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Tag Archives: NASCAR

What a week for UCLA basketball! Although they were outplayed by ASU on Thursday, UCLA’s defense managed to keep the game close. Now, while I’m never one to suggest referees should (or could) make the difference in a game, I firmly believe bad officiating decided this game.

ASU star James Harden managed to get away with numerous pushoffs and travels — although he obviously was called on both more than once. It does make me wonder how much of that he actually gets away with.

Harden didn’t get called for charge late in the game on a drive in which he floored both Jrue Holiday and Alfred Aboya. Aboya was instead was instead whistled for a blocking foul. Moments later, with the score 69-67 ASU, Darren Collison was called for a charge, despite Jeff Pendergraph not having his feet set — at least as much, if not moreso than Aboya did.

Had the call gone in UCLA’s favor, the score would’ve been 70-69 UCLA, and I think the outcome would’ve been very different.

It should be interesting to see how UCLA responds. Last time they were backed into a corner, they responded by punishing Cal, Stanford, USC, and Notre Dame. Now, they face the Washington schools (albeit at home this time) and it’s clear UW senses blood in the water.

That two week stretch prior to the desert roadie may have masked some deficiencies. A starting lineup change may be in order. Currently, the starting five is PG Collison, SG Holiday, SF Shipp, PF Dragovic, C Aboya.

With this lineup, UCLA has been outrebounded, and other than Collison, lacks a guard willing to consistently drive it to the rack. Given that, I propose a switch to this lineup: PG Collison, SG Roll, SF Keefe, PF Gordon, C Aboya.

Granted, James Keefe has been terribly tentative lately, perhaps even more so than Holiday. Still, his length, and his defense helps shore up the Bruin frontline, along with Drew Gordon. The dropoff in frontcout rebounding and defensive performance from Kevin Love and L.R Mbah a Moute to Nikola Dragovic and Aboya is troubling, and adding Gordon and Keefe can perhaps address that issue.

Then there’s Holiday. While no one expected Kevin Love 2009, I don’t think anyone expected the timid, tentative freshman we’ve seen lately. Having an inconsistent, reluctant to take control Shipp alongside Holiday makes for a pretty lackluster offensive attack.

Roll is adept enough to move without the ball and create his shot, so perhaps his presence is the shot in the arm that the UCLA offense needs. But let’s not forget what makes UCLA run — defense and rebounding. To beat UW, Collison, Holiday, Lee, and Anderson all need to contain UW’s nimble guards, and Aboya and the bigs need to contain Jon Brockman.

On a non-basketball note — how cheap was Matt Kenseth’s Daytona 500 win? That was Kyle Busch’s race to lose, and if wasn’t for Brian Vickers and Dale Junior pointlessly jockeying, Busch should’ve stayed in the race.

If these aren’t sour grapes, I don’t know what sour grapes are.

Watching yet another Toyota win in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona was the final straw. Toyota has taken NASCAR’s top series by force with no hope for the other manufacturers.

Clint Bowyer said it best in the Nationwide race, yet another series dominated this year by the foreign manufacturer. Bowyer said that the Toyotas just have too much power.

Toyota drivers Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, and Joey Logano have combined to win seven Sprint Cup races and 17 Nationwide Series races. Big bad Toyota is taking it to the Big Three, and that’s all their boosters can come up with in defense? Toyota has too much power?

Apparently, NASCAR agreed, and recently forced Toyota to modify its Nationwide Series engines, reducing their output by 15 horsepower.

I could be aiming for something totally outdated, but it seems to me that if your competition is beating you senseless, maybe you ought to raise your level of performance to meet your competition. Instead, NASCAR agrees with the idea of lowering the bar, rather than raising it. The Big Three can’t keep up with Toyota, so let’s hold Toyota back so the Big Three can catch up.

It should be so cut and dried. But alas, JGR’s Nationwide crews stuck magnets under the gas pedals in Tony Stewart’s and Joey Logano’s cars, with the intention of fooling NASCAR dynos — presumably in response to the decree to tune the cars down.

Toyota has gone through enough controversy and bad publicity in its entry into NASCAR. JGR drivers, especially Kyle Busch have helped to turn the controversy back, but again, it pops up. Considering how much scrutiny Toyota has been subjected to, you’d think that the guilty JGR crews would avoid dabbling in this sort of thing.

Contoversy aside, it’s fascinating how Toyota’s participation in NASCAR has polarized the racing community. Without condoning this recent incident, I’m not going to believe for a second that every crew, no matter Dodge, Ford, GM, or Toyota, isn’t always looking for a leg up. Tuning race cars is one thing, but given the stakes, I have to think everything strategy-wise is on the table, legal or not.

I do think the reaction to Toyota in NASCAR is representative of a very ugly part of American society. The reaction is often irrationally xenophobic, which is ironic given how “American” these vehicles really are. The consumer version of the Camry is built in Fresno, California, by American labor.

It makes me wonder — why is Toyota under the scrutiny that it is? And in scrutinizing Toyota, why do so many of us rely upon terribly xenophobic rationale?