Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ten Ways To Help Dale Earnhardt Jr. Find His Pit Box

Ten Ways To Help Dale Earnhardt Jr. Find His Pit Box

Several times this season, Hendrick Motosports driver and fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has done the unthinkable. He has managed to miss his pit stall during critical stops in the race.

It happened again this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Junior drove past his pit box, passing his crew by in the process.

These mistakes in pitting caused the No. 88 Amp Energy/National Guard team to finish in the very disappointing 20th position.

Obviously, Dale Junior has some kind of issue with locating his pit stall. He has even admitted that he gets confused when all the various team signs are waving and cannot seem to find his pit sign or box very easily.

So, what can be done to help Earnhardt, Jr. with his pit problems? Here are 10 suggestions for his pit box location malady.

1. Neon Pit Sign

Since Junior is complaining that he cannot see his pit sign, the crew should definitely add some neon glowing and blinking lights to the pole. Perhaps this will guide Junior safely in for his pit stops.

2. Emergency Pit Flares

These flares seem to work well when used by police and law enforcement to signal traffic problems or different traffic patterns in cases of accident or construction. Why not add a few emergency flares around the pit box a few laps before Junior is due to pit?

3. Enhance Pit Crew Attire

All those pit crew members must surely look alike and with sponsors changing almost daily, the uniforms must be hard to distinguish for the drivers. Enhance Junior's pit crew attire with a few Hawaiian shirts to set them apart and truly capture the driver's eye.

4. Pit Box Outline

While not a sponsor of Junior's car but a sponsor of Hendrick Motorsports, Junior and team should take a trip to Lowe's and purchase some heavy duty day-glow tape. They can then use this to outline Junior's pit box, again giving him some signal as to where to pit.

5. Track Billboards

Helping Junior pit should actually start before he ever enters pit road. The No. 88 team should consider a few billboards strategically placed around every track, with a simple map delineating where Junior is on the track in relation to his pit stall on pit road.

That simple "you are here" and "here is where you should pit" may be just the ticket in overcoming the pit problems.

6. GPS Unit

If Kasey Kahne can use his Garmin to help him around the track, why not have a GPS unit specifically set up for the pit box for Junior?

7. National Guard Contingent

One of Junior's primary sponsors is the National Guard. They are sworn to protect their country and most surely would not mind protecting Junior for his pit stop as well.

The Guard could come out, form their battle lines and guide Junior right in for each and every pit stop. An added bonus is that they could fire off a few shots to get his attention if he veers off the course in any way.

8. Specialized Driver Enhancement

Have you ever been to Disney World on the ride where you "drive" the cars? A Disney staffer jumps onto your vehicle as you near the end of the ride to guide you into the station.

This could also work handily for Junior as one of his crew members could jump onto the car at the end of pit road and navigate him into the correct pit stall for his stop.

9. Fairy Tale Fix

In many fairy tales, the heroes and heroines leave bread or cookie crumbs on the path to lead them back home. Junior and his crew could take a page out of the fairy tale book, leaving a path of Amp cans to send Junior in for the perfect pit stop.

10. Pit Stops 101

Finally, the most important thing that Dale Junior and crew must do is to go back to practicing Pit Stops 101.

In these two weeks off, instead of hunting baskets and coloring eggs, the No. 88 team and driver should be practicing pits stops, enhancing their communications, and figuring out how to get into the pits appropriately before the next race in Phoenix.

Adhering to all or any of these suggestions, especially the final tip, will most certainly lead Dale Junior safely into his pit box.

And perhaps, miracle of all miracles, this team will actually perform up to its potential and fulfill the fans' expectations.

UPDATE: Today's Wall Street Journal in a story by Matthew Futterman reports the following in their Heard on the Field column:

Mired in 16th place in Nascar's Sprint Cup standings, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is trying out a new career. He's the directional voice on a new navigational device from Transplant GPS called the Spotter. Junior, as he is known, will use his down-home twang to tell drivers, "Hey, back'er down. You gotta turn around," or "Hang a right". Given Mr. Earnhardt's mistake-filled season, may we suggest the device also include such utterances as, "Woops, just missed out pit stop."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lady Bug Luck?

You know after going to the cowboys game or a ranger game or a basketball game for that matter...people always seem to discuss their favorite play of the game, or the make or break play, or the play that won or lost the game for their team that they are rooting for...

I have been watching nascar all my life, just like watching the Cowboys play football, I can always remember watching autoracing. I started attending actuall races at the spring race of race of 2002 at Texas Motorspeedway, with the exception of attending the IRL race the summer of 2001, the same year that Dale Earnhardt Sr passed away.

I was also given the opportunity to go the Daytona 500 in 2004, they call this the Super Bowl of nascar. I truly will remember that race for a long time. Dale Jr finally won at Daytona.

This past weekend at Texas Motorspeedway, was the 17th race at Texas, including the fall races and I was there to see and support my favorite driver, Jeff Gordon. Jeff finally won at Texas. Last spring he finished dead last in 43rd place this spring he finished 1st, what a huge difference. I know that there are a lot of fans that don't like Jeff, I am old enough to understand that not everyone likes every driver. But I do think that deep down, everyone respects the "opposing" drivers.

With this, I would like to share a special moment from the race with everyone.
As you all know by now, my favorite driver is Jeff Gordon. I have recently in the last couple of years started taking one or both of my youngest along with my oldest some Michael to the Texas races. My sons Michael and Trey are Dale Junior fans, and my youngest son Eriq likes Jeff Gordon.

Well, since we normally sit at the races where we can get close to the fence, as the drivers go around the track during driver introductions, i have been making a sign for jeff gordon, for Eriq to hold up as Jeff goes by...This year, I actually had Michael make one for eriq...ended up looking really good...(notice the saying on the sign...this win will truly be priceless...)

Well, the special part of this story is not that we did make the sign, but it is about a little lucky lady bug that landed on Eriq and kept coming back to us...

The first time that the lady bug flew away, I told Eriq that she flex away to get on jeff's car to bring him good luck. Then the next thing we knew the lady bug came back. The lady bug continued to do this several different times...

Anyway, as everyone probally already knows by now Jeff won the race. Eriq is convinced it was the lady bug that did it...(This is a picture that we took as Jeff was driving around the track with the checkered flag)

This is really what they call Lady Bug Luck!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A nothing Blog

Have you ever felt like doing really bad things, when something doesn't go your way? Have you ever felt that stressed? How do you handle it? What do I do? I feel crazy most of the time, and I feel like everyone feels that I am a no good lazy person. I stress over everything, you name it. My kids hate me, they think that I am mean...I feel like the bad guy all the time...

I am 40 years old, and I have nothing to show for it.

I feel like I have gotten absolutely no where...

I give up.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I want to take a minute and thank Jerry Nadeau for being able to spend a few minutes with me and sharing his thoughts on a few questions from friends...

W8Lifter (from across the border) would like to know:

Who is the most competitive driver you ever raced against and why would you single him/her out from the others?

Jerry: I would have to say T. Stewart... he is very aggresive and an all around good racer in any car he drives.

Mike would like to know:

What did you want to do with your life besides be a nascar driver?

Jerry: To be a good Dad to my Daughter and to have a great life with my future Wife Amanda and what ever i choose to carry on in life.

Deb from Cleveland would like to know:

You know what I would like to do you learn your skill. Where do you learn what it takes to prepare your body and your mind for those incredible speeds?
you wear so much protective outerwear.....does your body get overheated? How do you keep it cool?

Jerry: As far as being a racer...I've raced since I was 4 years old... its part of you...the heat, you get pretty used to it...I used to roof houses when I was 13 years old, so I'm used to the heat and far as keeping cool, everybody has a helmet air conditioner and also they drink plenty of water.

Smashmouth would like to know:

Did anyone besides Dale SR. intimadate you as a professional NASCAR driver. What drivers IYO took the greatest risk out there on the track. What drivers of today will we be talking about 10-20 years from now.

Jerry: Hard to say...everybody is a little different...most of them belong out there...some of them you dont really care to race side by side with... but there was only one Dale Earnhardt...I think Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are racers that you will hear about in 10 years...also I'm sure there are other great racers on the way up.

Reg from Detroit, MI would like to know:

What is your response to those who say that race car drivers aren't really athletes?

Jerry: Ok, sit inside my racecar driving 180 mph with 43 guys and its 140 degrees in the car and you also have a three layer suit on with sweat getting in your eyes and let me know if we are athletes.

Hello from Mechanicsville, PA would like to know:

Jerry, since your accident in Richmond I have noticed you have been recovering using sim racing games. How well has that helped you and do you hope to someday return to racing?

If you were to give advice to a young driver working his or her way through the dirt roots racing and trying to get to asphalt racing, what would be the best advice to give them?

Jerry: The sim racing games these days help alot...I was always a gamer before I actually made it into the scene...I do think most of the young guys on their way up and some of the guys allready there mess around alot with online racing... it gets pretty competitive...I dont think I will ever get back to where I was...but racing will always be there...I'm sure I will do some kart racing or late model racing somewhere...As far as a driver doing dirt and going asphalt...its actually better...You get a better feel on the dirt tracks...slingin the car around.. its more forgiving...when you go to asphalt...yes the car has more grip and is less forgiving..but you can carry what you learned on dirt to asphalt much far as correcting the car in a slide...being very smooth helps too.

ZebFan06 would like to know:

In retrospect, is there anything you had regretted in NASCAR up to the point of your injury?

What is your view on the current chase system?

Jerry: No there is nothing that I really regret ... I think that the Chase format is good...I think that it makes it more interesting..don't you think?

Patsfan1002 would like to know:

From what I've last heard since your accident you had been doing some mentoring for young drivers, is that still true?

Jerry: I have helped a couple guys out but I am still trying to figure out whats best for me right now... I still enjoy giving advice to the guys or girls on there way up the ladder.

KingKaysar from Dallas, Texas would like to know:

What is your take on "field-fillers" or "Buschwackers"?
How do you feel about the COT?

Jerry: Not big on the fieldfillers... The Buschwackers (now Nationwide Wackers, lol) is good because it gets those guys more ready if they want to move up to the sprint prepares them...The C.O.T. is better...They don't look better but they are safer.

TheOutlaw81513 from Athens, Texas would like to know:

What do you feel your memorable / greatest achievement in NASCAR was?

Jerry: Winning Atlanta and the No Bull sprint race at Lowes.

Bonus Question: What is your Favorite Pie?

Jerry: Pecan Pie with Ice Cream

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ray's Sports Ramblings



This football off season, I told you I had a few special tricks up my sleeve. Today, I unveil one of those for you.

Ray's Sports Ramblings is about to shift into high gear with an in-depth look at the sport of NASCAR. Yes people, NASCAR is a sport. My Friend KK and I will be, over the course of the 32 race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, bringing you some real eye opening looks at all things NASCAR. The first installment is about to shoot out for you to see. So keep an eye out.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year contenders

Before earning respect from the veteran Cup drivers, freshman drivers have to spend a full season with a yellow-striped bumper. The candidate list for the 2008 Raybestos Rookie of The Year contenders in the Sprint Cup Series is slightly different this year. Usually it is made up of former Nationwide (Busch) Series or Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) drivers breaking into the premier NASCAR series. With the exception of Regan Smith, the list is made up of former open-wheel racers with championship trophies that have made the switch to NASCAR.

Regan Smith, who will pilot the Dale Earnhardt Inc. No. 01 Chevrolet[/B] in 2008, spent the last six years racking up 102 Busch Series starts and 22 Craftsman Truck Series races covering most of the venues he'll face in 2008 Sprint Cup Series. Before Ginn Racing merged with DEI during 2007, Smith drove the No. 01 for the Ginn Racing team in 7 Cup starts. While at Ginn, Smith had the added advantage of ride-sharing the car with veteran Mark Martin. With Martin as a tutor, Smith was able to quickly gain some Cup experience. While he is the ROTY contender with the most time spent behind the wheel of a stock car Smith will be up against some heavy-duty race car drivers for the title.

Dario Franchitti, the 2007 IndyCar Series Champion, racked up 18 wins in 180 open-wheel starts in both the CART and Indy Series. He's the most recent Indianapolis 500 winner as well. The Scottish-born driver joined Ganassi Racing last season as a NASCAR developmental driver. He drove an ARCA race at Talladega, a Martinsville truck race and the final four Busch Series events at Memphis, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami. Plans are in place for him to pull the ARCA, Nationwide, Sprint Cup triple at Daytona in February and running several Sprint/Nationwide companion races to give him valuable seat time. The Daytona 500 will be the 34-year-old driver's debut in the Cup Series but he has already participated in tests with Ganassi's No. 40 Dodge, his 2008 ride, at Atlanta and Nashville. The No. 40, with former driver David Stremme, finished 2007 in the top 35 in owners points giving the team a guarantee start in the first five 2008 Sprint Cup races. That's a definite edge over fellow open-wheel rookies Carpentier and Villeneuve who will have to concentrate on qualifying for those races.

Sam Hornish, Jr., another Indianapolis 500 winner (2006), is a three-time IndyCar Champion (2001, 2002 and 2006). The 28-year-old Ohio native scored 18 wins in the last seven seasons in the IndyCar Series. Roger Penske, his IndyCar owner, has given him some NASCAR seat time over the past two seasons. Hornish raced eleven Busch Series races and made the field for 2007 Cup starts at Phoenix and Homestead. He attempted several others but since the team was not in the top 35 in owners points he failed to race his way into the show. NASCAR allowed Penske to swap owners points between teammate Kurt Busch's No. 2 Dodge and Hornish's No. 77 Dodge to give him a guarantee for the first five races of 2008. Busch has former Cup Champion provisionals to fall back on if needed to make the races.

Canadian-born Patrick Carpentier has been racing since 1985. The 36-year-old driver earned the 1997 ROTY title in the former CART series and made it as high as 3rd in the series points (2002). After CART closed shop, Carpentier moved to the Champ Car World Series and was ranked 3rd in 2004. He spent one season in the IRL before moving over to Daytona Prototype cars (sports cars) and some stock car racing in Canada's version of NASCAR (CASCAR). In 2007 Carpentier ran three NEXTEL Cup and three Busch Series races in preparation for his move to NASCAR. His best outing was the inaugural Busch Series race in his native Canada where he started on the pole and finished 2nd to Kevin Harvick. He will be driving full-time this season in the Gillett Evernham No. 10 Dodge.

Jacques Villeneuve is another Canadian-born driver and yet another Indy 500 winner(1995). The 1995 CART Champion moved into Formula 1 racing in 1996 and finished 2nd in points his first season. The following year he was crowned the 1997 F1 Champion and continued in that series until 2006. Bill Davis gave the 36-year-old an opportunity to run some NASCAR races in 2007. He drove seven races in the Craftsman Truck Series and two in a Cup car. Villeneuve will drive Bill Davis Racing's No. 27 Toyota this season. With his F1 experience, he should do well on the road courses, and probably on the superspeedways, but will need some seat time to be comfortable on tracks like Bristol, Martinsville and Richmond.

With the exception of Smith, they will have to learn to communicate with their NASCAR crew on how the cars are handling during the event. Without a doubt, at least one of this group will be mentioned every weekend this season. You'll hear from the commentators about the "transition" to the bulkier cars, the "need to be patient" while gaining track experience and, finally, "earning respect" from the NASCAR veterans. All-in-all, this should be a very exciting rookie class.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dale Jr. races for his father at Daytona

At night, when he drives through the infield on his way to dinner, Tony Eury Jr. can't help but marvel at all those green 88 banners. "Just a couple of months ago, they were red 8s," he says. "These people went out and spent their money to show who they were rooting for. You see all the green stuff and you know: these people love us."

Eury is cousin, crew chief and consigliere to the world's most famous and popular living driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Since the conclusion of the last disappointing season, they have changed teams, sponsors and numbers, hence the suddenly ubiquitous green 88s, denoting Mountain Dew's Amp energy drink, where there had been red Budweiser logos. Of course, the fans don't care if Earnhardt likes his beverages caffeinated or alcoholic. Their allegiance — likely the most devout in all of American sports — isn't based on the product, but the man.

It's been said, with ample economic justification, that what's good for Junior is good for NASCAR. With that in mind, this was an especially sweet Valentine's Day, as pleasing to the sponsors as it was to the fans. Just five days after winning the Budweiser Shootout, Junior won his qualifying race, the 60-lap Gatorade Duel. These races might not count in the season standings, but they are a harbinger for the race that really counts, or, perhaps, counts most of all.

The 50th running of the Daytona 500 is almost here. It's a momentous occasion for any driver — but most of all, for Earnhardt. Daytona was where his daddy died.

"That's where it happened," says Eury, nodding in the direction of Turn 4. "You hope it never happens again, but you also know it can be around the corner at any time."

Eury speaks for the team, the family and the driver. They are his indivisible concerns. But listening to the crew chief, you can't help but think of Junior. Going around that track as he does, can he ever be cured of his grief?

"No, I don't think he ever will," says Eury. "We lost something valuable here. We miss him every day."

They're not alone. The deep affection fans felt for the father — "the working man who come out of a cotton mill town and made it big ... a small-town guy who made you think hey, that could be me" — has been bestowed upon the son. The fans' green 88s and before that, their red 8s, have been a way to honor the black 3.

"That's probably the one way they can carry that legacy," says Eury. "They're gonna pull for his son. That's the next best thing."

Unfortunately, there's a problem with this. Being a famous son is among the most hazardous jobs in America. Expectations are relentless and unforgiving. What's more, in Earnhardt's case, the anniversary of his father's death inevitably coincides with the biggest Sunday in the sport. It's one thing to share a famous father with the world; it's another to have to share his ghost.

The Man in Black is everywhere at Daytona. His statue marks the entrance like a welcoming icon. Pilgrims in black Goodwrench hats approach as if receiving a benediction. A Car of Tomorrow replica of the No. 3 Monte Carlo is parked outside the media center. He died on the last lap of the 500 blocking for his boy. Religions have been constructed from less potent narratives.

Actually, the attentions directed at Junior do seem almost religious. It's not just the sudden preponderance of green stuff at the track. It's the way grown men and women press their noses to the glass of the #25 garage stall, with that unmistakable look of devotion. Even when the stall is empty — no car, no crew — they gaze upon the tires and the tools as if they were talismans.

Forget the money. How many men could compete in the place where one's father had passed? You wonder how many days Junior wakes up and wishes his name were John Smith.

"Sure," says Eury. "There's a lot of pressure that comes along with that name. But most days he enjoys waking up being Dale Earnhardt Jr."

The Earnhardts and Eurys embrace Daytona and all that the track signifies: money and pressure, the chance to grieve and the chance to be great. Junior himself said as much the other day, after winning the Budweiser Shootout: "This is where we lost him and I want to keep whipping it. You know what I'm saying? I want to make it a special place."

If the last two races make Junior a favorite to win the 50th Daytona, so be it. "We got a great shot," he said after Thursday's qualifying race.

That's the truth, no sense hiding from it. False modesty is as bad as a braggart's conceit. The truth is, Senior's son has a great shot. A win would be good for the family, as victory is palliative for everything from enduring sorrow to outsized expectation. It'll be good for the sport, too, for everybody from those guys in green to the Man in Black.

"I know he's proud of us," says Eury. "Every time we win here it's a tribute to him. It makes us feel better."