May 8, 2009

F1: Williams goes to Hell

Williams Racing will have additional backing from Hell Energy Drinks, according to a team press release. This Hungarian manufacturer has aspirations of becoming the No. 2 brand behind Red Bull.

Our View: It's great to see new "sponsors" in the sport because they bring a new vibe to the series.

Nationwide regulars run strong at Darlington

A Cup veteran, Matt Kenseth may have won the Diamond Hill Plywood 200, but Nationwide Regulars acquitted themselves well. Jason Leffler finished second, rookie Erik Darnell was fourth, rookie Justin Allgaier was fifth, Mike Bliss was seventh and Scott Wimmer came home in 10th.

Our View: It's been quite some time before three Nationwide Regulars finished in the top five and since these drivers command a lower salary cap, fantasy owners got a lot of bang for their buck.

Nationwide: Kenseth wins Darlington

Kyle Busch dominated the Diamond Hill Plywood 200, but a cut tire on the final caution flag handed the victory to Matt Kenseth. It was his 25th win in the series.

Our View: With a handful of laps remaining, Kenseth was catching Busch, but the fans were denied a great battle by Busch's misfortune.

F1: Ferrari Spanish GP preview

The season may already have four races under its belt, but the emotional start to the year happens when the series runs its first European race, according to a press release from Ferrari.

Our View: Ferrari will be challenged with a new chassis and aero-package this week and their thoughts about how this will impact Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa can be found in this release.

Yahoo! qualification story

After two wild practice sessions and an equally dramatic time in qualification, it's hard to find a favorite this week. Here are our best guesses: check out this week's Yahoo! qualification story (.pdf).

Matt Kenseth may be the only truly happy driver on Friday night; he set a new track record and sits on the pole.

Kenseth breaks track record, on Darlington pole

Matt Kenseth earned the Darlington in fine fashion. He eclipsed Greg Biffle's mark of 179.442 set last year and earned a rare pole.

Our View: Kenseth is not known as a strong qualifier, but when he starts up front, he is hard to beat. With a smooth driving style, he has to be considered one of this week's favorites.

F1: Massa loves Spain

Felipe Massa told press this week: "in terms of the car, we have made a good improvement since the last race, but you have to remember that the other teams are not sleeping and they have also been working a lot to improve their own position," according to a team press release.

Our View: In six previous starts on the Circuit de Catalunya, Massa has amassed an average finish of 5.3 in six starts. He also has a victory on the Valencia Street Circuit, which makes him a master of Spain.

Happy Hour stripes

Here is a partial list of the cars that received stripes in Darlington's Happy Hour:

In Happy Hour:

Sam Hornish Jr. scraped the wall and spun
David Stremme slammed the wall; into backup
Denny Hamlin got a light stripe
Max Papis striped his car
Greg Biffle striped his car
A.J. Allmendinger striped his car
Scott Speed got another stripe
Reed Sorenson changed an engine
Bobby Labonte striped his car
Marcos Ambrose big stripe (backup?)

Martin quickest in Darlington Happy Hour

Mark Martin posted the quickest average speed in Happy Hour practice, with a speed of 176.310 mph during a short seven lap stint.

Our View: Martin is usually one of the drivers who spends a lot of time on track, but with approximately 20 incidents in both sessions, he can be forgiven for not spending a lot of time on track Friday.

F1: Drivers side with Ferrari

Max Mosley may believe Formula 1 can survive without Ferrari, but most of the drivers in the sport do not agree, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Our View: Drivers are concerned that politics will damage the sport, but that has never kept this fiery sanction from following their own council. “Without Ferrari it’s not Formula One anymore,” Italian driver Giancarlo Fisichella said Thursday ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Gordon sets fastest lap in Happy Hour

Jeff Gordon posted the single fastest lap in Happy Hour practice, with a speed of 177.633 mph.

Our View: If he can back that up in qualification (assuming that session is not rained out), this could be his first Darlington pole since the 2000 400. He has a total of two poles.

IRL: Doornbos crashes in practice

Robert Doornbos made contact with the turn two wall shortly before 1 pm during Friday's practice session at Indy.

Our View: With the incredible speeds these cars are turning, it takes a long time to get comfortable on the rectangular track.

Allmendinger brings out caution

We've stopped blogging each time a car received a Darlington stripe (partly because the frequency of posting about these incidents has Blogger thinking I'm a spammer), but A.J. Allmendinger did enough damage to bring out a caution flag at the 32 minute mark.

Our View: The durability of this car makes it hard to wave a red flag over every effected driver. Allmendinger, however, does not have a very good Darlington record, so he should be avoided on Saturday.

Practice 1 stripes

Here is a partial list of the cars that received stripes in Darlington's first practice session:

In Practice 1:
Kurt Busch scrapped the wall and spun.
Tony Stewart striped his car
Jeremy Mayfield striped his car
Brad Keselowski striped his car
Scott Speed crashed his primary and then striped the backup
Dave Blaney spun
David Reutimann crashed and rolled out a backup
Kasey Kahne striped his car
Sam Hornish Jr. striped his car

Vickers posts single fast lap

Brian Vickers posted the single fastest lap in Darlington's Practice 1, with a speed of 174.167 mph, which makes him a frontrunner to earn his third pole of the season.

Our View: His average speed of 165.340 during 42 laps, however, was well down the grid and he will need to pick up the pace in Happy Hour if he wants to be considered a favorite for the race.

Biffle wins Practice 1

Greg Biffle posted the quickest average speed at Darlington, with a 171.756 mph during 41 laps.

Our View: Biffle's single fastest lap of 174.117 was second on that grid, which gives him a great combination of speed and consistency. He's won back-to-back races in 2005/2006 and this makes him a favorite to take another.

F1: Spanish Grand Prix quotes has posted quotes pertaining to the Spanish Grand Prix on their site.

Our View: Fantasy owners always want to take drivers' comments about their car with a grain of salt because no one wants to speak ill of their ride, but this can be an interesting way to take their temperature.

Reutimann destroys car

David Reutimann destroyed his car at Darlington in Practice 1 at the one hour, 17 minute mark.

Our View: He will join Scott Speed in rolling out a backup car. There is simply no way to make a comfortable lap on this track.

Speed crashes in Practice 1

Scott Speed became the first driver to sustain significant damage at Darlington in the first practice session. He not only "striped" his car, he looped and crashed. Speed will have to roll out a backup car.

Our View: This is an even bigger issue for Speed since he is one of the drivers required to qualify on time. As a rookie, however, Speed would not be a great value even if he makes the show.

Mayfield also crashes

Add Jeremy Mayfield to the list of drivers in the wall at Darlington in the first practice session. He slapped the wall moments after Tony Stewart.

Our View: Mayfield was not expected to run well, however, so this will not impact fantasy owners very much.

Stewart flattens right side in Practice 1

Moments after the track went back to green following Kurt Busch's spin, Tony Stewart slipped into the wall in turn four and flattened the side of his Chevrolet.

Our View: Just in case you thought the "Lady in Black" had a better attitude since it was repaved, she's just as cantankerous.

Busch off to an exiting start in Darlington practice

Kurt Busch got the first practice session off to an exiting start. He spun on the backstretch in the first minutes of the session, but made only slight contact with the wall.

Our View: Busch has run strong here in the past, but this just proves how difficult this track is to navigate.

IRL: Day 1 practice times

Marco Andretti may have posted the fastest lap (at 225.478 mph) in the first day of practice, but where did everyone else settle in? Check out the full practice grid at

Our View: Notably, Robert Doornbos was the fastest rookie with a seventh-best speed of 223.593 mph and Danica Patrick was the fastest female driver at 223.253 mph. She settled into eighth on the grid.

Nationwide: Logano's turn

Joe Gibbs Racing is giving Joey Logano a great chance to win the Nationwide Darlington race, according to He will campaign a car that has won the last three editions of this race.

Our View: Denny Hamlin took the No. 20 to victory lane in 2006/2007; Tony Stewart won in that same car last year. However, Logano will attempt to keep that streak alive in his first-ever attempt on the "Track Too Tough to Tame."

F1: Raikkonen in new chassis

Kimi Raikkonen will race a lighter Ferrari in the Spanish Grand Prix, according to

Our View: The lighter car will allow him to make better use of the KERS system. His teammate Felipe Massa has not struggled nearly as much in his heavier version. While Raikkonen hasn't been all that strong this year, he has steadily improved from 15th to sixth in four races.

Kurt Busch

What a difference a year makes. Last year, in the first 10 races of the season, Busch managed only an average finish of 23.6. This year, he's more than doubled his performance, with an average finish of 9.7 and is battling for the point lead. It may be one of the most incredible turnarounds in recent memory, and it has made him one of the top fantasy choices nearly everywhere.

Better still, with a worst finish of 23rd and only two finishes outside the top 15 in the first 10 events, the down side of starting him has been practically non-existent, which makes him an even better value for your roster. Given the struggles he experienced in 2008, however, there is no guarantee that he will keep his momentum alive all season, so now is the time to ride this dark horse pony until he goes lame.

Updated: 5/7/2009

TrackAvg. FinAvg. StartAttempts


Talladega Superspeedway12.1223.2917
Phoenix International Raceway12.4615.0014
Auto Club Speedway12.9312.0014
Bristol Motor Speedway14.1820.4717
Homestead - Miami Speedway - old14.3314.333
Texas Motor Speedway14.7718.2313
New Hampshire Motor Speedway15.5015.3116
Pocono Raceway15.6913.9416
Chicagoland Speedway17.2522.138
Darlington Raceway17.5811.5012
North Carolina Speedway17.6316.388
Daytona International Speedway17.8823.2917
Indianapolis Motor Speedway18.0018.258
Atlanta Motor Speedway18.5916.9417
Richmond International Raceway18.7120.4717
Infineon Raceway19.139.388
Michigan International Speedway20.1313.5016
Las Vegas Motor Speedway20.445.679
Kansas Speedway20.7519.508
Lowes Motor Speedway20.8822.6517
Watkins Glen International21.3811.258
Dover Downs International21.4110.4717
Martinsville Speedway21.7818.7218
Homestead - Miami Speedway Progressive25.8017.405


Watkins Glen International2.001.002
Dover Downs International3.0032.001
Las Vegas Motor Speedway4.004.001
Phoenix International Raceway4.003.001
Texas Motor Speedway4.5012.502
Chicagoland Speedway6.003.001
Michigan International Speedway21.006.001
Lowes Motor Speedway21.506.002


Auto Club Speedway1.001.001
Dover Downs International1.001.001
Milwaukee Mile1.001.001
New Hampshire International Speedway1.005.001
Daytona International Speedway2.0034.001
Mesa Marin Raceway2.006.001
Michigan International Speedway2.004.001
Pikes Peak International Raceway2.007.001
Watkins Glen International2.007.001
Richmond International Raceway3.001.001
Phoenix International Raceway4.006.001
Texas Motor Speedway4.504.502
Evergreen Speedway5.003.001
O'Reilly Raceway Park6.003.001
Homestead - Miami Speedway - old9.0017.001
Portland International Speedway11.002.001
Nashville Speedway USA12.0012.001
Memphis Motorsports Park13.0013.001
Nazareth Speedway14.0015.001
Chicago Motor Speedway19.003.001
Gateway International Raceway21.0017.001
Martinsville Speedway23.0022.001
Kentucky Speedway29.0036.001

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