Watching NASCAR: Talladega Looms This Weekend

The art of conserving fuel in NASCAR races is often more of a gamble as drivers toss the dice and often come up short of the checkered flag, but last week in Dover Brad Keselowski gave a clinic on how to very accurately gauge how far the last drops will take him, and it took him to a first place finish.

The win resulted in him taking over the points leadership from Jimmie Johnson, who fell to second in the race. Johnson was one of the drivers that were forced to slow late to conserve fuel, a move that Keselowski avoided. The finish was a fight between him and Jeff Gordon who finished second. Mark Martin was behind Gordon with Johnson fourth and Carl Edwards fifth.

This Week: Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500
The crews are all prepped for the Talladega Superspeedway’s 2.66 mile tri-oval in the fourth race of the ten race Chase. If the drivers feel that more is riding on the races each week, a Las Vegas casino agrees. The South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa has launched Virtual Racing NASCAR. It has all of the slots players in the casino choosing a driver and rooting for them, with the possibility of winning cash prizes. Eight drivers are included in the event: Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, or Martin Truex Jr.

Broadcast: Oct. 7 at 1 pm ET ESPN


Sprint Cup Standings
1) Brad Keselowski
2) Jimmie Johnson -5
3) Denny Hamlin -16
4) Clint Boyer -25
5) Tony Syewart -32
6) Kasey Kahne –32
7) Dale Earnhardt Jr. -39
8 ) Martin Truex Jr. -42
9) Kevin Harvick -46
10) Jeff Gordon -48
11) Greg Biffle -51
12) Matt Kenseth -72

Nationwide Series

Joey Logano must like the cooking in Dover. He swept the season series there by winning last weekend, and did so in commanding style, leading 184 of the 200 laps. One wonders what he was doing for the other 16? The other drivers that looked at the back of his car for the race included Paul Menard in second followed by Michael Annett, Elliott Sadler and Kyle Busch.

One thing that the drivers will not have to worry about as the Nationwide season gets close to wrapping up for the year is seeing Bard Keselowski in their rear view mirror, or worse, being in Keselowski’s mirror. He has decided to forego most of the last races in order to focus on the Chase. I am sure that has led to a few sighs of relief around the track.

This Week: Dollar General 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Broadcast: Oct. 12 at 7 pm ET ESPN

Nationwide Series 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