Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Kyle Busch opens as favorite to win 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Championship

Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opens Kyle Busch as 9-to-2 favorite to win 2018 NASCAR Cup title. 

Kyle BUSCH 9/2
Martin TRUEX JR 5/1
Kyle LARSON 5/1
Kevin HARVICK 5/1
Chase ELLIOTT 6/1
Joey LOGANO 8/1
Denny HAMLIN 15/1
Jimmie JOHNSON 15/1
Erik JONES 20/1
Ryan BLANEY 30/1
William BYRON 40/1
Clint BOWYER 40/1
Daniel SUAREZ 40/1
Alex BOWMAN 40/1
Aric ALMIROLA 60/1
Kurt BUSCH 80/1
Jamie McMURRAY 100/1
Ricky STENHOUSE JR 200/1
Austin DILLON 200/1
Ryan NEWMAN 200/1
Paul MENARD 300/1
Trevor BAYNE 500/1
Kasey KAHNE 500/1
Ty DILLON 500/1
Darrell WALLACE JR 1000/1
FIELD (all others) 100/1

Monday, November 20, 2017

Images from 2017 Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Matt kenseth and dale Earnhardt Jr came into Cup Series in 2000 and they made car look the same as then for Homestead.

Seem just like yesterday when Dale Jr. was teaching a rookie named Truex Jr how to race Talladega on X-Box. 

Danica Patrick, please go get some more sponsor money and give it another shot. Don't walk away, or quit it.  

It seems like yesterday when these two were rookies, now they're leaving. Hate it!

Not to take anything away from Truex, but if a sign needed there's too many 1.5s in playoffs, he's it. diverse tracks, please.

Truex had a margin of victory over runner-up Kyle Busch of 0.681 seconds. 

Two-time Homestead winner Denny Hamlin started from the pole and finished ninth.

Martin Truex Jr. wins at Homestead and 2017 NASCAR Cup Championship

Crew Chief Cole Pearn and Martin Truex Jr put together an epic run on 1.5-mile tracks in 2017.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – At the end of a riveting, breathtaking battle that had fans in the grandstands on their feet long after the checkered flag, Martin Truex Jr. held off Kyle Busch by .681 seconds at Homestead-Miami Speedway to win Sunday’s Ford Eco-Boost 400 and his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title.

In Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last race in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Truex—one of Earnhardt’s closest friends—kept Busch behind him during a 34-lap green-flag run to the finish.

"It’s just overwhelming," a tearful Truex said in Victory Lane. "To think about all the rough days and bad days, the days that we couldn’t run 20th, to be here—I never thought this day would come, and to be here is so unbelievable."

The victory was a timely gift for Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser, who is back home in Denver, Colo., recovering from a heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery. It was also a gift to Truex’s long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who has been battling ovarian cancer.

"A lot of it was for her," said Truex, who won for the first time at Homestead and the 15th time in his career. "A lot of it was for me. A lot of it was for this team – just, I don’t even know what to say. We just never gave up all day long. We didn’t have the best car. I don’t know how we won that thing. Never give up. Dig deep."

The victory also was entirely appropriate. For the bulk of the season, Truex was the top driver in the series. Sunday’s victory was his eighth of the year, a series-best, and his seventh on 1.5-mile intermediate speedways. Truex had the No. 78 Toyota out front for 78 laps on Sunday, bringing his season total of laps led to a career-best 2,253, also tops in the series.

With an excellent long-run car, Busch slipped to fourth after the final restart on Lap 234 of 267 and needed nine laps to pass the stubborn No. 22 Ford of Joey Logano. Seven laps later, Busch slipped past fellow Championship 4 contender Kevin Harvick into second and set his sights on Truex.

Busch closed rapidly, but Truex found a line that allowed him to maintain an edge that shrank to as little as two car lengths. But Busch never could pull alongside his fellow Camry driver, and Truex inched away over the last four circuits.

"I told my guys we were going to dig deeper than we ever have today, and (with) 20 (laps) to go, I thought I was done – they were all better than me on the long run all day long," Truex said. "I just found a way. I found a lane that I could use, and I found a lane that was blocking enough of their air that they couldn’t use it and just made it happen.

"I can’t believe it. I’ve wanted this since I was a little kid and just never give up. Just never give up on your dreams, no matter what happens and what kind of crap you go through. And thank you, Barney. I wish you were here, buddy."

Kyle Larson finished third, closely trailing the championship battle after moving past Harvick for third on Lap 252. Harvick came home fourth, after debris from David Starr’s Chevrolet punched a hole in the nose of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

"I was just really loose the whole last run," Harvick said. "When it started to get dark, we started to get tight in the corner, and then we got a hole in the nose. We got that fixed and just couldn’t quite get it where we needed to be to make good times.

"Some runs we fell off. Some runs we were tight on entry. There at the end we were just too loose."

Chase Elliott and Joey Logano ran fifth and sixth, respectively. Playoff driver Brad Keselowski finished sixth, ending the season fourth in the series standings.

Busch opted for a one-pit-stop strategy during the final stage of the race and appeared headed for the title until his brother, Kurt Busch, spun in Turn 4 on Lap 227 to bring out the fifth and final caution of the event and bunch the field for the restart on Lap 234.

"Yeah, it wasn't quite what we wanted there at the end," Busch said. "I thought we had a really great race car. Especially on the long runs, we were really, really good. Just came down to there at the end, not having enough tire when I got to the 78.

"So I just overused my stuff, and I knew I overused my stuff when I was running with the 22 (Logano) trying to get by him and just overworked everything, and got to the 4 (Harvick), got by him pretty quick. I tried to make sure that I could do that pretty quick so then I could have at least a little more tire life, but didn't seem to pay me off any when I got to the 78."

Notes: Earnhardt finished 25th in his final run in the No. 88 Chevy… Danica Patrick cut a tire and clobbered the Turn 2 wall on Lap 142 in her final trip in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. She plans to race in the Cup series for the final time in the 2018 Daytona 500… Patrick also collected Kasey Kahne in her wreck. Kahne ran his final race for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday and will move to the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet next season… Truex’s teammate, Erik Jones, was crowned Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the series after finishing 21st. Jones will take Matt Kenseth’s place in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs racing Toyota next season. Kenseth finished eighth Sunday in his final ride in the car.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race - Ford EcoBoost 400
Homestead-Miami Speedway
Homestead, Florida
Sunday, November 19, 2017

               1. (2) Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 267.
               2. (3) Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 267.
               3. (7) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 267.
               4. (9) Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 267.
               5. (18) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 267.
               6. (19) Joey Logano, Ford, 267.
               7. (5) Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 267.
               8. (4) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 267.
               9. (1) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267.
               10. (21) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 267.
               11. (17) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.
               12. (16) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 267.
               13. (13) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 266.
               14. (26) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 266.
               15. (6) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 266.
               16. (15) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 265.
               17. (30) David Ragan, Ford, 265.
               18. (20) Aric Almirola, Ford, 265.
               19. (12) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 265.
               20. (29) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 265.
               21. (14) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 265.
               22. (8) Kurt Busch, Ford, 265.
               23. (28) Landon Cassill, Ford, 265.
               24. (23) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 265.
               25. (24) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 264.
               26. (32) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 264.
               27. (22) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 264.
               28. (33) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 264.
               29. (11) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 264.
               30. (31) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 263.
               31. (34) Corey LaJoie(i), Toyota, 261.
               32. (36) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 259.
               33. (27) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Accident, 234.
               34. (10) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, Brakes, 225.
               35. (37) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Engine, 212.
               36. (38) * David Starr(i), Chevrolet, Brakes, 175.
               37. (25) Danica Patrick, Ford, Accident, 139.
               38. (39) * Ray Black II(i), Chevrolet, Too Slow, 49.
               39. (35) * Joey Gase(i), Toyota, Accident, 4.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  131.9 mph.
Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 02 Mins, 11 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.681 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  5 for 26 laps.
Lead Changes:  13 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders:    0; M. Truex Jr. (P) 1-12; K. Larson 13-82; B. Keselowski (P) 83; K. Larson 84-121; K. Busch (P) 122-123; K. Larson 124-145; K. Busch (P) 146; K. Larson 147-161; M. Truex Jr. (P) 162-175; K. Busch (P) 176; M. Truex Jr. (P) 177; K. Busch (P) 178-216; M. Truex Jr. (P) 217-267.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Larson 4 times for 145 laps; M. Truex Jr. (P) 4 times for 78 laps; K. Busch (P) 4 times for 43 laps; B. Keselowski (P) 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 42,2,18,4,78,24,41,11,22,14
Stage #2 Top Ten: 42,78,4,18,2,41,20,22,24,11

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Homestead-Miami Speedway NASCAR Cup Series Notes: 2017 Ford EcoBoost 400

Martin Truex Jr is favored to win race and title at Homestead.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Championship Race: Ford EcoBoost 400
The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway
The Date: Sunday, Nov. 19
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps), Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), Stage 3 (Ends on Lap 267)

By The Numbers: Homestead-Miami Speedway
1 – Tony Stewart is the only driver in series history to win at the famed 1.5-mile speedway in his first appearance (1999).
2 – Number of Coors Light poles at Homestead-Miami Speedway by the series leaders: Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne.
4 – Number of times the winner of the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway has won the title during the Playoff Era; including the last three seasons in the elimination-style format of the Playoffs (Tony Stewart, 2011; Kevin Harvick, 2014; Kyle Busch, 2015; Jimmie Johnson, 2016).
10 – Number of Playoff races at Homestead-Miami Speedway that were won by Playoff contenders; three times a non-Chase contender has won season finale: Greg Biffle (2004 and 2006) and Denny Hamlin (2013).     
12 – Number of different Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winners at Homestead-Miami Speedway; led by Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart with three each.
13 – Number of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races Homestead-Miami Speedway has hosted (2004-2016).
14 – The most cautions in a single Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (11/21/2004; the inaugural Playoff race in Miami)
14 – Number of different Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coors Light pole winners at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
15 – The worst finish by the eventual series champion in a Playoffs race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (it happened three times: Tony Stewart in 2005, Jimmie Johnson in 2008 and Brad Keselowski in 2012). 
18 – Total number of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races held at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
18-20 – The degrees of banking in all four turns of Homestead-Miami Speedway.
22 – The age of the youngest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coors Light Pole Award winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway: Joey Logano (11/18/2012 – 22 years, 5 months, 25 days).
24 – The age of the youngest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway: Kurt Busch (11/17/2002 – 24 years, 3 months, 13 days).
26 – The most number of lead changes in a single race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (11/20/2011).
38 – The lowest starting position by a race winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Denny Hamlin, 2009).
46 – The age of the oldest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coors Light Pole Award and race winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway: Bill Elliott set both records in 2001 (11/11/2001 – 46 years, 1 month, 3 days).
67 – Total number of NASCAR national series races held at Homestead-Miami Speedway, second-most by a track in the state of Florida: MENCS (18), NXS (22) and NCWTS (21).
150.0 – The highest score in driver rating scale, considered a perfect performance, and has only been accomplished at Homestead-Miami Speedway once, in 2010 by Carl Edwards.
267 – Number of laps scheduled for this weekend’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
449 – Number of laps led at Homestead-Miami Speedway by the active series leader (Matt Kenseth, 17 starts).

Happy At Homestead: Recent Title-Clinching Performances
Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will mark the conclusion of the 69th NASCAR season. Below are how the last seven season finales at Homestead-Miami Speedway turned out:

2010 – Jimmie Johnson Tracks Down Denny Hamlin For Fifth Straight Title
Denny Hamlin held a comfortable 15-point lead on Jimmie Johnson for the championship heading into the season finale. However, Hamlin could not close out the title. Hamlin damaged his Toyota with an early-race spin and finished 14th as a result. Kevin Harvick, who was third in points entering the race, finished third. Johnson placed runner-up to take home his fifth consecutive championship.

2011 – Tony Stewart Wins Third Championship In Epic Race
Trailing leader Carl Edwards by three points entering the 2011 finale, Tony Stewart virtually needed a win to capture the title – especially considering that Edwards ultimately finished runner-up in the race.

Stewart drove to the front from the back of the field twice and edged out Edwards to get to Victory Lane.

The pair finished the season tied in points, but Stewart held the tiebreaker over Edwards of most wins during the season (five to one).

2012 – Brad Keselowski Fends Off Jimmie Johnson For First Championship
Brad Keselowski entered the 2012 season finale 20 points ahead of second-place Jimmie Johnson in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings.

Keselowski, who won two Playoff races to help put himself in championship-clinching position, didn’t produce his best performance with a 15th-place showing.

But problems in the pits for Johnson caused the five-time champion to finish 36th and helped Keselowski secure his first championship, as well as the first title for Team Penske.

2013 – Jimmie Johnson Closes In On Earnhardt And Petty With Sixth Title
After building up his points lead on the strength of six wins, 16 top fives and 23 top 10s, Jimmie Johnson needed to finish 23rd to capture his sixth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Following an incident on a restart just shy of the 200-lap mark, Johnson ended up 23rd when it all sorted itself out.

By the end of the race, he worked his way up to finish ninth, earning Hendrick Motorsports a record 11th championship.

2014 – Harvick Rides To Two ‘Do Or Die’ Victories To Earn First Series Title
Kevin Harvick started the penultimate race of the 2014 season needing a win to get into the Championship 4 race at Phoenix. He dominated the contest, leading 264 laps to earn the victory and a spot in the Championship 4. After playing mind games throughout Homestead week with the rest of the field, Harvick held off runner-up Ryan Newman to earn his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title.

2015 – Kyle Busch Overcomes Injury For Improbable Comeback
Just ninth months after breaking his right leg and fracturing his left foot, Kyle Busch edged out defending champion Kevin Harvick for the Homestead race win and his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Busch missed the first 11 races of the season after sustaining his injuries in a crash in the season-opening race NASCAR XFINITY race at Daytona. He came back to win five races and cement his name in NASCAR history.

2016 – Johnson Ties Series Record With Seventh Championship
Jimmie Johnson proved once again to not count him out in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. He won his way into the Round of 8 with a victory at Charlotte, then took the checkered flag at Martinsville to punch his ticket to Homestead. He provided a walk-off win at Homestead to capture his seventh championship, tying Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series record.

A Spoiler At Homestead?
Under the “win and you’re in” elimination-style Playoff format, the eventual champion has won at Homestead the last three years (Kevin Harvick, 2014; Kyle Busch, 2015; Jimmie Johnson, 2016). Still, a driver out of championship contention can win the race. Below are some candidates:

Kyle Larson: Kyle Larson often calls Homestead-Miami Speedway his best track. The 25-year-old NASCAR Next alumnus finished runner-up at Homestead last year after leading a race-high 132 laps and placed fifth at the 1.5-mile track in 2015. Larson has had a breakout season in 2017, setting career highs in wins (four), top fives (14), top 10s (19) and average finish (13.6).

Matt Kenseth: Matt Kenseth, who’s likely competing in his final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this weekend, spoiled Chase Elliott’s championship hopes last Sunday by winning an emotional race at Phoenix. He’ll try to finish his career on a high note by winning again at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 17 starts at Homestead, Kenseth owns one win, four top-five and nine top-10 finishes. He has finished seventh or better in his last four starts at the South Florida track.

Denny Hamlin: Hamlin is a two-time winner at Homestead. In addition to his two wins, he has four top fives and eight top 10s, with 213 laps led. He was eliminated from the Playoffs at Phoenix due to a wreck, even though he led a race-high 193 laps.

Junior’s Final Ride
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make what will likely be his final career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The 14-time Most Popular Driver hasn’t raced up to his standards in his final full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, but will try to get one last win. He has struggled at Homestead throughout his career with only one top five, two top 10s and a 21.5 average finish in 16 starts at the 1.5-mile track.

Earnhardt enters the race weekend running as well as he’s had all season. He has finished in the top 11 in six out of his last seven races, including three seventh-place showings and a 10th-place result last Sunday at Phoenix.

For his career, the No. 88 Chevrolet driver has made 630 starts, won 26 races, logged 149 top fives, recorded 260 top 10s and posted a 15.8 average finish.

Earnhardt is a two-time Daytona 500 champion (2004, 2010).

Kenseth’s Swan Song
Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t the only driver likely competing in his final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. 2003 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth may compete in his final contest at Homestead.

Kenseth, who won at Phoenix last Sunday, will try to visit Victory Lane for the second consecutive week at Homestead where he owns one win, four top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 17 starts.

Heading into Sunday’s race, Kenseth claims 39 wins, 181 top fives and 326 top 10s in 649 career starts. He boasts a 14.1 career average finish.

Monster Energy Bellator MMA Fights
Before Sunday’s Championship 4 battle, fans at Homestead-Miami Speedway get to see another fight beginning at 11:30 a.m. – actually four fights – when the Monster Energy Bellator MMA Series returns to a NASCAR track for the fourth time this season. The fights will take place at the Monster Energy Fan Zone in the display area on the north side of the track. Admission to the event is free and open to fans.

In addition to the fights, fans will also have the opportunity to meet former world champ and Monster Energy athlete Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, as well as former PRIDE and STRIKEFORCE titleholder Dan “Hendo” Henderson, at the Monster Energy Fan Zone at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the display area on the north side of the track.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thank You Dale Earnhardt Jr., Damn that was fun!

Dale Jr. brought it strong!
I've always felt a sort of camaraderie with Dale Earnhardt Jr. despite not knowing him personally. When I heard he has an Elvis Presley room because his mother liked him, that was all I needed.

At the time Junior was just starting to make a name for himself rather than being Dale Earnhardt's son, I wasn't too cozy with Junior. I thought he might have a silver spoon and was just given good cars, beginning with the Busch Series and then later in Cup. From 2000-2004, he won 15 of his 26 career Cup races and do so driving the No. 8 car his Daddy built for him.

In his 2004 season, I got to see first hand his hold over NASCAR Nation as he won the Daytona 500. I remember it well because President George W. Bush had his motorcade drive up to the concourse where I was in a beer line and I had to stay there for 70 minutes. At least there was a TV above the beer stand. Junior dominated that day, as was the case on most restrictor-plate race tracks with Dale Earnhardt Inc. performers.

My most fantastic Junior moment came in the 2001 season when he won the July Daytona race, the first NASCAR race there since his father passed there. It was magical. It had to happen that way to build his legend, and it grew even larger. He's the NASCAR Prince.

But Dale's wife, Junior's step-mom Theresa, had other plans for a successful team. She found a PR person to help run the team into the ground. And in the process, they lost their golden child who flew away to Hendrick Motorsports.

But from 2007 on until his retirement at the end of Sunday's Homestead race, he had won only nine more races and seven of them came in 2014-15. Teammate Jimmie Johnson was dominating the series, but his rub somehow never happened in the garages.

The thing I'll always remember about Junior is his enormous fan base everywhere I went on the Cup circuit. They were so friendly and honest about reality. Great BBQ. They loved their driver, thick and thin. And I had some of the best parties ever with Junior Nation in 2004 and 2014. He's a powerful force. He's NASCAR Royalty and people just smile when they talk about him. Love that.

I am pleasured to say I saw his 2004 Daytona 500 win, him helping Michael Waltrip get his first win in the tragic 2001 race, and also him just being the public's driver. I feel vested in emotions spent on Dale Jr. and I'm okay with that.

Dale Jr. brings it wherever he goes. He's the guy that has theme music following around just so his entrances are done with justice. I'd like to think it was the Elvis intro to C.C. Rider.

The best thing about Dale Jr. doing broadcasting next year is that his fans will watch just to hear him say anything, and we all know he's going to be cool as hell with social stuff on his mind coming in at a relatable way. For not jumping into Twitter until lately, the dude has the hang of it now.

I'm not sitting well with the new era of drivers, but just like all of them, I'm moving on as a fan as well. I'll always be there keeping my charts, figuring out who the best is at each track, in each practice, but I cannot deny that something is really different with NASCAR 2017. People? Attendance? Passion? Rivalries?

Who knows, but I'll be watching the 60th Daytona 500 in February just because of family tradition.