Posted on: December 10, 2012 2:46 pm

My Interview With Erik Jones: A Future Superstar

Erik Jones won a thriller earlier this month at 5 Flags Speedway in the 45th annual Snowball Derby. The 16 year old raced door-to-door with Kyle Busch & prevailed against the NASCAR superstar in a great finish which capped off a wild night in Florida.

Racing Start

Erik got his start in racing when he was just 7 years old racing quarter midgets saying "It wasn't anything that my parents pushed me into, it was something that I really wanted to do from the time that I was just a toddler."

After winning his first championship in quarter midgets back in 2007; he started racing street stocks at Owosso Speedway where he would win Rookie of the Year honors. The then 12 year old Erik Jones set his sights on racing Late Models & at the age of just 13, he got his chance. His 2010 victory at Dixie Motor Speedway made him the youngest winner in series history.

Young & Fast

Just one year later, Erik won the JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour title. He made the switch from ASA Late Models to the Super Late Models during the off-season & in December of 2011; he made his presence in the racing world known with his astonshing win at New Smyrna Speedway in the Governor's Cup 200 where he led from green flag to checkered flag dominating the event. By the way....that was just his 2nd ever Super Late Model start.

On March 10th, Erik became the youngest starter in ARCA History driving for Venturini Motorsports when he was just 15. Jones led 14 laps before a mechanical failure relegated him to a 29th place finish. He made 9 more starts in ARCA this year with a best 3rd (twice) & 4 top 5's. This was very impressive but no where near as huge as what he would accomplish on December 2nd of this year...

The Snowball Derby

The 45th Snowball Derby was to say the least, crazy. From Steven Wallace chucking a hammer to half the field being involved in incidents. Erik started 9th & was leading by lap 70. He led a race high 124 laps on his way to securing the win after an epic battle with Kyle Busch. I asked him at what point did he realize that he may actually win that race.

"Well, we had a good car all week.  We came down and tested the Saturday and Sunday before the race and I felt that the car was very good, ad definitely would be able to contend for a win.  You don't really know what you have until the other cars show up though.  After the last pit stop I knew that we had a shot at winning the race, and felt like racing against Kyle was going to be a huge challenge. But we were able to prevail and come out on top in the end."

Erik raced head-to-head with the likes of Kyle Busch; one of the most aggressive & talented drivers in NASCAR & he out-wheeled him which is a victory in itself. Unlike most drivers including Chase Elliott, Steve Wallace & TJ Reaid who were very angry with Busch after the race; Erik told me that he loved racing with Rowdy.

"I really enjoyed racing with Kyle.  He is a had dosed and aggressive racer, but at the same time he will race you with a lot of respect.  When you get out on the track with your helmets on I believe that we all become equals.  You don't know if its Kyle Busch driving the car or not, to me it is just another car on the track."

The 16 year old has done so much in his young career & this is what he had to say about where this win ranks in his already very long list of racing achievements...

"This is definitely the biggest win that I have ever had in my career.  This race just has so much prestige and history behind it, and also you are racing the best of the best down here.  You have 60 cars from all over the country coming down here just trying to make the race, and to be able to win it is huge for me and my team."

Lastly, I wanted to find out where Erik wants to go with his racing career & if he has aspirations to become a NASCAR driver.

"Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? Do you want to make it to NASCAR's national level or do you want to go a different route?"

"I would love to be able to race on sundays for a living.  It is a long road to be one of those 43 lucky drivers, but I think we have a shot at it.  You never race for the money, but its nice to be able to make a living doing what you love.  I say that a lot but I believe that its very true, and I hope other racers feel the same way about their racing careers."

Erik Jones definitely has the talent to be a superstar. Not many racers that have been doing it for 40 years can say they have done what this kid already has. He is surely one to watch in the years to come & can do great things if the right opportunity presents itself. If someone just gives him the car, then the sky is the limit for this young, racing phenom.

Posted on: June 7, 2012 6:06 pm

NASCAR Loses Cotton Owens

     I was thinking about what I should write about this week. Should it be Kurt Busch's suspension, Reutimann filling in for him, James Finch's comments, the Prelude to the Dream action, Twitter joining forces with NASCAR, the newly repaved Pocono Raceway or Greg Biffle on American Restoration. I ended up chosing none of these in light of the tragic lose of NASCAR legend: Cotton Owens.

     This probably won't be my most popular article due to the lack of controversy in it but I ask this of everyone who reads this. Tweet this to your followers, share it on Facebook and make sure you can teach people about Cotton so that he can be remembered like he deserves & should be. I may only be 18 but I know who Cotton Owens was and in tribute and in memory to him, I want to make sure other people know who he was too. 

*The Early Days of Cotton Owens*
     Everett "Cotton" Owens was born May 21st, 1924 in Spartanburg, SC. Cotton was also nicknamed "King of the Modifieds" for his hundreds of NASCAR Modified victories. He is considered one of the best mechanics in NASCAR history and he also wasn't too bad of a driver either. In his 160 NASCAR Cup starts, Owens earned 9 wins, 52 top 5's, 84 top 10's with 10 poles one of which was the 1960 Daytona 500. He went on to finish 2nd in that race. 

*An Interview with Cotton Owens*
     Cotton's famous white #6 with red wheels and red number was one to be feared and one to be noticed on the track. In an interview with Christpher R. Phillip Cotton explained the reasoning for the unique paint job.
"I like it because it shows up real good on the racetrack. If you've got a scorer in the stands, you've got to keep up with the number of laps that you're running. You want to be able to see it and spot it real quick so you won't miss it, and get you a lap behind."
-Cotton Owens

     Cotton also told a story about the inagural Daytona 500 that was pretty interesting:
"Fireball Roberts had a new '59 Pontiac. I didn't have one. So I went to my shop where I had four '58s that were wrecked. I took those four wrecked cars and put them all together into one race car. I showed up at Daytona a week later (than the other racers), and Fireball Roberts had the pole at 140 mph. I set a record by 3 mph faster than Fireball in my '58 Pontiac at 143.198 mph"

*The End of his Drving Career* 

     Owens first win came at the famous Beach at Daytona in 1957 where he won by nearly a minute over 1959 Daytona 500 runner-up Johnny Beauchamp. Cotton was the first person in NASCAR history to win a race for Pontiac which went on to win 153 more NASCAR races the last being in 2003 with Ricky Craven. In 1959, Cotton was runner-up in the standings to 3 time champion & patriarch of the Petty dynasty Lee.

     Cotton Owens hung up his helmet in the early 60's and became an owner. He was the one that gave the "Silver Fox" David Pearson his first big shot. To show just what kind of guy Cotton was, listen to this story. When David Pearson first started driving his cars, he made a bunch of rookie mistakes dispite showing loads of promise. He made Cotton so mad that at Richmond, in 1964, Owens took a 2nd car to the race to show Pearson how it's done. Cotton won the race by over a lap over his very own driver and future 3x champion & 105x winner David Pearson. That was Owen's 9th and final career win as a driver.

*Cotton Owens the Car Owner*

     Cotton won 38 races as a NASCAR owner in the Cup Series. NASCAR HOF'ers and legends Bobby Allison, David Pearson and Buddy Baker were just some of the names that won races driving for him. Along with 38 wins in 404 starts as an owner, Cotton's team earned 177 top 5's, 241 top 10's, 33 poles and lead nearly 10,000 laps. On top of all that, the Owens team took home the 1966 NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) title with driver David Pearson by nearly 2,000 points!

     The father of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt also made his NASCAR debut driving for Owens finishing a respectable 7th. Some of the most famous names in motorsports drove his cars including  David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Pete Hamilton, Ralph Earnhardt, Bobby Isaac, Junior Johnson, Benny Parsons, Fireball Roberts, Mario Andretti, and Al Unser just to name a few.

*We have lost a Great Man*

     Cotton Owens was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame in 1970, named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers in 1998 and in 2013 he will be inducted into the NASCAR HOF. Cotton was a great racer, an ace mechanic, an outstanding owner and a wonderful man.

     He passed away on June 7th, 2012 at the age of 88 after a 7 year battle with lung cancer. He is without a doubt one of the best and will always be remembered by the racing community. If you have any doubt about the toughness and incrediable ability of Cotton Owens, you should know that he raced nearly his whole career with double vision. Rest in piece Cotton; we will always miss you & you will never be forgotten.
Posted on: May 16, 2012 11:41 am

The Final Unraveling of Kurt Busch

Leading up to This:

It's over. The end of Kurt Busch's career has begun. I know those are strong words but sadly, they are true. He won the 2004 Championship in spectacular fashion but after that shining moment in the young superstars career, everything began to fall apart. There were warnings of Busch's anger problems like his infamous fued with Jimmy Spencer.

Kurt was fired a few races before the end of 2005 season by Jack Roush after he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. He was unable to defend his title and then he found a home at Penske Racing. Roger likes his team perfect with all team members clean shaven and everyone is expected to act in a professional & mature matter. That's why I can't believe he put up with Kurt for 6 years. He gave the elder Busch plenty of chances to change his attitude even after he disrespected "The Captain" by angrily calling him "dude."

Kurt was in fueds with just about everyone in the garage through those six years. He seemed even worse in 2011 with multiple serious incidents including his on-going fued with 5-time champion Jimmie Johnson, going after a reporter at Richmond, outbursts in the media center & the straw that broke the camel's back...calling Dr. Jerry Punch multiple vulgar names during the race at Homestead just because he wanted an interview. He was released from Penske Racing soon after.

The small 20 man team of Phoenix Racing gave Busch another chance and all eyes were on him going into this season. The big teams were watching to see if he could really change. At first, it seemed he had. After early season issues, he was very calm over the radio and even battled up front in multiple races. He seemed happier & much more mature and then rumours started swirling about teams being interested in him for 2013.

The Lady in Black Tears Kurt..& his Car Apart

The infamous "Lady in Black" tested Kurt and he lost it. I was waiting for the day when this would happen. I think Kurt is an amazing driver & I love watching him race but his career may be over soon or at least regulating to driving for his younger brother in the Nationwide Series. The #51 team was running great when suddenly, a late race flat tire ruined a potential top 10 run. The beast within Busch finally came out and he snapped. He burned rubber through Ryan Newman's pit stall narrowly avoiding #39 crew members & an official.

Kurt then began screaming over the radio just like he use to and then Nick Harrison (crew chief of the #51) warned Kurt & the crew that the #39 team was going to go after Busch after the race. That got KB even angrier. Nick wanted to avoid a problem so he told his driver to park the car at the entrance to pit road and leave but unsurprisngly, Kurt didn't listen. He didn't just not listen, but he went and ran into the side of Ryan Newman's car. Words were exchanged through the #51 window net & then Ryan left. Kurt ran into Newman's owner Tony Stewart's car a few years ago at Dover and just like this incident, narrowly avoided a crew man.

Ryan later said ""It's easy to see and it's easy to say that Kurt blew a fuse again. I'm not sure why he did it and tried to run over our guys and NASCAR officials. And nobody is. I think the chemical imbalance speaks for itself. Kurt drilled me in pit lane and said that he was taking his helmet off, and he didn't see where he was going. I'm pretty sure there were 42 other guys that are taking their helmets off and doing whatever for the last 10 years, and that's the first time that's happened to me."

What's Going to Happen Now?

The #39 crew did try to go after Kurt but were unable to get to him. Now, I want to stop talking about the incident and start talking about what is going to happen now. Kurt was fined $50,000 and placed on probation by NASCAR but that won't stop him from losing it again which I think he will..... soon. He has tried so hard to stop himself & now everyone is saying it's all over; he won't get another good ride and all that stuff. That is going to make Kurt believe that he has no reason to control himself anymore. I don't think we have seen the last of Kurt going off and I believe that the worst is yet to come.

P.S-The #51 and the #39 crews are going to be in the Pit Crew Challenge Thursday night on SPEED so you may want to watch that. Laughing
Posted on: April 25, 2012 5:36 pm

What is Good Racing

What is Good Racing?
     What exactly is considered good racing? That seems like a simple question but lately, the line between good racing and bad racing in my eyes has become very cloudy. There is a problem with NASCAR today. You have 43 of the best drivers in the world run a near perfect race at Texas and Kansas with no major incidents racing far past break neck speed. We should all be impressed and yet, the races end and the Internet is immediately consumed with hate posts and articles bashing the race.

     Yes, Texas got dull but you are going to have races like that. At Kansas, I can honestly say that I was never bored with it. I thought it was a fantastic race with plenty of action and I was shocked to see people complaining after the race.

What Kind of Fan Are You?
     There is a question each fan has to ask themselves. Why did it get boring to you? Was it because there wasn't much side-by-side action or was it because cars weren't flying through the air with a brawl on the backstretch. I didn't like Texas because there wasn't much racing. At Kansas, there was plenty of side-by-side action and a great finish. So why were people so upset with the race? There can only be one other answer.

     Sadly, a lot of fans today aren't happy unless they see a lot of wrecks and multiple cars destroyed. They aren't satisfied with good, hard, clean racing. Does everyone remember the Indycar race at Las Vegas last year? Be careful what you wish for people. Okay, I know that these NASCAR drivers are extremely safe and that something strange would have to happen for any of them to get hurt. I know you fans that just want to see wrecks don't want to see people get hurt and I'm not accusing you of that. I'm just saying, don't forget, these guys are going at very deadly speeds.

The Difference With NASCAR Fans Today
     I don't see all the F1 fans complaining about their races. If F1 had a finish like Kansas then everyone would be going crazy. A caution in F1 is rare. A red flag happens once in a blue moon. So what is wrong, if anything with NASCAR fans? The racing is closer than it ever was back in the 70's and 80's and yet, fans are disappointed while back then they loved it. The answer is pretty simple actually. Fan expectations in NASCAR have dramatically changed.

     In an age where you have access to virtually whatever you want whenever you want it, people get bored easy. We are used to constant stimulation of our eyes and ears and need things to happen or we will get disinterested fairly quickly no matter what it is. Talladega and Daytona are able to hold peoples attention because the whole field is on top of each other and something is always going on.

     The fans of today need to hear Rick Allen yell trouble in turn four or see cars crashing into the wall in order to stay interested. Do I think this is right. No, but this is the world we live in. Now I know what most of you are thinking. "This is some 80 year old guy that is still living in the 1950's." Well actually, I'm an 18 year kid who uses his cell phone and Ipod as much as if not more than any other teenager.

What, if Anything Can be Done?
     So, what should NASCAR do to make fans happy. Well, Bristol is being torn apart because there aren't 25 cautions a race anymore so apparently, they are listening to the fans that want wrecking. I liked the old Bristol too guys but this new Bristol has had good races. It just seems that we aren't judging races by the quality of the racing anymore. It seems that how good the race is determined by how much carnage and controversy there was.

     I think NASCAR can do something though without turning itself into a demolition derby in order to please fans. Goodyear needs to have more degradation with their tires. There will be more racing and more comers and goers. That will make a lot of side-by-side racing and hopefully will please some of these disappointed fans.

     The purists out there like myself are able to look past long green flag runs and are able to enjoy and appreciate the actual racing instead of just waiting for the next crash. This kind of caution-less racing also has to do with the tracks. We are racing on a bunch of large 100 foot wide tracks with plenty of room for error. You can't have good racing without a good track. Martinsville was a great race and still would of been even without that last yellow.

     The next few races are Richmond, Talladega, Dover and the All-Star Race and all those tracks guarantee carnage. The casual, wreck-feast loving fans will stop complaining for now but this argument will come back again. Lastly, I just want to say enjoy the racing people and stop wishing for everybody to crash. That isn't fair to wish that on any driver and it isn't what a true fan would or should want.
Posted on: March 27, 2012 7:59 pm

Where Have All the Short Tracks Gone?

      I'm only 18 but I'm sure a lot of you older fans out there remember the "golden age" of NASCAR. Remember when Ricky Rudd and Dake Earnhardt spun at North Wilkesboro on the final lap battling for the win in 1989. How about when Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth are almost at a dead heat across the line at the Rock in 2004.

     I like the big tracks. I love Atlanta, Texas, Charlotte and places like that. It's that the Sprint Cup Series schedule has been dilluded with them. Look at this statistic about how many short tracks there have been on the schedule every decade.

Short Tracks on Schedule
1950-13/19 races, 68.4%
1960-30/44 races, 68.2%
1970-28/48 races, 58.3%
1980-10/31 races, 32.3%
1990-7/29 races, 24.1%
2000-6/34 races, 17.6%
2012-6/36 races, 16.6%
     Would you look at that. Richmond, Bristol and Martinsville with 2 races a piece are the only ones that remain. North Wilkesboro is gone, Hickory gone, Nazareth gone and the Rock had weeds growing through the start-finish line a few years ago. Thankfully, it is making a comeback and yes I know it is mile and technically not a short track.

      The one mile tracks are like the short tracks though. They are both exciting, action packed with rubbin and lots of racing and they usually have some kind of good finish or controversy. When is the last time you saw a phantom debris caution at Bristol or Martinsville? Yes, phantom debris cautions are real and they happen a lot. They are wrong but they don't bother me because they do spice up some races but that is a whole other controversy for another day.

     We have too many cookie cutter tracks on the shedule and it needs to be fixed. I chuckled when I saw a commercial for the AutoClub 400 the other day when the guy said "the only place where you see 5 wide racing." Yes, we see 5 wide there but only for about 5 to 10 laps after a restart. They left out the part about the single file 200 lap green flag run which usually ends with a debris caution.

     Now like I said before, I love Atlanta, Charlotte and those places. Those tracks have history and character. Kansas, Las Vegas, Kentucky, Cali and Chicago don't. I have heard all the excuses. NASCAR needs to be in that city, the tracks will get better with age, you need all those grandstands and so many other excuses. I don't mean to be a posion pen here. I usually am not but these are the facts and this is my opnion. We need tracks with their own character. I loved how they took Phoenix and tried to warp it int a minature cookie cutter track.

     Everybody think about this for a second. When does a track like the ones I just stated have an exciting finish? When it is a fuel mileage race or there is a late caution, right? That isn't good. That is saying that the racing can't be exciting without an outside force bunching up the field or running the cars out of fuel. So what should NASCAR do? Well, I have a few suggestions.

    First and foremost, talk to Bruton Smith. He controls most of these tracks and nothing will get done unless you have an understanding with him. He wouldn't want to size down his tracks because it will cost him money which will be the main issue. But, packing the stands at a 1 mile track that gets high TV ratings is a lot better than a half filled superspeedway who's TV ratings are in the crapper. We need new tracks to be built that copy Darlington and Martinsville instead of copying Atlanta and Michigan.

     We need NASCAR to step forword and act. NASCAR needs to do this unless you all want to see 30 AutoClub 400's in about 30 years. Bring back the short tracks and build new unique ones. That is the symbol of NASCAR and it is what made them so popular today. Why fix something that isn't broken which is exactly what they did. Now look what they did, it's broken and we now have to fix it.

Posted on: February 24, 2012 4:05 pm

Danica Patrick on Pole For the Drive4COPD 300!

In just her 26th NASCAR Nationwide Series start, Danica Patrick takes the pole for the Nationwide race this Sauturday at Daytona International Speedway. She is the 11th driver in NASCAR Nationwide Sereies History to get their first career pole at Daytona. Danica also becomes the second women to ever win a pole in the Nationwide Series with Shawna Robinson being the first with her pole at Atlanta in March of 1994. Danica will lead the field to the green Saturday with Trevor Bayne along side in the #60 Ford Mustang for Roudh Fenway Racing. Trevor was .007 thousanths off of the Chevy's lap of 49.250 and a average speed of 182.741mph. Elliott Sadler was 3rd, Dale Earnhardt Jr 4th and rookie Austin Dillon was 5th. The winner of the last four races here and 6 of the last 7 Tony Stewart will roll off the grid in the 7th position on row 4. The drivers that mssed the race were Erick Darnell, Chase Miller, Scott Speed, former Daytona 500 champion Derrike Cope, Mike Harmon, Donnie Neunberger & Morgan Shepherd. Jeff Green is in the race using his past champions provisional.
Posted on: February 23, 2012 6:39 pm

Heartache & Hard Hits Define the Duels at Daytona

    The dust has settled on the 2012 Gatorade Duels at Daytona and the field is set for the 500. Tony Stewart held off a hard charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win Duel #1 while Matt Kenseth blew by teammate Greg Biffle to steal the win in Duel #2.

The 4 Golden Tickets:
    It looked like a showdown was shaping up between McDowell and Robby Gordon on the final lap of the first Duel until Trevor Bayne pulled over to lock them both in. As the defending Daytona 500 champion moved to the side, Kenny Wallace's dream of making the 500 went up in smoke as he would fail to fill a transfer spot in his Duel.

    Micahel Waltrip made a very costly rookie mistake in the first Duel crashing himself after a green flag pit stop. He had two tires on the banking and two on the apron sending him sideways and into the backstretch wall. A rookie mistake by the two time Daytona 500 champion.

    Kenny Wallace had fuel pressure problems in the second Duel regulating him to a 21st place finish which wasn't enough to make the race. Dave Blaney and Joe Nemechek took the two transfer spots in Duel #2. Terry Labonte took the past champions provisional.


Vicious Wrecks in Duel #1:
    Both Danica Patrick and Juan Pablo Montoya are going to be sore in the morning after a couple of hard licks in the first Duel. Michael McDowell pushed on the left rear of David Gilliland sending him into Montoya and Paul Menard. The front end of the #42 was destroyed but the hit of the day belonged to rookie Danica Patrick.

    While Jr. tried to chase down Stewart with half a lap to go, Danica was holding her own around 12th. Almirola got into the door of Patrick sending her head on into the inside wall ripping the front end off the car and sending the #10 off the ground. She was shaken but okay.

The Battle for the Win:
    In Duel #1, Carl Edwards got the push from Dale Jr. to take the lead with 2 to go. Dale was able to get past the 99 but he was quickly over taken by the #14 of Tony Stewart. Before Jr. could get the spot back, the caution had come out for Danica's crash giving the win to 3 time Sprint Cup Series champion, Tony Stewart.

    The second Duel was much more calmer with not a single yellow. Matt Kenseth pushed his teammate Greg Biffle to the front early but Greg ducked down to the bottom leaving Kenseth hung out to dry. Matt would get his revenge late as he blew by the #16 after a failed block by Biffle with Jimmie Johnson pushing. There was contact between Johnson and Regan Smith with half a lap to go which killed the momentum Regan had costing him a chance at the voctory.

    We may want to keep on eye on these cars overheating as we saw a lot of it during the Duels. That could become a major problem in the race on Sunday. Also, Like I said in my last article, these drivers need to be careful and stay away from the left side of the car they are pushing. I think this will be one wild Daytona 500 and watch out for the #98 of Michael McDowell. He was strong in his Duel and he could be the next cinderella story.

A couple fun facts:
-With Michael Waltrip failing to make the 500, this will be the first time since 1972 that a Waltrip will miss the Great American Race

-Matt Kenseth's Duel #2 win was the first Gatorade Duel victory for Roush Fenway Racing

-A owner has never won both Gatorade Duels

Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:04 am

Gatorade Duel 150's Breakdown

The Gatorade Duels are today and the format is very confusing to a lot of people. I'm going to breakdown all the rules and ways to get into the race.

Go-or-Go Homers
Trevor Bayne
Tony Raines
David Streeme
Kenny Wallace
Terry Labonte
Dave Blaney
Michael Waltrip
Joe Nemechek
Michael McDowell
Bill Elliott
Mike Wallace
Robert Richardson Jr.
Robby Gordon
JJ Yeley

Duel 1 consists of all the odd number qualifiers from sunday and Duel 2 consists of all even number qualifiers.

Trevor Bayne, Tony Raines & David Streeme are all locked into the race because they were one of the three fastest in qualifying.

There are 2 transfer spots up for grabs in each duel.

If one of those three drivers were to get one of those transfer spots, then Kenny Wallace who was the 4th fastest of them in quals would get in on his speed. The same situation could happen for Terry Labonte and Dave Blaney if the other two get transfer spots.

Terry is already locked in with his past champions provisional. If he were to get a transfer spot or get in on his speed, then the 1988 champion Bill Elliott would get the PCP.

Duel 1 Go-or-Go Homers
Trevor Bayne
David Streeme
Terry Labonte
Michael Waltrip
Michael McDowell
Mike Wallace
Robby Gordon

Duel 2 Go-or-Go Homers
Tony Raines
Keny Wallace
Dave Blaney
Joe Nemechek
Bill Elliott
Robert Richardson Jr.
JJ Yeley

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or