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The Checkered Flag

After two and a half years, this will be the final original post on The Outside Groove. No, I'm not going to pull a Darrell Waltrip and start making small, embarrassingly half-assed posts once or twice per year. And no, I'm not going to transform this site into an emporium for my other sports obsession, defunct leagues from the 70's. ("San Diego Sails? More like San Diego SNAILS!!!)

No, I'm just putting the site to rest. While I still like to write humor, I just plain don't like Nascar that much anymore. No one big event made me turn against the sport of car dealership owners, but there are a few things that have turned me off. I will now list them for my own self-importance.

1. IT'S FREAKING BORING: Watching two drivers swap wins week-to-week isn't my idea of fun. And if I wanted to watch my favorite get destroyed by two identical super-forces all-year-long, I'd go back to being an Orioles fan.

2. The sport is being dominated by Rick Hendrick: Yes, Rick Hendrick's done a lot of good things...I assume. But he also strong-armed out smaller car dealers in the 80's through cash bribes and (ironically) BMW's, then got his conviction wiped clean by his Bank of America buddies. Oh, and there's that whole "not paying overtime" thing. Once again, if I wanted to see my favorite get destroyed by a team owned by an ex-con, I'd go back to being an Orioles fan.

3. Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie is, by all accounts, a really good guy. And I applaud him for that. But I'm thoroughly convinced that he was bred in a lab in the 80's by corporate executives to be the perfect pitchman. Nothing controversial, nothing interesting, just plain nothing.

4. Vengeance is mine: After I saw Michael Waltrip get publicly humiliated week after week (a streak that continues!), what was there left for me to do? Speaking of which:

5. Nascar on FOX: I was a huge Nascar on Fox fan when they got the rights package back in 2001. Then it turned into the Waltrip Brothers Hour Presented by Toyota. When announcers aren't the least-bit impartial to the equipment in play, its just not a true broadcast anymore. Oh, and Larry Mac hates me.

Am I going away? Oh no. My new website launches soon (yes, soon!) right here.

I want to thank EVERYONE whose read my site throughout the years, especially the die hard readers who I've become friends with. Thanks again to my Mom and Dad, who gave me my first REAL writing job, and Douglass Ladd, who got The Outside Groove on its way (blame him).

I want to detract EVERYONE who posted negative comments over the years, especially those who thought my stories were actually read. Detractions again to Catch Fence, who threw me off their website for not being Christian enough, and the idiot I dated who called my site a "safe bet".

I also need to extend my sincere gratitude to Dion Ciccarelli, Donnie Neuenberger, David Starr, and Mike Massaro for agreeing to be interviewed by me. And of course, thank you to Derrike Cope for your mustache.

In the beginning, I set up this site to see if anyone would react to intelligent Nascar humor. The answer was yes, and I thank you all for that. Unfortunately, Nascar seems to not want us anymore. For every bogus caution flag, Tony Stewart rant, Junior puff-piece and ugly rear wing, my brain got more and more turned off. Sorry, folks, but I have to take care of my brain, even if it means not following a sport I once (and still) loved.

And so, I say goodbye for now, and I'll see you later for sure.

"People think Michael is a good guy, but he's not a good guy. He got a girlfriend and he ended the site; he's just a piece of shit."


The End? No, Just Pulling a Ricky Rudd

Why haven't I been writing as much lately? Because that pesky thing called the "real world" has been getting in the way too much. Why haven't I been writing that well lately? Well, that's just a lack of natural talent.

As much as I'd love to keep writing this site, there's just too much going on right now to do so. Rather than a bunch of "Boy, Michael Waltrip sure is funny in those commercials!" articles, I've decided to take the month of April off. I'll be writing a bit during that time, but hopefully I can return on May 1. (May day? Why that's the Russian New Year! We'll have a big parade and serve hot horderves...).

Now, I've been a fan of many-a website that has gone "On Hiatus" without a definite return. So here's the plan--come back once a week, and hopefully I'll have something for you. If not, feel free to flame me into oblivion.

See you later.


Breakin' Up

The Outside Groove takes a brief break this week...look for more Nascar-related frivolity by Friday at the latest.


Kyle Busch--A Life that has Sucked

Age 2--Kyle Busch says his first words: "Mommy sucked."

Age 4--Kyle has his first day of school: "Teacher give us sucked."

Age 8--Kyle drives a go-kart for the first time: "Wooooh--that was really fast! sucked."

Age 11--Kyle wins the North Las Vegas Middle School Geography Bee: "Czechoslovakia? I win! I finally won! sucked."

Age 14--Kyle's first kiss: "Wow, Lisa, that was sucked."

Age 16--Kyle gets thrown out of Fontana: "Man, that sucked."

Age 18--Kyle makes his Nascar debut: "After all these years of trying, I can finally say I made sucked."

Age 20--Kyle gets his first vacuum cleaner: "It sucked."


Busch in Busch

I wasn't going to write anything tonight, but after hearing about the odd pit lane problem in today's Busch race, I had to say something. Kyle Busch has been having a frustrating season in the Busch Series, and none of it appears to be his fault. From a spin on the final lap to a loose lug nut to a pit road error, he seems to be doing no right on Saturdays.

It makes me wonder if this promising young Busch Series driver will ever get a shot at running in Nextel Cup.


Bristol "News" and Notes

Good news, everybody--on Saturday the 24th, the Car of Tomorrow will quite literally be the Car of Tomorrow.

A.J. Allmendinger and Jeremy Mayfield both made their first race of the season today. For A.J., its also the first Nascar race of his career, while for Jeremy, its also the first race driving for a company that sells pain medication AND exhaust products.

On the flip-side, Michael Waltrip missed his fourth consecutive race after failing to qualify. About the only positive to come out of this is that we can be sure that he's no longer cheating.

Following the lead of Jack Roush, Ray Evernham has been talking to George Gillett Jr., owner of the Montreal Canadiens. OK, Ray, the money will help. But if this means ONE MORE ugly NHL special paint scheme, JUST ONE MORE, its over!

Following Jimmie Johnson's win last week, Chevy has the chance to get its 600th Cup win at Bristol on Sunday. Of course, by the time they hit 700 wins, it will be known as Chevy-Kia, a Division of Nissan Corp.

3:1 Fox will SERIOUSLY overdo the opening "fight montage".
6:1 The race will end under Green-White-Checkers, or, as it is on a short track, Gre--oh, caution on the track.
200:1 Robby Gordon will finish the race with a clean smooth race car.


Michael Jackson to Join Boys

In a move that has shocked the Nascar, music, and business worlds, Michael Jackson has announced that he will be purchasing a majority stake in H&K Motorsports, featuring driver Trevor Boys.
Jackson, who has been out of the country for the past two years, issued a statement from his current home in Bahrain.
"While its true that I've become interested in the devilish speed of Nascar, I wasn't interesting in buying a team until last week. That's when I met Boys. I love Boys. I loved meeting Boys. Boys made me happy. I saw my whole life ahead of me in Boys."
Jackson also intimated that he may return to the United States, perhaps even the Charlotte area, to improve the team's chances.
"I want to spend more time with Boys. I'd love to move in with Boys. Boys will be my life. All Boys, all the time."
Jackson, a notorious big-spender, has already brought in a multi-million dollar sponsor in his own line of religious-themed drinks, Jesus Juice. He has also pledged to attend next week's race at Martinsville, saying that he "...loves all the rubba-rubba on the track."
Jackson also believes he can help the team in more ways than money, such as helping the team adjust to the new nose.
"Listen, when people look back on my life, I don't want them to just think about music. When then think about Michael Jackson, I want them to think of one word--Boys."
It remains to be seen if Jackson will qualify for Nascar's Drive for Diversity.


Where's Trevor Boys?

Earlier this year, I picked Trevor Boys to finish last in the Nascar Nextel Cup points standings. To date he's done so, but by not competing in any race so far. This ties him with such luminaries as Greg Sacks, Mark Green, and Jeremy Mayfield. But why AREN'T the Boys back in town? Lets take a look:

--Come on, the dude's from Canada. YOU try naming your sponsors in an interview in two languages.

--He hasn't competed in Nascar since 1993, back when Dale Earnhardt was champion, Jeff Gordon was a rookie, and everyone was crazy about a young man named Loy Allen Jr.

--He's been trying desperately to get Nascar to award one point for every Rouge*.

--Trevor's worried what effect the move would have on his son Wheeler, and his other children Cole, Rowdy, and Harry.

--That big back bacon sponsorship fell through.

--He tried to drive the car onto the ice for a Calgary Flames game.

--Truth is, its probably just a total lack of funding. Rumor has it that a major celebrity is looking into buying the team though...check back tomorrow for more.

*--This joke courtesy of me, a genuine Baltimore Stallions fan.


Yesterday's Special Guest Villian...Simon Cowell?

If you were watching 60 Minutes last night, you caught a bizarre end to an interview with Simon Cowell. In it, Simon takes an IndyCar around Las Vegas Motor Speedway and is then "judged" by Mario Andretti, Michael Waltrip and Kurt Busch. In case you missed it, here's the highlights:

--60 Minutes mistakenly picked up audio of Mario telling Michael Waltrip, "Shouldn't you be doing something right now for your team? Your brand NEW team? You know, your brand NEW team with a brand NEW manufacturer?", followed by Michael responding, "Don't worry, I got the team GELLING as we speak."

--Simon was oddly silent about Michael Waltrip's obscure 1989 release, "Country Time with Mikey and the Bahari Boys".

--Brian Dunkleman? Pinko Commie. And a HECK of a crew chief, incidentally.

--When Cowell sarcastically suggested that Kurt Busch take a voice test for a recording career, Busch responded harshly, with "I don't want to take your gay-ass voice test."

--Not surprisingly, the drivers fell into some familiar roles when discussing Cowell's on-track performance:

Kurt Busch: "Yo, dawg, I just wasn't feelin' it, man. I mean, you were all over the place, your splits were worse than Champ Car and IRL's...just not your best work, dawg.

Michael Waltrip: "Well, I love your spirit, you have a great personality, but not your best work today. And if YOU like your car to get the best work possible, take it to Napa. Napa--Get the Good Stuff."

Mario Andretti: (sounding very philosophical) "I'd like to criticize you for your driving ability, but there's one thing we should all be criticized for. Check your tires."


Scene from the GM Marketing Office in Detroit

GM Marketing Director: (frustrated) "I just don't get it! We're running two concurrent ad programs aimed at two distinct markets, and neither of them are doing anything! Sales are flat, people are complaining...I just don't--"

GM Marketing Assistant (looking scared) "Uh, boss? I-I have that report you wanted on the two ad cam-campaigns."

Director: "Wow, that was quick--so what did you find? Why aren't our ads resonating with the public?"

Assistant: "Well, its a real funny story actually--you see, re-remember when you said to put the John Mellencamp Americana ads on the Nascar races, and-and the commercials with all the rappers on the March Madness broadcasts?

Director: "Yessss..."

Assistant: "Well, wouldn't you know it...someone switched 'em by mistake! Hah! Is-isn't that funny, boss?"

Director: "That's it--I'm going to Delorean."


Atlanta "News" and Notes

Ryan Newman won yet another pole today, reinforcing his nickname, "Mr. Friday". Hmmm, if he's Friday, does that make Kurt Busch Robinson Caruso?

In a somewhat bizarre move, Nascar forced Robby Gordon to remove the Motorola logos from his car, despite the fact that Motorola manufactures phones for series sponsor Nextel. This is part of the new "non-promotion" theory of marketing, where teams aim to promote their brand through failure and controversy. In other words, its what Napa does.

Be on the lookout for a possible Ted Turner sighting at the track. In case you have trouble finding him, he's the white middle-aged man with the mustache and polo shirt.

Haas Racing's cars are swapping sponsors this weekend...again. Does it still count as a "swap" if its a permanent thing? Because in that case, Bill Weber and Allan Bestwick are still "swapping" their jobs too.

The 72, uh, "race team" is apparently leaving Nextel Cup. While some think that they are simply moving down to the Busch Series, insider info states that Nascar was vehemently opposed to having team owners with the last name "Mullet".

1:5 Mike Joy will refer to something, somehow, as "March Madness".
10:1 That comment will be followed by a visit to a race shop, featuring the song "Our House" by Madness.
100:1 The reporter for the segment will the "Macho Man" Randy Savage. OHHHHHHH YEAHHHHHHHHH! DIG IT?


Get to Know a Rookie

Today, The Outside Groove continues its now and again look at the rookie drivers of the 2007 Nextel Cup season, The Andy Petree Experience.

Paul Menard

Number: 15--Lets see--famous on-track success...leeching off the Earnhardts...sounds like Michael Waltrip to me!

Sponsors: Menard's, plus a bunch of stuff they sell. This is called "Contingency Marketing" and is also used by such sponsors as Target and Dollar General to promote both their store and their selection. FINALLY I use my marketing degree.

Owner: DEI. "Really? Paul Menard and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are teammates? Huh--I had no idea."

Previous Racing Experience: Paul grew up on the mean streets of Eau Claire, cutting his teeth on the ultra-popular, high-pressure Ice Racing circuit. He began his transition to non-water based surfaces in 2000, running an ABC (ARCA-Busch-Challenge) schedule. In 2003 Menard moved on to Andy Petree Racing, where Kenny Wallace's maniacal laugh haunted the race shop at night. Leaving quickly, he settled at DEI, while DEI settled for him. Last year he notched his first Busch Series win, proving that yes, winning in the Busch Series is usually a GOOD thing to do before you move on to Cup (David Stremme, I'm looking in your direction).

Personal Life: Not much is known about Paul's personal life, though judging by his facial hair, I'd say that he's been to his fair share of Dave Mathews concerts.

Fun Fact: Paul started his racing career by finally working up the courage to say "What I'd really like dad is to borrow the car keys. Seeya later, can I have them please."


Riley-D'Hondt: "Uh, we're still here"

Upstart Busch Series team Riley-D'Hondt Motorsports issued a statement today, explaining that despite not attempting any races so far, they are still in existence.
"Uh, we're still here", said co-owner Eddie D'Hondt. "You know, I wasn't reading a lot about us lately, but yeah, we're still, you know, here."
D'Hondt went on to explain that the team is planning to attempt 10 Busch Series races ("you know, like we said we were gonna") with a driver. When asked if it was David Green, D'Hondt said "Well, yeah, I mean, if David isn't doing anything else those Saturdays...I've been meaning to call him anyways."
The team's "Still Standing, Not Moving", or "SSNM" press release is a rather standard operating procedure in racing. Its similar to the 72 team's "No, we're not out of business" weekly bulletin, BAM Racing's "No, seriously, we have a sponsor" flyer, and The Third Yates Car Gazette.
D'Hondt, who appeared surprised by the questioning, also said that Marc Goosens will "still, probably" race in a select few Cup races.
"Goose and I are putting something together. You know, its done, but its not done. We're there, or something like that."


Crazy Old Man

Everybody's wondering if Mark Martin will run at Bristol in two weeks. Lots of people think he should run--after all, he's leading the points, and seems to have a legitimate shot at the championship. I, on the other hand, think he should take the week off.

Mostly to reshoot THIS commercial.


The Chris Myers Joke File

Dick Berggren is so old that he was most likely born before America's involvement in World War II.

Dick Berggren is so old that he qualifies for some Social Security benefits.

Dick Berggren is so old that he looks somewhat different than he used to.

Dick Berggren is so old that he is not as adept at modern technology as those younger than him.

Dick Berggren is so old that he knows several people who are old as well.

Dick Berggren is so old that some of his customs are considered strange by others.

Dick Berggren is so old that he remembers things that happened very long ago, but has a tendency to forget other things as well.


Why is Robby Gordon Running an All Black Car?

--Harrah's decided at the last minute to spend their money elsewhere. I mean, who connects Las Vegas and gambling, right?

--Car was supposed to have a "totally rad flame job", but the airbrush guy took too much "medicine" and got lost in the desert.

--He's promoting the re-re-release of Spinal Tap's "Black" album.

--Was supposed to be sponsored by Menards, but John Menard realized he has no stores in Las Vegas...and that Robby isn't related to him.

--Protesting Nascar's decision to not let him run a number 777 car.

--Got into a little trouble with Sterling Marlin's sponsors. "Say, that's a nice paint job you got there, Robby-boy. Be a shaaame if something happened to it."

--Oh, the car has a sponsor on it. Yeah, it does? Haven't you ever heard of Jim Beam Black?


Las Vegas "News" and Notes

Wax statues of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are being added to Madame Tussauds this weekend. And no--that lifelike statue of Ryan Newman isn't always there--that's actually him.

Magic Johnson will be serving as the honorary crew chief for David Green on Sunday to promote a new charity initiative. Don't be surprised if Magic is joined midway through the race by Tommy Davidson.

In a related story, wrestler Bill Goldberg joins Greg Biffle's crew this week to promote his new television show. So if you're keeping track at home, that makes two, count 'em, TWO Jews involved in Nascar.

Even though the season is only two races old, speculation has already centered on a Cup contender--namely, will Mark Martin really step out of his ride at Bristol. Of course he will! Mark's scheduled to sign autographs at his concession trailer from 1-3pm on race Sunday--you don't think he'd lie to a licensing firm, do you?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be "joining the SpeedFreaks" according to a press release. Wait for it. I guess that means--wait for it--that's he's getting back together with Shane Hmiel. BAM!

3:1 Mark Martin will respond to a question about Bristol with "Have I lied to you before?"
10:1 "Elvis Pressley" will be in the crowd.
200:1 Robert Pressley will be in the pits.


Entertainment and Sports Programming Network

Hey, remember the "Nascar Ride Along Program" ESPN commercials from the 90's? Huh?!? Well, they're brining them back. And guess who gets to star in 'em? ME! Yeah, it was tough, but sometimes it pays to have had a one-night-stand with Erin Andrews back in college. Anyways, here's the transcripts of some of my upcoming commercials:

Dale Earnhardt Jr.:
Me: I know you're really into those video games, but I haven't played any of 'em since Bill Elliott's Fast Tracks.
Dale Jr.: Hey, man, that game was COOL! I got the camber just right on the Buick!
Me: Yeah, the Thunderbird was more my speed. So, think we can hang out later?
Dale Jr.: No.

Jeff Gordon
Me: Say, do you have any idea what your sponsor is doing at the "Experimental Station" up by my job?
Jeff: Uh, no...I mean, why would I know anything about that?
Me: Well, its just that I hear these really weird noises coming out of there...and last week I think I saw a creature jump about 20 feet in the air--
Jeff: Listen, Mike--you don't want to know how high this project goes. Now, lets just focus on the ride, and I won't have to kill you.

Jimmie Johnson
Me: Huh huh huh...Jimmie.
Jimmie: Come on, man, I haven't heard that since I was 12.
Me: Heh heh heh...Johnson.
Jimmie: OK, 15.

Hey, remember the "Nascar Ride Along Program" ESPN commercials from the 90's? Huh?!? Well, they're brining them back. And guess who gets to star in 'em? ME! Yeah, it was tough, but sometimes it pays to have had a one-night-stand with Erin Andrews back in college. Anyways, here's the transcripts of some of my upcoming commercials:

Dale Earnhardt Jr.:
Me: I know you're really into those video games, but I haven't played any of 'em since Bill Elliott's Fast Tracks.
Dale Jr.: Hey, man, that game was COOL! I got the camber just right on the Buick!
Me: Yeah, the Thunderbird was more my speed. So, think we can hang out later?
Dale Jr.: No.

Jeff Gordon
Me: Say, do you have any idea what your sponsor is doing at the "Experimental Station" up by my job?
Jeff: Uh, no...I mean, why would I know anything about that?
Me: Well, its just that I hear these really weird noises coming out of there...and last week I think I saw a creature jump about 20 feet in the air--
Jeff: Listen, Mike--you don't want to know how high this project goes. Now, lets just focus on the ride, and I won't have to kill you.

Tony Stewart
Me: You know, I used to think you were a jerk, but I can see that you're a really nice guy.
Tony: Thanks, man.
Me: I guess you just need to "climb a few fences", eh?
Tony: Wait...were you that hack idiot who wrote that article about me stealing the fence climbing thing?


Questions Without Answers

As a longtime Nascar fan (well, since '92), I'm usually able to figure out why certain things are as they are. Sometimes, though, I find a question that I simply cannot answer. That's where YOU, the semi-loyal reader comes in. Please, give me some answers to the following questions:

1. Whatever happened to Loy Allen Jr., Chuck Bown, Billy Standridge, Gary Bradberry, and Patty Moise?

2. Why is Wayman Stricklin nicknamed "Hut"?

3. Did anyone else see the Nascar-themed episode of "Malcolm & Eddie"?

4. If Michael Waltrip really did put jet fuel in his engine, and STP really does contain jet fuel, then didn't Richard Petty promote contraband all those years?

5. How come a man, married twice (both models) is called gay?

6. If Nascar fans think that dates should be given back to North Wilkesboro and Rockingham, should NFL fans lobby to put franchises back in Frankfort, Pottsville, and Oorang?

7. Is it possible to wear a jacket that says "DALE earnhardt jr." instaed of "BUD king of beers" without looking like a gigantic dork?


Chip Ganssi Racing with Fallout So Be It

Sunday's Busch race in Mexico ended in controversial fashion, with Juan Pablo Montoya winning his first stock car race after spinning out teammate Scott Pruett. Here's a look at what has transpired since:

--According to Scott Pruett, here was the schedule at Chip Ganassi Racing the day before the race:
9am: Talk about it
10am: Talk about it
11am: Talk about it
12pm: Light lunch
12:30pm: Talk about it

--Many people were surprised at Scott's "Simon Cowell" hand gestures after the race. Turns out that audio was cut on Pruett's preceding statement: "I wish I had four I could give that wreck four thumbs DOWN! The team's gone BAD Juan Montoya!"

--Pruett's co-owner*, Felix Sabates, was furious at the end of the race with Felix Sabates, co-owner of Montoya's car. As a result, Sabates plans to protest Sabates with an all-black "protest" car, followed by a series of bizarre interviews. You know, the usual.

--Off-air, Pruett called Montoya's attempted pass a "horseshit rookie mistake". However, he was even angrier that his team didn't do "diddly-poo in the pits".

--If this had happened in F1, Montoya would've been immediately black-flagged, docked 20 drivers points, and suspended for two races. How DARE he try to create drama!

--All in all, most fans reacted the same way that I did after the race: "Damn, Juan Pablo's got a hot wife!"

*From what I understand, Felix only owns a small percentage of the team. In all other scenarios, he wouldn't be a "co-owner", but then again, it would be too awkward for TV to refer to Felix Sabates as a "minority owner".


Recently, a baseball card came into circulation featuring Derek Jeter at the bat...with the President and Mickey Mantle looking on. But I'd be more worried about Nascar. It seems that someone in the graphics department is having a little fun with racing's favorite blue oval man.

Just like Cal's brother.


Lost in Translation IV: I Race for Me...FOR ME!!!

As has become an annual international tradition here at The Outside Groove, we take a look at the upcoming Busch Series race in Mexico City. Then, we use Google Language Tools to translate it to the area's native tongue of Spanish. Finally, we make it palatable to the American audience by translating it BACK to English. Lets take a look:

For the third straight year, Nascar takes a trip south of the border to Mexico City. The Busch Series races on Sunday with unprecedented coverage, as ESPN will provide "full circle" coverage across its many networks. While many native drivers will compete, the most famous Hispanic in the race is arguably Juan Pablo Montoya, a Columbian. A twisting, turning road course, it is the first of three such tracks in the Busch Series this year, followed by races at Watkins Glen and Montreal. Expect an interesting race--alas, a race with no "Clint...Bowyer".

To Spanish:
Por el tercer año recto, Nascar lleva un sur del viaje de la frontera Ciudad de México. La serie de Busch compite con el domingo con cobertura sin precedente, pues ESPN proporcionará cobertura del “círculo completo” a través de sus numerosos redes. Mientras que competirán muchos conductores nativos, el hispanico más famoso de la raza es discutible Juan Pablo Montoya, colombino. El torcer, curso del camino que da vuelta, es el primer de tres tales pistas en la serie de Busch este año, seguido por las razas en la cañada y Montreal de Watkins. Contar con una raza interesante--alas, una raza sin “Clint… Bowyer”.

And back to English:
By the third straight year, Nascar takes the south of the trip of the border City of Mexico. The series of Busch competes with Sunday with cover without precedent, because ESPN will provide cover of the “complete circle” through their numerous networks. Whereas many native conductors will compete, Hispanic the most famous one of the race is debatable Juan Pablo Montoya, colombino. Twisting, course of the way that gives return*, is first of the three such tracks in the series of east Busch year, followed by the races in the gorge and Montreal de Watkins. To count on an interesting race--wings, a race without “Clint… Bowyer”.

*"course of the way that gives return"--ahhh, so lyrical...if only it was spoken by Ward Burton


Car of a Few Weeks from Now

Here's what was learned from Nascar's recent Car of Tomorrow test:

--That wing in the back? TOTALLY helps you pick up chicks at the gas station.

--A bigger green house does NOT mean bigger green house gas emissions, Al Gore.

--After all these years they still haven't found a car impervious to rain.

--Lists about the Car of Tomorrow's "features" are rapidly becoming stale and old.

--Nascar humor, on the whole, has gone downhill.

--Some websites don't seem to even try anymore, like Onion Sports, Sports Pickle, and The Outside Groove.


--People who write Nascar humor have serious self esteem problems.


Get to Know a Rookie

Today, The Outside Groove continues its on-again, off-again look at the rookie drivers of the 2007 Car of This Evening season.

David Reutimann

Number: 00--I don't know about you guys, but when I think about a driver's potential fully realized, I think of Buckshot Jones.

Sponsors: Domino's and Burger King. Yeah, its a drag having to do appearances with "The King", Burger King's goofy mascot, but David's REAL fear is that his other sponsor will bring back The Noid.

Owner: Michael Waltrip Racing. OK, I know that Mikey's having enough problems as it is, but I'm going to say it--has anyone else noticed how much the MWR logo looks like that of the Wu-Tang Clan?

Previous Racing Experience: David was born in Zephyrhills, Florida, where they apparently build big hills out of zephyrs. He started his racing career in the now-defuct Slim Jim All-Pro Series, where he was subject to daily questions about whether or not he needed a little excitement.* David's big break came when he was signed by Joe Nemechek to drive his Geico-sponsored car (and no, he didn't get to meet the cavemen). Shortly afterwards, he signed with Darrell Waltrip's bearing-backed team in the Truck Series. Three years later, after a long, arduous, and ultimately grueling interview process, he moved up to Cup with Darrell's brother.

Personal Life: David lives with his wife and daughter in Terrell, North Carolina--a town whose name he still does not know how to pronounce.

Fun Fact: Despite his name, David does NOT work for Roto-Rooter.



Black History Month

Lets take a look back at how Nascar honored the contributions of African-Americans to the sport:

--At Daytona, Darrell Waltrip agreed to change his trademark catchphrase to "Booker T, Booker T, Booker T! Lets go racin', I mean MEN!"

--Instead of that commercial with the guy buying one shoe, Nascar showed that commercial with the kid at the go-kart track saying "Sambelnavis" really fast.

--Diecast manufacturer Motorsport Authentics (nee Action) came out with a line of black diecast cars for the occasion. Furthermore, to honor the great black leaders King, X, and Douglass, a number 3 was painted on the side of the car. Meanwhile, to acknowledge the number of African-American males working so well in the pits, the word "Goodwrench" was added.

--Dale Earnhardt Jr. was quietly asked to stop using slang such as "dawg", "off the hook", and "word to yo stepmotha".

--For 28 days, Bill Lester was, instead of being called "The Black Guy", called "The African-American Guy".

--A vein attempt was made to reintroduce Nascar jackets to inner-city youths as "retro-wear".

--Willie T. Ribbs allowed to shoot at Nascar headquarters for 15 minutes.

--Involving great, progressive sports franchises in their sport, such as the Boston Red Sox (last team to integrate, 1959), and the Washington Redskins (last team to integrate, 1962).


Roush-Fenway Breaks "The Curse of the Craven"

After two excruciatingly long weeks, fans of Roush-Fenway Racing were finally able to die in peace--their driver finally won a race, breaking the mythical "Curse of the Craven."
"I can't believe they finally did it!", exclaimed long-time (over two weeks) Roush-Fenway fan Woody Kirk. "This was for everybody who had to wait so long for the team to reverse the curse. Its for me, my dad, my uncles, even my wife. It was a long 14 days, but we did it!"
Several sports writers had claimed that the team was "cursed" by former Roush Racing driver/lobster enthusiast Ricky Craven. As the legend goes, Craven placed a call to Jack Roush shortly after he sold half his team to Fenway Sports Group, pointing out that, as a New Englander, he had "corporate synergy or something". When Roush laughed and hung up, Craven was said to have "cursed" the new team.
"We've never believed in curses here, but it had been tough for all those dozens of hours", said Roush-Fenway part-owner John Henry. "I mean, all those close calls, like when we finished second at Daytona, were just...wait, we don't have Mark Martin anymore? Seriously?"
The broken curse was, unfortunately, not without controversy. In conjunction with his new movie "Fever Pace", actor/professional laugher Jimmy Fallon was allowed to run onto the track after the win. After being run over by a spinning Matt Kenseth, however, the crowd cheered in approval.


"Jimmie Johnson, if that was anyone besides Jeff Gordon, would you have raced them differently?"

"This is what's great about Nascar. This is what the greatest thing about Nascar is. You race to make the Chase. Hello? You race to make the Chase. You don't race it just to win it. That's the great thing about Nascar: you don't race to win, and you can make it if you don't have any wins. You go race to Chase. When you start tellin' me it matters, then go to IRL. Get out! 'Cause it doesn't matter...yet."


20 Years Ago...

Bob Jenkins: "...and a tough day for Chuck Bown, but I'm sure he has a bright future ahead of him. Lets go down to victory lane with Dr. Jerry Punch, and today's winner. Doc?"

Dr. Jerry Punch: "And ANOTHER win for Darrell Waltrip--a shower of confetti here in victory lane. Darrell, let me ask you--if 20 years from now, you were starring in a commercial parody of "The Godfather", wearing a fake mustache and calling yourself 'The Dreamfather' in a fake-Italian accent, advertising a company that sponsors your brother's Busch Series ride, what would you say?"

Darrell Waltrip: "Jeez, I'd say that would be pretty sad. Man, Doc, why'd you have to bring me down like that? If you EVER see me do ANYTHING like that, you have full permission to smack me in the face."


California "News" and Notes

Mike Skinner's analysis of his team's runs at California before his win this weekend--"We sucked here". That's why they call him the great communicator.

Michael Waltrip failed to qualify for Sunday's race when David Reutimann knocked him out of the field. Expect Reutimann to be rewarded with a paid leave of absence.

On the flip side, Johnny Sauter continues his surprising run, qualifying again. Wow, put two guys fired from RCR together, and magic happens. Hope you're listening, Robby Gordon and Steve Park.

For the past few years this race's sponsor has been "Auto Club". Is it just me, or does "Auto Club 500" sound incredibly fake? Like the kind of race a sitcom family would go to see? "Hey dad, don't forget the tickets to the Auto Club 500!"

In honor of LA-based Fox Sports' Nascar coverage, the famous Hollywood sign will be changed to pre-race host Jeff Hammond's nickname.

2:1 Jeff Gordon will have to explain how he claims both California and Indiana as his home state (hey, Jeff, it happens--I claim THREE)
9:2 After this week's complaints about the size of the Shell logo on the 29, the continuing debate over Cingular/AT&T on the 31, and the morality of having Jack Daniels on the 07, Richard Childress will just run a bunch of blank cars.
40:1 John Andretti will somehow find a way to run for Rookie of the Year.


Get to Know a Rookie

This year, Nascar was flooded with a wealth of new talent...and Brandon Whitt. Today The Outside Groove starts an occasional series, Get to Know a Rookie, looking at the young drivers who'll be shaping the future of the sport...until they're fired at age 38.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Number: 42--Remember Juan Pablo, no matter what happens, Don't Panic.

Sponsor: Texaco Havoline--That's Texaco HAVOLINE! He's NOT just sponsored by the gasoline company! That's heresy I say...heresy!

Owner: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates--I always imagine this title referring to the two of them running a roadster in a cross-country race, with Chip as the desperate dad trying to win the race to buy back his family's dream house, while Felix is the lovable sidekick who winds up marrying the lovely Miss Speedley.

Previous Racing Experience: Juan Pablo ran numerous Karting series as a youth, much like Jeff Gordon (while avoiding the goofy mustache). He then moved on to various open-wheel minor leagues, such as Formula Vauxhall, F3000, and CART. After "crossing over" to IRL to win the Indy 500 (wouldn't that make him undefeated?), he moved to F1, running with Williams and, as Larry Mac would say, MAC-laren. Then Ryan Newman plowed him into the wall.

Personal Life: While rather even-keeled off the track, he automatically punches anyone who asks him if he's met Juan Valdez. While a proud Columbian, his celebrity status makes it difficult for him to live there--HE CAN'T WALK DOWN THE STREET IN SOUTH AMERICA!

Fun Fact: Nascar hasn't really promoted this, but apparently Juan Pablo is Hispanic.


Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Finally Meet Joe Gibbs

After years of putting it off, trying, and worrying, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has said that this weekend, at California, he will finally talk to his boyhood hero, Joe Gibbs.
"Man, I've been waiting for this my whole life!", a visibly shaking Junior said. "I mean, I grew up watching those great teams of the 80's that Mr. Gibbs coached. Do you think I should call him Mr. Gibbs? Or Coach Gibbs? Maybe just Coach. Nah, Mr. Gibbs is best."
Junior, a longtime fan of the Redskins, first heard that Gibbs would be at the track on Monday afternoon. He immediately began running through things to talk about.
"I'd love to talk to him about the Super Bowls and stuff, but he probably gets that all the time. I should probably play it cool and just ask him what he thinks the 'Skins will do in 2007. Wait, he probably gets that all the time too. I REALLY want to ask him what he thinks about Art Monk getting robbed by the Hall of Fame again, but I don't want to start things out on a downer."
When pressed, Junior explained that he has had opportunities to meet the coach before, but, in his words, "chickened out".
When I was like 14, Mr. Gibbs--man, maybe i SHOULD go with Coach Gibbs--was at Rockingham with Interstate Batteries, and talked some with my dad. Dad motioned for me to come over, but I was so scared--I mean, its Joe freakin' Gibbs! I hope he doesn't remember me for that.
"Then back in 2003, he was doing some sort of publicity tour with Wix Filters, and he came by Dover Downs through the pits. I would've gone up to him then, but this guy on my team wouldn't stop yakking my ear off. Something about starting his own team and using an octane booster."
Junior plans to "bump in" to Gibbs on Saturday afternoon. He swears he won't back down this time.
"If I don't meet up with him this time, I'll never forgive myself! I just gotta figure out if I should wear the Joe Theismann throwback, or the new Clinton Portis jersey I got for Christmas."