NASCAR Rivals: Bobby Labonte Injured by Watkins Glen Mele’

August 13, 2008 by Tim Zaegel  
Filed under Racing

With the laps dwindling down and the middle of the pack getting a little antsy, the field turned to complete mayhem with just 8 laps to go in the Centurion Boats at the Glen on Sunday afternoon. Michael McDowell spun David Gilliland as the two raced for position, setting off a chain reaction that left several cars crippled near the pit road entrance. Michael Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, Sam Hornish Jr, Reed Sorenson, Max Papis, Dave Blaney, and Joe Nemechek were also involved.

As seen in the video footage of the accident, Bobby LaBonte was left limping his way over to the infield care center. It was then learned that LaBonte was taken to the hospital in Elmira, NY with what Petty Enterprises VP Robbie Loomis described as discomfort in his rib and abdominal area, but NASCAR officials later stated that Bobby was released from the hospital and cleared to resume competition.

Rating the Race: Centurion Boats at the Glen at Watkins Glen

August 10, 2008 by Tim Zaegel  
Filed under Racing

Kyle Busch made perfect on his efforts to sweep the road course races in the Sprint Cup Series this season as he nabbed his first career victory at Watkins Glen International on Sunday. He led four times for a race high 52 laps, giving him his 8th win of the season and making him the first driver to win the races at both Infineon and Watkins Glen in the same year since his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Tony Stewart, did it back in 2005. He also won the Nationwide Series race in Mexico City earlier in the year, making him the only driver in NASCAR history to win three road course races in the same season.

After rain canceled Friday’s qualifying session, the field lined up based on their order in the car owner’s points standings, setting Kyle Busch out on the pole position for the start of the race. Kyle led the first lap before handing it over to Dale Earnhardt Jr, who started on the outside of the front row. As Busch dropped back to third in the running order, Earnhardt gradually expanded his lead through the next 28 laps, but found himself in 6th after the field completed their first round of green flag pit stops.

Kyle Busch once again took the race lead on lap 30, and was still in charge when the first caution of the day came out on lap 47. NASCAR made the decision to waive the yellow due to debris on the track that was a result of some loose gravel that had been kicked up on the track. The caution was a huge break for Jimmie Johnson who had just pitted a few laps earlier when he had a rear left tire going down, but because he was running up in the top-five at the time, he was able to make his stop without losing a lap. Once pit road opened up, 14 cars remained on the track, including Johnson. Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart - running 1st and 2nd at the time - also elected to stay out.

Kyle Busch was still the race leader when the field went back to green, but the most impressive story to this point was Marcos Ambrose, who was driving the no. 21 Wood Brothers Ford. He was forced to start dead last due to the car’s position in owner points, but had worked his way all the way up inside the top-15 for the restart.

Kyle Busch moved to the side to allow his teammate, Tony Stewart, to lead a lap and pickup the 5 extra bonus points on lap 53, but Tony returned the favor and let Kyle go back by the following lap, and that was the only movement up front until the leaders again came into pit on lap 56. Juan Pablo Montoya and Jimmie Johnson each led a lap during the exchange of green flag stops. Johnson came into pit on lap 58, which handed the lead back over to Dale Earnhardt Jr.

With more than a 25 second lead, Earnhardt was the only car still out on the track that had not yet made his final pit stop. Despite continuing to lose a second per lap to the 2nd and 3rd place cars, Tony Eury Jr. - crew chief for the no. 88 team - elected to keep Earnhardt out on the track, but the call completely backfired when NASCAR waived the second caution flag on lap 64. The caution was again for loose gravel that Travis Kvapil kicked onto the track when he ran off the track. Earnhardt was forced to pit while the other race leaders remained out on the track, and with just 25 laps remaining, he lined up 37th for the restart.

Kyle Busch was once again deemed the race leader by virtue of Earnhardt’s misfortunes with Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman chasing him. With the laps dwindling down, it almost looked as though we might have another caution when Sam Hornish Jr. spun PJ Jones on lap 70, but both cars were able to get going again, and NASCAR saw no reason to bring out the yellow.

The complexity of the race changed on lap 77 when Ryan Newman got into the corner too hard, resulting in a single car spin in Turn 9. Unable to get his car restarted, he had several close cars as the rest of the field tried to avoid the stalled car as it rolled back out onto the track. NASCAR eventually brought out the third caution, and luckily, the entire field was able to get around Newman without hitting him.

The fourth and final caution came with just 8 laps to go when Michael McDowell spun David Gilliland, setting off a huge multi-car crash that involved 9 cars right near the pit road entrance. Michael Waltrip, Bobby LaBonte, Sam Hornish Jr, Reed Sorenson, Max Papis, Dave Blaney, and Joe Nemechek all got caught up in the mess, and LaBonte appeared to be mildly injured as he was seen limping back to the infield care center.

After NASCAR stopped the race under red flag conditions for more than 40 minutes, they finally got the race restarted with Kyle Busch still in the lead, and behind him were Tony Stewart, Marcos Ambrose, Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr, and Kevin Harvick. Busch took the green flag with just five laps to go with Stewart keeping within a couple car lengths for the first few laps. With about 2 to go, though, Busch started to pull away, and Stewart’s new task became keeping the no. 21 of Ambrose in his rearview mirror. Busch went onto take the checkers, and Stewart was able to fend off Ambrose to give Joe Gibbs Racing a 1-2 finish.

Marcos Ambrose fought off Juan Pablo Montoya to hang onto third, and JPM finished 4th. Martin Truex Jr. held onto 5th to earn his first-ever top-five finish at Watkins Glen. He was followed by the 2006 winner of this event, Kevin Harvick, in 6th. 7th place went to Denny Hamlin, who capped off a solid run inside the top-ten for most of the day. Jimmie Johnson rebounded from his cut tire earlier in the race to finish in 8th. AJ Allmendinger walked away with the best NSCS finish of his career in 9th, also giving him his second top-ten in the last 3 races. Carl Edwards completed the top-ten.

Other Notables:
Matt Kenseth had a pretty quiet day, but finished 12th ….. Kasey Kahne matched his best Watkins Glen finish with a 14th place run ….. Dale Earnhardt Jr. wound up 22nd after his team’s race strategy put him in the back of the field with just over 20 laps to go ….. Jeff Gordon had an eventful day. His team had to have NASCAR black flag him to get him into the pits for the first round of stops after the team’s radio became disconnected. Gordon’s car, unfortunately, handled much like the radio, as his struggles throughout the day led to a 25th place finish ….. Robby Gordon started near the back of the pack and never was able to find his way to the front, finishing with a very disappointing 27th place finish ….. Ryan Newman’s spin on lap 77 led to a 28th place effort, as that team continues to watch their Chase hopes keep slipping away.

Kyle Busch now holds a 242 point lead on 1st in the standings, while Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson both moved past Earnhardt Jr. to take over the 2nd and 3rd spots. Tony Stewart’s back-to-back 2nd place efforts have also moved him up to 7th overall, and he now has a 138 point cushion in the Chase standings. Matt Kenseth also moved up a spot to take over the 12th and final spot in the Chase, moving Clint Bowyer back down to 13th. He’s now 22 points out of the Chase.

Grades:
the Race: 75%
Drama: 74%
Coverage: 90%
Pre-Race: 81%

Overall Grade: 78.4%

Complete Results (from nascar.com):

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 1 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M’s 195/10 90 Running
2 9 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 175/5 90 Running
3 41 21 Marcos Ambrose Ford Little Debbie 165/0 90 Running
4 25 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Big Red Slim Pack 165/5 90 Running
5 16 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 155/0 90 Running
6 11 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 150/0 90 Running
7 10 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 146/0 90 Running
8 4 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe’s 147/5 90 Running
9 35 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull 138/0 90 Running
10 3 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 134/0 90 Running
11 19 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 130/0 90 Running
12 13 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT 127/0 90 Running
13 30 01 Ron Fellows Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Red Head 124/0 90 Running
14 7 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 121/0 90 Running
15 20 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy / Garmin 118/0 90 Running
16 18 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 115/0 90 Running
17 5 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 112/0 90 Running
18 17 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 109/0 90 Running
19 22 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet CARQUEST / Kellogg’s 106/0 90 Running
20 37 10 Patrick Carpentier * Dodge Charter Comm. 103/0 90 Running
21 8 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 100/0 90 Running
22 2 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / AMP Energy 102/5 90 Running
23 12 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet DIRECTV 94/0 90 Running
24 42 45 Boris Said Dodge Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil 91/0 90 Running
25 6 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 88/0 90 Running
26 34 00 Michael McDowell * Toyota Champion Mortgage 85/0 90 Running
27 31 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam 82/0 90 Running
28 14 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Kodak 79/0 90 Running
29 27 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Quaker State / Menards 76/0 90 Running
30 32 77 Sam Hornish Jr. * Dodge Mobil 1 73/0 90 Running
31 40 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Insurance 70/0 90 Running
32 28 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 67/0 90 Running
33 26 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS 64/0 88 Running
34 33 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters 61/0 88 Running
35 15 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army 58/0 88 Running
36 23 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Hitachi Power Tools 55/0 88 Running
37 36 96 P.J. Jones Toyota DLP HDTV 52/0 88 Running
38 39 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 49/0 86 In Pit
39 43 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 46/0 82 Running
40 24 38 David Gilliland Ford DISH Network Turbo HD 43/0 81 Running
41 29 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 40/0 81 In Pit
42 21 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 37/0 81 In Pit
43 38 70 Max Papis Chevrolet Haas Automation 34/0 81 In Pit

Sprint Cup Series Standings (from nascar.com):

RANK +/- DRIVER POINTS BEHIND STARTS POLES WINS TOP 5 TOP 10
1 Kyle Busch 3254 Leader 22 2 8 13 14
2 +1 Carl Edwards 3012 -242 22 0 4 9 16
3 +1 Jimmie Johnson 3010 -244 22 3 2 7 12
4 -2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2985 -269 22 1 1 7 12
5 Jeff Burton 2945 -309 22 0 1 4 11
6 Jeff Gordon 2754 -500 22 2 0 8 10
7 +2 Tony Stewart 2744 -510 22 0 0 8 11
8 -1 Kasey Kahne 2713 -541 22 2 2 3 11
9 +1 Denny Hamlin 2689 -565 22 1 1 6 11
10 -2 Greg Biffle 2689 -565 22 2 0 6 9
11 Kevin Harvick 2670 -584 22 0 0 4 8
12 +1 Matt Kenseth 2628 -626 22 0 0 4 12
13 -1 Clint Bowyer 2606 -648 22 0 1 4 10
14 David Ragan 2539 -715 22 0 0 4 7
15 Ryan Newman 2424 -830 22 1 1 2 7
16 +1 Martin Truex Jr. 2419 -835 22 0 0 3 7
17 -1 Brian Vickers 2418 -836 22 0 0 3 5
18 Kurt Busch 2269 -985 22 0 1 3 5
19 Jamie McMurray 2231 -1023 22 0 0 0 5
20 +1 Elliott Sadler 2159 -1095 22 0 0 2 5
21 -1 Bobby Labonte 2121 -1133 22 0 0 0 1
22 +3 Juan Montoya 2117 -1137 22 0 0 2 3
23 -1 Travis Kvapil 2071 -1183 22 0 0 0 3
24 Casey Mears 2070 -1184 22 0 0 1 4
25 +1 David Gilliland 1979 -1275 22 0 0 1 2
26 -3 Mark Martin 1965 -1289 16 0 0 2 7
27 David Reutimann 1927 -1327 22 0 0 0 1
28 Paul Menard 1883 -1371 22 1 0 0 0
29 +1 Robby Gordon 1770 -1484 22 0 0 0 2
30 +1 Reed Sorenson 1736 -1518 21 0 0 1 2
31 -2 Dave Blaney 1736 -1518 21 0 0 0 2
32 Michael Waltrip 1682 -1572 22 0 0 1 1
33 Sam Hornish Jr.* 1674 -1580 22 0 0 0 0
34 Regan Smith* 1584 -1670 20 0 0 0 0
35 Scott Riggs 1549 -1705 20 0 0 0 0
36 +1 Patrick Carpentier* 1333 -1921 18 1 0 0 0
37 +1 Joe Nemechek 1272 -1982 19 1 0 0 0
38 -2 J.J. Yeley 1263 -1991 17 0 0 1 1
39 +1 A.J. Allmendinger 1226 -2028 14 0 0 0 1
40 -1 Michael McDowell* 1200 -2054 17 0 0 0 0

BallHype: hype it up!

Silly Season Tracker - Updated 8/8

August 8, 2008 by Tim Zaegel  
Filed under Racing

Transactions:
- Hendrick Motorsports has announced the release of Casey Mears for next season.
- Richard Childress Racing has extended Clint Bowyer’s contract through 2011.
- Roush-Fenway Racing has extended Greg Biffle’s contract through 2011.
- Gillette-Evernham Motorsports has signed Elliott Sadler through 2010.
- Richard Childress Racing has announced the addition of the #33 car as a fourth Cup team in 2009.
- Petty Enterprises has signed Bobby LaBonte through 2012.
- Roush-Fenway Racing has signed Carl Edwards through 2011.
- Due to a lack of sponsorship, Chip Ganassi Racing is forced to shut down the no. 40 car driven by Dario Franchitti for the remainder of the season.
- Hendrick Motorsports has signed Mark Martin to drive the no. 5 car full-time in 2009 and part-time in 2010.
- Tony Stewart announced his departure from Joe Gibbs Racing to go to Stewart Haas Racing (formerly Haas CNC Racing) as a 50% owner and a full-time driver in 2009.
- Ryan Newman has announced that he will not re-sign with Penske Racing for the 2009 season.
- JTG Dougherty Racing has signed Marcos Ambrose to drive their new no. 47 entry in the Sprint Cup Series next year.
- Martin Truex Jr. has re-signed with DEI for the 2009 season.
- HOF Racing has released JJ Yeley and will replace him with Brad Coleman in the no. 96 car.

Teams Without an Assigned 2009 Driver:
- Dale Earnhardt Inc. - No. 01 car
- Penske Racing - No. 12 car
- Stewart Haas Racing - No. 4 car
- Dale Earnhardt Inc. - No. 15 car
- Joe Gibbs Racing - No. 20 car
- Wood Brothers Racing - No. 21 car
- Bill Davis Racing - No. 22 car
- Yates Racing - No. 28 car
- Richard Childress Racing - No. 33 car
- Furniture Row Motorsports - No. 34 car
- Chip Ganassi Racing - No. 41 car

Drivers Without a Definitive 2009 Ride:
- Regan Smith
- Casey Mears
- Ryan Newman
- Paul Menard
- Dave Blaney
- Travis Kvapil
- Tony Raines
- Reed Sorenson
- Scott Riggs
- JJ Yeley
- Johnny Sauter
- Jeremy Mayfield
- David Stremme
- Jacques Villeneuve
- Kenny Wallace
- Ken Schrader
- Ward Burton
- Dario Franchitti

Race Preview for the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis

July 24, 2008 by Tim Zaegel  
Filed under Racing

92nd Indianapolis 500 practice
served by picapp.com

Indianapolis Motor Speedway (aka: the Brickyard) is home of the Indianapolis 500 and is highly regarded as one of the most prestigious tracks in all of motorsports. After taking a week off, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will now return to the Brickyard for the fifteenth time in a race whose prestige to NASCAR regulars is rivaled only by the season opening Daytona 500. In the previous 14 trips to the track, Indianapolis has produced only three multiple winners in NASCAR, and only two of them will be in the field on Sunday - Jeff Gordon (4 wins) and Tony Stewart (2 wins), with Dale Jarrett being the other. With the garage area finally being able to weed their way through much of the notorious Silly Season and a week of R&R in the rearview, the drivers will hit the track on Sunday more focused than ever as the countdown to the Chase begins to wind down.

Recent Winners:
2007 - Tony Stewart
2006 - Jimmie Johnson
2005 - Tony Stewart

Recent Polesitters:
2007 - Reed Sorenson
2006 - Jeff Burton
2005 - Elliott Sadler

the Usual Suspects:
As previously mentioned, Jeff Gordon has four wins at Indianapolis, which is tops amongst all drivers in NASCAR. Equally impressive, though, is that he also has 7 top-five’s and 10 top-ten’s through 14 races at the track, both of which are also the best in the Sprint Cup garage area. His 16th place run here in 2006 was his worst since he finished 33rd back in 2000, but he was able to rebound with a 3rd place effort last season. Though he is still without a win 19 races into the 2008 campaign, Gordon’s quietly been creeping his way up through the points standings, and the no. 24 team is beginning to show signs of life again - which could mean very bad things for the other 42 cars out on the track.

Tony Stewart seems to be getting back to enjoying life once again, and there are few places he likes to visit better than the Brickyard, as he has proven with wins here in 2005 and 2007. He’s going to need some strong showings to secure his place in the Chase, as I’m sure he’d love nothing more than to give the Coach one more championship before departing at the end of the season.

Indianapolis has yet to be conquered by the driving prowess of Kyle Busch, but then again, there were a lot of places Kyle had never won at prior to this season. He’s gradually improved each year he’s been here, though, going from 10th to 7th, and finally cracking the top-five with a 4th place finish last year ….. Kevin Harvick had his opportunity to kiss the bricks with his win here back in 2003, and another opportunity to do that would really straighten his season out as he continues to recover from his mid-season slump. He’s finished 11th or better in six of his seven races at Indy ….. Matt Kenseth has never won at the Brickyard before, but he’s been very consistent. In 8 races here, he’s cracked the top-five on four occasions, which includes a pair of runner-up finishes, and he’s finished 16th or better in each of his last six Indy races.

the Unusual Suspects:
Juan Pablo Montoya has run very well in a stock car at almost any track that they also race in the open wheel circuits, and Indianapolis was no exception last year as he finished 2nd in that race. With Pocono and Watkins Glen up next on the schedule, JPM could be looking at a pretty good stretch ahead ….. Brian Vickers has finished 21st or better in three of his four Indy races, which includes a 3rd place finish back in 2005. He’s been running much better this season and could be staring at a potential berth in the Chase field. He ran well at Pocono earlier in the season, a track that many feel shares similar characteristics to the Brickyard ….. Reed Sorenson has come to Indy only twice. The first trip resulted in a dismal 30th place finish, but last year’s visit was much brighter as Reed won the pole and then went onto finish 5th in the race itself.

the Unusual Slackers:
In three races at Indianapolis, Martin Truex Jr. has never finished better than 12th and holds an average finish of just 24.3. This is not a good place for Martin to be right now, either, considering that his team was just handed a 150 point penalty by NASCAR, and he’s going to need plenty of good runs if he plans on having any shot at making the Chase this year ….. Hometown crowd or not, Indy has not been kind to Ryan Newman thus far in his career. Seven times Newman has come home to Indiana with high expectations, but 2002 was the only one that resulted in a top-ten finish, when he finished 4th. He has only two top-15’s here since then ….. Despite winning the race here in 2006, Jimmie Johnson has experienced some unusual struggles here. The results haven’t typically been very indicative of how he’s run, but nonetheless, he’s got three finishes outside of the top-35 in only six tries. His other finishes were a win, a 9th, and an 18th ….. Greg Biffle has seen his share of struggles at Indy as well. In five races here, he’s finished in the top-ten only once, and only twice in the top-15. His overall average finish at the track is 19.2.

Best Driver Ratings (from racingone.com):
1. Tony Stewart - 121.4
2. Juan Pablo Montoya - 120.7
3. Kevin Harvick - 108.7
4. Matt Kenseth - 106.1
5. Mark Martin - 102.9

Best Average Finish (from racingone.com):
1. Juan Pablo Montoya - 2.0
2. Kyle Busch - 7.0
3. Tony Stewart - 7.6
4. Jeff Gordon - 7.6
5. Kevin Harvick - 7.7

Indianapolis Facts:
- 3rd is the only starting position to produce more than one winner at Indy. Three drivers have driven to victory from the third spot. The 1st and 2nd starting positions have produced one winner each.
- Four drivers have driven six different car numbers at Indianapolis: Bill Elliott, Joe Nemecheck, Jeff Green, Kenny Wallace.
- Dave Blaney is the only driver to have driven five different car makes at Indy. He has driven Pontiac, Ford, Dodge, and Chevy twice each here, and has also driven a Toyota once.
- Only four drivers have finished in the top-ten in each of the last three years: Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Mark Martin.
- Jeff Burton has led more laps at Indianapolis than at any other track that he has not won at.
- The second NASCAR race held here, back in 1995, saw only one caution flag during the race. In 2004, there were 13 cautions.
- Chevrolet has won 9 of the 14 Cup races held at Indy.

Six-Pack Challenge:
Winner - Jeff Gordon
2nd Place - Kyle Busch
3rd Place - Mark Martin
4th Place - Tony Stewart
5th Place - Matt Kenseth
6th Place - Clint Bowyer

Lock of the Week - Tony Stewart
Sleeper Pick - Juan Pablo Montoya
Steer Clear of - Greg Biffle

Video Footage of the 2007 Allstate 400:

BallHype: hype it up!

Silly Season Tracker - Updated 7/19

July 19, 2008 by Tim Zaegel  
Filed under Racing

Transactions:
- DEI has picked up the 2009 option on Martin Truex Jr, though Truex disputes the legality of the verbiage in the contract.
- Hendrick Motorsports has announced the release of Casey Mears for next season.
- Richard Childress Racing has extended Clint Bowyer’s contract through 2011.
- Roush-Fenway Racing has extended Greg Biffle’s contract through 2011.
- Gillette-Evernham Motorsports has signed Elliott Sadler through 2010.
- Richard Childress Racing has announced the addition of the #33 car as a fourth Cup team in 2009.
- Petty Enterprises has signed Bobby LaBonte through 2012.
- Roush-Fenway Racing has signed Carl Edwards through 2011.
- Due to a lack of sponsorship, Chip Ganassi Racing is forced to shut down the no. 40 car driven by Dario Franchitti for the remainder of the season.
- Hendrick Motorsports has signed Mark Martin to drive the no. 5 car full-time in 2009 and part-time in 2010.
- Tony Stewart announced his departure from Joe Gibbs Racing to go to Stewart Haas Racing (formerly Haas CNC Racing) as a 50% owner and a full-time driver in 2009.
- Ryan Newman has announced that he will not re-sign with Penske Racing for the 2009 season.
- JTG Dougherty Racing has signed Marcos Ambrose to drive their new no. 47 entry in the Sprint Cup Series next year.

Teams Without an Assigned 2009 Driver:
- Dale Earnhardt Inc. - No. 01 car
- Dale Earnhardt Inc. - No. 1 car
- Penske Racing - No. 12 car
- Dale Earnhardt Inc. - No. 15 car
- Joe Gibbs Racing - No. 20 car
- Wood Brothers Racing - No. 21 car
- Bill Davis Racing - No. 22 car
- Yates Racing - No. 28 car
- Richard Childress Racing - No. 33 car
- Furniture Row Motorsports - No. 34 car
- Chip Ganassi Racing - No. 41 car
- Stewart Haas Racing - No. 66 or No. 70 car

Drivers Without a Definitive 2009 Ride:
- Regan Smith
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Casey Mears
- Ryan Newman
- Paul Menard
- Dave Blaney
- Travis Kvapil
- Tony Raines
- Reed Sorenson
- Scott Riggs
- Johnny Sauter
- Jeremy Mayfield
- David Stremme
- Jacques Villeneuve
- Kenny Wallace
- Ken Schrader
- Ward Burton
- Dario Franchitti

2009 Silly Season Tracker - Updated 7/14

July 14, 2008 by Tim Zaegel  
Filed under Racing

Transactions:
- DEI has picked up the 2009 option on Martin Truex Jr, though Truex disputes the legality of the verbiage in the contract.
- Hendrick Motorsports has announced the release of Casey Mears for next season.
- Richard Childress Racing has extended Clint Bowyer’s contract through 2011.
- Roush-Fenway Racing has extended Greg Biffle’s contract through 2011.
- Gillette-Evernham Motorsports has signed Elliott Sadler through 2010.
- Richard Childress Racing has announced the addition of the #33 car as a fourth Cup team in 2009.
- Petty Enterprises has signed Bobby LaBonte through 2012.
- Roush-Fenway Racing has signed Carl Edwards through 2011.
- Due to a lack of sponsorship, Chip Ganassi Racing is forced to shut down the no. 40 car driven by Dario Franchitti for the remainder of the season.
- Hendrick Motorsports has signed Mark Martin to drive the no. 5 car full-time in 2009 and part-time in 2010.
- Tony Stewart announced his departure from Joe Gibbs Racing to go to Stewart Haas Racing (formerly Haas CNC Racing) as a 50% owner and a full-time driver in 2009.

Teams Without an Assigned 2009 Driver:
- Dale Earnhardt Inc. - No. 01 car
- Penske Racing - No. 12 car
- Dale Earnhardt Inc. - No. 15 car
- Joe Gibbs Racing - No. 20 car
- Wood Brothers Racing - No. 21 car
- Bill Davis Racing - No. 22 car
- Yates Racing - No. 28 car
- Richard Childress Racing - No. 33 car
- Furniture Row Motorsports - No. 34 car
- Chip Ganassi Racing - No. 41 car
- Stewart Haas Racing - No. 66 or No. 70 car

Drivers Without a Definitive 2009 Ride:
- Regan Smith
- Casey Mears
- Ryan Newman
- Paul Menard
- Dave Blaney
- Marcos Ambrose
- Travis Kvapil
- Tony Raines
- Reed Sorenson
- Scott Riggs
- Johnny Sauter
- Jeremy Mayfield
- Brad Keselowski
- David Stremme
- Jacques Villeneuve
- Kenny Wallace
- Ken Schrader
- Ward Burton
- Dario Franchitti

Other Potential Rides & Drivers that Could Become Available
(Pending variable circumstances):
- Dale Earnhardt Inc. - No. 1 Car - Current Driver: Martin Truex Jr.
- Gillette-Evernham Motorsports - No. 10 Car - Current Driver: Patrick Carpentier
- Roush Fenway Racing - No. 26 Car - Current Driver: Jamie McMurray
- Penske Racing - No. 77 Car - Current Driver: Sam Hornish Jr.

BallHype: hype it up!

Rating the Race: Daytona - Coke Zero 400

July 6, 2008 by Tim Zaegel  
Filed under Racing

Kyle Busch Wins the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

*Credit photo to Sporting News 

Kyle Busch won his sixth race of the Sprint Cup season and picked up the second Cup restrictor plate win of his career, much to the dismay of the crowd on-hand at Daytona International Speedway for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400. But, whether or not you like Kyle Busch is irrelevent - what you cannot deny is that the action at Daytona was exciting once again and should be considered another victory for the Car of Tomorrow.

Paul Menard led the field to green after winning the Coors Lite Pole Award during Friday’s qualifying session, and he held onto the position for the first 19 laps of the race, before finally surrendering it over to former DEI teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr. The lead for Junior was short-lived, however, as AJ Allmendinger brought out the first caution of the evening on lap 20 after he cut down a right-side tire and smacked the wall, and it was Kyle Busch leading the field off of pit road. Earnhardt and Busch then swapped the lead back-and-forth a few more times and controlled the position between them until Jimmie Johnson finally took over on lap 75, and then Jeff Gordon moved to the front on lap 79.

Tony Stewart had been moving towards the front and easily had one of the best cars in the field, but some flu-like symptoms finally caught up with Smoke, and after a lap 71 caution involving Greg Biffle and Juan Pablo Montoya, Stewart called upon his former Joe Gibbs Racing ‘mate, JJ Yeley, who failed to qualify for the race and was standing by in the no. 20 pits as a relief driver. It took the team two pit stops, but they made the driver change and got Yeley out on the track at the tail end of the field. For Stewart, this was the second time he needed a mid-race substitute in his career, the last time coming at Dover in 2006 when the team used Ricky Rudd to relieve Stewart, who was recovering from a shoulder injury.

Matters then appeared to be getting worse for the Gibbs camp when Denny Hamlin got Kyle Busch loose on lap 82. Busch got so loose, in fact, that he was forced down onto the apron and sank all the way back to 37th place, near his new teammate, JJ Yeley. A caution on lap 110 helped Busch make up some ground, though, after Elliott Sadler hit the wall and bunched the field back up. Busch was amongst a handful of cars charging up to the front of the field, in a group that included Yeley, Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne who started in the back of the field, and Daytona 500 winner, Ryan Newman, who was recovering from an earlier spin with Jamie McMurray back on lap 44.

Under the caution, Carl Edwards stayed out on the track to collect 5 bonus points for leading a lap, and then it was Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin swapping the lead back and forth for several laps. Busch had worked his way back into the top-ten by lap 110, and it’s a good thing for him, because the final 40 laps of the race brought out seven more cautions.

The fifth caution of the evening came with just 37 to go when David Gilliland got loose and hit the wall, bringing Ryan Newman with him and setting off a chain reaction behind them which also resulted with Jeff Burton in the wall. Gilliland had been running inside the top-five for most of the race until a pit road misque during the previous caution shuffled him back to 14th and in what would become the danger zone.

The mele’ continued just 7 laps later when Jamie McMurray couldn’t clear the no. 83 car of Brian Vickers and got spun out as a result, and then five laps after that, Ryan Newman was involved in his third accident of the day, this time spinning along with Denny Hamlin. Then, on lap 139, JJ Yeley - who had been making steady progress working his way up inside the top-15 and flirting with the top-ten - got turned sideways by David Ragan, and Jeff Burton and Casey Mears ended up in the wall behind them.

The 9th caution of the race came on lap 149 when Boris Said was spun by Joe Nemechek, and with the field bunched up together, Kyle Busch re-assumed the lead when he passed Jeff Gordon on lap 155. Another caution came out a lap later with a big spill involving Dave Blaney, Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard, Regan Smith, JJ Yeley, David Reutimann, and Denny Hamlin, amongst others.

The field lined up for the sixth green-white-checkered finish of the season. Kyle Busch was out front, followed by Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards. A slow restart caused Edwards to get into the back of the no. 24, turning Gordon around onto the apron, but NASCAR chose not to waive the caution flag. Then, Edwards and Matt Kenseth ducked out of line and pulled up next to the race leader, but Kenseth’s car “couldn’t hold it down” on the high line.

In an unlikely turn of events, the race turned into Carl Edwards running side-by-side with Kyle Busch, but Carl’s teammate - Matt Kenseth - was pushing Kyle, and Kyle’s brother - Kurt Busch - was pushing the no. 99. As the two cars took turns pulling their nose ahead of the other, the cars started piling up behind them, and NASCAR finally brought out the caution. Officials then turned to video replay to decide who was in front when the caution flag actually came out, and it was determined that Kyle did in fact pull ahead of Edwards right at the last moment, naming him the winner.

Edwards went onto finish 2nd - his best Daytona finish - with his Roush teammate, Matt Kenseth in third, and Kurt Busch in 4th, despite starting all the way back in the 36th position. David Ragan recovered nicely from a pit road penalty that put him at the end of the field on lap 113, and he went onto finish 5th. Robby Gordon had a very solid race and even led a lap at one point, and he finished 6th. Kasey Kahne appeared to be headed for disaster when he was forced to pit with less than 10 to go due to a right fender rub, but he rebounded into the 7th position. After leading the most laps in the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car faded in the latter stages, as he settled for 8th. 9th place went to Clint Bowyer, who had a very quiet day as he worked his way up from 25th. And, Mark Martin rounded out the top-ten finishers after starting from the outside pole. There was also a point in the race where Mark got the opportunity to run up front with his three Hendrick teammates for next season.

Other Notables: Kevin Harvick finished the race in 12th, but it wasn’t enough to keep him in the top-12 in points, as he now sits 13th in the standings ….. Polesitter, Paul Menard, finished 15th ….. Driving in relief of Tony Stewart, JJ Yeley finished 20th, which was just enough to keep Stewart two points in front of Harvick ….. Jimmie Johnson finished 23rd ….. After appearing as though he might be in line for the victory on the final restart, Jeff Gordon plummeted to a 30th place finish ….. Last year’s race winner, Jamie McMurray, finished 32nd ….. Daytona 500 winner, Ryan Newman, finished 36th ….. Jeff Burton wound up 37th, ending his 23-race streak of top-15 finishes.

Grades:
the Racing - 95%
the Drama - 96%
Coverage - 92%
Pre-Race - 89%

Overall Grade: 94%

Recommended Reads:
- Kyle Busch Captures Win in Exciting Finish at Daytona International Speedway - (Racing for the Win)
- Live on Type Delay: Firecracker (Coke Zero) 400 - (RevJim’s Rans ‘n’ Raves)

Complete Results (from nascar.com):

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 9 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 190/5 162 Running
2 24 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 175/5 162 Running
3 19 17 Matt Kenseth Ford R+L Carriers 165/0 162 Running
4 36 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 160/0 162 Running
5 6 6 David Ragan Ford AAA 155/0 162 Running
6 37 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Robby Gordon Motorsports 155/5 162 Running
7 41 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 146/0 162 Running
8 3 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Nat’l Guard Defending Freedom (ACU) / AMP Energy 152/10 162 Running
9 25 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel’s 138/0 162 Running
10 2 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 134/0 162 Running
11 28 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 130/0 162 Running
12 14 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Reese’s 127/0 162 Running
13 20 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Pillsbury Cinnabon / Cheerios 124/0 162 Running
14 10 10 Patrick Carpentier * Dodge Auto Value / Bumper to Bumper 121/0 162 Running
15 1 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Vertis / Menards 123/5 162 Running
16 43 45 Terry Labonte Dodge Richard Petty Driving Experience 115/0 162 Running
17 35 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Swing Vote 112/0 162 Running
18 4 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 109/0 162 Running
19 12 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 106/0 162 Running
20 17 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 103/0 162 Running
21 34 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS 100/0 162 Running
22 39 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Polaroid / TUMS 97/0 162 Running
23 30 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe’s 99/5 162 Running
24 8 01 Regan Smith * Chevrolet DEI / Principal Financial Group 91/0 162 Running
25 21 00 Michael McDowell * Toyota Champion Mortgage 88/0 162 Running
26 15 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office 90/5 162 Running
27 29 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 87/5 162 Running
28 5 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Haas Automation 79/0 162 Running
29 42 77 Sam Hornish Jr. * Dodge Penske Truck Rental 76/0 162 Running
30 26 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 78/5 162 Running
31 11 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Ford. Drive one. 70/0 161 Running
32 40 26 Jamie McMurray Ford IRWIN Marathon with WeldTec 67/0 157 Running
33 22 21 Jon Wood Ford U.S. Air Force 64/0 155 Running
34 16 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet CARQUEST / Kellogg’s 61/0 152 Running
35 7 160 Boris Said Ford No Fear / Advance Auto Parts 63/5 149 In Pit
36 32 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Samsung HDTV / Alltel 55/0 149 Running
37 23 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 52/0 140 In Pit
38 31 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Juicy Fruit Slim Pack 49/0 132 Running
39 38 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy / Garmin 46/0 129 Running
40 27 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditRep
ort.com
43/0 124 In Pit
41 18 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 40/0 103 In Pit
42 13 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull 37/0 100 Running
43 33 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 34/0 69 In Pit

Sprint Cup Series Standings (from nascar.com):

RANK +/- DRIVER POINTS BEHIND STARTS POLES WINS TOP 5 TOP 10
1 Kyle Busch 2686 Leader 18 2 6 11 12
2 +1 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2504 -182 18 1 1 7 12
3 -1 Jeff Burton 2484 -202 18 0 1 4 10
4 Carl Edwards 2437 -249 18 0 3 7 13
5 Jimmie Johnson 2319 -367 18 1 1 4 8
6 Jeff Gordon 2249 -437 18 2 0 7 8
7 Denny Hamlin 2240 -446 18 1 1 5 9
8 +2 Kasey Kahne 2177 -509 18 2 2 3 9
9 +4 Matt Kenseth 2166 -520 18 0 0 4 11
10 +1 Clint Bowyer 2159 -527 18 0 1 4 9
11 -3 Greg Biffle 2153 -533 18 2 0 5 7
12 -3 Tony Stewart 2145 -541 18 0 0 5 8
13 -1 Kevin Harvick 2143 -543 18 0 0 2 5
14 Martin Truex Jr. 2057 -629 18 0 0 2 5
15 +2 David Ragan 2043 -643 18 0 0 3 5
16 Brian Vickers 2033 -653 18 0 0 3 4
17 -2 Ryan Newman 1960 -726 18 1 1 2 6
18 Kurt Busch 1954 -732 18 0 1 3 4
19 +2 Bobby Labonte 1829 -857 18 0 0 0 1
20 -1 Travis Kvapil 1801 -885 18 0 0 0 3
21 -1 Juan Montoya 1754 -932 18 0 0 1 2
22 David Gilliland 1735 -951 18 0 0 1 2
23 +1 Jamie McMurray 1723 -963 18 0 0 0 3
24 -1 Casey Mears 1718 -968 18 0 0 1 4
25 Elliott Sadler 1667 -1019 18 0 0 1 4
26 Paul Menard 1642 -1044 18 1 0 0 0
27 David Reutimann 1596 -1090 18 0 0 0 1
28 Mark Martin 1571 -1115 13 0 0 2 6
29 Michael Waltrip 1508 -1178 18 0 0 1 1
30 +2 Robby Gordon 1484 -1202 18 0 0 0 2
31 -1 Dave Blaney 1469 -1217 17 0 0 0 2
32 -1 Reed Sorenson 1426 -1260 17 0 0 1 2
33 Sam Hornish Jr.* 1370 -1316 18 0 0 0 0
34 Regan Smith* 1360 -1326 17 0 0 0 0
35 Scott Riggs 1211 -1475 16 0 0 0 0
36 +1 Joe Nemechek 1061 -1625 15 1 0 0 0
37 +1 Patrick Carpentier* 1048 -1638 15 1 0 0 0
38 -2 J.J. Yeley 1047 -1639 14 0 0 1 1
39 Michael McDowell* 921 -1765 13 0 0 0 0
40 A.J. Allmendinger 727 -1959 10 0 0 0 0

BallHype: hype it up!

2009 Silly Season Tracker

June 28, 2008 by Tim Zaegel  
Filed under Racing

Transactions:
- DEI has picked up the 2009 option on Martin Truex Jr, though Truex disputes the legality of the verbiage in the contract.
- Hendrick Motorsports has announced the release of Casey Mears for next season.
- Richard Childress Racing has extended Clint Bowyer’s contract through 2011.
- Roush-Fenway Racing has extended Greg Biffle’s contract through 2011.
- Gillette-Evernham Motorsports has signed Elliott Sadler through 2010.
- Richard Childress Racing has announced the addition of the #33 car as a fourth Cup team in 2009.
- Petty Enterprises has signed Bobby LaBonte through 2012.
- Roush-Fenway Racing has signed Carl Edwards through 2011.

Teams Without an Assigned 2009 Driver:
- Dale Earnhardt Inc. - No. 01 car
- Hendrick Motorsports - No. 5 car
- Penske Racing - No. 12 car
- Dale Earnhardt Inc. - No. 15 car
- Wood Brothers Racing - No. 21 car
- Bill Davis Racing - No. 22 car
- Yates Racing - No. 28 car
- Richard Childress Racing - No. 33 car
- Furniture Row Motorsports - No. 34 car
- Chip Ganassi Racing - No. 41 car
- Haas CNC Racing - No. 66 car
- Haas CNC Racing - No. 70 car

Drivers Without a Definitive 2009 Ride:
- Regan Smith
- Casey Mears
- Ryan Newman
- Paul Menard
- Dave Blaney
- Marcos Ambrose
- Travis Kvapil
- Tony Raines
- Reed Sorenson
- Scott Riggs
- Johnny Sauter
- Mark Martin
- Jeremy Mayfield
- Brad Keselowski
- David Stremme
- Jacques Villeneuve
- Kenny Wallace
- Ken Schrader
- Ward Burton

Other Potential Rides & Drivers that Could Become Available
(Pending variable circumstances):
- Dale Earnhardt Inc. - No. 1 Car - Current Driver: Martin Truex Jr.
- Gillette-Evernham Motorsports - No. 10 Car - Current Driver: Patrick Carpentier
- Joe Gibbs Racing - No. 20 Car - Current Driver: Tony Stewart
- Roush Fenway Racing - No. 26 Car - Current Driver: Jamie McMurray
- Penske Racing - No. 77 Car - Current Driver: Sam Hornish Jr.

Fantasy Preview: New Hampshire

June 26, 2008 by Tim Zaegel  
Filed under Racing

Recent Winners:
2007 - Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin
2006 - Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch
2005 - Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart

Recent Pole Winners:
2007 - Clint Bowyer, Dave Blaney
2006 - Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman
2005 - Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers

Best Driver Ratings (from racingone.com):
1. Tony Stewart - 117.9
2. Jeff Gordon - 108.7
3. Ryan Newman - 102.7
4. Denny Hamlin - 102.4
5. Kevin Harvick - 102.0

Best Average Finishes (from racingone.com):
1. Denny Hamlin - 6.5
2. Jeff Gordon - 9.8
3. Matt Kenseth - 10.5
4. Jimmie Johnson - 10.7
5. Ryan Newman - 11.1

Most Wins - Jeff Burton (4)
Most Wins (Active) - Jeff Burton (4)
Most Poles - Ryan Newman (4)
Most Poles (Active) - Ryan Newman (4)
Most Top 5’s - Jeff Gordon (9)
Most Top 10’s - Dale Jarrett (14)
Most Manufacturer Wins - Chevrolet (12)
Track Qualifying Record - Ryan Newman (28.561 seconds / 2003)

Odd Facts:
- Four active drivers on the Sprint Cup roster have earned their first career victory at New Hampshire: Joe Nemecheck (1999), Robby Gordon (2001), Ryan Newman (2002), Clint Bowyer (2007)
- Ryan Newman has led a lap in every New Hampshire race since entering the Cup Series, with the exception of the Fall race in 2006.
- Four active drivers have competed in all 26 Cup races ever held at New Hampshire: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby LaBonte, and Joe Nemechek.

Six-Pack Challenge:
Winner - Matt Kenseth
2nd Place - Denny Hamlin
3rd Place - Ryan Newman
4th Place - Kevin Harvick
5th Place - Tony Stewart
6th Place - Kyle Busch

Lock of the Week - Denny Hamlin
Sleeper Pick - Jamie McMurray
Steer Clear of - Kasey Kahne

Loose in Turn Three: Is Anyone Else Driving These Toyotas?

June 6, 2008 by Tim Zaegel  
Filed under Racing

The Pit Crew of Brian Vickers’ no. 83 Red Bull Toyota wins the NASCAR All-Star Pit Crew Challenge

Ahh, yes, it’s another Friday, and Spring is in the air (though it’s starting to feel a bit like Summer!). But, it’s the end of the week, nonetheless, and we all know what that means. I’m joined here by Bruce Simmons from Bruce’s NASCAR Bits & Pieces, and the infamous Charlie Turner from On Pit Row for our weekly rendition of “Loose in Turn Three”.

This week here at Do You NASCAR, we’re going to take a look at the Toyota lineup and determine if anyone other than Joe Gibbs Racing is going to win them some races this year. We’re also going to play Jury on Denny Hamlin’s involvement in the huge accident this past weekend at Dover over at Bruce’s website, and we’re going to reveal some of the most underrated drivers in NASCAR over at On Pit Row.

So, sit back and buckle up tight. Three questions, three voices, and three different answer … we’re about to get Loose in Turn Three!

Q: Joe Gibbs Racing has won four times in the Sprint Cup Series this season, but in two years, they are the only Toyota team to win a race in Cup racing. Will a non-JGR driver reach Victory Lane in 2008?

TZ: Ya know, with the way that Kyle Busch and the rest of the Gibbs cars have been running, sometimes I wonder if another team at all will win again this year! In all seriousness, though, I think the dominance of the JGR cars has really overshadowed just how much the rest of these guys have really improved as organizations. After failing to qualify for all of those races in 2007, now they’ve got a bunch of drivers up in the top-35 in owner points, and they’ve run strong at a bunch of tracks. There’s one guy that’s really caught my eye, though, and that of course is Brian Vickers. I do in fact think he’ll win this year, and I think it will happen at either Lowe’s or Talladega in the Fall.

Charlie: Probably not.  JGR is Toyota’s “A” Team in Cup. Only Chevy has more than one “A” Team. Ford has only one. Dodge may not have even one. I think that Brian Vickers is capable of a win.  Dave Blaney is fast enough if all the stars line up somewhere like Pocono or Michigan. But the odds are long. Waltrips teams are more worried about top 30 finishes than wins.

Bruce:  I think JGR has the Toyota win column locked up.  I like Vickers also for a win, but reasonably, I only think he’ll get there via a lucky stroke of the fuel mileage window or weather god.  Toyota made a good deal, no matter what it was or how expensive it was to get their nameplate in the circle of winners..  Not to mention big name drivers associated with them now.

Follow the rest of this discussion:
- What happened with Denny Hamlin in the Dover wreck?

- Who is the most under-rated driver in NASCAR and how is he over-looked relative to his talent/value?

*Credit photo to Newscom.

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