Friday, June 25, 2010

Bumper cars and picks

Did Jeff Gordon show us his version of bumper cars last Sunday at Sonoma? I think so. It was a combination of Gordon having a good car and knowing how to drive it on the road course, and his frustration of having a winning-type of car in several races this year and not winning. So, it was a if-I-can-get-to-your-back-bumper-I'm-going-to-test-it kind of day for Gordon. If another driver saw him moving up in the rear-view mirror, then it was best to make sure you stayed far enough ahead of him so he couldn't tap you out of the way, or just let him go or risk losing several positions.
The question is was Gordon too aggressive? Gordon might have well been testing NASCAR's hands-off policy for this season and well, when you're trying to win a race, much like the late Dale Earnhardt did more than a few times, it's certainly worth testing.

Here's a look at how last week's picks finished

Kasey Kahne: Finished fourth had a nice run that this team needed.
Jeff Gordon: Took fifth. Couldn't get to Kahne's bumper or would have been higher.
Tony Stewart: 9th. Pit strategy put him a hole late or would have been a top-five finisher.
Marcus Ambrose: 6th. Should have won this thing, put messed up big time trying to save fuel on a yellow flag lap.
Boris Said: 8th. The Said Man ran a good race and might have finished a little higher only to get bumped out of line late in the race.

This week's pick for New Hampster ... make that Hampshire

Kyle Busch - Not the only Gibbs car I'm picking this week
Denny Hamlin - Can't do these picks for an oval and not pick him.
Tony Stewart - Always runs well at this track.
Juan Pablo Montoya - Sort of taking a shot here, but looked good in early practice ... that's right, we're talking about ... practice.
Kevin Harvick: The Neighborhood Bully and points leader is due for a win.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Debris and picks On the Road ... in California

Denny Hamlin told his story and he's sticking to it. It's long been suspected that NASCAR will find debris on the track when a driver seems to be running away with the race. And that might, or might not, have been the case with Denny Hamlin at Michigan last week. He was dominating when a yellow came out for debris. Hamlin said NASCAR used that as an excuse to bunch the field back up for the finish. Hamlin's car was too fast and he went on to win anyway.
But does Hamlin have a point?
Of course he does. With NASCAR races, especially in the late going, it's not hard to find some debris on the track. NASCAR will tell us the caution comes out for safety reasons, and often that is the case. But sometimes, the powers that be can use debris as a reason to bring the field back together. It's not entirely a bad thing, as unless it's your favorite guy leading, it's not fun watching someone run away the race.

OK, a look the picks from last week:
Kyle Busch: Not a good day and he finished 20th.
Jeff Gordon: Solid as usual with a fourth.
Jamie McMurray: 32nd. I should know better than to pick soap opera guy.
Jimmie Johnson: A solid sixth.
Carl Edwards: Did double-duty for weekend and hung in there for a 12th
Shame on me for not picking the red-hot Hamlin.

So on to this week, for the first of the two road races this year, this one at Infineon Raceway in California.

Kasey Kahne: Won this race last year, on the pole, which is big for road courses.
Jeff Gordon: Traditionally great on road courses.
Tony Stewart: Same as Gordon
Marcus Ambrose: He understands the road courses quite well.
Boris Said: I'm a closet Said Head, and this is one of two times I can legitimately pick him.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Harvick vs. Logano and picks

Sorry for not getting on here this week, I've been unusally busy, but you don't want to hear about the labor pains, you just want to see the baby, so here goes.

The Harvick-Logano feud
There's no question Harvick turned around Logano on what would have been the final lap at Pocono last week. It's as if Harvick is playing the role of neighborhood bully when he sees Logano, and is almost daring Logano to hit back. Well, Logano did want to hit back after the race, Harvick says his biggest problem is with Logano's dad, Tom, whom Harvick thinks is micromanaging his son's career. Logano just turned 20 in May, so it's not too far-fetched to think his father should be involved at least on some level. But if Harvick's problem is with Tom Logano, he should take that up with Tom Logano, not Joey.
It was also good that Logano showed some emotion afterward, showing he cared and wasn't afraid of Harvick. In hindsight, he should have maybe said a his peace a little calmer, and just repay Harvick on the track when he gets a chance ... but that still might happen. As for the DeLana Harvick "wearing the fire suit comments'', you have to give her some credit for making a T-shirt out of that and selling it with the profits going to the Kevin Harvick Foundation.
And really, what was A.J. Allmendinger doing on that last lap at Pocono? Going for a top 10 with about eight other guys, but he shouldn't have run Kasey Kahne into the grass, especially with Kahne being a teammate the rest of this year.
First a look at last week's results:
Denny Hamlin: The winner, not a surprise, you're welcome.
Kyle Busch: Finished second, also not surprise, you're welcome again.
Tony Stewart: Took third, did it playing the fuel game, you're welcome one more time.
Joey Logano: Took 13th, was battling for fourth when he overdrove his car, allowing Harvick to close in during battle for fifth, before the dramatic bump in the third turn.
Jeff Gordon: Finished 32nd, OK, you got me on that one.

This week's picks for Michigan:

Carl Edwards: A Ford's got to win sometime this year and Michigan has been a great place for the Roush cars.
Kyle Busch: Well, he's just been too good to not pick lately.
Jeff Gordon: Come on dude, you gotta win one.
Jamie McMurray: He's run good at Michigan, and has looked on the fast tracks, where aerodynamics is so important.
Jimmie Johnson: He's sort of due for a win, too, but nothing like teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 71-race winless streak going into today.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Gibbs show

Out of the pits onlap 168 it was the Gibbs show with Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin coming out first. Busch will restart 14th. Let's see if he and his teammates have enough time to catch the fuel-gamers, who had pitted between laps 160-165.

Denny or Kyle

We've got teammates Busch and Hamlin together here on the restart. Will Kyle block Denny if needs to keep the lead. Of course, and he should, just like Denny did at the All-Star race where Kyle got mad.
Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon get a splash and dash of fuel. With one more caution, could they make it to the end? We might find out.

A fight to the finish

We've got a caution at lap 154, let's see who can make the best adjustments. Johnson's crew chief Chad Knauss is one of the best at this. Hamlin has looked good lately as well. Hamlin wins the race off pit road.

Bowyer town

We're coming up on 75 laps and Bowyer is the class of the field. He's stretched his lead to almost two seconds over Kyle Busch. Harvick is up to 5th and Johnson 8th. Only Busch and Hamlin are less than 10 seconds behind. We need a yellow soon to bunch this field back up and allow crews to make major adjustments.

Movin on up ...

Here a look at some early movers after the first 35 laps:
Jeff is up, to fourth, Kevin Harvick is 7th and Jimmie Johnson is up to eighth. Bowyer takes the lead, running really well.

the first 15 laps

A lot of loose cars right now. they are set up for a cloudy day but it's sunny now. there will be some changes when they pit.

Dallenbach needs to stop talking when we see a change for the lead.

back to action

The track is dry and the cars are back out there. Should go green soon. Competition caution on lap 15.

Hard rain

Hard rain here. Back in about two hours

Live at Pocono Somehow it's not raining

There are clouds all over the place, but no rain yet. Taking their time getting the started. Oops rain drops now

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thunder on the Mountain ... and picks

It will be a real endurance test at Pocono. The race is long at 500 miles, it's likely to be hot and humid and the track has three distinctly different turns. The one break the drivers do get is the long straightaway at Pocono, so they do get a chance to catch their breaths for a few seconds before going into turn one.
First a look at how my picks fared last week at the 600-miler:

Kyle Busch: Finished third, so OK there, whether Jeff Burton likes it or not.
Jimmie Johnson: Got caught in an accident, but came back out and ran some laps to finish 37th.
Jeff Gordon: Was solid all day and took sixth, continuing a very good season.
Kurt Busch: The winner. You're welcome.
Kasey Kahne: A respectable 12th. Debated on whether to pick Kahne or Logano in that last spot, and Logano was 13th, so not much difference.

OK, for this week at Pocono ... remember when a deer ran onto the track there? You never know what kind of critters you might see up in Long Pond.

Denny Hamlin - He runs well at Pocono and the team is pretty hot, so hard not to pick him.
Tony Stewart - He needs a win and he won here last year. Has traditonally run better in warmer weather, so maybe it's his time to step up.
Kyle Busch - He drives for Gibbs. He's been leading and winning in everything, so got to pick him here.
Jeff Gordon - The dude's gonna win soon ... really.
Joey Logano - I wrote about why I liked him earlier this week, so it wouldn't look good if I didn't pick him right?

P.S. - Wanted to pick Junior, but not a believer on one good qualifying run.
Don't forget the race is on TNT, Sunday, 1 p.m. start.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Logano a Kountry Gentleman

Often in this society, it's the loudest sports personalities that get the most attention. You've got your T.O.s, Ochocincos and various others who like to tell us how great they are.
In NASCAR, there are plenty of brash personalities, such as Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart. But if you're looking for a driver who's going to be around, and someone you don't have to do any apologizing for, take a look at the young Joey Logano.
He's not a regular contender for wins yet, but at 19, he's showing more maturity than many of the veteran drivers. He won't be baited into debates about what's going with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Busch and Hamlin. He's quietly gone about his business.
He doesn't go out and try to intimdate other drivers on the track and when he gets a chance to run behind a veteran at a track, he does for as long as he can so he can learn more.
"Sliced bread" as he's called for his skinny frame, is humble and he's on a good enough team and has a great crew chief in Greg Zipadelli, that eventually it will all click. He's 18th in points heading into Pocono and may not make the Chase this year, but his time will come.
So, if you've got a young NASCAR fan in your house, maybe you should guide him or her to Logano.