Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2011 Sylvania 300

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in picturesque New Hampshire (always beautiful this time of year there) for this week's heaping helping of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served New England-style, with plenty of clam chowder and Coke to wash it all down. Enjoy!


Tony Stewart: Smoke took the checkered for the second consecutive week, and with that, he takes the points lead as well. After having to sweat it out to make the Chase at Richmond, this team is on a roll. He was the beneficiary of Clint Bowyer running out of gas with two laps to go. He led for only the final two laps, but that was enough. Through good pit stops and pit strategy, the 14 team was able to gain track position and put him in position to win. Good job Smoke and the 14 team!

Jeff Gordon: he was battling for the race lead and the win until he was told by his crew chief Alan Gustafson to go into conserve mode, as Gustafson feared the 24 might not have enough fuel to make it to the end. He did, and ended up with a much-needed top 5 finish. Gordon led the most laps in the race, so an extra Good for that. Gordon moves up to fifth in the points standings, and is within striking distance.

Brad Keselowski: he stayed out on a caution and got track position. He was able to maintain it throughout the remainder of the race. He was running in mid-pack when he stayed out. He didn't fall back much on the subsequent run. With a solid second place run, Bad Brad moves up to third in the standings.

Greg Biffle: we haven't seen the Biff here in this neck of the woods in a VERY LONG time. He finally put together a very solid race from start to finish, and the result is a strong top 5 run. (I think he wants to climb out of the #4 spot in the pecking order at Roush Fenway, as he's fallen behind David Ragan.)

Roush Fenway Racing: led by Biffle (3rd), Matt Kenseth (6th), David Ragan (7th), and Carl Edwards (8th), RFR had a very good day at their erstwhile home track, much better than what I can say for the parent club Boston Red Sox, who are about to experience an epic, cataclysmic collapse not experienced in the history of baseball: blowing a NINE game lead in the month of September. But I digress. RFR cars were solid all day, and although they didn't contend for the win, they hung around in the top 10 for much of the day. (The Red Sox, on the other hand, are NOT hanging. They're about to get swept by the Yankees and fall into a tie with the Tampa Bay Rays for the wild card.)

Brian Vickers: even though his future is uncertain at this point, the Red Bull driver was stout throughout. For awhile it looked like he and teammate Kasey Kahne were contenders for the race win. Whoever hires him will get a solid enough driver that can put together good solid runs. He is driving for his future these last remaining races. Good run today.

Honorable Mention: Juan Pablo Montoya and Regan Smith.


Travis Kvapil: he drew the short stick today. He ran a total of 10 laps before declaring himself done for the day and hotfooting it out of Loudon with his earnings. (Supposedly he wanted to catch the beginning of the Packers vs. Bears game.)

ESPN's coverage: the Nonstop is a great idea, but CUT AWAY from the commercials when a caution flag comes out!! You can get back to the commercials after the pit stops!


Kurt Busch: for uttering a profanity that made it on air in the pre race show, and to the 22 team for failing prerace inspection. But I'll admit, his rants to his crew chief are compelling. (Addington knows how to handle them; he handled Kyle's rants last season.)

Clint Bowyer: for running out of fuel as he took the white flag.

Gil Martin: for going with no tires on Kevin Harvick's next to last pit stop. A four tire change would have set him up PERFECTLY to go with two on the final stop. Martin didn't call his best race today. He goes here.

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

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2011 Wonderful Pistachios 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is back in action (we had to leave due to a prior committment last week, and time was tight) in the heart of Virginia for this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with all the fixin's you can think of, and washed down with PLENTY of Budweiser. (Be sure to drink responsibly; we here at the crew want to see you get home in one piece.) Before I get to my nominees, I have to give a shout out to the first responders of 9/11/01. THEY are the true heroes, along with our brave servicemen and women.


First Responders/Armed Forces: you all are the true heroes. You did your jobs in the wake of a terrible attack on our nation, and you did it to the very best of your ability. Great job, guys and gals. May we NEVER forget and take for granted the job you do.

Kevin Harvick: it's been awhile since we've seen you here. Normally, I put the winning driver first, but since the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 is tomorrow, I put the First Responders/Armed Forces first. Now back to Harvick. He had the dominant car tonight, but got caught in the pits when the caution came out midway through the race. He had to take the wave around. In the following run, he made up many positions. On the money stop, he came out first, then subsequently drove away on the restart. He had to hold off a hard-charging Carl Edwards to win his fourth race of the season and tie Kyle Busch in the points heading into the Chase. (It's too bad it's not the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 anymore; he'd have had the hot band of the moment in Victory Lane with him like he did with the Barenaked Ladies in 2006.)

Carl Edwards: he had the car to beat midway into the race. He had the best car on the longer runs, but the final run was too short a time for him to contend for the win. Had there been a few more laps to go, we'd be seeing him and not Harvick in Victory Lane.

Jeff Gordon: he took the lead from Harvick late but a subsequent caution and a less than stellar pit stop bit him. He came out fourth after the final pit stop, got shuffled back a bit on the subsequent restart, but rallied to finish third. He enters the Chase with momentum, extending a streak of top 13 finishes he started at Infineon. He'll be tough to beat in the Chase.

David Ragan: he gave a whale of an effort to win the race, and had he won, he'd have clinched a Chase berth and not Denny Hamlin. Ragan was solid all night long. Although he never led, he was consistently in the top 10 throughout the race. Unfortunately for Ragan, rumors are swirling that Clint Bowyer could be moving into the 6 car and Ragan into a third RPM car. Regardless, a very solid run by Ragan.

Kurt Busch: he had quite the adventure this evening, particularly with Jimmie Johnson. They couldn't seem to stay away from one another. This observer couldn't help but laugh when he envisioned a fight between Busch and Johnson. (Slap fight, perhaps?)

Kyle Busch: patience was the word du jour for his race. He went a lap down, rallied, and subsequently finished sixth. Patience and Kyle Busch haven't always gotten along. This should serve him well in the last 10 races. An extra Good goes to Kyle for having the best paint scheme.

Tony Stewart: he's run the best he has this season when he's needed it. He clinched a spot in the Chase with his seventh place finish, and Smoke has some momentum now. Chicagoland is a track he's always run well at. (He needed to finish 14th or better.) Good job Smoke!

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: he had some harrowing moments tonight, but righted the car, finished 14th, and clinched his Chase berth.

Denny Hamlin: he clinched the final wild-card berth when Menard found trouble, and Ragan didn't win the race.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Newman and Mark Martin.


Paul Menard: he needed to win to clinch a Chase berth. He had a bad run and found trouble. He finished the race, but in 34th, 81 laps down. (I normally put the first start and parker here, but the DFL driver finished last due to an accident, so that doesn't count.)

Jeff Burton: the momentum he had built up since Watkins Glen has vanished. It looked like the 31 team was heading in the right direction, but they took a giant step backwards. It didn't help that he cut a tire and slapped the wall. He was briefly in the top 10 but went backwards shortly thereafter.


Jimmie Johnson: he's been on this list more times in recent weeks than in the last five years put together. Perhaps he IS feeling the pressure of defending his title yet again. Or perhaps other drivers are taking more liberties in pushing JJ around. Harvick started that at Fontana when he shoved JJ into turn 3 much harder than JJ wanted to enter the turn. (By the time JJ righted the car, Harvick drove past him for the win.) The reason he's in the Ugly category is because of his post-race whining about Kurt Busch. (I think Busch is living in JJ's head rent-free.) JJ got loose, made contact with Busch, and slapped the wall. Actually, Busch being there saved JJ from a MUCH worse situation where he could have finished in the upper 30s, so he should THANK Busch for that.

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