Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas


To all of my friends and fellow Lug Nutters, may you all have a blessed and Merry Christmas and have a WONDERFUL day!



Friday, December 24, 2010

Carolina Panthers--Week 16

Being a Panthers fan out on the west coast, I don't get to see many of their games, unless they're playing the 49ers or Raiders, and that's a rarity. (They did get one of their two wins against the Niners this year.) The NFL-N offered me as a fan a RARE treat: a nationally televised game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Perhaps it's time to stuff the Panthers back into obscurity after this game.

OH the horrah!! After a pretty decent start in which they moved the ball, the Steelers adjusted and the Panthers didn't. Therein lies the problem. Coaching, or lack thereof. The Panthers DO have talent on both sides of the ball, but they're not well-coached. Too many mental errors, breakdowns in coverages, poor tackling--they can be attributed to poor coaching. The players DO play hard and have no quit in them--that is a testament to John Fox.

Offensively, the Panthers have the WORST offensive coordinator in Jeff Davidson. No imagination, doesn't make adjustments, and doesn't put his players in a position to succeed. Plus no quarterback stability doesn't help. I'm ready for the Panthers to draft Andrew Luck IF he comes out. (Rumor has it IF Jim Harbaugh stays at Stanford, Luck will stay also.) Jimmy Clausen is NOT cutting it. The Panthers could very well be the first team since the 1992 Seattle Seahawks to NOT score multiple touchdowns in ANY game in a season, as they (mercifully) finish their season against Atlanta. One good thing, though: they ALWAYS give Atlanta a hard time. This is embarrassing: finishing up against two Super Bowl-caliber teams and not even showing up.

Defensively, they have an emerging stud in DE Charles Johnson. He has six consecutive games with a QB sack, tying the franchise record set by Kevin Greene WAY back in 1996. (He sacked Big Ben TWICE.) Now they need a BIG run-stuffer, a big oak tree in the middle that stops opposing runners in their tracks. I like how DC Ron Meeks makes adjustments, but sometimes he overthinks himself. The linebacking corps that was in there wasn't bad--Beason is a stud, but he had a couple of guys off the street alongside him. The secondary is PUTRID. THEY CAN'T COVER ANYONE!! Any one of the Lug Nuts could have made a big play on that secondary with Big Ben throwing to us!! GET RID OF THE WHOLE SECONDARY EXCEPT FOR CHRIS GAMBLE (He was out with an injury.)

As far as special teams, they have a good punt returner in Captain Munnerlyn. But they need someone that is a threat to make a house call on kickoff returns. A Devin Hester-type, if you will. Someone that strikes abject fear into the hearts of their opponents. The guys we have don't do that. Steve Smith USED to do that when he returned punts and kickoffs way back in the day. Kicking wise, John Kasay is old, not as accurate as he used to be, and doesn't kickoff any more due to his decreased length on kickoffs. Jason Baker is atrocious as a punter. Granted, the wind was swirling and was consistently between 15-20 MPH. It even knocked down the Steelers' punter's punts.

Overall, the game was unwatchable. What made it unwatchable was how atrocious the Panthers' offense is, aside from Jonathan Stewart. Even Smith dropped a few balls, which is uncharacteristic of him.

My take on the Panthers is this: they need an identity. Mr. Richardson needs to hire someone to handle ALL the football operations and pay him HUGE jack. John Fox won't return; that's pretty much the worst-kept secret in the league. I'm torn about whether or not hiring Bill Cowher is a good move. On the surface it is. But does HE want to subject himself to the grind of coaching again? AND would he want total control of the operations? What about his emotions in dealing with his late wife's passing over the summer? Those are questions that Mr. Richardson and Cowher would have to answer. IF Mr. Richardson is going to hire someone to control the football operations, he NEEDS to trust him and let him do his job.

As the GM, I'd be inclined to hire a coach that stresses discipline and character, and who would want to bring in good character players. Then let him hire his own coaching staff. (But getting rid of Davidson is A MUST.) I'd make recommendations and suggestions, but the final decision would be the head coach's to make. If the new coach requests, I'd draft Andrew Luck (if he comes out) first overall and bring Jake Delhomme back as that veteran QB and mentor to Luck. I'd dangle Clausen as trade bait. A functional movement coach would be hired to reduce the amount of injuries to the players. NO detail would be unattended.

The Panthers DO have talent, they just need an overhaul of the coaching staff, plus an identity.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Ford 400

For the final time this season, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in South Beach (actually a few miles inland) for this week's serving of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with Cuban sandwiches, paella, and washed down with plenty of drinks of your choice. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Jimmie Johnson: I put him here because he won his fifth championship in a row. And he finished second in the race to Carl Edwards. He becomes the first driver since the late Alan Kulwicki in 1992 to win the championship on the final race when trailing in the points going into the race. (Kulwicki was about the same number of markers behind Bill Elliott as Johnson was today.)

Carl Edwards: as the race winner, he would normally get first billing, but the championship winner does in this case. He earns an extra Good for winning the final two races of the season and stamps himself as a legitimate championship contender next season. And an EXTRA Good for this race for leading the most laps and being dominant.

Kevin Harvick: although he didn't lead a lap, he ran the wheels off the 29 in a desperate attempt to win the title and the race. He came up short on both accounts. He also suffered a speeding penalty coming onto pit road with less than 100 laps to go, wiping out his exiting pit road in first place and taking five bonus points off the board. He was able to overcome that with timely cautions falling into place and coming in for four tires and fuel with every stop. (Harvick was using tires allotted to Jeff Burton, as he had crashed earlier and was many laps down.) He finished third in this race, and third for the season. (He wins the points under the pre-Chase scenario, though!) He'll also be a legitimate title contender next season.

Aric Almirola: his best run by FAR in the #9. He was in the top 10 all afternoon, thrilling the home-state crowd. My question is: why isn't this guy in a full-time ride in Cup?? He's shown in limited opportunities he CAN get the job done. He'll be in the 88 full-time in the Nationwide Series next year.

AJ Allmendinger: way to finish strong AJ! He'll know tomorrow if he even has a ride next year with Richard Petty Motorsports, as that whole enterprise may be shuttered due to circumstances beyond his control. He's shown he has earned a ride in Cup. Let's hope he does have a ride in Cup next year.

Kasey Kahne: his sixth place finish bodes well for him and Red Bull as he steps into the 82 car vacated by Scott Speed. (Brian Vickers will return to the 83 next year.) Kahne and his crew seemed to be clicking as the season ended.

Stewart-Haas Racing: Tony Stewart (7th) and Ryan Newman (8th) finished strong, which bodes well for them next season. Newman, in particular, looks like a legitimate Chase contender next year. (I'll have my predictions in late January.)

Bill Elliott: Awesome Bill from Dawsonville was stout in qualifying, and was in the top 10 late in the race before fading and finishing 15th. Even as a part-time driver, he's still competitive. Still a good run from one of NASCAR's all-time good guys. Great job!

THE BAD

Mike Ford: Denny Hamlin's crew chief made some bad decisions in the last two races that cost his driver the championship. At Phoenix, it was bad fuel strategy. Today, it was a missed pit stop. He had Hamlin stay out while a lot of other drivers pitted. It backfired as Hamlin went backwards in a hurry. Ford will learn from his mistakes and he'll be a better crew chief for it. He is fortunate that Hamlin is ultra competitive and can drive the wheels off the car.

THE UGLY

Kyle Busch: he made contact with Harvick coming out of Turn 4, spun out, and crashed into the inside wall right in front of the start/finish line. Replays clearly showed Busch sliding in front of Harvick, who had NO WAY of avoiding him. He blamed Harvick for the crash, calling him among other things, "two-faced." Busch will see things differently when he sees the replay. Harvick had a tremendous run coming off the turn and if he slows down, both he and Busch crash. That's why Harvick stayed on the gas. Just a racing incident. If anything, it was Kyle's fault for being reckless.

Jeff Gordon: what a way to end the season--a blown engine. It was a snapshot of Gordon's season: runs strong, then something unforeseen pops up. He's still 0-for-Homestead.

My final thoughts on the season: it was a very interesting one, to say the least. Gotta thank the crew for a fantastic season. Most of all, I thank the fans for making NASCAR the great sport that it is. Hope you all have very great and blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. We'll see you all at Daytona next season!! Congratulations again to Jimmie Johnson for making it five in a row!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reflections on the 2010 NASCAR season

We have one race to go before a bow is put on the 2010 season in NASCAR. One race. Four hundred miles. Three drivers within 46 points of each other. All that work from January to this point comes down to this, and possibly the final pit stop of the season. But before I get to the drama, I want to reflect on this season as not only a NASCAR fan, but as a Kevin Harvick fan.

Coming into this season, I had hopes that Harvick would bounce back and make the Chase. At the very least break his long winless streak. He finished the 2009 season strong, giving me and many other Harvick fans hope. Happy started strong and I was hoping Daytona would be where he would break his streak. He got bit by the new three G-W-C rule. Then consecutive second place finishes to Jimmie Johnson at California and Las Vegas and the lucky horseshoe quote after California.

Harvick took the points lead early in the season and held it for 20 consecutive weeks. FINALLY, that elusive win came at Talladega when he edged Jamie McMurray in a photo finish, making a gutsy pass with roughly a quarter mile to go. The pass was perfect; if Harvick passed too soon, McMurray could respond. If it was too late, he wouldn't have enough room to pass McMurray.

Happy would follow up with wins at Daytona and Michigan. The win at Michigan totally floored and surprised me. He not only won, he led the most laps en route to the win. He was STOUT. The late Dale Earnhardt won at Michigan ONE TIME, in 1990. Up to that point, it was RCR's only win at Michigan. If a Chevy won, it was usually from Hendrick Motorsports. But Michigan is where Roush Fenway Racing is usually dominant. I'd have been happy with a top 10!

Going into the Chase, Harvick lost his points lead to Denny Hamlin. He was 40 points behind Hamlin at Loudon. He's lost six points since. Now he has to make up all 46 points. It doesn't look good for Harvick, but 46 points is not a lot of ground to make up, particularly if Hamlin struggles and Harvick has a strong run. And Homestead may be Harvick's strongest track. He's completed every lap of every race, and has a slew of top 10's. In fact, in his last five Homestead starts, Harvick has four top 5's.

NOW the drama. As mentioned earlier, the top three drivers (Hamlin, Johnson, and Harvick) are within 46 points of each other. NONE of these drivers can afford even a minor slip up. A mistake or penalty can cost a driver a championship. Although Hamlin leads Johnson by 15 points, he's feeling the pressure of being the hunted. Johnson has not trailed going into the final race since 2005. Normally this race is a coronation for Johnson.

The scenarios.
  1. Hamlin: if he finishes ahead of Johnson and Harvick, he wins the title. Hamlin can still win the title if: 1) he wins the race and Johnson finishes second and leads the most laps; 2) he finishes second to Johnson AND leads the most laps.
  2. Johnson: HE wins IF he wins the race, leads the most laps, and Hamlin finishes fourth or worse; or he finishes four positions AHEAD of Hamlin and ahead of Harvick.
  3. Harvick: HE wins the title IF 1) he wins the race and leads the most laps AND Johnson finishes fourth or worse AND Hamlin finishes 8th or worse. But assuming none of the three wins the race but each leads laps, Harvick wins the title if he finishes six positions AHEAD of Johnson and ten positions ahead of Hamlin.

While Harvick has the toughest road to climb, he does have the experience of winning two Busch Series titles, so he knows how to win a championship. Obviously Johnson is Four-Time, and the record speaks for itself. While I'd love for Harvick to win, my head says Johnson is Five-Time, with Harvick finishing second in the points and Hamlin third. Something tells me Hamlin is going to struggle big time, and Johnson and Harvick will fight it out for the title.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Kobalt Tools 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the Valley of the Sun to bring you this week's desert heat version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, spiced up with plenty of intrigue, served with salsa and guacamole dip, and washed down with plenty of Mountain Dew. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Carl Edwards: he gets first billing as the race winner. He benefitted from saving fuel on the final green flag run and getting great fuel mileage (around 5 MPG, as compared to 3.8-4 MPG under normal green flag conditions). He also benefitted when his main rival, Denny Hamlin, had to pit with 14 laps to go. Edwards is one of the best, if not the best, at saving fuel. The Quack Attack was stout from the time the 99 was unloaded to the checkers. He would be on here regardless if he won or not. With the win, Edwards breaks a 70-race winless streak, dating to Homestead in 2008. This can be a springboard to him being the Edwards of 2008 and being a threat to win every race.

Ryan Newman: although he didn't lead a lap, it didn't take the Rocket Man to work his way to the front. He pretty much stayed in the top 10-15 throughout the race. He also got great fuel mileage and benefitted from that final run.

Joey Logano: how's this for finishes--in five consecutive races, Logano has finished seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth, and now third. At this pace, he'll finish second at Homestead, then be your 2011 Daytona 500 champion!

Greg Biffle: had his typical Biffle run--hanging around the latter half of the top 10 and being there at the end.

Jimmie Johnson: he started in the middle of the field and worked his way towards the front. For the first time in the last 10 Phoenix races, he did not lead a lap. He did an excellent job in saving fuel to finish fifth and gain ground on Denny Hamlin. Johnson is now 15 points behind Hamlin in the closest Chase in history.

Kevin Harvick: he started somewhere around Tempe (actually, 29th) and quickly worked his way up the field, all the way to fourth at one point. The 29 crew committed a very costly penalty in forgetting a lug nut late in the race. Fortunately, a caution flag came out 10 laps later, and Harvick came in for four tires and fuel (he was mired in 19th at the time, the last car on the lead lap). What could have been lethal actually worked to his benefit, as both he and Johnson finished ahead of Hamlin, who finished 12th. Harvick is now 46 points behind Hamlin and 31 behind Johnson.

Denny Hamlin: he was STOUT in the early part of the race. By lap 200 he had already clinched the 10 bonus points for leading the most laps in the race. But a long green flag run was his undoing. He did well in rebounding to a 12th place finish.

Bobby Labonte: I hardly ever put a driver that finishes a lap down in here, but with Edwards and Hamlin being so stout, I will. Labonte piloted the 09 to a top 20 finish, huge for that team. With him going to the 47 next season, I look for him to be competitive.

Sebastian Vettel: no, he's not a NASCAR driver. But he deserves a mention because he became the youngest driver to win a Formula One drivers' championship by winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix along with Fernando Alonso faltering. Vettel is six months younger than the previous youngest champion, Lewis Hamilton. Congratulations Sebastian from the folks here at Crappafoni Pictures and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

Honorable Mention: Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray.

THE BAD

David Reutimann: whatever it was, the 00 team missed on the setup and he struggled. He went backwards at the drop of the green flag. Up to today, he's been running as well as any of the Chasers. Perhaps some home cooking next week will do the trick.

Kasey Kahne: he got nary a mention until somehow his fuel can got stuck on his spoiler after a pit stop under caution. A bad day got worse.

THE UGLY

Kasey Kahne: see above.

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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Phoenix Pit Selections

I never thought in a million years I'd be talking pit stall selections. But after last week's wild and crazy race, pit stall selections have come to the forefront of a hotly-contested Chase race. I will break down the stall selections of the three contenders for the title, starting with the leader, Denny Hamlin.
  • Denny Hamlin: the points leader selected stall #18, behind the 88 team of Dale Earnhardt Jr, and ahead of the 31 team of Jeff Burton. This selection is a crapshoot, particularly if both Jr and Burton are running well. Hamlin could potentially have problems either coming into or going out of the pits, or both. Then again, Hamlin could have clear sailing later in the race, saving precious seconds.
  • Jimmie Johnson: the 48 team selected stall #39, behind the 09 team and ahead of the 98 team of Paul Menard. This is less dangerous than the 11's selection for two reasons: 1) the 09 team is typically a start and park team and Johnson would have clear sailing going OUT of the pits; 2) it's one of the first stalls coming into pit road. Based on this, Johnson has a slight advantage over Hamlin to start, but could be neutralized if Burton and Earnhardt Jr. are off the lead lap.
  • Kevin Harvick: he ended up with a GREAT selection. Here's why: he is behind the #36 and ahead of the #09, both start and park teams. By mid-race, he'll have clear sailing into and out of stall #37. Plus he's two stalls ahead of Johnson, so the #29 crew can play Jedi mind tricks on the #48 crew!

Based on the circumstances, Kevin Harvick has a clear advantage over both Johnson and Hamlin. Of course, things can change in an instant. Harvick could have clear sailing as soon as the first pit stop. This irony cannot be lost: Menard was also behind Johnson at Texas. Something to think about.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly -- 2010 AAA Texas 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is deep in the heart of Texas to bring you this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. This week's dish is a heapin' helpin' of Texas-style BBQ, complete with all the fixin's one could ever want to have, and washed down with plenty of Coke. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Denny Hamlin: this week's winner gets to be first in line. I think he started somewhere around Irving and worked his way to the front. (Actually, he started 30th.) Give credit to Mike Ford and the rest of the 11 crew in making the car better as the race went on. He takes the points lead over Jimmie Johnson with two races left. But it's far from over.

Roush Fenway Racing: led by Matt Kenseth (2nd), they had two other drivers in the top 10: Greg Biffle (5th) and David Ragan (8th). Even Carl Edwards ran well until fading to 19th. They were strong when they unloaded and stayed strong throughout the race weekend.

Mark Martin: he's running like the Martin of last year--being there at the end and giving himself a chance to win the race. Since Dover, the 5 team has turned the corner, giving them optimism going into next year.

Joey Logano: easily his best career finish at Texas. He ran strong all race long and even led late. Good job kid!

Paul Menard: another strong effort from the #98 driver. I'm looking forward to seeing him run in an RCR car next season.

Kevin Harvick: he started 26th but as is his MO, he worked his way to the front. Was about to fade into oblivion until a very late caution came out and he pitted. Benefitted from being on the opposite side of Greg Biffle and JJ being behind Biff. (Biffle had no second gear and had to lay back on restarts.)

Jeff Gordon/Jeff Burton: I'm only putting these two in here for what happened after a caution. Burton wrecked Gordon under caution, Gordon was none too happy (and I don't blame him ONE BIT) and brawled with Burton on the backstretch. Gordon threw a punch that grazed Burton in the ear. In the words of my fellow blogger YeeMum, HE (Gordon) HITS LIKE A GIRL! THOSE ARE NOT MY WORDS! It looked like Gordon confronted Burton with bad intentions and was ready to kick some serious ass. GOOD FOR HIM! I'm an RCR fan (Harvick being my favorite RCR driver) and that was totally unnecessary by Burton. Needless to say, it ruined a strong run by Gordon.

Honorable Mention: Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and Marcos Ambrose.

THE BAD

The 48 pit crew: to put it mildly, they were PUTRID. In fact, they were so bad they were replaced IN MID-RACE by the 24 crew after Gordon and Burton's wreck. Prior to the mid-race yanking, the 48 crew was consistently costing JJ positions on pit road. The 24 crew did a much better job and put JJ in a position to steal a win. Could a crew swap be in the works? It worked for the 29.

THE UGLY

Martin Truex Jr.: he brought out multiple cautions for accidents. No matter what the 56 crew tried to do to the car to tighten it up, it wouldn't tighten. The final caution he caused finished off the 56, bringing an end to a VERY ugly day.

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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

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

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is deep in the heart of Dixie, Big Bad Dega, to bring you this week's version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with all the fixin's you could ever want, and washed down with plenty of Amp Energy drink. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Clint Bowyer: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He had a stout car all day long, and got a final push from Juan Pablo Montoya right before the caution came out on the final lap. (IMO, Bowyer owes Montoya a favor, but that's just me.) The 33 and 42 were strong drafting partners all day, much like the 1 and 29 in the spring.

Kevin Harvick: he was edged out at the end. But the real story is Harvick taking a beat-up race car and finishing second. It was beat up when Marcos Ambrose was tagged and collected Harvick, causing significant damage to the nose of the #29. After patchwork repair, Harvick moved up 12 spots right after the restart. And from sixth place on the final restart, Harvick led going into the final lap, but was passed by Bowyer. Harvick gained 24 points on the points leader, Jimmie Johnson. Now he's 37 points behind with three races to go.

David Reutimann: a HUGE shout out (and a lot of love) goes to Reuty for helping Harvick!! THANK YOU DAVID! Reutimann had a stout car, and it didn't matter who was his drafting partner, they quickly moved to the front. Good job Reuty!!

Juan Pablo Montoya: he was on Target today, being at the point for 17 laps. Although he hasn't won on an oval, he's proven to be strong on the superspeedways. He made his Cup debut at this speedway four years ago, and ran strong then. A win is coming if the team stays in the Chevy camp and with the ECR engine program.

Joey Logano: he was very strong, leading for five laps. He ran a smart, patient race, stayed out of trouble, and was rewarded with a fifth place finish.

Honorable Mention: Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon, and Brad Keselowski.

THE BAD

Jeff Fuller: he was the first start and parker. He drew the short stick at the start and parkers' meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. He ran a total of TWO LAPS before declaring himself done for the day and collecting NASCAR welfare.

Dave Blaney: despite securing sponsorship for this race, he was the second car to start and park. He obviously said, "TRICK OR TREAT" en route to parking the #36 12 laps into the race.

THE UGLY

Jeff Burton/Dale Earnhardt Jr: they got tangled up in a wreck that ended Burton's day and affected Jr's day. A sub-Good to Jr for leading the most laps.

The Mini-Big One: this happened on the final lap. AJ Allmendinger got the worst of it, and with the possibility of RPM shuttering its operations altogether, it wasn't good for the Dinger.

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

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Tums Fast Relief 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is doing a rapid-fire The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, in honor of NASCAR's shortest track. Plenty of Martinsville Hot Dogs were consumed, washed down with lots of Coke. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Denny Hamlin: he won the race. Best car at the end. Cuts points lead to six in arrears. Popular win at M'ville.

Mark Martin: where did he come from? Great rally by the Old Man. Still very competitive.

Kevin Harvick: best career finish at the Big Paper Clip. Also gained some points going into Talladega. Great rally from 36th starting position!

Kyle Busch: another superb rally from deep in the field. Ran a smart race. Avoided brake issues. Was good on long runs.

Jimmie Johnson: always runs well at the Big Paper Clip. But he did have his points lead over Hamlin and Harvick cut.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: used sound strategy in staying out during a caution to get track position. Led at one point in the race, making Jr Nation very happy. Faded a bit at the end, but was still strong.

Jeff Burton: led the most laps and got the additional five bonus points.

Honorable Mention: Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton, Brad Keselowski.

THE BAD

Greg Biffle: had all kinds of issues. Stick a fork in him, he's done.

Sam Hornish Jr: tete-a-tete with Scott Speed sent Regan Smith behind the wall when Smith was punted into the wall. It was a blatant punt of Speed. Hornish should have been parked for the rest of the race.

Jeff Burton: gotta put him in here because so many drivers were complaining that he was brake checking on restarts. NASCAR warned him on that. Later he and teammate Kevin Harvick had a brush-up on track. Should make for an interesting drivers' meeting at the RCR camp this week.

THE UGLY

Tire issues: there were a multitude of drivers that cut tires in the last few laps of the race. The last run was the longest of the race, and it was nearly 100 degrees on the track.

That's it from Martinsville. See you all at Talladega!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Bank of America 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the capital of NASCAR, Charlotte, for this week's serving of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with Carolina-style ribs, plenty of corn on the cob and fried taters, and washed down with the beverage of your choice. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Jamie McMurray: as the race winner, he gets first billing. Great job by the 1 crew in getting him to the front, as he started WAY back in the pack. Did you see that final restart? McMurray was shot out of a cannon! I bet he was singing "Blue Bayou" to Kyle as he sped by the #18! He led 65 laps in getting his third win at the third different crown jewel track this season. (He also won the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400.) Good job Jamie!

Kyle Busch: he led the most laps but McMurray sung his own version of the Linda Ronstadt hit "Blue Bayou" on the final restart. Then he had his hands full with Jimmie Johnson, but was able to hold him off for second.

Jimmie Johnson: this is the reason why he's Four-Time. He had a wicked loose car at the start of the race, spun out early and dropped way back in the pack, and spent the rest of the race playing catch up. And he very nearly did. Most other drivers would have finished in the 20s. If he does win the title this year, he can point to this race as the reason why. He gains another five points on Denny Hamlin and more than doubles his lead on Kevin Harvick, even though Harvick had a top 10 finish.

Denny Hamlin: for awhile, it looked like the Hamster was going to get his first win at Charlotte. He had a solid car that was in the top 5 for much of the race, and even when he started outside the top 5 on restarts, he was quickly in the top 5. But he's got to start getting wins and finishing ahead of Johnson if he's to win the title.

Matt Kenseth/Roush Fenway Racing: he led a contingent of Roushkateers in the top 12. Kenseth started 24th and slowly worked his way into the top 10. His car was the best and fastest in the last 50 laps of the race. It looked like he was on a rail, as he was passing other cars effortlessly. Greg Biffle was solid all race, had good pit stops, and finished right behind Kenseth. Props also to David Ragan for finishing in the top 10, in tenth. Carl Edwards brought up the rear in 12th, and even he had a solid race after falling backwards early. Props go to his crew chief Bob Osborne and the Quack Quew (crew) for battling back. Good job to the Roushkateers!

Joey Logano/Joe Gibbs Racing: in addition to Kyle Busch and Hamlin, I give JGR props for having all three of its drivers in the top 10 with Logano's seventh place finish. Logano ran a quiet race, but was there at the end. He kept his nose clean, stayed out of trouble, and ran a smart race. Good job to all the JGR drivers!

Honorable Mention: Kevin Harvick, David Reutimann, and Juan Pablo Montoya.

THE BAD

J.J. Yeley: he was the first start and parker of the night. He drew the short straw at the start and parkers' meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. Reportedly Dave Blaney told Yeley, "You drew the short stick. You lost. What's fair is fair."

Dale Earnhardt Jr: this was a prime opportunity for him to get a solid finish and prove that the 88 team is on the right track. But he finishes in 29th, three laps down. At least he passed Kurt Busch late in the race, as he was running in 30th for much of the second half of the race. The honorable thing for Jr to do is step out of the seat, and have Rick Hendrick put Aric Almirola in there and see what he can do. He's lost it, and once you lose it, you can't get it back. At the very least, he needs to have a heart to heart with Mr. Hendrick at the end of the season.

Kurt Busch: gotta put him here. The Blue Deuce crew swapped out EVERYTHING in the car but the engine, the decals, and the sponsor and NOTHING worked. They even swapped the kitchen sink at their shop, from what I've heard, and even THAT didn't work. You could have put David Pearson in his prime in that car and it still would have finished 30th. The Blue Deuce was THAT BAD. You can now officially kiss Kurt Busch's chances to win the title goodbye.

THE UGLY

Kasey Kahne/Sam Hornish: Kahne got wickedly loose and Hornish was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got collected in Kahne's mess. It would have been very easy for Hornish to throw Kahne under the bus in the post accident interview afterwards but kudos to Hornish for not doing so. But you could hear the disappointment in Hornish's voice, more so at being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as he was trying to avoid Kahne. For Kahne, it was the icing on the cake, so to speak. He was battling a wickedly loose race car, and no matter what kind of adjustments he and the 9 crew tried to make, it got looser as the race went on. The accident was the end result.

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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Pepsi Max 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is California Dreamin' at Fontana (insert bad Mamas and Papas joke here) for this week's serving of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, with fish tacos (we're close enough to San Diego), salsa, and the toppings of your choice, washed down with Pepsi Max, of course! Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Tony Stewart: he gets first billing as the race winner. Smoke pulled ahead of Clint Bowyer on the final restart and had enough juice to hold off Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson for his first win at Fontana. With the win, Smoke bolsters his chances of a third championship. He has matured into a solid leader and that has helped him immensely in his racing. Could he be the modern-day A.J. Foyt? (Smoke was a former pole-sitter at the Indy 500.)

Clint Bowyer: he had a stout car from the time it was unloaded until the checkered flag, and it looked like he was going to win his second Chase race of the season. But Stewart overtook him on that last restart. What DOESN'T help Bowyer is that Jimmie Johnson finished right behind him, and he was only able to gain five points on Johnson. Bowyer could win the rest of the Chase races and if Johnson keeps ripping off top 3 finishes, Bowyer won't win the title.

Jimmie Johnson: this guy keeps ripping off top 3 finish after top 3 finish. Maybe there was something to what Kevin Harvick said early in the season about JJ and the lucky horseshoe. (Perhaps JJ played Frontierville on Facebook earlier in the season and got the horseshoe that way...just a thought.) And with Jimmie's House aka Charlotte looming, don't expect things to change anytime soon.

Kasey Kahne: where have you been Kasey? Long time no see in this category! Although he didn't lead a lap (he got as high as second position), he hung around in the top 10 for pretty much the whole race.

Ryan Newman: he capped off a great day for Stewart-Haas Racing by finishing fifth. He started 14th and quickly worked his way into the top 10. Great way to rep Tornados (a frozen Mexican-style wrap made in the central California town of Dinuba) in its home state by finishing in the top 5! Newman seems to run his best when Tornados is on the hood: a win and a fifth place finish.

Kevin Harvick: he started 21st, then had to overcome a speeding penalty exiting pit road during a round of green flag pit stops to finish seventh. The penalty dropped him to 28th, the last car on the lead lap. He was about to get lapped when a caution came out. A sub-Bad to his crew for NOT helping him gain spots on pit road. He made up all those spots on the track.

Denny Hamlin: I had to include the Hamster in here because he started in the back of the pack due to a transmission change. He charged his way up the field, eventually finishing eighth. But when you have the leader ripping off top 3s, it's impossible to catch him.

Honorable Mention: Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, David Reutimann, Joey Logano, Regan Smith.

THE BAD

Roush-Fenway Racing: it was a BAD day for them. Greg Biffle blows an engine and finishes 41st. Carl Edwards has ignition issues and finishes 34th. Then David Ragan, who was running solidly in the top 15 late in the race, triggers an accident that delivers a serious blow to Kurt Busch's title hopes. (Busch would finish 21st.) Matt Kenseth limped home in 30th, the last car on the lead lap and RFR's best finisher. Biffle's done, Edwards and Kenseth's title hopes are in serious jeopardy. They're THAT close to being done.

THE UGLY

Issues: many of the Chasers had them. Biffle and Kyle Busch blew engines. Edwards had ignition issues. Kurt Busch was collected in an accident not of his doing. Harvick and Jeff Gordon had speeding penalties. Kenseth limped home in 30th. Jeff Burton finished 23rd and is pretty close to being done. Hamlin had to have a transmission changed and started at the rear of the field.

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

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Price Chopper 400

This week, after a two-week absence due to moving into smaller, more cramped quarters, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is back at it with Toto in the land of Oz to bring you this week's version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with BBQ ribs, grilled corn, and all the rest of the fixin's. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Greg Biffle: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He was especially dominant in the second half of the race and he checked out with 50 laps to go. The race was for second place. He was that dominant. For awhile, I've been saying that Carl Edwards would be in the thick of the title hunt. After today, I substitute Biff for Edwards as the triumvirate that will fight it out for the title, along with Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.

Jimmie Johnson: he was mired in the middle of the field most of the race. It's a testament to the 48 crew that Johnson finished second when he easily could have finished 20th. They made the car better and better as the race went on. An added plus: he leads by three points over Denny Hamlin, and it's good to lead after the third race of the Chase, as four of the last six years, the champion has led after the third race of the Chase.

Kevin Harvick: he led 16 laps after starting mid-pack. Once again, the master of "where'd he come from?" strikes again en route to a third place finish. He also moves up two positions in the points standings, 30 behind Johnson. But at this point he needs WINS, not top 5 finishes. Top 5s won't cut it this year.

Tony Stewart: he led the most laps, but didn't have enough for the Biff's onslaught. Still, it was a sorely needed good run for Smoke, and it puts him in striking distance of Johnson.

Jeff Gordon: HE needed a good run, and got it. This sets him up nicely for Fontana next week. Now if he can only cash one or two wins in, he'd be in great shape!

Paul Menard: he led the most laps in one race, careerwise. The 98 team was strong when they unloaded, strong in qualifying, and strong in the race. He was able to make two tires work when he took two tires for track position late in the race. I have blasted him in the past NUMEROUS times, but today I'm giving him his props. He's earned his place in Cup. He'll be a winner at RCR next season.

Honorable Mention: Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, AJ Allmendinger, and Jamie McMurray.

THE BAD

Landon Cassill: he drew the short straw at this week's Start and Parkers' meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. According to NASCAR.COM, it was a "Rear Gear" issue. Let's face it: he PARKED IT. Who are we bullshitting here? We the People AREN'T STUPID. And if I'm wrong, I'll admit it.

THE UGLY

Kasey Kahne: he was running pretty decently until he got loose and slapped the wall. Then as he was making his way around the track, he cut a left front tire and tore up the #9. Needless to say, his day was ruined.

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

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Air Guard 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the mid-South for this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with crab cakes from neighboring Maryland and washed down with copious amounts of Coke Zero. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Denny Hamlin/Joe Gibbs Racing: as the race winner, the Hamster gets first billing. He led the most laps en route to the win. As good as the Hamster is at Pocono, he's even better at Richmond. He's already led over 1,000 laps at RIR. With the win, he clinches the first seed in the Chase. Not to be outdone, Kyle Busch started 32nd and finished second. Busch gave it all he had in the closing laps but didn't have enough for Hamlin. And what about Joey Logano finishing a very solid fourth? Logano, in fact, had the best car and might have won had a late caution came out. For one organization to finish 1-2-4 is OUTSTANDING.

Jimmie Johnson: it's been awhile since he's been in this category. He was at the point for awhile and had a stout car on short runs, but faded a bit on long runs. A much-needed third place finish was what the 48 needed going into the Chase.

Marcos Ambrose: gotta give props to him. He started 13th and started moving towards the front in the second half of the race to a fifth place finish.

Clint Bowyer: with a solid sixth place finish, he was able to clinch the final Chase spot. He got five bonus points for leading a lap, which was HUGE.

Kevin Harvick: he started somewhere around downtown Richmond. (Actually, he started 20th, not conducive to a potential race winner.) He dropped back to 26th at one point before he slowly started working his way towards the front, moving up to sixth at one point. While he had a solid car, nobody was going to beat the Gibbs cars tonight.

Carl Edwards: he started from the pole and led the most laps in a race in two years. He was stout at the beginning, but he began to fade in the second half of the race, eventually finishing tenth.

Honorable Mention: Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Allmendinger, and Ryan Newman.

THE BAD

Dale Earnhardt Jr: I normally put the first start and parker in this spot, but I'm making an exception tonight. He started towards the front and quickly went backwards. And kept going backwards. And kept going backwards. You get my point. I think it was when he realized he had a bad car, he got discouraged and his driving showed it. Normally, when a driver has a bad car, he usually finishes a couple of laps down. He finished SIX LAPS DOWN. It's partly due to Hamlin having a stout car and very few cautions (three, to be exact) coming out.

Greg Biffle: he was like Dale Jr--once the green flag dropped, he went backwards. He finished five laps down, not what you want going into the Chase.

THE UGLY

ABC's coverage: enough said. And we have TEN more races of this?

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

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Emory Healthcare 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is deep in the heart of the South, the ATL, for this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with PLENTY of Southern hospitality and barbecue, and washed down with copious amounts of Coke Zero. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Tony Stewart: Smoke led the most laps, he was stout from the start, and he was able to solve his restart problem just in time. Early on it was Smoke and his ex-teammate at Gibbs, Denny Hamlin, swapping the lead. Then Carl Edwards entered the picture. Smoke was able to check out shortly after the final restart and win comfortably.

Carl Edwards: this team is getting closer and closer to that win. He ACTUALLY led laps; in fact, he led more laps THIS race than in the previous 46 RACES put together! I think he surpassed Mattias Eckstrom in total laps led this year. Sarcasm aside, the 99 team is peaking at the right time. Edwards WILL be a factor in the Chase.

Jimmie Johnson: he bounced off the schneid at the right time. He was at the point for a short time en route to a third place finish and a berth in the Chase. He had been in a funk since winning at Sonoma. Perhaps this will right his ship.

Jeff Burton: he pitted for four fresh tires on the final caution. Smart move. He picked his way through the field as a result. He took advantage of a contretemps between Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne in the process to finish fourth.

The Busch Brothers: when you have both brothers finishing this well (Kyle, 5th; Kurt, 6th), they've earned a spot together in the Good category. Kurt in particular battled back from a lap down to lead at one point. Kyle managed to avoid the engine issues that plagued his other teammates and was strong all race, even leading at one point.

Denny Hamlin: he was stout at the beginning, and was leading the most laps in the race when his engine blew without warning, bringing out a caution.

Honorable Mention: Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Marcos Ambrose.

THE BAD

ESPN: or more specifically, the coverage. WTH was that, cutting away from Smoke's moment in the sun (or in this instance, the moon) to go to SportsCenter? Here's what SC's covering: Tiger, Yankees, Red Sox, and THAT'S IT. NASCAR on ESPN gets shuffled away like a second-class citizen. Thankfully that was the last race ESPN broadcast. Starting on Saturday, the remainder of the races will be covered by ABC.

Kevin Harvick's Pit Crew: Harvick LOST positions in the pits consistently. He was able to overcome that on the track because he had such a stout car, not unlike Michigan. A Bad goes to Harvick himself for missing the committment cone on a pit stop and going from the top 10 to the 30's because of that one mistake. (He cut the left front tire and tore up the bumper in the process and finished the race in the pit.)

THE UGLY

Engine issues: several drivers had them, most notably Denny Hamlin. Because of Hamlin's blown engine, the guys that would normally start and park stayed out a LOT longer than usual, relegating Hamlin to DFL status. The normal start and parkers saw their opportunity to finish a lot higher than usual due to the regulars having issues.

Those are my nominees for the week. Feel free to come in and comment!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Irwin Tools 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in Thunder Valley for one of NASCAR's crown jewel races, the Bristol night race from the Bullring, for this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with plenty of BBQ and washed down with plenty of NOS Energy Drink. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Kyle Busch: as the race winner, he gets first billing. WOW. What a weekend! To say that he was awesome is an understatement. He won EVERY race in dominating fashion. He became the first driver to win all three of NASCAR's touring division races on the same weekend. That may well be the good of the year. And an extra good goes to Hanny for winning the Kylefecta! Regardless of whether or not you like Kyle, you have to admit he is an amazing talent. One year, he's going to be the first driver to win both the Cup and Nationwide championships in the same year. Busch has won three of the last four Bristol races.

David Reutimann: he led a number of laps, and hung out in the top 5 all race long. He was strong, but was racing for second, as it was all about Kyle.

Jamie McMurray: he had a strong car and it looked like he had something for Kyle. But on the last pit stop, he felt like the left front was flat and was not able to catch Kyle.

Clint Bowyer: he had a GREAT run at the most crucial time. He was on the Chase bubble and came through with a solid fourth place finish. Even more important, he's 100 points ahead of 13th place, so he has a bit of breathing room.

Kasey Kahne: a very strong run by the #9 Ford. He was in the top 10 for much of the race. Unfortunately, it was too little too late, as his chances of making the Chase got dimmer.

Jimmie Johnson: he was stout at the beginning, and it looked like he was going to run away with the race if not for JPM spinning him out. He was the best car in the first half of the race.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Greg Biffle.

THE BAD

Michael McDowell: he ran a grand total of 16 laps before declaring himself done for the day. NASCAR stated it was due to an "engine". But in reality, he drew the short stick at the Start and Parkers meeting held in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room before the race.

Jamie McMurray's crew: they certainly did him no favors by making small mistakes on EACH pit stop, causing him to lose positions on each stop. A sub-Good to Jamie for making up positions on the track. If they were HALF as good as Kyle Busch's crew, Jamie Mac would be celebrating in Victory Lane with his crew.

Juan Pablo Montoya: I've gotta call him out for turning Jimmie Johnson when there was room for JPM to check up and let Johnson go. But from JPM's perspective, perhaps there was some bad blood from a previous race and he decided to take matters into his own hands.

ESPN's coverage: TOO MANY DAMN COMMERCIALS! Enough said.

THE UGLY

ESPN: I'm already longing for DW and Company's coverage next season! Yeah, DW may be a bit bombastic, but he has a certain charm to him. Rusty's got the charm of a pissed-off rattlesnake.

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

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Carfax 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the Irish Hills of Michigan for this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, BBQ-style, with all the fixin's and washed down with PLENTY of Coke Zero. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Kevin Harvick: he gets first billing as the race winner. He had the strongest car and led 59 laps en route to the win. With the win, he clinches a spot in the Chase and becomes the first RCR driver to win a Cup race at Michigan since the late Dale Earnhardt won in June 1990. To give you an idea of how strong a car the 29 was, he was able to pass cars on OLD TIRES.

Denny Hamlin: he started way back in the pack (33rd, to be exact), and methodically worked his way towards the front. He led late in the race, but Harvick was too strong, and was sent a message by the #29 on a bump while Hamlin was leading. The message was (IMO): You're going to have to beat me and I don't think you can. Still, a second place finish worked to his favor, and Hamlin moved up three spots in the standings.

Roush-Fenway Racing: Carl Edwards (3rd), Greg Biffle (4th), and Matt Kenseth (5th) rounded out the top 5. David Ragan just missed a top 10, finishing 11th. This was huge for the organization overall, Kenseth in particular. Kenseth's hold on the Chase was tenuous coming into the race, but with other drivers in a similar position having issues, he was able to improve a position and solidify his hold on making the Chase.

Elliott Sadler: ESad started in the middle of the pack (23rd to be exact) and stayed in that area until later in the race. His car came to life at that point, and he benefitted from good pit strategy in the last third of the race. He even led a couple of laps at one point before finishing 9th. Good job ESad!!

Joey Logano: this was his third top 10 finish at Michigan in his young career. He started 27th and showed great patience in finishing 10th. He and Ryan Newman made contact, sending Newman's car around and bringing out a caution. Needless to say, Newman wasn't happy. Logano showed maturity and as always, his sense of humor in the postrace interview.

Honorable Mention: Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Martin Truex, Jr.

THE BAD

Joe Nemechek: Front Row Joe has evolved into Field Filler Joe into Start and Park Joe. He ran a grand total of 14 laps before he declared himself done for the day.

Kurt Busch: it didn't help that his engine blew on Lap 32. The blown engine early on cost him six spots in the standings. He's now in 10th.

THE UGLY

Mark Martin: he and David Reutimann made contact on Lap 4 and his day was never the same after that. For a time it looked like he was going to be nearly 100 points behind Clint Bowyer for 12th place. But Bowyer had issues, and Martin had his strongest run of the race in the final 40 laps, keeping pace with the leaders and passing several cars. A sub-Good to Martin for minimizing the damage.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: it seemed like he was merely posting laps rather than make a serious run at a good finish. He offered NO resistance when Harvick put him a lap down. The postrace interview said it all: he didn't give a **** about his Chase chances. Which begs the question: does he REALLY want to race?

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

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Heluva Good! Snacks 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the rolling hills of Upstate New York for this week's version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with LOTS of snacks from the race sponsor, washed down with plenty of Coke Zero. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Juan Pablo Montoya: dominant doesn't even begin to describe his performance today. Every time he got in front he checked out on the field. He took the lead at Lap 5 and dominated from there, leading 78 of the final 86 laps. Everyone else was racing for second place today. This was one of the most dominant performances this year. He becomes the first foreign-born driver with multiple Sprint Cup wins. (He also won at Sonoma in 2007.)

Kurt Busch: he was strong all day, and the Blue Deuce got stronger as the day went on. Although he didn't lead a lap, he finished a career-best second place on a road course. He improved in the standings for the Chase.

Marcos Ambrose: it looked like he had something for Montoya, as he took the lead at one point and led for eight laps in the race. He faded near the end and lost second place to Kurt Busch due to a tire going down in the final lap.

AJ Allmendinger: he was in the top 10 pretty much the whole day. The 43 car was strong when they unloaded, strong in practice and qualifying, and strong on race day. This on the heels of the Dinger signing a multi-year extension with RPM. All in all, a great week for AJ.

Carl Edwards: he won his first career pole on a road course. Although he never led, he was in the top 10 for pretty much the entire race. Don't look now, but I think this team is starting to find its groove. I think a win is in the not too distant future.

Kyle Busch: although he was listed starting 10th, he had to drop to the rear of the field due to a loose part near the gear box. The 18 crew was able to tighten it through some improvisation just before the green flag dropped. He was able to make his way through the field all the way to an 8th place finish. (He ended up starting 42nd.)

Honorable Mention: Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, and Kevin Harvick.

THE BAD

Greg Biffle: although he started seventh, he quickly moved backwards and was never a factor. DISCLAIMER: Road courses are not one of Biffle's strengths. He'll be at a track much more friendly to him and his Roush teammates next week.

Jimmie Johnson: he started ninth but like Biffle, was never a factor. Since winning at Sonoma, this team is in the throes of a horrible slump, with just one top 10 since, last week at Pocono, where Johnson finished 10th. He did get mentioned once, when he crashed and collected Denny Hamlin in the process, ruining a possible top 10 for Hamlin.

THE UGLY

None. By all standards, this was a pretty tame race at the Glen this year. Actually I do have to give an Ugly to ESPN for its coverage and giving Carl Edwards more face time.

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

Sunday, August 1, 2010

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

For the monumental 100th post on Blogspot, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the mountains of eastern Pennsylvania to bring you this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served up with Philly cheesesteaks and fries and washed down with copious amounts of Coke Zero. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Greg Biffle: as the race winner, he gets first billing. At the beginning of the race, he looked like he had a 20th-place car at best. But as the race went on, the 16 crew kept getting the car better and better. Kudos to Biff for making two-tire stops work, as they usually don't. What really helped him was the last red flag for rain, cooling down the track. The 16 car came to life after that. He took two tires on the last pit stop, and checked out after passing Sam Hornish Jr on the last restart. Props to Biff for breaking a 65-race winless streak dating back to September 2008, when he won at Dover. The win was Ford's first of the season.

Tony Stewart: he won the pole but was immediately passed by Jeff Gordon at the start of the race. He did lead a lap under the first round of green flag pit stops. Like Biffle, he was better as the track got cooler. He took four tires on the last pit stop and made up eight positions on the track, but Biffle was so much better.

Carl Edwards: he could be the next Ford driver to win, as he's been showing the form that made him a threat to win every week in 2008, regardless of the track. He led a lap under the second round of green flag pit stops (he has led six laps so far this year, and still trails Mattias Eckstrom, who led once for eight laps in Sonoma, and he led as many laps as JJ Yeley today). He started way back in 25th, and immediately worked his way towards the front, eventually finishing third, and able to hold off Kevin Harvick at the end. (Note to Carl: Kevin could have EASILY dumped you at ANY time, but didn't. That should show you he's a CLEAN driver.)

Kevin Harvick: the points leader had a pretty decent qualifying run (he qualified 14th). For the first half of the race, he was hanging from positions 12-16. But once he moved into the top 10, he stayed there. He was running as high as third at one point. His fourth place finish marked his fourth top 10 finish at the track, and his second straight fourth place finish there. (He also finished in the top 10 in both Pocono races in his rookie season of 2001.) Harvick actually increased his points lead by five; he now leads Jeff Gordon by 189 points.

Denny Hamlin: the modern-day Master of Pocono at one point looked like he was going to win his FIFTH Pocono race in his last 10. I bet he wishes Pocono was on the schedule every week! He actually increased his points margin over fourth place Jimmie Johnson to 17 points.

Jimmie Johnson: he was stout enough to lead the most laps in the race (98). He qualified sixth and it took him no time to get to the front. He stayed there for the first half of the race. It's the second half that bit him in the butt.

Honorable Mention: Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Martin Truex, Jr., and Sam Hornish, Jr.

THE BAD

Michael McDowell: he was the first of the start and parkers, declaring himself done after completing 23 laps. (Dave Blaney went out a lap later.)

Marcos Ambrose: I hate putting the likeable Aussie in here, but today I must. He qualified 19th, a decent starting position, but quickly went backwards. The news that he was leaving JTG-Daugherty Racing for RPM could have had an effect on the team. Was it coincidence that Ambrose's engine expired early because of his imminent departure? I'm just saying.

P.J. Jones: he was parked by NASCAR for going too slow after 63 laps. At least he completed a quarter of the race! (At Sonoma in 2009, he parked it after TWO laps!) Had Robby Gordon been behind the wheel, he'd have given it an HONEST effort. If you look in the dictionary under "start and parker", P.J. Jones' face can be seen. I cringe when he's in the field because I know he'll beat everyone to the post-race Cupcake display.

THE UGLY

Elliott Sadler: he was involved in one of the most horrific crashes I've seen in quite awhile. The only angle that showed was Sadler's car slamming into a grass berm before the entrance to Turn 3. The crash was so brutal, the engine was ripped from the car like a piece of paper. A Good to NASCAR for its implementation of safety innovations in the new car, and for Sadler escaping with only bruises.

Jimmie Johnson: I've got to put him in this category for starting a crash that took out a good car in Kurt Busch's and in the ensuing melee, for putting Sadler's car into that grass berm. What was he doing trying to draft bump Busch with Clint Bowyer to Busch's right? He flat out wrecked Kurt AGAIN. Plain and simple.

ESPN: MUST we be subject to their blathering on during a rain delay? And do us a favor: institute the split-screen during commercials, like you do during the Indy 500! And STOP with the overhyping of Chris Berman getting the Pete Rozelle Award! His act is old and tired anyway! (Rant over.)

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

Sunday, July 25, 2010

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

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the mecca of American auto racing, Indianapolis, for this week's serving of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, BBQ-style, complete with grilled corn, plenty of Coke to wash it all down, and Cupcakes for dessert. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Jamie McMurray: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He passed race leader Kevin Harvick on a restart with 10 laps to go, then held off Harvick and Greg Biffle over those last 10 laps. Jamie Mac was strong throughout the race, being in the top 10 more often than not. He benefitted from a gutsy call by crew chief Kevin "Bono" Manion in taking two tires on the last caution. History was made in two ways: with the win, McMurray becomes the third driver to win Daytona and the Brickyard in the same season, and car owner Chip Ganassi becomes the first owner to win the Daytona 500, Indy 500, and Brickyard 400 in the same season. Good job Cupcake!

Kevin Harvick: he had a strong car throughout the race and it looked like he was going to win his second Brickyard 400. A late caution bit him in the butt, as he was passed by McMurray on the ensuing restart. He did well to hold off Biffle, who was on four tires. (Harvick took two tires on the last pit stop.) It was a good points day for Harvick, as Jeff Gordon had issues late in the race and finished 23rd.

Greg Biffle: he was stout, especially in the middle part of the race in which he led. He did a good job in rallying late after a four tire pit stop on the final caution.

Clint Bowyer: while he wasn't a factor to win, he stayed in the top 5 for most of the race. He was strong, and did a good job in avoiding trouble.

Tony Stewart: Smoke did a great job in turning a marginal top 20 car into a fifth place car.

Joey Logano: he started in DFLville due to an engine change. He exhibited great patience in moving his way up and finishing in the top 10. (He finished 9th.) The top 10 finish was his first at Indy.

Juan Pablo Montoya: he led the most laps in the race, but an accident on Lap 145 ended his day.

Honorable Mention: Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Landon Cassill (he led a lap, one more than Edwards) and Bill Elliott.

THE BAD

Dave Blaney: he parked his car ON THE FIRST LAP. He would return and run 19 more laps before declaring himself done for the day. He was the first start and parker today.

Hendrick Motorsports: both Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon had MAJOR issues. It was one of those kinds of races that tests men's souls to the core. Dale Earnhardt Jr was involved in a crash with Juan Pablo Montoya through no fault of his own; Jr had no room to move and plowed into Montoya. The only bright spot was Mark Martin, who led a couple of laps and finished 11th.

THE UGLY

The race itself: One hundred sixty laps of single file racing. A driver couldn't get into the outside groove without getting loose. Add to that ESPN's coverage and you REALLY get ugly. And the WORST track on the circuit looms next week: Pocono. I HATE THAT TRACK! CAN WE LOSE POCONO FOR GOOD???

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

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Some Observations About Carl Edwards' Win

Last night, the Nationwide Series put on a show at Gateway, just outside of St. Louis. Early on, Brad Keselowski, the Series points leader, was dominant, then Carl Edwards became stout. A late caution bunched up the field for one final restart. Then the fireworks went off. Bad Brad got Edwards loose in Turn 1, but Edwards held his line. No problem there; good job by Edwards in holding his line. Then with 300 yards or so to go, Edwards punted Keselowski, who was leading at the time, into the wall. Huge problem there. Edwards took the checkered flag, while Keselowski finished 14th. The problem is two-fold: Keselowski was intentionally punted by Edwards, knowing the field was behind them, and Edwards pulled a chickenshit maneuver to win the race. I'd have had NO problem with Edwards winning had he outsprinted Keselowski to the finish line.

Here are some observations:
  • Edwards should have been stripped of his win IMMEDIATELY, then placed as the last driver on the lead lap. Reed Sorenson would have then been given the win, as he was in second at the time.
  • Google "Carl Edwards anger issues" and you'll find 18,400 matches about Edwards, his conflicts with Cup teammate Matt Kenseth, and other Cup drivers besides Keselowski.
  • The postrace interview with ESPN was telling. Edwards didn't exactly deny he did it deliberately. He was unapologetic as to how he won. It's like the fox being queried by the farmer about the chickens and the fox saying the coop door was open when he got there.
  • Edwards is/will be a marked man for the rest of the season. Not only by Keselowski, but Kurt Busch and possibly Kevin Harvick, other drivers that Edwards has had issues with.
  • Could this go much deeper? Meaning a Jack Roush vs. Roger Penske feud? Kurt Busch (Penske driver) used to drive for Roush back in the day, even winning a Cup title for him back in 2004. But he was run from Roush unceremoniously. Just saying.

Chickenshit Carl, hope you're happy with the win. If things balance out, it'll be your last win for awhile.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 LifeLock.com 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is on hand in the heart of the Midwest, Chicagoland, for this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with Chicago-style hot dogs and pizza, washed down with copious amounts of the beverage of your choice. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

David Reutimann: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He was strong in practice, strong in qualifying, and got stronger as the race went on. He FINALLY won one that went the distance! Night time was obviously the right time for Reuty, as once he overtook Jeff Gordon for the lead, he checked out on the field. Good job Reuty!

Carl Edwards: like Reutimann, he got stronger as the race went on. He even led a lap during a round of green flag pit stops, gaining the five bonus points he sorely needed. This run is what he sorely needed in order to improve his tenuous chances of making the Chase.

Jeff Gordon: he was at the point until late in the race, when Reutimann took over the lead. He took advantage of points leader Kevin Harvick's misfortune (more on that later) and cut Harvick's lead to 103 points.

Clint Bowyer: after his misfortune at Daytona last week, he came into the race sorely needing a good run. He got it. He now sits in 12th place, 15 points ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Jamie McMurray: Cupcake started on the pole and stayed in the top 5 for the whole race. The McDonald's Chevrolet got a LOT of face time during the race, bringing cha-ching to McDonald's franchises throughout.

Jimmie Johnson: he led the first 93 laps of the race and ended up leading the most laps.

Honorable Mention: Kasey Kahne, Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, and Paul Menard.

THE BAD

Joe Nemechek: he drew the short stick this week at the start and parkers' meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. He ran a grand total of 20 laps before declaring himself done for the day.

Kevin Harvick: as good as he was at Daytona, he was equally as bad at Chicagoland. The 29 crew totally missed on the setup and no matter how hard they tried to adjust, the 29 car got worse as the race went on. At one point, the car lost significant fuel pressure and had to go to the garage to replace the entire fuel system. But once Harvick got back out, he was as fast as the leaders--too bad he was 16 laps down when he returned to the track. A sub-Good for gaining two positions through attrition.

THE UGLY

Jimmie Johnson: it's not common I put a guy in both the Good and Ugly categories, but tonight I must. His race went downhill after Lap 93, when he missed the committment line and lost the lead to McMurray. Then on Lap 138, he takes a slide through the grass when he got loose coming out of Turn 2. At the ensuing green flag, he restarts 24th. Then on Lap 174, he slapped the wall and had to pit, going three laps down.

Robby Gordon/Bill Elliott: Elliott cut a tire on Lap 180, hit the wall, and stopped into oncoming traffic. Gordon hit the brakes as hard as he could, but was unable to stop in time and T-boned Elliott. Fortunately both Gordon and Elliott were okay, but both drivers' days were ruined.

The race itself: it was a snoozefest, particuarly for the first 93 laps, when JJ threatened to run and hide from the field.

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

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The LeBron Hype In One Word: NAUSEATING

Consider me guilty.

Why, pray tell?

I didn't drink the LeBron James flavor Kool-Aid.

And so it goes. The hype surrounding James' free agency was WAY overdone, to the point of being nauseating. Instead of a breakdown of Lakers-Celtics in the Finals, we were subjected to LeBron's incessant mugging for ESPN. Once the Lakers defeated the Celtics in seven games, it became the LeBron Watch 24/7. WHO GIVES A RAT'S ASS?? LeBron hasn't won SHIT in the NBA. How many Finals has he played in? ONE?? Even then, the Cavs were made into a speed bump along the San Antonio Spurs' destination to the NBA title.

Then we sports fans were subjected to an entire ONE HOUR special on the Four Letter. A one hour special on one of the most pampered, egotistical, selfish players on the planet! He singlehandedly prostituted the free agent process by having several teams come into Akron, Ohio, to meet with him and wine and dine him. I always thought that if a prominent player becomes a free agent, he GOES to potential teams to meet with them and to get an idea of what he may be getting into. Oh, that's right. He bastardized the process.

You want to know what I did instead? I had a doctor's appointment, then WENT SHOPPING. That's how NOT interested I was in The LeBron Show. Then on the way home, I listened to Michael Savage. Had I been home, I'd have probably watched Lifetime instead of The LeBron Show.

Now it's time to go both barrels and empty my magazine, so to speak. While LeBron deserves his share of blame, I blame his handlers, ESPN, and the sports media for overhyping a player that has never won a championship. Guess what? Adam Morrison has MORE rings than LeBron. So does DJ Mbenga, the 13th player on a 14-player rotation. Morrison has two rings with the Lakers and he's the 15th player on a 14-player rotation. For the record, LeBron signed with the Miami Heat.

I wonder how many Cavs fans will now become Heat fans because those fans drink the LeBron flavored Kool-Aid? I don't know for sure, but I think there will be MANY. And how will LeBron, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh share the ball? You can't split a ball into three! I, for one, am DAMN GLAD this hype is OVER. Now let's focus on the real sports: NFL, NASCAR, and baseball.

Note: this is a radical departure from my usual NASCAR-themed posts.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Coke Zero 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is at the crown jewel of NASCAR, Daytona International Speedway, for this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served up with copious amounts of BBQ meats of your choice, grilled corn on the cob, and tossed salad, washed down with, what else? Coke Zero! Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Kevin Harvick: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He led the most laps in the race, and it seemed he was able to move to the front at will, even when he was as far back as 16th. He had a stout car tonight and earned a hard-fought victory. He was also lucky in that he escaped the Big One that involved 18 cars with 12 laps to go. He was the last winner on Daytona's old pavement, as on Monday, the track will be repaved and ready to go for next year's 500.

Kasey Kahne: he was able to escape the Big One and kept his nose clean. His runner up finish was HUGE, as he moved up four positions in the standings. Although he never led a lap, he kept working his way towards the front. With the runner up finish, he keeps his Chase chances alive, as several drivers above him got caught up in earlier wrecks.

Jeff Gordon: he led some laps and escaped the Big One. He also moved up to second place in the standings, 212 points behind Harvick.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: another driver that escaped the Big One. Because of that, he finished fourth and improved two spots in the standings to 11th.

Steve Park: what else can you say about this man's perseverance? He was injured in a FREAK accident in a Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) race MANY years ago when his steering wheel column broke off in his hands during a caution and he veered into the path of an oncoming Larry Foyt. Park suffered a severe brain injury and it looked like his career was over. It wasn't until this year that he was given a clean bill of health to race in NASCAR again. Not only did he race tonight, he was in the top 10 late in the race driving for an underfunded team! Unfortunately, he faded late and finished 13th. If anyone deserves a Good, it's Steve Park. He'd have got a good just for starting the race. I think Park showed he can still get the job done.

Red Bull Racing: with Reed Sorenson (8th) and Scott Speed (10th), they finished strong. Neither driver led a lap, but both escaped the Big One.

Mike Bliss: he gets put in the #71 car right after Bobby Labonte left and scores a top 10. Go figure. Either Bliss has what it takes to get the job done, or Labonte's done. I say the latter, with some of the former.

Kurt Busch: he did a great job in coming back from the Big One to finish in the top 10, seventh, to be exact. He led a number of laps and was stout, particularly at the beginning of the race.

Honorable Mention: Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, David Reutimann.

THE BAD

Weather: rain delayed the race for close to an hour. Fortunately, the weather cleared long enough for the race to be run.

THE UGLY

The Big One: the carnage involved 18 cars and started when Jeff Burton got loose. Burton was running in the top 5 at the time. There were several good cars that got caught up in the carnage, most notably Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman. Mark Martin's #5 car caught fire in the pits as the crew was attempting to repair the car. Martin had to be pulled from the car by two members of Johnson's crew and a NASCAR official. By the time he was pulled from the car, it was fully engulfed in flames. Fortunately, Martin is okay. But he had a harrowing few moments in the pits.

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

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Lenox Industrial Tools 301

This week, the Crappafoni pictures crew is in the mountains of New Hampshire to bring you this week's version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with New England Clam Chowder as the main course, washed down with copious amounts of Samuel Adams. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Jimmie Johnson: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He was strong in practice, strong in qualifying, and strong in the race. While he only led 8 laps in the race, he led the most important lap.

Tony Stewart: Smoke overcame a bad pit stop early in the race when his gas man didn't completely fill up the tank and had to pit off sequence the remainder of the race. But in the end it paid off as he was able to take the wave around on a late caution. Great job by Smoke in fighting through heavy traffic to finish second. He led two laps through two rounds of green flag pit stops.

Kurt Busch: like Johnson, he was strong in practice, strong in qualifying, strong in the race, and led 8 laps. Only difference is in the finish. For a moment, it looked like the Blue Deuce WAS going to win. But he didn't get a far enough lead and Johnson applied the chrome horn in kind.

Jeff Gordon: he was mired in the lower half of the top 10 on the final restart, but got a GREAT run and passed a bunch of cars in Turn 1 to vault into fourth, where he eventually finished. While he didn't lead a lap, he was strong throughout.

Kevin Harvick: Happy did a great job in climbing from 24th starting position. At one point he was third, but got shuffled to fifth on the final restart. He didn't lead a lap, but was very patient in picking his way through the field. A solid points day for Happy as he is 105 points ahead of Johnson. As the races wind down to the Chase, he could clinch a spot by the time the Bristol night race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: he started even farther back than Harvick, starting 31st. Like Happy, he showed great patience in picking his way through the field. Even though he's 13th in the points, he's only three points back of Carl Edwards for the final Chase spot. Junior's GOTTA be salivating because guess what's next: Daytona! I wouldn't rule out a Jr victory at Daytona. The 88 team is putting it together at the right time and they are gaining momentum as the races wind down.

Ryan Newman: Flyin' Ryan was solid all day. He kept the 39's nose clean and was in the top 10 for much of the race. He led a lap in an early round of green flag pit stops. That one lap led gave him the five bonus points he sorely needed to gain one position in the points and is only 15 points behind Edwards for 12th. He's ONE point ahead of Clint Bowyer.

Honorable Mention: Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Jeff Burton, AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Busch, and Marcos Ambrose.

THE BAD

Max Papis: he drew the short stick at this week's start and parkers meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. Mad Max ran a grand total of 11 laps before calling it a day.

Reed Sorenson: WHY were you racing a lead-lap car like you were trying to get your lap back. I'd totally understand IF JPM was leading the race and you were trying to get your lap back. He was faster than you; you should have let him go. You just PLAIN DUMPED HIM. You have talent, but ZERO track sense. Relinquish the ride and give it to Mattias Eckstrom.

THE UGLY

Reed Sorenson: see above.

Kasey Kahne: he's not so much Ugly as Unlucky. He led the most laps before he blew an engine. A sub-Good for that.

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sonoma Weekend

It's been a few days now since the race at Sonoma. You saw and/or heard the usual post-race posturing. Jeff Gordon mad at half the field. Martin Truex Jr. vowing retaliation against Gordon. Jimmie Johnson winning (again). Looking back, it was an awesome weekend.

Saturday: I picked up my rental car at FYI late in the morning (NO, not for your information; it's the code for the Fresno-Yosemite International Airport), a white Toyota Camry that was faster than the Joe Gibbs Toyotas they fielded at Sonoma. (Hell, I could have qualified in the 20's at Sonoma; the car was THAT fast and powerful.) I stopped outside of Fresno to get a bite to eat prior to setting off for the Ramada Inn in Vallejo. I left around noon, arriving in Vallejo approximately three hours later. The car was equipped with XM Radio (unfortunately, I couldn't get the NASCAR channel). I was about 10 minutes away from the hotel when Kristen called. I called her upon settling into my room and hung out with her, RA6AN, and Tez for a bit before we walked to Applebee's to catch the last part of the Nationwide Series race from Road America. Very interesting course. After the race, we momentarily parted ways to get ready for dinner at La Strada Nostra in American Canyon.


Sunday: I had initially planned to leave at 6:30 AM, but changed my mind and left at 6 AM. Good thing I did because traffic started backing up shortly after I arrived at the track. To give you an idea of early morning at Infineon, here are a couple of shots.

















A couple of random shots around pit road:













Notice that on the right, each member of Clint Bowyer's crew has a helmet with the Hamburger Helper hand holding a different tool. The tool corresponds to each member; the jackman has a hand holding a jack, the gas man has the hand holding a gas can, etc. It's the same way with the crew's firesuits.

My long-time friend Leon and I reuniting:















Leon, good to see you again my friend!!

The best parts of the race: the National Anthem/Flyover and Kasey Kahne taking the green flag to start the event.














The first half of the race looked like it was going to be a snoozefest, as Jimmie Johnson led the entire first half of the race. I thought to myself, IS HE GOING TO LEAD THIS ENTIRE RACE, BECAUSE IF HE IS, I'M OUTTA HERE. Thankfully, he didn't, as Marcos Ambrose took control of the second half of the race. Even Mattias Eckstrom led 8 laps! (I believe he was the first debut driver to lead laps since Matt Kenseth in 1998.) Smoke led a couple of laps during green flag pit stops.

Then it got VERY interesting. On the restart on Lap 67, Boris Said was slow on the restart, backing up a BUNCH of drivers, eventually leading to a huge crash. There were tires screeching, brakes locking up, and cars slamming into each other like bumper cars. (Thanks a lot, Boris!) Here's how the carnage looked in part:














The huge wreck ruined what was looking to be a huge points day for Martin Truex, Jr., as he was in the top 10 for much of the race and was stout. At right, Truex looks dejectedly at the damage his car sustained. If you could have seen him up close, he was like, UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE. He was an innocent victim, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

After a 20 minute red flag period, the race resumed with Marcos Ambrose in the lead. Ambrose was THIS close to snagging his first Cup win except for his idiot crew chief telling him to kill the ignition when Ambrose didn't have to; he had enough fuel to go the distance.
Here's the fateful shot of JJ about to take the checkered flag:














I was very upset initially, then when I saw the replay of Ambrose stalling later in the evening, I calmed down and realized that NASCAR did the right thing in handing Ambrose his penalty. That was a gift-wrapped win for Johnson. With Kevin Harvick's third place finish, it was a HUGE points day for Happy, as he leads Johnson by 110 points.

Then we waited awhile for Kristen to emerge from the #2's post-race inspection. She emerged and we chatted about the race, Kurt Busch and his near run-in with an obnoxious fan, Busch's post-race meltdown, etc. We met a couple from Kansas that made the trek to Infineon. Then later we posed for a group pic:














As Tez and I were waiting for the shuttle to take us back to my car, I espied the Infineon Girls coming my way. (Do I still have the touch or what?) Here's two of my favorite pics:




Tez and I finally arrived at the car around 5:00 PM, roughly 2 1/2 hours AFTER the race ended. Because of the enormous amount of traffic, we didn't return to the hotel until 6:45 PM. I called a friend of mine prior to meeting Tez for dinner at Applebee's. I have to give a shout-out to Brett, one of the servers that took care of us both Saturday and Sunday. Great job Brett! Good luck and God speed in your new position! Another shout out goes to Kate (Ekaterina), who wryfully said, "See you next year." She's cool. The weekend ended on Monday with me giving Tez a ride to SFO to catch his flight and returning to Fresno at 5:45 PM. I arrived home approximately 7 PM. Let's plan this next year!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2010 Toyota/Save Mart 350

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is IN Sonoma, bolstered by a visit from the blogger jon_464 and various friends, to bring you this week's version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served up on a silver platter with Dungeness crab, and washed down with plenty of NoCal's finest wines. Enjoy!

THE GOOD

Jimmie Johnson: after much debate between this blogger and friends, this blogger wasn't even going to put JJ in this category. But after seeing the highlights, this blogger relented. He led the most laps, most of which came early on. He was the beneficiary of Marcos Ambrose's stall on a late caution, giving credence to Kevin Harvick's theory that JJ has a golden horseshoe stuck up his @$$. He should also be put in The Lucky category, as he was the beneficiary of several late cautions.

Robby Gordon: this was the smartest race he ran in a LONG time. Like Johnson, he was the beneficiary of late cautions, as this extended his fuel mileage. He kept the #7's nose clean and was rewarded with a runner up finish. This was ENORMOUS for the team, as he is safely in the top 35 now.

Kevin Harvick: he was strong all weekend, and was consistently in the top 5 for much of the race. Although he didn't lead a lap, he stayed out of trouble and even escaped two big skirmishes. It was a HUGE points day for Happy, as he is now over 100 markers ahead of Johnson.

Mattias Eckstrom: the Swede made his Cup debut and was stout. If not for Jeff Gordon going idiot and punting him, Eck would have certainly had a top 10, maybe a top 5. Perhaps Red Bull should put him in the 82 next year, replacing Scott Speed.

Marcos Ambrose: for the second half of the race it looked like the affable Aussie was about to get his first Cup win, as he had the best car at that point. But due to a bonehead decision by his crew chief to cut the ignition to save gas, Ambrose stalled the car and by the time he got it refired, several drivers had passed him under caution. Good rally by Ambrose to finish sixth.

Honorable Mention: Jeff Gordon, Jan Magnussen, Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Tony Stewart, Boris Said, Juan Pablo Montoya.

THE BAD

Frank Kerr: he's the genius crew chief that told Ambrose to shut off the ignition. BAD decision Kerr; you cost your driver the race.

Joe Gibbs Racing: between Joey Logano (33rd), Denny Hamlin (34th), and Kyle Busch (38th), I think it's a weekend they don't want to hit "rewind" any time soon. It's even worse when the Kid finishes the best of the three! I think they want to hit the Fast Forward button at the start of the race and hold it until it's over. At least Hamlin didn't have to worry about overheating issues.

THE UGLY

Joe Gibbs Racing: see above.

Jeff Gordon: he was seemingly involved in EVERY dustup; actually, he was involved in three cautions, including punting Eckstrom for no apparent reason when the Swede was in the top 10 at the time. Jeff, you know better than that, especially coming from NASCAR's elder statesman. You looked like an impatient rookie in his first Infineon start at times.

Those are my nominees for the race. Tez and I are at the hotel bouncing ideas off each other as I write this.