Friday, November 7, 2014

Texas Rewind and Phoenix Preview

Phoenix International Raceway (Photo: USAtoday.com)


Hey guys!

It has been a few weeks since the last time I updated racing for you, and there has been so much that has happened!  There are only two races remaining in the season that started all the way back in February.  All in all there are thirty-six points paying races and two non-points races in the season.  Plus there is Budweiser Duels in Daytona which are the qualifying races for the Daytona 500.  If you want to be really specific there are forty-one races in the entire season.  Needless to say everyone is ready for the off season!



Kyle Busch wrecks at Talladega October 2014 (Photo: NASCAR.com)
So let's go back to the last time I updated you which was the preview for Talladega.  Talladega saw an off week for the Nationwide Series while the Truck Series and the Sprint Cup Series made their way around the 2.66 mile oval.  As for the Trucks, Timothy Peters picked up his first win of the 2014 season on Saturday.  Sunday saw the next round of eliminations in the Chase.  Four big name drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, and Kyle Busch, all found themselves outside the top eight drivers in points.  As with the previous four eliminated all of these guys have the opportunity to finish as high as 5th in points.  Kyle Busch ended up involved in a wreck with 85 laps remaining by the time the team had the car repaired he was 48 laps down.  As for Dale Jr., who had a promising season, he was involved in a wreck on the green-white-checker finish relegating himself to 31st in the finishing order.  Kasey Kahne missed the chase by just one point to his teammate Jeff Gordon.  Brad Keselowski, who was in danger of being eliminated, won the race placing him into the next round of the Chase.

As for the next weekend, the Nationwide Series was off again while the Truck Series and the Sprint Cup Series visited Martinsville, Virginia.  Talk about a change in pace from Talladega's 2.66 mile, 33 degree banking to Martinsville's 0.526 mile, 12 degree banking.  Jamie McMurray's average speed for his pole run at Martinsville was 99.905 mph versus Brian Vickers average speed during his pole run at Talladega the previous week at 198.290 mph.  Martinsville also kicked off the next round of the Chase called the Eliminator Round.  This round contains eight drivers four of whom will be eliminated after Phoenix.  This round contains three races from Martinsville, Texas, and Phoenix.

Chase Grid Eliminator Round (Photo: thefinallap.com)

As for the Truck Series race from Martinsville, Darrell Wallace Jr. held off Timothy Peters for the win.  Sunday saw the first race of the Eliminator Round in a weekend that was full of tributes.  Hendrick driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., held off teammate Jeff Gordon to take home the trophy.  The win was emotional for the company as a whole since it was the 10 year anniversary of the Hendrick
Darrell Wallace Jr. Wins at Martinsville Speedway October 2014
(Photo: Motorsport.com)
plane crash which took the lives of ten people.   Chase contenders saw their share of trouble at Martinsville too.  Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick were involved in a wreck resulting in Harvick having the most damage of the two.  Harvick ultimately ended up finishing in 33rd while Kenseth finished in 6th.  Brad Keselowski had a part failure that ended up causing a large crash along the front stretch bringing out the red flag to clean up the mess.  Another Chase contender, Carl Edwards, ended up in this as well.  Keselowski finished 31st and Edwards finished 20th.

Last weekend all three series visited the Texas Motor Speedway.  The Truck Series raced under the lights on Friday night which was won by Kyle Busch.  Busch passed German Quiroga with two laps remaining to score his seventh win in the Truck Series this season.  The Nationwide Series race
Texas Motor Speedway (Photo: dallasnews.com)
Saturday was also won by Kyle Busch.  Busch led 116 of the 200 laps on his way to victory.   The Sprint Cup race on Sunday began at 3 PM Eastern time while the sun was fully out and finished well after dark.  Whenever a race begins in broad daylight like that and ends under the lights there will always be a transition in track conditions.  In short the cars that were great at the beginning of the race may not keep up with the changing conditions and end up not being as good at the end of the race.  Jimmie Johnson and his Crew Chief, Chad Knaus, are some of the best at these types of races and Sunday at Texas was no different.  The six time champion wheeled his car to victory; however, no one is really talking about the winner at Texas.  


On the final restart of the race there was an incident between Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski that resulted in Gordon cutting his left rear tire.  After the race Gordon confronted Keselowski in the pits.  At first there was just a lot of angry yelling and finger pointing; however, when Keselowski turned to move away from the confrontation, Harvick shoved Keselowski back into the middle of it and a brawl began.  Now if you remember from my Charlotte Rewind Keselowski was involved in another altercation with Matt Kenseth, and Denny Hamlin.  Needless to say there are several drivers upset with Keselowski at the current time.   As for fines from the most recent fight; no drivers were fined.  But four crew members from Hendrick Motorsports were suspended and fined for their roles.  The Crew Chiefs of the 5 and 24, Kenny Francis and Alan Gustafson, were also fined.  

So where does that leave us this week?  All three series will be racing in Phoenix, and there will be the next round of eliminations from the Chase.  After Phoenix we will be down to the final four drivers to contend for the Championship next weekend!  Phoenix International Raceway is a 1 mile oval that has 11 degrees of banking in turns 1 and 2 and has 9 degrees of banking in turns 3 and 4.   The track also features a "dog leg" or a kink in the backstretch.  Also turns 1 and 2 are much tighter than turns 3 and 4.  


Phoenix International Raceway track map (Photo: ifantasyrace.com)

The four drivers that are in danger of being eliminated at the end of this weekend are Kenseth, Edwards, Keselowski, and Harvick.  Going into the race Jeff Gordon is only one point to the good for 4th place.  The points spread from 4th to 8th in the standings is only 6 points so the race will be an interesting one on Sunday.  I should also mention that there is currently a tie for first in points with Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin having 4072 points each, and third place belongs to Ryan Newman who is only 2 points behind them.  Fourth place Gordon is 12 points from first.  

Below is the TV schedule for this weekend at Phoenix (from NASCAR.com).  


Friday, November 7 

Noon, NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice, FOX Sports 1
1:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, FOX Sports 1
3 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Final Practice, FOX Sports 1
4:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 1
6:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, ESPN2
8 p.m., NCWTS Pre-Race, FOX Sports 1
8:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Phoenix, FOX Sports 1

Saturday, November 8
11:30 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, FOX Sports 2
12:30 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 2
2:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, FOX Sports 2
3 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Countdown, ESPN
4 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Phoenix, ESPN

Sunday, November 9
1 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FOX Sports 1
2 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Countdown, ESPN
3 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Phoenix, ESPN
7 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lane, FOX Sports 1


This weekend at Phoenix could get interesting since none of the eight drivers in the Chase are locked in with a win, there is potential for a shakeup in the points.  After the race in Phoenix there will be four more drivers eliminated, and there will be four remaining.  Those eligible drivers will be in the Championship Round, and will compete to be the champion next weekend in Homestead.  

I hope you guys enjoy these posts as much as I do, and I am terribly sorry this one is so long.  If you have anything you want me to talk more in depth about feel free to leave a request below! 













Racing websites for more information:

Jayski.com  - News
Catchfence.com  - News
buildingspeed.org  - Lots of information by the author of The Physics of NASCAR


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