Saturday, December 12, 2009

NASCAR musings in the offseason

Although the NASCAR season has been over for a few weeks now, I do have some ideas on how NASCAR can be improved.

  1. Get rid of Brian France. Enough said. Unfortunately, that won't happen.
  2. Don't sissify the drivers by emasculating them. Let them be men. If Hamlin and Keselowski (or Harvick and ______) want to fight, let them fight without repercussions. Let them settle their differences under the grandstands, and if they want to have a beer afterwards, they should.
  3. Lose the Chase. The Chase has jumped the shark.
  4. Lose each of the following races: Pocono, Michigan, California, and Loudon. Each of these tracks should have ONLY one race per season.
  5. Reduce the schedule to 30 races or so. This will allow more free time for NASCAR personnel to be with their families, and to recharge their batteries. No races on Easter and Mother's Day weekends. (Remember the Darlington race that was rained out and was subsequently ran on Mother's Day a few years ago?)
  6. Montreal should be a prime candidate for an additional road course race. That is a SWEET track! (Ask Carl Edwards; he'll tell you.) Lacking that, Sonoma should get a second race, preferably in late September or early October, putting it squarely in the Chase (since the Chase won't be eliminated).
  7. Place more emphasis on wins. Give the winner of a race an additional 50 bonus points.

These are but a few ideas I have. Your suggestions are very much welcomed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly--Ford 400

For the final time this season, the Crappafoni Pictures crew brings you The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, south Florida style, served up with a Cuban sandwich and paella. Enjoy!


Jimmie Johnson: rarely do I put a non-winner in this spot, but as the first four-time champion, he belongs there. He IS the definition of a dynasty. Considering he's in his early 30's, he could very well end up rewriting the NASCAR record books in terms of number of championships. Had he won the race today, it would have been his 48th career win.

Denny Hamlin: not a bad way to end the season for The Hamster. He took the checkered flag and gained momentum for next season. To start the race 32nd and win is a testament to his crew. They did a fantastic job. He'll be a force next season.

Jeff Burton: although he was faster than Hamlin the last 20 laps or so, he didn't have enough to catch his fellow Virginian.

Kevin Harvick: he unloaded a stout car, was quick in qualifying, practice, and the race itself. He led a total of 56 laps en route to a third place finish, nipping Kurt Busch at the finish line.

Kurt Busch: he was strong, and considering this was his last race with Pat Tryson as his crew chief, the Brew Crew dug hard and showed their mettle. Good job Kurt and crew!

Martin Truex, Jr.: this was his last race in the #1 car and he made it a very solid one. This team has struggled pretty much the whole season, and the ninth place finish erased some of the disappointment. Plus, he ran the fastest lap of the entire race.

Honorable Mention: Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, AJ Allmendinger.


ABC: BAD coverage as usual. Where was the coverage of the exciting duel between Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick to finish third? I'm thankful that ABC's not covering the Daytona 500 next year.

Juan Pablo Montoya: it's been a long time since I put him here, but I must. He rammed Tony Stewart in the rear after Stewart slid in front of him. Stewart didn't like that, so he retaliated in kind by making contact with Montoya, cutting his tire in the process and causing him to wreck. Later, Montoya punted Stewart, drawing a black flag from NASCAR and serving a two-lap penalty.

Erik Darnell: he caused a multi-car pileup ON A CAUTION. He was in front of a line of cars when he apparently realized he was about to miss his pit. He slammed on the brakes, causing a multi-car pileup on pit road. Elliott Sadler was one of the victims of Darnell's idiocy, suffering severe front end damage and knocking him out of the race. (And yes, Paul Menard was also in the middle of it!)


Marcos Ambrose: he had issues early in the race. First it was a cut tire that caused him to go a lap down, then he had to go behind the wall for an engine issue. He returned to the track, finishing 16 laps down. Two sub-Goods: first for leading four laps early in the race, then gaining eight spots through attrition.

Those are my final nominees of the season. Feel free to come in with yours!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gas and Go--Homestead

Like NASCAR, the season's final Gas and Go boils down to Homestead, just outside Miami. This is the final pit stop of the season for this writer, who will take a much-needed break after the final Good, Bad, and Ugly of the season. As always, I will offer my insights and takes leading into the race.

  1. Jimmie Johnson enters Homestead with a 108-point lead over Mark Martin. With a 25th place finish or better, Johnson enters the history books as the first-ever driver to win four consecutive championships in any NASCAR touring series.
  2. Johnson has had mixed results at Homestead. In his first race at Homestead in 2001, Johnson finished 26th, the last driver on the lead lap. He does have one pole, in 2007, and has five top 10's, including a best finish of second in 2004. He finished 15th last year en route to joining Cale Yarborough in the record books.
  3. Look for the Roushkateers to run strong, as Roush drivers have won the last five times at Homestead. (Greg Biffle from 2004 to 2006, Matt Kenseth in 2007, and Carl Edwards last year. Kurt Busch won in 2002 while driving for Jack Roush.)
  4. With this being the last race of the season, look for perhaps the most exciting racing of the season, unless it becomes the Jimmie and Chad Show again. The teams from second back, and particularly those teams that have long winless streaks, will be ultra-desperate for a win.
  5. It's become official: Jamie McMurray will be driving the #1 Chevrolet for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and become a teammate of Juan Pablo Montoya. Welcome to the Bowtie Brigade, Cupcake! (Psst, between you and me, I wanted him and not Casey Mears in the #07.)
  6. Formula One star Juan Pablo Montoya made his Sprint Cup debut driving the #30 Dodge for Chip Ganassi at this race in 2006. He was running very well until a crash on Lap 251 ended his day. He finished 34th.
  7. Speaking of Montoya, the progress he has made from his debut to the present is nothing short of amazing. He is this generation's Mario Andretti: he's won in Indy cars, he's won in Formula One, and he won at Infineon in 2007. His first NASCAR oval win is coming sooner rather than later. He struggled at the mid-point of the Chase, and Johnson took advantage of that. He'll learn and be a factor in future years.
  8. Can Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin just meet up in an Octagon and settle their feud MMA-style? You can have nicknames for them: Keselowski is the Polish Pummeler and Hamlin is the Mouth of the South because of his propensity for yapping. (I can see the caricatures: BK has enormously large fists in proportion to the rest of himself and Hamlin has a gigantic mouth with a silly-&$$Ed grin in relation to his face.)

Predicted Race Winner: Kevin Harvick. Although he has never won at Homestead, he has several top 10's and has always raced well there. RCR as a whole has made tremendous strides since the Chase started. He brings home RCR's lone win this year.

Information cited is from

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly--Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the desert southwest for this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. This is the penultimate race of the season for NASCAR and the Crappafoni Pictures crew. The crew brings you in hi-def its nominees for the race, dodging rattlesnakes in the process.


Jimmie Johnson: he gets first billing as the race winner. He led the most laps en route to the dominating win. In fact, he was so dominant that there were only two other leaders, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth. Now all he has to do is finish 25th or better at Homestead to win his fourth consecutive Chase title. (IMO, the Chase has cheapened the season championship.)

Jeff Burton: although he didn't lead a lap, he got better as the race went on. Finishing runner up to Johnson was about the best Burton could hope for, as Johnson was so dominant.

Denny Hamlin: he started fifth and hung out in the top 10 pretty much the whole race. Like Burton, he got better as the race wore on.

Marcos Ambrose: he started 21st and got better as the race wore on. He was good enough to edge teammate David Reutimann for a top 10 finish. Oy, Marcos!!

Mark Martin: he started 10th and gradually worked his way into the top 5. But he wasn't quite good enough to challenge his teammate Johnson.

Honorable Mention: the remaining drivers that finished on the lead lap. They had to be good to avoid going a lap down.


Kevin Harvick: what happened? The #29 crew TOTALLY missed on the setup and no matter how much they adjusted, they fell further back. This comes on the heels of Harvick winning the Trucks race and finishing second in the Nationwide race. He started 31st and pretty much stayed outside the top 20 the whole race. Harvick himself said the car was garbage. And based on his finish, I agree.

ABC: if they were an old dog, they'd be taken out back and shot. Their coverage is BRUTAL. Thankfully, there's only one more race this season before the Jimmie Lovefest ends.


Dale Earnhardt Jr.: he got loose and caused a mini-Big One on Lap 169, right after a restart. A total of 10 cars were involved. Jr suffered significant damage, but was able to come back out on the track. He finished 56 laps down in 35th.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Dickies 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is deep in the heart of Texas for this week's serving of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served up BBQ-style with grilled corn and all the fixin's. Enjoy!


Kurt Busch: he gets first billing as the race winner. Between him and his brother Kyle, they led most of the laps in the race. He was able to save fuel due to a great pit stop on Lap 267. Kudos go out to the Blue Crew for consistent pit stops.

Kyle Busch: he led the most laps in the race and had the best car, but fuel mileage bit him in the rear. He was trying to win the Texas Trifecta but came up short, finishing in 11th.

Denny Hamlin: was that the quietest second place finish I've seen in a long time? I think it was, because he was in downtown Dallas (or so it seemed) when Kurt Busch crossed the finish line. Although he gained two positions in the points, it's too little too late.

Matt Kenseth: he had a strong car all race long, and was in the top 10 for most of the race. He may have made the move of the race when he recognized he would be short on his original estimate and pitted with 20 laps to go. That move gave him a third place finish.

Mark Martin: he hung out in the top 10 for the whole race. He was able to stretch his fuel mileage to a fourth place finish and gain HUGE ground on teammate and points leader Jimmie Johnson. Martin took full advantage of the opening left by Johnson.

Kevin Harvick: although he never led a lap, he kept moving up slowly at the drop of the green flag. The #29 kept gaining spots with each pit stop. He ran out of fuel at the end, but had enough to finish fifth.

Honorable Mention: Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, AJ Allmendinger.


Start and Parkers: you people know who you are. You're a blight on the NASCAR landscape. Perhaps NASCAR should consider reducing the field from 43 to 38 or even 36 cars. But even then, you may get one that qualifies well, then parks after 10 laps. The record to my knowledge is held by P.J. Jones, who parked after TWO laps at Sonoma. I'm waiting for the day when someone parks just before taking the green flag.

ABC's coverage: it was downright HORRID. That's all I'll say about it. I lay the blame on the director or directors for the putrid coverage.


Jimmie Johnson: he was involved in a three-car accident with Sam Hornish Jr and David Reutimann on Lap 3. Reutimann made incidental contact with Hornish, who then made contact with Johnson. Johnson nearly saved it, then cut across the track and made contact with Hornish. Needless to say, the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet suffered heavy damage. Johnson took a major hit in the points, losing over 100 points to Mark Martin.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Amp Energy 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is deep in the Heart of Dixie, Talladega, Alabama, for this week's serving of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Served piping hot with BBQ beef and grilled corn, washed down with Southern-style sweet tea. Enjoy!


Jamie McMurray: he gets first billing as the race winner. His car got better as the race went on. For McMurray, it was his first win since Daytona in July, 2007. A huge shout out goes to the Irwin Tools crew for putting him in a position to succeed and get the win.

Kasey Kahne: although he only led one lap, he put himself in a position to win with sound race and pit strategy, and very nearly stole a win.

Joey Logano: he escaped the big Ryan Newman wreck; that alone moved him up several positions. Like Kahne, he only led one lap en route to his best superspeedway finish.

Kevin Harvick: although he started in the middle of the pack due to qualifying being rained out, he had a car that was able to move to the front quickly. He led the second-most laps (28 to McMurray's 31) but was in the wrong place at the wrong time late in the race.

Robert Richardson Jr.: I've got to put him here for a solid top 20 finish driving for a start and park team. He kept his nose clean and stayed out of trouble en route to a 17th place finish.

Elliott Sadler: he led 11 laps en route to a seventh place finish driving a Ford with its new engine. He had a stout car throughout the race. Good job ESad!

Honorable Mention: Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Michael Waltrip, Jimmie Johnson.


Jimmie Johnson: it's rare that I put a driver in both the H.M. Good and the Bad categories. But today I must. It looked like something was off, as he was hanging with the start and parkers. He was bad until the last 10 laps, then he was supremely good.

Dave Blaney: the start and parker took his #66 car to the garage after 12 laps.

Sam Hornish Jr.: he had issues with his car and only ran 44 laps before the engine gave up the ghost.


Ryan Newman: or more specifically, the five-car accident that he was a part of late in the race. When he and Kevin Harvick made contact, it sent Newman's #39 car into a somersault, eventually landing on Harvick's hood and windshield, cracking the windshield. The car ended up upside down on its roof for several agonizing minutes. Thankfully he was able to walk away with nothing more than general soreness.

The Big One, Part 2: This one happened shortly after Jamie McMurray took the white flag. Brad Keselowski was attempting to move to the inside lane and made contact with Mark Martin, and all hell broke loose from there. Jimmie Johnson narrowly escaped. Had he not passed Scott Speed a half lap earlier, Johnson would have been IN the Big One. Martin ended up flipping over a few times before landing right side up.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Gas and Go--Talladega (Chase Race 2009)

This week's Gas and Go comes from Big Bad Talladega. I will give you some insights and takes on this race and how it affects championship hopes.

  1. This race is the wild card in the Chase. One slip-up by Jimmie Johnson (him getting involved in the Big One) could dramatically alter the landscape of the championship.
  2. A driver could be leading the race with one to go, get freight-trained, and end up finishing in the 30's. Yes, it's possible to go from first to 30th in one lap.
  3. Unlike most races, Talladega has qualifying on Saturday.
  4. Last year's race involved the bonehead move of the year: Carl Edwards bump drafting Greg Biffle in the corner and causing the Big One that effectively ended half of the Chase field's hopes of winning the championship. Somehow, Jimmie Johnson escaped despite being in the middle of the melee. Kevin Harvick took exception to Edwards' move, calling him out for it on national TV. That led to a scuffle a few days later between Edwards and Harvick in Harvick's Nationwide Series garage.
  5. Tony Stewart won last year's race when it was determined that Regan Smith improved his position when he went below the double yellow line just before taking the checkered flag. Just before the checkered flag, Stewart went to block Smith, who went below the double yellow. The lack of experience of Paul Menard and Aric Almirola prevented either one of them from taking the checkered flag. Had they worked together, Menard would have won the race.
  6. Last year's race set a NASCAR record with 28 different leaders.
  7. Formula One star Juan Pablo Montoya made his NASCAR debut at Talladega in 2006, testing for Felix Sabates in an ARCA car one week before the ARCA race at Talladega.
  8. Thinking of you: The Alabama Gang.
  9. Look for the usual suspects to run well: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin. My dark horse: Casey Mears.

Predicted Race Winner: Juan Pablo Montoya. Three years after his first test in a NASCAR stock car, he drives the #42 Target Chevrolet into Victory Lane and wins over the old-school Alabama fans.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Are the Carolina Panthers stuck on "suck" this year?

From the performance against the woeful Buffalo Bills, they certainly are! The Panthers dominated in every facet but the scoreboard. They outgained the Bills 425-167 in total yards, held a 2 to 1 advantage in time of possession, but FOUR turnovers killed them. I can give several reasons why the Panthers are stuck on suck.

  1. Turnovers. Jake Delhomme threw three more costly interceptions, two of which led to the Bills' touchdowns. When is this guy going to get benched? It's a race between him and JaMarcus Russell to see who's going to set the NFL record for most interceptions in a season, as both QBs are on that kind of pace.
  2. Coaching. Mistakes, both mental and physical, are a reflection on the coaching staff's performance in the week leading up to the game. A well-prepared team makes FEW mistakes, and when they do, they correct them in practice the next week, or even later in that same game, and they have the team that can overcome them. The Panthers are STILL committing the same mistakes that should have been remedied by the end of TRAINING CAMP. Jumping offsides, forgetting the snap count, blowing coverages, etc. Perhaps the players have tuned out John Fox. Perhaps it's time for some new blood. Bill Cowher, are you listening?
  3. Injuries. That part, even the best teams have to deal with. Injuries are a part of the game, and losing your best run stuffer, Maake Kemoeatu, in the first minute of training camp put the Panthers behind the 8 ball. But the good teams overcome those injuries. The good teams have minimal injuries. Remember the Patriots of 2007? They had very few injuries for the whole season. The Patriots very nearly overcame Tom Brady's devastating injury and made the playoffs last year.
  4. Confidence. Or a lack thereof. Good teams KNOW they can win every time they step out on the field. Do they? A vast majority of the time. Consequently, bad teams know they can lose, and very often do.
  5. Personnel. The Panthers have two beasts at RB in Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Why NOT average 40 rush attempts a game between the two? With 40 attempts at a 4.5 ypc average, the Panthers should average 180 rushing ypg. Build up depth in the offensive line. Don't rely on Delhomme to win the game, for crying out loud! Bench Delhomme. Put Matt Moore in there and see what he can do. AJ Feeley is NOT your long-term starter.

Now what should the Panthers do the rest of the season? I have some ideas.

  1. Bench Delhomme for the rest of the season. Park his ass on that pine and tell him to get comfortable there, because that's where he'll be. Put Matt Moore in as starter.
  2. Use Williams and Stewart more often, with a little bit of Mike Goodson thrown in.
  3. Develop a #2 receiver to complement Steve Smith and eventually succeed Muhsin Muhammad.
  4. Get healthy. The bye in Week 3 couldn't have come at a better time for the Panthers, as they had a long list of injuries. Last season, the Panthers were relatively healthy en route to winning the NFC South, although near the end of the season, the D-line was banged up significantly. This season, there is no continuity due to the injuries. Captain Munnerlyn got injured in the game against Buffalo.
  5. Establish an identity that we're going out there to kick your ass up and down that field, and that you're going to be in for a LONG day. Maybe they don't make the playoffs, but they can build for next year.

Now I'm done with my little rant.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly--Tums 500

After a one-week hiatus, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the hills of Virginia to bring you this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served with Martinsville Hot Dogs and plenty of Coke to wash it down. Enjoy!


Denny Hamlin: he gets first billing this week as the race winner. He proved to be best on restarts and drove away from Jimmie Johnson on restarts. He also got the five bonus points for leading the most laps in the race. A very popular and very good win in his home state.

Hendrick Motorsports: led by Johnson's runner-up finish, they also placed Jeff Gordon (5th) and Mark Martin (8th) in the top 10. Unfortunately, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had tire issues and finished 29th, two laps down. But prior to the tire issues, Jr was stout and running in the top 10. It appears that the Cup trophy will stay in-house with Johnson. Even with a runner-up finish, Johnson increases his points lead.

Juan Pablo Montoya: he was stout, and led laps, but due to his finishing behind Johnson, he lost ground. While he had an excellent car, he couldn't quite get up to the front when it counted. Still, his fifth top-5 of the Chase bodes well for him, with Big Bad Talladega coming up, and 'Dega being one of his best tracks.

Kyle Busch: it's been awhile since we've seen you here. Welcome back. He led laps for the first time in the last seven races. Very un-Kyle like. Perhaps it's an indicator that your season is turning around and that you'll be a threat next season.

Jamie McMurray: it's been eons since we've seen you here, Cupcake. Glad you made it here. While he didn't have a particularly strong qualifying session, props go out to the crew for making the #26 stronger as the race went on and putting him in a position to finish just outside the top 5.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Brian Vickers, and Joey Logano.


David Stremme: I'm going to have to call him out for causing the wreck that collected Sam Hornish Jr., and being a nuisance and a PITA. Once again, he was driving with his head up his arse, just like at Watkins Glen when he took out two top 10 cars in one wreck. Just four races left before he's no longer in Cup, and BK is in that rig. I'm counting the days.


Dale Earnhardt Jr.: tire issues on two separate occasions kept Jr from a top 10 finish. He had a top 10 caliber car if not for the tire issues.

Kasey Kahne: he was the cause of two cautions. I could put him in the Bad, but chose to put him in this category.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to chime in with yours.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gas and Go--Martinsville (Chase Race 2009)

This week's Gas and Go comes from the Big Paper Clip known as Martinsville.

  1. This week's race begins the homestretch of the Chase, and the season. The end is in sight.
  2. Until yesterday, qualifying had been rained out in the last two visits to the track.
  3. Kurt Busch came from the farthest back in the field (36th) to win in October, 2002.
  4. Jimmie Johnson has won five of the last six races at Martinsville, an unprecedented domination over a three-year period. (It's hard enough to win ONE race, let alone 5 of 6 over a 3-year period at the same track.) Simply put, he's made this track his b****. It doesn't matter whether he starts from the pole or way back in the field, the #48 has what it takes to win.
  5. The only other driver that even approaches Johnson is his teammate and mentor, Jeff Gordon. Gordon has seven career wins at Martinsville, the first coming on 9/22/96, at the Hanes 500. Gordon started from the 10th position en route to the win.
  6. Johnson's first win at Martinsville came in October 2004, at the Subway 500.
  7. Thinking of you: Cale Yarborough (Four wins in a five-race span from 1976-78).
  8. Look for the usual suspects to run well: Johnson, Gordon, Mark Martin, JPM, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, with a dark horse in David Reutimann.

Predicted Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson. JJ continues his mastery at Martinsville and all but clinches his fourth consecutive championship.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gas and Go--Charlotte (Chase Race 2009)

This week's Gas and Go is basically a home game for the circuit. I will give short insights and takes and give you my predicted winner.

  1. After this race, the Chase is halfway over. Any driver within 100 points of the leader after the race has an outside chance to win it all.
  2. Currently, there are only three drivers within 100 points of leader Jimmie Johnson: Mark Martin (-12), Juan Pablo Montoya (-58), and Tony Stewart (-84). The next closest driver is Jeff Gordon, 105 points behind Johnson.
  3. It's extremely important for Montoya and Stewart to start racking up wins and cutting into Johnson's lead. That is the only way either driver will cut into Johnson's lead.
  4. The #48 team is as close to perfect as possible. They are the 1970's Pittsburgh Steelers of NASCAR. The only other team that has come close is Montoya's team.
  5. Look for Montoya to get his first couple of wins on an oval and cut into Johnson's lead going into Homestead.
  6. Everyone wants to win this race. Look for the usual suspects to run strong: Johnson, Montoya, Stewart, Martin, Gordon, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin. My dark horse to run well: Jeff Burton. He won this race last year, the last RCR driver to win a race, and he typically runs well at Lowe's.
  7. Thinking of you: Big Bill France and the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class. Congratulations to Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, and Junior Johnson on being the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class. All excellent choices.
  8. Too bad the Carolina Panthers are playing at Tampa Bay on Sunday--it would be an AWESOME weekend for a fan of NASCAR and the Panthers had the Panthers been at home.

Predicted Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson. As the driver of the Lowe's Chevrolet, this is his house. Johnson wins and leads the most laps and extends his lead, and there is a flip flop in the second and third positions. JPM moves into second with a stout second place finish and Mark Martin finishes just outside the top 10.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Pepsi 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in SoCal for this week's version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served up with sushi and fish tacos, SoCal-style. Enjoy!


Jimmie Johnson: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He led the most laps en route to the win. He now has the points lead going into Charlotte next Saturday night. While any win is good, it was particuarly sweet at his home track in front of his home fans. He is the man to beat, in more ways than one. He's like Tiger Woods, you're going to have to put forth a superhuman effort to beat him, and you only end up beating yourself.

Jeff Gordon: the Vallejo, CA native looked like he had enough late in the race to win. If not for the late rash of cautions and a red flag, he might have.

Juan Pablo Montoya: he remains the only driver in the Chase to finish in the top 5 of every race, finishing third. Now if he can only get into Victory Lane, he would have a chance, considering how well JJ is running. He stays within striking distance of JJ, with two of his very best tracks (Talladega and Martinsville) coming up.

Mark Martin: he hung out in the top 5 much of the day, and he was at the point for several laps. While his car was stout, he didn't quite have enough for JJ.

Tony Stewart: Smoke went a lap down when he was caught speeding off pit road during a round of green flag pit stops. Then when a caution came out, he stayed out while the rest of the leaders pitted, gambling on a quick caution. He won the gamble when Denny Hamlin made contact with Montoya and brought out that quick caution. He even led late in the race after making up that lap.

David Ragan: he was a classic case of Tortoise vs. Hare, in which he played the role of the Tortoise. He started 31st and through a series of adjustments, some crashes by others in the field, and very quick pit stops, he steadily moved up the leaderboard. He was the beneficiary of the Big One, SoCal-style; he moved up several positions, eventually finishing 7th. Good job, David!

David Gilliland: I HAVE to mention him here. After parking the #71 due to lack of funding, he stepped in for an ailing Kyle Busch and piloted the #18 as admirably as he could, considering he had ZERO practice in the car.

Honorable Mention: Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, and Casey Mears.


Brian Vickers: this is the second straight race that he has struggled. You can safely say he's done. Stick a fork in him.


The Big One: this doozy of a crash took out all four of Richard Petty Motorsports' cars: Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, AJ Allmendinger, and Reed Sorenson, along with several others, most notably Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kevin Harvick NARROWLY escaped The Big One by INCHES.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Kansas

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the nation's heartland, Kansas, for this week's serving of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, BBQ-style. It's been said that Kansas has the nation's best BBQ, so we're serving it with all the fixin's. Enjoy!


Tony Stewart: as the race winner, he gets first billing this week. He used a two-tire stop on his last pit stop to get him out in front and he made it stand. The #14 got stronger as the race went on, and through good pit stops, the crew put Smoke in position to win. Good job Tony!

Jeff Gordon: although he never led a lap, he was strong all day and was gaining on Stewart but ran out of laps.

Greg Biffle: not bad considering he started 31st. He led the most laps in the race, and that was huge. Great run for the Biff, plus he gained a position in the points.

Juan Pablo Montoya: like Gordon, he never led a lap, but hung out in the top 10 pretty much the whole race. The fourth-place finish was huge for the #42, as he gained ground on both Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson. He was stout on the restarts and at the beginning of runs.

Denny Hamlin: he bounced back from a pedestrian run at Dover for a solid fifth place finish. It may have been the quietest fifth place finish ever, as he wasn't mentioned much.

Honorable Mention: Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, David Reutimann, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards.


Brian Vickers: he battled an ill-handling race car to start, even BEING the caution at one point. A blown engine then put him out of his misery at Lap 208. He lost two positions in the Chase and is over 200 points in arrears. His Chase chances are done. Stick a fork in him. He can use this as a learning tool for future Chases.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: for awhile, he had one of the best cars. Then after a pit stop, he was caught speeding on pit road and had to serve a pass through penalty that put him a lap down and he never really recovered. His day ended at Lap 262 when he blew an engine.


Brian Vickers: see above.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gas and Go--Kansas

This week's Gas and Go comes from the Heartland. I will give some insights and brief takes surrounding the race.
  1. Last year's finish was one of the most exciting and heart stopping in recent memory. Carl Edwards tried to use the Turn 4 wall as a slingshot to propel him past Jimmie Johnson, but it actually slowed him down. Johnson ended up winning.
  2. Jeff Gordon won the first two Kansas races, in 2001 and 2002.
  3. Guess who is the only driver to sweep the Busch (now Nationwide) Series AND Cup Series on the same weekend? HINT: He's now a start and parker. Another hint: it happened in the mid-2000's.
  4. Clint Bowyer is itching to visit Victory Lane in his home state. Only a few short years ago, he was a fabricator at a local body shop in Emporia, KS, and going to the track to watch the Cup race. When you stop and think about it, Bowyer has had a rapid and meteoric climb into the Cup ranks.
  5. The first race at Kansas Speedway took place in June, 2001, with the NASCAR Winston West Series Kansas 150 and the ARCA RE/MAX Series BPU 200.
  6. Since Gordon's last win in 2002, no driver has won in consecutive years, nor has more than one win.
  7. Look for the usual suspects to run well: Gordon, Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin. One dark horse to run well: AJ Allmendinger.

Predicted Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson. He joins Gordon and makes it two in a row at Kansas.

Many thanks to for the information cited in Gas and Go.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- AAA 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the mid-Atlantic for this week's serving of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with crab cakes and Tasty Cakes for dessert. Enjoy!


Jimmie Johnson: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He was so dominant, I snoozed from about the last 100 laps of the race. He led the most laps and is within 10 points of points leader Mark Martin. He was so dominant only two other drivers led laps (Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman).

Mark Martin: although he never led a lap (because Johnson was leading pretty much every lap), he had a strong car throughout the race and hung around the top 10 for pretty much the whole race.

Matt Kenseth: this was a sorely-needed excellent run, as his season was circling the drain after the spring race at Fontana. He started 23rd and continually moved his way to the front because of great pit stops throughout the race. Kudos to the Killer B's for consistently great pit stops.

Juan Pablo Montoya: he stayed within striking distance of points leader Mark Martin with a strong fourth place run. It didn't hurt he started on the outside pole and pretty much stayed in the top 10. He'll be a factor coming into Homestead, especially with a couple of his favorite tracks coming up (Talladega and Martinsville). He was the beneficiary of a strong run, climbing to third in points.

Kurt Busch: another strong run for the Blue Deuce. As stated above, he was one of just three drivers to lead laps. He also climbed up in the points, climbing up to fourth.

Honorable Mention: Jeff Gordon, AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, and Carl Edwards.


Denny Hamlin: I have to put the Joe Gibbs Racing driver in here. Normally, this is a track he runs well at, but not today. He struggled badly today, and was lapped twice by Johnson. Not a run he was looking for. Not surprisingly, he fell three positions to fifth in the points.

Kyle Busch: he fought an ill-handling car for most of the race, finally losing the battle late when he cut a tire and crashed. He came back out but finished 58 laps down in 32nd.

Start and Parkers: you people know who you are. Tony Raines (again) drew the short straw at the Start and Parkers' meeting, held in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. I wonder how one guy can be so unlucky in NASCAR?


Joey Logano: he was in a horrific crash on Lap 30 in which the #20 rolled over seven times. Fortunately he was able to walk away. It was the beginning of a bad day for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gas and Go--Dover (Chase Race 2009)

This week's Gas and Go focuses on The Monster Mile, aka Dover. I will give you some insights and short takes leading up to the race, and give you my predicted winner.

  1. It may only be one race in the Chase, but Kasey Kahne is in DEEP trouble. He enters Dover 161 points behind leader Mark Martin. That's just more than one race to make up. In years past, one could make up that margin, but not this year. Not the way Martin and the front runners have been running.
  2. Besides Kahne, both Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards are also looking for strong runs, as is Jeff Gordon. Biffle won this race last year and has run strong in the past at Dover. Edwards is looking for a strong run to give the #99 team some badly needed confidence. Gordon is looking for a strong run to put himself back in contention.
  3. While he didn't qualify exceptionally well (he qualified 16th, making up an all-brother Row 8), Kurt Busch has found some speed, topping the second practice session, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, and Clint Bowyer. Busch is going to have to pick and weave his way around traffic tomorrow if he is to get up to the front.
  4. Among non-Chase drivers, look for Bowyer, David Reutimann, and Marcos Ambrose to run well and play spoiler. I would put Kyle Busch here, but he's been too up and down this season. Kyle is certainly capable of winning, and I think he's going to do his best to play spoiler.
  5. RCR found out this week that Jack Daniel's will not be returning to the 07 car as sponsor. No word on whether or not they have a sponsor lined up. One rumor is Bobby Labonte and going to the 07 next season. (Personally, I'd have LOVED to see Labonte instead of Mears at RCR, with Labonte in the 33 and Bowyer staying in the 07.) Another rumor I've heard is Paul Menard in the 07 with Menards as the main sponsor.
  6. Okay, enough of Silly Season for now. Guys to watch for: Johnson, Newman, Montoya, Biffle, Bowyer, and Kurt Busch.
  7. IMO, Morgan-McClure should sell the #4 team to Stewart-Haas Racing so Smoke can have that third team. Scott Wimmer failed to qualify for the race at Dover, making him the only driver that failed to qualify. MMM is a shadow of its old self. They had a great run in the early 90s with Ernie Irvan and Sterling Marlin. Time to sell and relinquish the #4 to SHR.

Predicted Race Winner: Ryan Newman.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Sylvania 300

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the hills of New Hampshire, Loudon, to be specific, for this week's version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Served New England-style, with clam chowder and iced coffee to wash it down. Enjoy!


Mark Martin: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He had a stout car and set himself up to win by getting track position through good pit stops and strategy. The win was the first of his career at Loudon, and it couldn't have come at a better time. He keeps the points lead, at least for this week. Good job Mark!

Juan Pablo Montoya: despite leading the most laps, he didn't quite have enough for Martin on the final restart. He was stout throughout the weekend, and showed why he's going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Chase.

Denny Hamlin: he was strong, led laps, and contended for his second straight win. A caution on the final lap cost him an opportunity for a second place finish, as he was nose to nose with Montoya.

Jimmie Johnson: this is what his team does best--hang out in the lower half of the top 10 in the first half to two-thirds of the race, then when it's go time, they're in contention for the win. They set themselves up nicely for the rest of the Chase.

The Busch Brothers: there couldn't have been a greater contrast. Kurt was stout throughout the day and weekend and was in contention for the win. Kyle wasn't strong to begin, but the crew got the #18 better as the race went on. Kyle finished fifth and Kurt finished sixth.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, and Bobby Labonte. (Labonte is rumored to go to the 07 next season.)


Tony Raines: he was the first of the start and parkers to park the car. After eight laps. He drew the short stick during their meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room.


The race itself: aside from the last couple of cautions, it was a snoozefest.

The coverage: atrocious as usual. Every time a commercial came on, I can guess that a caution would come out, and I was right more often than not. And they wouldn't explain WHY a caution came out until just before the green flag came out.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chase drivers and predictions

With Loudon set to kick off the Chase tomorrow, I'll give a rundown of the drivers, current standings, and predicted standings.

Ryan Newman: the driver of the #39 U.S. Army Chevrolet sits in 10th place after readjustments. He's been up and down, although he has run better of late. I just see his inconsistencies catching up to him in the Chase. Predicted finish: 12th.

Brian Vickers: he currently sits in eighth place after readjustments. While he's won once, what will hurt him is that this is his first time in the Chase. It's like a young team making the playoffs for the first time; the experience of being there will benefit them in the future. Vickers will use this year's Chase to benefit him in future Chases. Predicted finish: 11th.

Greg Biffle: after readjustments, he sits 12th going into Loudon, 40 points behind leader Mark Martin. He limped into the Chase after a strong early season. This team is off kilter, more so than usual. While Biff hasn't forgotten how to drive, he's been hampered by inconsistency, bad luck, and pit crew mistakes. You can't just flip the switch when the Chase starts. He benefits from having been in the Chase before, and he knows how to get the job done, having finished a career-high second in 2005. But the inconsistency will hamper him. Predicted finish: 10th.

Kasey Kahne: the two-time winner currently sits fifth. While he runs strong most of the time, he tends to take a couple of races off where he's not a factor. He cannot afford that in this year's Chase, as everyone is capable of winning a championship. Unfortunately, he'll get into the mode of taking a couple of races off in the last 10. Predicted finish: 9th.

Carl Edwards: he hasn't set the world on fire like he did last year, mainly because of improved competition. But the Quack Attack (Edwards' crew) hasn't looked sharp, either. The Quack Attack has looked better as of late and will get Cousin Carl his first win of the season. That's going to help. He could be a factor, and could still be mathematically alive to win his first Cup championship. Predicted finish: 8th.

Kurt Busch: he knows how to get the job done. Currently, he sits seventh. Losing Pat Tryson at the end of the season will affect the Blue Deuce's performance as the season winds down. He'll sit seventh after Homestead. Predicted finish: 7th.

Tony Stewart: Smoke may have peaked too early. He currently sits second. He was the first driver to clinch a Chase spot, and it appears he may have let up. I'm sure he didn't, but at this juncture he has struggled. Not what you want to be doing when you want to win a championship. Predicted finish: 6th.

Denny Hamlin: he comes into the Chase energized after winning at his home track. He'll run especially strong for the first half, and be a factor to win it all. Like his rookie year in 2006, he's not going away. (Hamlin is the only rookie to ever make the Chase, and has made the Chase every year he's been on the circuit.) He will be a factor, and if he escapes Talladega with a very strong finish or even a win, he could break Jimmie Johnson's string of championships. But he's been inconsistent at 'Dega and it will haunt him this year. Predicted finish: 5th.

Mark Martin: this guy knows how to get it done. The #5 crew has been sharp from the spring Bristol race on. He is the current points leader, and will be in it until the checkered flag at Homestead. Predicted finish: 4th.

Juan Pablo Montoya: like Vickers, this is his first time in the Chase. Unlike Vickers, he has won championships in other racing series (CART/IRL in 2000), and is a seven-time Formula One winner. He knows pressure and how to deal with it. We haven't seen the best of JPM yet. But because of his past experiences in winning big races, he will draw on that, combined with his daring and aggressive style, to be a factor. Don't be surprised if he pulls off two or three wins in the Chase, including Talladega, where he's always run very well. Predicted finish: 3rd.

Jeff Gordon: the four-time champion comes into the Chase on a roll. He'll put his balky back on the back burner (no pun intended) in his quest for a fifth championship. He'll have a VERY good look at it, but come up short. He's won at every track in the Chase but Homestead. I think he wins at Homestead but comes up just short. Predicted finish: 2nd.

And now, your 2009 Sprint Cup champion

Jimmie Johnson: he makes history by becoming the first driver in NASCAR history to win four straight championships. This team is focused like a laser on winning the championship. You're going to see the very best of JJ and the #48 team, as they will go on an ungodly roll of five wins in a six race span. This team is capable of going on such a roll; one year, he won four consecutive races IN the Chase, finished second, then finished first for five wins in a six race span. They are the New England Patriots of NASCAR. To beat JJ and this team, you're going to have to be on your A+ game the last 10 races, because THEY will be on THEIR A game. And as we've seen, their A game is better than everyone else's A game. They are on a whole different playing field. Predicted finish: 1st.

Those are my analyses and predictions for the 2009 Chase. Feel free to come in and comment.

Gas and Go--Loudon (Chase race)

This week's Gas and Go comes to you from Loudon. Since this is the first race in the Chase, it's a special Gas and Go.

  1. You might not want to win this particular race: only Kurt Busch in 2004 has gone on to win the Championship.
  2. You DO want to have a good finish to set up the rest of the Chase. Kyle Busch came into the Chase last season on a roll. He suffered misfortune and went into a freefall during the Chase.
  3. In 2000, Jeff Burton won this race. He led every lap en route to the win, becoming only the fourth driver in NASCAR history to achieve this remarkable feat. He started second, took the lead after the first lap, and it was sayonara to the rest of the field.
  4. Sadly, with the advent of debris cautions, we may not ever see Burton's feat achieved again.
  5. Because of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01, this race was postponed until 11/23/01. Robby Gordon won that particular race, highlighted by a game of bumper cars with Jeff Gordon. The win was Robby Gordon's first NASCAR win, and his first win with Richard Childress Racing. In fact, it was Childress' first win as a car owner at this track. (Kevin Harvick would win this race from the pole in 2006)
  6. Look for the usual suspects to run strong: Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson.
  7. Since this Gas and Go is so late, I won't pick Montoya as my predicted winner.

Predicted Race Winner: Kurt Busch.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Chevy Rock 'n Roll 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the mid-South region, Richmond, VA, for the Chevy Rock 'n Roll 400. This is the last race before the Chase starts, so a rockin' good time is to be had by all. Enjoy!


Denny Hamlin: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He led the most laps en route to his first ever win at Richmond. He was running in the top 5 pretty much the whole race. As recently as 2004, he was WATCHING the race from the stands. A very popular win among the fans. Now he's seeded fourth in the Chase, and is a threat to win the title.

Kurt Busch: he rebounded nicely from last week's disaster at the ATL. Although he didn't lead a lap, the Blue Deuce was stout throughout the race en route to a second place finish.

Jeff Gordon: since he already had clinched his spot in the Chase, the only thing he was racing for was a win. While he led laps and had a top-5 car, he fell short of that goal. He comes into the Chase with some momentum.

Mark Martin: the pole winner led at the outset of the race before surrendering the lead to Hamlin. The five bonus points were huge. He was stout and was in the top 5 for much of the race.

Kyle Busch: try as he might, even though he finished fifth, he still missed the Chase by eight points. He ran well tonight, and was in the top 10 for most of the race. But as he said in the postrace interview, it was the fact he wasn't as consistent as he was last year.

Brian Vickers: his seventh place finish, coupled with Matt Kenseth's freefall, clinched a spot in the Chase. It looked bleak after the final pit stop when he came out behind Kyle Busch. But he got it done on the track, passing cars when he needed to.

Kevin Harvick: his ninth place finish was his first back to back top 10s since the final three races of last season. He started 19th and quickly moved his way towards the front; at one point he was in the top 5. The #29 team has turned the corner and Happy's back to the Harvick of old: a threat to win races regardless of the track.

Clint Bowyer: I'm over my anger over him costing Happy a win last week. He ran a strong race, and was in the top 10 for much of the race, finishing sixth.

Sam Hornish Jr.: he's starting to get the hang of short tracks. A solid seventh place finish will give him confidence for the rest of the season into next season.

Other Goods: Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Greg Biffle. These drivers have clinched Chase spots.


Matt Kenseth: he came into the race in 12th, the last spot before the Chase. He started bad and pretty much stayed that way the whole race. Now he's on the outside looking in. The Daytona 500 and the Auto Club 500 are very distant memories now.

Casey Mears: at one point in the race, he was in the top 15 and was running well. Then he remembered he was Casey Mears and reverted back to classic Casey Mears form: finishing a couple of laps down.


Rain: fortunately, it was a passing shower and the race was delayed by only a half hour.

Tony Stewart: I've gotta put Smoke in this category. He struggled throughout the race, and an early wreck threw him off. Even though he finished 17th after starting 29th, it was the kind of race that kills momentum. Could he have peaked too early?

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

2009 AFC Predictions

Since the season starts tomorrow. I will condense my AFC picks for the season.


  1. New England
  2. New York Jets
  3. Miami
  4. Buffalo


  1. Indianapolis
  2. Houston*
  3. Tennessee
  4. Jacksonville


  1. Pittsburgh
  2. Baltimore*
  3. Cincinnati
  4. Cleveland


  1. San Diego
  2. Oakland
  3. Kansas City
  4. Denver

Teams with an asterisk (*) following them are predicted wild card teams.

NFC Wild Cards: Atlanta, Philadelphia.

Super Bowl 44: San Diego Chargers vs. New York Giants.


Gas and Go--Richmond (Summer Race 2009)

This edition of Gas and Go comes from Rockin' Richmond, home of the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 that concludes the regular season and ushers in the Chase.

  1. As the race title attests, the fans and drivers are in for a rockin' great time. The atmosphere is that of a gigantic party.
  2. Since 2003, the race has been known as the Chevy Rock and Roll 400. In 2006, Kevin Harvick became the first Chevrolet driver to take the checkered flag since the race was renamed in 2003. (He carried the Barenaked Ladies on his hood to Victory Lane that year.)
  3. Jeremy Mayfield won this race in 2004 to make the Chase after starting the race in 12th place in the points. (At the time, only the top 10 in points made the Chase.) Now a driver that races his way into the Chase after starting outside the Chase zone is known as "pulling a Mayfield."
  4. Richmond is a 0.75 mile short track that is frequently referred to as "Bristol on steroids." In one phrase: Expect the Unexpected.
  5. Jimmie Johnson has won the last two summer races and three of the last four RIR races. Johnson and Tony Stewart both lead all active drivers with three Richmond wins.
  6. Thinking of you: Ricky Rudd (Summer 2001 race winner).
  7. Look for the usual suspects to run well: Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch. Darkhorses include Sam Hornish Jr. and Marcos Ambrose.

Predicted Race Winner: Kevin Harvick. He's still smarting from coming so close, yet so far to that first win in nearly three years. You can bet he'll have his head on a swivel looking for Clint Bowyer and making sure he's FAR away from him. The #29 crew may well have hit on something at Atlanta and that momentum will carry them to Harvick's first win in nearly three years.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly--Pep Boys 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in Hotlanta to bring you this week's version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Southern-style. Enjoy!


Kevin Harvick: he had the car to beat tonight, but he was jobbed of a win by a late caution. He led the most laps and had the best car overall. DAMN YOU CLINT BOWYER!! YOU'RE GOING UNDER THE FREAKING BUS TONIGHT!

Kasey Kahne: this is the first time I have put the race winner in the second slot, but I must. He did NOT have the best car, just the luckiest--he was best on short runs, but faded on long runs. The last caution brought a very short run and he checked out. He all but clinched a Chase spot.

Juan Pablo Montoya: he wasn't strong at first, but got better as the race went on. He led laps en route to a solid third place finish. He greatly solidified his Chase chances.

David Reutimann: a very solid run for the Aaron's Dream Machine driver.

Mark Martin: he hung around the top 10 much of the race, finishing in fifth and solidifying his hold on the Chase.

Honorable Mention: Denny Hamlin, Brian Vickers, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle.


Clint Bowyer: he was the opposite of his teammate Harvick--very bad from the start. He went a lap down early and never recovered. He brought out a late caution, costing Harvick his first win in nearly three years, and RCR's first win of the season. Way to go, Clint. Next time, get your car under control and you won't be the subject of an angry Bad and Ugly.

ESPN: they were ROOTING for a late caution because their boy Kasey Kahne was in contention and he was best on short runs. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW ESPN?????? ARE YOU?? YOU SHOULD BE.


Clint Bowyer: see above.

Those are my nominees for the week. Feel free to come in with yours.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

2009 NFL Predictions--NFC West

After a delay due to unforeseen circumstances, I now continue with my analysis of the most unpredictable, Sybil-like division in the NFL, the NFC West.

Seattle Seahawks: I think this team has one more run in them. Matt Hasselbeck has some gas left in the tank, and he's healthy this year. John Carlson is vastly underrated as a TE. Look for him to have a huge year this year. However, there are issues with the offensive line. Walter Jones is on the shelf and is expected to return at some point in the season with a knee injury. The Hawks are going with a young, relatively inexperienced line to protect Hasselbeck. Julius Jones and Edgerrin James need to come up huge to ease the burden on Hasselbeck. T.J. Houshmanzadeh should help the receiving corps. The defense is healthy, and has the potential to be an elite unit. (1st)

Arizona Cardinals: this team will have a Super Bowl hangover. Losing both coordinators won't help matters. The running game is still in question. The offensive line is a true unit; none are Pro Bowlers, but they play well together. The defense is still solid, but it will take time to adjust to a new scheme. They do still have Kurt Warner and the Incredibles (Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin). Stephen Spach has made a great recovery from a torn ACL and will be the #1 TE. (2nd)

San Francisco 49ers: one man stands out on that team--Frank Gore. When healthy, he's capable of a 1,500-yard rushing season. He's a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Although Shaun Hill is the starting QB, I'm not impressed. He's warming the seat for future franchise QB Nate Davis. The WR position is still relatively unsettled, aside from Isaac Bruce. Vernon Davis figures to be a much happier man this season, as he will be used primarily as the receiving TE. The defense needs to put more pressure on the QB. Conversely, they also need to force more turnovers. If they can do that, they can push for a playoff spot. While I think they will improve from last season, they are still a year or two away from contending. (3rd)

St. Louis Rams: the biggest issue is the ownership. Georgia Frontiere's passing left the team in the hands of her son, Chip Rosenbloom. Where will they be in the future? Los Angeles? St. Louis? Somewhere else? Aside from the ownership, new coach Steve Spagnuolo has his work cut out for him. But to a man, everyone is buying into his "team first" mantra. He's molding the Rams into his image: a tough, run-first team, and building a stout defense. He's off to a good start with OT Jason Smith and LB James Laurinaitis. Both men will be stars in the NFL for a long time. I am especially high on Laurinaitis. The Rams will be good sooner rather than later. The last two seasons, they have had very good drafts. I look for them to win some games they would normally lose. (4th) P.S. I could easily flip-flop the Rams and 49ers, as I expect the Rams to play much better in the second half of the season.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gas and Go--Atlanta (Summer Race 2009)

This week's Gas and Go comes from the Deep South. I will give you some insights and short takes leading up to this race.

  1. Atlanta will benefit greatly from the Chase race. Currently 89 points separate seventh through 14th positions.
  2. This will be the first time Atlanta has hosted a night race.
  3. For whom will the night time be the right time? Historically, AMS seems to favor consistent drivers.
  4. The drivers in seventh through 14th have to guard against racing too conservatively. A good result, and their Chase chances greatly improve. A bad result and they can kiss their Chase chances good bye.
  5. Historically, AMS has been the scene of some great finishes, most notably Kevin Harvick's first Cup win in just his third start. Harvick beat Jeff Gordon to the line by a foot in the Spring 2001 race. (Harvick held the record for the fewest starts to his first Cup win until Jamie McMurray won at Charlotte in October 2002 in his second start, filling in for an injured Sterling Marlin.)
  6. Thinking of you: Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, aka Bill Elliott.
  7. Who will run well? I look for the usual suspects: Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Vickers. Dark horses: Juan Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose, Kevin Harvick.
  8. For which driver will the night time be the right time?

Predicted Race Winner: Mark Martin. He has run consistently well at AMS since he began Cup racing. With a Chase berth on the line, he takes the checkered flag and all but clinches a Chase spot.

2009 NFL Predictions--NFC North

My predictions continue with the NFC North.

Minnesota Vikings: they did acquire a certain ex-Packer gunslinger. While I think the acquisition will help stabilize the QB position in name only, it's not going to be enough for a Super Bowl run. Favre clearly is on the downside of his career, and at some point that will be exposed. They do have the best RB in the NFL in Adrian Peterson and a superb backup in Chester Taylor, but at some point, defenses will line up 8, sometimes 9, in the box to stop them. Back in the day, Favre would have ate that up all day, but his fastball has lost a lot of zip, and hitters are teeing off on it. While he'll have a solid offensive line to protect him, that lack of velocity will end up causing turnovers. The defense is solid, and they have arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. They do have good enough balance to win the division, but a deep playoff run depends on the health of Favre. He's older, and more injury-prone. (1st)

Green Bay Packers: they have the division's best QB in Aaron Rodgers. Yes, I said it. Rodgers is BETTER than Cutler. Rodgers will continue to improve, and become that franchise QB. (Being Brett Favre's backup for several years doesn't hurt.) They need to have a more solid ground game. The defense is emerging under Dom Capers and should be vastly improved. The lack of a ground game will keep the Packers from becoming the best team in the division. (2nd)

Chicago Bears: while Jay Cutler is a very talented QB, he's not quite at Rodgers' level yet. But he'll get there. Cutler is the Bears' most legit franchise QB since Sid Luckman. If Cutler were a baseball player, he'd be known as a five-tool player. He has an emerging superstar RB in Matt Forte. But who does he have to throw the ball to? And that defense! It's getting older, and showing signs of wear and tear. (WHY didn't they draft James Laurinaitis to succeed Brian Urlacher?) Cutler will help ease the inevitable rebuilding process. (3rd)

Detroit Lions: where else can you go but UP after the first winless season in NFL history? I'm still shaking my head in disbelief that an NFL team ran the table in reverse. Jim Schwartz was brought in as the new head coach. Genius move. He's earned his shot. I expressed my disagreement about Matt Stafford being the first overall pick. I'll admit, he's proven me wrong. Give him a year as Daunte Culpepper's backup and he will grow into that franchise QB. The defense has been overhauled. It's still a work in progress. But the Lions will win some games this season. (4th)


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

2009 NFL Predictions--NFC South

Today, I'm doing things a bit different than all the other football mags. Instead of profiling the NFC North, I'm profiling the NFC South. (A FAR better conference than the NFC North, IMO.)


Carolina Panthers: already, this team is facing injury issues. Maake Kemoeatu is out for the year with a torn Achilles' tendon. Jon Beason is nicked up. So is Steve Smith. So are Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, aka Smash and Dash. They have 21 of 22 possible starters returning. (Ken Lucas was cut.) Jake Delhomme has a lot to prove. Muhsin Muhammad, although 36, still has some good years left. The defense is solid, although Richard Marshall has to make the adjustment to being a starting CB. The schedule makers did the Panthers NO favors, although most of their tough games are at home. (1st)

Atlanta Falcons: their offense is first-class, with Matt Ryan proving to be a franchise QB. Michael Turner proved he was no fluke last season. Roddy White broke out big-time. They added future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez, who looks rejuvenated and is poised for a big year. However, the defense is very suspect. This team will be in their share of shootouts. The Falcons have almost as tough a schedule as Carolina, as they play a second place schedule. (2nd)

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees will once again have a huge season, perhaps setting the new standard for pass yardage. It's a wonder his arm didn't fall off last season. Reggie Bush is poised to have a huge year. Now if only the Saints' coaching staff knew HOW to use Bush, the team would be MUCH better for it. We all know the Saints can move the ball and score. The Saints' defense is a question mark; like the Falcons, they'll be in their share of shootouts. (3rd)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: this team is a shell of what it once was. Ronde Barber is one of very few players left on the 2002 team that shellacked the Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl. New coach, new system, new personnel. This is a big-time rebuilding process. Raheem Morris has to wonder sometimes what he got himself into. But, they do have young talent on both sides of the ball. They have an up and coming franchise QB in Josh Freeman. They got Derrick Ward via free agency, so there's some good building blocks there. But WHO'S going to catch the ball? On defense, WHOLE new system. Monte Kiffin's gone, he's with his son Lane at the University of Tennessee. Gone is the Tampa 2, replaced by a physical, pressing defense that emphasizes man to man. It'll take a couple of years, but I think the Bucs are on the right track. (4th)


Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 NFL Predictions--NFC East

I begin my annual breakdowns and predictions of each NFL team, division by division. I will do it a bit different this year. I will first predict the order of finish. Then when the last division (the AFC West) is done, I will then break down the playoff scenario, leading up to my predicted Super Bowl Champion.


New York Giants: this team somehow finds ways to win when all seems lost. You cannot kill this team! Although they lost Derrick Ward to Tampa Bay, they still have a very potent 1-2 combo in Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Eli is Eli, he finds ways to make plays and put the team in position to win. They may have found Plaxico's replacement in Hakeem Nicks, the rookie WR out of North Carolina. Very solid, workmanlike team. (1st)

Philadelphia Eagles: they NEED to keep Donovan McNabb on his feet. With a banged-up, patchwork offensive line, it's going to be difficult, at least at the start of the season. Their projected starting line has not played one snap together. They do have the best set of skill position players in the Andy Reid era. LeSean McCoy is the perfect replacement for Brian Westbrook. WR Jason Avant is a trusty target for McNabb. The defense, while solid, will be handicapped with the loss of MLB Stewart Bradley to a season-ending knee injury. Fortunately for the Eagles, their opponent in the season opener, the Carolina Panthers, also have injury issues. And the Eagles have an advantage of an early bye week (Week 4), plus playing suspect defenses in New Orleans and Kansas City. They should get healthy when their schedule turns brutal. (2nd)

Dallas Cowboys: they got rid of two jinxes: Terrell Owens and Jessica Simpson. The Cowboys cut Owens in the offseason and Tony Romo did the same to Ms. Simpson. I look for Romo to return to the 2007 version of Romo. The Cowboys have as talented a roster as any team in the league. Coaching, or lack thereof, will doom the Cowboys. Perhaps Jerry Jones has Bill Cowher or Mike Holmgren on speed dial. (3rd)

Washington Redskins: this is a team that is going to struggle to put points on the board, despite the talent they have on offense. And when you have a team that struggles to put points on the board, that defense will be on the field for a long time. When they are on, they can beat anyone. They seem to play their best football within the division. It's OUTSIDE of the division where they struggle and frankly, suck. This is a .500 team at best, a 6-10 team at worst. (4th)


Friday, August 28, 2009

Where will Happy go?

It has long been known that Kevin Harvick is very unhappy at RCR. Why is he unhappy? There are several factors that I see: the frustration of a long winless streak, the bad luck he's had since the fall race at Talladega last season, where he had the car to beat but got caught up in Carl Edwards' boneheaded strategy (Edwards tried to bump-draft his teammate Greg Biffle in the corner but ended up causing a 12-car wreck that affected half of the Chasers, including Harvick.), the crew swap earlier in the year, to name a few factors. I will break these down as best I can.


Coming into the 2007 Daytona 500, Harvick was coming off the best year of his career: he won a total of 14 races between the Busch (now Nationwide) Series and the Nextel (now Sprint) Cup Series. He blew away the field all season long in the Busch Series, winning the title by OVER 900 points. In fact, he clinched the title at Charlotte. He won nine races in the Busch Series, and in fact completed all but ONE lap. For the whole season. Ironically, Charlotte was where he finished a lap down for the only time that year. On the Cup side, he scored his first win of the season in the spring race at Phoenix. While he was running well between his first two wins, he didn't win again until the Glen, when Kurt Busch committed into the pits just before the final caution came out. He stole that win BIG TIME. He should have wore a ski mask underneath that helmet! A few weeks later, he would post consecutive wins for the first (and only) time in his career, winning at Richmond and Loudon (to start the Chase). His final win would come at Phoenix, narrowly holding off a hard-charging Jimmie Johnson. Harvick would be the first driver to sweep Phoenix (since duplicated last year by Johnson).

During the 500, Harvick didn't have the best car, but his crew did a great job adjusting to the changing conditions, getting the car better as the race wore on. He had a solid car, one I thought would be a top 10 car. But as the laps wound down, he kept moving up. The final lap, particularly coming out of Turn 4, was epic. It was a drag race between Harvick and Mark Martin. Martin lost his drafting partner when Kyle Busch got in an accident, triggering the Big One behind Harvick and Martin. In the melee, Matt Kenseth gave Harvick a big enough push to give Harvick the win by 0.020 seconds, the closest finish in Daytona 500 history. Who would have thought that race would be Harvick's most recent win?

While Harvick has been winless since as far as points races go, he did make the Chase both in 2007 and 2008. He won the All-Star race in 2007 and the Bud Shootout in early February. But after Atlanta, when he finished fourth, his luck went south in a hurry. He wouldn't have another top 10 finish until the Brickyard 400, where he finished sixth.


Going into the season, Harvick had Todd Berrier as his crew chief. Berrier as crew chief led Harvick to the 2001 Busch Series title. But it wasn't until late in the 2005 season that Harvick and Berrier would be reunited. Immediately they clicked again. Harvick finished 2005 strong, with high hopes for 2006. With Berrier on the pit box, Harvick made the Chase three consecutive years from 2006 to 2008. In 2006, Harvick was one of four drivers that still had a chance to win the Cup championship at Homestead. But as the years wore on, it is my opinion that the #29 team stagnated while many of the other teams got better. This culminated in a crew swap with the #07 crew. Happy, he wasn't. He lost his confidante, his "security blanket", so to speak. IMO, Childress panicked. He wasn't used to seeing Harvick run this poorly. But it wasn't the crew. It was the engine builders that gave him crappy engines. It was the car chief that poorly executed a game plan on race day. And it was also not-so-Happy.


Where do I start? Do I start with Sam Hornish Jr (TWICE)? David Stremme? Cut tires? Blown engines? Bad pit stops? I'll pick on Stremme. He drove recklessly in the esses at the Glen, wrecking Harvick and causing significant damage to the A-frame of the #29 car. A top ten car went down the drain. Understandably, Harvick was pissed off. He basically said that Stremme needs to work on a new skill set. (My words added here: because the road courses are beyond his ability as a driver.)


Which brings me to this: where will Happy go next year? It's possible he's not going anywhere, as Childress will have Happy honor the final year of his contract. In the offseason, Happy and RC need to sit down and have a powwow. Tony Stewart has stated he's not immediately expanding to three teams. There's no room at the Hendrick Inn. Red Bull is staying with Toyota. Logically, Happy stays at RCR but doesn't sign an extension. If they don't make the Chase next year, he's released from the #29 early and perhaps Stephen Leicht finishes the season driving the #29 on an interim basis. But stranger things have happened.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Bristol (night race 2009)

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in Thunder Valley, bringing you this week's version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Southern-style, complete with smoked meat, Southern-style fries, and PLENTY of beer to wash it down with! Enjoy!


Kyle Busch: as the race winner, he automatically gets first billing. He started 15th, and hovered around the top 10 for much of the race before making his move in the last fifth of the race. His car got better as the race went on, and he took the lead late in the race. He had enough to hold off Mark Martin in a dramatic four-lap shootout at the end of the race.

Mark Martin: he led a race-high 240 laps, and had several opportunities to move Busch out of the way, but didn't have enough. Congratulations to Martin on his 1,000th Cup start. He was big-picture racing, knowing his Chase chances got a lot better.

Marcos Ambrose: the likable Aussie scored his career-best finish on an oval with his third-place finish. (He finished fourth at Talladega earlier in the season.) Although he never led a lap, he got stronger as the race went on.

Greg Biffle: he sorely needed a top-5 run, and he got it. He led 76 laps in the race. Great comeback from being barely in the top 15 at one point in the race. He moved up two spots to eighth in the standings because of that solid run.

Denny Hamlin: where the hell did he come from? He started WAY back somewhere around Nashville. (Actually, he started 41st; it only SEEMED like he started somewhere around Nashville.) He even was the beneficiary of a free pass. He took advantage of that to finish fifth, all but locking in his position in the Chase, as he has a 230-point lead over Kyle Busch with two races to go. All he has to do next week is be 153 points ahead of 13th place AFTER the Atlanta race and he's in the Chase.

Other Goods: Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson for clinching Chase spots.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Matt Kenseth.


Tony Stewart: Smoke was uncharacteristically bad. He had issues starting with his radio and they never let up. He went a lap down early and never recovered. Near the end of the race, his car stalled. Fortunately, he has already clinched a Chase spot, so one bad race won't affect him.

Juan Pablo Montoya: I've gotta put him in this category. He had an opportunity to pit for four fresh tires under a caution when a tire was going down, but opted not to pit. It bit him in the rear at the restart, then he had to pit under green. As a result, he lost two laps, then he took a hit in the points, losing two positions and having a VERY tenuous hold on his Chase position.

ESPN's coverage: they were par for the course, immediately cutting away to SportsCenter for the latest Brett Favre coverage.

Kevin Harvick: he caused a big wreck when he checked up after making contact with his teammate Clint Bowyer, then Jamie McMurray had no room and punted Harvick into the wall. Not-so-Happy ended up with a DNF, finishing 38th.


Clint Bowyer/Michael Waltrip/Joey Logano: these three drivers were involved in a late crash. Waltrip got turned around and when Bowyer checked up to try to avoid Waltrip, Logano had no room and slammed into Bowyer, turning him around to the point that the rear of the #33 slammed into the front of the #55. Like that crash, Bowyer's Chase hopes took a major hit. In my opinion, Bowyer's Chase chances are gone. They're done.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gas and Go--Bristol (Summer Race 2009)

This is the second Bristol Gas and Go. As with the first, I will offer my insights and short takes on this race from the Bullring.

  1. The night race is what every fan looks forward to. One hundred sixty thousand fans packed into a cavernous bullring. Thunder Valley lives up to its name. Every year, with the exception of this one, the race is sold out MONTHS in advance.
  2. With its unique stadium setting and .533 mile oval, there is very little, if any, room at Bristol. An unscheduled green flag pit stop will put a driver at least three laps down, if not more.
  3. Tempers get short, as evidenced by a memorable dust-up between Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon a few years ago after a spring race.
  4. One of the most memorable moments in this race came in 1995, when Terry Labonte took the checkered flag going sideways. This came as a result of contact with Dale Earnhardt on the final turn of the race. Ironically, Labonte going sideways kept Earnhardt from taking the checkered flag.
  5. Another very memorable moment involved the same drivers four years later. Labonte was on his way to another win when he was punted by Earnhardt going into Turn 3. Earnhardt took the checkered flag to lusty boos and hisses. Earnhardt's response? "I was just trying to rattle his cage." Classic.
  6. Handling is at a premium. If the car is well balanced and the crew hits on the setup, the driver could have a great showing. Consequently, one can have a great car and also get caught in someone's mishap.
  7. Thinking of you: Darrell Waltrip. (The all-time leading winner at Bristol, with 12 wins, including an amazing seven in a row.)
  8. Look for the usual suspects to run well: Kurt and Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, and Clint Bowyer.
  9. Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon share the most wins by an active driver with five each.
  10. My dark horse to run well here: Casey Mears. RCR cars have historically run well at Bristol. Mears will be no exception. Which brings me to my predicted race winner.

Predicted Race Winner: Clint Bowyer. Although Bowyer has never won at Bristol, he has always ran well there. He's been running very well over the last month or so. Plus he's making a strong late push for the Chase. I'm going to go with a bit of an upset with Bowyer winding up in Victory Lane.

Special thanks go out to for additional information cited in Gas and Go.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly--Carfax 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew brings you this week's version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from the Irish Hills of Michigan. Served with wall-eyed pike and brats. Enjoy!


Brian Vickers: as the race winner, he automatically gets first billing. He had a stout car and was in the top 5 for much of the race. He was able to squeeze every last drop of gas out of his car to get to Victory Lane. He moves to within 12 points of Mark Martin for the final spot in the Chase. Good job Brian!

Jeff Gordon: like Vickers, he was able to squeeze every last drop of gas. He was in the top 10 for much of the day. He was strong throughout the race. He solidified his spot in the Chase field.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: he was the beneficiary of brilliant pit strategy by Lance McGrew, his crew chief. Jr came in on the final caution for four tires and fuel, and he was good to go the distance while many other drivers were saving fuel. He went balls to the wall en route to a third-place finish.

Carl Edwards: while he wasn't in danger of missing the Chase, his hold was tenuous before the race. A fourth place finish greatly solidified his position. He started 32nd and worked his way up the field en route to that fourth place finish.

Sam Hornish Jr: he was the highest finishing Penske driver, finishing in fifth. Although he never led, he moved up nine positions from his 14th starting position. I think he's finally starting to show what he's capable of. That first win won't be that far away.

Casey Mears: he started near the back of the field (42nd) and worked his way up to a solid sixth place finish.

Honorable Mention: Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, David Reutimann, Denny Hamlin.


David Ragan: he couldn't stay out of his own way--causing or being a part of two accidents, one of which knocked out a Chase contender, Kurt Busch. What made it worse was that he was running in the top 5 before the first accident. He looked like he was a sure lock for the Good category. And I would have put him there had he finished in the top 5.

Weather: the forecast called for 0% chance of rain. Well, it rained. Several times. Fortunately, they were brief showers and racing was resumed quickly thereafter.


The first half of the race: it was a Hendrick Motorsports snoozefest. It wasn't until fuel strategy became a factor it got a lot more interesting. I ended up doing various things around the house in the first half.

Those are my nominees for the week. Feel free to come in with yours!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gas and Go--Michigan (2nd race)

This week's Gas and Go comes from the Irish hills of Michigan. I will offer some brief pre-race insights and takes and come up with my predicted winner.

  1. In recent history, Michigan is the House that Jack Roush built. Roush drivers have dominated this track in recent years. Here is a list of Roush drivers that have won at Michigan: Mark Martin (twice), Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth(twice), Greg Biffle(twice), Carl Edwards (twice). (Busch won in 2003 while driving the #97 Ford for Roush. Martin has won three times total.)
  2. The tide is slowly starting to change on that. Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won two of the last three Michigan races (Mark Martin earlier in the season, and Dale Earnhardt Jr last season).
  3. Michigan is near the home of the Big Three, and there is extra incentive for the manufacturers to win the race. Bragging rights, perhaps?
  4. This race is key for drivers that are eighth through 14th in the points standings: Kasey Kahne (8th), Ryan Newman (9th), Greg Biffle (10th), Mark Martin (11th), Matt Kenseth (12th), Kyle Busch (13th), and Brian Vickers (14th). All these drivers must have very solid runs tomorrow. Any slip-ups or bad runs, particularly by Busch and Vickers, and their Chase chances just got a lot more remote.
  5. Look for the usual suspects to have good runs tomorrow: Edwards, Martin, Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart.
  6. By taking the green flag, Stewart becomes the first driver this season to clinch a Chase spot.
  7. Also, look for someone surprising to have a solid run, someone you don't usually think of.
  8. Unlike last year, the race for the top 35 is pretty well set. Scott Speed currently is in 35th, and John Andretti is 47 points back in 36th. You have to go just over 300 points down to see David Gilliland in 37th. Even then, the battle between Speed and Andretti could be more interesting than the race to the championship. I say Speed holds on to the 35th spot, guaranteeing him a spot in the field for the first five races of the 2010 season.

Predicted Race Winner: Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya wins on an oval for the first time in his career, and greatly solidifies his position to make his first Chase. Michigan is somewhat similar to Indy, and Montoya ran very well at Indy until the gaffe.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly--The Glen

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York to present to you the rain-delayed version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, east coast wine and cheese style. Enjoy!


Tony Stewart: as the race winner, he automatically gets first billing. With the win, he becomes the first NASCAR driver to win at the Glen five times. He led the most laps in the race, but had to hold off a game Marcos Ambrose for the win.

Marcos Ambrose: he finished a career-best second and led laps. He was stout throughout the weekend, and nearly completed a Glen sweep.

Carl Edwards: he finished a career-best third on a road course. He started 33rd and steadily moved his way up towards the top. Although he didn't lead a lap, he got stronger as the race wore on. The third place finish solidifies his spot in the Chase, as he SORELY needed a strong finish. The Glen was his make or break race. IMO, he clinched a Chase spot, as the remaining tracks are friendly to Edwards.

The Busch Brothers: both Kurt and Kyle got the five bonus points for leading a lap. Although Kyle had a better finish (4th vs. Kurt's 7th), both brothers had strong cars.

Max Papis: I've gotta give a shout out to Como, Italy's Mad Max. It not only was his career-best finish on a road course, it was his career-best NASCAR finish. He started 16th and finished 8th. Good job, Max!

Clint Bowyer: for a guy who admits road courses are not his best tracks, he sure did well! He started 38th and finished 9th, a MUCH needed top 10 that kept his flickering Chase hopes alive. He should still have a chance going into the final weekend before the Chase, as he goes to tracks where he runs strong.

Greg Biffle: Da Biff had a strong top 5 finish. With that finish, he improved his Chase chances. Historically, he has struggled on road courses. But not today. He was strong all weekend.

Honorable Mention: Brian Vickers, Jimmie Johnson, AJ Allmendinger, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano.


Start and parkers: you people know who you are.

Kevin Harvick: he was never a factor, finishing 35th, an unusually bad position for Happy at the Glen.

David Stremme: after leading early, he dropped like a stone, finishing 26th.


The Crash: this one was a doozy, even by the Glen's standards. It involved Kasey Kahne getting loose and collecting Sam Hornish Jr. Hornish then careened across the track and Jeff Gordon hit him, then hit the guard rail at full speed. Fortunately, both Hornish and Gordon are okay. A sub good to Kahne for accepting full responsibility for the wreck that finished Gordon's, Hornish's, and Jeff Burton's days early.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: he had brake issues and slammed into the tire barrier, costing him 30 laps for repairs. He would finish 39th.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gas and Go--The Glen

I usually have my Gas and Go blog up on the Wednesday before the race. Unfortunately, due to extenuating circumstances, the Gas and Go for The Glen is up today. I will give you my short takes and insights into the serpentine road course at Watkins Glen, better known as The Glen.
  1. The Glen has a rich racing history that started in 1948 with the first post-World War II road course race held in the United States on October 2nd of that year. For the next five years, fans would turn up in huge numbers to watch the top drivers in American sports car racing.
  2. The first NASCAR race held at the Glen was in 1957. Buck Baker won the race, and Fireball Roberts finished second. True international competition began the following year with the first Formula Libre race.
  3. Formula One raced at the Glen from 1961 through 1980. Innes Ireland won the inaugural U.S. Grand Prix. Alan Jones won the final F1 race held at the Glen.
  4. The Glen fell into disrepair over the next few years as a result of financial difficulties, leading to the track's sale to Corning Enterprises in 1983. Corning Enterprises then formed a partnership with International Speedway Corporation, forming Watkins Glen International.
  5. On July 7, 1984, the Glen reopened with Al Holbert, Derek Bell, and Jim Adams winning the inaugural Camel Continental race. In 1986, NASCAR made its return to the Glen, with the late Tim Richmond winning. Since then, the race has been one of NASCAR's most popular.
  6. Thinking of you: Steve Park (2000 winner at The Glen).
  7. Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart are maestros at the Glen. Martin won three straight Glen races in the early 1990's. Gordon and Stewart lead all Cup drivers in wins at the Glen with four.
  8. Look for strong runs from Marcos Ambrose, Robby Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Stewart, pole sitter Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, and Jeff Gordon.

Predicted Race Winner: Marcos Ambrose. The popular Aussie breaks through and gets that first Cup win.

Many thanks to and for the information I cited.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Pocono (2nd race)

With a heavy heart in honor of the losses of Denny Hamlin's grandmother and the mother of one of his crew members, the Crappafoni Pictures crew brings you a subdued version of this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.


Denny Hamlin: as the race winner, he automatically gets first billing. He raced today with a very heavy heart. One wouldn't have blamed him if he had skipped the race to be with his family. But race he did, and he finished nearly a second ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya. He was stout, and led the most laps in the race. This time he didn't let this one slip away. The win breaks a 50-race winless streak. Good job Denny, and my condolences to you and your family, and the crew member and his family on your losses.

Juan Pablo Montoya: he proved that Indy was no fluke in powering his way to a second place finish. Although he didn't lead a lap, he was stout throughout the day.

Clint Bowyer: this was a MUCH needed stout run for the #33 team. He was at the point for 23 laps in the race. He was at the point late in the race when he was overtaken by Hamlin. Still, a third place finish is much needed and much welcomed. Good job Clint!

Kasey Kahne: he was at the point for 35 laps. He started 8th and pretty much stayed in the top 10 all day. He solidified his position in the Chase.

Sam Hornish Jr: he started 29th and worked his way up. Although he never led, the #77 car got stronger as the race progressed. A shout out goes to the #77 crew for hitting the setup and consistently fast pit stops.

Jimmie Johnson: I've got to put him in this category. He was three laps down at one point due to an ill-handling car. Chad Knaus and the #48 crew showed why they're the best in the business in overcoming that three-lap deficit. Rather than packing it in for the day, they kept working on the car until they hit the setup late in the race. JJ rallied to finish 13th, just behind Kevin Harvick. Had the race gone another 10 laps, they would have been a factor.

Honorable Mention: Brian Vickers, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart.


Reed Sorenson: finished 15 laps down. Fortunately, he's one step above Start and Parker City.

Marcos Ambrose: he was unusually bad in this race. He should be much better at the Glen. Finished a head-scratching 8 laps down.

David Reutimann: although he finished on the lead lap, his Chase chances took a SEVERE hit by finishing 29th, the next to the last driver on the lead lap.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: he finished 28th, and his Chase chances are pretty much done now. He needed at least a top 10 to have any chance of making the Chase.


David Reutimann: he lost three positions in the points standings because of his poor finish.

Robby Gordon/David Stremme: these two got into each other more than once. They decided to play bumper cars and both were penalized by NASCAR. Can you say, "Justin Allgaier in the #12 next season?"

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours.