Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011, Race 33

Rain cancelled practicing in Martinsville for the 7th stop on the 2011 Sprint Cup Case. Being a half mile flat track poses unique challenges requiring far more specialized driving than succeeding on the larger tracks. Thus Martinsville like Talladega a week ago becomes something of an elimination race where those who fare poorly might loose their chance at the championship.

Here’s the line up.

1-      Carl Edwards #99, Ford
2-      Matt Kenseth #17, Ford, -14
3-      Brad Keselowski #2, Dodge, -18
4-      Tony Stewart #14, Chevrolet, -19
5-      Kevin Harvick #29, Chevrolet, -26
6-      Kyle Busch #18, Toyota, -40
7-      Jimmie Johnson, #48, Chevrolet, -50

Saturday, October 29, 2011

NFL 2011: Week 8 - Almost Halfway

Week 8

Teams who have not had their bye week hit the halfway point in the 2011 season as the true competitors for the season continue to emerge. A week ago, the Baltimore Ravens were toasted as the top team in the AFC. They might still well be, but after an embarrassing loss where the team did not gain one first down until the second half raises concerns about the offense particularly the hobbled offensive line who assured a miserable game for QB Joe Flacco.  The NFC East presents an interesting picture as the expected leader, Philadelphia, has failed miserably and is just beginning to flex its muscle while the Redskins who surprised fans with their fast start have plunged into the mediocrity that embarrassed the team a year ago. The Dallas Cowboys never live up to the hype that follows them, while the Giants are squarely in the picture. Perhaps the most asked question is: Can anyone stop the Green Bay Packers?

The games:
Arizona @ Baltimore (-13)
The Ravens hopefully got their poor play out of their system and won’t be looking ahead to their trip to Pittsburgh as they should easily handle Arizona.

New Orleans (-13 ½) @ St. Louis
For St. Louis sports fans who are serious Rams fans, Sunday’s game will be a cruel end to their World Series’ celebration.

Jacksonville @ Houston (-9 ½)
This might be one to mark for an upset if Jacksonville gained confidence from Monday’s victory and Houston coughs up probable wins in the second half, but Houston should prevail in this divisional game.

Minnesota @ Carolina (-3 ½)
There’s not much to hope for in Minnesota as a bigger glimpse of Carolina’s future with rookie QB Cam Newton should provide much to cheer in Charlotte.

Indianapolis @ Tennessee (-8)
Okay, the Colts are missing superstar QB Peyton Manning, but their play in 2011 defies explanation. They are a true embarrassment.

Miami @ New York Giants (-9 ½)
Miami’s struggles will continue as the Giants should have little trouble winning one for the home fans.

Detroit (-3) @ Denver
After a brilliant start, the Lions now have a two game losing streak as they attempt to smash Tebow magic in Denver. Injuries are taking a toll.

Washington @ Buffalo (-4 ½)
Buffalo needs a win to live up to early season promise as the Washington QB situation can only yield disaster for the ‘Skins.

Cincinnati (-3) @ Seattle
The Bengals are beginning to work their way into playoff conversations given their record being right there with the mighty Ravens and Steelers. They should win in Seattle and could be in 2nd place if Pittsburgh loses to the Patriots.

New England (-3) @ Pittsburgh
If Pittsburgh is a championship team, they must prove it against the constantly improving Patriots. Pittsburgh’s season could hinge on their next two games meeting Baltimore at home next week. The Pats just look stronger.

Cleveland @ San Francisco (-9)
Playing Cleveland should be an easy payday for the 49er’s at home.

Dallas @ Philadelphia (-3)
If Dallas is so hot, prove it in Philadelphia. That probably won’t happen as the Eagles are putting things together though a far cry from the super team they were hyped to be in August.

San Diego (-3 ½) @ Kansas City
The Bolts need to play well to show themselves as a top tier team. Their strength is the weakness of their division.

Green Bay
New York Jets
Tampa Bay

Saturday, October 22, 2011

NFL 2011, Week 7 -- Some prosper, some rest, some die...

The bye weeks continue as six more teams recover. Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, the New York Giants, Philadelphia, and San Francisco enjoy a week off.  Only the Green Bay Packers remain undefeated at 6-0 with Detroit, 5-1 in the field of teams with one loss. All the others lead their divisions, Baltimore, New England, San Diego, and San Francisco. Indianapolis, Miami and St. Louis are the two winless teams so far where talk has already sprouted concerning the sweepstakes for the coveted #1 draft choice next spring presumably for Stanford QB, Andrew Luck. Meanwhile, two high visibility teams expected to be contenders are increasingly under pressure to start making a strong showing before the top teams in their division develop more separation, The New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys. The Jets aren’t as great as their coach boasts them to be while the Cowboys don’t live up to the media’s hype when many see them as a mediocre team led by an overrated quarterback.

Clearly, the Green Bay Packers are the choice of the field so far, but there is much rumbling about the Baltimore Ravens who suddenly are playing the kind of absolutely earth-shaking defense that earned them their Super Bowl victory after the 2000 season. If their game on offense solidifies, they could become unstoppable in the AFC.

Here are our right-minded predictions for week seven.

Washington @ Carolina (-2 ½)
Washington got off to a strong 3-1 start but disassembled last week playing the desperate Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx field last week. The sore spot appeared to be horrible play of QB Ken Grossman who lost control of his game tossing up interceptions as freely as t-shirts from the t-shirt guns. John Beck takes over at QB while Cam Newton is poised for another win as his game improves with Carolina.

San Diego (-1) @ New York Jets
San Diego faces the problem of flying cross country to play in a hostile environment but of all the West Coast teams seems to be the team that’s able to overcome that the best. The Jets have to step up their game on all fronts to beat the toast of the AFC West to keep their playoff hopes alive. San Diego should have the edge.

Seattle @ Cleveland (-3)
Cleveland needs to play mistake free and solid getting a good game from Colt McCoy and if they do, Seattle will be put away and sent home miserably.

Atlanta @ Detroit (-3 ½)
Atlanta would have to find something they’ve not shown in what’s been a very disappointing 2011 season. Detroit will be anxious to push behind their loss to San Francisco last week to demonstrate they are a true contender this year. Too bad for them, they’re in the same division as Green Bay.

Chicago (-1) @ Tampa Bay
While Vegas gives Chicago a one point lead, playing at home and being more intense should give Tampa Bay the win over the hard-to-predict, inconsistent Bears.

Denver at Miami (-1)
Miami is favored by one point largely for the home field markup, but Tim Tebow is starting and no matter how much pundits are quick to point out his limitations, he brings a level of intensity and determination that the erratic and confused Dolphins cannot master. What would make this game the one where Miami finally rallies and tries to salvage something of this season. They’re not there yet.

Houston @ Tennessee (-3)
Houston still cannot pull all parts of their game together and having a lot of aching players further complicated by being flattened in the 2nd half by the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee should have enough of an advantage to sustain their lead in the AFC South and drop Houston two games out. Houston will be falling further out of the possible playoff pack without rolling out some victories soon, but tomorrow is not likely.

Pittsburgh (-4) @ Arizona
Pittsburgh is playing in a soft part of their schedule now which masks speculation if the 2011 team simply isn’t up to the championship potential the team has shown for the last several years. Their win tomorrow will still keep the questions open until they play tougher competition like New England next week leading to their home showdown against the Ravens on November 5th.

Kansas City @ Oakland (-4 ½)
Oakland installs QB Carson Palmer as they attempt to march on and challenge San Diego for the AFC West title. KC must find the magic they had just one year ago that took them to round one of the playoffs.

Green Bay (-9 ½) @ Minnesota
It wasn’t long ago when this match up was a hot rivalry, but this year it marks the doom of another aged quarterback, Donovan McNabb, who will be carrying the clipboard as the Vikings continue their losing ways moving the Packers to 7-0.

St. Louis @ Dallas (-13)
Dallas will look like a brilliant, championship time team, and folks could marvel at what a Hollywood QB Tony Romo is living up to the hype that follows this team through out the media world, but like Hollywood, this victory is all but staged playing the hapless (but improving) Rams.

Indianapolis @ New Orleans (-13 ½)
Even those who hate the Colts almost have to feel sorry for what’s going to happen Sunday night as they go to 0-7 in the noisy Superdome. Drew Brees and company should have a blast branding the hobbled ponies who are little more than dog food without their leader, Peyton Manning.

Baltimore (-8) at Jacksonville
The Ravens take a cheap Monday Night Florida vacation as they face the Jacksonville Jaguars, the least supported team in the NFL. Jack Del Rio, former Ravens coach, fighting to hang on to his job might gaze nostalgically across the field remembering when he helped pilot the wicked purple and gold beasts who should have their way with the Jags.

Sprint Cup 2011: Race 32 -- Talladega, the Big Bad Blender

Be careful which driver you're in love with, this race is bound to break your heart.

If Sprint Cup fans thought Jimmie Johnson’s collision with the wall and subsequent DNF eliminated him from the Championship Chase, Johnson did exactly what he needed to do to give himself a fighting chance sitting on the outside poll aside teammate Mark Martin for tomorrow’s Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega, and how about that, as fate would have it he has his drafting partner there too. Adding to the strategic possibilities  or limitations, Jack Roush mandated that all Roush-Yates powered cars, in other words the entire Ford fleet, must partner with other Fords, giving his two title contenders Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth a whole lot of buddies on the field including the two Richard Petty rides that have been riding strong recently and Trevor Bayne, the young Daytona 500 star racing for the “legendary” Wood Brothers who starts 4th.  For this week’s consideration of possible championship contenders, the driver must be with one race’s point total to still be considered viable with five races including Talladega in consideration.

Here are the possible contenders in rank order and where they start tomorrow.

1-      Carl Edwards, #17, Ford, starts 9th
2-      Kevin Harvick, #29, Chevrolet, starts 13th (-5)
3-      Matt Kenseth, #17, Ford, starts 11th (-7)
4-      Kyle Busch, #18, Toyota, starts 34th (-18)
5-      Tony Stewart, #14, Chevrolet, starts 12th (-24)
6-      Brad Keselowski, #2, Dodge, starts 16th (-25)
7-      Kurt Busch, #22, Dodge, starts 14th (-27)
8-      Jimmie Johnson, #48, Chevrolet, starts 2nd (-35)

Talladega is what’s considered a blender race as teams can take a tremendous dive in the standings made far worse on a restrictor plate race where a car can run well all day, not wreck, but wind up out of the draft and in the wrong pack at the end of the race. This conversely gives some teams the opportunity to advance, but given we’re discussing the top eight teams, downward mobility is more likely than noteworthy moves upward, however, the top 3 are extremely tight. Kyle Busch begins the next group of competitors between -17 and -25, an nine point spread between 4th and 7th. While making up 27 points is not unthinkable for Kurt Busch, overcoming six drivers ahead of him would be the greater challenge. For right now, it would appear three teams are fighting to stay in top contention range while five drivers are fighting to give them some company. It’s worth noting that though Roush has two cars in great shape, they are not strong restrictor plate contenders even though Kenseth has a Daytona 500 win.  Of course who knows where Carl Edwards would have finished in spring 2010 if it weren’t for the horrifying homestretch crash that gave Brad Keselowski the Cinderella win.

The scramble continues next week at Martinsville, the diametric opposite of Talladega, but equally a blender race after which the shootout for the trophy will be lined up for the last three dates in the southern latitudes.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011: Race 31 -- the Home Stretch to the Championship is on.

The Sprint Cup tour comes home to Charlotte marking the halfway point in the 2011 Chase at race’s end. Tony Stewart who burst on the Chase scene winning his first two races, his first two for 2011, but has fallen to 7th place with bad showings at Dover and Kansas, is positioned to throw himself back in the picture sitting on the poll for the Bank of America 500. Five more chasers reside in the top ten while all but two start in the top 20. The two outside of the top 20 are Jeff Gordon, all but eliminated from the chase when his engine blew in the final laps of last week’s race. Trapped in 10th place, 47 points out any faint hope Gordon had are surely dashed with tonight’s qualifying spot all but cinching the deal. Kyle Busch who has not shown much punch in the chase 8th place, 20 points out starts in 25th. Let’s look at where the championship contenders by rank start in their drive to the Chase. Leader, Carl Edwards, starting 3rd must be feeling pretty good!

1-      Carl Edwards, #99, (#1), starts 3rd
2-      Kevin Harvick, #29, (-1), starts 14th
3-      Jimmie Johnson, #48, (-4), starts 9th
4-      Brad Keselowski, #2, (-11), starts 26th
5-      Matt Kenseth, #17, (-16), starts 2nd
6-      Kurt Busch, #22, (-16), starts 20th
7-      Tony Stewart, #14, (-19), starts 1st
8-      Kyle Busch, #18, (-20), starts 25th
9-      Dale Earnhardt Jr., #88, (-43) starts 15th
10-  Jeff Gordon, #24, (-47), starts 23rd
11-  Ryan Newman, #39, (-54), starts 6th
12-  Denny Hamlin, #11, (-79), starts 17th

For all practical purposes, positions 9-12 are absolutely eliminated from Chase consideration. At -43 points, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has an entire race’s worth of points to ake make. While positions 4-8 are within 20 points of the lead, they’re also going to depend on other drivers ahead of them to fail to make their move. Perhaps the big question for the race will be if any of those drivers can vault themselves back into serious contention at the close of the race realizing than Charlotte is one of the tracks where Jimmie Johnson is most successful. Carl Edwards needs a win to atone for his sloppy, car destroying burnout, from last spring’s All-Star race at the track!

NFL 2011 - Week 6 - A Big Day for the Teams Unexpectedly Good and Bad

Week six of the 2011 NFL season provides some teams having unexpectedly strong start a chance to prove themselves and some teams expected to do well who have struggled a chance to regain some positive momentum. Some of this week’s games pit the fast starters against the slow traditional winners.

Philadelphia (-1) @ Washington
Who’d expect the Redskins to be in first place in the 6th week of the season and perhaps even more astounding to have a three game lead over the Eagles?  This is the matchup in Landover Sunday afternoon. Nevertheless, Las Vegas gives Philadelphia a field goal over Washington on hostile turf. While the Redskins don’t look like a miracle team, so far the Eagles have done just about everything wrong imaginable on both sides of the ball showing little team cohesion. Are they looking at last year’s tapes or do they think Philadelphia’s desperate status should have them fired up to avoid yet another in the accumulation of mounting losses, 1-4 at this point. Oh Washington is also coming off a bye week too. So how does a 1-4 team beat a 3-1 team in its own division? It won’t happen!

Carolina @ Atlanta (-4)
Just how great is Cam Newton’s ascent as a rookie QB. Second, just how off track is Atlanta’s season so far? This will be decided in the Georgia Dome. Green Bay slaughtered Atlanta Sunday night while Carolina played strongly against the powerful New Orleans Saints losing by just a field goal. This might be a good choice for an upset giving Newton another advance, but it will take more than Newton’s emerging power to win this one. Give the battle of old Dixie to Atlanta.

St. Louis at Green Bay (-15)
In St. Louis all talk will be about their baseball team. Oddly enough, the match up here mirrors the NLCS pairing since the Cardinals adversaries are cheese heads too from the big city to the south. The Packers will win easily.

Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh (-12)
Here’s a game that should make Pittsburgh’s apparent earlier struggles seem distant memories. Anything less than a two touchdown win will have Steelers’ fans nervous.

Buffalo @ New York Giant (-3 ½)
Here’s one of those match-ups between a team with early season success against a team expected to be strong failing. Considering the Giants got whacked at home by the weak Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo handled the Eagles last week on top of everything else, contrary to the Vegas fellows’ choices, this looks like a win for the one NFL team that actually plays in the state of New York.

Indianapolis @ Cincinnati (-7)
How bad can things look for the Colts minus Peyton Manning? If the game plays out and Cincinnati wins as expected, the Colts remain winless while the Bengels look respectable.

San Francisco @ Detroit (-5)
This game puts two of the surprise successes for 2011 head-to-head. Imagine the Detroit Lions winning and being 6-0. That’s the better choice. If they lose, both these teams will be 5-1, something no one would have expected at the beginning of the season.

Houston @ Baltimore (-7 ½)
Houston was poised to be a strong winner in 2011, but vexing injuries have them teetering in a week division this year. The Ravens will march on to victory in Crab Town.

Cleveland @ Oakland (-6)
This game’s a tough choice between two rather weak teams that can play tough at times. The home field and a little more punch should give the game to the Silver and Black.

New Orleans (-4 ½) @ Tampa Bay
Tampa’s a team on the rise but to ask them to defeat the powerful Saints is still just outside their reach.

Dallas @ New England (-7)
The talk is New England’s not as strong as in past years, but when have teams looked worse losing than the Cowboys who are 2-2 so far?  The national media seems to take glory in thinking New England is falling apart but makes excuses for Dallas. Rest assured, Dallas won’t win. It’s just a matter of how ugly they lose.

Minnesota @ Chicago (-3)
Chicago’s banged up but still strong enough to beat the messed up Vikings.

Miami @ New York Jets (-7)
Here’s the Jets chance to begin to heal the hurt of a dreadful three game losing streak. After a Monday night win, they’d better not suddenly get too boastful because their next opponents have tapes on how they lost.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011: Race 30 - Heating up the Heartland (Chase #4)

Dover did what Dover does and shuffled the field among the twelve “Chase” contenders gunning for the 2011 Sprint Cup Championship. Tony Stewart stood atop the field after two weeks looking like a driver in championship form, but after a poor race, Stewart has slipped to tied for third nine points behind the points leader, Kevin Harvick. Jeff Gordon was the big loser slipping four positions but still in close contention nineteen points off the lead. Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost two positions, now in 10th, 34 points out of first. For Ryan Newman (41 points back) and especially Denny Hamlin (68 points back), the chances of glory in Homestead at the end of the season would appear to be long shots. The Chase is hotly contended given with nine races to go, nine teams are within nineteen points in the championship contest.

Shown below is how the Chase drivers shown by points position, their starting spot for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speeway, and how many points out of the lead they need to resolve.

1 – Kevin Harvick, #29, Chevrolet, (14th), #1
2 – Carl Edwards, #99, Ford, (2nd), #1
3 – Tony Stewart, #14, Chevrolet, (23rd), -9
4 – Kurt Busch, #22, Dodge (17th), -9
5 – Jimmie Johnson, #48, Chevrolet, (19th), -13
6 – Brad Keselowski, #2 Dodge, (12th), -14
7 – Matt Kenseth, #17, Ford, (4th), -14
8 – Kyle Busch, #18, Toyota, (3rd), -15
9 – Jeff Gordon, #24, Chevrolet, (10th), -19
10 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88, Chevrolet, (18th), -34
11 – Ryan Newman, #39, Chevrolet, (11th), -41
12 – Denny Hamlin, #11, Toyota, (7th), -68

Richard Childress might have divided loyalties since besides having Kevin Harvick tied for the points lead starting the race along with his three other teams, his grandson, Austin Dillon, current leader in the Camping World Truck Series, makes his Sprint Cup debut. We’ll see how high of a finishing spot the young driver will achieve given it is quite likely at least eight cars will be doing their welfare laps politely called “start and park” teams realistically called a supreme embarrassment to NASCAR and a fraud to NASCAR’s fans.

In today’s Nationwide race NINE cars pulled off the track with nebulous problems, perpetuating the start and park fraud. If teams are having trouble finding sponsors, and there are teams on both Sprint Cup and Nationwide who can’t or won’t compete, then it’s obvious the field needs to be slashed where only teams that are resourced enough to truly buy in and compete would remain. The progressively tiered system of NASCAR series should assure each advancing series represents a higher level of talent, resources, and achievement.

It’s time to revamp the system, minimum team requirements, and smaller starting fields. This charade is cheapening the sport no matter much NASCAR and is media partners attempt to sweep it uner the rug. We’re projecting seven teams will bow out of today’s race.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

NFL 2011 - Week 5 -- Byes for some, goodbye for 13 more teams.

The byes slip in with six teams sitting out the competition this weekend. The following teams do not play:
·         Baltimore
·         Washington
·         Dallas
·         Cleveland
·         Miami
·         St. Louis

With one quarter of the 2011 season complete, all four division leaders are 3-1, North – Baltimore; South – Houston, Tennessee; East: New England, Buffalo; West – San Diego. Of the 2-2 teams, Pittsburgh and the New York Jets are the ones that most likely have the talent to compete for playoff spots. Oakland, Cleveland, and Cincinnati are more likely to fall. Jacksonville, Denver, and Kansas City at 1-3 must show huge improvement to have any hopes for this season, It’s already #1 draft pick sweepstakes for Indianapolis and Miami.

The Detroit Lions are 4-0. That’s right; the Lions are 4-0 while their baseball buddies eliminated the Yankees as the Tigers soldier on. The Green Bay Packers, the defending champs, likewise are 4-0 and their big city neighbors to the south, Milwaukee, the cheesiest baseball team moves on in the MLB playoffs. The south and east are both led by two 3-1 teams with New Orleans and the upstart Tampa Bay Bucs leading the south while in what would seem upside down to some, Washington and the New York Giants lead the east. Jim Harbaugh has San Francisco 3-1 in the West. The Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, and the Dallas Cowboys, all in the playoffs last year are 2-2 with Dallas being the most embarrassing of the field coughing up leads grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory. Why do the national media barkers still make excuses for Dallas and consider Tony Romo a great quarterback. They suck! The biggest disappointment in the NFL this year could well be the Philadelphia Eagles, last in the east sharing that mark with Carolina, Arizona and St. Louis. Minnesota might be making Mike Shannahan’s decision to bench Donovan McNabb late last season not look so brash since the Vikings stand at 0-4 and look terrible on all counts. Seattle, who snuck into the playoffs with a miserable 7-9 rccord then blew up their roster, are also 0-4.

Would it be unreasonable to think the AFC Championship could be Baltimore versus Buffalo and the NFC Detroit versus San Francisco?  The Harbaugh brothers will have something to say about their brother’s fate going head to head in Baltimore on Thanksgiving night.

New Orleans (-6 ½) @ Carolina
Panthers QB will take another bold step in his maturation facing the tough division rivals, New Orleans Saints. Considering where things stand with the Panthers, it’s okay to speak of moral victories. That’s the best they can achieve.

Arizona @ Minnesota (-3)
We’ll go against the odd makers ad pick Arizona. There’s something about the Vikings that seems especially blighted this year.

Oakland @ Houston (-4)
This game should be Houston’s all the way. It is worth noting the maverick owner, Al Davis, who has led Oakland since its early days died yesterday. The character of the team will never be the same – for better or worse.

Philadelphia (-3) @ Buffalo
The Eagles should play better than they’ve shown so far this year, and Buffalo isn’t likely as good as the 3-0 team they started with. This game is really in the hands of the Eagles’ defense. If the can stifle Buffalo’s offense, they’ll win.

Seattle @ New York Giants (-9 ½)
This game should be the Giants, no contest.

Cincinnati @ Jacksonville
This is a tough pick. Las Vegas didn’t post. Let’s give the win to Jacksonville, slight home field advantage. Those empty seats can make a lot of noise.

Kansas City @ Indianapolis (-2 ½)
The Colts have played close against the Steelers so perhaps here’s their first win unless they’re sandbagging already for draft pick considerations.

Tennessee @ Pittsburgh (-3)
Playing at home and feeling a sense of urgency, the Steelers are well motivated to beat Tennessee, but the Titans have beaten Baltimore making this a tough game for Pittsburgh. The howling about the Steelers officially being in decline will become very loud if they lose this one and there’s a good chance they will.

Tampa Bay @ San Francisco (-3)
This game features two teams hot on proving themselves. Harbaugh inherited an undisciplined chaotic club house but appears to be getting them focused. Give the Niners the slight edge here.

New York Jets @ New England (-7 ½)
For the Jets and their verbose coach, Rex Ryan, yes it really is that serious. If they lose, as expected to New England, they’d be two games behind their division rivals with a three game losing streak after being mauled on national television by the Baltimore Ravens last week. While the Belehick boys might not be the most potent team New England has ever fielded and their defense I soft compared to Baltimore’s, Tom Brady, Wes Welker and crew are good bets to ground the Jets.

San Diego (-4) @ Denver
Denver’s a mighty unhappy place for Broncos fans whose whimpers will turn into outright violent sobbing with a few chants of “Tebow! Tebow” thrown in as the Bolts blasat them.

Green Bay (-6) @ Atlanta
Hey wasn’t Atlanta supposed o be a contender this year? Tomorrow’s menu – peaches smothered in cheese.

Chicago @ Detroit (-5 ½)
This is a great game for Detroit to show they’re for real and go 5-0. The Bears have only been inconsistent this year. A likely loss puts them two games behind Detroit and probably Green Bay too.

It’s a tough sport, ain’t it?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011: Race 29 -- Dover, It's Monster Mash Time for the Chase

The 2011 Sprint Cup Chase, the underlying truth drivers know all to well… things can go from good to bad in a matter of seconds, but once things are bad, the road to good might be out of reach. After two races, only Denny Hamlin looks out of the picture, though nothing short of exceptional racing will find other teams deep in the standings from being in fighting shape in Homestead, FL after the 10th Chase race. Dover is a track that with its unforgiving high banks can destroy a race car with the slightest slip and at Dover, track position is everything. With this in mind, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick will have their bands full holding their top two starts with Stewart starting 28th and Harvick in 22nd on the grid. Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon, 5th in points, starts just above the rolling trash heap in 34th position.

Chase drivers starting position by standings:
1-      Tony Stewart, #14, Chevrolet (26th)
2-      Kevin Harvick, #29, Chevrolet (22nd)
3-      Brad Keselowski, #2, Dodge (15th)
4-      Carl Edwards, #99, Ford (4th)
5-      Jeff Gordon, #24, Chevrolet (34th)
6-      Kyle Busch, #18, Toyota (5th)
7-      Matt Kenseth, #17, Ford (18th)
8-      Dale Earnhardt Jr., #88, Chevrolet (21st)
9-      Kurt Busch, #22, Dodge (2nd)
10-  Jimmie Johnson, #48, Chevrolet (6th)
11-  Ryan Newman, #39, Chevrolet (20th)
12-  Denny Hamlin, #11, Toyota (11th)

If Jimmie Johnson wants to intimidate the field into believing he’s in hot pursuit of his 6th consecutive championship, Dover could be just the place to prove it. Given an excellent starting position and a win in last year’s September race at the track, this would be a great launching pad for Johnson’s surge forward. Since 2006, the beginning of his championship tenure, Johnson won both 2009 races. Starting 18th might not be an ideal position for starting at Dover, but Matt Kenseth won the spring race, his first since a spring win in 2006.  Kyle Busch who won last year’s spring race, looks poised for success in 5th starting position. He also tamed the monster in spring, 2008. If consistency is the best measure, Carl Edwards has the highest average finish at Dover at 7.7. With a 4th starting position and the proven ability to stay out of trouble could find the #99 Ford atop the leaders. Edwards also won the 2007 fall race.

The driver needing the most help at Dover, Denny Hamlin, is also the driver based on past history least likely to take advantage of the track having only two career top fives, four top tens, and an average 20.9. Kurt Busch with five top fives but only seven top tens averages an 18.7 finish, not good for him. Kevin Harvick with no wins and two top fives with an average of 17 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. who has tamed the monster once with seven top tens has been bitten badly too with his 17.7 average.

While Jimmie Johnson is the big winner of the field showing six wins, eight top fives, and thirteen top fives, his 9.6 avearage finish is behind Carl Edwards who shows an average of 7.6 with only one win, six top fives, and ten top tens.

Weather should not be a factor for the race with partly cloudy conditions and temperatures just touching 60o, conditions are favorable for good racing.