Two for two for Penske

skid marks, jason hildebrand, beaverdamusa.comWell, I am writing this while recovering from a vacation to the most Magical Place on Earth.  You got it….The Walt Disney World Resort.  After traveling to the beach and going to the parks at Disney with my 22 month old daughter, it was time to come home to get some much needed rest, because it sure didn’t happen down there. It was all fun, though.

Now, let’s get back to racin’.  For the second consecutive week, a Team Penske driver has punched his ticket to the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  First, 2 weeks ago at Chicagoland Speedway, Brad Keselowski won.  Not to be outdone, though, this past weekend, Joey Logano took his Penkse Ford to Victory Lane at New Hampshire.  It was a survival of the fittest, and Logano was the survivor.  There were a total of 15 cautions during this race, with several contenders taking a big hit in the 2nd race of the Chase.

Remember, the bottom 4 drivers out of the top 16 will be eliminated after this week at Dover.  Kevin Harvick made things interesting leading 104 laps, before losing the lead with 27 laps to go to Logano.  Logano wound up leading a total of 73 laps, but led the one that meant the most.  Following Logano were Kyle Larson, Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson, Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, and Brian Vickers rounding out the top 10 at New Hampshire.

What’s Next?

A trip to the Monster Mile.  Dover.  AKA the track that Jimmie Johnson absolutely dominates.  If I were a betting man, I would lay the house that Johnson wins this upcoming week.

Put it this way, Johnson wins one time out of every three times he races at Dover.  Out of his 25 races there, he has won 9 times.  Absolutely unbelievable.  There are a lot of drivers that have some ground to make up if they want to advance and move on this week.

Some of those are Greg Biffle, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, and Kurt Busch.  Those are the drivers at the bottom of the standings, so look for 4 of those guys to get knocked out of contention for the Championship this week.  Even if Johsnon dominates this week, as I’m sure he will, I’m still looking forward to checking out the race at Dover, this Sunday afternoon.

 

All is Good Again in the NASCAR World

skid marks, jason hildebrand, beaverdamusa.com

Well, let me begin by saying my winner prediction was wrong last week.

However, NASCAR’s most popular driver did win. For the first time in a very long time, Dale Jr., is securely in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase. For years, he was points racing and looking over both shoulders leading up to the Chase. With two wins this year, though, he is solidly in. For the first time in a while, Jr. was in the right place at the right time.

It is usually the opposite. Usually, Jr. is the one who has bad luck (cut tire, running out of gas, etc..). Just when it looked like Little E would wind up finishing 2nd at Pocono, leader Brad Keselowski had some debris catch on his grill and was overheating. This allowed Jr. to pass him with five laps to go. Dale Jr would not relinquish the lead.

Big win for the 88 and Hendrick Motorsports. Team Hendrick has won four races in a row (Gordon, Johnson x 2, and Earnhardt) and is looking for more.

Still up North

Well, we are still above the Mason-Dixon line this week. A fast track called Michigan. Be aware of the usual suspects, plus Greg Biffle.

Biffle is a great driver at this track, and it would not surprise me at all if he came away with a victory this Sunday. There will be high speeds and a lot of racin’ like we saw last week at Pocono (long green flag runs). My top 3 this week are Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, and Greg Biffle. I think the winner will come from the aforementioned 3.

Rainbow Warriors Unite

skid marks, jason hildebrand, beaverdamusa.comNo one ever said you had to have the best car to win. It’s only which driver has the best car on the last lap that matters. Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, put on a dominating performance, leading 119 of the 267 laps. Jeff Gordon, on the other hand, led 9 of the 267. Guess what? The man who only led 9 laps came out victorious last Saturday night in Kansas City, Kansas. It all came down to a final pit stop for the #24 of Jeff Gordon. The #24 was running 2nd at the time of the pit stop that put him out in front of Kevin Harvick. Gordon pitted earlier and was on fresher tires before the #4 of Harvick. This put him ahead of Harvick for good, although, the #4 put on a late charge at the end. Congratulations to Jeff Gordon on the victory, as it has been a while since the #24 has been in Victory Lane.

Big Day for Mr. H

Rick Hendrick had all 4 cars of his place in the top 10. As stated earlier, Jeff Gordon was the victor, Kasey Kahne came away with a much needed 3rd place finish, the #88 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr finished 5th, and finally Jimmy Johnson finished just inside the top 10, in 9th place.

Big day for the 10

If there was anything that could overshadow Gordon’s victory, it would be the strong finish of Danica Patrick, in the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet. Patrick, who has been racing full time in the Nascar Sprint Cup Series for only her 2nd year, came away with her best finish ever, 7th place. Congratulations to Danica on a well run race. She looked comfortable on the track, passing other notable drivers in the race, such as Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. She has credited her teammate, Kevin Harvick, with teaching her some things about the cars and the tracks on the circuit. Just another example of teammates helping one another. Nice  run, Danica.

Bye Bye Kansas, Hello Charlotte

It’s All Star week once again. First, on Friday night, there will be a Sprint Showdown tonight on FoxSports 1 at 7 PM. Then Saturday night, the Sprint All Star race airs at 9 PM. Criteria for being in the All Star race is 1) Drivers who have won a race in the current and/or preceding year. 2) Drivers who are past Sprint Cup champions in the last 10 years. 3) Drivers who have won the All Star race in the past 10 years. 4) The winning driver of Friday night’s Sprint Showdown. 5) The driver who finishes 2nd in Friday night’s Sprint Showdown. 6) Driver voted in by the fans. It would be a safe bet that if Danica doesn’t win or place 2nd tonight, she will win the fan vote. Drivers already locked into tonight’s showdown are Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, David Ragan, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Martin Truex, Jr, Brian Vickers, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, and Kurt Busch. Just a side note, 72% of the Nascar Sprint All Star races have been won from a top 10 starting position. A lot of money is on the line in the race, instead of points, so expect an interesting race with lots of sheet metal being traded to win that big purse.

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.

Does He Worship NASCAR? 16 Ways to Tell

dam thoughts, barry currin, beaverdamusa.comMuch has been made about the Tennessee woman who allegedly ran her car through a church last Sunday night then stabbed her husband because the devil told her he was worshiping NASCAR. According to dozens of news reports, police say Stephanie Faye Hamman, 23, crashed through the wall of the empty church — which is across the street from their residence — called her husband for help and stabbed him when he got there. The husband, Steven, was reported to be in fair condition.

Everybody is blaming Stephanie. The New York Daily News called her “crazed.” The Orlando Sentinel called it a “creepy case.”

Not so fast. Maybe Steven was worshiping NASCAR. Maybe Stephanie saw the warning signs.

She didn’t have her head in the sand. You shouldn’t either. So in the interest of public safety, here is a list of ways to tell if your husband (or wife) is worshiping NASCAR:

worship nascar

Marriage is a journey, this is a race.

1. Does he refer to Dale, Junior and Adolph Coors as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

2. Instead of saying, “Hon, we need to get gas,” does he say, “Hon, it’s time to pit the Number 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion Car?”

3. When he mows the yard and it starts raining, does he declare a rain delay and come inside to watch video of himself mowing the yard last year?

4. Does he cut doughnuts in the front yard when he beats the neighbor home from work?

5. Did he put a Sunoco sticker on your great grandmother’s Hoveround?

6. Did he go to Bristol on your honeymoon (with the guys instead of with you)?

7. Did he absent-mindedly give you the “Talladega Nights” DVD for your birthday 2 years in a row?

8. Did he convert to Seventh Day Adventist just so he could have all day Sunday free?

9. Does he change tires every time he gets gas?

10. When the family reunion is over, does he shake up a 2-liter Diet Coke and spew your cousins?

11. Does he make you sing the National Anthem while he stands outside your car before a trip to the grocery store?

12. Does he make your neighbor put on heels and a tight Spandex dress and hand him a trophy every Sunday afternoon about 5:00?

13. Is that neighbor named Earl?

14. Is he working on a sponsorship deal with Budweiser for your kid’s stroller?

15. When you’re the first car at a stoplight, does he refer that as “sitting on the pole?”

16. When things don’t go too well in the bedroom, does he blame it on the Restrictor Plate?

Is this your life? Don’t despair. You can get things back on track, so to speak. Just talk it out; after all, marriage is a journey, the Ford EcoBlast 400 is a race.

And it’s the last race of the year, by the way. So stay away from sharp objects until Nov. 16.

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