Archive for the Column Category

Could Newgarden Author an Epic Comeback? It’s Not Over Yet

Posted in Column, IndyCar with tags , on September 25, 2021 by Martin Henderson

Could Josef Newgarden author one of the most epic comebacks in Indycar history to win a 17th championship for team owner Roger Penske?

It is still within the realm of possibility.

Hoping to win his third championship for racing’s most successful team, Newgarden must max out the points this weekend. Win one point for the pole. One point for leading a lap. Two points for leading the most laps. Fifty points for the win.

Newgarden accomplished Step 1 by qualifying first on Saturday, ahead of a Fast Six that included Scott Dixon on the front row, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud on the second, and Felix Rosenqvist, and Romain Grosjean on the third.

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Busch-Logano Incident, and NASCAR Reaction, is Troubling

Posted in Column, NASCAR with tags , , on March 13, 2017 by Martin Henderson

Heat of the moment passion in sports is completely understandable. I get it. Kyle Busch gets screwed in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race and he wants to make someone pay. He seeks out Joey Logano to read him the riot act. Maybe shove him as he turns to walk away, just to make his point.

Perfectly fine.

But for whatever strides Busch has made the past couple of years off the track — maturity seemed to gain some traction in his life — his post-race confrontation with Logano in Las Vegas was a step backward.

Frankly, it was a step toward the criminal.

Walking to Logano’s hauler and then hauling off with a roundhouse right is assault. Had it happened in the stands between a couple of paying customers, the offending party would have been in the pokey.

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ICS: Fontana Tries to Beat the Heat—And the Odds Against It

Posted in Column, IndyCar with tags , on June 22, 2015 by Martin Henderson

Auto Club Speedway in Fontana deserves better. Deserves a better date, deserves a better time, deserves better attendance. The superspeedway that Roger Penske built is a reminder of bygone days, a cousin—or maybe the younger brother—of the legendary Ontario Motor Speedway.

Ontario was a facility ahead of its time. The oval layout was the same as Indianapolis. The amenities from 1970—even by today’s standards—would make it an outstanding venue in 2015.

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ICS: Penske Dominates, But Not Like People Thought

Posted in Column, IndyCar on June 16, 2015 by Martin Henderson

After Roger Penske’s drivers dominated the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the Verizon IndyCar Series, speculation turned to a sweep of the series.

It may  not have been the most insightful thing to consider—a single team winning all 16 rounds of racing—but when Penske’s team of four drivers finished in the top 5, it was certainly relevant if for no other reason than a storyline. This was not KV Racing Technology taking the opener and wondering if the two-car team of Sebastien Bourdais and Stefano Coletti would sweep. This was the all-star Penske powerhouse with the early lead in the series and everyone else playing catch-up from then onward.

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ICS: Rahal Beginning to Live Up to His Name

Posted in Column, IndyCar on June 2, 2015 by Martin Henderson

He needs a victory in the worst way. Graham Rahal knows how to drive. He knows how to interview. He knows how to raise money and give it away to the needy. He knows how to win, too. He just needs to actually do it.

Without question, if Rahal’s ride was powered by a Chevrolet engine and the accompanying aero kit, he would be a contender for the Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. How could he not be?

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ICS: Paul Newman’s Influence Makes Rahal His Own Man

Posted in Column, IndyCar on May 13, 2015 by Martin Henderson

The presence of Paul Newman can still be felt around motor racing, particularly Indy cars. Newman, an actor by trade but a racer at heart, co-owned a team that won 107 races and eight championships. It employed champion drivers Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Michael Andretti, Christiano da Matta and Sebastien Bourdais, who won four titles.

Newman/Haas Racing is no longer in the series. Newman died in 2008 at age 83, but it was not before he saw Graham Rahal win the second race of the unified IndyCar Series earlier that year. In his first start and driving a car carrying the livery of Newman’s Hole In the Wall Camp charity, Rahal became the youngest winner in the history of major open wheel racing at 19.

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ICS: For Newgarden, the Green Flag Drops Now

Posted in Column, IndyCar on April 27, 2015 by Martin Henderson

It is suggested to Josef Newgarden that his career might go a little better, at least marketing-wise, if he dropped the European spelling of his first name. Joe Newgarden is definitely American. Or at the very least Canadian, which is good enough for most people. Lacking any sort of Canadian accent, America would be happy to claim him, just like Martin Short, Michael J. Fox and Alex Trebek. Well, mostly Alex Trebek.

Yet Newgarden’s accent hails from Tennessee, and his name is “the one my parents gave me, so that’s what I’m sticking with,” he answers. And so the name, the brand and the career must go it the hard way, with casual fans of the Verizon IndyCar Series wondering about the background of Josef Nicolai Newgarden.

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Posted in Column on March 23, 2012 by Martin Henderson


I find myself looking at the results.

It may not be Saturday night after the NASCAR Nationwide Series race. It might be Sunday, or Monday, or maybe even later in the week depending on how busy I am with my day job.

But I look at the results. Usually start in the lower half the top 10 and scroll down until I see the name.

“Danica Patrick.”

I never jumped on the Danica bandwagon. Always thought the attention she received was far greater than her talent commanded. Felt bad for better drivers who were lesser personalities.

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NASCAR: Danica succeeds even when she doesn’t

Posted in Column, IRL, NASCAR with tags , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2012 by Martin Henderson

I find myself looking at the results.

It may not be Saturday night after the NASCAR Nationwide Series race. It might be Sunday, or Monday, or maybe even later in the week depending on how busy I am with my day job.

But I look at the results. Usually start in the lower half the top 10 and scroll down until I see the name.

“Danica Patrick.”

I never jumped on the Danica bandwagon. Always thought the attention she received was far greater than her talent commanded. Felt bad for better drivers who were lesser personalities.

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IRL preview: Dario an investment in the future

Posted in Column, IRL with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2010 by Martin Henderson

What’s so special about the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season?

Will Power.

The third driver in the Penske stable should help the Captain, Roger Penske, win a championship.

The key word is should.

Extra technical information should be an advantage to Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe, and there are times when Power will wedge himself between a Penske car and one owned by Chip Ganassi.

But if you’re projecting to early October, the championship comes down to Castroneves, Briscoe and Power vs. Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon.

Franchitti won the title last season. He also won in 2007 while driving for Michael Andretti’s team. In between was his foray into NASCAR, which didn’t go very well. In fact, it went pretty badly, and reflected more poorly on open wheel racers than it should have.
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NASCAR: Patrick’s performance is reality show

Posted in Column, IRL, NASCAR with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by Martin Henderson

They desperately want her to succeed. Hard as it may seem, they may want it more than she does. But make no mistake, Danica Patrick wants her NASCAR experiment to cure cancer, generate free energy and correct global warming.

Yet after she finished 31st at Auto Club Speedway in  Fontana in her non-restrictor plate debut — on a track where a driver can make a difference — you were left with a few thoughts and NASCAR suits must have been wondering, at least for a split second, “My god, what have we created?”

Was this much ado about nothing? Yes.

Is she as good as advertised? No.

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NHRA: Golden Greek isn’t age-challenged as Winternationals celebrates golden anniversary

Posted in Column, NASCAR with tags , , , , , on February 13, 2010 by Martin Henderson

Chris Karamesines’ head may have never lifted up to look at his interviewer as he slipped rings on pistons inside his far too small trailer. He considered the questions like a Western cowboy, the kind whose hands are tattered by years of working on cattle fences, the kind whose answers come from years of riding the range.

But instead of riding a single horse, Karamesines rides 8,000 of them. A top fuel driver who is among those celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, the man known as the Golden Greek began his 58th season of professional racing.

Age? Well, apart from being a state of mind, Karamesines says he is “a little over 80.” This may or may not be in conflict with the National Hot Rod Association’s media department which says Karamesines is either 81 or 78, depending on whether he was born November 11, 1931 or 1928. Afterall, for a guy in his 80s, an extra year could be “a little over.”

But forget about the specifics for a moment and consider this: Karamesines is closer in age to John Wooden than John Force.

He goes into final eliminations on Sunday with a qualifying speed of 305.91 mph.

Think about that for a minute: Imagine Grandpa, whether 78 or 80 or 81, driving a dragster 305 mph over 1,000 feet!

Not only does he get to drive really fast, but he still has a full head of hair and a boss nickname. On the cool meter, he leaves Phil Jackson in the dust.

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Supercross: Dungey stuns, and runs with Stewart

Posted in Column, Supercross with tags , , , , , on January 9, 2010 by Martin Henderson

They were on the their feet for an underdog. They were witness to a stunning upset in the making. They cheered as the rookie, Ryan Dungey took the race to four-time champion James Stewart at the season-opening event of the 2009 Monster Energy Supercross Series.

Dungey took the lead in the first corner and held it.

This wasn’t Chad Reed holding off Stewart, who almost seemed to settle into second place. It was a rider making only his fifth career start in the class. Seven laps into the 20-lap race, Dungey led by seven-tenths of a second. The next lap, it was nine-tenths. The next lap, 1.5.

People don’t do that to Stewart. But Dungey roomed and trained with Stewart for awhile. After they split, Dungey started training with Ricky Carmichael, aka the Greatest Of All Time. And it seemed that Dungey had channeled Carmichael.

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Supercross: Stewart’s the leader, on and off track

Posted in Column, Supercross with tags , , , , on January 9, 2010 by Martin Henderson

He seems so much more mature now. He has always seemed relaxed, if not always comfortable, but that’s because he’s been doing this since he was a kid. Now there’s a confidence when he speaks, an understanding of his words, a destination when James Stewart talks.

Tiger Woods? “When you’re worth a billion dollars and you’re the face of a sport, the things you do, good or bad, are scrutinized,” says the 24-year-old from Haines City, Fla.

NASCAR? “I want to be on a good team, go out and try to do something besides, ‘Hey, I’m black and I’m in NASCAR.’ I want to try to go out and try to win.”

Championships? “You always want the best person to win. You want the guy or the team that won the most games to be the best and win. One thing, I won’t fall into a championship. I’ll earn my championship.”

He is one of the most exciting riders in Supercross/Motocross history. In all of sports, there may not be anything so thrilling as to watch Stewart crash on his bike while dashing for the first-corner lead, restart, then begin picking off an entire field of professional riders until he reaches first place. It happens. He is amazing and predictable because he will crash. It’s who he is.

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NHRA: Schumacher’s season is almost heroic

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , on November 15, 2009 by Martin Henderson

The firesuit hung on the wall like a costume waiting for its superhero to pull it on. Nearby, Larry Dixon sat as cool as Clark Kent.

He is asked if it makes him feel like Superman.

“You better feel like Superman,” he replies, “or you shouldn’t put it on.”

Dixon, engaged in a classic Superman-Batman rivalry with Tony Schumacher, faced the media Sunday disappointed that he had finished second to Schumacher by the scantest of margins in the NHRA Full Throttle championship. “Two points could be 200, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We were in charge of our own fate and we lost.”

And Batman won.

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