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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sprint Cup Series Preview: Pocono Round Two


The Sprint Cup Series is back in Pocono for the second and final race at the track for the 2010 season. The Chase is just about here, but there is still room for changes. It seems that many drivers have now lost their chance at getting into the Chase, as the points continue to spread out. But never say never; anything can happen.

Here's what and who to watch for this weekend:

Denny Hamlin:
Denny has pretty much owned this place since he came into the Cup Series. Saying he will not be a threat for the win is like saying Danica Patrick will win the Nationwide point standings this year. He will be a contender.... Or will he? According to sources, Hamlin was penalized for making critical comments about NASCAR. Here is what he said that may have penalized him:
"There is always debris that they could throw a legitimate caution for, but I think that sometimes they just kinda let it go when maybe things are getting mixed up, and other times, when things are spread out, let's tighten it back up. You don't have to be so smart to realize that these things are just by chance."


Will this mess with his head? We'll see.

Ryan Newman:
Newman was also supposedly the other driver who was penalized for making comments that were critical of the sport. Here is what he said about restrictor plate races that may have been the reason for the penalites:

"It is a lottery, racing for a championship shouldn't be a lottery. Harvick deserves a lot of credit for doing what [he] did to win. From there on back, I don't know. It is not about someone's car handling or motor being better. The cars might as well all be kit cars for these two races."


He is out of the Chase by about 150 points. With 6 races to go, it will be tough to get in, but as mentioned earlier, anything can happen.

Mark Martin:
Well, he's in 13th spot, but is 62 points out of the Chase. If he is to get into the playoffs, he will have to get top 5s from here on out, and at least one person in the top 12 will have to have some bad luck. It is possible however, just look at what his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. did a few weeks ago; he gained about 100 points in only a few races.

Fords:
Will a Ford finally reach victory lane? It was close last weekend with Greg Biffle at Indy battling for the win. However, he was not able to seal the deal. Pocono can be similar to Indy, so it will be fun to watch Greg Biffle or any other Ford this weekend.

Fuel Mileage:
This race tends to be a fuel mileage race at the end every now and again. Will it happen this weekend? With this in mind, just about everybody except a start and park could have a chance.

Predictions:

Winner: Denny Hamlin. Not picking him this weekend would be a bad move. I picked him last week at Indy, but it just didn't work out for him....or me. But this week, the series is at the track he dominates. I look for Hamlin to get his mojo back this weekend.

Changes in the top 12? I don't believe we will see any changes in the top 12 this weekend. I am leaning toward the possibility that there won't be any driver changes in the top 12 at all. Things are just too spread apart. Now, I'm not saying that nobody has a chance. I think the Hendrick Motorsports drivers of Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. still have a slim chance. But that's about as far back as I'm willing to go. But, this weekend, I don't expect too much to shuffle around in points.

The Chase is almost here. Six races to go, but not just any races; Watkins Glen, Bristol, and Richmond are in those six races. So what does this mean? Anything can happen.

Quotes from Yahoo Sports

Monday, July 26, 2010

Daytona 500 winner's curse or Brickyard championship preview? Which is it for McMurray?


Jamie McMurray has shocked the NASCAR world yet again. Many who have thought that the driver of the number 1 Earnhahrdt Ganassi Chevy was just average at best, have been proved wrong. Not only did McMurray win the biggest NASCAR race of the year, but he won what is most likely the 2nd biggest race of the year: the Brickyard 400.

He has become the third driver to ever accomplish this huge feat. He follows Dale Jarrett and the four time champion, Jimmie Johnson.

Lately, we have heard of the Daytona 500 winner's curse, which got its name from the recent winners that have gone on with the rest of the season fighting struggles.

At the same time, we have heard about the Brickyard 400 being an indicator for who is strong in the championship.

He is currently in 16th position in points, 151 points out of the chase cutoff point. It will not be easy to make it, but it can be done - actually mathematically in one race.

But McMurray made it clear that after all this, he did not care if he made the Chase. He seems happy and satisfied with what he has - and I don't blame him.

So, after all, what does this mean now that he has won the 500 curse and the Brickyard championship indicator race?

Well, maybe it just cancels out, and makes him average.

No. That can't be right.

Jamie McMurray is a lot more than average.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kyle Busch wins Nationwide race at ORP, makes disrespective remark about Ron Hornaday


Well guess what? Kyle Busch wins again in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

After dominating much of the night, Busch was able to hold off a hard charging Carl Edwards with fresher tires to take the victory.

In his victory lane interview, Busch made a statement saying that even though Ron Hornaday is named the "king of restarts," he still smoked him.

Now, I personally don't have a problem with this. I am just simply pointing it out that Kyle made that remark. True or not(true for this race) Kyle's gloating remarks are not going to be happy with the fans, or even media; they never have been.

I noticed that on Jeff Gluck's Twitter, (Jeff is a writer for sbnation.com) he posted his displeasure. Here is what he tweeted:

Man...Kyle cannot help himself sometimes, even when he wins. Brags he's better than Hornaday at restarts. Maybe true, but ill-timed boast.


Now, I am not saying it is right or wrong, because as long as he is winning, he can say whatever he wants, because he can back it up. However, if Kyle wants to be the good ole popular boy, saying these things are not the right path to take. But, who knows, maybe Kyle likes the bad boy image.

It sure seems like it.

After a day like Saturday, there is proof that NASCAR needs online streaming access

Sitting in my house with ESPN on, I am waiting for NASCAR Sprint Cup final practice coverage to begin. I see that there are about 5 minutes until the start of the coverage, so I decide to put myself through some quick chores to get it over with just before the huge line of NASCAR coverage begins. I finish that quick chore, and rush back to the TV, only to realize that it wasn't even on. Why? Because of Tennis.

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

So I sit there and watch the bottom of the screen for updates concerning the coverage. You would think it would be put on ESPN Classic or something like that right?

No. That would be too easy.

I sat there waiting, waiting, and waiting even more. Soon, it was ten minutes that elapsed, then twenty, then a half our, then I was officially ticked.

Now I understand that ESPN did not show it on one of their many channels because they probably couldn't do it due to other contracts and commitments. So I don't blame ESPN directly.

But....

I do think that this shows that something needs to be done about it.

Why?

Well, if you haven't noticed, NASCAR seems to get cut out a lot if there is something else "more important" that needs to be shown on TV. This usually happens with the ESPN coverage of NASCAR more than other channels. However, if there was some type of alternative for these situations, it would be nice to have it for all channels.

Now, If you're not a die hard NASCAR fan, you are probably saying, "It's just practice, what's the big deal?" The big deal, is that I am a die hard NASCAR fan, and as many other NASCAR fans know, we just about watch every single show that they put on TV when we are able to.

So, there obviously needs to be some sort of online access. I really don't care what website has it, whether it's nascar.com, foxsports.com, espn.com, or godaddy.com. I think I am with most fans in saying that if it's there, we will watch it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Quick Blog: Guess who thinks Dale Earnhardt Jr. will win this weekend?


Ok According to the AMP Energy chat on AMPupthe88.com, someone perdicted Dale Jr. to win this weekend....and it wasn't Junior himself or Lance Mcgrew, his crew chief.

It was GM of Hendrick Motorsports, Marshall Carlson. Yup, you heard it hear. Of all the drivers he oversees, he picked driver 88 this weekend. According to him, they have a lot of new technology that was put into the new built 88 car that will be run this weekend. He said that people were very optimistic after a technology meeting this week.

Now was it just a coincidence that Marshall said that on an AMP Energy video chat? Possibly, but I just thought it was something different to write about.

Days later, it appears NASCAR made the right call


If you haven't heard about the Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski story from last weekend at Gateway, you have been living under a rock.

When NASCAR gave out penalties on Wednesday, I wasn't shocked at all, but I did need time to think about it, because I wasn't exactly sure that it was the right call. I also skimmed comments on the articles on various websites that confirmed the penalties that were handed down to both Edwards and Keselowski. Not too many seemed to agree at the moment either. But looking back now, I say it was the right call.

OK, so NASCAR had to do something to show that what Carl Edwards did was unacceptable. Taking away the win was definitely too much, and not giving him a penalty was just too little. What I believe NASCAR had to do was find a medium between fans that thought that was just racing, or that thought that was too extreme. The medium was the 60 point penalty that Edwards and Jack Roush received. And so was the fine of $25,000. The probation, just means that NASCAR is watching him and that he can rub fenders still, but he can't do anything like wrecking someone on the straightaway again. Now, the probation for Brad, well that shouldn't be viewed as a penalty, because I don't think it is. It WILL be a penalty however, if Brad does something back to Carl.

Now would it have been different if this was on the corner? Yes, I think so. But it didn't happen that way.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sprint Cup Preview: The Brickyard


The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, which most drivers call the second most important and respected race during the NASCAR tour. Now, there are only seven races remaining until NASCAR begins their Chase to the Sprint Cup. Also, this begins the ESPN/ABC NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage, as they will cover the remainder of the season. They will certainly have a bundle of story lines to cover, especially after the Nationwide race at Gateway last weekend. Here are some of the drivers and story lines to watch unfold:

*Will Jeff Gordon make it 5 wins at the famed track in Indiana? He is at number 48 now, meaning it has been 48 races since his last Cup series victory. If a win happens for the 24 team, it will be very emotional for these two reasons alone. Also, good news for Gordon fans, Hendrick Motorsports has been experimenting with new chassis technology, which has produced positive feedback from the team members. He will be one to watch.

*Will team 48 make it a three-peat? He has won three of the last four races at Indy, and if he wins this weekend, it will be 3 in a row. They say that this race shows signs of who will be a championship contender, so it will be fun to watch how he performs after a few rough weeks.

*How about the 5 and 88? Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have been very close to making the Chase, with Earnhardt actually in the Chase for one week before falling out. It has been expected that both teams will run the newer, "better" chassis that their teammates have run at Chicagoland. With all four cars on the same page now, it will be interesting to compare them.

*Will Joe Gibbs Racing Rebound? They are now in the types of tracks where JGR(mostly Denny) have excelled. Team 20 still has a legitimate shot at the Chase, but he needs to get top 5s from here on out. Never count out Kyle Busch, or even Joey Logano, because when they run strong, they are a team to beat.

*Will Montoya get that victory he almost had last year? After a speeding penalty in last year's Brickyard, Juan Pablo Montoya lost his shot at winning. This year, he will think twice about pit road speed, and may get Chip Gannassi his "triple crown" at the Daytona 500, Indy 500, and the Brickyard. Don't count out Jamie McMurray either, after all, he is the Daytona 500 winner.

*Will Brad Keselwoski and Carl Edwards settle their feud? Well, they way I see it, they will have to. They are on probation, which for fans that don't know what that means, it's "I'm watching you!" Don't expect them to give each other room on track however, but don't expect them to flat out wreck each other either.

* Will a Ford win finally? They are at a track that involves a lot of speed, and according to the Ford drivers, they have been struggling in that category. A lot of the Ford drivers have been struggling to even stay in the Chase, so they don't have a choice; they have to get top 10s and top 5s if not wins.

*Will Tony Stewart finally get his season win? His hometown is in Indiana, which increases his desire. He has won there twice before, and with a somewhat comfortable point gap on 13th, he can take more chances if he needs to. Car 14 might be number 1 this weekend.

*Finally, will Danica- wait?! Danica's not in this race? What will everyone talk about then!!!

Predictions:
Winner- Denny Hamlin. I know he has been struggling, but he is at a track where he can really shine. I know it is wrong to compare it to Pocono, but I am anyway. With the long straightaways, and tight turns, it ranges right in Denny's comfort level.

Chase Shuffling? Yes, Biffle goes out this week I think. Ford has just not been strong, and honestly, I just do not have faith in them this weekend. Really the only Ford that I think can win is Kasey Kahne's number 9. I think Carl Edwards will struggle too, but he is in far enough where he will not fall out yet. Who goes in? I think Dale Earnhardt Jr. After all he is the closest, but Mark Martin isn't very far behind.

There is no question that the pressure is on. Not only is it one of the biggest races this weekend for the Sprint Cup Series, but it is also the sign of the closing point of the regular season. The Chase is rapidly approaching, the cutoff is closing, and it will be an exciting one to watch.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cup Preview: Chicago


The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads into the Windy City this weekend. Many headlines surround the series after a wreck fest at Daytona. Now the teams have one week left before their "off-week," if you want to call it that. This is also TNT's last race to cover until 2011, and that means good bye Racebuddy. They'll have plenty of story lines to cover however, in just a short period of time. Here are some of them:

*Can new daddy Jimmie Johnson rebound from Daytona after wrecking in the big one? He and his wife welcomed their daughter into the world this week, but have yet to name her. Maybe Jimmie's daughter will be in Jimmie's arms in victory lane this weekend. So, the answer to the question will probably be yes. But......

*He may have to go through Denny Hamlin. Hamlin was on a roll for a while, but as the schedule hit some "different" tracks he began recording not-so-hot finishes. Now, the series is back on a "cookie cutter" track with more tracks coming up that Denny has had an extreme amount of success at. It is now time to see if Denny really is a championship contender.

*What about Harvick? Kevin is leading the points right now, but he still has not won on a non-restrictor plate track, although it does seem like he is a championship threat now more than ever.

*Can Tony Stewart start his second half season roll? Chances are good for him since has has shown strength on this track before. However, he is going to have to overcome last week's disappointment at Daytona.

*Will Mark Martin turn it around? He just got knocked out of the Chase, and time is running out for him. There is alot of speculation if the movement of engineers from Martin's team to Earnhardt's team have made the disappointing difference of this year and last, but the team continues to disagree with that theory. If he is going to make the Chase, that team is going to have to stop the bleeding. And besides, there's a rumor that this might be the last year for Mark to get into the Chase with Hendrick Motorsports.

*Will Clint Bowyer make another run up into the Chase like last weekend? He would have been in it already, however, things just didn't go his way during the last lap.

*Will Jeff Gordon finally end his winless streak? This weekend will mark the 47th race without a win. The last time he was about to be at 47, he won. If he doesn't win this weekend, it will be the longest winless streak of his career. Oh by the way, it's his 600th start.

*Will Gordon's teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. continue his good run? He's in 11th place right now in points. I don't know Junior, sometimes I think it's better to be lucky than good.

*Can Kasey Kahne make it into the Chase. More good runs for him and more bad runs for the people he is racing will get him their for sure.

*Oh and Danica Patrick is back in the the Nationwide Series, I thought I might throw that in there. Why? Because she's Danica, that's why!

The last race for TNT also shows that the Chase is right around the corner. The field is still close right now, so that shows that it's gonna be a nail-bitter right until the checkered flag at Richmond. The teams are under a lot of pressure, and as the weeks go on, you are going to see that more and more.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cup Preview: Daytona


The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continues their summer stretch going into Daytona International Speedway for the running of the Coke Zero 400. The weeks until the Chase for the Sprint Cup continue to decrease, and the drivers and teams know it. This weekend is one of the biggest wild card races heading into the Chase. Here are some things to watch for:

* Can Jimmie Johnson make it three in a row? He has been in a hot streak once again after a so-called "slump," but now he has to keep it going. Daytona is a wild card event, but I'm pretty sure everyone knows what happens when you count the 48 team out.

* Can Tony Stewart keep the ball rolling. He is a second half season driver, and Daytona is right in the middle of the season. He has won their before, as a matter of fact, three times in the July race, one of them being last year.

* Can Tony's unofficial teammate finally break his losing streak? Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been on such a good roll, which is a surprise, considering it has been during the summer, and those races aren't too kind to Earnhardt. Plus, he's driving the 3 car in the Nationwide race, so any kind of win this weekend should put on a big smile on his face.

* Can Jeff Gordon get back to victory lane? He has been oh so close this year, and he usually is hard to beat at these races. Although, he has been in a restrictor plate slump, as he has not won or even finished in the top 10 in the past few years at plate tracks.

* Will Carl Edwards pick it up? He's only three points ahead of Junior and is currently on the bubble in the Chase. Not only will it be interesting to see how Carl does in this wild card event but it will also be interesting to see if any Ford can win it. They have not won a cup event this year.

* Payback at Daytona? Maybe not the place to see it, but a lot of people owe someone something. Maybe no intentional wrecks, but we may see people just simply refusing to work with their enemies.

* Will Kevin Harvick keep a big points lead? It's a wild card race, so that's enough said.

* Will Mark Martin pick up the pace? He is only 30 points to the good in the Chase right now, and has not been on a roll. He also seems to struggle at plate races.

* Will Ryan Newman get up in the Chase? He's not a big Talladega fan, but Daytona is more spread out with the old pavement(not next year though), so maybe he can find the Daytona success like he has before.

* What about Clint Bowyer? He's in a tight battle for the Chase spot. If he can overcome bad luck, he will most likely be able to run right up front with his teammates. And that might just be enough.

There are multiple wild card races every year, however, this may be the biggest one. Every position on the track counts, every lap counts, until the end. One or two positions on the track, can make a huge difference down the road into the Chase. Remember, Kyle Busch last year learned that. Get ready, the battle to the Chase is just warming up.
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