June 30, 2009

Mayfield sample independently tested

NASCAR sent Jeremy Mayfield's urine sample to an independent lab in Minnesota, according to Court documents. They reportedly confirm the conclusion reached by NASCAR's "in-house" lab.

Our View: Mayfield continues to insist that a combination of prescription and over the counter drugs created a false positive. We'll just have to wait and see how this plays out, but Mayfield is seeking an injunction from the court that would allow him to compete at Daytona.

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Dysfunction at Red Bull Racing

Heading into Daytona this week, Brian Vickers and Scott Speed have issues to work out after an incident on the final lap of the Nationwide race, according to SceneDaily.com.

Our View: Vickers took the first shot immediately following the Saturday race, saying that Speed was frustrated because he was running so badly in the Cup series. Speed responded by suggesting that someone paid Vickers to wreck him on Sunday.Teammates don't have to get along, but if they are going to share notes, it certainly helps. More importantly on the restrictor-plate superspeedways, Speed needs a drafting partner and those are hard to come by for rookies.

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Busch, Speed test Daytona prototype

In advance of this week's Brumos Porsche 250 road course race at Daytona International Speedway, Kyle Busch and Scott Speed tested their Chip Ganassi Lexus at Putnam Park in Indiana, according to Grand-Am.com.

Our View: This is going to be a grueling schedule with the road course race wedged between the NASCAR Cup and Nationwide activity—particularly for Busch, who will participate in both stock car races.

Extra seat time on the twisty tracks is always beneficial for the Cup drivers, which slightly improves their odds at Watkins Glen in a couple of weeks.

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IRL: Changes at the top

On Tuesday, the Board of Directors of Hulman and Company announced a change in leadership, according to a Press Release from the organization. Effectively this ends Tony George's reign and puts two executives in his place.

Our View: In a tough economy with attendance at all top level motorsports shrinking, something had to give.

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Daytona Yahoo! preview

Rattle them bones folks because winning or losing on a plate track is a simple roll of the dice. Even with the multitude of "Big One" crashes, the cream rises to the top at Daytona and Talladega. Check out this week's Yahoo! Fantasy Preview (.pdf) for a sneak peak at who'll be their toughest competitors.

June 29, 2009

171 winners

With his rain-aided victory, Joey Logano became the 171st driver to win a NASCAR Cup race. He joins a long list of active drivers with one win that includes David Reutimann, Juan Montoya, Martin Truex Jr., Brian Vickers, Casey Mears and Brad Keselowski.

Our View: Most of these victories were earned on specialty tracks such as the restrictor-plate superspeedways and road courses, or through pit strategy like the one employed by Logano, which shows just how difficult it is to handicap a NASCAR race.

However several highly productive drivers such as Jeff Gordon (tire) and Ryan Newman (rain-aided) were given their first victory by strategy.

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June 28, 2009

Logano wins rain-shortened race at New Hampshire

For the second time this year a driver has won his first NASCAR race with an assist from Mother Nature. Joey Logano stretched his fuel mileage and caught a final rain shower to win the Lenox Industrial Tools 301.

Our View: This is precisely how Kurt Busch won this same race last year, but the points still count the same.

Our other rain-aided winner David Reutimann finished fourth.

No one to the rear at New Hampshire

None of the cars will drop to the back of the pack, according to a tweet from @NASCARSays.

Our View: Of course, this would be more meaningful if qualification had been complete, but it's good news for everyone at the front of the field.

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Competition caution coming on lap 35

NASCAR will throw a caution on lap 35 to allow the teams to gauge their tire wear, according to a tweet from @NASCARSays. The track has had all its rubber washed away by rain.

Our View: This will allow the frontrunners to make needed changes and since they have the best pit stalls, they should be able to stay up front.

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IRL: SunTrust Indy Challenge Results, with avg. finish

It was a good day for Chip Ganassi. His racers ran away from the field and finished first and second at Richmond International Raceway. The victory was Scott Dixon's 19th career win in IRL competition, which ties him with Sam Hornish Jr. for the most in the series. With Ganassi and Roger Penske dominating the Indy Racing League for the moment, it's a fair bet that he will sit alone at the top before long.

Dario Franchitti led most of the race, but was beaten in the pits on the final stop. In dirty air on a 0.750-mile track, he was never able to get around Dixon and recorded his worst IRL short track finish in his last four attempts—he won the three previous.

Danica Patrick continues to be one of the hottest drivers in the series. With a fifth-place finish at Richmond, she recorded her seventh consecutive top-10, of which five were also top-fives. She's been great on the ovals, but the series now turns its attention to a string of road and street courses. There is some hope; the last time the IRL was on a twisty track was at Long Beach and Patrick kicked off her streak with a fourth there after starting deep in the field in 22nd.

Results, with average finish

FinishStartDriverLapsStatusAvg Fin
12Scott Dixon300Running6.86
21Dario Franchitti300Running4.00
35Graham Rahal300Running10.50
48Hideki Mutoh300Running8.50
510Danica Patrick300Running8.40
617Tony Kanaan299Running8.29
716Marco Andretti299Running8.00
86Raphael Matos299Running8.00
912Robert Doornbos299Running9.00
1013Dan Wheldon299Running5.71
119Tomas Scheckter299Running9.71
127E J Viso299Running11.00
1314Ed Carpenter299Running11.67
1415Justin Wilson298Running10.50
1518Ryan Hunter-Reay298Running15.50
1619Mario Moraes297Running16.50
173Helio Castroneves245Accident7.88
1811Mike Conway135Accident18.00
194Ryan Briscoe26Accident18.33
2020Jaques Lazier0Accident18.33

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Trucks: MemphisTravel.com 200 results, with avg. finish

It appears that Ron Hornaday Jr.'s troubles are behind him after he dominated and won the MemphisTravel.com 200 to record his second consecutive victory. He led three times during the race for a total of 175 laps and the victory was never in question—not even when a late caution for a two-car incident set up a green-white-checkered finish. More importantly, he stopped the bleeding after back-to-back finishes outside the top 15 gave the owner points' lead over to No. 51 of Billy Ballew.

Brian Scott turned in another gutsy performance. Driving with a cast on his hand, he's posted back-to-back top-fives following the accident at Michigan that left him injured. He was third at the Milwaukee Mile and second this week at Memphis. Scott led 20 laps during the event and was the only other driver to lead more than a couple of circuits.

Results, with average finish

FinishStartDriverLapsLaps LedStatusAvg Fin
11Ron Hornaday Jr201175Running5.29
28Brian Scott20120Running7.50
314David Starr201
44Aric Almirola2011Running17.25
511Matt Crafton201
63Mike Skinner201
79Timothy Peters201
815Johnny Sauter201
95Colin Braun201
1012Todd Bodine201
1113Rick Crawford201
1210Brian Ickler201
132Terry Cook201
1416Ricky Carmichael201
157Dennis Setzer201
1617Tayler Malsam201
176Stacy Compton2001Running14.20
1824T J Bell2004Running18.00
1922Mario Gosselin200
2018James Buescher197
2134Norm Benning196
2223Brent Sherman162
Rear Gear22.00
2329Jason White144
2419Jason Young140
2520J J Yeley139
Rear Gear25.00
2626Hal Martin119
2721Chris Fontaine115
2825Chris Jones111
2931Wes Burton94
3035Brandon Knupp28
3132Trevor Boys24
3233Nick Tucker23
3336Mike Harmon20
3430Michelle Theriault17
3528Butch Miller16
Drive Shaft19.00
3627Brent Raymer11
Andy Ponstein0
Did Not Qualify
Paul Bamburak0
Did Not Qualify

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June 27, 2009

IRL: Ganassi guys finish 1-2

Scott Dixon beat Dario Franchitti off pit road in the final pit stop and that was all it took. Dixon held onto the lead and beat his teammate to the checkered flag by mere car-lengths.

Our View: Earlier in the day, Gibbs' guys Kyle Busch and Joey Logano finished first and second, but it wasn't all rosy for teammates. Both Penske drivers crashed out of the IRL race.

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Trucks: Hornaday dominates and wins Memphis

Last month's troubles are a distant memory. Ron Hornaday Jr. has won back-to-back races at the Milwaukee Mile and Memphis Motorsports Park.

Our View: He made this one look easy and best of all, he gets to savor it for two weeks before the series returns to Kentucky Speedway on July 18.

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N'Wide: Camping World RV Sales 200 Results

One of the most amazing records in NASCAR was extended this week when Kyle Busch became the 23rd different winner of a Nationwide race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. If he stumbled, teammate Joey Logano was on his bumper ready to strike and he was also looking for his first victory on this track.

That Joe Gibbs Racing would win was never in question. Logano led the most laps even though Busch led the last one. These two drivers were the class of the field.

The remainder of the drivers was left to fight for third on back and Brad Keselowski was best in class. With a third in the Camping World RV Sales 200, he posted his fifth consecutive finish of third or better and that makes him the hottest driver on the circuit. Mike Bliss and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.

Jason Leffler has his own streak going and he barely extended it this week. With a 10th-place finish at New Hampshire, he posted his 11th consecutive top-10 finish. He almost saw that streak end, however. On the final lap teammates Brian Vickers and Scott Speed got into a tangle that saw Vickers fall out of the top-10 on the final lap.

Results, with average finish

FinishStartDriverLapsStatusAvg Fin
19Kyle Busch200Running11.25
21Joey Logano200Running2.00
37Brad Keselowski200Running6.50
410Mike Bliss200Running18.00
55Kevin Harvick200Running5.22
62Carl Edwards200Running3.20
76Greg Biffle200Running18.25
84Scott Speed200Running8.00
911Erik Darnell200Running9.00
1012Jason Leffler200Running17.71
1124Steve Wallace200Running15.67
128Brian Vickers200Running8.00
1313Justin Allgaier200Running13.00
143Clint Bowyer200Running10.00
1516Michael McDowell200Running15.00
1614Scott Lagasse Jr200Running28.00
1720Scott Wimmer200Running11.71
1828Elliott Sadler200Running20.00
1931Michael Annett200Running19.00
2021Kenny Wallace199Running19.06
2138Brendan Gaughan199Running21.00
2243Sean Caisse198Running22.00
2323Jason Keller198Running17.94
2435Matt Carter196Running24.00
2530Ken Butler III196Running25.00
2639Danny O'Quinn Jr196Running25.67
2718Joe Nemechek196Running18.75
2836John Wes Townley196Running28.00
2925Bobby Hamilton Jr196Running12.38
3040Tony Raines196Running21.00
3134Benny Gordon196Running31.00
3242Chase Mattioli192Running32.00
3341Eric McClure176Engine32.33
3426Brian Keselowski92Overheating34.00
3515Paul Menard50Engine16.00
3632Mark Green23Start and Park27.43
3733Derrike Cope19Start and Park29.71
3829Travis Kittleson13Start and Park38.00
3927Kevin Lepage13Start and Park20.00
4022Casey Atwood8Start and Park23.14
4119Kelly Bires4Start and Park29.00
4237Willie Allen3Start and Park42.00
4317Johnny Chapman2Start and Park37.00
Justin Hobgood0DNQ
Morgan Shepherd0DNQ32.50
Kertus Davis0DNQ34.67
Mike Wallace0DNQ17.63

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N'Wide: Gibbs guys finish 1-2

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano dominated the Camping World RV Sales 200 and finished first and second. Logano led the most laps, but Busch led the one that mattered most and won.

Our View: The last time these two drivers finished one two, it was Logano winning at Kentucky, so turnabout is fair play.

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Newman, Kahne crash in NASCAR Modifieds

The foray into the NASCAR Modified series ended in accidents for both Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne. Finishing 34th, Newman crashed on lap 64 while running second; Kahne crashed on lap 72 and finished 31st. Donny Lia won.

Our View: Both drivers spent time in the top 10, so hopefully they enjoyed the experiment.

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Truex announcement coming in two weeks

According to a tweet from @BobPockrass, Martin Truex Jr. expects to make an announcement about his future in two weeks. That is the same time Michael Waltrip has an announcement scheduled about the future driver of the No. 55.

Our View: Two plus two equals four. Michael Waltrip Racing is on the uptick with strong showings by Marcos Ambrose and David Reutimann. Truex will raise the bar even higher.

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Trucks: Hornaday on Memphis pole

Ron Hornaday Jr. has won the pole for the MemphisTravel.com 200 and will lead the field to the green Saturday night.

Our View: After three tough weeks in which he earned only one top-10, Hornaday was back on track last week with a victory at the Milwaukee Mile. That makes him one of the favorites for this week's race as well.

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New Hampshire pit stall selections

Jayski.com has published the pit stall selections. As expected, Tony Stewart took the pit closest to the exit. Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson have the only other three pits with an opening in front of them.

Our View: New Hampshire can develop a tendency in which it is hard to pass, so these four drivers have improved their odds considerably with their selections.

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Harvick wins New Hampshire Happy Hour

Kevin Harvick posted the quickest average speed in New Hampshire's Happy Hour with a speed of 126.350 during 43 laps.

Our View: That should make him a compelling dark horse and he ran strong at Martinsville earlier in the year, but so much has gone wrong this year that it's hard to recommend him.

Truex posts single fastest lap in Happy Hour

Martin Truex Jr. posted the fastest single lap in Happy Hour with a speed of 128.186. His average speed was not bad either. At 126.253 during 43 laps, he was fifth best on average.

Our View: Truex was one of our dark horses at the beginning of the week and he's solidified his position as a strong mid-cap driver. A top-10 in well within his reach.

N'Wide: Logano on New Hampshire pole

Joey Logano has figured out qualification in the Nationwide Series. He earned his third consecutive pole at New Hampshire on the heels of the same feat at Dover and Kentucky.

Our View: In the two previous races, Logano finished second at Dover (and would have won if he teammate Kyle Busch had communicated better) and he won at Kentucky.

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Sorenson posts single fast lap in NH Sat. am practice

Reed Sorenson posted the single fastest lap in the Saturday morning practice session with a top speed of 128.472 mph. He also had the quickest average speed of 126.921 during 29 laps. That certainly makes him a driver to watch in Happy Hour.

Our View: Sorenson has been uneven on the short, flat tracks, but so far this year he's finished 17th at Martinsville and 12th at Phoenix.

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June 26, 2009

IRL: Richmond lineup with avg. start/finish

Dario Franchitti continues to prove his prowess on the short tracks of the Indy Racing League. After sweeping both events last year at Iowa and Richmond, he got off to another fast start on Rusty Wallace's track near Des Moines.

Teammate Scott Dixon is to his outside, while Helio Castroneves lines up behind him. Notably, Castroneves' teammate Ryan Briscoe is on the outside of tow two, so all of these drivers should feel comfortable in their surroundings.

Lineup with avg. start/finish

StartDriverAvg. FinAvg. StartAttempts
1Dario Franchitti4.507.004
2Scott Dixon7.837.506
3Helio Castroneves6.575.717
4Ryan Briscoe18.007.002
5Graham Rahal18.003.001
6Raphael Matos

7E J Viso10.0019.001
8Hideki Mutoh13.007.001
9Tomas Scheckter9.5012.836
10Danica Patrick9.2514.254
11Mike Conway

12Robert Doornbos

13Dan Wheldon5.008.676
14Ed Carpenter11.4014.205
15Justin Wilson7.0023.001
16Marco Andretti8.337.003
17Tony Kanaan8.677.676
18Ryan Hunter-Reay16.0025.001
19Mario Moraes17.0020.001
20Jaques Lazier17.5010.002

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IRL: Franchitti on Richmond pole

Dario Franchitti won the pole for Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond with a speed of 167.315 mph.

Our View: Franchitti will be gunning for his fourth consecutive IRL short track win—and in his last five attempts at Iowa and Richmond, he's not finished worse than third.

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N'Wide: Double file restarts coming

NASCAR has announce that double-file restarts are coming to the Nationwide Series, beginning next week at Daytona International Speedway, according to a twee from @NASCAR_NNS.

Our View: That won't have any impact next week, since cars are two abreast moments after the green falls anyway, but it will add excitement to the rest of the season.

Yahoo! Qualification Story – New Hampshire

Mother Nature won time trials for the third time this year, but history suggest that is not a bad thing. check out our predictions in this weeks Yahoo! qualification story (.pdf).

Qualification canceled

Qualification has been cancelled at New Hampshire. The grid will be set by the NASCAR rule book, which puts Tony Stewart on the pole.

Our View: The last time this happened was at Pocono. Stewart wrecked a car there and had to race his backup. That sent him to the back of the pack, but since he wrecked early this week, he will be able to start his backup on the pole. (Unless, of course, he wrecks again and has to roll out another car.)

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Ku Busch wins first practice

Kurt Busch posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 with a speed of 130.667 mph. This practice session is typically focused on qualification setup, but with rain in the area, teams also worked on trace trim much of the day.

Our View: Busch is the defending winner of this race, but that victory came as the result of stretching his fuel mileage and catching the right shower in a rain-shortened afternoon. This week, he's strong enough to earn the win outright.

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Stewart crashes in NH practice 1

Tony Stewart preceded Mark Martin into the wall early in the first practice session at New Hampshire, but he did much more damage. The No. 14 team will roll out a backup.

Our View: So long as they change the engine before qualification, they should be able to hang onto their grid position from qualification. Fantasy owners will also remember how well he did in his backup at Pocono – he won.

The backup is reportedly the same one that finished second at Richmond—another relatively flat track.

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Martin spins in NH practice 1

Mark Martin drifted high in turn four, lightly slapped the wall and spun in the first practice session.

Our View: There appeared to be very little damage to his Chevrolet, however, so he should be fine for qualification and practice.

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June 25, 2009

Newman, Kahne qualify for NH Modified race

Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne have qualified for the Modified portion of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway weekend, according to a tweet from @NASCARHomeTracks. Newman will start seventh, while Newman is quite far behind in 17th.

Our View: These cars are very different from anything they have run, so it is amazing that Newman qualified so well. Aside from the novelty of them racing in this series, it will not have much impact on their fantasy value.

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Bowyer about New Hampshire

It's been a special track for me. It's where I got my first win in the Cup Series. It's just a fun racetrack. It seems like these mile racetracks are playing in my favor, and I enjoy it. Running in the Nationwide race this weekend. So looking forward to an action-packed weekend and Shane and all of the guys on The Hartford Chevrolet have been working hard and making sure that we are ready to go.

I think we have stopped the bleeding a little bit. We got going the wrong way in the points there and stopped the bleeding, got things pointed back in the right direction and I think we have got four Top-12s here in a row, so definitely got the consistency back that we are made out of and hopefully we'll start our march back into inside the Chase here in the next few weeks.

But you know, getting back to New Hampshire, I just enjoy the racetrack. I enjoy the raciness of the racetrack, being able to control a little bit of your own destiny. As you said, getting back to my first win, that's the one that you'll never forget, you know, and to be able to win it in pretty much dominant fashion meant a lot to me, and beating your peers and everything else. It's just a great weekend.

This is our second race with having The Hartford on the Chevrolet, so looking forward to that, and the first week of our contest. Enter to win this contest, enter at thehartfordracing.com, enter a chance to win a trip to Homestead Miami at the season final and a boating excursion with me championship weekend. It will be a lot of fun and a good time, so make sure you enter at thehartfordracing.com.

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June 24, 2009

F1: Compromise in the offing, Mosley stepping down

One moth ago, Max Mosley arrogantly proclaimed there would be "no compromise" with Formula 1 teams. Now it appears the salary cap rule has been all but scrapped and Mosley has agreed not to seek reelection as FIA's president next year, according to AutoRacingDaily.com.

Our View: This will keep FOTA—the Formula 1 drivers association—from forming a breakaway league.

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Week 26 Unified Power Rankings

For only the second time this year, there was chink in Jenson Button's armor, and unlike the Chinese Grand Prix where he still finished third, he struggled in last week's British Grand Prix. Finishing sixth still earned points in what remains a nearly insurmountable lead for the World Drivers Championship, but it opens the door for some alternate fantasy picks in coming weeks. If Red Bull Racing continues their assault, the game just got more interesting.

Tony Stewart remains the hottest NASCAR driver. Since the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, he's finished outside the top 10 only twice and both require an asterisk. One poor finish came as the result of crash damage at Talladega SuperSpeedway—in a race that is more lottery than contest—and the other came in the rain-altered Coke 341 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Otherwise, he's been as close to perfect as fantasy owners could want with seven top-fives in the other eight races.

In the Indy Racing League, Ryan Briscoe leapfrogged Helio Castroneves with a second-place finish versus seventh. Castroneves struggling came as little surprise since he has finished outside the top 10 in two of his last three races on IRL short tracks, (see Short Trackin' Indy Style), but Briscoe also had a spotty record on this track type last year. As the old adage goes, "that's why they run the race."

With a fourth-place finish in the Nationwide NorthenTool.com 250 at the Milwaukee Mile, Erik Darnell leapt into the top 10 and passed Brad Keselowski. That requires an explanation. Since the Unified Power Rankings looks at all the major series, Keselowski's position is currently being hampered by a failure to qualify at Dover International Speedway, for which he received minimal points. In the Nationwide Series, however, he's been great with a second- and two third-place finishes in his last three attempts.

Unified Power Rankings
Top 50

RankDriverPointsLast week+/-
1Jenson Button107.1310
2Tony Stewart100.0020
3Ryan Briscoe92.7141
4Helio Castroneves92.673-1
5Dario Franchitti90.8683
6Rubens Barrichello88.6393
7Jimmie Johnson87.9270
8Mark Webber87.75102
9Erik Darnell85.20167
10Brad Keselowski85.13144
11Scott Dixon85.00121
12Ryan Newman83.8111-1
13Kurt Busch83.58130
14Mark Martin83.545-9
15Jason Leffler81.836-9
16Jeff Gordon81.83171
17Danica Patrick80.8615-2
18Greg Biffle80.47224
19Dan Wheldon80.43245
20Denny Hamlin79.8319-1
21Carl Edwards79.83210
22Matt Kenseth79.13253
23Kyle Busch78.9618-5
24Joey Logano78.90273
25Juan Montoya78.17261
26Timo Glock76.8823-3
27Sebastian Vettel76.75325
28Matt Crafton75.2920-8
29Nico Rosberg74.50301
30Jeff Burton73.2928-2
31Kasey Kahne73.00310
32Stephen Leicht73.00NANA
33Ron Hornaday Jr72.13407
34Jamie McMurray71.424410
35Fernando Alonso69.6329-6
36Steve Wallace69.55371
37Jason Keller69.27381
38Brian Vickers69.00424
39Tayler Malsam68.29412
40Tomas Scheckter68.00NANA
41Jarno Trulli67.63454
42Justin Allgaier67.4536-6
43David Reutimann67.3633-10
44Marco Andretti67.1434-10
45Marcos Ambrose67.00472
46Dale Earnhardt Jr66.0039-7
47Johnny Benson Jr66.0046-1
48Clint Bowyer65.7143-5
49Tony Kanaan65.4335-14
50Ricky Stenhouse Jr65.00NANA

Previous Unified Power Rankings:

Week 25
Week 24
Week 23
Week 22
Week 21
Week 20

June 23, 2009

Kurt Busch's 2008 was more than met the eye

In the 2008 Lenox Industrial Tools 301, Kurt Busch seemingly stole a trophy when he stayed on track and benefited from the race being shortened, but there was more to it than that. According to SceneDaily.com, fuel mileage was the hidden factor in that victory.

“In our eyes, it will always be a fuel-mileage win," Busch said. "I don’t think that the record was ever set straight about what all came down there during the June race last year."

Our View: Regardless of whether that event was won because of fuel mileage or rain, he struggled mightily that day. In the fall, however, he finished sixth, which makes him a driver to watch this week.

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Island in the Storm: Martin Truex Jr.

There are horses for courses and one of Martin Truex Jr.'s favorite tracks is New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Located in his backyard, Truex turned a lot of laps on this track in the NASCAR Busch North Series (now named the Camping World East Series), but he didn't have huge success until the last two years. Once he found the groove, however, he's been great.

In the Camping World East series, he won the 2003 New England 125 from the pole and took the 2005 Nationwide New England 200 after starting seventh. But on the heels of that, his rookie season in the Cup series was tough. In 2006, Truex finished outside the top 15 in both events. With an 18th in July and a 22nd in September, however, he gave the team a good set of notes from which to work.

They applied the lessons learned as a freshman and Truex swept the top five in his sophomore season. When he finished third in the July race, he had a ton of momentum on his side. He had recently won at Dover and was riding a three-race top-five streak. Earning a fourth such finish was seemingly easy, but it hasn't been quite so effortless since.

He's entered this race with progressively poorer results. In fall of that same year, Truex had just finished 15th at Richmond International Raceway the week before. Prior to the July 2008 race, he struggled through three consecutive finishes outside the top 15 and that fall, he was riding a four-race streak of sub-15th-place finishes. He managed to stop the bleeding at New Hampshire each time, finishing fifth in fall 2007, fourth in July 2008 and finally seventh last year.

That gives him an active four-race top-10 streak and only one other driver can claim as much. All eyes will be on the other racer Jimmie Johnson this week, which leaves you with an excellent opportunity to sneak up on the competition.

This will be his biggest challenge yet. Since he finished sixth in the Southern 500, Truex has been struggling. This year, he'll pull into New Hampshire with a five-race streak of finishes outside the top 15, but this is his safe harbor, his "Island in the Storm"—at least in recent years—and he is a dark horse to finish inside the top five.

Martin Truex Jr. at New Hampshire

Race DateSeriesFinStart
13-Sep-03CW East1511
19-Jul-03CW East11
14-Sep-02CW East2820
20-Jul-02CW East411
11-May-02CW East318

Kahne to run new Dodge engine

Kasey Kahne will run the new Dodge engine at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, according to @DustinLong.

Our View: He previously used this same engine at Dover and Michigan. In its debut, he ran strong at Dover and finished sixth. At Michigan, however, he finished only 21st, so it is uncertain how this impacts his fantasy odds.

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New Hampshire Yahoo! preview

This week starts the race for the Chase for the Sprint Cup and it is the most important race to date. They only get even more important with each passing week. Check out this week's Yahoo! Fantasy Preview (.pdf) for a sneak peak at who'll be their toughest competitors.

Kahne rumors distract at wrong time

Fresh off his victory in the Toyota / SaveMart 350k, rumors are flying that Richard Petty Motorsports will switch Kasey Kahne to Toyota.

Our View: Rumors have a way of deflecting drivers from concentrating on what matters most, but Kahne has enough momentum that this should not have an immediate effect.

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June 22, 2009

Joe Gibbs Racing open to a fourth team

Joe Gibbs Racing could have a fourth team in place as early as next year if the right driver and a sponsor could be found, but don't count on it, according to SceneDaily.com.

“We’re in no hurry," J D Gibbs said at Infineon. "If we have to wait a year, that’s fine. You have got to have the right driver, the right core group and the right sponsor. But if that happened, we could do it pretty quick. I wouldn’t cross it off for next year but at the same time we’re not going to force it.”

Our View: Fantasy owners can afford to be patient. This studied approach is likely to result in a strong team whenever they decide to expand. In this economy, it's hard to imagine a new Gibbs team even as early as 2010.

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JR Motorsports closer to Cup

In order to offset some of the lost income from GM, Rick Hendrick is considering expanding his affiliate program, according to SceneDaily.com. That could mean JR Motorsports making a move to the Cup series in 2010 with Brad Keselowski as the probable driver.

Our View: Now that Mark Martin is going to stay in Cup for another full time season, they have to come up with something. They can't keep Keselowski on the shelf forever.

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New Hampshire entry list

The entry list for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 has been posted. In addition to the regulars, Brad Keselowski is in the No. 09 James Finch Chevrolet and Ted Christopher in Kirk Shelmerdine's No. 27.

Our View: One has to assume that Finch intends to go the distance with Keselowski this time after "starting and parking" several times in the last few weeks. At Infineon, Fellows ran incredibly well before fading to 27th at the end.

Christopher shouldn't be considered anything more than a sentimental favorite. The Modified champ will be a fan favorite.

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June 21, 2009

Inspection complete; no issues

Inspection of the cars at Infineon Raceway is complete, and not issues were found, according to a tweet from @DustinLong.

Our View: The three random cars that will be taken to the R&D center for an engine inspection at the No. 9, No. 14 and No 96.

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Kahne gets improbable win

It's getting harder by the week to handicap these races. After posting a best finish of only 23rd in five starts—and every other result outside the top 30—Kasey Kahne held off favorites Tony Stewart and Marcos Ambrose to win his 10th career victory and his first on a road course.

Our View: No one could have seen this coming, but if you had Kahne on your roster—kudos to you.

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F1: British GP Results

Finally someone other than Jenson Button won a Formula 1 race. Prior to the British Grand Prix, he had won six of seven events with Sebastian Vettel taking the Chinese Grand Prix. It's only fitting that Vettel took this race as well after winning the pole and dominating at Silverstone.

For his part, Button finish only sixth. Is the competition finally catching up to him? Don't assume that just yet because teammate Rubens Barrichello was in third.

In several races this year the Brawn teammates Button and Barrichello finished one-two. Red Bull Racing kept that tradition alive by placing Mark Webber in second. That was his fourth consecutive top-five finish this season, which has made him a good driver to keep on your roster.
One other item of note: with the exception of Sebastian Bourdais and Heikki Kovalainen who retired at the start, everyone finished either one the lead lap or only one circuit off the pace and an impressive 11 drivers completed the distance.

Results, with average finish

FinishStartDriverLapsStatusAvg Fin
11Sebastian Vettel60Running10.00
23Mark Webber60Running12.43
32Rubens Barrichello60Running7.65
411Felipe Massa60Running7.86
57Nico Rosberg60Running8.75
66Jenson Button60Running9.90
74Jarno Trulli60Running11.46
89Kimi Raikkonen60Running4.78
98Timo Glock60Running10.50
1016Giancarlo Fisichella60Running8.93
115Kazuki Nakajima60Running9.50
1214Nelson Piquet Jr59Running14.00
1312Robert Kubica59Running10.33
1410Fernando Alonso59Running8.63
1515Nick Heidfeld59Running10.40
1619Lewis Hamilton59Running6.67
1718Adrian Sutil59Running18.67
1820Sebastian Buemi59Running18.00
1917Sebastian Bourdais0Retired15.00
2013Heikki Kovalainen0Retired10.67

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IRL: Perfection for Franchitti, wins Iowa

Dario Franchitti won the Iowa Corn 200 for his second Iowa victory in two starts as well as his third consecutive IRL short track race.

Our View: Franchitti took last year off to compete in NASCAR, but he swept both short track races in 2007. That makes him an equally good value next week at Richmond.

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Stewart, Kahne and Blaney to race 410 sprint at Sharon

Tony Stewart will make a rare start in a 410 Sprint car at Sharon Speedway, according to WhoWon.com (caution, this site is notoriously bad about pop-ups). He will be joined in the Lou Blaney Memorial Classic by Kasey Kahne and Dave Blaney.

Our View: That makes this a star-studded event on a track owned by the Blaney family.

June 20, 2009

N'Wide: Edwards wins at Milwaukee

Carl Edwards has had a dismal year in 2009, but you wouldn't know that by how he race Saturday night. He ran away from the field in the final segment to earn his first win of the season.

Our View: You had to know that Edwards wouldn't be kept down forever. He should relish it, because Sunday is going to be a challenge on the road course.

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IRL: Beatriz wins Iowa Indy Lights race

Ana Beatriz blasted into the lead on the final lap as another female driver Pippa Mann ended up on her lid. Beatriz navigated the crash and is now the first two-time female winner.

Our View: Perhaps Jack Roush should be talking to her about making the switch to NASCAR; she wouldn't have any issues paying her dues in Nationwide.

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ARCA: Kligerman wins Mansfield

Parker Kligerman led most of the Tim Richmond Memorial 200, but don't let that fool you. For most of the second half of the event, Joey Coulter was on his back bumper.

Our View: With three laps to go a caution waved, which made Kligerman's job even tougher. By then, Coulter's tires were gone and he had to fight off a furious charge from Chris Buescher.

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CW West: Logano finishes 17th

After leading from lap 26 through 63, Joey Logano finished only 17th in the Camping World West finish. He was spun on the final lap in the turn 11 hairpin by Patrick Long.

Our View: His finish at this level is not nearly as important as the experience he gained. Logano was also strong in this event last year before blowing an engine and he's got a lot of promise as a road racer.

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IRL: Iowa lineup with avg. start/finish

It was a tough day at Iowa Speedway as persistent weepers in the track canceled qualification. The Indy Racing League did their dead-level best to get the session in the books, but could never send more than two cars out without stopping the action. That forced them to set the lineup by owner points, which places Helio Castroneves on the pole. That is familiar territory; in two previous starts on this track, he's started second on average, but doesn't have nearly as good a record in race trim. In two races at Iowa, he's finished eighth and 14th.

Scott Dixon starts second and he would seem to be a much better value. In his two starts, he's started on the pole in both events. He's swept the top-10 on this track, but the greater recommendation is that he swept the top five on the IRL's short tracks last year with a fourth in Iowa and a third at Richmond.

The best value this week, however, is Dario Franchitti. In his last two short track races, he swept victory lane at Iowa and Richmond in 2007. He rolls off the grid fourth.

Lineup with avg. start/finish

StartDriverAvg. FinAvg. StartAttempts
1Helio Castroneves11.002.002
2Ryan Briscoe7.005.001
3Scott Dixon7.001.002
4Dario Franchitti1.003.001
5Danica Patrick9.508.502
6Dan Wheldon6.006.002
7Tony Kanaan17.005.502
8Marco Andretti2.5010.002
9Graham Rahal10.0016.001
10Justin Wilson12.0020.001
11Hideki Mutoh2.007.001
12Raphael Matos

13Ed Carpenter14.507.002
14Robert Doornbos

15Mario Moraes19.0024.001
16Tomas Scheckter19.0014.001
17Ryan Hunter-Reay8.0014.001
18E J Viso13.0013.001
19Mike Conway

20Jaques Lazier

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ARCA: Lofton on Mansfield pole

Justin Lofton will lead the ARCA field to green for the Tim Richmond Memorial 200, according to ARCARacing.com.

Our View: In his last short track race at Toledo this season, he finished second at Toledo after starting second.

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N'Wide: Darnell on Milwaukee pole

Erik Darnell has captured the pole for the Nationwide race in Milwaukee. Brad Coleman is on the outside pole.

Our View: Last year, he qualified Carl Edwards's car 11th for this race, but he'll get a chance to race this week in the No. 6. In five previous Nationwide starts, he has one top-five, two top-10s and four top-15s.

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IRL: Iowa qualification canceled, Castroneves on pole

According to live timing and scoring at IndyCar.com, qualification has been canceled and the field will be set by owner points. That places Helio Castroneves on the pole.

Our View: Castroneves finished only 14th in this race last year, but he should still be considered a strong threat because he finished second on the other short track of Richmond International Raceway.

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CW West: Long penalized, Bowles wins Infineon

Strike that. Patrick Long has been penalized by NASCAR for intentionally spinning Joey Logano, which has given the victory to Jason Bowles.

Our View: Long lost the lead of the Camping World East race in the next to last turn after contact by Ryan Truex—and he vowed "what goes around, comes around." Unfortunately, he seems to have lost sight of the fact that Logano wasn't Truex.

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CW West: Long wins, Logano spins

Road racing specialist Patrick Long won the Camping World West race at Infineon on the final lap after Joey Logano spun from the lead, according to a tweet from @NASCARHomeTrack.

Our View: As disappointing as that is for the teenage Cup rookie, he got a chance to battle a great road racer and earned a ton of experience. He's not recommended for Sunday's Cup race, but he could get a solid finish nonetheless.

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Infineon pit stall selections

Jayski.com has posted the pit stall selections for the Infineon Toyota / SaveMart 350k.

Our View: Brian Vickers took the 23rd slot instead of the first. This pit has an opening in front of it and should allow him to have a little more momentum at pit out. Outside pole sitter Kyle Busch has pit No. 11—also with an opening in front—and Marcos Ambrose has pit stall No. 1.

Casual contact between Ambrose/Johnson at Infineon

Apparently there was casual contact between Marcos Ambrose and Jimmie Johnson during Happy Hour, according to a tweet from @BobPockcrass.

Our View: Ambrose was on track for only two laps. It's hard to imagine that he found trouble in that short a period. According to that same tweet, Johnson's car had minimal damage.

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Said to be pitted by Wood Bros.

The Wood Bros. team will pit Boris Said's No 08 John Carter Ford this week, according to Jayski.com.

Our View: Said will roll off the grid from a top-10 spot, but his practice times were not overly strong. The Wood Bros. will do a great job in the pits, but currently we favor Ron Fellows and Patrick Carpentier among the road course ringers.

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Trucks: Hornaday wins 41st Truck race

Ron Hornaday held off Dennis Setzer and Brian Scott at the Milwaukee Mile following a caution with less than 10 laps remaining.

Our View: This was a birthday present for Hornaday and he has a chance to get an even bigger win. He will be running in the Nationwide Series race later on Saturday in equally strong Kevin Harvick, Inc. equipment.

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R Gordon wins Infineon Happy Hour

Robby Gordon posted the quickest time in Infineon Happy Hour, with a speed of 91.684 during 13 laps.

Our View Gordon was not very fast in the morning session and he struggled in qualification, but it's great to see him finally find some speed. A top-10 is possible for the No. 7.

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Allmendinger posts single fast lap in Infineon Happy Hour

A.J. Allmendinger posted the single fastest lap in Happy Hour for the Toyota / SaveMart 350k at Infineon Raceway.

Our View Allmendinger has a lot of road racing experience in the Indy Racing League and Indy Lights, but unfortunately his average speed during this session was only mid-pack. You will find much better values at his level.

Gilliland gets road course backup

Fantasy owners who heard David Gilliland say the team did not have a road course backup will be glad to know that he is going to borrow a backup from Martin Truex Jr., according to a tweet from @BobPockrass.

Our View: That is great news. If he had to use his speedway backup a possible top-15 was a long shot. Now he should be regarded as fair value with a top-15 potential.

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N'Wide: Coleman fastest in final Milwaukee practice

Brad Coleman posted the fastest single lap in the final practice session at Milwaukee, according to a tweet from @NASCAR_NNS.

Our View: Coleman is in the No. 20 normally driven by Joey Logano, so he has the horses to run with the leaders all day. As a part time driver, he will be a good value in Nationwide games as well—which makes him a double threat.

Practice Times

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IRL: Dixon tops first practice at Iowa

Scott Dixon posted the fastest lap in Iowa's first practice session, according to a tweet from @IndyCarPR.

Our View: In his last three races on IRL short tracks, Dixon has swept the top five. He finished fourth at Iowa and third at Richmond last year, so he definitely deserves a spot on your roster.

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Fellows wins Infineon Saturday a.m. practice

Marcos Ambrose posted the quickest average speed in the Saturday morning practice session, but he blew an engine midway through and will be forced to change his engine. Ron Fellows—in the No. 09 of James Finch—was the next quickest driver with a speed of 91.784 during six laps, so we'll credit him with leading this session.

Our View: Fellows has the skills and this team has already won on a specialty track at Talladega SuperSpeedway with Brad Keselowski at the wheel. Fellows should be considered one of the favorite road ringers and he could finish in the top 10.

Ambrose blows engine in Infineon practice 2

Marcos Ambrose blew an engine about halfway through the Saturday morning practice session and he will be forced to change the powerplant and give up his third-place spot on the grid.

Our View: At Watkins Glen last year, Ambrose climbed from 43rd to third, so he should still be considered a good value. However, his odds of winning have taken a huge hit.

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N'Wide: Allgaier crashes in Milwaukee practice

Justin Allgaier has crashed hard in practice at the Milwaukee Mile and will be forced to roll out a backup car, according to a tweet from @NASCAR_NNS.

Our View: Allgaier was in fast equipment and his backup is likely to be just as strong, but as is nearly always the case in these situations, his odds have slipped slightly.

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Gilliland, Andretti crash at pit out

David Gilliland rammed into the back of John Andretti at the end of pit road. It appeared that Andretti was waiting for a hole in traffic and Gilliland was not expecting him to be so slow.

Our View: Gilliland has heavy damage and will almost certainly have to roll out a backup car. He was starting near the back anyway, but this still hurts his chances to finish in the top-10. A top-15 is still possible, however.

Dark Horse Report: Sadler best at Infineon

Elliott Sadler is not the first driver who pops into fantasy owners' heads at Infineon Raceway, but in terms of average finishes, this is his best track. He boasts an average of 15.8 in 10 attempts.

Our View: Three of his last five races on this track resulted in top-10s, but his last two efforts were only 14th and 19th. Not bad, but he will only fit the last slot on your roster.

Dark Horse Reports

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June 19, 2009

Red Bull buys Speed a ride

As expected, Red Bull Racing has struck a deal with Joe Nemechek to get Scott Speed into the show, according to a tweet from @DustinLong.

Our View: Normally, we approach these agreements with skepticism, but at least Speed will try to run the full event and not "start and park" as Nemechek has done in recent weeks. Before failing to qualify, Speed was on a top 10 pace, so he could be a decent value.

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Vickers wins fourth pole of the season

Brian Vickers has become a qualifying master. He earned his fourth pole of the season, and these have come on speedways, a short track and now a road course.

Our View: Starting position is critical to success on a road course, so Vickers odds of a good finish have skyrocketed with this effort.

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Yahoo! Qualification Story – Infineon

Qualification on a road course is critical to winning, but someone forgot to tell that to Juan Montoya and Kyle Busch during the last two years. They started in the 30s en route to the checkers at Infineon. Who'll win this week? check out our predictions in this weeks Yahoo! qualification story (.pdf).

F1: FOTA votes to breakaway

The Formula One Teams Association has voted to form their own series in 2010, citing irreconcilable differences with Formula 1, Bernie Ecclestone, and most importantly Max Mosely, according to AutoRacingDaily.com.

Our View: From the sidelines, it seems that Mosely's stubborn refusal to allow any type of compromise is going to ensure that war is declared between the two parties. It really doesn't matter what either side says is at the heart of the matter—this boils down to personalities.

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Ambrose tops Infineon practice 1

In the final minutes of practice, it was a game of King Me. Jeff Gordon laid down a lap of 76.73 seconds (93.368 mph) and on that same lap, Marcos Ambrose bettered him. The No. 47 clocked in at 76.70 seconds (93.404 mph).

Our View: The pole is going to be a nail-biter, but since these guys are at the opposite ends of the spectrum in most fantasy games, there is no reason to not have both on your team.

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IRL: IndycCar.com Iowa Preview

"(This week) starts that stretch of Iowa and Richmond, two tracks that I really enjoy," Dario Franchitti said at IndyCar.com.

Our View: And he should—he won the last two short track races in that series.

See Also: Short Trackin' Indy Style

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Trucks: Lineup set by points

Qualification for the Camping World Truck Series in Milwaukee has been canceled and the lineup will be set by owner points.

Our View: This puts Brian Ickler on the pole in the No. 51 Billy Ballew truck. Kyle Busch has this truck running strong and Ickler could earn his first win in it.

The leader in the driver's points standings is Matt Crafton; he'll roll off the grid second.

Complete Lineup

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CW West: Long tops Infineon Happy Hour

Patrick Long posted the fastest time in the final practice session for the Camping World West race, according to @NASCARHomeTracks.com.

Our View: Long was only 13th quick in the first session, however. Joey Logano was fastest in that session and second in Happy Hour, so we will give the edge to the Joe Gibbs racer. David Gilliland was fifth best in this session after posting the eighth quickest time in the morning.

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F1: In midst of turmoil, Villeneuve eyes return

According to Auto123.com, Jacques Villeneuve has confirmed that he's been in contact with some Formula 1 teams about a possible return to the series. If a split occurs, however, he would prefer to stay with the one run by Bernie Ecclestone.

Our View: A potential schism would certainly create more rides, but the lack of competition already prevalent in Formula 1 would be even worse. If the split does not occur, Villeneuve believes there still may be some fresh teams entering the sport.

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Ambrose loses tire in V8 Supercars

Fantasy owners need to remember that Marcos Ambrose is one of the most experienced road racers in the field - in cars as heavy as NASCAR stockers - but his record isn't perfect. In this video, he looses a wheel.

CW West: Gilliland, Said also in top 10 in practice

Boris Said and David Gilliland also posted top-10 times in practice for the Camping World West race. Gilliland was eighth fastest; Said was ninth.

Our View: On Sunday, Gilliland will be in a car strong enough to run in the top 15. Said certainly has the skill to run well in the Toyota / SaveMart 350k, but he may not have the car.

Practice Times

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CW West: Logano tops practice

Joey Logano posted the fastest time in practice for Bennett Lane Winery 200 Camping World West race.

Our View: While the cars are considerably different, this race can still be used as a warm-up for Sunday's Toyota / SaveMart 350k. Logano will be a better value in the Cup level because of this seat time.

Practice Speeds

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Fuel mileage an issue at Infineon

Expect fuel mileage to continue to be an issue at Infineon, according to Mark Martin and Denny Hamlin in an article by the Sporting News Wire Service. "I think it's almost a given that fuel will be an issue to some degree at Infineon Raceway based on the nature of road-course racing," said Martin.

"We know fuel mileage be a huge factor here," Hamlin said. "We ran at Virginia International Raceway last week and had a good test. We spent a lot of time on handling, but we spent some time on fuel mileage also, and we hope that translates to this weekend as well as it did last weekend at Michigan."

Our View: The strategy will be a little different, however. On road courses drivers plan the race backward. They will plan their final pit stop and come in for service whether the conditions are green or yellow. It's possible that someone will catch a lucky caution.

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