Jamie McMurray’s win: Long time coming, or lucky son-of-a-gun?
Saturday was supposed to be the luckiest day of the year – July 7th, 2007 (7/7/07). On that fateful night, some of NASCAR’s greatest drivers were lucky, indeed, finding no problem pulling the lever and hitting that jackpot on the slot machine of restrictor-plate racing known as Daytona International Speedway. While Jamie McMurray snagged the biggest payout, Kyle Busch discovered you make your own luck, and for all the talk about numerology, Clint Bowyer ended up just where he was destined to… in seventh place. In the midst of it all, Saturday night’s race provided the usual restrictor-plate fireworks that we’ve all come to expect. There were teammate squabbles, finger pointing, bashed-in race cars and fiery tempers, all of which led to a gambler’s delight on wheels – one of the closest finishes ever recorded in NASCAR history.
The Nextel Cup circuit heads to Daytona this week for NASCAR’s traditional Independence Day extravaganza. Held on the 2.5-mile tri-oval to mark the end of the season’s first half, the 400-miler gives us a chance to take stock and look back on what’s been a wild and wacky beginning to ’07. Even though the race is no longer held ON the 4th of July, it still involves a prolonged celebration of our country’s independence nonetheless.
As for your fantasy team, it’s a bit of a crapshoot; the Pepsi 400 is a completely different race from the Daytona 500 that kicked off the season. This race is during the heat of the Summer and is run completely at night. It is also the final restrictor plate race in the old-style car — the final plate race of the year at Talladega will be run with the Car of Tomorrow.
The 1-mile flat track up in New Hampshire proved as difficult as ever to pass on Sunday, but that didn’t stop a resurgent Jeff Gordon from giving it a shot. His last lap battle with Denny Hamlin left the two side-by-side heading to the finish line; but in the end, Hamlin held on, squeaking out a win while sending out a statement that his team could pose a challenge to Hendrick’s Car of Tomorrow dominance. In the meantime, several storylines developed behind the two contenders, with late-race pit strategies, dropped jacks, and two-tire stops doing their best to separate the contenders from the pretenders as the Race to the Chase began its final 10-race stretch.
The Nextel Cup Series heads to the Northeast this weekend to the cozy confines of New Hampshire International Speedway, the 1.058-mile flat track in Loudon, N.H. The eighth Car of Tomorrow race of the season, this weekend up north is likely to send the usual CoT cast of characters near the front of the pack. But pay particular attention to those championship contenders on your fantasy team; those drivers will certainly be focusing their efforts even more keenly on this track this weekend with the Chase in mind.
this week both the Nextel Cup drivers and I are back to work after that early vacation, with the bright lights of Las Vegas looming over the horizon. While two weeks isn’t enough to forecast a team’s entire season, there are definitely those teams out there that are getting all they can out of the early part of the year, just as there are those who are digging themselves a pretty big hole. So, before the engines start up once more, let’s take a second look at the roulette table and put our money on Who’s Hot and Who’s Not heading into this weekend’s race at Las Vegas.
While Sunday’s race provided a wild, exciting finish, the Daytona 500 wasn’t too kind to many people playing fantasy racing. With pre-race favorites like Dale Earnhardt Jr, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch all finishing 30th or worse, you wouldn’t be alone if you found your team struggling to earn points in week 1. But a new week and a new track are ahead of us and there is plenty of time to make your way back up to the top. So what drivers can help you strike gold in California this weekend and which ones will likely make you go bust? Let’s find out in this week’s Fantasy Picks N Pans.
Should NASCAR stay consistent with NOT throwing the yellow on the final lap if the wreck happens behind the leaders, as they did in the Daytona 500?
The only smoke at the track wasn’t from the leftover Victory Lane celebration; plenty of teams saw their chances for victory go up in flames as the final 50 laps of the race were filled with wrecks, busted sheet metal, and broken spirits. So who left Daytona in a blaze of glory, and who left putting out the flames of rage and disappointment? Read this week’s Who’s Hot and Who’s Not to find out.
Now that another new season is officially upon us, the time is here for our Frontstretch staff to look like geniuses… or, more likely, make fools of ourselves with our season picks for who takes this year’s title.
Daytona has become more of a handling track than that other restrictor-plate track on the schedule, Talladega. The surface has aged, and the grip has gone away more and more each year. People were actually talking during practice on Wednesday about getting their car to roll through the center of the corner; that is the kind of talk you get at Martinsville, not Daytona. Whatever the case may be, the teams that get the handling right will be the teams that run well all day, and it is a safe bet it will be a Chevrolet; they’ve won every Daytona 500 here since 2003.
It was officially announced this week that Erin Crocker is scaling back her schedule to run only 12 ARCA races and four Busch Series races this year. Is this the begininng of the end, or can she make it back and become a success after all that happened this year?