All right, enough with the Kyle Busch speeding nonsense and the is-she-or-isn't-she Danica Patrick stories. Let's focus on some good news: Trevor Bayne is getting back into a car after a long illness-related layoff.
Bayne's Daytona 500 win was one of the best stories in years, a kid from out of nowhere snagging NASCAR's greatest prize. But just as quickly, things turned sour for Bayne, who had trouble on the track and got extremely, hospital-level sick off it.
Doctors have not completely diagnosed what went wrong with Bayne, but he believes that supreme exhaustion brought on by the Daytona 500 festivities caused his problems, which included double vision and inflammation.
"I went to the hospital and had the best doctors in the world at the Mayo Clinic checking me out and they don't know," he said. "That is all it is. I have had to accept that. They treated me for things that they thought it could be, just like that bite, whether it was Lyme or not, they don't have any evidence of that, but they treated it just to knock it out, and since then all my symptoms have gone away. Everything is pretty much 100 percent back to normal and that is pretty exciting."
Bayne's enthusiasm, as you can see in the video above, is ... well, we would say "infectious," but that's probably not the best word to use in this context. No, he's legitimately excited to be back in the garage, and even talking to the media, which other drivers look forward to about as much as a trip to the dentist. Still, Bayne has reason to be glad; he realized the generosity of his fellow drivers and garage members:
"Carl Edwards flew up and saw me in Minnesota, and Tony Stewart was using his plane to fly my family back and forth," he said. "Jack [Roush] was sending me back and forth on his plane and these guys come out and hang out for the night. Michael McDowell is there for five days with me. Everybody in the garage texted me at least once to see how I was doing and that means a lot to me."
Bayne has been testing for the last few weeks, and will return to action in the Nationwide series in Chicago. Good thing, too; NASCAR could use a little more of his type right about now.
You knew this was coming. At Thursday's Coca-Cola 600 media sessions, Kevin Harvick offered a few perfunctory answers to perfunctory questions, and then the main event began: What, exactly, did he think of the fact that certain race car drivers might cross a line when they're driving on public roads?
"I think some people are their own worst enemy when it comes to being responsible as a person or as a business person or anything that comes with life's responsibilities," he said, obviously speaking of Kyle Busch. BoomRoasted.
Oh, but he wasn't done: "For me, they [his family and team, presumably] won't even let me drive down the highway because I drive five miles per hour over the speed limit, and it tends to take us a lot longer to get to places. Since I've been about 16 or 17 years old, I haven't been into really driving fast down the highway or anything reckless on the road. It's not really the place to do that."
He added that driving triple the speed limit "could put a lot of people in a bad situation."
Busch, who spoke immediately after Harvick, offered up a predictable comment: "I'm certainly sorry for my actions and for my lack of judgment," he said. "This is something that I can take and learn from and hopefully move forward and not let happen again."
Naturally, the speeding incident was quite the topic of discussion among other drivers. Dale Earnhardt Jr. offered a little candid admission: "Sometimes you go a little fast, even away from the race track, I guess. I've been guilty of the same thing myself, just been lucky enough not to get caught."
But did he get it up to 128? He's not certain. "I didn't know if we had enough straight road in North Carolina to get going that quick," he laughed, "but, apparently there is a piece somewhere."
On the other hand, Ryan Newman took the point of view of many NASCAR fans, when he noted that everyday folks might not have been so lucky to get away with their freedom. "Being professional race car drivers," Newman said, "we don't make stupid mistakes like that on the road."
As for Busch's apology, Newman said "it sounded like somebody else wrote it, not him." Yep, we'd buy that.
Clearly, this is a story that won't be going away anytime soon. Busch noted that penalties from Joe Gibbs Racing could be in the offing; yet to be determined is whether NASCAR will take independent action.
The hot rumor in both Charlotte and Indianapolis this week is that Danica Patrick is running in her last Indy 500 as a fulltime open-wheel driver, and that she'll make the jump to NASCAR once and for all in 2012. Is it true? Perhaps, perhaps not, but here's a clue: Patrick learned about this particular rumor from television:
Expect more on this story very soon; Patrick's too heavy of a hitter to keep this story flailing around for long. Once the Indy 500 is over, she'll likely make the call soon.
As to which team will back her? Well, that's a whole new story. Dale Earnhardt Jr., part-owner of her current JR Motorsports team, said in Charlotte that "we'll just see what she decides to do. I think she wants to have more success and doing it all the time would be a good move ... She has been racing with us enough to know whether she is ready or not. It is really up to her. It is really not up to anybody else. My opinion on that deal really doesn't matter."
That doesn't sound like the commentary of someone dead-set on signing her to a long-term contract, so ... where will Patrick end up?
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The updated, 2012 C-class, in more stylish, two-door form.
Where once there was the CLK coupe, which purported to split the difference between the C-class and E-class sedans, now there are two mid-size Mercedes coupes, one for each of the mid-size sedans. Last year saw the debut of the E-class coupe, and now comes the two-door version of the C-class. While the 2012 C-class sedan is a three-model lineup, the coupe will be offered in just two variants: C250 and C350 (there is no two-door version of the C300 4Matic).
Photo Gallery: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C250/C350 Coupe - First Drive - Automobile Magazine
5 is midway between 7 and 3 -- or is it?
Months in service: 12
Miles to date: 29,617
Photo Gallery: 2011 BMW 535i - Four Seasons Update - May 2011 - Automobile Magazine
[Editor's note: Tony Stewart's Prelude to the Dream is coming your way very soon. In advance of that, we're pleased to present some remembrances from many of the participants. First off, Stewart's SHR teammate Ryan Newman offers up a few recollections.]
My most memorable moment from the Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway is probably a memorable moment for a lot of other people, too. In fact, it's one of the most exciting and heart-pounding things that's happened at the Prelude in the last six years — at least, that's what Tony Stewart has told me, and he ought to know since it's his event and his track.
It was the 2007 Prelude to the Dream, and Bill Elliott and I got together on the frontstretch at the end of our heat race. From what I understand, the drivers who weren't in the race were all watching, and they were pretty sure it was shaping up to be something big. Needless to say, we didn't disappoint.
I caught just a little bit of a rut — just a little — and it straightened me out and shot me up to the wall. I stayed on the gas, but Bill Elliott was rolling on the high side. I didn't know he was coming. I never heard him, and I never saw him. Next thing I know, my car is on its side and Bill has flipped over. It was a rather big moment.
I've watched the race and the accident several different times and, honestly, we both got pretty lucky because that could've been a lot worse than it was, especially for how fast we're going at that racetrack. And I'm not going to point any fingers, because it really wasn't a finger-pointing deal. It was just a racing deal.
I wish that my most memorable moment didn't involve a wreck, but I'm pretty sure the fans enjoyed it. It also made for some good conversation afterward in the pits when everybody was asking, "What happened?"
Hopefully, this is our year to make a different memory at the Prelude to the Dream. It's a fun race, and even if you're not up front, it's just as fun to sling a dirt Late Model sideways for 30 laps. You're still trying to get the best finish you can for your team, so a battle for 12th might be just as important as a battle for the lead.
The cool thing about the Prelude is that as racecar drivers, we're competitive at everything we do. And I mean absolutely everything. So as much fun as we have, it gets super-competitive at Eldora.
Then you throw in the team element and it changes things a little bit. You're there to beat everybody, but then you've got to race with your teammates for the greater good. So you have to take those things into consideration when you're racing somebody. You want to get the most points you can for your team, so even if you don't win, your team does, which for me means I'll be working with Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Ken Schrader, David Gilliland and Ron Capps on Team Atlanta as we represent Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
That's probably the coolest thing about the Prelude to the Dream. We get to race and have fun, but at the end of the night, we're making a real difference. We feel so lucky to be able to do the things that we love to do. So to go run a dirt race on a Wednesday night and then make it to benefit four of the nation's top children's hospitals — that's pretty special.
(The three other hospitals benefitting from the June 8 Prelude to the Dream are Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., Children's Medical Center Dallas and St. Louis Children's Hospital. The race will be televised live on HBO Pay-Per-View, and the commercial-free broadcast will begin at 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT) on Wednesday, June 8 with an immediate replay. HBO Pay-Per-View's racing telecast has a suggested retail price of $24.95 and is available to more than 92 million pay-per-view homes. HBO Pay-Per-View is the leading supplier of event programming in the pay-per-view industry. Ordering information and up-to-the minute racing information is available at either www.PreludeToTheDream.org or www.HBO.com. Updates can also be found on Twitter at twitter.com/PreludetoDream and follow the hashtag #RideWithUs, or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PreludeToDream.)
This car is stupidly, awesomely fast.
Whenever I see a BMW X6, in any guise, I can't help but remember the time I walked by two people in a country-club parking lot looking at an X6 quizzically. One of them turned to the other and asked, "What is this car trying to be?" That's a very good question, and one I still ask myself about the X6. And I wonder even more about the X6 M, which takes what is already a vehicle that fits in the tiniest of niches and adds an excessive amount of power and performance at a price approaching six figures.
Photo Gallery: 2011 BMW X6 M - Editors' Notebook - Automobile Magazine
A subtle, substantial improvement over an everyday two-door G.
If you get behind the wheel of an Infiniti G37 IPL coupe expecting the sort of transformation that takes place between a BMW 335i and M3, you'll be severely disappointed. Infiniti is targeting the BMW 335is with its first IPL offering and thus keeping the price premium for the IPL badge pretty minimal. It's a good thing that the price increase is minimal because the performance increase is minimal, too. I don't think I would have guessed I was driving an IPL instead of a regular G37 coupe if I didn't know before I got behind the wheel. Perhaps a few laps on a road course would help demonstrate the IPL package's 18 extra hp and 6 additional lb-ft of torque, but the difference is negligible on a commute.
Photo Gallery: 2011 Infiniti G37 Coupe IPL - Editors' Notebook - Automobile Magazine
While Kyle Busch was out terrorizing rural highways in North Carolina, his rival Kevin Harvick was up in Michigan, pouring beers at Weber's Inn in Brooklyn, Michigan to promote the upcoming Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
MIS gleefully noted that Harvick's probation for battling with Busch ends just before the Michigan race. A commemorative t-shirt handed out to the 150 or so guests featured both Harvick and Busch with their arms around each other. (Anybody got a pic of a shirt? Hit us up with it and we'll post it.)
For more on the Michigan race, visit the track's website. And next time you see Harvick, ask him for a beer. He always keeps three or four in his firesuit.
Torque-vectoring rear axle bites the dust.
At the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, BMW is expected to release the third iteration of the popular X5. Six months later, the new X6 is scheduled to see the light. Both models are based on a new components set known in-house as "X for all," a result of BMW's growing interest and expertise in all-wheel drive.
Photo Gallery: 2014 BMW X5 and X6 - Deep Dive - Automobile Magazine
Welcome to the latest Happy Hour mailbag! You know how these work: you write us with your best rant/joke/one-liner at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face. Today, we're talking qualifying, All-Star racing, and of course, one Kyle Busch and his lead foot.
Driving 128 in a 45 [mph]zone is not just reckless, but displays a amazing disregard for human life. This is depraved indifference;[Kyle Busch]could have killed someone. In some states, driving that fast could get you put in jail for attempted manslaughter! If something like this happened to a player in the NFL, the player would be suspended for sure. So, if NASCAR is as reputable as the NFL is (and I believe it is), they should take similar action.
First off, let me direct your attention to the car Busch was driving, the Lexus LFA. That's the kind of ride that hits 50 mph backing out of the driveway. Not an excuse, but still. Also, consider how your view would be different if this were, say, Dale Earnhardt doing this. (When he was alive. It'd be a whole different reaction if it happened now.) Again, not an excuse, simply a little perspective.
What Busch did was aggressively stupid, but come on that's who these guys are. They drive fast, they think they're Masters of the Universe behind a wheel. We can't complain about drivers being vanilla robots on one hand, then turn around and gripe when they push the envelope past what we're comfortable with on the other. Busch should get the full weight of the law thrown at him, but in terms of NASCAR? They've let a lot worse (DUIs, for instance) slide without penalty. This is a police matter, not a NASCAR one.
Plus, think of it this way: Is there anyone on earth you'd trust to handle a car at 128 mph more than a NASCAR driver? That's practically pit road speed to these guys. We're not talking a couple of goofball dropouts racing on a Friday night. Yes, he could've hurt someone, and yes, he absolutely deserves some form of punishment from the judicial system. But let's go a little easy on the "Kyle Busch is a massacre waiting to happen" business.
I understand and appreciate the top 35 qualifying rule and don't disagree with the premise.But after watching the gutwrenching Indy 500 time trials this weekend, don'tyou think this rule could be tweaked a bit? I was glued to Versus all weekend because of the drama and barely left my house.NASCAR could get some of that going with a small tweak, don't you think?
The Indy 500 time trials, which this year left some well-known names on the sidelines, are a joy to behold, as long as you're not running in them. Nobody's guaranteed anything, and when the clock runs out, it's done ... you're in or you're out. Total tension, constant drama ... it'd make for great Friday afternoon TV viewing before every NASCAR race. And alas, there's almost no chance of it happening, simply because sponsors aren't going to sign off on a system that might mean their prized logos don't end up running on Sundays. Maybe we could see a tightening of the field to the top 30, but probably not much more than that. Though I'm with you, anything to add a little more drama into the weekly proceedings is most welcome.
Last week, you mentioned some "wacky penalties" for teams and what other ideas might be out there. This isn't a penalty but will probably be considered "wacky." I would like to see only green flag pit stops (unless you were in the wreck/incident/flat tire). If races were shortened 10% and only green flag laps counted it would stop the foolishness of staying out during a caution to "lead" a lap. That practice is bogus and doesn't merit an extra point. By the way, if you pit under caution because you were involved you can't add fuel. Only laps raced count and the time of the race would be about the same. My two cents.
North Port, FL
Man, it's tough enough to figure out the wavearound rule, and now you're throwing in more craziness? Bravo, sir. I do like the idea of green flag-only stops; all the more drama! But I think the key point in your letter is the removal of the rinkydink lap-led bonus. No reason why you can't set a minimum that's more than one lap. Also perhaps add a verbal quiz, to be administered at cautions, to anybody who wants a lap-led bonus.
Hello! What is the status of Clint Bowyer's contract/sponsor for 2012 and beyond? Most important, will I be needing to divest myself of my #33 Cheerios/BB&T hats, t-shirts, visors, etc.?
Girl Havin' At It in NJ
No word yet, but I wouldn't go doubling down on my Cheerios/BB&T stock just yet. (Souvenir stock! Not real stock! Not meant to be investment advice!) Bowyer has hinted that a lack of a primary sponsor has slowed negotiations toward a new contract, but the good news is that he's running well enough that he'll be drawing the attention of sponsors both new and old.
What is up with NASCAR permitting outrageously uncompetitive cars and drivers to stay on the track for much of, if not the duration of a race? 'Start and Park' I understand, and there were several of those at Iowa Sunday. However, Jennifer Jo Cobb and the Cope girls were dangerous moving barriers that caused at least one wreck of a competitive car, and countless other risky encounters with other racers moving 30 mph faster. Yes, NASCAR parked one of the Cope girls after she caused a wreck, but the other one and Cobb were left out there, to finish 20 and 12 laps down, respectively.
This is not a criticism of women racers, but of drivers and cars that cannot run anywhere near race pace for whatever reason[s]. It is dangerous and irresponsible to let them continue. I understand 'seat time', but until a driver can keep a respectable field race pace, they should be getting that seat time in a lower, slower division.
Agreed. The Nationwide series has a huge range of talent and driving experience, and perhaps it's worth tightening up that range just a bit. On the high end, many of you don't believe that the Sprint Cup drivers belong in Nationwide, an argument which has merit on a competitive, if not economic, basis. On the other end, though, you've got people who are clearly not quite ready for Prime Time; the NASCAR Insiders took on this issue in regard to Kimi Raikkonen, whom they believe is pushing too hard too fast. Raikkonen will be an interesting case study; if he falls on his face, it's one more demonstration of just how tough it is to run these taxicabs.
Jay, what are your thoughts on having the All-Star race at a different venue in future years? Here is an option I like: the track that registers the best rating in a single season gets to host the All-Star race the following year.
I like the idea, but you're going to have the race at Daytona every year under this plan. Here's my idea: You've got about 22 tracks in the mix, and about 22 drivers in the All-Star race. Each driver runs on behalf of a track. Winning driver determines next year's track. Either that, or you put each track's name on the back of a hamster. First hamster to fight his way out of a cardboard box gets the race. Tell me you wouldn't watch that in hi-def for two hours.
And on that note, we're out. Thanks to all our writers this week. You want in? Fire up the computer and hit us with whatever's on your mind, NASCAR-wise, at email@example.com, find us on Facebook right here, or hit us up on Twitter at @jaybusbee. Make sure to tell us where you're from. We'll make you famous!
[Photo via our pals at LOL Race Pics. Check 'em out daily for always-fun NASCAR silliness.]
Just days after winning the North Carolina Education Lottery 200, where he posted an average speed of 101.6 mph, Kyle Busch has been ticketed for exceeding that speed on a public North Carolina road.
Busch was cited for careless and reckless driving; deputies observed and clocked him running at 128 mph in a 45-mph zone on Tuesday afternoon.
Busch now joins a list of famous NASCAR drivers who have had a bit of trouble behind the wheel while off the track. Jimmie Johnson once injured himself after sliding off the roof of a moving golf cart. And Richard Petty famously bumped a driver out of the way for going too slowly on Interstate 85 in North Carolina.
Busch was driving on Perth Road between Troutman and Mooresville, N.C. The road, which runs parallel to Interstate 77, is rural, closely lined with trees and has few residences in the area. Busch was cited near the intersection of Perth and Judas roads, which is directly in the center of the map below:
It's somewhat surprising that more NASCAR drivers don't get caught by the police ... or, at least, their speeding incidents don't result in tickets. After all, when your job involves driving nearly 200 mph, staying at posted speed limits must feel like crawling. Not that there's any excuse for tripling the speed limit, of course.
Later in the day, Busch issued the following statement:
"Today I received a traffic citation in Iredell County. I was test driving a new sports car and I got carried away. I went beyond the speed I should have been going on a public road. I apologize to the public, my fans, sponsors, and race teams for my lack of judgment. I take responsibility for my actions and I can assure you that something like this will never happen again. I thank the Iredell County Sheriff's Department and all law enforcement for the hard work they do every day to protect the public and to enforce the laws in a fair and equitable manner."
Still unknown is what action NASCAR may take against Busch.
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Many of the big free agents of the class of 2011, including Jeff Burton and Greg Biffle, are already off the market, having re-signed with their current teams before getting anywhere near the open market. But the top dog still remains out there, and with every week, he gets more expensive.
Carl Edwards won the All-Star race in dominating fashion, cementing him as the best of 2011's Big Four, the guys who can win a championship all by themselves. And while it's highly unlikely he'd get a better deal and ride anywhere but Roush Fenway, there's still the small matter of an asking price.
The deal that Edwards and Jack Roush strike will be a significant one, as it'll set the bar for Edwards' future in the sport. He's primed to be NASCAR's next great star; if he can bring home a championship in the next couple years, he can be a crossover star in a way that no one since Tony Stewart in the early 2000s was.
So, yeah, Jack Roush might want to go ahead and get that deal done. Meter's running, you know.
What song do you think is playing in Carl Edwards' head right now? Vanilla Ice? 50 cent?
Give us your best guesses in the comment. The winner gets a pair of limited edition MC Hammer Zubaz pants.
I'm not sure what's more awesome about this video, the fact that it'll burrow into your skull like a giant bee or that the guitarist has spent so much time trying to exactly replicate the sound of a Formula 1 car working its way through turns and gears. Crank it up: