Saturday, February 28, 2009

CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki at Indy: Jesseman's Second Straight Week with a Top 5 Finish!

CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki rider Branden Jesseman’s hard work has been paying off big time. Following on the heels of his 5th place finish in Atlanta, Jesseman rode his best race of the season at Indy grabbing an impressive fourth place finish.

In qualifying Heat # 2, Jesseman shot out to a 6th place start and quickly moved his way up to fourth place by the third lap. By the time the checkered flags waved, he finished in a well-deserved 3rd place, earning his spot in the final.

CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods sponsors the "Lucky Dog" Last Chance Qualifier, which is the final opportunity for all remaining Lites riders to make it into the "Big Show.” Number 521, Kyle Gillis and # 96, Tyler Wharton were the last two "Lucky Dog's" Lites riders to qualify for the 20 rider Main Event. 

In the Lites Main Event, Jesseman was in 7th place early and fighting hard to reach the front pack. By the halfway point, his lap times were improving and had moved up one place. By lap 11, he had moved into fifth and was still gaining ground. In the end, the checkered flags saw Jesseman achieve a season best 4th place finish, and a huge jump in the championship points standings to fourth. Great job Branden!

In the Supercross class, CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki rider Tommy Hahn has been working very hard to finish inside the top ten every week. He drew heat #1 for his chance to make it into the Main Event and got off to a great start by shooting out of the gate in third place. Just before the finish line on the first lap, Hahn was slammed into from behind causing the CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki to crash hard. The crash left Hahn in last place and banged up. Never one to say, “quit,” Hahn put his head down and went to work climbing back to 11th. Unfortunately, Hahn ran out of time and missed his qualifying spot by only two places in a great comeback ride.

Next week, the team moves to the Daytona International Speedway in Florida for the most unique event of the Supercross season. This track will push every rider to their limits so make sure to check it out!

Jason Cobb

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Green Blur

Question: What is green and goes 160 MPH in less than the length of a football field?

Answer: The CANIDAE All Natural Pet Food, top fuel, sand drag car driven by some lunatic named Scott Whipple.

I have no idea how Scott got into this unbelievable sport, way back when, but I would imagine it went something like this:

Scott: “Hey Carl, have you ever wondered how fast you can cover 300 feet?”
Carl: “Nope, why do you ask?”
Scott: “Well, I think I can do it in less than 3 seconds.”
Carl: “What! Are you out of your mind? Maybe you if you had an F-16 Tom Cat, doing a flyby. Do you have one?”
Scott: “You know I don’t have one!”
Carl: “Well then, I guess it is not possible then.”
Scott: “Well I think it is.”
Carl: “Have you been hit on the head again? Maybe you could do it if you got back a mile or so in a Corvette and started once you hit 100 MPH?”
Scott: “Nah, I was thinking we would do this from a standing start.”
Carl: “Well, I guess you would need to borrow an NHRA Top Fuel Funny Car from Jim Dunn.”
Scott: “Nah, that would be too easy on pavement. I was thinking of doing it in the dirt.”
Carl: “WHAT!? Now I know you were hit on the head! On dirt? You are outta your mind.”
Scott: “Yeah, you are right, dirt would be too easy, let’s do it in SAND!”
Carl: “Ok buddy, just lie down here on this couch, and put this cold cloth on your forehead and it will all be alright. Now look at this ink spot on this card and tell me what you see?”
Scott: “Stop with all that! I feel fine, now where can I find a motor... a very big motor?”

As I laster learned, Scott built his first sand jeep “Thumper”, a 1974 CJ-5 Jeep with the help of his dad, George “Pops” Whipple, while still in his teens. After being introduced to organized sand drag racing in the late 1980s, Scott fell in love with the sand track and the need for speed. Scott steadily moved up through the various racing classifications – all the time pursuing his dream of one day driving with some of the top fuel racing idols he had always looked up to. That dream came true in 2002, when Scott made his first pass down the track behind the wheel of the Canidae Pet Foods 6000 Horsepower Top Fuel Sand Dragster. The dream that began in his teens became reality when Scott joined many of those racing idols in the top echelon of sand drag racing, competing as one of the world’s top fuel sand.

Over the years, Scott and the CANIDAE Racing Top Fuel Team have set numerous world records for both speed and ET and as defending 2008 NSDA (National Sand Drag Association) season champion continue to be a dominant force on the dirt track today.

Fast-forward to today. Scott is the man to beat on the NSDA circuit and there is a good reason for that... HE IS FAST! Scott invited me and my son to watch the final round of the Winter Nationals in Yuma, AZ this past Sunday to witness this intense sport. If you have ever been to a big time drag race at the local drag strip you know the impressiveness of these cars. Those drivers are constantly trying to figure out how not to spin the tires so they can make it down the track and there the drivers are on a clean, hard, smooth patch of concrete! These sand drag cars have to launch in a fine, soft, loamy substance and somehow find something that resembles traction. As it turns out, they are so good at finding this traction; they pull the front wheels off the ground for almost half the track! Their huge Goodyear tires with paddles bolted on, in what I would assume to be some strategic fashion, throw dirt 200 feet behind the car and 75 feet in the air. It is amazing! But even more amazing is the fact that these lunatics cover the entire 300 foot track in less than 2.40 seconds from a standing start! So the next time you hear the sand drags are coming to town, do yourself a favor, grab your buddies, grab your family, and grab the neighbors and head down to the sand drags. You won’t be disappointed! Oh yeah, tell Scott, that I said “Hi.” He will not be hard to miss; he is the guy driving the green blur.

Jason Cobb

Saturday, February 21, 2009

CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki takes on the Georgia Dome!

The CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki team pulled into Atlanta, GA ready to race for the 2nd round of the “East” series for the Lites riders and the 8th round overall. The last time the Lites guys raced was almost a month ago on January 24th, in Houston, TX. Since that time, the team has lost Hunter Hewitt to a broken femur leaving just Branden Jesseman to battle in the 250cc class and Tommy Hahn to fight for a win in the Supercross (450cc) class.

The #74 Kawasaki of Jesseman jumped out of the gate in the # 4 position when Heat # 2 got underway. As the pack filtered through the first corner, Jesseman was in 5th and working his way forward. As Jesseman went wide in the second corner, the # 309 bike of Spenser Dally went down forcing Jesseman to slam on the brakes and find a way around the downed rider, moving him back in the pack. Branden would recover nicely and work his way up to 7th by the end of the first lap. Branden would eventually finish the race in the 6th position, and advance on to the Lites Main Event.

Tommy Hahn took to the track in the first Supercross heat race of the night. Tommy would get out of the gate with a mid-pack start and finish the first lap in 12th position, well outside a transfer spot for the Main Event. Hahn would work hard and move his Kawasaki into a transfer position when the checkered flags flew, ending up in 8th place.

CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods sponsors the "Lucky Dog" Last Chance Qualifier, which is the final opportunity for all remaining riders to make it into the "Big Show.” # 20, Nico Izzi and # 34 Matt Goerke were the last two "Lucky Dog's" to qualify for the 20 rider Main Event in the Lites class and Charles Summey and Nick Wey would move on in the premier class.

The Atlanta crowd, at 68,933 strong, was ready for the main event and the racing left no one disappointed. When the gate dropped, all 20 riders shot down the long start straightaway and into the first left hand corner. Branden Jesseman was inside the top 10 trough the first section and would finish lap one in 6th. Jesseman would move back one spot to 7th where he would stay for the next 5 laps before making a pass on Will Hahn (brother of team CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki 450 rider Tommy Hahn) for the 6th spot and then up to the 5th position when he got around the stalled bike of Austin Stroupe. With 4 laps to go, Jesseman would pull to the back wheel of Matthew Lemoine in the fourth spot. With a great move, Branden would drive around the outside of Lamoine in a tricky section and take over the 4th spot but only to leave the door open for Blake Wharton as he would cut to the inside of Jesseman leading up to the triple jump sending him back to 5th where he would eventually finish. The excellent finish would move Jesseman up three positions in the championship points stands, into 7th. 

Tommy Hahn lined up for the Supercross Main Event ready to face the demanding Atlanta track and the rest of the stacked field. Hahn would get off the start line mid-pack but quickly find himself at the back of the pack after the first corner chaos. Tommy would put on a strong charge moving up as high as 14th but the night was not his and he would have to settle for a 16th place finish. 

Check back for the next report as the series moves into the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy!

Jason Cobb

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Toliver, Canidae Racing Team Ready for the Dry Heat of Phoenix

After a challenging, rainy weekend of drag racing at NHRA's season-opening Winternationals at Pomona (Calif.) two weeks ago, most teams should be ready for the desert sun at this weekend's 25th annual Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway. Jerry Toliver in the Canidae/Lucas Oil Chevy Funny Car is certainly among those just wanting to make laps in his new ride. 

Toliver qualified 16th in the one and only qualifying session that set the field at Pomona and faced No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight in Sunday's first round. After more than four hours of rain delay and cooling temperatures, Toliver and Hight finally faced off with Hight getting the win light with an elapsed time of 4.159 seconds at 302.62 mph as Toliver's car lost traction and slowed to an 8.122 e.t. at 87.22 mph.

"We're very happy we qualified (at Pomona)," Toliver said. "You have to understand, (Sunday of eliminations) was only my second lap in the Canidae car. I've got a lot of things, personally as a driver, that I have to get comfortable with. You bond with a car and you know where everything is, and I'm still searching for stuff and trying to get comfortable, but that just comes with laps and we need some more laps. We're not frustrated by any means."

NHRA officials were able to complete only one round of eliminations on Sunday at Pomona before rain again interrupted action on the track. Ron Capps was eventually crowned the Winternationals Funny Car champ as he bested Jim Head when eliminations were finally completed on Tuesday.

Reinforcing the difficult conditions at Pomona was last year's primary championship contender and second-place finisher in points, Tim Wilkerson, failing to qualify for this year's season opener.

"It's going to be a tough class this year," Toliver said. "There are a lot of good cars out there. I've always said you've got to be in to win. Just qualifying is a feat in itself."

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, Feb. 22, beginning at 12:00 midnight (ET). Coverage on ESPN2 continues on Sunday, Feb. 22, when NHRA Race Day will kick off eliminator coverage starting at 12:30 p.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).

Kirk Weeks

Saturday, February 14, 2009

CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki Visits the Home of the Chargers!

It was a tough night for the CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki team at round 7 of the 2009 Supercross Series in Qualcomm Stadium. Kyle Cunningham #36 approached the gate with confidence in Heat 1 for his first attempt at making the Main Event. When the gate fell, Cunningham shot out quick fighting for a top 5 start but had to react quickly as two riders collided in front of him forcing Kyle to slam on the brakes, pushing him to the back of the pack. Cunningham made a great recovery as he darted to the inside in corner one. When Cunningham flew over the finish line on lap one he was 14th, just four positions away from qualifying for the Main, with only six laps to get there. Kyle went to work and by lap four, he was in 9th position and closing in on #144, Alex Martin. Kyle set up perfectly to make the pass in a tight, right hand corner and stormed underneath Martin to take the position. Martin had no idea Cunningham was there, and he turned down into the #36 Kawasaki of Cunningham, causing both riders to crash. Kyle remounted his bike in 14th with no time left to qualify for the Main Event. He would have to go on to the CANIDAE “Lucky Dog” Last Chance Qualifier.

Heat #2 featured CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki rider P.J. Larsen riding his #87 Kawasaki. When the gate dropped Larsen positioned himself mid-pack in 12th by the end of the first lap and started steadily moving forward. By lap five, Larsen was one spot out of a transfer position in 10th and time was running out. Larsen had reeled in the #186 bike of Derek Costella but did not have time to make the much-needed pass before the checkered flags fell with Larsen in 10th. Larson would enter the “Lucky Dog” L.C.Q. for his final attempt of making it in to the big show.

In the premier class, team CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki rider Tommy Hahn launched out of the gate in heat #1 and rounded the first corner in 3rd position. After a slight bobble in corner three, Tommy settled in and finished lap 1 of the eight-lap race in 5th position. Hahn rode conservatively on the extremely difficult track and easily transferred into the main finishing the heat in 7th position.

CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods sponsors the “Lucky Dog” L.C.Q. that featured team riders, Cunningham and Larsen in this short, 4 lap Lites race. When the gate dropped, the teammates shot out side by side with Cunningham on the inside as the pack funneled down into the tight left hand corner. Ronnie Goodwin on his #711 bike was on the inside of Cunningham and quickly running out of racetrack as he moved up into the #36 of Cunningham, forcing Cunningham into the wheels of his teammate, Larsen. When the bikes collided, Kyle’s bike turned sideways and slammed Cunningham to the ground in a violent crash. P.J. was able to remain upright during the collision; however, the night was over for Cunningham as the Asterisk’s Medical Crew carried Kyle off the track ending his night.
P.J. sustained his position in the lead pack but was still three spots out of a transfer position in 5th with 3 laps to go. Larsen moved up to 3rd by the last lap but a huge gap remained between him and the second place rider. Larsen put on an amazing charge as he pulled up to the rear wheel of the 2nd place rider, Michael Sleeter, as the pair approached the “Dragon’s Back”. Larsen held it wide open as he pulled along side of Sleeter and into the corner. Sleeter knew that Larsen had the momentum to take the final transfer position so he put a block pass on Larsen sending the young CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki rider into the blocks ending his night. 

The 450 Main Event was in the gate and Tommy Hahn accomplished another great start as the pack stormed down the track toward the tricky first corner. Hahn was forced wide and fell back a few positions, but he managed to stay inside the top 10. As the 20 lap Main Event continued, Hahn struggled with the track and by lap fifteen he found himself in 15th. Hahn was determined to improve his position and was rewarded with a 12th place finish, which was a nice recovery for the rider from Texas.

The CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki team now heads to Atlanta, GA for the 8th round of the series and the second stop on the tour for the Lites East Coast riders. It will be exciting, so check it out!

Jason Cobb

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Anaheim 3 - CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki Welcomes Back Tommy Hahn in the Rain!

When Albert Hammond wrote the song with the lyrics “It never rains in California,” he obviously was not talking about Anaheim 3, 2009. The rains poured down consistently for 3 days and paused almost long enough to complete round 6 of the 2009 Supercross Season under a dry sky. The track crew did an outstanding job of providing a track that was in pretty good shape considering what they had to work with, although the track was one lined and extremely rutted and difficult.

First up was the Supercross Lites, Heat 1 featuring CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki riders Kyle Cunningham and P.J. Larsen. #36 Kyle Cunningham finished with a strong ride taking the 5th position while # 87 P.J. Larsen ran as high as 4th in the heat race and finished soundly in the 6th position, easily securing a spot in the main event.

Next up for CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki was the season debut for #48, Tommy Hahn in the Supercross class. Hahn who has been healing from a broken hand suffered in testing a week before the series opener was looking great in practice setting the fastest lap time in his session. Tommy would carry that over to his heat race where he would finish in 3rd place after passing Heath Voss and Tim “Red Dog” Ferry on the last lap. A great ride for his first race back.

CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods sponsors the “Lucky Dog” Last Chance Qualifier, which is the last chance for the remaining 250 and 450 riders to make it into the main event. In the “Lites” class, it was Jake Moss and Eric McCrummen getting in and Andrew Short and Paul Carpenter in the premier class.

The “Lites” Main Event was going to be a knock down, drag out on the season’s toughest track where only the strong would survive. CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki riders Cunningham and Larsen would exit turn one in 6th and 10th respectively and clear of the mayhem as they settled into a comfortable pace. On lap 3 while still running in 6th place, Cunningham would crash hard on a tricky section as he was passing for a position. The set back would cost Kyle 10 positions as he righted in 16th. P.J., who had moved up to 7th on lap 2 would take over 6th place on lap three and hold it until he crashed on the section known as “The Dragon’s Back.” The crash was a bad one but certainly could have been much worse as Larsen hurried to remount in 13th place. Cunningham’s charge to the front was derailed on lap 7 as the charging rider who had worked his way up to 14th before he found himself on the ground again relegating him back to 17th. Kyle would charge back from 17th to finish in a respectable 11th place and end the night in the 15th spot in the season long points battle. Larsen would work his way all the way up to 8th as the checkered flags flew keeping him in eighth in the points chase and the top rookie.

As the 450’s rolled into the starting gate, the rumor was that the rain was only minutes away. As the 20 riders shot out of the gate, it was obvious that chaos was upon us. The riders slipped and slid as they all fought for traction. Several riders would go down, unfortunately collecting the #48 of Tommy Hahn with them. Tommy would pick himself up in last place several second behind the next rider. As Hahn got underway, it was apparent that he was on a mission to catch back up to the pack. Hahn would do just that as he finished lap 1 in 19th, lap 2 in 18th and lap 3 he jumped all the way into 16th. This was amazing considering the carnage and the severe track conditions. On lap 4, Hahn had moved into the 14th position behind Tim Ferry before going down hard in an attempt to get around the veteran as the rain began to fall. The crash would end Tommy’s night but it was still a great sign of what is to come for the young CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki rider.

Next week we move onto San Diego and hopefully drier conditions. We look forward to seeing all of you there.

Jason Cobb

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Power of Consumption

I went to the store last Monday to purchase a new cordless drill. As I sat there contemplating the choices, I realized how similar they all were in performance and price. All would meet or exceed my needs and all that was left was to select the one that looked the coolest in my hand. All of a sudden, Ricky Carmichael raced through my head followed by Mike Alessi, Chad Reed, Nico Izzi and Ryan Dungy. What the heck!!!!! It hit me like a ton of bricks; Makita sponsors a Supercross/Motocross team! I picked up the Makita, walked to the cashier, laid down my cash, and happily purchased a new drill. As I walked to my truck, I was proud as a peacock and feeling like I had really given back to the sport. Although, I am not a huge fan of Suzuki (the team that Makita sponsors), it strangely felt great to purchase this drill.

Why did I feel this way? Was I doing something great? No. Would the people at Makita have any idea that some dude in Phoenix, AZ bought their product because he supported the sport he loved? No. It felt good because I am part of a family.

How many times have you been walking through a busy store in your favorite MX shirt and made eye contact with some other guy in his favorite MX shirt? The look is priceless. It is not the look two guys give each other when they sympathize with each other for having to endure hours of mindless shopping with their wives or girlfriends. It is a precise and enthusiastic look that says, “Dude! I too know the magical feeling of racing through the dirt and soaring through the air.”

My point is this. Be proud of who you are and what makes you part of our family. Fly your colors proudly. When I look around my shop at home, I know exactly why I have a shelf full of Amsoil that I bought for my truck because it makes Kevin Windham smooth as silk. Next to that shelf is the bag of CANIDAE All Natural Dog Food (chicken and rice, dry) because Tommy Hahn’s dog eats it (and Tommy Hahn is fast) so maybe it will work for me. Eat up my best friends! Hanging on the wall as if a prized trophy is my One Industries “Trooper” Next to my helmet are my Scott Goggles just like Kyle Cunningham wears. As I walked into the kitchen, I noticed that I still needed to put away the case of Monster Energy Drink that apparently fuels Team Green to victory after victory and in the laundry room is Surf Detergent because they used to sponsor a MX team back in the early 90’s. I am loyal to the core.

So when you buy, think about who supports you and your family and who does not. Not only will it make our sport better, it just might make you faster. See you out there!

Jason Cobb