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Posts Tagged ‘NASCAR’

Race Update

Posted by Matt on June 17, 2007

In the first half of the race my pick to win, Matt Kenseth, had moved up to the Top 15 from his 26th starting position as predicted.  Kenseth was racing well when, during a caution restart, a one Ryan “No Drive” Newman, who was already multiple laps down, began driving like it was the last lap of the Daytona 500 and started a chain of collisions that sent Kenseth to the garage.  They hadn’t even raced an entire lap at full speed when “No Drive” Newman got caught up with Jeff Green trying to get one of many laps back.  Listen, it is bad enough that it happened on a restart, but for it to be a car that IS NOT EVEN IN CONTENTION.  If you’re out of the running, move to the high side and don’t ruin the race for someone else.  You do have all the right in the world to try and make a comeback but do it with cautions and strategic pitting, DON’T CAUSE A CAUTION.

I still maintain Kenseth would’ve won it, but keep an eye on the others I noted as Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon are running in the Top 10 and Jimmie Johnson has already led a handful of laps.  Should be a decent race but I’ll be watching the ‘Tiger Woods Show’ on NBC for most of the afternoon.

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Citizen’s Bank 400 Preview

Posted by Matt on June 17, 2007

bank400.gif

The NASCAR Preview makes it’s triumphant return on this Father’s Day with a prayer that it isn’t a Hendrick boy in victory lane come 5:00PM EST today.  Question: if Dale Earnhardt, Junior wins today, does that somehow continue the Hendrick Motor Sports dominance this season in a weird sort of way?  Regardless of what owner really gets accredited with his wins, do not count Junior out as he now has his contract issues behind him and can focus strictly on the race-at-hand.  I am not calling a win for Earnhardt and Company, but he will post a strong showing.  Look for “Little E.” to be in the Top 10 by the time the Checkered Flag drops.  Junior starts in the 23rd position.

The Citizen’s Bank 400 at Michigan International Speedway is bit of a tough race to break down as it doesn’t follow some of the normal patterns of the other NASCAR tracks.  There also wasn’t a Busch Series race there last night so we didn’t see how most of the boys fared in a tune up race at this track.  There hasn’t been a repeat winner at this race at all in the past six years, or has there been a season sweep in both the races at this track since Bobby Labonte in 1995, and it hasn’t been a place that has seen much in the way of Hendrick Motor Sports domination.  The last from the Hendrick stable to win this race was Jeff Gordon in 2001.  Chevrolets, oddly enough, haven’t fared too well either and haven’t posted a win in either Michigan International Speedway races of the season since, again, Jeff Gordon in 2001.  Yet a Chevrolet has one 13 of 14 races this season and Hendrick Motor Sports have won 10 of those 13.  Without Hendrick power in Victory Lane since 2001 and a Chevrolet not taking the Checkered Flag in the past 11 races at this track, Michigan International Speedway is the Bermuda Triangle of NASCAR.

Greg Biffle has won two of the last five races, Summer and Fall, here at Michigan International Speedway and Matt Kenseth won the last race at this track last August.  Greg Biffle starts in the 19th position and Matt Kenseth has a little tougher task at hand starting from the 26th spot.  Kenseth does, however, have a lot of statistics working for him.  On top of winning the last race at this track, in his 15 starts at Michigan, Matt Kenseth has the highest average finishing position of all active drivers at 7.9.  Kenseth is also one of only four non-Hendrick drivers to win a race this season in 14 races and is the lone non-Chevrolet victor of the season;  Kenseth’s one win came at California Speedway at the Auto Club 500 in Week 2 of the season.  California Speedway is very similar to Michigan International Speedway and they’re considered by some to be “sister tracks,” this bodes well for Kenseth and the Fords. 

Look for a Ford to wind up in Winner’s Circle on Victory lane today at the Citizen’s Bank 400 at Michigan International Speedway, and it is only fitting near the original home of Ford in Michigan.

Here is the starting grid: Citizen’s Bank 400

Predictions:

Winner: Matt Kenseth – #17 DeWalt Ford – Roush Racing

Others To Watch For:

Greg Biffle – #16 Ameriquest Ford – Roush Racing (races strong at M.I.S. with 2 wins in last 5 races)

David Gilliland – #38 M&M’s Ford – Robert Yates Racing (two Top 10s in only two career races at M.I.S. last season)

Jeff Gordon – #24 DuPont Chevrolet – Hendrick Motor Sports (won last week at Pocono Raceway, has been too hot this season to discount)

Most Laps Lead: Jimmie Johnson – #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet – Hendrick Motor Sports

Makes 300th Career Start: Elliot Sadler – #19 Dodge Dealers Dodge – Valvoline Evernham Racing

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Coca-Cola 600 Preview

Posted by Matt on May 27, 2007

The preview to this race is quick an easy: the two drivers to watch for are Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne.

Kahne won last years race amidst his solid season but has struggled as of late and is looking to get back on the right track. He started that process with a win in last night’s Busch Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, the site of today’s Coca-Cola 600. Kasey starts 18th in his #9 Dodge.

The real man of the hour, and year, however, is Jimmie Johnson, who is on a torrid pace this season with 4-wins and 8-Top 5s in just eleven races. Johnson and Hendrick Motor Sports look to continue their Coca-Cola 600 dominance where Jimmie has won 3 of the last 4 runnings of this very race. The only Coca-Cola 600 in the last four that Johnson did not win was last year’s where he finished second, of all places. Johnson sports 7 total wins at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and starts 21st today, but don’t let that be of concern as the length of this race dictates A LOT and allows for PLENTY of time to catch up. There is a reason that Jimmie Johnson calls Lowe’s Motor Speedway, “my house.”

I am not willing to buck any trends this week, thus I am calling a clean sweep for Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motor Sports, though nearly every bone in my body hopes that I am wrong.

Predictions:

Winner: Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet – Hendrick Motor Sports

Most Laps Lead: Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet – Hendrick Motor Sports

Most Likely To Have Beer Cans Tossed In His Direction: Jeff Gordon, #24 DuPont Chevrolet – Hendrick Motor Sports

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Dodge Avenger 500 Preview

Posted by Matt on May 12, 2007

I will not have an extensive preview for tonights race under the lights at Darlington Raceway as I am traveling this weekend but I did want to stop by for my race-day predictions, I will make it up to everyone later, I promise.

Predictions:

Winner: Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx Chevrolet – Joe Gibbs Racing
Most Laps Lead: Greg Biffle, #16 Ameriquest Ford – Roush Racing
Most Likely To Wreck Someone During A Caution: Jeff Green, #66 Best Buy Cevrolet – Haas CNC Racing

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Jim Stewart 400 Preview

Posted by Matt on May 5, 2007

If you do not know who Jim Stewart is, you are not alone. It seems as if Jim won the Crown Royal contest from yester-year to get his name on this race. If only Cincinnati Reds’ pitching coach Dick Pole would have won…

Apparently Jeff Gordon is getting used to the pole position as it is his third in as many races and there does not look like there is much slowing down the DuPont Chevrolet. I think it really helped Jeff’s season to get the proverbial monkey off of his back by first tying, and then passing, Dale Earnhardt, Senior in all-time wins; now the “Rainbow Warriors” can focus completely on racing again and not about the buzz over the recent milestone.

Tonight’s race at Richmond International Speedway is under the lights and will feature the “Car of Tomorrow” for the fourth race this season. Hendrick Motor Sports has won all three “Car of Tomorrow” races leading up to tonight and with Gordon on the Pole and Jimmie Johnson starting fourth, the Hendrick garage looks to be poised to make a run at making 4-0 in the “Car of Tomorrow” races. However, standing in the way of the power-team that is Hendrick Motor Sports will be my driver Dale Earnhardt, Junior, who has won two of the last three here at Richmond International Speedway and is starting 7th after a solid run at the Talladega race last weekend. Yesterday’s Busch Series race did not give away much in the way of an indication in how tonight’s race will go, however, the driver who lead the most laps, Jeff Burton, did not go on to win the race. Last night’s race was won by Clint Bowyer who starts in 20th position tonight and slightly off of the pace.

In the end, it has been a whole year since Junior has won a race, his last win coming here at Richmond International Speedway last year, and with the Budweiser Chevrolet looking to continue to build on its on going improvement, I look for D.E.I. to find Victory Lane this evening; maybe it is wishful thinking in wanting to see my personal favorite notch the win, or maybe it is wishful thinking in NOT wanting to see Hendrick Motor Sports to record another victory. I was two-for-two last week, so let’s keep this momentum going.

Predictions:

Winner: Dale Earnhardt, Junior, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet – Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated

Most Laps Lead: Jeff Gordon, #24 DuPont Chevrolet – Hendrick Motor Sports

Throws Helmet At Another Driver After A Wreck: Tony “Smoke” Stewart, #22 The Home Depot Chevrolet – Joe Gibbs Racing

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Aaron’s 499 Preview

Posted by Matt on April 29, 2007

The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series rolls in to speedy Talladega Speedway for the Aaron’s 499 at 2:20PM EST. This will be the last Aaron’s 499 WITHOUT the car of tomorrow so it is the last race at the place Dale Earnhardt, J. has ran so well at in the style of car he’s done it with, but since he is starting from the 36 position, I just do not like his chances today. Not only will “Little E.” have to work his way up from the back of the back, he will also have to avoid the inevitable “Big One” to get there. The Budweiser Cheverolet has had an up-and-down season and the ongoing contract negotiations cannot have been much help. Until the off-track issues are settled, I look for the Budweiser Team to have a rocky go at it and do not see him in victory lane today. The top of the field is not quite as strong as it has been with the likes of Dale, Jr. and Tony Stewart starting near the back; here is the Top-10 of the Starting Grid:

  1. Jeff Gordon — #24 — Chevrolet

  2. David Gilliland — #38 — Ford

  3. Denny Hamlin — #11 — Chevrolet

  4. Sterling Marlin — #14 — Chevrolet

  5. Ricky Rudd — #88 — Ford

  6. Kenny Wallace — #78 — Chevrolet

  7. Casey Mears — #25 — Chevrolet

  8. Jimmie Johnson — #48 — Chevrolet

  9. Scott Riggs — #10 — Dodge

  10. David Ragan — #6 — Ford

I usually do a winner prediction and a most laps lead prediction and I am not going to waste any time in saying that I am going with Jeff Gordon for the sweep today. Despite not winning the Daytona 500, Gordon might be off to his best start to date with 7-Top 10s, 6-Top 5s, 5-Poles, and 1-Win THROUGH 8-Races! The man has been at or near the top for nearly every race this season, and he finally got the monkey off of his back last weekend at Phoenix International Speedway by getting to victory lane from the pole, a task that had eluded him up to that point this season.

Here is a few statistics to chew on while you ponder my predictions:

  • Jeff Gordon has finished in the Top 10 in all but one of the 8-races this season, with 6-Top 5s and a win. Starting at or near the top in Restrictor Plate races are key to avoid the wrecks and the proverbial “Big One.” Oh yea, he is starting from the pole too (did I mention that yet?) and it is his 5th of the season. Unreal.

  • Cheverolets have won 7 of 8-races this season and start 6 in the Top 10 for today’s race.

  • Hendrick Motor Sports has 5-Wins, 5-Poles, 13-Top 5s, and 18-Top 10s with 4-drivers (Ky. Busch, J. Gordon, J. Johnson, C. Mears) through 8-races.

  • Jeff Gordon has won 2 of the last 3 Aaron’s 499s at Talladega Motor Speedway and Hendrick Motor Sports has won the last three Aaron’s 499s.

I know I am beginning to sound like a broken record with my NASCAR coverage, constantly spouting off about Hendrick Motor Sports, Jeff Gordon, and Chevrolets, but until someone can dethrone the Power Trio of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch, the battery will continue to be favorites going in to races.

Predictions:

Winner: Jeff Gordon, #24 DuPont Chevrolet – Hendrick Motor Sports

Most Laps Lead: Jeff Gordon, #24 DuPont Chevrolet – Hendrick Motor Sports

Crosses The Start/Finish Line Upside Down: Elliott Sadler, #19 Dodge Dealers Dodge – Valvoline Evernham Racing

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Samsung 500 Preview

Posted by Matt on April 15, 2007

The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series is at Texas Motor Speedway for the Samsung 500 this weekend, and no team is hotter than Hendrick Motor Sports, winning the last four races (J. Johnson 3, Ky. Busch 1) and totaling 10 Top 5 finishes (J. Johnson 4, J. Gordon 4, Ky. Busch 2) in the first 6 races of the season. Chevrolet has also been dominating the series with 5 wins in 6 races and all Hendrick Motor Sports’s drivers drive Chevrolet. The first 10 of the starting grid for today’s race is as follows:

  1. Jeff Gordon
  2. Jeff Burton
  3. Jimmie Johnson
  4. Matt Kenseth
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. Mark Martin
  7. Denny Hamlin
  8. Clint Bowyer
  9. Tony Stewart
  10. Carl Edwards

Three of the Top 5 are Hendrick Motor Sports cars and 8 of the Top 10 are Chevrolets. Notice a pattern? The only two drivers in the Top 10 of qualifying driving Fords are Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards, and don’t count them out as both had solid runs in yesterday’s Busch Series race, including a win by Matt Kenseth after going a lap down and then fighting all the way back. The only other time Matt won a Busch Series race this season, he went on to win the Nextel Cup race on the same track the next day (California Speedway – Week 2). Denny Hamlin looked strong in yesterday’s Busch Series race as well, falling all the way back to 30th to then come all the way back to finish 2nd; Denny starts in the 7th position today. Also, do not count out Mark Martin, despite a two-race break, as he was leading in points going in to the Bristol race and finished a close second to Kevin Harvick at Daytona.

However, the Hendrick Chevys are just too tough and I look for the winner to come from the Hendrick’s garage. Jeff Gordon has the pole, and despite leading in points, Gordon is still looking to post his first win of the season. He has not won from his too previous pole positions this season and most driver’s are always gunning for the DuPont Chevrolet, so do not look for the Rainbow Warriors to have what it takes to go wire-to-wire. Jimmie Johnson is the hottest driver in the series coming in to Texas Motor Speedway, winning 3 of the last 4 races. Johnson starts on the inside of Row 2 and is seemingly the car to beat, but I think his luck runs out this week because, as they say, ‘you can’t win ’em all.’ Johnson’s performances, thus far, seem to skew towards the smaller tracks, ever so slightly, and I think someone overtakes him today.

Then who, you might ask, am I picking for today’s race? I am sticking with oh-so-hot Chevrolets and the seemingly unbeatable squad of Hendrick Motor Sports and going with Kyle Busch as todays winner.

Busch has posted two Top 5 finishes in the last two races, including a win at Bristol Motor Speedway three weeks ago. Busch went on to finish 7th yesterdays tune-up race in the Busch Series and he is in good starting position on the inside of Row 3 at the 5 spot. He is close enough to the top to stay out of trouble in the draft, but far enough back to utilize some help and lay low until the end. The Samsung 500 should be a solid race as the top of the starting grid is outstanding.

Predictions:

Winner: Kyle Busch, Kellogg’s Chevrolet – Hendrick Motor Sports

Most Laps Lead: Jeff Gordon, DuPont Chevrolet – Hendrick Motor Sports

Walks Away From His Own Wreck To Take A Shower: Michael Waltrip, NAPA Toyota – Michael Waltrip Racing

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