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?”
As Jeff Gordon prepares for his 22nd full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series he has to wonder what happened this offseason. With the retirements of Mark Martin and Ken Schrader and the unknown plans for Jeff Burton (Update: Burton will drive part-time for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2014) and Bobby Labonte, this leaves Gordon as the driver who debuted the longest time ago. Continue reading “Last Of The Old Guard”
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.
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.
This week’s column takes a look at the driver standings battles in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series after a weekend of racing at the Kansas Speedway. In both the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series you could make the argument that it’s down to two drivers in each.
It is officially a two man race for the Nationwide Series title in 2013, down to Austin Dillon and Sam Hornish, Jr. You could make an argument for Regan Smith (-35), who finished third at Kansas or even a very long shot for Elliott Sadler (43), who finished 10th at Kansas, but it is surely down to Dillon and Hornish.
Dillon gained some breathing room when he came home sixth versus Hornish’s 17th. The difference is now eight points in Dillon’s favor, and I don’t see him slowing down. The remaining schedule is Charlotte, Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead. I give Dillon Charlotte and Texas, Hornish is usually a bit better at Phoenix, and Homestead I lean towards Dillon again.
That could be what’s holding up announcing Dillon to the Cup Series in 2014, maybe they want that championship to serve as their press conference to tell the world the worst kept secret.
Moving the Sprint Cup Series you have Matt Kenseth atop the standings by three points over Jimmie Johnson. Kansas winner Kevin Harvick is third 25 points behind. Now I’m saying a two man race here because Kenseth had a “bad race” and still finished 12th. Johnson had issues late, but still finished 6th.
They need Kyle Busch like bad races, where he finished 34th at Kansas. Now, with Talladega still being out there it’s a big wildcard, but I can’t see either Kenseth or Johnson doing anything to jeopardize their positioning.
Harvick and others have to go all out, like Harvick at Kansas, and lead as many laps as possible and win. Can they do it? Yes, absolutely, but I don’t think they can do it every week.