Sunday, November 22, 2009
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 www.racing-reference.info.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
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
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
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!