Texas Story Lines: Chase race of the crew chiefs

When I think about my expectations for the AAA Texas 500, and for that matter, the two other races that will complete this Sprint Cup season, it comes down to one thing: the crew chiefs. This is undoubtedly the Jimmie vs. Brad show. I don’t believe that something drastic can happen to these top dogs that would allow Clint Bowyer or Kasey Kahne to truly contend for the championship. Jimmie Johnson’s equipment and team in general are a tad stronger and better financed than Brad Keselowski, but not enough to tip the scales. NASCAR has pretty much evened up the competition as far as equipment goes (but don’t tell that to Joe Gibbs Racing!)

Jimmie Johnson  has proven himself and  so has Brad Keselowski. This 28-year-old has the maturity and driving talent of a seasoned pro. So it will come down to the crew chiefs in my humble opinion.

Hmm. Chad Knaus vs. Paul Wolfe. What do you think?
Bio of Paul Wolfe: Click here.

The slightly older Chad Knaus bio. Click here.
Enjoy the race!

Let’s go Chasin’: Round 1 Chicagoland

Wow! This has been quite a season of weirdness and unexpected finishes. Who would have thought after last year’s stellar season Kyle Busch would be on the outside looking in? And how about last year’s “almost guy” Carl Edwards also not making the Chase? Totally weird, yet wonderful.

We may just be on the verge of the era of either The Dark Horse or one of the usual suspects announcing “I bet you didn’t see me coming!” Either way it is going to be a Chase for the records. (Oh, did I mention that Dale Earnhardt, Jr., has been awesome this year?! But I digress …)

Strap yourself in. It should be an interesting ride. Oh, by the way, my fantasy picks for Chicagoland are: Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kayne and  Aric Almirola.

Enjoy the race!

AJ Allmendinger to bring in his own experts for Sample B

Not unexpectedly AJ has opted to get the Sample B tested from his Kentucky random drug test that was flagged by NASCAR. This week the unknown suspense was vaguely named as a stimulant.

The latest on this story is that AJ will bring in his own medical and testing personnel as well as his lawyer to oversee the process. This nuance will push Sample B testing into next week.

Sam Hornish, Jr., will be the wheelman for the No. 22 this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Here are more details on this evolving story. Click here.
Here is some background on the NASCAR policy and process with drug testing. Click here.
Here is a draft of the actual policy that the Charlotte Observer posted. Click here. 

On a personal note I am hoping that AJ is okay, not using, and will be back soon! He is a driver with so much promise.

Late driver switch due to failed drug test: AJ Allmendinger out, Sam Hornish, Jr. in

OK so drama unfolded prior to dropping the green flag for the Coke Zero 400. With bearly two hours notice Sam Hornish, Jr. was flown from Charlotte to Daytona to race the No. 22 car after NASCAR announced that AJ Allmendinger failed his drug test in Kentucky.

Stay tuned for more news that will surely take some interesting twists and turns. Click here for the announcement.

Tighten your belts race fans. I think if last night’s Nationwide race is any indication, we are in for an exciting night. Enjoy the race!!

Rights & Lefts? Road racing in Sonoma

As I review my pre-race fantasy predictions, I realize I am at my perennial crossroads when it comes to road-racing: do you go with strong road-racing skills or strong equipment or both? Right now, I’m thinking both.

My huge dilemma right now is choosing between two very decent road-racers with almost exact records: Clint Bowyer with an average finish of 11.2 and Juan Pablo Montoya with an impressive 9.0. Normally this would be a non-brainer, you go with Juan, former Indy 500 champion and Formula 1 racer extraordinaire. The man knows how to turn left and right, save fuel and pass in the corners. However, track position is key here and Juan hasn’t had a stellar season. Juan starts in 12 and Clint starts in 6th. Hmm.

I’m thinking Juan is a very low risk. He has to get a win to even be in contention for the Chase, so he edges out Clint in the more motivated category. OK. Juan it is; I think ….

Curious where I started my fantasy pick pondering? Check out this week’s NASCAR Fantasy Fusion column. Click Here.

Enjoy the race, and those rare left and right turn combinations!

Fed Ex 400 – Monster Mile day of pit stall showdowns & fast racing

Dover International Speedway is my favorite NASCAR track, and not just because it is my home track. It is a premier short-track with all the fixins’: banked corners; high speeds; and a challenging pit road, as well as great family activities all weekend long. If you haven’t been here you need to put it on your punch list. To learn more here is a link to Dover’s Monster Mile crash course. 

So what’s in store for fans at today’s Sprint Cup race? Well at a minimum a day of fast, fast racing and more than a bit of serious finesse from the drivers. Here is my track overview and predictions on race standouts for today. Click here.

I watched qualifying at the track yesterday and Jimmie Johnson’s car was not only fast, but looked the smoothest. The car looked vacuumed to the track. Mark Martin was, of course, the fastest, but I’m not sure if Jimmie Johnson’s crew may put him over the top. But it sure will be interesting.

Enjoy and the race and let me know what you think about the racing at Dover.

Top dogs at Martinsville? Well there will be 50,000 of then this weekend!

It is hard to talk about Martinsville Speedway without talking about this famous track hot dog. I must admit I took a peek when I was watching the race a few years back, but never had one. The “don’t eat red meat” thing got in the way. But if I did ….

Though I can’t comment on its taste what I think is really cool about it is the respect for tradition. It will be served exactly as it always has — on waxed paper — and at a nominal cost $2! And don’t go messing with tradition. I remember when they tried in 2004 and you’d think the track front office was suggesting that fans sell their souls to the devil. Yup, didn’t go over big, so they can to revert their decision to switch vendors before it actually happened. Just the mere mention frenzied the fans. Gotta love it!

So what’s in this hot dog? Well ..  cole slaw, chili, fresh onions and a few other secret ingredients. Hmm. Guess they aren’t tellin’!

Click here for the scoop on this fan favorite. And if you are at the race, have a hot dog for me!

Slippery, bumpy and pit road mistakes: Racing at Las Vegas

As the green flag is about to drop I wonder what factor we do in the most drivers this week. The track is hot and slippery. But it seems like the bumps in the track really threw a few drivers in practice. Hmm. Maybe it will come down to pit row mistakes.

Track position isn’t crucial here so drivers can come from the back and contend for the win. I’m holding my breath here. I’m not sure that we can draw any conclusions from past races or even the Nationwide race, but I’m hoping. Yup. I picked my fantasy drivers based on past performance and what I’ve seen in practice.

So I’m going with Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Bobby Labonte. I’m kinda wishing I took a chance on Kasey Kahne, but he tends to blow an engine or crash more times than not when I pick him. I was really tempted to go with Greg Biffle and I’d really like to see him do well today, but he doesn’t seem to be able to close and win and he was complaining about his engine at the end of the last practice.

Having a bit of fantasy picking remorse here, but we’ll just have to wait to see what happens.

Enjoy the race!

Who will be snakebitten on Phoenix’ slippery track?

Track position and tires may be the key elements for the Sprint Cup race today. In practice we saw lots of cars slipping around especially when their tires weren’t warmed up yet. This is bound to make restarts and exiting pit road particularly treacherous, and eventful!

It was great to see Mark Martin get the pole in his new Michael Waltrip Racing equipment as well as a good run from a much quieter and humbler Jimmie Johnson.

So who is on my fantasy racing team? Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte and argg Kasey Kahne (not Ryan Newman). Kasey has a fast, fast car this weekend and he knows his way around this track — having won here last November and finished sixth in this race last year — right behind Ryan Newman. No matter where Kasey and Ryan end up today, this should be a great race. Enjoy!

Rain at Daytona: Weather wreaking havoc on Fantasy NASCAR picks!

Not fair. After what seems more like months rather than 10 days of preliminary activities leading up to the pinnacle race, the Daytona 500, we begin this exciting day by not beginning. Yes, the dreaded rain delay. Arggh. Really?

Like the Daytona 500 isn’t hard enough for Fantasy NASCAR picks? Basically the dartboard and/or calling the Psychic Network could work equally well. The beauty and frustration of Daytona is that virtual unknowns can win this race. In the immortal words of TV character Adrian Monk “it’s a gift and a curse.”

That being said how did I pick? I tried to pick drivers I think will finish which is really important at Daytona since Turn 4 tends to gobble up cars as well as pack racing mishaps. Will any of my guys win? Maybe, but remember I go for top 10 results.

I picked Kevin Harvick over Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards. If I didn’t go with Harvick I would have gone with steady-as-you-go/even-tempered Matt Kenseth. My next decision was about restrictor plate racing notables. Yup, I went with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He has a fast car this weekend and he is a restrictor racing great.

Then think Fords. Fords are running fast this weekend so I wanted to add a Ford that was starting up front, so Greg Biffle was my pick. I was very tempted by Marcos Ambrose and Clint Bowyer. I nixed Clint because the Toyotas aren’t pushing well and as much as I really love Marcos I thought he was too risky. I rounded out my team with Elliott Sadler who is experienced and could have won the 2009 Daytona 500 if not for a costly strategic mistake that earned Matt Kenseth the win. And, oh yeah, rain played a major factor that day too. Oh boy.

Hopefully we’ll great a full race in today. Whenever it starts — Enjoy!

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