December 17, 2009

2009 Fantasy Rankings

24. Casey Mears

Fantasy Power Average*: 24.52
Wins: 0
Top-fives: 0
Top-10s: 4
Top-15s: 12

The economy may yet be the undoing of Casey Mears in 2010 and that is a shame because this mid-range driver was finally beginning to gel with his Richard Childress Racing team. Like most of the drivers from that stable, he had an up and down year, but starting with the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire, he showed remarkable consistency. In the final 10 races of the year, he finished on the lead lap eight times and improved his average finish by more than two positions over the first 26 events of the 2009 season.

Mears never cracked the top five and came close only twice with a sixth in the Michigan Carfax 400 in August and a seventh at Lowe's in October, which meant that he probably flew under the radar screen for most of the year. But he was often a good utility to driver that could be used to stretch your salary cap and allow you to load up on marquee drivers.

The best trait of Mears in 2009, however, was his ability to coax the car to the end of a race. He was one of only three drivers listed as running at the end of all 36 events alongside Juan Montoya and David Reutimann, so fantasy owners had a reasonable expectation that he would get every position out of the car that it was capable of giving.

*The Fantasy Power Average is a formula that consists of a driver's finishing result plus other intangibles such as average running position, laps in the top 10, speed in traffic and quality passes. Each intangible is "expressed" as a finishing position (e.g. the driver with the most laps in the top 10 is given a hypothetical first-place finish), so the lower the number, the greater the strength.

25. Joey Logano

N'Wide: Danica's first races

On Thursday, it was announced that Danica Patrick's first race will come at Auto Club Speedway in week two of the season; her next race will immediately follow at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Our View It certainly makes sense to debut her on tracks where car control—and not the whim of the draft—determines her success or failure. Until she posts practice times, however, it's hard to determine her fantasy worth.

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December 16, 2009

ARCA's International Connection

Daytona Testing will include one of the most diverse testing fields in ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards history, with drivers representing five countries and racing backgrounds ranging from Formula 1 to grassroots touring stock car racing scheduled to participate in the three-day, ARCA-sanctioned open test.

At present, more than 50 drivers are scheduled to test. Among them, a growing segment of international drivers representing countries across the globe to include Venezuela, India, China and Canada.

Caracas, Venezuela's Milka Duno, Chennai, India's Narain Karthikeyan, Hong Kong, China's Darryl O'Young and Canadians Steve Arpin, Wheeler Boys, Derek White and Terry Jones join a list of drivers with non-U.S. hometowns who have driven ARCA Racing Series cars since the series' inception in 1953. Other countries that have been represented in ARCA Racing Series events over the years include Columbia, Germany, the United Kingdom, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Mexico, Japan and France.

Caracas, Venezuela's Milka Duno, scheduled to test the No. 90 Toyota Camry for Braun Racing, has competed in the IZOD IndyCar Series for the past three seasons and is an experienced road course racer in the Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes and the American Le Mans Series. She finished second in the 24 hours of Daytona in 2007, setting the record for highest finish by a female driver in the history of the race. The Daytona ARCA Open Test marks her stock car racing debut. "This will be a new challenge for me and one that I've been looking forward to," said Duno of this weekend's ARCA test. "I know it won't be easy - it will be hard work - but work that I'm ready to take on."

Chennai, India's Narain Karthikeyan is the first and only Indian driver to compete in Formula 1 and currently runs in the Le Mans Series. Karthikeyan completed the full 2005 Formula 1 season, posting a career-best finish of fourth at the Indianapolis Grand Prix for his Jordan Grand Prix Team and served as a WilliamsF1 test driver in 2006 and 2007. The 2009 ARCA Open Test at Daytona marks his first time in an ARCA Racing Series stock car and he is competing for a new team in the series, Starbeast Motorsports. Starbeast Motorsports has formed a strategic partnership with JTG Daugherty Racing for technical and marketing support and former ARCA Champion Andy Hillenburg will provide driver training/assistance during the test.

Hong Kong, China's Darryl O'Young represented his country in a full season of the FIA GT championship and the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, making Chinese motor sports history. He will take on the next endeavor of his career-testing an ARCA Racing Series stock car at Daytona Int'l Speedway-as a teammate to Karthikeyan for Starbeast Motorsports.

Fort Frances, Ontario's Steve Arpin finished seventh in the final point standings during his rookie season of ARCA Racing Series competition in 2009 and enters this year's ARCA Open Test at Daytona with veteran team Venturini Motorsports. Prior to ARCA competition, Arpin competed in the USAC Silver Crown Series, IMCA, UMP Modifieds, CRA Late Models and snowmobile racing. He was voted the National Speed Sport News ARCA Nation Most Popular Driver by race fans last season.

Calgary, Alberta's Wheeler Boys plans to participate in ARCA Open Testing at Daytona in an entry owned by legendary NASCAR/ARCA driver James Hylton. Boys, who has prior experience in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Camping World West Series, is the son of former ARCA Racing Series competitor Trevor Boys, who made 102 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts from 1982-1993 and nephew of former ARCA Racing Series competitor Buddie Boys, also a NSCS veteran.

Kahnuwake, Quebec's Derek White is scheduled to participate in his career first ARCA Open Test for veteran ARCA driver/car owner Mario Gosselin, a fellow Canadian and three-time series winner. White has previously competed in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and made two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts for Gosselin's DGM Racing Team in 2009.

Amherstburg, Ontario's Terry Jones made his career-first ARCA Racing Series start in 2003 driving for his own Jones Group Racing Team. In 38 career starts to-date, Jones' career-best finishes include a sixth at Winchester Speedway in 2007 and a seventh at Salem in 2009. Jones also participates in weekly ARCA-sanctioned racing at Toledo Speedway in Ohio, where he earned the 2009 Championship in the Sportsman Division.

Other international drivers who have competed in ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards competition over the years include but are not limited to:

Klaus Graf (Dornhan Germany)
Roland Rehfeld (Berlin Germany)
Michael Vergers (Oxford UK)
Neil Cunningham (London England)
Kieran Dynes (Dungannon Ireland)
Tony Spanos (Sydney Australia)
Stuart Lyndon (Hastings New Zealand)
Guillermo Ortelli (Buenos Aires Argentina)
Jorge Goeters (Mexico City Mexico)
Hideo Fukuyama (Suzuka Japan)
Juan Pablo Montoya (Bogota Columbia)
Alex Garcia (Caracas Venezuela)
Michel Disdier (Nice France)

Canadian Drivers:
Don St. Denis (Lasalle Ontario)
Pete Shepherd (Brampton Ontario)
Pierre Bourque (Ottawa Ontario)
Sean Stafford (Ontario)
Trevor Boys (Calgary Alberta)
Buddie Boys (Calgary Alberta)
Ron Fellows (Missisauga Ontario)
Jerry Churchill (Windsor Ontario)
Randy Churchill (Windsor Ontario)
Craig Bracken (Windsor Ontario)
Curt Dickie (Windsor Ontario)
Dwayne Dewar (Windsor Ontario)
Peter Gibbons (Stouffville Ontario)
Mike Goudie (Toronto Ontario)
Billy Rowse (Corunna Ontario)
Steve Robblee (London Ontario)
Laurent Rioux (Toronto Ontario)
George Sekanina (Kitchener Ontario)
JR Fitzpatrick (Cambridge Ontario)

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Cope forms new team

Derrike Cope has announced the formation of a new team for 2010 in partnership with Dale Clemons. The new venture will be called Stratus Racing Group, according to the Cope Web site, and intends to run full time in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series with Cope as the principal driver.

Our View In addition, his twin nieces Amber and Angela Cope will run in the ARCA series and selected Truck races. It has long been a goal of the Northwestern driver to bring these ladies into the sport, but now it appears he has the sponsorship in place to make it happen.

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ARCA: Duno to test at Daytona

Danica Patrick may have some competition as the top female driver in stock cars. Milka Duno is also expected to test at Daytona International Speedway this spring. She will be in Braun Racing entry according to a press release from the team (quoted at Jayski.com).

Our View The two ladies have not gotten along very well in the Indy Racing League, so in addition to the appeal of having female drivers in a male-dominated sport, fans could see sparks fly in any events they contest. Fenders have a tendency to make drivers bold.

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2009 Fantasy Rankings

25. Joey Logano

Fantasy Power Average*: 24.84
Wins: 1 (Lenox Industrial Tools 301, New Hampshire Motor Speedway)
Top-fives: 3
Top-10s: 7
Top-15s: 13

Joey Logano fairly well lived up to expectations in 2009. While his rookie season lacked a lot of the flash of previous freshmen such as Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, fantasy owners will be well-served to remember that the original plan was to bring him into Cup competition in 2010 instead of last year. Tony Stewart's decision to leave Joe Gibbs Racing for his own team brought the teenager to the big leagues sooner than anticipated and yet the kid showed maturity and rarely drove over his head. In fact, Logano did precisely what NASCAR expects from a first-year driver: he improved in the second race on nearly every track that hosts two events.

Detractors will be quick to dismiss Logano's victory at New Hampshire because that race was shortened by rain while the No. 20 stretched its fuel, but they should note that his other pair of top-fives came in the closing events of 2009. Logano drove to a fifth at Lowe's in the NASCAR Banking 500 and crossed the line third at Talladega in the Amp Energy 500. Normally, we would discount any finish on the restrictor-plate superspeedways as a byproduct of luck over skill, but for a rookie to stay of trouble in the draft, it's remarkable.

Expect more of the same from Logano in 2010 as he visits tracks for the third and fourth time. As he and crew chief Greg Zipadelli develop more chemistry, the communication will only improve and Logano is learning how to describe the feel he needs. It's too soon to tell which track types will be his favorites, but in light of his strong Lowe's showing, watch him closely on the "cookie-cutter" tracks.

*The Fantasy Power Average is a formula that consists of a driver's finishing result plus other intangibles such as average running position, laps in the top 10, speed in traffic and quality passes. Each intangible is "expressed" as a finishing position (e.g. the driver with the most laps in the top 10 is given a hypothetical first-place finish), so the lower the number, the greater the strength.

25. Joey Logano

December 14, 2009

Addington joins Ku Busch

Penske Racing South has announced Steve Addington as the crew chief for Kurt Busch's No. 2 Dodge, according to RacingOne.com, after scoring a dozen Cup victories in the last two years.

Our View Better still, Addington is accustomed to taking abuse. He was Kyle Busch's crew chief last year, and both of the Busch brothers can be quite fiery on the radio.

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N'Wide: Patrick gets first test in


According to Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s facebook page, Danica Patrick has put her first test with the team in the books; it came at Walt Disney Speedway. The Indy Racing League has run a handful of races at Disney, but not since Danica Patrick joined the series.

Our View If she is willing to put in the work, Patrick's transition to the heavier stock cars will go a lot smoother.

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Stewart heads Down Under

Tony Stewart will join World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz and Midwest sprint car ace Tim Shaffer Down Under at Parramatta City Raceway later this month according to the track's Web site.

Our View For many sprint car drivers, this is an annual pilgrimage and they have come back to the States with some outstanding racers such as Brooke Tatnell in tow.

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November 22, 2009

Hendrick Motorsports sweeps the top three for season

Hendrick Motorsports made another piece of history this week when they finished 1-2-3 in the points' standings. In addition to the championship for Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin finished second and Jeff Gordon finished third.

Our View That is how you define dominance; nothing more needs to be said.

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Johnson makes history with fourth consecutive championship

For the first time in NASCAR's 61-year history, a driver has won four consecutive championships. Jimmie Johnson capped off the season with a fifth-place finish in the Ford 400.

Our View Better still for fantasy owners, his fifth-place finish shows he was never content to points' race.

And with no changes to the NASCAR Chase schedule, he has to be considered a favorite to win a fifth consecutive.

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Hamlin wins Ford 400

Denny Hamlin led the final 44 laps of the Ford 400 and earned his first victory on the progressively-banked Homestead-Miami Speedway. Previously, his best results were a pair of third in 2006 and 2007.

Our View After Hamlin posted the third best average speed in Happy Hour, we elevated him to dark horse status for the win; he didn't disappoint.

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November 21, 2009

Ky Busch caps off Nationwide season in style

Kyle Busch clinched the Nationwide season championship by merely starting the Ford 300, but he capped off the season in style by holding off second-place Carl Edwards—who also finished second in the points' standings.

Our View On Friday night, Kevin Harvick won the Camping World Truck Series race while his Ron Hornaday-led team clinched the owner's championship.

Could we see a third such storyline with a Jimmie Johnson victory on Sunday?

Burton wins Homestead Happy Hour

Jeff Burton posted both the single fastest lap of 165.736 mph and the quickest average speed of 161.439 during 44 laps in Homestead's Happy Hour for the Ford 400.

Our View He qualified mid-pack, but after coming from shotgun on the field to finish second last week at Phoenix, you would be foolish to discount Burton's odds at Homestead.

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Martin fastest in Homestead Sat. practice 1

Mark Martin posted the fastest single lap in Homestead's Saturday first practice with a speed of 168.177 mph.

Our View In addition, his average speed of 162.027 during 30 laps was fifth best, which gives him a good balance of speed and sustainability. Martin should be expected to run with the top-five leaders all day in the Ford 400.

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Harvick wins Homestead Sat. practice 1

Kevin Harvick posted the quickest average speed in Homestead's Saturday first practice, with a speed of 163.194 mph during 24 laps.

Our View Along with his sixth-place qualification effort and five top-10s in six races on the progressive banks at Homestead, Harvick has to be considered a dark horse to win.

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November 20, 2009

Yahoo! Qualification Story – Homestead

In this week's Yahoo! preview, we told you that dark horses would run well this week. Guess what? There will be a lot of surprises at the front of the field, but do they have a chance to stay there? Find out what we think in this week's Yahoo! qualification story (.pdf).

Johnson wins Homestead pole

Jimmie Johnson gave notice early that he will be the driver to beat in both the Ford 400 and the championship by winning the pole for Sunday's race. His top speed was 173.919 mph.

Our View The team said they would not be conservative and we were skeptical. Sounds like they may just have meant that, but it's still hard to recommend a driver who needs only to finish in the first half of the field.

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Ku Busch tops Homestead practice

Kurt Busch set his fast lap late in the first session of practice with a speed of 173.433 mph, which was five-hundredths of a second faster than Juan Montoya.

Our View Busch has been hit-and-miss in five races since Homestead employed progressive banking. He's finished outside the top 35 three times and in the top five twice, which suggests he will have a great finish if he stays out of trouble.

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Homestead Chassis selections

Jayski.com has compiled a collection of some of the chasses for this week.

Our View Among those highlighted are Jimmie Johnson's as well as for dark horses Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr. This information could be one of the most important pieces of the puzzle this week in your last chance to gain ground on the competition.

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Montoya spins in practice 1

Juan Montoya got loose at the 23 minute mark of practice for the Ford 400 and spun out of turn four. He blew his tires, but did not do any damage to his primary car.

Our View Now Montoya knows where the edge is and he shouldn't step over it again. At the time of his spin, the No. 42 was second on the speed chart.

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Johnson signs five-year extension

Hendrick Motorsports has signed Jimmie Johnson to a five-year extension according to a press release. In addition, Lowe's has signed as the sponsor for the next three years.

Our View This comes as no surprise while Johnson is battling for his fourth consecutive championship. The strongest team in NASCAR should get only stronger with the security of this announcement.

November 19, 2009

McMurray lands with Earnhardt-Ganassi

On Thursday, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing officially named Jamie McMurray as the replacement driver in the No. 1 that will be vacated by Martin Truex Jr. at the end of the season, according to a press release.

Our View Most of the pieces have fallen into place for next year. All that remains for drivers like Reed Sorenson and David Stremme are start and park or lightly-funded entries.

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November 17, 2009

Yahoo! Homestead Preview

The Ford 400 is your last chance to make up ground on your competition. Luckily, this race is traditionally kind to dark horses, so a little luck should go a long way. Check out our picks in this week's Yahoo! Preview (.pdf).

November 15, 2009

Inspection cleared at Phoenix

According to @dustinlong: #NASCAR ... Post-race inspection done and all clear. Engines to R&D shop: 48, 31, 17 ... Cars to R&D shop: 48, 5 and 17

Johnson wins Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500k

One week after getting caught up in an accident at Texas Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson made the statement that he would not roll over. He dominated and won the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500k by Pennzoil, leading the most laps and earning maximum points.

Our View That makes it four wins in his last five Phoenix starts. Another Hendrick Motorsports driver, Mark Martin won the only race that Johnson missed.

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Phoenix pit stall selections

Jayski has posted the pit stall selections, and as expected Martin Truex Jr. took the final slot before pit exit.

Our View Other drivers with an opening in front of them are Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne, so they should have an easy time exiting after their service. Drivers with openings behind them are Casey Mears, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch and Mark Martin.

The other driver with a mathematical shot at leaving this race with the points' lead, Jeff Gordon is pitting directly behind Truex and if the No. 1 team has any trouble, he could inherit the best stall.

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November 14, 2009

Hamlin/Keselowski tangle late in Able Body Labor 200

Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski tangled for the third time this year in the Able Body Labor 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. In this pushing and shoving match, Hamlin came out on the short end of the stick and spun out of winning contention while Keselowski finished fifth. Hamlin finished 12th.

Our View The incident follows previous shunts at Dover International Speedway and Auto Club Speedway this season and one at Watkins Glen International last year between the two.

Eventually, tempers are going to completely spill over and unfortunately, there is liable to collateral damage among other drivers. Don't look for the two to get together in this week's Cup Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500k by Pennzoil, however, because Hamlin has vowed to take out his revenge in next week's Nationwide season finale.

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Edwards wins Able Body Labor 200

Carl Edwards easily pulled away from the field late in the Able Body Labor 200 to win over Kevin Harvick.

Our View Last week, Kyle Busch brought the momentum from his Nationwide victory into the Cup race and Edwards hopes to repeat that feat. But Roush-Fenway has not been exceptional on short, flat tracks, so doubling down will be challenging this week.

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Johnson posts single fast lap in Phoenix HH

Jimmie Johnson posted the single fastest lap of 132.348 mph in Happy Hour at Phoenix; since that was the only practice session this week, it was also the best of the day.

Our View Johnson also posted the second quickest average speed of 128.333 mph during 64 laps and with a solid third-place qualification effort, he is one of the favorites to win the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500k by Pennzoil.

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Montoya wins Phoenix Happy Hour

Juan Montoya posted the quickest average speeds in Happy Hour at Phoenix, with a speed of 128.421 during 41 laps.

Our View Montoya has come on strong during the last two short, flat track races at New Hampshire and Martinsville, so he has to be considered a favorite for a top-10 at least.

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November 13, 2009

Yahoo! Qualification Story – Phoenix

The last two winners and three of the last five have started from the pole at Phoenix. Is that a good omen for Martin Truex Jr.? Find out what we think in this week's Yahoo! qualification story (.pdf).

Truex wins Phoenix pole

Martin Truex Jr. posted was one of less than a handful of drivers who posted his best time on lap one; a speed of 135.120 was good enough for the pole for the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500k by Pennzoil.

Our View That makes him nearly a half mile per hour faster than second-place Kurt Busch, but qualification has not been his problem this year. After starting in the top 10 on 10 occasions this year, he has yet to finish better than 11th.

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Surprising Hornish tops Phoenix practice 1

Sam Hornish Jr. edged Kasey Kahne by four-hundredths of a second to land atop the speed chart in the first Cup practice session. His fastest lap was 133.884 mph.

Our View Hornish took a lot of criticism for last week's incident with points' leader Jimmie Johnson. The best way to silence the critics is by going fast, but if this holds up and Hornish actually qualifies in the front of the field, his competitor's will have to feel a little uneasy.

So far in 2009, Hornish has been crash-prone.

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November 10, 2009

Yahoo! Phoenix Preview

The Chase is back on after Jimmie Johnson crashed last week at Texas Motor Speedway, but don't expect him to roll over at Phoenix. Mark Martin is good enough on the short, flat tracks to make up a little more ground, however. Find some other strong picks in this week's Yahoo! Preview (.pdf).

November 7, 2009

Two out of three ain't bad: Busch wins Texas Nationwide

Kyle Busch hopes to be the first driver to win in all three of NASCAR's top divisions this week at Texas Motor Speedway. So far, so good; he won both the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series races handily.

Our View Of course the Cup race is going to be much more difficult, but tune in on Sunday because history could be in the making.

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Reutimann fastest in Texas Sat. a.m. practice

David Reutimann posted the fastest single lap in the Saturday morning session for the Dickies 500 with a speed of 186.812 and his average speed was fifth-best with a 181.520 during 22 laps.

Our View The team spent part of this practice changing an oil cooler when a rock pinged off the bottom. If they successfully made the change and he is fast in Happy Hour, look for him to be a great dark horse.

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Stewart wins Texas Sat. a.m. practice

Tony Stewart posted the quickest average speed in the Saturday morning practice with a speed of 182.866 mph during 16 laps.

Our View He was actually second on the grid, but Joe Nemechek posted on four laps so he did not have any fall-off.

Stewart's fastest lap in this practice was second best and he qualified at the front of the field, so he has to be favored for a top-five in the Dickies 500.

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R Gordon has engine woes in Texas practice 2

Robby Gordon exited the track at the 15 minute mark of the second practice session amidst speculation that he might have a transmission problem.

Our View Gordon could use a little luck on the "cookie-cutter" tracks. In eight race this year on this track type, he has an average finish of 24.6 and only one top-10—a third that came by benefit of rain shortening the Coke 600.

It may be something as simple as an over-filled resevoir.

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November 6, 2009

Yahoo! Qualification Story – Texas

Texas Motor Speedway is one of the tracks on which starting position is important: 75 percent of the winners have come from the first four rows. See who we like in this week's Yahoo! qualification story (.pdf).

Burton slams wall in active Texas practice 1

Jeff Burton slammed the wall after a power steering line broke in the first practice session for the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Burton was one of more than a half dozen drivers who hit or scrapped the wall in this session.

Our View Burton's damage was the most significant, however, and he will roll out a back up car. "Go-or-go-home" driver Mike Bliss in the No. 09 also had to go to his second car.

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November 3, 2009

Yahoo! Texas Preview

After last week's lottery in Talladega, it's time to get back to racing this week at Texas. Check out the favorites and dark horses in this week's Yahoo! Preview (.pdf).

November 2, 2009

Keselowski in, Stremme out of 12 for final 3

Despite wrecking his new teammate Kurt Busch (and most of the lead lap cars) on the final lap of last week's Amp Energy 500, Penske Racing has announced that Brad Keselowski will replace David Stremme in the No. 12 for the final three races of the season, according to FoxSports.com.

Our View In the last few weeks, he has been the inciter of several incidents in both the Nationwide and Cup series. Let's hope he calms down and learns to respect his fellow drivers in the coming events.

If he can show a little maturity, he could be one of the best values in the game.

October 31, 2009

Yahoo! Qualification Story – Talladega

Rain canceled qualification on Saturday and set the lineup by points. Jimmie Johnson will the first six rows of Chase contenders to the green for the Amp Energy 500.

Our View There was not a lot to say about qualification, but you will find our insight in this week's Yahoo! story.

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October 30, 2009

Crash-prone Edwards, Hornish already sustain damage at 'Dega

Barely eight minutes into practice, Sam Hornish Jr. and Carl Edwards slammed into one another in an accordion-style accident that was apparently started when Jeff Gordon was forced out of his drafting line.

Our View If you were listening to this morning's fantasy segment on SiriusXM radio, you would have head me predict that Sam Hornish Jr. and Carl Edwards would crash in the Amp Energy 500. It's not race time yet, but both drivers sustained crash damage in less than 10 laps.

Clint Bowyer was also spun off the track in the aftermath.

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Top-10 Avg. Running Position: Talladega #NASCAR

Average Running Position
Sum of driver position on each lap - divided by the laps run in the race.
Number of Races: 9
AMP Energy 500 Pre-Race
For point-paying races in current and past four years, at this track.
Talladega Superspeedway

RankDriverAverage FinishAverage Place
1Joey Logano9.012.9
2Tony Stewart14.013.3
3Denny Hamlin18.913.6
4Juan Montoya18.613.6
5Kurt Busch11.214.7
6Dale Earnhardt Jr.21.815.2
7Matt Kenseth16.415.6
8Brian Vickers16.815.8
9David Ragan14.016.0
10Elliott Sadler20.216.1

McGrew to crew Earnhardt

The "interim" has been removed from Lance McGrew's title. According to Hendrick Motorsports PR, he has been named crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Our View Earnhardt believes he needs someone with a heavy hand to keep him in control; so far, McGrew has not been that personality but he knows where to work.

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Top-10 Driver Ratings: Talladega

Driver Rating
Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.
Number of Races: 9
AMP Energy 500 Pre-Race
For point-paying races in current and past four years, at this track.
Talladega Superspeedway

Rk.DriverAvg. FinBest RatingAvg.
1Brad Keselowski198.998.9
2Denny Hamlin18.912594.8
3Tony Stewart14117.292.4
4David Ragan14121.592.3
5Dale Earnhardt Jr.21.811990.1
6Brian Vickers16.8107.690.1
7Joey Logano988.888.8
8Kurt Busch11.2107.387.7
9Matt Kenseth16.4120.186
10Jeff Gordon20.6135.585.9

Percentage Laps in top-10 and -5 at Talladega

The fewer drivers there are in front of your driver, the fewer there are to make a mistake.

Here is a list of the drivers who have spent the most time at the front of the pack:

DriverTop-10 Laps%Top-5%Possible Laps
Dale Earnhardt Jr58562%39942%946
Denny Hamlin56760%37339%946
Tony Stewart46950%34837%946
Kyle Busch41844%27829%946
Juan Montoya41143%20522%946
David Ragan39842%17218%946
Brian Vickers30540%15220%754
Joey Logano7640%3519%188
Elliott Sadler37940%16317%946
Kurt Busch35838%17518%946
Jimmie Johnson33736%19421%946
Jeff Gordon32234%21122%946
Martin Truex Jr30933%15917%946
Matt Kenseth29231%11913%946
Ryan Newman28430%14215%946
David Stremme22430%9312%756
Brad Keselowski5328%126%188
Reed Sorenson26428%748%946
Jeff Burton26027%13114%946
Paul Menard24326%12713%946
David Reutimann23825%9710%946
Casey Mears23325%899%946
Kasey Kahne19621%839%946
Jamie McMurray18820%10711%946
Michael Waltrip14920%507%754
Kevin Harvick15616%616%946
Marcos Ambrose2915%53%188
Greg Biffle12914%778%946
Sam Hornish Jr4913%175%376
Clint Bowyer12213%323%946
Joe Nemechek11712%435%946
Bobby Labonte11312%435%946
Tony Raines6011%285%570
Regan Smith7710%193%758
Carl Edwards849%243%946
Dave Blaney298%113%378
Scott Speed116%63%188
Michael McDowell116%00%188
John Andretti113%41%376
Mark Martin53%32%188
Robby Gordon192%61%946
A J Allmendinger10%10%376
Max Papis00%00%188

October 29, 2009

BAM Racing due to return?

Beth Ann Morganthal Racing is developing a relationship with Warner Music Nashville that may allow them to return to the track competitively, according to their Web site. No details were given at this time.

Our View In this age of start and park operations, any attempt to be competitive is rewarded with consistent results in the 30s. Just look at John Andretti's effort this season.

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Allmendinger charged with DWI

A.J. Allmendinger failed a field sobriety test, according to ESPN.com, after blew a .08 on a Breathalyzer test. He immediately apologized for the incident and is taking full responsibility for it.

Our View According to unconfirmed sources, Richard Petty Motorsports expects to allow him to race this weekend at Talladega, where he finished 35th this spring.

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October 27, 2009

Yahoo! Talladega Preview

Go find your lucky quarter and prepare for this week's Amp Energy 500 at Talladega SuperSpeedway. Oh yeah, and read this preview that I wrote for Yahoo! Games (.pdf).

October 25, 2009

Martinsville Inspection Cleared

According to @dustinlong: Post-race inspection is done. All clear. Engines to R&D Center: Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch; Cars to R&D center: Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin.

Hamlin wins in front of hometown crowd

Denny Hamlin held off Jimmie Johnson and Juan Montoya during a green-white-checkered finish to win his second race at Martinsville.

Our View Hamlin and Johnson have combined to win the last seven races and this spring they battled first and second with Johnson taking the victory.

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October 23, 2009

Yahoo! Qualification Story – Martinsville

Track position is critical on a short, flat track like Martinsville. Get our take on the top qualifiers in this week's Yahoo! qualification story (.pdf).

Hendrick Motorsports dominates Martinsville practice 1

Thee Hendrick Motorsports drivers sat atop the speed chart in practice for the Tums Fast Relief 500. Mark Martin posted a lap of 96.156, Jeff Gordon went 96.122 mph and Dale Earnhardt Jr. went 96.015 mph.

Our View Martin and Gordon come as no surprise—and if you read this week's Yahoo! fantasy preview, Earnhardt would not have been either.

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Hornish crashes in Martinsville practice 1

Sam Hornish Jr. crashed barely 15 minutes into the first practice session for the Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway after apparently experiencing brake issues.

Our View With a best Martinsville finish of 28th at this track, Hornish wasn't on many fantasy owners radar screen to begin with.

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October 22, 2009

Waltrip involved in traffic accident

Michael Waltrip was involved in a traffic accident and cited for failure to yield the right of way to a motorcycle, according to WCNC.com. He was given and passed a field sobriety test.

Our View He blew a .06 on the breathalyzer, which was below the state limit of .08, but this unfortunately brings a 2007 incident back to mind in which he crashed his car and fled the scene of the accident. Charges for reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident were brought against him for that incident, but those charges were later dropped.

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October 20, 2009

Three teams test at "Little Rock"

Three teams spent a day testing on the Martinsville-style short track at Rockingham Speedway. They included Sterling Marlin, John Andretti—and believe it or not—Jimmie Johnson.

Our View With five victories in the last six Martinsville races, you wouldn't think Johnson needed practice. Then again, this is one way he's kept his advantage.

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Yahoo! Martinsville Preview

Things are about to get interesting as NASCAR heads into back-to-back wild card weekends. Don't expect the Chasers to dominate this week like they did early in the playoffs, but for a list of strong dark horses check out this week's Yahoo! Preview (.pdf) to find out.

October 19, 2009

Inspection cleared part two

According to @bobpockrass: NASCAR engines of Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth from last weekend have all passed inspection with no issues.

Inspection cleared part one

According to @bobpockrass: NASCAR tech center evaluation of cars is done. Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Greg Biffle cars all passed with no issues.

October 17, 2009

Can't stop this: Johnson wins NASCAR Banking 500

Jimmie Johnson won his third race during the 2009 Chase and his 17th Chase race of his career in the NASCAR Banking 500 to pad his points' lead.

Our View It's too soon to give the championship to Johnson, but in order to beat him, it's becoming apparent that the other Chasers are going to have to win.

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Lowe's Pit stall selections

Jayski has posted the pit stall selections for the NASCAR Banking 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway and, as expected pole sitter Jimmie Johnson has the last box exiting pit road.

Our View Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth are the other drivers with an opening in front of them. Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon and Mike Bliss in the No. 71 this week have openings behind them.

As well as he qualified and as strong as he ran in the Nationwide race, Bliss should try to run the distance. If he "starts and parks," however, Bobby Labonte inherits an opening as he is immediately ahead.

Complete List

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Top-10 Quality Passers: Lowe's #NASCAR

Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
Number of Races: 9
NASCAR Banking 500 Pre-Race
For point-paying races in current and past four years, at this track.
Lowe's Motor Speedway

RankDriverAvg. FinAvg. Quality PassesTotal
1Jimmie Johnson9.850.7456
2Kyle Busch17.146.7420
3Kasey Kahne10.239.6356
4Mark Martin15.035.9323
5Jeff Burton11.735.1316
6Joey Logano9.034.034
7Carl Edwards10.033.0297
8Brian Vickers20.032.9263
9Denny Hamlin15.632.5260
10Greg Biffle16.930.8277

Top-10 Avg. Running Position: Lowe's

Average Running Position
Sum of driver position on each lap - divided by the laps run in the race.
Number of Races: 9
NASCAR Banking 500 Pre-Race
For point-paying races in current and past four years, at this track.
Lowe's Motor Speedway

RankDriverAvg. FinRunning Position
1Joey Logano9.06.9
2Jimmie Johnson9.87.0
3Kyle Busch17.111.0
4Kasey Kahne10.212.0
5Mark Martin15.012.1
6Jeff Burton11.714.8
7Denny Hamlin15.615.4
8Carl Edwards10.015.8
9Brian Vickers20.016.0
10Greg Biffle16.916.5

Top-10 Driver Ratings: Lowe's

Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.
Number of Races: 9
NASCAR Banking 500 Pre-Race
For point-paying races in current and past four years, at this track.Lowe's Motor Speedway

RankDriverAvg. FinBest RatingAvg.
1Jimmie Johnson9.8128.8116.6
2Joey Logano9.0106.0106.0
3Kyle Busch17.1139.4104.7
4Kasey Kahne10.2143.699.5
5Mark Martin15.0114.091.7
6Brian Vickers20.0121.691.7
7Carl Edwards10.0104.090.7
8Greg Biffle16.9116.588.8
9Jeff Burton11.7127.788.4
10Jeff Gordon21.8128.285.6

October 16, 2009

Ky Busch wins Lowe's Nationwide race

Despite battling the remnants of the flu, Kyle Busch dominated the Dollar General 300 and won.

Our View Busch was quickest in Happy Hour (in terms of average laps) and this will give him some momentum entering Saturday night's NASCAR Banking 500. It's still hard to see him finishing in the top-five, however. But a top-10 might be in the cards.

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Ky Busch "wins" Lowe's Happy Hour

Kyle Busch "won" Happy Hour by posting the quickest average speed of the session. His time was 181.211 mph during 45 laps.

Our View Busch reports that he is still not 100 percent, but last week he proved that even at 50 percent he could lead laps and pass cars in the Nationwide and Cup series before seeking relief from the flu.

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Johnson, Martin still one-two

Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin will lead the field to green from the front row. On Friday, they proved their qualification speed was no fluke by posting the first- and second-fastest laps in both sessions. To keep the symmetry, Johnson bettered Martin in both practices.

Our View If they keep this up during race—and it appears they will—it's going to be hard for the competition to make up any ground in the points.

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Montoya "wins" Lowe's practice 2

Juan Montoya won the second practice session with the quickest average speed at 182.509 during 17 laps.

Our View Montoya will have to come from the middle of the pack, but he has plenty of time to get it done. While the No. 42 did not run very many laps, the driver was happy with the car and that is what's most important.

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Johnson fastest in Lowe's practice 2

Jimmie Johnson posted the fastest single lap of practice on Friday afternoon with a speed of 187.162 mph. Mark Martin was second fastest at 185.790 mph and those are the two drivers who will lead the field to green Saturday night.

Our View So far, Johnson has been fastest in every session with the fastest lap in Thursday's 45-minute practice and earning the pole. He is primed to dominate the NASCAR Banking 500.

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October 15, 2009

Yahoo! Qualification Story – Lowe's

Rain delayed practice and qualification, but NASCAR got the upper hand over Mother Nature. It really didn't make much difference, since the point leader and the driver chasing him will line up on the front row. There were plenty of surprises, however, so check out this week's Yahoo! qualification story (.pdf).

Johnson wins NASCAR Banking 500 pole

Jimmie Johnson backed up his fastest lap in practice with the fastest lap in time trials. His speed of 192.376 mph is the fastest this new body style has ever qualified for a race.

Our View When Johnson starts up front at Lowe's, he tends to finish there. He was the latest driver to win from the pole in the 2004 Coke 600 and that should make him a favorite.

Unfortunately, his "cookie-cutter" record this year is less than impressive, so fantasy owners will have to hold their collective breaths.

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Johnson fastest in Lowe's practice 1

Jimmie Johnson continues to do his best to intimidate the competition. In the brief 45-minute practice run Thursday evening, he posted the fastest lap of the field at 192.486 mph.

Our View Mark Martin wasn't too cowed, however. Second in the points, he posted the second fastest lap. Unfortunately, it was more than one mile per hour slower than his teammate at 191.401 mph.

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Burton believes Harvick is leaving

With more than a year remaining on his schedule, Kevin Harvick is already a lame duck. Teammate Jeff Burton expects that Harvick already has plans to leave at the end of the 2010 season, according to SceneDaily.com.

Our View It's hard to imagine this team can stay focused with this distraction, but Harvick has been running well lately. The imminent split between Kurt Busch and crew chief Pat Tryson also suggests Harvick and team can stay near the top of their game.

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Trucks: Piquet, Meira test went well

Monday's Craftsman Truck Series test for Nelson Piquet Jr. and Vitor Meira was delayed until Tuesday, but once on track both drivers performed well, according to team owner Tom DeLoach (at the Official Fan Club Nelson Piquet Web site).

Our View "I was really impressed with both drivers," DeLoach said. I anticipated that it would take a lot longer for them to get accustomed to the trucks once they started."

"We made some changes to the trucks in hopes to give each driver certain feelings in the truck, and they both explained exactly what feedback we were expecting. Both drivers have very impressive skill sets, and they really exceeded my expectations for the first time in a Camping World Truck Series Tundra."

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Gunselman team withdraws from Lowe's

The Larry Gunselman owned team that was to be piloted by Mike Wallace has withdrawn their entry from the NASCAR Banking 500 lineup, according to Jayski.com.

Our View That leaves 47 cars on the entry list to challenge for 43 slots. Past champions Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott are among the entrants, which makes if even tougher for independents to make the show this week. Stick with marquee starts.

Complete Entry List

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October 14, 2009

Pepsi 500 Inspection cleared

According to @NASCARSays: Post race engine inspection from the Pepsi 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event Oct. 11 at Auto Club is concluded and all is clear.

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October 13, 2009

Yahoo! Lowe's Preview

Momentum will be the name of the game this week as NASCAR stages their third consecutive race on one of the similarly-configured, 1.5- and two-mile tracks. Who has it? Check out this week's Yahoo! Preview (.pdf) to find out.

October 11, 2009

Busch still ill

According to @bobpockrass: Kyle Busch likelly won't last whole race today. He is too sick. #NASCAR

Auto Club Pit Stalls

Jayski has posted the pit stall selections, and as expected pole sitter Denny Hamlin has the first piece of real estate leaving pit road.

Our View Greg Biffle and Juan Montoya are the only other drivers with an opening in front of them, but the pits at Auto Club are wide enough so that there should not be any issues.

Notably, immediately in front of Biffle is Joey Logano. Those two drivers exchanged paint during the Nationwide race in a move that appeared to be a deliberate attempt to cripple Logano's car. The teenage sensation came back to win the race, while Biffle ultimately suffered more damage in a second tangle with Logano's teammate Denny Hamlin.

In addition to Logano, other drivers with openings behind them are Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon.

Since David Reutimann's speed was disallowed in qualification for illegal shocks, he lost the right to pick a stall early and finds himself in one of the center pits.

Complete Pit Stall Selection

October 10, 2009

N'Wide Inspection Cleared

According to @bobpockrass: NASCAR Nationwide inspection is done and there were no issues.

N'Wide: Logano stages comeback to win

After Greg Biffle pinched Joey Logano into the wall early in the Copart 300 it appeared one of the dominant cars was out of contention. Joe Gibbs Racing worked on the No. 20 during the next several cautions and got it back up to speed, however. With fresh tires, Logano took the lead late in the going to win his second consecutive race and the sixth of his career.

Our View Logano taking the lead was only one of several great stories at the end. Denny Hamlin and Biffle crashed at the end of the race and a wild restart with a green-white-checkered finish made sure that fantasy owners stayed on the edge of their seat until the checkers waved.

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IRL: Franchitti wins Homestead and championship

Dario Franchitti beat Ryan Briscoe to the line at Homestead in the season finale. As good as that is, the news gets even better since he also won the championship.

Our View He took the top spot on the strength of five wins and 13 top-fives, which made him a great value in the Indy fantasy game.

Complete Results

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Montoya "wins" Auto Club Happy Hour

Juan Montoya posted the quickest average time in Happy Hour with a speed of 175.151 mph during 18 laps. His fastest single lap of 178.390 mph was sixth on that chart.

Our View We can't call Montoya a dark horse any longer because he's favored for a top-five finish every week until his momentum starts to cool.

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Official tweets from the track

Martin fastest in Auto Club Happy Hour

Mark Martin continues to dominate the NASCAR series with the fastest single lap of speed in Happy Hour for the Pepsi 500. His top speed was 180.293 mph.

Our View His average speed of 174.036 was eighth best on that chart, but fantasy owners should expect a top-five finish from the veteran once he adjusts on the car during the race.

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Harvick "wins" Auto Club Sat a.m. practice

With an abbreviated practice of only 20 minutes, the average speeds in the morning session are somewhat meaningless. However, Kevin Harvick was quickest with a speed of 177.559 mph during nine laps.

Our View If this were one of the usual frontrunners, it wouldn't be noteworthy, but with the struggles in the No. 29 camp, it's nice to have any sign of good news.

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Johnson fastest in Auto Club Sat. a.m. practice

Jimmie Johnson posted the fastest single lap of practice in the shortened Saturday morning session with a lap of 180.655 mph.

Our View So few laps were run that the average speeds are not very meaningful, but he was also third quickest on that chart.

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N'Wide: Logano on Copart 300 pole

Joey Logano and Kyle Busch make an all Gibbs front row for the Copart 300. Logano clocked in with a lap of 181.164 mph; Busch went 180.827.

Our View Those were the only two cars above 180 miles per hour, so fantasy players can expect those cars to dominate again this week like they did at Kansas.

Busch is feeling ill, however, so don't be surprised if he turns the No. 18 over to Denny Hamlin for relief.

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Reutimann's time disallowed

David Reutimann's second-place run was disallowed because he had too much gas in his rear shocks, according to NASCAR PR. As a result, he will have to drop from second to 42nd to start the Pepsi 500.

Our View Reutimann was considered a strong dark horse in pre-race coverage and his qualification speed underscored that. We suspect he can still claw his way into the top 10 before the end of the day.

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Official tweets from the track

October 9, 2009

Edwards off crutches

Carl Edwards is off his crutches—at least for the moment—according to multiple tweets from the track (see @BobPockrass and @DustinLong).

Our View This comes at a great time since Edwards is typically one of the favorites on either two-mile track. A victory might still be a little stretch, but a solid finish on either side of fifth will make him great value at Auto Club Speedway.

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Danica Rumor Retracted

As quickly as they spread the rumor, ESPN Insider (via Jayski.com) retracted the story saying that the real number per race is likely closer to $50,000 or $100,000.

Our View That would certainly make her more appealing to a sponsor.

One thing the rumor underscores, however, is that even false reports about this superstar will get a lot of media coverage.

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Yahoo! Qualification Story – Auto Club

Grip was at a premium this week in Fontana, Calif. and if some of the Chasers don't find it on Saturday, the Pepsi 500 is going to seem like a 1,000-mile event. Several top contenders are going to come from deep in the pack, but Matt Kenseth has proved that it can be done. For a list of potential comers and goers, check out this week's Yahoo! qualification story .pdf story.

Hamlin wins Auto Club pole

Denny Hamlin posted a lap of 183.870 mph and will lead the field to green in the Pepsi 500. David Reutimann was the only other driver to break the 183 mark with a lap of 183.108.

Our View Hamlin is a flat track master and while this course is steeper than Pocono, New Hampshire and Phoenix, it fits well into his portfolio.

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Montoya fastest in Auto Club practice 1

Juan Montoya topped the speed chart in Friday's practice, with a lap of 183.556 mph.

Our View Montoya continues to be the biggest surprise of the Chase and he is one of the best values in most games.

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Busch blows engine in Auto Club practice 1

Kyle Busch woke up Friday morning with a touch of the flu, but his day got even worse during practice. The No. 18 blew an engine after the driver missed a shift in the first session and the team will be forced to change it.

Our View No matter where he qualifies, Busch will now have to start at the back of the grid. He had a strong run at Auto Club Speedway in the spring, but it appears unlikely he will be able to back that up this week.

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Danica wants $8 Mil for Nationwide Deal?

According to ESPN Insider, Danica Patrick is asking for eight million dollars to run eight Nationwide races in 2010, which would make her one of the most expensive part timers of all time.

Our View She would certainly bring a lot of attention to the series, but it's hard to imagine someone stepping up to the plate for that amount of cash in today's economy.

Wonder how much she wants for the ARCA races...

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IRL: Homestead Avg. Fin

If you were thinking about Dan Wheldon this week – we highly agree.

DriverAvg Finish20082007200620052004
Dan Wheldon1.8031113
Sam Hornish Jr2.25
3321
Helio Castroneves 4.4049252
Scott Dixon8.401251618
Tony Kanaan7.00851138
Ryan Hunter-Reay7.007



Patrick Carpentier7.00


7
Felipe Giaffone 8.00

8

Vitor Meira8.50104164
Tomas Scheckter 8.25
89115
Eddie Cheever Jr10.00

10

Scott Sharp 10.25
127139
Darren Manning9.501313
66
Dario Franchitti12.50
742217
Sarah Fisher11.00
11


Kosuke Matsuura11.25
1661211
P J Chesson12.00

12

Anthony Foyt IV12.75918
915
Oriol Servia12.0012



Ed Carpenter12.2056201812
Marco Andretti12.3322015

Danica Patrick13.006141715
Alex Barron14.33
19
816
Bryan Herta13.33

131413
Buddy Lazier 14.00

14

Franck Perera14.0014



Buddy Rice13.00111018197
Paul Dana14.50

1910
Justin Wilson15.0015



Mario Moraes16.0016



E J Viso17.0017



Roger Yasukawa17.00


17
Jeff Simmons17.00
17


Enrique Bernoldi18.0018



Marty Roth18.002115


Ryan Briscoe19.5019

20
Milka Duno20.0020



Tomas Enge21.00


21
Jay Howard22.0022



Bruno Junqueira23.0023



Hideki Mutoh24.0024



Will Power25.0025



Trulli NASCAR?

Add Jarno Trulli to the list of potential Formula 1/NASCAR crossovers. He will reportedly test a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota at Lakeland this winter along side Mika Salo.

Our View Trulli could potentially join Nelson Piquet Jr. and IndyCar stars Vitor Meira and Danica Patrick in part= or full-time schedules in 2010. If these stars are capable of bringing any kind of sponsorship to the table, the field is wide open for them with up to 14 percent of the field being taken by "start and park" teams this year.

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October 6, 2009

Yahoo! Auto Club Preview

If you liked the results last week, stand pat because Auto Club will be more of the same. Nearly all of the Chasers finished 12th or better in the spring Auto Club 500. Check out this week's Yahoo! Preview (.pdf).

Stewart 7th, Newman 22nd at Knoxville Nationals

After winning the Price Chopper 400 by Kraft Foods Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman hoped on a plane for Iowa to compete in the Knoxville Nationals. Tony Stewart finished seventh and Ryan Newman was 22nd in a battle won by Scott Bloomquist.

Our View Maybe that was why Stewart was so cranky in the media center following the race; he wanted to make sue to get to Knoxville.

Stewart, Newman and all of the other drivers in the garage that support grassroots racing have to be applauded.

Complete Results

October 4, 2009

Patrick Still in the Rumor Mill

Danica Patrick is still in the rumor mill as a potential NASCAR driver in 2010. SportsIllustrated.com is reporting that Rick Hendrick has confirmed JR Motorsports is in discussion with her to run a handful of Nationwide and ARCA races next year.

Our View With sponsor GoDaddy.com in the mix, this sounds like the most likely rumor we've heard so far. This would allow her to develop before getting tossed into the highly competitive Cup series.

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Stewart Smokes Kansas

Tony Stewart held off a late-race charge by Jeff Gordon and won his second race at Kansas Speedway.

Our View In the end, it was a battle between two tires (Stewart) and four (Gordon) and the winning decision was less than a second on the track. At the start of the week, we predicted the race would be won in the pits.

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Piquet Jr. coming to NASCAR?

With the success that Juan Montoya has finally achieved this year, another former F1 driver is eyeing a career in NASCAR. Nelson Piquet Jr. is scheduled to test a Red Horse Racing truck at Rockingham (N.C. that is – not England, y'all) on October 12th, according to SPEEDTv.com.

Our View Earlier in the week, it was announced Mika Salo would test a MWR Toyota this winter.

Diversity is great for the sport, so long as NASCAR doesn't also lose its connection to their roots. Piquet is young enough to be able to make the transition to the heavier stock cars—if he is actually talented enough to control it.

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October 3, 2009

Kansas pit stall selections

Jayski.com has posted the pit stall selections, and as expected pole sitter Mark Martin took the final box at the exit of the pits.

Our View Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski also have openings in front of them and will be able to pull straight out. Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Scott Speed, Brian Vickers and Jeff Gordon have openings behind them and can pit shallowly to give themselves a little more room.

Kansas has a wide, long pit road, however, and no one should have too much trouble.

Complete List

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Official tweets from the track

Stewart's issue is ignition #NASCAR

For most of the morning practice session, Tony Stewart thought he had an engine going sour, which caused him to turn only eight laps. Between sessions, the team changed an ignition box and the miss seems to have gone away.

Our View Stewart will get to keep his fifth-place grid position and his fans hope the issue is truly resolved. Gremlins can be hard to find, however.

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Ky Busch continues to unravel in Happy Hour practice

Kyle Busch is showing signs of wear and tear after swerving at David Reutimann in Happy Hour for the Price Chopper 400 by Kraft Foods. His frustration in practice comes on the heels of a poor qualification effort.

Our View There is no doubt that the Young Gun has speed on his side, but until he develops some maturity, he is a risky proposition.

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N'Wide: Logano wins Kansas

Kyle Busch dominated the race, but youth was served with three laps to go. Joey Logano used the high groove to pass his teammate and pulled away from the field—just like he did at Chicagoland this summer.

Our View One week after his terrible tumble at Dover, this is the best confidence booster a teenager could have.

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Montoya wins Kansas Happy Hour

Juan Montoya posted the quickest average speed in Happy Hour for the Price Chopper 400 with a speed of 168.214 mph during 23 laps. His fastest lap of 172.018 was fourth-best on that chart.

Our View Montoya didn't post too many laps in either session, but that means he didn't need the extra track time. At his level, Montoya provides the best bang for the buck.

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Johnson fastest in Kansas Happy Hour

Jimmie Johnson posted the fastest single lap in both the morning and Happy Hour sessions, which continues to make him a favorite to win Sunday's Price Chopper 400.

Our View The best way to silence his critics is to dominate. Fantasy players need to put personal feelings aside and ride this pony until he goes lame.

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Stewart has possible engine problem

Tony Stewart heard something he didn't like in his engine during morning practice and spent most of the session looking for the gremlin. The team will need to decide whether to change powerplants in between the morning and Happy Hour sessions.

Our View if he changes engines, he will have to give up his fifth-place qualification effort. The Price Chopper 400 by Kraft Foods can be won from the back, but that will still be a seriously blow to his chances for a first-place finish.

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Johnson wins Kansas Sat. a.m. practice

Jimmie Johnson posted both the quickest single lap of 173.388 mph during the morning practice session and the quickest average speed of 168.765 during 23 laps.

Our View That gives him a great balance of speed and durability. He was one of our favorites at the start of the week and he remains a favorite.

Actually, Tony Stewart posted quicker average speeds, but he was battling an engine problem and made less than a handful of very short runs.

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Biffle spins in Kansas Sat. a.m. practice

Greg Biffle spun off the track in the Saturday morning session at Kansas Speedway. He did not do any apparent damage.

Our View His confidence has to be shaken, however. This is his second spin of the day after previously crashing in Nationwide qualification. It's hard to recommend him for the Price Chopper 400 unless he shows a ton of speed later in the day.

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N'Wide: Kligerman steals Kansas pole

Parker Kligerman will make his Nationwide debut in style. He stole the pole for the Kansas Lottery 150 over Kyle Busch and a long list of Cup veterans.

Our View Now that is impressive, but his youth will almost certainly get the best of him during race conditions.

Be patient; there will be plenty of opportunities to start this kid in the future.

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October 2, 2009

Yahoo! Qualification Story – Kansas

Qualification matters little at Kansas, but Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will take consolation in knowing they will start up front. Brad Keselowski was the surprise dark horse of the afternoon, however, and this week's Yahoo! qualification story (.pdf) tells of just how fast Hendrick Motorsports was.

N'Wide: Bowyer crashes in Kansas practice

Clint Bowyer slammed the wall hard in practice for the Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 150 and will have to roll out a backup car.

Our View The good news is that Bowyer was third on the speed chart at the time and his RCR-prepared No. 29 is liable to have a goo backup.

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Kansas qualification order

Jayski.com has posted the qualification order for the Price Chopper 400 by Kraft Foods.

Our View It shouldn't matter who goes out when at Kansas because the biggest contributing factor will be the unpredictable wind, but for the record, Tony Stewart rolls off the grid first.

Complete Lineup

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Newman fastest in Kansas Practice 1

Ryan Newman posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session for the Price Chopper 400 by Kraft Foods with a speed of 173.745 mph.

Our View If he wants to reclaim the title "Rocketman," Newman is going to have to start winning poles again. So far in 2009, his only top start came at Lowe's for the Coke 341—er… that is, the Coke 600.

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McDowell, K Hamlin and Gilliland in jeopardy

Michael McDowell (in the No. 36 this week), Kevin Hamlin (37) and David Gilliland (04) were the three slowest drivers among the go or go homers and as such are in the greatest jeopardy of going home.

Our View Each of these drivers are most likely start and park drivers, so fantasy owners will be unaffected if they fail to make the Price Chopper 400 by Kraft Foods.

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