Around the Track with Jalopy Jack

TV and NASCAR teamed up again. With really crummy weather destroying most of our plans for live racing this past weekend, TV and NASCAR had us against the ropes for a real 1, 2 punch. Remember all those times I told you to get out to the races? I hope you did, because there’s a lot less left to choose from. I can tell you that concerning Wall Stadium, the show that was called off this past Saturday 8/29, will take place this coming Saturday 9/5. That will be a regular show including the Sportsmen [basically crate] going in their annual 50 lapper. You can get in at 4PM and the real action starts with qualifying Heats and Sportsmen time trials at 6PM. Feature races at 7:30PM. I can tell you that the Sportsmen division peaked at 22 cars this season and in the past, there were always extra Sportsmen cars for the 50 lapper. Originally, 9/5 was to be the final Saturday night of the season which was to include “Fan Appreciation Night”. That show will take place on another Saturday night to be determined by Jim Morton. That date will be announced on 9/5 at the latest, but maybe sooner. That date will definitely not be 9/12 and the most likely date would be 9/26.

All 5 divisions will be racing that night and it’ll be the final point race of the season. While Carl Thomas has an 81 point advantage in the Street Stocks, Kevin Eyres has a 63 point lead in the Sportsmen. And Mark Tischler has a 95 point advantage in the Legends, with 2 shows left Adams and especially Tischler are on the safe side, but it’s no guarantee. In the Sportsmen you must consider the 50 lapper’s double points, so Eyers can’t yet count his money either. The Modifieds have the top 6 cars divided by 74 points. Believe it or not, “Showtime” Jimmy Blewett with 4 wins and the only multiple winner is that 6th place driver. The real battle’s between #91 Shaun Carrig and #99 Chas Okerson who’re only 3 points apart. And Shaun’s leading with no wins. The reason Blewett’s in 6th place shows the damage done when you miss a race.

In the Factory Stocks, the top 2 are 6 points apart lead by veteran Whitey Miller and the #27 over #5 Mike Bilello. Believe it or not, recent winner #73 Paul Hartwig Jr.’s the only 2 time winner, but he’s only 11th in points as he’s had something like only 7 appearances. Now how many times have I said that lots of these racers aren’t coming every week and what would happen if they did. In the Modifieds alone we’ve had 38 cars take a green flag this season. I believe their top car count for 1 night was 24. The Street Stocks would sunk to a low of 9 cars 1 week and we haven’t seen more then 14 just about all summer, have had a total of 28 cars take a green. I’ve already mentioned the Sportsmen car counts and they’ve seen a total of 39 cars. The Legends along with the Factory Stocks have taken the biggest weekly drops. Legend cars [and this is really a good thing] can race at a variety of tracks changing very little on their cars. The fact that Bethel Motor Speedway [formerly White Lake] was offering $500 to win whenever they had Legend cars which was most Saturday nights definitely put a sting on the Wall car counts. Two years ago, we were usually in the mid to upper 20′s.

This year we’re lucky to see the upper teens. Therefore, the total count of 30 Legends is kind of misleading. The Factory Stocks I don’t think were any lower then 19 cars for any 1 night, but that was really a few too many times. Two years ago we’d get the upper 20′s to lower 30′s on any Saturday night. Some of the hurt came from a small group of drivers who don’t know how to behave themselves. At any rate, let’s see what it’d be like to have all 42 Factory Stocks come at 1 time. But whether your track’s a high-banked Wall Stadium or a rinky dink fairgrounds, it’s the end of the season when racing’s usually best, so get on out there and see it for yourself.

Now for the racing that we couldn’t get out and see. I only watched 2 current and complete races this weekend. I’m not going to get into the road racing sport scar world because I, am probably you, don’t have a complete understanding of it. And sooner or later I’ll tell you why I’m not a fan of the trucks. The first race I watched was Friday evening and that was ARCA at Chicagoland. They had their usual healthy field starting the 150 mile, 100 lap event on Chicago’s answer to cookie cutter “heaven”. Basically, the race was good and so was the coverage on Speed. Until the very end. I don’t have the drivers names available, but I’m sure you can find them on this great internet system. We were supposed to see a green-white checker finish. Three of the cars that were doing a great job all day was the #6, #77 and late in the race a great march thru the top 10 by #83. The #77 had some problems and was lucky to be in the top 5, but was no longer going to be a winner. The #6 thru some daring moves had the lead approaching the end. Before the final yellow, the #83 raced into second but didn’t look like he had enough to catch the 6th. So here comes the final restart with #83 on the tail of the 6th and supposedly, 2 laps to go.

Green flag waves but do we see that? NOOOOOOOO. Instead we see the #77 dropping into the pits Why didn’t they just keep the camera on the #77 until they loaded it up? Well then they did us a big special favor. We got a split screen. Just in case the #77 dropping out was the event of the year, now at least we see the #83 and #4 also closing in. They’re all bunched up. Just as we get those 3 cars in a full picture, the announcer says something about advertised distance. When we were expecting the white flag we’re getting a checkered flag. Now coming strangely to the defense of Speed, they hire out different production companies to do these races, whether live or otherwise. But fans, how many times thru the years whether we’re watching on TV or we’re at a short track, does some bozo not know how many laps are left in a race? Should this be under the heading of turning off fans 101? I certainly think it could come under that heading.

Imagine yourself trying to turn a friend onto racing. And then you look and feel as foolish as the people who’re supposed to be running the show, when you can’t tell 1 lap from 2. Even the tiniest kids in a big wheel race know whether to go 1 lap or 2 laps when you tell them too. But somehow it gets away from us adults time and time again. I for one am bloody tired of it.

The other TV race was 1 that I was looking forward to since last year and that’s the 1 on the road course in Quebec. This was to be rain or shine and not only that but Goodyear came out with an improved tire in case it rained again. And rain again it did. Now as a race it was definitely a drawn out affair. There were a few restarts and on road courses it’s not normally in quick fashion that you get the racing back under green. But as an event this was definitely a happening. And I thought it was an exciting happening. ESPN did a good job covering this event and not only that, if there were any shortcomings on their behalf, they admitted it. The only shortcomings I’ve seen were not enough cameras. They came close but they did fall a little short. I wouldn’t be differing from any beliefs when I say Disney was too cheap. While we were waiting for NASCAR to decide whether or not to continue the race when it started raining with 20 laps to go, I thought that was a real nail biter. Marcos Ambrose continued to impress me even more, even though he lost. The fact is Carl Edwards chose good times to give Ambrose the chrome horn and I don’t really see where Ambrose got rattled.

He did have his necessary rhythm interrupted and that caused him to make that 1 mistake on the final corner. Ambrose definitely had more experience concerning the situation and conditions of this race then anybody else in the field. What transpired the last 1/2 lap is a kin to the final shot in a basketball game or the final cross your fingers long pass towards the end zone in a football game. It could have went a variety of ways. It almost made me sick to see Ambrose lose that way, but first of all it could have been a lot worse and I did have an understanding of what happened.

I hope that reading this helps you reach that same understanding. Forty Eight years of watching races folks. That’s why you shouldn’t miss a column or a week of WLAR [We Love Auto Racing] at 718-707-1052. By the way, this week thru Thursday on WLAR my answer and suggestion to NASCAR and the rest of the racing world on how a national champion should be decided and also, my thoughts on how NASCAR should really be conducting the majority of their shows on just about any track that Cup goes to. Only on WLAR and only by Jalopy Jack.

Now I previously mentioned on how I’m not into trucks. The last I heard the name of the sport is auto racing, or the very least Stock Car racing. And isn’t it the nation association for STOCK CAR AUTO RACING? So if NASCAR’s going to sanction trucks, why not also sanction Go Carts and motorcycles? The other beef I’ve got with the NASCAR truck series is all these years, that attention should have been shown to the Modifieds. And if all that money available to the truck series was made available to the Modifieds in different ways, shapes and forms then more racing people would’ve built more Modifieds and I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination! And if they have to race trucks then how come we don’t see them getting loaded and unloaded? And instead of seeing them pull into the pits, why do we not see them pulling into the loading dock? HA HA HA. NASCAR has been dropping the ball all these years. But just like certain food chains and silly senseless shows on TV, people are told what to like. I hope that my readers and listeners are smarter then that. OOHH, I know the argument. NASCAR’s going with what’s popular. So many people driving pick-up trucks. And back in the 50′s NASCAR went with an experimental convertible division. But those were still automobiles. If NASCAR’s going with what’s popular by the masses, how come they’re not racing SUV’s? The answer, NASCAR developed a money base for these trucks that they couldn’t do with our beloved mighty Modifieds. End of story.

What more can I write about at the leveling all these recent complaints and insights from the last few weeks in this column and on WLAR? Stick with me folks. There’s lots more on both fronts. In the meanwhile, next time a weekend of racing looks threatened from that which we can’t control. Remember your local racing museum. The proprietor will be glad to see you and you’ll be glad to be there. And you like me, will be wishing that the majority of racing was old coupes and sedans. And back in them days, they didn’t always stay on all 4 wheels from green to checker. Just something else I’ll always miss. So with that and until next week, I’ll leave you with the usual. Keeping the fans in the stands and the cars on the track, this has been Jalopy Jack.