Once again I have come home empty handed after the latest round of poker tournaments over the past couple weeks. Some heartbreak was involved including finishing second in a $500 winner-take-all tourney when I got unlucky during the last hand. I'm starting to feel like Jeff Gordon with all these recent second place finishes, haha! Suffered an enormous bad beat this past Sunday during the middle stages of a tournament, which I prefer not to go into detail about in this blog. Have no fear though, I'll be back on the horse and giving it another try again. Next month I'm putting up my own money and plan to enter one of the Borgata Summer Poker Open events in Atlantic City, most likely the Tuesday June 22nd $300 + $50 event.
The bad news is with all the poker playing I didn't get to see hardly any of the NASCAR All-Star race. Heard it was a good race, but since I don't have much to say about it I'll just move on. I did catch some of Indy 500 qualifying. I didn't mind the new and much easier to follow qualifying format; however, it seemed to lack the suspense that the old drawn out process had in the past. Maybe it was just the fact that Helio Castroneves set a blistering pace and backed it up twice. Maybe it's just my perception of it, considering I don't get Versus and had to watch and listen to the IMS feed on my computer. I miss ABC/ESPN's coverage of qualifying; for the most part I thought they have done a great job covering the Indy 500. Nevertheless, it should be a good race even though it might be another battle between Penske and Ganassi for the win. The favorite once again is Castroneves, but I'm going to predict one of his teammates Will Power or Ryan Briscoe will be drinking the milk in victory lane at the end of the day.
The good news about my early exit from the poker tournament on Sunday was that I arrived home in time to see the tail end of the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It looked like it was very well run. One of a few things that crossed my mind after reading a couple articles online is down the road who will and won't be "Hall of Fame" worthy? Sure there are at least a couple dozen drivers that no doubt will be inducted over the next few years, but what will happen a decade or so from now? In my opinion, since it is the NASCAR Hall of Fame the inductees should cover all of NASCAR's current and past series. Future inductees should include the late great Modified legend Richie Evans, Jack Ingram, Sam Ard, Hershel McGriff, multi-time Whelen All American Series champion Larry Phillips, and dirt racers Steve and Joe Kosiski just to name a few. What about guys like A.J. Foyt who had their share of stock car success in addition to their open wheel fame or anyone else who may make a successful crossover in the future? Will their overshadowing success in other forms of racing prohibit them from being a NASCAR Hall of Fame member? Will they continue inducting five a year or will they begin to back off at some point? If it eventually only becomes a couple a year this could all be a moot point.
The one sad thing I see is out of today's racers I don't see many current non-Cup drivers being future Hall of Famers. The Nationwide Series is so top-heavy with Cup drivers and there doesn't seem to be many dominating forces in the touring series anymore. There are a few current or fairly recent drivers that I wouldn't be surprised to see there when I become old and gray. Ron Hornaday Jr. since he pretty much has been the face of the Truck Series. Mike Stefanik who won championships in stock cars and modifieds in the same season two years in a row. Robert Huffman some may not remember brought Toyota it's initial success in NASCAR in the Dash Series. He's now a crew chief for the Revolution Racing team in the East Series, and if he remains with the team and they achieve continued success for years to come that's one more reason he should be considered. Phillip Morris could also be considered if he continues his championship winning ways in the Whelen All-American Series.
No matter what happens in the future, the NASCAR Hall of Fame looks like an immaculate facility. I plan to visit there sometime in 2011; a little bit after the initial hype similar to my interest in going to Bowman Gray Stadium following the Madhouse TV series.
Over the upcoming weeks there will be a few things to look forward to. The annual day before Memorial Day and perhaps one of the greatest days of the year in auto racing: the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600. Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne appear to be the men to beat in the 600 so I'll have to pick one of them to win again. However, the great part about the 600 is drivers have broken through with their first career win or first win in awhile before. I don't realistically see a first-time winner this year, but there are many drivers that are looking for their first win in quite awhile. Could Jeff Gordon return to the glory he had at Charlotte in the 1990's? The Roush drivers and guys like Burton, Martin and Earnhardt Jr. are looking for their first win of the year. This race is always worth staying up for!
The next race I will be going to is coming up quick. Current plan is to go to Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton, Pennsylvania on Saturday, June 12th for some local racing including a 100 lap Modified race, the first of a seven race 7 card stud poker series where the driver with the best five card poker hand wins a $2,500 cash bonus at the end of the year. A unique idea I must say. I'll be posting a blog update following the race and will post links for some video that I plan to capture again.
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