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!

Post #492

I just couldn’t think of anything to call this particular post so I just went with some generic title.

I will however start on a good note for all us Stewart fans out.  Tony won another race for the Nationwide Series #20.  This is the 8th win for this car which has had 4 different drivers behind the wheel this season including Joey Lagano who got his first win this year.  It was wonderful to see Tony back in Victory Lane albeit in a Nationwide Race.  His victory came on an audible by his crew chief Dave Rogers who decided to take only two tires.   Unfortunately the great pit strategy on Saturday wouldn’t translate over to the Cup race on Sunday.

I really thought Tony would carry his momentum from Saturday over to Sunday.  But once again another heartbreak for Tony.  Tony started back in the pack in 28th position.  I don’t usually take stock in where Tony qualifies because one way or another he finds his way to the front and yesterday was no exception.  Tony took the lead for the first time after a caution on lap 138.  He came out of the pits in the lead just inches ahead of Casey Mears. 

And then Lap 271…

As Earnhardt is slowing down to come down pitroad, Jamie rear ends Junior as well as collecting teammate David Ragan.  This brings out the 6th caution of the day.  We knew there were going to be drivers short on fuel.  There was also the approaching thunderstorm.  This was probably going to be the “money stop” for teams.  Several drivers including Kurt Busch stayed out.  Stewart headed down pit road.  He was the first driver of the bunch to take 2 tires.  This put him back in 14th spot.  The final caution came out as Hornish and Bowyer have a meet and greet.  This was lap 280.  NASCAR brings out the red flag four laps later due to the rain and decides to call the race done and declares Kurt Busch the winner.  Tony finishes 13th after leading 132 laps.  Tony became only the 13th driver to lead 10,000 plus laps.  Right before they called the race TNT intereviewed Tony, you could see the disappointment in his eyes as well as disappointment in his voice.  Upside of this is Tony did move up to 9th in the overall standings.  Sometimes it just isn’t your day.

Here is the Top 10 from yesterday

  1. Kurt Busch
  2. Michael Waltrip
  3. J.J. Yeley
  4. Martin Truex
  5. Elliott Sadler
  6. Reed Sorenson
  7. Casey Mears
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Jimmie Johnson
  10. Bobby Labonte

Yep…that’s quite a top 10 there folks.  I am not saying they didn’t deserve to be there, because there are times when you have to roll the dice, but there are only two drivers in that whole top 10 who are even in the top 12 in standings.  Like Michel Waltrip said in a post race interview…”he is going to take his 170 points and call it a day.”

Couple of notes…

  • Ron Hornaday wins the truck race on Saturday night.
  • Congratulations to Patrick Carpentier for snagging his first pole.  He finished 31st.  Even though he finished pretty far in the back of the pack it is still a positive step forward. 
  • Tight race for that elusive 12th spot in the standings.  Matt is out of the Top 12 and Kevin Harvick is in, but Matt is only 15 points behind Kevin for that spot with Martin Truex and Ryan Newman biting at the heels.
  • Kyle again tangles with another driver on the track.  I am sure there was some beatin’ and bangin’ going on between the two.  Juan did intentionally spin Busch out and made no bones about it, but Kyle stood his ground.  I believe Juan was penalized two spots in the race finish for his spin (if not please let me know).
  • Casey Mears out of the #5 over at HMS.  While watching the race yesterday all I could think of was..Mears-Penske..Mears-Penske.  Sound familiar folks? 

One final note…I don’t usually make too many predictions/projections because I am usually wrote 99.9% of the time, but I am going to make one here.  I believe Tony has made up his mind about his future.  And I belive we will all know before the end of July.