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

 

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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…

The New NASCAR (Again): Danicky, Dale Jr., Daytona and Dolla Bills

NASCAR Gen-6 Showroom Models

With the Daytona 500 coming this celebratory weekend, the new new NASCAR has once again risen.  Unfortunately, stock car racing of old, even a couple of decades ago, has long passed.  It is no longer a motor sport but more about the money — and some soap melodrama, kind of like the WWE but less wrestling — sometimes more.

Starting off this TMZ-sponsored episode is Danicky.  Danicka Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. are now an item, and everybody in the media are already enamored about what they are going to do on the racetrack.  If they are professionals, they would race.  But since this is a B-lister soap opera, despite their racing and their relationship, they will remain in the back of the pack.  Neither of them are excellent NASCAR drivers.  They are sufficiently adequate to get to 25th position at best but not sufficiently competitive to get ahead of the pack consistently.  Danica Patrick will have occasional bouts of brilliance this season with top 10s, but a few bright spots does not make a great NASCAR driver like Jimmie Johnson, for example.  Commendably, Danica made the pole position for the 2013 Daytona 500 and the first female driver to do so, but that does not make a superior driver make.

The Daytona 500 is the start of NASCAR and the official test of the Gen 6 car. The Gen 6 car will supposedly bring stock back to stock car racing instead of relying on the spoiler-heavy Car of Tomorrow (CoT). It seems promising.  No more absurd rules on bump-drafting (hopefully) with the initiation of the Gen 6 car.  The Gen 6 car certainly has a lot more space for advertisements as even NASCAR.com commented.  Well, at least that lends to more sponsors at least for this season certainly. The huge grill is prominent on the Gen 6 cars no matter which is the manufacturer.  Let’s hope that improves engine performance rather than hinders it — particularly in cramped race tracks like Dover International Speedway or slower paced races like Bristol Motor Speedway.

Lastly, the topic of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the most popular NASCAR driver, still to this day.  He almost accomplished winning the Sprint Cup Series in the latter part of last season, but then karma again hit him later in the season as he fell down the rankings.  Perhaps the new Gen 6 car will bring him the Cup finally if he decides to push toward the end of the season rather than letting the other drivers run all over him.

 

2011 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway: Post-Race Analysis

With the Daytona International Speedway track repaved into three-wide, the frequent use of the two-car tandem and with Dale Earnhard Jr. relying on his backup car, and Junior starting in the back despite qualifying for the pole position,  this race should be one of the best NASCAR races of this season. Dale Earnhardt, “The Intimidator,” will be remembered on the third lap of this race in commemoration of his death a decade previous, and this driver has not been forgotten nor ever will be.  After all the drama, festivities and tailgating, it’s time to go racing, boys, and this was one heck of a race.

Now to the post-race analysis:

  • Regan Smith pushed Kurt Busch for Busch’s lead in the first lap of the Great American Race.
  • Michael Waltrip incidently pushed Kyle Busch, and Busch slid out in lap 5.  Fortunately, for him and the rest of the field, he didn’t collide with anyone else.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s spotter could have possibly caused a collision after J.J. Yeley’s car brought out the caution flag in lap 11.  Typical Junior drama and karma, and it began again as he pushed into the head of the pack.
  • Kevin Harvick blew an engine in lap 22 and officially out of the race.  Bad luck for him after 152 races without a blown motor.
  • Michael Waltrip again pushed into David Reutimann and caused a train wreck on lap 29 into a 17-car train wreck.  Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Mark Martin, all Hendrick Motosports cars, were brought into the garage for repair of heavy damage to their cars.  Not good news for these Hendrick drivers or for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he was without his teammates for a major portion of the race.
  • Robert Richardson, Jr. spun out into lap 47, and he officially got his ticket into the garage.
  • Brian Vickers out on lap 56, and his engine had officially stalled.  Barely into lap 60, nearly one-third of the field had disappeared.
  • Some cars returned in lap 92 that were involved in earlier wrecks. Brian Vickers, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson were some of the notable drivers to make their return.
  • Kurt Busch led lap 92 with Regan Smith in their two-car tandem again.
  • And yet another Richard Childress engine blew with Jeff Burton in the garage on lap 94.  Childress Racing didn’t have much luck this race, as with Hendrick Motorsports.  However, theirs was an engineering problem which should be resolved by next week’s race and not created by the big one caused by Michael Waltrip.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya spun out in lap 107 with no disaster on the track.  The two-car tandems still remained the theme up to this point of the race.  Interestingly, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have paired together — for a short time only.
  • Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have paired up in lap 110.  This pairing should be beneficial to both of these veterans, but it was short-lived.
  • Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard tandem have maintained the lead for five laps since lap 127.  Matt Kenseth, who had fallen a  lap down, crashed into the outer wall in lap 134.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya spun out and collided with Greg Biffle on lap 143.  And now the 11th caution flag had been dropped.  This race hasn’t been without excitement.
  • Regan Smith and Dale Earnhardt Jr. hook up in lap 147 and pushed Junior to the lead.  This is one potent combination since Regan Smith established himself in the lead pack after the big wreck of lap 29.
  • Travis Kavapil wrecked on lap 158 and brought out the 12th caution flag, a race record. The final push begun for the drivers and their respective pit crews.
  • Brad Keselowski crashed into the wall on lap 167, and the 13th yellow flag was brought out.
  • Kasey Kahne blew a tire out in lap 182, and Jamie McMurray had to resign himself  out of the race with an engine issue.  Now this race had its 14th yellow flag…
  • Soon enough, another caution flag…Regan Smith got turned by Kurt Busch caused by Tony Stewart on lap 196.
  • On lap 204, A.J. Allmendinger spun into Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman clipped Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and another caution flag. Junior was taken out of the race, as his karma followed again.

Trevor Bayne of Wood Brothers won the Daytona 500.  He had one of the faster cars on the field, but nobody expected this win in NASCAR or their fantasy cohorts.  Overall, a very entertaining race — with bookend wrecks, but the big one caused by Michael Waltrip changed the field early in lap 29.  The average speed of the Daytona 500 was 132 mp, with the top speed of 201 mph. Most of the cars raced from 170 to 200 mph.  Perhaps, like in the football season beforehand, this may be a season of surprises.  Certainly, NASCAR began with one. Now onto Phoenix…

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.

NASCAR Drivers Must Choose Which Championship They Want to Run: Pros and Cons

This is one of the most intriguing changes for drivers in NASCAR this season, as they must choose whether to race in the Truck, Nationwide or Sprint Cup series and whichever one is they choose to accrue points in. No longer will drivers be able to race in multiple racing series for accruing points for the respective championships, and it may hinder sponsorships for some NASCAR drivers. I will lay out the pros and cons of this decision.

Pros

  • The field will be more balanced, as more of the same drivers with that experience will be able to run.
  • Some sponsorships for the respective drivers will follow accordingly.
  • Those who compete in that specific series for points will be more focused for that championship, rather than diverting their energies in multiple series.
  • Limiting of pre-track warmups for some drivers when they raced in both the Nationwide and the Sprint Cup series.  In other words, those drivers that raced before in the same track for the Nationwide series prior to their  racing and qualification for the Sprint Cup series.  These drivers would have already the feel of the track when they raced the track for the Nationwide series, and they can make adjustments to their engines prior to the Sprint Cup race.

C0ns

  • The fans could be potentially disserviced, as they won’t be able to see Sprint Cup drivers race in lower-ranking Nationwide or Truck series.
  • The drivers could potentially earn less money, as some sponsorships should become more series-specific.
  • For the respective racing teams, they won’t get a preview of the racetrack and plan further ahead.

The Daytona 500 is less than a month away, and we should see how this change will affect the Sprint Cup, in particular.  It will be interesting to see how the sponsorships respond as well in the next few years.