June 11, 2009

N'Wide: Gaughan crew chief suspended for racial slur

Brendan Gaughan's crew chief Bryan Berry has been suspended from NASCAR for using a racial slur against rival Marc Davis, according to NASCAR.com. This came as the culmination of an incident in the pits; Davis is a black teenage driver racing for Braun last week.

Our View: First Gaughan runs into Davis while that driver was pulling behind the wall with a blown engine, then his crew chief verbally assaults him. So much for the good guy image Gaughan was trying to develop.

Incidents like this can set NASCAR back decades.

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IRL: Several tests on tap

Most of the Indy Racing League drivers tested at a variety of locations this week in preparation for the upcoming season. According to OpenWheelWorld.net, they were:

Watkins Glen International: Danica Patrick, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Mario Moraes, Mike Conway, Milka Duno, Justin Wilson and Richard Antinucci.

Richmond International Raceway: Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Dan Wheldon, Raphael Matos and E J Viso.

Chicagoland Speedway: Ed Carpenter (in a Firestone tire test).

Iowa Speedway: Dario Franchitti

Our View: Practice makes perfect, so put a tickle file in your computers for the appropriate week and then watch these drivers closely in open practice sessions when that race rolls around.

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The House of Roush

Few owners have dominated a track like Jack Roush has done at Michigan International Speedway. This week, he could tie the legendary Wood Bros. with the most wins on this track at 10 and his drivers have at least one victory per season since 2002.

That makes selecting a roster this week very easy.

Michigan is one track where fantasy owners can literally load their roster with a single organization and then sit back in the easy chair and reap the rewards, because Roushketeers have been perfect on this track several times in the last half-decade. When they've missed, it's often by a very slim margin.

Last fall, Roush placed all five of his drivers in the top 10 and all but a single driver was in the top five. Led by Carl Edwards in first, David Ragan finished third, Greg Biffle was fourth and Matt Kenseth was fifth. By comparison, Jamie McMurray had a disappointing day in 10th, but he was happy to have that result in light of the generally miserable year he faced up till then.

In the spring race, all but Biffle finished in the top 10 as well, which gave Roush an average finish during the year of 7.1. That also means four of the five drivers swept the top 10 on this two-mile track last year—including the dark horses Ragan and McMurray.

As impressive as that was, however, it was not their best outing in recent years. In the two Cup races of 2005, Roush earned one victory, six top-fives and eight top-10s en route to an average finish of 6.2. This was no anomaly, since three of the five Roushketeers (Edwards, Kenseth and Biffle) were in the midst of top-10 streaks ranging from four to six consecutive races.
With Edwards riding a current four-race top-10 streak and Kenseth carrying three Michigan top-fives into the weekend, you could very well see the same thing this week.

Roush Racing, last five years


2008.2Carl Edwards991
2007.1Carl Edwards991
2006.2Matt Kenseth171
2005.1Greg Biffle 161
2004.2Greg Biffle 161

2006.1Carl Edwards992
2004.2Mark Martin 62
2008.2David Ragan63
2008.1Matt Kenseth173
2005.2Matt Kenseth173
2005.1Mark Martin 63
2008.2Greg Biffle164
2007.2Matt Kenseth174
2006.1Greg Biffle164
2005.2Carl Edwards994
2005.1Matt Kenseth 174
2008.2Matt Kenseth175
2006.2Mark Martin65
2005.1Carl Edwards 995

2005.2Greg Biffle166
2004.2Kurt Busch 976
2008.1Carl Edwards997
2007.2Carl Edwards997
2006.2Greg Biffle167
2005.2Kurt Busch977
2004.1Matt Kenseth 177
2008.1David Ragan68
2007.1Jamie McMurray268
2004.2Matt Kenseth 178
2008.2Jamie McMurray2610
2008.1Jamie McMurray2610
2004.2Carl Edwards 9910

2004.1Kurt Busch 9711
2005.1Kurt Busch 9712
2006.1Matt Kenseth1713
2004.1Jeff Burton 9913

2006.2Jamie McMurray2617
2005.2Mark Martin617
2007.2David Ragan618
2007.2Greg Biffle1619
2008.1Greg Biffle1620
2007.1David Ragan621
2006.2Carl Edwards9922
2006.1Jamie McMurray2623
2004.1Greg Biffle 1623
2006.1Mark Martin627
2007.2Jamie McMurray2630
2004.1Mark Martin 634
2007.1Greg Biffle1638
2007.1Matt Kenseth1742
2006.2Todd Kluever0643

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IRL: Antinucci to debut at the Glen

Richard Antinucci will make his Indy Racing League debut at Watkins Glen driving for Team 3G, according to OpenWheelWorld.net.

Our View: He could be a better value than his inexperience would suggest, since he won both races of a double-header at the Glen in 2008.

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N'Wide: Leicht finally defends Kentucky win

Stephen Leicht won at Kentucky two years ago, but has only made sporadic starts since then. This week is his first chance to defend that win, according to SceneDaily.com.

Our View: Leicht will face intense competition with Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and last year's winner Joey Logano making the long commute from Michigan International Speedway. Still, in a RCR Chevrolet, Leicht has to be favored for a potential top-five.

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Ragan, et. al. test at Infineon

David Ragan, Max Papis, David Reutimann and Joey Logano tested late models (not Cup cars) at Infineon Raceway on Wednesday, according to SceneDaily.com.

Our View: The testing ban does not apply because these are not Cup or Nationwide cars and they are considerably different in terms of handling. So why do it? According to Ragan, “Even if we drove a rental car out here it would help. I just needed to get back into the rhythm of turning left and right.”

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Trucks: Michigan's last five races

As fields thin in the Truck series, finding consistent top-10 finishers is not that difficult, but it's also not that simple. Luck continues to play an important role in who will finish up front. Ron Hornaday Jr. has had one of the trucks to beat the last two weeks after starting on the front row each time, but mishaps sent him home 26th at Dover and 19th at Texas. Worse still, this has not been one of his favorite tracks with an average finish of 17.5 that puts him well down the grid.

On the other hand, Todd Bodine has a little momentum on his side after winning last week at Texas—and Michigan has been among his preferred tracks. He's yet to win there, but with a four-race streak of top-10s, he deserves a spot on the roster for consistency alone.

Mike Skinner has a slightly lower average finish of 6.2, but he's been nearly as consistent with four top-10s and a worst of 11th in his last five races on this two-mile track. He and Bodine should be the marquee regulars who anchor your roster.

"Rowdy" Kyle Busch is back on the lineup this week after taking Texas off and he's looking to improve on two runner-up finishes from 2005 and 2007. Last year he finished seventh, which gives him even more to prove.

Notably, only one winner from the last five years is on the lineup this week. Dennis Setzer found victory lane in 2005, but his results have been eroding ever since. He was eighth in 2006, 24th in 2007 and 16th last year, so fantasy owners can reasonably expect a different winner this year.

Average finish, last five races

DriverPwer Avg20082007200620052004
Travis Kvapil 1.00

Scott Speed3.003

Kyle Busch3.6772
Bobby Hamilton Sr4.00

Todd Bodine 6.004749
Colin Braun6.006

Kevin Harvick 6.00
Carl Edwards 6.00

Mike Skinner 6.20841153
Johnny Benson Jr8.00291244
Shane Hmiel 8.00

Brendan Gaughan8.75531611
Terry Cook 10.0010119137
Dennis Setzer 11.8016248110
Donny Lia12.0012

Rick Crawford 12.201166632
Erik Darnell13.0012612

Justin Marks13.0013

J J Yeley13.00

Mike Bliss14.00


Jimmy Spencer Sr14.00

Randy LaJoie 14.00

Robert Huffman 14.00

Chad Chaffin 15.0027

Todd Kluever15.00

Chad McCumbee15.3391918

David Reutimann15.67

Ryan Matthews16.00

Ted Musgrave Sr16.4024523282
Stacy Compton16.502112

Regan Smith17.0017

David Starr 17.002613131221
Aaron Fike17.00

Robert Pressley 17.00

Ron Hornaday Jr17.502310730
Mark Martin17.50

Chase Montgomery17.50

Matt Crafton 17.60153452212
Bobby Labonte 17.67
Kraig Kinser18.00

Sean Murphy18.00

Shelby Howard19.0019

T J Bell20.002020

Joey Miller20.00


Lance Hooper 20.00

Bill Lester20.50
Blake Bjorkland21.00

Johnny Chapman21.00

Jack Sprague 21.203029101027
Deborah Renshaw21.50

Jon Wood 22.0014

Marc Mitchell22.0022

Willie Allen22.00

Tim Sauter 23.00

Andy Houston 23.00

Bobby East24.0018

Erin Crocker24.00


Brian Scott25.0025

David Ragan25.00

Clay Rogers 25.50
Boston Reid26.00

Tracy Hines26.00

Marcos Ambrose26.00


Shane Sieg26.00

Steve Park 26.33

Ryan Moore27.00


Shigeaki Hattori27.00

Jason White27.502827

Travis Kittleson28.00

Bobby Hamilton Jr28.00


Kevin Lepage28.50

Mario Gosselin29.0029

Kelly Sutton29.00

Hank Parker Jr29.00

Kerry Earnhardt29.00


Ken Schrader29.50
Timothy Peters30.00

Nick Tucker31.0031

Brandon Whitt31.00

J C Stout31.503231

A J Allmendinger32.00

Kyle Krisiloff32.00


Rick Markle 33.0033

Ricky Craven 33.00

Phil Bonifield 33.00

Chris Jones34.0034

Martin Truex Jr34.00


Loni Richardson 34.00

Brad Keselowski35.00

Aric Almirola36.00


Bryan Silas37.00

Robert Richardson37.00


Blake Mallory 38.00


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