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

Watching NASCAR: The Chase Begins at Chicagoland

Richmond delivered on the promise of a wild race with racers dropping as much as 5 positions in the standings or rising as much as seven spots as a wild end to the regular season and now onto the race to the crown.

The culmination of the 26 races that comprise the qualifying round for the Chase seems like it went by in a flash, and no doubt that the drivers on the cusp that did not make the final cut as well as the ones that squeaked in will look back at the little things that either cost them or benefited them.

The final race prior to the Chase featured Jeff Gordon in a poorly handling car, falling a lap down and yet managing to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship by finishing second, edging out Kyle Busch for the last wild card sport. Busch finished 16th.

Clint Boyer, in a rain plagued race, and the field trailed Denny Hamlin for much of the race as he seemed to have the dominate ride vying with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the lead. Late in the race there was some jockeying for the lead but Boyer bulled his way to the front and as they say, never looked back for the win. The top five was filled out with Mark Martin in third followed by Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth.

Other interesting news is that NASCAR is considering providing a bonus for the regular season point’s leader. The reasoning can be seen quite clearly in the standings chart below where Greg Biffle finished first in points and yet is ranked fifth in the Chase.

This Week: Geico 400
Now the Chase begins with the Geico 400 at the 1.5 mile, tri-oval Chicagoland Speedway. As the Chase begins I am always interested in watching the drivers that are not involved because it often seems that they have as big an impact, intentionally or not, in the standings as everybody tries for the championship. Will somebody seek revenge on a earlier mixup harm a drivers chances in the next few races? I guess we will see.

Broadcast: Sept 16, 1 pm ET ESPN


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

Nationwide Series

Kevin Harvick has gotten the monkey off his back by breaking a 30 race losing streak by winning at Richmond, a track that he obviously likes as it is his sixth career win there. With a powerful car and some smooth driving he was a dominate car on the track for the bulk of the race only occasionally being challenged.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tried to take a few shots but failed and then engaged in his own battle for second, edging out Kurt Busch for that position, with Busch taking third. The last two positions were taken by Denny Hamlin and Michael Annett.

This Week: Dollar General 300 powered by Coca-Cola

Broadcast: Sept. 15, 3 pm ET ESPN

Nationwide Standing
1) Elliott Sadler
2) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -1
3) Austin Dillon -30
4) Sam Hornish Jr. -50
5) Justin Allgaier -95

Watching NASCAR: One Spot Left in Chase with One Race To Go

Denny Hamlin crossed the finish line first for the second week in a row, this time in a two lap dash against Jeff Gordon. The win, Hamlin’s forth of the season, also benefited teammate Kyle Busch by preventing Gordon from winning and possibly clinchi

ng one of the last wild card spots in the Chase. After the race Gordon said that he regrets not bumping on the last lap.

The race had a lot of similarities to the Nationwide one the previous day. A late caution harmed the chances of the front runner, Martin Truex Jr. led with seven laps to go but could not hang on as not only Hamlin and Gordon passed him but also Brad Keselowski. Truex finished fourth while Kevin Harvick in fifth.

This Week: Federated Auto Parts 400

The teams are headed to the Richmond International Raceway and its 0.75 mile oval for the Federated Auto Parts 400. With this the last week to qualify for the Chase, and a good number of drivers bunched up behind the top ten, the importance of the next race cannot be underestimated, at least for those on the cusp of qualifying.

With one of the two wild card spots already taken by Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne is the next in line for the second spot followed by Busch, Gordon, Marcos Ambrose and Ryan Newman. Should make for a great finish this weekend.


It looks like after Matt Kenseth has replaced Joey Logano At Joe Gibbs but Logano did not have long to wait for a new team as he has hooked up with Penske Racing.

Broadcast: Sept. 8 at 7 pm ET on ESPN


Sprint Cup Series Standings

1) Greg Biffle
2) Dale Earnhardt Jr. -8
3) Matt Kenseth -21
4) Jimmie Johnson -31
5) Martin Truex Jr. -41
6) Brad Keselowski -48
7) Denny Hamlin -57
8 ) Clint Boyer -68
9) Kevin Harvick -72
10) Tony Stewart -110

Nationwide Series

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. may not have knocked Elliott Sadler out of the top spot in the Nationwide standings but with his fourth win of the season he has certainly made a statement about his desire to win and his ability.

Benefiting from a late push from Brad Keselowski he managed to pass Kevin Harvick with less than a lap to go. Up to that point it certainly looked as if the race was Harvick’s to win. The issue of the bump, and what caused the caution just before it was a matter of some contention in the post race comments as Harvick blamed Keselowski for throwing a water bottle out on the track and causing the caution.

Stenhouse and Keselowski finished first and second with Harvick an agnry third and Elliott and Justin Allgaier filling out the top 5.

This Week: Virginia 529 College Savings 250

Broadcast: Sept. 7 at 7 pm ET ESPN

Nationwide Series Standings

1) Elliott Sadler
2) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -12
3) Sam Hornish Jr. -32
4) Austin Dillon -37
5) Justin Allgaier -94

Watching NASCAR: AdvoCare 500 Here We Come

AdvoCare 500

Bristol did not disappoint last weekend, we aside from a few drivers that missed the top groove that is. Fenders were bent, tempers flared and the standings got another bit of a shake up. Oh and there was a great late racing battle between Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards.

The two were battling for some time when with 39 laps remaining Hamlin managed to pass Edwards and take the lead. While Edwards attempted to regain the lead he could never het that last ounce of speed to pass and ultimately he ran out of gas as a gable earlier in the race that had given him the lead backfired. The top five was filled out by Jimmie Johnson, who jumped back to second in the standings as well followed by Jeff George, Brian Vickers and Marcos Ambrose.

The lack of a top groove, sanded off despite the protests of the drivers met with differing opinions after the race but most of the ones that I read were mostly in the negative camp. I guess that this late in the season, when a crash can mean not making the Chase could have affected opinions as well.

A side note in that ESPN was reporting yesterday that Matt Kenseth will be joining Joe Gibbs Racing next year. He is expected to take over the #20 car that is currently driven by Joey Logano.

This week: AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

The teams will be racing in Atlanta this weekend on the Atlanta Motor Speedway’s 1.54 mile oval. As the Chase nears I expect that drivers on the cusp of making the Chase will bring an increased l

evel of aggression to the race, which should make for some good racing.

Broadcast: Sept 2, 6:30 pm ET ESPN

Twitter Handles

Sprint Cup Standings

1) Greg Biffle
2) Jimmie Johnson -11
3) Dale Earnhardt Jr. -15
4) Matt Kenseth -26
5) Martin Truex Jr. -52
6) Clint Boyer -55
7) Brad Keselowski -59
8 ) Denny Hamlin -75
9) Kevin Harvick -82
10) Tony Stewart -103

Joey Logano steadily moved up the pack last week in Bristol and took the lead with 34 laps to go and remain in front until the checkered flag was waved. It was not as easy as it sounds as after he passed Kevin Harvick for the lead he faced a strong push by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who he managed to beat to the finish line.

There was a lot of banging during the race and a number of cautions, nine in all, that helped cause a number of lead changes as well as . On the last few laps the jockeying for position grew in intensity as seen by a collision between Trevor Bayne and Austin Dillon.

The top five was filled out by runner up Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and Elliott Sadler. Danica Patrick, starting at the back of the pack managed a very respectable ninth place finish.

Next Up: NRA American Warrior 300

Broadcast: September 1, 6:30 pm ET ESPN

Nationwide Series Standings
1) Elliott Sadler
2) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -19
3) Sam Hornish Jr. -28
4) Austin Dillon -35
5) Justin Allgaier -94