Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tony Stewart Reels In Another Win In Bass Pro Shops 500

Tony Stewart dominated the Bass Pro Shops 500 as the Chase standings have sorted themselves out a bit with Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson battling for the top spot, they way they have nearly all year.



Tony's sending a message that he won't suffer the same fate in 2007 as he did this year missing the Chase.  A second win in the last five races for him.  Hey, who says guys are left out of all the media attention for not being in the Chase?

As far as the Chase goes, here are the standings:

GREEN is a gain, BLACK is no change, RED is a loss; positions gained (+/-)

1. Kenseth 6008 (--)
2. Johnson -26 (+1)
3. Hamlin -65 (+1)
4. Earnhardt Jr.-84 (+2)

5. Burton -84 (--)
6. Harvick-121 (-4)
7. Gordon -146 (+2)
8. Martin -201 (-1)
9. Kahne -210 (-1)
10. Busch -249 (--)


I have this split three ways: first, the guys that are done.  They are Busch in the Mayfield spot (I bet that SI writer predicting he would win the Chase is feeling awfully silly right now), Kahne, and Martin.  Thanks for playing and good luck next year.  For Mark, he said it himself: winning a title was never in the cards for him and it breaks my heart.  The next group are the ones that need flawless runs and help the next 2 weeks.  They are Gordon, Harvick, Burton, Dale Jr., and Hamlin.  With three races left it will be very, very hard to gain points given that in the previous years, the guys that are at the top stay at the top.  If they want to retain any chance of title hopes they need to win at Texas or Phoenix and record a top 3 at the other.  Then we have the guys at the top.  Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson have been the class of the field the 2006 season and it is fitting that they run 1-2 late in the year.  Johnson has been rolling in the last several weeks but with a 4th place finish at Atlanta Kenseth and the Killer Bees may have stumbled on something to fix their intermediate program.  I was fully expecting a 15th place finish but pulling out a 4th that was almost 3rd shows that they are very resiliant and won't give up without one hell of a fight.  I can't wait for these next three Sundays.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Notes

This hilarious clip is of Cal RB Marshawn Lynch after the Cal/Washington game Saturday.  He drives around on the stretcher cart for the last drive of the game!  I have never seen this before.  Driving the cart around on the field after the game.  I love it.

Now time for the Friday tradition:


- This week has been particularly eventful with the 2007plans and the merry-go-round that a lot of drivers are on.  I think it makes sense for Atlanta after years of this race being theseason finale featuring a lot of rookies attempting the race and a lot of oneoff rides.  Who can forget the 1992 racehere? 

- I think the Hendrick team is the only making a damn bit ofsense with the Busch cars this weekend. Kyle Busch is skipping the race at Memphisand in his place will be Justin Labonte. The other teams will use the stand ins to practice and qualify.  For some odd reason, Kasey Kahne is in theBusch race this weekend.

- Also in the Busch race this weekend are Timothy Peters inthe RCR #29, Peyton Sellers in the #31, Cale Gale in the KHI #33, the debut ofJuan Pablo Montoya in the #42, the return of Jason Keller to competition in the#66, and the debut of Joey Miller in the #99.

- Ryan Smithson has a great article up today about DavidRagan and how unfair NASCAR is for not letting him drive at Atlanta this weekend.  I was going to say something about it but hedoes a great job with it.

- The IROC finale is this weekend as well at Atlanta.  Tony Stewart leads the points so he’ll bestarting in the back.  Within strikingdistance are Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Max Papis, and Martin Truex Jr.  Tony will probably win the title but you knowme, I’ll be hoping for Kenseth.

- You know I really hate unsubstantiated rumors thatoriginate in the US.  When a foreign website does them aboutNASCAR, I really hate it.  MichaelSchumacher is not going to compete in the road races next season.

- Mark Martin should be driving a Ford next year in theTruck Series in a limited schedule. Where have I heard that before?  Iwould assume it’s the 6 Truck.  He couldalso run in the Busch Series for a different Chevy team.  It should be interesting to see who thatcould be.

----- AtlantaPreview -----


The Busch and Truck races should be interesting thisweekend.  On the Busch side, we a shorttrack battle at Memphiswith a lot of young guys in the field. In the Truck Series, Todd Bodine looks to sweep Atlanta in 2006 but with Mark Martin in thefield that is far from a lock.

WINNERS – Clint Bowyer in Busch, Mark Martin in Trucks
 

Weather will on everyone’s mind this weekend with rainlikely to cancel qualifying today.  Ofcourse, back in the spring the race was delayed to Monday and won by KaseyKahne.  I think you have to look at himas the prohibitive favorite at this race considering his wins on every other1.5 mile track this year.  It certainlylooks like he has the right combination figured out with the 9 team to attackthese tracks.  If not Kahne, I’d look toguys that traditionally run well here like Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, DaleEarnhardt Jr., and Tony Stewart.  Theracing itself is awesome at Atlanta.  Guys run anywhere they dang well please fromthe white line (Stewart, Martin) to the middle (Johnson) and the outside (DaleJr., Kahne).  This race is also importantbecause it shapes next week at Texas and to alesser extent Homestead.  Atlantato me is a great Chase track because the best car will usually win.

WINNER – Kasey Kahne

Call me Captain Obvious. I’m picking Kahne because there is too much evidence not to. 

DARKHORSE – Bobby Labonte

I’m pretty much going to guarantee a top 10 finish here forBobby.  It’s funny, since Todd Parrottleft the team they’ve run better.


Here is your channel surfing schedule:

Today
Nextel Cup qualifying at 7:00 on SPEED
A.J. Allmendinger looks to qualify in the #84 for Red BullRacing while Bill Elliott whores himself out to the #37 team.  I feel bad that he isn’t in a better carconsidering Atlantais his home track.

Saturday
Busch: Sam’s Town 250 at 2:00 on NBC
Truck: EasyCare 200 at 4:30 on SPEED

Sunday
Nextel Cup: Bass Pro Shops 500 at 2:30 on NBC

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Meant To Do This Earlier: North Wilkesboro

I'm kind of shocked and sad that no one has made any mention of North Wikesboro this year, the 10-year anniversary of the last race at North Wilkesboro.  Save The Speedway is still working hard to bring racing - of any sort back to the track.  I commend them for it.  They got a lot of good press last year with their efforts and they actually look to have made some headway.  This year?  Nothing.  My memories of the track have faded and it sucks that I don't remember what the racing was like there.  Once or twice a year ESPN Classic will be nice enough to show a race, usually from 1989 or so.  I would love to watch the final race there even though I'm sure it would make me well up.  That had to have been a sad day.  I want to make a road trip and visit the track so I can say I've been there.  I'll be sure to bring a camera.  The before and after when the place is running again will be cool to see.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Early Week News Items

Some things to talk about for a bit:

A.J. Allmendinger coming to Nextel Cup in 2007 - Another open-wheeler joins NASCAR for 2007, but with a twist - he is American!  A.J. obviously has talent and he should make a good addition to the Red Bull team.  He'll pilot the #84 and he will also be running this week in Atlanta in the #83 as well as the rest of the scheduled races this season. 

Dodge, Chevy playing with their cars... again - First, Dodge is changing their model for both the present model Charger and for the Car Of Tomorrow, introducing the Avenger.  Maybe it's just me, but a redesigned Charger would be better than switching nameplates yet again.  The model that is getting more attention is the Chevy announcement that the Monte Carlo will be phased out with the Impala SS.  The Impala will be Chevy's Car Of Tomorrow brand of choice.  Maybe there are secrets in this sport, because both announcements seem to have caught everyone in the media off guard.  I suppose Ford is sticking with the Fusion and Toyota will roll with the Camry for both models.

Busch Series models to change as well - By the 2010 season the Busch Series (if it is even still called the Busch Series by then) will have new models and supposedly the names being tossed around are the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Toyota Solara.  I have been a proponent of this for a while, having the Busch cars more different from the Cup cars.  You know, the way it used to be.  I see this as a very positive step to giving the Busch Series a separate identity again.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Jimmie Johnson Takes Subway 500 Victory; Matt Kenseth Takes Points Lead



Jimmie Johnson held off Denny Hamlin in the final laps of the Subway 500 at Martinsville as the Chase for the Cup is possibly the closest it has ever been at this point in the year, as Jeff Burton suffered engine trouble and finished 42nd.


Martinsville certainly had its share of twists and turns today, and that was just from the drivers spinning out.  The win by Johnson today coupled with the engine problems for the 31 team has NASCAR's dream come true as there is no longer a favorite for the title with the drivers so close together.

Most of the Chase drivers ran in the top 10 for the majority of the day yet only 5 finished there.  Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were among the top 10 until separate spins took each of them out of contention.  Dale Jr.'s came while battling with Kasey Kahne.  Kahne would go on to finish 7th.  Impressive runs today for Hamlin, who nearly won despite running on 7 cylinders and Bobby Labonte, who captured a second-straight top 10 finish with a 3rd place run.  Mark Martin also had a less than stellar effort, finishing 24th with radiator trouble.

6 down, 4 to go Chase standings:
GREEN is a gain, BLACK is no change, RED is a loss; positions gained (+/-)

1. Kenseth 5848 (+1)
2. Harvick -36 (+1)
3. Johnson -41 (+4)
4. Hamlin -47 (+2)

5. Burton -48 (-4)
6. Earnhardt Jr. -94 (-1)
7. Martin -96 (-3)
8. Kahne -99 (--)
9. Gordon -141 (+1)
10. Busch -171 (-1)

Man... these last four races will be tense.

Complete results from the Subway 500.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Bit Of A Rant...

Tell me something, why is baseball still considered a major sport?  I couldn't be less interested in the sport anymore.  Gone are the days of games being exciting to watch and the days of games being destination television.  I'm not alone either.  TV ratings are horrendous for every round of the playoffs.  The talent isn't there.  Need further proof?  TBS is going to be the big cable partner of MLB.  Yeah, TBS.  In between reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond and Friends, you can now watch MLB baseball that isn't always the Braves.  ESPN finally recognized that MLB is a ship that's taking on water.  The execs there realize that NASCAR isn't on the way down the way baseball is.  There is more money in racing than there is in baseball right now.  ESPN doesn't make these decisions lightly and they decided that the NASCAR Chase is bigger than the MLB.  I can't say I disagree.

Friday Notes

My YouTube movie trailer is for Saw 3.  In my opinion, a much better - and more twisted movie than The Grudge is.

Now time for the Friday tradition:
 

- David Ragan’s running 4 races in the 06 to close out thisseason.  Good move and I can’t say I’mthat surprised.  This past week he wasrunning pretty well in the Busch race until one of the 674538 wrecks ended up taking himout.  The races will be Martinsville,Atlanta, Texas,and Homestead.

- Well this was originally going to be about theannouncement for Dale Jarrett’s new number next year, but late browsing ofJayski indicates that 44 is the winner. So, umm, Dale Jarrett’s number next year for the UPS Camry will be 44.

- You’d have thought Jesus himself were coming back if youask some people about Ward Burton driving the 4 at Martinsville thisSunday.  My thought is eh.  Ward’s a nice guy and used to be a gooddriver but I doubt he’ll do anything with anyone anymore.

- Kevin Harvick could skip the Busch race in Memphis next week to focus on the Cup race in Atlanta.  I don’t blame him if he decides to doit.  A little side note here: I havealways someone who has locked up a title to mail it in at the end of theyear.  Hell if it was me, I’d run a lapor two, pull it in, and sip on champagne the rest of the race.  And I’d have a sexy party.

- Sam Hornish will supposedly run the Phoenix Busch racenext month.  Now that should be prettydamn interesting to see.  Unfortunatelysince he drives for Penske, I won’t really be cheering for him.

- Steven Wallace will be taking over the 64 for the rest ofthe year in Busch.  If you didn’t seethis coming, you might be as na├»ve as Jamie McMurray.  Speaking of Steve, why aren’t the conspiracytheorists throwing a fit about him winning the ARCA race at Iowa, the track designed by his dad?  You’re letting me down guys!

- Speaking of ARCA the 2006 season came to a close this pastweek after Iowa.  Frank Kimmel won the championship once again(and once again, it wasn’t close).  BobbyGerhart and Billy Venturini went second and third.  ARCA seems to me that it has fallen off fromit’s past importance.  The attention ofJuan Montoya certainly helped the last few weeks, though.
 

----- MartinsvillePreview -----


I feel like I’ve neglected the Truck Series for severalmonths… and the truth is, I have.  It ishard to follow a series when you can’t watch their races.  Now I don’t even listen to the radiobroadcasts.  All I do now is wait for theresults to be posted and then check to see if Martin won and where the Roushdrivers finish.  I guess I’ve missed afew things, like when did Todd Bodine stop dominating?  When did Bill Davis’ team get good?  This week in Martinsville the Trucks go for 200 laps in afall shootout where the winning team will make just one pit stop and the timingof that pit stoop will most likely determine where they finish.  In this one the old guys will dominate withone exception: Denny Hamlin steps into the 46 Chevy to give Mark Martin a runfor his money.

WINNER – Mark Martin

Any race at Martinsvilleis worth the price of admission.  Since2004 this race has been absolutely pivotal for a champion to establish hisdominance while some of his foes falter and see their championship hopes endedat the tough southern Virginiatrack.  As yall probably know if you’vebeen reading TCS long enough, Martinsvilleis the home track of yours truly, having grown up just across the border just20 minutes away.  The track is the oldestin NASCAR but the number of drivers who have the place figured out is still asmall percentage.  Drivers must bedisciplined enough not to overdrive the corners here or it will bite them bigtime.  You hear the announcers talk aboutgetting a “rhythm” and here it is essential to making it 500 laps.  Your winner Sunday will know this verywell.  Track position here makes thedifference but a good car can overcome a setback.  Man, I can’t wait for this Sunday.

WINNER – Kyle Busch

Hendrick driver? Check.  Not everyone’s pick JeffGordon and not Jimmie Johnson.  Just afeeling about Rowdy here this week.  Hefinished fifth here in the spring and seems to take to difficult tracks well.

DARKHORSE – Sterling Marlin

Don’t look now, but MB2 is showing some signs of life.  Sterlinghad a great run last week and was decent in the spring.


Here is your channel surfing schedule:

Today
Nextel Cup qualifying at 3:30 on SPEED

Saturday
Truck: Kroger 200 at 1:00 on SPEED

Sunday
Nextel Cup: Subway 500 at 12:30 on NBC

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The 25 Best Busch Series Drivers of All-Time

As promised, here are my top 25 Busch Series drivers ofall-time.  For all-time I’m referring tothe Busch Series in its present form, in other words, since 1982.  I must say, it was pretty hard cutting downto 25.  Even more difficult was trying torank them.  Whenever I got into adeadlock, I thought about who would finish higher in a race between them intheir best car.  My very subjectiverankings:

1. Mark Martin (1982-present)
219 starts
47 wins
29 poles
Leads Busch Series all-time wins and poles

 
Really, who else could it be here?  Mark is awesome.  Mark has done so much in the series andperhaps one of the most overlooked items is that he only ran the full scheduleonce.  Imagine what his numbers wouldhave been if he ran more than 15 races a year during the 1990s.

 2. Jack Ingram (1982-1991)
Two-time champion (1982, 1985)
274 starts
31 wins
122 top fives
Holds record for most top 10 points finishes in a row

3. Sam Ard (1982-1984)
Two-time champion (1983, 1984)
22 wins
25 poles
Holds record for most wins in one season with 10

You know, I had to show these guys respect.  Even though I personally never saw them racein the series I admire what they did as the first two champions and the twodominating drivers. 

4. Kevin Harvick (1999-present)
Two-time champion (2001, 2006)
24 wins
84 top fives
117 top 10s

Kevin’s going to move up this list as long as he runs in theseries.  Earlier in the year I had a fewposts that talked about who was better in Busch, Harvick or Biffle.  I think that question has been answered.

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1996-present)
Two-time champion (1998, 1999)
22 wins in less than 100 starts
45 top fives
11 poles

6. Dale Earnhardt (1982-1994)
21 wins
65 top fives
75 top 10s
Won first NASCAR Busch Series event at Daytona in 1982

 The son edges the father in this series.  Dale Jr. has an incredible record in theBusch Series and a lot of people don’t really give him credit for just howdominant he has been.  Big E was noslouch either.

7. Matt Kenseth (1996-present)
19 wins
89 top fives
131 top 10s
11 poles

One of the reasons I started following Matt was his rivalrywith Dale Earnhardt Jr.  I cheered loudlyfor the Lycos car in 1998 and then the DeWalt car in 1999.  I feel lucky having been a fan of his fornearly a decade.

8. Jeff Burton (1988-present)
22 wins
71 top fives
118 top 10s
11 poles

9. Greg Biffle (1996-present)
2002 series champion
18 wins
110 top 10s
Only driver win Truck Series and Busch Series championships

I would put Greg in the 60 Grainger car against nearly anyone.  That’s about it.  He always does well in the series and wasalso the first driver to complete the double duty in Cup and Busch in 2004.

10. Martin Truex Jr. (2001-present)
Two-time series champion (2004, 2005)
13 wins
55 top 10s

I should probably have Martin higher on the list… I’m sureI’ll revisit this at some point.  Youcan’t deny the kid’s talent.

11. Harry Gant (1982-1994)
21 wins
71 top 10s
14 poles
10 wins after the age of 50

Harry Gant is one of my favorite drivers from my early yearsof watching racing.  Interestingly, heran no more than 17 races in any season. Putting those numbers up is impressive for 128 starts.

12. Tommy Houston (1982-1996)
All-time leader in starts with 417
24 wins
198 top 10s
18 poles

13. Tommy Ellis (1982-1995)
1988 series champion
22 wins
70 top fives
28 poles

The Tommy and Tommy show here.  Admittedly I remember Tommy Houston more thanTommy Ellis so he gets the higher spot.

14. Larry Pearson (1982-1999)
Two-time series champion (1986, 1987)
15 wins
129 top 10s

15. Chuck Bown (1986-1999)
1990 series champion
11 wins
73 top 10s

16. Bobby Labonte (1982-present)
1991 series champion
Only Busch champion to win Nextel Cup championship
94 top 10s

17. David Green (1991-present)
1994 series champion
383 career starts
9 wins

To me, David and Bobby are linked together by the Slim Jimcar and the 44.  Both guys have a similardriving style that every aspiring racer should incorporate.  Two classy guys.

18. Randy Lajoie (1986-present)
Two-time series champion (1996, 1997)
15 wins
118 top 10s

Randy probablydeserves to be higher on the list… but Ithink he hurt himself by taking bad rides in the series to stick around.  It was painful seeing him a few years agobecause he just didn’t have it anymore. For me, that affects his ranking.

19. Jeff Green (1990-present)
2000 series champion
16 wins
23 poles

20. Joe Nemechek (1989-present)
1992 series champion
16 wins
18 poles

21. Todd Bodine (1986-present)
15 wins
89 top fives
156 top 10s

22. Darrell Waltrip (1982-present)
13 wins
40 top fives
53 top 10s

23. Kenny Wallace (1988-present)
375 starts
9 wins
156 top 10s

24. Jason Keller (1991-present)
All-time Busch Series money winner
400 starts
10 wins

25. Michael Waltrip (1988-present)
11 wins

So there it is.  Igave high value to championships and race wins because by and large, you haveto be good to win.  Consistency is alsoimportant.  I wonder how NASCAR’s listwill look.  Well probably not goodbecause it’s fan voting, so nevermind.

What do you think?

Rainy Tuesday

Well, I sat down here to try and bang something out today.  I just can't think of anything right now that won't be half-assed.  NASCAR.com is running a poll for the best drivers in Busch Series history and that was actually a topic I had something planned for.  So either tonight or tomorrow I'll have my own list of who I feel are the best drivers in series history.

Until then... this brightens my day.  Maybe it will brighten yours too.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Kasey Kahne Wins Bank Of America 500 For Sixth Win Of Season



Not as crazy as the Busch race Friday night, but the Bank of America 500 had its own twists and turns that made it interesting.


On the first lap Denny Hamlin was taken out of championship contention in a multi-car crash.  Actually, half the Chase field had trouble.  I felt sick after J.J. Yeley's dumbass move during the green flag pit stops.  I think Mark's head needs to be examined after his reaction to his very hard crash and the interview following.  It didn't look like him at all.  Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne traded the lead for the majority of the night as they clearly had the top 2 cars in the field, just like in May.  Also just like in May, Kahne passed Johnson and drove away for the win.

I was incredibly frustrated by the run of Matt Kenseth.  I'm really worried about the last 5 races and the possiblility that he won't re-take the points lead.  On the other hand, I can't say that I am mad that Jeff Burton has done so well.  I will always respect Jeff and I have no ill will towards him.  Besides, it would really be something if pulls it out. 

Unofficial results.

Chase standings at the halfway point:
GREEN is a gain, BLACK is no change, RED is a loss; positions gained (+/-)

1. Burton  5763  (--)
2.
Kenseth  -45  (--)
3.
Harvick  -89  (+1)
4. Martin
  -102  (-1)
5.
Earnhardt Jr. -106  (+1)
6. Hamlin -137 (-1)
7.
Johnson  -146  (+1)
8.
Kahne -160  (+1)
9.
Busch -195  (+1)
10. 
Gordon  -216  (-3)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday The 13th Strikes Again

Could tonight's Busch race have been any stranger?  I don't know how.  From the cautions to the red flags to taking 20 minutes to figure out the lineup with 10 to go to Mears and Edwards getting together... Dave Blaney wins?!  This race will be a part of Busch Series lore for years to come.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Friday Notes

The video to watch this week is the damage inflicted by Florida Freshman QB Tim Tebow.  Kid is something and he is a true freshman playing against a great defense in LSU.


Nowtime for the Friday tradition:

-The ESPN/ABC announcers were revealed yesterday and I’m impressed with thegroup they have assembled.  Runningthrough them one at a time:

BrentMusburger: I love Brent in his college football role and in his IRL role.  No reason not to expect his classy style to translate well to NASCAR.

Dr.Jerry Punch: Hallelujah!  If there were a NASCAR Commentator hall of fame Dr. Jerry Punch would be on the first ballot.  Great to have him back home.

RustyWallace: Rusty had a year in the IRL to learn how to do the announcing gig and thie seems to be the job tailor-made for him.  Looking for great things from him.

AndyPetree: It would appear that ESPN/ABC is trying to use Petree the same way FOX uses Larry Mac.  Not bad in theory; we'll see how he mixes with the other two in the booth.

AllenBestwick: Great move.

DaveBurns: Bad move.

JamieLittle: Sexy move.

MikeMassaro: Well-deserved move.  I'm not as big on him as some but the promotion is well-deserved after being the only NASCAR reporter working for ESPN for the last 5 years.

Also,a new show will be starting next February titled NASCAR Now.  The show will feature Brad Daugherty, FrankStoddard, Jeff Burton, and others.  I’manxious to see how it comes off, if it were an ESPN makeover of the old TotallyNASCAR show on Fox Sports Net I would be a happy camper.


-After not getting the 6 car next year, things keep piling on for ToddKluever.  Now he’ll only run the 06 inBusch part-time.  Call me crazy, but itseems counter-productive to have a guy stop racing in hopes he develops.  He might even go back to driving a Truck, buthonestly I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

-David Reutimann was officially confirmed to the 00 Cup car after Mikeyapparently begged, borrowed and/or dealed with Dominos and Burger King to lethim have it.  Good move as he is alreadyin the Toyotafamily and is one of the best drivers available.

- MB2(not Ginn until 2007) made another splash signing motorcycle legend RickyCarmichael to a development deal.  I haveno idea if his success will translate to NASCAR but hey, I’ll give him ashot.  Now I hope someone breaks out somemoney and get Travis Pastrana in a car.

-A few more Busch notes: Robert Yates will keep the 90 car in his shop withdriver Stephen Leicht and won’t run it out of the Rensi shop.  I’m still betting that David Gilliland endsup in the 25.  Also, add two teams to thelineup of Toyotateams in Busch: the 38 Braun team with Jason Leffler and the 4 Biagi/DenBeste teamwith Auggie Vidovich.

-The IRL looks like they want to be all things to all people in open wheel.  They added another road course race to theirschedule in Mid-Ohio.  Should be aninteresting year in the IRL next season.


----- Lowes Preview -----

TheCup Lite err… Busch race tonight will be dominated by Cup drivers.  Of course, you knew that.  I like Matt Kenseth to finish the job afterblowing his engine in May.  Keep an eyeout for some one off rides (Tony Stewart in the 8, Jimmie Johnson in the 48,David Ragan in the 6) and RCR puts Jeff Burton in the 21 this week whilechampion-elect Kevin Harvick drives his own 33.

WINNER– Matt Kenseth

Qualifying ran last night as is the usual for this race.  Scott Riggs took the pole as Dodges lookedincredibly fast and swept the top 4 positions. The full race lineup is here (quickly: not a good start for Red Bull and Kurt Busch's top 5 time disallowed). This track is just going to get better and better as more races are runon it.  The new pavement helpedtremendously for the May race.  Thatsaid, NASCAR is still mandating the teams use the 14 gallon fuel cells so itwill be interesting to see how much of a role that plays in the outcome of therace.  Logic says that Chase drivers needto do well here and most will.  MarkMartin, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. allrun well here and should be factors in the finish.  All those choices, but I’m not going to pickany of them.

WINNER– Denny Hamlin

Ijust feel like Denny will make a statement that he is still here and pull offthe win.  Last season he finished in thetop 10 in this race which I think is lost on most everyone.  My secondary picks here are Mark Martin andScott Riggs.

DARKHORSE– Reed Sorenson

Comeon… you surprised?  I’m too chicken tosay David Gilliland but I have a feeling this will be his best Cup run to date.


Hereis your channel surfing schedule:

Today
Busch: Dollar General 300 at 8:00 on TNT

Saturday
Nextel Cup: Bank of America500 at 7:00 on NBC

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's Ragan

Roush PR:

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 11, 2006) - RoushRacing today announced that David Ragan will be the full-time driver of the team's flagship No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion in 2007. The No. 6 has beenthe foundation of the Roush Racing stable, dating back to Jack Roush'sbeginning into NASCAR's premier series in 1988.

"We arevery pleased to have David Ragan going into the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusionnext season," said Jack Roush. "David is a driver with outstandingtalent and as a result of his actions he is the young man I selected tofill the seat. The No. 6 is obviously a special car to me personallyand this organization and we are confident in David's ability to stepup and get the job done."

Ragan currently shares the No. 6 Scotts Ford F-150 with Mark Martin andalso pilots the No. 50 Roush Racing Ford F-150.  Ragan started hisfirst career Nextel Cup race at Dover three weeks ago. He is set tomake four more starts in the Nextel Cup Series in 2006 and will makehis first start in the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion in next season's famedDaytona 500.

"This is a tremendous opportunity and I look forward to racing onbehalf of AAA's millions of loyal members in 2007. Obviously, I've gotbig shoes to fill and quite a legacy to follow, but I look forward tothe challenge and the next chapter of the No. 6 race team," said Ragan.

"AAA has great confidence in Jack Roush and his entire organization,including their selection of David Ragan as the promising new driver ofthe No. 6 AAA car," said Kristin Warfield, director AAA Motorsports.
We look forward to cheering David on as he competes in NASCAR NEXTELCup racing for the first time, and to introducing him to our membersand other race fans at tracks and special appearances throughout thecoming year."

Ragan has one pole and six top-10 finishes in 15 starts in theCraftsman Truck Series in 2006. He will make his next Cup start atMartinsville Speedway on October 22nd.

As North America's largest motoring and leisuretravel organization, AAA provides its more than 49 million members withtravel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services.  Sinceits founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully-tax-paying AAA has beena leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.
AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at www.AAA.com.

Roush Racing is a subsidiary of Livonia, Mich., based Roush Enterpriseswhich operates 14 motorsports teams; five in NASCAR Nextel Cup withdrivers Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle and CarlEdwards, six in the Busch Series with Martin, Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards,Todd Kluever and Danny O'Quinn, Jr., and three in the Craftsman TruckSeries with Martin, David Ragan, Michel Jourdain, Jr. and Erik Darnell.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Last Word On Talladega

48 hours after the final lap of the UAW-Ford 500 Brian Vickers is still the center of the NASCAR world.  His actions on the last lap have been watched, re-watched, analyzed and and viewed by every TV, radio, newspaper, and wannabe commentator.  Funny thing is, none of the talk changes the end result.  Brian Vickers takes the checkers for his first career win and the Chase chances of the 8 and 48 are most likely done. 

Unfortunately, the obnoxious majority of Dale Jr. fans are acting like the ignorant rednecks they are.  The very fact that people have been sending death threats to Vickers and causing LMS to have security for him this week at the track is despicable.  The odds are 50-50 that I'll be at the track this weekend and whenever I hear someone talk about Vickers, I'll clap and cheer.  Some fans take this sport WAY too seriously.  I honestly can't imagine a group of fans doing this to any other driver except the Red Army.  Did I threaten to accost Jeff Gordon after Chicagoland?  No.  Was I mad as hell?  Yes.  But at some point you have to let reality set in and move on. 

I'm worried that next season will be underwhelming for Mark Martin and the 01 team.  Here in the last few years we have seen that part-time programs for the older drivers just don't work.  They just don't work.  Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott are the big examples of this.  Terry's 44 team and Elliott's 91 team have been top 25 at best.  Usually, it's worse.  The only good runs Labonte has had since retiring from full-time competition have been in the 11 and 96 cars in limited runs.  The difference?  Those teams competed full-time.  Which is why I am optimistic about the 01 to a degree.  That team has run full-time for years and will continue to run full-time next year.  The cars at MB2 (waiting to call it Ginn until the calendar flips) aren't close to what Mark is used to.  Even this year, when the cars haven't been up to his standards from just a year and two years ago.  I think having Mark there will help their program and get them going in a good direction.  Unless Mark is building those cars himself I'm afraid the Mark Martin we see in 2007 will be a 15th-25th place driver every week.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

WOW! Vickers Spins Teammate To Win UAW-Ford 500



Brian Vickers went from 3rd to 1st on the final lap at Talladega Sunday to capture his first career Nextel Cup victory after spinning his soon to be ex-teammate Jimmie Johnson, who spun out race leader Dale Earnhardt Jr.  What a finish! 


Talladega proved to be as good as any race we've seen this year.  The wild-card of the Chase certainly proved to be true today as we have a first-time winner and a dandy of a points battle shaping up for the next 6 races.

From the start of the race it was crystal clear that this race would be something to watch.  Guys were just battling everywhere and for extended periods of time there was three-wide racing throughout the field.  The new pavement made for some incredible racing because it gave the drivers an expansive canvas to compete and with tire wear almost nil, pit strategy for tires went out the window.

The big one occurred after halfway when cars in front of Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson suddenly checked up, which forced Edwards to check up and then Johnson got into him and the wreck took out Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, and several others.

Everyone will forget the great racing that went on today and only focus on the last lap of the race.  As Dale Jr. led Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers, I was sitting there hoping for someone, anyone to make a move and pass the 8 car.  When Johnson finally made the move it was brilliant - but then Vickers made his move as well.  Now, I don't think Vickers spun Jimmie intentionally.  To me it just looked like Brian was moving down to follow the 48 and he barely touched Jimmie - but it happened.  Dale Jr. handled the way it should have been... I think he knows Brian didn't do that intentionally.  Jimmie's post-race interview was hilarious.  I was expecting to see a tear or two from him.  Still, congrats to Brian for his first career win.  I'm glad he finally won.

Now, some (un)official Chase standings:
GREEN is a gain, BLACK is no change, RED is a loss; positions gained (+/-)

1. Burton  5351  (--)
2.
Kenseth  -6  (+2)
3.
Martin  -10  (--)
4. Harvick
  -33  (+1)
5.
Hamlin  -51  (-3)
6.
Earnhardt Jr.  -106  (+1)
7.
Gordon  -147  (-1)
8.
Johnson -156  (--)
9.
Kahne  -185  (+1)
10. 
Busch  -185  (-1)

Full results from the UAW-Ford 500.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Introducing The Ugliest Paint Scheme of 2007

The #29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet:


Tomorrow's The Big Day

Maybe this is just me but I have a feeling the winner tomorrow will be a different face than we're accustomed to seeing.  This has just been too weird of a weekend and the race winner tomorrow will make you say "what the hell?"

First of all, I'm not in a place to discuss Mark Martin leaving right now.  Hopefully by early next week I will be able to talk about it.  Second, watching just two minutes of practice highlights has me rubbing my eyes and wondering if I'm really watching a race at Talladega.  The track just looks so different because I've never seen it without the light gray color and the bumps.  That will take some getting used to.  Third, NASCAR is editing the plates just enough to slow the cars down a bit.  Silly me for thinking the speed would force guys to adjust the way they drive.  And fourth, David Gilliland is on the pole.  If that doesn't tell ya the race will be crazy, I don't know what will.  Which makes it very tough to pick a winner:

WINNER - Jamie McMurray

A thoroughly disappointing season for the 26 team could see one bright spot here because Jamie has a pretty good track record of good runs at plate races.  I would expect this to be the last time I pick him for anything until he shows me some consistency in 2007.

DARKHORSE - Sterling Marlin

I would expect the fellow MB2 drivers to step up here and show they can compete with the new addition of Mark.  Sterling's a better plate driver than Joe so he is the pick here.

WILL CAUSE THE BIG ONE - Kasey Kahne

Kahne has worried me all year with his erratic plate racing.  Given the go-for-broke mentality he has apparently embraced in the last month I am really expecting him to take himself and others out.


Tomorrow at 1:30, make sure you're watching because anything can - and usually does happen October in Talladega.

Friday, October 6, 2006

I Guess You're Wondering How I'm Feeling

But I just can't put into words the conflict I'm feeling.  Mark's leaving Roush.  Never did I ever think that would happen under any circumstances.  I'm so confused... on one hand Mark's retirement has been revoked twice, the man doesn't want to leave Cup and this time it came too late to change things.  The teams at Roush are locked in and deals are made that don't accomidate what he wants to do.  Still, though... it's Mark Martin.  You find a way to keep him.  No matter what happens the rest of this season it just won't be the same.  I tried to fool myself last year when Kurt Busch announced he was leaving but I just didn't feel the same attachment.  I don't know if I'll feel it again until I watch the race Sunday and the next 7 this year.  The thought of Mark Martin joining a Hendrick satellite and driving a Chevy is just so far removed from what I've ever imagined seeing in this sport.  I'm a Mark Martin fan and I'm a Roush fan.  I don't know which one is stronger...

Thursday, October 5, 2006

One Year!

w00t!

I can't believe it's been one year since I started The Catfish Show.  So much has changed since I started this thing.  I've seen old blogs die and new blogs form, discovered so much about myself and my passion for the sport and at the same time I've come across some wonderful and interesting people that share the same love of this sport I do.

I'd like to thank a few of them now:

John Newsom, aka The Spotter:  John's the guy that pushed me to start blogging after many months of commenting on his blog.  I've known John the longest of anyone on the list here and though we do disagree at times, John's a great blogger and I have nothing but good things to say about him.

Bram from BM:  Bram is perhaps the most knowledgable person about this sport that I have ever talked to.  One year ago he was a well-respected blogger with AOL.  In late 2005 he formed Backstretch Motorsports, which if you haven't bookmarked or visit regularly, shame on you.  For the pure news of any form of racing you have to go by there.

Cristy Corle:  She was the most influential woman on my blogging; particularly when I first started and didn't know a damn thing.  She was the most amazing person to talk to and I was fortunate enough to have spent time with her.  Although we have lost touch I have nothing but good things to say about her.

Jaynelle Ramon (Track Talk):  Jaynelle is a great counter to me: she cheers for Jeff Gordon and leans left.  I admit I wasn't a fan of hers when I first found her blog but hey, she grew on me.  I always have fun commenting on her site and when possible I try to contradict her ;-) .

My boys at DSP:  My baby has always been DSP.  It isn't often you carry a network of friends from one message board to another.  I feel that the group at DSP is almost like a family because of how long we have known each other from BGN to one place to another and our steady home we currently have.  So thanks to everyone there for being who you are and helping me here.

From my humble beginnings to getting on AOL's Sports Bloggers Live and everything in between, it is everyone that reads this blog that I want to thank.  I would do this if no one were reading; but it makes me happy that my views on NASCAR mean something.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

A Few Things To Read As You Count Down The Days

Days to Talladega, of course :-)

The Spotter has an interesting post about what is planned at LMS in two weeks.  Let's just say a picture is worth a thousand words.  (One quick note: don't act too excited about Dustin Long's blog.  It might be contagious.)

Apparently Jayski speaks Italian.  When word got out that Jacques Villeneuve was looking at NASCAR I was like everyone else and felt pretty meh about it.  Now he might drive for Roush?  You have my attention.  Probably nothing more than a part-time Busch ride to capitalize on the Canadian Busch race.  I'll calling it now: Villeneuve and Jourdain both drive it at their respective home country tracks, in Mexico it'll be sponsored by Jose Cuervo and in Canada it'll be sponsored by Crown Royal.  The third part-time driver will be Jamie McMurray.

Finally, I've had this sucker bookmarked for months, just waiting to link to it: The Legend of the Talladega Curse.  It appears in the Scene Daily blog and is worth the read.  This is just part of what makes any race at Talladega exciting and intriguing.


I want everyone to bring a party hat tomorrow because it's gonna be a celebration, bitches!

Monday, October 2, 2006

Observations | Kansas

This one's gonna be short and sweet....

- Holy crap, Jeff Burton has a 69 point lead in the Chase.  That's right, JEFF BURTON.  He certainly has an ideal position with 7 races to go.  It will be interesting to see how it shakes out when he has his bad run.

- Is Denny Hamlin really 2nd?  Also, did anyone really see him at all in the race yesterday?  He is hanging around just enough to be a factor.  Boy, wouldn't it something if he won.

- I'm picking more than likely going to pick Jeffy next week as well.  Just to seal it.

- Matt Kenseth's less than stellar finishes since NHIS have got me a little worried.  It may be my undoing after boastingly picking him to win and also calling him the Smartest Driver in NASCAR.  Bad luck happens when I pick things.  For my next trick, I'll start picking Democrats for Congress and whoever play against the Yankees in the playoffs.

- Can I be optimistic about Mark's chances yet?  No?

- And finally... has anyone ever seen a race end like that before?  I think that was the coolest thing to see with the fuel questions, the top 2 drivers running out and coasting to the line, everything about it turned an average day into an exciting finish.


Speaking of exciting finishes, Talladega's Sunday yall.  This Thursday is a special day for me as The Catfish Show will turn one year old.  I have a special planned for it, so be on the lookout.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Fuel Is A Four-Letter Word At Kansas; Tony Stewart Coasts To Win



Tony Stewart won the Banquet 400 today as fuel and who had it when they needed ruled the day.


The race today reeked every bit of what it is in the grand scheme of the Chase: just make it through here and go on to the next week without any trouble.  Today, Jeff Gordon didn't get the memo (man, I should pick a Hendrick driver every week) and to a lesser extent, neither did Kasey Kahne or Matt Kenseth.  However, I don't think anyone could have predicted what would happen in the final laps of the race.

After the teams pitted with around 72 to go you knew someone would try it.  Too long to race hard throughout the last run, but someone would stretch it to the end - or run out trying.  Things started to sort out when teams began pitting around lap 250 and taking 2 tires to try and make up time.  Things really got interesting when Kasey Kahne spun on as he entered pit road which in effect cost Jimmie Johnson the race, speeding penalty or not.  The drivers that made it across the start/finish line were Tony Stewart, Casey Mears, and Mark Martin.  It was really something when Stewart ran out as he was on the backstretch and just wondering if Mears or Martin would catch up in time to pass him for the win.  Neither did, and Stewart made it across the line with room to spare as Mears, Martin, Dale Jarrett (!) and Jeff Burton rounded out the top 5.

Burton, Denny Hamlin, and Martin were the big winners from the race today.  For Burton, he increased his championship lead to 69 points over second place Hamlin and third place Martin, who now stands just 70 points behind the lead.

Chase standings:
GREEN is a gain, BLACK is no change, RED is a loss; positions gained (+/-)

1. Burton  5351  (--)
2.
Hamlin  -69  (+2)
3.
Martin  -70  (+3)
4.
Kenseth  -84  (-1)
5.
Harvick  -96  (--)
6.
Gordon  -120  (-4)
7.
Earnhardt Jr.  -123  (--)
8.
Johnson -165  (--)
9.
Busch  -233  (+2)
10. 
Kahne  -273  (-1)

Official results of the Banquet 400.