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Monday, October 29, 2007

Kyle Busch a Title Contender despite Bad Luck

Kyle Busch has driven like the 2007 Nextel Cup champion despite being in sixth place in the chase for the title.

There are few drivers in NASCAR that pose a significant threat to win every race. Kyle Busch represents just such a threat. Kyle Busch may be the leader in the Chase for the Cup if not for some bad luck.

Top Chase contenders have reached this point without the obstacles that Kyle Busch faces each week. There is no question of Busch’s prowess at the wheel of the Kellogg’s Chevrolet, a Craftsman truck, or any other racing vehicle. He proved this Saturday on his way to recording an unlikely truck win in the EasyCare Vehicles Service Contracts 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch snatched the lead from Ron Hornaday with eight laps to go and never looked back. That description does not reflect the eventful race that Busch endured en
route to his fifth victory in the truck series. Kyle Busch was black flagged because the window net, a safety feature in NASCAR, had worked its way loose. This forced him to negotiate Atlanta’s ultra fast oval using one hand while trying to hold the net in place.

Ron Hornaday watched Busch pull off this feat and commented on the difficulty of racing for a victory at Atlanta with one hand.
"Impossible, and he did it," Hornaday said, shaking his head.

This type of luck has not translated into victories on the Nextel Cup side of things. Kyle Busch has had terrible luck during this year’s Chase for the Cup. He finished a dismal 41st at Kansas; followed by a 36th place performance at Talladega, and a 20th place finish Sunday at Atlanta. Despite these results, Busch left Sunday’s race in sixth place for the championship. Kyle had a car that was in a position to win if not for a dreadful stop during a late race caution. As the caution waved, Busch entered the pits as the leader before the jack man failed to raise the car high enough for the right front tire changer to execute a tire change quickly. The incident pushed him back in the field where he was caught up in a late race melee involving Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Busch was very angry and rightly so. At season’s end, Kyle Busch is being replaced at Hendrick Motorsports by one of NASCAR’s biggest stars, Dale Earnhardt Jr. In the meantime, Busch is still a member of Hendrick Motorsports and is contending for the championship. However, he has been barred from design and technological meetings because he is moving to Joe Gibbs Racing. Since Kyle has been excluded from these sessions, he is proving that he can contend for wins even when handicapped by his team. Busch is fantastic even when driving with one hand, literally and figuratively. A strong new team eagerly awaits his arrival, and with a little luck, count on his talent shining through in 2008.

photo courtesy of
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

History Made at Memphis Motorsports Park

Rookie Chase Austin becomes the second African- American driver to compete in NASCAR’s Busch Series.

Chase Austin began racing go- carts at the age of eight. Even as a youngster, Chase had career aspirations of reaching NASCAR’s top series. Saturday, Chase Austin took a huge step in making that dream come true.

Chase Austin qualified last, but it made the 18-year-old the second African-American driver to qualify for a Busch series race. In addition, Austin made history as the first black driver to qualify for a Busch Series race on an oval. Bill Lester was the first to achieve this in a 1999 race at Watkins Glen. However, Watkins Glen is a road course in upstate New York. A couple of mishaps and rookie errors, before the halfway point, sent Austin to the garage for the day. He settled for a 41st place finish in his Homelife Communities Dodge Charger.

Driving a racecar should be based on talent and ability as opposed to skin color. Unfortunately, Chase Austin has had to deal with racism his entire career. When driving go- carts, his white counterparts often accused him of cheating. Race officials were rumored to confiscate motors and other equipment for inspection. Eventually, his belongings were returned which required reassembly for the next event.

Austin has been signed to drive for NASCAR great Rusty Wallace and RWI Racing. His teammate will be Steven Wallace who has used the Busch Series as a training ground for his career in NASCAR. Driving for Wallace will afford Chase Austin several advantages. He will benefit from Rusty Wallace’s vast knowledge of racing and be given top-notch equipment.

“Chase is a very talented young man who has done a great job for us thus far in 2007, both on and off the track,” said team owner and NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace.

Chase Austin is not quite a household name but he is on the right track. After having achieved a historic milestone, Chase Austin can concentrate on being a driver and contend for championships in the future.

photo courtesy of RWI, LLC press release
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Friday, October 26, 2007

Diversity is Key to Success of Global Motorsport

Racing governing bodies need to find a way to attract and retain more owners of diverse backgrounds. This is the first in a series of minority achievement.

Lately, the buzzword in auto racing has been diversity. NASCAR has taken the lead in diversity efforts with the inception of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. It should be noted that other forms of racing have attracted minority owners and drivers too.

NASCAR fans have undoubtedly heard of Felix Sabates. Felix Sabates entered the world of stock car racing as an owner in 1987. He purchased a research and development team from Rick Hendrick. Currently, Sabates is co- owner of Ganassi Racing. Felix Sabates is of Cuban descent and has enjoyed success in a various forms of auto racing ranging from stock cars to endurance sportscar racing.

Athletes from other sports and entertainers have tested the waters of motorsport team ownership. In 1991, popular comedian Bill Cosby entered into multi million dollar sponsorship and promotional agreement to help driver Willy T. Ribbs become the first Black American to compete in the Indianapolis 500. Hip- hop artist Nelly has been a part owner as well. In March of 2003, the rapper bought a share of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck team.

Former boxer George Foreman, National Basketball Association star Carmelo Anthony, and Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton have gone into open wheeled racing ownership. Baltimore Raven linebacker, Ray Lewis, hopes to partner with NFL great Gale Sayres to start a team in the ChampCar World Series.

This is the first in a series detailing the careers and achievements of people with diverse backgrounds in motorsports. Motorsport needs influential people from all walks of life in order to attract a more diverse audience.

photo of Felix Sabates
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hamilton Wants to Earn the Title on Merit

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has submitted an appeal of the results from Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.

The complaint stems from fuel temperatures that were taken during the race from the cars that finished fourth, fifth, and sixth. The fuel samples showed cooler than permitted temperatures. Race officials elected not to impose any penalties because the evidence was thought to be inconclusive. These were the cars of Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica, and Nick Heidfeld. Nico Rosberg drives for Williams Toyota while Kubica and Heidfeld pilot the BMW Saubers. The penalty for an infraction of this nature would call for the disqualification of the cars involved.

If the penalty is levied against the teams in question, Lewis Hamilton and McLaren would then be classified as the fourth place finisher. Hamilton came home in seventh place so being declared the fourth place finisher would appear to be an insignificant difference. However, the points, that accompany a fourth place finish, would be enough to eclipse the point total of race winner and eventual World Champion Kimi Raikkonen.

The Federation Internationale De L'Automobile and Formula 1 cannot afford such a legal battle. On the heels of the record fine against McLaren for receiving technical documents from a former Scuderia Ferrari employee, another court battle would overshadow a brilliant season.

Lewis Hamilton is placed in an unenviable position as the beneficiary of politics. Raikkonen earned the right to battle for the title in the last grand prix of the season. It would be a shame to take Kimi's title because of a court ruling. Hamilton said he would feel uncomfortable winning the title by default and did not want to deprive Raikkonen of a deserved victory.

“You want to win the race and do it in style. Being promoted after some people have been thrown out is not the way I want to win it," said Hamilton.

The FIA and the International Court of Appeal will now decide whether to grant the appeal and set a date for the hearing. Instead of enjoying a stellar season, Hamilton will now have to wait for a world title awarded by the courts. If Hamilton is given the title, it will come with an asterisk in the history books. Having a title handed to a driver is not the ideal way to enter the record books (ask Bobby Unser and Mario Andretti). Lewis will win a world title if this year was any indication of things to come. In addition, he will win a title, based on his skill and results, on the track not in a courtroom.
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lewis Hamilton, STILL a champion despite Brazilian GP result

Britain's Lewis Hamilton began the day, at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Brazil, as the leader in the race for the Formula 1 World Championship.

At the conclusion of the race, Hamilton fell short of this lofty accomplishment by one point. However, this season has been a magical one for a driver with unbelievable talent and ability. Lewis Hamilton was staring at Formula 1 immortality as the first rookie, first black man, and the youngest ever to win a world championship in racing history.

This year's 17 race schedule came down to the last race to determine this year's world champion. Today marked the 35th anniversary of the Brazilian Grand Prix and featured three driver's with a chance to win the championship.
Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Kimi Raikkonen were set for battle amid blistering track and air temperatures. This was the 11th time in the 57 year history of Formula 1 where three men were eligible to win the world championship entering the last race. The 145 degree track temperatures marked the highest ever during a Formula 1 event.

Lewis Hamilton has faced many obstacles on and off the track this season. McLaren- Mercedes was penalized $110 million dollars by the Federation Internationale De L'Automobile for spying on rival Ferrari. The FIA also mandated a forfeiture of points and disqualified McLaren from the constructor's world title. In Formula 1, there are two championships that are contested each season. A points championship for the drivers and a title for the teams. There were allegations made, by Hamilton's teammate Alonso, that McLaren was biased toward the Brit. This became evident this week when a Spanish journalist said that McLaren and Great Britain are guilty of racism against Fernando Alonso led by Lewis Hamilton. Despite these distractions, Hamilton performed admirably and entered today's round with a four point lead over his teammate Alonso and a seven point lead over Raikkonen.

The age old racing adage "you cannot win a race on the first lap, but you can lose it," came true today. Hamilton, who qualified 2nd, slid to fourth at turn 1. After coming under attack by his teammate Alonso, Lewis went wide at turn 3 and rejoined the fray in eighth place. This off-track excursion was thought to have created the problems that nagged Hamilton for the rest of the race. A hydraulic clutch problem relegated Hamilton to 13th place on lap 15 and he never fully recovered. Despite a dazzling last stint, where Hamilton set the fastest race lap, his world title hopes relied on attrition and luck. He received neither and wound up in seventh place. This effectively handed the world championship to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen was also the winner of the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of his teammate and Brazilian Felipe Massa.

Lewis Hamilton ended the world championship in a tie for second with his teammate Fernando Alonso. He can take comfort in the fact that he had one of the most extraordinary season's in the history of Formula 1. He is only 22 years old and has plenty of time to win a title. Hamilton's season accomplishments go beyond racing. A black man has been the focal point of McLaren International, which is one of the richest sporting organizations on the planet. The championship may have been lost, but a Formula 1 star for the ages was born. Lewis can prepare for next year without the pressure of being a black rookie Formula 1 driver. He can concentrate on just being a driver.
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Friday, October 19, 2007

Welcome to PlanetEarth Racing!

This is your chance to keep up with auto racing on a global scale.

The year in motorsports is quickly coming to an end. So, it seems strange for someone to start a forum to discuss racing after the conclusion of the Indy Racing League season, the last round of the Formula 1 schedule, and with five races left in NASCAR's Chase for the Nextel Cup.

However, the timing represents one of the most exciting times of the racing year... ANTICIPATION for next year. Your favorite driver may be retiring, being fired, or searching for another challenge in racing. Teams have constructed next year's cars and are preparing for a rigorous offseason of testing.

It is my goal to provide thought provoking insight for someone new to auto racing as well as for the grizzled veteran. In racing, things happen very quickly. Check back often so you will not find yourself a lap down. I plan to publish a new post on FRIDAYS and MONDAYS during race season. During the offseason, you can count on a new post each THURSDAY.

Please enjoy and hope to see you at the track!!!
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