Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paul Harvey -- A Fond "Good Day"

Paul Harvey died today at the age of 90 still doing his famous radio work to the fullest extent possible. His passing is a true loss that I shall reflect on personally because Paul Harvey has been a part of my life as long as I can remember as a kid born in 1953.

My Grandfather came from Michigan, a good old Michigan Republican and American history buff who took great joy in sharing his love of American history traveling east to visit his grandchildren in Baltimore's northern suburbs, an easy day trip away from all kinds of famous historical sites from colonial days, the Revolution, and the Civil War. Grandpa was keen on certain programs. He'd faithfully watch "Meet the Press" every Sunday morning, and would tune in Paul Harvey for his daily "Paul Harvey: News and Comments" and of course, "The Rest of the Story."

Who could not recognize Paul Harvey instantly with his rural-American wholesome voice, his awkward pregnant pauses, his sense of restrained enthusiasm, and the sound of pages of paper flipping beneath his microphone. Who didn't hear his broadcast and not wind up doing their own impressions of his signature closing line, "Good day!"

I was held spellbound by his "Rest of the Story" segments. He was the ultimate storyteller laying out some fascinating, almost anecdotal, narrative on some famous figure that was never part of the official historical record of those figures. I'd always try to guess who was the subject of his tale anxiously anticipating.... that it was...... he'd name the person.....and now you know....THE REST OF THE STORY!......Good DAY!!!

My grandfather died in 1974 when I was in college. For many years, I'd love listening to Paul Harvey when I could find his program on the radio dial. Listening to his "Rest of the Story" was almost like spending time with my grandfather who probably did more to kindle my passion for American history than anybody. Listening to Mr. Harvey tell his tale had the same soothing magic as my grandfather's company had years ago.

There was Paul Harvey long before Rush Limbaugh and his apostles. He was a conservative voice with a fervent passion but always a sense of decency. Finally, in 2005, he was granted the Presidential Media of Freedom. A long list of noteworthy conservatives and Republicans have served as substitutes for this American legend including Tony Snow, Fred Thompson (who will host the "Radio Factor" since Bill O'Reilly decided to dedicate his work only on his television program), Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney. Some would criticize Harvey for how seemlessly he'd transition from his news and commentary right into advertizing. One should find no irony in the one publication that really slammed him was Salon, a mouthpiece for the left-wing Hollywood crowd who are so full of their warped ideology and disrespect for America, they'd never understand the simple elegance of this great American legend.

In later years, Harvey's health was failing but his dedication to radio soldiered on. He frequently referred to his wife he called Angel, who was his producer, and was the first producer inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. On May 17, 2007, he sadly announced to his radio audience that Angel was stricken with leukemia. She died almost a year later on May 3, 2008, her death announced in his absence as he was standing by his wife of 68 years.

In 1940, an aspiring young man working his way up in radio married his angel, Lynn Harvey. In a twist of convention, he would take his wife's last name as his professional name. The man millions of patriotic traditional Americans knew as Paul Harvey, was really Paul Aurandt.

With apologies to the craft of this wonderful man, now you know.....the rest of the story. Good DAY!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sprint Cup 2009, Race 3: Shelby 427, Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas!

The first two races of the season, the Daytona 500 and Auto Club 500, had two big things in common, dealing with rainy weather and Matt Kenseth won them both. The 2009 is off to a positive start. The team shuffles, brought on in part by the nation’s economy, have not impacted competition noticeably. The Ganassi/DEI merger is looking solid. Meanwhile, the Petty Enterprises marriage with Gillette/Evernham provided one of the surprise success stories of the Daytona 500. Tony Stewart’s formation of Stewart-Haas racing with Ryan Newman, the one team change created out of strength, not so much economic necessity, looks very competitive despite the fender benders. Despite looking weak leading up to the Daytona 500, Roush is strong at money time. Gibbs and Hendricks has little too sweat, but for Gibbs, Joey Legano is truly a work in progress. They are doing a wonderful job nurturing his talent. Could Rick Hendricks be getting a little concerned about his biggest star without a championship, Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

If there’s a real down story so far this year, it has to be how the #88 team has performed. Poor performance in February is just as costly as events around Labor Day in determining who makes it to “The Chase” when the field is set after the September race in Richmond. Junior “manned up” that the Daytona disaster was his responsibility. The California catastrophe turned out to be engine failure.

Not much can be read into the standings after two weeks, but who would have thought that Michael Waltrip racing would have the only two Toyotas in the top 12 with Mikey himself in 7th and teammate, David Reutimann running in 12th? After a weak season in 2008, Jeff Gordon is the strongest Hendricks team so far. Of the regulars, a handful of teams are deep in the pack right now, Junior is in 35th, Aric Almirola (Earnhardt-Ganassi #8) in 36th, Legano in 37th, Paul Menard (Yates, #98) in 39th, Scott Speed (rookie, Red Bull, #83) in 41st. Early in the season, those high in the standings can fall back to the middle of the pack with just one weak race, but when buried deep, it’s a longer road to respectability.

The hot shots of 2008 are in striking distance but only Carl Edwards is in the top 10, position #9 while Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson are in 18th and 19th respectively.

Now the good old boys descend upon the never ending party, Las Vegas. This year’s race has a nice sound to it, the Shelby 427. Weren’t those old Shelby Cobra’s and Mustangs beautiful machines, not to mention the legendary Ford 427 V-8, Richard Petty’s worst nightmare as Holman Moody and the Wood Brothers put their best up against the Petty “hemi”sphere back in the mid-60’s.

Since the Vegas track was re-engineered with progressive banking, it provides some of the most interesting and hotly contested racing on the whole circuit. Carl Edwards won at Vegas last year. Jimmie Johnson won three straight from 2005-07, and current leader, Kenseth brought home trophies in 2003 and 2004. Generally, Vegas favors Roush and Hendricks (any surprise there?) with strong finishes by the Childress boys.

Put it all together, the odds (a favorite topic in Vegas) look great for a Kenseth 2009 “three-pete” and why not? Roush’s strongest 2009 driver won there last year and Matt already has two wins at the track.

Drivers to watch, Jeff Gordon, he’s strong and hungry ready to break his winless drought soon. Jimmie Johnson sure would like to get the four straight buzz starting with a win. Kyle Busch has much to make up after being eliminated in Daytona. Dale Earnhardt Junior and Mark Martin have not lived up to fans’ dreams so far. Vegas could be a great track for their styles of racing. At a track that has favored Chevys and Fords, what will the Toyota stables and Dodge boys have to try to grab the trophy.

On thing that has not been impacted by the economy so far is the entry list for Sprint Cup events. Every race so far has had plenty of cars to compete for the 43 spots in the field. Daytona always gets plenty of entries. California can pull in some west coast guys, but for the series second cross continent event in a row, there are 51 entries for the Shelby 427. The sad news is eight guys go home. The good news is lots of teams are fighting to make the bottom of the field more of a game where the top 35 will be a much bigger prize in a few weeks once they are fighting for this year’s status not based on the top 35 finishers from 2008.

Viva Las Vegas. Feed the kitty, roll the dice, start your engines, and let the race begin!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Greetings esteemed readers. I apologize for not writing sooner such as my weekly Sprint Cup Preview, serving as a senior officer in the people's militia to lead the insurrection against the tyranny of Obama-nation, and to generally be the enlighted arbitrator of the truth, defender of logic, senior sports commentator for the Chesapeake region, and cultural affairs correspondent, my humble thoughts have not made it into print thanks to a malicious computer virus attack which absolutely wiped out the operating system on my trustworthy laptop. What appeared to be an email from a beloved nephew turned out to be an insanely corruptive virus which began as a virus alert, direct to some bogus anti-virus software site, shut down all kinds of tools including Task Manager, Display Properties, most of Control Panel, and just about anything else that could be used to clean up the mess.
As such, I have been relegated to the joys of virus eradication, several attempts at reinstalling windows in progressive degrees of installation from fix to major install (at least I didn't have to reformat the hard drive), then loading all kinds of software, moving files and directories, and all kinds of little tweaks. Aside from relocating "my documents" and installing that pain-in-the-ass iTunes and Quick Time players then having to reset the defaults to the proper media player, it looks like I'm almost finished. I was greatly relieved when I found my address book and previous emails all remained in good shape. Now stinking Outlook still needs some tweaking.
All this leads me to the conclusion that waterboarding would be a perfectly legitimate punishment for anyone creating a virus or purposely spreading viruses to others' computers.
What kind of sick, evil mind would create such things? Is this high-tech vandalism or something more sinister? I could see a mindset among anarchists (scum of the earth losers if there ever were ones) or terrorists who would gain some victory in trashing the communication tools of corporate America, but what about the viruses that are just designed to mess up just regular folks' machines? Are these alienated pimple faced nerds who are ignored by all the lovely girls in their class but they suffer from guilt fearing what they learned from mom and dad (if they have dads) that masturbation can cause horrible side effects like hair growing on their palms who might have been bullied one time too many? Are they just inexcusible shitheads? Are they actually created by folks who work for Norton and McAfee to make their cheesy products necessary? WHO KNOWS? STRAP 'EM TO THE BOARD AND BRING ON THE HOT SALT WATER.
There is nothing acceptible about their behavior and they deserve multiple levels of pain in direct proportion to the problems they've caused others, the BASTARDS.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

$55 to Call 911: Texas Community's Shameful Cruel Penny Pinching

Here’s an outrageous situation where greedy government and attempts to reach in its citizens’ wallets has gone completely out of control. The city of Castle Hills, Texas voted that each resident is allowed one 911 call a year but would charge residents a fee in this San Antonio suburb of FIFTY FIVE DOLLARS for their “First Responder’s Fee.” The city only budgeted a miserly $215,000 for their EMS services for the year. Unless their whole population consists of young, healthy, morally pure citizens who can somehow live under a magic dome where even the wicked mother nature can’t cause a problem or two, this budget is absurd leading to the greater absurdity, charging a stiff fee for EMERGENCY services.

Supposedly, this fee does not apply if the caller is reporting an active fire or requesting police help. So does this mean residents can call all they want to complain about their neighbors playing music too loud or “Eeks, we smell smoke!” likewise complaining about FIRE the aroma of a neighbor’s backyard barbeque? Meanwhile, what about citizens with chronic conditions, the elderly with serious health problems likely on a fixed income? A city spokesman said they could, of course, possibly be reimbursed by their health insurance. Oh really? What about people who haven’t reached Medicare age and have no insurance? Do they take VISA or MasterCard? Are residents supposed to have fifty five dollars in exact change handy should the unfortunate befall them a second time?

911 abuse is a serious problem in almost every district in the country where people elevate to emergency status silly things like ratting on neighbors who might not comply with city ordinances on how their garbage is supposed to be put curbside or that someone’s dog poopied in the wrong place. Medical emergencies are no laughing matter. While some will point out stories of calling ambulances for minor situation that do not require emergency attention sadly emergency rooms are the only point of entry for many poor and under insured citizens entrĂ©e into the medical system. It is the emergency responders’ duty to take all citizen requests seriously. Corrective measures can be taken against the abusers after the fact and perhaps more severe penalties need to be considered for those who abuse the system.

No matter how one looks at it, the struggles many municipalities are having funding necessary public services or considering how the 911 service is abused, the approach enacted by Castle Hills, Texas isn’t just wrong, it’s downright mean and immoral. Their ridiculous decision must be reversed NOW.

Yankee Doodle PRAVDA: Big News Media and the Democratic Party Bias

We Told You So

The absolute and total pervasiveness of pro-Democrat, anti-Republican journalism throughout the national media continues to grow in both how widespread it is and the boldness of how openly blatant it is as well. However, some times the more subtle elements, what they don’t say is perhaps even more damaging.

Kudos to Ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith, (Republican, Texas) who brought his concerns about media bias to the house floor. In a pithy one minute address, "The national media spells scandal without the 'D,'" citing the big three traditional networks and paying special attention to CNN criticized that networks continuously fail to mention the party affiliation of Democrats who stumble into trouble citing the Blagojevich impeachment as one example, "Two weeks ago the Governor of Illinois was removed from office, All three television networks ran full reports on the story the same night and again the following morning. Not one report mentioned that he is a Democrat." He went on to note three additional scandals, former New York Governor, Elliot Spitzer’s prostitute affair and recent criminal charges directed at corrupt big city mayors convicted Kwame Kilpartrick of Detroit and indicted Sheila Pratt Dixon of Baltimore and that their party affiliation was left unknown in reportage about their scandals as well.

Congressman Smith concluded with remarks that should be taken as a given but sound so profound in an atmosphere where such has been so shamefully absent in recent history by noting, "Americans need and deserve balanced reporting from the media, not selective omissions,"

The challenge now is to get this message out to the American public and pray that they have the concern and awareness for it to make any difference in this modern era obsessed with the cult of personalities.

Media bias isn’t always what reports say but what they don’t say. Framing stories through omission can be just as deceiving as through commission. Watch almost any television station on Presidents’ Day and see how much the news media was fawning over Barack Obama’s first Presidents’ Day from contrived comparisons to Abraham Lincoln to some local baker selling Obama cupcakes. Baltimore NBC affiliate, WBAL-TV, made its morning news broadcast from 5:00 to 7:00 am a virtual Obama love fest on President’s Day with one feel good soft news story after another that had all the components of fan worship stories, the kind of presentation, shows like “Entertainment Tonight” and “Access Hollywood” might air for the latest Hollywood flavor-of-the-month. Each half hour segment devoted more time to Obama Mania than any other story including the current economic mess where some careful analytic and critical reporting is so necessary. Granted AM news is fluff news, soft news for soft minds, yet this programming is a lead-in to the ultimate in news media bias soft news which covers its backstabbing bias of conservative and Republican hatred in sugar and anesthesia where Matt Lauer, David Gregory, and Meredith Vieira routinely trashed the Republican effort while practically going as far as to present stories full of happy little pixies dancing in joy as to what Barack Obama did with his first baby tooth. These sugar-laced pro Obama and Democratic Party stories are explicit signs of bias. Viewers can also be sure embarrassing stories about major Democrats will be omitted or if they are so newsworthy that they must be reported, the offending politician’s name will be mentioned but no mention of his or her party affiliation will be mentioned.

Does anyone think the Pope’s stern reprimand of Nancy Pelosi when she just visited the Vatican will be mentioned or how ironic and self-serving it is that she should arrange a meeting with the Pontiff given the way she has trash talked the Catholic church and ridiculed some of its stances on issues like abortion?

Watch the big three networks 6:30 news, cable news outlets CNN and MSNBC, or read most major big city newspapers led by The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times and the interested news hound could only be led to assume that the Republican Party is the party of political corruption. There hasn’t been a Republican scandal recently since REPUBLICAN Senator Larry Craig was arrested for soliciting gay sex in a Minnesota airport bathroom. Reports were full of self-righteous indignation that this REPUBLICAN Senator was caught doing something that was so contrary to his REPUBLICAN social CONSERVATIVE beliefs. Every effort was carefully crafted to make sure the viewer would remember this scandal involved a REPUBLICAN senator. Did we fail to mention Larry Craig was a CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN?

Democratic scandals have been running rampant in the past year. Elliot Spitzer, the former New York Governor and zero tolerance Attorney General was caught red handed for his involvement with a Washington DC prostitute. Detroit Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick has a long history of corruption, criminal activity, and abuse of power leading to perjury and other felony charges landing him in jail. Kilpatrick was even charged with assault. Given Detroit is one of the nation’s top ten cities, one with so much hardship and economic trouble, one would think this story would be more newsworthy. Oops, we let our topic sentence cover Kilpatrick is a DEMOCRAT. He’s a DEMOCRAT, Spitzer’s a DEMOCRAT. Here are two recent high profile DEMOCRAT’s involved in major scandals but in reporting these did CNN tell its viewers what these criminals’ party affiliation, that they were DEMOCRATS was ever mentioned?

There’s more. Has there been a bigger political scandal since Bill Clinton’s impeachment than the countless acts of pure criminality committed by DEMOCRATIC Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich. The day the story broke, only ABC mentioned his party affiliation in passing in its evening news. The entire morning and most of the evening news cycles passed without that he was a DEMOCRAT went almost completely unmentioned. Such a story demands some context as reflective as part of widespread corruption in the DEMOCRATIC political machine in Illinois from the Big City operation of Mayor Richard Daily throughout the party. Oops, their glamour boy Barack Obama who they were proud to trumpet as a DEMOCRAT is a product of that machine, the setting where his political career, was born, nurtured, and raised to attract national notice. Their attempt to put the Blago scandal in context is to mention that his predecessor, a REPUBLICAN, George Ryan wound up in the pokey too. Somehow, that misses the point. Of course, Rod Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris is turning out to be another bad apple for his tie-in’s with Blago’s campaign now becoming one of the big news stories of the day. Could anyone watch the major news outlets and know Burris is a DEMOCRAT.

Shelia Pratt Dixon, the acerbic tongued mayor of Baltimore, faced Federal charges for using city funds, gift card donations from area businesses to be donated to the poor for her personal use to buy such things as the latest video game machines for her own use. The Dixon administration and her campaign reek of corruption including two campaign chiefs who plead guilty to tax evasion. Was there any mention that Ms. Dixon was a DEMOCRAT? Of course not. We could, perhaps, give the media the benefit of the doubt that it should go without saying that a mayor of Baltimore would be a DEMOCRAT since a Republican hasn’t been elected mayor in Baltimore since 1963 when the Republican party was considered the more liberal party as the Maryland Democratic party was much more aligned with the old bigoted Dixie-crats whose fossilized remains still hold a handful of seats in the State Legislature from distant places in southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

(By the way, we typed in “Sheila Pratt Dixon charges,” to get some basic facts for writing this essay and we proudly report that our posting, “SELFISH BITCH” was the second listing listed in our Google search. Right Minded Fellow goes big time!!!

The national news media and its hordes of wannabes rising up through the ranks of their local affiliates are so clearly agenda driven where advocacy journalism, feel good, warm fuzzy stories about the figures they admire, and a general tone of distrust and contempt for corporate America as if each little artificial blonde bimbo with a microphone in her hand hired primarily for beauty over brains pretends to be the next Upton Sinclair dominate the presentation so pervasively, any pretext of objectivity is a lie.

As much as we loathe to stick up for Sarah Palin extending her fifteen minutes of fame by more mention of her little career, any evaluation of the facts surrounding the so-called “trouper gate” investigation would show her actions were justified. The press almost universally attempted to portray the event as a case of Palin intent on a personal vendetta against the former spouse of her sister.

President Barack Obama did one thing right. He quickly put an end to speculation he would support any measure to resurrect the “Fairness Doctrine.” The clear intention of that was to shutdown the one consistent media source that provides a conservative voice, talk radio, where stations would have to provide equal time for contrary views to popular talk radio celebrities like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Larry Elder. Thankfully, they provide a forum where contrary views can be expressed and balance out the slander, insane ideology, and outright false assertions presented daily on the editorial pages of the New York Times and all its sycophants across the nation from smaller news outlets.

Part two of the media campaign of distortion is to make much of its news coverage personality driven where feel good happy talk stories about the candidates they adore dominate stories that deal with their positions and record that put style over substance seducing the public in to humanizing major Democratic leaders are so warm and fuzzy. The sugar-laden stories on the Obama daughters is powerful enough to induce full-blown diabetes in viewers who take in too much of the coverage. What a turnaround. Remember how the Bush daughters were all but shown to be trashy tramps for simply doing some of the things college kids do like drink beer?

And how many members of Team Obama have dirty little secrets like their failure to pay taxes?

We rest our case.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Alex Rodriguez: Young and Stupid Doesn't Cut it

Young and Stupid Doesn’t Cut It!

Alex Rodriguez faced the press on reporting to the Yankees’ Spring Training Camp giving further details about his performance-enhancing drug, a material transported from the Dominican Republic, which his cousin informed him about. He attempted to give more specifics on his use while playing for the Texas Rangers and insisted he stopped using such materials after sustaining a neck injury.

Through out the conference, he kept coming back to, “I was 24 years old,” and “I was young and stupid.” He began his baseball career at 18 making his major league debut with the Seattle Mariners at 19 years old. First, the math does not add up. His birthday is July 27, 1975, which would have put his 24th birthday in 1999 while he was still in Seattle. He began his playing career with Texas in 2001. You do the math! as they say.

We’ll simply his rationale, he was stupid. Stupid that he would trust his cousin. Stupid he would inject anything without medical supervision. The whole thing starts to sound a little like Mark McGwire’s excuse line to the queries directed at him from Congress, “I’m here to talk about the future.”

Jose Canseco made further accusations based on his association with Rodriguez as a Texas teammate who said A-Rod questioned him about a substance and Canseco recommended a trainer who could supply him. The extent to which one should trust Canseco is surely subject to doubt. The sad thing is, as outraged we might have been when Canseco first starting spilling the beans, as time goes by, his charges have proven shockingly honest. Who would have thought Raphael Palmeiro used junk until that fateful day his suspension was announced by the Baltimore Orioles in 2004.

Having done something as misguided as performance enhancers, the only proper course of action is complete disclosure and corrective behavior in the future that does not appear self-promoting. Somehow, as much as fans would love to give A-Rod, the benefit of a doubt, it’s hard not to still be mystified.

Players’ irresponsible use of drugs and supplement will cast a cloud over baseball that shall be known forever as the “Steroid Era” from the conclusion of the 1994-95 Player’s Strike until proper policies were put in place by 2005. The great McGwire/Sosa homerun chase, Barry Bonds’ records, and the stellar performance of Roger Clemens all is tarnished into severe disrepute forever more. That power stats across the game were so escalated would also be suspect. Could this even influence how fans in the future might regard accomplishments like Cal Ripken’s remarkable consecutive game streak when all associated with Cal Ripken would affirm no one played the game with more regard for the rules and a healthy approach for playing the game. Most man made disasters have severe collateral damage.

In viewing athlete’s behavior, there’s a big difference between “boys will be boys” and “young and stupid” behavior compared to actions intended to cheat the game and true lawlessness. The NFL understands these issues and addressed player conduct accordingly. Some players like Jaime Moyer and Curt Schilling have been quite outspoken with anger on the issue of drug-enhanced play.

Mark McGwire was ready to go into the Hall of Fame with Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn. Raphael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds would surely be first ballot Hall of Fame inductees were the steroid issue not in play.

We would hope Alex Rodriguez has the opportunity to redeem himself and he seems to be doing the right thing but is so caught up in all the consequences of saving face while trying to come clean, he is failing to clear his name or gain much public sympathy so far. Once again, we come back to, Luke 12:48, “to whom much is given, much is required.”

For Alex Rodriguez, especially playing in New York, much will be required of him on and off the field. The rest is up to him.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Earnhardt Junior: The Next Kyle Petty

The names of Petty and Earnhardt are wed in NASCAR history. Only Dale Earnhardt Sr. and and Richard Petty have won seven championships dominating the sport during their times like no other competitors. Both were born with racing in their blood as Lee Petty and Ralph Earnhardt were North Carolina racers from humble backgrounds. Both Petty and Earnhardt passed racing on to their sons, Kyle and Dale Jr. The family business would be much different for the third generation racers as unlike their fathers, they live in the shadows of world famous fathers whose names are well-known far beyond the world of NASCAR fans.

This year's race began with a sad note when the green flagged dropped to begin the 31st Daytona 500 that this was the first time no one named Petty had entered “The Great American Race.” Pity Kyle Petty, clowned prince son of the King. No figure is more synonymous with a sport the way Richard Petty is associated with NASCAR, not Tiger Wood, not Michael Jordan, not Babe Ruth. It seemed only natural Kyle would follow in the family business just as his father did who followed his father, Lee Petty, also a NASCAR champion. Kyle looked brilliant winning his first major race, the 1979 ARCA 200 at Daytona. His early career had its shares of triumph and tumbles, a constant threat to finish in the top ten but not to bring home the big prize, but in 1985 a big opportunity was presented Petty when he was able to run with the Wood Brothers winning his first Cup race the following year at Richmond that year. Kyle took the prize for the Coca Cola World 600 in 1988, but fell off to 13th in points for the 1988 seasonwithout a single win. The Wood Brothers dismissed Kyle leading him to the most successful tenure of his career with Felix Sabates, SABCO racing initially part time for 1989, then with full sponsorship riding full time in 1990 winning at Rockingham and knocking on the top ten in points in 11th position. The ’91 season began with high hopes with sponsorship from the Coca Cola company with a “Days of Thunder” inspired, “Mello Yello,” paint scheme. While racing to 11th position again in points, Petty’s season was all but ruined after sustaining a broken leg at Talladega.

Kyle Petty ascended into the true upper echelon of the Winston Cup field in 1992 winning two races and finishing 5th in points. The ’93 season would be almost as respectable with another 5th place finish in points but only qa single victory. After 1993, Kyle Petty’s career would head straight down hill falling to 15th in points in 1994 then losing his Mello Yello sponsorship. Coors would sponsor Petty in 1995, but the downward spiral continued dropping to 30th in points even failing to qualify for the second Bristol race but achieving his final victory at Dover. ’96 would show a slight improvement in points to 27th but Kyle failed to make the field three times, twice due to injury and once for not qualifying at the end of the season after which he was released by SABCO racing. Petty would never be a real factor in NASCAR’s top circuit again despite having a permanent ride for the next decade.

Though Petty had a brief boost for ’97 racing for his own, Petty Enterprises 2, affiliated with his father’s team with two top five finishes and a 15th position in points, he dropped back to 30th in ’98 with just two top 10’s. ’99 was a helter-skelter year with nine top tens but also a slew of wrecks.

2000 was a year of tremendous hope for the Petty family. Kyle’s son, Adam, was tearing up lower divisions of racing joining the Busch series where his potential was obvious. Adam resembled his grandfather more than his father in many ways leading Kyle to joke that Adam was referring to his relationship with his grandfather, “the son he never had.” Young Adam bore a haunting resemblance to a young King too. At just 19, young Adam was the hope of the future for the Petty brand continuing a Petty into the next generation quickly achieving four top tens in the early 2000 season. The future looked bright when the Busch series travelled to Concord, New Hampshire, but tragedy struck as Adam’s car spun out of control causing a fatal head-neck injury beginning one of NASCAR’s darkest chapter as promising young Winston Cup driver would die of a similar accident at the same track then suffering its greatest tragedy, the death of Dale Earnhardt going into the last two turns on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

Kyle Petty was devastated by his sons loss but vowed to continue his racing career in his son’s honor. He abandoned his #44 ride to continue onward in #45 which was intended to be Adam’s number for years to come in Cup racing. Kyle would assume #45 as his permanent number in 2001 switching to Dodge. Petty would have the worst final position of the regular touring entourage of Winston Cup regulars finishing a lowly 43rd in points failing to qualify 11 times. He’d rebound to a 22nd spot in points in 2002 but would never finish close to that high again as his on-track performance continued to deteriorate as the whole Petty Enterprises operation struggled to stay current with the rest of the NASCAR field even with past champ, Bobby Labonte, and champion crew chief for Jeff Gordon, Robbie Loomis supporting the #43 car.

In 2007, Kyle Petty began his preparations for what could be a natural spot for him after concluding his racing career signing on to be the late former champion, Benny Parsons’ replacement, as color analyst for the six Cup races broadcast by the TNT network. Petty planned to follow that commitment for 2008, but after completing his time in the booth he seldom raced again making his final appearance sputtering to a 38th place finish in Phoenix leaving many to wonder if his driving days were over.

Though never officially retiring and still talking as though he intends to race, Kyle Petty was squeezed out of Petty Enterprises when his father sold major equity in his famous operations to Boston Ventures. Still looking for solid footing, what remained of Petty Enterprises merged with Gillett/Evernham racing relying heavily on George Gillett’s resources. The joint venture would be named Richard Petty racing, but there would be no place for Kyle Petty or Bobby Labonte.

In many ways, Kyle Petty became the laughing stock of NASCAR after leaving SABCO racing. Many questioned his commitment to racing even earlier in his career as Kyle had alternate interests performing as a country rock singer. His lack of performance and laid back fun loving personality made Kyle lack seriousness compared to his famous father whose shadow he could never dream of living up to.

While Kyle Petty’s driving career had turned pathetic, his contributions to the greater good in the name of auto racing stands unrivaled after his son, Adam’s, tragic death. Noting that Adam was interested in using his future in racing to help children in need, Kyle Petty and his wife Patty formed the Victory Junction project that would build a residential care village for children with fatal and chronic illnesses and disabilities. Kyle’s popularity in the NASCAR garage would gain him substantial commitments from other drivers on the circuit. The entire sport would instigate fund-raising activities where drivers like Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, and many others would contribute substantially. The list of drivers who serve as Camp Partners reads as a virtual “who’s who” of NASCAR drivers from recent years in all three of the sport’s top series. Drivers and their organizations use their sponsor building savvy to help find donors to build the camp’s success.

Perhaps a career in broadcasting has always been Kyle’s calling for the best spot for him to be related to his father’s sport. Petty proved most capable of replacing the vastly popular Benny Parsons loved by fans for his television work first with ESPN then NBC/TNT after NASCAR’s huge television deal to begin the 2001 season. Like Parsons, Petty offers a keen critical perspective refusing to play homer for his sport but generally assuming a good humored upbeat personality in the booth.

Sadly, to call Dale Earnhardt Jr. the second coming of Kyle Petty would hardly be seen as a compliment. Both are sons of NASCAR’s greatest drivers, the only two to ever have won seven championships a feat still far away from Jeff Gordon standing in the background at four championships and Jimmie Johnson, still a young driver, holding three consecutive championships and counting. Jeff Gordon is the only driver besides Petty and Earnhardt with more than three championships yet he'd have to win an additional three more to equal them.

Much was expected with Junior’s move to Hendricks Motor Sports leaving the organization his father setup in part to promote his son’s career to begin the 2008 season. While he got his long winless streak off his back, judgment lapses, careless mistakes, and poor communication with his pit crew led by his cousin, Tony Eury Jr. created many embarrassing finishes often in races where the #88 car looked like a winner earlier in the race.

Dale Jr. burst upon the racing world after finishing school and attending junior college at his father’s insistence. Junior wouldn’t rattle around in the feeder series for long before racing full-time for Dale Earnhardt Incorporated winning back to back championships sporting his father’s famous #3. His second year in the Busch series was presented as a tune up to run for Winston Cup rookie of the year in 2000. His car was unveiled with Budweiser sponsorship sporting his grandfather Ralph’s number from his racing days, #8.

Racing full-time on the Cup level in 2000, NASCAR was not used to rookies winning at all though Tony Stewart has started to turn heads the previous season, his rookie campaign. Even Jeff Gordon with all the hype surrounding his rookie season racing for Hendricks did not achieve his first victory until the Coca Cola 600 in his second year. Junior would show much of his father’s racing talent from the beginning but racing more as a careful craftsman more like the styles of Mark Martin or Darrell Waltrip once he settled down into championship form. Junior won two points events and the Winston All-Star race. His playful, friendly personality stood as making him his own man in stark defiance to his father’s often sarcastic always competitive persona on and off the track. Dale Earnhardt Jr. learned the media relations side of the sport so well.

Nothing could look more promising than Junior’s 2001 season. Despite racing only one year, he was chosen by many to give his father the race of his lifetime for the Daytona 500 trophy. DEI racing was now a three car operation with Dale Jr. #8, Steve Park #1, and long time veteran, Michael Waltrip #15. That Daytona 500 would be NASCAR’s most fateful day. Going into the final laps, it was all Earnhardt, with Michael Waltrip and Dale Junior battling for the win while Dale Senior held back the field in third. Fans wondered if the veteran Earnhardt could pull together a drafting train to rival his two entries just in front of him. No draft developed as Sterling Marlin, Ken Schrader, and other drivers struggled for position behind Senior going into the final turns on the last lap where Marlin’s car and Earnhardt Sr’s car made incidental contact but that was just enough to destabilize Earnhardt’s ride crashing hard into the wall and suffering a secondary crash from his long time friend, Ken Schrader piled into his car. While Dale Earnhardt lost his life enjoying his one sanity zone, behind the wheel of his familiar #3 Chevy, two of his drivers were crossing victory lane. Could Dale’s last memory be that he was the winning owner for the top two cars in that infamous race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. would soldier on the following week in Rockingham, North Carolina finishing in a dismal last place after sustaining a vicious accident that bore haunting resemblance to his father’s fatal crash at Daytona. Despite having the whole racing world’s attention trained on him, Dale Jr. competed with grace and courage winning two races, one at Dover and the second at Talladega securing a Winston million dollar bonus for his team. Earnhardt Jr. was an overnight sensation becoming NASCAR’s most popular driver inheriting his father’s fans while developing a hip new generation of fans of his own.

Hopes were high for Junior in 2002 though he raced most of the season possibly impacted by a concussion suffered in the Fontana, California race. Junior furthered his reputation as the king of restrictor plate racing, however, winning both races on the 2.55 mile track at Talladega. He finished in 11th, one position short of a seat at the Waldorf-Astoria winners banquet.

2003 was the year that Dale Earnhardt Jr. established himself as the true heir to his father’s throne shaking his reputation as just a restrictor plate genius taking his gains to the one mile tracks in Dover and Phoenix. He finished 3rd in the championship standings, now a true contender.

No longer just the kid, but a mature racer in his own right, the 2004 season started with high expectations and the younger Earnhardt delivered accomplishing in his 5th season that which would prove so elusive for his old man with a brilliant Daytona 500 win. He’d win a career high six races in 2004 while ending the season in 5th place in the standings. His season was severely threatened by his competing in a Grand Prix event in mid-July at Sonoma’s road course where he crashed and sustained severe burns that required him to enlist the help of backup drivers. Despite the injuries, Earnhardt roared back to dominating form in Bristol where he won both the Busch (Nationwide) race and Nextel cup fender-bender-fest. As the curtain fell on the 2004 season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had legitimized himself as one of the sport’s top driver whose performance was starting to equal his vast popularity.

2005 would see the DEI operation descend into apparent chaos as Tony Eury Jr. was sent to sure up the #15 team with Michael Waltrip and Junior struggled through out the season scoring one win in Chicagoland. While continuing his high popularity with the fans and becoming increasingly successful in many off the track ventures, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished an embarrassing 19th in the final points standings.

2006 would be the first of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s “prove it” years. He’d score only one win, but achieved a 10 top 5’s, and 17 top 10’s putting him back into contention with a May victory at Richmond and a finishing in 5th place in the final standings.

As if 2005 wasn’t troubling enough, 2007 would be Dale Earnhardt Junior’s season of discontent. He was racing as a free agent with his contract with DEI set to expire at the end of the season and negotiations proved contentious with his step-mother and father’s widow, Teresa Earnhardt. On May 10, 2007, Junior announced he would not return to DEI indicating he did not feel the team had the resources to support his desire to win a championship. Speculation ran wild where he would wind up the following year with Childress and Gibbs appearing to have the edge before. Speculation would only last a month when the big announcement was forthcoming, Dale Earnhardt Jr. would race for Hendricks Motorsports nudging out young racer Kyle Busch who quickly signed with Joe Gibbs racing for the next season. Neither Budweiser sponsorship or Dale’s family number of car #8 would stay with him. Budweiser broke ties with DEI and Teresa Earnhardt refused to relinquish #8 to Dale Jr.’s effort hoping the #8 would retain some marketing value with a new driver and new sponsor for 2008. On the track, 2007 was a miserable season as Earnhardt and his sidekick Eury Jr. were destined to Hendricks the following year. Junior finished the season winless for the first time with one pole, 7 top five finishes, and 12 top tens only good enough for a weak 16th in final standings.

Now racing in car #88 for the monolithic Hendricks team responsible for seven championships from 1995 forward, much was expected from Dale Earnhardt teamed with Tony Eury Jr. as his crew chief but with the vast resources of the Hendricks garage behind him. How would Earnhardt perform as the third driver behind champs Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson who welcomed their new teammate with much anticipation. His tenure started off brilliantly with his new team dominating the Bud Shootout and a strong victory in his bracket in the twin 125’s but this would only catapult him into Victory Lane for the Daytona 500 finishing in 9th. The second race of the season proved costly. The California racetrack was drenched in rain leading up to the race which was ultimately interrupted by lengthy rain delay. finally when the race resumed the pavement still appeared to be “weeping” with water oozing through seems in the racing surface. In 21st lap, teammate Casey Mears wrecked, collecting Junior’s drive in the process. Dale Jr. was quite outspoken in his criticism of NASCAR for allowing competition in such horrible conditions. Quickly, the new #88 rebounded having a brilliant spring with multiple top 5’s and top 10’s culminating with the first Michigan race in June breaking Dale Junior’s long winless streak where a brilliant fuel conservation strategy helped him pull off a green-white-checkered victory. His only noncompetitive finish during this run was a 35th finish at Dover with a 12th and 15th place finish representing his only finishes outside the top ten. After the Michigan win, Junior would only enjoy five top ten finishes, three top fives, as the mistakes, miscommunication problems, and bad luck overwhelmed the team. Nevertheless, they stood in 4th place when the chase began with only Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards ahead of him. He’d begin the chase with a 5th place finish in New Hampshire but the following week in Dover, a 24th finish, would drop Earnhardt to 9th effectively ending his quest for the championship. Only a 2nd place finish in Martinsville showed any flair of a true contender in the final stretch with but one other top 10, a 6th place finish at Phoenix.

The move to Hendricks showed much potential in the first half of the season where mishaps could all but be written off as bad luck, but as summer heated up the disturbing lackadaisical chaos returned even requiring Rick Hendricks to summon his racer and crew chief to mediate what was becoming a dysfunctional relationship with far too many communications breakdowns. Two major goals were accomplished, breaking the winless streak and making the chase, but by the time the field was set after the September race in Richmond, despite still holding on to 4th place, late race mishaps and pit row booboos became an all too familiar theme.

2009 becomes another “prove it” season for Dale Earnhardt Junior and his cousin Tony Eury Junior. The Bud Shootout, usually an exhibition for Junior’s mastery of Daytona did not go well for #88 with a mediocre 18th finish in a field of 28 cars. Having qualified 12th for the Daytona 500, they could only achieve a 7th place finish in their segment of the Twin 125’s.

This year’s Daytona 500 was an Earnhardt Junior’s fan’s worst nightmare. First were the pit errors, a devastating theme from last year, missing his pit stall on one round and then failing to position his car within the lines during the second. These miscues put Earnhardt a lap down. In racing to gain the “lucky dog” spot, the first spot one lap down, Junior battled Brian Vickers for the spot. Though Vickers raced unusually aggressively for this point in the race throwing the block on Earnhardt, his efforts were just tough, hard fought racing. Earnhardt looked to have only marginal control over his car dipping down over the yellow lines though he could surely argue he was forced there, but then when Earnhardt bumped Vickers it looked way too similar to an event from the Nationwide race the previous day when Jason Leffler was given a five lap cool down penalty for his infraction. Earnhardt’s move eliminated Kyle Busch and other drivers from contention in what turned out to be this year’s big one. However, Earnhardt’s follies weren’t over. Attempting to go three wide after a restart Junior forced Jeff Burton, a skillful and cautious driver into the wall.

For fans who were looking for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to show new discipline and determination in his second year with the Hendricks championship mill are surely scratching their heads and ready to scream in frustration as the 2009 Daytona 500 served as a microcosm for all that has troubled Dale Junior in recent years giving him no one but himself to blame since Tony Eury Jr. is his handpicked choice to serve as his pit boss, but in fairness to Eury, the team’s foibles seldom seem to rest in his hands.

Surely, Rick Hendricks has far too much invested in the sport’s most marketable driver to allow such dreadful performance to continue. Hendricks is a great motivator and with the highly respected veteran, Mark Martin, on board, Junior has plenty of guidance to maximize his driving talents. His off the track efforts continue to flourish including the success of JR Racing as one of the Nationwide Series most competitive operations. Despite his multiple racing mistakes often ruining the fortunes of other drivers, Dale Junior is still one of the most well-liked personalities in the industry.

Time is running out for Dale Earnhardt as a serious contender in Sprint Cup competition. How much time does he have left before he develops the “nice guy – so-so racer” reputation that Kyle Petty endured. Expectations have been higher for Junior than Kyle and the personal cost has been higher having lost his father just one spot behind him on the race track in 2001. Kyle never was expected to compete for a championship though he did have some good seasons. From when his first season in Busch competition looked championship-bound, talk surrounded Dale Junior as to just how far he could follow in his famous father’s footsteps. From day one, he was being groomed to be a future Sprint Cup championship. There is nothing to suggest that Dale Jr. doesn’t have the talent to do so as he has shown the ability to win on every kind of track besides a road track achieving his victories using almost every imaginable strategic approach there is from fuel mileage, to careful time play and partnerships, to just plain all out fender banging aggressiveness though still polite compared to his dad.

It’s all about winning, Junior. His attention deficits and at times displaying a certain arrogant indifference to accepting responsibility for his mistakes appear to be the main deficiencies separating him from being a good, slightly above average driver, to a truly great driver.

Everything is in place for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to have a breakout season. Can Dale Jr. find the tough as iron single-mindedness that made his father perhaps the most skillful driver ever to compete in NASCAR. While Richard Petty is unquestionably the most successful driver ever to compete in the sport his resources compared to the rest of the field generally far exceeded anything his competition had to offer where Dale Sr. had highly supported operations like Junior Johnson’s, the Wood Brothers’, and Petty to face early in his career and then raced against today’s modern powerhouses of Roush, Hendricks, and Gibbs.

Dale Earnhardt still has the potential to become remembered as one of the sports’ greatest drivers, maybe not in the top 10 but the top 25 or Hall of Fame potential for sure. No one would ever mistake Kyle Petty for that kind of driver. Dale’s father’s generation is down to just Mark Martin racing full time with part time rides from Bill Elliot and an occasional cameo performance from Bobby Labonte still in competition. Even Ken Schrader is nowhere to be found in the garage though his latter years were embarrassing. Dale Junior will find his mark depending on how he sizes up against teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson, obvious top 10 all-time candidates and a field of drivers including his peers, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Kevin Harvick. The next wave of great drivers is starting to arise with Kyle Busch as the current leader of that pack. Among Joey Legano, Sam Hornish, Scott Speed, and Juan Montoya could be the next true contenders.

Stevie Waltrip, Darrell’s wife, always gave Junior’s father a verse of scripture before each race. Perhaps no wisdom could be more appropriate for Dale Earnhardt Jr. than the Biblical wisdom of Luke 12:48, “to whom much is given, much is required.” While this quote has become widely quoted in the speakers’ circuit, its ageless wisdom applies so succinctly to Dale Earnhardt’s plight in 2009.

Kyle Petty has accepted he has been given much and Victory Junction shows his realizing his obligations to the world at large. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s mission still hasn’t been completely defined, but for now, he must live up to what is expected of him on the race track.

Kyle Petty and Dale Earnhardt Junior share bonds that will never escape them trying to deal with the automatic expectations of being sons of famous fathers both who won seven Cup championships. Both suffer the sorrow and emptiness of losing their flesh and blood in racing, Kyle losing a son and Dale losing a father.

From a character standpoint, for Dale Earnhardt Junior to be compared to Kyle Petty should be seen as an honor; however, as racers that comparison suggests a person with limited talents not up to the rigors of the highest levels of competition where his father excelled heroically.

We believe Dale Earnhardt Junior has the talent and the character to be one of the sports’ most famous drivers. At 34 years old, his destiny is in his hands but no one should ever suggest being Dale Earnhardt Jr. is easy. His jovial personality, quick wit, and wide catalog of active interests disguise he’s a man who will always have his father’s legacy and premature horrible death to contend with while having a contentious relationship with his step-mother who inherited his father’s family business leaving Dale Jr. no seat at the table.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Matt Kenseth, Jack Roush Racing Backup Car to Win First Daytona 500, But…

Somehow a rain-shortened victory doesn’t seem quite as sweet as when fiery competitors are going at it side by side going for the win down to the last lap as the races the last two years, but when the season ends in Homestead, Florida next November it will count as a win and 190 points regardless.

There were some disappointing moments in today’s race. With Brian Vickers in the #82 Red Bull Toyota and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88 Amp Chevrolet) were a lap down, in a poorly executed dual, Vickers attempted to block Earnhardt who then in turn tried to move Vickers out of the way causing “the big one” that took Kyle Busch out of the race. No matter how one scrutinizes this scene, Junior's decision making at best was questionable.

Winning the race gets a big monkey off Kenseth’s back who failed to win a single race last year racing well enough to make the chase but looking weak in the final ten weeks of the season. It is also a well-deserved victory for the Roush/Fenway team. While winning in virtually every imaginable circumstance, restrictor plate wins have been rare, and the Daytona 500 Harley Earle trophy elusive despite fielding some of NASCAR’s most productive teams in the last 23 years.

Elliot Sadler surely deserves much credit for his fifth place finish having led most laps between the big wreck and Kenseth’s move to take the lead. Sadler was being pushed out of his ride as a result of the Petty/Gillett/Evernham merger to place A.J. Allmendinger in his ride. Putting that behind him, Sadler gave up a spot to advance Allmendinger in their 125 race to assure him a starting spot in the race. Allendinger finished third and Reed Sorensen 9th while Casey Kahne finished deep in the field toward the tail end of the lead lap. These results find this new merged operation looking strong in the first race of the year.

Rounding out the top five were two Childress teammates, Kevin Harvick in a backup car finished second and Clint Bowyer for the new #33 Cheerios Chevy finished fourth. Roush placed another car in the top ten with David Regan finishing 6th with his new UPS sponsorship. Michael Waltrip continues to improve from a disastrous debut for Toyota two years ago in the 7th spot. Tony Stewart finished in 8th for his new team in his backup car. Stewart was the highest finisher for Hendricks horsepower. Sorenson and Kurt Busch rounded out the top ten. Pole-sitter, Martin Truex Jr. finished 11th and David Reutimann showed more strength for Michael Waltrip racing in 12th. Jeff Gordon was the top Hendricks Motor Sports finisher in 13th.

Last year’s champ, Jimmie Johnson, had a terrible ride today finishing next to last on the lead lap in 30th position. Mark Martin could only master a 16th place finish boasting he had plenty left if the rain delay would have ended. Rousch teammates from last year’s chase, Carl Edwards finished in 18th and Greg Biffle finished in 20th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. got off to the kind of start that was exactly the kind of performance he needed to avoid to overcome the kind of problems that put him low in the chase last year. Looking strong early in the race, Junior fumbled on pit row failing to get his car within the white lines for his pit stall resulting in a penalty that put him a lap down. Rightly or wrongly, many fans will see his moves as responsible for today’s big wreck. Momentary lapses and mistakes destroyed Junior’s season in 2008 as the year got into the money rounds that really count from the late summer until the end of the year.

A mishap among rookies, Scott Speed and Joey Logano wrecked the #20 Home Depot Joe Gibbs Toyota finishing in dead last. Kyle Busch finished in 41st being the worst victim of the “big one,” making opening day a disaster for Joe Gibbs Racing with Denny Hamlin their top ride in 26th spot.

Ryan Newman, last year’s winner, finished a frustrating trip to Daytona in a 3rd car buried in 36th place.

We identified five crucial factors to watch for in determining the outcome of the Daytona 500. Our first factor, the weather proved to be the most significant as did our fear of “The Big One.” Backup cars proved not to hinder the top two finishers. There were some tire problems, but nothing out of the usual though bad rubber helped contribute to a bad day for Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson leading to our final consideration, Hendricks horsepower which did not show up strong in today’s event.

The big stories from this year’s 51st running of the Daytona 500. Congratulations are due Matt Kenseth and Jack Roush for their first Daytona 500 win. One can hardly say that Ford showed restrictor plate dominance however. The strong showing of the new Richard Petty Racing team will make this year’s chase for the chase a much more contentious field beyond the big four who have dominated the chase so dominantly in years past. Also, Michael Waltrip’s team with both cars in the top 12 shows them ready to compete as true racers not just trying to hang on to secure a spot in the top 35 to be locked into the field. the final story, of course, is the miserable finish for Joe Gibbs, but given Kyle Busch led the most laps until his accident, they’ll be back in short order.

The Sprint Cup caravan travels the distance of I-10 to Fontana, California next week where the field will face much more typical competition, the kind of racing all teams must master to have hopes of the ultimate trophy, the championship trophy in Homestead with Thanksgiving right around the corner and the NFL chase for the playoffs well underway.

The first course of what the Obama Presidency joining forces with the Harry Reid/Nancy Pelosi congress has been served and the long term economic and social structure of the United States of America is at stake.

Gone is the campaign happy talk of hope and change you can believe in replaced with threats of catastrophe and doom. In a measure full of fat and lots of sweets for the traditional Democratic special interests groups, what’s severely lacking is anything of substance that will truly help stimulate the economy. In less than one month of the Obama Presidency, American society has been transformed more substantially moving toward a caretaker state than the total of the entire Great Society of Lyndon Johnson essentially undoing all the reforms achieved by Ronald Reagan’s visionary approach toward expanding the economy through expanding free enterprise opportunity and a strong national defense and gains achieved in the early stages of the house and senate turning to Republican rule under the “Contract with America.”

Here’s the epitome of the classic Obama supporter in full overdose mode on the Obama stimulant. This is from the President’s trip to conduct a so-called “town hall” meeting to push his dopey legislation last week. This is NOT a skit from Saturday Nite Live. It is real.

Doesn’t that punk make you glad you’re not a Democrat? And what flavor Kool Aid was he gulping?

The welfare reforms achieved by a Republican congress and Bill Clinton’s approval have all but been eliminated. Substantial funds are going to social welfare and reengineering programs consisting of a laundry list of social causes and pet projects that have long been the stereotyped image of the loose spending nanny state. Aid has even been targeted to the film making industry in Hollywood. How is that for undisguised rewards for blind loyalty as the celebrity crowd not only paid generously during the last eight years to discredit the Bush Administration through slander and misinformation through their mouthpieces like and DailyKOS, but also went head over heels in their support for the Obama campaign like a love struck teenager high on sniffing glue, Diet Pepsi, and pop rocks?

That a measure with so many funding provisions with such a high price tag would be rushed through as quickly as it was with no time to be published for public reaction defines what it means to “pull a fast one.” In providing the final draft of the bill after clearing house and senate conferees, the Democratic leadership would not even provide the bill in electronic form to allow for easier research and searching for details. The Obama/Pelosi/Reid Socialization Act of 2009, weighed in over 1,000 pages. In the amount of time between finally being approved and presented for vote, no legislator could possibly have read the whole measure much less delegated it to staff and had ample time to confer and follow up on concerns over specific provisions. “The Devil is in the details” couldn’t be more appropriate as given the far reaching impact of where this spending is directed will surely result in “hell to pay” in the future both in terms of the actual cost of paying for the obligations it creates but also in expansion of the size and roll of government which permanently alters the ratio of money between the public and private sector. The private sector creates capital while the public sector squanders it. Further, as in any measure where public funds go to bailout or stimulate private sector entities, substantial requirements, the proverbial strings attached, divert private sector activity from productivity to documentation of compliance that government regulations are being adequately implemented.

Even for the sake of discussion, the pork barrel provisions in the government stimulus, we should say narcotic, bill are far too numerous to even begin to articulate but some of them are such powerful illustrations of the abuse and arrogance of power. The government nationalized passenger rail service in the 1970’s when it created Amtrak which constantly loses money while reducing the quality and level of its service. Harry Reid represents Nevada. Pork for the big pig supreme, construction of a high speed railroad from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is one massive Federal program in the bill creating an umbilical cord making the huge palaces of excess for the entertainment industry interconnected. At a time when California is struggling economically, this provides a one-way ticket for California money to be spent in Nevada on glitter and gambling.

The supreme arrogance of power is astonishing beyond anything seen in American politics. The shift to the extreme left is also especially disturbing as it reveals the true nature of the so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats who ran on a sense of fiscal conservatism mocking the big spending habits of the GOP during its majority rule. As shameful as those GOP excises were, they are but chump change compared to what the Obama Abolition of Free Enterprise as We Know it Disguised as a Stimulus program offers.

Going into the efforts that resulted in this bill, Obama was portraying himself as a consensus builder looking for a bipartisan seemingly centrist approach to attempting to breathe life into a dormant economy but the real Obama, the sweat talker who addresses the public in carefully measured surely focus group confirmed language, condemns the bill’s opponents and Republicans sounding like an angry Negro, and revealing through and through here’s a guy who never worked in the Senate long enough to properly understand how spending measures can snowball out of control and the content of the bill he so eagerly embrace likewise upholds his reputation of having been the most liberal member of the Senate from 2006-2008. Be nervous whenever Obama tries to sound African-American, as it’s all a put on for a fellow who never was immersed in an environment where such speaking habits could be learned until much later in life after his Ivy League education. It’s all an act to try to shake off his image as an ivory tower elitist.

Though the connection might not be immediately seen, it is not ironic from the big picture point-of-view that while the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Stimulus-Should-Be-Called-Narcotic Act of 2009, the Obama Administration is moving functions of managing the census from the Commerce department to the White House making the census count a much more political and less administrative activity. While attempting to cast a bi-partisan veneer on his administration by nominating Republican New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg after their golden boy nominee, Bill Richardson, former cabinet official in the Clinton administration, was forced to withdraw as a Federal corruption probe was inching ever closer to the sitting governor’s fat neck, the clear intent was that Gregg be Secretary in name only, vanity window dressing for an administration with other plans. The real agenda was political in moving the census to White House control. Is it any wonder Gregg withdrew his nomination? Gregg also voted against the Stimulus/Narcotic Bill.

Why is the census so crucial? Representing far more than just gathering data on where the United States population resides, these figures are used to determine representation in the House and the dispersal of targeted Federal Funds based on identified populations documented by the census count. Since the census does not represent a hard count of actual citizens and employs sampling and other statistical techniques, the methodology and how it is employed can be manipulated to create predetermined desires for certain outcomes. Besides that, political decisions determine who is and is not counted as shown by the last census. In North Carolina with its huge military population, its military bases were established as the residence for soldiers whether stationed there or overseas. In Utah with its substantial Mormon population, thousands of Mormons were serving overseas to fulfill their missionary commitments. They were not counted. North Carolina gained a congressional seat. Utah would have gained a seat had their overseas population been tallied. Further decisions can be made to help award population in certain parts of certain states where politically friendly governors can supervise redrawing congressional districts favorable to the party in power.

Politically drawn congressional districts are nothing new to the Mid-Atantic. There is the famous Interstate 85 corridor where a North Carolina congressional district was essentially the width of that Interstate highway to connect two predominately African-American population centers, one in the Raleigh-Durham area, the other in Charlotte, to create what would be a sure Black seat in congress. Meanwhile in Maryland, traditionally, its 1st, 2nd, and 6th congressional districts have trended Republican. Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore are primarily rural and small town populations strongly Republican. The 2nd district represented wealthy suburbs and exoburbs in Baltimore and Harford counties, strong conservative territory. Under the corrupt and incompetent leadership of Parris Glendenning, Governor of Maryland in 2000, the Maryland congressional map was radically manipulated to dilute the strong conservative populations for the West (5th district) and Eastern Shore (1st district) while rearranging districts surrounding Baltimore to ensure strong Democratic representation. Now the 6th district extends from western Maryland all along the northern boundary to the Susquehanna River dipping into the Baltimore suburbs along the York Road and Reisterstown Road corridors, both major arteries around which suburban population centers grow.

The 2nd district was pushed deeper into the industrial and more impoverished east side of Baltimore County. The 3rd district, one of two which took in much of Baltimore City begins in the Annapolis area, then twists and bends northward through Baltimore taking parts of the York and Reisterstown Road communities. A slice of the 1st district cuts east/west across Baltimore County crossing York Road into Owings Mills and Reisterstown. The Second District, now follows the western shore of the Chesapeake crosses the Patapsco River to take in Northern Anne Arundel County and South Baltimore while having another meandering strip through the north suburbs crossing the York Road and Reisterstown Road corridors snaking around to comprise about 1/3 of Baltimore County’s western boundary with Carroll County including the community of Randallstown. Maryland’s 3rd District snakes its way from Annapolis to Reisterstown at one point only being the width of Northern Parkway in Baltimore City to connect Parkville with Towson two adjoining suburbs which have a huge wedge cut between for Paris only knows what. Finally, the firmly minority district representing most of Baltimore City, the 7th District now extends far west of Baltimore including Catonsville, a very conservative traditional community, Columbia, and the largely semi-rural parts of western Howard County, largely white middle to upper middle class. Given the Afro-centric politics of minority districts, Catonsville and western Howard County have essentially no representation of their interests in Congress.

The absurdity, one can travel up York Road within a few blocks of Cockeysville and travel through three districts, only a small part of the 2nd district which once represented this community in total passes through while most of this large bedroom community is split between Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore. Travel south on York Road to the county seat of Towson, another District, the 3rd then back into the 2nd and then moving into the 7th only three blocks into Baltimore City.

The effect of Maryland’s redistricting is two fold. First, regions with similar needs and concerns are sliced up so that the real purpose of what the House of Representatives was supposed to serve to represent the people has instead been converted to one of political opportunism. Baltimore’s two most populated surrounding counties effectively have no clear voice in Congress. Harford County, one of Maryland’s fastest growing districts has no local representation. Effectively divided into thirds, the top third is lumped in with Western Maryland, the middle third is set with the Eastern Shore, and the southern third which includes substantial military population is lumped in with the industrial region of Baltimore County.

The second effect was to give the Democratic party a death grip on Republican congressional representation in Maryland. Most of the Democratic strength in Maryland resides primarily within the Beltways of Baltimore and Washington and the corridor between the two cities. Now only Western Maryland’s district which takes on the northern populations of Baltimore and Harford counties, likewise Republican strongholds, remains intact. The Eastern Shore could be a toss up but has been diluted by carefully adding strong Democratic areas on the western shore of the bay. In the last election, a Republican from the western shore ran against a Democrat from the other side of the bay and lost. The second district once represented the northern suburbs of Baltimore, most of Baltimore County and most of Harford County. This area was Republican, though a little more moderate than the strongly conservative west and Eastern Shore. Drive from the Baltimore City line ten miles north through the county seat of Towson and one would pass through four congressional districts, but once north of Towson along York Road, the main drag, at the outer end of the suburban sprawl rests Cockeysville, where in less than a mile, what’s left of its old district, one that represents the eastern shore, and one that represents western Maryland. This is all within one zip code, one elementary school district, just a handful of stop lights!!! As such, Maryland was a state with three strong Republican districts and a 4th district that belonged to a Rhino (Republican in Name Only). Now Maryland has only one strong Republican district and another that can easily be reduced to a toss up which turned Democratic in the last election. An honest mapping that reflects easily defined geographic areas with populations with similar interests and concerns would make Maryland a state with three certain Republican seats and four Democratic seats with one area that could possibly be designed to go either way, is so obvious. An honest application of census data would only involve moving boundaries a little bit one way or another based on balancing out the population. What was never intended is the farce cynically created by crass political opportunism that is the Maryland map today.

There can be little doubt that the kind of political use of the census is exactly what the Obama administration intends by moving the Census lead to the White House. Remember, Barack Obama is a product of the Richard Daley machine of Chicago politics one of the most corrupt and manipulative political enterprises in the country. The state of Illinois has long been famous for its manipulated districts. Maryland is in many respects a little Illinois. Outside of Chicago, Illinois is a largely conservative, heartland state. Maryland is much more like old Virginia the further one gets away from the Beltway regions. Speaking of Virginia, with a governor who is a close Obama ally and the rapid growth of the Washington suburbs, Virginia is a state that has been strongly Republican until recently that could easily be manipulated to create some new strongly Democratic regions. One can only imagine an I-95 corridor connecting the Alexandria region with Richmond or how the I-64 corridor could be used for political purposes to link Hampton/Newport News with Richmond. Hopefully, we’re not giving the scoundrels any ideas by mentioning this.

What’s the big deal can easily be summarized, the future makeup of the United States House of Representatives. This is the prize that has Obama’s eyes in his politicizing of the Census.

Take the worst of the Lyndon Johnson years and add the worst of the Jimmy Carter years, multiplied then add some hardy scoops of the Richard Daley Machine and the recipe for Obama politics is complete. With Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco treat and man-in-need-of-strong-enema, Harry Reid leading congress the recipe for disaster beyond belief is coming to a boil. The first big serving has been tossed on America’s plate, and that’s just the appetizer.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Daytona 500: Some Final Thoughts

We’re rooting for Mark Martin to win the Daytona 500, but coming up with a good choice of possible winners has never been tougher. Here are some of the factors that will play out in tomorrow’s race:

First, the weather, there is a 40% chance of thunderstorms through out the afternoon. A Daytona 500 has never been postponed but has been shortened because of rain. The track is now lighted so the race can withstand significant rain delays. Regardless, all strategy goes out the window when rain delays occur. Last year, Kurt Busch won the first New Hampshire race because the race was called early for rain. Michael Waltrip’s second victory in the Daytona 500 was also a rain shortened event.

Second, tire problems. Through the Speed Week activities, Sprint Cup cars have had trouble with right rear tires. Goodyear withdrew a series of tires by serial number. The tires are apparently “delaminating” where the tread separates from the body of the tire. Today in final practice, last year’s winner, Ryan Newman, had a tire explode which not only pushed him to run a backup to his backup, but he also collected his teammate and owner, Tony Stewart, who will also run in a backup car.

Third, backup cars. Several drivers are running in backup cars and will have to move to the rear of the field. Not only will Stewart and Newman be pushed back but so will 2007 winner, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Scott Speed, John Andretti, and Sam Hornish Jr. will all relinquish their starting spots and have to struggle up through the field.

Fourth, Hendricks Horsepower: Six cars will be racing with Hendricks power and chassis. What kind of teamwork will Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, and Ryan Newman display. Four of them are former winners. Mark Martin almost won in 2007. Tony Stewart has become the new Dale Earnhardt Sr. winning everything in sight in Daytona but not winning the big one. Beyond that, the Childress/Earnhardt-Ganassi power plants have won four Daytona 500’s since 2001. Beyond that, who else is there to contend? Kyle Busch looks strong but will anyone work with him as he probably has more drivers who have scores to settle with him than anyone else in the Sprint Cup garage? Fords last trip to victory lane was in 2000 when Dale Jarrett won his second 500 for Robert Yates. The entire Ford and Dodge stables have looked weak in practice, qualifying, and the 125’s so far.

Fifth, “the BIG one. Fans and drivers alike nervously fear the inevitable, a huge multicar accident that collects several cars often some of the major contenders for the win. Having seen a lot of episodes of cars running three rows wide and questionable tire condtions, somehow “the big one” appears more ominous than ever. We pray there will be no injuries just twisted metal and hot tempers as a result.

Finally, the unexpected. No one would have bet on Ward Burton to win in 2002 or Ryan Newman last year. Surely, Kevin Harvick’s win in 2007 was seen as a surprise by most. We’ve identified the variables we think will influence tomorrow’s race, but suppose someone has stayed out in front to get five bonus points during a caution flag. The race resumes but then is quickly called for rain. Any dog could have his day.

We’re pleased to report that the effects of a bad economy and the multiple team switcheroo’s is not showing any significant influence on competition so far. If anything, born of the off season chaos could be another strong Ford team will Hall of Fame racing allying with Yates and snapping up the owner points from the defunct #38 operation. With Todd Parrot as crew chief and past champ, Bobby Labonte, as driver, they have an excellent chance to compete though a lot of remarkable things would have to come together for any Ford team to win the race unless above all else, the fifth factor above prevails.

This is perhaps the toughest Daytona 500 in recent memory to pick a favorite. Finally, a sad note, this is the first Daytona 500 ever that no one with the last name Petty was entered to compete in the Daytona 500. Kyle Petty is out of a ride with no suitors. King Richard is but a co-owner with a minority stake in the operation that bears his name.

Why do the names Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson seem so haunting as most likely winners?

Profiles in Left Wing Loonies: Janeane Garofalo, Mindless Twit

Janeane Garofalo is a mindless twit who takes herself way too seriously, but has become a much more outspoken figure than the run-of-the-mill Hollywood activist crowd having served on the ill-fated ultra-left, Air America radio network. The irony is she is a comedienne by trade but never a very effective one having enjoyed a short tenure on Saturday Nite Live where she didn’t last long as a part of the 1994-1995 season, back when the show was still occasionally very funny citing that their material was “weak” and “sexist.” How ironic is it now that she appears on Fox Network’s blockbuster show, “24” which is one of conservative America’s favorite TV shows for its robust anti-terrorist, assertive fight the enemy style. Perhaps for Garofalo, lack of work and lack of talent leads to a minor roll on a show that would seem to be a total sellout to her political beliefs.

Still she’s never shy about her opinions. We hate giving her any more publicity, but her words are so typical of a psychotic self-righteousness that also reveals extreme hatred and bitterness toward their perceived enemies. One has to wonder what her knowledge of neuroscience. Surely, she has zero knowledge of the hard realities of political science.

So here you can read it for yourself. The twit speaks. This is sourced from interview posted on “Ecorazzi” website, “the latest in green gossip, February 12, 2009.

…..since it is clear and has been clear since Reagan that the republicans, the “conservatives” will NEVER play ball…NEVER…fu%$ um.

Their policies have destroyed us and most of the world – that’s a fact not an opinion. Their policies of deregulation, pre-emptive strikes, unmitigated support for Israel to the detriment of the Israelis, Palestinian’s, Americans, the British. Every single policy that “conservative republicans” have put forth since Reagan has destroyed us. And we affect most of the world, so why do they still get a say? That’s what blows my mind. It’s almost like self-flagellation or masochism in some way. We keep going to that portion. They are NEVER going to compromise. The thing is that the more you give in to something like that, the more they take advantage.

The reason a person is a conservative republican is because something is wrong with them. Again, that’s science – that’s neuroscience. You cannot be well adjusted, open-minded, pluralistic, enlightened and be a republican. It’s counter-intuitive. And they revel in their anti-intellectualism. They revel in their cruelty.

I don’t know if you heard me talking to Jenny a while ago, but I was saying that first you have to be an asshole and then comes the conservatism. You gotta be a dick to cleave onto their ideology.

We will not dignify these remarks with any specific response other than to say we hardly revel in our cruelty but what is she doing in speaking in this kind of a harsh voice? I’d be interested in how much money she donates to charities that actually provide help to others. Time and time again, surveys show conservatives are far more generous than liberals who have so often be shown to be absolutely niggardly in their contributions as shown by the IRS data on Joe Biden and Al Gore.

It should be easy to dismiss Garafalo’s comments as just those of a hot-headed extremist, but this is the kind of talk that is posted daily on sites like The Daily KOS, MoveOn.Org, and the Huffington Post. While not stooping to the same kind of language as it would be inappropriate for the Speaker of the House, such sentiments are at very least implied in just about every public presentation Nancy Pelosi provides the news media.

The endemic underlying hatred and resentment of the radical left is hard to ignore. For a movement that attached itself to the “peace, love, and flowers” in the 60’s, the loony left is grounded anger and a complete detachment of what makes the real world work whether on economic policy or what it takes to keep our country free. Their contempt for free enterprise and a strong defense are cornerstones of their warped ideology.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Business as Usual on Capitol Hill

So what's the rush? At 11:00 pm the final version of the so-called stimulus bill was completed bringing together the house and senate versions. How fast was this whole measure created? What's the rush? At over 1,100 pages, our fine elected leaders on Crapitol Hill are being forced to commit to quick passage.

Should we not be terrified that our Senators and Congressmen see fit to commit to a cursory rush job on something that will cost our society well over a trillion dollars including the expediture, interest, and most other costs this bill will cause.

Something this thorough, as wrong as it is, demands critical investigation before passage. The very nature of our economic system is being permanently revised by this fiasco.

How much worse can it get? Remember, this law started in the house largely a product of Nancy Pelosi.

More on "The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008"

We recently reported on an issue raised by former Assistant Secretary for Post Secondary Education, Diane Auer Jones found in The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HR 4137). All institutions of higher education that provide student housing must now report students who are vacant from their dorm space for 24 hours or more as missing. We decided to take a look at this legislation for more outrages. First, this measure was buried deep in Section 488. However, the total measure consists of 431 pages of gobblety-goop micromanaging virtually all aspect of higher education other than explicity addressing cirriculum or tenure.

This shameful prime example of legislative excess was established simply to provide federal support for helping low and moderate income students attend college but in doing so tramples on virtually every square foot of every college campus.

What struck us as most concerning about this law is the depth and range Federal regulation extends its grasp upon how colleges and universities conduct their business simply as the strings attached for the schools accepting students who receive Federal loans or other measures of Federal funding.
Read all about it if you have too much time on your hands or have a real fetish for reading about government abuse. Do you think any of our elected "leaders" read this whole measure. Here it is courtesy of

These provisions are unbelievably specific in some instances and require tremendous resources to impliment, monitor, assure compliance, and report upon. As such, the overhead to the schools is enormous from having adequate legal counsel either on staff or contracted to interpret the legislation and make sure the school is compliant in every aspect. On top of that, the manpower and resource requirements to manage these requirements is substantial. On top of that, just by the size of the task load imposed by this law, so much administrative and leadership time is devoted to simply following this ridiculous work of bureaucratic interference run wild instead of focusing on the key issues that all schools should be devoted to promoting: quality education and a good learning environment for students; expert, timely, creative, and far-reaching research for the benefit of society, business and industry; and recruiting, developing, and retaining the best, most challenging faculty possible.

Is it any wonder that college costs have gone up so dramtically in the past 30 years far beyond the rate of inflation by multiple factors? Likewise, is it also not surprising that the college environment is being overtaken by personnel on all levels who have no problem with a big government approach to all aspects of the human condition. Is it any coincidence that college faculties have become the bastion of extreme left politics conservatives or those with traditional values need not apply.

American leadership has had quality higher education as one of its key foundations where our institutions of higher education were sought by the best and brightest around the world for their studies. Today, the product is increasingly being compromised, losing its sense of mission, and beginning to lose its lead over what is provided in other countries.

Our colleges and universities must be the best the world has to offer in providing expertise in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics while continuing to provide an outstanding liberal arts education where schooling is not so much as learning the right answers for some master exam but asking the right questions about life in the real world.

Sadly, our great institutions are being reduced to essentially vocational traning facillities where every "i" is dotted and "t" crossed with fervent political correctness blindly complying with the multitude of overregulation by the Federal Government.

SPRINT CUP: Race 1: The Daytona 500, Can Hendricks Horsepower Be Beaten?

The off-season seemed morbid, teams merging, drivers out of rides, sponsors uncertain, but once Speed Week at Daytona was coming into focus, looking at the top, Hendricks, Gibbs, Roush and Childress – all was well. In the lesser ranks, the new DEI/Ganassi lineup looks competitive. A name game at Gillette/Evernham saved the exit of NASCAR’s most famous name changing their name to Richard Petty Racing and keeping the legendary #43 car, but gone is the familiar Carolina Blue color. For the most part, the also-rans are still the also-rans. They come and go every year. We’ll see a lot of the same familiar faces struggling to make the field. The real interest though will be the new life pumped into Hall of Fame racing, now functioning as a third Yates team with crew chief, Bud Parrot, and past champion, Bobby Labonte in the driver’s seat. They’ll start with Roush/Yates engines, but with Parrot and Labonte together, both with championship experience, this could be a team to watch and perhaps be the one Ford that isn’t a Roush car that could wind up in victory lane. The other new team, of course, is Stewart-Haas racing with Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, proven winners, racing with essentially Hendricks equipment. Both have looked tough so far.

Martin Truex Jr. seized the poll demonstrating that old DEI touch in restrictor plate racing is alive and well in the new Earnhardt/Ganassi operation. Sharing the front row could be the sentimental favorite to finally get his Daytona 500 win, racing full time for Hendricks, Mark Martin. Row two features the winners of the twin 125’s. Jeff Gordon is looking to be this year’s comeback kid and cannot be ignored. Next to Gordon stands the most hated driver in NASCAR, the punk himself, Kyle Busch. Tony Stewart is off to a brilliant start looking for his first Daytona 500 in row 3 paired with Red Bull racer, Brian Vickers, who was starting to show real potential in his Toyota toward the end of the 2008 campaign. Last year’s champ (well last three years’ champ) Jimmie Johnson and Juan Montoya, another strong showing for Earnhardt/Ganassi hold down row 4. Rounding out the top ten are rookie, Joey Logano and his Gibbs teammate, Denny Hamlin. It is not until row 11 where Ford makes its first appearance with Bobby Labonte in the #96 Ford. Dodge doesn’t make its first appearance until Kurt Busch shows up in row 7 in the 13th position. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in 14th postion in row 7. The next Ford doesn’t appear until row 8 with Carl Edwards starting in the 16th spot.

Looking the starting lineup, the field is dominated by Chevrolet that by numbers alone has far more cars in competition that the other makes given Hendricks and Childress are both teams that dominate the Chase and are now both four car operations. DEI/Ganassi adds three cars and Stewart/Haas adds two more cars. The Gibbs operation looks strong for Toyota with all three cars in the top ten but now Brian Vickers looks like one of the most likely breakthrough drivers for 2009.

Things look tough for Ford and especially Dodge. Roush/Fenway has struggled to figure out the Daytona 500 and restrictor plate racing, but with the five teams spread out in 16th (Edwards), 21st (McMurray), 33rd (Regan), 35th (Biffle), and former champ, Kenseth, in 39th. Meanwhile, Yates entries show Paul Menard in 19th and Travis Kvapil in 41st. Bill Elliott racing for the “legendary” Wood Brothers, who looked so powerful in qualifying and practice starts in 40th. One the Dodge slate, Penske starts in 13th (Kurt Busch), 21st (Stremme), and 29th (Hornish) after Ryan Newman won for them last year. The new Petty team catches 15th (Kahne), 20th (Allmendinger), 30th (Sadler) and 34th (Sorenson) the famed #43 car.

Small time operations who will enjoy their moment in the sun driving Toyotas fill-out the 9th row with Scott Riggs and Jeremy Mayfield. Of the cars that did not qualify, there are no real suprises but one can surely see that “Front Row” Joe Nemechek’s career is in decline. Brad Keselowski, racing with a minor team, at least gained experience for future endeavors. His place to shine is running for a Nationwide Championship this year. The Cup series will be there in the future.

One more note, we’re not going to mince any words, is an absolutely shitty site and does a terrible job being the first click for information on NASCAR’s top three series. We were hoping to find the Daytona 500 starting lineup, GOOD LUCK. The site is poorly organized. The most important information is not right at hand. The quality of reporting is average. For real detailed stuff but not the quick fix, is a great site. The Charlotte Observer provides which is also an excellent resource. For the regular day-in-day out quick fix, both Fox Sports and ESPN are far better than has been junk, despite numerous revisions, since EPSN got dumped from NASCAR’s coverage prior to the 2001 season.

We’ll do our best to highlight each week’s upcoming race and comment on the results as best as possible. As much as we'd love to see someone else (Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Dale Jr.) win the championship, what could possibly stop Jimmie Johnson? Hopefully not Kyle Busch. Has anyone ruled out Jeff Gordon?