Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rollin' on the Big Slab

Ah yes, Talladega. Can anything possibly top the wild finish of what happened back in the Spring? Well, I’m sure Carl Edwards for one is certainly hoping things end up being a bit more down to earth (so to speak). And I just get the feeling that Brad Keselowski is still saying to any reporters that will listen, “They said don’t go below the yellow line, they said don’t go below the yellow line.”

This race is great for sending us a surprise winner, and so who will it be this weekend? Hmmm I’m glad you asked, because as it just so happens I’ve got a few thoughts and theories on some teams that might be ready to shock the Sprint Cup world … well, maybe “shock the world” is too strong, how about “make the people say wow”. Yeah, that’s more like it. Wow.

#47 Marcos Ambrose. I just have this theory that road course racers seem to find a home on the high banking and in the drafting packs we get at Talladega. Now mind you, this is still only a theory, but I’ll be closely watching Sprint Cup’s Oz connection to see how he backs up his great performance on this track in the Spring.

#26 Jamie McMurray. If memory serves me right Jamie Mac did a grand total of about 6 laps back in the Spring race, and one of my many other theories is that if a driver absolutely tanks in the Spring Dega race then he’s automatically primed for a breakout in the Fall Dega race. When Talladega taketh away, Talladega may giveth back. Just so you know I have many many theories regarding motorsports, and a few of them even make sense. Sometimes. Anyways, the 26 has shown good skills on the super speedways in the past and with the rough sailing he’s had at Roush lately he’s got that sentimental edge too.

#29 Kevin Harvick. This nightmare has to end eventually, doesn’t it? Oh what better way to salvage a lost season than a win on the Big Slab! My boy Harvick can drive, no doubts there but if luck is a deciding factor then I’ve got to believe the 29 team are due a few major breaks from the Racing Gods. I mean seriously the black cloud following the entire RCR operation has to dissipate sometime, so why not have some sunshine for the 29 from the autumn skies of Alabama. Although Happy might be so shocked he forgets how to find his way to Victory Lane. Aw that’s okay, I'm sure someone will have directions.

#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. If there’s a place that the masses of Junior Nation could see their boy take the checkers it’s gotta be Talladega. Just has to be. It nearly happened in the Spring, and I have a theory that the 88 will be close again in the Fall. Of course it won’t be without some drama and serious controversy, so a rain shortened race or a fuel mileage race or a photo-finish are all very real possibilities. If he can avoid the inevitable Big One (or series of Big Ones) then the 88 will definitely be a player … but then again that could be said for just about everybody at Talladega.

For those that are keeping score out there, the above four drivers will comprise my Fantasy League team for Talladega, because if I’m going to test these Nascar theories then KLV’s Nascar Nuts is just the perfect place. (That and the fact that I’ve pretty much used up most of the top drivers in the league already so now I’m basically scrambling to make my picks down the stretch)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Running of the (Red) Bulls?

The Brazilian Grand Prix is sometimes the final GP of the F1 season, and though it’s not actually the final event in 2009, it could prove to be the last dramatic event for the World Drivers Championship. Jenson Button of Brawn GP has basically limped close enough to the finish line that if he lands on the podium this weekend at Interlagos then the F1 WDC is his. JB’s Brawn GP teammate Rubens Barrichello and Red Bull Racing’s Seb Vettel are the lone two remaining competitors who have any say in how this championship plays out. Everyone else is already looking ahead to 2010

And for either of them to have any realistic shot they will have to win (or get second) and have Button struggle mightily. Probably not going to happen, and Button appears to have a considerable chance of clinching the title with one round left.

Good thing the FIA meddled with the rules and aerodynamics of the cars, eh? I mean it’s not like the last two Formula 1 championships went dramatically down to the final event and were decided by a mere point or so, right?

Speaking of 2010, the silly season has already begun. Raikkonen is out at Ferrari, to be replaced by Fernando Alonso. What about Felipe Massa? Well, he tested in a 2007 Ferrari recently and by all reports has had a remarkable recovery and could possibly fight his way back into the race seat of the other Ferrari. Then what of Giancarlo Fisichella? Uhm, good question. He might become Ferrari’s third driver or be out of Ferrari altogether, I have no idea.

Raikkonen has been rumored to be rejoining McLaren, but that’s not exactly a done deal just yet. Renault, Red Bull, and even Brawn GP have all been rumored to be taking a close look at bringing the Iceman onboard. Ah, you gotta love the swirling rumor storms of the silly season.

As far as a wild season finish goes, did anyone catch the final ALMS event at Laguna Seca? Holy Hell, the GT2 battle went down to the last corner between the Flying Lizard Porsche and one of the Corvettes. The battle between those two raged for all of the closing laps with the Corvette absolutely hounding the Porsche with some fender banging in the last corner and pushing and shoving all the way up the hill to the finsh line which eventually spun the ‘Vette into the wall. The class victory (which had zero effect on the season’s final standings) went to the Porsche and had tempers a bit hot over on pitlane. Great stuff.

Will the Nascar Sprint Cup series have such a dramatic finish in 2009? Not sure, but it’s getting a bit scary with that 48 team starting to look like they’re ready to take a stranglehold on the title chase. The 5 team has been strong and so has the 42 team, but with the sort of pressure the 48 team puts on everyone, top five finishes just don’t cut it. Victories are the only way to beat the three time defending champs.

Mark Martin is still the sentimental favorite, and it would be great to see him finally get that much deserved title. How about Juan Pablo right there in third? He’s been too calm, and you just have to know that a storm is brewing with him. And then lurking around are Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. Don’t count either of them out just yet either.

The Saturday night race in Charlotte will be bigtime significant. The 48 team looks extremely strong and history says it’s their race to lose, but racing is a fickle business and the car that looks so dominant early on isn’t necessarily the car that will take the checkers. I understand that the 5 and 42 teams have been saying how patient they’ll be and that there’s a long way yet to go in the Chase and all that press conference bullshit … but there comes a time when you’ve got to stand toe-to-toe with the 48 team and take the fight to them.

Let them get too far away from you, and you’ll never catch them at these Chase tracks.