Sunday, September 25, 2011

2011 NASCAR: Tony Stewart wins in New Hampshire and goes 2 for 2 to kick off the chase while Denny Hamlin falls 66 points behind the leader.

(Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Well ladies and gentlemen, here we are, NASCAR’s version of the playoffs, the 2011 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship and we are two races into the chase.

Last Monday in the rain delayed race at Chicagoland Speedway, fuel mileage played a big role in the outcome of the Geico 500 as Tony Stewart would roll the dice and come up with his first victory of 2011, followed by Kevin Harvick finishing 2nd and a strong Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishing 3rd, while others would run out of fuel including Jimmie Johnson who finished 8th and Matt Kenseth who received a push on the last lap, but penalized by NASCAR and had to settle for a 21st place finish.

Now fast forward to earlier today at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway that played host to the second chase race with the Sylvania 300 and wouldn’t you know it, the hype was actually right as this race would become very physical with contact early and often, but lacked in the caution department.

I was surprised to see that at New Hampshire, we really didn’t see that many caution flags for spins and flat tires as NASCAR would keep this one green for most of the 300 laps. I will say that at one point when just about every car pitted, but a few didn’t and a caution flag did come out. I was very happy with the fact that NASCAR does have the wave around rule with the Lucky Dog that would actually bring 25 cars back on the lead lap. Otherwise I would have hated to see 4-6 cars on the lead lap and all of those laps cars fighting it out for position in front of the leader on the restart. That would have been a caution for sure.

But in the end as so many of the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series races have gone this year, fuel mileage played a role in the outcome of the race as Clint Bowyer would run out of fuel with 2 laps to go, in turn Tony Stewart (who ran out of fuel here on year ago) would make the pass and go on to win the Sylvania 300 and go 2 for 2 to kick off the chase. And Tony Stewart now finds himself leading the points, 7 points over second place Kevin Harvick.

After New Hampshire, here are the unofficial points:

1. Tony Stewart, Leader
2. Kevin Harvick, -7
3. Brad Keselowski, -11
4. Carl Edwards, -14
5. Jeff Gordon, -23
6. Kyle Busch, -26
7. Matt Kenseth, -26
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr., -26 (Note: 3rd at Chicagoland, running in the top 10, but blow a tire late on, but ended up battling back to finish 17th at New Hampshire.)
9. Kurt Busch, -28
10. Jimmie Johnson, -29
11. Ryan Newman, -34
12. Denny Hamlin, -66

There are three key points to keep in mind heading into race 3 of the chase at Dover.

1. The top 11 are still well in the hunt for the Championship and yes that does include Jimmie Johnson who is sitting 10th, -29 points back. But I can’t say the same for 12th place Denny Hamlin, I just don’t see Hamlin making a late charge for the championship after seeing how his season has gone thus far.

2. Kurt Busch’s car failed pre-race inspection, the Penske Racing Dodge could receive a penalty on Tuesday from NASCAR and I have to wonder of it will be a points penalty of 6 or 25 points and/or a fine.

3. Dover is one of Jimmie Johnson’s best race tracks, if he is going to make a comeback like he has in season’s passed, this is the place for him to do it.

Next Dover.

I support having a few casinos and a slot parlor here in Massachusetts and believe that lawmakers need to pass the Casino Bill now.

According to a CBS Boston Article, a poll shows that 56 percent of Massachusetts Residents favor the Casino Bill that would allow for three casinos and a slot parlor.

As a Massachusetts resident myself, I am actually in favor of having one or two casinos here in Massachusetts as well as one slot parlor. I believe that while casinos will bring some issues, casinos will also bring in some much needed revenue and jobs for us here in Massachusetts.

It would also give so many Massachusetts residents the option of staying close to home and gambling here in the Bay State, instead of traveling over an hour or two south, down to one of the two casinos in Connecticut. And I would be one of them as I have been to both Mohegan Sun and Foxwood’s (with the MGM Grand) Casinos in Connecticut.

Now as for the current Casino Bill, while I would rather see a max of 2 casinos and one slot parlor here in the Bay State, I do support the Casino Bill with 3 casinos and one slot parlor and I seriously hope that finally after a long time of debate and seeing nothing get down, that Massachusetts lawmakers and the Governor finally pass this bill.

Besides consider this, one way or another, there will be at least one casino here in Massachusetts with or without the Casino Bill passing as a tribe has already requested permission to build a casino here and if Massachusetts doesn’t give it to them, the Federal Government will and Massachusetts wouldn’t see any money from it period. Thoughts?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A sweet 1970 Dodge Charger “General Lee Tribute” auctions away for $24,500 at 2011 Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas.

(Photo Credit: Barrett-Jackson.com)

Every year for the past several years now, I have been more and more getting into watching and now blogging on the Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions from different locations that are live on SPEED. Over the years I’ve seen some amazing vehicle that as a car enthusianst I would love to own one day if I had the money. It’s a dream ride.

Anyway, on Thursday while I was watching day 1 of the 2011 Barrett-Jackson from Las Vegas on SPEED, I noticed this 1970 Dodge Charger custom coupe that is a “General Lee Tribute” car. I know, the General Lee from the TV series the Dukes of Hazzard was a 1969 Dodge Charger, but this particular one is very appealing. I like the black and orange with a new twist to the flag on top.

The car auctioned away for $24,500, nice ride especially for the money. Thoughts?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dale Earnhardt Jr unveiled his 2012 #88 Diet Mountain Dew / National Guard Chevrolet paint scheme.



Earlier today on ESPN’s SportsCenter, Dale Earnhardt Jr. unveiled his new-look paint scheme for part of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet Impala SS that will debut at the 2012 Daytona 500.

“The time is right to put the power of Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind Diet Mountain Dew as our lead brand on the 88 car,” said Brett O’Brien, vice president of marketing for Mountain Dew and AMP Energy. “Diet Dew is one of the fastest-growing carbonated soft drinks in the United States, and Dale Jr. is the embodiment of the person we’re trying to target with Diet Mountain Dew—it’s a perfect partnership. Additionally, AMP Energy will continue to be a significant part of our sponsorship activity with several AMP Energy paint-outs in 2012.” – Quotes from Hendrick Motorsports

Personally as a Dale Jr. fan, I like the new-look paint scheme that Dale Jr. had a hand in designing and it does look like a Diet Mountain Dew can.

But I also like the fact that PepsiCo changed from AMP Energy to Diet Mountain Dew on Dale Jr.’s #88 Chevrolet. I’m not an energy drink type person, but I am a soda drinker.

Also hopefully with the addition of Diet Mountain Dew on the #88, maybe PepsiCo will bring out a Mountain Dew with Zero Sugar and Zero Calories so I can drink it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rachel finds redemption and wins Big Brother 13, but what did everyone think?

In last Wednesday night’s season finale of Big Brother 13, Big Brother fans saw Adam, Porsche and (former Big Brother 12 houseguest) Rachel fight it out for the final HOH competition with the winner choosing who to sit next to in the final two.

Part one was an endurance competition where Adam was the first to fall out of the competition, followed by Porsche later in the competition. That meant that Rachel won part one of the HOH. In part two, it was Porsche vs. Adam in an underwater competition where Porsche blow Adam’s time away to win part two.

However it would all come down to part three. Part three was a question and answer on the live eviction show that after 5 questions, Rachel won the final HOH competition to become the final Head of Household.

But I have to admit that I was surprised to see Rachel actually honor her final two deal with Porsche and evict Adam, in turn taking Porsche to the final two. After that decision, you could tell that Rachel was on edge with her decision and that she was nervous about the upcoming talk with the jury of Brendan, Daniele, Jeff, Shelly, Kalia, Jordon and Adam.

In watching the sit down chat between the jury members earlier in the week before Adam joined them, I came to conclusion that Rachel was going to win just by how many people where talking so highly of her.

However it would be the live voting that would decide it all. Personally in my preview, I figured that it would come down to a 4-3 vote if it was Rachel vs. Porsche.

In the voting, I was right that the vote would come down to 4-3, but it wasn’t Adam that would make the difference, instead it was Shelly as she voted for Rachel which gave Rachel the win in Big Brother 13.

Damn, well at least Adam didn’t win and a real competitive person who actually won challenges won Big brother this time. But personally I want to give a tip of the hat to Porsche, while I didn’t have all that much to say about Porsche in the first 50 days of Big Brother, she really stepped up to the plate when it really counted to put herself into the final three.

But congrats to Rachel on winning Big Brother 13. (Note: I just wish she didn’t treat everyone like crap in BB12 and BB13, boy what a terrible social game, well at least she won HOH’s and POV’s)

And CBS confirmed that there will be a Big Brother 14 next summer in 2012, hopefully BB14 will be 16 new houseguests playing as individuals that don’t know each other at all. Plus no returning or former houseguests. But for what it is worth, CBS did a good job with Big Brother 13 despite the outcome. Basically season 13 was filled with twists and turns and in the end was exciting, thoughts?

Monday, September 12, 2011

NASCAR fans, here is your 2011 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders, but who will win?

(Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Well ladies and gentlemen, here we go, 12 drivers, 10 races, 1 champion, so who’s in, where do they sit heading into the first chase race at Chicagoland Speedway this Sunday and who’s really a contender?

1. Kyle Busch – 2012 (4 wins)
2. Kevin Harvick - 2012 (4 wins)
3. Jeff Gordon - 2009 (3 wins)
4. Matt Kenseth - 2006 (2 wins)
5. Carl Edwards - 2003 (1 win)
6. Jimmie Johnson – 2003 (1 win)
7. Kurt Busch - 2003 (1 win)
8. Ryan Newman – 2003 (1 win)
9. Tony Stewart - 2000 (0 wins)
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 2000 (0 wins)
11. Brad Keselowski – 2000 (0 wins)
12. Denny Hamlin – 2000 (0 wins)

Predictions, normally at this time or after the first chase race namely Chicago, I would make bold predictions including what the final finishing order will be including who is going to win the championship. And yet year is no different.

The way I see it right now as NASCAR heads into the first chase race at Chicagoland Speedway, I really only see 6 drivers as real championship contenders right now. I mean come on, some drivers just struggled to get into the top 12, while others.

So who are the real contenders? Well, I’m going to divide the top 12 into 3 categories.

Category #1: Top Contenders and one’s to watch.

1. Jimmie Johnson.
2. Kevin Harvick.
3. Carl Edwards.
4. Jeff Gordon.

Category #2: Dark horses or teams that isn’t as consistent as they should be.

5. Kyle Busch.
6. Matt Kenseth.
7. Brad Keselowski. The only reason Brad K. is in this category is he is a dark horse and he has used a lot of luck within the last month to make the chase, but personally I hope he does win the Cup Series Championship this season, that would be incredible.

Category #3: I just plain don’t see these drivers winning the championship as they all just struggled to make the chase. Anyway way you look at it, finishing outside the top 10 every week isn’t going to win you a championship and these drivers simply don’t have the good finishes to win a championship. But stranger things have happened.

8. Ryan Newman
9. Kurt Busch.
10. Tony Stewart
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - And I’m a member of JR Nation, but while he has good cars and a strong team, they can’t seem to get in position at the end of the race and do something with it to finish inside the top 5 or win the race.
12. Denny Hamlin

So with that said I believe that Jimmie Johnson is the favorite going in, but my pick is Brad Keselowski to win his first Sprint Cup Championship (which would be great for the sport in its own right), along with Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, and Kyle Busch being in the mix for sure.

Bottom line, we have a six-driver chase for the Sprint Cup and it should be interesting to watch especially Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski with 3 races to go in the chase.

And congrats to Penske Racing for getting both of their cars into the chase, that’s huge in itself. Penske has turned the entire operation, now let’s see if Brad Keselowski, Penske’s best chance get win the championship for the captain, I wouldn’t beat against him.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Predictions: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin lead others to compete for the final 3 spots to get into the Chase for the Sprint Cup at Richmond.

As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers and teams finally pack up and leave Atlanta after a two day postponed race due to rain from Tropical Storm Lee, they now are heading back north through Charlotte on up to the final Race to the Chase at Richmond International Raceway this Saturday night.

NASCAR now finds themselves with the added excitement that they were hoping for when they announced this new 1 point per position points system and two wild cards back before the season begun. So with one race to go to see who’s in and who’s out of the chase, here is the break down and what I believe is going to happen come Saturday night.

After Atlanta, NASCAR official locked in the top 8 drivers as well as one wild card entry.

1. Jimmie Johnson (1 win)
2. Kyle Busch (3 wins)
3. Carl Edwards (1 wins)
4. Matt Kenseth (2 wins)
5. Jeff Gordon (2 wins)
6. Kevin Harvick (3 wins)
7. Kurt Busch (1 win)
8. Ryan Newman (1 win)

As well as the first wild card driver Brad Keselowski as a result of his 3 wins and 11th in points. Keep in mind, Brad is -21 points behind 10th place Tony Stewart and -23 behind 9th place Dale Jr. Those numbers might play a role.

So with 9 drivers locked into the chase that just leaves 3 slots open and several different scenarios that could play out.

Currently here are the drivers that are in the chase as of now.

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  +25 over 11th (He needs to finish 20th or better, meaning getting 20th or better points to lock into the chase regardless of what any other driver does.)

10. Tony Stewart +23 over 11th (He needs to finish 18th or better, meaning getting 18th or better points to lock into the chase regardless of what any other driver does.)

Wild Card #2. Denny Hamlin in 12th

Denny Hamlin who currently holds down the second wild card slot realistically has only 5 drivers to beat at Richmond to make the chase despite the fact that 11 drivers mathematically have a chance at making the chase, of course most of them hinder on Brad Keselowski moving into the top 10 in points. It’s all due to wins and neither Tony Stewart, or Dale Earnhardt Jr. have a win this season.

The 5 drivers would be based on the fact that they could win the Richmond race:

- 13th in points, A.J. Allmendinger. The 43 can make the chase if he wins the race and scores 12 points more than Denny Hamlin. This is a wild card and since A.J. has been knocking on the door of his first Cup Series win, Richmond is a good place for him to get it.

- 14th in points, Clint Bowyer. The #33 can still make the chase if he wins the race and scores 13 more points than Denny Hamlin. Keep in mind that Clint Bowyer has won at Richmond before and runs well there.

As well as:

- Paul Menard (Since Menard has 1 win this season already, he would have to win at Richmond and be inside the top 20 to make the chase.)

- Marcos Ambrose (Since Ambrose has 1 win this season already, he would have to win at Richmond and be inside the top 20 to make the chase.)

- David Regan (Since Regan has 1 win this season already, he would have to win at Richmond and be inside the top 20 to make the chase.)

However while I believe that it will be a duel to the end at Richmond with several drivers making that last minute charge for the chase, I prediction that Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin will all make the chase for the Sprint Cup. While Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson will fight it out for the victory and keep in mind that for the other drivers outside the chase, no victory, no chase.

Why? Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the most part has been running well all season long despite some bad luck and since Richmond has been a good track for him in the past, he should finish inside the top 15. The same goes for Tony Stewart, Smoke has a 3rd place finish at Atlanta last Tuesday and him finishing inside the top 15 as well should be good.

That just leaves Denny Hamlin and yes he is a wild card. However since he does have one win earlier this season at Michigan and since Richmond is not only his home track, but a good track for him, plus he finished 2nd here in May, I see Hamlin contending for the victory all night long and finishing inside the top 5 without issue.

Plus, as much as Earnhardt Jr., Stewart and Hamlin have had bad luck this season, there biggest competition namely the 5 other drivers have had bad luck too and have yet to capitalize on anything as of now especially Clint Bowyer who has three chances so far. So no chance, of course even getting a top 20 finish at Richmond is difficult to do.

Now let’s see some good old fashion Saturday night short track racing under the lights.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

“My Take” Dale Earnhardt Jr. signs 5-year extension with Hendrick Motorsports.

Last Thursday before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series headed off to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Atlanta 500, Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports announced that they have signed a 5-year contract extension with Dale Earnhardt Jr. The contract will now keep Dale Jr. in the #88 Chevrolet thru the 2017 Cup Series season.

“We’re excited to have everything formalized and announced,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “Junior and I had a handshake agreement months ago, and we let other people work out the finer points from there. It was as simple and smooth as it gets.

“My feelings haven’t changed since the day he first signed with us. I’m committed as ever to putting him in the best possible situation to be successful and compete for wins and championships.”

“It’s great to have it all wrapped up so quickly and far in advance,” said Earnhardt, who currently is ninth in the Sprint Cup standings. “Rick and I were on the same page from the first time we talked about it, so there wasn’t any sense in waiting. There were never any questions or hesitations from either of us. It was just, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’

“I’m really happy at Hendrick Motorsports and enjoy working with everyone here. The team’s been very competitive this season, and we’re all excited about the direction of things. I want to make sure we’re giving our fans something to cheer about for a long time.” – Quotes from Hendrick Motorsports

Personally, I have been hearing about Dale Jr. or mainly his people working on a contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports for the last several months now despite the fact that Dale Jr’s current contract goes through 2012. As a matter of fact, Rick said that he has had a hand-shack deal with Dale Jr. for a while now and they just had to work out the details. But you have to remember that Dale Jr. has had a hand-shack deal with Hendrick since around 15 years old, so this deal is no surprise to me.

However as for the timing, I have to believe that Dale Earnhardt Jr. might have saw what the media was doing to Carl Edwards, namely the daily circus and every week questions to Edwards as he was trying to work out this contract for 2012 and beyond with Roush-Fenway Racing as well as looking elsewhere as well. And decided that he not only wanted to stay at Hendrick, but wanted to avoid all of that and sign the deal now, instead of waiting.

As a Dale Jr. fan myself, I believe that Junior signing an extension now is a good thing for everyone involved and it will help Dale Jr. move along in his Cup Series racing career. I do look for Dale Jr. to be a contender for race wins every week like he use to be back in 2004 and contend for the championship. He does have a good #88 team behind him especially with his new crew chief in Steve Letarte. Now it’s all up to Dale Jr. as to where he goes from here.

However I also believe that this will be the last driving contract that Dale Earnhardt Jr. signs in his career as he will be 42 years old at the end of this extension. Now that’s not to say that he’s done by any means, but rather I see Dale Jr. driving for himself. He already has JR Motorsports and in 5 years from now, I would say that going Cup Series racing with his own team will be possible.

Now I look towards Richmond this coming Saturday night to see if Dale Jr. will make the 2011 chase for the Sprint Cup as he is 9th in points after Atlanta.

Monday, September 5, 2011

How did I spend my Labor Day? Watching Antron Brown, Mike Neff and Hector Arana Jr. win the U.S. Nationals on television.

Well ladies and gentlemen, actually I’m spending Labor Day the same way I have spent it over few years now, watching the NHRA’s biggest event, the U.S. Nationals semi-live on TV (6 hours of coverage mind you) from Indianapolis.

And wouldn’t you know it, there were a few surprises in this one as 1st time winner in Top Fuel and 3rd U.S. Nationals Antron Brown in Top Fuel, 1st time winner as both driver and crew chief Mike Neff in Funny Car, (6th win) Greg Anderson in Pro Stock, and 1st time winner Hector Arana Jr. in Pro Stock Motorcycle, won in there classes in the U.S. Nationals.

But on thing, I wasn’t too happy to hear Ron Capps’s post interview about something about him seeing other driver wins the U.S. Nationals and not deserve it, while he hasn’t. Let’s get one thing straight, if you beat the best in four rounds and win the finals, you deserve it and you should be proud to have won the U.S. National. Capps needs to rethink his comments.

But to be quite honest here, while I was and have been watching the U.S. Nationals for the last few years now, this is actually the first NHRA event that I have watched this season.

Simply put, I’m more of a stock car fan, namely NASCAR than a drag racing fan. However when I do watch the NHRA, I route for the same drivers and team that I have route for for the past decade or so and that would be John Force and Team John Force Racing drivers. But I also love first time winners.

And yes I enjoyed the U.S. Nationals for the most part. Thoughts?