July 31, 2009

Lowe's will not resume naming rights with Charlotte track

After 11 years, Lowe's has decided not to renew naming rights with the track, according to Sports Business Journal. The two sides could not reach an agreement on a price, which Charlotte wished to be $9 million annually.

Our View Just when we were getting used to calling it Lowe's Motor Speedway. It is expected that the name will return to Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2010.

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IRL: Kentucky qualification canceled

Qualification has been canceled at Kentucky Speedway and the field will be set by the rule book. Notably, qualification was also canceled for the NASCAR race in Pocono.

Our View However, there was no rain at Kentucky. The track developed "weepers" after heavy rain overnight.

This comes during the middle of the anti-trust action between the former owners of this track and NASCAR—and it does not help in the court of public opinion.

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Yahoo! Qualification Story – Pocono

For the fifth time this year, Mother Nature canceled qualification. In June, Tony Stewart won the race after time trial were rained out; can history repeat itself? Check out this week's story (.pdf).

F1: Massa heading home

Felipe Massa is expected to be released from a Hungarian hospital and will return to Brazil after this weekend, according to Crash.net.

Our View That is great news. His incident in the Hungarian Grand Prix was extremely scary.

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IRL: 1.5 million reasons why Indy won't race Richmond

There are 1.5 million reasons why the Indy Racing League won't return to Richmond International Raceway in 2010, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch. In poor economic times, the sanctioning fee was just too much for International Speedway Corporation.

Our View With a $53 million dollar impact on the local economy, however, one thinks they could have figured something out.

Perhaps the most interesting comment in this article, however, was this: "Fan and industry feedback largely was negative after repeat winner Scott Dixon won the June 27 race by finishing ahead of his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate and pole-sitter Dario Franchitti. During the race, there were long stretches of uninterrupted racing with few lead changes." Isn't that what racing is about?

For years, NASCAR fans have decried the questionable cautions waved by the sanctioning body; be careful what you wish for.

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Pocono: qualification canceled

For the second time this year, qualification has been canceled at Pocono and the field will be set my owner points. That puts Tony Stewart on the pole.

Our View Stewart hopes the same thing does not happen to him this week as in the first Pocono race. He crashed in practice and had to go to the back of the grid with a backup car to start the race.

On the other hand, he does hope for the same race result: he won the Pocono 500.

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F1: Hamilton looks forward to racing Schumacher

Fresh off victory last week in Hungary, Lewis Hamilton is looking forward to finally getting a chance to race against Michael Schumacher in Spain, according to Crash.net.

Our View Hopefully the early season struggles are behind him and Hamilton in his McLaren and Schumacher in the Ferrari will get a chance to contend.

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N'Wide: another caution at Iowa, for Wimmer

It's been a busy practice session at Iowa. Scott Wimmer spun on the frontstretch, according to @NACARS_NNS.

Our View This is an opportunity race since few NASCAR Cup drivers will be in attendance and it appears that everyone is a little too anxious.

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N'Wide: early caution in Iowa

Caution has waved early in Iowa, with an incident between Mike Harmon, Aric Almirola and Brad Coleman, according to a tweet from @NascarNNS.

Our View Harmon sustained the most damage, but Coleman is in the stronger car. He's driving the Joe Gibbs' No. 20 and would be considered a dark horse contender for a top-five. Let's hope his damage is not great.

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Pocono practice 1 canceled, Martin fastest

The remainder of the first practice session at Pocono has been canceled and it featured Mark Martin at the top of the charts with a speed of 169.354 mph. In fact, all four Hendrick Motorsports cars were the class of the field with Jimmie Johnson second (167.604), Dale Earnhardt Jr. third (167.470) and Jeff Gordon fourth (166.799).

Our View Affiliates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman were sixth and seventh on the chart. This is a pretty clear sign that Hendrick should dominate your fantasy roster.

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Waltrip will roll out a backup

It's official: Michael Waltrip will be forced to roll out a backup car after tearing the front splitter off his Toyota.

Our View If qualification gets underway, he will be able to keep his position so long as he keeps his primary engine.

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Rain delays, will probably cancel Pocono practice 1

Rain has finally arrived at Pocono and it will probably cancel the remainder of Pocono's practice.

Our View Chances are good that qualification will get canceled as well, but with only 43 cars at the track that should not matter.

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Waltrip spins in Pocono practice 1

Michael Waltrip missed the entrance to pit road, rolled through the grass and destroyed his front splitter entering the pavement on pit road at the 45 minute mark of the first practice session.

Our View The damage is actually fairly significant and this could either mean they will have to roll out a backup car or miss the rest of practice while making repairs.

If Waltrip moves into a backup car, he will be able to keep his qualification spot so long as he changes engines and puts the primary powerplant in the new car.

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July 30, 2009

Lally to run the Glen

Andy Lally will attempt to make his debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series at Watkins Glen International in a second TRG car, according to NASCAR.com.

Our View Lally has two previous starts in the Nationwide Series, finishing 29th at Montreal and 10th at the Glen in a Wood Bros Ford. While his stock car experience is limited, he did make 12 starts in the Camping World Truck Series and should be familiar with the heavier machinery.

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Sorenson out at RPM?

Reed Sorenson is part of the latest rumor mill. According to Autoracingsport.com, Richard Petty Motorsports is considering shuttering the No. 44 team, moving A.J. Allmendinger over to the No. 43 and releasing Sorenson.

Our View All four RPM teams have been improving this year, but the weakest link seems to be Elliott Sadler. After abortively trying to release him at the start of the season, however, it would be hard to ring that bell again. Sorenson could become a victim of circumstances.

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F1: Schumacher to sub for Massa

Michael Schumacher will come out of retirement and substitute for the injured Felipe Massa at Valencia, Spain, according to Autosport.com.

Our View Only 24 hours before the announcement, his manager Willi Webber had this to say: "Whoever sits in the car at the next race in Valencia, it will not be Michael Schumacher. I am not 100 per cent sure; I am 200 per cent sure."

Guess you can't trust PR people in any sport.

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July 29, 2009

Mayfield's stepmom files suit

The latest twist in the Jeremy Mayfield methamphetamine case has his stepmother filing suited, claiming Mayfield slandered her in an interview with ESPN, according to Autoracingsport.com.

In that interview, he said she tried to extort money from him, probably took money from NASCAR for false testimony, shot and killed his father and was basically a … let's say, "woman of ill-repute."

Our View Who needs soap operas when you have NASCAR? One wonders just how many more worms will crawl out of this can before the conclusion of the trial.

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July 28, 2009

Ky Busch wins at Anderson

Kyle Busch won the CRA Super Series Redbud 300 at Anderson Speedway after dominating the race Monday afternoon.

Our View How can you fail to love Busch when he is the consummate racer?

Complete Results

July 26, 2009

F1: Hamilton finally wins

After suffering through an abysmal first part of the season, Lewis Hamilton finally earned his first victory of the season in the Hungarian Grand Prix. It was also only his second podium finish of 2009.

Our View This was a bizarre weekend that witnessed serious injury to Felipe Massa in qualification and a broken wheel for pole sitter Fernando Alonso during the race. Incidents like these make the race harder to handicap, but more interesting for fantasy owners.

Massa is listed in stable condition for now; keep sending up prayers for him and his family.

Complete Results

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Earnhardt feeling fine

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is feeling fine, according to @DustinLong, and should be able to go the distance in the Brickyard 400.

Our View Qualifying third was probably the best medicine. This could be the week he breaks out of his funk, but he is still a riosk.

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Logano to the back

Joey Logano has changed and engine and will have to drop to the back for the start, according to @DustinLong.

Our View Logano will be forced to give up his 18th starting position, but he was good in practice on long runs. He should be able to keep his top-20 streak alive, but it's unlikely he will earn a surprise top-10.

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July 25, 2009

Yahoo! Qualification Story – Indianapolis

Mother Nature was ornery, but NASCAR still got qualification in the books. Check out this week's Yahoo! qualification story (.pdf).

N'Wide: Edwards wins over Busch, Kenseth

Carl Edwards. Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth all had to go to the back of the pack to start when other drivers qualified their cars. It didn't matter; they finished first, second and third.

Our View So much for track position meaning everything on this track.

Complete Results

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IRL: Power on Edmonton pole

Will Power has won the pole for the Edmonton Indy road course race with a speed of 116.414, according to @RacingOne.

Our View Power was also fast in practice and track position means a lot on road courses. Look for him to be strong in the race.

Complete Results

F1: Massa injured in freak accident

Felipe Massa has undergone surgery for injuries sustained in the qualification session for the Hungarian Grand Prix, according to Autosport.com. A spring from Rubens Barrichello's car struck him in the head giving him a concussion and he is currently under observation in intensive care.

Our View Two stories here: Massa is unlikely to compete in the race and Barrichello's owner Ross Brawn is perplexed as to why a component came off his car, which could signal troubles for both teams.

Update: Massa will certainly not race; he is currently listed in serious condition with life-threatening injuries. Our prayers go out to him and his family.

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Revised Indy schedule

Nationwide Series cars are currently practicing at O'Reilly Raceway Park and track drying activity is underway at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR expects to get Cup qualification started a little after 2 pm eastern and Happy Hour is scheduled for 5:30, according to a @DustinLong.

Our View Rainy days are long days, but so long as NASCAR gets qualification in for the Cup race, it's worth it. Fantasy owners get one more piece of the puzzle with time trials.

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Rain delays Indy activity

Rain has delayed all on track activity at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and O'Reilly Raceway Park on Saturday, according to a tweet from @RacingOne.

Our View Stay tuned for details. NASCAR has all day to try and get qualification in, but they have shown to be quick to cancel this session during the last two years.

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F1: Alonso on Hungarian pole

Fernando Alonso won the pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix—his first pole of the season.

Our View The field is closing in on Brawn Racing, so the second half of the season may just be competitive and fantasy owners will have options from here on.

Complete Results

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July 24, 2009

Trucks: Hornaday wins record 4th in a row

For the first time in Camping World Truck Series history a driver has won four consecutive races by holding off a determined Mike Skinner.

Our View O'Reilly Raceway Park can be difficult with very little passing, but Hornaday and Skinner ran side by side for the final seven laps. He also extended his series winning record to 44.

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Trucks: Braun on pole at ORP

Colin Braun backed up his fast speed in practice by winning the pole for Friday night's AAA Insurance 200 at O'Reilly Raceway Park. His pole speed was 109.965 mph.

Our View The top five hold no surprises with Mike Skinner, Stacy Compton, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Matt Crafton rounding out the list. It is incredibly hard to pass on this track, so these are your favorites.

Complete Results

Ganassi has eyes for Danica

At Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week, Chip Ganassi admitted that like many car owners, he has had discussions with Danica Patrick about joining his organization, according to FullThrottle.com.

Our View Ganassi offers Patrick a unique opportunity to cherry pick IRL and NASCAR races. While this would be a marketers dream, it would certainly slow any potential development she has as a stock car driver.

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Martin tops Indy practice 2

Mark Martin posted the fastest single lap of the second Friday practice session, posting a speed of 180.643.

Our View He took only five laps, so like Greg Biffle from the first practice session, he was almost certainly working on race trim.

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Trucks: Caitlin Shaw to race at ORP

Caitlin Shaw will become the latest female driver to run in a major NASCAR race at O'Reilly Raceway Park. She practiced 25th best in the No. 1 Toyota Tundra with a speed of 103.804—approximately five miles per hour slower than Colin Braun at 108.966.

Our View Here is look at her tire test earlier this year at Richmond:

IRL: Power tops first Edmonton practice

Will Power posted the fastest single lap of practice for the Rexall Edmonton Indy race in Canada, according to a tweet from @IndyCarPR.

Our View The remainder of the top five were Raphael Matos, Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves and the Canadian favorite Paul Tracy.

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Biffle fastest in Brickyard 400 practice 1

Greg Biffle posted the fasest single lap of practice in the first session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400 with a speed of 177.075 mph.

Our View With four practices this week, drivers worked on a combination of qualification and race trim. Biffle posted only seven laps, which suggest he mostly worked on qualification.

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Brickyard 400 Yahoo! preview

The Brickyard 400 may well be the second biggest race of the season. Who is favored to win? Check out this week's Yahoo! preview (.pdf).

Jr under the weather

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is fighting flulike symptoms this week, according to a tweet from @NASCARSays.

Our View This has been a terrible season for Earnhardt and even little things can combine for a terrible race. If you have been on the fence about him; this might encourage you to leave him parked.

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Ky Busch passes 10-lap mark

Eighteen minutes into the first practice session, Kyle Busch has recorded 12 laps.

Our View Why is that important? At this stage of last year's race, tires were popping in as few as 10 laps. Let's hope that means the issue is firmly put to be.

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Brickyard 400 Practice underway

It's been two weeks since cars were on the track, but practice is now underway at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Our View: Keep an eye out for practice times on Friday; qualification is not until Saturday.

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July 23, 2009

EGR to merge with Gibbs?

The latest rumor has Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing potentially merging with Joe Gibbs Racing, according to Jimmy Spencer.

Our View Among the EGR teams, only Juan Montoya has been productive this year, so the impact would be minimal on fantasy owners. However, it is unclear if this entity would be a new organization in NASCAR's eyes—and if not, that means only Montoya would survive. The economy continues to seriously impact the competitiveness of stock car's highest level.

Kenseth loses Dewalt

DeWalt Tools has announced that it will no longer be the primary sponsor for Matt Kenseth after this season, according to multiple sources.

Our View This is certainly bad news for Kenseth's "brand recognition," but with the organization required to reduce by one team next year and the various primary associates such as USG and Carhartt, it could be worse.

July 14, 2009

Truex docked for being too low

Martin Truex Jr. has been docked 25 owner and driver points for being too low following the LifeLock.com 400, according to autoracingsport.com.

Our View: The advantage didn't help much. Truex still finished only 16th last week at Chicagoland.

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Patrick also rumored to Stewart-Haas

It seems that everyone wants to jump on the Stewart-Haas bandwagon. In the same rumor that has Kevin Harvick asking to leave Richard Childress Racing (RCR), it was disclosed that Danica Patrick toured the No. 14 and 39 shops.

Our View: Now there would be one highly emotional team.While everyone is pleasantly surprised at the immediate gains made at Stewart-Haas, it's still hard to imagine they could expand to four teams and still perform this well. Of course, we were among those who expected Tony Stewart to struggle this year, so it's hard to make a firm, negative prediction.

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Harvick wants out of RCR

Kevin Harvick would like to leave Richard Childress Racing (RCR) one year earlier than his contract specifies, according to SportsIllustrated.com.

Our View: With the current struggles at RCR, this would seem a little like kicking a man while he's down, but Harvick has been the odd man out at the organization since Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer came on board. Harvick is eying a move to Stewart-Haas, where his controversial personality might be a better match.

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July 11, 2009

Martin goes from outhouse to penthouse at Chicagoland

Mark Martin entered the night outside the top 12 in points, but after dominating the LifeLock.com 400, he would currently be seeded first if the playoffs should start next week. Now that is a turnaround.

Our View: Of course, the Chase does not start next week. Martin needs to keep his consistency and strength for another few weeks if he wants to have a shot at the championship.

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IRL: Honda Toronto Indy lineup, with avg. finish

In an odd qualification session, the top six drivers all raced for different teams and the heavy hitters Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske placed only one of their drivers at the front of the grid. Of course, Dario Franchitti made the most of that by going out to set an early lap to beat. No one could and he will lead the field to green. This is the IRL's first race at Toronto's Exhibition Place street course, but Franchitti has six previous starts there in the CART series and he's always started up front.

Results, with average finish

StartDriverCART Avg. FinCART Avg. StartCART Attempts
1Dario Franchitti18.173.506
2Will Power4.009.502
3Graham Rahal11.0015.001
4Justin Wilson5.002.754
5Alex Tagliani6.888.638
6Mike Conway

7Robert Doornbos6.0012.001
8Scott Dixon5.009.502
9Raphael Matos

10Helio Castroneves18.009.504
11Ryan Briscoe

12Ryan Hunter-Reay8.3312.673
13Mario Moraes

14Tomas Scheckter

15Paul Tracy7.206.7315
16E J Viso

17Marco Andretti

18Danica Patrick

19Ed Carpenter

20Tony Kanaan16.507.004
21Dan Wheldon

22Hideki Mutoh

23Richard Antinucci

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F1: German GP lineup, with avg. finish

Mark Webber earned his first Formula 1 pole and will sit at the head of the field to start the German Grand Prix.

The dominant racers of the year aren't far behind, however. Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button start second and third.

One other qualification of note was Lewis Hamilton. After a couple of weeks of poor time trials, he finally advanced into the final session of knockout qualification and will start fifth. This week, he said the team was fixing their problems. It appears he may just have been right.

Results, with average finish

StartDriverAvg. FinAvg. StartAttempts
1Mark Webber11.8312.176
2Rubens Barrichello5.387.7713
3Jenson Button10.5011.508
4Sebastian Vettel

5Lewis Hamilton9.0010.001
6Heikki Kovalainen8.007.001
7Adrian Sutil19.0021.001
8Felipe Massa6.808.805
9Kimi Raikkonen11.434.007
10Nelson Piquet Jr

11Nick Heidfeld10.2510.388
12Fernando Alonso4.507.336
13Kazuki Nakajima

14Jarno Trulli12.307.2010
15Nico Rosberg13.5016.502
16Robert Kubica7.005.001
17Sebastian Buemi

18Giancarlo Fisichella11.0011.4212
19Timo Glock

20Sebastian Bourdais

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IRL: Franchitti takes Toronto pole

Dario Franchitti will lead the field to green on Sunday on the street course in Toronto.

Our View: That will be his third pole in the last five races this season and in both previous events, he finished in the top five with a best of second at Richmond.

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N'Wide: Dollar General 300 results, with avg. finish

You get the feeling that Joey Logano was playing with the field. In the first half of the race, he ran away from the field until NASCAR threw one of their legendary "debris" cautions—even though we never saw the debris. Kyle Busch beat him out of the pits and for a while it appeared the teenager would have some competition, but as the race started to wind down, the No. 20 charged to the front once more. Even on old tires in a 10-lap shootout versus nine other drivers on the lead lap with either two or four new tires, Logano not only held his advantage, he stretched it.

Busch held on for second, which was the fourth time this season that Joe Gibbs Racing finished 1-2. Logano has won three of these at Nashville, Kentucky and now Chicagoland, with Busch winning last week at New Hampshire. For the record, Roush Racing has also finished 1-2 on one occasion at Vegas, with Greg Biffle beating Carl Edwards to the line. In that race, Todd Braun finished third and fourth with Brian Vickers and Jason Leffler taking those spots respectively. Notably, those two drivers finished in the same position Friday night at Chicagoland.

Results, with average finish

FinishStartDriverLapsLaps LedStatusAvg Fin
13Joey Logano20096Running1.00
26Kyle Busch200
32Brian Vickers2002Running10.25
412Jason Leffler200
510Kevin Harvick200
61Carl Edwards20017Running9.60
717Greg Biffle2001Running19.63
813David Reutimann200
915Mike Bliss2001Running15.75
109Justin Allgaier200
1116Jeff Burton200
128Trevor Bayne199
1325Brendan Gaughan199
1411Paul Menard198
1526Scott Wimmer198
1621Steve Wallace198
1718Michael Annett198
1814Brad Keselowski197
1935Jason Keller197
2030Scott Lagasse Jr197
2122John Wes Townley197
224Ryan Newman1975Running23.50
2334Tony Raines196
2424Joe Nemechek196
2539Michael McDowell196
2629Shelby Howard196
2737Kenny Wallace196
2841Robert Richardson195
2923Danny O'Quinn Jr194
3027Dennis Setzer194
3138Eric McClure194
3240Matt Carter189
3342Mike Harmon185
345David Ragan107
3543Jeremy Clements92
3636Derrike Cope24
Start and Park36.33
3731Casey Atwood19
Start and Park23.00
3833Mike Wallace19
Start and Park22.00
3932Kevin Lepage15
Start and Park27.17
407Kelly Bires8
Start and Park25.33
4119Terry Cook6
Start and Park41.00
4220Kertus Davis2
Start and Park39.33
4328Mark Green1
Start and Park32.00
Johnny Chapman0
Did Not Qualify37.00
J C Stout0
Did Not Qualify
Stanton Barrett0
Did Not Qualify29.20
Kevin Hamlin0
Did Not Qualify
Morgan Shepherd0
Did Not Qualify42.00
Brian Keselowski0
Did Not Qualify

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July 10, 2009

N'Wide: Logano spanks field on old tires

#NASCAR tried to make it interesting with two debris cautions while Joey Logano was pulling away from the field, but even on old tires versus the field's new rubber, Logano was able to run away from everyone.

Our View: Oddly enough, we never got to see any of the "debris," but the fastest driver won.

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Martin wins Happy Hour

Mark Martin posted both the quickest single lap and the fastest average speed in Happy Hour with a 171.742 mph average during 26 laps.

Our View: We didn't value him for a top five at the start of the week, but with solid practices in both Friday sessions, we do now.

Martin wins Chicagoland practice 2

Mark Martin posted the quickest average speed during the first practice session on Friday. His 171.755 mph average during 31 laps topped teammate Jimmie Johnson and Juan Montoya.

Our View: Martin is good on this style of track. He could be a great differentiator for your lineup—with a potential for winning.

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Johnson posts single fast lap in Chicagoland practice 2

Rain held off long enough to allow NASCAR to get a 35 minute practice session in the books and Jimmie Johnson posted the fastest single lap of 177.200.

Our View: His average speed wasn't bad either. With a 171.700 during 23 circuits, he was second on this grid.

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July 9, 2009

Yahoo! Qualification Story – Chicagoland

For the first time in nearly a month, Mother Nature allowed NASCAR to get qualification in the books, and Red Bull Racing couldn't be happier. Check out this week's Yahoo! story (.pdf) of who's going to be hot at in the LifeLock.com 400.

All Red Bull front row

It will be an all Red Bull front row to start Saturday's race. Brian Vickers earned his fifth pole of the season with a lap of 184.162. His teammate Scott Speed is on the outside pole with a lap of 182.958.

Our View: Toyota has always done well on these similarly-configured, 1.5- and two-mile tracks. Vickers is a dark horse—and Speed just might be also.

F1: Hamilton close to figuring out problems

Even though this has been an abysmal season and Lewis Hamilton's hopes for a championship are gone, the team is close to determining what their problems have been all year, according to Autosport.com.

Our View: Statements like this from drivers are easy to make, but watch this team closely. If they can improve in the final races of the season, fantasy owners will not car if Hamilton can win the championship so long as he earns points in each individual race.

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Speed notably fast

Scott Speed was the fastest "go-or-go-home" driver in Chicagoland's first practice session by a wide margin. His lap of 180.060 was third best overall, which reinforces his teammate Brian Vickers's fastest lap of 180.234.

Our View: Toyota has been strong on this style of track, so while Speed lacks the experience and history to make him even a dark horse, fantasy owners should watch him closely all weekend and take notes. He could have a strong run.

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Complete Results

Bean, Raines, Wallace slowest "go-or-go-homers"

Dexter Bean (172.678), Tony Raines (174.109) and Mike Wallace (175.154) were the three slowest "go-or-go-home" drivers and are the most likely to miss the show.

Our View: Wallace and Raines are running "start and park" car, so it's hard to muster much sympathy for them, but it would be nice to see Bean pick up the pace and make the show.

Of course, that is practically impossible since he needs to pick up more than three miles per hour.

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Complete Results

Vickers fastest in Chicagoland practice 1

Brian Vickers posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session at Chicagoland, posting a speed of 180.234 mph.

Our View: This practice is typically used to work on qualification trim. If he can back it up on Thursday evening, he could win his fifth pole of the season.

His previous four have come at Auto Club, Richmond, Michigan and Infineon.

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Complete Results

Gilliland gets back out in Chicagoland practice 1

David Gilliland only got a lap or two at the end of the first practice session, but at least the team got back on course.

Our View: That could mean the difference between making the show and going home. His speed of 175.439 was only 42nd best, but it was better than three of the other "go-or-go-homers," and that is his only goal for

Three drivers will fail to qualify this week.

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N'Wide: Logano leads Chicagoland practice 1

Joey Logano posted the fastest single lap in the first Nationwide Series practice, with a speed of 173.947 mph.

Our View: This session was dominated by Claim Jumpers, but Nationwide Regulars including Steve Wallace in fourth and Justin Allgaier in fifth.

Complete Results

Busch thinks Stewart dumped him at Daytona

Tony Stewart called Kyle Busch this week and asked about his health. That was nice, Busch say, but he still lays the responsibility of the crash on Stewart's shoulders according to multiple reports from the track.

Of course, he's pretty much alone in that assessment. Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne said in their press conferences that the move was not Stewart's responsibility.

Our View: When Busch gets overly emotional, he's prone to making mistakes. If he truly harbors hard feelings, he might be best left on the sidelines for a week or two.

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Gilliland blows in practice 1

David Gilliland blew an engine in the first practice session at the 30 minute mark. He will have to change the powerplant and start at the back of the grid—if he qualifies.

Our View: As one of the "go-or-go-home" drivers, he is in serious jeopardy of missing the race, however. His first laps with this engine could very well be in time trials later on Thursday.

F1: Button cannot slow down

Despite a commanding lead in the points, Jenson Button says he cannot afford to ease off, according to Autosports.com.

Our View: Momentum can be gained and lost in an instant. In the British Grand Prix, Button was caught in traffic and could never find the front of the field. Still, Formula 1 is much more prone to streaks—especially in terms of podium finishes—than any other series.

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IRL: Moraes best surprise, Kanaan biggest disappointment

Mario Moraes has been the biggest surprise and Tony Kanaan has been the biggest disappointment so far this year, according to a survey conducted by IndyCar.com. Check out all the categories.

Our View: One of the best ways to determine a drivers strength is to listen to his opponents.

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F1: FOTA still considering breakaway series

The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) is still considering the possibility of a breakaway series after they were told they could not have any input on future rules, according to Autosport.com.

Our View: The rift between teams and the sanctioning body continues to be wide. It is unlikely that enough support exists to make two sanctions successful. Formula 1 really should take notice of the open wheel battle in the US that left both CART and IRL battered and bruised.

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July 8, 2009

Top-10 laps prove un-predictive

Running at the front of the pack is supposed to be a good thing, and as one part of the formula that accounts for our Fantasy Power Ranking, it is typically a good predictor. Unfortunately, it falls a little short on the six "cookie-cutter" tracks of Atlanta Motor Speedway, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway.

In the last five years, Tony Stewart has spent more time in the top 10 than any other driver. With 1,079 laps at the front of the pack, he's circled the track with the leaders more than 80 percent of the time and yet his average finish of 14.27 during the past five years on the "cookie-cutter" tracks is only seventh best.

To make this even more curious, he has not been plagued with too much bad luck. In the 44 races that have occurred since this part of the schedule in 2004, Stewart has only failed to finish four races. He was slowed by crash damage on two other occasions, but for the most part, he's been running at the end of the day. His old Joe Gibbs Racing team seemed to simply miss the setup in the closing laps.

On the other hand, Jimmie Johnson has the second most laps in the top 10 during the last five rolling years and he's been able to convert those into top-10 finishes. With 1,062 laps in the top 10, he's spent 79 percent of his time with the leaders on the six "cookie-cutter" tracks.

Chad Knaus has been able to help him close the deal, however, and he's earned an average finish of 8.7 in the last five years—nearly five positions better than his closest competitor. Johnson also has four DNFs during that time frame, but he's earned 25 top-fives and 31 top-10s in those 44 races compared to only 23 top-10s for Stewart.

The second-most productive driver in terms of their five-year average finish is Jeff Burton with a 13.23. Notably, he has scored the exact same number of top-10 finishes in the last year as Stewart with 23. The key to his success, however, seems to be consistency. Even though he's been significantly off the pace in three of the last 44 "cookie-cutter" races, he hasn't recorded a single DNF.

Kyle Busch is another great example of how strength and success are not always the same thing. This all or nothing driver has spent the majority of his time at the front of the pack. He was not yet competing in July 2004 and so has run in one less race during the past five years than his competitors. That means that his 855 laps spent in the top 10 is 80 percent of his personal total.

Busch's "hell for leather" style of racing, however, has seen him hit the showers early four times because of crash damage and once for a broken timing chain. On two other occasions, he was significantly slowed by crash damage and that has left him with only the 12th-best five-year average finish of 16.49.

For a fantasy owner that means that even though it's great when your driver dominates a race, it's not the only factor that goes into winning. Ultimately only the finishing position counts for points, so take drivers with a long history of success this week instead of those who have impressed you with their strength.

Laps in the top 10, sorted by five-year average finish

Laps' RankDriverTop-10 lapsPossible%5 Yr Avg.
2Jimmie Johnson 1,0621,33879%8.70
10Jeff Burton 4201,33831%13.23
4Matt Kenseth 9661,33872%13.43
14Carl Edwards 3801,07135%13.56
6Jeff Gordon 7231,33854%14.00
1Tony Stewart 1,0791,33881%14.27
9Greg Biffle 5631,33842%14.52
12Mark Martin 3801,33828%15.16
20Clint Bowyer15980420%15.55
23Denny Hamlin14680418%15.86
8Dale Earnhardt Jr5771,33843%15.91
5Kyle Busch8551,07180%16.49
3Kevin Harvick 1,0401,33878%17.50
11Casey Mears 4071,33830%17.73
24Jamie McMurray 1191,3389%19.18
13Kurt Busch 3801,33828%19.45
19Kasey Kahne 2261,33817%19.91
18Martin Truex Jr28880436%20.91
7Brian Vickers 5851,07155%21.32
15Ryan Newman3391,33825%21.98
22Bobby Labonte 1531,33811%22.07
16Elliott Sadler 2971,33822%22.89
34Juan Montoya25340%23.36
29David Stremme308044%23.83
21David Ragan15753429%24.65
17Reed Sorenson28980436%25.67
26Joe Nemechek 951,3387%26.30
39David Gilliland05340%27.04
30Dave Blaney 211,3382%27.38
38Paul Menard05340%27.38
37David Reutimann05340%27.64
27Robby Gordon 431,3383%27.84
40Sam Hornish Jr02670%28.60
31Michael Waltrip 161,3381%29.36
28Mike Bliss 325346%29.50
25A J Allmendinger11826744%31.10
35Bill Elliott08040%31.20
36Tony Raines05370%31.41
33John Andretti 55341%33.89
32Mike Wallace 62672%35.77

Ganassi in no hurry to replace Truex

Chip Ganassi is in no hurry to replace Martin Truex Jr. now that he's been signed by MWR, according to Autosport.com. Ganassi said, "Martin made a business decision that he felt was in his best interest and we can't fault him for that."

Our View: The comment sounds eerily similar to ones he used with Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears left the Ganassi fold. One has to wonder how long this owner can keep losing talent without being seen only as a feeder for the superteams instead of a contender himself.

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July 7, 2009

IRL: Camping World Grand Prix at the Glen Results, with avg. finish

Justin Wilson gave car owner Dale Coyne his first victory in open wheel racing and he ran away from some heavy hitters in doing so. Roger Penske's Ryan Briscoe was bidding for sole possession of the honor of being the winningest driver, but he was busy trying to keep Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon and his Penske teammate Helio Castroneves at bay.

Danica Patrick is not known as a particularly strong road racer and she didn't disappoint that prediction. She finished 11th, which snapped a seven-race streak of top-10s.

Results, with average finish

FinishStartDriverLapsStatusAvg Fin
12Justin Wilson60Running13.00
21Ryan Briscoe60Running5.67
33Scott Dixon60Running3.40
414Helio Castroneves60Running11.40
59Marco Andretti60Running7.75
67Mike Conway60Running6.00
711E J Viso60Running8.50
810Tony Kanaan60Running5.60
917Robert Doornbos60Running9.00
1012Dan Wheldon60Running12.20
118Danica Patrick60Running12.00
1218Raphael Matos60Running12.00
135Graham Rahal60Running10.50
144Mario Moraes60Running10.50
156Dario Franchitti59Running8.75
1621Ed Carpenter59Running13.00
1719Milka Duno58Running18.50
1813Hideki Mutoh51Accident13.50
1920Richard Antinucci47Running19.00
2015Paul Tracy29Accident20.00
2116Ryan Hunter-Reay0Accident11.00

More Indy Racing League Newsbreakers

Chicagoland Yahoo! preview

This is the only "cookie-cutter" race in 12 events during the last spring and summer. That's good news for fans of diversity, but it's also good news for fantasy owners. A full 25 percent of the races are run on this style track, which gives you a lot of data to mine. Check out this week's Yahoo! Fantasy Preview (.pdf) for a sneak peak at who'll be strong.

It's official: Truex will race for MWR in 2010

One of the worst kept secrets of the silly season was made official on Tuesday. Martin Truex Jr. will join Michael Waltrip Racing in 2010 and race the No. 56 with sponsorship from NAPA, according to a tweet from the press conference by @DustinLong.

Our View: MWR has been steadily improving all year with Marcos Ambrose and David Reutimann in the second and third cars, but Michael Waltrip himself has struggled. This move will only enhance their value to fantasy owners next year, as Waltrip will run a limited schedule in a fourth car.

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Daytona post-race inspection complete

According to a tweet from @NASCARSays, post-race engine inspection is complete and there were no issues.

Our View: While penalties don't affect most fantasy games, the residual effect can be tough on a team, so this is information you want to consider.

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July 6, 2009

Coke Zero 400 Results with avg. finish

The debut of double-file restarts on a restrictor-plate superspeedway was dramatic. For the most part, it added action to the race without significantly altering the results, the same as with the first road course race at Infineon Raceway. Still, with a victory on the line, the drivers found a way to get into trouble.

With a finish eerily similar to Talladega's Aaron's 499, one driver tried to block on the way to the checkered flag and another was not intimidated. Kyle Busch ran a cautious race until the end, but no one can play it safe with the checkered flag in the air. So, he passed Tony Stewart on the white flag lap and tried to make his Toyota as wide as possible on the front stretch. Clipping Stewart's nose and spinning into the wall, he experienced one of the more dramatic crashes his season, but Busch managed to skid past the finish line. The ensuing pileup was impressive, but since most of the contact occurred after the finish line, the results were largely unaffected by the last-lap catastrophe.

Stewart won his second race of the season and now has a six-race streak of finishes seventh or better. He's a place-and-hold driver until further notice.

Jimmie Johnson was second, which was a bit of a surprise given his bad luck on plate tracks recently and the rest of the top five went to drivers who needed strong runs to reverse their fortune as well. Denny Hamlin was third, Carl Edwards finished fourth and Kurt Busch came home fifth.

Marcos Ambrose in sixth and Juan Montoya in ninth were the best dark horses of the weekend, and both of them should be able to carry that momentum on to Chicago next week.

Results with average finish

FinishStartDriverLapsLaps LedStatusAvg. Fin
11Tony Stewart16086Running16.50
23Jimmie Johnson160
36Denny Hamlin16063Running23.75
45Carl Edwards160
54Kurt Busch1601Running17.17
618Marcos Ambrose160
717Brian Vickers160
Running w/ crash damage20.09
810Matt Kenseth1603Running17.90
912Juan Montoya160
1023Elliott Sadler160
1122Jamie McMurray160
Running w/ crash damage25.57
1243Regan Smith160
1331David Ragan160
148Kyle Busch1601Running18.00
1513Kasey Kahne160
Running w/ crash damage17.83
1616Jeff Burton1602Running17.75
1730A J Allmendinger160
189Greg Biffle160
1921Joey Logano160
207Ryan Newman1601Running w/ crash damage20.94
2128Bobby Labonte160
2234Robby Gordon1601Running20.30
2333Paul Menard160
2436Brad Keselowski160
Running w/ crash damage24.00
2524Martin Truex Jr160
2627Kevin Harvick160
Running w/ crash damage15.71
2735John Andretti1601Running27.35
282Jeff Gordon1601Running w/ crash damage15.50
2915Clint Bowyer159
Running w/ crash damage13.38
3042Tony Raines158
3137Scott Speed152
3225Sam Hornish Jr152
3326Reed Sorenson146
Running w/ crash damage23.38
3420Casey Mears144
3532David Stremme129
Running w/ crash damage24.17
3614David Reutimann127
Running w/ crash damage25.50
3729Michael Waltrip124
Running w/ crash damage20.80
3811Mark Martin79
3919Dale Earnhardt Jr76
4038David Gilliland76
4139Joe Nemechek25
Start and Park26.13
4241Patrick Carpentier18
Start and Park28.00
4340Dave Blaney2
Start and Park26.47

More Cup Series Newsbreakers

July 5, 2009

N'Wide: Subway Jalapeno 250 results, with avg. finish

An incredibly frustrating season came to an end Friday night when Clint Bowyer won the Subway Jalapeno 250 after earning the pole earlier that day.

This was the debut of double-file restarts in the Nationwide Series and it worked as most would have predicted. A green-white-checkered finish was made even more dramatic by the new procedure and it kept the result in question. With the race on the line and the pack bunched up, however, the second series drivers were unable to keep it clean all the way to the checkered flag and a frozen field left the top-five packed with Cup Regulars.

Kyle Busch finished second, Carl Edwards was third, Joey Logano credited in fourth and Kasey Kahne finished fifth. As usual, Brad Keselowski was the best of the Nationwide Regulars and managed a sixth.

Results, with average finish

FinishStartDriverLapsLaps LedStatusAvg Fin
11Clint Bowyer10248Running6.80
219Kyle Busch1022Running15.25
311Carl Edwards102
423Joey Logano102
515Kasey Kahne102
64Brad Keselowski102
730Brian Vickers102
831Justin Allgaier102
92David Ragan1027Running18.67
103Kevin Harvick102
1134Michael Waltrip1024Running21.13
1226Steve Wallace102
1339Michael McDowell102
146Matt Kenseth10224Running5.91
1537Matt Carter102
1636Kenny Wallace1021Running15.74
1741Brendan Gaughan102
1838Scott Lagasse Jr102
1924Jason Leffler102
2012Bobby Gerhart102
2142Scott Wimmer102
2216Jason Keller102
2328Tony Raines1021Running24.11
2414Joe Nemechek102
2543Johnny Borneman III101
2632Robert Richardson101
275David Gilliland101
2833Eric McClure1011Running32.71
2929Mike Bliss100
3040Danny O'Quinn Jr99
3120Mike Harmon97
3210Morgan Shepherd95
3318Kertus Davis94
3413Jeff Green94
359Michael Annett84
3622John Wes Townley811Running28.50
3735Chase Austin761Accident37.00
388Kerry Earnhardt76
3921Mark Green62
407Dale Earnhardt Jr58
4127Patrick Sheltra57
4217Donnie Neuenberger 9
4325Johnny Chapman2
Terry Cook0
Brian Keselowski0
Mike Wallace0

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July 4, 2009

Stewart wins a wild one at Daytona

Tony Stewart refused to be blocked by Kyle Busch on the run to the checkers and won the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.

Our View: You knew the finish would be wild with only a handful of laps at the end and double file restarts. Fans weren't disappointed.

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Newman fixes broken shock mount

The No. 39 team found and repaired a broken shock mount on Ryan Newman's car, according to a television report. That fixed a problem they have been struggling with all week.

Our View: This should send Newman to the back of the grid to start, but he is a better value now with his suspension intact.

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Biffle, Hornish will have to go to the back

Greg Biffle and Sam Hornish Jr. will have to go to the back of the grid, according to NASCAR.com, because their backup cars did not turn any laps in practice or qualification.

Our View: Just another casualty of the qualification rain-out. Starting position is not overly important at Daytona, however.

More Cup Series Newsbreakers

July 3, 2009

N'Wide: Bowyer wins Coke Zero 400

In the debut of the Nationwide series double file restarts, fans got their money's worth. Clint Bowyer held off Carl Edwards on a green-white-checkered finish to win his first race at Daytona.

Our View: Kyle Busch finished second, but NASCAR will have to determine the remainder of the field since an accident at the white flag caused this race to ultimately end under caution.

Yahoo! Qualification Story – Daytona

Rain may have canceled qualification, but that doesn't mean we don't have an opinion about the lineup. Check out this week's Yahoo! story (.pdf) of who's going to be hot at in the Coke Zero 400.

Daytona qualification canceled

For the second week in a row and the fourth time this year, weather forced the cancelation of qualification. The field will be set by the rule book, which means the top-12 drivers in the standings will all start up front.

Our View: Mother Nature must be a Tony Stewart fan. It really doesn't matter on a plate track, however. Drivers can win from anywhere.

More Cup Series Newsbreakers

Reutimann changes engines

David Reutimann's No. 00 has an engine problem, according to a tweet from @mw55, and will have to change it. That will send him to the back of the grid, no matter where he qualifies.

Our View: Front or back doesn't make much difference at Daytona. Anyone can win from anywhere, but Reutimann's record on this track is not stellar. Save him for another week.

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July 2, 2009

Biffle, Hornish to backups at Daytona

Following a crash in Happy Hour, both Greg Biffle and Sam Hornish Jr. will have to roll out backup cars.

Our View: Biffle might have the highest hurdle to clear; his backup is a brand new car that will have only two qualification laps under its hood before the race begins.

More Cup Series Newsbreakers

Reutimann fastest in Happy Hour

David Reutimann posted the fastest lap in Happy Hour, with a speed of 192.135.

Our View: Reutimann should have the horsepower and the setup to run up front, but so far he's been unsuccessful on the plate tracks. In 10 previous attempts, he's failed to crack the top 10 a single time.

Ragan posts single fast lap in Daytona afternoon practice

David Ragan posted the single fastest lap in Daytona's first practice session with a speed of 190.714 mph.

Our View: Of course all that means is that he was in a fast draft at the time, but one would prefer to at the top of the grid than at the bottom.

July 1, 2009

Week 27 Unified Power Rankings

Jenson Button and Tony Stewart kept their positions atop the Unified Power Rankings. Button's number one spot is unchanged because Formula 1 had the week off, but Stewart only enhanced his second-place position with a solid fifth-place finish at New Hampshire—his fifth consecutive result of seventh or better. These two drivers have redefined the concept of place-and-hold.

Mark Webber also jumped up the grid, improving his rank from 10th to third. How is that possible with the series going idle? The Power Ranking formula looks at the last 90 days for a snapshot of how drivers are performing right now, and that means that Webber's 12th-place finish in the ING Australian Grand Prix is no longer held against him. Since that race, he has posted five top-fives in seven races—including three runner-up results.

Dario Franchitti also climbed the charts from eighth to fourth on the strength of his solid second-place run on the short track in Richmond. In his last four Indy short track starts, that's his worst result after winning the other three. Chip Ganassi fans should be quite proud of the organization; last week they finished 1-2, and Scott Dixon—the winner of the SunTrust Indy Challenge—settled in right behind Franchitti in fifth.

It was a great weekend for Brad Keselowski. He competed in the Nationwide and Cup series and earned accolades in both. A third-place finish in the Camping World RV Sales 200 was his fifth consecutive top-five, which easily makes him the best Nationwide Regular in the game. He also finished sixth in Cup competition and while that may have been aided by rain, the points pay the same to fantasy owners.

Ron Hornaday Jr. is slowly making his way back up the grid. With back-to-back victories at Milwaukee and Memphis, he's improved 10 positions and lands 32nd on our chart. That may not seem like much, but only two weeks ago he was in danger of falling out of the top 50. Better still, he is in striking distance of the highest ranked Camping World Truck Series driver—Matt Crafton. In the last three months, Crafton has finished worse than seventh only once, and consistency is often more important than raw strength in fantasy games.

Unified Power Rankings
Top 50

RankDriverPointsLast week+/-
1Jenson Button106.7110
2Tony Stewart99.6220
3Mark Webber93.14107
4Dario Franchitti92.6384
5Scott Dixon88.13127
6Kurt Busch86.75137
7Brad Keselowski86.39147
8Rubens Barrichello86.2991
9Jimmie Johnson86.257-2
10Erik Darnell84.83166
11Joey Logano83.362716
12Helio Castroneves82.573-9
13Ryan Briscoe82.504-9
14Greg Biffle82.50228
15Kyle Busch82.44183
16Jeff Gordon82.25171
17Mark Martin82.155-12
18Jason Leffler81.776-12
19Danica Patrick81.7515-4
20Sebastian Vettel81.433212
21Carl Edwards80.96210
22Ryan Newman80.1311-11
23Matt Kenseth79.25252
24Juan Montoya78.17262
25Dan Wheldon78.0024-1
26Denny Hamlin77.0819-7
27Matt Crafton76.8620-7
28Kasey Kahne74.92313
29Timo Glock74.4323-6
30Nico Rosberg73.29300
31Stephen Leicht73.00
32Ron Hornaday Jr72.38408
33Jeff Burton70.8828-5
34Steve Wallace70.33373
35David Reutimann70.2933-2
36Brian Vickers69.18426
37Felipe Massa68.866326
38Marco Andretti68.3834-4
39Justin Allgaier68.0036-3
40Jason Keller67.9238-2
41Tayler Malsam67.71410
42Tony Kanaan67.6335-7
43Fernando Alonso67.0029-14
44Sam Hornish Jr67.00528
45Kimi Raikkonen66.715712
46Johnny Sauter66.575913
47Jamie McMurray66.5044-3
48Colin Braun65.717628
49Tomas Scheckter65.40
50Dale Earnhardt Jr65.1339-11

Previous Unified Power Rankings:

Week 26
Week 25
Week 24
Week 23
Week 22
Week 21
Week 20