Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gas and Go--Richmond (Spring Race 2010)

This week's Gas and Go comes from the racing capital of Virginia, Richmond. As usual, I will offer short insights and takes leading up to the race, and pick my winner.

  1. Fresh off breaking his 115-race winless streak, Kevin Harvick is looking to make it two in a row. Richmond is also the track where he started his only two-race win streak of his Cup career, in 2006. He would win the summer race at Richmond, then start the Chase by winning at Loudon, NH. Could he make it two in a row? Only time will tell.
  2. Richmond is the kind of track that RCR could dominate at. All three RCR drivers have won at RIR: Harvick, Clint Bowyer (spring 2008), and Jeff Burton (he won in 1998 when driving for Jack Roush).
  3. Not to be outdone, Denny Hamlin would like to turn his hometown track into his own playground and win in dominating fashion. He's certainly capable. Nothing like home cooking. He's won twice this year and in my opinion he's looking at it this way: another win and he's tied with Jimmie Johnson for the Chase lead.
  4. Winning at Talladega will make it easier on Harvick for three reasons: 1) attracting sponsors; 2) re-signing with RCR as a result of getting new sponsorship; 3) getting that 800-lb gorilla off his back and not having to answer questions about the winless streak. Speaking of sponsors, Reese's will be sponsoring the #29 car this weekend. Reese's has been with Harvick since his rookie season in 2001.
  5. The track was first built in 1946. At first it was a 1/2 mile dirt track, hosting its first NASCAR Grand National event on April 19, 1953. Since then, the track has undergone four additional configurations, the most recent being the 3/4 mile configuration after the spring 1988 race.
  6. Lee Petty was the first winner at RIR. Denny Hamlin is the most recent winner, winning last season's Chevy Rock & Roll 400.
  7. Jimmie Johnson, the active leader with three wins, has quite a ways to go to catch Richard Petty's all-time record of 11 wins at Richmond. Petty won under three different configurations of the track.
  8. Johnson was the last driver to win from the pole, in the summer 2007 race.
  9. Back to the burning question: who will win at Richmond? Look for the usual suspects to run strong: Hamlin, Harvick, Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, and Kyle Busch. Any one of these guys could win the race.

Predicted Race Winner: Kevin Harvick. He makes it two wins in a row, narrowly edging Denny Hamlin. (I predicted once he gets that first win, he'll reel off several afterwards.) The rest of the top 5: 3) Burton; 4) Bowyer; 5) Gordon.

Darkhorse top 10 finisher: there won't be an unlikely top 10 finisher--Richmond isn't conducive to an unlikely top 10 finisher. There aren't the variables at Richmond that there are at Talladega. Put another way, all the top 10 will be occupied by those in the top 20 in points.

Your insights are always welcome.

Information courtesy of

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Aaron's 499 (2010)

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is deep in the heart of Dixie, Big Bad Talladega, served with chicken-fried steak, veggies, and washed down with copious amounts of Coca-Cola. Enjoy!


Kevin Harvick: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He started fourth due to qualifying being rained out. He led a lap early and held back for much of the race. At the end, he put a SWEEEET move on Jamie McMurray in the tri-oval area about 200 yards from the finish line. With that move he nosed out McMurray by .011 seconds, or about a foot and a half. It was the eighth closest finish in NASCAR history. Harvick has been involved in three of the ten closest finishes in history, and he's 3-0 in those finishes. The win was Harvick's first in a points race since the 2007 Daytona 500, and RCR's first win at Talladega since the late Dale Earnhardt won the fall race in 2000. The win broke a 115-race winless streak, and with Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth in accidents, and Greg Biffle having to pit because he ran out of gas on the final caution, it was a HUGE points day for Happy. He moves up two positions to second, 26 points behind Johnson. Also a great job in stretching out his gas mileage, as he was able to stay out for 54 laps, well beyond the pit window.

Jamie McMurray: he had a stout car throughout the race. Even when he was in the back, he was able to make his way to the front at will. With Harvick's move, Cupcake would have held off most any other driver for the win.

Juan Pablo Montoya: he's getting closer to that first Cup win on an oval. Like his teammate McMurray, he was stout. As a result of his third-place finish, he moves up a position in the standings. He needs to keep moving up at least one position per race between now and the summer Richmond race if he is to make the Chase.

Denny Hamlin: he was really stout, and is looking like a legitimate championship contender. He ran consistently in the top 10 en route to his fourth place finish.

Mark Martin: you didn't hear much from him until late in the race. He was able to escape several crashes unscathed. Although he didn't lead a lap, he got stronger as the race went on.

Mike Bliss: I have to give a shout out to him. Driving for basically a part-time, underfunded team, he had a very good top 10 finish. (He finished 10th.) That finish was huge for the 09 team in the owners' points, as James Finch could sell the team.

The race itself: there were a Cup series-record 88 lead changes among a series record 29 drivers. The Aaron's 499 became the Aaron's 532, as the race went an additional 33 miles because of THREE green-white-checkered finishes.

Honorable Mention: the rest of the drivers that led at least one lap.


Dave Blaney: as the first start and parker, he gets first billing here. Is it his bad luck, or is the drawing of the straws rigged as to Blaney always drawing the short straw? Because he seems to be always the first one to start and park.


Jimmie Johnson: he drove recklessly throughout the race, often looking more like a rookie making his first start rather than a four-time champion. He got his teammate and car owner Jeff Gordon out of sorts late in the race, forcing him below the yellow line as Gordon was making a HUGE run on the inside. Gordon got freight trained, and that led to him wrecking later in the lap, costing him a chance to win. Then later on, he cuts off Greg Biffle, leading to his own wreck and a 31st place finish. Serves him right. He also took a HUGE hit in his lead, now leading Harvick by only 26 points.

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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gas and Go--Talladega (Spring Race 2010)

This week's Gas and Go comes from the Heart of Dixie, Talladega. Being that Dega is the longest superspeedway on the circuit, Gas and Go takes a little longer than usual. I will give you my insights and takes leading up to the race, and predict the race winner.

  1. I've been ruminating on this since it came out a couple of days ago. Shell-Pennzoil is leaving the #29 car of Kevin Harvick at the end of the season, and Kurt Busch will be driving the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge. I understand that this is a business decision, and Harvick hasn't won a points race since the 2007 Daytona 500. Let's see: Kurt Busch won three times last year, and once already this year. Hmmm, do I stay with someone that hasn't won in over three years, or go with someone that has won four races in a 40-race span? I go with the latter. Pretty clear no-brainer there.
  2. Not to be outdone, it's now very likely that Harvick will be a free agent after this season. He wanted to leave RCR after last season, but Richard Childress held him to his contract. With the departure of Shell-Pennzoil to Penske, Harvick's gone after Homestead. It's a good possibility he'll be at Stewart-Haas Racing in a third SHR car. Say what you will about Kasey Kahne, but Harvick would be a MUCH better fit at SHR than Kahne. Harvick is tight with both Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman. There are even rumblings that SHR will have four teams, with the additions of Kahne and Harvick. Regardless, welcome to the Bowtie Brigade, Kasey!
  3. In spite of Harvick's impending departure from RCR, he's going to bust his butt all season to win a race, and he'll get a win before his departure.
  4. Dale Jr. to run the #3 Wrangler Chevrolet? It appears it's a done deal that Jr will run the #3 in the Nationwide Series race at Daytona in July in a combined effort with JR Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing. I LOVE IT! GO DALE JR!
  5. With the start at Talladega, it will be Jimmie Johnson's 300th Cup start. He's AVERAGED one win every six starts.
  6. Big Bad Dega is looming for some nervous competitors, namely Jimmie Johnson. So far, JJ has been able to avoid the Big One in recent years. Johnson has won once at Talladega, in the spring of 2006. Dale Earnhardt Jr leads all active drivers in wins, with five, including four in a row at one stretch.
  7. Thinking of you: Cale Gale (former KHI Nationwide Series driver from Mobile, Alabama).
  8. Look for the usual suspects to run strong: Jr, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and Kevin Harvick.
  9. This is the track where ANYTHING can happen, and unlikely winners visit Victory Lane (see: Bobby Hamilton, Spring race 2001)
  10. The 2001 spring race was run caution-free. The late Bobby Hamilton won despite leading only three laps for the entire race.
  11. Jimmie Johnson's second career pole came in the spring 2002 race.

Predicted Race Winner: Jamie McMurray. Jamie Mac continues his modern-day mastery of the restrictor plate tracks. The rest of the top 5: 2) Kurt Busch; 3) Juan Pablo Montoya; 4) Tony Stewart; 5) Paul Menard (he comes out of NOWHERE to finish in the top 5). My darkhorse top 10 finisher is Regan Smith.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Samsung Mobile 500

This week's delayed version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly comes from deep in the heart of Texas and served Texas BBQ-style, with beef brisket and hot chili. Enjoy!


Denny Hamlin: as the race winner, he gets first billing. So much for that ACL tear. He's been on a tear of a different sort, winning two of the last three races and showing why he's a threat to Jimmie Johnson's reign of championships.

Jimmie Johnson: stout as usual. He was bearing down on Hamlin and nearly stole one. He takes advantage of Kenseth's and Biffle's tire issues and increases his lead to 108 over Kenseth and 128 over Biffle.

The Busch Brothers: Kyle finished third and Kurt finished fourth. Both brothers had strong runs throughout the race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: I have questioned his desire and committment on more than one occasion, often falling back to the reasoning of "he has a new crew chief." He looked like the Dale Jr of old, a Dale Jr his fans have been yearning for for a LONG time. He started fifth and very rarely was out of the top 10. He either stayed put or moved forward. Good job Jr!!

Kasey Kahne: he was strong throughout the weekend, giving Rick Hendrick a sneak preview of what may be to come in 2012. He was strong in qualifying, strong in the one practice, and strong in the race.

Honorable Mention: Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr., and Greg Biffle.


Dave Blaney: he drew the short stick in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room before the race, as he was the first to park it for the day. He ran a grand total of--wait for it--20 laps before he declared himself done for the day.

Brian Vickers: he brought out TWO cautions for tires going down. All in all, not a good day for the Red Racer.


The mini-Big One: this happened on Lap 317, and took out a number of good cars. Six drivers ended up taking their cars to the garage: Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, and Carl Edwards. Could this be a preview of things to come at Big Bad Talladega?

Weather: a persistent, misty shower yesterday was the cause of both the Nationwide and Cup races being postponed until today.

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

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gas and Go--Texas (Spring Race 2010)

This week's Gas and Go comes from deep in the heart of Texas. As always, I will offer some short insights and takes leading up to the race.
  1. I have to give Jeff Gordon thanks for making me look like a freaking genius last year. I picked him to win the race, even though he had never won at Texas. Gordon added Texas to the list of tracks he's won at.
  2. Back to this year. I look for the Roushkateers to bounce back and have strong runs. Matt Kenseth is showing signs of being the 2003 version of Kenseth. Very strong and consistent. He is a worthy rival to Jimmie Johnson.
  3. Conversely, Kevin Harvick has gone backwards, in spite of his 12th place finish at Phoenix. This is reminding me of when the COT first came out. Harvick and the #29 team ended 2006 and began 2007 strongly. Then the COT came out and they struggled to adapt to the nuances of the car. Once NASCAR came out with the new spoiler, the #29 team is struggling again. Harvick is too good to struggle for very long. He has 'Dega, Darlington, and Richmond awaiting, tracks he has run well at.
  4. With Kasey Kahne moving to Hendrick Motorsports in '12, will that light a fire under him, or will he continue to struggle at RPM? And will he be out of the #9 car before the end of the year and RPM shuttering the #9 team if he doesn't make the Chase?
  5. Thinking of you: Terry Labonte.
  6. In 2007, Jeff Burton became the first repeat winner at Texas when he won the spring race. Carl Edwards leads all drivers in wins at the track, with three. He'll certainly be a factor on Sunday.
  7. Ford leads all manufacturers in wins at the track, with nine. Conversely, Toyota has never won a Cup race at the track.
  8. Speaking of Kenseth, his win in April 2002 came from the lowest starting position (31st) for a race winner. Edwards has the second lowest position, 30th, when he won the first fall race in 2005.
  9. Look for the usual suspects to run strong: Johnson, Kenseth, Edwards, Burton, Gordon, Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart, and Kurt Busch.

Predicted Race Winner: Matt Kenseth. He's been stout all season, but without a win to show for it. He takes advantage of a struggling Jimmie Johnson, wins the race, and takes over the points lead. Rest of the top 5: 2) Edwards; 3) Biffle; 4) Smoke; 5) Burton.

Darkhorse top 10 finisher: David Ragan. He narrowly misses making it four Roushkateers in the top 5.

That is my Gas and Go for the week. Feel free to offer your insights.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Subway Fresh Fit 600

After an unexpected week hiatus, the Crappafoni Pictures crew brings you this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, southwestern-style, complete with hot and spicy snacks provided by Tornados. Enjoy!


Ryan Newman: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He was the beneficiary of a very late caution caused when Scott Riggs slapped the wall. Crew chief Tony Gibson gambled by taking two right side tires and the #39 driver came out second, behind Jeff Gordon. He took the lead shortly after the restart and made it hold up. Newman's win was his first since the 2008 Daytona 500, and the first-ever win by a driver with the number 39. Those two laps were the only two laps Newman led the entire race. What makes this win sweet for this blogger is that Tornados snacks are manufactured in Central California. Good job Ryan!!

Jeff Gordon: try as he might, he wasn't able to overtake Newman for the win. I could say this as well for everyone NOT named Kyle Busch: he was the beneficiary of that late caution flag. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good; he turned a marginal top 10 car into a second-place car.

Jimmie Johnson: as usual, he was stout. Even though he started 16th, it didn't take him long to march to the front. He led the most laps in the race and got the extra five bonus points. But as the race wore on, the #48 car tailed off a bit. He actually increased his points lead a bit over Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle.

Mark Martin: night time was the right time for the driver of the 5 car. For much of the race, he was hanging out in low-2o'sville. But as day transitioned into night, the 5 car got stronger. He didn't have a car that could win, but he got the most out of the car en route to a fourth place finish.

Juan Pablo Montoya: he was at his best in the twilight part of the race, just before dusk. He led over 100 laps, but got bottled up on the last restart, running in seventh with two laps to go. He had a good rally to finish fifth. For the 42 team, that was huge. They needed a top 5 finish and got it.

Robby Gordon: I've gotta put him here. I've bagged on him many a time through the years, but not today. He was barely in the top 35 coming into the race. (He was 35th in points coming in.) But with Travis Kvapil losing his engine on Lap 314, that was the break he needed. He finished 14th, and was strong throughout. He's now 34th in points, and he's automatically qualified for Texas next week.

Honorable Mention: Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano.


The Fox announcing crew: Kyle Busch was within seven laps of taking the checkered flag when they said that Kyle Busch is the one guy that doesn't want to see a caution. Guess what? The caution flag flies!! DON'T JINX IT by saying that Kyle Busch (or whoever's leading late in the race, except for Jimmie Johnson--you can do THAT to him!) doesn't want to see a caution!! WHY do Fox, or ESPN, or ABC, or TNT's announcers DO this?? ESPN did the SAME thing last summer at Atlanta when they said the last thing Kevin Harvick wants to see is a caution. And guess what happened? Caution for Clint Bowyer spinning out. They get another bad for turning the race into a snoozefest.


The race format: by extending the race another 100 km, it meant more face time for Fox's crew. The race could have started a half hour later, and under the old format, it would have still ended at night.

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

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gas and Go--Phoenix (Spring Race 2010)

This week's Gas and Go comes from the Oasis in the Desert, Phoenix. Here are my short insights and takes leading into the race.

  1. Jimmie Johnson is on a roll. In spite of his ninth place finish at Martinsville, he has taken over the points lead. Here comes championship #5. Everyone else is fighting for the table scraps from the champion's table.
  2. As good as Johnson is at Martinsville, he's even better at Phoenix. He's NEVER finished worse than 15th at the track, and has won four of the last five races, including three in a row.
  3. Mark Martin has won twice, 16 years apart (1993, spring 2009). Other active drivers that have two wins: Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. Chevy has been dominant in recent years, but it wasn't always that way. In the early years, Ford was dominant, particularly Roush Fords. However, the last Ford driver to win at Phoenix: Kurt Busch.
  5. Johnson needs to lead 115 laps in order to reach 10,000 laps led in a career. He would become the fourth active driver to reach this milestone. The others: Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Bill Elliott, and Mark Martin
  6. In the last 10 races at Phoenix, Johnson has accumulated 1,685 points. That's 168.5 points per race! (Is there a track this guy DOESN'T run well at??)
  7. Thinking of you: Ernie Irvan.
  8. It's going to be all about Hendrick Horsepower on Saturday, with a bit of the Busch Brothers and RCR thrown in as appetizers.

Predicted Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson. Who else did you expect? JJ continues his mastery of PIR, leads the most laps, and wins in dominating fashion. Rest of the top 5: Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dark horse top 10 finisher: Regan Smith. The driver of the #78 has Earnhardt-Childress horsepower under the hood, and he will show it off impressively en route to a top 10 finish.

That's Gas and Go for this week! Your comments and insights are welcome.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

MLB Predictions for the 2010 season

With the MLB season set to start in a few minutes with the tiresome rivalry of Yankees-Red Sox, it's time for my utterly astounding (or useless, depending on your perspective) predictions.


  1. New York Yankees
  2. Tampa Bay Rays*
  3. Boston Red Sox
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Toronto Blue Jays


  1. Chicago White Sox
  2. Minnesota Twins
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Cleveland Indians
  5. Kansas City Royals


  1. Seattle Mariners
  2. Anaheim Angels (I REFUSE to acknowledge them as LA)
  3. Texas Rangers
  4. Oakland A's


  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. Florida Marlins
  4. New York Mets
  5. Washington Nationals


  1. Cincinnati Reds (yes, you heard it here first!)
  2. St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Milwaukee Brewers
  4. Chicago Cubs
  5. Houston Astros
  6. Pittsburgh Pirates


  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (the TRUE LA baseball team!)
  2. San Francisco Giants* (it doesn't pain me to put them below the Dodgers!)
  3. Colorado Rockies (not enough pitching to hang with LA and SF)
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks (still a few years away)
  5. San Diego Padres (getting better, and it wouldn't surprise me to see them in fourth)


ALDS: Rays over White Sox; Yankees over Mariners

ALCS: Rays over Yankees


NLDS: Dodgers over Reds; Giants over Phillies

NLCS: Dodgers over Giants

WORLD SERIES: Dodgers over Rays in six games.