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.
This was supposed to be the time of year the battle for a “locked-in” spot for the first five races of 2008 heated up in Nextel Cup. In fact, this was supposed to be the time that the Top-35 battle was just as intense as the Chase. But with just two races now remaining, it appears that the 35th and final spot will be all but secured heading into Homestead, after a lap 129 accident ended any hope of a good run for the team currently 36th in owner points, the No. 21 of Bill Elliott.
Lowe’s Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile oval that has a reputation for going fast and wrecking hard; Saturday night’s race proved no exception to that rule. As such, it’s time to take a look at how a myriad of non-Chasers performed under the lights in NASCAR’s hometown of Charlotte, N.C. Let’s take a look at Who’s Hot, and Who’s Not, non-Chase style…
With the spotlight on the top 12 drivers in the standings each week, it’s sometimes easy to forget that 31 others take to the track each weekend in pursuit of a long-sought after victory… but that’s what the purpose of this column is for. With another Chase race under our belts, it’s time to take a look at how some of the non-Chasers performed in Kansas this past weekend. Now, to say Sunday’s race was crazy would be a bit of an understatement; weather, accidents, and plain bad luck ruined the days of many participants. As a result, seven of the Chasers experienced trouble, leaving many of those not in the NASCAR playoffs available to steal the headlines. With that in mind, let’s take a look at Who’s Hot, and Who’s Not, Non-Chase style…
For 12 drivers, it all comes down to this. OK, that’s overstating the drama heading into this Saturday’s race at Richmond; but by the end of the night, the remaining positions in the Chase will be filled before the points are reset for the top 12. Unfortunately, for most fantasy owners, there isn’t a redo button that you can hit after week 26; you have to gut it out for the entire 36-race schedule. Obviously, different drivers will have various goals heading into Richmond: some are looking to win bonus points for the Chase, some are looking to run well enough to maintain their positions, and some are just looking to survive. Hopefully, you can emphasize with position number one rather than number three… otherwise, your team may be in serious trouble!
Each week, we’ll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race and capture the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find; the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Sharpie 500 on the newly repaved Bristol Motor Speedway.
The series heads to Michigan this weekend for the second of the series’ two visits on the year – and hopefully, your fantasy team is scorching like the late summer heat. Just four races remain until the end of the regular season, and just like the excitement surrounding the Chase, the battle in many leagues is at a fever pitch. Are you in Kurt Busch’s shoes, holding on to a tenuous lead while others battle to knock you down from a spot in the money? Or are you like Dale Earnhardt Jr., a driver in need of some solid finishes – and more importantly, luck – to work your way back into contention?
This weekend’s race featured a spin to win, two drivers putting in their NASCAR best effort to pull each other’s hair out after a wreck, and a crazed fan making his way onto the track during a red flag… just to ask for an autograph. Makes it sound like an August Cup race at Bristol, doesn’t it? But instead, this was what transpired from what began as a tranquil Sunday afternoon in western New York. Shocked? So were many of the fans who watched this year’s edition of the Centurion Boats at the Glen. But they weren’t the only ones happy to see a surprising series of twists and turns that matched the road course’s 2.45-mile layout. Perhaps the biggest smile on the day came from stunned race winner Tony Stewart, who inherited the top spot as NASCAR’s winningest road racer, Jeff Gordon, spun in turn 1 with just two laps to go, relinquishing the lead and 10 bonus points to his longtime rival in the process.
As the excitement winds down from the second-biggest race of the year at Indianapolis, reality sets in for the Nextel Cup faithful – Sunday’s race at Pocono is the second of a 17-week stretch to finish off the regular season. With no off-weeks left to recharge and refocus, it’s crunch time for those in contention to make their final push to make the Chase – or, in your case, the pinnacle of your fantasy league. The competition continues at one of NASCAR’s most unique racetracks – the three-turn, triangular-shaped track in the Pennsylvania hills offers a refreshing change of pace from the cookie-cutter ovals that dot the landscape of the Nextel Cup schedule.
Chicago is known for football, deep-dish pizza, shopping, and the Sears Tower; sadly, it’s not yet known for great racing. However, there was at least one driver who didn’t sleep through the Chicagoland snoozefest; that would be Tony Stewart, who celebrated the end of his 20-race winless drought with another climb up the fence.