May 20, 2009

N'Wide: McDowell gets three more races

Michael McDowell and JTG Daugherty Racing has received funding for three more races in the No. 47 car, according to

Our View: McDowell has posted two Nationwide top-10s and several top-20s, so if you caught him on the right week, he's produced for you. Unfortunately, he's been hard to handicap.

Mears wants to return to Lowe's victory lane

Two years after Casey Mears earned a surprising win at Lowe's in the 2007 Coke 600, he would like to contend for another victory, according to

Our View: Hope springs eternal, but that victory is his only top-10 in the last three years at Lowe's and during that span his average finish is only slightly better than 20th.

Petty wants more consistency

Richard Petty wants more consistency from all four of his drivers, according to “They really were a two-car team, and we brought two cars in and kind of got us behind, I think, on some of the stuff,” Petty said. “Hopefully, we’re going to get it together. If it don’t, we'll keep working until we do."

Our View: We all want that Richard… we all do.

IRL: Tracy gets two more races

It's official. According to, Paul Tracy will run a KV Technology car in the two Canadian IRL races at Toronto and Edmonton.

Our View: In these one-off rides, Tracy could be one of the best values in the game. Put a note in your calendar.

Mayfield retains counsel

According to, Jeremy Mayfield has retained legal counsel to represent him and help clear his name after being suspended by NASCAR for violating their substance abuse policy.

Our View: His lawyer Bill Diehl represented Elliott Sadler earlier this year while he was fighting Richard Petty Motorsports for wrongful termination. This could be a long, drawn out process.

IRL: Fastest rookie Matos gains confidence

Raphael Matos has gained confidence with his qualification run that places him 12th on the grid for his first career Indy 500, according to

"It was a big accomplishment for team and for myself," said Matos about setting the fastest time among rookies. "Being the fastest rookie means a lot to me and being the quickest of the second day means a lot to me as well. It gave me a lot of confidence, which allowed me to work on race setup. The car ran flawless all month and we're proud to be here today.

Our View: The Indy 500 starts 33 cars, which is the IRL's biggest field of the year, but that is still relatively small and allows for some great dark horses. Matos could be one of these.

Long Day's Journey into Night

Event Day Games Preview: The Coca-Cola 600 is a long day's journey into night.

By a quirk of the schedule, NASCAR runs two of their toughest races back-to-back. Two weeks ago, points were on the line at the "Track Too Tough to Tame." This week, NASCAR adds 100 miles to a typical race and runs the longest event of the year—the Coca-Cola 600. Those extra trips around the track are no small factor as engines are already stretched to their breaking point during a 500-miler.

Two weeks ago at Darlington, some surprising faces graced the top 10 and that could happen again at Lowe's. Rookies are not supposed to fare well on that tough old track, but Brad Keselowski backed up his victory at Talladega with another top-10. Joey Logano likewise posted his second top-10 of the season on that unforgiving course, and this is a race that could fit his driving style to a "T." So far in 2009, he's shown a tendency to improve as the race progresses and 100 extra miles give him and crew chief Greg Zipadelli plenty of opportunities to adjust.

The usual suspects will dominate the front of the grid, however. Lowe's is the house that Jimmie Johnson built and he once earned five victories and eight top-three finishes in eight consecutive races. "Rowdy" Kyle Busch swept the top-five in his last three starts, but his record in Nationwide is what truly recommends him this week. In the second series, he swept victory lane last year and finished second in fall 2007.

One way or another, the 600 will be one of the most competitive races of the year for fantasy owners, because those extra miles equal 100 Jokers in an already stacked deck.
Join us at this week to play along with our unique fantasy game.

Long suspended for 12 weeks

NASCAR handed down one of their toughest penalties ever to a driver few have heard of. Carl Long has been docked 200 points, fined $200,000 and placed suspended for 12 weeks for a rule's violation at Charlotte during the All-Star weekend, according to

Our View: The infraction was for an oversized engine and NASCAR seems to be sending a very clear message. Luckily for them (not so much for Long), this did not happen to one of the marquee drivers.

For the record, this gives car owner Danielle Long -153 points.

Week 22 Unified Power Rankings

With all the major series taking last week off from points' paying races, this week's Unified Power Rankings were reorganized by two factors. First, the Camping World Truck Series raced under the lights at Lowe's, which allowed their top contenders to make up a little ground in the standings, and the All-Star race was run the following night.

Secondly, since the Unified Power Rankings looks at only the last three months, the Daytona Speedweek races are aging off this list. Drivers who peaked in the first race of the season are falling by the wayside.

Tony Stewart earned his first victory as an owner/driver and that allowed him to make up some ground on the Formula 1 giants at the top of the standings. However, their advantage is too great, so Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello continue to dominate the first two spots. Each of these drivers should be anchoring your fantasy roster in their respective games.

Kurt Busch's solid third-place—combined with Jeff Gordon's accident in the All-Star race—caused those two drivers to swap positions four and five. Since Busch is a lesser value in most fantasy games, however, his worth on fantasy owners' rosters takes an even greater leap.

Truck driver James Buescher earned his fifth consecutive top-15 in that series to make him a solid mid-range pick while he climbs onto this list for the first time in 2009. Meanwhile, Cup regular Martin Truex Jr. failed to advance from the Sprint Showdown and now hovers on the cusp of falling outside the top 50.

Unified Power Rankings

RankDriverPointsLast week+/-
1Jenson Button107.8010
2Rubens Barrichello96.0020
3Tony Stewart91.5030
4Kurt Busch88.7351
5Jeff Gordon87.824-1
6Jason Leffler87.4471
7Denny Hamlin84.506-1
8Jimmie Johnson83.3680
9Ryan Newman82.93101
10Ron Hornaday Jr82.60111
11Timo Glock81.609-2
12Kyle Busch80.04131
13Jeff Burton78.8212-1
14Mark Webber78.40140
15Carl Edwards77.55150
16Sebastian Vettel77.20171
17Brad Keselowski76.79236
18Greg Biffle74.8616-2
19Matt Kenseth74.7518-1
20Matt Crafton74.00277
21Fernando Alonso73.80210
22Mark Martin73.7520-2
23Joey Logano72.79318
24Dale Earnhardt Jr71.71262
25Kasey Kahne71.00294
26Juan Montoya69.7319-7
27Scott Lagasse Jr69.224215
28Steve Wallace68.894315
29Kevin Harvick68.8325-4
30Mike Skinner68.80322
31Brian Vickers68.6724-7
32Clint Bowyer68.3822-10
33Jason Keller68.0030-3
34David Reutimann67.8628-6
35Johnny Benson Jr67.6034-1
36Justin Allgaier67.33459
37Lewis Hamilton65.2036-1
38Nico Rosberg65.2037-1
39Jamie McMurray65.09467
40Jarno Trulli64.0039-1
41Chad McCumbee62.60476
42Rick Crawford62.605614
43David Ragan62.5633-10
44Marcos Ambrose62.4535-9
45James Buescher61.806217
46Stacy Compton61.60537
47Nick Heidfeld60.80503
48Martin Truex Jr60.5538-10
49David Stremme59.82545
50Brendan Gaughan59.7848-2

The Unified Power Rankings are based on "percentage points." Starting with a 100 score for the winner of a Nationwide race, each subsequent position is decremented by a percentage that relates to the number of drivers in the field. In a 50-car field of potential qualifiers, the second-place driver receives 98 points, third-place gets 96 points, the 43rd-place driver gets 16 points (because he beat eight other driver to even get into the field) and so on until the last non-qualifier in 50th-place gets two points.

Only races run in the last three months count in this formula.

The Cup, IRL and Formula 1 series start at 110 points for a victory (since its so difficult to win one of these races) and then decrements 1/50th of 110 points for each subsequent position. It’s an unscientific way to determine who is the best in their series, while simultaneously trying to compare apples to oranges.

Previous Unified Power Rankings:

Week 21
Week 20

Stewart aims for Lowe's sweep

"I like sweeps – it’s happened here a lot," Tony Stewart said following his All-Star win last Saturday night. "That’s a good sign hopefully. We’ll have a good car – we have a great engine and chassis package from Hendrick. I think we learned a lot tonight and we really didn’t get much practice. We got about 40 minutes – we had problems the first half of the practice session and then the next 40 minutes and then the rest of the 40 minutes we were basically undoing what we did after the first run when we found the mistakes. It was kind of like a shot in the dark tonight – we threw a lot of things at it and learned a lot too.”

Our View: Kasey Kahne pulled off the sweep last year and then went on to finish second in the fall, but Kevin Harvick was not as lucky in 2007. That year, he finished 21st in the 600 after winning the All-Star race and was 33rd that fall, so fantasy owners still want to watch Stewart closely in practice.

F1: Last five Monaco races

The Monaco Grand Prix could very well be the biggest test of the new found strength of Jenson Button and the Brawn Racing team, because he's been miserable at Monaco during the last three years, posting consecutive 11th-place results. Rubens Barrichello also needs to bring his "A" game to earn his first top-five since 2006. And these two drivers highlight how unpredictable the start of this season has been.

Conversely, we will see if Lewis Hamilton can reverse his fortunes after winning in 2008 and finishing second in his first attempt in 2007.

Monaco Grand Prix, last five years

DriverAvg Finish20082007200620052004
Lewis Hamilton1.5012

Robert Kubica3.5025

Juan Montoya 3.67

Sebastian Vettel5.005

Fernando Alonso5.601011412
Felipe Massa5.8033995
Cristiano da Matta6.00

Rubens Barrichello6.20610483
Alexander Wurz7.00

Kazuki Nakajima7.007

Nick Heidfeld7.20146727
Michael Schumacher7.67

Mark Webber7.674

Olivier Panis8.00

Jenson Button8.75111111
Zsolt Baumgartner9.00

Ralf Schumacher10.00
Kimi Raikkonen10.209820113
Heikki Kovalainen10.50813

Scott Speed11.00

Jarno Trulli11.20131517101
Giancarlo Fisichella11.8018461219
Timo Glock12.0012

Jacques Villeneuve 12.50

Jacques Villeneuve Jr12.50

Tiago Monteiro14.00

Gianmaria Bruni14.00

David Coulthard14.20191431718
Christijan Albers15.00
Giorgio Pantano15.00

Vitantonio Liuzzi15.67
Nico Rosberg15.67161219

Franck Montagny16.00


Patrick Friesacher16.00

Nelson Piquet Jr17.0017

Adrian Sutil17.501520

Narain Karthikeyan18.00

Anthony Davidson18.00

Takuma Sato18.67
Christian Klien19.00

Sebastian Bourdais20.0020

Mark Weber21.00

Gordon undergoes back surgery

Jeff Gordon has undergone minor back surgery, which should alleviate most of his pain, according to

Our View: If he has been strong enough eight top-10s so far this year, any improvement in his performance at all will make him a place-and-hold driver.