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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