Saturday, June 30, 2012

Two down, One to Go! My Pick of the Week

    Two NASCAR races are already finished at Kentucky. Both where won in dominating fashion, and today someone could do the same. James Buscher won the Camp World Truck Series race, and Austin Dillon last year's CWTS champion won his first Nationwide race driving the No. 3 Bass Pro Shop machine. Dillion led 192 of the 200 laps, but his win is not without controversy after his car failed post-race inspection. His car's rear end was higher than the allowable tolerance, and NASCAR said they would give a decision on any penalties at the first of the week. Look for there not to be many cautions tonight once again for the Quaker State 400. Track position will be the key tonight to winning the race, the winner will more than likely come from the top 10. Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth both start outside the top 10 and will possibly have to work hard just to finish in the top 10; while Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Jr. all look strong for Hendrick in practice and qualifying. Expect an Hendrick to be in victory lane tonight in the Bluegrass state. Momentum and confidence is everything right now in NASCAR.

My Pick: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

What's your pick? Vote in our weekly poll or comment below.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What to look for at Kentucky- 5 things

1. Hendrick Motorsports- Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Khane, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have all been running great on 1.5 mile tracks this season. Also there teammate Jeff Gordon has run good on 1.5 mile tracks. On the 1.5 mile track at Charlotte they all did good, with Kasey winning. They also ran good at Kansas, so look for Hendrick Motorsports to make some noise at Kentucky. Look for Jimme and Dale to want to add to their win totals for bonus points, while Kasey and Jeff are racing for the wild card position.

2. Can Kyle Busch turn it around?- He still sets 12th in points but could soon lose that spot if the streak of finishes he has had over the past four races continues. Three blown engines, and then a 17th place finish at Sonoma is not exactly chase worthy. He won last year in Kentucky from the pole, will he turn it around here? Do not expect it, why? Because tracks we already thought he would be successful on this year have not been what we expected for the most part. Look for Kasey Khane to take his chase spot.

3. Matt Kenseth- Will his team have any letdowns after the announcement of his departure from RFR at the end of 2012? Will they continue to put the best cars on the track for Kenseth each week, are will the team just fade out of title contention. Though this may not show till the end of the season, I believe it could have a great impact. It may do the exact opposite, we shall see beginning at Kentucky.

4. MWR- Can the success at Michael Waltrip Racing continue? Yes. And this week Waltrip will be back in the No.55 in his home state. As a team they have been very successful this year, with Clint winning and Truex Jr. contending. All the while Martin has had speed and Vickers has looked good in his few starts with two top fives. This team finished 2nd here last year with Reutimann, better results are even possible this time around.

5.Night Racing- Racing at night, what else must be said? Lets go racing in Kentucky boys and girls!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Matt Kenseth Impact on Earnhardt Jr.?

Here is a great opinion article written by Jimmy Collins on the possible impact of Kenseth's departure in the championship race with Dale Jr. Enjoy.

Dale Jr. Winning is HUGE for Nascar

    Even a week after Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke his winless streak, his name is still pasted all over the internet in Championship discussions. During PRN's coverage of this weekend's race one advertisement offered specials based on the number of Dale Jr.'s car in honor of him winning. Just this week Charlie Daniels congratulated the victorious Jr, and from all over the garage has come high praise for the 88 team. All is right in Junior nation, and all is right in NASCAR because of one win by the most popular driver in motor sports.
     The impact of his 19th career NASCAR Sprint Cup points win will be felt deep into the chase, with everyone wanting to know if Dale Jr. can finally win the Sprint Cup. His fans know he has come close before and know that he has a drive to win like never before, but now even those that are not fans of Dale Jr. are talking about him as a championship contender. Any why? All the statics say, yes, with 12 top tens, 6 top fives, and 1 win.
      NASCAR. com saw a huge increase in sales of their Dale Jr. products following the win, and some tracks reported 20% hikes in ticket sales. For the remainder of 2012 NASCAR will see the impact of this popular win. Believe me Junior Nation will remember that one for a long time no matter how many more there are to come.

Dale Jr. Career Numbers
 Wins         Top 5        Top 10       Non-Points Wins        Nationwide Series Wins      Championships
   19               101                174                       7                                       23                             2 (Nationwide)

He is currently 3rd in points and poised to compete for the Sprint Cup, he has finished in the top 5 in points 3 times. And top 12 in points 7 times, most recently last season in 7th. He also has 10 career poles. 

Matt Kenseth Leaving Roush, To be Replaced by Stenhouse Jr.

Matt Kenseth, shown here celebrating his 2012 Daytona 
500 victory, will be leaving RFR

   NASCAR points leader Matt Kenseth will not be with Roush Fenway Racing in 2013. The 2009 and 2012 Daytona 500 winner and 2003 Champion will possibly be going to Joe Gibbs Racing. Matt Kenseth has been with Roush in the Sprint Cup series for 14 years, and has won 22 races in Sprint Cup along with 26 in the Nationwide series. His most recent win was in the Daytona 500 this past February. Roush is bring 2011 Nationwide Champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. into the 17 car to replace Kenseth next year. 

   "I'd like to thank Matt Kenseth for his many years of loyal service," co-owner Roush said Tuesday. "Matt has been an integral part of this organization for well over a decade, and we are extremely appreciative of his accomplishments and contributions to the team, and will always consider him a part of the Roush Fenway family." Matt, who has not officially commented to the media responded via tweet to his departure from Roush,  "I'm very thankful to Jack Roush for the opportunities he's given me over the past 14 years. Together we have enjoyed a lot of success," he tweeted. "And as a team we are committed as ever to the remainder of the 2012 season and chasing a 3rd sprint cup title for Jack and RFR."

   Kenseth's car has had sponsorship issues the last few years, and Roush is funding a large portion of this year's schedule himself for Kenseth. Roush had already dropped the less successful David Ragan and its fourth team because of a lack of sponsorship at the end of last season. Roush also signed Biffle and Edwards to a contract extensions last season.They also desperately needed a slot for 24-year-old Stenhouse Jr., who is locked into a long-term contract but until now had no where to go in Roush's Sprint Cup lineup. Stenhouse will be much cheaper than Kenseth in terms of salary, and he is much younger than the 40-year-old Kenseth. 

   "We feel that he is not only a key piece of our team's future, but a key piece of the future of the sport," Roush said of Stenhouse Jr. "Roush Fenway is an organization with a wonderful past and present, as well as an extremely promising future, and I can't think of a better candidate than Ricky to usher in the next era of success for the team."

   So why? And what about the impact of this announcement on the 17 cars run at the 2012 championship? No one has a clear answer to why after 14 years Kenseth will no longer be driving for Roush, but it could possibly be a salary move toward a young driver with much potential ahead of him. And Roush says there eye is still on the prize this year. 

   "The No. 17 is positioned extremely well this season, and I'm committed to providing the team the best resources to continue their run for the 2012 championship," he said. "I have no doubt that Matt will do his part."

   Look for Matt Kenseth to be with Joe Gibbs Racing next season, possibly in the 20 car are with a fourth team. Which means another long partnership will end, Kenseth's run with Ford Racing. And Ford Racing is disappointed to see such a talented drive leave the blue oval. 

   "He will be certainly missed by us and the Ford Racing fans,"  Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing said. "We are thankful for Matt's winning efforts and championship-caliber success with the Roush and Ford racing programs these past 16 years, both on and off the track. We will focus on this year and look forward to more success on the track in his No. 17 Ford Fusion this season."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Power Rankings after Race 16

We are well on our way to the chase, and off to Kentucky for Saturday night racing! Here are your new power rankings:

1. Matt Kenseth- The points leader had a good solid top 15 at a track he is not known for success on. Looking very solid as a team.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.- Jr. mania continues and will for a while, this team is strong. A late race wreck, not of his own doing regulated him to a 23rd place finish on what was going to be another good day for the 88 team. Still has completed every lap this season, with a series high 12 top 10 finishes.

3. Tony Stewart- Boy was he coming, another second place finish. This two time winner in 2012 is a virtual lock for the chase and looks to add more wins.

4. Greg Biffle- Started fourth and finished seventh, a good day for the 16 team. Back to second in points, but you just get the feeling they just are not in the same conversation as the above three. Just ain't feeling, may prove me wrong.

5. Jimmie Johnson- Finished 6th, stays at fourth in points. Look for him to be there awhile with the top three in points finishing so close to him every week. Very little room for progress when everyone runs good. Just looking for more wins as is the rest of the top five in points before the chase.

These two (Dale Jr., and Johnson) are running great and will definitely be in the championship conversation as will the rest of these top five. Sorry Clint Bowyer there was no room for you in the power rankings this week, but your team seems to have found a groove. Congratulations on your first win with MWR.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Power Rankings: After 15 Races

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.-The picture tells the story, after breaking a 143 race winless streak, Jr. seems to be on track to win his first Sprint Cup Championship. 12 top ten finishes in 2012, average finish of just over 7. Point Standings:2

2. Matt Kenseth- An uneventful, quite top five from a strong team. Look for more wins from #17 Point Standings:1

3.Jimmie Johnson- Finished fifth, with a strong car. Same story as Kenseth, a quite top five, but hey whose wasn't with Dale Jr. winning. Point Standings: 4 

4. Greg Biffle- Looking good, and hey he was excited that Jr. got back to Victory Lane. #16 team is top five team for sure. Point Standings:3 

5.Tony Stewart- Even the grinch couldn't steal Jr.'s win. Wasn't at all happy finishing second. Another strong performance from a team looking for consistency. Point Standings: 8