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Tag:Fantasy Racing
Posted on: September 10, 2009 9:57 pm
 

NASCAR FANTASY ISLAND - RICHMOND 2

All the marbles are on the line Saturday night in Richmond and there will be a lot of different strategies and agendas in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400.

Those trying to lock down their spot in the Chase may try to take a more conservative approach to the 400 laps and hope to come out of RIR with a decent finish to secure their place in the post-season line-up.

The group at the top of the standings with nothing to lose will no doubt go all out for a trip to victory lane and the coveted bonus points that go along with the checkered flag and apply to the Chase seedings.

And of course the drivers still on the outside looking in will employ a no holds barred plan in a last ditch effort to crack the top twelve and steal a Chase position away in the final regular season race of the season.

The myriad of story lines is what makes this annual September trip top Richmond so interesting. It is truly one of the most unpredictable races of the season and trying to figure out who will do well is almost as complicated as predicting the order of finish at a Daytona or Talladgea restrictor plate race.

In its five years, the Chase has provided some intriguing moments and the 2009 edition is going to be one of the most dramatic.

TEAM ONE
Jeff Gordon - He used to own Richmond and needs a win to get up the Chase seeding ladder so watch for the 24 car in front Saturday night.

TEAM TWO
Clint Bowyer - His Chase chances are over but RCR is looking for a shot in the arm similar to what Kevin Harvick gave the team in Atlanta. Bowyer loves Richmond and should have a solid night.

TEAM THREE
Martin Truex Jr. - Days at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing are winding down and Truex Jr. will be motivated to make up for last week's disappointment at Atlanta when he had a strong car for at least some of the night.

TEAM FOUR
Bobby Labonte - A resurgence last week at Atlanta in a start for the TRG team has this veteran out to prove there's still something left in the tank and that a ride in 2010 should be offered.

TEAM FIVE
David Gilliland - This week he gets a shot in Robby Gordon's ride and Gilliland, bounced out of TRG and solid last week for the Wood Brothers in Atlanta, is also driving for his Sprint Cup future.

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: August 15, 2009 8:58 am
 

NASCAR FANTASY ISLAND - MICHIGAN II

BROOKLYN, Mich. - There's no reason to believe this weekend's trip to Michigan International Speedway will be any different from last June's race at the two-mile superspeedway. Fuel mileage seems to always come into play at MIS and the early summer race might have been the biggest example of that in several years.

Mark Martin rolled into victory lane - barely - after Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle ran out of fuel on the final lap when they were forced to race for position and unable to conserve gas to make it to the end. 

Because that variable exists whenever Michigan rolls around on the schedule, predicting success is a bit of a crap shoot. The big, wide track doesn't usually see too many caution flags and the long green flag runs make a crew chief's calculator as important a weapon in a team's arsenal as anything.

One team has dominated MIS over the year and that's Roush Fenway. Carl Edwards went to victory lane in last year's August Michigan race and after leading the series in victories a year ago with nine is in a season-long drought. Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Biffle, Jamie McMurray and David Ragan, who finished third here last August, should again be strong Sunday but the fuel variable doesn't make any of that quartet a lock by any means.

Then there's this little thing called the Chase to put into the equation. Drivers inside the top twelve not secure of a playoff position just yet can't afford to come out of Michigan with a bad finish. And the guys still knocking on the door in 13th through 15th position, with a legitimate shot to work their way into the Chase field before Richmond rolls around in mid-September, need top tens at least to keep those hopes alive.

Put it all together and Sunday's CARFAX 400 shapes up to be one of the more interesting races of the year.

TEAM ONE
Matt Kenseth - Started the year with back to back wins and has not won since. A two-time Michigan winner will be back near the front Sunday.

TEAM TWO
Mark Martin - The June winner will no doubt be strong again Sunday with Hendrick power.

TEAM THREE
Jamie McMurray - Roush and Yates power under the hood need to come together to give McMurray a boost as the season winds down.

TEAM FOUR
Bobby Labonte - His future is up in the air for 2010 and a solid run with be more a moral victory than anything.

TEAM FIVE
Scott Speed - Team Red Bull has the power at MIS and it's time for Speed to do something this weekend.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: August 9, 2009 10:35 am
Edited on: August 9, 2009 10:36 am
 

NASCAR Fantasy Island - Watkins Glen

Picking drivers that will be successful on a road course falls into two strategies.

A simple look at past success by the handful of regulars who seem to have handled the mysteries of turning left and right. Or a trip out on the limb to choose one of the "specialists" who come out of the woodwork whenver the Cup Series hits either Sonoma or Watkins Glen.

Maybe a few years ago the ringers had a chance to steal a win. But in this age of the COT, I think it's nearly impossible for an outsider to come into NASCAR's top division and be successful only once or twice a year.

The new Cup car has proven to be a challenge for even those who pilot the car on a week-in and week-out basis. Asking someone to jump behind the wheel and run upfront right away - even a road racing ace who knows their way around one of the two road circuits pretty well - is a major task.

Actually the number of outsiders teams bring in at the road races has dwindled. Maybe it's a matter of the regulars getting better at the tricky circuits in northern California and upstate New York or the fact team owners know the difficulties drivers unfamiliar with the nuances of the new-design Cup car will take more than a weekend to overcome. Or perhaps it's a little of both.

At any rate I'd put my money on guys who make a living on Sprint Cup racing as the drivers to watch in Sunday's Helluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen (hands down by the way the worst race title in maybe the last decade).  I'll be surprised if any of the outside forces who decide to dip into the series this weekend will make that much of a different (sorry, could not resist that pun).


TEAM ONE

Jeff Gordon - He used to be the king of the Sprint Cup road but has fallen off in recent years. His resurgent season is a sign that Gordon is ready to recapture his road course magic.

TEAM TWO

Kasey Kahne - Scored his first career road course win back in June at Sonoma and the first for Richard Petty in nearly a decade. The No. 9 should again be near the front of the field on Sunday.

TEAM THREE

Marcos Ambrose - His win in Saturday's Nationwide Series race was another example of Ambrose's road racing prowess and the JTG/MWR entry will be a major contender for a Watkins Glen weekend sweep on Sunday.

TEAM FOUR

Reed Sorenson - He is driving for his career and hopefully the RPM expertise from his teammate Kahne in the No. 9 entry will rub off.

TEAM FIVE

David Gilliland - Failed to qualify for the race after I made my picks for the week. Thanks a lot Gilliland.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 24, 2009 2:38 pm
 

NASCAR FANTASY ISLAND - INDIANAPOLIS

INDIANAPOLIS - Last year's tire problems are hopefully only a bad memory and NASCAR rolls into the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday's 16th running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

The race is still an important goal to win for any driver in Sunday's field and despite a drop off in the crazy hype that surrounded things when NASCAR first made its way to the famed track in 1994, it still ranks as the second biggest event of the schedule.

There's a couple new wrinkles this year, the first of which is how the new Goodyear tires will effect things on Sunday. While most feel confident there won't be anything like what marred last year's race, how the new rubber reacts is still a mystery. It's not exactly known just how long the new compound will last which means crew chiefs won't know exactly what fuel strategies or pit road plans to make until late in the weekend.

The introduction of double file restarts will also play a part in Sunday's outcome. For the first time in 400 history the new policy will bunch the cars up side by side on all green flag restarts, which means any caution that comes in the closing stages of the race will result in a traffic jam at the front of the field when the green reappears.

With Indy's narrow front straightaway and tight turn one, that should raise the excitement level several notches if the restart happens with ten laps or less to go and with the pack of hungry dogs sniffing that raw meat at the checkered flag, we could have a wild finish on our hands.

That scenario bodes well for a possible surprise or underdog winner on Sunday.  So don't count out a new face kissing the bricks Sunday night.

TEAM ONE
Jimmie Johnson - The defending race winner will again challenge for the victory and is coming into the part of the season when the 48 team gets pumped up about the Chase kicking off in just a few short laps.

TEAM TWO
Kasey Kahne - He's been coming around and the flat Indy track has always agreed with Kahne, who is in position to bring home a good finish for Richard Petty Motorsports.

TEAM THREE
Kevin Harvick - A dismal year could be saved with another win at the Brickyard, to follow up Harvick's 2003 victory.

TEAM FOUR
Elliott Sadler - Will run the new Dodge engine for the first time this weekend which will give him the extra power he's been missing.

TEAM FIVE
John Andretti - His last name is synonymous with Indianapolis and Andretti knows his way around the place. With the right breaks he could be big surprise finisher on Sunday.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 10, 2009 11:27 am
 

NASCAR FANTASY ISLAND - CHICAGOLAND

JOLIET, Ill. - Night racing and Chicagoland Speedway seem to agree with each other.

Last year the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series raced for the first time under the lights at the 1.5-mile track outside Chicago and the result was a lot of side-by-side racing and thrilling finish between Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson.

Saturday night's LifeLock.com 400 should be more of the same.

Drivers have come to like Chicagoland much more in the last few years as the track's surface weathered since its first race back in 2001. Better grip, especially in the wake of moving the race from under the hot July sun to a prime time affair, provides several grooves and opportunities to use different parts of the race track.

As the "Race to the Chase" continues several drivers are under increased pressure to come out of the WIndy City with a good finish which should ramp up the competition level a bit more. Also throw in the fact that since the bulk of the tracks in this year's "Chase" schedule are similar to Joliet's 1.5-mile layout, teams will no doubt use what they learn this weekend as a baseline of information for when the playoffs begin in September.

TEAM ONE
Tony Stewart - He's starting to heat up as he always does once the summer schedule kicks in and has won at Chicagoland twice before. A third win is definitely within his sight.

TEAM TWO
Juan Pablo Montoya - All of a sudden the road racing specialist has become an all around threat no matter what track the series visits and Montoya should have another strong run Saturday night to help solidify his spot within the Chase.

TEAM THREE
Brian Vickers - He'll go from the pole for the fifth time this season and has shown the Red Bull Toyota's can be fast for at least a short period of time. He'll look to find a way to stay in front of the field for 400 miles.

TEAM FOUR
David Ragan - After a dismal and disappointing first half of the season Ragan is wiping the slate clean and looks to find the intermediate track magic that he had in 2008 this weekend.

TEAM FIVE
Brad Keselowski - He'll have Hendrick power in one of his starts with the team this year and is starting to turn into one of the hottest commodities in the garage area. A good run Saturday night will help solidify that position.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 3, 2009 9:05 am
 

NASCAR FANTASY ISLAND - COKE ZERO 400

Picking restrictor plate races isn't an easy thing. Even with two already in the book this year, trying to figure out who will run well in Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona is on par with understanding why Tyler Perry movies are popular.

But I digress. 

I guess you can use a little of what we say in the season-opening Daytona 500 at the follow-up plate race at Talladega in April to gauge what might happen Saturday night in the annual mid-summer classic in Daytona.

Then again maybe not.

Matt Kenseth and Bred Keselowski would not have been on my "Who will win the season's first two restrictor plate races?" answer list if I picked 100 times.

It's a safe bet to say that Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports will have the horses to run upfront Saturday.  Both teams have impeccable plate programs and certainly have the drivers in their stables to find victory lane.

Kyle Busch was the plate king a year ago and will look to try and regain some of the lost magic on the Sprint Cup side Saturday night. He had the car to beat at Daytona back in February until getting caught up in the day's controversial "Big One."

The guy in the middle of that melee was Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has made strides - I guess we can call them baby steps - since new crew chief Lance McGrew came on board a little more than a month ago. Junior used to own plate racing but hasn't been able to find victory lane - most anywhere for that matter - in a while.

I think the combination of Earnhardt's plate racing prowess, better communication with McGrew, Hendrick power and the February dust-up still fresh in his mind might be enough to get the 88 car if not to victory lane then at least to a top five finish.

TEAM ONE
Kyle Busch - There's no way he'll get as many Cup wins as he did a year ago but something tells me the 18 car will take a few checkered flags before the year ends and Saturday night will be one of them.

TEAM TWO
Greg Biffle - He's won the summer Daytona race before and of all the Roush drivers seems to be at the front of the list in understanding how to run well when plate tracks roll around.

TEAM THREE
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - It could be a fantastic Fourth of July celebration for "Junior Nation" if their guy can stay away from causing any more on track fireworks at Daytona.

TEAM FOUR
Sam Hornish Jr. - The Penske boys have stepped up the restrictor plate program and Hornish has been on a steady rise in season number two of his full-time Sprint Cup career.

TEAM FIVE
Brad Keselowski - Why not? Talladega showed that a good car with a capable driver can spell victory.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: June 25, 2009 3:51 pm
 

NASCAR FANTASY ISLAND - NEW HAMPSHIRE

What can NASCAR do for an encore after last week's slam bang finish in Sonoma?

How about throwing double file restarts into the mix for Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

The tight "Magic Mile" is going to be an interesting place Sunday when the two-by-two restarts let loose after caution flags. New Hampshire is already a place where track position and being out front is important. Now drivers will have to deal with the a tightly packed bunch of cars when the green flag reappears every time Sunday afternoon.

From a fans' perspective that should make Sunday's race another exciting affair. New Hampshire is a mile long but already drives like a short track. Throwing in the double file deal is a nice ingredient to the excitement recipe.

The fact that there are only ten races left for drivers to make the Chase should also ramp things up this weekend. The urgency level is starting to rise for a pretty big group of drivers, some inside the top twelve and others on the outside looking in.

Flat track specialists should shine Sunday. But don't rule out a few others who need to make a move in a big way and that means we could get some pre-Fourth of July weekend fireworks this weekend in New England.

TEAM ONE
Denny Hamlin - The best flat track driver in the garage area has started to show signs of life lately and is poised to make a trip to victory lane very soon. Why not Sunday?

TEAM TWO
Carl Edwards - He won for the first time in 2009 last weekend at the Milwaukee Mile in the Nationwide Series. New Hampshire is a similarly flat one mile track and Cousin Carl could have another good day ahead.

TEAM THREE
Kevin Harvick - Maybe the biggest disappointment of the season and a former Loudon winner, Harvick needs a win perhaps more than anyone in the garage area.

TEAM FOUR
Elliott Sadler - Richard Petty Motorsports' resurgence was the big story last week in Sonoma with three drivers in the top ten including Sadler, who is looking for another good run Sunday.

TEAM FIVE
Robby Gordon - He got his first Sprint Cup win at Loudon in 2001. That's the only criteria I have for picking him unfortunately.





Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: June 12, 2009 11:43 am
 

NASCAR FANTASY ISLAND - MICHIGAN

BROOKLYN, Mich. - If it's big and wide it must be Michigan. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls into the Irish Hills for the first of two stops in 2009 this weekend with Sunday's Lifelock 400.

The two-mile track has been a staple of NASCAR's schedule for more than forty years and during that period Fords have reigned supreme.

That trend looks like it will hold this weekend and after a downturn since winning back to back races to start the season with Matt Kenseth visiting victory lane at Daytona and Fontana, the Roush Fenway Racing stable will be the cream of the crop here in Michigan.

Carl Edwards went to victory lane in last August's visit to MIS and the No. 99, coming off his second place finish at Pocono a week ago, has the look of the car to beat on Sunday.

Even the drivers within the Roush organization who have struggled in the first 14 races of the year may be in for a turnaround this weekend with Jamie McMurray and David Ragan, who could have the award for this most disappointing driver of this season already sewn up, should shine on Sunday.

TEAM ONE

Matt Kenseth - He's owned Michigan in the past and the 17 bunch has had this race circled on the calendar for some time - like since he went to victory lane at the MIS sister track in Fontana.

TEAM TWO

Greg Biffle - Has come close to righting the ship in recent weeks but hasn't been able to seal the deal. Another former Michigan winner will have the horses - and the motivation - to come home with a good finish Sunday.

TEAM THREE

Jamie McMurray - Time to show team owner Jack Roush he should be part of next year's team when the organization has to cut one entry to get down to NASCAR's four car limit.

TEAM FOUR

David Ragan - Most everyone thought Ragan was this year's clear choice to take the next step into NASCAR's elite group of drivers after his stellar 200 campaign. It hasn't worked out that way to say the least and after his success at MIS last year, he desperately needs to recapture that magic Sunday.

TEAM FIVE

Paul Menard - Yates power and Roush set-ups should equate to a solid run for the 98 team this weekend.

Category: Auto Racing
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com