Jamie McMurray took the pole in Friday's qualifying. (Photo Tom Whitmore/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The NASCAR Sprint Cup teams completed two eventful practice sessions and qualifying in some serious spring heat yesterday afternoon at Darlington. A lot of cars bounced off the wall, my rankings underwent a significant reshuffling, and us NASCAR fantasy players and handicappers gained a lot of clarity, but before we get to all that, let’s quickly update some of the predictive factors.
As of this morning, Weather.com says Darlington might get some afternoon thunderstorms, but the skies should definitely clear by late afternoon. There’s a chance rain will de-rubber the track, then, and the track temperature will definitely be lower when the green flag waves tonight than it was during Friday’s preliminaries. That gives the preliminaries less value as a predictive factor than they’d have if the track condition was the same tonight as it was yesterday. On the bright side, it looks like there’s no chance of a rain stoppage tonight.
The Goodyear Tire Notes on Jayski’s “Darlington Race Info” page (scroll to the bottom) indicate the teams are running a different tire package at Darlington this year than they did last year. That decreases race predictability at bit. Continue reading
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
Kyle Petty leads the field under the sun in last spring's race. PHOTO PIR/GETTY IMAGES
What the… ? Phoenix is supposed to be a relatively predictable race, but the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams have finished with practice and qualifying for tonight’s race in Phoenix, and the results were, shall I say, fairly wacky. A.J. Allmendinger, Scott Speed and Sam Hornish Jr. qualified first, second and third, respectively, while favorite Mark Martin was way off the pace all day.
The cooling track undoubtedly contributed at least a little to the unexpected qualifying results—the drivers who ran late in the afternoon/evening (e.g., Allmendinger, Speed and Hornish), tended to run faster than the guys went out early. Practice and qualifying were run in sunny, hot-track conditions but the race will finish under the lights in the cool desert evening, and that adds to the uncertainty for us NASCAR fantasy players and handicappers. Finally, maybe the spoiler is shaking things up? Continue reading