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Minter: Cool Racing On Tap

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 7 2010
David Ragan is heading out into the cold. (RacinToday file photo by Tony Bush)

David Ragan is heading out into the cold. (RacinToday file photo by Tony Bush)

Some Thursday observations:

When promoters schedule races in early January with names like the “Ice Bowl” and “Ice Cold Shriners Bowl” it’s a pretty safe bet that they’re really hoping for unseasonably warm weather on race weekend.

But two Southern short track promoters are getting just what their race names describe this weekend. The 19th annual Ice Bowl at Talladega Superspeedway and the third annual Ice Cold Shriners Bowl at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton are set to run this weekend in the middle of one of the coldest winters on record.

The answering machine at Talladega urges fans to bundle up, and Lanier promoter Donnie Clack reminds his supporters that he’s running no matter how cold it is.

“That’s why we call it the ‘Ice Cold Shriners Bowl’ instead of the ‘Lukewarm Bowl,’” Clack said.

He said the participation of Cup driver David Ragan has really helped boost the interest in the race, which offers a portion of the proceeds to Ragan’s charity of choice, the Shriners.

There is a new twist to the Sprint Cup championship race this year – the Baby Factor. Jimmie Johnson, who is going for an unprecedented fifth straight title, is also about to become a father. There are some in the sport who believe that a newcomer in the house tends to hamper a driver’s performance on the track. Of course drivers vehemently deny that a newborn affects race results, but it is rare for a new father to dominate the Cup circuit.

The Factor also could come into play in the Ford camp, where Carl Edwards and his wife are expecting.

Larry Frank, who got his only Cup win in the 1962 Southern 500, died this week at his home in Greenville, S.C. Frank’s win was memorable in many ways, including the fact that series officials sent Junior Johnson to Victory Lane even though many at the track thought Frank had won. After the celebration had ended, a scoring review found that Frank indeed was the winner. He got the news while recovering from dehydration and blisters at a Florence, S.C., motel.

Veteran scorer Morris Metcalfe was given credit for coming up with the accurate lap count. Once the scoring was worked out, the top six positions all changed. A few weeks later Metcalfe was promoted by NASCAR.

In publications that came out in the year after Frank’s win, some advertisements that mentioned Frank’s win carried photos that had been altered, with Frank’s narrow face pasted onto Johnson’s bulky body.

Robby Gordon continues rolling along in the Dakar Rally. He followed up a stage win with a fourth-place run in the latest segment. He’s now four minutes and 48 seconds behind the leader, Mark Miller.

“We had an interesting day today,” Gordon said in comments posted on his website. “Since we were the first car on the road due to yesterday’s stage win, we made the trail. Unfortunately, we got stuck once in a ditch as we were making our way, costing us about six minutes. Things were going along good and then we had an overheating issue near the end of the special. Stopping to replace the belt cost us about couple of minutes. Had it not been for these errors, I think that we could have won the special by about four minutes….

“There is still a long way to go both in the Rally and competing for the overall win.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 7 2010
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