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Post by Swiss Miss on Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:25 am

Yeah yeah, I know it’s been a while since I did a blog.  But with three races until the chase, I figured we were due.  

So what’s going on in the world of Nascar….

Let’s start with Silly Season..

Juan Pablo Montoya

When Juan Pablo Montoya left Formula One for NASCAR in late 2006, the move created shock waves on both sides of the Atlantic -- in Europe, where it seemed unthinkable that an F1 driver would leave for stock cars, and in North America, where it raised global awareness of what was already the most competitive major form of auto racing in the world. It was an unprecedented event, a driver trading Monaco and Spa for Martinsville and Sonoma. Montoya arrived in the Sprint Cup Series with all the buzz of an international rock star.

Seven years later, it’s easy to forget what a watershed moment that was. Montoya’s long career with car owner Chip Ganassi -- and potentially in NASCAR -- is ending with a whimper, a simple non-renewed contract at the end of a lost season, and with us having witnessed only a fraction of what he might have been capable of in a stock car. Yes, he lived in Miami rather than North Carolina, and often spent his weekdays windsurfing rather than at the shop, but Montoya fully embraced the openness of the NASCAR garage area, and fully appreciated how hard Sprint Cup cars are to drive.

The Associated Press has reported that Michael Andretti’s IndyCar team is courting Montoya heavily for next season, and the Colombian may have offered a clue to his destination in his media session at Michigan last week.

“My heart,” he said, “always has been in open wheel.”

It would be a sad thing indeed if these final weeks of the 2013 season are Montoya’s last in a stock car. Forget what he did off the track, where his role in raising NASCAR’s profile in Spanish-speaking markets cannot be overstated. The true wistfulness lies in that we so rarely were able to witness Montoya at his best -- the brazen driver who took on Michael Schumacher in F1 and took on Stewart in the 2009 Chase, who competed with such tenacity and abandon, who could be mesmerizing and infuriating all at the same time. Whether that’s because the driver stagnated or the team regressed, it doesn’t really matter. We all lost as a result.

Maybe something unforeseen will happen yet this season to cap Montoya’s NASCAR adventure, or maybe some ride will materialize to extend it. Barring all that, what are we left with after nearly seven years? Two victories on road courses, two likely Brickyard triumphs given away by mistakes, one Chase berth, a few memorable tussles on the race track -- and plenty of questions about what might have been.

Ryan Newman…

Ryan Newman is walking a tight wire these days, trying to get his Stewart-Haas Racing team into NASCAR’s Chase For The Sprint Cup while also seeking a ride for 2014 and beyond.

He says he is “a little further along” toward what his plans might include for next season, “but nothing to really talk about.
In the meantime, the organization has been said to be wooing Kurt Busch for a potential fourth car next year.

“If it didn’t surprise me as well as every other person on this planet that has anything to do with motorsports, we’d all be lying to ourselves,” Newman said of the reports.

But, he said, he doesn’t feel a fourth car should have meant he should have been allowed to remain at SHR.

“Not at all. They already made their announcement; I’m done and out,” he said. “Whatever they want to do, they can do. It’s within their power. They have to budget it out.”

There are possible openings elsewhere, but none are clear-cut. Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, which will notretain the services of Juan Pablo Montoya, will need a driver for the No. 42 Chevrolet. However, the organization already has up-and-coming Kyle Larson under contract and there is speculation that Larson, who has no Cup experience, could be put in the car.

Richard Childress Racing could add a fourth team, possibly opening a seat, however sponsorship for such an endeavor hasn’t been announced.

And Furniture Row Racing could have an opening if driver Kurt Busch decides to leave t season’s end.

“The thing you look at right now, the performance of all three (teams) has been good,” Newman said. “Some better than others, some better than others at certain race tracks.

“Juan’s deal was really close to what I did at Indy. He got fired one week and he’s P1 in practice, P1 in practice (the following week). It’s like OK. It’s coincidental but in the end it’s like ‘really?’ And you see Kurt out there (in the top 10 in points).

“It’s good that there’s good equipment out there, but it’s also tough because you’re competing against good drivers too.”

Now the injured Tony Stewart…

Tony Stewart's 2013 Sprint Cup season is over, but his career isn't.
Stewart-Haas Racing officials said on Monday they expect the three-time champion to fully recover and be back in the No. 14 Chevrolet in January for preseason testing.

Meanwhile, the organization signed Mark Martin to drive in 12 of this season's final 13 races, beginning Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. Austin Dillon, who replaced Stewart this past weekend at Michigan, will drive the remaining race at Talladega Superspeedway.
The deal came together quickly thanks to cooperation almost unheard of between manufacturers, sponsors and teams.

"I feel kind of amazed that we were able to get this done," said Martin, who was scheduled to drive the No. 55 Aaron's sponsored Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing in 10 of the final 13 races. "Aaron's agreed to it. The folks from Toyota agreed to it.

"I think all the stars just lined up for this to work out because anyone along the way ... could have probably stopped this from happening. So there were so many pieces to this puzzle. It was a lot more complicated than it looked at face value."

In the end it was a win-win for all parties -- including MWR which will put Brian Vickers, who recently was announced the full-time driver of the No. 55 in 2014, in for the races Martin was scheduled.

Martin said it happened because of the industry-wide respect for Stewart, who already has missed two races after suffering a broken right tibia and fibula in an August 5 sprint car race at Southern Iowa Speedway.

"I haven't seen this much cooperation in the past, and I think it was largely in part for the incredible amount of respect that everyone has in the sport for Tony Stewart," Martin said.

SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli said Martin was Stewart's first choice to replace him when he realized the full extent of the recovery process.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed to be out ... for so long, but the team is in very good hands with Mark Martin and Austin Dillon," Stewart said in a statement. "Mark is someone I've looked up to my entire career and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.

"This isn't a situation anyone wanted, but we're going to make the best of it. In the meantime, my focus is on getting healthy and getting back."
Zipadelli said Stewart will be back.

"We expect a full recovery by Daytona or close to it," he said of the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. "You know, it may be able to be done earlier, it's just not worth it.

"It's a bad break to the leg, and he needs time to go through the process of healing, rehabilitation, all those things. With Mark coming on board, it gives us the window to go to the end of the year and feel like we are doing our partners the best job we can to fill Tony's shoes."


Nothing in the sport of auto racing compares to Bristol Motor Speedway’s Irwin Tools Night Race.
It is the ideal convergence of weekly short-track racing and the glitz of big-budget sports -- and it holds a special place for NASCAR fans. Bristol is not exactly a wild card race, but it pays to have a Joker up one’s sleeve: it is a place where streaks are not common, but are commonplace.
Doubling down at Bristol requires a special skill, so drivers who perform the feat are well above the ordinary. Three drivers racing for a wide variety of teams enter the weekend with three-race top-10 streaks. Part-time Brian Vickers, young gun Paul Menard, and title contender Clint Bowyer have momentarily displaced the accepted short-track masters and will free up a lot of salary cap in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game this week.

The Favorites

Kyle Busch has found his niche at Bristol. The steep banking allows him to charge into the corners hard and still come out the other side. Any competitor on the high side of his charge may not be as lucky, but that is their problem and Busch has converted his aggressive nature into five victories since 2007. When he misses, it is often by a narrow margin, such as this spring when he finished second to Kasey Kahnein the Food City 500. Better still, he earns a lot of points along the way in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game. According to NASCAR Statistical Services, he has snagged more than eight percent of the fastest laps run in the past 17 races and that is head and shoulders above the competition.

Bowyer has not only scored three consecutive top-10s at Bristol, he has been just as perfect on the remaining short tracks. Last year, he swept the top 10 on tracks measuring less than one mile in length and he claimed victory in the Capital City 400 at Richmond. This year, he has been even better with a sweep of the top five in three short track races. He has not won yet this year, but he was second at Martinsville and Richmond. Compared to Jimmie Johnson and Busch, he is still relatively affordable in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game and will be nearly as productive as either of those drivers.
Kahne’s Bristol victory this spring was enough to vault him to favored status for the Irwin Tools Night Race. Even without that win, he has accumulated statistics that are relevant to fantasy players during the past three years. He has logged 34.2 fastest laps, recorded 33.2 quality passes, and led 75.5 laps on average. That places him in the same league as Busch, Johnson, and Brad Keselowski. His average finish in that span of races is a modest 12th, which may cause the competition to overlook him. If that happens, he will be an even greater value because he will differentiate one’s roster from the competition.

Dark Horses

In the NASCAR Fantasy Live game, how a driver performs throughout a race is just as important as where they finish. Sometimes it is even more important. NASCAR Statistical Services provide Loop Data each week and it is compiled from the last 17 races on a given track, but Truex has only been entered in only 15 of those events. Despite giving up two races to many of the drivers in the field, he has surpassed them with 494 quality passes. That is an average of 32.9, but it is also only half of the story. Martin Truex Jr.has been much stronger in the past three seasons with an average of 51.5 quality passes in the most recent six races.

Last week, Vickers' NASCAR journey was complete when he was officially named the full-time driver of the No. 55 for the next two seasons; early this week, it was announced that he will take over the ride for the remainder of the season now that Mark Martin is moving into the No. 14. For Vickers, it must have seemed like a long voyage, but in reality it was only last year that he shocked the field by finishing fifth in the 2012 Food City 500. Bristol has not been his best track during his career. Prior to climbing into Michael Waltrip Racing's Toyota in relief of Martin, his best effort there was 12th. His ability to overachieve was demonstrated multiple times in the past two years and is why he earned the fulltime ride It is also what makes him a great fantasy value. He finished fourth in last year's night race and followed that with an eighth-place finish this spring. He could do even better this week with pressure off his shoulders.


Ryan Newman is a hard-nosed racer with something to prove. Looking for that perfect opportunity to showcase his talent in 2014, he went out and dominated, and then won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in one of the biggest races of the year. He cut his teeth on short tracks in dirt competition and should be able to negotiate traffic with the best in the field. Unfortunately, his need to prove himself is both a blessing and a curse. The ragged edge at Bristol is thinner than nearly anywhere else on the circuit and the slightest mistake can result in some seriously mangled machinery.

Kevin Harvick won the most recent short track race in Richmond and that will put him on a number of players’ radar screens. In 2008, he swept the top five at Bristol and there is no question in anyone’s mind that he can run well there when he finds the right setup, but that has been difficult in the past few years. Since the beginning of 2009, Harvick has logged only one top-10 on this high-banked asphalt track and his average finish is 17.8. Last year, he scored only one top-10 in six combined short track races and none of those numbers are good enough to outweigh his extremely expensive salary cap.


credits: and Stewart Haas Racing
Swiss Miss
Swiss Miss

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Post by sangria on Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:26 pm


Thanks for posting a new blog, Cocoa.... Looking forward to the race!!


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Post by sangria on Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:31 pm


Automatic, Wild Card guarantees up for grabs at Thunder Valley

With three races remaining before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set, Jimmie Johnson remains the only driver to have clinched a berth in the postseason.

Johnson did so after finishing eighth at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 11, so no matter where he finishes the rest of the season, he's in. And given the fact that the field is reset based on number of wins, Johnson -- who has visited Victory Lane four times this season -- could earn the top seed.

No drivers clinched a Chase spot in a wild week at Michigan, although several drivers helped their causes. Kevin Harvick gained ground on those outside the top 10 in the standings by finishing second and Kurt Busch entered the top 10 with his third-place outing.

Below is a breakdown of who could qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.


Following Saturday night’s race at Bristol, any driver in the top 10 of the points standings with a 97-point lead over the 11th-place driver will automatically clinch a berth in the Chase. For perspective: Clint Bowyer (772 points, second place) currently leads Kasey Kahne (659 points, 11th place) by 113 points.


The top 10 drivers in the standings after the Sept. 7 race at Richmond receive an automatic entry into the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.

• Clint Bowyer. Bowyer is the driver most likely driver to clinch on Saturday night, thanks in part to his fifth-place effort at Michigan last week. Bowyer didn’t have his best car that day -- and he actually spun out on Lap 1 -- but rallied to gain points on nearly every driver below him.

So, what’s good enough to clinch a Chase berth at Bristol? If Bowyer finishes 12th or better, or 13th with at least one lap led (for one bonus point), or 14th with the most laps led (for two bonus points), he clinches a top-10 automatic spot.

Bowyer could still clinch a top-10 spot if he finishes worse than 14th, depending on where other drivers finish. Brad Keselowski (eighth place), Kurt Busch (ninth) and Greg Biffle (10th) don’t have that much ground on 11th-place Kahne. If one of them falters, it could knock them down to 11th and give Bowyer even more of a cushion.

• Carl Edwards. Like Bowyer, Edwards is in good shape to leave Bristol with a 97-point edge over the 11th-place driver. Edwards currently has a 103-point edge over 11th-place Kahne.

Edwards would clinch an automatic spot in the Chase with a victory, which would be his second of the season, or a runner-up showing. If he finishes third and leads at least one lap (for a bonus point), or finishes fourth and leads the most laps (for two bonus points), he also clinches a top-10 spot.

Depending on who wins, how the bonus points fall and how drivers on the bubble perform, Edwards still could clinch with a strong finish outside the top four.

At this time last year, Edwards was on the outside of the top 10 and had to have a win at Bristol. He stayed out when most of the field pitted for fuel, and although it put him in first place, he eventually had to go down pit road with a few laps left and lost all his ground.

• Kevin Harvick. Harvick isn’t quite as likely to clinch Saturday as Bowyer and Edwards, but he still has a mathematical chance. Currently, he leads the 11th-place Kahne by 90 points. He needs to improve his current cushion by seven points.

Harvick finished 14th in the first race at Thunder Valley this year, and he’s recorded a top-10 finish in 11 of the past 15 races. Another one of those would go a long way toward securing a postseason spot, especially at a place like Bristol, where tempers run as high as the banking and you never know who may end up in the wall.


Two drivers ranked 11th-20th will receive Wild Card berths into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The drivers with the most wins are selected. If there’s a tie, the spot goes to the driver ranked higher.

• Matt Kenseth. Kenseth won’t be able to clinch an automatic spot. He’s just 29 points ahead of 11th-place Kahne. Even if you give Kenseth the maximum of 48 points earned at Bristol -- which is anything but easy -- he wouldn’t reach the 97-point cushion. But there’s another way for the No. 20.

He could win at Bristol. That would give him a series-high five wins with two races remaining and clinch a berth, because even back-to-back 43rd-place finishes to end the season would keep him in the top 20, a requirement for earning a Wild Card.

If he doesn’t win, Kenseth could run well and see how the points shake out. If it’s possible for him to not fall out of the top 20 after Bristol, he’ll clinch at least a Wild Card berth.
• Kasey Kahne. Kahne’s name is being tossed around a lot because he’s in that crucial 11th-place position. It’s a good thing he already has two wins.

His Chase chances are outstanding. If he wins at Bristol and gets some help based on where other drivers finish, he can clinch a Wild Card spot. Kahne’s season got on track earlier this year at Bristol, when he broke through for his first victory at the 0.533-mile oval. He’s attempting to become the first driver to sweep Bristol since Kyle Busch in 2009.

• Kyle Busch. Busch, currently fifth in the standings, can clinch at least a Wild Card spot with a victory and some help based on where other drivers finish.

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Post by sangria on Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:36 pm

Don't's a race under the lights, Saturday night... Get your rosters lined up (or   and btw... WTH did JJ go up $1.25?


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Post by scouter534 on Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:41 am

Thanks for the new blog Cocoa. Great job! Gonna be a back and forth night for me, Dolphins play at the same time. This sucks!

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Post by sangria on Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:19 am

I thought this was an interesting read.... I did not realize that the $$$ of a driver was also impacted by number of people choosing them.....

August 26, 2013, George Winkler,

On night when there were many options, the No. 20 provides biggest payoff

Related: NASCAR Fantasy Live game

Entering the Bristol night race, there were a plethora of good reasons to choose several different drivers for one's fantasy team, but apparently Matt Kenseth's name wasn't one that stood out. In fact, Kenseth dropped in price by $0.25 due to a lack of demand as fantasy owners instead clamored for the Busch brothers, who both increased by $0.50 in the time leading up to the race.

Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne also saw spikes in ownership with both enjoying historical success at Bristol -- Gordon as a five-time winner there and Kahne as the most recent winner before Saturday night's outcome.

But if for some "silly" reason you were one of the few, proud owners of Kenseth, kudos to you. The No. 20 provided a substantial gain over the rest of the field.

Kenseth's fantasy score of 190.5 points far exceeded the next-best driver on the list -- Kahne, who had 113 points. Kenseth piled up 74.5 points on laps led and 36 points on quality passes.

Not even a late pit-road speeding penalty could stop Kenseth, who led all drivers with 29 points on fastest laps. In addition, Kahne was the only driver who outscored Kenseth on quality passes.

Gordon finished a solid fourth in fantasy points, and Kyle Busch was 10th, racking up 32 points on place differential after he started from the back of the field.

Kurt Busch, meanwhile, was 27th in fantasy points after a broken wheel hub caused him to leave the race momentarily and wrecked his chance at good finishing points.

It was interesting that more people didn't choose Kenseth. He entered the race with the second-best average finish at the track in the past eight years. But for some reason the fantasy love for Kenseth wasn't there.

Too bad, because those who stuck with Kenseth certainly had a lot to love by late Saturday night. That's because Kenseth owners were likely the ones carrying three extra Chase points with them into this week's fantasy action.
Key Fantasy Moment: "Concrete" Carl Edwards looked like he had the car to beat until an engine failure doomed him to a 39th-place finish. Amazingly, Edwards still posted the 12th-best fantasy score thanks to 119 laps led. That accounted for 59.5 of his fantasy points on a night when he totaled 67.5. It was a solid effort overall, but it could have been so much better. Fantasy owners were no doubt expecting more when they saw how good the No. 99 looked through the middle part of the race.

Biggest bargain: Raise your hand if you had Paul Menard in your lineup for Bristol. OK, now put your hands down, because you're obviously lying. Menard's price dropped $0.25 due to a lack of demand leading up to the race, but like Kenseth he paid off for his faithful followers. Menard scored the third-most fantasy points on the night at 109, with 32 of them coming on laps led. After his top-10 finish, Menard's average finish at Bristol is second only to how well he does at Kansas. Keep that in mind for future reference.

Biggest Bust: It was another tough week for Jimmie Johnson owners as the No. 48 ran into a bit of bad luck -- as well as David Reutimann's spun-out car as it slid down the track. Johnson's car took significant front-end damage in the ensuing hit and had to be taken to the garage for repairs. Johnson returned but finished 36th. Johnson scored just four fantasy points, and at a league-high $29 certainly was the bust of the night.

Tip to take forward: According to NASCAR Statistical Service's Loop Data, the following drivers lead in the significant fantasy categories for the last eight years at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Laps led: Kurt Busch (11.3 percent); Quality passes: Brad Keselowski (40.8 average); Fastest Laps: Carl Edwards (8.9 percent); Average Finish: Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon (9.1).

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Post by scouter534 on Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:03 pm

Thanks San, very interesting.  

woohoo  That would be me!

Well shit, the quote didn't come out. That's okay you guys already read it anyway. lmao

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Post by sangria on Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:16 am

September 05, 2013,

Too much to copy/paste.....

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