Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly-- 2011 Ford 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in Homestead for the final edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served south Florida style, and washed down with plenty of cold Coke. Enjoy!


Tony Stewart: Smoke HAD TO win this race to win the title. And he did. He got it done. With five wins in the Chase, he earned his third title. The win tonight proved his mettle. He had to overcome some early adversity: debris from another car punctured a hole in his front grill and the 14 crew had to do repairs under multiple cautions. He passed over 70 cars on the way to the win and the title. He was simply better than Carl Edwards at the end. Although he and Edwards tied in points, Stewart wins due to more wins (5) to Edwards' lone win at Las Vegas. Congratulations Smoke!

Carl Edwards: he led the most laps but was unable to catch Stewart when it mattered. Stewart just had a car that was that much better. Edwards had a great season but lost the title due to his one win this season. Good job this season, Carl!

Martin Truex, Jr.: another strong run by Truex. He was stout all race, and led six laps en route to a third place run. This helps build momentum for next season. Now if they can start strong, they have a chance to make the Chase next year.

Matt Kenseth: he had a typical Kenseth run--strong, with little attention. He did lead 15 laps en route to a fourth-place finish. He also finished fourth in the points this season, overtaking Brad Keselowski.

Jeff Gordon: for awhile it looked like he would have something for Stewart and Edwards but faded a bit at the end. He still had enough to lead seven laps and a fifth place finish.

Kevin Harvick: Happy started 21st, and slowly moved his way towards the front. While he had a strong car, he led 11 laps through pit strategy. He was strong, but not stout. I thought he had a top 10, but not top 5, car. His 8th-place finish was about right. Harvick finished 3rd in the points, about right for the season he had.

Honorable Mention: Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton, Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Busch.


Michael McDowell: two weeks after subbing for Kyle Busch at Texas, he draws the short stick at the start and parkers' meeting, held in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. He runs a grand total of 14 laps before declaring his season to be over. (Hmm, I wonder if any of the start and parkers WANT to miss those meetings? I imagine they do.) He hotfooted it out of town faster than any lap he turned in the race.

Ford FR9 Engine: with Marcos Ambrose and David Ragan blowing engines, and Greg Biffle losing a cylinder (and eventually his engine), I'm sure it made Edwards quite nervous. Yes, the engine gets a lot of HP, but also there is a greater likelihood of a blown engine.

Jimmie Johnson: he had issues with the 48 early on. The hood was up, and they eventually diagnosed the problem (carburetor malfunction). JJ lost several laps as a result. This capped his worst season in the Chase era.


None that I saw.

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

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2011 Kobalt Tools 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the desert, the PHX, for this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, southwestern-style, served with spicy BBQ beef and washed down with PLENTY of Red Bull. Enjoy!


Kasey Kahne: he gets this week's top spot as the race winner. With the win, Kahne breaks an 80+ winless streak. More importantly, he gains momentum going into next season with Hendrick Motorsports. Good job Kasey!

Carl Edwards: he's becoming a regular in this neck of the woods. He led 27 laps and was pretty much in the top 3 all day. The Aflac Ford was steady, consistently fast, and experienced very little dropoff in speed after a long run. He's in the driver's seat to be the new champion. All he has to do is finish higher than Stewart, or within 3 positions of Stewart, provided Stewart does not win the race.

Tony Stewart: Smoke led the most laps, 160 in all, and it looked like he had the car to beat for much of this race. But a bad pit stop fairly late in the race doomed his chances. It wasn't bad as far as time goes, but in terms of throwing the car's balance off. He remains 3 points behind Edwards. To win the title next week, the formula is simple: win the race and lead the most laps, or finish at least four positions higher than Edwards.

Jeff Burton: another very solid run by the 31 today. He took four tires during the competition caution while everyone else took two tires. That brought the 31 car to life and he gained numerous positions during that run. He was able to gain more positions through solid pit stops, good pit strategy, and passing cars. Unfortunately for Burton, Luke Lambert, his current crew chief, will be the crew chief for Austin Dillon in the #3 Nationwide car next season. Shane Wilson, Clint Bowyer's current crew chief, will be Burton's crew chief next season.

Ryan Newman: he had a "quiet" top 5 finish. He didn't have much face time, and I'M left scratching my head at that. But Phoenix has always been a good track for Newman: he got SHR's first win in April 2009 at Phoenix driving the Tornados paint scheme. Good job Ryan!

The Veterans: to all those who have served and are currently serving in the military, a hearty THANK YOU for your service. Thank you to all the brave men and women for fighting for our freedom.

Honorable Mention: Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, AJ Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, David Reutimann, Paul Menard, and Clint Bowyer.


Travis Kvapil: he ran a grand total of 20 laps before declaring himself done for the day. He drew the short stick at the start and parkers' meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room before the race. He hotfooted it out of town with his earnings faster than he turned laps on the track.

Hendrick Motorsports: they were uncharacteristically bad today, with the exception of Mark Martin. Jeff Gordon had brake issues, and Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr totally missed on the setups. Usually they are pretty stout at Phoenix, but not today.

ESPN's coverage: even by their standards, they were atrocious. Missed restarts. Missed cautions. Not adequate explanations as to WHY cautions came out.


Brian Vickers: WHY cannot he let Martinsville go? His dumping of Matt Kenseth was TOTALLY uncalled for. A Good to Kenseth for taking the high road. (He probably knows that Vickers won't be in a Cup ride next season.) He effectively eliminated Kenseth from running for the Cup title next week. NASCAR should have parked his butt, or at least penalized him five laps for rough driving. If you're going to penalize Kyle Busch for rough driving, then do the same for Vickers. A BAD goes to NASCAR for inconsistently enforcing penalties.

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

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- 2011 AAA Texas 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is deep in the heart of Texas, Texas Motor Speedway, for this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served BBQ-style, with plenty of heaping helpings of beef brisket, complete with all the fixin's and washed down with the beverage of your choice. Remember, in Texas, EVERYTHING is bigger! Enjoy!


Tony Stewart: Smoke is becoming a regular in this spot, at least in the Chase. Once he took the lead, he was DOMINANT, and the only time he relinquished the lead was during green flag pit stops. The 14 crew hit on the setup again, and it didn't take long for Smoke to get to the front. He's become the man to beat. He is strong at each of the final two tracks: Phoenix and Homestead. The win was his fourth of the season, all in the Chase.

Carl Edwards: try as he might, he didn't have enough to catch Stewart. His points lead is cut to three now. He was stout early, faded midway, then rebounded to a second place finish.

Kasey Kahne: he is stout on the 1.5 mile tracks, and Texas is no exception. He looked the part, even getting a lucky break on a caution when he had just exited pit road when the caution came out. Because he was still on the lead lap at the time, he didn't have to pit, and he came away with the lead at that point. If he's that stout in the #4 Red Bull Toyota, he's gotta be licking his chops when he begins driving the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports next season.

Matt Kenseth: once again, a typical Kenseth performance--steady, not spectacular. He was strong early, and pretty much stayed in the top 5 throughout the race.

Honorable Mention: Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr, and AJ Allmendinger.


J.J. Yeley: he drew the short stick at the start and parkers' meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. He ran a total of 10 laps before declaring himself done for the day. He hotfooted it out of town faster than he actually ran on the track.

Joe Gibbs Racing: without their top driver for the weekend (more on that later), they had no input on the changing track conditions. For all his faults, Kyle Busch is excellent on providing vital information to his team and his teammates as a whole on changing track conditions. He was not racing, and the other members looked lost. Michael McDowell was never a factor and finished three laps down. Joey Logano blew an engine and finished 37th. Even Denny Hamlin was a couple of laps down at one time. Hamlin rebounded to finish 20th.

Kevin Harvick: gotta put him here. He came into the race 21 points back in third place. He's still in third place, but 33 points behind points leader Edwards. He was never a factor, and even when he was running sixth at one time, he struggled to find the handling on the 29 car. He was also the victim of bad pit strategy late when he took two tires on his final pit stop and went backwards, all the way to 13th. I always had the sense the 29 team missed on the setup, anticipating a cloudy day and evening, and when the sun came out during the race, they were toast.


Kyle Busch: he was rightfully parked through the weekend for rough driving during the Craftsman Series Truck race when he put Truck Series contender Ron Hornaday into the wall DURING the caution on Lap 14. Hornaday got loose, made contact with Busch, and sent both of them into the wall. Busch was within his right to be displeased, but wrong for putting him into the wall like that. Further penalties are forthcoming. His JGR teammates missed his valuable input, as he is one of the best drivers out there when it comes to providing information about the changing track conditions. Hopefully Busch will look in the mirror, learn from this, and resolve to make himself a better man without changing his driving style too much.

The race itself: I considered it a snoozefest, as most 1.5 milers are. I found my mind wandering because of the sheer boredom. It's no fun when all four Roush drivers are in the top 5. And there's still another 1.5 miler to go! Sheesh.

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