Last night’s Budweiser Duels provided an interesting insight into what we can expect in Sunday’s Daytona 500. With most of the early practices gear towards single car qualifying, it wasn’t until the Sprint Unlimited where we saw how the racing could be with this new package on the Daytona International Speedway. Continue reading “What Can We Learn From The Budweiser Duels?”
Much was made last November about a changing of the guard in NASCAR when we ran the season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Mark Martin and Ken Schrader made it be known it would be their final Sprint Cup Series race. For Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte it represented their final full-time race in the series, although Labonte did not make the trip south as his finale was a week prior at Phoenix. Continue reading “The Paradigm Shift In NASCAR”
If it wasn’t bad enough to be second (aka the first loser) in the final Sprint Cup Series championship rundown, here’s another reason to hate it. Since 2007, the driver finishing second has not finished better than seventh the next season. That was done by Jeff Gordon (second in 2007) and Clint Bowyer (second in 2012). Continue reading “Second Place Hangover”
The slugfest between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth is for all intensive purposes over after the AdvoCare 500 was completed Sunday. With Johnson’s third place finish and Kenseth’s struggle filled 23rd place finish the dynamic has shifted. Johnson enters the final race with a 28 point advantage on Kenseth. The only other driver math mathematically in the battle is Sunday winner Kevin Harvick, who is 34 points behind.
“Just excited to go racing. I’m in a position I want to be in. I want to go down there and need to defend the championship. We’ve got a nice points lead so happy to be back on the West Coast. I want to say hey to everybody in the stands. Thanks to all those No. 48 fans out there and we will go to Homestead and race some more,” Johnson commented after the race.
Kenseth was on the opposite end of the spectrum from Johnson. “I’m disappointed, obviously with the way our season has gone and kind of being in the championship hunt, you hope to go down to Homestead and race for it on performance. On the other hand, I’m extremely happy. I’m really, really happy with my team. There’s not another car out here I’d want to be driving. It’s a special group of guys — we’ve had just an amazing, incredible season and we still have one week left.”
Being the wildcard in all of this, Kevin Harvick is happy that there’s a chance for him. “That is all you can ask for to happen (have a chance). Anything can happen. You have to be in it to win it and done a good job of winning races in the Chase and we will see what happens.”
To win the title regardless of what everyone else does, Johnson needs to finish 23rd or better without leading a lap. If he leads one lap, he can finish as worse as 24th. If he leads the most laps, he can finish at worst 25th.
Nothing is a lock as Johnson has been very up and down in his 12 career starts at Homestead. He has four top-5 finishes and seven top-10 finishes. That said his previous two races has been a 32nd (2011) and 36th (2012). While most will give Johnson the title, it’s not over until it’s over.
Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson won’t be exchanging Christmas gifts anytime soon after their run in at Martinsville in Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500. Biffle was positioned in the top-10 when contact from Johnson sent him spinning.
While there was minimal damage to Biffle’s car, the real damage was having to go to the back of the line after pitting. He did have a strong enough car to work his way back to a ninth place finish, but it could have been a lot better had that not happened.
After the race Biffle got to Johnson to explain his frustration. “Hey, you tore my rear bumper off, you (expletive),” said Biffle. Johnson contended he was next to Biffle, but Biffle warned him he’d “better watch it.” In the end it was a case of agreeing to disagree over the incident.
With three races to go and Johnson neck and neck for the title, it’ll be interesting to see if Biffle cuts him any slack in the coming weeks. Drivers tend to have very long memories and if it’s not this season, it could go into next.
In this column I take a look at the points situation in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to let you know who will be battling for the title in Homestead. Pit road cost a bunch of teams on Sunday, why was that? Rookie Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. impressed many on Sunday and might have clinched the Rookie of the Year title. And finally could there be trouble brewing between two pseudo teammates who will be teammates for real next season? Continue reading “Column: Points, Pit Road, Stenhouse, and Kurt”
Everyone had this race circled on their calendar as the race that would shake up the Chase standings. As it played out, for the most part everything stayed the same. Positions changed, such as Jimmie Johnson taking the points lead, but it was nothing like the jumps predicated.
The main reason is everyone thought there would be a big wreck that would take out most of the field. That’s a normal occurrence on the restrictor plate tracks of Talladega and Daytona. One year ago such a wreck happened on the final lap and ruined a few drivers’ championship bids.
This year the wreck never happened to the magnitude that is normally expected. For 187 laps the drivers actually drove with respect, allowing for some give and take. It wasn’t until the final lap did Austin Dillon get loose and was run into by Casey Mears. A wreck at a plate track with only two cars involved? That’s nearly unheard of. “I’m OK, but that was strange being in the infield care center with only myself usually there’s about ten of us in there together,” commented Mears after being released from the infield care center.
The chaos that ensued, because drivers where just starting to make their moves forward, allowed Johnson to get by Kenseth by virtue of his 13th place finish versus Kenseth’s 20th place finish.
Without a big Talladega shake up, things have narrowed down to Johnson and Kenseth for the title. There might still be hope for those on the outside looking in, because the tight half mile Martinsville Speedway is next. It could be a place where someone takes out revenge for something that has happened during the season, and knock them out of title contention.
The great part is we don’t know until we get there. The Goody’s Headache Relief 500 gets underway at 1:30 PM EST and can be seen on ESPN.