Watching NASCAR: Watch out Texas, Here They Come

There is something very familiar about this week’s standings in the Chase — Jimmie Johnson is back on top. However not by much as Brad Keselowski has shown that he is not going away as the two of them appear to be making the Cup Championship a two-man event.

The two have been close and Johnson winning last week in the Tums Fast Relief 500 managed to finally dislodge Keselowski from the top spot in the standings. All things considered Keselowski had a solid day, starting in the back of the pack and working his way to a brief stay at first before fading to a sixth place finish. Johnson ran a strong race and got bonus points for most laps led, among others. Kyle Busch took second followed by Kasey Kahne, Arix Almirola, and Clint Boyer. Dale Earnhardt Jr., back after missing two races due to a concussion, finished in 21st.

In other news it looks like Dodge may return to NASCAR. ESPN reported that Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of the SRT Brand and Chrysler Group LLC told the sports broadcaster that the manufacturer is looking to return and that it saw NASCAR as a very good investment. After its lone team, Penske, said that it was moving to Ford earlier this year Dodge announced it would depart NASCAR next year. Now it has to go hunting for a team.

This Week: The AAA Texas 500

Broadcast: Nov. 4 at 2 pm ET ESPN


Sprint Cup Standings
1) Jimmie Johnson
2) Brad Keselowski -2
3) Clint Boyer -26
4) Kasey Kahne -29
5) Denny Hamlin -49
6) Jeff Gordon -54
7) Martin Truex Jr. -63
8 ) Matt Kenseth –65
9) Greg Biffle -69
10) Tony Stewart -71
11) Kevin Harvick -88
12) Dale Earnhardt Jr. -140


No race last week.

This Week: O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway

: Nov. 3 at 7 pm ET ESPN

Nationwide Standings

1) Elliott Sadler
2) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -6
3) Austin Dillon -26
4) Sam Hornish Jr. -98
5) Michael Annett -150

Watching NASCAR: Off to Martinsville

The flags were flying at Kansas Speedway, but not the ones that drivers want to see. Cautions abounded at the race as it was slowed by multiple accidents, the second time this season that a new track surface has been a major factor in a race’s results.

The new fast surface was a problem for eventual winner Matt Kenseth, who smashed into a wall early in the race and then managed to avoid hitting anyone else as he managed to guide his car to the checkered flag in a race that featured 14 cautions.

The one thing you can say about the wrecks that caused the cautions, they came in every shape and form, with some cars simply losing control and spinning out by themselves, just ask Greg Biffle, who fell five places in the standings after the race due to issues with the surface that led to him hitting the wall, hard.
Dancia Patrick once again one of the cars that was wrecked, but apparently it was due to her intentionally wrecking Landon Cassill. I wonder if she gets a bonus each time she makes the highlights destroying her car? The top five was filled out by Martin Truex Jr in second followed by Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart in fifth.

On a positive note it looks like Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be back behind the wheel at Martinsville this weekend. After suffering a second concussion in a few weeks at the huge crash three weeks ago in xxx he took two weeks off on doctor’s advice to recover from the accident. Considering the results from Kansas. I imagine he is glad that he missed two rather than one.

This Week: Tums Fast Relief 500
Fast turns around Martinsville Speedway’s half mile oval are in store for the drivers this weekend as the Chase heads into the final stretch.

Broadcast: Oct. 28 at 1 pm ET ESPN


Sprint Cup Standings
1) Brad Keselowski
2) Jimmie Johnson -7
3) Denny Hamlin -20
4) Clint Boyer -25
5) Kasey Kahne -30
6) Martin Truex Jr. -43
7) Tony Stewart -47
8 ) Jeff Gordon -51
9) Matt Kenseth -55
10) Kevin Harvick -59
11) Greg Biffle -62
12) Dale Earnhardt Jr. -122

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had an amazing day last week at Kansas Speedway where against all odds he came from way back in the pack, first to just get on the lead lap and then, when it mattered most, to be in the lead to win the day. The win basically halved Elliott Sadler’s lead over second place Stenhouse, the defending Nationwide champion.The top five featured Austin Dillon in second, then Joey Logano followed by Elliott Sadler and Cole Whitt.

There is no doubt that a bit of luck was involved but it takes a good deal more than that to win a race, but it does help. After coming back from two laps down Stenhouse got the bit of luck all drivers hope for when the race leader Kyle Busch ran out of gas with the finish line in sight. You really cannot ask for more than that, can you?

There is no Nationwide race this weekend and we will see them next at Texas Motor Speedway.

Nationwide Standings
1) Elliott Sadler
2) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -6
3) Austin Dillon -26
4) Sam Hornish Jr. -98
5) Michael Annett -150

Watching NASCAR This Week: Going Hollywood! In Kansas, Dorothy.

It looks like Clint Boyer drove himself into the title talk with a win last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a win that now makes it look like a four way fight for the Cup as it hits the halfway point with three drivers within shouting distance of the lead.

Boyer took the lead after Brad Keselowski lost it due to an error by his crew- more on that in a second. He moved up one spot to forth and trails by 28 points, a challenge but not an insurmountable one. He was followed over the finish line by Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch.

Points leader Brad Keselowski’s team did not learn from its mistakes, even though they were very recent. He was dominating in the race and yet a miscalculation on his pit crew had him run out of gas and so finish in 11th. It might be understandable except he did it the night before as well. I suspect someone s going to get a talking to.

This Week: Hollywood Casino 400
The teams are at the Kansas Speedway’s 1.5 mile tri-oval track for the Hollywood Casino 400, where practice time has been tight due to weather conditions but it is expected to be a bit cloudy and good racing conditions this weekend. The lack of practice time hopefully will not be an issue since the track has a new surface and that has caused some issues at other tracks.

Broadcast: Oct. 21 at 1 pm ET ESPN


Sprint Cup Standings
1) Brad Keselowski
2) Jimmie Johnson-7
3) Denny Hamlin -15
4) Clint Boyer -28
5) Kasey Kahne -35
6) Greg Biffle -43
7) Martin Truex Jr. -43
8 ) Tony Stewart -50
9) Jeff Gordon -50
10) Kevin Harvick -56
11) Matt Kenseth -67
12) Dale Earnhardt Jr. -86

Nationwide Series

Stop me if you have heard this before. Joey Logano wins a Nationwide race. Seems like it is almost an everyday occurrence as he won at Charlotte, his eighth win this year. If you are wondering why he is so far down the points standing it is because it is only his 18th series start this year. Wonder if he will race a full slate next year?

Logano led for 62 laps during the race but was helped by some bad lick on the part of Brad Keselowski how pitted with nine laps to go and did not take on enough gas. Oops. Keselowski finished 18th. The top five was filled out by Kevin Harvick, points leader Elliott Sadler, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamplin.

The Nationwide Series will have a few minor changes next year. Its field of cars will shrink from 43 to 40, although the Sprint Cup will remain at 43. Also there s a new qualifying rule in which the 36 fastest cars will make the race on speed, followed by the next six highest-ranking cars in owner’s points and one spot for the most recent eligible past champion

This Week: Kansas Lottery 300

Broadcast: Oct.20 at 3 pm ET ESPN

Nationwide Standings
1) Elliott Sadler
2) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -13
3) Austin Dillon -29
4) Sam Hornish Jr. -93
5) Michael Annett -146

Watching NASCAR: Bruised Teams Head to Charlotte

If the old saw “Misery loves company” is true, it sure had a lot last weekend at Talladega where the track took its toll among the leaders in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, and like a living entity it waited until almost the end to extract as much drama as possible.

Tony Stewart was defending his lead on the last lap when he moved over to block some fast moving traffic. In hindsight I am sure that he did not want to end the evening sailing through the air as part of the 25 car pileup that he created, one of the most spectacular crashed this year. He had just zoomed to the lead at the start of a two lap sprint to the checkered flag and moved to block Michael Waltrip’s car and clipped the car, starting the mayhem

The move did not just hurt his finish at the race but featured 10 of the 12 drivers competing for the Cup as, not surprising; they were all competing for a top finish at the restrictor-plate track. The ultimate beneficiary of the accident was Matt Kenseth, who won under a caution flag. The rest of the field included Jeff Gordon at second followed by Kyle Busch, David Ragan and Regan Smith.

The toll of the crash will be felt for some time now. Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered a concussion in the crash, and following an unreported one that he suffered in an August race that was just too much for him and he is shutting down for at least the next two races, killing his hopes for winning the Sprint Cup Championship for this year. He was currently 11th in the standings.

This Week: Bank of America 500

This week everybody heads to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America 500. Hopefully everybody’s bruises from last week have had time to heal before they tackle Charlotte’s 1.5 mile quad oval under the lights.

Broadcast: Oct 13 at 7 pm ET ABC


Sprint Cup Standings
1) Brad Keselowski
2) Jimmie Johnson -14
3) Denny Hamlin -23
4) Kasey Kahne -36
5) Clint Boyer -40
6) Jeff Gordon -42
7) Tony Stewart -46
8 ) Martin Truex Jr. -48
9) Greg Biffle -49
10) Kevin Harvick -49
11) Dale Earnhardt Jr. -51
12) Matt Kenseth -62

Nationwide Series

I am pretty sure that there was a collective sigh from the Nationwide drivers when they saw the last lap at Talladega last week, glad that they did not find themselves in that mess. With no race last week they could prepare for this week’s race without the problem of possibly needing a new car.

This Week: Dollar General 300
I somehow though this race was last week- sorry about that.

Broadcast: Oct. 12 7 pm ET ESPN

Nationwide Standings
1) Elliott Sadler
2) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -9
3) Austin Dillon -25
4) Sam Hornish Jr. -60
5) Justin Allgaier -128

Watching NASCAR: Will Johnson Win Again at Dover?

Denny Hamlin has continued his winning ways in the post season by taking the checkered flag in New Hampshire last weekend it brings his total for the year to five. Then again he predicted it prior to the race on Twitter but I doubted that he realized that he would need an assist from his teammate Kyle Busch.

While having the fastest car in practice he started back of the pack due to a pit crew error, but that did not seem to be much of an issue as he quickly worked his way forward, taking the lead around half way through the race and holding on until the end. Teammate Bush helped clear debris from the front of the car that was impeding air flow.

The race helped Hamlin move two spaces up, but steady Jimmie Johnson, who finished second, moved into the top spot, dropping Brad Keselowski down to second in the standings, down by a single point. Jeff Gordon rebounded from last week’s poor showing and finished third while Clint Boyer and Kasey Kahne filled out the top five.

This week: AAA 400
This week the Chase heads to Dover International Speedway and its Monster Mile 1 mile oval track for the AAA 400, not good news for much of the field since Johnson lists this as one of his favorite tracks. Jeff Gordon, the bottom feeder in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, needs to not just finish strong, but start winning or he will soon be mathematically eliminated.

Broadcast: Sept 30 1 pm ET ESPN


Sprint Cup Standings
1) Jimmie Johnson
2) Brad Keselowski -1
3) Denny Hamlin -7
4) Tony Stewart -10
5) Kasey Kahne -15
6) Clint Boyer -15
7) Dale Earnhardt Jr. -26
8 ) Kevin Harvick -31
9) Greg Biffle -33
10) Martin Truex Jr. -34
11) Matt Kenseth -35
12) Jeff Gordon -45

Nationwide Series

There must be something about Kentucky that Austin Dillon really likes as he has won for the second time this season at the Kentucky Speedway, and while the win was not as dominating as his earlier one, few are.

Still he lead the last 50 laps as his competition was felled my mishaps and miscues helped keep him in the front. First a pit road accident between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Eric McClure slowed him down. This allowed Elliott Sadler to shot to the front, where he led 93 laps before also falling down as he was passed and fell to fifth. The top five was filled out by Sam Hornish Jr. in second, Brendan Gaughan, Drew Herring and Sadler.

This week: OneMain Financial 200

Broadcast: Sept. 29 3 pm ET ESPN

Nationwide Standings
1) Elliott Sadler
2) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -4
3) Austin Dillion _19
4) Sam Hornish Jr. -46
5) Justin Allgaier -103

Watching NASCAR: The Chase Week 2-The Sylvania 300

What a difference a week makes, I imagine that once the drivers are behind the wheel a race is a race, aside from the various differences in the track that they will be running on that day. However in the last week before the Chase, Jeff Gordon needed a very good finish to make it and Kyle Busch needed a solid race to keep Gordon out and stay in the Chase himself. It did not work out for Busch.

A week later Gordon hits the wall and Busch is a top five finisher. I guess all sports have their “what could have been” moment and this is certainly one of them. However in a week when the standings were shaken up quite a bit this was only one of the story lines for the first race, but considering how close everyone was at the start, points wise, that is not too surprising.

Brad Keselowski emerged as the winner in Chicagoland in a great race that had him duel for the lead and manage to outrace Jimmie Johnson for the checkered flag, with Johnson complaining that Keselowski violated pit road rules however no penalty was called. Johnson finished second. The rest of the top five was filled out by Kasey Kahne, Busch in fourth and Ryan Newman in fifth.

In other news it looks like AJ Allmendinger has completed NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program and has been reinstated by NASCAR. Good luck.

This week: The Sylvania 300

It’s back to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and its 1.058 mile oval for the second of the ten races to the Sprint Cup Championship with the Sylvania 300

Broadcast: September 23 at 1 pm ET ESPN


Sprint Cup Standings
1) Brad Keselowski
2) Jimmie Johnson -3
3) Tony Stewart -8
4) Denny Hamlin -15
5) Kasey Kahne -15
6) Clint Boyer -15
7) Dale Earnhardt Jr. -17
8 ) Greg Biffle -19
9) Martin Truex Jr. -21
10) Kevin Harvick -24
11) Matt Kenseth -26
12) Jeff Gordon -47

Nationwide Series

Rickey Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler traded places at the top of the Nationwide leaderboard last week as Stenhouse managed his fifth win of the season, pushing him nine points ahead of Sadler in the standings.

After some early dueling with a few drivers, most notably Kyle Busch, Stenhouse had the dominate car and cruised to the win and the lead. He last led the series back in early June but is the current champion, and is looking tough to beat at this point with two wins and two seconds in the last four races.

Busch came in second and the rest of the filled was filled out by Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard in the fifth spot.

This Week: Kentucky 300
The Nationwide drivers are once again going their own way this week and will be racing in the Kentucky 300 at the 1.5 mile tri-oval Kentucky Speedway.

Broadcast: Sept. 22 at 3:30 pm ET ESPN

1) Rickey Stenhouse Jr.
2) Elliott Sadler -9
3) Austin Dillion -34
4) Sam Hornish Jr. -57
5) Justin Allgaier -107