Dallas Motorsports: Greg Biffle
With ESPN Stats & Information riding shotgun, here's who you should keep a close eye on during Saturday night's NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway:
Jimmie Johnson: "Five-Time" has outdone the entire field in some aspects over the past 10 Sprint Cup events. In that time, he has four of the 10 wins and has won three times from the pole, something no other driver has done even once. He also has three starts where he's earned maximum points, which is more than the rest of the field combined. Johnson led more laps at TMS (324) in 2012 -- more than 3.5 times any other driver. After last week's win at Martinsville, Johnson now has 12 multi-win seasons during his career, which ranks behind only Richard Petty (18), Jeff Gordon (14) and Cale Yarborough (13).
|Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage joins Galloway & Company to discuss the NRA sponsorship and who he's picking to win Saturday's Sprint Cup race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Since the start of the 2012 season, Dale Jr. has really stepped it up. His average finish over his last 40 races has been 10.4 -- more than eight spots better than the 2009-11 seasons (18.8 average finish). And he's very comfortable at TMS, where he earned his first career victory. Earnhardt has four straight top-10 finishes at TMS and five overall since the start of the 2010 Sprint Cup season. For his career, he's got 12 top-10 finishes in 21 races. Not too shabby.
Roush Fenway Racing (Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards): RFR is no stranger when it comes to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway. The team has nine Cup wins at TMS, more than double the next-best effort (4, by Hendrick Motorsports drivers). Greg Biffle, who won the spring race in 2012, and Carl Edwards will again be behind the wheel in Jack Roush cars on Saturday night, so keep an eye on them. In the last five races here (spanning 18 starts), RFR drivers have two wins, 11 top-5 finishes and 15 top 10s. They've also led 38.7 percent of laps run at TMS.
Edwards is the winningest Cup driver at TMS, having fired the pistols three times in Victory Lane. He also has three top-10 finishes in his last four starts here, with an average finish of 7.3. Biffle, meanwhile, has one win and hasn't finished outside the top 10 in his last nine races at TMS -- an average finish of 5.7. That includes six top-5s.
Danica Patrick: You have to keep on eye on Danica, whose eighth-place finish during the 2012 Nationwide Series race at TMS is the second-best result of her NASCAR career. And don't forget she's coming off an impressive 12th in the Cup race at Martinsville last week. Patrick seems very comfortable running under the green at TMS, where she passed a personal-best 107 cars en route to a 24th place finish last November.
Brad Keselowski: You have to think a visit to Victory Lane is just around the corner for the reigning Cup champion. Keselowski has yet to win this season, but has an average finish of 7.2 thus far this season. That's ahead of the personal-best pace he set last season, as he had an average finish of 10.1 -- with five wins -- en route to the Sprint Cup championship.
Kyle Busch: After the worst season of his career, Busch still is a threat to win behind the wheel of any car, as his success across all three of NASCAR's series proves. After taking the checkered flag just once last season, Busch has gotten back to his winning ways in 2013 -- getting four wins in just 12 races. Over the last six seasons, Busch has 88 victories in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series.
Matt Kenseth: Kenseth is always a threat at TMS, having won twice on the 1.5-mile track. But it's not the checkered flags that impresses most. It's the career average finish here (8.3) that boggles the mind. He's got 12 top 5s, 15 top 10s and has led 772 laps at TMS.
Jeff Gordon: Saturday's start will the 696th in a row for Gordon, who will move within one of Rusty Wallace for second on the all-time NASCAR Iron Man list. Ricky Rudd holds the record at 788.
Tony Stewart: "Smoke" has always been a TMS favorite, but he's run into tough times so far this season with an average finish of 21.2 and only 154 quality passes, which ranks 22nd among Cup drivers. That being said, you can't count Stewart out as he's visited Victory Lane in each of the last 14 seasons, which is tied for seventh all-time behind Richard Petty's 18 seasons with a win. With a checkered flag in 2013, he'll join Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt on that list, and he'd also tie Herb Thomas for 13th all-time with 48 career victories.
Want to impress your friends while hanging out at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday and Saturday? Here's a little bit of TMS trivia, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information:
FRONT RUNNERS: If you qualify in the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway, you have a very good chance of winning. In 24 races since the track’s inaugural race in 1997, 18 winners have rolled off pit row from a top-10 starting spot, the highest win percentage of any track along with Sonoma. Richmond and Dover are next at 71.9 percent.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: So who has the best chance of starting in the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway? None other than Jimmie Johnson, who has started from inside the top 10 on 12 occasions in 19 races (63.2 percent), including both of his Texas wins. Greg Biffle (61.1), Kasey Kahne (58.8) and Mark Martin (54.2) are next.
CLIMBING THE LADDER: Enough about those at the front. That's easy, right? Now ... coming up through the field to win? That's an achievement. Matt Kenseth currently holds that honor, winning in 2002 after starting 31st. Denny Hamlin, however, proved he was no fluke, having swept both 2010 races from the 30th and 29th starting spots in the field. Carl Edwards (2005) also won from the 30th spot.
PHOTO FINISHES: Nothing beats the drama of a last-lap sprint to the checkered flag. Just ask Elliott Sadler, who edged Kasey Kahne by .028 seconds in 2004 for the closest Cup finish in TMS history. And if you want the opposing viewpoint, you can try to ask Jimmie Johnson, who was the runner-up in close finishes to Denny Hamlin (.152 seconds in 2010), Tony Stewart (.272 seconds in 2006), Jeff Gordon (.378 seconds in 2009) and Carl Edwards (.399 seconds in 2008). Venturing a guess, however: You need not feel overly sorry for "Five-Time."
WHICH WAY IS VICTORY LANE: Will there be a first-time Cup winner in Texas? It's happened twice before. Jeff Burton earned his first Cup victory at TMS in 1997. Burton, who started fifth, beat Dale Jarrett by 4.1 seconds to win in his 96th career race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. reached Victory Lane much quicker, winning at TMS in 2000 in just his 12th career race. Who'd Dale Jr. beat to the finish line? Why Jeff Burton, of course.
Playing the numbers game for the NRA 500, to be held at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night:
From 2000-06, Dale Jr. had top 10s in seven of his nine races for an average finish of 10.2. Over the next three seasons, through 2009, he failed to crack the top 10 in six races for an average finish of 21.2. Since then, however, he's averaged an 11th place finish in his last six races.
Who stars in the Lone Star State?
Who's just feeling alone?
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Greg Biffle said a few days ago that his team didn't want just the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points lead, that it also needed wins. Well, he got one Saturday night, taking the lead from Jimmie Johnson with 40 laps to go and eventually claiming the checkered flag in the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Here are some quick thoughts on the race:
What it means: Biffle leaves Texas having increased the Cup points lead but also having won his first race since Kansas in October 2010. Along with the win, Biffle has three third-place finishes and hasn't finished worse than 13th. No one has been more consistent.
Lots of green-flag laps: The Samsung Mobile 500 finished under green and had more than 200 consecutive green-flag laps leading up to that finish. It's the first time since 1999 at Homestead that there's been 200 or more consecutive green-flag laps at a superspeedway in a NASCAR event.
Can't get 200: Hendrick Motorsports is still waiting for victory No. 200. Johnson appeared to have it in sight but Biffle was able to get around Johnson, who led the most laps. Johnson still doesn't have a win in 2012. This is Johnson's fifth runner-up finish in the past 12 races at TMS. He also has one win (November 2007) in that span.
Mover and shaker: The most impressive move of the night has to go to Jeff Gordon, who started 34th (outside Row 17). He moved up steadily and got himself into the top 10 at the halfway point. Gordon, who had just one top-10 finish coming in, finished fourth. He struggled at TMS early in his career but won in April 2009 and had a top-10 in November (ending a streak of three straight finishes of 23rd or worse).
Junior can't quite break through: Dale Earnhardt Jr. now has gone 136 races without a win. He ran pretty well Saturday night -- finished 10th after starting 16th -- and continues to have a solid start to the 2012 season, but he wasn't in Victory Lane. Junior last won in June 2008 in Michigan. He won at TMS in 2001 and 1998, and had two straight top-10 finishes in Texas coming into the race.
Fuel system issue: Brad Keselowski started eighth (outside Row 4) and was competitive until he had a problem with the fuel system. He tried to hang around but was not running fast enough lap times to stay on the track consistently. He had to go to the garage and work on it on Lap 159. He did get back on the track to pick up as many points as he could.
Wind factor: When the green flag dropped, winds were gusting at 21.5 mph from the south, meaning it was with the drivers on the backstretch and against them on the frontstretch. The wind coming out of Turn 3 might have contributed to Trevor Bayne touching the wall early in the race, but otherwise it didn't appear to be a big issue.
Side-by-side racing? We didn't see much of it at TMS on Saturday night. The cars got spread out on the 1.5-mile oval thanks in large part to few cautions. The Nationwide race Friday was much more exciting racing than the Cup cars were Saturday. Plus, tires didn't appear to be wearing out much, something that's been the case all season.
Smoke's struggles: Tony Stewart, who won at TMS in November and has run well in Texas, had to start in his backup car after a wreck in practice Friday. He started 29th but quickly dropped back from there and ended up 24th (two laps down). He wasn't able to generate any momentum or get the car where he wanted it. His crew tried a two-tire stop early in the race to gain some track position, but the car wasn't good enough to hold it. Debris cautions before the race was 100 laps old kept him from getting lapped, but he was lapped in the second half and just didn't have it. It's been a long time since Stewart, who was dominant at TMS in the fall and won the Sprint Cup title, has struggled this much.
Golf meets racing: Denny Hamlin was hoping some of Bubba Watson's major championship luck would rub off on him this week in Texas. Hamlin, who won at Phoenix in the second race of the season, was Watson's caddie for the par-3 tournament at Augusta National Golf Club last week. Of course, Watson went on to win the green jacket as Masters champion. Hamlin worked his way up after a slow start but wasn't able to get all the way to the checkered flag, finishing12th.
Crowd: The estimated attendance for Saturday night's race was 159,200. There weren't many empty seats in the frontstretch, but there were spots without folks on the backstretch. No matter how you look at it, it was a large crowd.
What's next: The NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit heads to Kansas Speedway for the second annual STP 400. The race is April 22 at 1 p.m. ET with Keselowski as the defending champion.
1. (16) Greg Biffle
2. (29) Kevin Harvick
3. (56) Martin Truex, Jr.
4. (17) Matt Kenseth
5. (55) Mark Martin
6. (9) Marcos Ambrose
7. (2) Brad Keselowski
8. (48) Jimmie Johnson
9. (99) Carl Edwards
10. (1) Jamie McMurray
He won with a lap of 28.366 seconds.
After the qualifier, he continued to talk about how he can feel a win coming.
"I can't even explain it. I'm just blessed to have the team I have and be in the position I'm in," Truex Jr. said. "It makes you think back to those days when things weren't going so well."
This could be a huge step in winning his first Samsung Mobile 500. He's had problems winning the pole in the past, and he's willing to admit that.
"I'm not the greatest qualifier," Truex Jr. said. "At times I tend to overdrive the car. There are some days, like today, that the car will take that."
Asked if he did anything different to win the pole, he smiled and said he "just drove harder" this time.
Matt Kenseth finished second with a lap of 28.399 seconds.
Greg Biffle continued to be impressive at Texas Motor Speedway. He finished third at qualifying with his 10th top-10 start in Fort Worth.
It's Truex Jr.'s second pole at Texas Motor Speedway and first in the Samsung Mobile 500. His first came in the 2007 Dickies 500 where he finished third.
His best finish in the Samsung Mobile 500 came in 2007 when he started 24th and moved his way up to finish seventh.
The NASCAR series has put an exciting, controversial afternoon in Martinsville in the rear-view mirror and now sets its sights on an evening race at Texas Motor Speedway for the Samsung Mobile 500 -- after a weekend off to celebrate Easter.
Who's on top of David McGee's Power Rankings? Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is second in points after finishing third Sunday, jumped four spots to No. 1. He's always been tough at TMS, and don't expect anything to change.
The rest of the top five: Greg Biffle, defending series champion Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.
Click here to see the rest of McGee's top 20.
As Monday turned into Tuesday, you wondered if the bizarre SpeedWeeks at Daytona -- something fans have waited for during what they consider an interminably-long offseason -- would ever end. Finally, it did with a clean sprint to the finish line during a three-lap overtime period with Matt Kenseth claiming his second Daytona 500 win.
|TMS president Eddie Gossage shares his thoughts on Monday's epic Daytona 500, the jet fuel truck explosion and how it could all help Texas Motor Speedway's marketing plan.
But the bizarre nature of SpeedWeeks at Daytona caused you to think back. Unknown John King won the NASCAR Camping World Series race on Friday night while Plano’s James Buescher maneuvered through a last lap wreck to win Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
And then there was Danica. You would have sworn it was the Danica 500. If she wasn’t here, she was there. She was everywhere. All Danica, all the time, as America’s most recognized female athlete prepared for her NASCAR Sprint Cup debut. She ran in Thursday’s dual qualifying races, Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide race and then the Monday night/Tuesday morning’s Daytona 500. Three race, three wrecks. None, really, of her own doing. Welcome to NASCAR.
But the word “bizarre” is perhaps the most-used word about the first race of the 2012 NASCAR season.
Bizarre in that for the first time in the 53-year history of the Daytona 500, the race was postponed due to weather.
Bizarre in that of the three major races at Daytona, 87 of the 122 cars that raced were involved in a caution, according to NASCAR. That means 71 percent of the cars were damaged in some way. Some were repaired and thus returned to the track, but few got by without any damage.
Bizarre in that the race had a red flag delay of more than two hours after Juan Pablo Montoya's race car hit a jet-drier truck during a caution period. The truck, loaded with 200 gallons of jet fuel, erupted in an explosion. Not since the roof of the Metrodome collapsed under snow last year or an earthquake hit San Francisco's Candlestick Park moments before a game in the 1989 World Series have we seen such a bizarre sporting moment. Fortunately neither Montoya or the driver of the jet truck were injured.
Bizarre in that driver Brad Keselowski tweeted photos of the burning jet truck as he sat parked on the backstretch. Tweeting. During the race. From inside his car (but not while driving). What other sport? As the TV network showed his report and gave his @keselowski handle, the driver’s Twitter followers jumped from some 20,000 to more than 200,000. Amazing.
And then, bizarrely, nobody could pass Kenseth as he took the checkered flag and went directly to Daytona's Victory Lane. Winner. Again.
Sadly, Kenseth’s win comes less than a month after his mother died of dementia.
In 2009, Kenseth won a rain-shortened Daytona 500 that covered only 380 miles. With this morning’s overtime race, Kenseth ran 505 miles in winning the Daytona 500.
He’s the 2012 Daytona 500 champ. SpeedWeeks is over. Almost too much to remember.
So if you only recall one thing other than Kenseth’s triumph, remember the word:
While I understand Johnson and this sport seems like a broken record (excuse the pun), I’d like to remind everyone of the unique season we’ve seen.
First let’s consider the repeat Cinderella story. Prior to this season, never before had NASCAR seen first-time winners in the Daytona 500, Southern 500 and Brickyard 400 in one year. In fact, even just the Daytona 500 and Southern 500 had never seen first-time winners in the same season. That’s good stuff.
Next I want to bring up the heated competition. Yes, I’m talking about feuds and controversy. Fireworks erupting between Harvick and Kyle Busch at Darlington, Johnson and Kurt Busch at Richmond and Pocono, Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya at Darlington, and Greg Biffle and Boris Said at Watkins Glen.
“He is the most unprofessional little scaredy cat I've ever seen in my life,” Said said about Biffle. “He wouldn't even fight me like a man after. So if someone texts me his address, I'll go see him Wednesday at his house and show him what he really needs.”
Talk about drama. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
Then you’ve got drivers like Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. making remarkable comebacks, clinching a spot in the Chase and actually being in contention to win the title. And let’s not forget Jeff Gordon earning his 85th victory, passing Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for third place on the all-time wins list.
It’s been a very competitive year, and this could turn out to be a magical season. It reminds me of 1992 when Alan Kulwicki, an underdog, recorded one of the greatest championship comebacks in NASCAR history, rebounding from a 278-point deficit with six races remaining. Kulwicki edged Bill Elliott by 10 points to become the series champion -- the closest championship margin at the time.
Now we’re down to six races and nine guys still have a legitimate shot, but somebody’s feelings are about to get hurt. There’s no room for mistakes now. You can’t leave anything on the table. Get ready NASCAR nation, because the pressure’s on.
As much as I enjoy the National Football League and covering the Dallas Cowboys for 103.3 FM ESPN and ESPNDallas.com, my true passion is auto racing, and especially Nascar. This weekend the Sprint Cup Series makes its first of two visits to the Great American Speedway and the running of the Samsung Mobile 500.
For the first time, the race will be competed under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway. Since speedway president Eddie Gossage was able to secure a second race date for Texas, the November race has started in the daylight but finished at night. Never has an entire race been run under the lights, and it will be interesting to see the different setups these crews use to dial their cars in.
Texas Motor Speedway is already one of the fastest tracks in the Sprint Cup Series and when the racing is done during the day, the track becomes hot and slick, making it even tougher to navigate. Under the lights, the grip and speeds will increase to serious levels. Crews do not have any real notes to go off of but might look to other mile-and-a-half tracks that run races at night -- such as Charlotte and Chicago -- for setups.
Something to also watch in Texas is the long green flag runs. If we see this type of action with fewer cautions, how will crews be able to make time for adjustments under green flag conditions?
Top 5 Drivers to Watch:
Hamlin swept the two Sprint Cup races at TMS in 2010. In 11 career starts at TMS, he has two wins and eight top-10 finishes. Hamlin started 29th and 30th in the field in his victories, a tribute to the strength of his team. Something to note: Joe Gibbs Racing has struggled with some engine issues. Word in the garage is they feel they've solved the problem, but it's something to watch.
2. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Scotts Turf Builder
Edwards comes into the race second in the Sprint Cup Series points standings. In six starts this year, he has a win and four top-10 finishes. Edwards is a three-time winner at TMS, and like Hamlin did in 2010, he swept the season races in 2008. Edwards is in the top 5 of total laps led at the speedway and is a master when it comes to stretching fuel mileage to finish a race. Something to note: In two of last three races at TMS, Edwards has suffered a DNF.
3. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Crown Royal Black
Kenseth is the teammate of Carl Edwards at Roush Fenway Racing. He is ninth in the Sprint Cup Series but has not had the consistency of his teammate early this season. But when he passes through the tunnel at TMS, no matter how up and down his season has been, he will be a factor in that upcoming race. In 17 career races at TMS, Kenseth has a win and 11 top-10s. Not known as one of the better drivers when it comes to qualifying, Kenseth won the 2001 event when he was able to pilot his Ford from the 31st starting position -- the deepest a winner at TMS has ever started from. Something to note: Kenseth has finished in the top 10 every time he has started in the top 10 here.
Jimmie Johnson is the model of consistency. The five-time defending Sprint Cup champion has made 15 starts at TMS, winning once with 11 top-10 finishes. Johnson has never started outside the 18th spot and had a string of six races in a row where he never started outside the top 8. Johnson has suffered only one DNF at TMS, and that was in the Spring race of 2007. It was in the fall race at TMS in 2010 where Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus sent a message to his team after several poor pit stops by switching his crew out for members of Jeff Gordon’s team during the middle of the race after Gordon had crashed out. Johnson went on to finish ninth in that day. Something to note: In eight of Johnson’s 15 starts at TMS, he has failed to lead a single lap. When he won the fall race in 2007, he only led nine laps.
5. Mark Martin, No. 5 Go Daddy.com
Mark Martin knows how to get around Texas Motor Speedway. Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon and Bobby Labonte are the only other drivers to compete in all Sprint Cup Series races run at this facility. In 20 career starts, Martin has one victory and 12 top-10s. In his last four races at TMS, he has finished no worse than sixth. Martin is at his absolute best at the finish of races. In 2011, of a possible 1,987 laps, he has yet to miss a lap. Martin is first in the Sprint Cup Series in that stat, one lap ahead of Kyle Busch. Something to note: Martin has finished 18 straight races at TMS. The only race that he received a DNF was his first one in 1997. He found himself in teh winner's circle the following spring.
Others to watch: Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart
As exciting as last year's fight on the backstretch between Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton was, it didn't even register when ESPN.com's David Newton went back through the history books to research NASCAR's biggest battles.
His No. 1? Well, it also happened at Texas Motor Speedway:
Nicole Lunders versus Eva Bryan -- 2006, TexasThe rest of his top five can be found here. Good stuff.
We often accuse drivers of acting like girls, so for the sake of humor and because the incident happened at the scene of this weekend's race at Texas, we're going to rank this catfight No. 1.
Let's start by properly identifying the contestants. Lunders was Greg Biffle's girlfriend and later-to-be wife. Bryan was Kurt Busch's fiancée. Apparently, Lunders was worried about her man's well-being more than her man was after Busch hit the back of the No. 16 to cause a wreck that ended Biffle's day.
TV cameras caught Lunders slamming a water bottle on Biffle's pit box, then marching down pit road and climbing onto Busch's pit box, where she got into a fiery exchange with Bryan.
It was so heated that NASCAR officials had talks with the women and issued a friendly reminder that entering another team's pit box is frowned upon.
C'mon. Everybody loves a good catfight.
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship starts this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
|Jeff Gordon joins Galloway & Company to talk about the chase for the Sprint Cup, Kyle Busch's fiancée, connecting with the fans, and more.
Denny Hamlin (5060 points)
- Hot: Since the end of 2009, Hamlin has been talked about as the favorite to beat Jimmie Johnson. He’s also shown on the track that he can back it up. Two of his six wins this season were on Chase tracks (Texas, Martinsville).
- Not hot: Over the last ten races, Hamlin has been outperformed by every single driver in the Chase. Last year, Hamlin had three DNF’s in the Chase that were caused by either engine failure or a crash. In the last five races this season, he’s had two DNF’s caused by an engine failure or crash.
- Hot: Four-time Champion. He knows how to win the Chase. Johnson has finished a whopping 75 percent of all Chase races inside the top ten. What’s even more impressive is that in over half of the races -- 33 of the 60, Johnson has finished inside the top five. Johnson has also claimed 18 total Chase victories. That’s an average of three Chase wins per year. Most drivers would be happy with three total wins per year.
- Not hot: With an average finish of 17th over the last 10 races, is Johnson as invincible as he’s been the past four seasons?
- Hot: Regular-season points leader. Earnhardt/Childress Racing engines have been the strongest all season. That could pay off in a big way at tracks like Texas, Charlotte, California, Kansas, Homestead and Talladega.
- Not hot: Has a career average finish of 17th or worse at California, Martinsville, Charlotte, and Dover. Only once in the history of the Chase has the regular-season points leader won the championship (Tony Stewart in 2005).
- Hot: Has won Cup races on five of the ten Chase tracks. Busch has also learned how to be a more consistent driver. He’s been running at the finish in 25 of 26 races so far this year. His only DNF was a crash at Daytona.
- Not hot: Busch has never won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race on any one of the five, 1.5-mile tracks in the Chase. Busch has also never won in the final 10 races of any season.
- Not: First Chase champion (2004). As the only Penske driver in the Chase, it’s “all hands on deck” for Busch. Sam Hornish Jr. unloaded at Richmond with Busch’s setup, ready to assist the No. 2 in any way possible. Brad Keselowski’s team is also doing everything it can to help bring a title to Penske.
- Not hot: As the only Dodge team in the Cup Series, there is no one else available to share notes or develop engines with. Also, both of the teammates that are helping Busch have not had a single top ten all year.
- Hot: Momentum has picked up at just the right time for Stewart. He also has the best record in the last 10 races that have been held at tracks that are one mile or longer. Nine of the ten Chase tracks fit this category.
- Not hot: While Stewart’s results at any track are impressive, seven of the ten tracks in the Chase are statistically some of his worst.
- Hot: Biffle goes into the Chase knowing the he and his team are capable of winning races. The No. 16 team earned its first 2010 victory at Pocono in August.
- Not hot: Biffle has finished on the lead lap in only six of the last ten races.
- Hot: Gordon spent most of the summer second in the Sprint Cup point standings. Gordon’s average finish of 8.4 in the last 10 mile-and-a-half races is the best in the Sprint Cup Series. Gordon is also the only Cup driver that has finished on the lead lap of each of the last ten races.
- Not hot: Gordon has still not been to Victory Lane since winning at Texas in April of 2009 -- the longest stretch he’s ever had without a race win.
- Hot: Edwards has scored more points than any other driver in the last ten races, finishing in the top 10 in eight of those races. He’s also started on the pole in two of the last five races. A win (or several wins) is right around the corner for the No. 99 team
- Not hot: Even though a win might be right around the corner, the fact is that Edwards has still not been to Victory Lane since the last race of 2008.
- Hot: It’s been said that to finish first, first you have to finish. Burton is one of only three drivers that have not had a DNF all season long. Burton has also led a respectable 390 laps this year.
- Not hot: Burton has not won a race since October of 2008.
- Hot: Mr. Consistency has one very impressive stat this year. Kenseth has completed all but seven laps this entire season for a total of 23 lead lap finishes.
- Not hot: Kenseth has only led 35 of the 7,699 laps that he’s completed. He has also not won a race since February of 2009.
- Hot: In Bowyer’s last two Chase appearances, he ended up fifth and third in the final point standings.
- Not hot: In 120 career Cup races, Bowyer has only two wins. His last trip to Victory Lane was in May of 2008.
Sunday’s race at New Hampshire gets the green flag at noon CT.
Commercials in the Daytona 500 are as much fun to race fans as commercials in the Super Bowl. This is the time all the big sponsors roll out their new TV spots and try to out-do each other.
It seems the fan favorite was the Toyota commercial giving fans the chance to design a paint scheme that will actually be used in a race this year. Seeing wild man Kyle Busch in a pink uniform driving a car with kittens painted on it was clever. I especially liked Kyle's helmet with the big kitty painted on top.
And then there was the Coca-Cola commercial with drivers Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Elliott Sadler and Tony Stewart all singing, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing in Perfect Harmony," while racing hard. The old Coke jingle has a warm, fuzzy, kum-bay-yah feel to it ... a real juxtaposition to the battle-hardened racers trading paint at 200 mph.