WOW! This is big news!

You know, I was just sitting here saying to myself, "Self, I wonder when we'll see that new Nationwide Series logo?" And, wouldn't you know it, it appeared.

Now I'm not one to criticize NASCAR (uh....) but don't you think they would have had this a couple of weeks back, when they made the announcement that Nationwide Insurance was taking over as the title sponsor of Nextel Cup final practice?

I mean, let's get the ducks in a row people.

Yeah, I know. It's slow this time of year.


Mods hit Thunder Road's high banks

This is an interesting gamble that Tom Curley is willing to take.

Like sprint cars in Maine or dirt racing in Canada, Modified racing just hasn't caught on in the northern reaches of New England. That's not stopping Curley from bringing in the True Value Modified Series for an event to run as part of a doubleheader with the American-Canadian Tour on Memorial Day weekend next season at Thunder Road Speedbowl.

It will be a 100-lap race, the 1st Modified race at Thunder Road since 1965.

The 2 sides announced the event after series owner and competitor Jack Bateman (umm, yeah, it's a, uh, mild conflict of interest, isn't it...?) tested on the 1/4-mile and reported running lap times in the mid-12-second range.

Still, Curley likely hasn't gone into this blindly. The TVMS has its roots in northern New Hampshire -- not exactly a Modified hotbed -- and this little grassroots series has found a way to prosper. While the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has petered out in northern New England, the TVMS raced at Oxford Plains Speedway this season and races in New Hampshire still, too.

The NASCAR Modified Tour is dominated by a driver roster hailing from virtually every corner, city, town and village in Connecticut, but the TVMS has a more geographically-diverse roster. That should serve it well moving forward.

Still — Modifieds at Thunder Road? Boy, it just doesn't sound right.

Chase delivers on NASCAR promise (Not that it makes us feel any better)

Got an interesting comment from a regular reader of Green-White-Checker today.

"The Chase is a fraud format and has failed to deliver on its promise," he wrote.

Hey, you may not like the format gang, but it has absolutely delivered on its promise. Brian France and the rest of the ring masters running NASCAR's traveling circus never promised any great shakes when the Chase for the Nextel Cup format was introduced a few years ago.

All we were promised was a contrived championship battle, one that wiped out whatever anyone had done during the first 26 races of the year and essentially reset the competing field at an equal points position. Once that was done, you were going to get 10 races toward the Cup -- a format that would compete with the NFL, college football and MLB playoffs for fan interest (read: TV ratings and, thusly, advertising revenue).

It didn't matter if you were the best team for the whole season or not. It only mattered that you could be better than the 9 or 11 other teams in the Chase with you for the last couple of months of the season.

The racing hasn't been any better on the track, with or without the Car of Tomorrow (read: Talladega, or at least I think that was Talladega we saw) -- but that's not what NASCAR promised. A "true" champion hasn't necessarily been crowned -- but that's not what NASCAR promised. There haven't been any great worst-to-first performances, either -- but that's not what NASCAR promised.

All NASCAR promised was a controlled setting for its final 10 races, and they've continually found themselves tweaking that system, rightly or wrongly. And that's all they really promised.

In that vein, the Chase is EXACTLY what NASCAR promised. We just don't have to like it.


Clocking in on 1 last Maine racing weekend...

Though the conspiracy theorists certainly suggested that the points race in the PASS North Series was manufactured through a controversial call at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway a few weeks ago, Ben Rowe still survived to win his series-record 4th championship.

In a race won by Cassius Clark at White Mountain Motorsports Park on Sunday afternoon, Rowe finished 5th to lock up the title. Rowe earned the title by just 18 points over father Mike Rowe, who finished 2nd to Clark. Trevor Sanborn was 3rd and Johnny Clark was 4th.

Ben Rowe had 2/3 of his points lead wiped out with a penalty for rough driving at the D.J. Equipment 300 -- a race his father won to set up the championship showdown on Sunday.

Though it was Rowe's 4th title, it was his 1st while driving for Richard Moody Racing.


I've been critical of so-called retirement tours in the past in the Nextel Cup Series (see: Mark Martin, who still hasn't retired, not really, and Bill Elliott, whose happy to hop into a car whenever some team needs a "past champion's provisional" starting spot), but I'm a big fan of the way Dale Jarrett plans on going out.

He's going to run the Bud Shootout (Or the Coors Light-ning Dash, maybe? NASCAR can feel free to use that name if they want, free of charge...), the 1st 5 points races and then the All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May. After that, he's going to give the seat of the No. 44 UPS Toyota over to David Reutimann.

An All-Star race is a great way for this former champion, and a solid ambassador for the sport, to go out. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that Jarrett doesn't pull a Martin and advertise a big farewell tour (complete with $30 hats and t-shirts that the fans gobble up) and then change his mind.

Not that someone isn't entitled to changing their mind.


I finally rode in a pace car, and, I've got to say, even Mr. Cynical himself walked away fairly impressed.

For my son's 4th birthday, I took him to the Long John Open at Unity Raceway. Part of that day included a ride in the pace car before the Teen feature. And, yeah, we almost fell out of the passenger seat when the car whipped off turn 4 and into the infield to start the race.


And, 50 mph looks a lot slower when you're sitting in a press box. No wonder guys get hooked on this racing game...


For that Long John Open, the track should be commended.

After a disappointing season of car counts perilously close to single digits for other Super Street open competitions, a full field of 30 cars showed for the Long John. It just goes to show that while racetrack after racetrack may have a hard time drumming up new interest in its offerings, tradition still holds people's attention.

When it comes to racing in central Maine, the Long John, now 19 years in the books, remains an event people want to be part of. It's that one last time on the track, and it's that one last time to go camp out for a weekend somewhere.

It may have been bigger and better in its heyday, but it's still a pretty good day of racing just the way it is now. And, 60 degrees under sunny skies on an October afternoon never hurts anything.


The guy with the Nextel Cup hauler ought to win the PASS Modified championships, else it just wouldn't look right at all.

Chris Staples claimed his 2nd Modified title in as many years on Saturday in the 40-lap division by finishing 6th in a 50-lap "extra distance" feature at WMMP. Jason Taylor won the race.

Staples' teammate, Mark Lucas, landed 2nd in the final standings.

After Mike Fowler beat Matt Lee in the 100-lapper that night for the PASS Outlaw Late Models, Jimmy Rosenfield was named the division champion.


Is it just me, or are we seeing the Jeff Gordon of the late 1990s, the one who couldn't lose no matter what he did?
Oh yeah, and not that anyone cares, but it's awfully wrong to wait 5 hours for a game to be decided -- living and dying with every pitch -- only to have Eric Gagne give it away.

Hard not to remember how excited I was when the Sox got him at the trading deadline. Now, though, I'm wondering if we'll see him in another game (meaningful or otherwise) in a Boston uniform.