The Way I See It, I jinx NASCAR drivers with equal effectiveness as that of football and baseball teams. I mean did you have the slightest clue that Ryan Newman would win the 2008 Daytona 500. Are you kidding me? Ryan Newman? He's from South Bend, Indiana for Pete's sake. He drives for the Penske Racing team. They don't win the "good ole boy" style of "racin". They're wide wheel advocates. Well, chalk one up for crew chief, Roy McCauley and Newman's race team buddy, Kurt Busch, who gave Newman the push that gave him the lead propelling the No. 12 Dodge past Tony Stewart and the checkered flag. Stewart did earn some recognition by being the first Toyota to cross the finish in the number three spot.Prior to this past Sunday's win, the best finish for Newman occurred in 2005 when Newman crossed the finish in first place while competing in the Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire International Speedway.
Meanwhile the drivers I thought were the best bets to win the 500 had an Alka Seltzer afternoon and early evening. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. managed a ninth place finish, pole setter, Jimmie Johnson finished 27th and Jeff Gordon had the suspension fail him and drove his No. 24 to a 39th place finish.
Busch was phenomenal. He started in the 43rd position and finished second in his No. 2 Dodge.
And Elliott Sadler held my attention for the last 60 lap's finishing sixth in his No. 19 Dodge after starting 35th.
Bad day for Ford and Chevy. Both manufacturers had only one car finish in the Top 10; Dodge ended with six, and Toyota two.
Not a bad payoff for the Penske team. Newman walked away with $1,506,045, Busch $1,063,870. Another observation I made. Only Sadler and Robby Gordon finished in the Top 10 without leading a single lap.
Now it's on to California for the running of the Auto Club 500.
So who should I jinx this week? I'm betting the top finisher will be Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch or Carl Edwards. We'll have to wait for the results late Sunday, Feb. 24, but at least all of you Earnhardt, Johnson, Gordon and Stewart fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION
The Lancaster County Friends of the NRA will be hosting their annual banquet on Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Host Resort, located along Route 30 East (Lincoln Highway).
Doors will open at 4 p.m. with the dinner served at 6:30 p.m. Cost of meal is $40.
"Our banquet in 2007 was a tremendous success, the largest ever," said Donna Gerz, this year's Committee Chairperson, in a recent press release. "Half of the moneys from these banquets fund grants in the State of Pennsylvania for sports clubs projects, rifle ranges and youth shooting programs. Your contributions derived from this event will help to ensure that future generations of shooters and hunters will continue in our state. Help us make the 2008 banquet an even greater success."
Banquet tickets, sponsor tickets and gun raffle tickets may be secured by writing to Gerz at 749 Lampeter Road, Lancaster, Pa. 17602.
Since 1984, the Pennsylvania friends of the NRA have contributed 1.8-million dollars to commonwealth projects such as junior rifle teams, 4-H teams, Boy Scouts of America, high school rifle teams and youth field days.
Local committee members include Randy Hart, John Osborne, Kim Rankin and Dave Byers.
Firearm advocates are encouraged to come out and enjoy an evening of fun, food and fellowship while helping to support the friends of the NRA.
FOOTBALL Brad Spar, sports writer for the Chadds Ford Post, a member of the PA8NewsGroup recently reported that two Unionville High School football players signed national letters of intent to play at the next level. Steve Caputo, a 6-4, 280-pound lineman, will be enrolled at Temple University, while Matt Carroll, the team's quarterback, who led the team to a three-year record of 31-5, signed with Northeastern University.
The Indians won the last two Southern Chester County League championship titles before being absorbed into the Ches-Mont League where they won the first-ever American Division title. They have qualified for Districts for the past three seasons losing to Strath Haven in the finals of the 2005 District I finals. Caputo hopes to be in the mix for a starting offensive guard position as a freshman at Temple. Carroll will be red-shirted by Northeastern.
OUTDOOR NEWS Russ Schleiden, Chairman of the Board of the Wildlife for Everyone Endowment Foundation, announced that Boyd and Sheila Sponaugle of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, have generously donated 20.14-acres of land in Upper Tulpehocken Township, Berks County to the Foundation. This land donation will augment the Foundation's mission to increase wildlife habitat.
The Foundation has turned this land over to the Pennsylvania Game Commission to become part of State Game Lands No. 110. These public lands serve as critical habitat for wildlife which provide hunting, trapping and wild places for wildlife. "We are very proud to make this donation to the Foundation," said the Sponaugles in a recent press release.
The Wildlife for Everyone Endowment Foundation was established to provide permanent private support for the wildlife habitat enhancement, wildlife research and education, land preservation and for the establishment of a Wildlife Research and Education Center in State College. The Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation. More information about the Foundation's projects can be found at www.wildlifeforeveryone.org.
According to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News, the Phillies starting rotation is set from number one through four with Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick. The number five remains up for grabs with several names being bantered about. Murphy thinks it will come down to Adam Eaton, Travis Blackley, Chad Durbin or J. D. Durbin, but he's not ruling out a couple of sleepers. Murphy, who is most intrigued by Josh Outman, also believes Carlos Carrasco and J. A. Happ have an outside shot at toeing the rubber in the bigs. Outman is a 6-1 lefty who went 10-4 at Clearwater last season and had an impressive Arizona Fall League season. He's a long shot, but so was Kendrick in 2007. Kendrick ended with 10 wins following the 2007 MLB season and I'll take that number from a number five any time.
Mark this date down on your Palm Pilot or calendar. The Lancaster Barnstormers open their 2008 season, with manager Von Hayes at the helm, on Friday, April 25, against the Bridgeport Bluefish.
Have a great week.