What's up my Red Bull spray-covered brothers and sisters and welcome to a special half-hour banzai lap edition of the Monday Motorsports Block Party. We don't have a lot of time because I gotta go get prepped for today's NASCAR Now Roundtable Edition, 2:30 PM ET, ESPN2. I'm on with Ricky Craven and Dale Jarrett, who have won a few more races than I have. But they let me talk anyway. To the queries!
I hated the track when the weekend started, but it has definitely grown on me. What were your thoughts of the new configuration and paving?
so what is you take on the new pavement from this weekand race in phoenix i thought it was so so what about you
You know, I was just chatting with Dale Jarrett about this. I really thought that the new asphalt and layout were going to be giant factor in the race. Then they weren't. I was feeling like a dummy until DJ told me he was expecting the same thing. I think the folks at PIR did a great job of laying down as much tire rubber as they could and they literally created that second groove.
I thought it was pretty obvious early on that the drivers were tip-toeing a little, but once they realize that high groove was indeed there, they started racing pretty hard.
For a brand new track, I thought it was some pretty good racing.
Do you think Phoenix showed us the beginning of the "us against the world" , tough, #18 team spirit that we will see in 2012?
I'm not sure I saw that at Phoenix. I saw a guy who took his lumps and apologized, then went out and blew two engines. I think the circle-the-wagons stuff is coming, but it didn't show up this weekend. I get the feeling they just want to get to the other side of Homestead and put this circus up on blocks for winter.
Hi RyanDo you think Jason Keller will be back in the Nationwide Series in 2012?
I hope so, but I don't expect so. It's a shame. I think the series could use him. Honestly, I think they're just going to need cars to fill the field. He could probably take one of those rides, but I know Keller well enough to know he doesn't want to be out there if he isn't going to be competitive.
Hey Ryan, I was wondering if you've noticed that every week of this chase that 17 team has had a car capable of running in the top 5, although things have happened some weeks to soil his chances at a good finish. I believe next year that team will be even more of a threat for the championship. Your thoughts?
I totally agree. In fact, our crack research staff here in Bristol, CT was just telling me that statistically he was dominating the Chase's first half before all this bad luck - and payback business - knocked him out. And yes, I think he will be a title contender in 2012. All the man does is make the Chase every single year!
What's your take on the Vickers/Kenseth incident? I don't mean to influence your opinion, but I personally think Vickers is a punk. Kenseth was a long shot, but he was still in contention for the title at that moment.
You aren't alone Brenda. I'm not sure what to think of Brian over the last month. I get that he's staring at possible unemployment, but this racing hard for a job is one thing. Racing like a dummy to the point that it costs you a job is another. What cracked me up about the deal on Sunday is that his explanation of what happened, which was supposed to prove innocence, ended up explaining how he was guilty.
Do you think all the Kyle "stuff" will prompt sponsorship switches at JGR?
I think it is definitely a possibility. As soon as it all went down my immediate reaction was: A. Kyle wasn't going to be fired. B. M&Ms would go looking for a new driver. C. They would stay within JGR to do it. We'll see.
Hi. NASCAR is great. Hope you have yourself a wonderfully wonderful day.
Wow. That just put me in a really good mood.
How does Childress like eating crow after guaranteeing an RCR car would unseat #48 and win the 2012 Sprint Cup?
If you ever meet RC, I advise that you don't say that to his face. I will say this, though. I think that even with their struggles this year the fact that they will have finally avoided their annual roller coaster and actually put Harvick in the top 5 in points in back-to-back years, possibly the top 3, is a good sign.
Rowdy has 2 engine problems in one weekend. Seems to me his crew is trying to send him a "message". Your thoughts.
Maybe. A lot of people have certainly pointed that out to me. Also, there are a lot of distracted, stressed-out people in that JGR engine shop. With the looming switch to TRD engines they are worried about their jobs after Homestead. That certainly can't be helping.
Ryan, Did Vickers lose even more respect on Sunday after his payback to Matt Kenseth?
Not a chance.
After the race, Jr. said his problem was #88 used the #14 (Stewart) race set up. Doesn't sharing that kind of information go way beyond just a "technical alliance" between satelite team SHR and HMS?
Not really. I think the ties between Hendrick and SHR are similar to the ties between Roush and Yates and RPM. Pretty much an open book. But likely only to a point.
Do you think Roush pulls Carl from the NNS race this week to prevent any chance for injury and keep him focused on the Cup, I would!
I see where you are coming from, but I would surprised if they did. I think at this point you stick with the weekend routine that has been working for you all along. That would mean letting Carl run both races. Keep in mind, Roush is also trying to win a Nationwide Series title, and having Carl out there could end up helping Stenhouse. (Though he really doesn't need much, does he?)
So Pluto didn't steal away the missus this past weekend?
Ha! He tried. They were dancing at Mickey's Very Christmas Party. If they had run off together I would just walked over to the Disney World Speedway, hotwired a Richard Petty Driving Experience car and chased them down.
As a die hard Kasey Kahne fan, I have mixed feelings about him going to Hendrick. I understand they have the best equipment, but the 4 has looked so much better than the 5 recently. He has an average finish of 8.0 in the Chase. I kind of wish Red Bull was sticking around and Kasey could just stay there.
You know, I caught a lot of flak earlier in the year when I suggested that if the Red Bull experiment went well then Kasey might end up with second thoughts. Turns out the team's financial situation made that moot point.
If you are a Kahne fan, though, you have to be excited about going to Hendrick. They are the best.
Any idea why the Ford teams are doing so well this year? Ambrose and Allmendinger have put together a great couple of weeks.
They really are, aren't they? I think last year was kind of an accidental R&D year for Ford. Roush missed on some setup stuff, RPM was in financial straits, and the FR9 engine was still being phased in. This year all of those problems were solved and it has showed.
Hey Ryan, would it not be crazy if next year Mark Martin wins a couple races, stays in the top 20 and makes the chase running a partial schedule?
It would be crazy, yes. But that team has a long way to go before they can make that happen.
Ryan, I know you're a fan from his IndyCar days anyway, but can I get a shoutout for Hornish?
Wasn't that great? I know Sam has taken his lumps in stock cars, but I contended all along that he was rushed into Cup. Now it feels like he's on development schedule that he should have been on in the first place. Looks like more Nationwide next year with a Cup return in 2013.
I think Nascar should penalize/fine Brian Vickers. It was more than just a "racing deal" or "boys have at it." What is the likelihood NASCAR will fine him?
I think the chances of a fine are pretty good. Be looking for it tomorrow. At the very least a probation.
Ryan, last week you mentioned NASCAR doesn't allow telemetry from the cars to the pits. I'm curious how ESPN can show us speed, RPM, throttle and brake on the broadcast? And if ESPN has access to that data, what's stopping the teams from seeing it themselves?
Yo Will! I should have been more specific. They don't want the teams sending their own telemetry back and forth. That info you see is the black box telemetry that NASCAR itself controls. What they don't want is what we've seen in other series where a team has their own stuff going back and forth. That introduces the threat of adjusting the car from the pits like we see in some open wheel racing.
Who are your top five this weekend and a darkhorse?
Give me the 99, 29, 14, 17, 48...and darkhorses are 31 and 16.
Alright folks, gotta go. See you on NASCAR Now at 2:30 ET on ESPN2. In the meantime, enjoy Homestead! I know I will!