Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gas and Go--Daytona (Summer Race 2009)

In this week's edition of Gas and Go, I will give you some short observations and takes pertaining to the race.

  1. The summer race at Daytona is synonymous with the Fourth of July, summer time, patriotism, and LOTS of bumping and banging.
  2. Handling is a major issue in this race. The 2.5 mile track is very slick, and if the car is handling well, the likelihood of a good finish or even a win is greater.
  3. While there is great action throughout the track, the best action is coming off Turn 2. Teams have to work on making sure the car is able to turn coming off Turn 2.
  4. This race has a long, storied history. The first winner in the summer race was Fireball Roberts, in 1959. He won $7,050. Contrast that to the 2006 winner, Tony Stewart, who won $369,586 in prize money.
  5. Richard Petty won for his 200th time (and it was his final win) in the 1984 Firecracker 400 with President Reagan in attendance, driving the STP Pontiac.
  6. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with three wins in this event. He needs two wins to tie The Silver Fox, David Pearson, for most all-time wins (5) in this event.
  7. Thinking of you: Richard Petty.
  8. In 2007, Jamie McMurray edged Casey Mears in one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history in this race. McMurray won by .006 of a second in a photo finish.
  9. Look for the usual superspeedway suspects to be running up front: Dale Earnhardt Jr, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, the Busch Brothers, Clint Bowyer. One dark horse to look at: AJ Allmendinger.
  10. In recent years, there seems to be a surprise winner more often than not.

Predicted Race Winner: Kevin Harvick. Yes, I'm going out on a VERY thin limb. Some of you may even think of me as daft for picking Harvick to win. He's been running well lately, but has had some VERY bad racing luck this season. With any kind of racing luck, he'd be coming off consecutive top 10's. This week is the week that his luck starts to change for the better. Plus the surprise winner is a factor.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Lenox Industrial Tools 301

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the hills of New Hampshire to bring you this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Served with a side of hot, steaming New England clam chowder and iced coffee. Enjoy!


Joey Logano: as the race winner, he automatically gets first billing. I knew I'd be putting him in this spot sometime! Some will say the win was tainted; I say not. A win is a win, however it comes. At 19, he becomes the youngest winner in Sprint Cup history, eclipsing teammate Kyle Busch's record. He and crew chief Greg Zipadelli took a HUGE gamble by keeping Logano out during the caution for rain. But with a steady and persistent rain, the gamble paid off. Congratulations on that first win!!

Jeff Gordon: he had a strong car throughout the race and led 65 laps. Unfortunately, he got bit by the rain.

Kurt Busch: like Gordon, he had a strong car and hung out in the top 5 for much of the race. He led 27 laps en route to a third place finish.

David Reutimann: although the Franchise didn't lead a lap, he was the beneficiary of the rain. He would have had to pit before the scheduled end of the race. Finishing fourth kept him within striking distance of Juan Pablo Montoya, who is currently 12th in the points.

Tony Stewart: it looked like Smoke was going to get his second win of the season, but a huge mistake by his front tire changer on the final pit stop doomed his chances. He led 40 laps en route to a fifth place finish.

Honorable Mention: Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Sam Hornish Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, and Casey Mears.


TNT's Race Coverage: TOO MANY COMMERCIALS! And for too long a time! About half the race was interrupted by commercials! Seemed like every time they went to a commercial, a caution came out.

Start and Parkers: you people know who you are. It's a bane on NASCAR. I've LONG been an advocate of establishing a MINIMUM COMPLETED lap requirement of 25% of the scheduled number of laps. In this case, it's completing 75 laps. If you don't complete the minimum requirements, you don't get paid, and you don't get your points. The exception would be being involved in an accident NOT of your doing.


The Big One: I thought the Big One was reserved for Talladega and Daytona. Apparently Mr. Big One decided to attend the race at the last minute. On Lap 174, he made his presence felt in the form of a multi-car wreck that took out SEVERAL good cars, among them THREE RCR cars (Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, and Casey Mears, although Mears only suffered cosmetic damage. Martin Truex Jr. was another of the casualties and his car suffered severe damage.)

Weather: rain halted the proceedings with 28 laps to go. One good that came out of it: Joey Logano winning his first Cup race.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gas and Go--Loudon

This week's Gas and Go comes New England-style. I give you some brief insights and takes regarding this week's race.

  1. New Hampshire International Speedway was completed in 1990. At a distance of just over one mile, it has been described as "Martinsville on steroids."
  2. NHIS gives the NASCAR fans in the Northeast and Canada an opportunity to root on their favorite drivers twice a year.
  3. The first Cup race at NHIS took place on July 11, 1993, the Slick 50 300. Mark Martin won the pole, but Rusty Wallace won the race.
  4. NHIS got its second date in 1997. Jeff Gordon won the first race held in mid-September, September 14, 1997, to be exact.
  5. Jeff Burton won the fall race in 2000 and he led EVERY LAP in that race.
  6. Jimmie Johnson swept both NHIS races in 2003. Not to be outdone, Kurt Busch swept both races in 2004.
  7. Jeff Burton leads all drivers with four wins at the track. With a win this week, Jeff Gordon would tie Burton.
  8. Because of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks and the subsequent postponement of the fall race that year, the race was run on 11/26/01. Robby Gordon got his only career oval win driving the #31 Lowe's Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. It was the last race for Lowe's on the #31. The next year, they would move to the #48 Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson.
  9. Look for the usual suspects to be running up front: Johnson, Burton, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Martin Truex, Jr.
  10. If not for being so snakebit this year, I'd include Kevin Harvick among the front runners.
  11. There are two brother combinations that have won: Ward (fall 2002) and Jeff Burton, and Kurt and Kyle Busch.
  12. Thinking of you: Jerry Nadeau.

Predicted Race Winner: Tony Stewart.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Sonoma Weekend

This past weekend was one of the most awesome, memorable weekends I have had in a long time. I'll give you a brief synopsis of my weekend.


9:00 AM: left the house to pick up my rental car at the Fresno Airport. Made a detour en route.
10:45 AM: picked up rental car at the airport.

11:00 AM: left Fresno en route to Vallejo.

2:15 PM: arrived in Vallejo, ate lunch prior to checking in to The Ramada Inn.

2:45 PM: checked in, unpacked, and relaxed prior to dinner.

6:00 PM: arrived at La Strada Nostra, an Italian restaurant on Hwy. 29 in the south part of Napa, to meet my fellow Fox Sports Bloggers (above image) for dinner. A fantastic time was had by all that were present, including a blogger from Yahoo Sports (not pictured) that was in our dinner party. The food was fantastic, the drinks flowed freely, and the company was even better. We hung out at the restaurant until 8:45 PM. A few of us then hung out at the lobby of the Gaia Hotel just south of the restaurant until 10 PM.

11:30 PM: lights out.

SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2009

5:30 AM: awoke and got ready for a VERY long day at Infineon. Made arrangements with YeeMum to pick her up at 7:00 AM.

7:00 AM: YeeMum and I left for the track, arriving at 7:45 AM. We had hit some traffic about a mile east of the track, and there was a slight delay in parking. We waited about 10 minutes for a shuttle to pick us up and transport us to the track.

8:15 AM-12:00 Noon: several of us hung out with Kristen at Kurt Busch's pit to start out. It was interesting listening to Larry, one of Kurt's crew members, explain the process of constructing and deconstructing the pit area before and after a race. I also hung out at Kevin Harvick's and Kasey Kahne's pit areas. (I must have brought Kasey some luck, as he ended up winning the race, LOL.) Jeff, Kasey's catch can man, and I had a good, but brief conversation. I ended up taking a picture with two of Kevin Harvick's crew members (below).

These guys are cool! One of them complimented my Harvick crocs that I was wearing! I couldn't resist having my picture taken with these guys. The picture was taken around 9:30 AM (approximately). I had bought a Pit Pass earlier; that's why I was down in the pit area hanging out and taking pictures of various crew members, some of the cars that were racing that day, some pit signs, and other unusual objects. I even had a few pics taken of me sitting in front of Harvick's pit.

Some unusual pics:

Lugnuts from Jeff Burton's pit (left); Kevin Harvick's pit sign (right). Could the missing Maltese Lugnut be in Burton's pit? Nah, Burton's not running well enough, LOL.

12 Noon: I decided to take my seat. I was sitting where I had a clear view of Jimmie Johnson's pit, as seen below. Chandi (Jimmie's wife) was not there at the time of the picture, but was there during the race.

2:20 PM: Green flag waves, Brian Vickers takes the green flag. He led the first few laps of the event. He was strong at the beginning but faded down the stretch.

The race was scheduled for 110 laps, but a caution with two laps to go extended the race another three laps. Had the caution come on the final lap, the race would have ended under caution. Green-White-Checkered finishes are always exciting, and especially on road courses. Everyone knew that this was the last restart of the race. Kasey Kahne was in front of Tony Stewart at that point.

5:05 PM (approx.): Kasey Kahne takes the checkered flag roughly a second and a half ahead
of Tony Stewart. Here are a couple of pics to mark the occasion:

The picture on the left is Kahne taking the checkered flag with Stewart giving chase. The picture on the right is Kahne's right arm extended as he emerges from the #9 car.

7:15 PM: after a nearly two-hour wait, YeeMum and I finally board a shuttle to take us to the parking lot. We're both exhausted, but she's a happy camper because her driver (Kasey Kahne) won the race and she was able to see him win in person. Once we got to the car, it took us an hour and a half to finally hit open traffic just west of Napa.

9:00 PM: we stop to get a burger and fries in downtown Napa. After not having eaten all afternoon, a burger and fries was a welcome sight (and taste).

10:00 PM: I drop off YeeMum at her motel. I thank her for a great time together and that I am glad that she was able to make it to Sonoma.

11:30 PM: Lights out.

MONDAY, JUNE 22, 2009

6:30 AM: awoke and decided to take my time showering, getting ready, packing for the trip home, etc.

9:00 AM: left Vallejo after a light breakfast and filling the car up with gas. Took my time getting into Fresno. Surprisingly, there was very little, if any, congested traffic.
12 Noon: pulled into Fresno.
12:45 PM: returned rental car without problem.
2:00 PM: arrived home.
That was my Sonoma weekend. I had a fantastic time, and my life is richer for not only the experience, but for the new friends that I made. Thank you all, and I'll see you down the road. Let's make this an annual event!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Toyota/Save Mart 350

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew presents the wine (or whine) and cheese version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served up Northern California style.


Kasey Kahne: as the race winner, he automatically gets first billing. He led the most laps in the race and had the best car out there. He was able to hold off a hard-charging Tony Stewart on several late-race restarts. The win was the first for Richard Petty as a car owner since John Andretti’s win at Martinsville in April 1999. For Kahne, it was his first win on a road course, and he led the final 38 laps of the race. More importantly, the win moves him into 13th place in the standings. Good job Kasey!

Tony Stewart: Smoke had a strong car as well, as he led 11 laps. He kept waiting for Kahne to make a mistake, but it didn’t happen. He was strongest in the middle thirds of the race.

Marcos Ambrose: he had to start at the rear of the field due to an engine change. But he kept plugging away and kept moving up. Plus he was the beneficiary of a caution flag that occurred shortly after he left the pits on a pit stop. He moved way up when several drivers ahead of him pitted during that caution, and he stayed out. He tied his career-best finish of third.

Jimmie Johnson: while he’s not the best on road courses (he’s never won at Sonoma or The Glen), he gets this spot because he dramatically improved on his average finish at Sonoma before this race. While he never led, he hung around and the crew kept working on the 48 to make it better, and the results showed.

Denny Hamlin: another driver with an unexpected result on a road course. Hamlin was stout, leading 33 laps and hanging around the top 5 much of the race.
Honorable Mention: Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Allmendinger, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Elliott Sadler, Patrick Carpentier, and Max Papis.


PJ Jones: he did Todd Bodine one worse. He only completed TWO laps before he was done for the day, finishing in an amazing 43rd place. Dead Freaking Last. Dude, next time you pull this crap, give up your spot in the field to someone that wants to RACE. That was a disgrace to NASCAR and sports in general. That left a BAD taste in my mouth.

Dave Blaney: another S & P—this time he completed an amazing FOUR laps to finish 42nd and run off with his paycheck. Both he and Jones probably did faster times running off with their prize money than doing laps on the track DURING the race. Perhaps the FBI should issue posters with both Blaney’s and Jones’ faces on them with the caption: WANTED: ROBBERY AND GRAND LARCENY.


Jimmie Johnson: it’s rare that I put a driver in both the Good and Ugly categories, but I do this week. Johnson was trying to pass Kurt Busch in the esses. First of all, it’s next to impossible to pass in the esses. Busch was running very well, and his chances of winning evaporated when Johnson punted him and sent him into the tire barrier to bring out a caution at Lap 90.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours! For all you fellow bloggers that made it to Sonoma, I had a GREAT time! Thank you for a memorable weekend!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gas and Go--Sonoma

This week's version of Gas and Go takes us to the California Wine Country; more specifically, Sonoma in the Napa Valley of Northern California. For us NoCals, it's the only time NASCAR comes to our neck of the woods. Here are a few observations about Sonoma and the track.

  1. Infineon Raceway opened in 1968 under the name Sears Point Raceway on 720 acres of a former dairy farm. The Raceway hosted its first race, an SCCA Enduro, on December 1, 1968.
  2. Infineon Raceway hosts 340 days of racing activity each year, making it one of the busiest tracks in the nation. It is also one of the premier racing venues in the nation.
  3. The road course features more than 160 feet of elevation change: Turn 3a is 174 feet and Turn 10 is just 14 feet. So not only does a driver have to make both left and right turns, he also has to deal with the vast elevation changes, further testing his mettle.
  4. Drivers will make 1,100 turns on the course should they complete all 110 laps.
  5. The Toyota/Save Mart 350 is one of the few races measured in kilometers. The race spans 110 laps, or 218.9 miles or 352.21 kilometers.
  6. Ricky Rudd won the inaugural Winston Cup race at Sears Point in 1988. He would win his second Sonoma race 14 years later, in 2002. It would end up being his last career win.
  7. The late Dale Earnhardt won his only road course race at Sonoma, in 1995.
  8. Vallejo's own Jeff Gordon holds the career record for wins at Sonoma: five, including three in a row from 1998-2000. He also won in 2004 and 2006. Home cooking has served him well there. In addition to his five wins, he has also started from the pole five times (1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, and 2005). Could a sixth win be awaiting him in front of his home fans? (Infineon is Gordon's home track)
  9. Juan Pablo Montoya won his first Cup race at Sonoma in 2007. He started 32nd, the farthest back that a winner has started. Typically, a prospective winner would want to start within the top 10.
  10. Look for the usual suspects to run well: Gordon, Mark Martin, Montoya, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch (the defending race champion). My dark horse: Jamie McMurray. He always seems to run well at Sonoma, and is frequently the best running Roush driver there.

Predicted Race Winner: Juan Pablo Montoya.

Your comments and takes are always welcome!