Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2011 Coca-Cola 600

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is at the home of NASCAR, Concord, NC, for this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. This week's serving is BBQ-flavored, complete with all the fixin's and washed down with PLENTY of Budweiser. (Remember, drink responsibly!) Enjoy!


Kevin Harvick: he gets first billing as the race winner. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. For the first 100 miles of the race, he may as well have been driving a dump truck. But crew chief Gil Martin reassured him that it would get better as the race went on. And it did. But Harvick wasn't consistently in the top 10 until the LAST 100 miles of the race. TWICE, he got bit with a caution while a lap down (he had just pitted under green on two occasions when the caution flag flew). Without the wave around rule, he wouldn't be here, and he certainly wouldn't be celebrating in Victory Lane with DeLana, Gil Martin, Richard Childress, and the rest of the 29 crew. A shout out also goes to Paul Menard for pushing Harvick around the track during the final caution, allowing Harvick to conserve fuel by shutting off the engine. The win was Harvick's third this season, and he becomes the first driver to reach the three-win mark this season. It was also his first Coca-Cola 600 win, and only his second top 10 finish in the race. (He finished 2nd in his rookie season of 2001.) In the three wins, he has led a grand total of--wait for it--NINE laps. He led two laps tonight, six at Martinsville, and the final lap at Fontana. He all but locks himself into the Chase now, and with 10 bonus points per win, that's going to be HUGE. GOOD JOB HAPPY!! WOOHOO!

David Ragan: he was stout all evening, and was hanging around the top 5 pretty much the whole race. He was actually the fourth best Roush driver at the first 100 miles of the race, but as the other three Roush drivers faded, Ragan stayed strong. Congratulations on a career-best second place finish. Your first win will come sooner rather than later.

Joey Logano: like Harvick, he battled a car that was plowing. Like Harvick, he benefitted from pit strategy (staying out and conserving fuel). Logano battled his car and the heat and persevered to a third place finish. He was there at the end because he ran a smart, sound race.

Kurt Busch: another strong top 5 finish and another round of giving his crew hell. I imagine they probably shrug their shoulders and say, "That's Kurt being Kurt. We expect nothing less." Major props go out to the crew for staying on their games for the 610 miles the race ended up going, and for pumping up Kurt when he needed it. When it was Go time, Kurt went. Good job Double Deuce and the crew!

Richard Petty Motorsports: with AJ Allmendinger (5th) and Marcos Ambrose (6th) being strong, both drivers deserve this spot TOGETHER.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: he was strong throughout, even leading late in the race and looking like he was on his way to breaking a long winless streak, but he ran out of gas in the middle of turn 4. Dale Jr will win at a track very few expect him to win at (a road course, perhaps).

Honorable Mention: Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, and Kyle Busch.


Mike Skinner: he ran a total of four laps before hotfooting it home to watch the rest of the race on TV like the rest of us. He drew the short stick today at the start and parkers' meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. Not a bad gig in this horrible economy if you can get it.

Debris cautions: the first three cautions were for debris, with ONE legitimate debris caution--when Casey Mears' car was spewing parts all over the track after Landon Cassill made contact after Mears checked up.


The first 100 laps: there was a VERY LONG green flag run to start the race, and the Roushkateers basically checked out. It was about to turn into a snoozefest until day transistioned into night. Once night time came, the Roush cars suddenly looked very ordinary, save for Ragan's car.

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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2011 FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in Dover for this week's serving of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served up with crab cakes and a seafood medley, and washed down with copious amounts of Coke. Enjoy!


Matt Kenseth: he gets this week's top slot as the race winner. Kenseth was stout throughout the race, spending much of the time in the top 10. He led a total of 33 laps en route to his second win of the season, and 20th of his career. He took two right side tires on the final stop and they held up. The track position gamble paid off. An extra Good for Kenseth for posting the fastest lap of the entire race.

Mark Martin: while he didn't have a particularly strong car, it wasn't weak, either. He was in the mid-teens for much of the race. He stayed out to get track position on the final caution, as he had enough fuel to make it to the end. He was shown to be the leader on the final restart. Kenseth quickly caught his old mentor at Roush Racing and took the lead, but Martin was strong enough on old tires to hold off spirited challenges from Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Busch to finish second. He gambled and it paid off.

Marcos Ambrose: he's getting closer and closer to that first win, period. (Will it come on a road course, or an oval? And will he be the next member of the First Win Club?) While he didn't lead a lap, he was strong throughout the race, spending much of the time in the top 10. A very good run by Ambrose, and that should set the table for him to get better as the season rolls on.

Kyle Busch: he was a beneficiary of that final caution, as he was struggling up to that point. He gambled on track position and won by taking two right sides only. Plus he made up several spots on the track. Today was a day where you could gamble, like the top 5 did, or hope that four fresh tires would work. Today, the two tire stop worked.

Brian Vickers: this was his first top 5 finish of the season. Like the others, he gambled on track position (is this sounding like a broken record?) and won.

Jimmie Johnson: JJ led the most laps of the entire race, but was bit in the rear when he took four tires and the #48 did not respond to the tires on that final pit stop. (For the record, with the car running as well as it was, I'd have taken four tires myself and worked my way through the field.)

Carl Edwards: he, too, was bit in the rear by taking four tires. He and crew chief Bob Osborne were banking on the track getting slick and with the four fresh tires, he'd have more grip than those with two tires. But there was just enough cloud cover for that strategy to backfire.

Honorable Mention: Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex, Jr., and Kevin Harvick.


Michael McDowell: he was already out of the race by 10:45 AM Pacific time. You blinked and you missed him. He was the first start and parker that hotfooted it out of town with his prize winnings.

Tony Stewart: Smoke was uncharacteristically bad today. The 14 team totally missed on the setup and that made for a VERY long day. He usually does quite well at the Monster Mile. All race long he was fighting with a very loose car and no matter what kind of adjustments they made, it wouldn't tighten. Then on the final pit stop, he gets popped for going too fast entering pit road. Just one of those days that he'd like to toss back into the lake.


Engine issues: Kasey Kahne was most notably affected, as he was running in the top 5 for much of the race and he had a stout car up to that point. Regan Smith had an electrical issue that caused all his telemetry to go dark. That put him behind the wall for a number of laps. He returned, but then his car suddenly and inexplicably lost power. Back behind the wall he went. AJ Allmendinger also had engine issues (he was running in the top 10 at the time).

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

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2011 Showtime Southern 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew goes old-school for this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Southern-style, and you're seated on the newest furniture, courtesy of Furniture Row! Enjoy!


Regan Smith: he gets this spot as the race winner. First it was Trevor Bayne getting his first Cup win at the sport's most prestigious race. Now it's Smith getting his at one of NASCAR's crown jewels, the Southern 500. Smith didn't take the lead until very late in the race when he stayed out after a late caution while the leaders pitted. Smith ran the fastest lap of the ENTIRE race on the white flag lap. All on old tires. That will get it done. GREAT JOB REGAN AND THE #78 CREW!!

Kasey Kahne: he led the most laps but was shuffled back a bit on the final restart. He recovered in time to a fourth place finish. He looked like he had the car to beat throughout the week: he won the pole, and was fast in a brief practice.

Carl Edwards: he was stout throughout the evening. He looked like he had the car to beat in the second half of the race, as he checked out on the field. But a caution with 10 laps to go bit him in the rear. He took two tires and it appeared it would pay off. Then another caution with three laps to go for Kyle Busch wrecking, er, making contact with RCR teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer appeared to favor Edwards. But he didn't count on Brad Keselowski (his old rival) giving Smith a great push to clear him. Congratulations to Carl and Kate on the birth of their first son, Michael!

Brad Keselowski: he'd been hanging out mid-pack until the latter half of the race. Then the Blue Deuce crew got the car better and better. He gave Smith that shove that catapulted him to the lead. The third place finish was by far his best finish of the season.

Ryan Newman: Rocketman was racing in the Tornados paint scheme. That usually means a very strong run and a spot in this section. I'll be sure to save Newman a spot in this section next time he runs in the Tornados paint scheme! He was stout, and led early. He fell back mid-race but rebounded to a strong top 10 finish.

Kevin Harvick: Happy led 47 laps, by far the most he's led at Darlington in his career, and it looked like he was a certain top 3 finisher until Kyle Busch got loose and made contact with Happy, who in turn took out Clint Bowyer. (Busch was trying to make it three-wide on the outside and he had no room. Not a smart decision.) He and Kyle Busch had some post-race fireworks of their own as they had a staredown with their cars. Then as Harvick got out of his car, Busch wrecked the 29, Harvick threw a punch at Busch but missed, and the crews nearly engaged in an all-out brawl in the garage area. You can bet there WILL be payback, as Busch would be wise to keep his head on a swivel. The reckless move by Busch cost Harvick a sure top 3 finish. (Harvick finished 17th.)

Honorable Mention: Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, and Martin Truex, Jr.


Kurt Busch: normally I would put the first start and parker here, but he was REALLY bad tonight. It appeared they missed on the setup and the Double Deuce kept getting Darlington Stripes. Kurt finished six laps down.

Matt Kenseth: as good as his Roush Fenway teammates were, he was almost as bad. He and Marcos Ambrose made contact in lap 2; when Kenseth went to pit, he missed the committment cone, costing him a violation (he pitted after passing the committment cone on the outside). He was never a factor, finishing 25th, 4 laps down.


Kyle Busch: he caused two wrecks in the closing laps of the race trying to improve his position: the one where he wrecked Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, and where he wrecked Marcos Ambrose after that. In the first wreck, he had a run on the outside and tried to make it three wide, but got loose. I partly blame Harvick's spotter for not seeing Busch coming on the outside of Harvick and alerting his driver. Because Busch was driving so hard, he got loose, made contact with Harvick, who in turn made contact with Bowyer, putting his RCR teammate into the wall. Then shortly after the final restart, he flat out tried to wreck Ambrose for no apparent reason. He was fortunate Ambrose held his line. (Ambrose finished 13th.) Yes, I get that you're trying to get as many positions as possible, but you're trying to pass guys in areas of the track where it's simply NOT possible to pass.

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