Race 4: Talladega

Wow…that’s really all I can say about Talladega.

Congratualations to my driver Tony Stewart for picking up his first win of 2008, his first win in #20 Home Depot Toyota (and yes I know it was Subway), and his first win at Talladega. Of course there is always a little controversy that surrounds Smoke. I have tried to keep a perspective about the whole yellow line thing because I guess I am a rules girl. NASCAR explained to the drivers on Sunday morning the rule about the yellow line. You can’t go below it…period. If a driver goes below the yellow line then they will suffer the consequences. And in this race fan’s opinion that’s what exactly happened on Sunday. I really don’t feel like debating the whole did Stewart push the #01 down below the yellow line. Regan Smith was there and he advanced his position. And in my eyes and NASCAR that was a big no-no. It was the green-white checker and Tony was leading. Tony was going to do everything in his power to win on Sunday. Tony was going to protect the bottom to prevent the others from getting a run. We have seen it time and time again at other tracks. Drivers do what they need to do to get the victory. That’s racing.

I have to say Carl Edwards went from “wow, what a great move” to “WTF just happened” in the matter of a 7 days. I know about 20 laps left at Talladega is when everyone turns it up a notch and Sunday was no exception. Carl basically took out two of his Roush teammates along with a few others including Dale Jr who was having a typical Talladega run. I have to say Carl did apologize causing the big one. Of course, with Carl and Greg involved in this crash, it helped out Jimmie. He left Talladega still with the points lead.

It was strange some teams were having tire issues. I don’t see Talladega as a track that will give the teams fits about tires. But as we all know tires have a mind of there own. They weren’t just getting cut, but exploding. Just ask Dale Jr., or Brian Vickers, or Denny Hamlin. In fact, he was taken to a local hospital after his crash at Talladega. When you slam into going that fast, even with all the safety measures in place, you are going to feel it.

Now that Talladega is out of the way, we can look to the remaining races. Next up Lowes, or as the race commentators say, Jimmie’s House. Oh and by the way, it’s on Saturday night! I love Saturday night racing.

Well, I am still recovering from my trip to Chicago. I have to say I had a wonderful time, but I don’t think I could live there. Too big of a city for me. However, I was able to experience ESPN Zone and all that it entails. I love ESPN Zone! I mean come on, you have a tv at any angle. While there my fellow co-worker and I were able to eat with Jeff Daniels. That’s right star of Dumb and Dumber was eating dinner at ESPN Zone with us. Ok…maybe he was three tables away, but we were there and he was there and we were eating dinner. So, in my world, we had dinner together. Of course I didn’t get a way with from the place without purchasing a few souvenirs. My favorite…a coffee mug with the following on it…”Yes, I am a woman, I know the game, I watch ESPN”. How can I not purchase this mug?

And we were able to get a bird’s eye view of Chicagoland Speedway.

I was able to see Kansas Speedway, but did have the forethought to pull out the camera.

Sorry for interrupting the race post with my Chicago highlights, but it was a great trip and has refocused me with regards to my job as an advisor. In fact we will be making a few moves in the office and I will be able to get back to what I love–working with students. I work with students now, but not as many as I would like. This new change hopefully will get me out of that professional funk I have been in lately. And with that here are a couple highlights of my trip….

  • Chicago style pizza…yum
  • Magnificent Mile…lots of walking
  • Navy Pier…lots of water, ships, and Navy men
  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Company….great food and atmosphere as well as a cute waiter named Tony! (waiter in the middle…the one behind us wanted to join in the fun and hoped into the picture)

Race 2: Dover

That’s two in a row for The Biff. So far my darkhorse has been kicking some NASCAR tail. I have to say I enjoyed the last part of the race with Carl, Matt and Greg battling for the win. That was some of the best racing I have seen in a long time. And I thought Mark Martin was going to be part of the fray as well. I am glad Greg Biffle won. I have always liked him as a driver. Well, what does this week have in store for The Biff? Let’s look…

  • 2007 Kansas winner-he won this race on fumes and a little bit of controversy, but he won nonetheless.
  • He has 1 win, 3 Top 5s, and 3 top 10s with an average finishing spot of 11.
  • In 2005, the year he finished only second to Tony Stewart in the final standings, he came away with a 2nd place finish at Kansas.
  • Over the last 6 races, he has 2 wins, 4 tops 5s, and 4 top 10s.  The only driver who has done better over the last 6 races…Carl Edwards
  • Tied with Jimmie Johnson for 2nd and only 10 points behind teammate Carl Edwards.

If you had to pick someone to win at Kansas, Greg Biffle would be a safe bet.  I am still going to stand behind him to give both Carl and Jimmie a run for their money. 

Looks like the one driver who looked to win it all isn’t going to unless, he pulls it out of his arse.  Before Louden Kyle Busch was one of the three favorites to run away with the championship, but not everyhting looks good on paper.  Yes he has won 8 races this year, but sometimes being the best in the regular season doesn’t always preclude you to being the best during the playoffs.  All one has to do is look at the New England Patriots last year.  Perfect until the Super Bowl where they suffered their only loss of the 2007 season.  Kyle went from 1st to 12 in two races with a 34th place at Louden and Sunday’s 43rd place finish.  I don’t know if he can muster that good of a run over the next 8 races to make his way up to the top spot.  He would have to light it up and pray those ahead of him crash and burn.  It just doesn’t look good.  He is going to have leap over several drivers who are having some of their best runs over the last 6 races.  If Kyle is resigned to the fact that he is not going to win the championship, all the other drivers better watch out.  I mean when you have nothing to lose…

I was lucky enough yesterday to help one of my fellow NASCAR fans.  It was rather nice to visit with someone who gets it.  I don’t always have that around me especially in the workplace.  Even though he is a Junior fan (fyi–I am not a big Junior fan), I will still continue to help him.  After helping him figure out hsi plan to graduation in a year or so, we sat and talked NASCAR for about 15 minutes.  it was great. I was telling one of my co-workers (who is not into NASCAR), the NASCAR family accepts everyone.  We don’t care who you cheer for, we just want you to cheer. 

Non-NASCAR notes from this past weekend…

  • Miami opened it up on New England.  I thought it was a typo on my phone when I was reading all the scores, but it wasn’t.  Can I just say I did my little happy dance on Sunday.
  • Dallas kicked some Packer butt on Sunday night.  The Boys have opened up the season 3-0.  But they did this last year, looked good at the beginning and then fizzled out.  Let’s hope we can keeping kicking some butt all the way to the Super Bowl
  • What’s up with Indy?  Ugh…
  • My Red Raiders just went to town on UMASS…56-14.  We are 4-0 heading in our Big 12 opener with Kansas on October 4.  I won’t get to watch my Red Raiders.  I will be on a plane heading back from Chicago, but you can catch them on ABC that day, beginning at 2:00 pm
  • Goodbye Yankee Stadium and thanks for the memories.  I don’t consider myself a Yankees fan, but I hate to see a historical landmark such as Yankee Stadium fade off into the sunset. 
  • Will the Cubs go all the way to the World Series?  Let me put it this way…I went to a conference in Indianopolis back in October 2006…who went on to win the Superbowl that year?  That would be the Colts.  Where am I headed next weekend for a conference?…Chicago.  You can draw your own conclusions.

I hope everyone has a great week..one more note, my thoughts and prayers go out to some good friends of mine who suffered a loss.  Hang in there guys and remember, Postman and I love ya!

Race 1: New Hampshire

The race for the elusive Sprint Cup has begun with Greg Biffle making his move right out of the box.  I was excited about watching this year’s Chase.  I wanted to see if Kyle Busch could keep on his winning ways.  I also wanted to see if Jimmie could pull off a third straight championship.  Or if a newcomer would make his way to the top spot at Miami.  I think this has been the first time in awhile I have been excited about the Chase. 

So when it came Sunday morning, I was getting everything ready to sit down and watch the race and then it happened–I realized I had to head to the grocery store to get food for the next two weeks.  I forgot to do my shopping on Saturday–ugh.  I was hoping to get back in time for the start and I did, but grocery shopping was the reason I didn’t watch much of the race–it was football.  And it was even the Cowboys playing, it was my other team the Colts.  I did flip back and forth, but you can’t get a feel of the race doing that.  Any way…

I did see that Kyle had a rough go of it from the drop of the green flag.  I know some of you out there love what has happend to him over the last few races, but as a watcher of NASCAR I am not.  Kyle has dominiated the season thus far and I really want to see him compete for the title.  That’s the drawback of the Chase.  You can go into the Chase having one of the best seasons of your racing career then have it all wiped away.  I guess that’s the way it is in the playoffs, just ask the New England Patriots.  But this is the first race of the Chase.  It’s doesn’t matter where you start, but where you finish the season that matters.  Kyle does have a chance to redeem himself this week at Dover–he won the Spring race and he is only 74 points from the top spot at the moment.

Congratulations to Greg Biffle! He was my dark horse pick to win it.  I am pumped about him winning the first race.  Maybe this is a sign of things to come from the #16 team.  He jumped from 9th place to 3rd place in one race.  He is only 30 points behind Jimmie and Carl.  Things look good for Greg this week at Dover, he won the pole at the spring race as well as a third place finish behind fellow Chasers (Kyle and Carl). He also has a record of 1 win, 4 top 5s, and 7 top 10s at Dover.

Who else may have a chance to come away with a win at Dover this weekend…

Carl–he finished 2nd in the spring behind Kyle.  Carl has been in this position before behind Kyle, but if Kyle doesn’t get things back on track, Kyle will be seeing more of the #99 in his front view window.

Matt–he finished 4th after starting in the 21st position in the spring.  Matt is 177 points back from the top spot, but this isn’t an unusual spot for Matt to be in.  He too will need to put together some pretty good runs and hope the others have bad ones to make it to the top

The Three Js (Jeff, Jimmie, and Jeff)–all three have the potential to come away with a win here.  They finished 5th, 7th, and 8th respectively in the Spring

I am sure Dale, Kevin, Tony, and Denny would have found themselves in a better finishing spot in the spring if not for the spin by #19 on lap 20. Looking at Tony’s chances for a win on Sunday, this fan has to be optimistic. He has 2 wins, 9 Top 5, and 12 Top 10s at Dover. He probably could have had a better finish than 41st in the spring if not for the horrible accident. He is only 73 points back and if he wins and the others in front of him have a rough go at it, then he’s right there.

Jimmie, who happens to be my pick to win it all, finished in 2nd on Sunday and is now tied with Carl Edwards for the top spot. Maybe this year my predictions will have some punch to them unlike last year where I picked Tony to win it all and Kyle as my dark horse. Of course, we all know neither one of them didn’t win the Championship, but hey it wasn’t too far out in left field especially with Kyle. Tony finished 6th while Kyle finished 7th. Not bad, but maybe this year will be the one I get things right.

Good luck in Dover boys…hey Tony watch out for the #19!

Top Twelve

In case you missed it last night, the Chasers were on David Letterman helping out with Dave’s Top 10 (oops Top 12) list last night.  The video I found on You Tube was kind of fuzzy so if you want to see the video, hop on over to The Late Show’s site.

However, here’s the “Top 12 Perks of Being a NASCAR Driver”

12.  Crazy gas prices? I’m not paying. (Matt Kenseth)

11.  Bring your helmt to Taco Bell and they’ll fill it with guacamole…FREE. (Kevin Harvick)

10.  don’t have to shave your body like Olympic swimmers…although, why not? (Jeff Gordon)

9.  Hasselhoff prmised me one of those talking cars (Greg Biffle)

8.  I use old checkered flags to make fabulous throw pillos (Tony Stewart)

7.  There’s nothing like going through a car wash at 190 miles per hour (Jeff Burton)

6.  GPS Underpants (Denny Hamlin)

5.  Sorry, I forgot my joke–I was thinking about Jessica Alba–man she’s hot (Clint Bowyer)

4.  Run out of live oil?  A little Quaker State will spruce up any salad (Dale Earnhardt Jr.)

3.  Taveling to exotic locations like Martinsville, Virginia and Dover, Delaware (Jimmie Johnson)

2.  At high reunions, it’s fun to ask, “So what do you do for a living?” (Carl Edwards)

At the #1 perk of bing a NASCAR Driver…

1.  Afte race, you ass vibrates for days (Kyle Busch)

My favorites of the 12…#9, # 7, and #3.  Pretty funny stuff!

2008 Chase

And so it begins…here are your 2008 Chasers!

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Carl Edwards
  3. Jimmie Johnson
  4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  5. Clint Bowyer
  6. Denny Hamlin
  7. Jeff Burton
  8. Tony Stewart
  9. Greg Biffle
  10. Jeff Gordon
  11. Kevin Harvick
  12. Matt Kenseth

I have to admit I haven’t really watched much of NASCAR over the last few weeks.  I know that is kind of hard to believe, but I have had quite a bit going on in my life right now especially at work.  There are days at work I feel like I work for NASCAR with the every changing procedures, policies, etc.  UGH!!!  Anyhow, I have gone on a little fact finding mission this afternoon.  I thought I would focus my post race post on the The Chase.  I didn’t really watch all that much of the race so I don’t feel like I could make any sound judgements about the race. 

I am excited about this Chase and not because Tony made the Chase.  He is sitting 8th right now 80 points back of Kyle Busch.  In my opinion, I don’t think you will be able to win the chase unless you win a few races.  That’s just the way it is.  There are those out there who think it will be a three man race and yes I will include myself in that group, but I am going to step back and leave those three out of it for a moment.  Let’s take a look at the other 9 drivers in the Chase.

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.–He is having a good year, well compared to last year.  He is sitting 4th in the points and has a win.  I just don’t know if he will be able to make a challenge for the championship this year.  Over the last 6 races, he has had 0 wins, 1 top 5, 1 top 10.  He is going to have to light it up in order to catch his teammate Jimmie as well as Kyle and Carl.
  • Clint Bowyer–He barely made it into the Chase as it is.  Yes he has a win and he is sitting 5th right now, but he has struggled over the last several races. Over the last 6 races, he has had only 3 top 10s.  There was a point during the race at Richmond he was out of the top 12.  I just don’t know.
  • Denny Hamlin–I really haven’t followed Denny too much this year.  I know he is Tony and Kyle’s temmate and you would think I would have kept up with him, but he is just not appealing to me.  He does have one win at Martinsville earlier in the year and he does pretty well at New Hampshire.  If he can get a good jump early on, he might be able to challenge for the top spot.  Definite wild card here.
  • Jeff Burton–He has one win this season at the spring Bristol race.  I never count Jeff Burton out in a race until he has either crashed out or is too many laps down to catch the leader.  Like Denny, I think he will be a wild card during the Chase
  • Greg Biffle–I have always like Greg as a driver.  He isn’t afraid to take chances to win a race.  He has a good season this year.  Back in 2005, he lost the championship to Tony by only 35 points.  In 2006 and 2007, the Biff finished 13th and 14th respectively.  Now he is sitting 9th.  In 2005, he started the Chase in second spot, but that was before all the bonus points played into the Chase and seeding.  Greg is right there.  He just needs that little push to get over the hump and he will be able to challenge the Three Amigos.
  • Jeff Gordon–I just don’t know. One week it looks like Jeff is going to challenge for the win and the next well…his car is just crap.  Jeff didn’t forget how to drive.  He is a 4-time champion.  I just think this car has him all mixed up.  I don’t know if Jeff will be able to turn it around in the last 10 races.  Over the past 6 he has had no wins, 1 top 5, 3 top 10s, and a rare DNF. 
  • Kevin Harvick–Next to Carl Edwards, he has the best run over the last 6 races.  3 top 5s and 6 top 10s.  He hasn’t won a race this season, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t just open up can and win a few.  I like his chances in the Chase.  He is definitely one of my two darkhorses. 
  • Matt Kenseth–Like Jeff Burton, you can never count out Matt in a race unless he has crashed out and/or too many laps down.  He isn’t known for his qualifying efforts, but that doesn’t matter.  He quitely makes his way up through the field and then the next thing you know he is either challenging for the lead or leading.  He along with Jimmie Johnson has made the Chase every single year.

And finally (last but defintely not least), Mr. Tony Stewart.  I hate to say it, but I just don’t know if Tony can get it together for the last 10 races.  It pains me to say, but he has quite a bit going on.  He is preparing to run his last 10 races wtih the team he has known for the last 10 years.  He has exciting things coming up for 2009.  And to be honest, his attention is focused in too many areas at the moment.  I know what it is like to be at your old job awaiting to head to the new job.  You want to do the best you can at the current job, but how can you now get excited and yes distracted with the new opportunity presented ahead of you.  That’s where I believe Tony is at the moment.  You could tell the frustration level has reached the maximum boiling point.  That was evident after the race on Sunday.  The win was right there.  He could taste it along with his fans, but Jimmie Johnson out raced him.  That’s it.  He is going to have to get on one of his famous hot streaks if he is even going to challenge for the championship. 

Now…who do I think will make it to the top to win all the marbles?  This has been somewhat a difficult thing to pin down.  Kyle looks to be the safe bet as well as Carl, but Jimmie is peaking at the right time and we all know when Jimmie gets in the zone, he is pretty much unbeatable.  Last year he won 4 of the Chase races.   Even in the 2006 Chase when most of us thought he was out of it after Talladega, he finished no further back than 9th to win the whole thing.  So with that information in front of me, I am going to have to take Jimmie Johnson to win it in 2008. 

It’s a toss up between Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick as my dark house.  They both have the potential to just bust out during the last 10 races, but I am going to have to go with The Biff on this one, but only by a small margin.

Now, let’s sit back and watch The Chase all unfold.