Tag Archives: race recap

Race Recap: Dover

Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson traded the lead numerous times on Sunday at Dover. (Photo Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

My top picks were about as fast as I figured they’d be at Dover on Sunday, although several drivers and teams committed bonehead blunders that doomed their day, and bad luck struck a few others.

1. Kyle Busch: The 18 was the dominant car on short runs early on, and as the laps wound down, it appeared Busch possibly had the #1 car on long runs, too. He cruised to victory after the other top car, the 48, committed a grievous foul on pit road with 30-ish laps to go, spoiling what would’ve been a terrific duel to the finish line.

2. Jimmie Johnson: The 48 was the other top car, but as noted above, Johnson incurred a pit-road penalty on the final stop, and he finished in the teens instead of first or second.

3. Clint Bowyer: It appeared Bowyer had at least a top-5 car, but a pit-road incident sank his chances of finishing that high (the jack got stuck under his car, and he dragged it around the track for a lap). Continue reading

Race Recap: Darlington

The Southern 500 gets underway Saturday night.

My top five ran just about as well as I figured they would Saturday night at Darlington, with only a few surprises:

1. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin had the co-top car, and he brought it home for the win.

2. Jeff Gordon: Gordon drove the other top car, and he likely would’ve had an exciting duel with Hamlin for the win at the finish if not for some pit-road tomfoolery with 25-ish laps to go.

3. Kurt Busch: The Blue Duece was a top 5–10 car all night, and it rolled home third. Continue reading

Race Recap: Richmond

Kyle Busch takes the win away from Jeff Gordon on the final restart at Richmond last night. (Photo Al Bello/Getty Images)

All my favorites in last night’s race ran up to my expectations:

1. Kyle Busch had the car to beat much of the early portion of the race, and then he got past Jeff Gordon on the final restart to win it.

2. Jeff Gordon had the car to beat the second half of the race and came home second.

3. Ryan Newman had a top 10 car all night and finished eighth.

4. Jimmie Johnson had a top 15 car early, but the team improved it throughout. He finished 10th.

5. Kevin Harvick had a top car throughout the night and finished third.

Two surprises: 1) Jeff Burton had a great car as the track cooled, which I didn’t foresee, and 2) Carl Edwards worked his Continue reading

Race Recap: Talladega

The boys put on a good show at Talladega, with a record number of lead changes and plenty of action throughout most of the race. Predictably, the end came down to multiple multiple-car pileups and three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish.

My picks all had interesting days:

1. Kasey Kahne: The poor guy received a huge amount of bad luck. First, he had a bad sparkplug and fell through the field. He got it fixed, and later led the race for awhile. Then he had trouble getting on pit road and went a lap down. Got his lap back, only to get dinged in someone else’s accident. Got back on the lead lap again, only to get bashed in one of the big late crashes. Finished 21st. Continue reading

Race Recap: Texas

The 24 prepares to blow past the 48. (Photo John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR.)

On Sunday shortly before the race, I spent some time in the “Texas picks” thread in the “Who are your picks for this week’s race?” forum on FantasyNascarPreview.com. The discussion prompted me to revisit my picks, particularly my evaluation of Jeff Gordon. In my Race Preview Update: Texas, I’d bumped Gordon out of my top six due to his relatively poor showing on the Practice 1 speed chart and in qualifying, but I learned in the forum that while he wasn’t particularly good in qualifying trim, he was great in race trim. So, if I’d posted an update to the update, my top seven would’ve looked like this:

1. Tony Stewart
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Kyle Busch
5. Greg Biffle
6. Clint Bowyer
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Continue reading

Race Recap: Phoenix

Ryan Newman powered by Gordon on the final restart.

I rated Jeff Gordon, Dale Jr., and Jimmie Johnson 1,2,3, and they finished 2, 12, 3, respectively. Johnson had the top car until late in the race when Kyle Busch edged past him. Gordon had a good car and benefited from a late caution. Junior had a decent car but developed a problem with his splitter, which caused him to fall back in the field and eventually come in for pit-road repairs. The fact he climbed back to finish 12th suggests his car was strong at the end, too.

I figured Ryan Newman would be strong, and he had a top-10 car most of the day. And he then capitalized on that late caution to power past Gordon for the win on the restart. Continue reading

Race Recap: Martinsville

I rated Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon the clear favorites for today’s race, and that assessment was pretty close. I’d say Martin and Gordon had the third and fourth best cars at the end of the race, respectively. Martin was doomed, though, by a pit-stall penalty about halfway through and then a blown right-front tire after he’d clawed his way back up to seventh with 40 laps to go. Gordon had the lead for a green-white-checkered finish thanks to a questionable pit stop by Denny Hamlin, but Matt Kenseth bumped him out of the lead on the restart, and he finished third.

I rated Hamlin #3 before the race, and he exceeded those expectations. His car came in as the track rubbered up, and on long runs he clearly had the top car. His day was seemingly shattered when he gave up the lead to pit during a caution with roughly 10 laps left and only Kyle Busch came with him. But then he shoved his way to 4th in just a few laps, and after the final caution, he slipped through for the win when Kenseth roughed up Gordon.

Juan Pablo Montoya never really was a factor today. Early on, he got banged on a little back in traffic, then had tire trouble. And like practice suggested, Jimmie Johnson had only a top 10-ish car, and he and crew chief Chad Knaus never really got it better, at least not relative to the other front runners.

I wasn’t surprised to see Jeff Burton running in the top five given his excellent performances during practice, but I didn’t foresee him having the best or second-best car. He had the top car on short runs, but was probably the second-best car on long runs to Hamlin’s 11. His right-front tire went soft with 17 laps to go and he decided to stay out on the track and try to hobble to the finish, but the tire blew on lap 10.

My big surprise today? Ryan Newman. The 39 didn’t show much in practice, but come race time he had a good car that steadily moved forward. By the end of the race, he was a top five car.

My Yahoo! Fantasy Picks
Group A
Mark Martin had an excellent car, but he was snake bit once again.

Group B
Clint Bowyer produced a solid return. He had a top 10 car all day and brought it home safe and sound in seventh.

Dale Jr. had a pretty good car early, but true to recent form, he and/or his team seemed to struggle in the pits a bit (or at least not excel), and the 88 didn’t improve as much throughout the race as his competitors. He probably should’ve had a top 10 but meandered home 15th.

Group C
A.J. Allmendinger was caught up in a wreck early and finished back with the go-or-go-home’ers.

Lesson Learned
When Martinsville’s surface goes from green to rubbered in, the change has a big impact on suspension performance. At the beginning of today’s race, the track was clean due to heavy rain the day before, and Tony Stewart’s car ran fantastic. As the track rubbered in, however, Stewart fell like a stone back through the field and ended up a non factor despite numerous pit stops to change the setup.

Race Recap: Bristol

I rated Jimmie Johnson the clear favorite at Bristol, and lo and behold, he came through! It certainly was touch-and-go, though, because Kurt Busch was fast all day. He was leading late, and it looked unlikely Johnson (running second) could get him if the race stayed green. But a late caution threw the race to the pits. Johnson and Busch took four tires, and when the other front runners took two, the 48 and 2 took the green flag in sixth and fifth, respectively. It looked grim, but the champ surged to the front in a few laps and ran away with the race over the last six or so laps.

Unfortunately, my #2 pick, Juan Pablo Montoya, did not fare so well. He had a strong car early, running up front for much of the day (he led 29 laps). But then he slipped back a bit, got dinged in a big pileup at lap 342, and finished 26th.

My Yahoo! Fantasy League Picks
Group A: Johnson came through, woo hoo!

Group B: Kenseth used some pit strategy to get track position and finished 5th. Reutimann was very strong early, running 3rd and surging toward the lead. But then his engine failed—sigh.

Group C: Scott Speed was motoring toward a decent finish of around 20th with with maybe 30 laps left (?) when he suffered a flat tire and smacked the wall. He got back out and finished 31st.

Lessons Learned
I learned a couple things about Bristol yesterday. First, drivers aren’t pounding their brakes nearly as much as I thought they were, and that reduces the chance of equipment failure. Second, despite the extension of the SAFER barriers in turns 2 and 4 (which tightened the track slightly), Bristol just isn’t the bang-’em-up track it used to be. Put both of these lessons together, and it’s clear Bristol has more predictability than I thought. Not as much as, say, Las Vegas, but more than Martinsville.

Which is where we go next!

Race Recap: Atlanta

I strongly recommended Mark Martin for the March 7 race in Atlanta, and he bombed. Or did he?

Martin started fourth but immediately began plummeting back through the field. The track was a bit cooler than expected, but I don’t think that explains why the 5 was suddenly so off the pace after his stellar pre-race performances–something must’ve been wrong with the car. One of Fox TV’s pit reporters said Martin radio’d in that the car was so tight it was “plowing,” but that’s all the info I heard (if anybody knows more, I’d love to hear it). Anyway, he landed somewhere back in the 30s before a yellow came out and he got some pit time.

And then he began marching back up through the field. Not as fast as he fell, but he was making nice progress. Until a rear tire went down on the front stretch, that is. He’d climbed back up into the teens when the tire went down, causing him to perform a nerve-wracking slide through the infield. That incident put him back in the 30s again. He went back to work and climbed back into the mid teens again before he wrecked and finished 33rd.

So, although the end result stunk, it seems clear Martin did indeed have a strong car once he got the initial kink worked out.

OK, time for an off week, and then off to Bristol!