Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Best Day of the Year and picks

For auto racing fans, today is the best day of the year. If you can handle watching the Formula One cars play follow the leader after they get into the first turn, there's the Turkish Grand Prix this morning. Actually, I liked it better when this race was the Grand Prix of Monaco, a top event for the Formula One guys and actually a race worth watching for that circuit.
Then at 1 p.m. today there is the Indianapolis 500. The Indy Car leaders did all they could to ruin their series in the 1990s and early 2000s by having split series, but the Indy 500 is still the Indy 500 and the winner gets over a $1 million, so you know, that's nothing to sneeze at. And Danica is in the race, so when she gets mad at somebody for cutting her off, that's always entertaining, whether it's her radio chatter or confronting them in the pits during or after the race.
Look for a Penske or Ganassi car to win there. Ganassi is trying to win the Indy 500 and Daytona 500 in the same year, which would be quite an accomplishment. And Penske and Ganassi also have an outside chance to win the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day, which would also be quite a feat.
And speaking of the Coca-Cola 600, here's a look at my picks for tonight's endurance test.
Kyle Busch - Probably not patient enough, but he's just too good not to pick.
Jimmie Johnson - He's been so good at this place, it's stupid not to pick him.
Jeff Gordon - Got his first career win in this race and it would be sort of appropriate for him to win here as he is undergoing a bit of renaissance.
Kurt Busch - Looked good in the All-Star race and if Penske wins at Indy, this would give him the Daily Double.
Kasey Kahne - A Ford has got to win a race sometime this year.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Word of Mouth

There have been plenty words written about Dale Earnhardt Jr. and there plenty of matching theories on his struggles in recent years. Of course, Junior is frustrated with his recent results and the feedback he at times gets from crew chief Lance McGrew. For instance, at Dover, Earnhardt thought something might be broke on the car, but when the crew looked at it during the race, they found nothing.
Later that week, McGrew said he wasn't looking for a change at Hendrick Motorsports and that was an important message to send to Junior.
Just because he's had a some tough results (running 30th or worse is no fun), it doesn't mean instant changes are needed. Junior and McGrew have been together for just over a year. It's important for Junior to learn some patience here and to build some trust in his crew chief. Sometimes it takes more than a year. And if they do endure and good finishesm, including a victory every now and then do come, then it will be all the more rewarding.

More later on auto racing's best day of the year

Saturday, May 22, 2010

NASCAR All-Star Race 2010

Kurt Busch won the million, but the biggest news out this event is Kyle Busch saying on his radio that "Somebody better keep me away from Denny Hamlin. I swear to God, I am going to kill (him). All his ... fault. I had this race won! It was won!” Busch was upset at Hamlin for blocking him on the high side during the late stages of Saturday night's all-star race in Charlotte. It's generally a fun event to watch because there is none of the so-called points racing, it's just about getting the win and isn't that how it should be anyway.
But there could be another reason that Kyle Busch was upset, besides simply not getting a chance to win the race. Maybe Kyle was feeling a little pressure to win the $1 million prize so he could gain some cash to help fund his trucks teams. Even though Busch regularly dominates when he runs in that series, he's had sponsorship issues and is basically running the team out of his own pocket. Even the deep pockets of star NASCAR drivers aren't bottomless.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Some quick impressions on Dover race

It looked like it was Jimmie Johnson's day, but Kyle Busch didn't assume the No. 48 was going to Victory Lane like it has so many times here. He kept the pressure on and it at least contributed to Johnson making a mistake by speeding out of pit lane.

Still no wins for Ford this, but a third today. If you count Johnson, it was really the fourth best car though.
Speaking of Fords, a nice run by Biffle who started 24th and finished sixth.

The official attendance estimate was 88,000. That seems a little high going by the empty seats.

Just 13 cars finished on the lead lap, a testament to how dominating Busch and Johnson were throughout the day.

Johnson has been a little snakebit the last few weeks, but he's still a major contender to win the Chase. He's been one of the fastest cars each week, so he'll get it together in time for the last 10, you can count on that.

Live at Dover, the finish

Here's the unofficial rundown
1. Kyle Busch
2. Jeff Burton
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Denny Hamlin
5. David Reutimann
6. Greg Biffle
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Carl Edwards
9. Tony Stewart
10. Joey Logano

Live at Dover through 375 laps

On green flag stops, Johns too fast off pit road. That's a drive through penalty and no win for Johnson. Too bad, it would have been a great dual at the finish between Busch and Johnson. Now it's Busch's race to win. Everything's got to go perfect to win one of these things and Johnson's speeding penalty was a big mistake.

Live at Dover through 350 laps

Kyle Busch still hanging on to the lead. Johnson still right there. I would be surprised if Johnson doesn't have a little something left at the end if he needs it.

Live at Dover through 325 laps

Kyle Busch stll leading with Johnson rght there and Kenseth and jeff Burton also not far off. Maybe we could have a good battle at the finish afterall. We still have one more pit stop to go. A good to see somebody give Johnson some competition.

Live at Dover through 300 laps

On restart after a yellow and Kyle Busch takes the lead, but some different news. This time Johnson hasn't passed him, even though Kyle B. can't pull away either. Matt Kenseth also hanging close in third. Still think Johnson's the guy to beat though.

Live at Dover through 275 laps

While Johnson is leading, it took 10 laps, sorry three laps off on that prediction, Allmendinger is on the move now and is 13th. Let's just get this out of the way here, unless he has an accident or engine failure, the only way Johnson has a chance to be beaten today is if there is a re-start with two laps to go and Kyle Busch gets a jump on him. But even that's certainly no guarantee.

Live at Dover through 250 laps

Hornish in the wall again at lap 245. If not for Hornish and Ambrose causing four yellows, who knows how far Johnson might be ahead. Kenseth and Kurt Busch stay out so ther 1-2, followed by Kyle Busch and Johnson.
Here's the question: How many laps before Johnson takes the lead again? I'll say 7 laps after the green flag drops.
Junior in 32nd just in case you're wondering.

Live at Dover through 225 laps

Johnson still comfortably out front. Reutimann has a nice run going in third. A yellow as Ambrose hits the wall up in the third turn. Right front all tore up.
A chance for Stewart to fix his woes. Allmendinger gets back on lead lap.

Live at Dover through 200 laps

Johnson still leading, with Jeff Burton trying to gain, but not makng any big in roads. Stewart must either have a bad set of tires or missed a chassis adjustment. He's back to 14th.

Live at Dover through 175 laps

We had a yellow and Allmendinger got caught in the pits, so he's a lap down. Kyle Busch fast on the restart again, so he has the lead for nhow, but Johnons is right there and ready to make the pass. Stewart got off slow on the restart and lost six places, back to 11th, but seems OK now.

Live at Dover through 150 laps

We had green flag pit stops around lap 135. Logano came out a big winner here and is fourth and is challenging Allmendinger for third. Johnson still out front. Pit road speed limit here is 35 mph. The cars look turtle-like coming off pit road on green flag stops. Kasey Kahne has a good car, but shifter is a problem and if they don't get that fixed somehow, pit stops will continue to be a big issue.

Live at Dover through 125 laps

Johnson stretching the lead out against Allmendinger, who is comfortably ahead of Kyle Busch, who is third. Stewart gaining a little on Busch, too. What's Dale Jr. doing out there? He's among those who have already been lapped.

Live at Dover through 100 laps

Johnson is still in control, but Allmendinger is not going away. Biffle has a nice run going, up to 12th after starting 24th. Stewart up to fifth, maybe gaining a little on McMurray in fourth.

Live at Dover through 75 laps

Kyle Busch running away with it. Allmendinger has a good car today and just moved up to third. ALways good to see the No. 43 run well. Stewart stuck in 7th and not really gaining on anybody right now. Johnson starting to gain a little on Busch, now, too.

Live at Dover through 50 laps

Johnson could make this a not exciting race if he keeps running like this. Tony Stewart is having a good day and he really needs it. He's up to eighth after starting 16th. But way too early to tell if he will be able to challenge Johnson. Kahne is haning in there too in second, so maybe there is some hope.

Sam Hornish in wall in first turn.

Live at Dover through 25 laps

Kasey Kahne starts out fast and has led the whole way. Is this Ford's day. But Johnson is coming fast. Johnson takes lead on 24th lap on pass in bottom of third turn.

Live at Dover

We've got a good day here. Mostly sunny and a little bit of a breeze. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards were top three in final practice Saturday. We'll how that plays out today as the weather conditions are very similar. Smallest crowd I've seen here. It's too bad because it's a great place to watch a race, but these things aren't free either.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

They're bad and Nationwide

Some impressions from Saturday's Nationwide race at Dover.

When Kyle Busch has it all going like he did Saturday, he's a treat to watch. A couple of things you can't help but notice is that when he's going around and lapping the field, he's a bit of a stalker. There's no waiting a lap and then passing a guy, or catching up to someone and then laying back and waiting for the right opportunity to go around. It's more like here I am, I know I'm faster than you, you know I'm faster than you, so get out of the way. The other thing is that when Busch has a two- or three-second lead, he doesn't just coast around there and maintain what he has. He's looking to stretch that lead to say five or six seconds. He's just doing his job, driving that car as fast as he can.

As for the Bowyer-Hamlin incident. Bowyer doesn't easily lose his cool, so it was a surprising to see him head back out and take out Hamlin. It makes you wonder if there's been some history there over the last year or two and Bowyer finally had enough. I do believe Hamlin when he says he didn't clip Bowyer intentionally on that restart that caused a major accident. So, it will be interesting to see if there's any carryover into today's Sprint Cup race. My guess is probably not.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What I like about Kyle Busch and picks

With Kyle Busch driving in the Trucks, Nationwide and Sprint Cup series this weekend, I was hoping we might see a first with a triple-weekend winner. And even though he dominated for much of the Trucks race, he was short on gas and had to pit causing a 16th place finish. But don't be surprised to see him win in the Nationwide race today, where he's been dominant.
While there are many fans who don't like Busch, you've have to respect that he's a race car driver first. He was asked by a national publication to do a weekly blog for them, but Busch refused, not to be rude, but simply because he felt it wouldn't be interesting. He's not into popular TV shows, or the hottest movie, or the latest big musical group or fashion trend. I doubt we'll ever see him on a soap opera or filling as a TV talk show host. Also, when he talks to the media, you know you're going to get a truly honest answer. What a concept. But above all, he's just really into racing, pure and simple and what's not to like about that?

Time for this week's picks
First, a look at last week, and the not so good results for me

Jeff Gordon, fourth. He led the most laps at 110 and very well could have won if not for missing the entrance to pit road late in the race.
Kevin Harvick, sixth. He's leading the points and has found the necessary consistency to be a champion.
Carl Edwards, 15th. Started poorly, but got back into the top 10, only to fade a little at the end.
Joey Logano, 27th. Was caught up in an accident, but was only running OK before that.
Jimmie Johnson, 36th. He had a top-five car at least, but another accident ruined his day.

The five picks for Dover
Jeff Gordon: He just needs to relax a little. He's had too many chances to win and he's going to run into one soon.
Jimmie Johnson: Too dominant on the concrete not to pick here.
Kasey Kahne: He's my Ford pick for this week. Maybe a good qualifying run is sign of good things to come.
Tony Stewart: He needs a good finish and nearly won at Dover last year.
Kyle Busch: I just wrote about why I liked the guy, so, yeah, he's gotta be one of my five this week.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dover and Dover and Dover again

Some thoughts on this week's upcoming race at Dover, Del., the closest NASCAR's major series comes to Delaware County.

First, Dover, being just a one-mile track is a great place to watch a race. You can see the entire track from almost any seat, but just remember, as is the case with most races, the higher the seat the better. The only questionable seating area at Dover, by that I mean the only place you can't see the entire track, is in the third turn due to the bridge seating at the end of the backstretch.

Second, I like Dover because it's loud. You can't be an auto racing fan without liking loud engines can you? The sound echoes around the concrete track and while it's advisable to have some kind of earplugs, and essential if you're taking smaller children, even with that protection it's still plenty loud. The loudest places are the seats coming off the second and fourth turns, when the cars are accelerating.

Third, if you don't have the money to spend on Sunday tickets, Saturday is a lot less crowded and the tickets are cheaper for the Nationwide race which starts at 2 p.m. Some key guys in the Nationwide race this week are Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray. There are also special ticket deals for children for Saturday and that's always helpful.

And last for this post, the grand marshal this weekend is The King, a seven-time winner in his driving days at Dover, back when the races were 500 miles. You've got to love The King.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Good news out of Darlington and predictions

Apologies for not getting on here this week. Too much life happening.
But finally ...
Some good news out of Darlington. Car owner Richard Childress announced that he is close to signing driver Kevin Harvick to an extension. Harvick, the points leader going into tonight's race at Darlington, was rumored to be looking at other teams, specifically those who run Chevrolets. So, there had been speculation that he could become the third Stewart-Haas driver joining team owner Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, who drive Chevys. Stewart-Haas essentially uses the Hendrick team's engine and chassis information. So, there had been some speculation that eventually Hendrick would be controlling as many as eight cars. And you know Ford wouldn't stand by and just let that happen, so it wouldn't be out of the question to see Jack Roush do the same thing and you would have two teams controlling 40 percent of the field.
At any rate, it's good to see that Childress and Harvick are likely to stay together. Monopoly would be a bad thing for this sport.

The picks for tonight's race at the track many call too tough tame.
First last week's results: I gave you five guys and three finished in the top five, including the winner.
Denny Hamlin: Ran well for a while, but settled for 11th
Jeff Burton: Was strong all night and finished fourth
Tony Stewart: Was 23rd and needed to stay out an extra lap on a yellow to pick up the five bonus points for leading a race. Not a good sign.
Jeff Gordon: Was second, and really, he's been good all year.
Kyle Busch: The winner. My comment was: He's too good not to contend for the win at Richmond.

This week's picks:
Jeff Gordon: Yes, I'm picking him until he gets a win. The team has been strong all year.
Kevin Harvick: The points leader, has been very consistent and liked that winning feeling two weeks ago.
Carl Edwards: A Ford has got to win a race sometime soon and Edwards loves Darlington.
Joey Logano: A bit of a different pick, but he's a rare young guy who actually likes Darlington.
Jimmie Johnson: I try to avoid picking him every week, but on a difficult and physically demanding track like Darlington, it's impossible not to pick him.

And by the way, don't forget Mother's Day Sunday.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I'm not gonna take it anymore

The fact that Fox 29 in Philadelphia is showing a political debate instead of the NASCAR race is outrageous. Would they do this for a Phillies game? No. A Flyers game? No. A Sixers game ... well maybe. An Eagles game? Never even a thought.
Since this was done locally, there is no other channel to watch the race at Richmond.
This is a disaster.
No Boogity, Boogity, Boogity!
The late Dale Earnhardt would have rattled these guys cages by now.
I'd rather listen to Larry and DW during a rain delay than this.