It’s not Dover Until It’s Over and Other News and Notes

For everyone saying that Jimmie Johnson is back, please chill out.

Johnson won at Dover, catapulting him from sixth in the standings all the way up to second, just 35 points behind leader Denny Hamlin. This prompted several fans, including Ranting reader WestCoastKenny to give up on the season. To those who fear the five-peat, I bring hope and a boxful of cookies.

Last week, I wrote that driver ratings and average finishes will decide the chase and that Johnson’s average of 14.5 is not at championship-form. Johnson’s driver rating of 107.4 will keep him in the mix until Miami but with Talladega and Martinsville looming, Johnson has not seen his last DNF.

Johnson and crew chief Chas Knaus has struggled to find consistency all season long, including the opening Chase race at New Hampshire. If we were to ignore Dover and consider all of 2010, it shows that he’s still not the driver that dominated from 2006-2009.

Hamlin is definitely the man to beat with eight to go. His 92.8 Chase rating is solidly in the top-five and he has some of his better tracks in Martinsville, Texas, and Phoenix remaining. We may just be calling Hamlin the champion by November.

I’m standing by my initial pick of Kevin Harvick but I’ll be damned if this thing isn’t a Denny Hamlin/Jeff Gordon slug-fest by Halloween.

Find more news and notes after the fold!


Have You Seen Their Trophy

This is likely intended for SB Nation’s Pop Off Valve but I just can’t resist.

The IZOD IndyCar Series unveiled its new championship trophy for the 2010 season on Wednesday at a ceremony in Miami at the W Hotel. The trophy doesn’t appear to have a name and may be the most hideous object in all of sports. IZOD commissioned acclaimed sculptor Ted Gall to design the trophy and the results are nothing short of appalling.
The award is best described as the Heis-Man (hyphen to emphasize the man) standing on a giant wheel with outstretched arms to the side. The second and third place drivers will receive similar trophies with less wingspan.

“We’re not just a human form; we’re what we use all the time,” said Gall. “It used to be if you were a cowboy you rode a horse. Now we are really attached to wheels our whole lives. The arms are imploring; they’re reaching out for that golden ring, for that big win.”
And what does reaching out to big golden rings have to do with racing exactly Mr. Gall? This is motorsports not a poetry contest.

“The drivers are really tired of getting bowling trophies,” Gall said. “They’re bowls or something that doesn’t relate to what they’re doing. Izod has gone beyond other sports. Rather than give out the run-of-the-mill trophy, they’re giving artwork to the drivers about what they are.”
That’s a way to bury your own series and championship, Indy Racing League (And I can call you that until Dec. 31). What Gall is actually saying is that drivers are really just tired of competing for your trophy. Besides, racing trophies have always been dubbed ‘cups’.

Winning a chalice has always been representative of winning “the Cup’. This goes beyond NASCAR as well.

But what in the hell does this recycled piece of trash represent?

It represents yet another chapter in the long history of American Open-Wheel racing: One Step Forward and Two Steps Back. You fail, IndyCar.


Speedway Illustrated is Back and I’d Rather Have Scene Weekly

Dick Berggeren’s Speedway Illustrated is returning. The publication will return with a new publisher in Traction Media but with the same format and editorial staff as its previous incarnation.

The monthly publication will feature Bones Bourcier, Joyce Standridge, Mike Adaskaveg, Lew Boyd and others – including the mag’s founder and namesake, Dick Berggeren. Dr. Dick launched the original magazine in 2000 but left in 2009.

Despite thrilling Illustrated’s longtime fans, I’m still clamoring for NASCAR Scene magazine. Scene was folded into NASCAR Illustrated in 2008 and left many talented writers, included SB Nation’s Jeff Gluck out of a job. It also left many diehard fans, including SB Nation’s MattHaggard out of an obsession. Hear my cries, Scene Daily. Make this happen.