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Sunday, February 17, 2008

NASCAR: Daytona 500: Recap

The 50th Running of the Dayton 500 ended up a lot better than it seemed it was going to. After the offseason of anticipation. The build up of all the driver and team switches. Not to mention the influx of all the open wheel drivers. I couldn't wait to see how things would play out when they dropped the green flag. It turned out I would have to wait a little longer than that.

As they rolled off to start the race, I immediately found changes I liked and changes I didn't. Rather than introduce the drivers row by row, each driver was pictured stating their name and where they are from. Kind of a cool thing they picked up from their football broadcasts. Cool to see guys take pride in their home towns. Though I do not look forward to the drivers modifying it the way football players do. I definitely could pass on Fox's other new addition. They have the new Gopher Cam which is set down into the track. It is an annoying view that provides nothing to the race view.

One of the heavily covered aspects was the fact that it is the 5oth anniversary of the race. Michael Waltrip managed to improve drastically over last years race. Last year he was penalized for a fuel additive coasting him 100 points. This year will start he started a little by leading a lap to get 5 points. He also rolled gold wheels for the first run of the race that were pulled at the first pit stop, they will be auctioned for charity.

For the first half of the race it seemed that this might be shaping up to be a very dull repeat of last season. While the Gibbs and Hendrick racing teams were running one through four through much of the first half. About the only interesting aspect of that is the fact that the Gibbs team is now running Toyotas. As that was happening I couldn't help but wonder what NASCAR would think of a foreign nameplate winning the Anniversary edition of a sport that has always been American. Those thoughts only get stronger as Kyle Busch continued to be the strongest car in the field.

All of this started to get a lot more interesting with 40 laps to go. Around that time Hendricks flag ship man Jeff Gordon went out of the race with suspension issues. Dropping that team to Jimmie Johnson, newcomer Dale Earnhardt Jr. and other(Casey Mears). Then Roush Fenway's team took a nice hit when David Ragan slid up the track, for no reason at all, at least that's how it appeared to me. On his way up he managed to take out Mr. Roboto, Matt Kenseth.

Once we got recovered from that caution we got rolling again... briefly. Just a few laps later last years Champion Jimmie Johnson got loose in the middle of the pack and took out himself and Martin Truex Jr. This ended up being a huge blow to teammate Earnhardt on two fronts. Not only had he know lost an ally in the ever important drafting game , that Daytona has become with restrictor plates. He also didn't pit, just as he hadn't on the previous caution. While the last move was strategy, this one came about because to many guys were chatting on the Radio, and Crew Chief Tony Eury, Jr. couldn't get on to tell Junior in time.

So then we got rolling again... briefly (Are you picking up a trend here). At this point we got to enjoy my least favorite aspect of NASCAR. The "Who is Juan Pablo Problem Montoya Going to Wreck This Week" game. This weeks lucky winner, Clint Boyer. Boyer, who happened to be leading at the time, ended up spinning off the track and into the infield. On the bright side he didn't end the race on his roof and on fire like he did last year.

Now with 14 laps to go we get things started for the final time... Almost final. As the green flag dropped everyone abandoned Juan Problem and he dropped like a stone. Then as they were coming through the turn Dave Blainey slid up track in front of Montoya and went into the wall. It is possible that Kevin Harvick made a brilliant move by slightly nudging Blainey, in a much more intelligent way than Montoya had done a few laps earlier(Disclosure, Harvick is my favorite driver and I can't stand Montoya) So to the caution we go.

Now to the Green-White-Checker. It turns out we will be going for the final time now for sure. In a bit of crafty driving Ryan Newman managed to work around Tony Stewart which put them about equal but then Newmans teammate Kurt Busch came in from behind and pushed both of them across the finish for a first time 1-2 finish for team owner Richard Penske.

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San Francisco 49'ers Offseason

The San Francisco 49'ers Offseason got off to a real interesting start with the back and forth between head coach Mike Nolan and starting quarterback Alex Smith. Then they both got a little help in the form of Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz.

While Martz could be just the piece that solves all their problems. He just might be the piece that spells the end for one or both of them. Alex Smith definitely needs a mentor that can help him tap into his potential. Either that or a lobotomy so he isn't such an emotional eggshell. Nolan on the other hand definitely needs someone like Martz who can help him turn up the offense on a team that grossly under achieved in 2007. However, if Martz manages to turn the offensive production up and Nolan still can't deliver on some wins. Martz might end up helping himself to Nolans job.

It just isn't time to give up on Alex Smith yet so while that is a question mark. The last thing his fragile ego needs is for the Niners to take a quarterback. So with the team set well in the backfield with Frank Gore. The Niners need a strong Wide Receiver to compliment Darell Jackson, Arnaz Battle and Tight End Vernon Davis. While any of those three could take the next step to beocme a premier player none of them managed to do it last year.

Early Doucet(WR-LSU) is a big time speed guy that could really free things up underneath. He has also shown that he can step and deliver in big games and big situations.While the head of a team certainly isn't going to be a Wide Receiver any kind of leadership the Niners could bring would be helpful. Especially, considering they are one of the youngest teams in the NFL.

The Niners could also look to shore up thier offensive line though they do a have an early pick in the second round to address that. It would go a long way to improving Alex Smiths play if he wasn't getting dropped one out of every ten plays like he did in 2007.

Linking up with RonDean

I can't say I'd go for all these ways to fix baseball, but #9 is a gem(Sports Hernia)

Really, A couple of extra Gold medals aren't worth having to deal with these grape-smuggling suits(FanHouse)

Like we needed one more reason to win the Superbowl(With Leather)

Bloggers win again, IOC approves blogging from Beijing. No word on whether Chinese Government will allow competitors out of their cells to use computers.(ESPN)

I am still relevant for another 5-years, let's do this(Dan Shanoff)

le Basketbawl next list should be of the stuff they find in Varejao's hair(le Basketbawl)

NASCAR:Nice little story that'll give you a good preface for where stoack car racing is right now(ESPN)

Representatives of all the Major Leagues(NFL, NBA, NHL) as well as NCAA and High school officials will appear before congress to discuss steroids. They will be joined by representatives from... Horse Racing. WTF?! HORSE RACING?! If I was a professional athlete I'd find this insulting on some level.(ESPN)

Today's entry for"it's not a tragedy it's natural selection"(NYT)