October 26, 2011

TUMS for Stomach Wrenching Talladega Finish

Despite being out of contention, Jimmie Johnson
might remind everyone what makes him great. (Getty)
First of all, congratulations to Dave Blaney.  He finished third at Talladega last week, his best career Cup finish.

But, that leads to the question, what the heck!?

There are 12 drivers allegedly competing for a championship and Blaney's just excited he has enough points to qualify automatically each week.  How did all 12 finish behind him Sunday!?

I don't mean to knock Blaney, he seems like a good guy, but based on his track record, he shouldn't have the car nor ability to finish in front of the entire Chase field over the course of a 500-mile paint trading affair.  Yet, there he was at the end of the day, on the bottom step of a metaphorical podium, while fans tried to stomach what happened to their favorite Chasers.

October 25, 2011

No Knocks on Wood

Eric Wood ran away from the LRRS
 field in the MW Grand Prix. (John Owens)
In 2011, the Loudon Road Race Series featured as many twists as the 12-turn road course it races on at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The year started in the cold flurries of April, raced through the intense humidity of a New England summer and came to a close in the fading light of fall foliage.

For seven months, the series invaded NHMS for a full weekend of racing. Its marquee race, known as the "Dash for the Cash," ran on Saturday afternoons as the Middleweight Grand Prix class.

Cory Hildebrand kicked off the seven-race season with a win, while Eric Wood and Shane Narbonne set the seeds for a season-long battle with a second and third place finish (respectively). The biggest news of the day, however, was 2010 MW Grand Prix champion Scott Greenwood, who recorded a DNF and fell into a difficult hole for his title defense.

October 23, 2011

PODIUM FINISH: Week Ending October 23

(Vermont Motorsports Magazine)
Each Monday we take a look back at the week that was from around the region.
Racing season in New England has slowed to a crawl - and is virtually finished following last weekend's Oktoberfest at Lee USA Speedway – but some drivers and crews found a way to go out with a bang.
Without further ado, here's a look at who made the podium:

October 19, 2011

Drafting Through the Chase

Dale Jr. has five Talladega wins,
but the last one was in 2004. (NASCAR)
 The last time NASCAR visited Talladega, it made for one of the most exciting races of the season.  The Aaron's 499 featured a record 88 lead changes, and eight cars raced in four tandem groups with Jimmie Johnson edging Clint Bowyer by 0.002 seconds for the win.

However, despite the finish, the two-car draft has a got a lot of press and stirred up a lot of controversy among the media and fans.  It's been such a discussion that NASCAR has changed the restrictor plate sizes for Sunday's Sam Good Club 500.

For those that don't know, the restrictor plate limits air flow into the engine and thus regulates the amount of power a car can generate.  It's used at the biggest (and fastest) superspeedways to limit cars from going dangerously fast (which is somewhat of an oxymoron in auto racing).

October 18, 2011

Merely Mortal

Dan Wheldon's death reminds us of
 the risks inherent in racing. (IndyCar Media)
Sunday, we were all reminded that the sport we know and love has a dark side.
As race fans, we understand that the thing that makes our sport so exciting and so fun to watch is the same thing that makes it so dangerous.  The shear speed and thrill of nose-to-tail racing at such high rates gives the sport its excitement.

It also gives it its dangers, and, in Sunday's IndyCar race, the excitement gave way to the danger.
Just 11 laps into what was supposed to a celebratory end to the IZOD IndyCar Series' season, things went horribly wrong.  Sebastian Saavedra appeared to make a small amount of contact with another car and ended up sliding sideways through turn 2, where all heck broke lose.

October 12, 2011

Banking for 500

Flashy? No. But, Matt Kenseth
is usually very reliable. (Getty)
Is it the Bank of America 500 or the Bank of America $5.00?

I've been a Bank of America customer for a few years because it's easy to find a BoA ATM most anywhere life takes me, but in the event I don't find one, I can bank on seeing the charges roll on my statement.

This weekend, it will be the drivers of the Sprint Cup Series that will roll onto the banking of Charlotte Motor Speedway in a quest to cash in on the ultimate prize and win the Bank of America 500.

The title of the race is ironic in that the bank recently determined it would start charging users $5.00/month if they made purchases using their debit cards.  The announcement hasn't been made public yet to common patrons like myself, but that's an average lap speed for this customer service clunker.

I can attest that my loyalty to the company is about as paper thin as Tony Stewart's patience for irritating media questions.  Like Tony fielding questions, I'm with BoA because I have to be.

October 11, 2011

All In For Vegas

Will Power needs a win this weekend, if he plans on
 taking the IndyCar championship. (IndyCar Media)
With so much energy going toward NASCAR's Chase, it's time to temporarily divert our focus toward the final race of the IZOD IndyCar Series and what poses to be a great race for the championship.

In recent years, the IndyCar championship has been in Homestead much like NASCAR, and, much like NASCAR, the same driver has dominated the series of late.  That's Dario Franchitti.

This year, however, the final race will be hosted by Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and only time will tell if a change in venue will mark a changing of the guard.

October 6, 2011

Rising in the Flatlands

Jeff Gordon is one of the drivers
 in need of climbing at Kansas. (Getty)
I've never been to Kansas.  I've driven through every surrounding state: Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma and Missouri - when I was within a straightaway of Kansas.  I can attest to one thing: it's as flat as you imagine it to be.

However, despite the landscape of both the state and the current Chase field (nine drivers are on a relatively-level surface), this weekend's Hollywood Casino 400 should feature some mountain highs and valley lows for the drivers depending on their respective outcomes.

I keep trying to pitch the idea that the upcoming week will help draw a clearer Chase picture.  I've finally waived the white flag on that assertion.  As my blog post said yesterday, the one thing we do know is that we don't know much about who the top contenders for the Chase will end up being, and that we might never get a full idea until it's over.

October 5, 2011

We Know We Don't Know

Even race winners can feel like
they're driving into a wall. (Getty)
After three weeks into the Chase, we know one thing for sure and that's that we know anything for certain.

...(I'll pause while you read that over again.)

Usually, at three weeks into the Chase, the contenders have started to weed themselves out from the also rans.  Whether it's the change in the scoring system or just an even field of drivers, that hasn't happened this year.