By The Time I Get To Phoenix…

Before I get to my post about this weekend, I want to wish all my fellow Texans “Happy Texas Independence Day!”

Now on to Phoenix.  I like watching all the activities of Speedweeks when it rolls around every year.  It means that the NASCAR season is upon us.  Preparing for the Daytona 500 is a different element.  Qualifying has two parts.  You have qualifying day where the front is determined.  the other drivers that day are then sorted out into two dual races which sets the field for the 500.  The 500 is the only race on the circuit that has this type of qualifying.  Teams can’t judge where their season will end up after the 500.  I mean look where Jimmie Johnson is now sitting.  You can’t tell me he won’t be challenging for the championship come fall. 

This week begins the real start of the season.  This is wear teams begin their normal routines fo race week.  The boys are in Phoenix this weekend.  This will be the 2nd race on the new configuration. Phoenix has over the last couple been a place where drivers who have had a long winless streak have won.  Last year it was Kasey Kahne in the fall race and Jeff Gordon in spring race.  Will Phoenix have the same result this year?  Will a driver who has not seen victory lane in a while win?  Or will it be a driver from Hendrick Motorsports?  From what I can tell HMS drivers have a pretty good record at PIR. Here is what I found regarding HMS current paddock of drivers.  Jimmie has 4 wins at PIR.  Jeff and Dale have 2 wins.  While Kasey has one.  From these numbers HMS is a strong team going into PIR. 

But I wouldn’t count out the Roush drivers either.  Ford has shown how strong they are already in the season.  Matt Kenseth not only won his dual race, but the Dayton 500.  Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle qualified for the front row last week.  Greg finished 2nd and Carl finished 8th. 

As we know, I will be strongly cheering for my driver Tony Stewart.  He has not won at PIR since 1999.  He has 8 Top 5s and 11 top 10s.  I am hoping he has a good showing at PIR this week.  I was unhappy with his finish at Daytona 500 after winning his dual race and starting the 500 3rd. 

But what we know about NASCAR, each race is different and sometimes it can be a crap shoot on who is going to win.

One more thing from Daytona and this will be it.  I was planning on writing a post about the influence of social media on the sport.  The impact of social media came to the forefront on Monday night.  After Juan Pablo’s car crashed into the jet dryer Brad Keselowski  from his car snapped a picture with his phone and sent it out via Twitter.  Now this was the first time something like this occurred. During the fire delay we saw Brad tweeting from his phone while other drivers gathered around him.  During this time, the number of followers for Brad increased dramatically.  I wasn’t one of the people who joined up on Monday, I had already been following him.  But I found myself following all the action during this delay via Twitter.  Normally during a delay I have been known to flip back and forth between the delay and another program.  But Monday night I found myself glued to the television.  I also found myself becoming part of the conversation.  Some people think Brad should not have been doing this.  I didn’t have a problem with it.  He wasn’t driving his car AND tweeting.  It was only after his car was stopped that he took to his phone.  NASCAR even issued publicly Brad had not committed a violation with his tweeting on Monday.  I loved it.  Brad let us view NASCAR from an insider’s view.  A view many of us never get to experience.  Thank you Brad!  I will hold off my post on social media until next week.

Happy Race Weekend everyone!  Go Tony–bring home that win!

Auto Club Speedway

I must admit, I enjoyed the racing at Auto Club Speedway yesterday.  I will also admit racing in California is not my favorite thing to watch on a Sunday.  There have been times where a driver gets out in front and well, runs away with the race.  I like close racing where the leaders trade spots for most of the race.  But yesterday was a pretty good race.   I was concerned the race was going to be delayed or even cancelled with rain storms looming around the track.  After last week’s delay, I really didn’t want another one.  I know some times Mother Nature has her own way of doing things, but please don’t mess with my racing.

While watching the race, Postman asked me, “Is Tony racing today?”  I was beginning to wonder that myself.  There wasn’t much talk about where he was during the race, but that usually doesn’t bother me.  Tony finds his way towards the top spots and yesterday was no different.  Tony qualified 16th and finished with a 9th place finish.  Tony is 23rd in the standings, but this Smoke is not worried.  We have only run two races and there is still quite a bit of racing still left for Tony.  Not all was good for Stewart Haas Racing yesterday.  Ryan Newman started out the day 18th, but finished 36th after a blown engine ended his day.

I was impressed with the way all the Richard Childress cars were racing yesterday.  They struggled quite a bit in 2009, but looked better towards the end of 2009.  I know last year testing was a thing of past and perhaps they did hurt RCR a bit.  Last was also the first year for RCR to have four race teams.  Unfortunately maybe four teams wasn’t meant for RCR.  Sometimes more isn’t always better.  Yesterday was a good day for RCR:  2 (Kevin Harvick), 3 (Jeff Burton), 8 (Clint Bowyer).  I really thought Kevin had Jimmie in the last laps of the race, but alas Jimmie took the victory.

A few more notes…Danica did ok. She is still learning. I didn’t get to see the race on Saturday, but the finish sounded exciting. I was listening via my Sirius radio. Why does racing always sound more exciting via the radio than on television? I have always wanted to find another driver to follow. I guess because in case when Tony decides to call it quits I want to have someone in mind. I have tried over the past few years to find one and well, I haven’t been able to really find one. I have several drivers I like, but haven’t quite jumped into their fan base. I guess I am looking for someone like Tony. However, the more I watch Greg Biffle, the more I think I could get on board with Greg Biffle. You can’t convince me to be a Dale Jr. fan so don’t try. However, if you think there is someone else I could cheer for along with Tony give me a buzz.

And finally….I have to give a shout out to another Tony fan and fellow blogger Amy over at Amy’s Bad Groove. She is headed out to Vegas this week to attend the NASCAR festivities. I am excited for her because she always delivers some of the best reporting about her trips that I have seen. I haven’t been able to attend the races at TMS in a few years, but I am hoping to get back there either this November or next year. If you haven’t been to a race, you are missing out on what NASCAR is really about. I have met quite a few people through my passion for NASCAR. I have to tell you we are just like one big happy family. We accept everyone and everyone can root for any driver they want. Sure I am not a fan of Dale Jr., but I am still part of the family. I can be who I am as a race fan and not feel judged. We are loyal and we know how to have a great time. I just wanted to wish you a wonderful time in Vegas this week Amy! Say hi to Tony for me!

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 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!