Sunday, May 30, 2010
Kurt Busch: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He had the dominant car of the race, leading over 200 laps. Props to crew chief Steve Addington and the Brew Crew for putting Busch in a position to win. Next stop is Pocono, where he's even more dominant.
Jamie McMurray: he had a strong car, and led several laps, but when it was money time, the 1 crew had a bad pit stop that cost him five positions. Good job Cupcake!
Kyle Busch: early on it looked like he had the car to beat. At every 100 mile interval it was either he or brother Kurt that was leading; that's how dominant the Busch Brothers were. This caps an amazing month in which a Busch Brother won every race at either the Nationwide or Sprint Cup level.
Mark Martin: he was the beneficiary of a gutsy call by crew chief Alan Gustafson to stay out on the final caution. He made the track position stand up for a fourth place finish. This was a case in which he turned a 15th place car into a fourth place car.
David Reutimann: the defending race winner was stout throughout, rarely staying outside of the top 5. He led a few laps during green flag pit stops. Good job David!
Honorable Mention: Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Matt Kenseth, and Kevin Harvick.
Dave Blaney: he drew the short stick at the start and parkers' meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. He was the first to start and park, turning in a cool 25 laps before calling it a night.
Kyle Busch: on the final restart, he turned right into Jeff Burton, cutting his left rear tire and costing Burton a shot at winning. Burton wasn't pleased, and he let Busch have it after the race. Good for Jeff!
Kyle Busch: rarely do I put a driver in all three slots, but Busch deserves all three today.
Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to chime in.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
- Kurt Busch has momentum going into the 600, coming off his win at the All-Star Race last weekend. However, he has never had a top 10 finish in the 600. This track is not one of his better tracks.
- On the other hand, Jimmie Johnson practically OWNS this track. He should have had one more win in 2002, but he overshot his pit on the final pit stop of the 2002 race, giving the victory to his future Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin. In that race, it was Martin's superior conditioning that enabled him to stay alert those last 100 miles.
- Johnson is the only driver to ever win at Charlotte on a last-lap pass, passing Bobby Labonte with 100 yards to go in the 2005 Coca-Cola 600.
- Hendrick Motorsports has won 8 of the past 14 races overall at Charlotte, four in the 600: Johnson from 2003-2005 (3 in a row) and Casey Mears in 2007 for his only Cup win.
- I'll stop blathering on about Hendrick Motorsports/Jimmie Johnson, and go a different direction. David Reutimann's first career victory last year made him the sixth driver to get his first win in the 600-mile race: David Pearson (1961), Jeff Gordon (1994), Bobby Labonte (1995), Matt Kenseth (2000), and Casey Mears (2007) were the others.
- Thinking of you: Bill Frances Sr and Jr, Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, and the late Dale Earnhardt. (The five charter NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees.)
- Look for the usual suspects to run up front: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, and Matt Kenseth.
Predicted Race Winner: Denny Hamlin. This guy is a threat to win every week; it doesn't matter the kind of track or the track conditions. He's finally learning how to be consistent, and not overdrive the car. He's always had the talent, but not always the consistency. He leads a JGR 1-2 finish with Kyle Busch finishing second. The rest of the top 5: 3) Johnson; 4) Kenseth; 5) David Reutimann.
That's my Gas and Go for Charlotte. Feel free to read and comment.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Kurt Busch: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He did win the first segment of the Challenge, and was near the front for the whole 100 laps. Props go out to the Brew Crew(looking forward to seeing you guys at Sonoma) for doing a GREAT job in fixing the Blue Deuce during the 10 minute break after he slapped the wall hard. The Deuce may not have been a thing of beauty to look at, but for Roger Penske, it was the most beautiful sight in the world when the Deuce took the checkered flag. Good job Kurt and Crew!!
Martin Truex, Jr.: he was the winner of the transition race. That alone deserves a Good slot. While he hung out at the back in the Challenge, that strategy kept him in good stead, particularly when the Big One hit very early in the final segment of the race. Had there been one more lap to go, I think Truex could have pulled it out. This bodes well for Truex and the NAPA crew as the Chase nears. Another Good goes out to Truex for having the fastest lap of the race.
Joey Logano: although he didn't lead a lap, he managed to pick his way and did a great job in not being a part of the Big One. That alone put him in a position to win, and although he didn't win, he learned a lot about the race and what he can do in the future. Good job Joey!
Denny Hamlin: he led two laps and was in a position to win it, but he slapped the wall late and lost his momentum. He got into an on-track tiff with his teammate Kyle Busch when Busch had a run on him and Hamlin cut him off. I don't blame Hamlin; he's trying to win the race, and there was no contact made.
Greg Biffle: he raced his way into the Challenge with a second-place finish in the transition race. For awhile, it looked like he had a car that could win the All-Star Race. He avoided trouble for the most part and had a solid finish. Good job Biff!
Joe Nemechek: he was the first to start and park in the Showdown. You're beyond Field Filler Joe now; you're Start and Park Joe. You went from Front Row Joe to Field Filler Joe to Start and Park Joe. IT'S A FREAKING DISGRACE THAT WE HAVE TO HAVE START AND PARKERS IN THE ALL-STAR RACE!! AT LEAST GIVE AN HONEST EFFORT!! NASCAR SHOULD WITHHOLD YOUR EARNINGS FROM THE RACE; YOU STOLE MONEY FROM THEM YOU BASTARD!! AT LEAST NORM BENNING PUT FORTH AN HONEST EFFORT WITH AN UNDERFUNDED TEAM AND RAN ALL 40 LAPS OF THE RACE!!
Start and Parkers: WHY do we have to have these guys in the All-Star Race? If you can't run a full race, THEN DON'T RUN THE RACE AT ALL!!!
Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Kyle Busch: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He had a dominant car the second half of the race, and overcame radio issues early. He became the first driver to sweep Dover since September 1991, when Harry Gant did it at age 51. He now is second in the points, 69 points behind Kevin Harvick. Good job Kyle!
Jeff Burton: he led one lap during a round of green flag pit stops. The 31 car got better as the race went on. He ran a typical Burton race: quietly moving forward without much fanfare, but was there at the end. No shame in being runner up to Kyle Busch, especially today.
Roush Fenway Racing: I have to put this group here because three of their drivers all having strong races--Matt Kenseth (3rd); Greg Biffle (6th); and Carl Edwards (8th). This is the best they have run in quite some time. Could a victory be in the not too distant future?
Joe Gibbs Racing: in addition to Kyle Busch (winner), JGR's other two drivers (Denny Hamlin (4th) and Joey Logano (10th)) also had strong races. Hamlin matches his career-best finish at Dover, and Logano's top 10 was huge for that team, particularly with the problems besetting Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray.
David Reutimann: he was strong throughout the race, and for once he wasn't snakebit. He even led a lap during a round of green flag pit stops. He was in the top 10 for much of the race, eventually finishing 5th. Good top 5 run by the Aaron's Dream Team!
Kevin Harvick: the points leader was ALMOST lapped by Jimmie Johnson early in the race. A timely caution caused by Marcos Ambrose cutting a tire and hitting the wall kept Happy from going a lap down. Kudos to the crew for keeping up with the changing track conditions and not only making the right adjustments, but in consistently gaining ground on the stops. Dover is one of Harvick's worst tracks, and to come away with a top 10 is HUGE. If he has the points lead after Indianapolis, look for him to start racing for wins.
Tony Stewart: Smoke got better as the race went on. This was his best finish in quite awhile. He slowly climbed into the top 10, finishing 9th. Good job Smoke!
Honorable Mention: Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman.
Johnny Sauter: he drew the short stick at the Start and Parkers meeting and was the first to park.
Sam Hornish Jr: he was the cause of TWO cautions for spinning out. C'mon Spinning Sam, you can do better than that!
David Ragan: sorry Melissa, gotta call your driver out this time. As good as his Roush Fenway teammates were, he was about equally as bad. UPS isn't paying all that jack to see its car finish consistently near the back of the pack!
Dale Earnhardt Jr: your sponsors aren't paying all that bank to see you finish in the 30s due to mechanical problems or other issues. They want to see you in the top 15 at least.
Marcos Ambrose: twice he cut tires to bring out cautions. On one of them I was thankful because Harvick was about to go a lap down. Here's hoping you find more consistency.
Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
- More get well wishes go out to Brian Vickers as he recovers from an unspecified illness. Casey Mears will step in for Vickers in the #83 Red Bull Toyota. Get well soon Brian!
- Kevin Harvick comes into the week with a 110-point lead over Jimmie Johnson. This would be a great opportunity for Johnson to cut into that lead, as this is one of Johnson's very best tracks. However, Harvick posted top 10s in both races in his rookie season of 2001. Johnson won both Dover races last season, as he did in his rookie season of 2002.
- Johnson leads active drivers in Dover wins, with 5. (He also won the fall race in 2005.)
- Although Juan Pablo Montoya is in 17th place in the standings, he's only 54 points behind Dale Earnhardt Jr for the final Chase spot. Montoya has been stout in the past month, pretty much duplicating what Mark Martin did last year, minus the wins. If not for Montoya's slow start, he'd be up there dueling with Harvick and Johnson.
- The spoiler has greatly benefitted Gibbs, RCR and EGR. Those drivers have been very strong since the spoiler made its debut. Consequently, Hendrick Motorsports has been a little off, with the exception of Jeff Gordon.
- Thinking of you: Jody Ridley (surprise winner at Dover in 1981). Whatever happened to him?
- Dover has three firsts for Matt Kenseth: 1) Start (September 1998); 2) top 10 (he finished sixth in that first start subbing for Bill Elliott); 3) Pole (June 2002). Kenseth has eight top 10s in his last 10 starts.
- Look for the usual suspects to run strong: Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Gordon, and Mark Martin. Which brings me to:
Predicted Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson. He breaks out of his funk and gains ground on Harvick. The rest of the top 5: 2) Hamlin; 3) Kenseth; 4) Kyle Busch; 5) J. Gordon.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Denny Hamlin: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He had a stout car throughout the weekend. He was strong in practice, strong in qualifying, and strong in the race. So much for ACL surgery. He LOOKS like a championship contender. A Darlington Sweep is something he can hang his hat on. Now he's tied with Jimmie Johnson for the most wins this season. (Hopefully there will be beautiful weather next week in Dover, as Hamlin has won on either a Saturday or Monday.)
Jamie McMurray: he started on the pole and led many laps throughout the race. Finishing second to Hamlin at Darlington, there is no shame in that. Cupcake was stout in qualifying, strong in practice, and strong in the race. Being back with Chip Ganassi seems to agree with Cupcake.
Kurt Busch: he started 14th and quickly worked his way towards the front. Although he didn't lead a lap, he put himself in a position to have a strong finish. All in all, a good job by the Blue Deuce and his crew. Good job guys!
Jeff Gordon: he led the most laps in the race but was snakebit (again!) on the final caution. He lined up as the final car on the lead lap. He did a great job in finishing fourth. I was convinced that this was the weekend he would win.
Juan Pablo Montoya: he's been a regular here in recent weeks. He drove the wheels off the Target Chevrolet to a fifth place finish. I wouldn't count him out of Chase contention yet. He gained another spot in the standings. One thing that helps him immensely: Richmond is the final race before the Chase, and he runs very strong there. He was stout, and this was easily his best run at Darlington. This bodes well for him in the future. He'll get that win in the not too distant future.
Kevin Harvick: he was buried deep in the field, starting 35th. Happy slowly worked his way to the front, and even led a lap through green flag pit stops, getting the five bonus points. That was HUGE. He also took advantage of Jimmie Johnson's misfortune when Johnson was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got plowed into by AJ Allmendinger. With his sixth place finish, he has opened up a 110-point lead in the standings, the largest margin in Cup this year, and the largest of Harvick's Cup career. (In 2006, he won the Busch Series by nearly 1,000 points.)
Regan Smith: despite driving for an underfunded team, he managed a top 20 finish at FREAKING Darlington, NOT an easy track to do well at. (He finished 17th.) For a time, he was running in the TOP TEN, before fading. He was running as high as sixth. He was very strong throughout the race and kept the 78's nose clean. Kudos to him for running a smart, efficient race. What helped was that he had the ECR engine package underneath the hood. The top 20 finish was HUGE for that team. Good job Regan!
Honorable Mention: Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Ryan Newman, and Brian Vickers.
Dave Blaney: he was the first one to start and park. Poor guy, ended up drawing the short stick in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. He deserves better. I would have put Reed Sorenson here, but his day ended due to an early accident.
Sam Hornish Jr: Darlington wasn't too kind to him, as he was the cause of multiple cautions. I think he wanted to stay in bed and skip Darlington altogether, as he looked like someone on his fifth Jack and Coke.
Sam Hornish Jr: see above.
Bobby Labonte: he also was the cause of multiple cautions. As much as I've always liked Labonte, could the end of his career be near? He's been a great champion, but IMO this is a case of hanging on too long. It's kind of like Willie Mays playing center field for the New York Mets. (That visual is BRUTAL, as Mays hung on for FAR too long; he should have retired after the 1971 season, his last good season.)
Those are my nominees. Feel free to come in with yours.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
- Kyle Busch comes into Darlington on a roll. He showed his mettle and patience last week in winning at Richmond. Could this be the beginning of a newer, more patient KB? If so, he'll be a threat to JJ's dominance.
- Mark Martin comes in as the defending race winner. Although he's just won twice, in over 50% of his starts at Darlington he has finished in the top 10 (26 top 10's in 43 races). This track is ideal for his patient, methodical approach.
- Jeff Gordon is the current master of The Lady in Black with seven wins. He is the only driver ever to win four consecutive Southern 500s, 1995 to 1998. In that span he won five times at the track. To give you an idea of how dominant he was in that stretch, no one has even won the Southern 500 three times in a row. He also won the Southern 500 in 2002, and this race in 2007. Don't be surprised if he wins his eighth Darlington race. He's coming closer to that win.
- Although Martin won last year at age 50, he's not the oldest winner at Darlington. Harry Gant won the 1991 Southern 500 at age 51. If you thought Martin had an amazing year at 50 (which he did), Gant won five races in 1991, including a record-tying four STRAIGHT races, which started at the Southern 500. At 51!
- The all-time master of Darlington is David Pearson, with 10 wins. The Silver Fox often dominated; in one of his wins, the runner-up was 13 laps DOWN. Which brings me to:
- Thinking of you: David Pearson.
- Kevin Harvick comes in as the points leader. However, he has struggled at Darlington in recent years. In his first six starts, he had four top 10 finishes, including a second place finish in the 2003 Southern 500. He hasn't had a top 10 finish since.
- Terry Labonte got his first Cup win at the 1980 Southern 500. He got his final Cup win at the 2003 Southern 500 as his career was winding down and a young buck named Kyle Busch was waiting in the wings. The 2003 Southern 500 would be the last race run at Darlington on Labor Day weekend.
- Look for the usual suspects to run up front: Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Martin, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin.
Predicted Race Winner: Jeff Gordon. He breaks his winless streak and shows the young studs how to tame the Lady in Black. With his eighth win at Darlington, he moves to within two of Pearson. The rest of the top 5: 2) Martin; 3) Biffle; 4) Harvick (he's running very well and continues the momentum); 5) Kyle Busch.
Darkhorse top 10 finisher: Marcos Ambrose. He noses out Carl Edwards for the final spot in the top 10.
Those are my observations. Feel free to leave your insights and takes.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Kyle Busch: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He had the dominant car for the first half of the race; at one point, only nine cars were on the lead lap. He led the entire first half of the race, but had to scramble late in the race and beat Jeff Gordon on the final restart. He led a total of 226 laps. Good job Kyle!
Jeff Gordon: he had a stout car in the second half of the race but was snakebit yet again. He was the victim of a great Kyle Busch restart. He'll get that win soon--I'm predicting at Sonoma.
Kevin Harvick: he started sixth and quickly moved his way forwards. He was in the top 5 for much of the race, and overcame a bad pit stop. He led a couple of laps during green flag pit stops. With his third place finish, and Jimmie Johnson's 10th place finish, Harvick takes over the points lead by 10 points over Johnson.
Jeff Burton: not to be outdone, Harvick's RCR teammate got stronger as the race went on. The #31 crew was on top of the changing track conditions, and made the correct adjustments. He led a few laps, which was popular among the fans.
Carl Edwards: I think this is the first time I've put Cousin Carl in this category this year. He started way back in the pack (28th) and slowly worked his way towards the front. He led his first laps OF THE SEASON. Hopefully for Edwards and the #99 crew, this race will turn around their season.
Honorable Mention: Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Marcos Ambrose, and Jimmie Johnson.
Tony Raines: normally, I would put the last place driver (READ: start and parker) in this position, but Joe Nemechek's day ended due to an accident before he started and parked. Raines was officially the first start and parker.
Scott Speed: he went backwards from the drop of the green flag. If not for the wave around, he'd have finished double digit laps down.
Tony Stewart: he was another beneficiary of the wave around rule. His finishing position isn't an indicator of how bad he really was tonight. It was a very un-Smoke like performance. He missed big-time on the setup and had his hands full. A sub-Good FOR finishing on the lead lap.
Dale Earnhardt Jr: he cut a tire under green and had to pit, going several laps down in the process. Then he had a speeding penalty on pit road. All in all, a bad day for Jr. He drops five positions in the standings, to 13th, out of Chase contention for now.
Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours!