Before getting to the weekend’s results, the mess that A.J. Allmendinger’s in and some other good stuff, allow me to tear a strip off Kevin Harvick.
Harvick should be fined by NASCAR for comments he made about woman driver Amber Cope after the Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire on Saturday.
He might have had good reason to be angry. Cope (that's her on the right with her sister Angela) was 33 laps down at the checkers and why NASCAR officials hadn’t black-flagged her earlier in the race is a question only they can answer.
But Harvick, in expressing his displeasure to reporters afterward, referred to Cope as "it."
He said he didn’t know what to call her. From then on, he called her "it."
First, Kevin Harvick wouldn’t have the guts to call a male driver "it" because he’d soon be eating a knuckle sandwich.
Second, although I’m sure he’d deny this, his use of the world "it" is an unimaginable slur intended to denigrate anyone who’s sexuality doesn’t fit into his definition of "normal."
NASCAR’s rule book includes a clause concerning actions detrimental to the sport of stock car racing and Harvick’s nastiness fits right into that category.
He should apologize to Amber Cope, at the minimum, and pay a hefty enough fine that he won’t ever do that again.
Moving right along, I will not be surprised if A.J. Allmendinger is finished at Penske Racing regardless of the results of his second drug test expected this week.
Penske, speaking to reporters and the TV cameras at New Hampshire this weekend, spoke glowingly about replacement driver Sam Hornish Jr. and made more than one reference to consulting with sponsors about the future before saying that if Allmendinger’s second test comes up negative he’ll be put right back into the No. 22 car.
That last bit was a pretty safe statement to make; it’s unlikely that since the first test came back positive the second test will be negative considering the second test will be from the same sample.
NASCAR was informed of the first test results at Daytona last weekkend and Allmendinger was pulled out of the car, literally at the last second. Hornish was called in as an emergency replacement and arrived in Florida from North Carolina with about 20 minutes to go before the start of the Coke 400.
Since then, Allmendinger has stayed silent on the controversy. His management company said the positive test was for a stimulant and the inference was that it came from over-the-counter medication.
Dick Pound of Montreal, Canada’s representative on the International Olympic Committee, has been at the forefront of the war on drugs in sport and created headlines in recent years by accusing NHL players of using drugs, something the league and the players' association denied vigorously.
But Pound was not talking about needle drugs, or recreational drugs like marijuana. He was talking about the use of certain cold medications containing ephedrine that, if taken at maximum dosage, can induce an energy high that lasts for several hours.
Street drugs like speed produce the same kind of high.
Anybody can buy cold medications – and millions of people do, regularly. If used properly, maybe they can alleviate some cold and flu symptoms. But like anything else, they can be abused and, unfortunately, what sometimes looks like an innocent mistake can, in fact, be anything but.
So, although he said all the right things ("My goal is that this thing goes in A.J.’s corner, that it’s just a speed bump and we can get him back in the car"), Penske indicated at New Hampshire that he's already looking ahead.
"This is a great chance for Sam to show us what he has," he said, referring to Hornish’s drive a week ago at Daytona and again this week at New Hampshire.
"He would be someone we would consider if the 22 seat was open for next year. But this can (also) give us a chance to potentially look at drivers that are out there that might be wanting a ride in the 22."
He wasn't specific but Joey Logano and Ryan Newman are two drivers expected to be at large by season’s end and who could probably fit the bill at Penske better than Hornish, who's yet another open wheel champion who's had difficulty adjusting to stock cars.
Penske, one of the most successful owners in U.S. auto racing history, has certainly had his crosses to bear over the years.
First, there was Paul Tracy, who managed to destroy millions of dollars of racing cars that would have gotten him fired by just about any other owner. Then there was Helio Castroneves, who ran afoul of American tax authorities. Kurt Busch was hired by Penske after leaving Roush racing under a black cloud and then let the Captain down by continuing to be a jerk. And now Allmendinger.
Penske does have one driver in his camp who has the right attitude – Brad Keselowski.
The Michigan driver is hard-nosed and hard-headed about everything. After making the reporters present this weekend in New Hampshire clearly understand that he considers driving for Roger Penske the job of a lifetime, Keselowski said this:
"I don’t think you should take anything. Period."
Got a chest cold? Tough. Goldenrod giving you the sniffles? Too bad.
"Man up and drive the race car," said Keselowski.
Which could be a lesson for us all.
There are some NASCAR races that are interesting and exciting. Daytona and Talladega, are two. The short track races at Martinsville and Bristol are also usually pretty good. And you can’t beat the road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen for great racing.
But the mile and mile-and-a-half oval track races can often be boring and Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire was in that category.
Round and round and round and round and I was getting a headache just watching.
In British Columbia at the weekend, St. Thomas driver D.J. Kennington won his third straight NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race of the 2012 season and extended his lead in the points standings.
Kennington took the lead from defending national champion and defending race winner Scott Steckly of Milverton on Lape 249 and remained out front the rest of the way to win the A&W Cruisin’ The Dub 300 at Motoplex Speedway in Vernon.
Jason Hathaway of Dutton, Ont., was second, followed by Steckly, J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge and Jason White of Sun Peakes, B.C., who scored his best-ever finish in the national stock car racing series.
White’s sponsors is A&W so to do as well as he did in his home race was icing on the cake for him.
Kennington now has 227 points to Fitzpatrick’s 204. Third-place Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que., has 200 points.
And talking about incredible streaks, how about this?
Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and his co-driver, Nathalie Richard of Halifax, won this weekend’s Rally America New England Forest Rally for the third consecutive year.
This was the Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team’s fourth victory in a row in less than two months, making their bid for yet another North American Rally Championship title virtually certain.