Well, Kiss My Bricks (For the Fifth Time)

skid marks, jason hildebrand, beaverdamusa.comWell, we now have a 5-time winner of The Brickyard 400, run annually at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Jeff Gordon, has won 5 of the 20 races at the famed Indiana track.  That means, Gordon has a better shot of winning a race there than Dan Uggla had getting a simple hit as an Atlanta Brave.

So, every time Gordon runs a race at this track, there is a 25 percent chance he will win.  Great job this past Sunday for Gordon, who absolutely had the best car and benefited from a late caution while Kasey Kahne had the lead.

All of Hildebrand’s Skid Marks
(we can’t believe we said that) are found here.

It was unfortunate for Kahne, who was looking to earn his first victory of the year and secure a spot in the Chase.  Kahne led a race high 70 laps. If it weren’t for the late caution and an absolutely great restart by Gordon, it looked as if Hendrick Motorsports would have all 4 cars in the Chase.  It seems to be Kahne’s luck this year that the caution flag waved and he subsequently finished 6th.  Following Gordon in place of finish was Kyle Busch in 2nd, then Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, then Austin Dillon, rounding out the top 10.

Overall, to the average fan watching the race at home, it was pretty much a snoozer.  No big wrecks, not many cautions.  Gordon has proven to everyone this year, that his career is not over just yet.

Back to Long Pond

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will attempt to defend his earlier Pocono win this weekend, as the boys (and girl) will once again, be racing in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  Look for Brad Keselowski to attempt to redeem himself, as he got debris stuck on the grill of his car in the last race, causing some overheating issues.  This allowed Dale, Jr., to pass him with a couple of laps remaining at the 2.5 mile track and cruise to victory.  With that being said, I’m taking Keselowski in the #2 this Sunday.

 

Fighting Mother Nature, Again

skid marks, jason hildebrand, beaverdamusa.comOnce again this NASCAR season, I found myself following weather forecasters more than the actual race this past weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

I knew we were in for a long weekend when the speedway tweeted out about terrible weather and to take cover on their official Twitter account. Nevertheless, the race finally ran. Although the race was scheduled for Saturday night, the only vehicles going around the track that night were the Air Titans, attempting to blow water off the track. However, they were unsuccessful, due to lingering storms.

With that said, the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports car driven by Aric Almirola prevailed as the victor in a rain shortened Sunday race. It was a survival of the fittest out there on the track. First, there was a hellacious wreck that took out some very good cars.

Drivers like Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr , among others, were taken out of contention on lap 24. The 88 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was caught up in that wreck as well. More on him later. Dark clouds hovered over and around the speedway as the race got closer to the halfway point (official race if there is inclement weather at halfway). Drivers were getting antsy.

Here was the big one part 2 of the day. It was so bad, even one driver, Kyle Busch, found his car upside down after all was said and done. The wreck was so bad, that Dale Jr., was running 32nd before the wreck. He avoided the wreck, and restarted in the 8th position. He benefited 24 positions from a wreck. He was lucky enough to be behind the cars involved, and just stopped, to avoid the mass carnage in front of him. His car was junk after being involved in the first big one of the day. He wound up finishing 14th, being the beneficiary of much attrition. Congrats to Aric Almirola. It was the first victory for Petty Motorsports in the 43 car, since 1999. Now, he is in the chase.

New England, Here We Come

The 1-mile oval track, known as New Hampshire Motor Speedway, will be the track the boys and girl will attempt to tame this Sunday. The two New Hampshire winners from last year are still looking for a victory this season, Brian Vickers and Matt Kenseth. The top rated drivers at New Hampshire are Tony Stewart, followed by Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Cllint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, and Ryan Newman. I’m betting that ol’ Jimmie Johnson gets back in Victory Lane this weekend.

Until next week, keep em’ clean.

Talladega, ‘Bama’s Finest & Skid Mark of the Week

skid marks, jason hildebrand, beaverdamusa.comWhat a weekend.  I am still worn out from all the action taking place in a small town in Alabama with a big race track.  First, my day started out great.  When I got to the track, I accidentally went the wrong way in (was in the outside of 2 turn lanes).  This took me to a place where I had never parked.  I now know why I have never parked there.  Next, some guys I was meeting up with called me to meet them.  Normally, they meet up at the area around the Miller Lite flag between turns 3 and 4.  This year, my friend tells me they are directly under the big American flag, at turn 4.  I walk the hike to the big American flag.  No one is around it.  I mosey on around for a while to try to find them, to no avail.  To make a long story short, I walked over the crosswalk at Flag Drive a total of 4 times trying to find him.  Finally, after about 3 miles on my feet and 30 minutes, I found him.

The Race

It was Talladega.  Last week I heard it described as “The great equalizer.”  That is definitely a perfect description of the track/race.  Much to my surprise, the crowd was very appreciative of the #10 of Danica Patrick leading some laps in the race.  I thought the best 2 cars of the day were the #16 of Greg Biffle and the #88 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  Neither one of them won, though.  The winner would be the #11 car, driven by Denny Hamlin, who has never won at a Superspeedway.  Good race by Hamlin, and by Biffle, who finished 2nd.  It was pack racing from the start, and many drivers couldn’t find their mojo in the lines they were running, but it was still Talladega and a good race.  We didn’t see the 2/3 car tandems we have been accustomed to in the past few years, but we saw groups more than that running together.  Congrats to Denny Hamlin on the victory.

There’s no place like home

KANSAS.  There are a few different drivers to keep your eyes on this week, in Kansas’ first night race ever.  Those cars would be the #48 driven by Jimmie Johnson, the #24 driven by Jeff Gordon, the #16 driven by Greg Biffle, and the #20 driven by Matt Kenseth.  These drivers are vying for their first win of the season, and statistically, these guys are great at Kansas.

Skid Mark of the week

Once again, Brad Keselowski.  First, Brad wrecked himself, when he cut down on Danica Patrick in a corner trying to cut her off and get the lead.  Then, while being 6 laps down, he was pack racing, wrecked, and took out a good number of cars, including the #24 of Jeff Gordon and the #20 of Matt Kenseth, among others.

Richmond International, Repeat Winner and a Right Hook

skid marks, jason hildebrand, beaverdamusa.comWhat a race last week! Richmond turned in one of the most interesting races we have seen in a while. First, there were tires being used and abused all over the place, with NASCAR allowing more flexibility to the race teams to adjust the camber. You ask what camber is….Well, straight from NASCAR .com. “Camber is, simply put, the vertical tilt of a wheel. If it’s bowed out, it’s positive camber, and if it’s bowed in, it’s negative camber. Zero or neutral camber is when the wheel is straight up and down.”  The more camber you have, the better grip you have. This has allowed teams to be more aggressive in their car setups. Since there has been a significance on winning this season to get into the Chase, teams have been more aggressive and overly aggressive, at times. With this being said, we have seen many instances with tires dating back to the Auto Club 400, and now this past week at Richmond. There were multiple cars that had tire issues, including 6-time and defending Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson. This just hasn’t been Jimmie’s year. Wait a second…… As bad sometimes as Jimmie has been, he is still in the top 10 in the Sprint Cup standings. He still needs to get that win, and the pressure is getting heavier, week by week.

Who would have thought that the second 2-time winner of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season would have been Joey Logano. Logano in his #22 Ford was absolutely great on short runs last week at Richmond. The Rick Hendrick cars of Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., were great on long runs, but when you get late cautions, the cars that are good for short runs prevail. The yellow #22 ran down cars in front of him and took the checkered flag on the .75 mile track in Richmond, Virginia, like a seasoned veteran. He was cool, kept his composure, and even burned the tires off in his post victory burn out. Congratulations, Joey.

After the race, there were shenanigans. Over guess what? Drivers racing for 18th place. Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears got into a little fisticuffs in the pit area after the race was complete. Mears was fined $15,000 and probation until May 28, and Ambrose, who connected on a right haymaker, was fined $25,000 and probation until May 28, as well. So, that one punch that Ambrose laid cost him $10,000. I thought the fight was good for the sport. NASCAR thought it was detrimental to the sport. I obviously disagree.

Alabama, here we come. My first experience at Talladega was one I will never forget. Mainly, because of one unknown guy, Alabama’s finest. This one dude, was wearing cutoff blue jeans. Way up to where you could see his white pockets hanging out of the bottom of his shorts. No shirt. Boots. If this weren’t bad enough, the guy had a prosthetic leg… with Dale Earnhardt bumper stickers all over it. All I have to say is, “C’mon Man.”  Anyhow, I am looking forward to frolicking with Alabama’s finest again this week. Watch for one of the usual suspects to win this race: Dale Earnhardt, Jr, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, or Jeff Gordon. Sleeper picks to win this race are David Ragan (last year’s Talladega spring race winner), Ryan Newman, or Paul Menard.

Skid Mark of The Week goes to Brad Keselowski. How can you blame a guy (Matt Kenseth), who is leading the race, for bumping you and trying to protect his lead? Quit whining Brad. You got bumped, and I am sure you would have tried to protect the lead, if you would have had it.

 

 

NASCAR, 2014: Bad Weather and Controversy (What’s New?)

skid marks, jason hildebrand, beaverdamusa.comEaster weekend seems a perfect time to sit back and reflect on what has come to fruition the first 8 weeks of this very early NASCAR season. A lot of storylines have evolved, so far. First, the number 29 of Kevin Harvick is good for 2 things, a non finish or a win. Heading into Richmond, he is the only driver on the circuit with 2 coveted victories. Aside from the 2 wins, his other races have the NASCAR Gods turning over in their graves. Next, the old man (oldest regular on the circuit), is off to his best start in many years. He is currently the point leader heading into the 9th race of the 2014 season. With the exception of the grass jumping up and tearing up his car at Texas Speedway, Dale Earnhardt, Jr is doing his best impression of his father, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Junior has been consistently running and finishing in the top 5, way more than other drivers. The only thing more consistent than Jr finishing in the top 5, has been the bad weather, so far (I’ll get to that later). Carl Edwards has been another good one, this year, winning at Bristol Motor Speedway (I was there, and it was freakin’ cold!). Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski aka I wanna fight Kurt Busch, and Kyle Busch are your other winners, so far, in this 2014 season.

What would NASCAR be without controversy? First was the tire issue at Fontana at the Auto Club 400. Multiple cars tore up tires, and many tore up cars. The Survivor was Kyle Busch, who benefited from dominant driver Jimmie Johnson cutting a tire very late in the race. Kyle went on to win and secure his spot in The Chase. A week later, Brad Keselowski wanted to fight Kyle’s brother Kurt at Martinsville, over Brad’s screw up. BTW, Kurt was in the right, and Brad was in the wrong. Also, Kurt would have stomped a mudhole in Brad.

I sure hope the weather here on out is better than what we have seen, so far. The weather, for racing, has absolutely sucked. First, Daytona was delayed. I’m not complaining about night racing, but it was a long Sunday night that day. Bristol. I froze my rear end off, along with about 50,000 other brave (or stupid) souls in the mountains of upper east Tennessee that morning/day/evening. Then the Texas soaker that had to be delayed until the next day.

This week is the first of two Richmond night races this 2014 season. It is hard to bet against any Joe Gibbs Racing driver at Richmond, or Jeff Gordon. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Gordon have all been money at this track. If you were to pick a few others to win this week, Tony Stewart, Dale Jr, and Kevin Harvick all have 3 wins at this track (money says if Harvick doesn’t crash/blow up, he will win).

Foolish move of the year, was Dale Jr at Texas. 12 laps into the race, he dips down the track and clips the grass, sending him up the track and into the wall. This resulted in an inexplicable 43rd place finish for the 88 team and injured the 48 car, who by the way is his teammate Jimmie Johnson, in the process. Dale Jr admitted it was a boneheaded move.

Racing stripe of the year belongs to Danica Patrick. Why? Because she can’t finish races on the lead lap and can’t stop hitting everything on the track.

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