final green-white checkers finish. Especially when the following are involved: Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, Brad Kesolowski, Joey Lagano and The Carl. Crazy passing, Biffle spinning Logano out….Logano finished 5th spinning sideways through the grass. Kyle Busch standing on the roof his #18 Toyoya bowing to the boos of the crowd. I really wanted Logano and The Bug-eyed Goof to slug it out after the race. Logano after the race looked like he wanted to go at it….he didn’t look like a teenage boy picking up up his first prom date anymore. At least Denny Hamlin wasn’t involved in this…Kesolowski would have gone at him just on general principle…the general principle being “I Hate yer candy ass.”
Finally, I just wanted to remind y’all who’s on top on the English Premier League coming out of this weekend. Two fixtures of note:
Everton 3 Manchester United 1
Wolverhampton 0 Chelsea 2
Chelsea now has a 4 point lead on Man U at the top of the table. Man U has nothing to be ashamed of losing to Everton up at Goodison Park. Chelsea went in there last week and lost 2-1. Everton is the hottest team in the Premier League right now. They are 5-1-1 btw since Landon Donovan joined the team.
On Tuesday, the Hammers come to Old Trafford. Man U HAS to come out of that with 3 points, and they should if Rooney has a better game than he played at Goodison Park on Saturday. Next Saturday, the other Manchester team, City, tromps down to London for a thrashing. Like Man U, my Blues MUST come out of that with 3 points. All the fixtures now are must wins for both Man U and Chelsea ahead of their upcoming match on April 3rd at Old Trafford.
And with that, I’m outta here ya rat finks! The race is about to begin.