Thursday, March 17, 2011

March Madness ... NASCAR style

A few things on this beautiful St. Patrick's Day before we get on to NASCAR's version of March Madness at Bristol Sunday.

On last Sunday's TV special on FOX about the Daytona 500: It would have been nice to have seen a little more done with Trevor Bayne, but in defense of Fox, there's no way they could have had him in a pool of potential winners. He was 300-1 odds in Vegas to win Daytona, so, if they had followed 10 drivers around, or even 20, they wouldn't have picked him. On the plus side, glad to see and hear the group Skillet's song 'Hero' featured early in the show.

On Carl Edwards' winning at Las Vegas two Sundays ago: It looks like Edwards has his groove back and if the team stays on track, it's going to be a contender for the Chase for the Championship. There was a little concern about Edwards doing his patented backflip off the race car on the pavement, but he did it just fine. Just wouldn't want to see him slip and fall awkwardly on the unforgiving pavement.

On Bob Osborne: It was nice to see Chester native Bob Osborne, Edwards' crew chief, so excited after the win. He's a tactician and sometimes not real emotional and that's been successful for him. He also knows how hard it is to win in NASCAR, so it was nice to see him enjoy the moment.

On Bristol: It's the opposite of Daytona, a short half-mile track, but it brings the same type of excitement and madness. It's a track where tempers often flare during the race. On more than one occasion drivers have thrown pieces of their uniforms (like helmets, or gloves) at the accident-causing drivers when they come back around during a yellow flag. It's a short track and tempers are bound to be short Sunday afternoon in Tennessee.

Last race's picks review and this week's top five picks:

1. Kyle Busch. 38th. Looked good early, then had a tire go down, then had a grenade engine.
2. Kurt Busch. 9th. Not a bad ride for the elder Busch in his hometown.
3. Jeff Gordon. 36th. Had all kind of issues all day.
4. A.J. Allmendinger. 19th. Took a Vegas gamble here and would have lost money.
5. Jimmie Johnson. 16th. Took the safe bet here and would have still lost money.

On to Bristol, Sunday, 1 p.m. on FOX
1. Tony Stewart. Has been in position to win each of the first three races, so he's due here.
2. Kurt Busch. Five wins here and not afraid to rattle somebody's cage.
3. Kyle Busch. Both Shrubs again? Well, Kyle won all three (Trucks, Nationwide and Sprint Cup) last year, so gotta pick him again.
4. Ryan Newman. He's fifth in points and grew up racing on dirt short tracks in all around the Midwest.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. He's making progress, and most importantly, has shown some patience early in races when his car has not been great. He could be ready for a breakthrough.
The possibly regrettable unpick: Carl Edwards. The car's been dynamite all three races. No reason to think it will be different in Bristol.

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