Class Ceiling

NHRA: A tribute to the Mongoose Tom McEwen, and a recap of Virginia's races

The Mongoose helped launched the NHRA. Courtesy photo

Welcome to Femmefanaticsports.

Tom "The Mongoose " McEwen was a prime component molding and shaping the Wild Life Safari that  we know today as the NHRA. He helped form and shape the sport into the colorful, adventurous wild ride that Motorsports enthusiasts just can't get enough of seeing.

He had such a clear vision of what he knew the sport could be. He not only made it fun and exciting,  he made it profitable. He helped put NHRA on the map.

To have a  car that wins is one thing. To put a team together is another. To sign sponsors is altogether a different animal. How do you win the attention of the sponsors and then convince them that you have a product worth endorsing in an uncharted  arena outside of the norm? McEwen was a pioneer of thinking outside of the box when it came to winning the attention and the confidence of the decision makers.  He was a mover and a shaker.

One of his crowd grabbing rivals was Don "The Snake " Prudhomme. This was a grudge match that not only packed the stands back in the day, (60's and 70's) but also forged an unforgettable bond that parlayed into a lucrative sponsorship deal. Can you say "Hot Wheels?" Kids of all shapes, sizes and ages imagine being on the dragstrip as they race their favorite Hot Wheels car across the kitchen floor. 

Who knew markering and advertising through team sponsorship could be a thing? 

In addition to winning our hearts, and huge brand sponsorships, Tom "The Mongoose " McEwen  also went on to win several National events in Funny Car and Top Fuel as well as induction into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame . 

Thank you Mr. McEwen,  for showing us how it's done. 

Richmond recap

Give me Liberty or give me the win -- the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Richmond  Virginia Motorsports Park.  

What a weekend in Nitro Alley!

As the race for the Championship heats up, there is much excitement in the pits. 

Last week,  Iron Man Clay Millican had back to back wins. Will he keep the winning streak?

The Women of Motorsports Power have been keeping the pace, but with many obstacles. Will Courtney Force stay the course?  Will Angelle Sampey make the cut in Pro Stock Bike? Will Karen Stoffer place? (In the meantime welcome to the club, Kelly Clontz!)  How will Leah Pritchett fare? Will Erica Enders stay killer on the tree? 

The competition here is fierce. You had Mike Green on the sidelines  for team DSR. Unbelievable.  There was also a parade of gratitude for First Responders. Not to mention a most welcome visit by Veteran Top Fuel Champion Joe Amato as well as Guest Appearances with Great Expectations Jim and Allison Lee, and two-time Pro Stock Champion Jim Yates. And the crowd goes wild! Literally, tickets  Sold Out Saturday !

To be back in Virginia  for this Mello Yello Drag Racing Series was an amazing feat in itself, and the stakes this weekend are high. Team Force is suffering as the leader of the pack John is scarred from top to bottom but still has a smile, even when paired up for finals with daughter Courtney. 

Erica Enders gave herself a scare when her ride headed toward the wall but made a good save. Bob Tasca also danced with lightning. But the salsa trophy goes to Cruz Pedregon with his massive "out of body" experience due to a blower explosion.

This was one action packed weekend, to say the least.

In the winners circle 

Top Fuel -- Steve Torrence, 3.812 seconds, 322.96 mph def. Doug Kalitta, 3.844 seconds, 309.56 mph.

Funny Car -- Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.039, 321.96 def. John Force, Camaro, 4.076, 307.65.

Pro Stock -- Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.595, 208.81 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.628, 208.46.

Next week:  Join the NHRA  Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in Thunder Valley, Bristol ,Tenn- June 15-17, 2018.

 

THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR Ford Ecoboost 500 preview

Martin Truex will try to send his team out in style. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

This week, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads to Sunny Homestead-Miami Florida for the final race of the 2018 season, The Ford Ecoboost 500. After 36 weeks of battle, this race decides who will represent the sport as champion. Homestead-Miami  has played host for the season finale for the last 16 seasons. This is arguably the biggest race in all of NASCAR considering what is on the line and there is no better place in the world for it to take place. This track is a mile and a half in length and is known for its 18- degree banking in the corners. Over the years, the track has produced some of the best finishes in recent memory and with everything that’s at stake this week should be an all-time classic.

Last week at Phoenix, Kyle Busch took the checkered flag to officially cement his spot in the championship four. He did so after his brother Kurt Busch was involved in a multi-car crash involving him, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott. In the closing stages of the race, Hamlin entered turn four and got into the side of Kurt Busch causing both to hit the wall bouncing back into Chase Elliott.

Hamlin was criticized for his “lack of respect” for the situation that Busch and Elliott were in contending for a championship. At first glance it was easy to understand why fans were upset but upon further review of the video, it would appear that the track was not maintained properly by NASCAR’s clean up crew.  On NASCAR Race Hub Radioactive segment, Defending champion Martin Truex Jr. was quoted as saying “they didn’t clean up the bleeping track for one thing. Everyone went down there and it was like ice. They just don’t get it.” His Crew Chief Cole Pern responeded by saying “yeah they do, it creates excitement. That’s their plan.”

These are fairly serious allegations but it isn’t so farfetched seeing NASCAR has made some pretty dumb calls regarding track maintenance in the past. For example, last season at Dover, they decided to restart the race without fully cleaning the backstretch. This oversight caused Ty Dillon to spin and collect multiple cars with him in the crash. While it may not be intentional and it is definitely difficult to manage these instances but they are proof that NASCAR could do a much better job at track maintenance and cleaning up the track. Let’s hope they have learned their lesson from last week because it has cost two drivers a chance at a championship.

Of the four drivers, Joey Logano enters Homestead as the only one who has never won a title. He has however made it to the championship race three times including this year in 2018. Each attempt has ended in heartbreak whether it be dropping the car off the jack during a pit-stop in 2014, or being involved in a late race crash in 2016. This year Logano hopes that history won't repeat itself and will finally claim his first championship. If he is to win it, it will have been well deserved seeing how he has an excellent season. This year, Logano has 12 top fives, 25 top-10s and two victories including the win that got him here at Martinsville. While he has lurked in the shadows of his competition, he has consistently been in around the front all season. While Logano has a good chance to win the title, the one variable that he must be weary of are the drivers that he  has upset over the duration of the season including Martin Truex Jr and Aric Almirola. Regardless, Logano looks to have a real shot at winning his first title.

Easily, Martin Truex Jr, enters this race as the sentimental favorite to win the championship. As most fans know, Furniture Row racing will cease operations after this race. Truex and his crew chief Cole Pearn have been the spark that have made this team a championship winning organization and now he has a chance to come back and send his team off with one last championship, This has been a rollercoaster type season for him though and while he has been in contention, Truex has yet to win a race since the announcement of his teams closure. In the end though, I don’t foresee this being an issue at Homestead. This is a track where Truex has struggled although as he has the lowest average finish of the group but he has shown that he can win here. Truex has a lot working against him but he still has a great shot at winning his second title.

After last week’s debacle, Kevin Harvick comes to Homestead with a chip on his shoulder. After his win was disallowed two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway, he looks to come in and prove his doubters wrong by claiming his second championship. If he does pull it off, he has definitely earned it with how incredible he has ran this year. Overall He has 22 top fives and 28 top tens with an average finish of 9.0! In percentages, he has finished in the top 10 in 80 percent of the races this year. This has easily been the most dominant season of his career as he has won more races now than ever before even in his championship winning season in 2014. Come Sunday, Harvick is going to be hard to beat.

While Harvick has had the best season statistically, Kyle Busch has come pretty close to matching the success of his championship rival. This year, Busch has eight wins, twenty-one top fives and twenty-seven top tens, nearly identical to the stats that Harvick has been able to put up. After winning last week at Phoenix, Busch comes to homestead with the most momentum on his side and when you get this 18 team in a rhythm they are hard to catch. Besides no one has made it to Homestead more than Kyle Busch as he has only missed the final round one time since the sport adopted this format in 2014. Look for Busch to be around the top three for most of the day as he looks to clinch his second NASCAR Championship.

Over the past four years that we have seen this format, I think this is easily the best four drivers we have ever seen make it to Homestead. Unlike the previous years, we won’t see a driver who got on a hot streak at the end of the season like we did with Ryan Newman in 2014 or Jeff Gordon in 2015. This is the cream of the crop and that’s why I think this will be one of the most memorable championship battles of all time. I look forward to seeing who gets to hoist the trophy come sunday evening.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats).

 

 

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