Thursday, August 31, 2006

Have A Nice Extended Weekend

I know I will.  I'm psyched about tonight, in which I'll be in the middle of the madness at the Godsmack, Rob Zombie, & Shinedown concert.  Hopefully with little rain, but I'm expecting to be drenched.  After that I'm going home until Monday, so I won't be back on here until Tuesday.

But I couldn't leave you without some picks!

WINNER - Carl Edwards

DARKHORSE - Reed Sorenson

In my stead, give the blogs on the right an extra look.  See yall Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Chase Breakdown Version 4.0: Two Race Warning

With 2 races left until New Hampshire in September, here is what the Chase is looking like right now:

Top 10

1. Jimmie Johnson 3499

2. Matt Kenseth -7

3. Kevin Harvick -321

4. Kyle Busch -402

5. Jeff Gordon -408

6. Denny Hamlin -429

7. Jeff Burton -435

8. Tony Stewart -443

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -448

10. Mark Martin -450

The next 3 (Points behind 10th place 3049 in parenthesis) 

11. Kasey Kahne -540 (90)

12. Greg Biffle -701 (-251)

13. Carl Edwards -711 (-261)

So, who will be in the Chase?

The same guys that are now.  Pretty simple.  Barring something unexpected, the guys that are in the top 10 are good enough to get past Richmond intact.  Bad luck this year has taken Kahne out of the Chase despite four wins and two Roush drivers.  I find the fact that 8 Chevies will be in the Chase disturbing, but those guys are simply better right now than the Fords and Dodges.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday News

A couple items from the day:

- Sam Hornish will run in some Busch and ARCA races next season for Penske

I can't say I'm very shocked with that.  I think it was always a matter of when, not if he decided to give stock cars a try.  Now that he has his Indy 500 it'll be sooner rather than later.

- David Ragan will drive the #50 Busch car at California

I didn't see this one coming at all.  Danny O'Quinn has been doing just fine in the series, the official reason given is that it is an equipment evaluation for Roush.  If thats the case, why not let Biffle drive one of the 50 cars and in return let Danny run a 16 or 17. 

- Mark Martin will not be in the 6 car next year

This one actually came up Saturday but it bears watching.  I find it a little fishy that Geoff Smith would say something like that on race day pretty much out of the blue.  I know a lot of people don't like the idea of Mark in the No Fear #60, but I think it would be a solid ride since it appears Mark will be running part-time next year.

- A 4th RCR team could appear in 2007

For a team that just got its shit together this year after miserable showings in 2004 and 2005, I think adding another team would be a bit premature.  However, they wouldn't be talking about it unless they possibly have a driver lined up...


Lastly, I'm making the statement right now that Marco Andretti's career path is headed somewhere beyond the IRL.  The only thing beyond the IRL outside of NASCAR would be, you guessed it... Formula 1.  I think that he'll end up over there by the time he is 25.  I hate to say it, but Marco Andretti in F1 could make me care about it.

Coming Wednesday: Chase Breakdown 4.0: Two Race Warning.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Attaboy Marco!



As I've said a time or two, AGR is the official IRL team of The Catfish Show.  Today I was more nervous than I've been in a while watching a race because Marco Andretti had a shot - a great shot to win.  The last 28 laps were wonderful and nerve-racking as he battled fuel strategy and his own teammates before taking the checkers at Sonoma.  The IRL's terrific points race takes a backseat for a moment to the 19 year-old in the #26 NYSE car.  Good job Marco.



Speaking of that points race, the top 4 drivers are all tantalizingly close to the top:

1. Helio Castroneves 441
2. Sam Hornish -1
3. Dan Wheldon -19
4. Scott Dixon -24

To put it simply, if either Castroneves or Hornish win at Chicagoland in 2 weeks, they'll be the Champ.  Wheldon and Dixon need a bit of help if they wish to win the title.  As of right now, I'm leaning towards Hornish to win.  It should be fun to watch.

Attention Chase Teams



These guys are going to be tough to beat.

Bristol repeat, weekend sweep, back-to-back Cup wins... this team is on fire.  I'm tickled to death about it and I'm ready for the final 12 races this year.

Oh yeah... KENSETH WON AT BRISTOL~!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday Notes

The YouTube movie trailer of the week: BEEEEERRFEEESTTT!!!  This will be one of those guilty pleasure movies... I love it.

Now time for the Friday tradition:

- The Wednesday night Truck race ended in fine fashion with Mark Martin obliterating the field for his 4th win of 2006 in the series.  I cannot wait until he gets to drive full-time in the series, unless...

- The latest unsubstantiated rumor that Jayski decided to post was that Kluever was given 2 weeks to pick up his performance or he would be let go and David Ragan would take his place.  I have a hard time believing that myself because from everything that I've heard, he is a go for the 6 next year.  I don't think everything will be finalized until Kluever's run his scheduled Cup races this season.  I hope Mark doesn't end up back in the 6 again, not because I don't want him there (he can still get it done) but people will bitch about him "going back on his retirement" and all that other nonsense.

- Jeremy Mayfield will drive the #36 next season for Bill Davis, with sponsorship from 360 OTC, whatever that is.  So... will he not run anymore races this year?  Was that part of his settlement with Evernham?  Does anyone know?

- The schedule is out for the 2007 Nextel Cup Season.  Not many changes, just some summer races being shuffled.  It also has the specifics of the TV deal as NASCAR will now shove "Race To The Chase" down our throats after FOX's portion is over.  Wonderful.  The big announcement left is to see what Brian France and his infinite wisdom will decide what to do with the Chase format.

- I feel like one of the unattractive women in the Allstate/Kasey Kahne commercials about this weekend:  "oh my god its BRISTOL!  Racing at Bristol!!"  But yeah, its Bristol and I'm about as excited for a race as I can be.

- Also competing this weekend: Champ Car in Montreal in the last televised race I'll be able to see and the IRL hits the road in Sonoma in a race destined to take Hornish out of the championship picture.


----- Bristol Preview -----

- The Busch Series action on Friday night is a great warmup to the Saturday night feature.  The same amount of cautions in half the laps?  Fun to watch and play along at home by guessing the number of laps until the next one.  The winner Friday night is... Kevin Harvick (shocking, I know).

Now for the Cup side.  For years, this race ranked somewhere around the top 5 most prestigious in the series to win.  I don't question that it still is, but since 2004 we've seen that is an important race as well to not screw up in, which I think has guys racing a bit restrained.  Just look at 2004 and 2005, in which one driver simply killed the rest of the field in some fashion.  To me, I think that trend will continue, and it will be someone from 7th-13th in the points.  I love this race so much.  Just watch, everyone.  But I shouldn't have to tell you that.  After all, you could miss something like this:

No matter who's side you were on, you know you can't get enough of it.

We gots picks:

WINNER - Greg Biffle

More like hoping so 3 Roush cars will make the Chase.  Greg's underrated here and may just be desparate enough to revert back to Truck Series Greg for a night on the short track.

DARKHORSE - Ken Schrader

Picking a darkhorse at Bristol is pretty silly because anyone can be taken out and anyone can keep it together and with enough attrition, get a top 10.  Ken's smarter than most drivers and could sneak up and get it done. 

Here is the channel surfing schedule:

Today
Nextel Cup qualifying at 3:30 on SPEED
Nextel Cup final practice at 7:00 on TNT
Busch: Food City 250 at 7:45 on TNT

Saturday
Nextel Cup: Sharpie 500 at 7:00 on TNT

Sunday
Champ Car: Canadian Grand Prix at 1:30 on NBC
IRL: Infineon Indy at 3:30 on ESPN

Why haven't we heard anything about their reconciliation lately?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Top 5 Drivers That Should Be In Nextel Cup

I can't say exactly where I got the inspiration to decide which drivers I think should be in Nextel Cup.  Maybe its with all the silly season rumors in the air.  In any case, these 5 guys and some honorable mentions are featured below:


Honorable mention: Ricky Craven

Age works against Craven and I think he may be better suited for a good Busch ride for a team that need experience.

Honorable mention: David Starr

Starr quietly ran well in the #75 but has taken it up a notch or two in the #11 Red Horse team.  He might get a look if Toyota brings more teams than expected in a year or two.


5. Brendan Gaughan

Gaughan got an extremely raw deal from Penske in 2004 and has struggled to recover since.  I'd like to see him get another shot but unfortunately I don't think it'll happen.

4. David Reutimann

I thought he would have a Cup ride by now andhopefully he still will.  Just look at his work in the Trucks andespecially his performance in Busch.  He has been a very underrateddriver and look at what he's done in the #99 compared to what Mikey hasdone: its really no comparison.

3. Ron Hornaday

Straight up, Ron Hornaday never got a fair shake in Nextel Cup.  Driving for AJ Foyt wasn't exactly a top ride but I think he did his best.  Ron can still drive too.  His Busch and Truck efforts have clearly shown that; its too bad we'll never know how he might have done with a good team in a good car.

2. Johnny Sauter

How Johnny Rocket hasn't been back to Cup since 2004 is a mystery to me.  He fits everything team owners should look for but he never gets the job.  He showed flashes in his part-time efforts with the 09 and this year with Haas.  RCR in 2004 was very different than the RCR team today.

1. Johnny Benson

Number one with a bullet too.  Benson never should have been demoted in the way he was.  He is too good not to get another chance.  Instead of one race wonder Gilliland, Benson could actually make an impact in Cup.


This list would have Travis Kvapil and Scott Wimmer on it if they don't get rides in Cup.  Although, my Spidey Sense tells me Kvapil could end up in the 00 because they still owe him one for the BANG! fiasco a few years ago.  I still don't think his reputation fully recovered from the drunk driving charge.

Lastly, the Brokeback Cowboys (LastCowboys.com) had a totally useless story up that Jayski picked up but then it was removed.  I highly, highly doubt that they have any inside information on Ward Burton because this is the second time they've pretty much lied about it.

We Have Winners!

Congrats to the winners of the DVD Giveaway of NASCAR: DRIVEN TO WIN.  In case anyone didn't figure it out, here were the correct answers to the trivia questions:

1. 80

2. 8 or 9 (I took either because I flubbed up and forgot about the owners title in '03

3. Robert Yates Racing

Coming later today... a super cool feature.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Observations | Michigan

Well, all's well that ends well.  The high tempers from Saturday were soothed Sunday and now we have a week until we get to see some very high tempers: Bristol baby.

- I was right about Burton finishing 2nd after all.  If you put a 4 in front of it.  Am I the only person who thinks he was trying to talk himself out of a Chase spot by insisting he wasn't safe?  I think Jeff's his own worst enemy sometimes.

- I thoroughly enjoyed the post-race interview of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin.  Dale Jr. is a stand up guy that takes responsibility for his actions and his respect of Mark has been documented many times before.  Dale Jr. likes Mark a lot more than his dad ever did so I respect him for that.

- You can't stay mad at Tony Stewart forever.  His post-race quote was priceless:

Yocum: "So how'd you go from 33rd to 3rd today?"
Stewart: "I did my job."

Come on, you know you busted out laughing too.

- The official announcement of Jeremy Mayfield signing with Bill Davis came out.  I think that could be a solid move if Toyota is as good as everyone thinks they'll be.  Mayfield becomes the de facto number one driver because Dave Blaney pretty much sucks and if the chemistry is right they'll be decent to pretty good.  The only chemistry Ray was concerned about was his with Erin Crocker... HEY-O!

- And finally... was I the only person who noticed the similarity of Carl Edwards' move after the Busch race Saturday to when Cole Trickle nailed his teammate Russ Wheeler after Wheeler wrecked him for a win in Days of Thunder?  I loved it.  You can just imagine Edwards coming into the pits saying "Change my tires.  CHANGE MY TIRES."  Then BAM, right into his car. 

If you want to say it was dangerous, go back and watch the race and see how Edwards' car nearly got airborne as he spun down the backstretch.

Linkage:

Cross' Words

Carfax 200 Results

Fox Sports Race Recap


Today is the last day to earn a chance to win the NASCAR DVD set: DRIVEN TO WIN!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Matt Kenseth Gives Roush Armada Another Michigan Win



Matt Kenseth had Jeff Gordon behind him again Sunday, but had enough to ease to his third victory of 2006 in the GFS Marketplace 400.

Give props the yours truly for calling the winner, although I would be a liar if I didn't say I wasn't worried about that damn 24 in second and closing.  Jeff didn't have enough laps to catch Kenseth today.  Not the first time Kenseth has won by the skin of his teeth at Michigan either; in 2002 he held on for the win as Dale Jarrett had fresh tires and made a furious charge but Matt held on then.  I guess you always remember some races more than others. 

Just to show how fickle racing is, my darkhorse Chase pick Jeff Burton crapped a motor today and fell from a strong 4th to 9th place in the Chase, just 35 points ahead of 10th place Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Of course he is also just 15 points out of 6th, but still... things may not be done yet in the Chase.  I'm officially declaring that Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch are D-O-N-E and there are only two Chase contenders left outside the top 10, and longshots at that.  Biffle better channel the spirit of Kenseth from last year's Bristol race. 

I'm also going to give kudos to The Official Darkhorse Pick of The Catfish Show Reed Sorenson for his 8th place run today and Robby Gordon for an excellent 12th place effort.

The new ride boys did what you expect, as Sadler ran a strong race and finished 10th while David Gilliland matched his finish to his car number (38).



Coming tomorrow, my Observations will reveal a startling comparison of Carl Edwards' Busch post-race action and a famous scene from Days Of Thunder.

Full results of the GFS Marketplace 400.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Notes

I feel like I outdid myself this week with the quality posts, and since its just Busch and Cup and their both at Michigan, I need a break.

- It was the start of the 2007 season today at Michigan, as Elliott Sadler and David Gilliland finally were in their new rides after more talk about the change in the last month than anyone cared for.  Sadler looks to benefit more than Gilliland, who still hasn't earned approval at every track on the circuit.  The last remaning question is whether we'll see Jeremy Mayfield back on the track before next February.  The Spidey Sense on this one says yes.


----- Michigan Preview -----

- It's hard to believe that one year ago Jeremy Mayfield was sitting 6th in points and won at Michigan will a fuel mileage gamble.  That matters at Michigan, seemingly it happens more in this race than in the June race.  The race winner will most likely come from this group: Kahne, Biffle, Kenseth, Busch (both).  Jeff Burton's on the pole.  Matt Kenseth is second.  Expect a flip-flop of those spots on Sunday.

WINNER - Matt Kenseth

DARKHORSE - Reed Sorenson

The Busch race goes Saturday at 2:45 and the Cup race goes at 2 on Sunday.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why I'm High On Todd Kluever



It goes back all the way to when he starting driving the 50 Truck in 2005.  Fresh off of winning the Gong Show, a guy that I hadn't heard of was taking over the truck.  The 2005 season in trucks was a tale of two crews.  The first part of the year Todd was ok, sometimes running decent, sometimes not.  Then the crews of the 99 truck driven by Ricky Craven and the 50 were switched.  Immediately, Todd's performance picked up.  Runner-up finishes at Kansas and IRP, to be exact.  He was also more consistent.  He didn't have a banner rookie year akin to Kurt Busch or Carl Edwards, but was impressive nonetheless and he was named Rookie of the Year.  That earned him a promotion to the Busch Series as the heir apparent to Mark Martin's Cup ride in 2007. 

Our story picks up in February of 2006.  Kluever's team in the Busch Series is brand-new.  Literally, brand new.  New cars, new crew members, new crew chief, and Todd is a rookie once again.  Roush Racing's Busch program grew almost exponentially in 2006.  New to the series were Todd's 06 team, Greg Biffle's 16 team, and Danny O'Quinn's 50 team.  Kluever is a rookie once again and as was the case in his Truck beginnings, he had his ups and downs.  He came under fire from the Mark Martin fans for "not being worthy" of the 6 car because his performance was lacking.  I kind of felt the same way - unil the CarQuest 300 at Lowes Motor Speedway.  This race saw Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards run extremely well in their black AmeriQuest cars, but I also had my eye on the 3M car that was quietly having a good run.  Edwards won the race, but Kluever finished 9th.  More importanly, he didn't put a scratch on the car.  I realized something: Todd Kluever can drive if he has the equipment.  I noticed that he was a very patient, smart driver.  He didn't put himself in any precarious positions and he was good about not tearing up equipment of his own doing.  Fast forward to now, there are rumors that Martin will be backin the 6 for another year.  He may very well be.  I personally don't know how you can judge a guy like Kluever who has been a rookie in Trucks and Busch in consecutive years.  I'm not arguing Todd doesn't need any additional seasoning here, I'm saying that given time he could be as smart a driver as anyone on the track and produce some solid results.  Not everyone matures overnight and if it takes a guy a little longer, thats ok.  I'm giving Todd Kluever that chance.

Taking ESPN To Task

As most of you know, I'm as ready as anyone for ESPN to take over the last portion of the NASCAR TV deal starting next year.  A few things keep popping up and troubling me, though.  ESPN.com seemingly hasn't got the memo that NASCAR is on its way back.  Frankly, I'm disappointed at the lack of updates for the NASCAR section compared to the rest of the top sports on the site.

Exhibit A:

http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/news/story?seriesId=2&id=2551732

Scroll down to the bottom of this article.  Specifically, look at the Autos Headlines part to the left of Top Headlines and Most Sent Stories.  Anything about that seem out of place?  Namely, that they haven't been changed since January.  Anywhere else, they're updated to the hour.

Exhibit B:

http://sports.espn.go.com/chat/sportsnation/listranker?id=495

SportsNation Power Rankings.  They're a little better, this page was last updated in May.  But again, go look at the SportsNation questions for the NFL, MLB, or NBA.  They're all fresh as a daisy.

Not to say that everything is lacking, though.  The front page looks good and is updated regularly.  I'm a fan of Rusty's columns and the Jayski tie-in is somewhat current.  I just hope that it gets a fresh makeover by the time 2007 rolls around.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Observations | Watkins Glen

A day late but I'm not a dollar short, Watkins Glen featured two great races that showed why its the better of the two NASCAR road races.

- The arguement that always comes up when Boris Said has run his last race of the year is "why doesn't he have a full-time ride?"  The reason is his age and the way he races.  Boris doesn't practice give-and-take, as evidenced by his wrecking of Ryan Newman on the last lap and subsequent penalty afterward.  Don't get me wrong I like Boris, but I'd hate to see him struggle in a 36-race season.

- RCR continues to shine and now its not so out of the question for either Burton or Harvick to win the championship.  My Spidey Sense at the moment tells me that Kenseth and Burton will be fighting for the Championship.

- I wish the races at the Glen were longer.  90 laps isn't enough action.  Then again, all those years before there weren't 10 cautions either. 

- Oh what could have been for Robby Gordon... but who knows, next year he could be doing a lot better for himself.

- How times change: last year I would have been livid if Kurt Busch had suffered a penalty like that.  This year?  I laughed.  That that, bitch.

- The Lucky Dog rule officially needs tweaking.  When Kyle Busch goes BEHIND THE WALL to fix something, goes 5 laps down, makes them all up and gets a top 10?  You have got to be kidding me.  Here is my proposal: no Lucky Dog when there is already 25 cars on the lead lap.  It alleviates the congestion on pit road and if a guy makes it up the hard way, then thats fine.

Linkage:

AMD at The Glen results

Zippo 200 results

Toyota Tundra 200 results

Yahoo! Sports Observations



- The last item I leave you with is a reminder to answer the trivia questions correctly to win the DVD set NASCAR: DRIVEN TO WIN.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

NASCAR DVD Giveaway




The guys at A&E have chosen yours truly to help promotethe DVD set NASCAR: DRIVEN TO WIN.  The DVDfeatures an inside look at young NASCAR stars and their rise from the localdirt track to the world famous stage, finding out what it takes, and what itcosts, to compete at the highest level of racing.  Featured drivers of this set include KaseyKahne, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Erin Crocker, Rusty & StevenWallace, Martin Truex Jr., Brian Vickers, Casey Mears, Jamie McMurray, DavidStremme & Reed Sorenson, Richard Childress Racing: Clint Bowyer &Brandon Miller, and Reggie White's Dream: Chris Bristol & AricArimola.  Beyond the profiles of NASCARrising stars, NASCAR: DRIVEN TO WIN also features exclusive extras that NASCAR fanaticswon’t find anywhere else, including “All-Access: NASCAR Behind-the-Scenes,” and“Hot Laps - Driver Q and A.”

Here is the best part everyone:  I’m giving away 3 sets of this DVD to thereaders of The Catfish Show.  The DVD isset to drop on August 29 but you can win a copy here before you can buyit.  To win, we’re going to play a littletrivia game.  Answer these threequestions correctly in either comments of this post or emailed to me(thecatfishshow@gmail.com) by August 21 and I’ll randomly draw three people to win.

The questions are:

1. What number did Greg Biffle use in his first race in theCraftsman Truck Series for Roush Racing? 

2. How many NASCAR Championships (Nextel Cup, Busch, Truck)have Richard Childress Racing won? 

3. What team did Kasey Kahne make his NASCAR debut with?

Good luck everyone, and if you don't win, you can order the DVD from the ShopAETV.com website.


Briefly...

The winners from the weekend:

Zippo 200 : Kurt Busch
Toyota Tundra 200 : Johnny Benson
AMD at The Glen: Kevin Harvick
Meijer Indy 300: Sam Hornish


Stay tuned later today for a really cool announcement.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday Notes

Welcome one and all, the YouTube video of the week is another movie trailer, this time for a movie I've heard a lot of hype about and I'm looking forward to seeing if it delivers.  The movie, you ask?  Snakes On A Plane.

Now time for the Friday tradition:

- Who says you can’t go home again?  Todd Parrott sure doesn’t.  Yet again he will return to Robert YatesRacing.  Jesus, this is about as bad asTommy Lee and Pam Anderson used to be. Greg Steadman will fill in (capably) as Crew Chief on the 43. 

- Updating the status of the #19, Bill Elliott won’t be ableto use his champions provisional to qualify for the race this weekend.  It shouldn’t hurt him though; he’ll more thanlikely put the car in the field on time and in a decent spot.  It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if we don’tsee Jeremy in the 19 again. 

-  Time for myobligatory Roush updates: 

Poor Mark may be back in the 6 car again next season.  I really hope it isn’t true not because Iwant him to leave, but he has already been called back to duty when he wantedto leave Nextel Cup full-time.  As muchas I still believe in Todd Kluever he could really use another year in Buschwith another slate of 7 races.  He stillhas 6 more this season however and plans, as they say, could change.

The National Guard is on their way out of the 16 car andsupposedly they’re headed to the 25 next year with Casey Mears.  In will be AmeriQuest according to Jayski andmore importantly, common sense.  At leastI hope so.  36 races with the Subway carwill have Greg leading 11,000 miles with 23 DNF’s.

- Dale Jr. fired Mark McFarland from the 88 Navy Busch carin a move made to keep the Navy from abandoning ship.  Looks like Martin Truex will get to add tohis career win total this year after all. 

- The Marines have announced they’re done with the 25 teamat the end of the season.  I can’t sayI’m shocked or surprised with that.  Forall the hype that was given to this team with Ashton Lewis taking over, they’vereally fell flat on their face.  It alsoleaves the door open for the Marine sponsorship to head somewhere else,possibly Yates or Roush. 

- I was a bit disappointed when I read that ESPN plans onusing the same crew to call the Busch and Cup races next year.  Well, so much for giving the Busch Series itsown identity.  Ah, there are things Iwould love to see happen in this sport I feel could really help. 

- The Trucks are in Nashvillethis week for a race at an odd start time. I’m going out on a limb and saying Erik Darnell gets first career win ata track he knows quite well. 

----- Watkins Glen Preview -----
Now in bigger font! 

The Busch races at road courses are like all-starevents.  This one is no different, as theringers and some international drivers pepper the entry list.  Among the entries are defending race winnerRyan Newman in the #02 as Kurt Busch will be in the #39, Robby Gordon willenter in the #55, Max Papis in the #36, Ron Fellows in the #33, Boris Said inthe #9, and Scott Pruett in the #1. 

WINNER – Denny Hamlin 

I can’t help but keep picking the guy.  He hasn’t disappointed me yet and should be ashoe-in for a top 5. 

Sears Point showed that theusual suspects usually win races at road courses.  Watkins Glen is my favorite road course onthe schedule because of the speed, light blue walls, the first turn, and thechicane.  I always look forward to theraces here more than SearsPoint or more recently, Mexico City. Sunday we’ll see the usual stuff, except more exciting than itsounds.  Pit strategy is always a joy towatch and seeing which drivers make the mental mistakes and end up costingthemselves by running off course into the sand traps.  Mix in the Chase prospects of several driversand you’d be missing out by missing this race. The entry list is here

WINNER – Robby Gordon 

If you don’t think Robby will be trying his hardest to getthe win here, you’re kidding yourselves. I’m straying from the duo of Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon and hoping itsRobby. 

TOP RINGER – Boris Said 

Same as Sears Point, except this teamnow has three races and two top 10’s under its belt.  Scott Pruett typically fares better thanBoris here but I like Boris more. 

DARKHORSE – Greg Biffle 

Biffle?  Yes,Biffle.  As Newsom was so kind to pointout, he hasn’t finished better than 30th at The Glen.  I expect that to change because it has to ifhe has designs of making the Chase.

Here is your channel surfing schedule:

Today
Nextel Cup qualifying at 3:00 on SPEED

Saturday
Busch: Zippo 200 at 2:00 on NBC
Truck: ToyotaTundra 200 at 5:00 on SPEED

Sunday
Nextel Cup: AMD at The Glen at 1:00 on NBC

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Chase Breakdown Version 3.0

Just to show how much I know, here is what I predicted withversions 1.0 and 2.0.

I don't think I've done too badly.  I said barring a catastrophe Dale Jr., Stewart, and Kahne would be in.  Unfortunately for them, catastrophes have happened.  I was dead wrong with my assertion that Kyle Busch would be in trouble.  Still 5 races to go though.  My biggest mistake was admitting Kasey Kahne would be a lock. 

With 5 races left until New Hampshire in September, here are thedrivers left with a chance to qualify:

Top 10

1. Jimmie Johnson 3124

2. Matt Kenseth -107

3. Jeff Burton -375

4. Kevin Harvick -391

5. Kyle Busch -391

6. Mark Martin -412

7. Denny Hamlin -476

8. Jeff Gordon -497

9. Tony Stewart -505

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -512 

The next 4 (Points behind 10th place 2612 in parenthesis) 

11. Kasey Kahne -549 (-37)

12. Greg Biffle -627 (-115)

13. Kurt Busch -686 (-174)

14. Carl Edwards -744 (-232)

So, who will be in the Chase?

Honestly, pretty much the top 10 as of right now.  Of the guys in the top, none of them arelooking very weak.  Watkins Glen couldpotentially shuffle things a bit, as Dale Jr. could be in trouble but who wouldleapfrog?  Kahne and Biffle are nothingto write home about on road courses, and numbers 8 and 9 will be fighting forthe win.  Kahne and Biffle can only hopesomething happens to the bottom four at the tracks they excel at, those being Michigan and California.  It would be a Herculean effort for Busch or Edwards to somehow sneak into 10 th place.  This year is shaping up to be the mostdiverse yet in the Chase with 5 teams represented.  

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Why The Mark Martin Bashing?

I am dumbfounded by people who bash a great man and great driver, Mark Martin.  What the hell do you have against him?  A guy that races clean, races fair, has more respect in the garage than ANYONE but that isn't good enough?  I don't understand it at all. 

Anyway, Jeremy Mayfield's mouth (and poor driving) has earned him a seat on the sidelines this week as Bill Elliott will take the wheel of the #19 this week at Watkins Glen.  I've never thought Mayfield was an elite driver but to his credit, he put that car in the Chase the last two years and won a race each season.  Pretty consistent.  Then at the start of this season he gets more or less shit on by Ray Evernham as the big reorganization put his team with Kasey Kahne and the 9 car and in return, Mayfield has spent the season working with a team that was Bill Elliott's R&D team with the #91.  I think that Mayfield will benefit from moving to Toyota, which it now looks like will be the case as he is expected to sign with Bill Davis.  It bears watching to see if Mayfield and Elliott Sadler will jump to their respective new teams before the end of the year.  I would love to see something worked out that ends with Sadler in the 19, Mayfield in the 23, and Ward Burton in the 38.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Observations | Indy

- I'm going to be a homer and proud Southerner when I say this:  The Allstate 400 is not bigger than the Daytona 500 in NASCAR.  Its not.  There is still no bigger race than the first one of year in Florida.  Yes, its Indy.  Yes, I appreciate the track because of what its meant for racing in this country.  I just don't agree with the line of logic that places it even with or better than the Daytona 500.  The Daytona 500 is the premier race in NASCAR.  This fawning over the Brickyard has got to subside.

- I thought for sure that Jeff Burton was going to win the race yesterday.  I think a bigger question is, why did he fall completely out of the top 10?

- I give credit to the group at RCR for the turn around the team has made after some dismal years in Nextel Cup.  Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick rank 3rd and 4th in the point standings, now both seem to be pretty well locked into the Chase.  Coming Wednesday, I'll have Chase Breakdown Version 3.0.

- I can't be the only person who laughed when Bill Weber said "a disappointing run for Dale Jarrett today."  What run for DJ isn't disappointing anymore?  The 88 team is at the point now where Dale could put Jason Jarrett in the car and I don't think anyone would notice.  That kind of happens when the team and the driver aren't trying.

- I still have hope for Biff's chances to make the Chase.  I didn't give up on Matt last year and I'm not giving up until the checkered flag waves at Richmond.  It would help if people would stop crashing him at the end of the race though.

- Speaking of Kevin Harvick, I think we may have to institute a mercy rule in the Busch Series.

- From the Where The Hell Have You Been Department, Dennis Setzer finally showed some signs of life in the Truck Series with a runner-up finish at IRP Friday night.  It was his first top 5 of the year.  Maybe its just me, but switching to #85 was a bad move.

- I firmly stand by what I said last night about Jimmie Johnson.  Walnutz, I have to be straight: I'm not a big Mikey fan, but there are teams (like Hendrick) I despise.  Lwjcybil8, as far as Jimmie "deserving" a Championship, he needs to take a seat behind Mark Martin and Ricky Rudd.

Jimmie will blow it in the playoffs, guarenteed. 

Linkage:

BM Allstate 400 recap

Allstate 400 results

Kroger 200 results

Power Stroke Diesel 200 results

Christiano da Matta update


Sunday, August 6, 2006

Jimmie Wins At Indy... Yawn

Is there any more anti-climatic moment in NASCAR right now than watching Jimmie Johnson win?  I really can't think of one.  This race reminded me of the All-Star race, when Jimmie takes the lead late and 95% of the crowd just sits there disgusted.  This is nearly as bad as mid and late 90's Jeff Gordon.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Umm... This Could Be Big

From Yahoo! Sports' Bob Margolis:

Martin to buy Yates?

The hottest story being whispered around the Nextel Cup garage is that Robert Yates is about to sell out to Mark Martin. Yes, that Mark Martin.

Sounds preposterous?

Maybe not.

The whole idea makes sense, since Yates has got to be pretty muchfed up with the whole NASCAR deal at this point, considering the shakygoings on over the past several months by people within hisorganization that he felt he could trust. And that includes hissoon-to-be former drivers.

Watching long-time driver Dale Jarrett pilfer the UPS sponsorship from Yates and take it with him to Michael Waltrip's new Toyota team as well as Elliott Sadler's reported attempt to take sponsor M&Ms with him to Evernham Motorsports are just some of the shenanigans.

If you know the kind of man Robert Yates is, all this has to make himstart to question his reasons for staying in the sport. After all, hecould turn his back on the whole circus and spend time on a boat in theCaribbean.

Selling the Yates organization to Martin makes a lot of sense.

Martin could bring the 17 car with Matt Kenseth,which he already owns, into his new organization and let his old friendJack Roush go back to four teams, which is the number that NASCAR seemsto be the most comfortable with one owner having.

(There had been rumors in the past few weeks of one of Roush's teams – perhaps the 99 team – going to Yates.)

Roush and Yates' organizations have had a close workingrelationship for some time now building engines, and more recentlyRoush's group has been working with Yates to help the latter's teamsbuild better race cars.

It also makes sense if the planned press conference Friday morning at Indy to announce the signing of Stephen Leicht to a Cup deal was cancelled to wait until after the Martin deal was completed.

That cancellation was explained away by Doug Yates as necessaryto "cross the t's and dot the i's on their new driver's contract."

It also might explain why Jack Roush was one of the first people to talk to one of NASCAR's newest hot properties, David Gilliland, at Martinsville two weeks ago, right after Gilliland crashed out of the race early.

Roush says he talked to Gilliland just to give him a pep talkand tell him to keep his head up and that he (Gilliland) was on his(Roush's) radar screen.

Could he have told Gilliland not to sign a pending deal withone of the other teams that has been courting his services, likeRichard Childress Racing, and stick with whatever offer Yates gave him,since things would be changing at Yates and changing for the better?

Representatives from all parties involved aren't talking – as if they would admit anything was going on anyway.

Time will tell.


Excuse while I freak out.  If that is true, if it happens, my head explode off my body.  I'm not even kidding.  Robert Yates selling to Mark Martin would absolutely be the biggest story in years.  What gets me though is that Mark has repeatedly expressed his desire NOT to be a team owner so I'm a bit baffled by this.  Then again, Mark could be purchasing a majority share and be the face of the team while most of the team management is still handled by Doug Yates.  This would be perfect for Roush Racing to get around the four-team rule and it would help Yates having Roush people around.  I still can't wrap my head around this right now, but I'm extremely cautious to accept this as fact.  As Bob said, time will tell.

Jeff Burton continues to show that he is indeed a threat, winning an unprecedented third pole of 2006 today at the Brickyard.  Perhaps just as impressive was teammate Clint Bowyer putting the 07 outside the front row. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm getting back to the Busch race.  Enjoy the Allstate 400 tomorrow, and remember it will be a Mikey-less race.  Rejoice everyone, rejoice.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Will Farrell, I'm Disappointed In You

I'm disappointed with Talladega Nights.  Maybe I was expecting too much.  Most of the reviews I've read of the movie have named it mediocre, and that is the conclusion I came to as well.  I had my hopes too high, I suppose.  This was supposed to Anchorman set to racing.  It turned out to be nothing like Anchorman.  Gone was the subtle humor that got Anchorman over with the over-the-top stunts.  Talladega Nights was a bad mix of the stunts with contributing characters that shined over Ricky Bobby.  In this movie, Ricky Bobby seemed to a bumbling idiot, almost two dimensional next to almost the entire rest of the cast.  Will Farrell's heart didn't look like it was in the making of this movie.  Nearly everyone else played a great role in the movie.  Some scenes produced the belly laughs of most of his movies.  The knife in the leg, the prolonged Grace at the dinner table, the Cougar in the car, but too often it just seemed that the producers and directors tried too hard to make this movie a comedy and in turn it just came off bad.  So everyone going to see it, go ahead.  I don't think its worth the price of admission.  You will laugh in this movie, but you won't feel better after watching it.

The Triumphant Return Of Friday Notes


Well, the movie is here!

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

In theaters everywhere!  But I'm sure you already knew that!

Anywho, we have racing again this weekend:

- I literally just saw this... and its horrifying.  Christiano da Matta is in critical condition after a practice crash in which he collided with a deer that wandered onto the course at Road America and then da Matta drove into a tire barrier.  This defies explanation.  Just a freak accident, hopefully he'll recover.  As of right now, I don't know... its just terrible.

- Moving to nicer things... Petty Enterprises benefits from the closing of Competitive Edge and adding Marathon to the sponsorship package.  Umm... when did that car run this year?  That said, anything that gives the 43 and 45 teams some extra money to use is fine by me.

- Am I the only one who finds Sarah Fisher's comback to be kinda funny?  Especially since she is returning to the team she drove for previously?  Lastly, if anyone thinks she can hold a candle to Danica I'll laugh in your face.

- O'Reilly Raceway Park is the new name for IRP.  Wonderful.  It'll still be IRP for a while, it only took 3 years to be able to use Lowes and Charlotte interchangably but IRP sounds much better than ORP.  The Busch and Truck guys will make their way there for more entertaining racing than what stock cars at the big track will do.

- FBR takes another stab at replacement drivers this weekend, but actually picks guys that have, you know, talent.  Mike Skinner wheels the 12 and Ted Musgrave will be in the 14.

----- Indy Preview -----

The Brickyard.  Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Just saying those words adds importance to an event.  How many other tracks can claim to host the IRL, F1, and NASCAR in the same calendar year?  That said, the racing at the Allstate 400 is more about prestige and track position than anything else.  Winning at Indy is a big deal.  It solidifies careers and has become the second-most important race in the NASCAR season.  I expect to see much of the same result this year that we saw last year with Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne fighting for the win.  So who takes the win?

WINNER - Tony Stewart

Don't doubt Smoke.  He has had two weeks of people banging on him and questioning him, and Tony responds better than anyone else in recent memory by having the last laugh.  As much as NASCAR and Allstate want their showcase driver to win, Tony will break up the party.

DARKHORSE - Robby Gordon

Eh, why not?  Just an easy way to mention he'll have Johns Manville on the car this week and I like to give former open wheel guys the homefield advantage at their track.

Today its a one day show at IRP for the Trucks as Cup qualifying is super special and starts at 10 AM Saturday.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

What The Hell Is Left Of Robert Yates Racing?

I'd love to know.

Out since May:

Eddie D'Hondt (General Manager)

Dale Jarrett (Driver, #88)

UPS (Sponsor, #88)

Elliott Sadler (Driver, #38)

Slugger Labbe (Crew Chief, #88)

Tommy Baldwin (Crew Chief, #38)

Plus, their own cars are apparently crap and they went to Roush for help for that.  This could be the biggest mid-season reshuffling I've ever seen in my life.  Here is the kicker, by the way: they're looking to add another team!  So, with both current teams resembling a toilet in need of flushing and adding Busch part-timers Stephen Leicht and David Gilliland, no one stopped and said "wait a minute, shouldn't we put a veteran in one or two of these cars before starting another team?"  Being the good blogger I am, I managed to find a picture of the offices at RYR.  This is a world exlusive:

ready?




Yep, thats what it looks like over there.  Can the team rebuild?  I think time will tell.  It aint looking too good right now.