2013 STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway: 10 Things That Spun Our Wheels

Jimmie Johnson Wins the 2013 STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway

With Jimmie Johnson’s stellar finish at the 2013 STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway, there was lots of trading paint with some suffering more than others.  Amazingly, it was a relatively tame race, all things considering.

But here are 10 things that spun our wheels at Philly Fantasy Sports:

  • Pit problems showed its ugly head once again in this race.  Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin suffering the worst of it. 
  • Brian Vickers had a rough race.  His Toyota was decimated in so many ways yet he found a way to pull through 11th place.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a rough day as nothing went well with his car in this race.
  • Danica Patrick pulled into 12th for a rookie, and this is her first time in Martinsville.  Impressive.
  • Right-front tire problems resurfaced in this race.  The Goodyear tires can’t tolerate these higher speeds without breaking down.
  • Chrevolets and Fords dominated the top spots once again.
  • Jimmie Johnson didn’t play nice with his teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr.  as Jimmie Johnson intentionally lapped him after Junior spun out.  Jimmie Johnson also dominated the race by leading 347 out of 500 laps.
  • Brad Keselowski had another impressive run as he placed sixth in this race at Martinsville Speedway and is currently second in points on the leaderboard.
  • Denny Hamlin was sidelined for this race due to injury. Mark Martin salvaged a 10th place win for him.
  • Joey Logano behaved himself in this race.  Although there was some trading paint during the race, nothing has been severe — as of yet.  I’m surprised Tony Stewart wasn’t gunning for him.

With a relatively calm race at Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR fans will have to wait to see if sparks ignite at the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway next week.  Perhaps Joey Logano will get his due…or Denny Hamlin’s replacement, the veteran Mark Martin, gets his.

2013 Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway: 10 Things That Spun Our Wheels

With Matt Kenseth’s win on his birthday at the 2013 Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it was a cat-and-mouse game between Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne during the last few laps.

  • Wheel Issues for Gen-6 Cars.  Two-wheel pit stops have become the preferred tire change in the pits. 
  • Engine Issues for Gen-6 Cars. These cars aren’t meant to pushed for long races like even the previous model, the Car of Tomorrow (CoT) or Gen-5 car.
  • Speed. These cars are meant for speed. These cars handle straightaways like a dream but don’t handle corners too well.
  • Top Line. The top line favors these Gen-6 cars a LOT.
  • Danica Patrick & Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. TMZ Update. They are average NASCAR drivers at best.  Their rookie status means little.  Some have it.  Some don’t.  They don’t.  Just ask Juan Pablo Montoya. He’s flattened out at around 15th to 20th by the end of recent seasons.
  • Brad Keselowski.  He’s running well these past few races with him getting pole position on this track. On this track, he placed third, and he’s second in the overall standings to date. Impressive so far.
  • Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie Johnson has returned to form this Sprint Cup season. He’s number 1 on the leaderboard.
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Junior is third on the Sprint Cup leaderboard so far, but it’s only the beginning of the 2013 season. Karma might catch up to him again like in previous seasons.
  • Chrevolet SS Gen-6 Cars. They top the results leaderboard again.
  • Toyota Camry Gen-6 Cars. These cars have not yet proven themselves on the tracks just yet. But Matt Kenseth’s Toyota proved these cars can win — and win honestly.

Next the Sprint Cup series goes to the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway

 

2013 Subway Fit Fresh 500 at Pheonix International Speedway: 10 Things that Spun Our Wheels

Carl Edwards Wins Subway Fit Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Speedway

With the 2013 Subway Fit Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Speedway, there are more problems with the Gen-6 cars for all the driving teams and all the manufacturers. Carl Edwards wins the Subway Fit Fresh 500 and breaks his winless streak of two seasons.

  • Gen-6 Wheel Issues. The braking on these Gen-6 cars taxes the wheels tremendously.  Several cars went out from this problem. 
  • Gen-6 Four-Wheel vs. Two-Wheel Pit Stops. While the four-wheel changes usually provide a lot of grip, they don’t provide a lot of speed as before.  Perhaps it is best to do two-wheel pit stops going forward. 
  • Pole Position.  For these new cars, the driver at pole position maybe leads one or two laps — then they fall behind.  But that’s nothing new to NASCAR
  • Danica Patrick The drama continues.  Her driving skills has not.
  • Rick Stenhouse Jr. He has made an impressive jump in the standings as he is ninth on the leaderboard.
  • Hendrick Motorsports. Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. currently lead in points.  It’s only two races in, but it’s still impressive. 
  • Last Lap Racing. This seems to be the trend as this is when real racing in NASCAR begins and ends.  It’s nothing new to NASCAR, but it’s something new to these Gen-6 cars.
  • Clint Bowyer. Slow the heck down when in the pits, dude.  Less casualties involving your crew members that way — and more communication is always helpful.
  • Carl Edwards. Finally broke 70-race skid and the two-season drought…those Subway sandwiches finally do some good.
  • Side-Drafting. The Gen-6 cars work fairly decently as side-drafting goes, but they are still loose.  Trading paint isn’t intentional like before but accidental often than not.  The Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will put these cars to a real test of their mettle.

Now onto the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway…

2013 Daytona 500: 10 Things That Spun Our Wheels

After a race with constantly changing leaders and the media’s infatuation with Danica Patrick (even during the race), Jimmie Johnson and his number 48 car won the race.  Again, the superior driver Jimmie Johnson won and not Danica Patrick, the media darling, for this past Daytona 500 week.

Here’s are the top 10 things that spun Philly Fantasy Sports’ wheels about the 2013 Daytona 500:

  • Jimmie Johnson is the man.  He is the crowning achievement of Hendrick Motorsports as he has the patience and the skill to win races.  And this is his second Daytona 500 win. 
  • Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Sometimes being lucky is better than being good. 
  • Gen-6 Cars, Part I. They tend to overheat, as least the Toyota Camry’s.  Some of the drivers had substantial engine problems.
  • Gen-6 Cars, Part II. Bump-drafting doesn’t work well with these cars.   These Gen-6 cars tend to have a loose rear.  However, when paired up with patient (yet aggressive) drivers, their front aerodynamics are amazing as they can keep up to nearly 200 mph despite having damage, as Brad Keselowski’s number 2 Ford Fusion showed when paired up with Greg Biffle‘s number 16 Ford.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. He got second.  It’s a start…now we have to see if he can finish the Sprint Cup series as well as he started. Or not.
  • Car Manufacturers and Standings. Well, maybe it’s not a forecast of things to come or maybe it is…Ford Fusions and Chevrolet SS models dominated the top 10 in the Daytona 500.
  • Carl Edwards. Looks like the beginning of a LONG season…
  • Pre-Race Ceremony. The walkway was a bit over the top when introducing the drivers.  Then there’s 50 Cent and NASCAR…
  • Greg Biffle. Greg Biffle is so close yet so far yet again at Daytona International Speedway and more importantly, the Daytona 500.
  • Car of Tomorrow (CoT). One thing that you can say about the Car of Tomorrow is that is FAR more durable than Gen-6 cars, but that’s my first impression anyhow. The Gen-6 cars get chewed up in wrecks, even minor ones or when trading paint.

Now onto Pheonix International Speedway for the next race in the Sprint Cup series…

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wrecks Car During Wednesday’s Practice and Loses Pole Position: Or Here Junior Nation Goes…Again

Dale Earnhardt Jr. who initially won the pole with his partner Jeff Gordon for the Dayton 500 this Sunday, but like Junior Nation and for long-time fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr.  has come to expect, something was bound to happen.  He wrecked while pushing Jimmie Johnson in the two-car tandem during yesterday’s practice for the Gatorade Duel today.  When Jimmie Johnson became loose as he slowed down to avoid the cars of Robby Gordon, David Gilliland and Michael Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s qualifying car hit the inside of the retaining wall now he has to rely on his backup car.  Unfortunately, he will have to forfeit his pole position and resign himself to back to the pack for the Daytona 500.  This is classic Junior karma for the upcoming Great American Race.

Given the past racing history of Junior, this isn’t a bad spot altogether in light of these circumstances.  Even during his days before Tony Eury, Jr. or Steve Letarte, he always found a way to come from back of the pack into the top 10 or 15 usually.  Unfortunately, most of the time, he simply could not win the race either through his driving style, being involved in a crash or something else altogether prevented him from getting the checkered flag.

The change to Steve Letarte has benefited Dale Earnhardt Jr. already by giving him one of the faster cars, if not the fastest, in the upcoming race.  If he can somehow catch up with either Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon by mid-race at least, Hendrick Motorsports could be leading some of the way for the Daytona 500.

The 2011 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway: Post-Race Analysis

This race is the appetizer before the Great American Race, the Daytona 500, next Sunday.  This also gives the Sprint Cup drivers and teams to adjust to the newly paved Daytona International Speedway from engines, drafting partners and fuel changes.  Lastly, it gives NASCAR fans a relatively brief race to watch although it will progress late through the night.

This race still doesn’t compare to the festivities and the drama surrounding the Daytona 500 next week. Now to the post-race analysis:

  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had the pole in the beginning but dropped again to 3rd.  It’s not as bad as some of actual Sprint Cup races where he fell  into the middle of the pack and could not recover beyond 15th or so.
  • Pairings of cars helps picks up speed, particularly against an aggressive pack of drivers behind you.
  • Jeff Burton got 1st place and Matt Kenseth got 4th on the first 25 laps of this race.  Both are X-factors when the season officially begins next week.
  • On lap 29 of the Shootout, Regan Smith initially collided with Carl Edwards.  Edwards then clipped Dale Earnhardt Jr. rear bumper and started a whole spillover including Juan Pablo Montoya, Joey Logano and others.  I think this looks like the forecast for the Dayton 500.
  • Two-car drafting works most of the time, but when it doesn’t work, it causes severe wrecks.
  • Jimmie Johnson is still the man of the Sprint Cup Series.  He led the race at 3/4ths of the race at lap 50.
  • Jeff Gordon stuck around 5th or so in the early part of the second segment.  It appeared he was biding his time for his final move in the last few laps of the Shootout, but it didn’t come to fruition.

Kurt Busch won the Budweiser Shootout, partially from Denny Hamlin‘s drive through the boundary line for the lead.  The dual car tandems were the theme of this race, and the average speed of this race seemed to swing from 195 mph to 205 mph.

The Great American Race is on next Sunday, and it will be interesting to see how the adjustments made this week will affect the Daytona 500.

My Top 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers to Watch in 2011 Season: The Quick and Dirty Edition

This is my list of top 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers to watch in 2011, given their current trends over the past three to five seasons.  This is not based on any current adjustments to their respective teams, engines, cars or other factors currently internally or externally, such as the new points systems.

Now to my top 10 list of NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers, in no particular order:

  • Jimmie Johnson (48) of  the Chad Knaus/Hendrick Motorsports Team.  He’s won five straight Sprint Cup championships and going for a sixth.
  • Tony Stewart (14) of the Darian Grubb/Stewart-Haas Racing Team. He’s been mostly consistent remaining in 7th through the 9th in standings the past three years.  He should do more of the same this season.
  • Clint Bowyer (33) of the Shane Wilson/Richard Childress Racing Team. His team has not been consistent, but he’s always found ways to remain in the Chase.  However, he has remained in the top 10 three out of five recent seasons.
  • Jeff Gordon (24) of the Steve Letarte/Hendrick Motorsports Team. He’s been minimally the top 10 the past five years, if not in the top 5.  He should do the same this season, as his team has always demonstrated success.
  • Carl Edwards (99) of the Bob Osborne/Roush Fenway Racing Team.  His team has either been in the top 3 or in the top 10 the past years, but he has demonstrated inconsistency.  If football or hockey are indication the changing nature of sports, his team might have a chance for a real push this season.
  • Denny Hamlin (11) of the Mike Ford/Joe Gibbs Racing Team. Since 2007, his team has been making real strides to becoming 2nd in the standings in 2010 again — like he was in 2006.  Whereas some of these teams have been simply inconsistent, this team has been consistently getting better.
  • Kyle Busch (18) of the Dave Rogers/Joe Gibbs Racing Team. He has always remained in the bottom rungs of the top 10 standings, but he has remained in the Chase for the past five years.  He could be another one to watch out for this upcoming season.

NASCAR‘s X-Factors

For the last three of my top 10, these drivers are always within reach of the top 10 over the past years, and this year, they may be troublesome to rest the field for their shadows always hanging within reach to make a serious mark upon the Sprint Cup Chase.

  • Jeff Burton (31) of the Todd Berrier/Richard Childress Racing Team.
  • Matt Kenseth (17) of the Jimmy Fennig/Roush Fenway Racing Team.
  • Kurt Busch (22) of the Steve Addington/Penske Racing Team. Although not quite as successful as his brother Kyle, he does stay within reach of the Chase.

Daytona 500 Early Pre-Race Thoughts: Let’s Go Testing, Boys!

The Daytona 500 starts Sunday, February 20th, in two weeks on the newly paved track and new rules and points system.  The Great American Race will start a week after the Budweiser Shootout on the same track the week.  The Shootout will give most racers a chance to adjust to the track in real-time racing conditions as well as earn some pocket cash into the upcoming Sprint Cup season of NASCAR.

It will be interesting to note the engine and chassis adjustments due to testing on the new Daytona track, even if minor from the previous year. I am also curious on the issue of the strategies of the teams and individual drivers.  With the three-wide track, there should be lots of drafting — side drafting and normal drafting and which cars will choose to favor the dirty approach or the clean approach for their cars.  Lastly, I will be interested to see how sponsors of drivers will be limited or changed by which series these drivers chose to accrue points in.

Testing occurred more than a month ago, where several drivers, including Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya among others tested and compared their old engine setups.  Additionally, some tested the consumption of the new ethanol-blended fuel in their cars, and they tested the new Goodyear tires as well. Most drivers acknowledged the track grips better and the cars generally went faster than before on the new Daytona track.  Majority of them compared it to Talladega Superspeedway, and fortunately for them, there aren’t any giant potholes to contend with on this racetrack — yet.

The change in the points system will make the tallying of the better drivers easier.  Jamie McMurray, last year’s winner, and Jimmie Johnson, last year’s Championship winner, don’t find the new points system much concern.

Interestingly, four drivers will enter the Daytona 500 due to point swaps during the 2010 season.  Paul Menard, Trevor Bayne, Steve Wallace and Grand-Am driver Andy Lally will be participants.  Offseason point swaps occurs when the ownership group  of one organization moves into ownership with another team. These will be particularly interesting factors in this race.

Lastly, with crew chief Chad Knaus making adjustments to the crews of Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jeff Gordon as necessary for Hendrick Motorsports, this could be a particularly interesting affair this upcoming season.  Which driver will benefit the most will most likely depend on their performance, and given past seasons, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon appear to be the immediate beneficiaries.