NASCAR heads to the Desert Southwest for their second trip to Phoenix International Raceway this weekend, as the Chase for the Nextel Cup has winnowed down to merely a two-horse race. While six drivers are still mathematically alive, just Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon remain with a realistic chance to take home the trophy come November 18th. Hopefully, your team’s in the same boat as those two, battling hard for a title after 34 races filled with your fair share of ups and downs.
The word around the garage at Texas was that car owner Roger Penske is considering making a change next year to his driver lineup, taking advantage of the rules as they are written to ensure Hornish a starting spot in the first five races next season. In a move that would put all three of his cars on solid ground, Penske is thinking of putting his open-wheel star turned stock car rookie into the No. 2 car – or at the very least, applying the owner points from that car to Hornish’s ride for the 2008 season. In the meantime, Kurt Busch would have points from Penske’s third entry, the No. 06, which he plans to bring full-time in 2008.
There were two races going on during the O’Reilly Challenge. The primary race, which was won by Kevin Harvick (who practically owns the Busch Series when he decides to run), and Carl Edwards’ race to finally finish off the series championship. Edwards had to finish 36th or better to seal the deal and, thanks to some attrition, Edwards sealed the championship before the end of the race.
With just three races left, the chance to move up is fading fast; just like in the real Chase, the contenders have emerged from the pretenders in most leagues. Now, the circuit heads to the self-proclaimed Great American Racetrack this weekend, traveling down to Texas for 500 miles of jockeying on SMI’s mile-and-a-half facility. With its aged asphalt surface and multiple grooves, the racing should be full of twists and turns, increasing the importance for you to pick wisely at a time where any bad break could cost you the chance to win your league.
At 9:16 on a Monday morning, Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolled onto the track at Atlanta Motor Speedway, tucked behind the wheel of a No. 5 Chevrolet Impala. As the car climbed up to speed, what was a Twilight Zone-type moment faded away, as those observing came back down to earth and recognized the enormity of what had come to pass. One lap after another clicked off on the scoreboard, and reality hit home; one of the most-anticipated moves in recent Silly Season history was now unfolding right before their eyes.
The Busch Series race at Memphis was more like a Friday night Demolition Derby than an event that originated from the number two stock car series in America. On a day when almost half of the race was run under the yellow flag, a total of 25 caution flags for 117 laps dominated the headlines, coming up one short of the all-time record for the series. The longest green-flag run of the entire race was 20 laps, from lap 20 through lap 40; the wreckfest made the race horrific to watch and caused several teams to use pit strategy to get to the front, as several teams found their fuel windows extended due to the slower average speed. In fact, all of the fits and starts allowed teams to run over half of the race on their final pit stops.
Unless your fantasy league is similar to the current Nextel Cup standings, there are still more than a few good reasons to keep reworking your driver lineup with time running out on 2007. The final four race dash to glory starts this weekend at Atlanta, one of the fastest tracks on the circuit, and any little tweak could make the difference in a tight-knit league. Obviously, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon will be garnering plenty of attention this week as they continue their battle for the title. But while they both have impressive records at Atlanta, it’s the hidden gems and the not so obvious picks that could help take your team to the next level this late in the season and help separate you from the rest of the pack.
One week ago, it looked like Jeremy Mayfield’s Nextel Cup career was nearing a difficult, painful ending. But just when you thought the two-time Chaser was down and out for good… he’s been given one final chance. It was announced on Monday that Mayfield is going to drive the No. 66 car for Haas CNC Racing for the rest of this season and all of 2008. That ride was occupied, until this week, by Jeff Green, who has now been unceremoniously shoved to the unemployment line. While the seat is not the A-level ride Mayfield’s desired since announcing he’d leave Bill Davis Racing at the end of 2007, it still represents an opportunity, one more chance to prove he can still make a living driving in the Cup Series.
During the recent meeting between Frontstretch and Rich Feinberg, the Vice President of Motorsports for ESPN, there were quite a few interesting facts that came to light that many of NASCAR’s fans might not be aware of. In an effort to give the network some of the credit for what they do in broadcasting races – since they seem to take so much blame – here is some of what we learned about the Worldwide Leader In Sports’ coverage this season, and what they do on a weekly basis that many of you might not realize.
The Busch Series was once again the playground of the Buschwhackers. Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards dueled at the front of the pack for much of the first two-thirds of the race. By lap 129, Clint Bowyer assumed the point. Biffle led one more lap on lap 139, but lost it to Jeff Burton, who led the remainder of the race to capture his 26th career Busch Series victory.