Friday, October 7, 2011

The Yellow Brick Road

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is in the Land of Oz this weekend as it visits Kansas. So just who will have the courage, brains or heart, OK, or maybe even the best car, to gain an edge in the Chase for the Championship standings is anyone's guess. And since, I'm one of those anyones, there are some guesses coming.
The standings heading into Sunday have Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards tied for the points lead, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart are each nine points behind, Jimmie Johnson is 13 points back, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski are each 14 points behind, Kyle Busch is 15 points behind and Jeff Gordon is 19 back.
That's nine out of 12 that still have a legitimate shot to win the title with seven races to go. But what will it look like with six to go Sunday. Here are my guesses with my top five picks for the week.

1. Tony Stewart. He's off the concrete and back on the pavement that is similar to what Chicagoland and New Hampshire are like, where he won the first two races of the Chase.

2. Jeff Gordon. He's always been good at Kansas. Like Stewart, he's got two wins there and had eight top-five finishes.

3. Jimmie Johnson. Just when you thought the five-time defending champion might be fading a little, a second place at Dover last week put him right back in it. Don't be surprised if he's in the top five again this week.

4. Greg Biffle. OK, he's not a Chaser, but this Chasee has two wins at Kansas and is due for a visit to Victory Lane.

5. Brad Keselowski. Has been in just three Sprint Cup races at Kansas, but won one of them.
Until next time

Monday, October 3, 2011

The boos and cheers for Dover

The day at Dover was interesting and quite c-c-c-cold. After going to races for years and trying to figure out ways to stay cool, it was quite different to attend one where you spend time trying to stay warm, and that was with two jackets on.
As for the race, it wasn't the best or worst I have seen at Dover. The crowd was small by NASCAR standards. But when many area sports fans are interested in the Eagles 1 p.m. game and the Phillies 8 p.m. playoff game, that leaves NASCAR on the back burner for those who have marginal NASCAR interest.
This time, as a paying customer, it was nice to boo and cheer, even if the drivers can't hear it. Here are my boos and cheers for the day.
BOO: The weather. It was already chilly, walking around before the race. And once you tried to settle into your seat, you realized there was a not-so-nice breeze. This day called for hot chocolate rather than the cold beverages I had for me and my 8-year-old.
CHEER: The Chase for the Championship is just that. After Dover, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards are tied the lead with Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon all within 19 points of the lead.
BOO: Listening to TV and radio coverage on a race scanner, it was difficult to find out who was one lap down or two laps down, especially in the second half of the race. It was especially important as Chase contenders Stewart, Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were having bad days, but might have been able to improve their positions a little if they were able to get back on the lead lap.
CHEER: If you like to watch a lot of passing, then Carl Edwards was the guy. He was penalized for speeding on the exit of pit lane and the drive through penalty on the following lap put him down one lap. He regained that lap, then finished third in what was probably the fastest car of the day.
BOO: The starting times are simply too late for these Chase races. Yes, ESPN is paying big bucks to show the Chase races and is undoubtedly calling the shots here. And ESPN has its NFL preview shows on until 1 p.m. But why can't the green flag drop at 1:10 or 1:15? It's not too bad getting home at about 8:30 if you live two hours from the track, but any longer than that, makes it too late if school and work are involved the following day. It was really the best when the green flag dropped at about 12:40 back in the day, but let's just assume those days are long gone.
CHEER: Ticket prices at Dover are at least respectable now. And, if you have younger children, they can get in for just $10 in one of the family sections there with an adult ticket of $58. In these times, that's not too bad for two tickets to a major sporting event.
CHEER: The next Sprint Cup race at Dover is June 3, 2012. That's back to its traditional date, rather than the mid-May dates of past two years.
Until next time