Paint Scheme Grades-May 2, 2015

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna/Dixie Chopper Chevy SS-Same scheme as Cessna/Beechcraft scheme, same A grade.

Jamie McMurray #1 Energizer Eco Advanced Chevy SS-Same as #42 Energizer scheme, same D+ grade.

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite 1998 Throwback Ford Fusion-An amazing throwback scheme will always earn an A+.

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite 2007 Gold Throwback Ford Fusion-I’m a big fan of metallic gold, but the white hood and blue border on the numbers takes an A grade down to a B-.

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite 2010 Throwback Ford Fusion-A decent scheme, but the white wheels and the white beer can on the side take an A grade down to a B-.

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite/Careers for Veterans Ford Fusion-Same scheme as Miller Lite, but with Careers for Veterans on the quarter panel, same A+ grade.

Brad Keselowski #2 Avaya Ford Fusion-The Penske template doesn’t always work, but with the right color combination it works very well. A+

Kevin Harvick #4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevy SS-Green is not always a good color, and with an awful design it gives this scheme an F.

Alex Bowman #7 DOC 360 Chevy SS-Good smooth design with a good color scheme earns an A+.

Alex Bowman #7 Chevy SS-Good smooth design with a good color scheme earns an A+.

Casey Mears #13 Geico/Squidward Chevy SS-Horrible color scheme, and an extremely over designed scheme will always earn an F.

Greg Biffle #16 Cheez It/Patrick Starr Ford Fusion– Horrible color scheme, and an extremely over designed scheme will always earn an F.

David Ragan #18 Pedigree Toyota Camry-Good smooth design with a good color scheme earns an A+.

Joey Logano #22 Snap On Ford Fusion-A great fade gives the car a good look, and the great color scheme earns an A+.

Jeb Burton #26 Estes Toyota Camry-It’s an overdone scheme with too many different shades of yellow, and the whole thing looks overdone. D+.

Paul Menard #27 Menard’s/Sylvania Chevy SS-The orange and yellow scheme is horrid, the design doesn’t work with this color scheme, and the whole thing earns a D-.

Alex Kennedy #33 Honor and Remember Chevy SS-The color scheme is good, the overall design is good, but I think the door numbers are the the wrong colors, and the hood is a bit overdone. B-

Ty Dillon #33 Nexium Chevy SS-My only complaint is that the yellow doesn’t extend all the way to the back, but it’s a minor complaint, it’s still a good scheme. A-

Brett Moffitt #34 Dockside Logistics Ford Fusion-Same scheme as last year, same A+ grade.

David Gilliland #38 The Pete Store Ford Fusion-Same scheme as last year, same A+ grade.

David Gilliland #38 Farm Rich Ford Fusion-Same scheme as last year, same A+ grade.

Landon Cassill #40 Link-Belt Chevy SS-Good smooth design with a good color scheme earns an A+.

Aric Almirola #43 Smithfield/Cheney Brothers Ford Fusion-The scheme would be better without the bright yellow rear. It takes an A+ grade down to a B+

Michael Annett #46 Bene-Fit Chevy SS-Same scheme as Cypress HQ, same F grade.

David Ragan #55 Aaron’s/Spongebob Toyota Camry-I hate cars that look like two different people designed parts of the car, and this is one of them. The quarter panel and sides look like two different people designed them, and it just looks awful. It does have a good color scheme, so I will give it a D-.

Brett Moffitt #55 Aaron’s/Steve Byrnes Tribute Toyota Camry-Same as Aaron’s but with A fitting tribute to a tragic death. A+

Brendan Gaughn #62 Vydox Plus Chevy SS-I like fades, and the color scheme works well, it’s a bit overdone, but it still earns an A.

Brendan Gaughn #62 Low T Central Chevy SS-Good smooth design with a good color scheme earns an A+.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Mountain Dew Baja Blast Chevy SS-The color scheme is decent, but the design is overdone, and awful. I’ll give it a D-.

Michael McDowell #95 WRL Contractors/Thrivent Financial/Larry the Lobster Ford Fusion-I hate cars that look like two different people designed parts of the car, and this is one of them. The quarter panel and sides look like two different people designed them, and it just looks awful. It does have a good color scheme, so I will give it a D-.

Josh Wise #98 Steve Byrnes Tribute Ford Fusion-A fitting tribute to a tragic death. A+

Paint Scheme Grades-4-18-2015

Sam Hornish Jr. #9 Nature Blast/Medallion Bank Ford Fusion-Horrible color scheme, and terrible design will always earn an F.

Joey Logano #22 Auto Ford Fusion-The Penske Template does not work with orange and blue, and the car looks awful. But since it is an upgrade from last year, I will give it a D-

Alex Bowman #23 Dr. Pepper Throwback Toyota Camry-A fauxback design that has a vintage look, and a vintage feel that has a modern look that just looks awesome! I can’t say anything bad about it. A+

Jeff Gordon #24 Axalta/Penn State Chevy SS-The color scheme is good, but the side design is a bit too overdesigned. It earns a B+.

Ryan Newman #31 Caterpillar Throwback Chevy SS-An amazing look, a great throwback logo, a good color scheme, and the best damn shade of yellow I’ve seen all year earns an A+.

Ryan Newman #31 Wix Filters Chevy SS-Same scheme as last year, same F grade.

Cole Whitt #35 Tweaker Energy Shot Ford Fusion-A good smooth design with a great color scheme will always earn an A+.

Michael Annett #33 Pilot/Flying J Chevy SS-Same scheme as #46, Same A grade-A+

Michael Annett #46 Philmor Chevy SS-decent color scheme, horrible design scheme, and it earns an F.

Justin Allgaier #51 Auto-Owners Insurance Chevy SS-This is a redesign of the 2014 scheme, and the needless redesign with the extra stripes and the extra shade of blue takes it from an A+ to a B+.

The Great American Race-The Daytona 500


By David G. Firestone

The 57th running of the Daytona 500 is tomorrow! I know, I can’t keep my excitement to myself either! Jeff Gordon is on the pole, the 43 car field has been set, and tomorrow, the 2015 NASCAR season starts. The major change to the format will be on pit road, where a camera system will be used to help catch penalties. This system was tested during the Chase last year, and supposedly proved itself very effective, so we will see how this works.

The prize these drivers are all racing for, aside from the prestige, is the Harley J. Earl trophy. Earl was the second commissioner of NASCAR, designer of the Corvette, and designed the futuristic Firebird I in 1953, a small model of which adorns the trophy. It was first awarded in 1959 to Lee Petty. The original trophy is housed in The Daytona 500 Experience, and is 5 feet wide, by 4 feet tall. The winner is awarded a miniature version, which is 18 by 22 inches, and has a miniature version of the Firebird car mounted on top.


Interestingly, NASCAR, a multibillion, multinational group relies on one man, and one man only, to make the trophy. His name is John Liba, and he is based in Omaha, Nebraska. His first attempt was in 1998, and was awarded to Dale Earnhardt Sr. The first trophy he made was on a marble base, which was much too heavy, so he switched to black acrylic. To make the miniature Harley J. Earl trophy, it takes 6 weeks, of 12 hour work days, and that does not include plating the trophy.

I’ve always found it interesting how NASCAR uses John Liba to make the Harley J. Earl trophy, but uses Tiffany and Company to make the Sprint Cup Trophy. I like the idea of leagues using individuals, not large companies for trophies and awards. It’s the same as Boffey Silversmiths of Montreal engraving the names on the Stanley Cup after each season. The most renowned trophy in the sport of hockey goes to an individual to get engraved. That just blows me away.

When I went to the Penske Racing Museum, I saw the special version made in 2008. This was done to commemorate the 50th running, and was plated in gold rather than silver.

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That race was won by Ryan Newman, and is still on display at the museum. The car he ran is also there, and interestingly was signed by the crew after the race.

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This is the biggest event on the NASCAR calender, and always lives up to the hype. The ending of the race is like the 9th inning in the final game of the World Series. The last 2.5 miles of the race is nail biting. Anything can and has happened during that final lap. It has seen legends achieve their lifelong dreams, and rookies stamp their place in history. Legends like Gordon, Earnhardt, Petty, Parsons, Andretti, Foyt, Allison, Waltrip, Yarborough, Harvick, Johnson, Jarrett, and Kenseth, as well as unknowns like Cope, Burton, Marlin, and Bayne have visited victory lane. The big question is…who will join them in 2015.

Here is how the field will line up

Row 1

Jeff Gordon #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy SS

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe’s Chevy SS

Row 2

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Nationwide Chevy SS

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota Camry

Row 3

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion

Carl Edwards #19 Aaris Toyota Camry

Row 4

Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy SS

Greg Biffle #16 Ortho Home Defense Ford Fusion

Row 5

Clint Bowyer #15 5 Hour Energy Toyota Camry

Martin Truex Jr. #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy SS

Row 6

Kevin Harvick #4 Budweiser Chevy SS

Reed Sorenson #44 Golden Corral Chevy SS

Row 7

Kasey Kahne #5 Farmers Insurance Chevy SS

Ryan Blaney #21 Motorcraft/Quicklane Ford Fusion

Row 8

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna/McDonald’s Chevy SS

Justin Allgaier #51 Brandt Chevy SS

Row 9

Landon Cassill #40 Snap 24-7 Fitness Chevy SS

Mike Wallace #66 Crazy Vapors/X8 Energy Gum Toyota Camry

Row 10

Cole Whitt #35 Speed Stick Gear Ford Fusion

Danica Patrick #10 GoDaddy Chevy SS

Row 11

Paul Menard #27 Menard’s/Peak Chevy SS

Ryan Newman #31 Cat Chevy SS

Row 12

Michael McDowell #95 Thrivent Financial Ford Fusion

Kurt Busch #41 Haas CNC Chevy SS

Row 13

J.J. Yeley #23 Dr. Pepper/Maxim Fantasy Sports Toyota Camry

David Gilliland #38 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Fusion

Row 14

Michael Annett #46 Pilot/Flying J Chevy SS

David Ragan #34 KFC Ford Fusion

Row 15

Kyle Larson #42 Target Chevy SS

Austin Dillon #3 Dow Chevy SS

Row 16

Ty Dillon #33 Cheerios Chevy SS

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Fastenal Ford Fusion

Row 17

Aric Almirola #43 Smithfield Ford Fusion

Michael Waltrip #55 Aaron’s Toyota Camry

Row 18

Matt Kenseth #20 Dollar General Toyota Camry

Johnny Sauter #83 Dustless Blasting Toyota Camry

Row 19

Trevor Bayne #6 Advocare Ford Fusion

Sam Hornish Jr. #9 Twisted Tea Ford Fusion

Row 20

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion

AJ Allmendinger #47 Kroger Chevy SS

Row 21

Casey Mears #13 Geico Chevy SS

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry

Row 22

Bobby Labonte #32 C&J Energy Services Ford Fusion

Did Not Qualify

Alex Bowman #7 Nikko/Toy State Chevy SS

Jeb Burton #26 Live Deals Ford Fusion

Justin Marks #29 American Born Moonshine Toyota Camry

Ron Horniday #30 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevy SS

Brian Scott #62 Shore Lodge Chevy SS

Paint Scheme Grades October 9-16

By David G. Firestone

I want to clarify something that I stated last week. My rule for pinkwashing is an automatic F. After a few people pointed out to me that almost everyone is wearing a pink ribbon, I’ve made the decision not to factor a pink ribbon into the grades. That said, pink lettering, numbers, or background will still earn an automatic F. Let’s get to the reviews.

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna/Beechcraft Chevy SS Pinkwashing is an automatic F

Brad Keselowski #2 Redd’s Wicked Ale Ford Fusion My only complaint is that this isn’t a Miller Genuine Draft scheme. The color scheme is really good, and the design scheme is really good, A+

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx One Rate Toyota Camry Um…huh? Someone explain to me what black leather and zippers have to do with FedEx? It’s not a bad design, though I could have done without the green at the bottom, so I’ll give it an A-, but I don’t get why they used that design at all.

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry M&M’s always have great Halloween schemes, and this is no different. Orange and black are always a good scheme, and the design fits both M&M’s and Halloween very well. I’ll give it an A+

Terry Labonte #32 C&J Energy Services Ford Fusion Terry is making his 890th start at Talladega, and this scheme is in honor of that. This is now, officially, my all-time favorite throwback scheme. The driver side is designed to look like his Kellogg’s scheme when he won the 1996 Sprint Cup Championship, and the passenger side is designed to look like his 1984 Championship winning Piedmont Airlines scheme. I couldn’t say anything bad about this if my life depended on is, A+

David Ragan #34 Dockside Logistics Ford Fusion The all white look works well, as does the red curved stripe down the sides. The color scheme is really good, and I give it an A+

Landon Cassill #40 Thunder Coal Chevy SS Between the paint scheme grades for last week, and the race at Charlotte, Cassill picked up Thunder Coal as a sponsor. The logo works well on a white background, and the car has a clean, smooth look that earns an A+

Kyle Larson #42 Energizer Chevy SS Same scheme as last year, same D grade

Michael Waltrip #66 My AFib Story Toyota Camry Ok, this one needs some explaining. Michael Waltrip suffers from Atrial fibrillation or AFib, an abnormal heart rhythm. He is working with The American Heart Association to inform people about AFib, and this scheme features pictures of those who have shared their stories about dealing with the disease, and I have to give this an A+ for that. It also doesn’t hurt that the color and design schemes are really good too!

Michael McDowell #95 Jordan Truck Sales Ford Fusion Pinkwashing earns an automatic F. It should be noted that this is the first time a team has put a Twitter handle on the side of their car.

Josh Wise #98 Provident Metals Ford Fusion A much more scaled down version of the paint scheme, which is much smoother and better looking. It has a great color scheme, so I’ll give it a B+.

Driver Suit Blog…The Origins

cropped-dsbgrahpic.jpgBy David G. Firestone

The Driver Suit Blog is my favorite project I have ever undertaken. I’ve gotten a few people who ask about the origins of The Driver Suit Blog, and so this week, we will start with how it came to be. The origins are rooted in my game-used memorabilia collection. I started in hockey, and looked at the various game wear patterns on jerseys. I then would get into other forms of memorabilia, and would analyze them for an old website. In 2008, I went to the National Sports Collector’s Convention in Rosemont, and came away with a late 1960’s Oakland A’s jersey. As fate would have it, when I got home, I was looking for something on my computer and found Windows Movie Maker on my XP based hard drive. I decided on a whim to make a video about it, and with that Introduction to Sports Memorabilia was born.

I started into driver suits in 2010, and researched the suits the same way I research every other game-used item. I had a lot of trouble finding information for a collector about the various aspects of driver suits and race-worn memorabilia. So I just did what I could, research wise. In 2012, I asked Paul Lukas if I could guest write a column for Uni-Watch. Now the blog was never a thought prior to this article, but as work progressed, it dawned on me that I could start a blog for driver suit and racing memorabilia collectors. So in January 2013, The Driver Suit Blog was born.

The paint scheme grading was born out of frustration. I had been working on a Christian Fittipaldi article, and it wasn’t long enough, so I started grading paint schemes to fill some extra space. I kept doing it, and it has become a part of the blog. The same can be said for Tailgating Time, which was also based on a Uni-Watch feature known as Cuilinary Corner. Tailgating Time was designed for tailgaters, to give them recipies that can be cooked on a grill or hot plate at a track, but are something more than just burgers and hot dogs.

Where will the blog go from here? I will continue my work for driver suit collectors, giving them tips on how to analyze driver suits. Tailgating Time will return, but I can’t say for sure when this will happen. I have a lot of stuff planned so stay tuned.

I also want to take a moment to thank my readers. Without you guys, this would have never taken off, and I just want to say thanks. I also owe a huge debt to Paul Lukas. Without him, the Driver Suit Blog would have never been created. Paul, next time you are in Evanston, hit me up, we’ll go out for a beer!

Next week, we will go behind the scenes and examine how a Driver Suit Blog article comes to be.  One other thing that I will start in a couple of weeks is I will do more Wheel Reviews for The Driver Suit Blog, but for now, we conclude with


Ryan Blaney #12 SKF Ford Fusion I gave this exact same scheme an A last year, and it earned 9th place on the Paint Scheme Leaderboard as well. This scheme still earns an A+

Clint Bowyer #15 Cherry 5-hour ENERGY benefiting Special Operations Warrior Foundation Toyota Camry Well we have a new winner for longest sponsor name, and we have a new high score for Clint Bowyer with a solid B+ scheme. It has a smooth look, and an overall great design. The sides are a bit overdesigned, which took down the grade.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Building For America’s Bravest Ford Fusion Much too overdesigned, and another example of why camoflage on race cars NEVER WORKS! The only thing keeping this design above water is a great color scheme. C-

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Eco Power Rerefined Oil Ford Fusion I’m not a fan of green on race cars, it often does not work, but this scheme is really good. I love the light to dark fade, and the overall design is great. A+

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Peanut Toyota Camry Another great M&M’s scheme, great color and design schemes, A+

Kyle Busch #18 Snickers Toyota Camry Great color scheme, and a decent design scheme. It has a look similar to the Stavloa Brothers design from the early 1990’s.

Cole Whitt #26 Iowa Chop House Toyota Camry When it comes to great paint schemes for the #26, BK Racing picked up where Swan Racing left off. Great color and design schemes, A+

Cole Whitt #26 Scorp’d Crossbows Toyota Camry See Above A+

AJ Allmedinger #47 Hungry Jack Toyota Camry What is this new deal with diagonal curved stripes across the side? It just looks awkward. It has a great color scheme, but the design just looks bad. C-

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes/Valspar Chevy SS Jimmy’s same great classic design with a very nice red rear end. I love a great shade of red on a race car, and this is a great shade of red. A+

The First Question…Where Do You Buy This Stuff?

By David G. Firestone100_2479 100_3147

I discuss the various aspects of race-worn and race used collectibles on this blog, and in researching something, I had received a suggestion that sounded like a great idea. The idea that was posed was “You may want to mention where people can actually buy these suits as well.” So I think I will.

The most obvious place to purchase race-worn and race-used items is eBay. Now this is not as simple as it might sound. In the Sports Memorabilia, Cards and Fan Shop section, entering the term “Suit”is a good place to start. Entering the term “driver” can be a mixed bag, and the term “firesuit” as well as “driver suit” work well. If that is not to your liking, search “driver suitfiresuit” “driver firesuit” “NASCAR uniform” “racing uniform” or “driver uniform” in the Any Categories setting.

Another, less likely place on eBay is the Safety Equipment section on eBay motors. Reason being that not all race-worn driver suits end up in collections, many of them are recycled and sold to racers who need a quality firesuit but do not have the resources to spend the thousands needed for a customized one. In fact, many auctions that are geared towards collectors also mention the size in case the suit is bought by a racer.

I have a couple of sellers that I buy from on a regular basis. One of my favorites is Just For Fun Collectibles. They have an amazing selection, and some of the best prices for stuff I have ever seen. I have bought a lot from them, and I always enjoy buying from them. The other seller I buy from regularly is Race Image. Both are based in North Carolina, and Race Image buys regularly from race teams, and resells the items both on their site and on eBay. Like Just For Fun, I have bought a lot from them, and I always enjoy buying from them.  Raceusedrescued is another great seller, who has a whole lot of NASCAR stuff.

Using legitimate auction sites can be iffy, not as many people are into race-worn and race-used memorabilia, as are into baseball, or football. But one place that regularly sells race-worn material is Paragon Auctions. They have had a lot of race-worn driver suits for sale in their auctions. Other groups, such as Heritage Auctions and American Memorabilia both have had a lot of suits sell through their auctions.

But with all the places to buy items, doing the research before you buy is critical. That is why I started The Driver Suit Blog, to give collectors the resources and information that they need to do the hobby, and do it right. I’m not someone who just buys these because they look nice, throw them in a closet, and never think about them. I look at them, admire them, and I understand how much work went into designing them. I love this hobby, and I fully support it, and I want to help collectors advance in this hobby in any way I can. That is why I put the time and effort I do into this blog.

Next week, I will announce the 2013 Driver Suit Blog Paint Schemie Awards. The Schemies are a series of awards given out for paint schemes in the Sprint Cup series. For every category, there are two awards given, First and Worst. First awards are given to the best schemes of the year, and worst…well that is pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it?

Tailgating Time!

I took my chili recipe I previously mentioned, and  changed the recipe slightly.

You will need:
2 pounds beef chorizo sausage
1 onions, chopped
1 (7 ounce) can diced tomatoes-drained
1 (7 ounce) cans smoked chipotle salsa
1 (12 ounce) can kidney beans-drained
1 cup water
Chili powder and garlic powder to taste
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the chorizo and onion and saute until meat is browned and onion is tender. Add the diced tomatoes, smoked chipotle salsa,beans and water.
Season with the chili powder, and garlic powder to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Paint Scheme Reviews

First we start with 2014 schemes…

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Retro Ford Fusion This scheme is perfect. There is nothing that can be done to improve it. A+

Marcos Ambrose #9 Twisted Tea Ford Fusion A good color scheme is in play here. I like the shades of yellow, green and blue used here. The overall design works well with the color scheme, and I will give it an A.

Now on to 2013 schemes…

Jamie McMurray #1 Lexar Chevy SS  Decent color scheme, and if you get rid of the flash drives at the bottom, it would be an A scheme.  This scheme is good, and earns a B+

Dave Blaney #7 Ultra Wheels Chevy SS This is the first time that this car actually looks good…provided you get rid of that door number. B+

Clint Bowyer #15 5-Hour Energy Sour Apple Toyota Camry Another example of why camouflage does NOT work on race cars. What does camouflage have to do with sour apples? This scheme does not work, and it gets an F

Greg Biffle #16 Scotch Ford Fusion  Eww…the green design clashes with the red, and the plaid design is atrocious.  F

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 RFR Driven Chevy SS  Ricky has run a lot of great schemes this year, and this scheme is not an exception.  Great color and simple design earns this scheme an A.

Ryan Newman #39 Quicken Loans-Salute to Veterans Day Chevy SS This scheme is a bit more complex in the grade that I gave it, and requires some explanation.  This scheme features pictures of United States Military Veterans on the side as a tribute to them.  They have earned a place on the car, and have earned the respect as a nation, and an A+++ grade.

Landon Cassill #40 Pirate Oilfield Chevy SS Looks good, great color scheme, simple design, A+

Juan Pablo Montoya #42 Target Camouflage Chevy SS Camo just doesn’t work for race cars, an this is no exception. While they did try to keep the red, it just looks awful, and I’ll give it an F

Bobby Labonte #47 Wounded Warrior Project Toyota Camry Camo doesn’t ever look good on a race car, and this is another example. It looks better than this though…

Kyle Larson #51 Visit Dallas Chevy SS I love color scheme, and I love the skyline on the hood. I’m disappointed that the skyline isn’t on the side of the car, it would look good on the door, but it is still a solid A scheme.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Breast Cancer Awareness Chevy SS Pinkwashing is an automatic F grade.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Amp Gold Chevy SS Not a bad color scheme, though the dot design does not look good at all. I’ll be generous and give it a B-


My Statement Regarding the events of the Federated Auto Parts 400

By David G. Firestone

I normally don’t do two posts in one week, but after the events of the last two weeks in NASCAR, I felt compelled to state my feelings on the matter. Obviously, what took place at and after the Federated Auto Parts 400 is shocking to say the least. As a NASCAR fan, and collector, I felt that I had to say something.

First, I’ll discuss Joey Logano and David Ragan. Obviously what happened was that Ragan allowed Logano to pass him, to get a position, to get points needed to make the chase. It does need to be noted that on a very technical basis, the two are “partners” as they are both Ford drivers. However, it is still a violation of the rules, but at the same time, I can’t really blame Ragan. Front Row Motorsports is a middle-shelf team that has flashes of success, but is not a championship team. Ragan had nothing to gain in that race at that point. Logano had everything to lose at that point. He is having a great year, with a new team, and I think he can win the Sprint Cup this year. That said, it is a violation of the rules, and the rules are the rules.

Now we turn to the Michael Waltrip situation. Michael Waltrip and his older brother Darrell are old school stock car drivers. Old school drivers are notorious for trying to and finding ways around the rules. However, unlike the old days, in this day in age, cars are very closely inspected, and radio chatter is monitored by fans and officials alike. That is why this whole situation is as important as it is.

Now clearly what took place is that with 10 laps to go, Ryan Newman was leading the race, and with the points they way they were, he would make the Chase with a win. Martin Truex Jr. who would miss the Chase with Newman’s win is trying his best to make as many positions as he can to get as many points as he can to make the Chase, and give his teammate Clint Bowyer an advantage. Bowyer is being given info on the situation via team radio, and was obviously given a very poorly coded radio message to intentionally spin out to bring out a caution, and start a round of pit stops. When all pit stops are said and done, Newman is far back in the pack, and is out of the Chase Points wise. The race restarts, and on lap 198, Brian Vickers, the third driver for Michael Waltrip Racing, was ordered by his spotter Ty Norris, who is also the general manager and vice president for Michael Waltrip Racing to make a green flag pit stop, which gives Truex another boost in the point standings.

When the checkered flag flew, both Logano and Truex were in the Chase, and Jeff Gordon, and Ryan Newman were out. Gordon and Newman were disappointed, but they handled it well. Almost instantly, the issue came to light, starting with ESPN’s coverage. The commentators knew something was up, and it was clear from the in-car camera that the spin was intentional. Between Richmond and Chicago, the investigation led to the biggest penalty in the history of NASCAR, with a $300,000 fine and 50 owner point reduction for all 3 teams, all crew chiefs, were placed on probation, and Ty Norris was suspended indefinitely. Because of this, Truex was removed from the Chase, and Ryan Newman was added. Furthermore, with the Logano/Ragan situation, a 13th driver, Jeff Gordon, was added to the Chase.

Drivers know when they have in-cars, so it makes no sense that he would intentionally spin out. If Brian Vickers, who did not have an in-car had spun out, it would have been much more difficult to make a case. Also, if Vickers had pitted under green to fix some damage, it would have been much harder to prove something would have happened.

If this was a unique incident for Michael Waltrip Racing, I think that it could be forgiven at the end of the season, but let’s take a trip back to 2007, specifically, the days leading up to the Twin 125’s before they Daytona 500. Evernham Motorsports and Roush Fenway were caught with “illegal modifications” for their cars, and fines and suspensions were levied. Michael Waltrip Racing was caught with an illegal fuel additive in his primary car, and was fined 100 points for the violation.

NAPA, who had sponsored Waltrip since his 2001 Daytona 500 win had said that they would stand by him, but if something like this happened again, that would not be guaranteed. Well something like that happened again. This morning, NAPA announced that they will not sponsor MWR anymore after this season, which is understandable. NAPA is a very loyal sponsor, so clearly what happened was that they decided that the cheating was going to continue until they said something. It is sad, but it happened.

My question is this, a very valid argument could be made that Truex himself did not do anything intentionally wrong, and that he was thrown under the bus because of the actions of his teammates. Another argument can be made that NASCAR stated when announcing the penalty, that they could not prove that Bowyer spun intentionally. Taking all the evidence into consideration, it appears that Truex had no idea what was going on around him, and that his teammates kept this information from him. I think with the penalties NASCAR levied against MWR, that Truex did in fact get thrown under the bus. At the same time, the rule comes across as a “hand of one is the hand of all” rule, which means that if your team cheats to help you, you are just as responsible for what happens.

To summarize, I think that NASCAR did what they felt was right, and I feel as though NAPA had to do what they they thought was right. Do I agree with it? Absolutely! NASCAR and its sponsors need to make it as clear as they can that cheating will not be tolerated. The rules are the rules, and even if the drivers disagree with them, they have to be followed.

Some Issues with the New Gen 6 Car

By David G. Firestone

I would like to discuss some issues that have come up in recent weeks with the new Gen 6 car. These issues seem minor, but with this new car, they need to be addressed. And because these issues are issues, it leads to a conclusion that is kind of stunning in my mind.

Two issues revolve around Denny Hamilin. The first is his $25,000 fine for “criticizing the product.” and I’ll get to that in just a minute. The other one is his massive L1 Compression fracture that he suffered at Fontana. This injury should never have happened, but it did. The Gen 5 cars, as unattractive as they were design-wise, were safety-focused. The discussion on how safe they were ended with Michael McDowell’s scary wreck during qualifying at Texas in 2008. The car suffered serious damage, but McDowell was unhurt. This wreck was just as bad, but Hamlin is out of the car until he is fully healed.

NASCAR needs to be safety-focused, putting driver and fan safety before anything else. The fact that Denny has an L1 compression fracture because of a wreck is proof that there is a lot of room for improvement in the Gen 6 car. That isn’t the only issue with the car that needs to be addressed. The car seems to change with each race. At a super speedway, the spoiler is lower than it is at other tracks. At intermediate tracks the roof cameras are not used for reasons that have yet to be explained to the general public. It almost seems as though NASCAR is making the rules up as they go along. Please pick a design and setup and stick with it.

The other issue that needs to be discussed is penalties surrounding the new car. Denny Hamlin was fined $25,000 for saying that the car has room for improvement. Why was he fined for that? I understand that the car was designed by many different people, who put a lot of time and effort into it, but here is the thing…the people who designed the car are not the ones who are the focal point of racing, the driver is. If the drivers are complaining about the car not being competitive, and not driving the way it is supposed to, it should be addressed. The Gen 4 and Gen 5 cars went through a lot of refining, and so should the Gen 6 car.

One penalty that was issued was to Penske Racing for having suspension parts unapproved by NASCAR. Although all of Ford’s engines come from Roush Yates, many teams use their own designs for equipment used in the car. As such, these parts have to be approved by NASCAR. Obviously these parts weren’t approved. Yet Penske, Brad Keselwoski, and Joey Logano are swearing up and down that they were legal, and working in a gray area. If the parts are unapproved, they are unapproved.

The other major penalty was to Matt Kenseth for having a connector rod that was 3 grams under the minimum weight required by NASCAR. My concern with this issue is that the engine in question came from Toyota Racing Development. TRD knows what the rules and regulations are, and they knew what the parts should have been. I do not believe for a second that of the people involved with making the engine, not one of them knew didn’t realize that the parts were illegal. They knew what it was, and they sent it out anyway. That brings up an important question. 8 teams in the Sprint Cup work with TRD. In total that accounts for 10 different teams. Each team has a primary and backup car. There is also an additional engine at the teams disposal. So for each Toyota team there are 3 engines for use. If Matt Kenseth is running illegal equipment, who else is?

On to paint schemes…

Brad Keselowski #2 Redd’s Apple Ale Ford Fusion Black and Red is always a good scheme, and the overall design is good. The sticking point for me with this scheme is that APPLE ALE is almost invisible on the quarter panel. So for a final grade, it gets a B-

Tony Stewart #14 National Wild Turkey Federation Chevy SS Good color scheme and overall design, but the major issue I have is with the NATIONAL WILD TURKEY being on a curve and not as visible It gets a B-

Jeff Gordon #24 AARP Chase Card Chevy SS The color and designs are all over the place, and the giant credit card on the hood is pretty ugly. Not good at all, F

Kevin Harvick Bell Helicopters Chevy SS A simple design with a good color scheme. Not much else to say other than good job, and it gets an A grade.

Jeff Burton #31 Airgas-Bulwark Chevy SS Meh. That sums it up. Uninspired color scheme, and bland design give it a mediocre look and a C- grade.

Jeff Burton #31 American Ethanol Chevy SS Good color scheme and design. A-

David Ragan #34 CSX Play It Safe Ford Fusion This is a very solid scheme, with great colors, great design and an overall great look. CSX did this scheme very well and it gets an A+

JJ Yeley #36 NASCAR Day Chevy SS Another simple yet attractive scheme that works very well. Nothing more to say than great job, and enjoy your A grade.

David Gilliland #38 EZ Pawn Ford Fusion Good color scheme though the design is a bit over complex. As such it gets a B+.

Ryan Newman #39 Code 3 Associates Chevy SS Ok, you can have either flames OR a racing stripe, but not both. Because the combo takes a good design and makes it into a horrible design. The only thing giving this scheme a passing grade is the color scheme being as good as it is, but it earns a D-

Bobby Labonte #47 Pine Sol Toyota Camry Yet another simple yet amazing good scheme that earns an A grade!

Elliot Sadler #81 Alert Energy Gum Toyota Camry A good scheme with a consistent design and a decent color scheme that earns a B+ grade.

Travis Kvapil #93 Dominion Raceway Toyota Camry Am I the only one who thinks it is odd that a speedway that doesn’t exist yet is sponsoring a car for one race? That aside, the door design needs work, but the color scheme is solid, and I give it a B-