September 18, 2015 |
ANOTHER SEPTEMBER, another Chase. The 10-race format is designed to maintain interest in NASCAR while the NFL and college football seasons and baseball playoffs are heating up. For openers, the first Chase race dives into the Chicago market Sunday, where it will compete for attention with the revived Cubs and the always popular Bears. Then the Chase caravan moves on to New Hampshire and Dover, Del. The final Chase race again will be in Homestead, Fla., on Nov. 22. As usual, there are strong contenders from the heavyweight-class teams: Joe Gibbs Racing has four teams in the Chase, Hendrick Motorsports qualified three, and Penske Racing has two. There are also first-time Chasers Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard.
May 1, 2015 |
THE RIGHT crew chief at the right time. That's the Tony Gibson-Kurt Busch pairing. Although he's only 50, Gibson is one of the few remaining old-school crew chiefs in NASCAR. He has been crew chief for Danica Patrick, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip and Bill Elliott. Gibson's NASCAR career goes all the way back to 1992 when he was car chief and mechanic for the late Alan Kulwicki, the '92 Cup series champion. With three races remaining last season, Gibson moved from Patrick's team to Busch's.
March 27, 2015
KEVIN HARVICK'S nickname is "The Closer" for his ability to seize leads near the end of races and win. Brad Keselowski could be "Closer II" (or maybe "Kloser II") following his victory Sunday in California. The California race report will read Keselowski led only the final lap. Actually, he paced only a little more than half the final lap, but all anyone cares about is which driver takes the checkered flag. A win is a win. Until Keselowski surged to the front, it appeared the winner would be either Kurt Busch or Kevin Harvick.
November 14, 2014 |
AFTER ALL the racing, crashing and fighting, the Chase's final four are pumping their gas pedals, ready to roll. Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick are the only drivers eligible to win the championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. None has won a Sprint Cup series title. The champion doesn't have to win the Homestead race: He just has to be the highest finisher among the final four. As we pointed out 2 weeks ago, the champion could be Newman, who is winless this year and has led 17 only laps in the Chase (see accompanying box)
November 6, 2014
WATCHING the postrace "festivities" after Sunday's Texas race, I thought a hockey-style bench-clearing brawl had erupted. I kept expecting to see Dave Schultz and Bob Kelly. As soon as Jeff Gordon parked his race car next to Brad Keselowski's car, I expected some action. When Gordon confronted Keselowski with edgy crew members and others in the vicinity, I was convinced something would happen. It did. After Gordon confronted Keselowski, the brawl began. Serious punches were thrown with the two drivers suffering facial cuts.
October 31, 2014 |
NASCAR's 2014 champion could be a driver who hasn't won a race this year. He's a driver with just four top-five finishes all year. Fortunately for Ryan Newman, two of those top fives have been the last two Chase races, leaving him second in points. Talk about a lucky dog . . . (A lucky dog, or in NASCAR-speak, a "beneficiary," is the first car a lap down when the caution flag waves that receives one of its laps back.) Newman was the last driver into the Chase, seeded 16th, as in last.
October 17, 2014 |
IS THE POSTRACE craziness at Charlotte over yet? "Bad" Brad Keselowski slams his car into Matt Kenseth's after Saturday night's race . . . Keselowski tries to spin Denny Hamlin's car . . . Tony Stewart backs his car into Keselowski's . . . the mild-mannered Kenseth jumps Keselowski where the team haulers are parked. There were so many incidents, maybe I missed one. Afterward, Hamlin said Keselowski "is acting like a dumb ass instead of a champion. " The outbursts attracted attention from many media outlets that normally ignore NASCAR.
September 30, 2014 |
DOVER, Del. - Give a NASCAR "Attaboys!" to the Daring Dozen, the 12 Chasers who move on to the Contender Round. Following Jeff Gordon's victory yesterday in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, the 12 are Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne. Their points are all reset at 3,000 prior to the next three races. Give a pat on the back and "good try, y'all" to the four who are eliminated from title contention: Kurt Busch, A.J. Allmendinger, Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola.
September 26, 2014 |
ROBIN PEMBERTON has been NASCAR's vice president of competition and racing development for 10 years. It's a stressful job that includes handling complaints and disciplining drivers and race teams. Prior to moving into his VP position, Pemberton was a Cup series crew chief for Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin and Kyle Petty. So Pemberton always will be empathetic toward crew chiefs for the stress they endure, particularly during the Chase. Prior to races crew chiefs probably make hundreds of decisions regarding their teams.
September 12, 2014 |
SINCE THE CHASE was launched in 2004, only four drivers have won championships: Jimmie Johnson, six; Tony Stewart, two; Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski, one each. I'm sensing there will be a new champion this year: how's that for a tease? No peeking toward the end for my choice. If this year's first 26 pre-Chase races mean anything, the Chase winner will be one of the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers or one of Penske Racing's duo. Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne carry the Hendrick banner; Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano power Penske.