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.