The marathon is over

Under darkening skies and reports from drivers that they could no longer see, Nextel Cup driver J.J. Yeley won what was supposed to be the New Hampshire 75 for the USAC Silver Crown series.

The race was announced to run only 50 laps, but even that didn't happen. The field was shown the checkered flag while running under caution after 30 laps.

Only 12 of 18 starters were still running when it was over.

Mod Tour or demolition derby? You don't have to choose...

Don't you just love a little revisionist history?

Moments after Todd Szegedy won a crash-marred New Hampshire 100 for the Whelen Modified Tour -- which was shortened to 75 laps by time constraints -- track announcer and veteran of NASCAR microphones Ken Squier praised the event.

"You'll never see racing any better than that at any facility across America," Squier proclaimed over the PA system.

Cute. Folksy. Starry-eyed.

And completely avoiding the facts.

Six of the race's first 37 laps were run under the green flag. Fifteen cars finished on the lead lap out of 39 starters. Cup driver J.J. Yeley pulled off with mechanical issues 24 laps from the end.

As Szegedy battled Ronnie Silk, Bobby Santos III and Donny Lia in a mad 4-car drafting pack over the closing laps, Squier made another startling observation: "This is what Modified racing is all about. These guys don't give each other an inch."

Yeah, um, no kidding. We saw that with the multi-car wrecks that took 14 cars out of the race before it was 50 laps old. Pileups in turn 1, in turn 2 and in turn 4 completely ruined the first half of the race. A thrilling finish to an awful, awful race.
Even Szegedy suggested in victory lane that mirror-driving was a key to victory.
"I did everything I could to block those guys," Szegedy said.

Mods to get early release

At least they let them know beforehand this time.

The New Hampshire 100 for the Whelen Modified Tour became the New Hampshire 75, when it was announced to the media that the event would be shortened as the cars rolled off pit road.

That's the 2nd time this year in 2 trips to Loudon the Modified event has been shortened. The race was trimmed to 85 laps in June to accomodate for ESPN2's broadcast of the Busch Series event that same afternoon.

That would suggest they're going to try and cram the USAC Silver Crown 75-lapper in at the end of the day (evening) here.

Life in the fast lane, I suppose.

And, just in case you are wondering, Ron Hornaday led 174 laps en route to winning the New Hampshire 200 for the Craftsman Truck Series.

How to survive a rain delay 101

I get nervous around motorcycles. Really nervous. Someone should have told Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler about my motorcycle issues.

He may not have been so quick to introduce his now Red Wing Motorcycle line at New Hampshire International Speedway.

I go into cold sweats around motorcyles. Get really nervous. Can't finish my own sentences. You know, like normal.

Seriously though, I've had it rough around the bikes. Five or six years ago, my brother had a Ducati over at my parents' house. Let me tool around on it a little bit. Then I dropped it. Never touched a bike since.

Yeah, it's that bad.

So walking around a couple of brand spankin' new Red Wings in the NHIS media center, understandably, makes me nervous.


It wasn't all that long ago that if it rained all day at NHIS and you headed out into the Nextel Cup garage, you'd find drivers and crew chiefs killing time. Great way to get some interviews done.

These days, rain creates a ghost town garage. Nobody standing around. Nobody willing to talk. Everybody just hanging out in their motorcoaches. If the on-track activity stops, then so, too, should everything else.


They once compared him to A.J. Foyt, another Texas-bred open-wheel racer. On Saturday afternoon, A.J. Allmendinger sure sounded like Foyt.

"She done blowed up," Allmendinger said when his Toyota expired around the midway point of the New Hampshire 200.

He did with all the guff and gusto of a true cagey NASCAR veteran, too. I admit it. I kinda liked it.

What the heck happened outside?

While I was busy hen-pecking away at the keyboard, I didn't even notice that the sun came out.

The Craftsman Truck Series New Hampshire 200 is on schedule, about to start as they're singing the anthem right now.

Furthermore, they're not giving up on the USAC guys just yet. They had a short (read: 15 minutes) practice prior to the driver introductions for the CTS race. When they're going to race is anybody's guess.

Huh, you mean it's not only raining in Loudon?

Wiscasset Raceway is in a rain delay of its own.

Scheduled for the season finale's green flag at high noon, the track is currently still waiting on the inclement weather to let up. Shortly after 1 p.m., officials began trying to dry the track, but another round of showers poured through a few minutes ago.

Passenger cars are circling the little oval now, but beyond that, it's raining too hard for more serious drying efforts. The plan is still to wait out the weather there, too.

Looks like USAC is a casualty

The 1 p.m. start time for the Whelen Modified Tour has come and gone, and so, too, it would appear have the chances for a Silver Crown race here today.

The New Hampshire 200 for the Craftsman Truck Series will be run (weather pending) at its regularly scheduled time of 3 p.m. The New Hampshire 100 for the Mod Squad has been moved until after the Truck event.

No word on what that means for USAC. Early Sunday morning? In the dark tonight? Not at all?

We have a schedule...

Sounds like the worst of the weather is through, though don't hold me to that. As we say in the biz, "That's off the record."

That being said, however, there is a revised schedule here. I got it as soon as I was able to pry my cell phone from my ear, nearly got whacked by Richard Petty on a motorized scooter (first guy I've seen NOT on a golf cart this weekend ) and caught up with David Ragan.

Who? Never mind.

All Cup Series practice has been rained out today. Man, now how is Jamie Little going to tell us that Happy Hour is important to the race? What is ESPN going to do?
Track drying efforts are ongoing as I write, and as soon as the track is ready, the USAC Silver Crown guys will practice until 1 p.m.

Of course, as it stands now, that's in a few minutes, so my gut is that will be changed.

Here's the lineup:

1:10 p.m. -- Mod Tour New Hampshire 100

3 p.m. -- Craftsman Truck New Hampshire 200

5:45 p.m. (approx.) -- USAC 75

Truck qualifying canceled at Loudon

Sean Caisse wasn't joking around when he said he has nothing but bad luck at his hometown track.

Officials just announced that qualifying for the New Hampshire 200 has been washed out. That means Caisse, who was to make his CTS debut for Germain Racing, will be the only driver sent home.

I guess if there's a silver lining, it's that home is only a few miles away. All this after what was well the dominant car in Friday's Busch East Series race here lost out on a win with a bad pit stop in the early going that crushed his track position.

On Thursday, Caisse said he was looking forward to the Truck race. He also said that he's never had any luck. Despite 7 BES wins in his career, the Pelham, N.H., native has never won at New Hampshire International Speedway.

No PASS race tonight

PASS officials have called off the D.J. Equipment 150 for the PASS North Series tonight.

With rain falling across New England, the decision was made to cancel the race at White Mountain Motorsports Park. A decision on a possible make-up date, according to the PASS Web site, will be announced by Wednesday.

It is the 4th PASS race to be affected by rain. The season-opener at Beech Ridge was postponed a week, and consecutive races at New Brunswick International Speedway and Riverside Speedway in May were canceled outright.

This time, no news is bad news

The latest word from New Hampshire International Speedway?

There is no news.

A few minutes ago, with heavy rain pouring down outside creating lakes and ponds all across the infield and garage areas here, PR guru Fred Neergaard announced that there is no revised schedule to announce at this point.

And that's what we know.

I'm a Doppler dummy

Here's what I won't do.

I won't get sucked into checking radar every 10 minutes, playing junior meteorologist and guessing over and over about what divisions New Hampshire International Speedway will run when in the event of inclement weather. I'm not going to do it.

Most of the time, all the conjecture proves worthless.

Here's what I do now. It wasn't raining as I pulled into the track half an hour ago, though the skies are menacing. Track drying is proceeding -- I can hear dulcet tones of the jet dryer through the soundproof media center walls.
I also know it's a little wet out there because I saw the Cadillac of golf carts -- an 8-seater with a hemi rolling around under the cover of a plastic bubble that was both wind- and rain-proof. Looked kind of like the Pope-Mobile.

The USAC Silver Crown cars, obviously, were supposed to hit the track at 8 for practice and group qualifying. Right now, that's on hold.

That's what we know. We'll keep you updated.


Moore's antics cost Kobyluck

Matt Kobyluck is absolutely right. Kelly Moore should know better.

The winningest driver in Busch East Series history cost Kobyluck a shot at the series championship next week. With 11 laps left in Friday's Aubuchon Hardware 125, and with Kobyluck having rallied back from a flat tire early in the race, he and Moore got together in New Hampshire International Speedway's turn 3.

Both went spinning up the track and made contact with the wall. The bigger story? Kobyluck finished 33rd and saw Joey Logano sew up the series title.

"Kelly Moore is Kelly Moore. He only cares about himself," Kobyluck said. "He didn't need to wreck me there. It was really unnecessary. He just drove into the side of me. He drove in down on the apron. I gave him plenty of race track to get his car turned down in there, and he still drove into the side of me and wrecked me. That's unfortunate, but I can't control what other people do."

Moore claimed that Kobyluck had jumped a restart on lap 114, and he moved over to give Kobyluck the spot in turn 1. As they raced side-by-side down the backstretch, Moore felt he wasn't afforded the same luxury.
"I thought (Kobyluck) jumped the restart and started running 3-wide there, but I guess that's not my call to make," Moore said. "We went down into one, and I gave him the spot. Then, coming off two, it was a drag race down the back. Then we get down in there, and he didn't give me the room. By then, I just locked up the brakes and got into him."

The more Moore thought about it, though, the closer he got to shouldering blame he rightly should have.

"Looking back, I probably should have backed off a little earlier, you know," Moore said. "It was just one of them deals."

Television replays indicated Moore had more than enough room on the bottom of the race track to avoid Kobyluck.

"You'd think with number of years that Kelly's been racing, he'd use more common sense than that and have a little more respect for a guy that's running for the championship when he only runs 2 races a year," Kobyluck said. "That's pretty pathetic, and it's a pretty pathetic way to end our championship chase.

"It's really upsetting, because Kelly, he should just know better than that. He's raced forever, and that just shows me how little respect he has for anybody and does what he wants out there. He doesn't pay attention to anybody who's running for the championship or give somebody an inch. He just flat drove into me, just flat wrecked me, and there was no need of it."

No need at all, and Kobyluck lost out on his best shot at a BES title in his career.

Logano wins race, aims for title

Joey Logano won the race, completed a season sweep at New Hampshire International Speedway and clinched the NASCAR Busch East Series championship in his rookie season. All in one day.

Logano led the final 12 laps of the Aubuchon Hardware 125 en route to his fifth win of the season and second at NHIS on Friday. The Middletown, Conn., native, who now drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, took the lead for the final time on the same lap that championship hopeful Matt Kobyluck's day ended with a trip into the turn three wall.

Kobyluck finished 33rd after tangling with Scarborough's Kelly Moore and fell to third in the standings behind Sean Caisse, who finished second and is 171 points behind Logano with one race left at Dover, Del., next week.

With only 30 cars starting at Dover, Logano, 17, is guaranteed at least 73 points there. He needs only to start the final race to officially win the championship and become the youngest champion in Busch East history and the first rookie of the year to win the title.

Inspection line nabs Andretti

So, Boris Said is back in.

John Andretti's qualifying time was disallowed after his car was deemed too low in post-qualifying inspection. That put Said's No. 98, owned by Gillette Evernham Motorsports, back into the field. Andretti had qualified 16th, and he needed to make the show on time without a top-35 points standing to fall back on.
Andretti became the 2nd Cup driver in 2 races at NHIS this year to fail tech after qualifying. The same thing happened to Brian Vickers in June.

Said will start 43rd in the Sylvania 300 on Sunday.

Maybe it's not too late for the Said-Heads to get a run on that section of tickets up in turn 1, after all.

Who's in, who's out and where's Yeley?

Said-Heads might not want to snatch up a section of tickets to Sunday's Sylvania 300 after all.

Said missed out on qualifying for the race, bumped out of the show by Gillette Evernham Motorsports teammate Scott Riggs. Riggs was the 47th of 49 cars to take to the track at NHIS and dropped Said from the event.

Said has now failed to qualify for the last 3 Cup events he's entered. Rain forced him out of shows at both Daytona and Watkins Glen this summer.

Sam Hornish Jr., who was trying to make his Nextel Cup debut, also missed out in qualifying. After being 20th fastest of the 49 entries in practice, he turned a lap that was almost 3/10 of a second slower than his fastest practice circuit.
Clint Bowyer grabbed the pole, his 2nd of the season.
Both Red Bull cars made the show -- A.J. Allmendinger (40th) and Brian Vickers (43rd) -- and Dave Blaney (10th) and David Reutimann (20th) are also in.
J.J. Yeley qualified 21st. Casey Mears was 15th.

MRN up to its old tricks

Once again, MRN refuses to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

With Paul Menard sitting on pit road awaiting his qualifying run in advance of Sunday's Sylvania 300 at NHIS, MRN pit reporter Paul Bartholemew walked over to the car. He went into a great detailed story about how important qualifying was for a guy like Menard, about how he's been a "go or go-homer" all season and relied on qualifying.

Great story, great drama. Only problem was, it's not true.

"Uh, actually, we've been locked in since Indianapolis," said Menard.

The Brickyard 400 was back on July 29 -- 7 races ago.

Less than half an hour later, Red Bull teammates Brian Vickers and A.J. Allmendinger qualified within a few cars of each other. As Allmendinger finished his lap, booth announcer Joe Moore declared Allmendinger had run a "much better" lap than Vickers had.

Small matter of detail here: Allmendinger ran a 29.991; Vickers a 30.035. That's a difference of just over 4-hundredths of a second. Yeah, that's "much better."

Caisse looks good in Truck debut

Sean Caisse looked strong in his practice sessions, as he prepared for his Craftsman Truck Series debut tomorrow at New Hampshire International Speedway.

In a Germain Racing Toyota, Caisse was 16th fastest overall and then 4th fastest in rookie practice a little later on Friday morning. The Andy Santerre Motorsports driver in the Busch East Series was looking forward to the New Hampshire 200.

"Everybody at Germain has gone out of their way to be nice to me and make me feel really comfortable," Caisse said. "They're just a great group of guys, and they make me feel good about what's going to happen this weekend."

The team tested earlier this week, and Caisse said it went a long way toward acclimating him with the Truck. He'll be a teammate to Todd Bodine and Ted Musgrave, 2 accomplished Truck Series drivers.

Caisse didn't have a good experience with Kevin Harvick Inc., whom he drove for in a Busch Series race at Dover, Del., last season. That team didn't test with Caisse, and he felt he was thrown under the bus a little.

"I didn't get to do any testing, so going to Dover's a pretty tough place to be able to learn to run a radial tire," Caisse said. "I don't really feel like that whole situation was very comfortable for me."

Caisse has the chance to pull the double on his hometown track. He's never won in a Busch East car, but feels luck could finally be on his side later today.

"I've had more bad luck here than any other race track I can count," Caisse said of Loudon. "I seem to find something new here every time I come, but I don't know. I'd rather be lucky than good. I had a lot of bad luck at Thompson (Conn.) before, and I won there this year. Maybe I'll win here."

The Aubuchon Hardware 125 is slated for 5:10 p.m. today.

It's an organized madness... if I can just find my notes here somewhere

During practice this morning, somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 a.m., I heard a racing newbie walking into the infield ask, "Are they qualifying?"

This gives you an idea of the madness we're dealing with down here. Seriously, folks.


The NASCAR behemoth continues to cater to the 6 or 7 drivers that fit the mold while ignoring all others. For the 2nd time in as many trips to New Hampshire International Speedway this year, I saw Juan Pablo Montoya walk through a crowd of autograph seekers in the Nextel Cup garage without so much as a single person recognizing him.

Truly amazing. Though he can be brash and agressive, he still remains one of the world's best driving talents. Not the "nation's" but the "world's." And NASCAR fans still don't take notice.


Speaking of drivers nobody recognizes.

Super Late Model racer Mike Rowe is the best racer at NHIS this weekend that no one here has ever heard of. Rowe has won more races than most of us can count, more than he can likely remember, and every Cup weekend I see him sauntering through the garage area on Friday to take it all in.

No one stops him. No one bothers him. No one does anything at all.

I'm guessing Rowe could drive the pants off of a Casey Mears or a Joe Nemecheck if he could ever get into a Cup car for a weekend. But he'll never get that chance -- further proof that the sport continues to become more and more separate from its roots.


Speaking of Nemecheck, I almost got run over by his golf cart. Yeah, there's a lot of them here -- as has been posted elsewhere. But where's the cut-off? If Nemecheck can have a golf car, who's next? Tim Sauter? All the Busch East drivers? Me?

It's more serious that Earnhardt knows

The silver lining in the dark cloud that is the daily soap opera entitled "Dale Earnhardt Jr." is that he still can't figure out what all the fuss is about.

Not with his name. Not with his current Budweiser sponsorship. Not with the most watched personality in the Nextel Cup Series garage.

But how big has the big gorilla that is JUNIOR become? Driver No. 8 isn't even qualified for this year's Chase for the Nextel Cup, yet he was the 1st driver to hold a press conference at New Hampshire International Speedway this weekend. Even with an impending announcement next week regarding his new sponsor and number, and knowing full well he'd reveal nothing about, a full house gathered with tape recorders and television cameras running.

What for?

Even Earnhardt isn't sure.

"I'm the same person I've always been," said Earnhardt, who continues to be baffled that off-the-cuff comments can turn into national news stories. "I don't know when everybody started taking me so seriously. It's kind of an uncomfortable situation to be in."

Now that Earnhardt is trying to nail down the particulars of a new sponsorship, he said the biggest challenge has been in relaying to his new handlers that he wants to remain the person he's always been.

"The hardest part of working with anyone new, whether sponsors or a PR person, is trying to hone them into how you want them to work," Earnhardt said. "We don't really want to try and re-invent the wheel or have a new attitude with the fan base."

Earnhardt notables:

* On teammate Martin Truex Jr.'s Chase chances: "The way Martin runs, and with his abilities, ... I think he has a better chance (to win) than he even believes he does."

* On Truex not having a teammate in the Chase: "I don't think it makes a difference."

*On Truex taking over as DEI's top driver in 2008: "He needs to be able to lead a race team. He's that talented behind the wheel."

* On last 10 races with DEI: "It satisfies me just being able to get the car in the top-5 and challenge the leaders. That's all I really need. That's fun for me."

Moore continues drive for a ride

For the first time since May, Ryan Moore of Scarborough got the opportunity to climb into a race car, one that he will actually race.

Moore will make his first start in the NASCAR Busch East Series this season when he rolls off the starting grid 18th for today's Aubuchon Hardware 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Read the complete story in today's Kennebec Journal.

The soap opera continues...

Some days you're left wondering how PASS can look itself in the mirror.

On the heels of the Kyle Busch fiasco at All-Star Speedway back in late June, comes word that PASS marketing director Steve Perry will once again double as a car owner for the PASS North Series 300 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Sept. 24. Perry will field an entry for multi-time Busch East Series champion Brad Leighton in that race.

Perry is the former co-owner of SP2 Motorsports, which provided Super Late Models for Mike Rowe. That ownership group disbanded late in the 2006 season, and Perry took a job with PASS in the off-season. This year, though, Perry has dabbled in car ownership on a few occasions.

It's another blow to the disintegrating credibility of the PASS North Series.

No matter how fair PASS's officials might be, in theory or in action, it's entirely unfair to the other competitors next weekend to have to race against a car owned by a fellow official. If Leighton wrecks and another car is black-flagged for the incident, people can cry foul. If another car is wrecked by contact with Leighton without a black flag, people can cry foul. If anything happens that may or may not appear to be favoritism -- an incorrect lineup on a restart, a Lucky Dog award when he's not next in line, being scored ahead of the leader when the caution flag flies -- and people can cry foul.
It's not about this year. It's about next year and beyond. It's about a series that has trouble attracting 20 cars to its "non-marquee" events, and about teams that won't show up in the future if they feel like they're not getting a fair shake. Get into an incident with one of Perry's cars -- purely accidental or not -- and getting sent to the back for "rough riding" or "being part of the caution," and that team may never be heard from again.
That's another car and another team gone for good from Super Late Model racing. Given the current acrimonious climate between Super Late Models and Late Models, can that in any way be construed as a good thing if you're a PASS backer?

If Perry wants to field cars, go for it. Go for it all you want. Just give up your position in PASS, and no one will think twice. If Perry's not willing to do that, then he shouldn't be willing to disable the tour's credibility by fielding cars in races. Either way, you're supporting racing -- it's just that, as the old saying goes, you can't have your cake and eat it, too.

It's really that simple.

The craziest things happen at NHIS #1

They call him Cousin Carl for a reason. He's just one of us.

One night before qualifying for the 1st race of the Chase for the Nextel Cup, I nearly ran over Carl Edwards. How would that have played nationally? Some little Mainer kills Cup driver before Chase qualifying. Yeah, that would go over well.

Leaving the media parking lot on Thursday night after Rogelio Lopez became the 1st Mexican driver ever to become a Busch East Series pole winner, we were redirected away from the main entrance at New Hampshire International Speedway. Seems that the Cup haulers were pouring into the infield, and they wanted us to head up the hill, through a parking lot and to an auxilliary entrance for the track.

Turning the corner to the parking lot, I saw a souped-up golf cart come zipping toward me. The driver was wearing a black sweatshirt and jeans, a winter hat pulled down over his ears and a pair of safety glasses with clear lenses. It was Carl Edwards -- disguised just enough so that by the time people recognized him he was long past them.

So there was Cousin Carl, tooling around with some buddies on a golf cart. Just like he was getting ready for some big Late Model show the next day somewhere in the midwest.

It's precisely the reason people should be so excited about a guy like Edwards becoming a Cup star. He's still the same guy he always was.

Just with a little more money.
Saturday's schedule at NHIS is cramped so full, I wonder if any of the races will have enough time to go the schedule distance. A Craftsman Truck Series race, a Whelen Modified Tour 100 and a new addition -- the 75-lap USAC Silver Crown event.

And, there's a forecast calling for 80 percent chance of rain.
Why would NHIS want to add a non-NASCAR-sanctioned event to the busiest day of the weekend? I'm not sure what they get for an 18-car field. Yeah, I said 18 cars. That's how many are on the entry list, with Cup driver J.J. Yeley amon that group.
If it's a great race, who cares? It's a bunch of guys in a series that's got nowhere near the cache it had when the Stewarts, Gordons and Newmans were tearing it up. If it's not, then nobody expected much anyway. Maybe I should reserve judgement until I actually see it, but I'm having a hard time doing that.
First we find out that Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports have announced a press conference next Wednesday in Dallas to announce Earnhardt's sponsor for next season. Then we receive late word Thursday night that there's been a late change to the driver availability schedule at NHIS on Friday, and Earnhardt will be in the media center to speak with reporters at 9:45 a.m.
Pepsi-Cola Company? Frito-Lay? Central Maine Newspapers?
We'll keep you posted. This much is certain: Junior's not going to pull a Kyle Busch (see: Gibbs to Toyota) and spill the beans prematurely.
Rogelio Lopez continues to become the shining star of Mexico in the Busch East Series.

Lopez added to his history-making NASCAR Busch East Series season Thursday. The 27-year-old, who became the first Mexican to win a NASCAR regional touring race in July at Nashville became the 1st regional touring driver to win a pole.
"I’ve been learning a lot from these guys, Matt (Kobyluck), Joey (Logano) and Sean (Caisse)," Lopez said. "I’ve been watching how they race, how they practice and how they do time trails. I’ve been learning a lot from them and I appreciate that."
Lopez qualified fifth fastest for June’s event at NHIS, but he was the first to retire from the event with a small oil fire after only 15 laps.


NASCAR could take a PR hit with these lawsuits

The lawsuits filed on behalf of Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemecheck against Ginn Racing isn't good for NASCAR.

A report listed on Jayski not only lists what the lawsuit is for, but it completely outlines the structure of the respective contracts for the drivers. It lists annual salary (roughly $1 million for each), race winning percentages they were allowed to keep (45 percent), merchandise percentages (33 percent) and bonus schedules (including individual races and final points positions).

It's not a secret that Nextel Cup Series drivers are well-paid. But unlike other professional sports contracts, NASCAR contracts are kept hush-hush. For a sport aimed at blue-collar workers and middle-America families, flaunting multi-million dollar salaries around a courtroom is a lose-lose proposition in the court of public opinion.

If Marlin and Nemecheck are making more than $1 million annually, what does that say for top-flight drivers. Suddenly, multi-million dollar athletes are right here and NASCAR. Can anyone envision a scenario in which Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart or Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- arguably the 3 most marketable drivers out there -- aren't making $5, $10 or even $15 million each season?

n n n

Busch East Series driver Max Dumarey may be taking his lumps in his 1st season with the series (he's 19th in points) after coming over from Belgium, but he enjoyed the recent stretch of time off.

Driving a Porsche 997 with Max Goosens, Maxime Soulet and brother Guillaume Dumarey, Max was part of the team that won the 24 hours of Zolda in his home country last weekend.

n n n

J.J. Yeley is pulling triple-duty at NHIS this weekend.

Not only is he in his usual No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Cup Series, but he's also in a Whelen Modified Tour entry (he qualified 5th for the New Hampshire 100) and he's entered in the USAC Silver Crown 75-lap event here on Saturday.

Yeley joins JGR teammate Tony Stewart as the only drivers in history to win all 3 USAC titles in the same season -- Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget.

n n n

Todd Szegedy won the pole for the New Hampshire 100 with a time of 29.725 seconds around the 1.058-mile oval. It was the 1st career pole at NHIS for the former series champion.

"I think driver error is why I wasn't here sooner," Szegedy said. "It was driver error, either getting into the corners too hard or getting out of the groove somewhere."

Ron Yuhas, Donnie Lia (who has 5 wins this season), Tony Hirschman and Yeley rounded out the top-5 qualifiers.

Well, we're back at the Magic Mile

Here's a pet peeve of mine.

You know how when you're on a major 2-lane highway and every once in a while there'll be one of those hills, and on said hill, they'll put in one of those "slower cars keep right" lanes? Yeah, those.

Why is it that the 18-wheelers won't just let the passenger cars by? I mean, that's the whole reason they have those lanes in the first place. Of my 2 hour, 45 minute trip over to Loudon, I must have spent 2 hours of it behind either the largest Budget Rental truck on the planet or a grandmother in a caravan going 30 mph in a 50 mph zone.

Oh, well. I made it.


Some interesting Busch East Series notes to pass along.

Ryan Moore, who is the car chief for Erin Crocker at Gillette Evernham Motorsports, is entered in a family-owned car. He's one of 41 cars entered in tomorrow's Aubuchon Hardware 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Brad Leighton, the winningest BES driver in history at NHIS, is also here. Though he has 8 wins on the Magic Mile, it's hard to believe he hasn't won here since this event in 2003. Only Ted Christopher has more NHIS wins, with 5 in a Busch car and 4 in a Modified.

Joey Logano leads Matt Kobyluck by 82 points atop the BES standings with 2 events remaining. Logano, a BES rookie driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, can clinch the series title tomorrow. If he wins and leads the most laps, Kobyluck must finish inside the top-5 to remain alive.

Essentially, Logano need only leave here with a 118-point cushion. Only 30 cars will start the season finale at Dover, Del., next week.


This will come as no surprise to regular readers of the blog: J.J. Yeley was not the fastest driver in Thursday's Whelen Modified Tour practice.

Yeley, though, is entered in Saturday's New Hampshire 100 for the tour. He's in the No. 7ny car (a replica of the late Tom Baldwin's ride) prepared by Martin Truex Jr.'s DEI crew chief, Kevin "Bono" Manion. Yeley did turn a lap inside the top-12 in practice.

40 cars are entered in the New Hampshire 100.


Maybe New Hampshire's not as important as we're all led to believe

In 2004, the year Kurt Busch won the Nextel Cup, he did so by sweeping the season's races at New Hampshire International Speedway. That 2nd win vaulted him from 7th in the Chase seedings to a tie with Dale Earnhardt Jr., and he never looked back.

Last year, however, Jimmie Johnson wrecked in the Sylvania 300 at NHIS and finished 39th. He still showed he had plenty of time to rally back and win the Cup, the 1st of his career.

"I don't think you necessarily are going to lose, and lose the championship in the first race," said defending Sylvania 300 champion Kevin Harvick. "I think Jimmie's proven that. And last year, (Johnson proved) that you can make mistakes and still come back, but you have to be able to go out and win races."

Harvick didn't discount the Chase opener on Sunday in Loudon, N.H., however, saying teams need to pick up wins in the Chase wherever they can get them.

"You've got to win a couple races, I think, you know, to be where you need to be come (the final race at) Homestead," said Harvick, who is tied with 5 other drivers for the 6th seed in this year's Chase. "I think you guys all make too big a deal about what you're going to change. You're going to obviously look to pick the intensity level up just another notch just because that's what you do when you're racing for championships.

"You know, if you're playing sports and trying to win in the end of a game or whatever the case may be, the good teams and the good players always seem to pick it up a notch, and you have to do that."

"Mainely Motorsports" sold to Steve Perry

The local cable racing icon "Mainely Motorsports" was sold this week to PASS marketing director Steve Perry.

Perry purchased the television show and corresponding web site from John Crawford. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

"Mainely Motorsports" is shown weekly on local cable affiliates and is a wrap-up of the state's local racing action, including highlights from local short tracks, as well as driver interviews and on-site features from non-stock car racing pursuits. As Crawford once said, "If it's motorsports, we'll do it."

One of Perry's 1st orders of business is to make the show's Web site, http://www.mainelymotorsportstv.com/ a more user-friendly entity. Perry has already hired someone to redesign the site and incorporate more news and information. Previously, the site had only a show schedule and pages of links to sponsor sites.
Reportedly, Perry also wants to put less of an emphasis on race highlights and more of an emphasis on interviews and news from teams, tracks and series.
Crawford, who was nearly killed in an accident at Unity Raceway in April of 2006, while filming footage of a PASS Outlaw Late Model race at the track for "Mainely Motorsports," remains the director of marketing at Wiscasset Raceway.


Kvapil, Kyle and a possible Kup debut

It's not often that it all works out like this, so it's why I'm glad for Travis Kvapil.

Usually, when a driver is out of a ride in the Nextel Cup Series and opts for a Craftsman Truck Series slate the following season, he can kiss his Cup career goodbye faster than a Morgan Shepherd start-and-park. Ricky Craven tried it and hasn't landed in a Cup seat since, ditto for others like Ron Hornaday and Johnny Benson, who haven't found reliable Cup employment either.

But it's all working out nicely for Kvapil, and the he is also getting what he really wants -- a Cup ride and a chance to go racing. Kvapil will drive Yates Racing's No. 88 Fords in 2008. Not only that, but according to a report on Jayski today, he'll also get to run some Busch Series races, too.

Last year, when Kvapil was driving for Cal Wells, he said he wanted to run more than just a Cup schedule -- but sponsor Tide wouldn't allow for extra-curricular racing. Now, he's not only returning to Cup but he'll get to keep racing and keep improving, too. I say, good for him.

Kvapil is 3rd in the Truck standings and has won 3 of the last 8 races heading into Saturday's New Hampshire 200.

* Kyle Busch will pull double-duty this weekend. He's obviously entered in the Sylvania 300, but he's also going to drive the No. 51 truck in the New Hampshire 200.

* With the Indy Racing League season complete, Sam Hornish Jr. is concentrating on NASCAR. He'll attempt to make his Nextel Cup debut this weekend by qualifying for the Sylvania 300 -- 1 of 49 teams expected to be on hand. Though Penske isn't saying exactly which races Hornish will enter, they know that the 28-year-old former IRL champ won't run more than 7 events between now and the end of the season as he seeks to protect his rookie status for '08.

There are no concrete plans for Hornish next season.

Caisse gets Toyota truck ride

Sean Caisse, driver of the No. 44 for Andy Santerre Motorsports in the NASCAR Busch East Series, will make a hometown debut on Saturday.

Caisse, 21, from Pelham, N.H., will drive a Toyota Tundra for Germain Racing in the New Hampshire 200 Craftsman Truck Series event at New Hampshire International Speedway. Caisse has 3 BES wins this year, giving him a 2-year total of 7 wins with ASM.

"Working with Andy has been very good for me," Caisse said. "There's no better teacher or driving coach than Andy. Being a 4-time Busch (East) champion — he knows everyone and he's really been the one to help me get in contact with the right people."

Currently, Caisse is 3rd in the BES standings, behind Joey Logano and Matt Kobyluck. He is the most recent race winner, having won at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park.


Said-heads have a reason to head to NHIS

Time to grow the hair out, let the goatee come in and laugh at every joke there is.
The ridiculously likeable Boris Said will be at New Hampshire International Speedway this weekend. Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced that Said will drive the team's 4th entry in the Sylvania 300 -- the No. 98 Stanley Tools Dodge. Said has driven in 9 Busch Series events over the last 2 seasons with GEM.

Said will serve as a teammate to Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Scott Riggs. Of course, Said is not guaranteed a start in the Sylvania 300. He must qualify on time on Friday.

Said has not qualified for the last 2 events he entered -- at Watkins Glen and at Daytona, though he was on the provisional pole when rain washed out qualifying at Daytona in July.


3 heads are never better than 1

The scene on the frontstretch Saturday night bordered on comical, made more absurd for anyone with a radio turned to the frequency used by the track officials at Wiscasset Raceway.

Owner Doug White, right-hand man Johnny Crawford and starter Derek Mingo standing on the track, huddled up like a football team about to call a play. Alternately, each raised his arms, shook his head and pointed fingers. On the radio, one could be heard making one call regarding the NAPA Auto Parts 100 for the Pro Stock division while another made a different decision.

They hashed it out until they came to something that resembled a consensus. I think.

What Wiscasset Raceway needs is a race director. One person. One voice. One final decision. And that race director needs to be tucked away in a tower somewhere, out of view of the fans and teams up where he can see the entire track.

Even if the trio that policed the racing Saturday got things right, the fact remains that arguments over the air lead to a lot of interpretation from a lot of onlookers.

Matt Lee got the worst of it in the 100.

With 17 laps left, Lee and Chuck Colby got together in turn 3. Colby had been running 2nd on the restart, but the inside line was freight-training him as he tried to do everything he could to get in line somewhere and not fade to the tail end of the lead lap. As Lee ran up on him, the 2 cars made contact and Colby spun to bring out a caution.

White wanted Lee sent to the rear for rough driving. Crawford wanted Lee to keep his position. In the end, White's decision was the final one -- but the 2 officials arguing in front of everyone deals a serious blow to credibility. And certainly if Lee went looking for an explanation from someone after the race, he was going to know who was on his side and who wasn't. When Dave St. Clair owned the track, he dealt weekly with a perception of favoritism. If White, Crawford and Mingo are arguing about race calls, and racers know that they're lining up on opposite sides of the fence, eventually this regime will deal with similar accusations, too.

Later in the race, Crawford was screaming over the radio at the scorers in the tower, wanting to know where Colby and Johnny Clark were running in the order after they had each hit the pits and then ended up alongside lapped cars. Crawford raised his arms wildly and yelled loudly and aggressively over the radio for an answer.

When the lineup was determined, Crawford walked across the track in front of the flagstand and hollered out, "Thank you! And now I know I was right!"

Crawford may well have been right, but it's not appropriate for officials to behave in that manner. They are the face of the facility, the people fans and teams look to for some semblance of professionalism. Hey, people get heated and stress can rule at a race track -- but having the race director in a secluded spot where such conversations can be held privately (or at least out of view) saves face for the entire operation.

Right or wrong, a race track needs 1 race director. One voice. One face. One final say, from somewhere out of the way.

It's the only way.

Wow. That IS big news...

Doesn't this just say it all?

I mean, if it qualifies as "big news," that tells you all about J.J. Yeley's Nextel Cup Series career to this point, doesn't it?

Rules are rules, as Wiscasset competitors are quickly learning

Cassius Clark and Scott Chubbuck became the latest casualties of the new regime at Wiscasset Raceway.

Clark led every lap of the NAPA Auto Parts 100 on Saturday night at the track, but he failed post-race technical inspection. His No. 8 EJP Chevrolet carried too much left side weight. Cars are allowed 57 percent of their weight on the left side, and according to track PR guru Ken Minott, after several trips across the scales, Clark measured out at 57.1 percent on the left side.

Travis Benjamin was credited with the win. Johnny Clark was 2nd, and Scott Moore of Anson was bumped up to 3rd.

Chubbuck, who originally finished 3rd, was also disqualified for too much left side weight.

Though Pro Stocks were brought to the track less than 6 weeks ago, the new management team led by Doug White is showing that it is drawing hard lines in the sand at the tech shack. In addition to Clark and 5-time track champion Chubbuck, the teams of Jay Cushman and Bill Penfold have all been disqualified already at some point for weight infractions.

Though behing 0.1 percent over the allowed left side weight probably wouldn't have made a difference in Clark winning on Saturday night, the message is a clear and deliberate one.

A rule is a rule, and Wiscasset Raceway isn't going to allow any leeway. They're also showing that they're not going to play favorites -- something the previous ownership was accused of time and time again, either rightly or wrongly.

Taking high-profile local teams and chucking them out the door will send the message. Though unfair to fans in the stands who don't get to see a race decided on the track, Wiscasset Raceway is doing the right thing for all involved in the long run.