Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly -- 2011 Irwin Tools Night Race

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in Thunder Valley, aka Bristol, for this week's heaping helping of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, unofficially brought to you by Hamburger Helper. Have nothing to wash down that Hamburger Helper with? NO problem--there's PLENTY of Miller Lite! Enjoy! (Please drink responsibly. We don't want to hear of you getting popped for DUI.)


Brad Keselowski: he gets the top spot this week. He had a solid qualifying run (he started 8th) and worked his way to the front. It was a gamble bringing his Nationwide crew chief to the Cup side to start the season. Kansas was where it all came together. Tonight's win established him as a LEGITIMATE threat to dethrone Jimmie Johnson. This was his second win in the last four races, and fourth consecutive top 3 finish. He'll sit in the Chase NO WORSE than third place. The Blue Deuce is clicking on all cylinders (no pun intended). Keselowski climbed to 11th in points, 20 points behind Tony Stewart. With another solid finish next week at Atlanta, he should clinch a Chase berth.

Martin Truex, Jr.: he FINALLY has a stout run--easily his best run of the season. His two-tire stop on the final pit stop was a huge gamble for track position, and he made it pay off. That took some serious stones on crew chief Chad Ochocinco Johnson's part, especially since two tires wasn't working up to that point. (Man, that Ochocinco's dude's everywhere!) On the restart he was leading, and eventually finished second, holding off Jeff Gordon on those two tires (Gordon took four tires, in contrast). Good job Martin!

Jeff Gordon: he led the most laps, and had a stout car throughout the race, but the #24 faded at the end. It was too much Blue Deuce more than the 24 itself. For awhile, it looked like he would win his third race of the season, and 85th of his career, but it was not to be. Gordon needs to finish 40th or better at Atlanta to clinch a Chase spot.

Jimmie Johnson: Vader and the 48 team are showing signs of life at the right time. Although he led only a handful of laps, he was in a position to pounce. He didn't outdrive the car and was rewarded with a fourth place finish and a berth in the Chase.

Jamie McMurray: it's been awhile since I've seen you in this neck of the woods. He led a handful of laps, and was in the top 10 for pretty much the whole race. Good job Jamie!

Honorable Mention: Matt Kenseth, Carl EdwardsDenny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, and Marcos Ambrose.


Robby Gordon: he drew the short stick at the start and parkers' meeting, held in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. He ran a total of 10 laps before declaring himself done for the day and hotfooting it out of town with his earnings. Hey Robby, how come you ran faster when you DID hotfoot it out of town with your earnings than on the track?

Tony Stewart: Smoke was UNUSUALLY bad. Even though he has struggled at this track, that term took on a WHOLE NEW MEANING. He fought an ill-handling race car all evening. It was way too loose, then it got way too tight. The 14 team struggled with the balance of the car. The end result was a 28th place finish, three laps down. Fortunately for him, he is still in 10th place and miraculously still has a chance to clinch a Chase berth after Atlanta. That's because:

Clint Bowyer: he was just as bad as Stewart. Like Stewart, he fought an ill-handling race car. But through pit strategy, he actually finished two spots better than Stewart, finishing 26th. He STILL has a chance to make the Chase, albeit as a wild card, with a win at either Atlanta or Richmond. But with no contract extension with RCR, he may be looking elsewhere, like RPM. (I'm guessing that if he DOESN'T make the Chase, he's bolting after the season to RPM.)

Greg Biffle: he was ca-ca. He got popped more than once for speeding penalties on pit road, once during a round of green flag pit stops. He actually had a pretty solid qualifying run and was solid in all the practices leading up to the race. For the race itself, he finishes 31st, four laps down.

Kevin Harvick: another driver that wasted a pretty good qualifying run (he started 15th) with a bad race car. It was loose from the drop of the green flag to the drop of the checkers. No matter what the 29 crew did to try to tighten the car up, it was stuck on loose. Time to stop sniping at Kyle Busch and focus on what is wrong with this car and the setups, Happy. He last pitted with 130 laps to go and was just about to go a lap down when the final caution came out. He stayed out and took the wave around, putting him on the lead lap for the first time since early in the race. Alas, he got lapped AGAIN. IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK TO HAVE A CAR THAT'S AT LEAST COMPETITIVE AND CAN STAY ON THE LEAD LAP??? HMMMM? When you're outrun by Mike Bliss and David Starr at one point in the race, you have a (excuse my French) SHITTY car.  JUNK THAT PARTICULAR CAR YOU RAN TONIGHT!


Greg Biffle: see above.

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

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly -- 2011 Pure Michigan 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the Irish Hills of Michigan after a one-week hiatus for this week's The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, served with Michigan-style corn dogs and hot dogs, cheese fries, and washed down with NOS energy drink. Enjoy!


Kyle Busch: he gets this spot as this week's race winner. Even though he didn't lead the most laps, he had the best car in the race. He was able to turn in the corners better than any other driver, and he had enough to survive a GWC finish. With the win, he would take the lead in the points in the Chase, breaking a tie with Kevin Harvick. This team has momentum, and could be the front runner to dethrone Jimmie Johnson at season's end. Good job Kyle!

Jimmie Johnson: he ALMOST got that first career win at MIS. He greatly benefitted from a caution right after he had pitted, giving him the lead for the first time in the race. That was how he was able to gain all that track position. Could this be the turning point in the season for the 48 team? He seemed to get some of that racing luck back.

Brad Keselowski: Bad Brad should be renamed Gritty Gutty Brad. He raced without a brace, gritted through the pain, and finished third with a very strong run, pleasing the home crowd. It helped that he qualified second. He further solidifies his hold on the first wild card in the Chase. (He may just finish in the top 10 after all!)

Mark Martin: he showed why he's so formidable at Michigan. He took two tires to gain track position on a very early pit stop, and came out in the lead. He was able to hold the lead for a long time and when he lost the lead, he didn't drop off that much. Because of all that track position gained, he was able to come away with a top 5 finish.

Clint Bowyer: despite all the distractions of his contract status with RCR, and a bad starting position (p35), he has a solid top 10 run, finishing 8th, but is still 24 points behind Tony Stewart, who sits in 10th place in the standings. Bowyer was definitely the mover of the race, gaining 27 positions since the drop of the green flag.

Matt Kenseth: he was in the top 5 for a great majority of the race, but on the final restart, he got shuffled back to 11th. He was able to make up one position to finish 10th.

Greg Biffle: he looked like he had the car to beat for most of the race, as he led the most laps, but got shuffled back due to bad pit stops late and bad pit strategy. Although he sits in 13th in the standings, he has no wins, and in order to make the Chase, he needs two wins in the final three races before the Chase. Fortunately, all three tracks are favorable to him.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, and Tony Stewart.


JJ Yeley: 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 11 laps before declaring himself done for the day and hotfooting it out of town with his earnings.

Kevin Harvick/Gil Martin: Harvick's crew chief was definitely not on his game. He should have borrowed some Wheaties Fuel from Clint Bowyer this morning. (I think Bowyer ate the whole box; that explains the huge improvement from starting position!) Harvick was running well and at the first pit stop, the crew made adjustments to the 29 car and whatever they did, they pissed the car off. At one point, the 51 car was running better than the 29! Even Andy Lally was leading laps!! On the final caution that brought out the GWC, they could have made it on fuel. They had the PERFECT opportunity to steal at least A DOZEN positions on the track, perhaps even steal a top 5 finish, but they pitted instead. They were losing positions in the pits every time they pitted! Harvick was horrible on restarts, going backwards (by MULTIPLE POSITIONS) each time, so I don't think it would have mattered a hill of beans. Richard Childress will be addressing this issue tomorrow morning. Sounds very ominous.


Kevin Harvick: losing positions on pit road + bad restarts = NOT being a factor in the race = UGLY. I'm not picking on Harvick; I'm calling them like I see them, and he had a HORRIBLE race; hence being in the Ugly category.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to comment, or to submit different nominees.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Good Sam RV 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the rolling hills of eastern Pennsylvania for this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served up on a platter of Pennsylvania-style sandwiches, and washed down with PLENTY of Miller Lite. (Drink responsibly. And have a designated driver.) Enjoy!


Brad Keselowski: he gets this slot as the race winner. Bad Brad did a masterful job just a few days after sustaining a broken ankle in a crash at Road Atlanta while testing for the Watkins Glen race. He took the lead for the first time on a daring three-wide pass in which he had a tremendous run. He held off Kyle Busch from that point on. With the win, Keselowski becomes the first wild card, as he has two wins on the season and is in the top 20 in points. Good job Brad!

Kyle Busch: he was the class of the field for the middle third of the race, and at one point he had a nearly 4 second lead on his brother Kurt before a late race caution wiped that out. He got shuffled back on the subsequent restart, losing the lead to Keselowski.

Kurt Busch: he was on the point for 38 laps and was stout throughout. He even survived a late-race skirmish with Jimmie Johnson. (More on that later.) But at one point, he berated his crew after he got shuffled back to mid-pack. Great job in fighting his way through that mess to finish third.

Jimmie Johnson: while he didn't lead a lap, he was able to drive his way towards the front, and if not for the great final restart by Keselowski, we might have been seeing JJ in Victory Lane instead.

Ryan Newman: must be the Tornados paint scheme. Or the driver. He, and not Smoke, have been heating it up this summer. Seems like every time he drives the Tornados scheme, he finishes in the top 5! (I think he's only finished outside the top 5 ONCE driving that scheme; that came as a result of a crash.) Whenever the 39 is in that scheme, it agrees with the car. Just sayin'. Newman was able to drive towards the front, even leading a lap during a round of green flag pit stops.

Denny Hamlin: he led the most laps in the race, but on the final pit stop, they made several key mistakes and lost 14 positions. They came in fifth; they came out 19th on the final pit stop. He's now in the second wild card position (he is currently 11th in the standings).

Honorable Mention: Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Paul Menard.


JJ Yeley: he was the first start and parker. He ran a grand total of seven laps before declaring himself done for the day and hotfooting it out of town with his earnings. He drew the short stick at the start and parkers' meeting, held in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room.

The race itself: now you know why Pocono is a snoozefest. Dull, boring action. LONG green flag runs. A VERY LONG racetrack and race. If you reduced the mileage to 400 miles I think it would be better. Still, it's better than soccer.


Jimmie Johnson: it's not often that I put a driver in both the Good and Ugly categories. While Johnson WAS very solid today, it's his very late race and post-race antics that also put him here. On the final lap, he went down and made contact with Kurt Busch as he was trying to pass him. Busch didn't appreciate that and hit him back, causing a tire rub on the 48 car. (These two have a LONG history; the most memorable being Sonoma in 2009, when Johnson flat-out PUNTED Busch late in the race, costing him a top 5 finish.) AFTER the race, Johnson confronted cried to Busch to show his displeasure. Busch was like, "What the hell are you talking about?" As Johnson was ranting on, Busch's look turned from quizzical to getting pissed off. Then in the subsequent post-race interview, HE TRIED TO BLAME BUSCH!! I CALL BS ON THAT! (He was clearly trying to hide behind the safety of the TV cameras, probably to keep from getting his @$$ kicked by Busch.) The replays CLEARLY showed that Johnson made contact with the 22 FIRST. Man up JJ, and admit that you were wrong!! (IF I'm Kurt, I wait until late in the Chase, Phoenix perhaps, and exact my payback on the 48.)

Denny Hamlin's crew: they TOTALLY screwed up Hamlin's final pit stop, costing him 14 positions on the track. He might have made it up if there were 30 laps to go, but there were half that many.

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