Talladega action and uncertainties

Admittedly I am a short-track gal, but Talladega racing is too exciting not to love. However, the fantasy racing prospects? Well that’s a whole other matter. The best that you can hope to achieve is that enough of your drivers get bonus points for qualifying and laps led that even if it all goes south with the big one at least you can come away a respectful score.

Drafting will not be a major factor today since this Gen 6 car design mismatches the bumpers and fenders. Oh they’ll do it at the end especially and a miscalculation in uucoupling will cause a wreck, but it won’t make the difference between a win and a loss.

With a handful of laps into the race my prediction is that the winning cars will be racing all day, not hanging in the back. So who will win? Could be anybody, seriously! But I’m thinking it will be one of these scenarios: a dark horse like Aric Almirola or Davd Ragan, or Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, or Kevin Harvick.

Here’s how I crunched my stats for the race to get my final picks: NASCAR Fantasy Fusion

My team is: Brad Keselowki, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, and David Ragan.

Martinsville: Hot Dog!

I am a big lover of short track racing. The excitement and action are constant — never a dull moment. Just thinking about whipping around a track in 19.2 seconds is amazing.

Though not my home track (Dover) Martinsville is magical — a mere .526 miles, the shortest track on the Sprint Cup circuit. However, it is not short of drama, hot tempers, or mishaps.

Often dubbed “The paper clip” or “The bull ring” Martinsville is full of history. You can’t really talk Martinsville without talking about it famous, oddly pinkish hot dog. It’s kinda like Philly cheese steaks and soft pretzels.  Here’s a classic article with a good shot of the iconic dog. Click here 

With the race underway keep an eye on tire wear and the illusive second groove. My bet is the groove will remain illusive and that bottom line will be the one to ride. Good Year has brought a new tire here. The teams that manage their tires well and can keep most of their fenders and tempers intact will do well today. Hmm. I guess that eliminates anyway who gets close to Joey Logano. But I digress.

My prediction. when the checkered flag comes out at the end look for Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Busch. Enjoy the race. Woo hoo! Enjoy the race.

Talladega or horror movie? Hmm.

Although I am a short-track kinda of gal, racing at Talladega is provocative. By the end of the race I’ll be watching like most people watch scary horror films — just peaking through my fingers.

Then there’s the sheer speed and danger that it creates as well as the impending “big one.” Oh yeah, and it is an impossible race for fantasy racing folks. There’s a million lead changes, so everybody gets extra points, so it comes down to who doesn’t crash out or make mistakes on pit road.

With the tweaked cars most of the two-car tandems have gone away for the full race, however it will be used a lot at the end of the race and periodically throughout the race to gain strategic track position. As the great equalizer, drafting also makes it possible for a non-Chaser or dark horse to take the victory, which I also find compelling.

So my “pick and pray” fantasy picks this week are: Kyle Busch’ Dale Earnhardt., Jr., Kasey Kahne; and Michael Waltrip (I know, I just couldn’t resist!)

Enjoy the rest of 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!

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!

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!

Martinsville: Hot dogs and game changers for the Chase?

I love short tracks. There’s never a dull moment and there are so many variables – tires, pit stall selection, brakes and engines. With little time on the track this weekend I’m sure that the famous Martinsville hot dog will not be the only thing fans will be cheering for. This race will make or break some Chasers. Will Jimmie Johnson finally show what he’s got or will we see the demise of the 5-time dynasty? Will Dale Jr. rise to the occasion or will Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin?

Here are my fantasy picks: Denny Hamlin; Brad Keselowski;Juan Pablo Montoya; and Bobby Labonte.

Enjoy the race!

Fuel mileage & weather factors at New Hampshire?

It may be wise for NASCAR to consider hiring astrologists and meteorologists to work their magic to schedule races. Weather and math issues — basically figuring out if a car has enough fuel to finish — have made for some interesting race finishes lately. And kids think you’ll never use all that math! Let’s see, if a car leaves pit road with four fresh tires and returns to a mile and half track traveling at 180 mph, but I digress …

We are probably safe from rain for today’s race, but keeping up with track conditions created by sun and cloud coverage will be a factor as will fuel mileage. With competition so tight the real difference today could very well be made in the Pit Box.

When all is said and done I think the Chasers will dominate today. I’d love to see Tony Stewart do well, but I think Ryan Newman will lead the Stewart-Haas team today with Smoke finishing in the top 5. It’s about time to show the fans why 5-Time is a five-time Champ so today will be the Chad-Johnson show. I’m crossing my fingers for Dale Jr. today too. I think he is showing what he’s got and that he has the passion, skill and drive to win.

So my picks: Jimmie Johnson; Ryan Newman; Dale Earnhardt, Jr.; and Bobby Labonte.

Racing in the Irish Hills of Michigan

The last few races have been quite eventful with weather woes. It looks like today’s race should be rain-free as drivers take on Michigan International Speedway. This two-mile track has lots of grooves to run and with race points and the Chase coming up we can be sure that they will be trying all of them.

Despite the size of the track it could get pretty crazy out there as folks like Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart and others going for the win. Fuel mileage and pit strategy will also play a big role today. Hopefully no hair-pulling today, but I digress …

So I’m going with Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Ryan Newman and Paul Menard. Let’s go racing!

The Magic Mile: Who will be blessed, who will be cursed?

New Hampshire Motor Speedway, nicknamed the Magic Mile, is a tough track. Track position is key because it is hard to pass, and you need to keep up with track changes. Cars that can roll in the center and allow the driver to stay in the gas will run well. Oh, did I mention the fuel mileage factor?

I hope Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt run well today. When all is said and done today’s winner will be the team that can pull it altogether: driver; top equipment; no mistakes in the pits; staying out of trouble and a whole lot of luck.

My fantasy picks are: Jimmie Johnson; Clint Bowyer; Ryan Newman; and Paul Menard.

Have fun watching!

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