Sunday, September 20, 2009

Could this be the year of "The Kid"?

(Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Mark Martin has been a fan favorite since he came into NASCAR. Even before that he was always a fan favorite on the small tracks that he raced on. Martin's personality is one that just seems to appeals to the fans. He is charming and soft spoken.

Martin is known for being, well, calm. He is very comfortable in his own skin and it shows. Martin has come close a few times during his NASCAR career to winning the championship. But due to one thing or another, it has allueded him.

So my question is could this be the year of The Kid Mark Martin?

Martin won four races during the regular season. And now in the first race of the chase he has won another one.

With Mark Martin showing no signs of feeling any pressure during this chase, could this be the year that he finally gets his championship?

Martin and crew chief Alan Gustafson have jelled so fast that it makes one think, are they one in the same? Gustafson has already told the media how he idolized Mark growing up and how he tried to be just like Martin. And it is showing that these two men have very similar personalities and it is working well for them.

So in nine more races we will know for certain if this is the year of "The Kid". But until then, Martin and his 5 team are celebrating another win and adding to their points lead.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

SYMT Chase Race #2:

Ernie Irvan

So the loss of Davey left the Robert Yates organization without a driver. But no one saw what was coming next for this race team.

In September, 1993 Ernie Irvan signed up with Robert Yates Racing to drive the Texaco Havoline 28 Ford Thunderbird. His first race for Yates Racing was at Darlington. Ernie started 10th and finished 5th.

Now Ernie Irvan was born Virgil Earnest Irvan on January 13, 1959 in Salinas, California to Vic and Jo Irvan. He is married to Kim Baker Irvan and they have two children: a daughter, Jordan born in 1993 and a son Jared born in 1998.

Ernie began driving racing at the age of nine. He drove go carts from 1968-1974. He won the California Championship when he was 15. Ernie finished 2nd in the national go-cart championship in his class division in 1974.

At the age of 16 Ernie started driving stockcars at Stockton 99 Speedway and he won his first race on asphalt, a semi-main event in 1975. From 1976-1981 Ernie raced at Madera and Stockton, CA every weekend. He even missed his high school graduation to race at Riverside, CA.

In 1982 Ernie left California and headed east to North Carolina. He had his sights set on stockcar racing at the Winston Cup level. So he packed up everything he had, $700 in his pocket, a pickup truck and a homemade trailer and headed for Charlotte.

Once he arrived in Charlotte he took odd jobs so that he could stay where the heart of NASCAR was. Just in hopes that he might attract some owner’s interest in him.

Here is a list of some of the odd jobs he held: welding grandstand seats at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Lowe’s), built racecars, and he even unloaded Ken Schrader’s moving van.

All the while why he was doing this, he talked, prodded, wheedle, pester any car owner that he could. While he was awaiting for the big time, Irvan won nine races driving in the Late Model Series at Concord Speedway.

In 1984-86 Ernie continued to work odd jobs and he built racecars. Ernie drove a Firebird at the Concord Speedway. He won two races in his first year and eleven races the next.
Finally in 1987 Ernie got his first break into Cup racing. In a car built and prepared by Ernie and Marc Reno, he debuted at Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway on September 13. He was driving the #56 Chevrolet Monte Carlo sponsored by, are you ready for this? Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet. He qualified 20th. But due to an overheated engine after just 35 laps. He finished 29th and won $860.

In October Ernie was back in the #56 once again sponsored by Dale Earnhardt in his first Cup start at Charlotte. Irvan started 36th, led a lap 128, and he finished 8th. At Riverside, CA he drove the same car, only this time the number was #6 for Ulrich U.S. Racing team. He had two more starts for the Ulrich team one at Martinsville (Sept.) started 24th and finished 15th. The next race was at North Wilkesboro in October. Where he began 25th and finished 22nd. For his first five races in Cup, Ernie had One Top 10 fnish and $23,050 in winnings.

In 1988 Ulrich Racing signed Irvan to drive their #2 Kroger Chevrolets and Pontiacs. He competed in 25 of the 29 Cup Series events. Ernie lost the Rookie of the Year by just three points, to Ken Bouchard. This was the closest battle in Cup history. His best finish was an 11th at Martinsville in September. Irvan finished the year 26th in the points and he had won $96,370.
In 1989 Ernie was once again behind the wheel of the Ulrich’s U.S. Racing car. He started all 29 races that year. One of Ernie’s best showing in 1989 was at Bristol in the April race. He started 25th and by lap 38 he caught the race leader Mark Martin. Ernie would lead 56 laps that day. But due to an accident on lap 167 put him out of the race. He would finish 22nd in the points and his winnings for the year totaled $155,239.

At the beginning of 1990 Irvan was driving the #90 Bull’s Eye Barbecue Sauce Ford for Junie Donlavey. But three races into the year he signed to drive the Morgan McClure #4 Kodak Oldsmobile. His first race with McClure was at Atlanta in March. Ernie started 30th and he never looked back. He went on to finish 3rd in that race. This gave Ernie his first ever top 5 in Cup racing. But it would be only the first of many more.

Then in April at Bristol Ernie won his first pole And in August he won his first Cup race at Bristol. He finished his first year with Morgan McClure with three poles, one win, six top 5s and 13 top 10s. Winning $535,280 and finished 9th in the standings.

In 1991 he won his first Daytona 500. His next win came at Watkins Glen. After his win at Watkins Glen, Irvan had scored a victory on three of four of NASCAR’s type tracks. A short track, a super speedway and a road course. Making him one of NASCAR’s very versatile drivers. He finished 1991 with 2 wins, 11 top 5s, 19 top 10 and a 5th place standing in the points. He won over $1,079,017.

1992 brought about a lot of changes for Ernie. And not all of them were on the track. In 1992 Ernie married his wife Kim Baker on November 21st. Ernie would win three races: Sonoma, CA in June, Daytona in July and Talladega, AL in July. He also won three poles, had 9 top 5s and 11 top 10s. He would only win $996,885 and he would finish 11th in the points. One of the lows was when Ernie broke his collarbone during a Busch series race at Atlanta in March. He had 12 finishes 24th or worse and he also had seven DNFs. Not a very good year for Ernie.

But 1993 would bring about a big change for Ernie and his family as well as his career. While still driving for Morgan-McClure Ernie added two more poles and a victory to his resume. The two poles came at Dover in June and at Daytona in July. And the win came at Talladega in May. His career stats while driving at Morgan-McClure were 9 poles, 7 wins, and 51 top 10s in 105 starts.
Ernie signed to drive for Robert Yates Racing in September. His first race was at Darlington where he started 10th and finished 5th. Ernie’s first win with RYR came in his fourth start. It was Martinsville. And it was very fitting that Ernie dedicated the win to Davey. After all it was Ernie who caused Davey to lose the championship in 1992.

Ernie would later go on to win at Charlotte he lead every lap but six laps for the win. Ernie scored five front row positions including two poles and two wins in his nine races with RYR. Ernie was 9th in the points when he left Morgan-McClure. But he would finish the year 6th in the points after joining RYR.

1994 Ernie was very much a contender for the Winston Cup Championship during the first 20 races of the season. Going into the GM Goodwrench Dealer 400 at Michigan in August Ernie and Dale Earnhardt were tied with three wins each for the season. Ernie led in top 5 finishes and winnings and trailed Earnhardt by only 27 points. Ernie had led the standings for most of the season.

But once again tragedy struck the 28 team. During an early Saturday morning practice session, Ernie blew a right front tire sending the car into the Turn Two wall at over 170 miles per hour. This wreck would leave Ernie fighting for his life.

Track emergency workers worked frantically to get him extracted from the car. He was immediately airlifted to Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. Where he was diagnosed with critical brain and lung injuries and he was only given a 10% chance of surviving the night.

But Irvan has a fighting spirit that just would not let him die. As the doctors worked to keep him alive his stubborn refusal to leave behind his wife and young daughter brought Ernie back from the brink of death. By the time September rolled around Ernie was listed in “fair” condition and he was removed from the ventilator. A few weeks later the doctors decided that Ernie was in good enough condition to be moved to Charlotte to the Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation. It was only a few short weeks later that Ernie was at the Charlotte Motor Speedway where he addressed the fans before the stat of the UAW-GM race.

When the Awards Banquet was held in New York during the month of December Ernie, was in attendance and he walked on the stage to receive the True Value Hard Charger Award. Even though there was still races left in the season, he had still raced among the top five for more miles than any other driver that year. Plus Ernie tied Geoff Bodine for the most poles during the season.

The beginning of 1995 found Ernie making huge strives to returning to the racecar. Ernie was so determined to get back into a race car and prove that he could still race with the best of them. Ernie would be put through many challenges on his way back to NASCAR. He put himself though very rigorous workouts to help him with his physical strength. He underwent extensive medical exams and procedures all just to prove that he was ready to get back into a car.

Ernie went through everything that the medical professionals and NASCAR could throw at him. Finally NASCAR cleared Ernie to get back into the car. The date ws September 16, 13 months after the wreck that nearly ended his life had happened.

Ernie first attempted to qualify for the Truck race at Martinsville. But due to rain, Ernie was not able to qualify. The following week at North Wilkesboro, September 30, Ernie qualified on the outside pole. Within six laps of the race, Ernie was out front leading. He lead for 23 laps before he had mechanical problems that put him out of the race.

That same weekend the Cup Series was in North Wilkesboro. The date was October 1, Ernie made his return to NASCAR Cup racing. This time instead of driving the 28 Texaco Havoline Ford, Dale Jarrett had taken over this ride when Ernie got hurt, Ernie was in the 88 Texaco Havoline Ford. Ernie had qualified 7th, and by lap 47 he was third. Ernie took the lead on Lap 125 and he lead for 31 laps. That day he finished on the lead lap in sixth positon. Not too bad for a guy who should have not been there.

Phoenix would be Ernie’s time behind the wheel of the race car. After he wrecked his primary car and had to start in the back of the 44 car field. Ernie swiftly made his way to the front. And by lap 75 he was sitting in the 7th spot. After the first round of pitstops, Ernie took two tires and that gave him the lead. Dale Earnhardt had taken four tires, but there was noone who could even touch Ernie for the lead. So for the next 110 laps Ernie was the leader. But unfortunately his engine went south on him on lap 197 of the 312 lap race. But that day Ernie lead the most laps.
And he proved that he was back and ready to go racing and contend for wins and hopefully championships once again.

The last race of the year Atlanta saw Ernie start 26th and finish and finishing 7th. Ernie had advanced himself to fourth by the midway point and he was second before he had to make a late pit stop. So with only three starts in 1995 Ernie had 2 top 10s and earned over $54,000.

Ernie returned to the #28 Texaco Havoline Ford in 1996. He and Dale Jarrett sat on the front row for the Daytona 500 with Dale on the pole. Ernie would go on to win his 125 Gatorade Duel Race. He would also win the pole for the spring Talladega race. His win for the season would come at New Hampshire. The second win would come at Richmond.

Ernie would finish in the top 10 in points. He would have 12 top 5 and 16 top 10 finishes. He also led 15 of the 31 events and earned a career-best $1,670,113.

But 1997 it would mean the end of Ernie at Robert Yates. Yates having decided that he wanted to try a new driver, decided that this would Ernie’s final year with the team. Ernie would win at Michigan in June. He would have 5 top 5 finishes and 13 Top 10s and 2 pole positions. And he would earn $1,614,281. Ernie would finish 14th in the points.

But Ernie was picked up by the newly formed Mb2 Motorsports to drive their #36 Skittles Pontiac. He would have 11 top 10 finishes with three poles, and he would finish 19th in the point standings. Ernie was injured at Talladega and he missed three races in 1998. He would earn $1,476,141.

In 1999 Ernie was still driving for MB2 Motorsports in the #36. This year the car would have the M&M’s logo and characters on the car. It soon became the most popular and most recognized NASCAR Cup car.

Just when things looked like Ernie was final getting use to his new team and they to him, the unthinkable happened. Ernie was at Michigan practicing for the Busch Series in his #84 Irvan-Simo Federated Auto Parts Pontiac when he crashed. Ernie was airlifted from the track and was diagnosed with a mild head injury and a bruised lung.

Ernie and his wife Kim made the decision together that Ernie would retire from racing. So on September 3, 1999, Ernie along with his wife Kim and their two children, the announcement was made that Ernie would retire effective immediately.

So at a tearful press conference held at Darlington, S.C. Ernie Irvan’s NASCAR career was officially over.

So the official standings for Ernie are as follows 15 victories, 22 poles, 68 top 5s, 124 top 10s and over 11 million dollars in career earnings.

Today Ernie spends his time trying to educate people on the dangers of brain trauma. He and his organization have come up with a special helmet for children and adults to help to protect them from brain trauma.

Ernie also spends his time working on his son's quarter midget cars. So while he is not behind the wheel any longer. He is still very much involved in racing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's No Lie, Stewart Won the Prelude

It's No Lie, Stewart Won The Prelude

Joey listens to Tony as they talk about the track. Vickers also is getting some helpful tips.

Tony talks cars with Leonard Woods. Casey trying to pick Smoke's brain.

With all of the talk about the two little words "You lie", that were spoken during the President's address last night to Congress, one could forget that there was a charity race in Eldora. That is if you were not a fan of dirt racing, NHRA or NASCAR.

With the stars making their trek to Rossburg, Ohio to run the dirt on the famous Eldora Speedway, it was easy to miss the President's speech. And from the fireworks that both Eldora and the speech has created it is ashame that one had to be forgotten. But since I did forget about the speech, and I prefer racing anyway. Thought I would bring you some of the highlights from last nights race, in case you watch the speech instead of the race.

During qualifying a new track record for the Prelude was set by none other but the track owner, Tony Stewart at 15.405. Here is the run down for qualifying. Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Kenny Wallace, Clint Bowyer, Robby Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Kenny Schrader, Cruz Pedregon, A.J. Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick, David Reutimann, Brian Vickers, Marcos Ambrose, Casey Mears, Ray Evernham, Red Farmer, Ron Capps.

But of course this means nothing because of the inversion rule. And that is just to complicated to explain here. lol I will try to explain using Mike Joy's explaination from the telecast: Using Clint Bowyer as an example. Bowyer qualified 6th. Which means he will start outside pole in the 3rd heat. You have to be one of the first 4 finishers in your heat race to transfer to the A main toward the front. But then there will be an invert.

Darrell Waltrip got to be a part of the festivities. He got behind the wheel of a "Ripsaw MS2". Which is an automated military vehicle that can be used to go ahead of the troops to clear out landmines that were put there by the enemy. The vehicle has 700 horsepowers and it has a gun on top of it. It weighs 8000 lbs. And DW says it drives like a computer game. There has only been three people who have ever driven this vehicle and DW is one of them.

Darrell Waltrip truly had alot more fun driving this vehicle than he did the water truck he drove at Eldora a couple years ago. You should have seen ole DW doing donuts in this vehicle.

Next we had driver introductions: A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer, Rowdy Busch, Ron Capps, Ray Evernham, Charles "Red" Farmer, Robby Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Casey Mears, Ryan Newman, Cruz Pendrogen, David Reutimann, Kenny Schrader, Brian Vickers, Kenny Wallace, and Tony Stewart.

Next there was a picture taken of the Gillette Young Guns: Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne. Before the picture was taken, Denny Hamlin had alittle fun with Smoke by messing with Smoke's head. All of the drivers were clean shaven, even Smoke was clean shaven. A joke was made in the booth, that they better take the picture fast or Smoke would need to shave again. Saying Smoke calls himself, a "Chia pet".

The drivers were driven around the track not in the back of pickup trucks, but in the back of military humvees.

The national anthem was played on saxophone Jerry Depizo from the rock band OAR. And let me tell you, I love to hear the national anthem played on a sax. But this guy did not do it service. It started out pretty good. But then he started jazzing it up. And it was just not pretty. As long as he did not jazz it up. It was really good. But let's face it, the national anthem should be played correctly or not played at all. It is a truly beautiful song.

Now on to the heat races. The first heat race drivers were: Johnson, Gordon, Busch, Stewart, Schrader, Harvick, Ambrose, Farmer. Ambrose, hit the wall on lap 3 tearing the right wheel off. With Johnson winning it. Leading all of the 10 laps. Stewart finished second. Gordon, Busch, Schrader, Harvick, Farmer, Ambrose.

2nd heat race: Kenseth, Kahne, Wallace, Hamlin, Pedregon, Reutimann, Capps, Mears. Kasey Kahne won this heat race after leading all 10 laps. 2nd Kenseth, Hamlin, Wallace, Pedregon, Capps, Reutimann, Mears.

3rd heat race: Logano, Almirola, Bowyer, Newman, Allmendinger, Vickers, Evernham. On lap 4 Joey Logano tapped the wall and knocked his spoiler off. And then he wound up backing the car into the car damaging the car beyond repair. But lucky for Logano, Smoke had one of his cars there and Logan got to drive Smoke's car in the heat race. Almirola lead all of the laps in this race as well. Bowyer, Newman, Vickers, Evernham, Logano, Allmendinger.

Now on to the A Main event. Bowyer on pole, Wallace, Busch, Newman, Stewart, Gordon, Kahne, Almirola, Johnson, Kenseth, Bickers, Logano, Schrader, Pedregon, Allmendinger, Harvick, Reutimann, Ambrose, Mears, Evernham, Farmer, Capps. Hamlin was not able to compete because of engine problems. A lifter broke and there were pieces all inside of the engine.

The track was very fast. Even though Stewart and his crew worked hard to make the track slow and tacky. It just didn't work.

Joey Logano was given a couple laps in Smoke's extra car before the A main began.

Bowyer, took the lead. Kahne and Johnson both hit the wall during the first lap. As well as Allmendinger. Allmendinger caused the first caution, because his did alot of damage to his car.

Wallace got the jump on the restart. On lap 3, the caution came out again for Evernham for a broken front wheel. Someone got into Ron Capps but he was able to continue.

On the restart Wallace got the jump. Bowyer was hot on his bumper. Busch got around Stewart. Vickers spins, but no caution, he keeps it going.

Lap 6 Wallace, Bowyer, Busch and Stewart.

Stewart's car is the fastest on the track.

Lap 10 Wallace taps the wall. But keeps the lead. On lap 10 Bowyer goes for the lead on the bottom. Wallace stays high and keeps the lead. Bowyer moves high, Wallace moves low. Busch is behind Bowyer, Stewart moves to the low side and gets around both Bowyer and Busch. But Stewart lifts to avoid having a wreck. Bowyer and Busch gets back around him.

Wallace leads. Bowyer moves high. Busch and Stewart go low.

On lap 12 Bowyer chops down in front of Busch. And Stewart takes the lead away from Wallace. Stewart begins to pull away. But on lap 14 there is a five car wreck: Schrader, Logano, Ambrose, Mears, and Gordon. Gordon cut down a tire. Schrader and Harvick get together trying to avoid Gordon. Logano tried to go between Gordon and the wall, and didn't make it. And Mears got into it at the end. Ambrose just spun and he was able to continue.

The race is red flagged at this time to clean up the track.

On the restart on lap 14 Stewart took off and pulled ahead of the field. Wallace is in 2nd. Bowyer and Newman are fighting for 3rd.

Lap 21 Mears spins in turn 2 bringing out the caution. He lost it just as Stewart lapped him.

Restart on Lap 21 Stewart gets a good jump. Bowyer cuts down Wallace's right rear tire, taking Wallace out of 2nd and out of the race.

Lap 23 Bowyer bounces off of the wall, Busch closes in on him. 5th place Kenseth is being challenged by Pedregon.

Smoke is riding the cushion and stretching his lead on Bowyer and Busch.

Smoke clears the lapped cars of Farmer and Mears.

Smoke wins the Prelude for the third time in four years.

Stewart, Bowyer, Busch, Newman, Kenseth, Pedregon, Reutimann, Almirola, Kahne, Johnson, Harvick, Vickers, Capps, Ambrose, Mears, Farmer, Wallace, Gordon, Schrader, Logano, Evernham, Allmendinger, Hamlin.

All of the photos are from and Getty Images.

Monday, September 7, 2009

You Decide Whether You Want Your Child to Hear it Or Not

Below you will find the speech in which Barack Obama is going to give to America's school children on Tuesday.

There has been alot of controversy surrounding this speech. Many parents are demanding that their schools provide alternative activities, because they do not want their children to hear this.

I have my feelings on this subject and I am not going to give them here. Because this blog is only to provide a link and the speech to anyone who might want to read it.

But America's parents need to read it and they need to make the decision as to whether they allow their children to hear this. Not the schools, not the White House or any other person should make that decision for the parents.

It was once said that it takes a village to raise a child. That thinking is wrong. It does not take a village to raise a child. It takes two parents and only two parents. No one else should tell a parent how to raise their child or what they should allow their child to watch or listen too.

Now I know there are exceptions to this rule. But that is for another blog and another subject. But in this case it should be totally up to the parents and no one else. Remarks of President Barack ObamaBack to School Event
Arlington, VirginiaSeptember 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year. Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn. I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right. But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it. I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Heading to Hot-Lanta Fans Hoping to See Smoke Back on Top of His Game

While Tony Stewart seems to be having a dream season for a driver/owner. There have been some spots that have not been so bright. And the break last week hopefully gave the two-time champion and his teams a chance to regroup and get refocused on the challenge at hand.

Since Stewart won at Watkins Glen, the Stewart-Haas #14 team have had finishes of 17th and 33rd. Not the type of finishes that Stewart fans have come to expect from this new team and its veteran driver.

But still the #14 team has only three finishes outside of the top 20. And only 6 finishes outside of the top 10. The rest of their finishes have been in the top 10 or better.

As Stewart heads into Atlanta this weekend, he still leads the points. Where he has been since he won at Pocono in June. That is an amazing 12 weeks. Before this year the most weeks Stewart had lead the points consecutive weeks was in 2005 for 8 weeks. That year he lead the points a total of 15 weeks. In 2002 he lead the points for 7 weeks. Both years in which Stewart lead the points, he has won the championship. Once under the old rules and once with the chase rules.

So while all of the teams are preparing to head into Atlanta, Stewart fans are eagerly waiting for Stewart to get back on track and have more top 10 finishes and win more races before the end of the year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I am back and I am un-HAPPY!

Okay, I have been silent long enough. It is time to get back to blogging and sharing my thoughts with all my blogging friends.

While I have enjoyed my own self-induced sabbatical and I have enjoyed everyone else's writings. I am ready to get back to it. Sometimes burnout just comes and you just have to step away. And that is what happened here.

Now I have been reading alot of stuff. Sports, news, blogs and even funny stuff. But this one things has caught my eye. And I think you should see it for yourself. Depending on which side of the political fence you are on. You will either find this disgusting or you will enjoy it. You will also find a transcript of the video for you if you are unable to download the video.

Lady in the audience asked the question of Van Jones the White House "Green Jobs" Czar on February 11, 2009 at Berkeley, CA

When Bush was in office they had the majority it was isn't 60, they didn't have more than 60 but they still were able to push through all of these bills, but, when we have you know 58, we seem not to be able to, move things, um, as progressively as many of us here would want, as Obama wants, (Jones in background "right") and I don't, know he has this strong interest in bipartisanship. (Jones in background "right") But when nobody in the Republicans, the Republicans are voting with him. How, how, how are the Republicans able to push things through when they had less than 60 senators, but somehow we can't?

Jones "well the answer to that is they are assholes".
Crowd erupts into laughter and clapping. With many including the lady who asked the question shaking their heads in agreement with Jones.

The woman "I was afraid that was the answer."

Jones "As a technical, political science term." Crowd laughs.
Jones "Um, and, and Barack Obama is not an asshole. So, um, now I will say this, uh, I can be an asshole. And some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama are going to have to start getting alittle upiddy."

I looked up the definition of "Asshole" just to make sure I had the right definition.
Webster's New World College Dictionary

1.the anus
2.Slang a person who is stupid, foolish, despicable, etc.
Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2005 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Pronunciation: \ˈas-ˌ(h)ōl\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
1 usually vulgar : anus
2 a usually vulgar : a stupid, incompetent, or detestable person b usually vulgar : the worst place —used in phrases like asshole of the world

After seeing this video I must say Van Jones has it wrong! It is not the Republicans who are A-holes, but the Democrats. After all like the lady said, the Republicans had less than the 60 majority senators and they were able to pass legislation. While the Democrats have the 58 majority and they cannot not pass legistion through.

It is the Democrats who are stupid and incompetent. But that is good for this country. Because the more incompetent and stupid they act, the less damage that they can do to this country.

It is all of the name calling that has me unhappy! But their lack of being able to get things done in Washington, D.C. is really something to celebrate.

Until two weeks ago, I had never even heard of Van Jones. But since then, I have heard more about him than I want to. And none of it is very favorable. I must say my opinion of him is very much like my opinion of Obama, Pelosi, Reid and most of the Congress and the Administration.

It is people like Van Jones, Rahm Emanuel and Eric Holder that is going to go along way to destroying this country. But that is for another blog at another time.

I know this probably doesn't make much since to most. But that is okay, it is just my way of letting off some steam. lol