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NASCAR and MotorSports – From a Queer Perspective

Knockout Qualifying is Paying Off for Excitement

This was the second week for NASCAR’s new “Knock-Out” Qualifying procedure, and the first for the three-round format used on tracks longer than a mile.

The goal of this new system was to create excitement and it is working.  The only complaints from fans seem to be realted to the delay on the Fox Broadcast – but you can’t blame Fox, they need to run commercials to pay the bills, and they want to show every lap – so they front load the delay.  Actually, if it weren’t for the immediate updates from media on Twitter this delay wouldn’t be noticed by the fans at home.

There is a recurring complaint from drivers about the cool down procedure.  Cars will run several cool down laps on the apron of the track while other cars attempt to qualify  - running at speeds 150 mph faster than the cars who are running cool down laps.

Clint Bowyer said the cool down laps were “Dangerous” and NASCAR needed to address the situation.  He added that Dale Jr came off the apron while on a cool down lap and he almsot hit the #88, saying “that could have hurt me and hurt Dale Jr, which would be bad for business.”

Team Penske seems to have the new qualifying process figured out – Both Penske cars started on the front row last week in Phoenix and both cars will be on the front row in Vegas when the green flag falls on Sunday.

Last week, Keselowski knocked Logano off the top spot in the final round and this week the rolls were reversed with Logano knocking Brad off the top of the charts to win the Pole.

 

Vegas Native Kwasniewski Looking Forward to Hometown Debut

credit Jared Tilton / Getty Images for NASCAR

Las Vegas native Dylan Kwasniewski will make his debut on the big track at Las Vegas Motorspeedway in Saturday’s Nationwide Race.

Kwasniewski is only a few years removed from racing at the LVMS short track callled “The Bull Ring” but in two short seasons has won both the K&N East and West series Championship.   Dylan made his Nationwide debut two weeks ago in Daytona grabbing the Pole to start the race with a 15th place finish.

Kwasniewski was asked about his hometown debut and said, “Yeah, I’ve been racing at the Bull Ring (Vegas’ short track) for all of these years and looked up the big speedway and I have been dreaming about racing here.   It’s pretty surreal.  I told people before that the only laps I’ve turned here were with the Petty Driving Experience and anyone can do that, so I am coming in here with a fresh slate.  There is no home-town advantage because I have never run on this track but it will mean so much to have my family, friends and hometown fans cheering for me.  This is a dream come true, it means so much,” adding ” Las Vegas Motor Speedway has done so much for my career and this is going to be very special.”

Kwasniewski was also asked about his goals in his rookie season and how he will judge his own performace.  Dylan said, ” Our main goal is to run for the Rookie of the Year,  You want to beat the other rookies – but I want to go out there and win races,  you can’t go into a race thinking you can’t win or you will set yourself up for failure.  Kyle (Busch) is a great driver and can spank a lot of the field, so if I were to beat him it would send the message that I am here to compete, but my main goal is to beat the other rookies.”

Techincally, Kwawniewski has raced on part of the big oval at LVMS.  Each year, after the Cup race, there is a showcase race featuring the Legends cars on the infield oval.  This short track built into the speedway utilizes part of the front strech and pit road.   Asked about running a Legends Car in that race, Dylan said, “I guess you could say I have had experience on the front straightaway here at Vegas.  It was cool,  you only get to race on a snippet of the track, but it was cool to see those fans stay around after the Cup race to watch us.  I was young at that point, and I dreamed what it would be like to run the whole track, now that we are here… it is a crazy feeling.”

Post Practice Interview with Brendan Gaughan

credit Michael Myers / Queers4Gears

Queers4Gears caught up with Brendan Gaughan, driver of the #62 SouthPoint Chevy after the first Nationwide Practice at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Gaughan, a Vegas native talked about the need for more speed in the #62, the bumpy track and his duties an concierge to the NASCAR community that are staying at the South Point during race week.

We also asked Brendan about the sound bite that plays at the beginning of each Q4G podcast when Gaughan says “I don’t know, either he’s dumb, his crew chief’s dumb or his spotter’s dumb.”

CLICK PLAY TO HERE THE INTERVIEW

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NASCAR Issues Statement about Arizona’s Vetoed “Turn Away the Gay Law”

Luckily, late today, Gov Jan Brewer vetoed SB-1062.  This law would have made it legal for Arizona business owners to discriminate by refusing service to gay and lesbian citizens.

The National Football League and Major League Baseball issued statements condemning the law and urged Governor Brewer to Veto the bill.

With NASCAR heading to the Valley of the Sun for this weekend’s race in Phoenix, Q4G wondered what NASCAR’s thoughts were on this controversial legislation.

Late today, NASCAR told Queers4Gears, “We are pleased with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s veto of SB1062. NASCAR actively strives to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the motorsports industry. NASCAR has a zero tolerance policy against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, gender, national origin, age, color, disability, religion, or other factors which deny the essential humanity of all people.”

This message of inclusion is not new for NASCAR.  Last year when driver Nelson Piquet Jr posted a homophobic slur on social media, the sanctioning body fined the driver and released a statement saying , “Nelson Piquet Jr. recently communicated an offensive and derogatory term that cannot be tolerated in our sport. NASCAR’s Code of Conduct explicitly spells out in the 2013 rule book our position regarding the use of disparaging terms. We expect our entire industry to abide by this Code.”

To have repeated statements that embrace equality from America’s largest racing series is encouraging.  By comparison, Formula One Chief Bernie Eccleston recently told CNN that he supports Russian President Vladimir Putin’s severe anti-gay policies.

Out of the Tunnel 72

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NASCAR is back – and so is the OUT OF THE TUNNEL PODCAST

This week Adam and I recap our off season, talk Dayonta 500 and our thoughts on the new Chase Format.

You can listen one of three ways:

1)  on iTunes – click here to listen on iTunes

2)  right here on Q4G – just click play   

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3) or you can download the show directly to your device 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. holds off Denny Hamlin for second Daytona 500 win

Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

In a race that started in broad daylight and ended 42 minutes before midnight, and with a swatch of tape covering part of his grille, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the rain-interrupted 56th running of the Daytona 500 Sunday night at Daytona International Speedway.
Earnhardt was a car-length ahead of Denny Hamlin when NASCAR threw the seventh caution of the race a split second before Earnhardt crossed the finish line to win the Great American Race for the second time in his career.
Under NASCAR’s new Chase for the Sprint Cup format, Earnhardt’s 20th career Sprint Cup Series victory almost assuredly locks him into the 10-race postseason playoff, set to start at Chicagoland Speedway in September.
Hamlin came home second as the race ended under caution, with Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon and reigning series champion Jimmie Johnson running third through fifth, respectively.
In Victory Lane, Earnhardt didn’t even try to contain his elation. After all, he had just broken a 55-race winless streak. After finishing second in three last four Daytona 500s, he had just won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season opener in his last year with crew chief Steve Letarte, who is headed for the TV booth in 2015.
And he had just won his second Daytona 500 a decade after winning his first, holding off Hamlin in a dramatic two-lap dash to the finish.
“Man, winning this race is the greatest feeling that you can feel in the sport, aside from obviously accepting the trophy for the championship,” Earnhardt all but shouted over the din of the celebration. “I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance to feel that again, and it feels just as good, if not better than the first because of how hard we tried year after year after year, running second all those years and wondering why and what we needed to do.

“I’ve got to get my head together … This race car was awesome. We showed them all night long how good a car we had, and it’s because of these guys right here (his team) putting it together in the shop. We could fight off battles after battles. We got a little help from Jeff (Gordon) to get away on that (last) restart and tried to take care of it from there.

“This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I’ll never take this for granted, because this just doesn’t happen twice, let alone once. I’m so thankful. Thanks to all my fans out there for supporting. We pretty much might be in the Chase? We get that off our chest and we are two-time Daytona 500 champion!”
After a rain delay of 6 hours 22 minutes, the race ran-caution-free from a restart on Lap 47 to Lap 145, when a wild 13-car wreck in Turn 4 thinned the field.
On the inside of a three-wide trio with Brian Scott and Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick drifted up the track and clipped Brian Scott’s Chevrolet, sending Scott into Almirola’s Ford and turning it sideways.
Almirola hit Danica Patrick’s No. 10 Chevrolet, which shot nose-first into the outside wall in the tri-oval, destroying the car. The No. 3 Chevy of polesitter Austin Dillon also sustained damage but remained on the lead lap.
Dillon’s Richard Childress Racing teammate, Paul Menard, wasn’t as fortunate. His No. 27 Chevy, which had led 29 laps, was heavily damaged and lost 14 laps as his team worked feverishly to repair it.
“What the hell happened?” Patrick said, as she slid to a stop in the soggy infield grass.
Sixteen laps after the first major incident of the race, Dillon’s Chevrolet got loose and tapped the No. 42 of fellow rookie Kyle Larson, triggering an 11-car wreck that slowed the race. At Lap 184, 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne slammed into the outside wall on the backstretch to cause the fifth caution of the race.
On Lap 194, contact between Dillon and the No. 31 Chevrolet of RCR teammate Ryan Newman ignited a seven-car wreck in Turn 3 that set up the wild finish. Earnhardt, who was in the lead, ran over the swatch of Bear Bond (tape) from Newman’s car under the yellow and tried in vain to remove the tape by driving within inches of the pace car.
First out of the race was Martin Truex Jr., whose luck turned from bad to worse on Sunday. With his primary car destroyed in a last-lap wreck in Thursday night’s Budwesier Duel at Daytona, Truex had to give up his second-place starting position and take the green flag from the rear of the field in a backup car.
On Lap 32, Truex’s engine expired after the oil pump belt dislodged, forcing an early exit from a race the driver of the No. 78 Chevrolet thought he had a chance to win.
“The car was super-fast today, and I went to bed last night thinking that this was my best shot ever to win the Daytona 500 and really felt that way, even today,” Truex said. “The car was just so good, and we were just riding around and biding our time, being patient and trying to get to the end of this thing.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.”
It wasn’t meant to be for Tony Stewart or Clint Bowyer either.
Stewart, in his first points race after missing the final 15 events of 2013 with a broken right leg, took his No. 14 Chevrolet to the garage with a fuel pressure problem after completing 118 laps, frustrated in his 16th fruitless attempt to win the Daytona 500. Bowyer’s engine expired after 127 laps, relegating the driver of the No. 15 Toyota to a 42nd-place finish.
Stewart ended the race in 35th, 26 laps down.

[  via NASCAR Wire Service - by Reid Spencer ]

Gaynalysis – The Sprint Unlimited

"Gay NASCAR" by Keith J. Varadi - 2009

Giggity, Giggity, Giggity – NASCAR is back, and it couldn’t have been wilder.

The Sprint Unlimited is a freebie – points don’t count and most of the car owners aren’t expecting their driver to bring it back in one piece, which as it turns out, is a good thing.

18 cars (well, counting the pace car, 19) started in the non-points pre-season show case – only 8 crossed the finish line in Daytona.

The madness started on the last lap of the first segment when the current NASCAR champion spun himself into the wall at pit entrance.  Jimmie was released from the infield care center and said the back end of the #48 just got lose.  This is the 3rd Unlimited in a row that JJ got a DNF – but he usually wins when the points count – so calm down Jimmie haters.

We all expect to see the Big One in Daytona but John Hamm wasn’t even there.  But the drivers gave us a version of their big one on lap 9 of the second segment when half of the field was wiped out.

It all started when Matt Kenseth tried to pass Keselowski, but much like the people I see shopping at Wal-Mart, Matt forgot to check the mirror.  Joey Logano was on the inside of the #20 and Kenseth’s move turned his Toyota back into traffic collecting: Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards,

It was good to see Tony Stewart climb out of the car under his own power after the wreck, this is the first time Tony’s been back in the car since the tail end of last season when he broke his leg at an Old Country Buffet.

The huge wreck brought out the red flag which gave everyone on social media time to react with glee to the fact that Danica was slammed by her boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse.  Ricky came out of the pile up and gassed the #17, right into his lover peeling the side of the Go Daddy Chevy like a sardine can.  If you can’t be with the one you love, wreck the one your with.

The last segment was dictated by the fans – they voted to make the cars take a mandatory pit stop with the starting order dictated by positions off pit road.  Kyle Busch’s jackman jump started his ARCA career by going to the wrong side of the car…. then things really got weird.

As the final segment ramped up the caution flew again – the Pace Car was on fire.  No shit!  The Pace Car was on fire.  Feel free to insert your own Juan Pablo joke here.

Once that fire was put out, the remaining 9 cars tried to bring it to the finish, but 9 became 8 as Dale Junior was turned into the outside wall by Marcos Ambrose.  To be fair, Keselowski tried to block the #88 and closed the gap, which left Marcos and Junior with no where to go.  Thanks a lot Obama!

Denny Hamlin won the last race in 2013 and carried that momentum with a resounding victory in 2014′s first race.  Hamlin led at the end of each segment. The only thing that could have made Denny’s night better would have been wrecking Logano – but he’s got at least 36 weeks to make that happen.

All in all, I was very impressed with the racing.  The new rules package from NASCAR allowed drivers to pass while keeping the big pack most of us like to see in Daytona.  Based on what I’ve seen on Social Media – most of the fans agree.  The 500 is gonna be quite the show.

The biggest kerfuffle was in reaction to Fox’s new “leaderboard.”  Gone is the scrolling ticker at the top of the screen showing the intervals – it was replaced with a large box on the left side of the screen blocking 1/4 of the on track action.  I haven’t heard this many people complain about a box since I hung out at a gay bar.  Hopefully, Fox kills digger and gives us back our ticker.

Let’s thank a Dale not named Junior

This has nothing to do with racing – but it is so great, I couldn’t help but to share it.

Last week, NFL Prospect Michael Sam announced that he was gay – and once drafted will become the first openly gay player in the NFL.   Reaction to Sam’s announcement was typical – ie; we can’t have none of them gays looking at all those butts in the locker room…………  but some of the reactions weren’t expected.

Take Dallas sports anchor Dale Hansen.  He’s got a very conservative Texas audience – but that didn’t stop him from giving one of the best “human” responses to this Sam story.

Take 2 minutes to watch this – bookmark it and watch it often.  Thanks Dale!

Listeneing to the Flora

Trust you gut!

That’s what we all learned when first taking standardized tests in elementary school.  It was hard enough to color in the dot and keep it inside the lines – much less know what the right answer was.  But our teachers told us – trust your gut;  go with that first answer you thought was right.

Right now – my gut says NOOOO!  My gut is begging for Jamie Lee to bring me some Activia.

Today, NASCAR made it official and confirmed the rumors first reported by Jim Utter at the Charlotte Observer several weeks ago -  the sport we knew is changing forever.

NASCAR announced the new format that expands the current Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field to 16 drivers, and implements a new round-by-round advancement/elimination format for the season’s Championship.

The Chase field will expand from 12 13 to 16 drivers.  Four drivers will be eliminated from contention after each 3-race segment in the Chase…. leaving only 4 drivers eligible to win the Sprint Cup during the last race in Homestead.   Basically, this new system, awards the Championship for the entire season to which driver performs best in one race – the series finale at Homestead.  Bonus points for laps led will not apply in the season finale, so the official finishing position alone will decide the champion.

My first “gut” reaction to this is that it’s a gimmick…. a desperate ploy by Brian France to manufacture a “Game 7″ moment in NASCAR.  It stinks of desperation.

Sure – seeing 4 racers put it all on the line for just one win will be exciting – but that’s what the All-Star Race is for.

Why would I spend an entire year watching and covering a full season of racing – where the Champion is decided by one race.

While it took me a while to warm up to The Chase when first introduced – so perhaps I will eventually warm to this new format….. only time will tell.

But right now – I am gonna trust my gut…. and I need some flora down there!